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LifestyleColumnistsMarge Perry

3 Simple appetizer recipes

Frozen puff pastry makes a flaky, rich base

Frozen puff pastry makes a flaky, rich base for savory mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Photo Credit: Marge Perry

Mushroom Tartlets

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

8 ounces sliced mushrooms, chopped in ¼-inch pieces

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 tablespoons sherry

1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (1 ¼ ounces), plus more for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat 2 mini muffin pans with cooking spray.

2. Cut the puff pastry into 16 squares, transfer to a plate and refrigerate.

3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they soften, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the sherry and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid is evaporated, about another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

4. Stir the 1/2 cup of cheese into the mushroom mixture and spoon the mixture into 16 muffin tins, patting it lightly with a spoon. Top with the puff pastry squares, tucking the corners down into the muffin cup.

5. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 16-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and invert the muffin tins over a platter or wire rack. Garnish with additional cheese while warm, if desired. Makes 16 tartlets.

Nutritional analysis for each tartlet: 35 calories, 1 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 30 mg sodium

TIP: You can make the mushroom topping 2 days ahead; assemble and bake just before serving. 

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Black Pepper-Rosemary Goat Cheese Cups with Honey Drizzle

1/2 box (8 ounces) 9 x 14-inch phyllo sheets

4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Honey for drizzling (about 1 tablespoon)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat mini muffin tins with cooking spray.

2. Lay the phyllo sheets out flat in a stack and cover with parchment or wax paper and a damp paper towel. Keep the stack covered as you work.

3. Carefully pull one sheet from the stack and lay it on a cutting board. Coat lightly with cooking spray and top with a second sheet of dough. Repeat, using 5 sheets and topping the last with spray. Cut the dough in 12 even squares. Place each square in a muffin cup, pushing lightly to form the cup shape and allowing the ends to stick up above the edge of the cup. Bake until golden, about 7 minutes. Immediately transfer to a plate or wire rack. Repeat using a total of 15 sheets of dough to make 36 phyllo cups.

4. Combine the goat cheese, mayonnaise, rosemary and black pepper in a bowl, beating lightly with a fork to soften. Divide among the cups and, just before serving, drizzle with the honey. Makes 36 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each cup: 35 calories, 1 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 1 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 56 mg sodium

TIP: Bake phyllo cups and make the goat cheese mixture up to four days ahead and assemble just before serving. 

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Pizzetta Bites

1 pound prepared pizza dough

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut in thin slices

8 pitted calamata olives, each quartered

8 sun-dried tomatoes, each sliced

2 tablespoon parsley or basil, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Cut the dough in 32 pieces and, working on a lightly floured board, press each piece to 1/3-inch thickness. Brush both sides lightly with the olive oil. Top with a slice of mozzarella followed by the olives and sun-dried tomato.

3. Bake until the cheese is melted and the dough crisp (it sounds hollow when tapped), about 12 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with the parsley or basil and cool slightly before serving. Makes 32 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 68 calories, 2 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 58 mg sodium

TIP: Slice the cheese and chop ingredients for the pizzettas several hours in advance.

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