Sunday, April 11, 2010

Caprese Pesto Margherita Stackers

Contest: 44th Pillsbury Bake Off Top 100 Finalist - entered by Julie Bedwith

I brought these little bites to Girls Night Out (GNO) this past Saturday. There are six of us in the GNO group and we have been taking turns hosting dinner every month for the past eight years. Usually the host makes dinner and the other girls all bring something. Of the six of us, there are four that have ties to the old country. Real Italians. So when it is my turn to host or bring something I never make anything slightly Italian as I am way too intimidated. I forgot this rule as I started making this little Italian appetizer. Luckily, the girls loved it. Might not by from the Old Country, but it was a hit. I think I have taken the whole "don't cook Italian for Italians" too seriously, turns out if you put a tomato and basil on anything they'll eat it. Love when they host, these ladies really know how to cook!

When making this I grew a greater appreciation for the Pillsbury bread stick product. Many of the finalist recipes require you to wrap dough around something, the crescent and biscuit doughs are really soft and hard to wrap. Bread stick dough is elastic like pizza dough, much easier to stretch around a ball... or so I thought! Turns out the cheese still found an escape on many of their crusts. The results did not look like the picture on the Pillsbury website. Just eating the little ball out of the oven was not too impressive, the basil and tomato really make the bite. Good recipe!

Caprese Pesto Margherita Stackers by Julie Bedwith
1container (8 oz) fresh mozzarella ciliegine cheese (24 cherry-size balls)
1can (11 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated original breadsticks (12 breadsticks)
3tablespoons basil pesto
1tablespoon Crisco® 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil
2tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
24frilled toothpicks
24grape tomatoes
24fresh basil leaves
1.Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Drain cheese balls; pat dry with paper towels.
2.On work surface, unroll dough; separate into 12 breadsticks. Cut each breadstick in half crosswise; press each half into 3x2-inch rectangle.
3.Spread rounded 1/4 teaspoon of the pesto lengthwise down center of each dough rectangle. Place 1 cheese ball on each rectangle. Carefully stretch dough around cheese; pinch edges to seal completely. Place seam sides down in muffin cups. Brush with oil; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
4.Bake 14 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan. With each toothpick, spear tomato and basil leaf; insert into cheese ball. Serve warm.

They are pretty little appetizers. Very impressive looking and taste great too!

This is my cheese problem. But it was also kind of cool looking, just not how they are suppose to look.

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