Pumpkin Pie Crescents

So, you’re in charge of bringing or making the rolls for Thanksgiving dinner? Turn an afterthought into a total scene stealer with these pumpkin pie filled crescent rolls!

I used canned pumpkin, light ricotta, sugar and spice to Thanksgiving-up a plain carton of refrigerated crescent rolls. The result is a light, flaky, pumpkin-ey bite that will really have the Pillsbury Dough Boy in stitches! This recipe won’t add much extra work to your load of turkey, dressing and sides. You can even prepare the filling ahead of time and then just slather it on when you need to throw the crescents in the oven. It’s literally as easy as 1-2-3… here’s how:

INGREDIENTS
(makes 8)
1 can of crescent rolls
1/2 cup of pumpkin
1/4 cup light ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Set oven to 375. In a small bowl, mix together pumpkin, ricotta, sugars and cinnamon.

2. On a baking sheet, unroll crescent dough into the pre-cut triangles and spoon a layer of pumpkin mixture across the triangle. Roll crescent as normal and sprinkle the top with more cinnamon.

3. Bake crescent for 10-12 minutes until golden as noted on the packaging.

Tomato & Goat Cheese Crostini

I wish it only took me 15 minutes to look this fancy. Crostinis are the Cindy Crawford of appetizers: they’re classic, effortless, and they look incredible whether they’re dressed up or dressed down. Sigh.

I’ve made these adorable little baguette snacks three or four weeks in a row thanks to an endless supply of late-summer tomatoes from my garden. The golden, crisp and chewy bites are so addicting that my husband usually blows off the main course at dinner and makes a meal out of these nibbles – I can’t really blame him.

Crostini toppings can be as simple or as complicated as your imagination carries you. I love the combination of salty goat cheese, tangy tomatoes and basil. The goat cheese also holds the topping together like glue so it doesn’t fall off the bread before you get it in your mouth! It may seem tedious to top each slice of baked baguette, but I promise the end result is well worth the effort!

What are some of your favorite crostini toppings?

INGREDIENTS
1 long baguette
5-6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (I also used a few chopped heirloom cherry tomatoes)
3 oz goat cheese crumbles
5-6 large basil leaves chopped in a chiffonade
EVOO for brushing
salt
pepper

PREP
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. In a small bowl, combine diced tomatoes, goat cheese crumbles, and basil slices and give it a quick toss.
3. Slice baguette into 12-15 thin-to-medium slices. Brush both sides with a thin coating of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet.
4. Place baking sheet in the oven for 4 minutes, remove baking sheet and flip the baguette slices to the other side (they should be starting to turn golden brown on the underside). Place baking sheet back in the oven for another 4 minutes and remove. Watch carefully to make sure the bread doesn’t burn.
5 Once slightly cooled, spoon the tomato topping liberally onto each crostini and serve.

 

Homemade Pesto

Basil Pesto
Channel your inner Italian (and impress your family) by making this super simple homemade pesto sauce. The first batch I ever made led to a “did I really make that or did I black out and buy it” moment. Yes, it’s really that good and that easy!

Back in the days of yore, pesto used to be made with a pestle and mortar (the origin of the name comes from a word for “to pound”) thankfully food processors take the manual labor out of the process and… presto, pesto is one of the easiest, most flavor-packed sauces to make. And there are so many ways to use it: turn it into a creamy spaghetti sauce, smother it on chicken, top a sandwich!

I used traditional basil as the base for my pesto. Since it’s early spring and my garden basil isn’t ready yet, I bought this batch of ingredients at Pike Place market and made a fun day out of shopping the farmers market stands for fresh basil, garlic, lemon, parmesan cheese, walnuts and olive oil.
Homemade Pesto

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups basil leaves (chopped)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons walnuts
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
salt
pepper

PREP
1. Combine basil, garlic and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until well blended.
2. Add lemon juice to the bowl, then while food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until combined. (you may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl).
3. Add the grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and pulse a few times to combine.
4. Refrigerate sauce with a drizzle of olive oil until you’re ready to use.

