Shorelinechef's Blog

Cooking and creating everyday solutions for busy families like mine.

Brunch Bites to Impress October 9, 2009

I often have the need for a breakfast/brunch dish that travels well. Well, I’ve got a new favorite and it would be just as good for a party appetizer. The prep is simple and the results are fantastic (really… how wrong can you go with bacon and cheese?!?)

Bacon-Cheddar Bites


  • 1 pkg. pie crusts (2 crusts), softened according to package directions.
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 plum tomatoes (plus more diced for garnish, optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz. (1/2 pkg) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • Sliced green onions (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll pie crust onto lightly floured surface. Spacing closely together, use a cup (the Pampered Chef Measure-All Cup is perfect) to cut nine circles around the outside edge and three in the center. Press disks into wells of a 24-indentation mini muffin pan, using the Mini-Tart Shaper to complete. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown (if your dough has become very warm, I would suggest popping it into the fridge for 5 – 10 minutes to re-chill).
  2. Meanwhile, stack bacon; thinly slice and cook over medium-high heat 10 – 12 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate; cool slightly. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half and scrape out seeds. Dice. Chop bacon (the Food Chopper is great for this). In a bowl, combine bacon, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mustard and pressed garlic. Mix well.
  3. Remove pan from oven to a rack. Using a small spoon (such as the Adjustable Measuring Spoon), fill each cup with about 1 Tbsp. of the cheese mixture. Bake 5 – 7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onions and additional diced tomato, if desired.

Yield: 24 appetizers

Recipe from The Pampered Chef.

I ended up with extra filling and plan to try it wrapped in crescent dough and baked or spread on toast and broiled. Simple and quick, but

This could definitely be lightened up. The Neufchatel cheese I used worked just fine. You could also replace the bacon with turkey bacon and use light cheddar.

Hope you enjoy it!


Panini Party August 1, 2009

Once a year, the time comes for me to host some of my favorite friends for Bunco night. My penchant for theme parties (inherited from my very creative mother) really shows itself right about now. There’s just something about taking the menu and expanding it to color the entire evening and give one’s guests a virtual ticket to a fun escape, if only for a few hours.

This year, my plan for the balmy July evening was inspired by the panini maker my DH gave me for Mother’s Day (yes… in certain circumstances, small appliances are the way to my heart!)

So… off to Italy we go!


Outdoor tables draped with simple cotton tablecloths, scattered with votive candles and a vase of sunflowers set the scene. To greet guests before the main meal, small bowls of olives, mixed nuts and fresh cantaloupe. To drink, Prosecco in blue glass bottles and Italian sparkling water with thin slices of lemon. The soundtrack for the evening was, of course, the soundtrack from “Big Night” (a must-see!),

some Rosemary Clooney and Louie Prima.

The menu was simple. Two kinds of panini were offered. First, prosciutto with fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and basil leaves on garlic sourdough bread brushed with a homemade, garlic-laced balsamic vinaigrette. The second was a delicious broccoli rabe (briefly blanched, chopped and sautéed with olive oil, garlic and finely minced anchovies) with provolone. If you’ve never tried broccoli rabe (also known as rapini or broccolini), it is delicious and slightly bitter, but more tender than broccoli. It is actually a form of turnip green.

Broccoli Raab/Rapini








It lends itself to many of the applications one might use for spinach and is delicious sautéed and served with pasta and a drizzle of olive oil.

Alongside the panini was a salad of mixed baby lettuces and arugula dressed with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.

Extra bread was brushed with the balsamic and garlic vinaigrette used on the prosciutto sandwich and then quickly grilled on the panini maker. It was of enormous help that my friend, Julie, brought her panini maker, as well.

The post-dinner treat was a trio of fabulous gelatos – Napa strawberry, white chocolate raspberry and double dark chocolate. I served small scoops in delicate, pressed-glass drinking glasses and topped each with Pizelle cookies, which were a big hit.

The kicker? We never got around to playing bunco, but we had a great night in Italy!