Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

March 13, 2011

Red credits me for being able to come up with food ideas with the ingredients on hand. (Ehhmmm…, that’s probably because I’m either reading hard copy cookbooks or surfing through hundreds of food blogs on the internet). One weekend, I just saw a pack of mushrooms sitting in the refrigerator; and my mind was spinning trying to think of what to make with them without having to go out and get some more ingredients. I finally decided to make these sausage stuffed mushrooms because we try to make one night a week to be a movie and appetizer night. These little morsels were amazing; so delicious and the house smelled incredible when the filling was being prepared. I didn’t have “extra-large” mushrooms, so I only made half of the filling; but still ended up with tons of leftover filling.  I looked through several other recipes while making this; and a couple of them used a couple other type of cheeses that I didn’t have in hand. But I loved this version with cream cheese instead of mascarpone. I wouldn’t change a thing! Oh, and since I only had about 16 small to medium size mushrooms, I only baked them for about 30 minutes and they were perfect. Happy eating!

Adapted from Ina Garten, through Food Network

16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons wine or medium sherry (Did not use them)
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage removed from the casings
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2/3 cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy (I used cream cheese)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place themushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.

Pan-Fried Onion Dip

February 6, 2011

I was flipping through my stacks of cookbooks the other night and saw this recipe for onion dip. It sounded so tasty that I had to make it that night. Fortunately, I had all of the ingredients in the house 🙂 I wasn’t sure how much this recipe was going to make (it says 2 cups, but normally Ina’s recipes make A TON of batches).Therefore I made a half of the recipe! Yes… you heard me, I decided to just half the recipe. But then after trying it, what was I thinking? Red and I loved this dip recipe so much that I made a full batch the next night! It was that amazing!!!!

The onions were slowly caramelized in the pan, and made them very sweet and tender. This was one step that I would definitely not short-cut (it took close to half an hour total) because it was totally worth it!! The second time I made it, I also chopped the onions strings shorter than what the recipe called for to make it easier to eat. I also didn’t wait until the onions were completely cooled to room temperature before mixing them; and they mixed just fine with the sour cream and cream cheese (make sure the cream cheese is room temperature though!). This dip recipe is fabulous–if you need a new dip recipe to love!!

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Yield: 2 cups

Fried Mashed Potato Balls

January 10, 2011

Holidays at our house always means tons of food and leftover mashed potatoes! I have a rotating mix-in for the mashed potatoes, depending on who’s making it, but they’re usually choke full of butter, garlic, and sour cream. This recipe was just something that I came up with on my own while trying to rejuvenate our leftover mashed potato. It is great addition for breakfast, brunch, and of course dinner–and even better for just an afternoon pick me up snack. Sometimes I add different things like leftover bacon bits or ham, or cheese… but they’re also great just with a handful of chopped green onions. I have always made them with panko instead of regular bread crumbs, which I think really helps the mixture stay together and not fall apart during frying. They’re so addictive and versatile that sometimes I throw in extra potatoes when making mashed potatoes to ensure that I have leftover for these….Happy eating!!

EDIT: A great sauce to accompany these wonderful little snacks is Garlic Mayonaisse that I used  with my Sweet Potato Fries w/ Basil Salt.

3 cups stiff mashed potatoes (preferably cold)
2 medium-size eggs
1/4 cup of sliced green onions
1-1/2 cups of panko
Oil for frying

Heat about 1-1/2 inch of flavorless oil to about 375 degree in a shallow frying pan (you want something with a pretty good surface area since the balls need to be fried in smaller batches to ensure that they’re not crowded).

Beat the two eggs lightly in a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the mashed potatoes and green onions. Using a 1-1/2 inch ice-cream scoop, make potato balls. Roll them onto a plate of panko.

Fry the potato balls a few at a time, and let each side turn into golden brown color, about 2-3 minutes total. Don’t attempt to flip them until the crust is developed and browned. Then flip to the other side, and let brown. Serve warm.

Yield: 28 potato balls

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

December 28, 2010

This is probably the easiest, yet the most loved and requested appetizer among my friends and family. Every single guest who comes for a visit at our house requests this appetizer.  I love how easy this dish is to make, and can be prepared ahead of time. I will just have all of the ingredients mixed together a few hours before I need it, and just before the guests arrive, I can throw this into the oven. As the guests are arriving and settling in –this dip is ready to be served. I don’t usually have a lot of leftover and I love serving it with baked tortilla chips. This recipe makes about four cups, and I say that it serves about six guests. In reality, I have seen four of us devouring this to the last bit. So if you have several spinach and artichoke dip lovers, it may be good to double the recipe.

I do want to warn you though, this is not for the faint of heart. I do try to make it ehmm… a little bit lighter by using light sour cream and mayonnaise, and don’t go overboard with the cheeses. If you don’t have a dip recipe you love yet, I encourage you to give it a try. Happy eating!

