Monday, February 21, 2011

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

As you may or may not have seen, Jason and I recently went to the Chef's Table. Minutes after sitting down at this lovely restaurant, they brought each of us a single stuffed mushroom. Cute? Yes. Delicious? Yes.


We have been thinking about that single mushroom for days. And I DO NOT LIKE mushrooms. But that one was delish. So since Jason asked that we make a batch this weekend I ignored my dislike of mushrooms to please my handsome hubby.


This is a Rachael Ray recipe from the Food Network. It is good. It is not Chef's Table good, but it is good. It may not convert you [or me] 100% to mushrooms, but it is definitely a good start.


It is a little bit time intensive so save this for when you particularly want to cook. It is a perfect little party appetizer or special date night treat.


Alright, let's get started.


*note the recipe at the bottom is for 24 large mushrooms. We had about 25 small mushrooms so we halved the recipe and still had stuffing leftover. Plan accordingly! 


First, wash your mushrooms, try to dry them off as best you can so there isn't moisture remaining. Then remove the stems. Also, preheat your oven to 500 degrees.


To remove the stems, kind of wiggle them around and then pull. Jason is demonstrating here. Do not discard the stems! We will be using those in a minute.


Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushroom caps, hole side up and saute with salt and pepper for 5-7 minutes. Then flip the caps to let the juices drain away from the caps. 


They should get a nice golden brown and start to become tender on the edges. 
After just a minute upside down, remove from the skillet and place on a nonstick baking sheet. 


Add sausage to hot skillet and cook until brown. [We used turkey sausage which is just slightly less flavorful than pork sausage, a hot sausage would have been particularly good here for extra flavor!]


Meanwhile, roughly chop up your mushroom stems, onion, garlic, red pepper and and celery. You will be putting it all into the food processor to be finely chopped. I also toasted my bread at this point. 
The recipe calls for chopping the mushroom stems and garlic separate from the other vegetables but I think you could do it all together. 




 It calls for toasted and then buttered bread. However, the butter made it harder to dice up the bread, seems like those might have been needless calories...
These pieces should have been chopped even smaller more like big bread crumbs.


I removed the sausage and sauteed the veggies on their own at this point for 3-5 minutes. Then I added the chopped bread and, spinach, and cheese to mixture. 



 See those chunks of bread are way out of proportion! ha. 


This is what your final stuffing mixture should look like. 


Then using a small spoon smush the stuffing into the mushroom tops. Don't be afraid to make them tower high since that means less mushroom taste & more yummy stuff taste!




Ok, this is where Jason and I thought that perhaps the stuffing needed a little extra something to hold it together more and give a dab more flavor. We decided some cream cheese or mozzarella cheese-something to make it melty and gooey would have been a nice touch. You decide if you want to add a little something to it. 


Bake for 6 to 10 minutes to crisp edges of stuffing and set stuffing in mushrooms.


Enjoy!

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, one turn of the pan
  • 24 large gourmet stuffing mushroom caps, stems removed and reserved brushed with damp towel
  • Salt and pepper

Stuffing:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, half a turn of the pan
  • 3/4 pound sweet bulk Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 20 stems mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 rib of celery and green, leafy top from the heart of the stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3 slices white bread, toasted and buttered, chopped into small dice
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano, 2 handfuls

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and mushroom caps and season caps with salt and pepper. Saute caps 5 to 7 minutes, until they are lightly browned and tender on edges. Turn caps up and let juices drain away from caps. Transfer caps to a small nonstick baking sheet. 

Wipe out skillet and return to heat. Add a touch of oil and sausage to the hot skillet. Brown and crumble sausage for 3 minutes. In a food processor pulse and chop the garlic, add mushroom stems and pulse to chop the mushroom stems. Add celery, onion and red bell pepper to the mushrooms and pulse to chop. Remove mixture from the processor and saute veggies and mushrooms over medium high heat another 3 to 5 minutes. Add dry, defrosted spinach and stir into stuffing. Add chopped bread and cheese to the pan and toss stuffing until bread is moist and stuffing is combined, 2 or 3 minutes.

 Fill caps with stuffing using a small scoop or large spoon. Place caps in hot oven and reduce heat to 450 degrees F. Bake 6 to 8 minutes to crisp edges of stuffing and set stuffing in mushrooms.

 Transfer stuffed mushrooms to a serving plate.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Headband Holder

This is such an easy and cute solution to one of my biggest problems: Too many headbands and nowhere to put them! 


It just takes two easy steps and three materials!


All you need is:

  • Large empty oatmeal can
  • 2 pieces of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper
  • Hot glue or super glue! 



Cut the paper to fit your oatmeal can and then wrap it around. Glue along the seam. Make sure you put the seam towards the back so you wont see it, so plan your pattern accordingly. 

Tips:

  • Keep the paper taut as you go along and glue occasionally to keep it tight. 
  • I also stuffed mine with some newspaper just to give some weight to the can so its easier to hold and so it won't fall over too easily. 
  • Finally, get the paper as close to the lid and bottom as possible. As you may have noticed, I missed a little bit at the top and depending on where you put it (mine is on an eye level shelf) you can see a little bit of the can poking through. 
But overall it looks great! 





Look how practical! 
Sadly, I now have twice this many headbands so I need to make another one!

Now go make one! Now!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Foolproof Marinara

Technically this is my husband's recipe. I give him full credit because I never made great sauce like this until I met  him. Hopefully I get it right!


Start by heating your skillet up with some olive oil. While the oil is heating chop up your onion Try not to cry! 




