Stuffed Portobello Rice Bowl

IMAG0573Ok, so the title of this thing already sounds a little weird. I get it. Trust me on this, though, it was pretty darn good.

When I was in the store the other day buying about a million different kinds of veggies, these huge, beautiful portobellos were screaming at me to stuff and devour them. Of course I listened. How can you not listen when food speaks to you?? On my hour-long commute home today, I was pondering what exactly I was going to do for dinner, which turned in to how can I use stuff in my fridge and combine it together to make deliciousness? Per normal, I called on what I know. Here is how the train of thought went (make sure to hop off before it derails!)

My mom makes this stellar Spanish Squash (she calls it), and it’s zucchini and yellow squash with cheese, tomatoes corn, onions and some other stuff that she has told me and I’ve forgotten. Well wait now, I have all that. I can do that. And then put it in a mushroom. But I really want rice. I can put the mushroom on top. Is that too much starch? No. It’s veggies and cheese. Not starch. This is totally doable. What can I add to break up the vegetarian streak? Bacon. Genius! Wait, I need something not hot to bring it all together… Avocado? That could work… or be horrible. No way, it’s avocado, it’s going to work. Maybe a cream? Like a caesar dressing? I have lemon. But anchovies are not coming in to this picture. Too much salt…just a cream… (This is where I stop because it went on like this for the entire ride home).

So once I got home and tried not to kill my four-legged furry kiddos for being bad (you don’t want to know the details), I set to cooking. Got the squash, onion, garlic, and tomato chopped up; drained a can of corn, and cleaned out the moustache of the mushroom. I put those on a foil-lined baking sheet. Everything else hopped in a pan with some butter. And don’t be judging me for butter. I used a whole 2.5-3 tablespoons for the whole recipe, and aside from the good fat of the avocado, everything else is light and healthy! I forgot to mention here that my bacon wasn’t as fresh as I thought it was so it didn’t get added. But it will. Next time. Because that could only add to the awesomeness that is a portobello rice bowl.

Anyway. So everything cooks together. And then I add in spinach, and cheese. And then stuff the mushroom and put more cheese. While it bakes, I mix light sour cream, cilantro and avocado together with lemon juice to make an AMAZING cream which by the way with more lemon juice works great as a salad dressing. Ding! Microwave where the rice goes is done. Take that out, put it in the bowl and leave room for a mushroom cap. Bring those out of the oven. Yep, they’re done. Add to rice. Top with cream. YUM. Promptly devour in 10 minutes flat and sit in my food coma of happiness. I guess I should give you the recipe, huh?

Let me just put a disclaimer on this that when I made it tonight I made a double recipe of the squash mixture because I’ll eat it over the rice in the coming days.

Ingredients:

For the squash mixture:

  • 1 zucchini and 1 yellow crooked-neck squash, chopped somewhat small so it cooks quicker
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 can whole-kernel corn
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Butter/Margarine (whatever you prefer)
  • Shredded cheese (I used the mexican blend) to your liking
  • About a handful of spinach leaves, fresh (Can be omitted if you prefer)

For the Mushrooms

  • 2-3 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned of their mustache, and wiped of dirt

For the Cream

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 c. light sour cream
  • Cilantro (to taste, either fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 a lemon’s juice

