Is it too early to start planning for the Super Bowl?
For some it's the Big Game. But let's face it, unless a favorite team is playing, it really is the Big Party.
The football game is an excuse to get together with friends, pretend we care about who is playing, make wisecracks about the commercials, check out the halftime show and pay more attention to our block pool squares than the actual score.
The tray of Mel’s Magic Mushrooms is ready to go in the oven.
And, most importantly, it's an excuse to eat. And eat. And eat.
No one wants to show up at the party emptyhanded, and no one wants to be the guy who shows up with just a bag of chips they picked up at the gas station convenience store on the way to the party.
Here's a recipe that isn't too time consuming or difficult to make. We got it years ago from a former Tribune Chronicle photographer, and I had forgotten about it until we were looking for something to take to a New Year's Eve party. If that recipe had been my responsibility, it would have been lost forever, but my wife had filed it away in an accordion folder under "appetizers."
Mel's Magic Mushrooms
3 pounds button mushrooms
Melted butter for basting
1 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup garlic croutons crushed into crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Baste mushrooms in butter and set aside.
To make the filling, first beat cream cheese until smooth.
Add feta cheese and beat until smooth.
Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well-blended.
Fill each mushroom cap with a dollop of the mixture and place mushrooms on a cookie sheet. The amount needed will vary depending upon the size of the mushroom, but it should be enough to form a small mound inside the cap.
Place in the oven for about 15 minutes until the filling starts to brown. If the filling doesn't brown while baking, place the tray under the broiler for a few minutes.
What distinguishes this from other stuffed mushroom recipes is the three different cheeses in the filling. The feta and the Parmesan have different characteristics, but both add a salty bite to the mixture that accents the cream cheese.
Those garlic croutons and green onions also add a burst of flavor.
For basting the mushrooms, start with about a half stick of melted butter but be prepared to add a little more if necessary. Those who want to try to shave a few calories off of the recipe could substitute in low-fat or nonfat cream cheese since the ingredient is there primarily for its texture.
When I mixed up the filling, I initially worried that it wouldn't be enough to fill the mountain of mushroom caps I had in front of me, but the amount of filling was more than adequate. I went back and topped off a few that looked a little skimpy because I had some left when the caps were filled.
They are best hot, but the mushrooms still were enjoyable at room temperature.
I'm not quite sure why these are called Magic Mushrooms. But I'm guessing it's because if you bring them to a party, they will disappear.