Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Classic" Stuffed Mushrooms


Adding to the list of yummy Thanksgiving apps this year were Stuffed Mushrooms.  I love, love, love stuffed mushrooms of practically any sort and it had been quite some time since I've sunk my teeth into one, so it was only right to make them for this food-filled holiday!

This is actually a very classic recipe and what some would refer to as the "original."  There are so many variations out there now for stuffed mushroom recipes that it can sometimes be hard to find one that is different, yet appealing to all palettes.  You can stuff them with crab, an assortment of cheeses, potatoes, different types of meat, etc.  When in doubt, I always refer to the tried and true, the classic, the original, the big get the point, I'm sure.

With a healthy (not waist-healthy but portion-healthy or size-healthy, if you rather) bite of sausage, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese stuffed into a juicy mushroom, your mouth explodes with depths of flavor and's pleasing in so many ways!  They're such a savory and slightly rich addition, that you don't need too many which is why this recipe can go a long way with guests, even leaving enough for seconds or thirds!

Oh and for what it's worth, please don't mind my picture...I accidentally left them in the oven too long!  Even after my timer told me it was time for them to come out, I was preoccupied with other kitchen tasks....who am I kidding?  I was stuffing my face "taste-testing" other yummies I was working on!  Irregardless, they were still good and we devoured!

"Classic" Stuffed Mushrooms

24 oz. Button Mushrooms
1/2 lb. Pork Sausage (whatever flavor you like...I used Italian)
1/2 Med. Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 cup Chicken Broth
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 whole Egg Yolk
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Gently wipe off mushrooms with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove dirt.  Pop out the stems, reserving both parts.

Chop up the stems into fine pieces and set aside.

In a skillet, cook the sausage over med-high heat until browned; drain the grease and transfer meat to a plate to set aside.

Meanwhile, add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened (about 2 minutes).    Pour chicken broth into the skillet and deglaze the pan by running a whisk or spoon around the bottom of the pan to scrape up any bits left behind by the meat.  Continue cooking until liquid evaporates (about 5-7 minutes).  Add in the mushroom stems and cook to soften (about 2 minutes).  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and egg yolk.  Add in the Parmesan cheese and mix until combined well.  Add in meat and mushroom mixture and mix well.  Refrigerate the mixture, allowing it to firm up (about 20 minutes).

When ready, smear the sausage mixture into each button cap cavity, allowing a generous amount to sit on top.  Place stuffed mushrooms on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden brown).

Yield: 12-16 Servings
Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Sausage Cups


Happy post-Thanksgiving Day everyone!  I hope everyone survived the holiday and Black Friday madness (if you were crazy enough to get out in it)! 

Because our families live in other states, Chris and I spent Turkey Day at home, together, this year.  It was really nice with just the two of us and definitely complete with all the fixins!  We had the usual roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc.  But I also made a few appetizers to help fill us up even more throughout the day! 

I decided to make new appetizers this year utilizing recipes that I haven't made before and I'm so glad I gave these Sausage Cups a place at the table this year.  They were the perfect mouthful of crunchy, chewy, spicy cheesiness!  And they were so easy to put together...they practically took no time at all!  And believe it or not, they're just as good leftover! 

This is such a versatile recipe and you really can change up the variation of flavors by changing out the ingredients you use!  I ended up using Italian sausage, but I think they would be dually delicious substituted with Hot sausage, ground chicken or ground turkey as well (especially if you're trying to avoid the heavy calories and flavors the sausage gives).  The original recipe called for a blend of Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese but I used what I had on-hand.  Either way, any mixture of cheese would work just fine!

We actually enjoyed these so much, I decided to make another batch of them today just to have for a snack and also to freeze them!

Sausage Cups

1 lb. Ground Sausage
1 pkg. Won Ton Wrappers
2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a mini-muffin tin and set aside.

In a skillet over med-high heat, crumble the sausage until browned; drain. 

Meanwhile, insert the won ton wrappers into the muffin tin to form little cups or bowls.  Bake for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sausage, cheese and ranch dressing.  Carefully spoon the mixture into the pre-cooked won ton cups and finish baking for an additional 10 minutes.

