Now that we are all through the Thanksgiving festivities, the rest of the holidays are swirling around us full bore. We got off to a strong start this weekend, hitting up Christmas markets both Saturday and Sunday, and getting most of the decorations up on Sunday afternoon. Of course, there is still lots of shopping, wrapping, mailing, and, most importantly, baking, to do. This early in the season I am always excited and confident that this will be the year (finally!) that I do everything well in advance and don’t leave myself to stress out in the couple of days right before Christmas. Maybe this year? Maybe?

If you are hosting any kind of holiday gathering, you probably would benefit from some quick, crowd-pleasing appetizers and snacks. Bonus points if they can be prepped in advance! These stuffed mushrooms are just the ticket. Classic yet somehow a little unexpected, a nice complement to the usual cheese and crackers spread or vegetable tray. You can make and refrigerate the filling in advance, or even actually stuff the mushrooms, then bake when needed. Pull a piping hot appetizer out of the oven just as your guests arrive, and relax with nary a dirty dish in sight.

These mushrooms are packed with flavor, which I credit in large part to the tangy, salty Parmesan. In fact, I love that dimension of these so much that the only significant change I make to the original recipe is to increase the amount of grated Parmesan. Because, really, can you ever go wrong with more Parmesan? No, clearly, you cannot. Try these and let me know what you think!

Stuffed Mushrooms

Approximately 24 whole fresh button mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. vegetable oil
8 oz. cream cheese, slightly softened
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
bread crumbs for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Using a damp paper towel, gently clean the outside of each mushroom cap, then remove the stems. Arrange the caps upside down on the baking sheet and set aside. Add the stems and the garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, and process until finely minced. (Alternatively, you can just chop the mushroom stems and garlic finely.)

Warm the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes, until all moisture has evaporated, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Once the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat.

Using a small spoon (a grapefruit spoon worked wonderfully), stuff each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling. (If preparing in advance, mushrooms can be refrigerated at this point for up to 24 hours.) Sprinkle with bread crumbs, if using. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until mushrooms are piping hot and you begin to notice liquid under the caps. Serve immediately.

Source: Barely adapted from and Annie’s Eats