Tag Archives: mushrooms

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Can I have a car air freshener in Shepherd’s Pie??  For Shirley’s birthday, my boss decided we’d all make an ethnic food and share during lunch.  There was everything from Thai food to Polish to my Irish Sheppard’s Pie (mutilated, as Brandon says, because I made it vegetarian and it is usually rich with meat).

You should buy:

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 ounce portabella mushrooms
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

With a whisk, whip together the cream of mushroom soup, your choice of dry red wine (I used a cheap brand, but the addition of wine really perked up the adult taste buds), tomato paste and flour. When the liquid is creamy and smooth, set aside for some time to let the flavors meld.

Chop up your potatoes and place in a large, covered, boiling pot of water.  Cook until they almost fall of a fork when poked, about 20-30 minutes.

In a frying pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add in a handful of mushrooms (don’t overcrowd them, just enough to evenly cover the bottom of the pan) and cook over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are browned on both sides.  Place in a separate bowl, and then repeat until all of the mushrooms are completely browned.

Melt another tablespoon of butter in the now empty pan and toss in your onion, celery, garlic, carrots and seasonings. 

 Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions become translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the wine, mushroom broth mix to the pan making sure to scrape the sides of the pan and bottom to keep from burning. Simmer for 3 minutes.  Plop in the mushrooms and cook at a simmering stage until thick and darker maroon in color, approximately 8 minutes.

Strain the liquid from the potatoes and return to the pot.  

Mash together the potato chunks, 2 Tbsp. butter and cream with an electric hand mixer for about 5 minutes or until smooth and whipped. Season with salt and pepper.

In a pie dish, 9″ x 9″ baking dish or mini bread loaf pans, spread the vegetable mixture over the bottom.

On top, dot the potatoes all the way across to the edges.  Take your fork and sporadically dip in and out of the top of the potatoes to create little peaks and valleys. These will become a crunchy texture in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes. The vegetable mixture may bubble, breaking the potatoes away from the sides.  If you like the top more crunchy and browned, turn on the broiler and heat for 5 more minutes.

I chose to cook this in disposable mini bread tins for the sole purpose of reheating them at lunch in the toaster oven. They fit perfectly.  I tossed them in the oven to cook before leaving for work and by lunch, they only needed about 5 minutes of reheating.  I drove all the way to work (just under an hour) to work smelling this deliciousness and somehow managed to dispel the urge to pop open a pie and dig in.  The mix made about 7 minis: one for my mom, two and a half for lunch, and three for people to take home.


Just the smell was enough to make someone do a happy dance.  The mushrooms (could have been chopped smaller) mixed with cream of mushroom soup helped to make a hearty, thick vegetarian version of this hodgepodge of a dish.  The potatoes fill your stomach right up, as Irish food is known for, and the butter and cream helped to flavor the bland starch some.  I used Lucky Duck Shiraz, a cheap wine, but it supplied the distinct, incomparable oomph necessary to make a meat dish turned vegetarian work.  The potatoes just melt in your mouth, and dissipate some of the saltiness of the cream of mushroom soup.

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Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes


When in need of an extra vegetable that can sub as a main meal for the vegetarian coming to your party, reference back to this recipe.  I made these for Christmas and was in no way missing out during dinner.


What you’ll need:


  • 8-10 medium tomatoes
  • 1 box couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 cup 2 different kinds of mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 package mozzarella cheese


Wash the tomatoes then start by cutting the tomatoes in half and spooning the center out into a bowl.  I used a melon baller, which worked perfectly for this task. Set aside for later.


Next, fry the onions, mushrooms and garlic together with a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a frying pan.  Cook until the mushroom turn dark brown in color and the onions become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Everything should smell of garlic.

Toss in your greens and spices (spinach, basil, pepper, cayenne, Italian seasoning) next then cook until the basil shrinks, about 2-4 minutes.


While your vegetables are cooking you can start the couscous. Cook according to the directions replacing the water with vegetable broth.  When the couscous is almost complete, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes until thoroughly heated (I used canned sun-dried tomatoes that were already softened).  When I made this I used two boxes of couscous because I doubled up on the amount of tomatoes, but this is not necessary.  One box was plenty and the condensed vegetable medley would have provided more flavors.


