Posts tagged ‘mushrooms’

Homemade Shake Shack Two Ways

Have you heard of Shake Shack? In some ways, I would lightly call it the “In-N-Out” of New York City based on its popularity with tourists. My husband is obsessed, and was one of the first in line when they opened their Boston location. In my opinion, the regular burger at Shake Shack is overpriced and nothing to write home about. However, the Shroom Burger or the Shack Stack are worth the hype. If you have never had the privilege of indulging here while in NYC, then allow me to describe it. The Shroom Burger is two Portobello mushroom caps that have been lightly scooped out to accommodate a generous cheese filling. They are pressed together, lightly coated and then deep-fried. The result is a deliciously unhealthy, cheesy and hearty vegetarian mushroom patty. To create the Shack Stack, this monster patty is layered on top of a normal beef burger and served on a grilled potato roll. To say that this is over the top is an understatement, but more than just my husband is obsessed as evidenced by the around-the-block lines that Shake Shack draws daily.

Since we are moving out of Boston, my husband and I wanted to create a homemade version of his favorite burger. We each had our own idea of how to do this. A Shake Shack purist, his mission was to recreate as close to an exact replica as possible – double mushroom patty with a gooey cheese filling over a beef patty. I wanted to come up with a less intense version that is not quite as indulgent so that we can enjoy this treat more often at upcoming summer BBQs. In my opinion, both avenues were a messy success. Our method still needs perfecting and will never quite replicate the real deal, but for a homemade option we are quite happy!

Neither of the following are recipes, more like ingredient lists and bare bones guidelines of what we did (with pictures). If you have or plan to experiment with this chain favorite, let us know what you did that worked (or didn’t!)

Classic “Shack Stack”


Take two medium-sized Portobello mushroom caps and wash well. Gently scrape out the middle of the mushroom (what we call “gills”). Place mushroom caps between two paper towels and two microwave safe dishes. Microwave for 1.5-3 minutes, or until moisture seeps out and the mushroom caps become flat and pancake-like. Allow to cool. Mix together shredded cheese (we used Muenster and Cheddar). Form a palm sized ball of cheese. Place the cheese in the center of the mushroom caps. Surround with plastic wrap and wrap tightly to adhere the two mushroom caps together.


Allow to sit for several minutes. In separate bowls, lay out flour, a beaten egg, and plain panko bread crumbs. Dip the mushroom patty in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then repeat in egg and breadcrumbs.


Deep fry in canola oil until the outside is golden brown. Meanwhile, cook a burger as desired. Toast a potato roll lightly. Assemble burger with mushroom patty, lettuce, tomato and onion. Serve immediately.


Lightened Up “Shack Stack”

Wash and prepare one mushroom patty as above. Follow instructions to flatten the mushroom cap. Mix together one to two tablespoons of shredded cheese and place in the middle of the mushroom cap. Create a covering for the cheese with either 1/4 lb ground beef mixture or a pre-formed hamburger patty.


Grill beef side down first until meat is cooked as desired, then flip for one minute to melt cheese.


Serve on toasted potato roll with lettuce, onion and tomato.



Question: Anyone hosting a memorial or graduation celebration BBQ this weekend? What is your favorite thing to make on the grill?


May 21, 2014 at 7:35 am 1 comment

Change of Seasons

The weather is finally starting to warm up in the New Jersey, getting me excited for grilling season! While many people think of seasons in terms of weather, I often think in term of food seasons. The fall and winter are roasting seasons, perfect for root vegetables and hearty meals; the spring and summer are grilling ones, great for fish and grilled peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing I like better than both cooking and eating outdoors when the weather allows. However, I will miss my oven, which usually goes neglected from May through September to keep the house cool. If you are looking for a final oven meal to warm up with during cooler early spring nights, this one is a great staple!


I found a basic roasted chicken recipe in one of my mom’s many food magazines. (Being on this extended vacation is seriously great for my cooking creativity!) I tweaked it slightly to use up what I had on hand, but have so many ideas for variations! I used red onion and thyme as called for in the original recipe, but decided to use chicken thighs and baby bella mushrooms for a bit more flavor and earthiness. I think that shallots or Vidalia onions would actually be even better than the red onions, and that a little more garlic would be welcome. I would also love to play with the herbs, switching out the thyme for rosemary or basil. If you aren’t a mushroom person, you could easily leave them out, or add some cherry tomatoes in their stead. Since I am currently cooking for 4-6 people on a regular basis, I couldn’t quite make it a one-skillet meal, but think this would be an easy task if cooking for one or two! Just throw some cubed potatoes (parboiled to make them cook at the same time), vegetables (I love asparagus and Brussels sprouts in the oven), and the chicken thighs into an oven safe skillet and bake!

Question: What is your favorite “food season?”


Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Red Onions

serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

1 – 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (organic if possible)

1 red onion, sectioned

8 oz baby bella mushrooms, halved

salt, pepper and thyme to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Heat olive oil over high heat. Quickly sear the outside of each chicken thigh over high heat. Add red onion sections and mushroom halves, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and thyme. Place skillet in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken thighs are cooked through. Remove and allow to cool prior to serving.


April 14, 2014 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

Still Soup Weather!

46F was our high today. With sprinkly rain and gloomy clouds. On April 23. That is cold, friends! Winter has not seemed to get the memo: GO AWAY. The trees are blooming, the birds are singing, the clocks have changed, and my sweaters are looking worn and tired. I have a new spring dress that is begging to be worn. The weather is just not cooperating with me here! Where is SPRING?


The only thing that can make a dreary and cold day better is soup, and this one hit the spot! This soup was inspired by a recent trip to the Asian food market. I was excited to see inexpensive Kabocha squash, so picked one up along with a bag of baby Bok choy. As I paid for my purchases, the squash rang up as “Japanese pumpkin.” And the idea for what would become of the Kabocha squash was born: miso soup! The bok choy and the squash seemed to be natural soup add-ins, and the mushrooms were a last minute thought to add texture and more body. Tofu would also be a natural addition, but I did not have any on hand and do not always love how soggy it gets in leftover soup. I used a “minute miso” paste to create this soup, which made prep minimal. I have never worked with real miso paste, so am not quite sure what modifications that would add, but most bottles come with general instructions on how to create the basic miso broth! Overall, this soup comes together in 35-40 minutes, with most of the cook time added from the roasted squash.


Is your town’s weather uncooperative as well? Then give this soup a try!


Kabocha, Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Miso Soup

Vegan, serves 4 as main course or 6-8 as starter

1 clove garlic, minced

8-oz package white button mushrooms, sliced

6 heads baby Bok choy, stems cut off with leaves roughly quartered and separated

1 kabocha squash, sliced into 1-inch strips

1/4 cup miso paste

4 cups hot water

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame seed oil

Half the kabocha squash, and then cut into slices. Toss lightly with half of the sesame seed oil, then lightly salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 400F oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms in garlic and remaining sesame seed oil. Add the soy sauce, then cook until half of the liquid is absorbed. Add the bok choy, then turn off heat.

Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a kettle. Measure out 1/4 cup miso paste and add to a large 4-cup measure. Add boiling water to bring the total volume to 4 cups. Stir, then pour over the vegetable mixture. Stir the greens until they are well wilted.

Once the kabocha squash is finished roasting, remove from oven and gently peel back the skin with a fork. Cut into chunks and add to soup. Bring soup back to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir and serve warm.

April 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm 2 comments

Happy Thanksgiving

There is so much in my life to be thankful for that it is overwhelming at times. Family, friends, boyfriend, health, roommate, home, school, mentors, opportunities. My life is beyond blessed, and I should remember to thank God on a daily basis instead of waiting for this season to roll around. This year, I am most thankful for a “big” family Thanksgiving again! Ever since my extended family relocated to Florida, Thanksgiving at my house has been a quiet affair. Not this year! My sister and I are both bringing home our boyfriends, and my best friend is bringing her husband and baby. We will have a table of 9 again! We will be eating on Saturday to accommodate schedules and travel, but it’s not the date that makes this day special. It’s the spirit of gratitude… and the food!


There have been numerous Thansgiving recipes and round-ups floating around the blog-world this past week. So many are drool-worthy, but most of you probably already have your menus planned. My family has a few traditional favorites that we always make, but we usually incorporate or swap out one or two new dishes each year! This recipe was inspired by some flavors that grace some of my Mom’s traditional Thanksgiving dishes. The lemon and thyme have a Thanksgiving earthiness that welcomes it at any holiday table, but the lightness of this dish makes it a great lunch option for the days leading up to or following Thanksgiving. I know my stomach always needs a rest after the heavy meal! Make this and serve it warm as a gluten-free option for guests, and then have the leftovers as a cold and light post-holiday lunch!

Question: What are you thankful for this year? What is your favorite dish at Thanksgiving? Is your menu set yet, or are you still looking for ideas?


Lemon Thyme Quinoa with Zucchini and Mushrooms

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth (or water)

1/2 red onion, diced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 8-oz. package mushrooms, sliced

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/4 tsp pepper and pinch salt

1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves

2 lemons, juiced

Add quinoa to a dry pot and toast until you hear a faint popping noise. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook onions and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and stir. Cook until soft, about another 5 minutes. Add in shredded zucchini and turn off the heat. Stir in salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the quinoa and stir well. Juice the 2 lemons over the dish. Turn the heat back on and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the remaining liquid has been absorbed. Serve warm or cold– tastes great either way!

