Philly Fake Steaks

May 12, 2011 at 7:00 am 7 comments

Red Sox Game 001

Last night, I got the opportunity to catch up with my friend Robyn after her year abroad! Robyn and I lived in the Honors House together at BU – she was a year younger and a floor below me, but we quickly became good friends. Despite different academic passions (she is a history buff and I a science nerd), some shared life experiences made for a unique friendship. During one Spring Break, Robyn came home with me to Jersey so that we could go to Philly. She had never seen the Liberty Bell or other important monuments from the American Revolution, and was thrilled to get the chance to go experience American history. As part of our Philly tour, we made a pit stop for the world famous Philly cheesesteak. We chose to go to Pat’s (there is some heated debate over who has the best cheesesteak) because it is lauded as the “king” of steaks. We were prepped by some Philly friends of how to order: with or without (onions) and type of cheese (Whiz, provolone, Swiss…) If I recall, we both got “Provies With.” Turns out, neither of us were fans of cheesesteak – the flavor was there, but the fatty texture of the steak threw us. Guess that could have been a prediction that we would both become vegetarians just a short while later…

Jen cheesesteak

robyn cheesesteak

In the spirit of reminiscing, I decided to make a veg-version of Philly cheesesteaks, using beefy Portobello mushrooms instead. I also made some oven veggie “fries” and “chips” on the side to complete our All-American dinner. Robyn brought along some fresh berries and whipping cream for dessert, to complete our healthy, homemade produce feast! Warnings about this post: you must love vegetables. All name credits go to Robyn, who is far more creative than I. As does most of the photo credit. And don’t expect a steak, but do expect something delicious.

Since Robyn showed up an hour early, I had nothing prepped. No big deal – another set of hands for easier work! We got to work after chatting for what felt like 20 minutes, but was really 1 hour and 20. I took care of the Fake Steaks while she peeled and sliced carrots for the fries. We threw the fries, inspired by an old co-worker’s suggestion, on a baking sheet with some cooking spray and kosher salt, and threw some chopped kale on another tray with cooking spray, Parmesan, chili flakes and salt and popped them both into a 400 degree oven. The kale chips cooked faster than the carrot fries, so I was sure to pull those out early to prevent a burnt disaster. I toasted up the rolls while the carrots finished up, and then dinner was ready! A whole lotta veggies in just barely a half hour of prep and cook time – not bad!



Robyn took the first bite of the sandwich. Delicious! We both really loved the Philly Fake Steak, by no means an original cheesesteak, but still satisfying. (Would it be blasphemous if I liked this even more?) The chips and fries were a great salty-but-healthy side – definitely going in the make again pile! We put all table manners aside as we talked with our mouths full so we could continue catching up – a year is a long time to recap!


Next was dessert, named by Robyn as “The Fruits of Our Labor.” We earned our whipped cream. We whipped until our arms went numb. I still can’t feel my deltoids. Sad that I am that weak, or impressive that we made homemade whipped cream with a dollar store whisk? You decide. We decided that it was well worth the effort. The berries, just coming into season, were perfect and sweet. And the whipped cream was so fresh and not too sweet. Well worth the effort!



To reward your reading efforts, there is not one but four simple recipes for your perusal and enjoyment. Hope you give one or all of them a shot, and let me know what you think!

Philly Fake Steaks

Recipe adapted from EatingWell

2 portobello mushroom caps

1 small onion

1/2 red bell pepper

1/4 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp tomato paste

pinch pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

2 deli rolls

4 thin slices provolone cheese

Wash the mushroom caps well and grill or pan fry for several minutes on each side. Once cool, slice into strips. Meanwhile, rough chop onions and peppers. In a pan coated with cooking spray, saute onions and peppers until onions are soft. Add sliced mushrooms and vegetable broth. Stir in tomato paste and soy sauce, and then season to taste. Split and toast the deli rolls. Fill each roll with half of the vegetable mixture and top with cheese. Put back in oven or toaster oven to melt the cheese, or simply microwave for 30 seconds.


Carrot Fries with Hummus-Tatziki Dipping Sauce

1 bunch carrots

kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, roasted

2 heaping tbsp hummus

2 heaping tbsp Greek yogurt

1 tsp dill

Wash and peel carrots. Cut into french fry-sized matchsticks. Arrange on baking sheet, and spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with desired amount of kosher salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until slightly crispy.

Meanwhile, add 2 roasted garlic cloves to a food processor. Chop finely. Add hummus and Greek yogurt and mix well. Lastly add dill. Salt and pepper to taste. This can also be done without a food processor if you finely chop the garlic and combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.


Kale Crisps

Recipe adapted from KERF

1/2 bunch kale

pinch Kosher salt

less than 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

pinch red pepper flakes

Wash kale leaves well, and remove thick stems. Cut into bite sized pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Coat lightly in cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheese, and season to taste with Kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Bake for about 7 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until lightly crispy but before the leaves turn brown.


Fruits of our Labor

fresh berries of your choice

1/2 pint whipping cream

1 tbsp powdered sugar

Combine half of the cream and sugar in a bowl. Whisk vigorously until stiff peaks appear in the foam. It will take a good amount of whisking. Repeat with the other half of the cream. Serve with berries in a bowl.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mindy  |  May 12, 2011 at 8:09 am

    if you loved your kale crisps, check out they have all sorts of awesome flavors of kale chips and othr veggie chips as well! and to make your carrot fries a sweet treat, toss the carrot sticks in a little olive oil, and sprinkly with cinnamon, sugar (i use truvia) and just a slight touch of salt. and bake for 30 minutes at 350. the last time i did it, i ate an entire bag of carrots in one sitting

    • 2. jenlenew  |  May 12, 2011 at 10:50 am

      mmm that sounds so good! i will definitely give those a try :)

  • 3. Robyn  |  May 13, 2011 at 12:13 am

    I still got nothing on that carrot fries. They just don’t lend themselves to witty commentary, I guess.

  • 4. Good to Have a Grill! « homemadeadventure  |  May 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    […] with Greek Turkey Burgers, served with grilled zucchini and portobello mushrooms as well as Kale Chips on the side. This dinner was designed to be low-fat and cholesterol, as well as easy to control […]

  • 5. Cooking for a Crowd « homemadeadventure  |  May 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

    […] crispy and had gone kind of flat with all of the humid weather we have had lately. I also made some Kale Crisps, mostly to use up the rest of the gigantic head of kale my mom bought. The kale crisps were a huge […]

  • 6. Start of Summer « homemadeadventure  |  May 31, 2011 at 10:54 am

    […] onions, bean salad, marinated cucumbers, and potato salad! We had watermelon for dessert, and the Fruits of our Labor made another appearance, this time with patriotic strawberries and […]

  • 7. A Relaxing Rehearsal « homemadeadventure  |  September 8, 2011 at 9:03 am

    […] since it can be made ahead of time and served cold. For dessert, we enjoyed fruit salad and homemade whipped cream. To make things a little more special, I carved the watermelon into a fruit basket (click here for […]


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