Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ode to My George Foreman Grill

Good News!

It's official, boys and girls ... I signed a contract for a new cozy mystery series.  I'll be writing this new series, about a woman who owns a boutique for pets, under the name Annie Knox (an homage to my parents:  my mom's middle name is Ann and my dad's middle name is Knox).  I love these new characters, and I can't wait to share details with you in upcoming posts.  But, for now, on to the food ....


When Mr. Wendy and I were newly affianced (I love that word!), a good friend gave us a George Foreman grill.  I will confess that I thought it was an odd choice of gift for a couple who had nearly 20 years of combined vegetarianism.  But, you know the saying about gifts and horses.  I smiled and thanked her.

And the George Foreman sat in a box in the cupboard for a few years.  Yes, you read that right:  years.  Then, one day, I came home to find Mr. Wendy leaning against the kitchen counter, the Foreman and its various bits spread out behind him amidst a sea of plastic bags. 

"I wanted a sandwich," he said.

Fair enough.  Even better, he made one for me.  It wasn't anything too fancy, just nice bread and a few slices of good cheese.  But, dang, the George Foreman transformed it from a mere sandwich to a panini. I was completely smitten with the melty cheese and toasty bread, all without the added fat and potential sogginess of butter or margarine.

We spent a couple of weeks putting the grill through its paces.  We tried all sorts of sandwich combos, along various other vegetarian savories (vegie burgers, marinated tofu, eggplant and zucchini . . . ).  We hit a couple of sour notes along the way (the barbecued seitan made a sticky, hideous mess).  But, in short, our lives were changed forever.

Recently I had a craving for something rich and tomato-y and cheesy.  This recipe for Portobello Parmesan was born (with the George Foreman making an important cameo appearance for flattening and pre-cooking the mushroom).

Portobello Parmesan

4 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and gills scraped out
2 small vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced and the seeds removed
2/3 c. ricotta (low fat or nonfat is fine)
1/3 c. grated parmesan
1/4 c. fresh basil (minced or chiffonade)
pinch salt
pinch black pepper
4 slices mozzarella

Preheat a George Foreman grill or panini press.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Cook each mushroom cap on the grill/press for about 4 minutes (until flattened and fragrant, but not mushy).  Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, parmesan, basil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

When the mushrooms are done, place them on a rack set over a 9x13 pan (or on a broiling pan - something that will allow the liquid from the mushrooms to drain off as they cook).  Top each mushroom cap with a few slices of tomato; divide the soft cheese mixture among the mushroom caps; and, finally, add a slice of mozzarella to each.  Place the mushrooms in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes (until the cheese is nicely melted).

Meanwhile, make spaghetti and your favorite red sauce (you can use jarred, or a simply concoction of olive oil, a smidge of garlic, crushed tomatoes, oregano, salt, and a dash of sugar).  Serve the mushrooms over pasta and sauce.  For more dainty eaters, a single mushroom cap would work for one person.  For us, it was two apiece.


Wendy (aka Annie Knox) is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. Congratulations on the new series, Wendy! I'm so excited for you and can't wait to read your pet boutique series!

    I'll admit to using my George Foreman grill all the time (actually, I used it twice last week), but never for vegetarian meals. What a great idea! I love Portabello mushrooms and this is going on my to-be-cooked list!

  2. This new series sounds fabulous, Wendy! Congrats. I know I'll love it. I love this grill idea too. I have everything except the grill to make this. But I can fix that.

  3. Great news on the new series, Wendy, warm congrats. Loaded portobellos are a great way to celebrate. :)

  4. MJ - You can make this without the grill. I think a medium skillet and a plate on top of the mushrooms would do the trick (just flip the mushrooms to cook on both sides).

    And thanks for the congrats. I'm really having a blast with this one. :)

  5. PS - I'm sitting next to Mr. Wendy as I type this ... he looked over, saw the picture of the mushrooms, and said (hopefully) "pie?" Apparently the eye sees what the heart wants ... and my baby wants PIE. :)

  6. Congratulations on your new series, Wendy! I'm looking forward to it.

    I love my panini maker. This is a wonderful recipe. I bet if you skipped the pasta and the sauce, the mushrooms would be nice appetizers, too!

    Hmm, I believe I see a pie in your future! : )

    ~ Krista

  7. Hmmm. For aps, maybe you could make little polenta cups in the mini-muffin tins and then chop the mushrooms, saute, and mix into the cheese mix? Now I want to play in the kitchen ...

  8. Gave my Foreman away, alas.

    More Krista:
    and Avery and Krista:

  9. Congrats on your new series, Wendy! Look forward to reading it.

  10. Congratulations on your new series!
    It sounds great!

    Your sandwich recipe is making me hungry! =)
    I love toasted sandwiches.

  11. It all sounds good to me. A good book, a good sandwich, what more could you ask for? Oh, except pie, of course!

  12. A hearty welcome to Annie Knox! We definitely need a score sheet to remember who's who these days.

    I've never had a Foreman grill. but I nurse along an old waffle iron that was a wedding present. And the crockpot, ditto. And my mother's mixer, that still works but I finally upgraded a couple of years ago.