easy cheesy twists

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I don’t know if I’m still tired from the holidays or if it’s just because hockey is back, but I’ve been fixated on fast and easy appetizers.  I’m sure that this will wear off eventually, but for now I’m still trying to make things that I can throw together super fast without sacrificing flavor, like last week’s prosciutto flatbread.  Given my past success with puff pastry shortcuts, that was naturally one of the first things I thought of.

These cheesy twists are the perfect, easy appetizer for your next get together.  They require minimal effort AND you can make them in advance.  Yep.  That means you can spend like 30 minutes (if even) in the kitchen today, and freeze these and have them ready at the drop of a hat for the next time you have guests over.  That easy.

I used parmesan cheese because I know it gets nice and crispy.  I debated cheddar as well, but, ya know.  That would have taken me twice as long.  I’ve got another sheet of puff pastry on ice with cheddar written all over it.  I would go with any sharp cheese, you want it to have lots of flavor, because the pastry itself isn’t super flavorful.  If not parmesan, a good pecorino or asiago would certainly do the trick.  I also added a sprinkle of garlic powder, a dash of smoked paprika, and a hint of cayenne for a little bit of kick, but the skies the limit here.

Easy Cheesy Twists

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed.
  • 2 ½ ounces (a little over ⅓ cup) parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt
  • Egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment.

2. Roll puff pastry to smooth folds. Roll to about 12 inch by 10 inch rectangle.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the cheese and spices.

4. Rub surface of puff pastry with egg wash.  Sprinkle cheese mixture over half of the puff pastry and fold the un-cheesed half over the cheesed half.  Roll again to press the two sides together, you should now have a rectangle that is 6 or 7 inches by 10 inches.

5. Cut rectangle into ½-inch strips, you’ll end up with about 20 strips.  Grab each end of a strip and twist until you have a spiral.  Place on the baking sheet, and continue twisting each strip until they’re all twisted.

6. Now you have a choice – bake now or freeze for later

To bake now: Brush each strip with egg wash, sprinkle with salt, and bake for about 13 minutes until nice and golden.

To freeze: Place baking sheet in the freezer 40 minutes or until frozen.  Move twists into a freezer-proof bag and freeze until you’re ready to make them.  To bake from frozen, add an extra 2 – 3 minutes onto the baking time.

 

 

You may also like these easy bites:

cheesy artichoke bread  avocado fries  ccroll

chicken parmesan

chicken parm 1

Chicken parmesan gets a bad rep for a number of reasons. Your usual chicken parmesan will arrive either soggy, drowning in sauce and cheese or dry and deep-fried – thrown on top of some pasta. This chicken parmesan is neither soggy, nor dry, and especially not fried. This chicken parmesan allows you to achieve a crispy chicken that is still tender, and has no melty cheese or sauce on top (except that last shaving a parmesan you see on top of mine – melted ever so slightly by the heat of the still-warm chicken).

Most breaded items are dredged in flour, then egg, then breading. I got the idea of dipping them in garlic butter from a recipe I saw over at simply recipes. It was rather ingenius, if I do say so myself. If you prefer the old-fashioned way, go ahead, but you’ll save a dish if you do it this way.

It’s baked, not fried, which means that you have time to clean up your mess, set the table, sit back and relax – whatever you like for the time that the chicken is in the oven. Using thin-sliced chicken helps it to cook faster, and if you’re a breading freak (like yours truly) make sure you use panko to get them extra crispy, and cut them into “nuggets” to get a higher breading-to-chicken ratio. The nuggets also make it a little more ‘kid-friendly’ – just serve them with the tomato sauce to dip in on the side. :)

Chicken Parmesan

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1 lb thin-sliced* chicken breast (cutting into nuggets is optional)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated parmigianno-reggiano (or a mix of parm & pecorino)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • a few grinds of the pepper mill

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Melt butter in small bowl. Add garlic and stir to combine.

2. In a separate bowl (I actually like to use a paper plate, so I can just throw it away when I’m done), mix together bread crumbs, cheese, and seasonings.

3. Dip chicken in melted butter, then bread crumbs, being sure to press it into the bread crumbs for maximum adhesion.

4. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and cook at 450F for 15 – 20 minutes until cooked through. If you have to brown it more, turn it up to broil at the end, but be sure to keep a close eye on it! You can flip them half-way through, if you like, for more even browning, but you will end up sacrificing some of the delicious breading.

*If you don’t want to buy thin-sliced (it does cost more), you can slice your own and/or pound it thin