What’s For Dinner? – Basil, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms


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UPC’s Basil, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

Inspiration can come from a lot of different places, for a lot of different things. I love it when inspiration strikes me, and I am most definitely the kind of guy who will pull over to the side of the road to take a picture or write something down. I’m not so much of a sing-in-the-shower person, but you shouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I were to break into song while standing on the subway platform, or walking down a crowded street. Why? I was inspired. Interestingly, most often when inspiration strikes me, I’ve completely forgotten what inspired me by the time the inspired action begins. It’s one of the reasons why I believe in inspiration so thoroughly. Fortunately, for those really life-changing events, the ones that have a lasting impact on my life, I usually remember the inspiration for those. For instance: I remember what inspired me and my wife to go Paleo. In fact, I can trace that particular decision through an interesting path of choices, all made possible by one single moment of inspiration (and not a terribly pleasant one, I might add) almost a year before we did finally make the decision. And, depending on how you look at it, that particular moment, that inspiration, may in fact be responsible for my blogging as well. Sometimes it’s amazing to consider the implications that one action may have such lasting impressions! If I could, I’d go Paleo AGAIN – though I’m certainly not willing to give it up first…

My inspiration, as small as it may seem, for today’s meal was a box of mushrooms. Some mushrooms just say to me “I want to be chopped up in little bits and eaten in a salad.” Some of them say “I want to be sliced thin and made into a soup.” And these mushrooms that you see here, they were jumping up and down, screaming to be made into stuffed mushrooms as loud as they could! Honestly, I don’t understand how everyone else in the grocery store wasn’t annoyed by all the ruckus.
On a slightly more serious note: I saw these mushrooms and was instantly and immediately inspired to make stuffed mushrooms with them. Unlike bursting in to song, stuffed mushrooms take some preparation, consideration, and planning. I knew that they wanted to be made in to stuffed mushrooms, but I still had to figure out what to stuff them with! Not to worry; it came to me. Or, rather, my wife and I spent an agonizing 30 minutes spit-balling ideas back and forth until one stuck. Like inspiration, I knew it once we had it. So, here it is!

UPC’s Basil, Bacon and Caramelized  Onion Stuffed Mushrooms; What you’ll need:

  • Large Mushrooms (I used 20 oz) – any large cup-mushroom (white button, crimini, etc.); or cake the stuffing on top of a cap-mushroom (portobello, shiitake, etc)
  • Mushroom Stems, diced
  • 1 lb Bacon, cooked and crumbled (Top-Quality only! 🙂 )
  • 1 large Red Onion, diced and caramelized (also called “Spanish Onion”)
  • 1 medium Rutabaga, finely chopped.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, diced
  • 5-6 sprigs Fresh Basil, diced (including the stems – they add to the texture)
  • Several Fresh Basil Leaves, diced (keep separate from above)
  • Spices: Savory, Anise, Marjoram, Turmeric

Serves: 4-8
Cook and Prep Time: 60 minutes

2GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-Bacon1. Cook and crumble the bacon. Drain the pan of most of the bacon grease (to be used in some other culinary creation!).

2. Add the onions and rutabaga to the remainder of the bacon grease and begin cooking on medium heat. Stir regularly (every 1-2 minutes).

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Remove the stem, cut out the lip, and scrape out the gills.

3. Remove the stems of the mushrooms, cut out the lip of the cup, then scrape the gills off the inside of the cup (or cap, if you’re using caps) of the mushroom with a spoon. This makes more room for the stuffing.
Note: Don’t know what the gills are? Check here.

4. After about 10 minutes of cook time, add the garlic and mushroom stems to the onions and rutabaga and continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are thoroughly caramelized.

5. Turn off the heat, add the spices and diced basil and mix thoroughly.

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Stir in the spices and basil with the caramelized onions and rutabaga.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 350.

7. Spoon some stuffing in to each mushroom, making sure that they’re filled to the top, but not over filled. The mushrooms will shrink while baking.

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Don’t over-fill the mushrooms; they shrink while baking.

8. Grease the bottom of each mushroom thoroughly (yes, you can use the bacon grease 🙂 ) and place the mushrooms in a baking pan with enough space between them so that they’re not touching.

9. Put the pan in the oven once it’s up to temperature; set the timer for 15 minutes.

10. When the timer dings, sprinkle the remaining diced basil on top of the mushrooms, and serve and enjoy!

Optional: If you’re a cheese person: you can add cheese to the recipe at the end, while you’re adding the basil and spices to the stuffing.