Next mix together your vegetables, couscous and tomato pulp in a mixing bowl.


Stuff the couscous blend into the tomato halves and place on a roasting pan.


Top each tomato shell with a healthy amount of cheese. Here you can experiment using parmesan, mozzarella, white cheddar or even fresh mozzarella slices. Another tasty option would be to mix parmesan inside the couscous mix and top with mozzarella.


Bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.


To brown the top, broil for 3-5 minutes.


This was an excellent main course for Christmas for the vegetarian in our small group (me).  My uncle stated that when he spooned in a piece of basil with his grains it made a huge difference in adding much-needed flavor to the boring couscous.  The tomatoes mush, somewhat, when cooked allowing your fork to slice right through scooping up bits of grains, cheese, vegetables and tomato. 


I took both the left over couscous medley, tasty just on its own, and whole tomatoes to lunch for the next week. Two was more than enough to keep me going until dinner. The couscous, similar to when you cook it, puffs up in your stomach keeping you full for quite a while with a healthy carbohydrate. To make this gluten-free simply substitute in quinoa for the couscous.

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Andrew’s Veg-Friendly Puttanesca Sauce

Andrew claims there is more than one vegetarian-friendly recipe in his repertoire, and I’m sure hoping because this recipe was out of this world.  Next time, the sous chef gets to help out with more than cutting the onion and garlic and stirring.

While at the store, pick up:

  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 jar Kalamata olives
  • 1 Tbsp. capers
  • 1 box Rigatoni
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (more for drinking)
  • 1 loaf of bread +butter and garlic

Start by prepping the onions, mushrooms and garlic by roughly chopping. 

Sauté the onion with oil for 2 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. 

Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.  Turn down the heat, toss in the garlic and cook until aromatic. 

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, begin cooking the pasta and sprinkle in a little sea salt to the water.

Pit the olives and slice a knife lengthwise through the batch a few times for a chunky chopped look. 

Heat them in the sauté pan for a few minutes.


Top with the tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Stir until hot.


Drain the pasta, adding 1/4-1/2 cup of the starchy water to the sauce.  The starch will thicken it.  Continue stirring to it from splattering and sputtering all over the oven-top.  Pour in the wine, stirring for another minute or so.  Mix in the drained pasta and top with a few capers.

See my previous Garlic Bread recipe for the remaining ingredients.

Rigatoni holds little chunks of mushroom and olives inside its short tube whilst squishing out warm tomato sauce onto your taste buds with each bite.  The big globs of mushrooms and olives created a thickness and texture to the sauce, segregating it from bland store-bought Ragu.  Even though there is no meat in the sauce, the mushrooms create a smooth, unseasoned meat consistency and flavoring to the meal.  The olives, kalamata ones in particular, add in the salty twang (like the capers) with a meaty heartiness.  Paired with sweet, yet tart, acidic tomatoes, you end up with a well-rounded palate for dinner.  Don’t forget to add in a glass of wine and garlic bread.

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Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

My mom found this recipe on Food Network’s website, and I have to say, who doesn’t love a good Paula Deen dish?  They’re always loaded with lots of butter, heavy cream, and Southern love.

For this easy Quiche, buy:

  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
  • 1 package of button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • Optional mozzarella or white cheddar cheese for filling or topping
  • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

In a food processor or blender (or whisk by hand), fuse together the eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper. In the pie crust (which may already be in a metal baking container or place in a 9-inch glass pie plate) layer your other ingredients: spinach, mushrooms, cheese. Pour on the egg mixture.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the egg mixture becomes a solid and there is no sign of liquid left in the pie.  Serve in wedges.  Top with freshly ground pepper and cheese if desired

This dish is really versatile and can be great for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner or linner.  The real recipe calls for bacon instead of mushrooms, which would add a lot more flavor.  I choose to add flavor with spices and by swapping in a stronger heartier cheese to mix with the swiss, which can sometimes be too pungent and leave a bad taste in your mouth for hours after.  Shake it up and add tomatoes, broccoli, or any other additive.  I absolutely love when pie crusts flake off and crumble like the Dominick’s brand we bought (Surprising, I know. The off brand was actually good.).  That is the perfect density for a crust, and usually still holds together at the bottom.  If you aren’t a pie lover, this will give you that same pie feeling without all the sweetness.



