Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellas

Inspiration: I can never seem to figure out how to use up a tub of ricotta. I don’t buy it often, but every now and then a recipe that includes it strikes my fancy, so I throw a tub into the grocery cart and figure that I’ll use it up somehow. Then most of it sits in my fridge and stresses me out. (Yes, the thought of something going bad nearly sends me into a panic.) Since we don’t eat pasta, there just aren’t a whole lot of day-to-day recipes that I’ve found that even make use of ricotta, and one can only eat it mixed into scrambled eggs so many days in a row. The day after I made these portabella pizzas, I saw this recipe for lasagna-stuffed portabellas and knew that since the pizzas were such a success, I’d definitely have to try the lasagnas out. And as luck would have it, that tub of ricotta in the fridge was not getting any younger.

What We Loved: I’m not sure which I loved more, the portabella pizzas or these lasagna-stuffed portabellas. Both were incredible. With these, the intensely rich flavor of the dish as a whole was just outstanding. The ricotta filling was so creamy and had a wonderful basil taste; the tomato sauce was bright and rich; and the melted mozzarella on top was the finishing gooey touch. The mushrooms themselves were so earthy and had an intense browned garlic flavor that we just loved.  These really did taste quite a bit like lasagna, which was certainly a welcome thing.

Tips: I think that these would be great with a nice dollop of pesto on top. I almost threw some on this time, but I wanted to try the recipe as it was first. But I do think that it would be a great addition.

Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellas
Source: Adapted from Elly Says Opa, originally from Pink Parsley
Serves: 2

2 portabella mushroom caps
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Handful fresh basil, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Drizzle the mushroom caps with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 clove of the minced garlic. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Place cap-side down in a saute pan, and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the caps begin to brown and release some moisture.

2. Mix the ricotta with the second clove of minced garlic, the basil, and a couple tablespoons of the mozzarella cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

3. Place the mushroom caps into a baking dish. Top each with a spoonful of marinara sauce, the ricotta filling, and then the rest of the marinara. Top with shredded mozzarella and additional Italian seasoning.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are cooked through.

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Portabella Pizzas with Pepperoni and Black Olives

Inspiration: Why is pizza so delicious? I could probably eat it every single day (and did living in New York doing commercial real estate nyc) and not tire of it for quite some time, if ever. From frozen pizzas from the grocery store all of the way to the most gourmet pizza with goat cheese and arugula that we had in Paris, I just love them all. Luckily, I have some sort of self restraint every once in a while. And yet….I truly do need a good pizza fix every now and then. Who doesn’t?

What We Loved: The awesome thing about making a pizza on a portabella mushroom is that since mushrooms are already a great pizza topping, this is basically like eating a nice pile of pizza toppings. Perfect. I actually enjoyed these more than any meal that I’ve made in quite some time. All of the flavor components of what I consider a great classic pizza were there – the characteristic marinara sauce, the essential spicy pepperoni, and plenty of gooey cheese. I was truly surprised by how pizza-like these tasted and by how well they satisfied that need for a great pizza. From now on, whenever a pizza craving hits, I’ll be serving up these little guys in our house.

Tips: Make sure to cook your mushrooms long enough so that the water in the mushrooms is released into your baking pan. For me, a half an hour was perfect. Similarly, be sure to cook down your tomato sauce until it’s nice and thick, too. If you don’t do either of those things, the mushrooms might end up being watery, which is never good.

Portabella Pizzas with Pepperoni and Black Olives
Source: Inspired from Primal-icious, to Serve 2

4 portabella mushroom caps
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Smoked mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded
Pepperoni slices (I used 1 large slice per mushroom)
Black olives, sliced
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Italian seasoning

1. Clean the mushrooms with water. Cut the stems out of the mushroom caps, and finely dice. Place the mushroom caps into a baking dish and set aside.

2. Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and diced mushroom stems, stirring until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes, oregano, an additional tablespoon of butter, and a sprinkle of Kosher salt and black pepper. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally and smashing the tomatoes with your spoon, until the tomatoes are broken down and the sauce is nice and thick.

3. Divide the tomato sauce between the four mushroom caps. Top with smoked mozzarella, pepperoni, black olives, Parmesan, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.

4. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, until the water from the mushrooms has been released into the baking dish and the cheese on top of the mushrooms is starting to brown.

Mushroom-Crusted Chicken Burgers

Mushroom-Crusted Chicken Burgers

Inspiration: When I’m reading through blogs or cookbooks, it’s usually my style to bookmark a recipe that I love, then proceed to leave it there in my “to-make” queue for about one to two years before I finally get around to having just the right time/craving/ingredients necessary/etc. to make it. For better or for worse, my meal plan is usually a pretty complicated thing (…..I really don’t feel like making a burger in the winter….I already have another burger on the menu this week….I can’t buy havarti when I already have about 30 other cheeses in the fridge to use….). Anyway, I happened to be making my grocery list when I ran across this recipe, and it immediately went onto the list. Don’t you just love when something is so inspiring?

