This is going to be one of those posts. Because it has been one of those days. And one of those weeks.
I've got the leftovers of this portobello mushroom bake recipe heating up on the stove and a quart of Talenti Salted Caramel keeping me company as we speak. Eventually, I think I'll be alright. We said a final goodbye to our beloved family dog on Monday. We brought her home from the vet and we buried her in the box that Clark made for her, near the tree out back that always seemed to have a magnetic pull for her.
It's only fitting that this post is accompanied by a recipe like this. The plan was to create a beautiful, layered casserole using portobello mushrooms, fresh spinach, vegan alfredo sauce, goat cheese, and red peppers. As plans often do, this didn't work out the way I imagined.
Upon removing the casserole dish from the oven, Clark and I looked at each other skeptically. And when we tried to "cut" into it and serve it, we just started laughing. The layers all melted together and it became a delicious, savory, soupy mixture. This is not a casserole. It's not a ratatouille. It's not anything really – I've Googled extensively with no luck. I have no idea what to call it and I still don't know what it is. All I know is that it is GOOD and sometimes, that's all that matters.
In some weird way that only a foodie could fathom, the recipe reminds me of Maggie. She was a mixture of things – sassy, cuddly, spunky, snappy, and comforting – all in one furry 8 pound package. She didn't care what anyone thought of her and she refused to fit in with other dogs. Heck, she wouldn't even chase a ball or a stick or anything or the sort. When she was younger, she loved to take off running whenever the door was left open, laughing to herself, I'm sure, as we tried to chase her down. She met Clark before I did. She was there when I left for college and she was there when I came home. We were never sure if she was a full bred Yorkie or not – and who cares, anyway?
She was just good. Such a damn good dog.
I think my mom always planned on us having a big dog; maybe a German Shepard or a lab. Instead, we ended up with this jumpy, yippy little thing named Maggie. And for a million reasons, she fit in so perfectly with our family. You know what they say about plans…
I will admit that I've been extremely blessed to not have seen very much death in my life. Any of the relatives that have passed since I've been alive have been too distant to have a terribly profound impact on me. Whether it's a good thing or bad, I don't know, but I've been sheltered from the pain of losing a loved one.
Losing a pet is not the same as a person, but it's heartbreaking all the same. A huge chapter of my life has ended. My childhood dog is gone. I'll never see her perky ears in the window as I walk up to the door. She'll never hop down and run over to say hello when I get home. She won't be barking at the fireworks this year. I'll never get to take her outside again. She'll never cuddle against the small of my back, keeping me warm all night. I'll never give her another treat or sneak her another piece of popcorn.
I wonder if I'll ever stop looking at her favorite spot, expecting her to be snoozing peacefully only to remember that she's gone. I don't think that I will.
Since you insisted on watching us shoot this recipe, this post is for you, Maggie Mae. Our yippy dog. Our Honey Badger. Our girl. For all you taught me, for all the times you were there, and for the best friend that you were, thank you.
Portobello Mushroom Bake
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
A unique take on a casserole with comforting flavors of mushroom, garlic, and red pepper. This is best served as a soup!
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¾ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 minced red bell pepper
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 4 ounces chèvre goat cheese
- 3-4 large portobello mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375º. Lightly coat a 9" x 13" baking dish with olive oil.
- Add coconut milk, nutritional yeast, and garlic to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Chop portobellos into large hunks and mince the red pepper.
- Add the portobellos to the dish, then pour the sauce over top. Next, cover the mushrooms with spinach. It may look like too much spinach, but trust me – it cooks down a lot! Crumble goat cheese over top of the spinach, then sprinkle the minced red pepper.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over top of the dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes, covering lightly with aluminum foil at the 20-minute mark.
- Remove from the oven and be sure to let it cool! Serve in bowls – this isn't your average casserole. If desired, serve it over quinoa.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: Mains
This was my favorite post. I, too, have lost a dog before and although I have another dog now, I miss my old fur ball everyday! Maggie was so lucky to spend her life with you two and vise versa. Hang in there Jordan!!
Just about everything makes me think of her right now! I'm sure it will get better with time. From one dog-lover to another, thank you for the kind words. <3
I'm sorry for your loss... Losing a family pet is so, so hard. Especially since we often bond more with our pets than we do with most people. I literally could not speak for days after we had to put down our family dog a few years ago. Every time I tried I would just burst into tears and just ugly cry. He was an awesome dog. I took comfort in the fact that he was no longer suffering from the cancer that was destroying him. That and the fact that he was content with his head being scratched in my lap after feeding him the rest of the bag of his favorite treats. It'll get easier for you one day at a time. XXX
It was definitely the most difficult thing I have ever had to do or witness, despite knowing that she would no longer be in pain. Every once in a while, a special kind of dog comes along that just grabs onto your soul. I'm sorry for your loss too – I'm sure you still miss your guy every day! Maggie got spoonfuls and spoonfuls of peanut butter and hunks of roasted chicken in her last few days. And don't tell my mom about the piece of havarti cheese that I snuck her. ;) Thank you for your sweet comment.