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.

 

Stuffed Burgers

I’m pretty sure this is about the simplest, yet one of the tastiest recipes I’ve ever made. I thought that stuffed burgers were common-place, that everyone had at least heard of them, if they hadn’t eaten them. Apparently I was wrong. My dinner date (the boyfriend) thought these burgers were the coolest things ever, once he finally grasped what I meant by “all the goodies are on the inside.”

So, what I did: a pound of ground beef – I’m sure ground turkey would work too – goes into a bowl, to which I added my scrumptious garlic mustard, ground oregano, steak sauce, and Worcestershire, just a bit of each (equal parts of the steak sauce and Worcestershire though).  Afterward, I caramelized onions and mushrooms, then some bacon that was chopped into little pieces. I took a quarter of the meat, divided it in two, and flattened it to make a patty shape. Then I put some of the onions, mushrooms and bacon, as well as two little cubes of cheese into the middle, and took the other half and shaped it on the top. I made sure the edges were closed up, and then patted it a bit flatter so it would cook evenly. I repeated the process for the other three quarters, broiled them in a pan until the edges weren’t pink anymore (which meant that the middle was still a tad pink), and served them on onion buns with mayo, mustard and ketchup. Mmmm tasty!

I’m betting that other ingredients in the middle would be pretty tasty too, or even just cheese. If I had some guacamole, that would have gone on top, to make a bacon avocado burger. Like I said, easy.

Stuffed Pork Chops – a complete experiment

Knowing the basics can be essential. You can’t break the rules until you know the rules, right? So I knew I wanted stuffed pork chops – something different from the BBQ pork that I’ve been making. But what to put in it?

Egg. Yes, that holds it together. Breadcrumbs. To absorb the egg to hold it together. Veggies. Duh! Spices. Even more obvious – that’s how I cook. The correct combination of the bunch was the trick. I felt like I was doing a science experiment.

It doesn't look highly appetizing, but it tastes AMAZING.

It doesn't look highly appetizing, but it tastes AMAZING.

After talking to mom about her ideas on the topic, we came up with garlic and onions, essential in almost any super tasty dish that involves other veggies. Carrots, grated, not chopped. They’d cook faster that way. And I don’t like to wait. Celery, for a little crispness; mushrooms…because they’re awesome. On to the spices. Oregano, to give it a smoky flavor; salt and pepper, of course ( that’s another one of those essentials); sage for it’s unnatural and earthy flavor that doesn’t get the pleasure to be in a lot of the dishes I make; parsley to bring out the flavors of the other herbs; basil to go with the oregano. I might have missed something there…Here’s the recipe.

Part two of the experiment. To grill or to bake? I had two different cuts of pork chops – both which were a pain in the butt to butterfly. Note to cooker: don’t use pork chops that you want to butterfly that have a bone, it’s rather difficult. Therefore, the smaller, boneless pork chops were butterflied, stuffed and grilled, ready in about 15 minutes. The thicker cut, bone-in pork chops were butterflied to the best of my ability and baked at 350 degrees. That took closer to an hour. And frankly? The grilled ones tasted better. Maybe baking the pork chops in some chicken stock too? They were surrounded by the stuffing though…curiouser and curiouser.