Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls


vegetarian mushroom stew in bread bowls

Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls

An easy, elegant vegetarian starter to your holiday meal.

A common reaction from your friends after they hear that you’ve gone veg, is – What do you eat? I tell them, I don’t know about you, but I eat food. What, lettuce? – I hear back. Nope, I eat hearty, healthy foods. This mushroom stew is a perfect example of that. It’s got the 3 H’s covered. Hot, Hearty & Healthy! It’s got a couple of yummys thrown in, too. Plus, it presents beautifully. So, if you want to impress your guests and family, serve them this beautiful, flavorful stew.                                                        The line up for this dish.  

Mushroom stew ingredients

Mushroom stew ingredients

 Dump the dried porcini into a bowl and add the 1 cup of boiling water. Give it a stir and set it aside to soak for 10 minutes.

dried porcini mushrooms soaking

soaking the dry porcini mushrooms

Don’t get ahead of yourself and dump that mushroom flavored liquid out. You are going to need it.

Take the Kaiser rolls, I used whole wheat, and using a serrated knife, slice the tops off. Using your fingers, pull out enough bread from the roll to make a hollowed out bowl.

Hollowed out bread rolls

Hollowed out bread rolls.

Save the pulled out bread for making stuffings or your own panko crumbs. If you can’t find Kaiser rolls, any large bun will do. You want it to be 4 to 5 inches across and at least 3 inches thick. Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of oil on the bread bowls and the tops.

oil on bread bowls

Brush on the olive oil.

Place in a 400º degree oven for about 5 minutes, until light gold and crispy. Set them aside.

toasted bread bowls

Toasted bread bowls.

Slice up all the white, shiitake and baby bella mushrooms and put in a bowl.

chopped mushrooms

Chopped white, shiitake and baby bella mushrooms.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped scallions. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, add in the diced garlic and cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes.

sauteed scallions and garlic

Sauteed scallions and garlic.

Dump in the fresh mushrooms and cook,

cooking the mushrooms

Add in the fresh mushrooms.

stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

the cooked mushrooms

cooked and ready for the next step

Scoop the procini out of the liquid and drain on paper towels. Chop up the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a lined sieve.

mushroom broth

Straining the flavorful mushroom broth.

Pour the mushroom liquid to the cooked mushrooms in the pan. Add in the chopped porcini. Raise the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes.

adding tomatoes, basil, broth

Add in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, basil, salt & pepper.

Add in the chopped tomatoes, broth, basil, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. While it’s boiling, add in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring until slightly thickened. About 1 minute more. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the stew into the bread bowls. Sprinkle with the shaved cheese and replace tops. Eat, enjoy!

mushroom stew

Vegetarian Mushroom Stew in a Toasted Bread Bowl.

Recipe time!

Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls
Recipe type: Main course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 4 Kaiser rolls or any roll 4 to 5 inches across and 3 inches thick
  • 1 ounce package of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 2 scallions or green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced garlic
  • 8 to 10 ounce package white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounce package baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 ounce package of shiitake mushrooms, sliced with stems discarded
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup shaved Organic Valley swiss or Cabot monterey jack cheese for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place the dried porcini mushrooms into a small bowl and pour in the boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Using a serrated knife, slice the tops off the rolls. Using your fingers, carefully pull out enough bread to create a bowl like indention. Using 1 tablespoon of oil, brush the insides of the bread bowl and the undersides of the tops. Place the bread bowls and tops on a baking sheet and bake until light gold and crisp, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet. Using medium heat, sauté the scallions for a minute, then add the diced garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the white, shiitake and baby portabella mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Scoop the soaked porcini mushrooms out of the liquid and drain on paper towels. Coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the porcini liquid through a lined sieve and add into the pan, along with the chopped porcini. Increase the heat to high and cook 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, broth, basil, salt and pepper and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. While it's boiling, add in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring until slightly thickened. About 1 minute. Stir in parsley. Spoon the stew into the bread bowls, sprinkle with shaved cheese and replace bread tops. Serve.


