Stuffed Portabellos

Lasagna-stuffed portabellos.

Lasagna-stuffed portabellos.

We are big fans of stuffed mushrooms at our house.  I often make them as a side dish to serve with steak, or as appetizers when entertaining.  One day, however, I took special note of portabello mushroom caps and realized how many bites of stuffed mushroom you could get with just one cap.   Hey, maybe, just maybe, one of these jumbo s’rooms could become a whole meal. 😀

Well, that’s all it took for my imagination to go flying off in several directions trying to think up the perfect filling that would turn a mushroom cap into a meal.  I finally settled on lasagna as the answer.  I would take all the parts of lasagna that we love i.e.., the sauce, cheese and flavor; and leave out the pasta i.e.., calories and carbs, turning this into an inside-out vegetarian lasagna-stuffed mushroom.   Anything involving tomato sauce and gooey melted mozzarella cheese, is a winner with me.   I’ve made these several times now, testing the recipe, and I’ve determined that it’s ready for public unveiling.  Served with a side salad, we think they’re super for supper.   I hope you do too.

Please note that in the accompanying photos, I made only two caps as they were really large and definitely a meal in themselves.

After baking:  melty, cheesy,  goodness.

After baking: melty, cheesy, goodness.


YIELD:   4 – 6 servings


  • 4 – 6 large portabello mushroom caps
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6  oz. mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2/3 cup drained chopped frozen spinach  (This time I used kale, precooked and chopped fine,)
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, or pizza sauce


1.  Preheat the oven to 425*F.   Line a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish with foil.   Remove stems from the mushrooms and carefully scrape the gills from the caps with a spoon or paring knife; discard.   Place the mushroom caps on the baking sheet.

2.  In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil.  Brush the garlic-oil mixture over the inside of the mushroom caps.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Brush caps, inside and out, with seasoned olive oil.

Brush caps, inside and out, with seasoned olive oil.

Roast the caps for about 10 minutes.   Remove from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature.  If excess liquid has collected inside or underneath the caps, blot it away with a paper towel.

Roast for 10 minutes.

Roast for 10 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, about 3/4 of the mozzarella, spinach, and Italian seasoning.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix to evenly incorporate.  Divide the mixture into the roasted portabello caps, spreading gently to fill them evenly.

In goes the ricotta cheese filling.

In goes the ricotta cheese filling.

Top each with 1 – 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce.   Sprinkle the tops with the remaining mozzarella cheese

Cover it with a little tomato sauce, then mozzarella cheese.

Cover it with a little tomato sauce, then mozzarella cheese.

4.  Return to the oven and bake 10 – 15 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and the filling is warmed through.  Serve with additional tomato sauce, as desired.

After baking:  melty, cheesy,  goodness.

After baking: melty, cheesy, goodness.

Make a meal on a meaty mushroom, and a side salad.

Make a meal on a meaty mushroom, and a side salad.

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals


Herbed Chicken Parmesan

Sometimes I am in the mood for a comforting meal that’s filling and delicious, but don’t have a lot of time to prepare it.  I’m sure you have the same experience on many occasions. Well, I am alway on the look-out for easy to prepare, quick meals, and when I find ones that look interesting, I dog-ear the page, or tear out the clipping.  The problem with me is that I can’t remember where I saw it , or where I put the clipping.  I just remember enough to purchase the necessary ingredients,  and then go “where did I see  that recipe? or,” where did I put that clipping?”  I am developing a better system of recipe organization,  but that story will wait for another time!  This recipe meets all my requirements:  quick, easy, well-balanced, not very fancy, but just plain good.

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

For the pasta, I recommend Orzo, because it cooks quickly; and tastes good with some sauce over it.  To round out the meal add a vegetable like broccoli, which  also cooks quickly, and  looks great on the plate with the white pasta and red sauce.  A side salad would go well with this meal, but not really necessary.   I would, however, have a great white wine with it , like a Chardonnay!

Total time to prepare:  about 30 minutes.   Yield:  4 servings

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups bottled tomato-basil pasta sauce, or better yet, your own homemade tomato sauce.
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese
  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish.
  2. Place egg in another shallow dish.  Dip each chicken tender in egg, then dredge in bread-crumb mixture.
  3. Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken;  cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.  Set aside in the pan.
  4. Combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar, and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap;  vent.  Microwave sauce mixture at HIGH for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  5. Preheat broiler.
  6. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the pan.  Sprinkle  evenly with the remaining Parmesan and all of the provolone cheese.  Wrap handle of pan with foil, and broil 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Chicken Parmesan with Orzo and Broccoli

Chicken Parmesan with Orzo and Broccoli

Source:  slightly adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This dish is intended to be cooked in a slow-cooker.   I can remember only one other time in my whole cooking-lifetime that I made stuffed cabbage rolls, and they, too, were cooked in a slow-cooker.   On reading this recipe I was intrigued by the promise of sweet – sour combination of flavors, so I decided to give it a try.