November 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm 1 comment

Red Wine Risotto

Sometimes, there is nothing more satisfying than making a delicious and healthy gourmet meal at home after a long day at work. Other times, I cannot stand to be on my feet for two more minutes and will gladly eat eggs or chips and salsa for dinner. Needless to say, my attitude towards cooking has been slightly bipolar over the past month while on my surgery rotation. The mornings are early, the days run long, and it is a physically demanding job. After running around on my feet all day, standing perfectly still while retracting or driving the camera in the OR, and constantly being questioned to flesh out my comprehension of disease and surgical interventions, more often than not I come home completely exhausted.


However, sometimes cooking a meal at home is exactly what the doctor ordered to remedy a stressful day. Cooking is my creative outlet. A place where I can experiment and the results will only cost food. The kitchen is now a place where I am confident that I know that I am competent, a feeling that is fleeting as a third year student. This recipe was born from a stressful day on my surgery rotation. My friend came for dinner to vent about our day, and we found solace and comfort in the creative process and constant attention that this risotto required. I have seen red wine risottos before, and had good results using farro as a base in the past, so decided to combine a few recipes I have made in the past to achieve this most delicious result. Hands down, this is the best recipe I have made all summer. It is perfect for the chilly fall evenings that are creeping around the corner, and can fix even the worst of bad days in just a few bites. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!


Red Wine Risotto with Farro and Mushrooms

serves 4

8oz package mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup red wine

1 small onion, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cup farro (or arborio rice)

1/2 cup red wine

4 cups veg stock

1 tbsp dried parsley

shredded Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)

Begin by heating garlic and olive oil over medium heat. Saute mushrooms for several minutes, until they begin to soften. Add 1/4 cup red wine and simmer until liquid reduces. In a separate pot, saute onions in remaining olive oil. Add farro and remaining red wine. When all liquid has absorbed, add 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until all liquid has been absorbed. Add the broth in 1/2 cup increments until all of the broth has been added and absorbed. The farro should have a chewy but soft consistency when fully cooked. Stir in the mushrooms and parsley. Heat through for 2-3 more minutes. Serve over wilted spinach with Parmesan cheese to taste.


September 8, 2012 at 10:04 am 3 comments

Vegan Cashew Cream

My family is both intrigued and appalled by vegetarian/vegan cooking. On the one hand, they understand the health claims, but at the same time my dad rejects the idea that life without meat can be truly healthy. He always thinks that my iron levels will fall off the charts without red meat, until I point out that beans and leafy greens contain iron also. My mom is more on board and has begun incorporating meatless meals into her weekly repertoire, but my dad has yet to get over the hurdle. While he always clears one two plates of my cooking, he calls it rabbit food, even when I cook him chicken on the side! For my vegan meal during my last week home, I decided to be a little tricky: I simply wouldn’t tell him that it was vegan and see if he even noticed!


All went as planned. He made his daily phone call as he was leaving the office: “How was your day? Anything in the mail? What’s for dinner?” I smiled connivingly and answered sweetly through the phone, “pasta with mushrooms and alfredo sauce!” He was pretty excited that certainly no food fit for a rabbit would be found at dinner and continued his commute home.

Screen shot 2011-08-06 at 11.53.24 AM


Meanwhile, I soaked cashews for an hour in boiling water. Then I drained them, added them to a food processor, added a bit of fresh water, and pureed them. I sautéed some mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, and then added a bit of my cashew cream. Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper until I was satisfied, and topped it off with my secret weapon: nutmeg. I mixed in some whole wheat linguine and made some green beans to accompany it as a side, and set the table as my dad arrived home from work.

My mom was in on the secret, but loved every bite even knowing what it was made of! We watched as my dad took his first bite, and then continued without note through the rest of his plate. As he asked for a second plate, he wondered, “What’s in the sauce? It’s… different.” Uh oh! The jig is up! He loved the flavor, but the cashew bits clued him in that this wasn’t any old alfredo sauce. I finally let him in on the secret, but it didn’t change how he felt about the dish! The flavor of a usual cream sauce came through with none of the cholesterol of the heavy classic. Maybe next time I’ll blend the sauce for longer and he would really have no clue!


Pasta with Mushrooms in a Vegan Cream Sauce

Sauce inspired from recipes at Daily Garnish and Mom’s Vegan Kitchen

4.5 oz raw cashews

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2/3 box whole wheat linguine, cooked according to package

Boil water in a tea kettle. Pour over the cashews in a glass bowl until they are just covered. Set aside and allow to soak for about an hour. Drain and rinse the cashews. Add to a food processor with a few tablespoons of water. Blend until a smooth sauce is formed, adding more water if necessary for a creamier consistency.

In a pan, sautee garlic in olive oil until it is aromatic. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water if they look dry. Add the cashew cream (should be approximately one cup) and allow to heat through. The sauce will begin to take on a creamier consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix with cooked linguine. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg and serve.

August 14, 2011 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Philly Fake Steaks

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.

May 12, 2011 at 7:00 am 7 comments

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