What We Loved: I love cheeseburgers. Always have. And while in my opinion nothing can quite beat a plain old beef burger grilled on a charcoal grill and topped with plenty of cheese (I always wanted to live off of those as a kid), I also love experimenting with some more unique ingredients when cooking burgers. And I really think that I’d list this as one of the best burgers that I’ve ever made (up there with prosciutto-wrapped lamb burgers, which I also adore). The rich and earthy mushroom flavor that dominates these burgers is just so unique and fantastic, and the chicken itself stays super moist beneath that mushroom crust. And to top things off, the gooey, somewhat lemony havarti and the peppery arugula (with just a touch of crunch) are the perfect complements.

Tips: Forming ground chicken thigh into burgers is not a pretty thing. It’s really not anything like using ground beef – it’s much stickier/messier and is a general pain. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, though – as long as you end up with a somewhat spherical looking patty, it’ll work out just fine.

Mushroom-Crusted Chicken Burgers
Source: Adapted from Elly Says Opa to serve two, originally from Pink Parsley

1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
Kosher salt and black pepper
About 3/4 lb ground chicken thigh
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 slice onion, finely diced
Handful fresh parsley, minced
Havarti cheese, freshly grated

1. Grind the porcini mushrooms to a powder in a food processor. Reserve about 2 teaspoons of the mushroom powder in a bowl. Place the rest on a plate, mixing with salt and pepper.

2. In the bowl with the reserved mushroom powder, add the ground chicken, Worcestershire, Dijon, onion, parsley, and a good bit of salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.

3. Form the chicken mixture into two burgers. Dip the burgers into the mushroom powder on the plate, coating each burger completely.

4. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook the burgers until they are cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Add the havarti cheese to each burger about a minute before you are done cooking.

5. Serve topped with fresh arugula.

Shrimp and Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Shrimp and Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Inspiration: This is one of those recipes that I’ve been making for years (I think we’ve made it as part of Brandon’s family’s Christmas Eve supper for the past three years now), yet it’s somehow never made it onto the blog. I’ve made a lot of stuffed mushrooms ever since I fell in love with mushrooms several years back, and in our opinion, nothing can hold a candle to these. They’re by far our favorite stuffed mushrooms (and I think that my brother-in-law, Brian, just might agree). With football playoffs in full swing, I thought that now would be a great time to finally post this recipe. We always love to do a fun appetizer spread for Superbowl Sunday in particular, and after looking at these pictures, I have a feeling that these will be making an appearance on our table that day for sure.

What We Loved: These mushrooms are rich, cheesy, and decadent. They’re defined by a wonderful bacon flavor that melds with the light, succulent flavor of fresh shrimp; the  rich, browned flavor of sauteed onions; and a combination of velvety cream cheese and nutty, crispy Parmesan. The result is really just a perfect, intensely rich and flavorful combination. I feel like stuffed mushrooms are one of those dishes that just call for decadence, and these mushrooms definitely deliver.

Tips: I’ve made these using several different kinds of mushrooms (white stuffing mushrooms, baby cremini mushrooms, and large portabella mushrooms), and every kind that we’ve tried so far works wonderfully. I’ve found that smaller, appetizer-sized mushrooms are our favorite, but large, dinner-sized portabellas work just fine, too. Basically, this recipe will work as whatever you’re looking for, depending on which mushrooms you use – an appetizer, a side dish, or even a main course.

Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
Source: Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

About 24 ounces mushrooms (whichever kind you prefer – we like to use smaller white stuffing mushrooms or baby bellas – about 18 mushrooms total)
4 slices bacon, diced
½ Vidalia onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
About 10 large shrimp, finely diced
6 ounces cream cheese
¾ cups fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. Rinse and clean the mushrooms, and cut out all of the stems. Finely chop the stems and set aside.

2. Cook the bacon in a saute pan until it renders some fat and is about halfway crisped.

3. Add the onion and the mushroom stem pieces to the pan. Season well with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until the water released from the mushrooms evaporates and the vegetables are softened and beginning to get nice and browned.

4. Add the garlic to the pan, and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the shrimp.

5. Mix in the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.

6. Spoon the mixture into the mushrooms, and place them into a baking dish.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the filling cooks through and the mushrooms have released their moisture. If desired, turn the broiler on for a minute or two before the end of cooking to brown the top of the mushrooms.

8. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Mushroom, Sweet Potato, and Smoked Gouda Chowder

Inspiration: I’ve been making Elly’s soup for years, and it has always been one of our favorite fall/winter meals. When we stopped eating white potatoes at home a few years ago, I sadly put this recipe aside, and I haven’t made it since. Until…..the magic day when it occurred to me to use sweet potatoes instead, since we still include those in our diets every now and then. I don’t know why it took so long for that thought to cross my mind!

What We Loved: One thing that I’ve discovered about my preferences is that I tire easily of brothy/watery soups, but I could eat thick, hearty chowders like this every single day in the colder months and be a happy girl. Those thinner soups can sometimes be a means to end, but I can never wait to eat this soup. It’s fantastic and sits solidly in our favorites category (with Black Bean and Sausage Soup, Pork Hock and 15 Bean Soup, and Three Bean Soup with Ham, if you’re counting). Like my other favorite soups, the depth of flavor in this one is just out of this world. The mushrooms are really prominent and earthy; there’s a great, rich zing of salty bacon; and the sweet potatoes lend such a lovely, mild sweetness. We really love the velvety, creamy texture (which results from those sweet potatoes, some smoky gouda, and a bit of half and half), and another plus is that this soup is certainly filling enough to be a full meal. A recipe like this makes me happy that we’ve got some nice cold evenings ahead of us to enjoy it.

Tips: You can puree as much or as little of this soup as you’d like. I’ve pureed it all of the way in the past or only a little bit, and I’ve found that I really prefer it pureed about halfway (if that). That way, you get the super creamy texture, but you still have nice, big chunks of mushroom/sweet potato and salty little pieces of bacon in there, too.

Mushroom, Sweet Potato, and Smoked Gouda Chowder
Source: Adapted from Elly Says Opa

6 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (I used portabellas)
3-4 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
Good pinch of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
4 oz smoked gouda, shredded
Kosher salt
Black Pepper

1. In a stockpot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fat and is crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside.

2. Add the diced onions and the mushrooms to the bacon fat in the pot. Season with a little salt and pepper, and cook until the moisture released from the mushrooms evaporates and the vegetables start to brown, about 10-15 minutes.

3. Add the sweet potatoes and the garlic, stirring to combine. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender. Season again with salt and pepper, and return most of the bacon to the pot, leaving a little extra to garnish the soup.

4. Remove the bay leaf. Puree as much or as little of the mixture as you want in a food processor, and return the pureed soup to the pot (alternatively, use an immersion blender). Add the half and half and the gouda. Simmer until the soup has heated through and the cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

5. Serve, garnished with the extra bacon.

Smoky Zucchini, Mushroom, and Chorizo Taco Filling

Inspiration: For the Superbowl this year, Brandon and I had a taco salad bar with a nice Mexican spread. We had a somewhat involved menu – this recipe; standard ground bison taco meat; goat, sharp cheddar, and pepperjack cheeses; romaine hearts; sour cream; black olives; pickled red onions; tomatillo guacamole, and pico de gallo. It really was an awesome spread and a fun meal! I’ll be sharing some of the recipes in the next few weeks.

What we Loved: What a wonderful dish! I say it every time that I make something from Rick Bayless, but it deserves repeating – the man is a genius with Mexican recipes. And this one is no exception. Brandon and I both loved the dark, smoky flavor of this dish (which is due to the chipotle peppers), and we also loved the flavor contrast of the rich, salty chorizo and the crisp, fresh vegetables. As I said, we used this filling atop chopped romaine hearts and with other vegetables and toppings for taco salads, and it was truly wonderful served that way. I also want to mention that fresh goat cheese is a fabulous and perfect pairing for this. I may be biased because I adore goat cheese possibly above any other food, but that creamy cheese melting down into this dish was absolutely wonderful.

Helpful Hints: If you can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers, just buy a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and a can of chipotles in adobo sauce separately. This is what the original recipe calls for (adding 1 chile and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the sauce to the tomatoes). I was so happy to find them together, though, because it meant that I wouldn’t have a ton of leftover chipotle peppers!

Smoky Zucchini, Mushroom, and Chorizo Taco Filling
Source: Adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday

1/2 lb fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed
1 onion, diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers
2 small zuchinni, cut into cubes
Kosher salt

1. Pour the tomatoes into a food processor, and process until smooth.

2. Crumble the chorizo into a saute pan, and saute until cooked through.

3. Add the onion, and cook until softened, stirring often.

4. Add the mushrooms, and cook a few minutes more, until they are starting to brown.

4. Add the tomato puree, and cook until the mixture has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, and cook until the zucchini is cooked through but still a little crisp, about 8-10 minutes.

5. Season to taste with salt, and transfer to a serving bowl.

Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic Butter and Capers

Inspiration: Capers are one of those pantry staples that I under-appreciate, like lemon pepper or dried chiles. I always seem to buy them for a specific purpose (and it’s always chicken piccata), and then I never use them for anything else. Brandon particularly loves them, so I would love to start using them more often!

What we Loved: This was really a lovely and simple side dish that would work well with nearly any main dish that you served it with. It really worked beautifully with the crab-stuffed salmon that we paired it alongside, since both dishes were nice and light with some tart, lemony undertones. The capers in this recipe really mellowed out in the oven, while still providing a slightly tart contrast to the earthy mushrooms, and the water released from the mushrooms mixed with the garlic and butter to really create a nice, earthy sauce that was wonderful.

Helpful Hints: If you’re serving these mushrooms alongside a main dish as I did, you’ll definitely want to serve them in individual dishes, as shown above. There’s a lot of that delicious buttery sauce poured down in there!

Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic Butter and Capers
Source: Adapted (slightly) from Smitten Kitchen, originally from

1 pound cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Toss the mushrooms with the capers, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish.

2. Top with the butter pieces. Roast at 450, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and a sauce begins to form below (about 20 minutes).

3. Stir in the lemon juice and serve.