Pinwheels, Pinwheels, Pinwheels…

Just call me queen of the pinwheels! Whenever I am expected to bring an appetizer to an event and I want something simple, easy and impressive I make pinwheels. Your imagination can soar when concocting these tasty bite size morsels and I always look for new ways to put a delightful spin on a pretty basic recipe.

The holidays are quickly approaching and with that holiday parties and of course lots and lots of food. And since I think there can be a pinwheel for just about any occasion, the holidays are not exception. This particular recipe will be a hit on any holiday table and it couldn’t be easier to make.

So lets talk Cranberry Feta and Chive Pinwheels…

This recipe follows the same basic format for making pinwheels that being softened cream cheese, the ingredients of your choice, and flour tortillas – couldn’t be easier. This particular variation adds the warmth of the basic holiday colors, red and green, and boasts of a spectacular sweet and savory flavor. I have posted two other pinwheels recipes since writing this blog.

The first, and one of my all time popular recipes judging by the number of hits it gets on a regular basis, is my Cream Cheese, Spinach, Bacon and Scallion Pinwheels:

I never in a million years could have guessed this recipe would be so popular.

The second pinwheel recipe I published was my Bacon Turkey Ranch Pinwheels:

This was also a hit with the slightly different twist of adding a cherry tomato on top – great finger food.

With this particular post I thought I might provide a one stop shop for the pinwheel recipes I’ve published with my latest edition being my Cranberry Feta and Chive Pinwheels:

Normally I include some lessons learned making a particular recipe. Since this recipe follows the basic formula for making pinwheels, I suggest you look at the other two recipes if you feel you need additional support in being successful making these. The only caveat I will add is to make sure not to skimp on the chives. The chives provide that nice counterbalance to the sweetness of the cranberries so minimally use 1/3 cup of chives and even more if you want. The choice is yours.

Cranberry Feta And Chive Pinwheels...

  • Servings: 30-35
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup chopped chives (can do more if desired)

1 Tbs. garlic powder

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

4 flour tortillas (10 inch)

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium sized bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Spread mixture evenly on a tortilla leaving a 1/4 inch open all the way around. Tightly roll each tortilla to form a log. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour. Slice into 3/4 inch rounds and serve.

I want to take this opportunity to inform my readers that I may not be posting as regularly in the near future. I am dealing with a debilitating family illness that is taking up the greater majority of my time. Rest assured that once my life gets more on an even keel I will post more regularly. Until then I ask for your patience. In the meantime check out my recipe index for my many years of posts which should satisfy your desire for recipes in the interim. And when I can I will check in. Thanks for your understanding!

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
  • Print
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.

 

My 3 Most Popular Recipes…

Lately I have been getting more traffic on my blog and I am very happy about that. And it’s always interesting to see what recipes people all over the world are looking at. Over the years there have been a few that consistently get the most number of hits. It’s amazing how many people gravitate to these recipes. So instead of posting a new recipe today, I’ve decided to do a compilation post  of  my top 3 “highest clicked on” recipes.

Looking at my stats over the years, I’d have to say there is a virtual tie for first place. It actually depends on the time of year. One of them gets significantly high clicks around the Christmas holidays or any other holidays during the year where people tend to plan parties. I’ll focus on that one first.

The funny thing about this particular recipe is I almost didn’t post it. I thought it was too simple and rudimentary and not something a lot of people would be interested in. Boy was I wrong. From day one this recipe got a ton of hits and when it comes to party times throughout the year the hits can go through the roof. I have to admit it is a pretty tasty appetizer. You’ve got to try my Cream Cheese, Spinach, Bacon and Scallion Pinwheels.

Cream Cheese, Spinach, Bacon and Scallion Pinwheels.

The other recipe that ties for first place on my “hit” list is a recipe that takes a relatively inexpensive fish and creates a dish that is simple but elegant and oh so flavorful. Once again I never anticipated this recipe to be so popular but it consistently gets multiple hits every day of the week. It’s my recipe for Pan Fried Cod With Lemon Butter Sauce.

I think more people are looking for ways to add fish their diets and this recipe takes an inexpensive fish like cod and makes it taste like a million bucks. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback that this recipe not only creates divinely tasting cod but it’s also an easy, elegant serve. You can’t beat that. Try it and tell me what you think!

Pan Fried Cod With Lemon Butter Sauce

And last but certainly not least is my Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread. This recipe, I kid you not, is to die for. It is one of the best ways to take oversized zucchinis that we all get from time to time  and are not really good to serve as a vegetable and use them to make the most fabulous zucchini bread you will ever taste.

What I especially love about this recipe is the bread is not overly sweet. You use a combination of honey and brown sugar to sweeten the batter. The zucchini provides an unbelievable moistness and the combination of cocoa powder, chocolate chips and a little espresso powder creates a chocoholics fantasy.

This recipe gets a ton of hits this time of year when home gardeners have more zucchini than they can handle. This is the best zucchini bread recipe I’ve ever made bar none and if you try it I know you will say the same thing. Enjoy my recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

And there you have it – the stars of my blog. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other recipes that get lots of hits – it’s just that these three seem to have been stars from the day they were first published.

Coming soon I’m going to publish a recipe for mustard herbed salmon with roasted butternut squash, but today let’s just enjoy the stars of You Betcha Can Make This!

