Pull-Apart Pizza Bread

This bread would be delicious to have with an Italian meal, for an afternoon snack, or part of a quick lunch. It tastes just like pizza but is made with prepared refrigerated biscuit dough. The fun part is pulling off the individual pieces, especially while it’s still warm.

I made this with my son yesterday after seeing the recipe in his children’s magazine. We put the bread on the dinner table and loved tearing the pieces off. There was one piece left over, but it didn’t last very long after dinner.

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup pizza sauce
1 12-oz. can refrigerated biscuit dough*
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano


Grease a 1-quart Bundt pan or angel food cake pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Heat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.

Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. of the cheese and 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the sauce around the bottom of the pan. Separate the biscuits from each other and tear each into three pieces.

Place the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave. Dip half the biscuits in the melted butter and put them into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and sauce, bell pepper, and oregano on top.

Slightly stretch apart the remaining biscuit pieces, dip into the butter, and add them to the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and let cook 5 minutes on a rack. Remove from pan and place, inverted, on a serving plate.

*For those not in the United States, you’ll have to substitute a homemade biscuit dough for the canned, refrigerated kind. Do a search for “Southern buttermilk biscuit recipe” to find one. I have not made this one, but I love Southern Living magazine, and the recipe is probably good. Complete the recipe through Step 2, then weigh the dough and use only 12 ounces of it. Then divide in half and just pinch off large chunks to proceed with the pizza bread recipe.


Cheesy Parmesan Bites

I made these for an open house we hosted over the weekend. As the only hot appetizer on the table, they went pretty quickly!

They are very easy to make, and very easy to prepare ahead and bake when needed. Try as I might, I could not prevent the cheese from melting out the sides to keep these snacks looking pretty and perfect, but it seemed not to matter to the cheese lovers at the party and probably made them more appealing.

The recipe calls for Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls, which I don’t think are available overseas. A quick search online just now turned up this copycat recipe. It seems you can follow steps 1-3 to make the dough, then follow my instructions below to make the rest.

Makes 32

1 8-oz. package Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cans refrigerated Pillsbury crescent rolls (one recipe of the copycat version)
1 cup very finely diced red bell pepper
Dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees. Mix cream cheese and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese until well blended.

Open the cans of crescent rolls and carefully unroll onto a clean surface. Separate each roll into 4 rectangles, sealing the perforations. (If using the copycat recipe, try to roll out 2 rectangles, each about 14 inches long and 8 inches wide. Cut each rectangle into four smaller rectangles.)

Spread 3 Tbsp. of the cream cheese mixture lengthwise on each rectangle, making sure to go all the way to the edges.

Generously top with red pepper and parsley.

Fold one long end up over the filling to the center, then fold it up again to close the roll.

Cut each log into four pieces, then place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

*Note: If making ahead, stop after making the logs. When ready to bake, cut the logs into pieces, then bake. There is no need to bring them to room temperature before baking.

Curry Almond Chicken Rolls

Here’s a recipe I got years ago from Tea Leaves & Thyme, a tea parlor and antiques shop in Woodstock, Ga., north of Atlanta. These are meant to be served alongside tea or coffee, though they also make a nice hors d’oeuvre. (This is also an easy way to use leftover chicken.)

Chopping the chicken is the most time-consuming part. For the almonds, I recommend buying them already chopped rather than doing it yourself — though chopping them by hand will give you pieces in different sizes, which looks nice on the end result.

Makes about 50

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
2 tsp. mild curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
3 Tbsp. minced celery
1 1/2 cups finely chopped almonds

Cut each chicken breast into several pieces, then boil for 10 minutes or so, until it is no longer pink in the center. Drain it, then chop the chicken into small dice.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, marmalade, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in chicken and celery, then shape into 1-inch balls and roll in almonds.

Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Sweet Peanut Butter Spread

Here’s a simple and delicious spread perfect for smearing on toast for breakfast or a snack. Just mix 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter with 1 Tbsp. agave syrup — that’s it!

The syrup makes the peanut butter even smoother and spreadable. And it’s made with GI-friendly ingredients, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar, especially if you use whole wheat, sugar-free bread.


Kale Chips

I discovered these via a very cool food blog, A Thought for Food. They are a wonderful way to make one of the healthiest vegetables around, delicious and full of flavor. And they’re so light they practically disappear in the mouth.

The recipe calls for smoked paprika, which I used and really enjoyed, but the blog says you can also change the seasonings to suit whatever taste you like — from chili powder to cinnamon and sugar.

They are a terrific, healthy snack. They might also make a wonderful garnish, maybe on top of a creamy soup or on the side of an entree.

1 bunch of curly kale
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt, to taste
Smoked paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F/175C degrees.

