Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Let me start by saying, I don’t like mushrooms.  I know what you’re thinking, “then why the heck are you making them?!”  Because, like so many other dishes in my life, I’m big into experimenting.  Truth is, there is quite a lot of food I dislike when it’s prepared in it’s most common creations.  Things like broccoli, which I love raw but dislike cooked any way but steamed… and very lightly at that.  The problem is usually in the application itself.  A perfect example of this would be the difference in baking a potato in the oven or in the slow cooker.  Prepped exactly the same (lightly slathered in oil, salted then wrapped in foil), the cooker baked potato comes out with just that much more flavor and a perfect consistency.  That said, I’m challenging myself to “The Great Mushroom Challenge of 2013″!

To help with this challenge will be Organics To You here in Portland, Oregon.  An amazing delivery service (yes, you read that right D-LIV-ERR-EE) of local, organic produce!  Yes.  I. Am. In. Heaven!  Delicious locally grown fruits and veggies, all organic and delivered?  YES PLEASE!  Not to mention how incredibly reasonably priced it is!  Every week they compile a mixed box of what’s in season to be delivered to your door.  And they have great add-ons like local dairy products, local meat, fresh herbs, ethnic foods, etc.  So the choices are abound!  But how are they helping me?  Because they provided us with mushrooms.  Crimini mushrooms to be exact.  And as I’ve never made mushrooms before (because I don’t like them), I decided that it was high time to test my culinary skills and see if we can’t find me at least ONE way that I would eat mushrooms.

My first experiment is as the title suggests, sausage stuffed mushrooms.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Crimini mushrooms
  • 1 end piece of Oregon’s Hazelnut bread (or equivalent)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then some in a small dish for coating the mushrooms
  • 1 Adell’s Chicken & Apple precooked sausage

Directions:

  1. Clean and stemm your mushrooms but save the stems for the stuffing!
  2. Cut the sausage into slices and add to the food processor.
  3. Add mushroom stems, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 garlic cloves and the bread end to the food processor.
  4. Process until all ingredients are finely chopped and incorporated. Add olive oil to the mixture if you find it too dry.  You want something that stays together well without being too moist.  Set aside.
  5. Slather each mushroom top with olive oil to allow for a nice presentation (and flavor) when cooked.
  6. Lightly sprinkle salt inside each mushroom cap.
  7. Add caps to a baking sheet.
  8. Take a fork and gently press a small amount of stuffing inside the mushroom cap, enough to fill it generously.  Repeat for all caps.
  9. Then create equal size balls of stuffing for each of your mushrooms.  We are going to create large mounds of stuffing atop the mushroom which is why the stuffing can’t be too dry (or it will crumble) or too wet (it will slide off your cap).  Add a ball of stuffing to each cap, pressing gently to create a mound the width of the cap but not over the edges.
  10. Then BROIL your stuffed mushrooms for 15 minutes or until they start to brown/crust at the top.
  11. Allow to cool and enjoy!

At the end of this experiment, do I still dislike mushrooms?

I can’t tell you how hesitant I was to even try it even though it smelled insanely delicious.  I mean, it has a lot to do with consistency for me.  So as I bit into the smallest one, I was absolutely shocked to find a very firm and moist consistency!  Gone was the soggy eraser feel of nearly every mushroom I’ve had in my life previously.  And the flavor?!  Oi!  The stuffing alone was a delight (and it has mushrooms in it!) but with the slight hint of the full mushroom cap just made a very pleasant food experience.  So I guess the answer is… no, I no longer dislike mushrooms… as long as I’m the one making them. =D

Apple Chicken with Stuffing

Oops!  This post was suppose to have been published with a picture but umm… the cat ate it!  The picture I mean… not the chicken.  Well… okay so he ate some of the raw chicken but… you know what I mean!  So yeah… umm… no pics, sorry!

One of my favorite autumn/winter dishes is Apple Chicken.  Aside from it being incredibly easy to make, it’s unbelievably tasty and can be made in large batches for freezing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thighs
  • Apple Cider
  • 2 cups apple sauce
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • Cranberries
  • Stuffing Mix

Directions:

  1. Place chicken breasts and thighs into crockpot.
  2. Add 2 cups apple sauce.
  3. Add enough apple cider to barely cover the chicken.
  4. Stir.
  5. Set slow cooker on high and cook until chicken is done (generally 3-4 hours).
  6. Add enough stuffing mix to absorb the apple cider and allow to set.
  7. Peel and dice your apple.
  8. Incorporate apple and cranberries into chicken/stuffing.
  9. Serve.