Brown Rice and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers


Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Halloween stuffed pepper


You’ve seen them on Pinterest, Facebook or someplace else. Those cute stuffed peppers with a carved face, just like a little Jack O’ Lantern. Now, you’re going to see them here, too. Except, this “food with a face” you can eat! A totally vegetarian version of stuffing goes in these babies. And might I just add, a really, really tasty stuffing. I stuffed more of it in me than I did the peppers.

On to the particulars.

Gather the cast and crew.

stuffed pepper ingredients

For mini Jack O’ Lanterns, you will want to use the orange peppers. You’ll notice that a lighter one has snuck into the line up. He just doesn’t spend as much time in the tanning booth as the others.

I’m going to share one of my culinary secrets. I use frozen microwave brown rice. You’re shocked, I can tell. It’s ok, we all have our little short cuts. This is mine. Most recipes call for two cups of cooked rice and guess what? That little bag has two cups in it. Destiny, right? The ingredients are – brown rice, water. Works for me! So, pop that bag in the microwave and cook it. Set it aside to cool down while you clean the peppers.

Carefully cut the tops off the peppers and remove seeds.

Cleaned peppers

Get out your carving tools, mine was a tiny paring knife, and carve little faces into the pepper sides. Don’t hate the yellow guy.

tiny faces

tiny faces

Get out a large mixing bowl. Dump the cooled rice into it. Add in the drained and rinsed black beans.

In a dry sautee pan, over medium heat, toast your chopped walnuts.

toasted walnuts

Don’t wander off. Stay put and give these a stir after a minute. When you smell them, remove from heat and pour into the mixing bowl. Wipe out the pan, add the olive oil and the diced carrots. Saute for about 3 minutes, then add in the diced zucchini.

veggie sautee

Cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into the mixing bowl. Add in the chopped parsley, the crumbled goat cheese and the Italian dressing. Salt and pepper to your liking.

mix it all up


Spoon the stuffing into the peppers. Fill them up and pack it in. Arrange peppers in the baking dish.

Are you lookin’ at me?

Keep the tops off for the first part of baking. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place tops on peppers and return to oven. Bake another 30 minutes or until done.

Don’t eat me!


The toasty walnuts, the creaminess of the goat cheese and the crunch of the pepper. Oh my.

Join me for dinner?


Brown Rice and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers


Serves: 4           Prep time: 20 min       Bake time: 50 min




  • 4 bell peppers – for Halloween, use all orange color
  • 1 pkg of microwave brown rice, cooked according to package instructions, set aside to cool.
  • 1 can black beans, 15 oz or so. Rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup of zucchini, diced.
  • 3/4 cup carrot, diced.
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup Italian oil and vinegar type dressing




Preheat oven to 350º. Spray or grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.C

Carefully cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. For Halloween, carve cute faces into pepper wall. Set aside.

Pour cooled rice in a large mixing bowl. Add in the rinsed and drained black beans.

In a dry sautee pan, over medium heat, toast chopped walnuts. It only takes a few minutes. Remove from pan and add to bowl mixture.

Wipe out pan. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and swirl to coat. Add in the diced carrots and sautee 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the diced zucchini. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add to bowl mixture.

To the mixture in the large bowl, add the crumbled goat cheese, the chopped parsley, and the Italian dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Using a spoon or scoop, stuff the peppers full of the mixture.

Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish. Keep the top part of the pepper off. Bake stuffed peppers at 350º for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place pepper caps on top and return to oven. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until done. Peppers will sag and the tops will be browned when done.

Another Holiday side dish. Scalloped potatoes and kale

scallop potato and kale gratin

scalloped potatoes and kale


Kale. A leafy, green, stalky, thing. I generally do not like leafy, green, stalky, things. I can narrow that down – I do not like greens. I can grow collards, mustard greens, turnip greens and cook them up just fine. Just don’t expect me to eat them. Nope, not gonna happen.

