Friday, May 27, 2011

The Creative Mind & Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Green Peppers

I’ve always believed a Creative Mind is a terrible thing to waste. A good friend of mine asked me, after recently sampling a few of my meals, how I was able to come up with my recipes. I was rather baffled by the question, because it never occurred to me that making up recipes as I cooked them was anything special. Sometimes, they turned out amazing. And sometimes… well, not so much.

The Creative Mind is a wondrous entity. It’s that little voice in your head that gives you an image, a word, a recipe, an equation, a feeling, or all of the above. For cooking, it may tell you that a combination of flavors or ingredients may or may not work, encouraging you to go out of your comfort zone. If it didn’t turn out as you expected and/or wanted, this voice will not criticize or yell. Rather, it may say what could be done differently the next time and to try it again. It turns flops into learning experiences. It turns the process of making a meal into an adventure. It turns the meal into a cornucopia of insight.

I find it interesting how my week of R & R was my Creative Mind’s time to producing one amazing recipe after another in my mind’s eye, resulting in meals I never considered until I made them. Most of the recipes I didn’t even take photos of, though I did write them down for future reference. My Creative Mind shined through this week, and more often than not I was in the kitchen, making a mess or two.

For a moment I feared that cooking was replacing my other artistic loves, partially because it has been years since I’ve written poetry on a regular basis or drew more than a sketch in a college notebook. The only thing I’ve really photographed lately has been food and/or blog-related, not like the plethora of photos of people, places, and my viewpoints of life as I’d done six months before. Now I realize I haven’t lost my artistic talents, but they have evolved into a specific focus as opposed to having many fingers in many cooking pots. Cookery is the art form that allows me to share my work with others in a way I’ve never been able to do with my other artistic talents.

To strengthen your Creative Mind in regards to cooking, I recommend looking for inspiration everywhere you can, whether it be from cookbooks, television shows, blogs, family members, and friends. I have a tendency to stray away from recipes, particularly because my Creative Mind likes to think it came up with the idea on its own (but I do give credit where it is due, and will always link to the original recipe or site my source).

When you have an idea, whether it be directed to a certain ingredient, cuisine, or food type, picture it in your Mind’s Eye using all the senses. Imagine what it will Look like, from start to finish. Visualize the Sounds that will come from making the dish. Envision the Smells wafting from the product. Think of how it [utensils, bakeware, and ingredients] would Feel in your hands, then in your mouth, as you Taste it. I like to balance meals, but at the same time use ingredients that many wouldn’t think of as compatible. When I’m unsure, I have a tendency to smell ingredients side by side, or taste the combination of flavors when I can. If it doesn’t smell or taste “right” to you and your Creative Mind, it may not turn out the way you’re expecting. One thing I stress, however, is that looks can be deceiving so try not to solely base a recipe on sight alone.


Sometimes, the best way you can enhance your Creative Mind is by taking a classic and putting your own twist to make it unique. To quote one of my favorite gastro-adventurers of all time, Bizarre FoodsAndrew Zimmern, “If it looks good, eat it.” But I say unto you, “If you can think it, make it.”

The only person keeping you from making a fabulous meal is yourself.

 Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Green Peppers

3 Green bell peppers, halved vertically
1 Medium white onion, halved vertically and sliced into thin shreds
3 Garlic cloves, finely diced
12 – 16 oz Shaved beefsteak, coarsely chopped into manageable, bite-sized pieces
10 shakes (1/2 tsp.) Red chili pepper flakes
1 tsp Salt
3 slices of Fontina cheese, cut into 6 pieces
3 thick slices Large tomato, cut into crescents

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large steaming pot (or skillet filled up to an inch of water), steam the peppers on high heat until soft.
In a large greased skillet, cook the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper flakes until the onions are translucent and soft on medium heat.
Add the shaved beefsteak and stir until the steak is fully cooked and the ingredients thoroughly mixed.
On a greased baking sheet (or lined with parchment or aluminum), place the peppers facing up.
Using tongs, put the beefsteak-onion filling into the peppers.
Lay the cheese slices on top, and the tomato crescents on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle salt and pepper as garnish, and put them into the oven for 15 minutes. (You can also broil to slightly brown the tops for three minutes after the 15 minutes are up.)
Top with sour cream and serve with a side of rice.

Makes 6 stuffed pepper halves. Serves 3 as a main course, and 6 as a starter.

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