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Sugar Snap Tofu

The sauce and cook method of the tofu for this dish was based on a recipe I found on Epicurious which I spiced up with my own touch.  A very filling, rich, palatable entrée.


  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce & 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 4 tsp. sesame or olive oil & 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar & 3 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 16-oz. container extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 4 Tbsp. peanut oil/olive oil
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 carton button mushrooms
  • 1 package Green Giant frozen microwavable sugar snap peas

Start by cutting the tofu into thin slices lengthwise and once down the middle crosswise. Allow them to drain on a few paper towels atop your cutting board for five minutes.  While these are draining and drying toss your peas into the microwave for 3.5-5 minutes and set aside.  Heat 2 Tbsp. of peanut oil (or if you are out of it in your pantry like I was, olive oil with a tsp. of creamy peanut butter will give your tofu the same nutty flavor) at medium high.  Place your tofu into the oil and cook for 5 minutes on each side, not moving until you are ready to flip for the perfect brown, crisp edge.  I used a metal spatula with lines for drainage when turning and removing the tofu. This way I could scrape the bottom of the frying pan (stainless steel pan) to get all the crunchy pieces off leaving it clean for the next round.  Place back on paper towel to drain when finished.image

While your tofu is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together 3 1/2 Tbsp. of soy sauce, 4 tsp. of sesame oil or olive oil, and 3 tsp. of rice vinegar.  When your tofu is slightly drained and cooled, transfer onto a piece of aluminum foil and fold up the edges to create a container.  Brush on your mixture letting the tofu soak in the remainder and take on the flavor of the soy and vinegar while you move onto your next step.image

Clean your frying pan of any excess oil and add in 2 more Tablespoons of olive oil (or sesame oil). Cook the garlic, mushrooms, green onions, and ginger until the mushrooms start to darken in color and you can really smell the differentiating spices, about 2-4 minutes.  imageToss in the sugar snap peas and  cook for an additional 2-4 minutes.   Fold in the tofu with the remaining sauce and cook again for 2-4 minutes warming the tofu and combining all the flavors together.  Serve plain or over rice.image

The soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and peanut oil create an authentic Asian flavor to your dish and the extra sauce in the pan will coat your rice if you choose to serve the recipe that way.  The sugar snap peas add a little sweetness to the salty, meaty flavor of the soy, mushroom and tofu mix.  Tofu, a protein, is filling in itself, paired with the mushrooms creates a balanced, full vegetarian meal.


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Summer Fresh Pasta

This is my mom’s favorite pasta to make in the summertime. It’s perfect for any barbecue’s as a side or as the whole meal, although a little bland until I put my two cents in.

You will need:

Half a carton of mini grape tomatoes, cleaned
Bunch of green beans, cleaned and cut in half
12 oz. box whole wheat farafale
3 green onions, sliced
Carton of button mushrooms, cleaned and cut into four
Shaved parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan boil water with a pinch of salt.  When heated, add in the farfale and green beans and cook until pasta is ready. Drain.  The green beans should be crunchy when you bite into them, so combining the two in the same pot allows them to cook just enough that they are heated but still crisp.



While your pasta and green beans are cooking, add a tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan and add in the green onions and mushrooms.  Here I added a little oregano and black pepper for taste.  cook until the mushrooms shrink in size some, still hold their shape, but are softer when bitten into.  They will also change in color to a darker brown.  Add in the tomatoes and cook until they are heated, about 5 minutes.  They will start bursting in their little shells if left in too long.image

Combine your drained pasta, green beans, sautéed mushrooms, green onions, and tomatoes in a large bowl.  Top with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese and stir until everything is coated and gooey from the cheese.

My favorite aspect of this pasta salad are the mini grape tomatoes which are very sweet and not as acidic as other tomatoes. They pop open in your mouth and ooze out their insides, but be careful as they hold in heat and burn your mouth.  The parmesan adds the right amount of salty, meaty, protein while the oregano and red pepper flakes keep the dish from being to bland.  You can also try mozzarella or adding bacon.  Serve with a fresh loaf of french bread and some olive oil mixed with parmesan cheese, black pepper, and balsamic vinaigrette.


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