Rice – prepared per directions

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep all your ingredients for the squash mixture and your mushroom caps. Put the cleaned mushrooms on to a foil-lined pan, upside down. Add just a small little bit of olive oil and 1/2 a pinch of salt. Too much will dry out the mushrooms.
  2. Add in to a pre-heated on medium heat high-sided pan or a pot the onion, garlic and one tablespoon of butter, along with just a touch of salt and pepper. The salt draws out the moisture in the onion to make them sweat. Stir occasionally until it starts to smell good, don’t let the garlic burn and your onions should be turning transparent.
  3. Add in the squash and another tablespoon of butter. Mix around and cover. Stir occasionally and cook for roughly 10 minutes. At this point, it should be letting out a lot of liquid. Add in your other tablespoon of butter to help speed up the process and draw out liquid. Your desired “done-ness” for the squash is soft, not crunchy – judge your time accordingly.
  4. Add in the tomato and the corn. Stir and cook about another 3 minutes. Then add in the spinach and cheese. At this point, there should be a lot of liquid in the bottom of your pot or pan, it should smell awesome and the squash should be soft. The benefit of cutting it smaller is that it doesn’t take as long to cook. Add in cumin and just a smidge more salt and pepper. Work the spinach and cheese around until the spinach is wilted and the cheese is melted, as well as the spices distributed. Remove from heat.
  5. Add a spoonful or two of the squash mixture to the mushroom caps. They should be heaping. Top with cheese, put in the oven for about 5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted on top.
  6. While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare your cream. In a small bowl, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and combine it with the other ingredients. Using a fork, mash it all together and mix it well until it’s a creamy consistency and very slightly lumpy. If you prefer, add just a pinch of salt to bring out more of the avocado flavor.
  7. Serve the mushrooms with a dollop of the avocado cream. If you’re like me, serve over prepared rice – to really make it a rice bowl. Mix it all together when you’re eating it.

 

Yummy Spinach “Burgers”

Let me just start by saying, I have a stupid amount of veggies in my fridge. So tonight I found Imagesomething to do with them! I found this recipe on Pinterest for these spinach burgers that sounded really super easy, and they were. The original recipe came from a blog called “The Domestic Mama and the Village Cook.” These are put together the same way you would put together a from-scratch meat burger. And the taste is so versatile that it can be paired with just about anything. I actually had two, one with feta and pita bread, and one with regular bread and pickles. Both were fantastic. I think next time I might put some whole-grain mustard on the bread, the tangy vinegar taste would really add to the flavor here.

And speaking of pita, I found some at my local Kroger that is awesome, it was one sale 2 for $3. It’s already cut in half, so you can just pull it out and stuff it. I’ve had three pieces already in two days! It tastes spectacular with hummus too.

So, the recipe… you’ll need:

1 box of chopped, frozen spinach that has been defrosted and drained well

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup cheese

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

2 egg whites and 1 whole egg

Directions:

1. Mix everything together in a bowl. A spoonula works well.

2. Heat a pan over medium heat and coat with some cooking spray. Add in the spinach patties that you create from your mixture. Let them cook for about 3-4 minutes and flip. Let them cook another 3-4 minutes. They will be lightly browned and a little crispy on each side.

3. Serve warm with your choice of bread and toppings.

See, easy. I think next time I would consider mushrooms, maybe some fresh red onion on top, and like I said, some mustard.

Chorizo and Kale Pasta

Dinner last night was something I’ve never tried before. Pasta! Just kidding. Well, not really. It was pasta, it was just pasta with chorizo and kale…and tomatoes, onion, garlic and cheese. It was pretty good. Though I’m not sure it’s something I’ll do again. It was kind of bland. And unfortunately because of my lack of experience with kale, I wasn’t sure how to make it better.

I had made baked kale chips the other night and they were delicious – like I ate half of what I made in one sitting before realizing I wanted a couple for lunch the next day. And that was just oil and salt. I wonder if the baking did something to them that the cooking in a pan did not? The chips were a little sweet, had a really good flavor and the salt brought out the flavor even more. The kale from my pasta didn’t have a whole lot of flavor. I kind of felt like Thumper trudging through the greens to get to the chorizo and cheese. Sad day. Oh well, it was edible, and everyone has to screw up sometimes!

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Oh yeah, and I’ve become a fan of Instagram. You can follow me at jennmontgomery.

Scrambled Veggie Delight

Today I had plans to go shopping for some “grown up” clothes in preparation for finding a new job. But before I made my way down to the city, I had to get a good workout in, and follow up with some delicious breakfast.

(I have found that if I write about my workouts, I am more likely to stick to working out, because then I’m being held responsible. Skip the next paragraph if you’re just here for the food!)