Brown your meat [if using] while softening your onions and garlic. 




Add desired choice of red sauce. [Mine here is half jar sauce & half canned diced tomatoes-I also threw in some fresh tomatoes at the end]


Stir up ingredients and add seasonings and brown sugar. 


Simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
 Serve over pasta & enjoy!



Homemade Red Sauce 
Recipe by The Apron Gal


Ingredients:
-1 pound lean ground turkey or beef [optional]
-2 teaspoons minced garlic
-1 large yellow onion
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning 
-Garlic salt to taste
-1 jar of favorite red sauce 
OR any combination of canned diced tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, and canned tomato sauce


Directions:


Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat, add garlic. Brown meat in skillet and soften onions. *Add your choice of canned tomatoes or sauce or combination thereof. Add Italian seasoning, garlic salt and brown sugar. Simmer for 10-15 minutes to let flavors soak in. 


Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese on top. 


*Note-choose your tomato products according to the chunkiness level you prefer. For this batch I did half pre-made tomato sauce with half diced tomatoes. I also threw in a few fresh tomatoes I was trying to use up. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Whosits and Whatsits Galore

Well, I actually have four of five great recipes to share with you but sadly, my computer crashed and I am now using a rental. This rental does not have a memory card port like my past computer so I need to find the cord. Once I do, yummy recipes for you, I promise!


But for now, I thought I would highlight some of my favorite kitchen gadgets. In a 3 part post I will share my favorite general kitchen gadgets. Then I will share my favorite baking pans and tools and finally, my current wish list


I thought you might be wanting or needing some of these things too or looking for great gifts for the foodie or baker you know. Some may have been mentioned before but I think it might be helpful to have them all in the same place together! 


And, no, none of these are necessary at all. Are they fun, yes? Do they make you a good cook? No. Do they make me happier and more confident when cooking? Yes. 


General Fun Kitchen Gadgets:


What: Lettuce Knife 
Use: Cut lettuce without turning it brown. [The website says you can also use it for cakes & breads, which I will have to try!]
Price: $4-$8
Where to buy: Amazon or Bed Bath & Beyond








What: Mortar & Pestle 
Use: Crushing fresh herbs or nuts or whatever else you can think of. Also looks pretty. 
Price: $10 to $30
Where to buy: Bed Bath and Beyond




What: Immersion Blender
Use: Puree anything in its original container, i.e, puree soup in a pot without having to transfer. Or use it for smoothies or hot chocolate. Very convenient! 
Price: $30 to $99
Where to buy: BB & B




What: Micrograter
Use: Zest lime, lemon or orange. Finely grate chocolate for desserts. Finely grate ginger, cheeses or spices.
Price: $15 to $20
Where to Buy: BB&B
*There are various sizes of the blade for these, coarse or fine. The link is to the one I have and I like it. But choose the size you prefer!




What: Grill Pan
Use: Grill meat or vegetable easily on your stovetop. It is great for fajitas and gives those nice grill marks you desire when its too cold, or hot, to grill outside. 
Price: $18 to $75
Where to buy: You can find plenty on Amazon/BB&B but my tip is to keep your eyes open at places like Ross and TJMaxx. I found my Wolfgang Puck Grill Pan at Ross for $17.99 [I did also find it here for $24.90]




What: Food Scale
Use: Accurately measure amounts of food whether it be snacks or cooking or baking ingredients. Do you know how much one ounce of cheese is? Neither did I until I got this scale. It really helps you be aware of how much you are eating. Its also great for recipes that may say things like "4 ounces of chicken." or for measuring one serving size of snacks. 


*Definitely get one that allows you to tare: Meaning putting the plate on, zeroing out, then only measuring the amount of the food you placed on it. Also, make sure it can switch between ounces and grams so you can work with many different kinds of recipes. My Sharper Image scale does both of those. See link below. 
Price: $20 to $60
Where to buy: BB&B




What: Santoku knives
Use: These very sharp Japenese knives are great for chopping vegetables. The name literally means, "three virtues" referring to its ability to chop, dice, and mince. Although great for vegetables it is also considered a general purpose knife. Even if you have a nice set of regular knives, one of these is still great to have. 
Price: Can be very expensive but good ones are also available for as low as $15 
Where to buy: BB&B




What: Tongs
Use: Such a simple kitchen tool but I have two pairs and they are both always being used. I use mine for turning meat on the stove, flipping french fries in the oven or just in general picking up food while cooking. I have one with plastic tip and one without both are good for different things [plastic won't scratch your pans, but metal tips allow you to scrape if necessary]. Always get a pair with the locking feature for easy storage. 
Price: $5.99 for 2 or up to $9.99 per pair
Where to buy: BB&B or this is another item to look for at Ross or TJMaxx. 








What: Ateco Cutters
Use: These can be used for cutting biscuits, cookies or pastries. Or for plating food. Or for filling cupcakes or just about anything else you can think of. 
Price: $15
Where to Buy: Amazon (this is the set of 11 I have) 




What: Condiment/Measuring Bowls also called Custard Cups
Use: I use these all the time. For holding spices, mixing sauces, or just for snacks. 
Price: $7 up to $15 if bigger or with lids 
Where to buy: Amazon


Whew. That took way longer than anticipated but I hope it inspired you to do some shopping!

Also: My favorite places for kitchen gadgets are: Ross, TJMaxx, Bed Bath & Beyond, World Market, Target and Williams Sonoma. O and I have recently been finding unique and fun kitchen stuff at DI, so always check out your local thrift store!

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