Funny thing about belonging to a produce co-op, you never know what’s going to be offered. Sometimes, it’s a bonanza for me. Hello, organic shiitake mushrooms! Other times it’s a Buh? Moment. Like kiwiberries. What are those? Well, they’re tiny, kiwi like, berries. I was shocked, I tell you. Kiwis that are a berry! My world has exploded with new and wondrous produce. Then, along came kale. And the kale cheerleaders. “You must try it. Makes delicious chips.” What is it with kale chips? Do they give you super powers? Do you get to belong to a super secret kale club? With a handshake? Try it, they said. You’ll like it, they said. So I did. Try it, that is. No secret hand shake. Dang. No chips were made either. Maybe, they do give you super powers. What is did, was find a recipe and make it my own. Now, you can make it your own, too.

The kale line up.

kale. potatoes, cheese

scalloped potatoes and kale ingredients

Rinse and shake dry the kale. Fold it in half, holding in one hand. With the other hand, pull that stem off. Nobody wants that stuff. Yuk. Now, tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Stuff them all in a larger stock pot. Add in 1/2 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Cook until the kale wilts, about 8 minutes. Drain and let cool.

cooked kale

draining the cooked kale

When cool enough to handle, squeeze the excess water out. Fluff and set aside.

Peel and slice the potatoes into thin slices. You’ll want between 4 and 5 cups of sliced potatoes.

potato and kale gratin ingredients

fluffy kale, sliced potatoes, shredded cheese, butter and garlic

A mandoline comes in handy here. I got mine at a thrift store. Amazon has some good ones, too.

Preheat your oven to 425º. Spray or grease a 2qt casserole dish. Spread half the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish.

potato layer

potato layer

Next, add all the kale in a layer. Top that with half the shredded cheese, all the garlic and half the butter cubes.

kale and cheese layer

kale, cheese garlic and butter

Arrange the last of the potatoes on top. Then, add the remaining cheese and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover it all with a cup of milk.

scalloped kale

final layer, adding the milk

I used almond milk. Give the dish a gentle shake to settle it.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese has browned. Get a plate and eat that sucker up!

Scalloped kale with potatoes


Scalloped potatoes and kale
Recipe type: casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound of fresh kale or 1- 10 ounce package of frozen, thawed and squeezed dry.
  • 6 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin, about 4 to 5 cups.
  • 1 teaspoon of finely diced garlic
  • 1½ cups of grated Organic Valley Baby Swiss cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk, almond milk works for this
  • Salt and pepper
  1. If you are using fresh kale, rinse thoroughly and shake dry. Pull kale leaves from stems and rip into smaller pieces. Put kale into a large stock pot with ½ cup of water. Cook over medium high heat for about 8 minutes or until kale wilts. Drain and let cool. When cool, squeeze dry. Fluff and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray or grease a 2qt casserole dish. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Spread all of the kale as the next layer. Sprinkle on half the cheese and all the garlic. Dot with half the butter. Arrange the last of the potatoes on top. Then, add the remaining cheese and butter. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Pour the milk evenly over the top and gently shake to settle.
  3. Bake 45 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese is browned.


Easy side dishes to wow your Thanksgiving dinner guests! Mashed Cauliflower.

First up, a flavorful smashed cauliflower dish that will make plain, old, mashed potatoes jealous. Plus, it has the bonus of being able to travel, if you need a take & bake dish! This is by far, our favorite side dish.

Gather the cast. Cut the cauliflower into roughly 2 inch chunks. Leave the core on, it will cook just fine. If a small leaf sneaks in there, cook it, too. Rinse it off and add to a large stock pot. Add in a 1/2 cup of water and sprinkle with some salt. You want the cauliflower to steam cook. Get it to boiling over high heat and then cover, reduce heat and steam for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain and return to pot.