Yield: 30 Servings
Source: Adapted from Bob Evans
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Pecan Cheesecake - What's Baking Challenge


It's that time's time for the What's Baking Challenge!  First of all, I'm so sorry y'all for being such a slacker on the blog front. Despite how it may look, I really haven't been slacking at home (promise).  We've been very busy and my computer is very, very sick.  I am "temporarily" on Chris' computer for now which is my why my posts have been few and far between.

But it's nearing the end of the month and with that comes the What's Baking Challenge.  If you remember from last month's post, the theme chosen for November is Thanksgiving!  What better way to celebrate Turkey Day than with a non-traditional dessert!  While I love me some pumpkin pie, I'm feeling a little overkill with all of the pumpkin recipes I've been seeing lately.  So I thought I'd liven things up a bit with a cheesecake.  But not just your usual New York cheesecake.  This one has a delightful little mixture of apples and pecans tossed in cinnamon and sugar on top....YUM!

I'm telling you, this is definitely a great alternative (or addition) to the typical dessert fare you see on Thanksgiving.  The cheesecake with the apples and pecans on top really give a warm, comforting feeling in your mouth and really brings it home.  It could definitely stand on it's own at the table next to the turkey and dressing but if you have to go with the traditional T-Day dessert(s), you really should throw this in as an accompaniment...I promise, you won't be disappointed and neither will your guests!

Apple Pecan Cheesecake

Ingredients - Crust
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 cup Butter, melted
2 Tbsp. Sugar plus

Ingredients - Cheesecake
4 - 8oz. pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Sour Cream
4 Eggs
3 Lg. Apples, peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup Pecans, chopped
1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

To make the crust, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 13x9-inch baking dish with foil. 

In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar.  Press mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add in sour cream; mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions until blended together. 

In a medium bowl, combine the apples, pecans, remaining sugar and cinnamon.  Mix until the pecans and apples are coated with cinnamon and sugar.

Pour the cheesecake mixture over the cooled graham cracker crust.  Spoon the apples and pecans over the cheesecake mixture and bake for 1 hour. 

Remove from the oven and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours to let cool and set.  Using the foil, pull the cheesecake out of the dish and cut into serving-size squares.

Yield: 16 Servings
Source: Adapted from Kraft Foods
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Easy Caramel Corn


With Fall, comes tailgating and football parties.  And with tailgating and football parties, comes food (more importantly, snacks).  That's where this recipe comes in!  This is probably the easiest recipe out there for homemade caramel corn (at least from what I've found) and don't let the ease of the recipe fool you: it's just as tasty!

I've been making this caramel corn for years now and it's always been a hit whether I've brought it to work parties, holiday gatherings, giving away as gifts or just making it here at home for something to munch on.  It's also very versatile and can be combined with other goodies such as pecans, candy corn, peanuts, etc. 

Easy Caramel Corn

3 bags Unbuttered Popcorn, popped
1 cup Unsalted Butter
2 cups Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda

Empty the popcorn into a brown paper bag, being careful to not let the unpopped kernels get in.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup over med-high heat.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn in the bag; close the bag and shake well.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Remove and shake well or mix with a wooden spoon so that all of the popcorn is coated in caramel.  Spread over wax paper and let cool. 

**Be careful as it will be very hot coming out of the microwave**

Yield: 14-16 Servings
Source: From Grand Temptations
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cheddar & Jalapeno Popovers


For some reason people always ask about ideas to make alongside a big pot of soup and with all of the soups and stews I've made recently (and with more to come), I've found that the best sides include a nice, green salad and bread of some sort.  Determining what type of salad and/or bread to make to accompany your soup will depend a lot on the ingredients and flavors your soup will have.  Playing up the flavors of your salad and the texture of the bread can really help to complement the soup itself.

To give you an idea, the Squash Bisque I made recently was paired with a salad of romaine, sliced pears, Gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans and a cider vinaigrette.  Alongside it, was a fresh loaf of French bread, perfect for dipping!  In this case, you could easily add some grilled chicken to the salad to boost up your protein, but I found the soup hearty enough that it wasn't necessary.  This combination provided the perfect Autumn meal while utilizing fresh, in-season ingredients and still rather figure-friendly.

