I am so happy that my niece Marcella enjoys cooking as much as I do. During my recent visit to Arkansas, she helped me develop and kitchen test 35 new recipes for my next cookbook, which features party foods.
We sat at her dining room table many hours just discussing recipes that will offer new flavor combinations in some classic party foods. New ideas come in unusual ways. Sometimes even a food photo would trigger a creative thought. While looking through some cookbooks, I noticed a photo of Mexican-type pastry puffs with a cheese and chile filling. After some thought, I changed the pastry puffs to chocolate and used a cherry cream filling. Of course, the Chocolate Covered Cherry Puffs had no resemblance to the savory version, but it all started from a photo, not from the ingredient list.
Marcella's husband, Roger, wanted us to make something using macadamia nuts and bananas. This idea led to a recipe for miniature macadamia crepes with a filling similar to Bananas Foster. This recipe will probably be in the section of the cookbook devoted to brunch specialties.
When a recipe needed a little "something" to make it complete, I would raid Marcella's kitchen pantry and/or refrigerator. The new Island Dip for fruit needed a flavor boost so I opened the refrigerator and noticed a container of mango yogurt. This addition made the dip so flavorful that I was caught eating it with a spoon. This dip is also good spread on muffins or quick breads.
The following miniature omelet bites are good served hot or at room temperature. They are a tasty addition to a finger-food buffet but are also great for brunch.
MINIATURE OMELET BITES
1 box refrigerated ready-made pie crusts (2 crusts)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup chopped Canadian bacon (or ham, if desired)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll each pie crust and cut out circles using a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place circles of dough into miniature muffin tins and press slightly up sides to form shallow cups. Saute the shallots, red bell pepper and mushrooms in the butter. Set aside to cool slighty. Beat together the cream cheese, Cheddar, eggs, egg yolks, and sour cream. Stir in the Canadian bacon and sauteed mushroom mixture. Fill the tiny crusts with this mixture. Bake for about 15 minutes or until set. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 48.
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup pineapple ice cream topping
1/3 cup coconut
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces mango yogurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts
Combine the cream cheese, ice cream topping, coconut, spices, and yogurt. Beat until well blended. Stir in the macadamia nuts.
Serve with fresh fruit.