Bacon Turkey Ranch Pinwheels…

There is a method to my madness. By that I mean I have a process for trying to maintain my goal of posting one new recipe every week. I start by finding a day I know I’ll want to stay at home, usually a bad weather day (you know the kind – where you’d just like to just stay in bed with a good book) and that’s when I do a test kitchen. That way I can play with 2-3 recipes and build up a queue from which to publish.  And if I challenge myself to play with one new recipe a week after that I am assured of always staying ahead of the game.  So you see, I do have a plan.

And normally I don’t take the most recent recipe I’ve played with and shoot it to the top of the publishing list. But I couldn’t help it with this one. This is one heck of a great appetizer and with graduation season coming up and all those parties I wanted to share this right away so you could make it if you so desire. I made this one yesterday and it was so good and so easy. I just know your party guests will be impressed.

So let’s talk bacon turkey ranch pinwheels…

Lesson Learned 1 – Make the wraps the day before: Substantively there is nothing difficult about this recipe. You basically mix all the ingredients together, layer the turkey on a large tortilla, slather the cream cheese mixture over the meat, roll it up, cut it into rounds and add the decorative tomato. Probably the most time consuming thing is getting the cream cheese to room temperature. So reduce your stress and make the pinwheels the day before. Whenever you make pinwheels you need to chill the rolled up tortilla before slicing anyway. So why not wrap the rolls tightly in plastic wrap and let them sit over night. I think the flavors will get even better acquainted that way. Then the next day all you do is slice them and add the tomato. It couldn’t be easier.

Lesson Learned 2 – Get store bought bacon pieces for extra added convenience: I’ve made pinwheels both by frying and chopping up bacon strips and by using bacon bits out of a bag. I can’t tell the difference. I know how hectic preparing for parties can be so do yourself a favor and use the bacon bits in the bag. It’s a great time saver.

I also recommend using about 1/2 half of a 3 oz. bag – but see what you think. If you think your cream cheese mixture doesn’t look like it has enough bacon, don’t be afraid to add more. And lastly, I recommend adding the bacon bits at the end and folding them in by hand versus using your hand mixer. That way the pieces won’t get broken up and they’ll stay nice and chunky, and that’s what you want.

Lesson Learned 3 – You don’t need a lot of spinach for this recipe: I’m recommending using what I call a small handful of spinach. You don’t want to overdo – and only use fresh spinach not frozen. I’ve been buying my spinach at our local farmers market and it’s fabulous. But keep in mind, fresh spinach can also have long stems. You want to remove those stems before mixing the spinach in with all of the other ingredients.

You can just add the spinach leaves to the bowl with your cream cheese and seasonings. The hand mixer will break it up during the mixing process. But start your hand mixer on low until some of the leaves start to break down. Otherwise you might have an unanticipated mess on your hands.

Lesson Learned 4 – I used shallots in this recipe but you can also use green onions: I find shallots give the filling a little more zing but if you don’t have them on hand finely mince the white parts of two scallions and that will work as well.

Lesson Learned 5 – This recipe makes 3 large tortilla wraps: You can use any kind of tortilla. I used a traditional one but you can use spinach tortillas or any specialty tortilla you like. Keep in mind you’ll need to gauge how much turkey you’ll need. When I got my turkey, I got large thin slices so I only needed two slices per tortilla. That amounted to a little over a half pound. If you’re using smaller slices you obviously will need more. Just make sure the turkey is sliced thin.

Lesson Learned 6 – Make sure you don’t spread your filling all the way to the edges of the tortilla: As you roll up the tortilla the filling will spread. If you don’t leave some room around the edges you’ll have a bunch of filling oozing out of the sides. Leave some room around the edges and you won’t waste any filling. And no matter what you do the ends of your tortilla will never be completely filled. So just cut them off when you begin slicing the rounds. They will have some filling in them, so if you want to taste test your creation, eating the scraps is the perfect way to do it.

