I’ve been so excited about this post since the moment I contacted Maria D., the winner of the American Express Dinner @ 6 contest. Maria’s entry for Savory Stuffed Mushrooms was randomly selected as the winning appetizer out of over 350 submissions. I was thrilled with all of the entries and am so relieved that the winner was randomly selected – the recipes are all so incredible that there is no way that I would’ve been able to choose just one.

Maria’s Savory Stuffed Mushrooms are loaded with flavor and disappeared from our Sunday barbeque within minutes. Baby Bella mushrooms are filled with a creamy mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese and roasted red peppers. They are then topped with Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and baked until golden brown.

Maria says that food has always been an integral part of her life, but never thought it would be a focal point. After starting her professional life with a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, she felt stuck and decided to switch gears. Since she always loved food and cooking, she got a job at Trader Joe’s (I love this store!).

Maria found joy in her work because she was able to talk about food all day long, do food demonstrations, cook for the crew, and share recipes. She became the resident food and cooking nerd, but wanted to learn more about the business side of the industry. She decided to take some structured cooking classes so that she could beef up her technique and food knowledge. She ended up working in the sales department of the natural foods manufacturer, Earth Island, where she again gets to talk about food all day and be involved in the business side of it. Sounds like a win-win to me!

So let’s talk about these Savory Stuffed Mushrooms

Maria’s mother is a vegetarian and she created this recipe because she wanted to make her mom an appetizer that was really meaty, creamy and satisfying. Trust me, these mushrooms are definitely all of those things!

Give us your description of this recipe

“They are little nuggets of creamy richness! I love when they come out of the oven and the bread crumbs are nice and crisp and the cheese is bubbling. What’s great is their versatility. You can serve them as an appetizer or you can turn them into a side dish if you use Portobello mushrooms.”

Maria’s Tips for Fool-Proof Stuffed Mushrooms

Make sure not to take too much out of the mushrooms when you are scooping out the gills. If you pierce the mushroom from the inside, the hot cheese mixture will run out during cooking. You also want to make sure that you don’t run the mushrooms under water when you are cleaning them. Mushrooms are like little sponges and you don’t want water-logged mushrooms.

A Little More About Maria

“I was raised on Greek food and it’s very dear to my heart. My mother taught me her secrets on how to make the most delicious Greek food. Even though I love Greek food, I really enjoy Southern and classic American cuisine. Meatloaf, mac ‘n cheese and fried chicken are some of my favorites. Whatever I make, I try to add my own Mediterranean flair.

Although Maria does not have a blog, you can find her on Facebook at My Big Fat Greek Kitchen.

Whether you serve these mushrooms at your next barbecue or as a starter for your upcoming holiday table, I think you and your guests will adore this recipe. It couldn’t be more beautiful and satisfying.

Savory Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

10 ounces Crimini or baby Portobello mushrooms

1 cup softened goat cheese

½ cup softened cream cheese

¼ cup diced roasted red peppers (from a jar)

1 clove of garlic minced

¼ cup plain Panko crumbs (don’t have Panko, use bread crumbs)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoons salt for the cheese mixture, ½ tsp salt for topping

1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper for cheese mixture, ½ tsp pepper for topping

2 tablespoons olive oil


Directions:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wipe the outside of your mushrooms with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or grit. Pull out the stem of the mushroom and with a melon baller, remove the gills of the mushroom but be careful not to pierce the mushroom flesh. Place the mushrooms on a non-stick cooking pan, open side up.

3. Combine goat cheese, cream cheese, diced roasted red peppers; 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and minced garlic into a bowl. I use my hands because it allows me to evenly distribute all the ingredients, but you can use a fork if you’d like. Take this mixture with a spoon and place it into each of the mushrooms. Arrange mushrooms in a baking pan.

4. Combine ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, Parmesan cheese and Panko. Sprinkle this mixture on each of the mushrooms.

5. Bake stuffed mushrooms in a 350-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Once the cheese is nice a bubbly and the crumb mixture has become golden brown, they are ready to eat!


Recipe from Contest Winner Maria D.


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