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Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Thyme Turnovers

Makes 24.

Note: Earthy thyme-infused sautéed mushrooms are mixed with creamy goat cheese and stuffed inside store-bought puff pastry for an easy but elegant appetizer. From Meredith Deeds.

• 3 tbsp. olive oil

• 16 oz. cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

• 1/2 c. finely chopped shallots

• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 2 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 c. dry white wine

• 1/3 c. heavy cream

• 4 oz. soft goat cheese

• 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

• 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

• 1 egg

• 1 (17.25-oz.) pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallots and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring, until the shallots are tender, and mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in thyme, salt and pepper. Add the wine, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in cream and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes, until the liquid is slightly thickened. Transfer to a bowl and stir in goat cheese, Parmesan and parsley. Chill, covered, for 1 hour. It will thicken as it cools.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Working with half of the puff pastry at a time, keeping the other half chilled, unfold pastry sheet onto floured surface and lightly roll into a 12- by- 12-inch square. Cut into 12 (3- by 4-inch) rectangles. Place a mounded tablespoon of mushroom filling in the center of each square. Brush the edges with the egg wash. Fold pastry over filling to form a rectangle. Pinch edges firmly together with a fork to seal.

Place on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining puff pastry and filling.

Brush the tops of each turnover with the egg wash and make a small slit in the top of each one with a sharp knife.

Bake 12 to 16 minutes, or until golden brown, switching the pan positions halfway through to ensure even baking. Serve hot or at room temperature.

To make ahead: Freeze the turnovers completely on a baking sheet. When frozen, place them in a freezer bag and keep frozen for up to 1 month. The turnovers can be baked right from the freezer. Just add a few minutes to the baking time.

Nutrition information per each turnover:

Calories 170 Fat 12 g Sodium 150 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 4 g Total sugars 1 g

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 starch, 2 fat.

Ricotta Pesto Meatball Crostini

Makes 36.

Note: Ricotta infuses these meatballs with loads of moisture, letting the pesto take center stage on the flavor front. The meatballs, bathed in an easy homemade tomato sauce, make a hearty appetizer, but are just as good served over a plate of pasta. From Meredith Deeds.

Crostini:

• 36 slices French baguette (1/2-in. thick)

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Sauce:

• 1 (28 oz.) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, undrained

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 1 tsp. sugar

• 3/4 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/4 tsp. dried oregano

Meatballs:

• 1 lb. ground beef (85 percent lean)

• 1/2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese

• 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs

• 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

• 1⁄3 c. prepared pesto

• 1 egg, lightly beaten

• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 3/4 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

• 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

To make the crostini: Adjust an oven rack to 6 inches from the broiler and turn the broiler on to high. Place bread on a baking sheet and brush both sides with oil. Broil until the bread is browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip, sprinkle about a teaspoon of Parmesan over each piece and broil about 1 to 2 minutes more, until the edges are brown and the cheese is bubbly. Transfer crostini to a cooling rack and set aside.

To make the sauce: In a blender, purée the tomatoes with their juices. In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant, but not browned. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly thickened.

To make the meatballs: Meanwhile, set oven to 400 degrees and spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the beef, ricotta, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, pesto, egg, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and gently mix together. Form into 19 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs. Transfer onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through.

Just before serving, cut each meatball in half and place cut side down on top of the crostini (cheese side up). Spoon some of the sauce over the top of the meatball. (Use only enough sauce to coat the meatball. Too much sauce will make the bread soggy and difficult to pick up.) Sprinkle the top with more Parmesan cheese.

To make ahead: The meatballs can be made and frozen, uncooked, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen solid, the meatballs can be transferred to a freezer bag and kept in the freezer for up to 1 month. To use, place frozen meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake as directed in the recipe, adding 3 to 5 minutes to the cooking time. The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat.

Nutrition information per each crostini:

Calories 99 Fat 6 g Sodium 250 mg

Carbohydrates 7 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 1 g

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 16 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ carb, ½ medium-fat protein, ½ fat.

Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus

Makes about 5 cups.

Note: Enjoy this slightly sweet, intensely flavorful version of the classic chickpea and tahini dip with pita chips or alongside a crudité tray. Tahini, a sesame paste used frequently in Middle Eastern cuisine, can often be found in the condiment aisle of the grocery store by the specialty olives. Pomegranate seeds are sometimes sold separate from the fruit itself. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-in. cubes

• 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling

• 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 3/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

• 1/4 tsp. cayenne

• 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

• 1/2 c. tahini (see Note)

• 2 cloves garlic, chopped

• 3 tbsp. lemon juice

• 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro, optional

• 2 tbsp. pomegranate seeds (also called arils), optional (see Note)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the squash, oil, cinnamon, salt, cumin, coriander and cayenne. Toss to coat and place in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until tender and lightly browned. Let stand until cool.

Place roasted squash in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice. Process to a smooth paste. Season with more salt and/or lemon juice, if necessary. Spoon into a serving bowl or platter. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cilantro and pomegranate seeds, if desired. Serve with pita chips or cut-up fresh vegetables.

To make-ahead: This hummus can be made up to two days ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons:

Calories 40 Fat 3 g Sodium 65 mg

Carbohydrates 5 g Saturated fat 0 g Total sugars 1 g

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ fat.