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.

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.

Cooking for Two

The past couple of days we had some amazingly delicious meals for dinner. Last night, it was a shrimp pasta, tonight it was porkchops and spinach. Both were done rather healthy compared to how we normally eat. And for once – there were two nights in a row with NO LEFTOVERS! This is an accomplishment for me I promise.

The shrimp pasta, I took some help from the new Philadelphia Cooking Creme, the Italian Herbs and Spices kind. I mixed about half a tub of that with about a tablespoon and a half of prepared pesto, and another tablespoon of regular cream cheese. I added some dill and some thyme to that mixture and heated it on the stove. Then I threw in some leftover peas we had from the night before, and then halved some cherry tomatoes at the last minute and put those in as a topper. I cooked up some shell pasta, tossed it with half a block of grated mozzarella, and then the sauce mixture and finally about a half-pound of shrimp I sauteed until they were just pink.

These past couple of nights I’ve just been trying to take my knowledge of what tastes good together and running with it. And it’s worked out splendidly.

Tonight, we had a balsamic spinach and the best pork chops ever. (Mom you need to try cooking them this way!) I quickly declared that I had been making pork chops wrong my entire life, and my hunny said he’s never liked spinach until now…The secret is in the flour.

For the pork chops:

2 Bone-In Pork Chops (I’m sure you could use bone-less, but I have my barbarian moments and enjoy gnawing the meat off the bone that is impossible to get at with a fork and knife)

About 3 heaping tablespoons of flour

2 tablespoons of ground mustard

1 tablespoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning

A couple of dashes of ground oregano

2 tbsp of cooking oil (I used canola)

For the Spinach:

1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to get rid of the majority of water

Balsamic vinegar, approximately 3 tablespoons

4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1/4 of a onion, thinly sliced

Garlic powder, about 1 tsp

ground sage, about 1 tsp

1/2 tsp of salt

1 tsp of pepper

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

Start by saute-ing the onions and garlic on low in a small pan with the olive oil until they get very fragrant.

While those are working, mix the flour, ground mustard, steak seasoning and oregano on a paper plate. Heat up the canola oil in another pan on medium until the oil moves around the pan like water (quickly and easily). Put the pork chops in the flour mixture, and press and coat both sides, then put them in the heated canola oil.

Go back to the spinach pan, and once it’s all fragrant, put the spinach in there and turn the heat to medium low. Move it around the pan so it doesn’t stick and let it work.

After about 4 or so minutes, flip your pork chops. The edges should be just starting to get white.

Add the balsamic to the spinach mixture and stir it up well to combine it with the onions and garlic as well. Let that work for about a minute, then add the dried spices. Stir it all together.

About this time, your pork chops should be ready to flip again. Try not to move them around the pan when you’re not flipping them, because you don’t want the wonderful golden skin that is forming on there to break off. Dependent on the thickness of your pork chops, they should be ready in about 2 minutes.

Add the lemon juice to your spinach, stir it in, and then move that off the heat.

Plate the spinach first, and then top it with the parmesan. Put the porkchop on top of the spinach for a very pretty presentation.

Weekly Girlfriends Cooking Night #3

This week, Lady Luck and I visited Thailand! Although our version of Thai seemed to involve a lot of coconut. Not that that’s a bad thing, as I’m a huge fan of the fruit.

On the menu tonight: Swimming Rama, Coconut Rice with Mango, and Coconut Jasmine Tea. For dessert, Coconut Sorbet.

So Swimming Rama has the potential to be ridiculously spicy if you want to make it that way, but for what we like, mild is good. The sauce is essentially a peanut butter reduction, and I love it – seeing how peanut butter almost trumps cheese on my list of favorite foods. The chicken is cut into little strips and put into a pot of boiling water that is then covered and removed from the heat for 5 minutes. Apparently, it’s like when cooking rice on the stove. DO NOT uncover it or it won’t work. It’s magic. A method I’ve never tried that worked amazingly well.

The peanut sauce is a mixture of onion, garlic, peanut butter, fish sauce, paprika, red pepper, coconut milk, cornstarch, water and lime juice. Is it just me or does that sound like the absolute strangest combination in the world? Maybe it’s my previous inexperience with cooking Asian themed foods…but I was blown away by the delicious-ness. The recipe is here, and the cookbook I got it from is here.

Once the chicken is mixed with the sauce, it’s served over spinach. The recipe says steamed spinach, I prefer sauteed spinach, basically just wilted.

Lady Luck made this amazing coconut rice and she topped it with mangoes! I asked her for the details and she said that she has a little bit of an unconventional way of making it. Instead of measuring out the one part rice to two parts liquid, she eyeballs it and then adds more if it’s not the consistency she wants. It’s a cooks trick that you can get away with that kind of stuff when you’ve been making the same dish for a while. She uses coconut milk and coconut juice – which she says looks like lard coming out of the can, but only because it’s pureed coconut meat and much more hearty. By the way, this rice will be turned into rice pudding this weekend because it was that good.

Our drink of the night (after the shot of pear sake! That stuff is POTENT) was a jasmine coconut tea. I improvised a little bit, not being a big fan of straight flowery teas. I brewed together a couple of bags of jasmine tea and a couple of bags of green tea, and then chilled it until we were ready for this drink. Then you pop open a can of coconut milk (which you can see on the right in the picture) and pour a cup into each glass. A tablespoon of sugar is mixed into the milk and then the tea is poured over top. I’m apparently not a mixologist because pouring tea over the back of a spoon didn’t work for me to get it to pool over the milk and create the prettiness that’s in my cookbook. But once it was all stirred together, it was super tasty! I plan on keeping these teas and milk on hand just for this drink!

On the menu next week? Sushi! I got this cool little contraption for Christmas that you load the innards of the sushi into and then it pushes it all out nice and compact on to the seaweed paper and this is my excuse to try it.

Accidentally Amazing

Why is it, that every time I make something that is absolutely to die for delicious, it’s completely on accident?

So this concoction was made solely so that I could get rid of some of the veggies that I had stocked in the fridge before they went bad. The end result was accidentally amazing.

Pasta – check. Asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions, bell pepper and garlic, all chopped to about the same size, tossed in basil, rosemary, dill (lots of it), parsley, and a pinch of cayenne. Sauteed in garlic butter, then placed to the side. I saute spinach in garlic butter, then toss the rest of the veggies back in with it, because the spinach only takes a tenth of the time.

Before this all got started, I grilled up some sweet Italian sausage and got the water boiling. Let that drain before mixing it, otherwise it makes the veggies greasy. Oh! And don’t forget to pay the salt tax to the veggies either.

Toss everything together with cheese, and enjoy. Again and again…because I happily ate this three days in a row.

Find the recipe here.

Honey glazed porkchops

Porkchop

They looked so pretty on the plate, I couldn't help but take a picture.

We had these huge porkchops in the freezer, and it was just me and the roomie last night, so I thought I’d make something deliciously simple. What’s weird is that the idea just popped into my head when I pulled out the meat to defrost. But it worked oh so well.

I actually looked up a honey glaze, and that was as simple as I’d hoped. Mix together equal parts of brown sugar and honey, and heat them up. Sear the porkchops on both sides with salt and pepper. Put the porkchops in a baking dish, pour half the sugar mixture over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip and repeat.

I served mine with an asparagus stir-fry that I had in the freezer for a while, and then I added mushrooms, fresh spinach and balsamic vinegar. The vinegar didn’t give the veggies as full of a flavor as I had hoped, but it did give them a little tinge of flavor outside of their own crunchiness.