Herb Dipping Oil

Herb Dipping Oil

Carbs glorious carbs! Last night, I built my entire dinner around a gorgeous baguette I picked up from local Seattle bakery Tall Grass Bakery. I walked by, saw it in the window in all its crusty glory, and I knew I had to have it. Sure, I’d make something else to provide some “vitamins” and “nourishment”  for dinner – but the bread, the bread would be the star of this meal.
Herb Oil
Just like a spectacular dress needs the right accessories, an artisan bread needs the perfect accompaniment. This herb dipping oil is incredibly easy to make. I’m talking 5 minutes! You probably have all the herbs sitting in your pantry right now. It’s also a convenient entertaining dish because you can make more with little fuss if the first serving runs out, which it will! In fact, it’s so easy, I have a new excuse to visit my new favorite breadmaker more often. Long live carbs!

Herb Bread Oil

Ingredients
(Enough for 2 people, half loaf of bread)
1/8 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
pinch of red pepper flakes
ground sea salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
Baguette sliced into pieces

Prep
1. Combine first seven ingredients in a shallow plate or bowl.
2. Add enough olive oil to cover the entire herb mixture. Using a spoon, lightly crush the herbs into the oil to infuse.
3. Serve with pieces of baguette or your favorite crusty bread.

Brie, Pear and Prosciutto Tart

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Entertaining season is knocking on the door. That means family and friends with empty bellies, big appetites and loose fitting jeans will soon be filling our living rooms in anticipation of extravagant, tryptophan-packed meals.

My favorite part of the holiday chowfest isn’t the turkey, the ham, or even the stuffing (although that’s pretty high on my list), it’s the pre-game food –otherwise known as the appetizers. You can’t beat sitting around with your crew with a glass of wine and watching football while filling up on spinach dip, dough wrapped meats and cheeses, and veggies (don’t tell mom).
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When it comes to holiday apps, the rule is: the simpler the better. This Brie, Pear and Prosciutto Tart fits the two main criteria for holiday entertaining: it’s simple and super pretty. The pastry dough is pre-made at the store. All you have to do is line it with your favorite toppings, bake, and watch it disappear. A drizzle of balsamic turns your simple tart into a stunner.
brie pear prosciutto tart
What are your favorite holiday appetizers?

INGREDIENTS
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 small Anjou pear, thinly sliced
3 oz of prosciutto
2 oz of brie, thinly sliced
olive oil for brushing
balsamic vinegar for drizzling

PREP
1. Allow your puff pastry sheet to thaw a bit until it reaches dough consistency.
2. Preheat oven to 375.
3. Place pastry sheet on a non-stick baking sheet. Pierce pastry with a fork to prevent puffing during baking.
4. Very lightly, brush pastry with olive oil and bake for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven.
5. Layer toppings on your pastry sheet until it’s well covered. Start with a layer of brie, then a layer of pears followed by a layer of prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
6. Bake for about 15 minutes until pastry is golden.

Baba Ganoush

baba ganoushI gotta be honest, the first thing that pops into my head when I hear “Baba Ganoush” is Wedding Crashers. Classic. Wedding Crashers, followed by the tasty middle eastern appetizer made of eggplant and tahini (which makes me think of a hippie Katherine Hahn in Wanderlust). Ok, that’s the last movie reference, back to Baba Ganoush.

I’ve been trying to find new ways to cook with eggplant this fall; I just love this jewel-toned vegetable. It’s such an oddball and so beautiful. (In case you missed it, my last eggplant dish was Eggplant Lasagna.) I’m a big snacker. Ok, a HUGE snacker. Ok, I have a control problem sometimes – chips, cookies, ice cream, leftovers… pretty much anything I can get my hands on is fair game – but I definitely need spice and variety in my snacking life. Baba Ganoush adds a little exotic flare to a hard core case of the munchies.
eggplantIf you’re intimidated, like I was, not to worry. It’s an easy dish to make as long as you have a half hour to roast your eggplant and a few key ingredients on hand. A food processor whips everything together in seconds. Seconds. That machine is magical!!!
roasted eggplantTime to lock it up. Now that I’ve beat back a snack attack, I suddenly want to watch Wedding Crashers again.
baba ganoush dish

BABA GANOUSH
(Adapted from Jessica In The Kitchen)
INGREDIENTS
2 small to medium eggplants
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon cumin
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
small handful of fresh parsley (divided)
⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
4 dashes of hot sauce

PREP
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place eggplants on a baking sheet. Prick holes on all sides with a fork. Bake eggplant for 30 minutes, until tender.
3. Let eggplant cool for a few minutes. Chop the ends off and peel the skin off the eggplant. Chop the flesh into course pieces.
4. In food processor, add eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, paprika, olive oil, half of the chopped parsley and hot sauce.
5. Process until smooth, taste and add more salt or spice if necessary.
6. Top with another drizzle of olive oil and the rest of the chopped parsley. (I like mine cool, so I refrigerated it for an hour before serving.)