Without my hunny here, I can get away with having breakfast that’s filled with vegetables. He would never hear of that. But first, the workout. I kind of invented a new workout that is based on some stuff I’ve seen on Pinterest. I did five exercises – jumping jacks, squats, crunches, mountain climbers, and push-ups. I started with 50 jumping jacks, then 40 squats, so on and so forth, and worked down the repetitions until I did 10 of each. Then I followed that up with some boxing strikes as my cardio. All in all, made for a good half hour.

Back to the food.

The original plan was for an omelet. I have yet to master the art of making eggs into a tortilla-type shape and folding them over in a pan. Therefore it became scrambled eggs with good stuff mixed in.

Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and bell pepper, tossed over some light heat with some cooking spray, salt and pepper. Add in the egg that’s been mixed with garlic powder, ground sage and a touch of seasoned salt. Scramble. Just before it’s fully cooked, add in a few leaves of julienned spinach leaves and some feta cheese. Finish and plate with a whole wheat english muffin and tasty avocado. I have an avocado obsession. Did you know apple butter only has about 25 calories per tablespoon? That makes me super happy.

And yes I know I’m have a squirrel-complex moment.

Anyway, all that works out to be 554 calories, which works out just fine when I wanted to stay full for a while. It did mean that I ate a few too many calories today, but it was well deserved. I’m actually kind of excited for breakfast tomorrow.

My Days Off

Two days off from work left me with a little time to do a lot of things. I bought Marlene Koch’s new cookbook, Eat More of What You Love, and I’ve been wanting to try some of the recipes out of it. I had bought some blueberries from Sam’s Club that were begging to be made in to coffee cake (from her first book) and I had some bananas on the counter that really wanted to be made into banana bread. Well wouldn’t you know it, she had a recipe for that in her new book.

Let me just start by saying, sorry I don’t have a picture of the banana bread. When I took the picture, I couldn’t figure out why it was so dark. I later figured out that I hadn’t changed the exposure back since the concert this past weekend.

But this banana bread used molasses, Splenda, bran flakes and wheat flour instead of the normal sugar, brown sugar and extra stuff that’s no good for you. Given, one piece is still 120 calories, but that’s an after lunch treat I can afford. If you’re a lover of banana bread like I am and have some bananas sitting around that you should have eaten days ago, try out this recipe.

My dinner adventure also came out of her new book, though I altered it just a smidge. Its a chicken sandwich with barbecue sauce and bacon (and healthy?? What??), and instead of the lettuce, I used avocado. I also mixed some hot sauce in with my barbecue sauce.

A.Maz.Ing.

And so simple.

Chicken breast, pounded, and seasoned with salt and pepper then cooked (grill or pan, your choice). Cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, a wheat bun, lettuce, tomato, and a piece of bacon. Done.

Love this sandwich.

So an update about the diet. Weekends as of late, not so great for me. I get too excited about a Saturday and my honey being home and cheat too much on my diet. Or I have a really bad day at work and have a Jack and Coke or two. But during the week, I’ve been really good. Like eating salad every night, and only going over my calorie count by maybe 100, very seldom. Working out, I don’t run as much as I should, but when I do work out, I push it. And guess what? My little accomplishment this morning… I fit back into a smaller pair of my jeans. Not as well as I used to, but before the wedding I couldn’t even get them buttoned. Yay!

Christmas 2011

Christmas this year, though not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of my crazy family, was still centered around the food. As it should be. Even though it was only me and my hunny, I still went all out to try and bring in the feeling of being home. I made ham, and green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, a salad, cornbread, and macaroni salad (even if we did forget to eat that). Oh yeah, and used my new Cuisinart Toaster Oven (Thanks Mom in Law!) for an apple pie.

For these big holiday meals, I’ve found that I should have paid more attention to my Mom when she was cooking, because I have called her a lot knowing what I want to make and not having any idea how to do it. Here’s the lowdown on ham:

Buy a ham. (obviously – don’t want to insult your intelligence here, but just stick with me…) Don’t buy the smoked ones, or the spiral cut ones. Buy the one that your instinct tells you is going to be way too much of a pain to cook. It will have one side that is flat and the other will have a big bone in it. It tends to be sitting in a center aisle freezer in your grocery store.

