Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown Starts Now! Today-Apps!

Good afternoon all.  Did everyone have a great Halloween?  Ours was nice.  The weather cooperated, which was good.  I didn’t have to put a full snow suit over my kid’s costumes so that is always a plus.  We are now knee deep in fun-sized candy bars.  We didn’t get really any Butterfingers, which pisses me off.  Oh well, I will drown my sorrows in Kit-Kats….I promise that I will have a couple of fun ideas for all of your leftover candy on Thursday.  Try to save some good stuff though.  These recipes won’t work with Smarties and raisins;)

So I asked last week what you all would like to see in terms of Holiday recipes.  I got all sorts of answers, and I will try to cover what I can.  Today I am going to start with Holiday appetizers.  I won’t go on and on about my love of apps, you all already know.  I think that the two I am going to show you today are really, really, really good.  I would definitely fill up on these apps and not be able to eat the rest of Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner.  That is a good sign in my book.

My first appetizer is Cranberry Stuffed Mushrooms.  I love stuffed mushrooms.  I think they kick ass.  I always have.  My friend, Michelle, makes amazing stuffed mushrooms, and I was afraid that my recipe wouldn’t compare.  Well Michelle…..it does;)

My recipes uses 2 packages of whole, button mushrooms.  It is close to 24 mushrooms.  I also use Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread, Whole berry cranberry sauce, pork sausage and brie. 

I chose a mild pork sausage, but you could totally use a spicy one, or even a sage flavored sausage.  I am not a fan of Italian sausage because I loathe fennel, but you use whatever floats your boat.

I prepared the mushrooms for stuffing my cleaning them off, individually, with a damp towel.  If you rinse them under water, they will get tough.  Use a towel.

I also pulled their stems out and tossed them.  Then, I used a grapefruit spoon to make the holes a bit bigger.  I realize not everyone has a grapefruit spoon, which is a spoon with a serrated edge.  You can use a paring knife or even a regular spoon.  Or you could go to my mom’s house and steal her grapefruit spoon like I did. 

Now that the shrooms are ready….I started the stuffing by browning the sausage in a big skillet.  Make sure you break up the sausage while it cooks.  You want little teeny-tiny pieces for this.

Once the sausage was browned, I stirred in ½ a can of whole berry cranberry sauce and ½ a jar of the onion spread.  I cooked this mixture just until it was all heated through.

The onion spread is perfect in this.  It is full of caramelized onions, wine, and rosemary.  It has all the seasonings and spices that you would want.

I filled each mushroom with about 1 teaspoon of filling.  One heaping teaspoon.  Maybe even closer to a tablespoon.

Then, I topped each mushroom with a little chunk of brie.  These little guys got baked in a 400 degree oven for almost 20 minutes. 

Holy moly, these were amazing.  I served these at a little pre-trick or treating party and they went quick!

If you are wondering where to buy Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread, check my website at www.gourmetrooster.com.  Click on the “Where to Buy” section.  If you don’t see any stores near you, order it straight from me.  I will make sure you get it before Thanksgiving.

My next appetizer is a yummy Butternut Squash Mousse.  Don’t get scared, this isn’t a sweet mousse.  It is a savory, airy, delicious mousse.  Here, I will give you a sneak peak because I know you are desperately trying to picture it…..

And yes, that is bacon;)

This recipe uses mini fillo shells, butternut squash, heavy cream, bacon, pecans, dried cranberries, garlic and a shallot.

I have talked about the mini fillo shells before.  They are made by a company called “Athens”.  They are pretty easy to find.  Check their website.

The first step is to cook your bacon.  I cook mine in the oven….less mess.  I lay it out on a cooling rack which is layered over a baking sheet.  I bake it at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Easy, easy.

I start this recipe by sautéing the garlic and shallot which have both been roughly chopped.  This will get pureed later so don’t get too hung up on the size of your chop.  I sautéed in olive oil, and I also seasoned with salt and pepper.  The salt, pepper and olive oil all didn’t make the picture.  Whoops.

My butternut squash came in a bag, already diced up for me.  This is available in most grocery stores, by the bagged salads.  You can cut your own, or you could even use canned pumpkin or sweet potatoes.  My bag had directions on the side for steaming in the microwave.  I cooked mine, in the bag, for about 3 minutes.

I added the steamed squash to the garlic and shallots.  I cooked it, over medium high heat, for a few minutes to get a color on it.

The squash mixture got a quick trip in the food processor to get pureed.  I went smooth on this, like baby food smooth.  You can go chunkier if you want.

You can also use a blender if you don’t have a food processor.  If you have neither, mince your garlic and shallot, and when the mixture is cooked, smash it with the back of a spoon.

Then, I let the mixture cool off and come to room temperature.

While the squash is cooling off, I whipped up some cream.  I never sweeten this.  It will literally just be whipped cream.

Once the cream is whipped, I folded in the squash mixture.  This just means that I gently mixed the two together, trying not to deflate the cream.  Use a rubber spatula for this.

Once the cream and squash were folded together, I spooned the mixture into the mini fillo cups.  I would have liked to have piped this in with a pastry bag, but I couldn’t find my star tip.  A spoon worked fine.

I topped each little cup with crumbled bacon, chopped pecans and a dried cranberry.  I also seasoned these with a bit more salt and pepper over the tops.

Oh man, these were good.  They are a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and a lot bit good.  I promise…your crowd will go wild if you make these for your Holiday parties.  I hope you try them!

See you in a couple of days!

Cranberry Stuffed Mushrooms

24 whole white button mushrooms

½ pound pork sausage

½ of a 14 ounce can of whole berry cranberry sauce

½ of a 9 ounce jar of Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread

5 ounces brie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prep mushrooms by wiping them with a damp cloth.  Pull out stems and discard.  With a paring knife or spoon, make each hole a little bit bigger.

In a large skillet, brown sausage over medium high heat.  Once sausage is browned, about 5 minutes, add cranberry sauce and onion spread.  Mix well and heat through over medium heat.

Fill each mushroom cap with sausage mixture, about 1 teaspoon each.  Top each cap with a small chunk of brie.

Bake at 400 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes or until tops are slightly brown and bubbly.

Makes 24.

Butternut Squash Mousse

Athens brand mini fillo cups, 2 packages

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 ounce bag butternut squash, peeled, cubed and steamed according to package directions

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 small shallot, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

½ cup heavy cream

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

½ cup pecans

½ cup dried cranberries

In a large skillet, sauté garlic and shallot in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté until garlic and shallot just start to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add steamed butternut squash and sauté an additional 3 minutes over medium high heat.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat heavy cream, with a hand mixer, until soft peaks are formed.  Fold squash mixture into whipped cream.  Pipe or spoon squash mousse into each fillo cup.  Top with bacon, pecans and dried cranberries.

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