Lesson Learned 7 – Working with the cherry tomatoes: I found the easiest way to attach the cherry tomatoes to the rounds is to first pierce them with your decorative pick and slide the tomato up the pick leaving about an inch of the pick exposed. Then insert that end of the pick into the tortilla. If you try to do this process by placing the tomato on top of the round and then piercing it you’ll probably flatten your rounds. It’s best to insert the tomato onto the pick first and then insert the pick into the round. Just a little tip to make assembly easier.

And that’s it. When I brought these to a get together someone said, “You always make such nice looking appetizers” and that’s great because remember, you eat with your eyes first. I guarantee your party guests will be impressed with how they look but more importantly their taste buds will be equally as delighted. Enjoy!

Bacon Turkey Ranch Pinwheels...

  • Servings: 30-36
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1 –  8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

1 package ranch dressing mix

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 shallot, minced

1 small handful of fresh spinach, stems removed

3/4 pound of thinly sliced turkey

1/2 package (3 oz) of bacon bits

3 large tortillas

cherry tomatoes, one for each pinwheel

decorative picks

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium size bowl with a hand mixer combine cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, garlic powder, shallots, and spinach. Fold in the bacon bits by hand. Divide the mixture into three equal portions.

Layer each tortilla with turkey. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the turkey making sure to leave a 1/2 inch edge on all sides. Roll the tortillas tightly. Wrap all the rolled tortillas in plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours at a minimum.

Trim the ends off of each tortilla. Slice the tortillas into 1/2 inch rounds. Pierce a cherry tomato down the center with a decorative pick leaving at least an inch of the pick exposed at the bottom. Insert the pick with a tomato into each tortilla.

 

Skewered Italian Appetizer Bites…

Sorry I’m a little off my game this week. I was waylaid by a bug bite that gave me an allergic reaction and I’ve been fighting this itching rash. Needless to say I’ve not been a happy camper. The meds I take for itching make me groggy and so it’s been hard to sit down at my computer and crank out my blog. But I’m thinking I’m on the mend, although still not itch free after almost 5 days. But I have noticed improvement and so that’s what I’m focusing on.

This weeks recipe is so darn simple and great for your backyard parties. In the warmer weather, the last thing you want to do is heat up the kitchen. Dishes that are cooler like potato salad and cole slaw seem to be more in demand. Also finger foods are more popular, especially when eating outdoors. You don’t have to mess around with a lot of utensils, just take the food and pop it in your mouth. Which is exactly what this recipe is all about.

So let’s talk skewered Italian bites…

Lesson Learned 1 – This is a great way to use some of the homemade pesto you’ve made from growing basil: pesto is what adds zip to this recipe and homemade pesto is the best. If you don’t have your favorite go-to pesto recipe feel free to use mine. But pesto gives these morsels just the kick they need.

Some things to keep in mind when dredging the mozzarella balls in pesto – my mozzarella balls were in a small plastic container stored in liquid. I bought a small container that had about 20 balls. I put the balls in a strainer and drained the liquid into another dish (just in case I had some balls leftover, I wanted to store them back in the same liquid). I then drained the balls on a paper towel.

This time I did not have fresh pesto on hand so I bought a small 6 oz. jar of traditional pesto. I spooned half to it into a small wide rimmed bowl and dropped some of the balls in the pesto. I rolled them around with a spoon and then skewered them on my decorative pics. Couldn’t be easier.

Lesson Learned 2 – If you want to serve these standing up versus lying down you will need to cut a flat surface on the bottom of each mozzarella ball: I learned this lesson the hard way. I started assembling the skewers and found that they would not stand straight. The round bottom of the ball prevented them from doing so. I tried pushing the bottom flat but that didn’t seem to work so I started cutting the bottoms off the balls and then figured out that I liked the presentation of the skewers better with the skewers lying on their sides. So I opted to serve them lying on one side versus standing up. There is no right way to serve these, but I found that serving them on their side created quite an impressive looking appetizer as you can see from the picture below…

And that’s it really. As I’ve said many times before sometimes the simplest of recipes are the most impressive. This will be a great recipe to use when you harvest your basil and cherry tomatoes. It’s an easy, pop in your mouth bite that will disappear off your party table in no time.