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Cream Cheese, Spinach, Bacon and Scallion Pinwheels…

I know, I know, this is a pretty rudimentary recipe but I’m sharing it because the flavor is divine. I’ve eaten many varieties of these pinwheels at parties and such and I have to say I like this version the best. It is simple, easy to make and oh so delicious!

Pinwheel Ingredients...

Pinwheel Ingredients…

For those of you who’ve never made these before, (and I’m sure there has to be a few out there), there are a couple of tricks to making these that you really don’t think about the first time you make them – or at least I never did. So for the burgeoning cooks who want to avoid some of my pitfalls, here are a couple of tricks to keep in mind for making delicious and good looking pinwheels.

Lesson Learned 1 – The cream cheese must be room temperatureI think this is where many err the first time they make these. Keep in mind that you are spreading this mixture on a flour tortilla. If the cream cheese is not room temperature you will rip the tortilla to shreds. I took my cream cheese out of the refrigerator before I went to bed and then made the pinwheels first thing in the morning. When the cream cheese is room temperature it not only spreads better but mixes better with the other ingredients. Make sure you give the cream cheese enough time to get to room temperature.

Pinwheel ingredients...

Pinwheel ingredients…

Lesson Learned 2 – Heat the tortillas for 20-30 seconds in the microwave before spreading on the filling: Even though they are flour tortillas they can crack and split when you spread the filling on them and roll them up. Cover your tortillas with a damp paper towel and heat them slightly in the microwave. Only work with one tortilla at a time. Keep the others covered with the damp towel until you are ready to use them. Make sure the tortilla is not warm. Once you take it out from under the paper towel it will only take a few seconds for the warmth to dissipate but the tortilla will still be nice and pliable.

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Pinwheel ingredients combined…

I found that if you press your finger down on the top part of the tortilla while spreading the mixture, the process is easier and you don’t have the tortilla jumping around. Spread the mixture to within  a quarter of an inch around the edge of the tortilla and even closer to edge that will be the end of your roll. That way you will have some mixture at the very end to act as a glue holding the tortilla closed.

Lesson Learned 3 – Don’t put the mixture on too thick: If you put the mixture on too thick you’ll have a bunch coming out the ends. A nice even layer will do. I’ve found this particular recipe makes three large flour tortilla rolls. That may sound like a small amount but you get between 24-30 one inch rounds with this recipe. Keep in mind that the mixture is rolled onto itself so that creates the thickness you are looking for. You don’t need to create the thickness by overloading the tortilla.

Lesson Learned 4 – Roll the tortillas tight: Start with a very tight roll and keep it that way throughout the rolling process. Once the tortilla is rolled, I recommend squeezing it lightly from top to bottom just to solidify the tight roll. You don’t want gaps in the filling when you cut them.

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Lesson Learned 5 – This is the most important tip of all – put the filled tortillas back in the refrigerator and let them chill for a few hours before you cut them: The first time I made these I cut the tortillas right after rolling them. Big mistake! Remember I said you have to work with room temperature cream cheese? Well room temperature pinwheels do not cut easily. In fact they become a gloppy mess when you try to cut them. You need to let the cream cheese chill again to get cleaner cuts in the pinwheels. Plus it’s also good to let these flavors meld for awhile. Believe me, the mixture tastes great when you first make it, but it tastes even better when all the ingredients have time to get better acquainted.

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Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 hours…

Lesson Learned 6 – When the tortillas have sufficiently chilled, use a very sharp knife to cut them: This is also important because the tortillas can still squish a little on you if you don’t use a sharp knife. You will find that you’ll have to cut a small portion off the ends of each tortilla and discard them. You just can’t get every bit of the tortilla filled. No worries, they make tasty morsels if you just want to pop them in your mouth. Also it is important to wipe off the blade of the knife with a paper towel when more than a small amount of cream cheese builds up on it. That way you will get nice clean cuts throughout.

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Cut with a very sharp knife…

 

 

These are so easy to make and so worth it. My husband never had them before and he told me if any were left over after our party to be sure not to throw them out because he would eat them. “These are really good” was all I needed to hear from him to know I’d produced a hit.

You can go online and find many different ways to make these. Hopefully these few lessons learned will help you avoid my mistakes when I first tried to make them.

Cream Cheese, Spinach, Bacon and Scallion Pinwheels

  • Servings: 24-30 One Inch Rounds
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

8 oz. of softened cream cheese

4 scallions finely chopped, including the green parts

1 handful of baby spinach

6-8 slices of bacon cooked, drained and cooled

1/2 package ranch dressing mix

3 large flour tortillas

DIRECTIONS:

Make sure the cream cheese is a room temperature. Put the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well with an electric hand mixer. Place the tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave the tortillas for approximately 20 seconds or until they fell very pliable.

Work with one tortilla at a time. Keep the others covered with the damp paper towel until you are ready to use them. Make sure the tortilla is not hot. Spread one third of the mixture on the tortilla making sure to come within a quarter inch on all edges and very near the edge that will be the end of the roll. Roll the tortilla as tight as you can. When finished rolling, gently squeeze the tortilla up and down the shaft of the roll to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed inside the roll. Place the finished rolled tortillas in a plastic bag and refrigerate them for at least 3-4 hours.

When tortillas are sufficiently chilled, remove them from the bag and using a very sharp knife slice them into one inch rounds. Serve and enjoy!

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