Monday, December 31, 2012

Spinach & Pecorino Romano Stuffed Mushroom Caps

As I sit here writing, I am waiting on our New Year's Eve dinner to finish.  My husband and I used to go out for New Year's Eve, but it was always a hassle trying to find a sitter for the kids and a place to eat that wasn't jammed packed, where we would wait an hour for food.  Then, several years ago we decided to stay home and start our own tradition with the kids.  Instead of spending a ton of money going out, we always get something nice for our meal at home.  Usually lobster, crab legs or shrimp along with sides dishes like twice-baked potatoes or stuffed mushrooms.  We can't forget the sparkling cider so that everyone can make a toast in our fancy (pretty-colored plastic) champagne glasses.  Our night usually involves watching a movie, followed by a nice desert.  Here's what's on the menu for tonight:  Appetizers of lobster cakes with remoulade sauce, small side salads, broiled chili and garlic flounder with a Cajun finishing butter, petite baked potatoes and cheesy garlic breadsticks.  Dessert is a cinnamon swirl pound cake sandwich with a filling of mascarpone cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and pecan pieces.  I think Chris and I look forward to it as much as the kids do.  We don't eat like this every night, so it's always a treat, and a great way to start our New Year.

Fast forward 4 hours, and we have finished our meal.  It was decadent and heavenly!  My daughter declared that flounder was her new favorite fish.  I enjoyed it, as well, but my favorite is still grouper.  My husband and son say walleye, all the way.  Regardless, it was very good with chili and garlic seasoning.  The remoulade complemented the lobster cakes to perfection.  And, the dessert?  Oh, boy, the dessert!  Mama mia, it was GOOD!  The filling, alone, could have been the dessert.  It's probably best that the pieces of poundcake were small.  Let me just say this, if you have never tried mascarpone cheese, you are missing out, my friend!  Think cream cheese, but slightly sweeter, creamier and oh, so much better!  Just for fun, try it in place of cream cheese in one of your favorite recipes.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  Now, that it's becoming more well-known here in the U.S., you can find it in most grocery store's specialty cheese section.  Go on, give it a whirl!

Much as I would have loved to post one of those recipes tonight, by the time I got home to start dinner, I had no extra time to write recipes and take pictures.  Besides, I still have two good appetizers from my friend's birthday party to share, as well as a lovely Mediterranean Pork Roast from Sunday dinner.  And, I have to admit, the stuffed mushrooms were my favorite, of what I made, the other night.  So, here you go!

Here's your Cast of Characters.

4 - 5 Boxes of baby bella mushrooms
1 Big handful of fresh spinach leaves
1 Small red onion
2 Packages (2.8 oz.) real bacon pieces
4 Oz. Neaufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
1 (6 Oz.) Plain Greek yogurt
1 Cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1 Teaspoon, each, Lawry's seasoning salt and McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic & Herb blend
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper
(No green onions - that was for the last appetizer recipe and they wound up in this picture.  What can I say, sometimes these things happen when you have 3 recipes going at the same time.)

Preheat oven to 325.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Wash mushrooms well - they are dirty little buggers!  Remove the stems, reserving them from one box of mushrooms.  Spread your caps out on the baking sheet.

Chop up the reserved stems pretty finely and add to a large mixing bowl.

Next, dice the red onion.  Throw in the bowl.

Now, you are going to want to grab a big handful of spinach leaves.  There's no measuring here. 

Cut the leaves into ribbons, then go through again, and chop into slightly smaller pieces.

Toss that into the bowl, followed by the remaining ingredients.  Stir well to combine.

Use a teaspoon to fill the caps, generously.

Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes, or until heated through.

Now, here's where I dropped the ball, a little.  I made these the night before the party, so I didn't have a finished shot.  I kept thinking that I would get a shot once I pulled them out of the oven at the party.  But, here's what happened instead.  I was running behind, so I dropped them off to cook while I made a quick trip to Walmart.  When I came back, everyone else was there, and we started visiting.  I pulled the mushrooms out, as we chatted some more.  We encouraged people to go through the line, as we talked some more.  Needless to say, I went through the line, filled my plate with several of these little gems, and completely forgot to get the final shot.  I'm sorry!  You'll have to use your imagination - they were golden brown on top, with little specks of deep green spinach peeking out.  The bacon had turned a lovely shade of brown.  And, they were all kinds of awesome!  Even a friend of mine, who doesn't care for mushrooms tried them, and said she liked them.


One final note, I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year!  May 2013 be all you dream!