Store bought puff pastry is fast becoming something I swear by. We bought some from puff pastry from Royal Market and Bakery and transformed it into the crispy, savory and yummy farmer’s cheese, grated sharp cheddar and cooked mild Italian sausage puffs pictured below. These couldn’t be easier to make. Thaw puff pastry for 30-40 minutes stuff each square (this puff pastry was already cut into squares), fill with stuffing of choice, fold over and make a triangle, crimp edges with fork, brush with some egg wash and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes till golden brown.
A good one to make with the little kids. You can lay out a variety of fillings (or any leftovers) and let the kids have some fun making their own puffs. Good way to use left over nubs of cheese that languish in our fridge forever. A handy portable lunch for little hands. Assemble and freeze individually and pull out in a pinch, bake for longer and serve with a side salad or steamed vegetables. How’s that for an easy dinner?
Cooked Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onions (optional) and Sharp Cheddar
Spinach and Feta
Leftover tandoori chicken/chicken tikka masala
Variety of leftover cheeses and cooked mushrooms
Pan-fried meat with taco seasoning and any kind of melty cheese or goat cheese.
Roasted vegetables and a little marinara
Leftover meatloaf or lamb keema
Ham/Salami & cheese & Dijon mustard
Indian spices potatoes and peas (fast samosas!)
Roasted squash, blue cheese and sage
Puff pastry with Nutella & hazelnuts
You get the concept – basically anything works! Do share your ideas with us.
For all your Halloween festivities, it’s always nice to have a few less-sugary options up your sleeve. Here are two fun “spooky snacks” we tried out this year: Mimi’s creepy fingers and wiggly mango-orange tummy ticklers. These are so fun to bring to parties at school, to nibble on alongside a bubbling cauldron of of your favorite soup or stew before you head out for trick or treats, or even as an unexpected after school snack during the rest of the year. Both take almost no time to put together and, more importantly, are really fun to make. Do you have a favorite spooky Halloween snack? We’d love to hear about it!
Wiggly Mango-Orange Tummy Ticklers
This is a homemade, fruit finger jello recipe from the Meal Makeover Moms, from their “No Whine with Dinner” cookbook (but I actually heard it on the Halloween episode of their “Cooking with the Moms” podcast). The two moms behind all three of these great projects are registered dieticians and offer lots of recipes and suggestions for healthy food for the whole family. Their podcast is fun, informative and worth a listen — a good one to keep loaded up on your MP3 device to listen to when you have a few spare moments in your day. For these fruity, wigglers all you need is juice, pureed fruit and 2 packets of unflavored gelatin. Since you can swap any kind of juice and fruit you like, kids can play executive chef and create their own flavor combinations. Here we used orange juice and pureed mango. Yum!
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups juice, 1 cup fruit, 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin, sweetener of your choice (as needed)
- Puree together 1 cup of whole fruit and 1 cup of juice, then bring to a simmer on the stove.
- Sprinkle 2 packets of unflavored gelatin over 1/2 cup juice and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
- Add the gelatin mixture to the simmering puree mixture. Whisk while the gelatin fully dissolves (about 5 minutes). Give it a taste and add your favorite sweetener as needed.
- Pour mixture into an 8×8 pan. I poured mine through a strainer, just to catch any undissolved gelatin or bits and pieces.
- Refrigerate at least 3-4 hours to set. Dunk the bottom of the pan in hot water to help release the jello, then cut into squares and enjoy! (The Meal Makeover moms suggest using an offset spatula to remove the jello squares from the pan.)
Mimi’s Creepy Fingers (aka Parmesan-Tomato Puff Pastry Sticks)
Our neighbor Mimi served these fun appetizers when she had us over for dinner. They were so cute I made them for snack day at Luca’s preschool. When you bring a container, marked “creepy fingers” to school, everyone wants to know what’s inside! These are simply rectangles of puff pastry with cherry tomato “fingernails” added before baking. For a sweet version, you could use roasted grape halves and replace the parmegiano with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. You can find puff pastry in the freezer section of the grocery store, I nabbed mine at Trader Joes.
Ingredients: 1 Package of Frozen Puff Pastry, a Handful of Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Beaten Egg, Parmegiano Reggiano
- Optional (if you have the time), roast your cherry tomatoes to release some of the water before placing them on the puff pastry. Half the tomatoes, place them in a pan cut side up. Season with sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sugar. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until they start to look a bit dry and shriveled. You can do this in advance.
- For the fingers, let your puff pastry thaw slightly until you can cut it easily. Cut it into rectangles approximately 3/4″ x 4″. I rounded one end using scissors so the shape would be more finger-like.
- Place a halved cherry tomato skin side up on the rounded end of the pastry. Brush the whole thing with beaten egg and sprinkle with grated parmegiano reggiano.
- Bake as directed on the box of puff pastry. Best if served right away, but you can store in an airtight container after they have cooled. I like to separate layers with sheets of waxed paper.
There’s lots you can do with leftover puff pastry:
- Try Simran’s recipe for “Anything Puffs“, substituting the puff pastry for the crescent dough.
- Extra puff pastry also makes a great top for a pot pie, stew or soup (may I suggest Simran’s Fish Chowder?). Cut a circle slightly larger than the rim of your oven proof, individual serving-sized bowl. Brush the rim of the bowl with beaten egg and seal the bowl with the pastry (remember to cut a few slits for the steam to escape). Place the bowl on a baking sheet and bake as directed on the puff pastry package.