Wash kale and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the stems and ribs of the kale. Rip into 2-inch (or larger if you prefer) chunks and place into a bowl. Drizzle olive oil on top of the kale and mix, making sure each piece is coated. Sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika, or whatever seasonings you are using.

Spread the mixture across baking sheets that have been covered with either parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until each piece has dried up. Let cool before transferring to a bowl.

Luxury Tuna Salad

The phrase “tuna salad” probably doesn’t conjure up images of luxury, but this recipe may change that. I happen to love tuna salad — not just for the taste, but also because it can be healthy and adapted in various subtle ways. This is a great example.

I made this recipe last night for the first time in a while and was reminded of how delicious it is. I ate it on top of toasted wholemeal bread, but it could also be good on crispy lettuce leaves or as part of a sandwich. If you use fat-free mayonnaise, it also fits perfectly with a low-GI or Weight Watchers diet.

It’s so easy to make that it’s also worth noting this makes a good appetizer, put in small spoonfuls on crackers or in the crevices of celery sticks.

Makes enough for 4-6 sandwiches, depending on how much you fill them with.

3 celery stalks
4 canned artichoke hearts, either in water or marinade, but well drained
1 can tuna, in water or brine, well drained
3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. mayonnaise
Mustard powder to taste

Dice the celery and put it into a bowl. Chop the artichoke hearts into eighths, then cut each slice in half and add it to the celery (you want slightly bigger chunks than the celery, but not too big). Add the tuna, mayonnaise, and mustard powder. You probably won’t need salt and pepper, but taste to be sure.

Amazing Tapenade

This delicious tapenade is full of good oils and a bit of protein, and is best eaten on crispy wholemeal crackers. It’s great as an appetizer at parties or for a healthy snack anytime.

200g (7 oz.) black olives, pitted* and chopped
55g (2 oz.) capers, chopped
55g (2 oz.) anchovy fillets, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix everything in a bowl. Do NOT add salt. If the anchovies come packed in olive oil, you may want to reduce the amount that you pour in afterward.

*To pit olives, place them on a chopping board and put the flat side of a large chopping knife on top. Press down quickly and firmly on the knife. You’ll feel the olive break; then you can easily remove the pit.

Pita Crisps

These are incredibly easy to make and are perfect with dips or as an accompaniment to soup. They look gourmet, so they would be great so serve to guests (try them with the Red Pepper Puree) — but they’re so simple that you could just make them for yourself.

Pita bread
Olive oil
Salt (sea salt if you have it)
Dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Carefully separate the two halves of the pita bread, then cut into triangles. The size of the triangles is up to you.

Spread the triangles on a baking sheet (don’t let them overlap). Drizzle a touch of olive oil on each one, then spread the oil around with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper, and oregano, and bake until lightly toasted.

Red Pepper Puree

This is a miracle recipe. It’s simple to make, and you can use it for so many things — atop crackers or toasted French bread for an appetizer (ooh — try it with goats cheese!), as a topping for chicken or fish, or mixed with chopped tomatoes for a pasta sauce. All you need are four red bell peppers.

Heat the oven to 475F/245C.

Arrange the whole peppers in a roasting tray and roast for 35-40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes as the peppers blacken. Remove when peppers have collapsed.

Cover the tray with foil and let the peppers cool.

Working over a bowl to catch the liquid, remove the peppers’ skin, core, and seeds. Put the pulp in a food processor, add a large pinch of salt, and puree.

You can easily adjust the flavors by adding cumin, grated ginger, minced garlic, chili pepper, fennel… or whatever you like.

Yield: About 1 cup.

Camembert, Goats Cheese, and Tomato Tart

This is an easy recipe using puff pastry. The camembert and goats cheese work together perfectly, but you can easily vary them. I made this tart when some friends came over for lunch one day, but it could also work as a savory brunch dish, or as an appetizer, cut into small pieces.

250g puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (don’t overdo this)
3 flavorsome tomatoes, thinly sliced and drained of as much juice as possible
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 large basil leaves, roughly torn
125g camembert cheese
100g goat’s cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 Tbsp. dried
Olive oil

On a floured surface, roll the pastry out large enough to line a 10-inch pie plate. Line the plate and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, then trim the pastry neatly around the edge.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F degrees. Spread the mustard all over the pastry base, then top with tomatoes in concentric circles. Season to taste and scatter the basil on top. Cut the camembert into thin slices and arrange a circle around the outer edge. Cut the goat’s cheese into thin pieces and arrange in the center. Sprinkle over the thyme and a few drops of olive oil (any more than this and the pastry will be soggy).

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cheese is tanned and bubbling. Best served room temperature.