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Questions:

  • What kinds of inspiration strikes you?
  • Do you ever have inspiration that you can act on immediately? Do you?
  • Do you ever have food inspiration?
  • How would you use this stuffed mushroom recipe?
  • How might you change it to suit your needs?
  • Are there other stuffed mushroom recipes that you like?
  • Would you serve this as a meal, or an appetizer?
  • What would you serve this with?

What’s For Dinner? – Coconut Calamari & Shrimp with Mashed Rutabaga and Butternut Squash over Arugula


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My wife and I took a trip over to Washington DC this past weekend, hoping to catch the first couple of Cherry Blossoms peaking out of their buds for some spring sunshine. We were in luck, because that is exactly what we got! We saw about 2 trees which were fully in bloom. They probably had the perfect amount of sun exposure, through the tall buildings, and just the right amount of root-warming from the sidewalks in front of them. They were gorgeous! I love cherry-blossom festivals, and the other spring flower festivals that happen all over the country!

It’s a long drive home from DC. With traffic, it took us about 5 and a half hours, and the driving was not fun. Half the time we were cruising along, light traffic, good speed. The other half the time we were caught up in bumper-to-bumper, 25mph creeping traffic, on a 4-lane highway. And there is nothing I want more when I get home from something like that than some quality comfort food! I was seriously craving my White Wine Coconut Shrimp – but it was not to be… I was out of shrimp. Fortunately, I had a mixed bag of frozen wild-caught calamari and shrimp which I had been saving for just this sort of occasion!

What you’ll need:

  • Shrimp and Calamari
  • 1 pound wild uncooked calamari (or the calamari and shrimp mix which I used)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or the constituent ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Mashed Rutabaga and Butternut Squash
  • 1 rutabaga, chopped
  • 1/2 butternut squash, cubed (1/2 inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 2 tablespoons crushed walnuts (pecans work too)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Start the Butternut Squash first. The whole meal takes a bit of preparation, but it’s worth every minute of it! First cube the Butternut Squash, put them on an oiled baking sheet (this is where you use the coconut oil) and lightly season them with the Italian seasoning. You may like to add salt and pepper to this as well, but do it for flavoring purposes, and keep it light and even. Put these in the oven on 250 for 60 minutes.

After 35 minutes of bake time, start the Mashed Rutabaga. Chop this up as finely as you can stand and put it in a pot. With the rutabaga in the pot, fill with water up to the top of the rutabaga, add the coconut butter, and turn it on high. If the rutabaga is pre-chopped, start this process about 20 minutes before the butternut squash is finished, or after 40 minutes of bake time.

Once the Rutabaga is cooking, start the Shrimp & Calamari. I used a 1 pound bag, and this was good for about 2 servings. Empty the bag in to a large sauce pan, add the seasoning and coconut butter, turn the heat on high and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the Butternut Squash is finished, stir both the Shrimp & Calamari and the Rutabaga. Things are going to happen fast now, so keep on your game! Leave the Shrimp and Calamari uncovered. Now is the time when we want the liquid in the pot to boil off, leaving the coconut butter and the spices behind to stick to the shrimp and calamari. The flavor you will get from the coconut butter, the spices, and the wild-caught seafood is a great combination of the fresh, crisp seafood flavor with the thick rich flavor of the coconut butter and Italian seasoning. Mash the rutabaga at about 2-3 minutes remaining on the bake clock. You’ll want this to be pretty well mashed, so take your time.

As soon as the Butternut Squash is finished, add it to the mashed Rutabaga, as well as the crushed walnuts, and stir thoroughly. Give this another 2-3 minutes of cook time before serving. While it’s in the final phase of cooking, make sure that the Shrimp and Calamari are being stirred regularly, and don’t get stuck to the pan. You can turn the heat down at this point, if it helps. And this is the time to get the plates ready, and put down the bed of Arugula.

Serving:

I know this is takes a bit of prep time, and it’s an involved meal to make, but trust me when I tell you: It’s worth it! As I said above: put the arugula down first. I didn’t put any dressing on the arugula. Now serve the rutabaga and butternut squash over the arugula, and the shrimp and calamari along side.

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And enjoy! For other “What’s For Dinner?” Meals, check back daily to Urban Paleo Chef!