Like many people who like to cook and bake, I am constantly tearing recipes out of magazines and newspapers or printing them out from the Internet. Because of this, I used to have recipes all over the house, and had a hard time finding them when needed.
After hunting around again and again, I decided something had to be done. So I put my organizational skills to work, and came up with a perfect solution, at least for me. I bought two big binders and a few packages of plastic sleeve inserts, along with subject tab dividers, all of which can be found at any office supply or department store. First, I collected the recipes from all over the house; then I separated the meals from the desserts to go into the binders. Once that was done, I then divided each pile into different sections. For example, for the meal binder, I labeled the tabs as Breakfasts, Soups, Breads, Pastas, Meats, and Vegetables dishes; for the dessert binder, I had Pies, Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and Bars. You can do it however you prefer and whatever way makes sense to you. There’s no one right way. The nice thing about having them all in the plastic sleeves is that the recipes stay clean. If something spills on one while you’re assembling the ingredients, all you have to do is wipe it off. But if you don’t want to buy these, you can always just punch holes in the pages and pop them right into the binder.
Even better than being able to find all the recipes is being able to one day pass these on to my family, who are frequent recipients of my cooking. So often I wish I had my grandmother’s apple turnover recipe or my aunt’s meatball recipe. Who knows what became of them? The really special parts of these binders are the pages with handwritten recipes from all different relatives. These are truly family keepsakes.
The next time you are searching all over for that special recipe, think about putting them in order. It does take a good amount of hours initially, but once it’s done it will make life so much easier. And each time you print or tear or cut out another recipe, be sure to put it in a binder right away, or else you’ll be on the hunt once again.
Below is a recipe I make over and over again, and maybe one that you can include in your new recipe binder. Bon appétit!
6 large green peppers, tops cut off and seeds rinsed out
1 pound ground turkey or beef
½ chopped onion
1 chopped garlic clove
6 cups tomato sauce
1 cup cooked white rice
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Put rice on to cook.
While rice is cooking, cut off tops of peppers and rinse out seeds inside. Then cover peppers with water in a big pot and boil for 5 minutes; drain. Place each pepper upright in a baking dish.
Sauté onions and garlic in skillet and add ground meat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once lightly browned, add 1.5 cups of tomato sauce and rice and cook until heated. Then add in 1/2 cup of cheese and stir together.
Add a little sauce to the bottom of each pepper, and then spoon in meat, rice and cheese mixture. Once all the peppers are filled, add the rest of the sauce to the baking dish, spooning some over the peppers as well.
Bake covered at 350° for 45 minutes, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of each pepper, and bake without lid for another 15 minutes.
(If prepared beforehand, and dish is cold, bake for 1.5 hours.)
Written for The Country Register of the US and Canada.