Freezing Eggs

WHITES Break and separate the eggs, one at a time, making sure that no yolk gets in the whites. Pour them into freezer containers, seal tightly, label with the number of egg whites and the date, and freeze. For faster thawing and easier measuring, first freeze each white in an ice cube tray and then transfer to a freezer container.  

YOLKS Egg yolks require special treatment. The gelation property of yolk causes it to thicken or gel when frozen. If frozen as is, egg yolk will eventually become so gelatinous it will be almost impossible to use in a recipe. To help retard this gelation, beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per 1/4 cup egg yolks (4 yolks). Label the container with the number of yolks, the date, and whether you’ve added salt (for main dishes) or sweetener (for baking or desserts).

WHOLE EGGS Beat just until blended, pour into freezer containers. seal tightly, label with the number of eggs and the date, and freeze.

HARD-COOKED Hard-cooked yolks can be frozen to use later for toppings or garnishes. Carefully place the yolks in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water to come at least I inch above the yolks. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, in the hot water about 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and package for freezing.

Hard-cooked whole eggs and whites become tough and watery when frozen, so don’t freeze them.

To use frozen eggs… Thaw frozen eggs overnight in the refrigerator or under running cold water. Use yolks or whole eggs as soon as they’re thawed. Once thawed, whites will beat to better volume if allowed to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  • Substitute 2 tablespoons thawed egg white for 1 Large fresh white.
  • Substitute 1 tablespoon thawed egg yolk for 1 Large fresh yolk.
  • Substitute 3 tablespoons thawed whole egg for 1 Large fresh egg.

Tip:  Store eggs in trays designed to freeze baby food.  They resemble ice cube trays with lids and are BPA free.

Quiche in the Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs (this freezes wonderfully so I make a full dozen!)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 16 0z. spinach
  • Optional: Baker’s Joy or equivalent cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Whisk eggs until thoroughly beaten.
  2. While still whisking slowly add milk then Bisquick until completely incorporated.
  3. Add spinach (if it’s still frozen, break apart before adding).
  4. -Optional- This recipe tends to stick to the cooker so a release agent here is helpful.  If you use one, apply it to your cooker now.
  5. Pour entire mixture into slow cooker.
  6. Set your cooker to high for 3 hours.
  7. Your quiche is done when it starts to pull away from the sides of the cooker and/or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back dry.
  8. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with garlic powder.

This was the most moist quiche I’ve ever had and I plan on expanding on this recipe in the future.

Grocery Delivery

I’m all about convenience but when it’s entwined with saving money AND time… well… you know I’m all for that!  One of the things that ends up saving us a great deal regarding groceries is having them delivered.  I know what you’re thinking, that you can’t afford delivery but the average grocery store charges $5 to $15 for delivery.  That’s it!  Unless you spend less than 3 gallons of gas going to and from the grocery store, the gas you save alone is worth it.  Let’s not even go into the whole packing up the kids and such.

Save Time

Then we add the whole convenience of taking all the time in the world to go shopping without leaving your home.  You can add items to your cart without purchasing them at that moment and it will save the information for whenever you’re ready.  You can pick the delivery date and time to fit around YOUR schedule.  You don’t have to go to the store, just sit at your computer, add things to your cart and select a delivery time.  You pay via credit/debit card (some stores allow for bank transfers) and poof.  Off to do something better with your time than stand in line and schlepping things through a parking lot.

Oh!  And for a real time saver… most stores allow you to shop via order history.  You can repeat an entire order with a click of a button, add things to a previous order or pick and choose items you ordered before!  Can’t remember the name of the bread you tried last order?  It’s right there!  Need to restock your pantry?  Everything you ordered is right there on a list.  Just tick off what you want and how many!

Save Money

You know what I love?  Being able to purchase things when they are on sale without having to search in the store or through a flyer to find it.  Most stores have their specials listed on their site for easy shopping.  With the store membership, you never have to worry about forgetting your card, it’s remembered so you get all those lovely instant savings.  I love shopping the buy one get one free offers and find the specials all listed in one place.

Not to mention, a lot of stores offer free delivery with purchasing a certain amount or as a weekly promotion.  So then I’m really saving the money!

