Sausage, Spinach, + Sundried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

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When my family gathers, there are always lots of things to eat and drink–as it’s always a kind of “open-door” scenerio, we never know how many friends or other relations may stop by. One of the standards are my cousin Amy’s stuffed mushrooms. They are super simple and a total guilty pleasure–as the filling consists of sausage and cream cheese. Even though I love her version…I had to do my own version…I just can’t help myself!

For these mushrooms I swapped breakfast sausage for spicy italian (I’ll add heat anywhere I can), reduced the cream cheese by quite a bit, added some parmesan, a bit of wilted spinach for color and science, and some intensely sweet and chewy sun dried tomatoes. I added more parm and a little panko to the top for toast-iness and crunch. I think these stuffed mushrooms are the perfect 2-bite appetizer–they don’t have to be served super hot and you can eat them one handed, freeing your other hand for cocktail wrangling. Which, is totally key for appetizer greatness, amiright?!

Sausage, Spinach, and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

Makes 12 large stuffed mushrooms.

I used neufchatel-style cream cheese (1/3 less fat) instead of cream cheese and I don’t think the results suffered at all…but go ahead and use the regular cream cheese if you like.  I think one could go even further in the flavor department and add capers or briny olives to the filling–I didn’t think of it at the time, but I bet it’d be delish! (PS, my grocery store sells mushroom caps for stuffing, you can use regular button or cremini mushrooms–they will be smaller and will make double the amount in smaller mushrooms). 

12 large mushroom caps

1 spicy italian sausage link

2 cups fresh baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

salt

2 ounces neufchatel or cream cheese (cut from an 8 ounce block), softened

4-6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided

3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs, divided

olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Brush off any soil stuck the the surface of the mushrooms with a pastry brush or dampened towel. Remove the stems and place the caps, well-side down, on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, remove the sausage from the casing and crumble into the pan. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small crumbles with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet onto some paper towels to drain the grease and cool completely  Pour the remaining grease out of the pan, return to the heat and add the spinach, red pepper, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Cook the spinach over medium until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool completely.  Once cooled, squeeze the spinach to remove excess liquid. Chop coarsely.

In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of the parmesan with 2 tablespoons of the panko, drizzle with olive oil (1 teaspoon or so), and mix together with a fork to combine. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir the softened cheese until creamy and slightly loosened. Add the sun dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the panko, the cooked and cooled sausage, and the chopped, wilted spinach, and fold to combine. Spoon the filling into the pre-baked mushroom caps, sprinkle with the parm-panko mixture and bake in the 375˚F oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.

 

 

 

 

Pint-Size Chicken ‘n’ Waffles

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There are certain things that always get me flavor-wise: sweet + savory, bonus points for spicy, lots of crunchy texture, a little novelty and a little fun. Make it mini, and I am sold!

These Pint-Size Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, from Tiny Food Party by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park of the blog Spoon Fork Bacon, are everything mentioned above, in a perfect, pint-size bite. Chicken and waffles is a totally novel dish, a little kitschy, yet totally delicious. Maybe, somehow, this poultry+breakfast item craze has escaped you. Maybe it’s a little too weird and the idea of breaking into a chicken-leg-on-top-of-a-waffle-drizzled-in-syrup seems a touch cumbersome, then I urge you to make your first foray into the world of chicken and waffles a miniature one.

I have made chicken and waffles at home before, and ordered plenty in restaurants, but Sean and I both agree, these are definitely the best ones. Not just because of the recipe–I mean, I used a frozen mini-waffle here–because, it makes the most sense. It’s a two-bite miracle; no wrangling of chicken bones or dinner utensils required. I swapped the honey butter suggested in the recipe for a mix of honey and tabasco sauce. The honey brings floral sweetness, while the tabasco brings tangy-vinegar heat, and pairs up perfectly with the crunchy-savory chicken and waffle.

I made these for a fun lunch on an easy weekend, but I’m thinking they would be really fun for a game-day spread or any festive gathering…I mean, who can resist? It’s a tiny, crunchy, sweet-savory, Pint-Size Chicken ‘N’ Waffle Wonder!

Pint-Size Chicken ‘n’ Waffles

Makes about 30

Recipe from Tiny Food Party by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park

You could purchase a tiny-waffle-maker, I nearly did but stopped myself from becoming a single-use-appliance hoarder. I still kinda-sorta-really want that dang waffle maker, but my will is maintaining some integrity and, for now, frozen mini-waffles work perfectly. Below I have included the suggested honey butter, as well as the spicy-honey sitch that I favor. Do both, do either, or make your own thing. Happy Tiny Food Party-ing! 

10 chicken tenders, cut into 3 equal pieces (or a couple boneless chicken breasts, 2-3 depending on size)

2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups vegetable oil

30 mini waffles, or regular waffles cut into 30, 1-inch pieces

Honey Butter:

4 Tablespoons softened butter

2 1/2 Tablespoons honey

Whisk until combined.

Spicy Honey:

3 Tablespoons honey

several dashes Tabasco sauce

Whisk until combined, add as little or as much Tabasco as you like.

Place the chicken in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Cover, refrigerate, and soak the chicken in the buttermilk for several hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375*F. Place waffles on a baking sheet and toast for 12-15 minutes.

In a shallow dish, whisk together flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt, onion powder, and pepper. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, remove chicken from buttermiilk, dredge through flour mix, shake off excess , and carefully place chicken pieces in hot oil, cooking about 5 minutes per side or until golden, crunchy, and cooked through. Drain on paper towels.

Spread honey butter onto waffles, if using, and place 1 chicken piece on each waffle. Drizzle with spicy or plain honey and serve warm.