Easy Watermelon Mint Salad

Watermelon Mint Salad
I feel like I’m in a big rush lately.

A rush to enjoy the fleeting days of summer.
A rush to get my work done on time.
A rush to get my personal life together.
And today… a rush to cram in all the things I want to do on my day off.

Time was ticking this morning, but I decided to spare a few precious minutes to indulge in a super refreshing (and super quick) breakfast! It literally stopped my racing mental clock for a few minutes – and anything that can do that these days is worth sharing!
Mint Watermelon

You only need three things to make this bright and invigorating fruit salad: Watermelon, Fresh Mint Leaves, and Lime.
Boom, you’re done!
Watermelon Mint
It’s a little sweet, a little sour, and a total punch to the palette.

Easy enough to whip together so you can get back on the crazy train of life and be on your way with a memory of a taste that will stick with you through the day.

Have a great one! I’m off to check off an item from my summer bucket list: paddleboarding!
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WATERMELON MINT SALAD

1. Cut a personal size watermelon into small chunks.
2. In a bowl, drizzle watermelon with the juice of 1/2 to 3/4 of a lime, depending on your taste. Toss to coat.
3. Chop about 10 fresh mint leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over watermelon. Toss to coat.
4. Refrigerate to chill watermelon.

Tomatillo Salsa


It’s the great Mexican food debate: which salsa is best? Red or green? I’ll of course eat both, but I am totally a green salsa girl. I’m in love with anything verde on the menu. That’s why it’s kind of a travesty that I’ve never made homemade Salsa Verde before. Why on earth did I think it was more complicated than chopping up red tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Silly, Jenn! Now that Cinqo de Mayo is just a few days away, I decided it was definitely time to get my green salsa on!

The tomatillo is definitely my new best friend! So modest and covered up like corn, yet so green and sassy like a pepper. The base of this recipe comes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook It’s All Good, but I modified it a bit to use ingredients I had on hand. You can also adjust the spiciness by adding more or less ribs and seeds from the jalapeño. A good food processor comes in handy because you don’t want your salsa verde too chunky. Enter my other new love!

To whoever bought us our food processor as a wedding gift: you are an angel! I hate to admit this, but it’s been 4 years since our “I do’s” and I just used it for the first time last night to make this smokin’ salsa! A food processor was the first gift I put on my registry and the one I was most excited about receiving, but due to 2 moves across the country and limited kitchen space (blog idea!) I never got the chance to break it out. Now… I don’t know how I ever lived without it! I’m hooked!

Viva Cinqo de Mayo and Viva Green Salsa!
Have a great weekend everyone!

TOMATILLO SALSA
INGREDIENTS
6-7 ripe tomatillos (roughly chopped)
2 jalapeños (roughly chopped and seeded for mild salsa)
3 cloves garlic (cut in half)
1/2 a red onion (roughly sliced)
Juice from 1/2 a lime
A handful of cilantro leaves (more or less depending on your taste)
Salt

PREP
1. Set your oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Put the tomatillo pieces, garlic, 1 chopped jalapeño, and red onion slices on the sheet. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt.
2. Broil until vegetables are soft 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool briefly.
3. Add broiled vegetables to a food processor, toss in the second jalapeño (ribbed and seeded if you want it mild), lime juice and cilantro leaves. Add another pinch of salt. Pulse ingredients until they are blended but not pureed.
4. Refrigerate for an hour or so if you prefer chips and salsa, or keep warm for enchiladas, tacos and Fajitas.
OLE!!

Pomegranate Power!