First off, let me confess that I don’t know my way around cabbage very well.   Mostly what I do with it is make coleslaw, and I let my processor do the shredding for me.  I also sometimes coarsely shred it with a knife to cook with Kielbasa. That’s about the extent of my cabbage repertoire.   So what I’m trying to say is that I’m not very adept at shaping and rolling a filling into a cabbage leaf.  If you are someone who can do this very well, please don’t laugh when you see the photos of my endeavors.  After all, pretty doesn’t taste any better, does it?

Secondly, there are several steps involved in getting everything ready to go into the crockpot–the recipe predicts a prep time of 20 minutes–but it took me much longer, about 30 – 45 minutes.  Plan ahead if you are going to make this, or assemble it the night before and start cooking in the morning.


  • 1 small – medium head of green cabbage

    Have all your ingredients ready.

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced.  I used a large shallot.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cans tomato sauce, ( 8 ounce each)
  • 2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 slices reduced-calorie wheat bread.  I used one multi-grain wheat thin.
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups cooked egg noodles

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Boil cabbage 12 – 15 minutes, then drain well.  Carefully remove outer leaves–you will need about 12.  Remove tough stem from each leaf and set aside.  Shred the remaining cabbage and place in the bottom of the slow-cooker.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large  non stick skillet over medium heat; cook onion 5 minutes.

Cooking the onion , garlic and seasonings.

Add garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg; cook 1 minute.  Remove half of this mixture and set aside.

Add tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar.

Stir tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar into skillet and remove from heat.

Use processor to make the meat filling.

3.  In a processor, pulse bread and milk until a paste is formed.  Add reserved onion mixture, beef, salt and pepper and pulse until well combined.

4.  With stem ends of cabbage leaves facing you, place 2 heaping Tablespoons of meat mixture in center of each leaf and roll up.

Meat filling rolled into the cabbage leaves.

5.  Place rolls, seam-side down, in slow cooker.  Pour sauce over all.

Pour tomato sauce over cabbage rolls in slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours.  Serve with egg noodles.

Serve over egg noodles.

Our assessment of this recipe:  First I think the name of this dish is a misnomer;  the flavor is more sweet than sour, but not overly sweet.  Secondly, we both thought the meat filling was very compact and dense.  If I were to make this again,  I would not mix the filling in a processor, but instead in a bowl, like making meatloaf.  It would then be lighter and more textured, perhaps adding some cooked white rice would help. The tomato sauce was flavorful with a faint hint of the cinnamon, which I thought complemented the cabbage.  When we ate the leftovers, I thought the whole dish tasted better the second time around, and the meat filling was more moist.

SOURCE:  Family Circle Magazine, November, 2012:  Slow Cooker Suppers

Homestyle Stuffed Peppers

I have two different ways that I prepare Stuffed Peppers;  one kind is made using Cubanelle or frying peppers, and this way using the more familiar Bell peppers.  This is the classic recipe my mother always made which I grew up on.  At another time I will share with you my recipe for the stuffed frying peppers.

Peppers in  any color combination–green, red, yellow, orange–are stuffed with a mixture of seasoned ground beef and rice then covered in a tomato sauce and baked until tender.  Sometimes I serve them with pasta such as rotini to soak up the sauce, or I might serve them with mashed potatoes and another vegetable like carrots.  It makes a very colorful plate.  The peppers may be oven baked or cooked in a slow cooker.


Servings:   4 

  • 4 nicely shaped bell peppers, tops, seeds and membranes removed.
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 (14.5 0z. can tomato sauce) or jarred spaghetti sauce


  1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the peppers in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.  Remove the peppers, rinse with cold water, and set aside to drain.
  2. Mix together ground beef, cooked rice, egg, chopped onion, bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese in a large bowl.  Combine well.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Divide beef and rice mixture evenly among the peppers, taking care not to pack too tightly.
  5. Place peppers standing up in a baking dish or shallow roasting pan.  It’s best if they fit rather snugly so they can support each other.
  6. Pour the tomato sauce over all.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until tender, basting with the tomato sauce several times while baking,  about 1 hour and  20 minutes.
  8. Alternately, place peppers standing up in a slow cooker, pour sauce over all, and cook on LOW 6-8 hours.

Marinara Sauce

One of the things I like to have on hand at all times is Marinara Sauce.  This is the basic tomato sauce that I use the most.  This got me to thinking that from time to time I would write about foods that I consider “kitchen basics”, and this is one of them.  It is extremely easy to make,  and so worthwhile because it is so versatile.  During the time the sauce is simmering you can be doing something else.  This is a nice thick sauce that is great with any pasta shape. If you think it needs to be thinned down a little for a particular recipe you can add a little white wine to it.  It can also handle the addition of meatballs or sausage, and you can certainly add additional seasonings to your taste.

This recipe makes about 2 quarts (8cups);  3-4 cups will serve 4 over pasta.


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil  (note;  use a good quality EVOO, one with a fruity flavor, because this enhances the sauce.)
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 ( 32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (note: here too, be sure to use the best canned ones you can find, preferably the San Marzano variety.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (my preference)
In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté  until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
 Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and any other seasonings you prefer, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens,about an hour.  Remove bay leaves and discard.  Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.
I like to double this recipe when I make it, so I can freeze the extra in 2-3 cup portions in freezer bags, or containers;  then it’s ready when I need some.
Source:  Giada De Laurentis, “Everyday Italian”,  with slight modifications.