It’s been a few months since I was laid off and decided to start blogging full-time. I still have moments when I doubt myself or when I think, “You know what? Things would be so much easier if I just had a normal 9 to 5 job.” I’m kind of a doubter by nature–I think no matter what I do in life, I’m always going to second-guess myself. But overall, I’m happy with the decision I made and I’m grateful to be doing something I love. And I don’t know if I’d be in this position today without the support of other bloggers.
(Is this getting sappy? Because I totally did not mean for this post to be sappy.)
When I lost my job, I emailed Julie from The Little Kitchen because I was feeling freaked out and I knew she had just gone through a similar situation herself, ultimately deciding to pursue blogging full-time. Julie immediately gave me her phone number and told me to call her. I think we must have talked for 2 hours that day (while she ran errands!) and I hung up the phone thinking, “Okay. I can do this. Getting laid off was for the best.” She totally talked me down when I was in a state of panic and a spiral of self-doubt.
So now I’m going to steal Julie’s cheesesteak recipe! Well, okay, I’m not really stealing it–hers is made with meat and obviously mine is not. My Portabella Mushroom Cheesesteaks are a mashup of Julie’s cheesesteaks and a sandwich my mom used to make for me and my brother (also a vegetarian) when we were younger. She would sauté some onions, green peppers, and mushrooms, cover them with provolone cheese, and then serve the veggies on crusty rolls. I used Julie’s idea of baking the sandwiches in the oven before serving.
Mushrooms (especially portabellas!) are often used as a substitute for meat, not just for their texture, but for their umami flavor. Umami is one of the five basic tastes–it’s a savory flavor, one that can be found in cured meats, cheeses, and soy sauce. I’ve found that the best way to really bring out the umami in mushrooms is to cook them in a little red wine. It adds a depth of flavor that you just can’t get with butter or oil alone. So if you make this recipe, don’t skip the wine!
Meaty portabella mushrooms replace the beef in these oven-baked vegetarian cheesesteaks. Inspired by The Little Kitchen's cheesesteaks.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 extra-large portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. red wine
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1 small green pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 8 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
- 4 sub rolls, sliced lengthwise (don't completely cut the top from the bottom, though!)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes, or until softened and browned. Add wine and increase heat to high. Cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Carefully wipe skillet clean. Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add green pepper and onions; cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low. Return mushrooms to skillet and stir to combine. Top vegetable mixture with cheese slices. Once cheese has melted, remove from heat.
- Divide veggie mixture into sub rolls. Wrap each cheesesteak tightly with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and unwrap carefully.
If you are bothered by such things, you can remove the gills from the mushrooms before cooking them. They have a tendency to discolor the bread and onions a little.