Put the pot back on the still warm burner. Add in the cubed cream cheese, scallion, shredded cheddar and sour cream. Stir to melt the cheese. Grab a potato masher and mash the dickens out of it. Add salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. No butter, no milk, no kidding!

Spoon the cauliflower mixture into a greased 2qt casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Now, you can either cover the dish and refrigerate until needed, or put this in a 350º oven and bake for 20 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the cheese has browned. Remove and garnish with the reserved scallions. How easy was that? Now, go wow your guests. smashed cauliflower

Cauli Smash

Serves: 6 Prep time: 5 min Total cook time: 30 min


  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 ounces low fat cream cheese – cubed
  • 2 ounces or 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese – divided
  • 1 scallion diced, reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste


Heat oven to 350º. Grease a 2 qt casserole dish.

Cut cauliflower into 2 inch chunks. Rinse off. Put into a large stock pot with 1/2 cup of water and add a sprinkle of salt. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover and reduce to medium. Steam for 10 minutes or until fork tender, stirring halfway through cooking time. Drain and return to pot. Place pot on still warm burner and add the cubed cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sour cream, diced scallion and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Using a potato masher, give it all a rough smash. If you want it really creamy, you can put it in a blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon cauliflower mash into the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has browned. Remove and top with reserved scallions.

Finally Poblanos!

What was going to be a simple supper, turned into an ordeal. Right after I got started with preparations, we were hit with a humongous thunder storm! The rapid fire lightening and thunder gave us quite a show. It also cause me to have multiple, short, power outages. That makes cooking a bunch of fun! Plus, take one very storm frightened dog and you get double your fun. A calming pill, his thunder shirt, and his dad protecting him got us through. It was, to say the least, a very long night.

But, enough of that, it’s FOOD TIME!

What we have here is, roasted stuffed poblanos with polenta topped with a black bean hummus & guacamole.

Do ahead: Turn your oven to high broil. Take the washed and dried poblanos, spray them with oil and put on a foil lined baking sheet.  You’ll want to adjust the oven racks so that the top of your tallest pepper is 2 to 3 inches away from the heat. Place your tray of peppers under the broiler. As the skins start to cook, you’ll hear them popping. Don’t be afraid, that’s what it’s supposed to do. Now, you know your oven better than I do, so times will be approximate. Check them after a few minutes. If you have some nicely blistered skin, flip them over and do the other side. You want a nice char on the poblanos, Not a flambé. Do not let them catch fire. Your night will be even worse than mine. When both sides are charred,  remove tray and turn oven off. Place the peppers into paper bags. If you don’t have any bags, you can put them into a heat proof bowl and cover it. You want to let the poblanos steam the skins loose. So, bag or bowl them and walk away. Come back in 30 minutes and check to see it they are cool enough to handle. Time to peel off all that blistered pepper skin. Now the bags can multi task. It’s a good place to pile all the skin that you peel off the peppers. The skin should come off easily. If you have some tough spots, don’t fret about it. Leave them on.  The next step is to open the peppers up and remove the seed cap. I use scissors for this. I just find that it’s easier. Cut half way across the cap at the top, then cut down, lengthwise of the pepper, almost to the end. You are making a T shaped cut. Open up the pepper, trimming the side wall veins as needed. Cut the seed pod off at the stem. Leave the stem part. Set them in a greased 9 x 13 pan and get ready for the next step.

Gather your ingredients. Most people stuff their poblanos with beans, jalapeños, tomatoes and onions. I say – Hey, all stuff is in this handy, dandy can of hoppin’ John. So, I use them. Open and drain the canned beans. Toss them into a bowl with the cumin, cilantro and lime juice.  Mix it up.

