I owe you, Pals. And don't think I don't know it. I have been so wrapped up in the reasons I could not even bring myself to take the time to type out the reasons I was wrapped up. But anyway, here they are:
1. The party rentals needed to be dealt with. What a disaster.
2. On the way home from my recent visit to Florida I stopped to look at a home in the Carolina's which we were/are considering buying. As I mentioned about 1 billion times, my Husband is on a US Navy deployment leaving this largely to me. The house is a big old place in a great college town which needs work. Lots and lots of workie, work, work. It is located generally just about no where near where we are currently (not unusual for military life). The problem is that I just discovered yesterday freaking afternoon that due to an icky little capital gains issue of the current owners', this house must close by this Friday or not be sold. This home is in a magnificent neighborhood and school district, has a big lot for a home in town, very little storage and is full of 1950's Regency revival details. It is a great deal if it closes by 12/15. Naturally, I can't locate my husband in the shipping lanes of the Med nor confidently figure out what to do because everything with the military is so iffy. Closing in January would have been very much better - we would at least have some clue as to where Josh would be stationed next... I am stumped. Here is a picture, even though I am supposed to be discussing mushrooms...
3. Cooking, entertaining, and writing all take a lot of time. I don't want to kid you. So we should agree that an event of this past weekend's magnitude will take a week or two to barrel through here in. Okeedok?
4. Being way pregnant, and chasing a toddler and her co-conspirator, my Mom, is also a full time job and in this capacity, I spend a lot of time saying no and cleaning things. However, this allows me to offer you a perspective not found in the Eddie Ross stylized pages of Martha Stewart Living: the truth is like the song says, "Real life is real scary." And while it is lovely to get lost in the alluring vacuum that is those pages, the reality of catering and entertaining for yourself needs to be represented somewhere. I have spent a lot of thought-time in the last week determining how this blog can really be of service to you in the entertaining arena.
Ultimately, the times are tough enough that money is on the mind of the nation in new ways. It seems Blushing Hostess best address this issue in a helpful and transparent manner. So let's talk about it. I will collect receipts and note the time it took me to complete items all with an eye towards helping you manage your time, food costs, and entertaining budget. Where able, I will compare my own work to local caterer's costs. In this way, I hope I can help you weigh many options for all the things you host: Meals and parties. So, let's begin.
Below and in the future where able I will provide rough cost estimates (not including pantry items). These costs are based on northern Westchester County, New York and southwestern Fairfield County, Connecticut.
But for moment let's return to the gorgeous stylized entertaining vacuum that is MS Living:
Lobster Stuffed Mushrooms
About 90 bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 hours
$25. total or about .28 each not including the cost of your labor
I used small Baby Bella's here as they are perfectly bite sized and have more flavor than white buttons. Remember, the larger the caps, the harder for the guest to manage, the fewer fit on the tray causing more trips to replenish, and the move oven space they take up. Choose your weapon wisely.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely minced (.75 cents)
5 - 10 ounce boxes of Baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and finely chopped ($11.00)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus as needed mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup lobster meat, finely chopped ($12.00)
1 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup bread crumbs plus as needed (.50 cents)
1/4 cup butter (.75 cents)
Arrange the mushroom caps on a baking sheet. If you will serve them right away, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you plan to freeze these and bake them later, freeze them on baking sheets until frozen solid then transfer then to freezer storage containers.
In a large saute pan over medium low heat, add the olive oil and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent (sweat, do not brown).
Season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped mushroom stems, stir, and cook 5 minutes or until they have released their water and softened. Add the chopped lobster and Old bay, stir to combine, cook until heated through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Taste and re-season as needed.
Remove the pan from the heat and add mayonnaise. Stir to combine evenly. Add the bread crumbs, stir again. Now, you want to be sure you have enough bread crumbs in the mixture that if you were to take a spoonful, the mix could hold a soft moist ball. If it is too wet use a bit more bread crumbs, if it is too dry add a bit more mayo.
Stuff each mushroom cap with just enough to make a small mound on top. Do not overfill, it is unattractive, makes a mess on the platter, and will be a nightmare to freeze. Keep it neat.
Place a small sliver of butter on top of each mushroom. Then dust each mushroom with bread crumbs. This will give you a little crunch in the crust and keep the texture of the nibble from being a little ball of mushiness in the teeth.
Bake at 350 degrees 12 minutes or until golden on top. If you have frozen these, let them sit out only a few minutes before baking. They will take a couple of minutes longer to bake.