Skewered Italian Appetizer Bites...

  • Servings: Approx. 20
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1 small container of cherry tomatoes

1 – 6 oz. jar of basil pesto (or make your own)

1 – 4 oz. package of sliced pepperoni (you will have some leftovers)

1 – 12 oz. container of mozzarella balls

Garlic infused olive oil

decorative picks for skewers

DIRECTIONS:

Put the basil pesto in a wide rimmed bowl. If using jarred pesto, start with half the jar and add more as needed to the bowl.

Strain the mozzarella balls making sure to save the liquid in case you need to store any leftover balls.  Place a few mozzarella balls in the pesto and roll them around with a spoon until they are covered with pesto (you will need to repeat this process a few times).

Assemble the skewers in the following manner – first skewer the tomatoes. Then add a pepperoni slice to each skewer. Lastly add the basil covered mozzarella ball and plate the skewers.

Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or serve immediately. Drizzle with garlic infused olive oil right before serving.

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Garlic Roasted Summer Squash And Tomatoes…

Get ready for the onslaught of summer squash. If your garden has been anything like mine in recent years you will soon be inundated with more summer squash than you can handle. It often gets to the point where you can’t even give the squash away. So think about different ways you can use of all of that squash.

Over the years I’ve posted a wide variety of recipes using summer squash and you can find those recipes in my recipe index. Today’s recipe is very basic. It is quick and easy and a great way to use your squash to accompany just about any meal.

So let’s talk about garlic roasted summer squash and tomatoes…

garlic roasted summer squash and tomatoesLesson Learned 1 – For the best results, let the olive oil, garlic and seasoning rest: A great way to infuse your olive oil with the flavors of the garlic and Italian seasoning is to combine them all together and let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes before coating the squash and tomatoes. That way you will get a great infused olive and those flavors will permeate the squash and tomatoes during the roasting process.

Lesson Learned 2 – once again it is important to cut the squash rounds into evenly thick pieces: I cannot sing the praises of a mandolin slicer enough. It is truly the best way to cut veggies into rounds that are uniformly thick in size. The reason you do this is so the squash cooks evenly and you don’t wind up with some pieces overcooked, some undercooked and some just right. Eliminate what I call the Goldilocks And The Three Bears dilemma and use a mandolin slicer. And once again, I cannot stress enough to use the finger guard whenever using the mandolin slicer. Accidents can happen very easily if you don’t.

Roasted summer squash and tomatoes

Lesson Learned 3 – Use firm tomatoes in this recipe: I would not use overly ripe soft tomatoes in this recipe. A firmer, slightly less juicy tomato holds up best during the 30 minute roasting time. I used firm cherry tomatoes in this recipe but you can also cut up roma tomatoes or use firm campari tomatoes.

The prep on this recipe is quick and the result is fabulous. And with squash season upon us, this is a great recipe to have in your hip pocket. Try it and let me know what you think…

GARLIC ROASTED SUMMER SQUASH AND TOMATOES...

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

1 large or 2 small zucchini squash

1 large or 2 small yellow squash

1/2 cup firm cherry tomatoes, halved

3 Tbs. olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a lipped baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.

Mix together the olive oil, garlic and Italian seasoning. If you can, let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes to infuse the olive oil with the garlic and seasoning.

Slice the squash into 1/8 slices (using a mandolin slicer is preferred). Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Put the squash and tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour the olive oil mixture over the vegetables and stir to evenly combine.

Spread the vegetables out evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top of the vegetables. Roast for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the parmesan is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Garlic Roasted Summer Squash And Tomatoes

Garlic Roasted Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Garlic Roasted Summer Squash And Tomatoes