Outstanding Holiday Appetizer and Adult Beverage Pairings II
By: Temple Display
Ginger Bourbon Cider
Makes 1 stiff drink.
2-3 ounces apple cider
a few shakes of orange, or classic, bitters
pinch of ground cinnamon
Fill a cocktail glass with ice (I like crushed, but cubes work just fine). Combine the bourbon, Calvados, apple cider, and bitters. Top the drink with ginger beer–more or less depending on how strong of a drink you'd like–stir and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon.
Sausage, Spinach, and Sun-dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes 12 large stuffed 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
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
Preheat the oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Brush off any soil stuck 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.
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