Cooking Column: mushrooms, cranberry bars sure to become new Thanksgiving favorites

Bethany Linnenkohl offers great appetizer and dessert recipes just in time for Thanksgiving.


| Photo courtesy of Bethany Linnenkohl

Bethany Linnenkohl, Writer

Boursin cheese makes these mushrooms a tasty appetizer. | Photo courtesy of Bethany Linnenkohl

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, it is, especially in the food world. When the comfort foods are heated up, anything warm suppresses the bitter chill outside. We all have family traditions that have long been instilled in us, but new culinary creations are fun, essential and oftentimes so enjoyable. They can even become new traditions for the following years. Today, I have the pleasure to present two personal favorites — an appetizer and a dessert.

Stuffed mushrooms

Thanksgiving dinner is typically centered around the turkey, stuffing and potatoes but the turkey usually takes so long to cook that appetizers are needed for the waiting time while the football game is on. Now I must warn you, these are good — really good. They’re not quite in a stage of perfection, but nothing ever is in this world, so feel free to alter this recipe by maybe adding another cheese to accompany the Boursin cheese to acquire more of the texture of melted and oozing cheese. Is your mouth watering yet? If it’s not, buy some Boursin cheese and mushrooms and it will be soon enough.


-1 package (10 oz.) mushrooms
-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup finely chopped onion
-1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
-1 package (5.2 oz.) Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
-Edible flowers or micro greens (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean mushrooms; remove and chop mushroom stems. In 12-inch skillet, cook mushroom stems and onion in two tablespoons of olive oil, stirring occasionally, five minutes or until tender. In a medium bowl, combine mushroom mixture and bread crumbs. Stir in Boursin, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. With remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, coat the caps of each mushroom and arrange on a baking sheet. Evenly spoon mushroom mixture into mushroom caps, pressing the mixture into the mushroom crevices. Bake 15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and golden. Plate the mushrooms, sprinkle with cheese and garnish with edible flowers, parsley or micro greens. Serve hot.

These cranberry shortbread bars are sure to be a new Thanksgiving favorite. | Photo courtesy of Bethany Linnenkohl

Cranberry Shortbread Bars

Cranberry sauce is good, but often, heaven forbid, it’s prepared from a can and is only a minor piece in the Thanksgiving meal. Cranberries provide a delicious, tart taste that are unlike anything else. An ordinary holiday dessert may be pumpkin pie or other various fruit pies, but I love choices. Some other ideas for the dessert menu include truffles or an assortment of chocolates, mini sweet pastries and cranberry shortbread bars. But with cranberry sauce, a turkey topping is made into a spectacular centerpiece dessert.


-16 ounces (4 1/2 cups) fresh cranberries
-1 1/3 cups granulated white sugar
-2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
-1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
-2/3 cup granulated white sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a nine-by-13-inch pan.

For the cranberry filling, combine cranberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium sized saucepan. Then, over medium-high heat, cook the ingredients until boiling, stirring consistently with a wooden spatula. Continue to boil the filling for about seven minutes until it becomes thick and syrupy while the cranberries appear deflated and cranberry seeds visible in the sauce. Remove from heat and let cool while you make the shortbread.

In a bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add in the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Gently stir in the flour and salt just until incorporated, scraping the sides.

Evenly press just over two-thirds of the shortbread into the bottom of the buttered pan. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden brown around the edges.

Evenly spread the cranberry filling over the shortbread base. With the remaining shortbread dough, using your fingers, lightly press in chunks of the dough on top of the cranberry filling and crumbling some smaller pieces.

Bake again for 10 more minutes or until the chunks of shortbread are golden brown on top as well. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack and while still hot, cut into 16 squares. Allow to cool completely in pan. Put on a plate and serve.

Makes 20 bars.

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