Open the pack of Queso Blanco. This is a soft white cheese that won’t melt. If you like fried cheese, this will hold up to the heat. I like the soft cheese and not the melty kind for this. If you want melty cheese, use quesadilla cheese or monterey jack. Cut the cheese into strips. Lay a couple of strips on the bottom of the open pepper. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the hoppin John mix. Don’t over pack the peppers. Fold the sides of the peppers closed and add a couple of the cheese slices.

Fire up the broiler again on high. Broil the poblanos a couple of inches away from the heat, until the cheese is browned. Remember, it won’t melt. The peppers cooked when you blistered them, so all you want to do is heat the food and brown the cheese.

Now, we move onto the polenta rounds topped with black bean hummus and guacamole.

The ingredients for this dish. Rinse and drain the black beans, reserving 1/4 cup of bean liquid. Put beans into the work bowl of a food processor. Add in the chopped cilantro, diced garlic, olive oil, the chipotle pepper from the adobo sauce, cumin and lime juice. Hummus recipes call for tahini, a sesame seed paste. That stuff is expensive and hard to find around here so I do what my son taught me. I use peanut butter. I can’t tell the difference. Add the peanut butter in, too.Process the mixture into a moist paste. If it seems to dry to you, add some of the reserved bean liquid. You want it to have a soft, moist dip like quality. Scoop it into a bowl and garnish with some chopped cilantro.

My produce co-op offers these tubes of prepared polenta in different flavor varieties. I get them because they’re convenient and easy to use. Open it over a dish because they’re water packed. Remove wrapper and slice the tube into 1/2 inch slices.  Place the slices into a fry pan coated with 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry over med-high heat until browned, flip and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels.

Plating time. Place a poblano on the plate and put two polenta rounds beside it. Top with some black bean hummus and a scoop of guacamole. Yum!

Roast Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Serves: 4 Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 5 min


  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 2 cans of Margaret Holmes Hoppin’ John, drained.
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • juice of one lime


Coat poblanos with cooking spray, place on tray and broil until skin is charred all over. Remove and place in paper bags to steam. When cool, peel away outer skin and cut pepper open. Start with a T cut across the top and continue lengthwise until almost the bottom tip of the pepper. Cut off seed pod, leaving top intact. Set pepper aside in a greased 9 x 13 backing dish.

Put drained hoppin’ John in a bowl. Add in the chopped cilantro, cumin and lime juice. Mix well.

Open and slice Queso Blanco cheese into strips. Place two strips of cheese into the bottom of each opened poblano. Fill pepper with hoppin John mixture, careful to not overfill. Fold poblano sides up and top with two more cheese slices.

Turn oven on to Hi-broil. Place peppers into oven a couple of inches from heat source. Broil Five minutes or until cheese is browned. It will not melt. Serve and enjoy.

Black Bean Hummus

Makes about 4 cups


  • 2 – 15 ounce cans black beans, drained, reserving 1/4 cup of liquid
  • 3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 pepper from a can of chipotle poppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons diced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • the juice of one lime


Place drained black beans into the work bowl of a food processor. Add in the peanut butter, cilantro, chipotle pepper, garlic, cumin and lime juice. Process until smooth. If too dry, add in the reserved bean liquid. Salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Guacamole


  • 2 avocados
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon diced garlic
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Slice avocados in half, removing and discarding pit. Holding avocado, run a knife tip lengthwise and then across – without cutting through the peel – dividing it into little cubes. Using a spoon, scoop the cubes out into a bowl. Repeat with remaining halves. Using a fork or masher, give the avocados a rough mash. Leave some cubes whole.

Add remaining ingredients into the bowl. Mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.



I guess it’s been a bad year for poblano peppers in Central Florida. They’ve been hard to find. I miss them. We didn’t plant any because they were so plentiful last year. They were everywhere. Not this year. So, when I saw these beauties at Target, my heart skipped a beat! They are huge! Perfect for stuffing. And stuff these babies, I will. There’s been a shake up in the menu plan for this week. Thursday’s lima beans have been tossed and replaced with stuffed poblanos. Recipe and pictures to come!