Stuffed Portobellos

One of my favorite hot appetizer “go-to’s” is always stuffed mushrooms.  I have posted a few ideas on this blog in years past of those recipes.  This recipe, however, is a dinner entrée recipe that is wonderful for a Meatless Monday menu plan. Made with larger mushrooms, this recipe is terrific served with a side salad for a complete meal.

Here is how I made this delicious dinner.  Select larger Portobello mushrooms, one per guest. Wash well and remove the stem.  Clean out the black scales and wash again.  Place on a baking sheet or in a baking dish.  I poured about 1/2 cup of White Zinfindel wine in the pan for added flavor and moisture to the dish while cooking.

In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon margarine and saute 2 stalks chopped celery, 1/3 chopped red onion, and 2 ounces of crumbled bacon.  I used crumbled bacon in a bag.  Season with salt and pepper while cooking.

When the vegetables are soft, remove them from the stove top. In a bowl, mix in 1/2 cup Panko crumbs and 1 cup shredded Fontina cheese. Add the sauteed ingredients to the bowl.  Add enough light mayonnaise, about 1/2 cup, just to pull together the mixture.

Stuff the mushrooms and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  This recipe can also be placed in a casserole dish and baked to serve with crackers as an appetizer.

Additional cheese can always be put on top of this casserole or the mushrooms prior to baking for an extra cheesy taste.  This recipe will fill four large mushrooms.

Book review: Celebrate Everything!

As a brand new grandmother, I am so excited to be able to share some special events with our new grandson in the coming years. This book, written by Darcy Miller is brimming with ideas for every occasion. As a celebrity party planner, she shares many ideas on how to personalize every event and bring every party to life.

Many types of parties are showcased in her book, including everything from an ice cream party to an anniversary party.  Ideas for food and drink, fun and games and even cakes and sweets are delightfully photographed, illustrated, and described.  Recipes, descriptions of meals, suggestions for gifts and even menus are included in the chapters.

Personally I love her sweet table display ideas along with her conversation starters. Just about every idea in the book is fresh and new.  The whole book is cheerful as well as classic.

Memories can be made by reading and exploring the ideas within.  I can’t wait for a chance to plan an occasion with Darcy’s ideas.  She shares her blueprint for success with style and class.

 

Springtime Spinach Spread

March Madness is upon us again, and there is always another event where a new appetizer could be shared.  Here is an easy recipe that comes together in less than 30 minutes and is very creamy and tasty.  This recipe makes a lot of spread, so it can either be frozen for later events or only plan to make this recipe for a gathering.  It will become your next favorite recipe.

Gather these ingredients:  one package of crumbled real bacon, 8 ounces of low fat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese, 2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, one box frozen spinach thawed, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, and dried parsley flakes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a ceramic pie dish with Pam to coat.  With an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise, and the Worcestershire sauce. Next, stir in the spinach-fully drained, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, salt and ground pepper to taste.  Spread into the prepared dish.  Sprinkle with more cheddar and mozzarella as needed to cover the dish.  This will be about 3/4 cup of additional cheese.

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Bake for 20 minutes until slightly brown and very hot.  Garnish wish parsley flakes and serve with an assortment of crackers or crusty bread. Yum.

 

Easter eggs

Just as many other households in America, I have always colored eggs for Easter.  Over the years I have tried many techniques, and this year was no different.  I found an idea and altered it some, based on what I had in my pantry.  The results were perfect.  Having years of experience in the kitchen helps to give one confidence in trying new things.

Here is the most cost effective and easy way to color hard boiled eggs.  Choose the number of eggs that will be colored and decide on the preferred colors for the project.  Any of these food products could be used for the eggs–jello, kool-aid mixes, or as I used Crystal Light drink mix.  Remember a basic fact, if the item will stain you or your clothing, it most likely will color an egg.

