Category Archives: Stone Soup and Other Delicacies

Kat’s Portobello Reuben’s  

I love Reuben’s. It has always been my go-to blue plate lunch special order. Since I stopped eating meat, this is one of the dishes I missed…that is, until I heard about portobello reubens.

So I decided to look for a recipe online. The thing is, most of the recipes I found were lacking in my opinion, in the corned beef flavor department. So I got this crazy idea. What if I used the pickling spice that is used to make corned beef and made a marinade out of it?

I like experimenting in the kitchen. And believe me I would not be sharing this recipe with you if it was a dud. The fact is it came out fantastic!

It takes a bit of prep, but so worth the effort!

Here’s what you’ll need for part one (do this a few hours before mealtime).


4-5 large portobello mushrooms

1/2 cup olive oil

1 TBS minced garlic

2 TBS pickling spice (McCormick brand)

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, rinse and pat dry. In a small bowl whisk the remaining ingredients together and drizzle over the mushroom caps, bottom side up, in a shallow container.

Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for two to three hours. (Update: Added after I cooked the leftover mushrooms a few days later…if you can marinate for at least 24 hours, you won’t regret it.) 

When it’s time to put your sandwiches together assemble the following ingredients:

Thousand Island Dressing


Rye Bread (I like a rye/pumpernickel swirl)

Swiss Cheese

Butter for Grilling

Preheat the oven to 450 Degrees F. Remove the marinated mushrooms from the fridge and recycle the foil by placing it on a cookie sheet. Place mushrooms on the foil bottoms up and bake for about 20 minutes.

  1. Move to a plate layered with paper towels and blot the mushrooms (remove the large pickling seeds as well) before transferring them to a cutting board to slice. (Part 2 leftover update: to give your slices a nicer texture, pan seer the slices before putting your sandwiches together. A little “crisping” around the edges make a big difference!)

Butter the outer side of the rye bread and place butter side down in a frying pan (think grilled cheese sandwich style). Now it’s time to assemble your Reuben. Layer two slices if Swiss cheese, portabella mushroom slices (make sure to pat dry if needed), add Sauerkraut and a layer of thousand island dressing. Top with the second slice of rye bread, butter side up.

Cover the pan and grill until the cheese starts to melt and the bottom is brown. Carefully flip to toast the other side.

Slice and serve. Yum!

Easy Potato Soup – The Ultimate Comfort Food

Every year, when the weather chills I get a litany of calls from grocery store aisles. The conversations go something like this:

“Hi mom, I’m at the store. Tell me what I need to make potato soup.”

And I smile and happily recount the list of simple ingredients as memories swirl in my head from days gone by when my four daughters were little and my pocketbook was lean. There is nothing like this simple staple to warm hearts and fill hungry bellies. It’s the ultimate comfort food. 

This year, as my brood gathers for the holidays, soups and chewy ciabatta bread is on the menu. One of my son-in-laws will be replicating the Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana (it’s his specialty!) and me? You guessed it! Potato soup!

Now you will find all sorts of fancy and elaborate recipes online and in cook books. Some require broths and other ingredients like chicken or ham, broccoli, carrots or cheese. My recipe is all about paying homage to an amazing nightshade edible tuber, the esteemed pomme de terre, the magnificent potato!

So just as I would tell my daughters from memory each winter, I’m sharing my recipe with you. 

Ingredients for a Crowd

5 lbs of Red Potatoes, peeled and quartered

1-2 sweet onions, chopped

2 12-oz cans of evaporated milk

1 cup of butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound)

1 TBS salt (plus more to taste)

2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Optional: cornstarch to thicken

Place onions, potatoes and salt in a large stockpot. Add enough water to completely cover the potatoes. Boil, uncovered until the potatoes are soft.

Remove from the heat. Don’t drain the water. Using a potato masher break up the potatoes, leaving several small lumps. (If your pot is too deep you can transfer the potatoes into a bowl to mash.)

Blend in the evaporated milk and butter. If your soup is too soupy, you can use a tablespoon or so of cornstarch to thicken. Have a taste and season to your liking, adding the pepper and additional salt.

And if you must, you can always add the extras I mentioned above. My kids like to add shredded cheese and bacon bits. Me? I like it simple. Warm, smooth, filling. The perfect dish on a cold sleety day! Yummy in my tummy! Stay warm everyone! 

Vegetarian “UnStuffed” Cabbage Pot

I love stuffed cabbage at this time of year! But it can be a bit fussy to make. A few years ago I discovered a recipe for “unstuffed” cabbages! It’s a match made in the cabbage patch!