Save your sanity

No long lines.  No crowds.  No screaming children.  No bumped carts.  No trying to find a parking spot.  No cart with squeaky wheels that fights you when pushing it.

Accept no substitutes… or do… or equivalents. 

With home delivery you can choose to accept “no substitute” for an item they no longer have in stock, or accept a different size from the same brand or different brand but the same size.  Nice right?

So there you go.  That’s why I have my groceries delivered.  That and it’s just so much easier when your life is as hectic as things tend to get with us in the Madame.

Hard Cooked Eggs in the Oven

During our last grocery delivery (yes, I have our groceries delivered, it saves time, money and gas but more on that later), I had a very large batch of eggs delivered.  60 egg count to be exact.  No, we don’t eat THAT many eggs but I discovered that you can freeze eggs!  I’ll create a blog post for that later though.  This one is about the eggs I haven’t frozen.  Instead I want to talk hard boiled…er… baked.  First, let me just say that of all my culinary accomplishments, boiling the perfect egg is not one of them.  I don’t know why I fail at this nearly every time but I do. From undercooked to overcooked to half the white coming off with the shelling, I just don’t seem to have that knack.  Until now.

I’ve seen a few posts come across my feed suggesting baking eggs instead of boiling them and I just had to try it.  It’s ridiculously easy.  Here’s the instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place eggs in the pockets of a muffin pan or something similar so they don’t roll around.
  3. Once your oven has finished heating, place eggs in the pan on the middle rack and set your timer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and place eggs in an ice water bath using tongs.
  5. Allow to fully cool (roughly 10 to 15 minutes) and peel.

That’s. It. Right?  Who knew?!  Well now we do!  And I have to say, that peeling them was MUCH easier and the yolks seem less dry or somewhat creamier than boiled.  So it looks like I have a new way to make some tasty hard cooked eggs for deviled eggs, egg salad, with just salt & pepper or in cobb salad!  Oh yeah… we might end up eating eggs a bit more often at this rate.

The eggs will get little brown specks on them while cooking, this is completely normal.

 

Let them eat Crockpot Cake!

Okay, so maybe Marie Antoinette didn’t say it exactly like that but if she had a Crockpot, I bet she would have!  I’ve heard rumors that you can back a cake in the crockpot but you know me, I have to find out for myself.  Now let me say that I wasn’t going to go crazy with a super-duper-completely-from-scratch recipe only to discover that you can’t actually bake a cake in a crockpot.  So I used a boxed cake.  Devil’s Food to be exact.  And I have to say… it came out tasty, moist and just like a regular over-baked cake.  OK, not exactly like an oven-baked cake because it was the shape of my semi oval crockpot and didn’t look very pretty (but I wasn’t going for aesthetics this time).  It was an experiment and now that I know, I can expand upon this.  Here’s my notes on baking a cake in the slow cooker:

Needs:

  • Boxed cake mix – including any requirements from the back of the box such as eggs, oil and water
  • Parchment paper OR Baker’s Joy (I do NOT use Baker’s Joy personally but have heard that it is the best product for this type of baking)
  • NOTE: You can use cupcake foils if they are stiff enough to stand on their own with the batter in them.
  • Crockpot/slow cooker

Directions:

  1. Mix batter as instructed on the back of the cake mix box.
  2. Line crockpot with parchment paper (I measure out the bottom of the pan and make neat folds for more aesthetically pleasing cake) or use Baker’s Joy.
  3. Pour batter into crockpot.
  4. Cover the top of the crockpot with paper towels (to absorb the moisture and allow the cake to actually bake).
  5. Put lid over the paper towels, pulling the towels taunt across so they don’t droop into the rising cake.
  6. Set your cooker on high for an hour.
  7. Check your cake after an hour with a toothpick.  Poke the cake in the center with the toothpick as far down as it will go and pull it back.  If it has batter on it, the cake is not done; cover with paper towels & lid and continue to bake for another half hour.  If it comes back clean, it’s done.
  8. Once done, immediately remove the cake by lifting the parchment paper and placing it on a cooling rack.  If you didn’t use a liner, allow the cake to cool enough to be able to handle it and remove from crockpot.
  9. Allow cake to completely cool before frosting/icing.

Let me know how yours comes out or feel free to post any questions/comments below!  Thanks!