Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
Don't let the fact that these appetizers can be assembled in just minutes fool you -- they all look and taste divine.
TIP Get the individual ingredients ready ahead of time, but assemble these appetizers right before serving.
The rosemary infuses the cheese with a little aroma, but does not get eaten.
1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 (7-ounce) block Irish Cheddar cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 small bunch fresh rosemary
1. Mince one sun-dried tomato. Combine it in a bowl with the olive oil and parsley; add the Cheddar and toss to coat it in the dressing. (The cheese may be used immediately or allowed to marinate overnight).
2. Cut the rosemary into 11/2- inch long pieces. Strip bottom 1/4-inch of leaves, leaving a stem. Cut remaining sun-dried tomatoes in half, place one half on top of each cube of cheese. Insert rosemary stem through the tomato into the Cheddar just far enough for stem to hold them together. If it is difficult to push the stem through tomato and cheese, poke a hole with a toothpick first, insert the rosemary stem in hole. To serve, arrange on a serving platter with a bowl in which guests can place the used rosemary stems. Makes 16 servings (about 48 to 50 pieces).
Nutritional analysis for each serving 73 calories, 3 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 95 mg sodium
GOAT CHEESE TARTLETS WITH FIG-BALSAMIC SAUCE
Butter for greasing muffin pan
Flour for sprinkling on work surface
1 (7.05-ounce) refrigerated pie crust dough
1/4 cup room-temperature cream cheese
1/3 cup room-temperature goat cheese
1/4 cup fig preserves
2 teaspoons balsamic
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly butter a 12-cup mini-muffin cup pan.
2. Lightly flour work surface and unroll the pie crust dough. Use a 2-inch straight or fluted edged cookie cutter to cut 12 circles. Fit each circle into a muffin cup, folding the edges up to form sides. Bake 10 minutes or until crusts are golden and cooked through. Let cool.
3. Stir cream cheese and goat cheese together until well-blended.
4. Combine fig preserves, balsamic and black pepper.
5. Spoon a mound of the cheese mixture into the cooled tartlet shells; drizzle with the fig sauce. Makes 12 tartlets.
Nutritional analysis for each tartlet 105 calories, 2 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 109 mg sodium
6 slices bacon, cut across in half
12 slices baguette (about 6 ounces)
3 plum tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup baby arugula
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1. Cook the bacon, reserving the bacon fat. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
2. Brush the top of each slice of bread lightly with the reserved bacon fat. Toast under the broiler or in a toaster oven until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Top each with a tomato slice; toast 1 minute to slightly soften the tomato.
3. Place arugula on top of each tomato; top with bacon and a pea-sized dollop of mayonnaise. Makes 12 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 83 calories, 4 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 207 mg sodium