Now that I’m pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats mostly vegetables and fish) I decided to try this new favorite using vegetable based meat crumbles (my favorite brand is “Beyond Meat” because it maintains a nice texture and doesn’t get mushy).

So, here’s all you need:


Olive Oil
2 chopped onions
2 tsp chopped garlic
Pepper and salt
1 large head of cabbage, chopped
2 15 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
(Today I used some leftover tomato garlic pasta sauce. This is the fun of home cooking. It’s okay to substitute like ingredients. You can’t mess his recipe up!)
2 cups water
1 11 oz package of vegetarian “meat” crumbles
(If you like your cabbage dish extra “meatie” use 2 11 oz packages.)

And here’s how you throw it together:

In a Dutch oven sauté the onions and garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. I salt and pepper the onions while they are softening. 

Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients, giving it all a good stir to coat the cabbage with sauce. Your pot will be pretty full, so it’ll be a little hard to toss it all together, but don’t worry. As the cabbage softens you will be able to stir the dish more easily. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure all your cabbage has a chance to “stew”.

And that is all there is to it! No separate batches of stuffing mixture, pre-cooking the cabbage to make it soft enough to make rolls, no separate baking. But it’s just as satisfying as the original in a single pot!

If you are like me and you like a little zing, throw in a dash of sriracha sauce. You will also want to taste test and add additional salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and perhaps a slice or two of warm beer bread (my recipe is HERE) slathered with butter. It’s the perfect meal for a blustery autumn day! Enjoy!

And dinner is served!

Pumpkin Roll Bars



I am loving the first cool dry day of fall here in sunny Southwest Virginia! Time for baking an annual favorite, Pumpkin Roll Bars!  I found the recipe on Pinterest a few years ago. You can see the original here.

I don’t veer too far from the original except on a few counts. These bars are best served cold so once they’ve cooled, cut them in squares and store in the frig.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Two mixing bowls
One 9 x 13 inch baking pan
Cooking Spray
Electric Mixer

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/4 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream Cheese Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In one bowl, cream the butter, sugars, pumpkin, water, eggs and vanilla on medium speed. Blend in the spices, baking sofa and baking powder. Finally, add the flour a cup at a time blending the cake mixture until smooth. The batter will be thick and paste-like in consistency.

In the second bowl blend the filling ingredients until smooth.

Spray the baking pan with non-stick spray and smooth two-thirds of the batter evenly. Add the filling and spread to the edges forming a second layer. Drop the remaining batter in dollops on top of the cream cheese layer. With a butter knife lightly swirl the dollops into the bottom two layers. (You don’t want to blend completely.)

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when touched. Cool completely in pan, then cut into bars. If you have any left, store in the ‘frig. Enjoy!

Vegan Cupboard Chili

It’s that time again! Time for soups, stews  and chili. Emphasis on the chili! This home cook had a craving for chili. What I’m about to share is nothing fancy, but it hit the spot! 

And of course I needed it to be vegetarian. Well, this recipe is actually vegan. And it all  came to be because I found this lovely package of plant-based zesty spiced protein crumbles! I just had to give them a try!

Olive oil
1 onion – diced
2 tsp chopped garlic (from a jar)
2 TBS chopped Jalepeno peppers (also from a jar)
4 cans of dark kidney beans
2 15-oz cans of tomato sauce
2 15-oz cans of chopped tomatoes (I used a zest mix of tomato, green pepper & onion)
2 pkgs if McCormick Chili seasoning (one regular/1 hot)
And one package of Beyond Beef Feisty Crumble

You can see by my list that this is one of those home style cupboard recipes. Like the kind I grew up with. The pre-made ingredients make it perfect for a work night when you don’t have a lot of time!

I started by sweating the onions, garlic and Jalepenos in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Then I added the protein crumbles (frozen) and tossed until thawed. Next up were the beans, stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. And last but not least, the spice packets. I gave it a good stir and let simmer about 30 minutes stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Ta dah!!! That’s all there was to it!

I don’t have a fancy plated version but you can always gussy it up by adding cheese (vegan if you prefer) or sour cream or alternative, crushed tortilla chips or a side of cornbread! Tonight I added a bit of mozzarella on top!

It was so good! Made a big pot full. Enough for dinner for two, a nice sampling for the neighbor who is always bringing over yummies for me to try, AND still enough for three days of lunch (since I pack my lunch everyday I’m set for the week!)

The reason I’m sharing this easy peasy, not at all fancy recipe is so I remember it, because I am definitely making this again! And also to encourage other homebodies that they too can do it! Yes you can! 

Until next time, happy cooking! 🙂

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