Contestant, Illinois State Fair, 2018

Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance


Picnics and Family Reunions

Illinois State Fair
August 10, 2018




Stuffed Peppers
Linda D. Cifuentes, Mahomet, Illinois



I am from a Czech background and both my grandmothers made stuffed peppers. They were fairly cheap to make because hamburger was a fairly inexpensive cut of beef. They could grow the peppers and the recipe went a long way with a big family. My Mom, Helen had 2 siblings and my Dad Tony had 6 siblings.


Galumpky is the Polish name for stuffed cabbage rolls and this is a take -off on that recipe. As a matter of fact when my mom mad the peppers she often times had left over meat/rice mixture and would serve that with the tomato sauce. She called it Galumpky without the Galump. Also stuffed cabbage was more difficult to make as well as tedious.


As far back as I can remember in my childhood (I am in my 60’s) I remember eating Stuffed Peppers. One day my dad Tony, decided that he was the supreme stuffed pepper maker and my mom never mad them again. My story is going to focus on my dad Tony Holas.


Tony was born in Cicero, Illinois in 1928. As I said he came from a large family. When he was 12 he started working at Kolar Floral company in Cicero, sweeping floors. The story goes that when he was 16 everyone was gone and he was the only one there. A man came in to get a corsage and my dad thought; what the heck!! I’ve seen them mad a million times, I can do this. The customer came into the workroom and said. ” I love watching an expert” . My dad said he was sweating bullets but got the corsage made. I guess you can say the rest is history because they started letting him design and eventually he bought the flower shop which he worked at for 40 years.


Since my dad was a florist I think this is what propelled his love of gardening. For the first ten years of my life we lived in Chicago. Every house on the block had a garage except ours. The entire space was taken up by a garden; tomatoes, peppers, onions ,lettuce. You name it Tony grew it. Tony did have help though, his devoted wife Helen and their 4 kids Linda, Tony, Joey, and Cindy. We eventually moved to Berwyn and that’s where my parents stayed for the next 40 years. My dad still had his vegetable garden but it was considerably smaller because now we had a garage. Since the garden was smaller and my dad had to down size he only planted peppers and tomatoes at which he was a master grower of both.


I think that is why he became the stuffed pepper “King”. He had so many peppers that he mass produced the recipe and then froze them. We would eat them all summer and then in the winter take out dad’s “prized” packages of stuffed peppers. It was like having a little bit of summer all year around.


I fulfilled a dream and experienced one of the most precious moments of my life. I had been competing in the Blue Ribbon Culinary contest for a couple of years and in 2004 I got to cook against my dad in the Beef category. You guessed it; Stuffed Peppers!! Alas, I beat him but it was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. We were able to cook next to each other.


I do want to mention that he always made the peppers in an electric skillet. He felt that they were cooked more evenly that way. Unfortunately we don’t have the electric skillet anymore so I cooked them in the oven. My husband always says, “they don’t taste like your dads.”


I lost my mom 12 1/2 years ago and my dad followed a year later. When we started to clean out there house, we went into the small stand up freezer and found dozens of small plastic containers holding 2 or 3 frozen stuffed peppers. What a gold mine!! We divided them up and could still enjoy a bit of Daddy’s prize recipe. Finally about 6 months after he died I had the last ever Tony Holas stuffed Peppers and cried through the whole meal. They were the best ever!! I hope you enjoy the peppers as much as our family did.





Stuffed Peppers
Linda D. Cifuentes, Mahomet, Illinois


1 pound hamburger
1 bag instant rice (cooked)
7 to 9 green peppers
1 large onion; chopped
Salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste
Small can tomato juice
1 can tomato soup
1/2 cup catsup


Cook rice; set aside. Cut tops off peppers and chop for later use. Clean out seeds and extra pulp from peppers; wash and set aside on toweling upside down to drain. Mix meat, onion and seasoning. Add rice and mix. Stuff peppers with hamburger mixture and place in electric fry pan. Mix juice, soup, and catsup and pour over peppers. Place diced pepper tops in sauce. Cover and cook at medium Heat (325) for 35 to 45 minutes.****


*** we have no idea where dad’s electric fry pan went so I baked the peppers in the oven at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes