Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

*Photo Updated August 2012*

Inspiration: On my list of favorite appetizers, stuffed mushrooms are way up there. There are countless recipes for them, and I’ve loved nearly every one that I’ve tried. That being said, when I ran across these Mexican stuffed mushrooms, I knew that they would be perfect for our football-watching Mexican appetizer spread. And as an aside, I’ll be blogging my absolute favorite recipe – creamy shrimp and bacon stuffed mushrooms – just as soon as I get the chance to make them again.

What we Loved: These stuffed mushrooms tasted just like tacos. It was amazing, especially considering that they were vegetarian. We couldn’t quite believe how much they reminded me of the traditional beef, cheddar, and lettuce taco that everyone loves. All of the vegetables were mixed with a nice helping of chili powder, cumin, and colby jack cheese, which is what really gave these that wonderful taco flavor. We especially loved how the gooey cheese held everything together.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to cook your mushrooms long enough so that a lot of the moisture from the mushrooms can escape. The baking dish will be quite watery when you take them out, but that’s a good thing. I think that this recipe would also work fabulously using large portabella mushroom caps for a main dish.

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms
Source: Pots and Plots

I made a few changes to the recipe. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

12-15 baby portabella mushrooms
Approximately 2-3 inches of a zucchini, very finely chopped
1/2 small vidalia onion, very finely chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (using more or less to taste)
2-3 oz colby cheese, finely grated

1. Clean the mushrooms, and remove and finely chop the stems. Place the mushrooms cap-side down in a baking dish.

2. Add a pat of butter to a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems, zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and the liquid is gone. Add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds more.

3. Season the vegetable mix with the cumin, chili powder, and salt.

4. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cheese.

5. Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and browned.

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Pork, Chorizo, and Mushroom Stew

Inspiration: B bought me the most fabulous slow cooker for Christmas. My last slow cooker, which I really loved, was a really nice (or so I thought!) Kitchenaid slow cooker whose ceramic pot cracked all the way down the middle one day while I was cooking a nice pot roast. And after only 10-15 uses! Needless to say, I was really upset with the fact that it broke and with Kitchenaid’s customer service, and I had to resort to using my old, pretty terrible crockpot for at least a year because I didn’t want to spend the money to replace my nice one. So this past Christmas, B hooked me up with a fabulous All-Clad cooker that has an aluminum insert that’s also safe to use on the stovetop and in the oven, which means crock pot cooking all in one pot, with no worry of a cracking ceramic insert! I didn’t even know such a thing existed, and I’m still unnaturally excited about it :) B showed me this recipe on the Williams Sonoma site that made use of the all-in-one pot functionality, so we spent a nice Sunday afternoon changing the recipe to suit our tastes and creating a lovely, Sunday night stew.

What we Loved: What didn’t we love about this stew? It was incredible. It made our home smell so delicious and hearty all day long as it cooked, and the end result was an intensely flavorful stew with fall-apart pork pieces, ridiculously tender chorizo pieces, and a rich and earthy sauce. The sauce was particularly enjoyable because it contained all of the flavor from the vegetables and garlic, as well as all of the juices and fats from the three different types of meats that cooked in it. And I just loved the rich red color! We put the whole cloves from a entire head of garlic in the stew, and they ended up with a softened, roasted garlic flavor that I really enjoyed. A clove on my spoon with a bit of the sauce was a little piece of heaven! I was also very surprised by the chorizo, which was more tender than I ever thought it could be. All-in-all, this was a very meaty, filling, and wonderful stew that was so perfect for a cold Sunday evening.

Helpful Hints: As B was cooking the bacon, which is the first step of the process and which renders the fat in which to cook the pork and vegetables, we realized that our bacon wasn’t very fatty (as far as bacon goes, anyway) and wasn’t rendering enough fat. So, we added some of the discarded pork fat to the pot with the bacon, and this browned up wonderfully and added plenty of extra fat and flavor to the pot.

Pork, Chorizo, and Mushroom Stew
Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma

We used the cassoulet recipe as a base and changed it to suit our preferences and make a stew. Here’s what we did.

4 oz bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
2-3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (I used a picnic roast), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
24 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 28 oz can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups chicken broth
24 oz Spanish chorizo links, sliced
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

1. Add the bacon pieces to a saute pan or dutch oven (I used the stovetop-safe insert of my crockpot). Heat over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned, approximately 7-8 minutes. Remove the bacon  from the pot and set aside.

2. Add half of the pork to the pot and brown it on all sides, approximately 7-8 minutes total. Transfer the cooked pork to a platter, and repeat with the remaining pork.

3. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot. Cook until all of the water releases from the mushrooms and evaporates, approximately 15-20 minutes.

4. When the mushrooms have started to brown, add the wine, and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, and broth.

5. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the pork, chorizo, garlic cloves, and reserved bacon.

6. If you aren’t using a stovetop-safe crockpot insert, transfer the contents of the pot to your crockpot insert. Cook on low for 9-10 hours, until the pork pulls apart with a fork.

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak

*Photo and recipe updated March 2012*

Inspiration: I’ll admit it. I used to love those Salisbury steak TV dinners as a kid. I mean, really love them. Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn, brownie. Something reminded me of them the other day, and I got to thinking that I’ve never had a homemade Salisbury steak before. In fact, I didn’t even know how you would even go about making one. Would you use cube steak? Ground beef? Some other cut of meat?  When I told Brandon that I was making this for supper, he replied with, “I don’t even know what those are.” Meaning, “I used to eat those,  but what are they…?” Sure sounds like a meal in need of a nice homemade revamp.

What we Loved: These were absolutely fabulous. Really, they’re the perfect comfort food for a dark, cold evening, and I’m craving one again just writing this post. The steak itself is made from ground beef that’s mixed with seasonings and onions and then pan fried, but what really makes this dish is the gravy. It’s rich and flavorful, thick and creamy from a touch of sour cream, and nice and earthy from the mushrooms. When you cut into the meat, which is already moist on the inside like a burger, the gravy seeps down into the steak for a really delicious bite. The gravy is made in the same pan in which you pan fry the steaks, so all of the brown bits from the beef get incorporated into the gravy for an extra layer of browned beef flavor. What a great comfort meal.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to allow your pan sauce time to reduce down. At first it’s very thin, but after a few minutes of simmering away, it really thickens up nicely.

Salisbury Steak
Source: Yum Sugar

I modified this recipe to serve two. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1 slice Vidalia onion, minced
About 3/4 lb ground beef
Garlic powder, to taste
Seasoned salt, to taste (I used Lawry’s)
Dried thyme, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
About 4 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup beef stock
1/4 – 1/3 cup sour cream

1. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan, and saute the minced onion until it is nice and softened.

2. Combine the meat with the minced onion, garlic powder, seasoned salt, thyme, and pepper. Form the meat into two oblong oval-shaped patties, flattening as much as possible.

3. In the same saute pan, add another good pat of butter of medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until they are softened and beginning to brown. Remove the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

4. Place the meat patties into the pan, and cook for approximately four to five minutes per side, until completely cooked through. Remove from the pan, setting aside and tenting with foil to keep warm.

5. Add the beef stock to the hot pan, and bring to a boil. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan to incorporate. Reduce the heat, and slowly whisk in the sour cream. Add the mushrooms back into the pan. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens.

6. Serve the sauce over the steaks.

Chicken Cutlets with Portabella Bleu Cheese Sauce

Chicken Cutlets with Portabella Bleu Cheese Sauce

Inspiration: I really tried bleu cheese for the first time within the past year, and let’s just say that I couldn’t understand why anyone would eat it. To me, it was so ridiculously strong that I couldn’t even enjoy the taste. I wanted to like it, though, so I kept sampling it here and there, tried out some milder kinds, and before I knew it, I loved it. Now, bleu cheese is one of those random foods that I really crave all of the time, like peanut butter or avocados. Anyway, I get excited when we have some extra bleu cheese that needs used up, because I love finding ways to use it in our suppers.

What we Loved: We loved this sauce because it really tasted like bleu cheese. I’ve tried other bleu cheese sauces before that were too muted, but this one is really strongly flavored, because it doesn’t have many ingredients other than the cheese. If you don’t like bleu cheese, I wouldn’t try this one! On the other hand, if you love bleu cheese, then this is really great. The sauce has a nice, creamy texture, and the mushrooms really compliment the flavor of the cheese.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to let this sauce lightly boil for a bit to thicken up. It will be very thin at first. The sauce works great with chicken, but it would really work well over any protein of your choice. Beef or pork would be great!

Chicken Cutlets with Portabella Bleu Cheese Sauce
Source: Original Recipe

1 chicken breast, butterflied and then cut in half to create two cutlets
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, or other herbs as preferred
1 package baby portabella mushrooms
4-5 oz bleu cheese (I used gorgonzola. Roquefort would also be good)
Splash of milk

1. Season each side of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, and sprinkle them with rosemary.

2. Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan. When it is hot, add the chicken, and saute until the chicken is cooked through and browned on the outside, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Add the mushrooms to the saute pan. When the water starts to release from the mushrooms, stir and scrap the bottom of the pan, stirring any browned bits into the mushrooms.  Cook until the water released from the mushrooms is nearly gone.

4. Crumble the bleu cheese into the pan. Add a splash of milk, and stir until the cheese is melted. Bring the contents of the pan to a low boil, and cook for a few minutes longer until the sauce thickens up.

5. Serve the bleu cheese sauce over the chicken cutlets.

Grilled Rack of Lamb with Portabella Bourguignon

Inspiration: I have a wonderful husband. Last week, B told me that he wanted to make a special supper for me on Friday night. He picked out the entire meal and cooked everything himself while I relaxed after work. I came downstairs to this wonderful surpise. He is the sweetest person.

What we Loved: I felt like I was out at our favorite fancy restaurant while I was eating this. It was so good. B made a version of a bourguignon sauce from Smitten Kitchen that used portabellas as the base, then he topped it with rosemary-crusted grilled lamb. The sauce was incredibly rich, and it had so many different flavors from the mushrooms, the onions, the wine, and the spices. I really loved the flavor that the red wine gave the sauce, and it was perfect to enjoy a glass of that same wine alongside the meal. The lamb tasted wonderful with a nice char on the outside and a perfectly moist texture on the inside. B served this with a loaf of crusty bread to dip into the extra sauce, some skewers of grilled zucchini, squash, and bell peppers, and a bottle of wine. I’ve got to say that I think it was the best dinner that I’ve ever had.

Helpful Hints: Resist the urge to flip the lamb more than once after you put it on the grill. This will allow the lamb to get nice and charred, which really lends a great flavor to the meat. Though you traditionally use a burgundy wine in a bourguignon recipe, B used a cotes du rhone to pair better with the flavor of the lamb. We both thought that it was perfect.

Grilled Rack of Lamb with Portabella Bourguignon
Source for the bourguignon: Smitten Kitchen
Source for the rest of the meal: original recipe

B omitted the carrots and the pearl onions from the bourguignon sauce, but otherwise made it as written. The recipe for the entire meal follows.

For the Portabella Bourguignon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a  heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken but haven’t yet lost any liquid, approximately three to four minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan.

2. Lower the heat to medium, and add the second tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onions, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper into the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.

3. Add the wine to the pan, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat to high, and reduce the mixture by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the beef broth. Add the mushrooms and any juices that have collected back into the pan. Once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are very tender.

4. Combine the remaining butter and the flour with a fork, and stir it into the sauce. Lower the heat, and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Lamb
1 recipe portabella bourguignon sauce
1 rack of lamb (ours was 6 bone)
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped, plus more for garnish

1. Let the rack of lamb come to room temperature. If the lamb isn’t already trimmed of fat, trim most of the fat from the outside, leaving only a small layer (approximately 1/8 inch).

2. Drizzle the lamb with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Coat with the chopped rosemary.

3. Wrap the bones of the lamb in foil before placing on the grill, to avoid blackening.

4. Grill the lamb over medium heat for 17-20 minutes, flipping only once halfway through cooking.

5. Slice the lamb between the bones, and serve it over the bourguignon sauce, garnished with additional rosemary.

Sauteed Balsamic Portabellas with Basil

Sauteed Balsamic Portabellas with Basil

This mushroom side dish was so delicious. After one bite, I told B that I would be adding it to more meals in the future. The portabellas are sauteed in an incredibly flavorful mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings, and then they’re tossed with freshly chopped basil. After cooking, it’s almost like the mushrooms are coated in a glaze from the vinegar, which tastes incredible. Coupled with the fresh basil and the rich portabellas, the flavors really are perfect. I served these mushrooms alongside chicken cordon bleu sandwiches, because I was looking for something light and healthy to balance out the heavy sandwiches. The mushrooms have a strong Italian flavor, so I think that they would really work well alongside any Italian main dish like chicken Parmesan or chicken piccata, or even added to a pasta or chopped up and tossed with orzo.

Sauteed Balsamic Portabellas with Basil
Source: Adapted from Oakshire Mushroom Farm, Balsamic Marinated Mushrooms recipe

8 oz portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1/8 cup fresh basil, chopped

1. Place the mushrooms in a baking dish or bowl, and toss them with the balsamic vinegar, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Let the mushrooms sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Pour the mushrooms into the pan, and allow them to cook until the vinegar and the liquid released from the mushrooms is nearly evaporated, approximately 15 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, toss the mushrooms with the chopped basil, and serve.

Chicken stuffed with Pesto and Mushrooms

I love browning chicken breasts in a saute pan before letting them finish cooking in the oven. It always gives the chicken much more flavor and color than just baking it, and it’s super easy and painless, as long as you don’t try to grab the handle of your fresh-from-the-oven saute pan with a bare hand when you’re getting ready to plate your chicken. Seriously, don’t do that. I’m just glad that the chicken didn’t end up on the floor and that my hand has finally stopped throbbing. Anyway, this chicken was a nice and healthy weeknight meal, and B and I both really liked the flavor of the filling. It’s a simple mixture of onions, mushrooms, and pesto, and like nearly everything else that I’ve tried to combine with chicken breasts, it worked really well. While I was eating this, I thought that the flavors would also go great on a pizza….pesto sauce, diced chicken, sauteed mushrooms. I’m definitely going to make that pizza soon.

Chicken stuffed with Pesto and Mushrooms
Source: Original Recipe

2 chicken breasts, butterflied
1/2 small onion, diced
Approximately 4 mushrooms, diced (I used button mushrooms, but I think baby portabellas would work much better, since they have so much more flavor)
2 tablespoons pesto
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a saute pan, and heat the pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, then add the mushrooms and saute until they are cooked through and browned.

3. Pour the mushroom mixture into a small bowl. Add the pesto and stir to combine.

4. Scoop half of the mushroom mixture onto one side of each of the butterflied chicken breasts. Fold the other side of the chicken breasts back over the mixture, and then season the chicken with salt and pepper.

5. In the same pan that you used to saute the mushrooms, add another drizzle of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan, and saute until browned, about 2-3 minutes on each side.

6. Place the saute pan in the oven and cook until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside, approximately 25 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip the chicken to ensure even browning on both sides.

Mushroom and Parmesan Stuffed Chicken

Mushroom and Parmesan Stuffed Chicken

I always feel like stuffed chicken breasts are such a great meal, because there are so many different options. For fillings in the past I’ve used spinach and goat cheese, bacon and feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil, poblanos and cheddar…and there are a million other different combinations that I’d love to try. This mushroom filling turned out to be really rich and garlicy, and the parmesan cheese complimented the rest of the meal really well. Before baking, I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and drizzled it with olive oil, and I really loved how the oil seeped into and around the chicken, adding another layer of flavor.  Very hearty and satisfying.

Mushroom and Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Source: Original Recipe

2 chicken breasts
4-5 large button mushrooms (baby bellas would also work great), chopped into small pieces
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely shredded
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1. Place the chicken breasts between plastic wrap and flatten until 1/4 inch thick. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in a pan, and when hot add the onions and mushrooms. Cook until the liquid released from the mushrooms evaporates and the vegetables begin to brown, approximately ten minutes. Add the garlic and the parsley to the pan and cook for one additional minute.

3. Top the chicken breasts with the mushroom mixture, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Roll the ends of the chicken breast around the filling and secure with toothpicks.

4. Drizzle the chicken breasts with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the toothpicks, sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese, and serve.