Monday, January 14, 2013

Bacon, cheddar & spinach pinwheels

Sometimes, despite my best efforts to plan ahead and make life easier, I find that I didn't actually plan very well at all.

Like the time I was so nervous about spending the weekend with a boyfriend's family.  I wanted to make the best first impression and spent an embarrassing amount of time picking outfits for every possible social scenario since I didn't know our agenda.  Believe me when I say that each wardrobe change was simply spot on, and I felt confident; the whole weekend couldn't have been more perfect!

Or could it?  Yeah, it could've been if I'd remembered to pack any underwear at all.  Seriously, I did not pack a single pair.  To this day, this is one my lowest points.  Yikes.  Thankfully, I realized very shortly after we arrived so a quick trip was made to the nearest store to remedy that problem ASAP.

Lesson: Don't let vanity overpower practicality, kids.  It's mighty awkward explaining to your future mother-in-law why, after a 4 hour drive, you must get back in the car to run an errand that simply can't wait another minute.

Thankfully, things turned out well after that first visit, and I wouldn't change a single thing about that weekend. Much like the appetizer I made for my office's holiday party.  Did I plan well?  Not quite.  Did it turn out well?  You betcha.

Does anyone actually say "You betcha" anymore?

Anyway, back to this continued theme of my poor planning skills and a miracle of an appetizer.  For the potluck, I signed up to bring bacon-wrapped chicken about three weeks before the party.  Simple, crowd-pleasing, and tasty.  On the night before the party when I got down to business in the kitchen, I made a unfortunate discovery -- I had no chicken, in the freezer or the fridge.  Oops.

How did I forget the main ingredient?!  Airhead, this one.  I'm telling you.

But I did have one magical ingredient in the freezer, ready to save the day: puff pastry!  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  Packaged puff pastry is a true lifesaver.

With bacon and a few other ingredients on hand, I whipped up a showstopping and easy-as-cake appetizer that had me actually thanking myself for not doing a bang-up job of planning.

Pinwheels are infinitely adaptable and can include pretty much anything you like.  Fresh herbs, cheeses, thinly-sliced meats or even cooked shredded chicken.  Whatever you choose, make it colorful because, after assembly, when you slice 'em up, they bake up all golden and pretty!

Buttery, fluffy, light, and swirled with sharp cheddar and salty bacon, two of my favorite flavors.  Plus, the flecks of green spinach gave 'em such great color.  It was a miracle that any of the pinwheels made it to the party the following day.  But, once they found a home on the buffet table, they weren't around for very long.  Crowd pleasing, I tell ya!  Not bad for no planning, right? :)

Bacon, Cheddar, and Spinach Pinwheels
-makes 20

1 sheet (1/2 package) puff pastry sheets, thawed at room temperature for 30 minutes
All-purpose flour, for dusting
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
Ground black pepper
1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for later use.  On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry sheet and roll out to a 14-inch square.  Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture.  Sprinkle cheese, spinach, bacon, and ground black pepper evenly over pastry, leaving a half-inch border on two opposite sides.  Starting at a short side, roll up like a jelly roll.  Cut into 20 half-inch slices.  Place the slices, cut-side down, onto lined baking sheet.  Brush the slices with the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap, store in fridge for up to 2 days.  Remove from fridge for 30 minutes before serving.  Can be served hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

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