INKLINGS: Sausage two ways
Anytime you can double up and make a couple of dishes at the same time makes a winning formula for me. Nobody does this better than my sister Cynthia, a really good cook, who does a lot of advance planning and is especially adept at appetizers. She often makes an onion dip and stuffed mushrooms in one session and uses them either at the same sitting or for two separate occasions. I usually hope for an invitation to enjoy both as they are delectable. And easy. And quick. A culinary hat trick of which I thoroughly approve.
The onion dip is one she adapted from a long-ago magazine article and the stuffed mushrooms just came to her at the same time. She tells me she never fails to be asked for the recipes for these two dishes – another sure fire way to determine a winner. Cynthia and her husband Jon belong to a supper club and she is often asked to repeat these recipes for that group. From what she tells me about the delicious dishes served at these gatherings, I think it would make the basis of a good cookbook.
I actually like collecting appetizer recipes as Jim and I often have what we call “snack suppers,” when we have an appetizer or two and pair this with a salad or bowl of fruit. It makes for a quick, light and diverse menu. So without further ado:
SWEET ONION DIP
2 medium sweet onions, finely chopped to make about 2 cups
1 8 ounce package of shredded cheese, preferably sharp cheddar
1 package of hot bulk sausage (she uses Jimmy Dean) cooked and crumbled
½ to 1 cup of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, depending on the desired consistency
Mix all ingredients and put into a lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired, for an extra snap of flavor. Bake 15 minutes (or longer, depending on the size of the baking dish). Serve with chips or crackers.
Cynthia has also made this with about a pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled. While this is also good, she prefers the sausage because it blends better with the other ingredients. You can make and bake the dish a day ahead and reheat in the microwave, or assemble everything and refrigerate overnight. Bake the next day, adding a bit of time for baking the dish cold.
For doubling up and making both recipes, add another roll of Jimmy Dean sausage, up to two 8 ounce packages of cream cheese and 8 to 12 medium to large mushrooms to your shopping list.
Wash and clean mushrooms, remove stems
Blend cooked sausage with cream cheese to a thick consistency
Chop stems and add to the sausage and cheese mixture
Stuff mushrooms and top with paprika, if desired (smoked paprika is especially nice)
Cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. (If using large mushrooms, I like to rub them with extra virgin olive oil and bake them for about 10 minutes ahead of time and then stuff them and bake for up to an additional 15 minutes until done.)
To lighten both of these dishes, you can used reduced fat sausage two-percent cheddar cheese and reduced fat cream cheese.