I have a newfound passion for pomegranates! I’ve been eating them like crazy lately, and I’ve come to find out how diverse they are. You can sprinkle the juicy arils in so many dishes for a punch of tangy flavor. It’s like an explosion of flavor in your mouth, and  if you’re not careful… they’ll also leave an explosion of juice on your carpet or shirt! But I’m telling you… it’s totally worth the risk!

If you’ve never tried a pomegranate before, you’ll have to do a little work to get the arils out of the shell. But I’m making it easy for you! In my last post, I showed you an easy way to Open A Pomegranate without getting juice bombed. After all that work, I really wanted the pomegranate to shine, so I did a little brainstorming. Here are a few delicious ways to incorporate the pomegranate seeds into easy dishes and appetizers. Lets get started!

How To Open A Pomegranate

BREAKFAST
POMEGRANATE, GRANOLA & GREEK YOGURT: This has been my breakfast of champions every day for the last few weeks! It’s the perfect parfait! I love the mix of textures and flavors… the crunch of the granola, the tartness of the pomegranate and the creaminess of the yogurt.

I use FAGE‘S greek yogurt with honey as the base of this parfait, but you could also try vanilla, plain, or any fruit flavor you fancy.


SNACK
CRACKERS TOPPED WITH GOAT CHEESE AND POMEGRANATE: Another fantastic combination! A two-topping triumph. The creaminess of the goat cheese works really well with the juiciness of the pomegranate arils. This could be an elegant appetizer for a dinner party… or just a simple snack while you’re watching TV. It only takes seconds to put together, yet it looks so bright and beautiful. A treat for the eyes and the palette!

LUNCH OR DINNER
COUSCOUS, SPINACH AND POMEGRANATE SALAD: I got the inspiration for this delish lunch or dinner idea from a salad that’s stocked in our refrigerator at work. It’s my all-time favorite (I admit, I’ve thought about hiding the containers in the back so no one else can buy them!)

The work version has everything minus the pomegranate, and while it’s not usually a good idea to mess with perfection… I think the pomegranate adds just a little more pizazz to an already amazing salad. Here are the ingredients so you an make it at home:

Couscous (cooked according to packaging, shocked with cold water and cooled in the refrigerator)
Baby Spinach Leaves
Diced Scallion (green onion)
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Pomegranate Arils
Diced Tomato
Your favorite Vinaigrette dressing (I like simple Olive Oil and Balsamic)

I hope these easy ideas inspire you go pick up a pomegranate the next time you’re at the grocery store. I’d love to hear your pomegranate recipes too!

FOR MORE SWEET INSPIRATION VISIT: Back For Seconds
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One Creative Weekend

Cheesy Crab Bread

Cheesy Crab Bread

My family reunions are all about sharing a few laughs, sharing a few beers, and – of course – sharing delicious recipes. We held our first “official” Morris family reunion last week on a lake in Gaylord, Michigan (aka: God’s Country) where I grew up, hence the recent blog neglect! But I’m happy to say I came back to Seattle refreshed and richer in both memories and cooking ideas. My sister and brother-in-law, Sue and Billy, are incredible cooks. They brought a little gourmet to our otherwise raucous gathering and I’m happy to share some of the food they shared with us!

Silly Sisters: Kelly, Sue, Cathy and Me

One of the biggest crowd-pleasers was a Cheesy Crab Bread appetizer. It disappeared so fast, I couldn’t even snap a photo, let alone get more than one mouthful! Yeah, that’s how good this stuff is. I couldn’t wait to get home to make it for myself. Before I give you the recipe, I have to give you a warning: if you’re sharing this with a group, find a good hiding place and don’t be afraid to throw some elbows to make sure you save yourself a slice!

Otsego Lake Family Reunion

SUE’S CHEESY CRAB BREAD

INGREDIENTS
1 jar old english cheese (usually in cheese aisle, not refigerated)
1/2-1 tsp garlic powder (more or less as desired)
1 Tbsp mayo
1/2 stick butter softened
1-2 cans crab meat (more is better for me)
(I also added dried chives)
1 pkg english muffins

PREP
1. Mix all ingredients and spread on english muffins
2. Freeze until hard enough to cut into quarters (I make ahead and leave in freezer for up to a couple of weeks then pull out as I want them)
3. When ready to serve, cut each english muffin into quarters and place on ungreased pan.
4. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
5. Garnish with any herbs if you wish and serve!