Adapted from Paula Deen via Food Network

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
2 (14-ounce) cans whole artichoke hearts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese (or sometimes I use cheddar, whichever I have on hand)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Heat the spinach in a microwave oven on high for 5 minutes and squeeze dry. Drain the artichoke hearts and coarsely chop them.

Combine all the ingredients except the jack cheese in a large bowl. Stir well. Scrape into the greased casserole dish and sprinkle the jack cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes uncovered.

Serve with bagel or tortilla chips.

Yield: 6 servings

Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns

November 24, 2010

I haven’t really made any dinner rolls, but really wanted to serve homemade rolls for our Thanksgiving dinner. I went to the always-reliable site of KAF and picked out this simple yeast dinner roll’s recipe among many that they had and did a test drive on the recipe. It’s so difficult not to want to bake when I browse their mouthwatering recipes on their website.

This recipe was pretty straight-forward, except the “not too standard” ingredients like dry milk and potato flakes which I normally don’t have around the house. But they were really worth it if you think that you will make more yeast breads. These buns were “melt in your mouth-rolls” with soft interior and yeasty-inside. They were so delicious, and I can see them being a regular at our house. But they will  make an appearance on my Thanksgiving dinner table tomorrow! Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving day!

3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
3 tablespoons Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
2 tbsp melted butter, for brushing the finished buns

Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl, and mix and knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased container — an 8-cup measure works well here — and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s just about doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, etc. Round each piece into a smooth ball.

Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans. Space 8 buns in each pan. Can you use 9″ round cake pans, or a 9″ x 13″ pan? Sure; the buns just won’t nestle together as closely, so their sides will be a bit more baked. Cover the pans, and allow the buns to rise till they’re crowded against one another and quite puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the buns, and bake them for 22 to 24 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top and the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the center bun should register at least 190°F.

Remove the buns from the oven, and brush with the melted butter. After a couple of minutes, turn them out of the pan onto a cooling rack.

Serve warm. Store leftovers well-wrapped, at room temperature.

Yield: 16 buns

Curried Squash & Apple Soup

October 29, 2010

With all of these gorgeous squashes in season, I knew that I had to take advantage of making them into a soup. Nothing beats a bowl of warm & hearty soup with homemade rolls on chilly weekends. I looked around for a recipe that fits the bill, and I couldn’t quiet find one that seemed  to have everything that I wanted. I prefer soups that are more savory than sweet, so I decided to use regular vegetable broth instead of apple cider like some recipes suggested. If you want a sweeter soup though, feel free to substitute them in place of broth. I also like pretty heavy seasoning on mine and just a tad bit of creaminess from the heavy cream. I also liked to have a little bit of chunks of apples in the soup, so if you want your soup to be completely creamy without any chunks, feel free to put them into the blender after sauteeing them. Playing around with the amounts of different seasonings, I arrived at this one listed below. I enjoyed mine with homemade olive rolls (I will post the recipe next week!) and they were heavenly together. Try this and let me know if you agree. Happy eating!

3 lbs of squash (I used one butternut, and one deliccata), halved
1 medium McIntosh apple, diced
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 tbsp of chopped garlic
2 tbsp of heavy cream
1 tsp of curry powder
1/2 tsp of ginger
1/4 tsp of paprika
1/8 tsp of red pepper
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Scoop out and discard seeds from squash. Place cut side down in a 13×9 inch baking dish, add water. Bake uncovered for approximately 45 minutes, until squashes are tender.

Carefully scoop out squash into a blender or food processor, cover and process until smooth. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, saute the onion, apple, and garlic. Stir in curry powder and ginger, continue to cook for another minute. Stir in broth and pureed squash. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add cream, salt, pepper, red pepper, and paprika, heat through.

Yield: 6 generous servings

Cheddar and Scallion Bread

April 10, 2010

I have made garlic breads in the past. Most of the times though… pssst, it’s semi-homemade… maybe I’d grab a loaf of bread from a local grocery, and then make my own garlic spread, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I don’t really have a go-to garlic bread recipe that I absolutely love. Then I saw an episode of Giada at Home where she made these cheddar and scallion breads, and I thought that it sounded delicious, and very cheesy! Using one of my classic French baguettes, which now I always keep around the house, I decided to whip up her spread’s recipe. The scallions really added a new dimension to the spread’s mixture; and it’s absolutely fantastic! I love the contrast of sharp cheddar cheese and the tangy onions with garlic. If you don’t have a favorite garlic bread recipe, give this one a try and let me know what you think. I think they would make great pairing not just for pasta type dishes.

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or coarsely grated
6 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 pound) loaf ciabatta bread, cut in half horizontally

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a food processor, combine the cheese and butter. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the scallions and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the cheese mixture on the cut sides of the bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 1-inch thick slices and serve.

Yield: 4-6 servings