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I started with 2 cups of water and added 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar.  Bring it up to a boil and then add one small package of the Crystal Light drink mix. If using the other options, try 2-3 tablespoons at first.  Reduce the temperature to a simmer and heat for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and slightly cool.  Place in a glass bowl with a spoon to dissipate the heat.  Cool the hard cooked eggs slightly as well and place in the bowl with the colored dye.  Allow to absorb the color for 5-10 minutes or as long as needed for the desired shades.

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So fun and easy to prepare. Great to serve at a holiday Easter breakfast.

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Hasselback Apples

Fruit desserts are some of my all-time favorites.  One of the easiest fruit desserts has to be this apple recipe.  Be sure to choose a Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apple, as some of the other softer flesh apples will not hold up during the cooking process.  I found this recipe last year in Cooking Light magazine and have moved it up in my list of tasty simple desserts.

Decide how many people will be served, and make the according number of apples, with one per guest as the standard serving size.  In less than one hour, everyone will have a heated dessert served with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream that they will forever remember.

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Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel, core and halve each apple, and then place cut side down in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Make even slices throughout the apple, making certain not to go all the way down to the baking dish.

Next combine an equal number of tablespoons of sugar and butter, along with 1/2 the amount of cinnamon.  Brush this mixture over the apples.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the apples are tender.

Finally, combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons rolled oats, 1 teaspoon flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.   Fan open the apple halves and spoon this mixture on top of the apples.  Bake again for another 10 minutes.  To finish the cooking process, broil for 2 minutes and serve warm.

This is a cozy dessert.  Serve when you have lots of time to savor the flavor and the warmth of the fruit. Yum.

 

Serving cheese

Pleasing presentation during entertaining has been encouraged for years by entertaining experts.  Presenting food in an appealing way actually encourages the overall interest for the food, including taste and food satisfaction.

I often consider what is the best plate, platter or tray to display appetizers or cheese for guests.  I was thrilled to receive a lovely new cheese plate for Christmas from my son and his wife.  I collect Emma Bridgewater china from England, and this cheese platter was a perfect addition to our home collection for entertaining.

One of the basic concepts for cheese and fruit platter presentation is allowing enough room around the cheeses to allow for complimentary flavors and tastes from other foods. With this in mind, it is very clear that a larger platter is a better choice for cheese tasting. This platter design includes the names of cheese in a lettered design layout. For any cheese platter presentation, use a few simple rules.

To start:  Choose an odd number of wedges for the platter. Add complimentary tastes with fruit, honey, crusty bread, or nuts.

Place the cheese in a circle, with the mildest cheese at the top and continue around the platter.  Choose cheese based on region of the World or just from America.  Too many types is overwhelming.  Stay with two or three types.   And consider the texture and the type of cheese.  Consider a theme.

Invest in a good set of cheese knives.  They make a huge difference. And finally, pair with a delicious choice of wines.

Cheese is a perfect appetizer or light bite for almost any occasion.  And having a cute platter makes it even more fun to share with others.

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Baby–it will be cold outside

One of the newest trends in entertaining has been the beverage bar.  It has evolved from the classic tea service, to a coffee bar, and now encompasses hot chocolate or other warm drinks for the winter season.

Even though our Michigan winter temperatures have not been as cold as past years, I decided to get my beverage bar together for the holidays.  I chose a portion of my kitchen counter and devoted it to some toppings, flavors, and just fun coffee and tea selections.  Under the counter are drawers devoted to flavors of tea, coffee, tea pots, serving ware for beverages, and other accessories.  Of course, whipped cream, milk, honey, and chocolate syrups are also available one step away.

One of the best parts of assembling a beverage bar is putting together a list of recipes for guests to try different types of drinks.  Some require marshmallows, syrups, heated or frothed milk.  A selection of different types of ceramic mugs or glassware should also be available nearby.

If you do not have room for a whole beverage area every day, be sure to set one up for your holiday entertaining parties, and watch how much fun everyone has making their selections.