Tag Archives: vegetarian

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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Portobello Quinoa Burgers with Chipotle Mayo

My mood yesterday screamed cook, cook cook. But what?  Tobi sent me a recipe from Epicurious which I changed around a little and I highly recommend this to everyone, meat lovers or veggie’s like me.  Also, I recommend the Epicurious app.  Now that I have been introduced, I can’t stop searching delicious looking and sounding recipes.

This recipe calls for:
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup coarse kasha (whole roasted buckwheat groats) or quinoa
1 pound portobella mushrooms, stems discarded – or the sliced baby bella’s with stems.
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper – or a mix of green, red, orange, and yellow
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 1/2 cups fine dry bread crumbs, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Tabasco chipotle sauce, or to taste
8 large oval slices rye bread, cut into 4 1/2-inch rounds if desired, lightly toasted

First chop everything up while you cook the quinoa or kasha according to the bag.  I used The Chopper Machine from the Pampered Chef to quicken the time it would take to chop everything, but a food processor will also work as well as simply sharpening your favorite chopping knife and cleaning off the cutting board.  I am still unsure of what kasha is, but they didn’t have it at the grocery store, so I stuck with Quinoa as it’s small like couscous and healthy with 100% whole grain while still being versatile enough to cook sweet with apples and raisins for breakfast or throw in some soy sauce and Sriracha like you might with rice.


Toss the chopped mushrooms in a bowl and set aside.  Heat up a 10-12 inch skillet and add in the onions and peppers cooking for approximately five minutes or until the onions start to become transparent with butter.  My mom made fajitas a few nights ago and pre-cut up red, yellow, green, and orange bell peppers, the color and different tastes to each pepper really accentuated the taste of the burger. Then add into the pan the mushrooms, garlic, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Cook these on medium high for anywhere from 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms have exerted all of their liquid and it has evaporated.


While your veggies are cooking go ahead and make the chipotle mayo sauce.  It is simply mayo and Tabasco thrown together.  I added a little more Tabasco for a real kick.  Set aside to spread on your rye bread later and let the flavors meld together .


When your vegetables are complete add the quinoa or kasha, soy sauce, parsley, half a cup of the bread crumbs and set aside for 10 minutes to cool. When cooled add the lightly beaten egg.

Form a patty to desired size (I went with about a half-inch thick and the size of my hands).  To coat in bread crumbs, I poured the remaining crumbs into a unrolled aluminum foil piece with the sides folded up.  Then simply drop the patty into one portion of the crumbs and shake around until enough coat the top.  Continue until you have made all the patties.  Here the recipe suggests the patties chill, loosely covered, for an hour. This will probably help them to stick together and stay formed when cooked later.  For time’s sake, I chose to go ahead and cook them after this step.  image

To cook the burgers, simply fill the cleaned off skillet (or your remains will burn) with a fourth cup of oil (preferably olive oil for your health and a cleaner taste).  Fry each patty for approx 2-4 minutes per side. They will cook quickly, so watch them.


Place your hot burger in between two slices of already chipotle mayo spread rye bread.  The mayo makes the rye bread less of a shock to your taste buds and the sour spice of the Tabasco eats it’s way into the burger squishing with the bread in each bite.  The garlic, soy, salt and pepper surprisingly add to the burger patty enough that there is no need for any other spice.  The quinoa’s sticky nature adheres to the veggies to keep the burger in one piece.  Add a tequila sunrise to pair with the spice of the chipotle mayo.


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8″ Round Glory

The office ordered lunch again today. Marino’s. I fell in love with their scrumptious italian food on our first birthday lunch order, and again today.  Anyone in the Elk Grove area should really try this place out.  It is packed at lunch so I recommend ordering in.

The half order would have been too much, but my boss forgot to say only half. When I opened my carton up, there sat an eight inch, round, tomato topped, parmesan sprinkled, stuffed fat with delicious ingredients.  Four perfectly sliced triangles.  The artichoke hearts in the middle oozed with flavor balancing perfectly with the onions and balsamic house dressing soaking into the bottom bread slice.  I am not usually a roasted red pepper fan, but they had great flavor and weren’t overpowering.  Foccacia bread puffed up thick oozing with provolone cheese.  The Veggie Focaccia on 8″ Round Tomato Bread is perfect for a vegetarian, and great for Friday Lenten meat-less choices, and price friendly. Purchase a full and split it with a friend.

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