If you don’t already have them on hand, you’ll need whole cloves, dark brown sugar, a jar of maraschino cherries, and a 14 oz can of sliced pineapple (the rings). Oh, and some toothpicks.

So, to put it all together. Take the ham, put it in a big pan (I’m running the risk of rhyming here…) flat side down, and make slices into the ham, creating little squares, just through the fat. In the corners of these squares, put the pointy side of the cloves. After you’ve done that, take the pineapple rings, and using the toothpicks, pin them around the ham. They don’t have to cover it, but they work to flavor the ham and help keep it moist. And then, take the maraschino cherries and pin them into the center of the rings. Finally, take the brown sugar and rub it into the exposed parts of the ham. It creates a yummy glaze.

Once this is all done, cover the pan with foil, and stick it in the oven at 350 for one hour. At the hour mark, take the foil off, and leave it in the oven for another 30 minutes. The fatty part of the ham should be crispy and pulling away from the ham, your cloves will be falling out. Those crunchy skin pieces? They’re the best part.

So, how ’bout a leftovers recipe? Of course you can make some yummy ham sandwiches…but what about Mac and Cheese with ham and broccoli? Doesn’t that sound so much better? I used the recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake, in which she cooks the noodles in the milk and then adds the spices and cheese. I changed it up a little bit though, I added ham and broccoli which I sauteed in some olive oil with onions, and I also did a half and half mixture of milk and heavy cream. I’m thinking she was right about the milk though – the cream is too thick, and I had to add a lot more milk at the end. From previous experimentations, I have found that gruyere and cheddar cheese taste really good together, so I did that too. You all should try it! It makes pretty tasty leftovers too…

Breakfast on the Go

My hunny is in the Army. That means he gets up before the sun comes up and comes home after it’s gone down. At least in the winter time. Not allowing himself a lot of time in the mornings to get ready to go in the name of sleep, he doesn’t always grab something for breakfast and ends up spending money. This isn’t going to work for me. So I made him a solution. Two actually.

The first one I made is essentially an Egg McMuffin, but it took a tenth of the time to make the batch, and I can freeze it! The second one is essentially a hot pocket with sausage, hashbrowns and egg inside. And I can freeze that too!

Both of the recipes I got from my new addiction, Pinterest, as links to others’ cooking blogs. The breakfast pockets (the first picture) was from BudgetGourmetMom.com, and the sandwiches were from Macheesmo.com.

So here’s the skinny on them:

The egg sandwiches are so simple. Get 12 english muffins (2 packs), slice them and lay them out on cookie sheets so they can be toasted. You need 12 large eggs and a muffin tin next. Crack one egg per pocket in the tin. Bake the muffins at 350 for 10 minutes, and the eggs at 350 for 20 minutes. Meaning, cook them at the same time and take the muffins out first. Grate up some good cheddar cheese, and when they’re done, combine the three – muffin, egg and cheese. The tricky part that I wouldn’t have figured out: If you’re going to freeze these for on the go breakfast like I did, put the finished muffins on a sheet tray and put them in the freezer uncovered  and unwrapped for one hour. Then take them out and wrap them in foil. And if your hunny happens to have a toaster oven at work, he’s all set! A microwave works too, they just stay crispier when you do it in a toaster oven.

The breakfast pockets were a little more complicated, but worth it. Basically, you make a dough – let it rise. Cook up sausage and onion, then put in milk, egg, frozen hashbrowns and spices. Once your dough has risen, cut off little chunks, and roll them out flat on a floured surface. Put goodies in the middle, then fold and pinch them closed.  Bake at (you guessed it!) 350, for about 20 minutes until they get golden brown on top. The recipe that she uses for the dough is perfect because it’s just a little sweet to offset the savory of the inside goodness. And if you’re going to freeze these ones too, then do the same thing. Line them up on a sheet tray and put them in the freezer uncovered  and unwrapped for one hour. Then take them out and wrap them in foil.

Now lets see how long these last me before I have to make more to satiate his big appetite.

By the way, go to my recipes page for the breakfast pocket recipe.