If it's a nice hearty Chili, for instance, I usually opt for a simple green salad with a few fresh veggies and a nice vinaigrette.  To have a little fun and play up the spicy flavors of the chili, I might make a salad utilizing fresh tomatoes, red onion and a cilantro lime vinaigrette (a little Mexican cheese would be great on top as well).  For bread pairings, you can never go wrong with a good old-fashion Southern cornbread!  Mexican cornbread is great as well as is this recipe for Cheddar & Jalapeno Muffins!

I actually made these recently to go alongside a large pot of Chili and it was a nice contrast to the normal cornbread we usually have.  Personally, I thought they could've used a tad more salt than what the recipe called for and next time, I'll definitely add more jalapeno.  But all in all, I really liked them...the only trouble we really ran into was getting them out of the cupcake liners!  I thought I had bought decent liners; they were made by Wilton after all, but to our surprise they stuck terribly to the popovers, making it rather difficult to peel away.  So, unfortunately, remnants of the popovers went to waste but we still managed to work with the best part: the middle!  I guess lesson learned...don't buy Wilton cupcake liners again!

Cheddar & Jalapeno Muffins

3 Eggs
1 1/4 cups Milk
1 1/4 Flour
1/2 Tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
2 Jalapenos, minced
3/4 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake/muffin liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy.  Gradually add in the milk, beating at low speed.  Add in the flour and salt; beat until smooth.  Mix in the butter.

Fill each cup half-full with the batter.  Sprinkle evenly with the cheese and jalapenos and top with more batter, filling the cups up. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until brown.  Let cool for 1 minute and serve warm.

Note: The ingredient list above reflects the changes I would make to the recipe, including adding more salt and jalapenos.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 Tsp. of salt and does not include jalapenos.

Yield: 8 Muffins
Source: Adapted from Grand Temptations
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Chorizo, Potato & Mushroom Tacos


I don't think I need to explain my obsession love for Mexican food.  It's pretty cut and dry and something that will probably always be an obsession love of mine.  Next to cheeseburgers and ice cream, it's at the top of my list of favorites!  I mean, usually when we go out for dinner, it's what is on my mind to get (we usually have to choose between Mexican and sushi).  And it doesn't stop there...I love making Mexican-inspired meals at home!

I came across this recipe on Pink Parsley not all that long ago and marked it as one to try.  Each week that I sat down to do my meal planning, this recipe seemed to pop up, but for one reason or another I'd brush it off and tell myself I'd make it another time.  Well ladies and gentlemen, that time has finally come.  And let me be the first to admit what a HUGE mistake it was to put off for so long!  This was, seriously, one of the easiest and tastiest meals I have thrown together in a long time.  I'd have to say it's climbed right up there as one of my top meals (probably right alongside the Creamy Shrimp & Grits)!

The spiciness of the chorizo with the crispy, soft potatoes and sauteed mushrooms make for an explosion of textures and flavors in your mouth.  We served them on real corn tortillas (the best) with a little cilantro, sour cream and salsa verde.  Paired alongside some Spanish Rice and Mexican Fried Corn, this recipe is surely going to find it's way in our regular meal rotation!  Please do me a favor and don't deprive yourself as long as I did from inhaling tasting these!

Chorizo, Potato & Mushroom Tacos

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Lg. Potato, cubed
1 - 15 oz. pkg. Chorizo, casings removed
1/2 Med. Onion, diced
6 oz. Button Mushrooms, chopped roughly
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped
Corn Tortillas, warmed
Sour Cream (optional)
Salsa Verde (optional)

In a large pan, heat olive oil over med-high heat.  Add in the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp on the outside (about 7-8 minutes).  Transfer to another dish and set aside.

In the same pan, begin crumbling the chorizo over med-high heat.  Cook, stirring often to break up any large pieces, until heated through (about 5 minutes).  If needed, carefully drain the grease from the pan. 

Add in the onions and mushrooms to the chorizo; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 3 minutes). 

Add in the potatoes to the chorizo mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the potatoes are heated through.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with tortillas and optional sour cream and salsa verde.

Yield: 4 Servings
Source: Adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Mexican Everyday
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