ham + cheese puff pastry

ham + cheese puff pastry | The Clever Carrot

Meet my nemesis; appetizers.

Ask me to bring something to a party and I panic.

Finger food? Dip? Bruschetta? What the heck do I make?! For some reason, my mind goes completely blank.

To remedy this, I started experimenting with this ham and cheese pastry by Ina Garten. It’s just like making a sandwich, but a classy one filled with black forest ham and Gruyère. It’s baked until puffed and golden, and then cut into squares (brilliant, if you ask me). Served warm, these scrumptious bites need nothing more than a cold cocktail in hand.

It is my go-to dish for the holiday season….

Read More »

turkey cranberry quesadillas with ham + brie

turkey cranberry quesadillas with ham + brie | The Clever Carrot

Two years ago, we hosted Thanksgiving and the unthinkable happened…

We had no leftovers.

It was like a panic attack and a bad dream all in one! I remember opening up the fridge, and all I could see was a ridiculous amount of cranberry sauce (I make way too much) and maybe a spoon’s worth of mashed potatoes (who saved that again?!) But then I saw it- a turkey carcass hiding under a tent of foil and some leftover chunks of brie from the cheese plate.

A quesadilla was in order.

turkey cranberry quesadillas with ham + brie | The Clever Carrot

My husband is the king of quesadillas by the way. I discovered this hidden talent when we worked together in the restaurant. They were so darn good. They always had the perfect amount of filling, and the tortillas were always golden and crisp. According to him, you need to have ‘glue’ on both sides and the crust needs to be browned in oil. I happen to make mine in a non-stick skillet without oil (it’s a clean up thing) but I like them both ways.

I’ve made these quesadillas a couple years in a row now, and I’m always pleased with how you can stretch out the leftovers. And if you like ham, don’t skimp out-  it adds a nice salty flavor to the otherwise ‘subtle’ tasting turkey. And brie? I don’t even have to sell you on that. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

turkey cranberry quesadillas with ham + brie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1
  • 2 tortillas
  • 1 heaped tbsp. cranberry sauce
  • 2 slices of ham
  • ⅓ c. shredded turkey
  • 1 tsp. roughly chopped parsley
  • 5 thin slices of brie
  • 1 tsp. olive oil (optional)
  • salt & pepper
  • parsley sprigs for garnish
  1. Warm a large non-stick skillet or flat griddle pan over low heat. Add olive oil if desired.
  2. Using the back of a spoon, spread the cranberry sauce in a thin layer over one of the tortillas.
  3. In this order, layer the ham slices, turkey, and parsley over the cranberry sauce. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Add the brie.
  5. Top with the remaining tortilla.
  6. Place the quesadilla into the skillet, and cook until golden and the cheese has started to melt.
  7. Carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook the other side.
  8. Transfer to a cutting board and let it rest for about 1 minute.
  9. Cut into wedges to serve.

3 layer hummus

3 layer hummus | The Clever Carrot

My cousin Claire turned me onto this.

She buys an amazing 3 layer hummus from Trader Joe’s and I’ve been eating it non-stop. The trio includes traditional, roasted red pepper, and jalapeño-cilantro.

Unfortunately, it only comes in a small tub and I needed a vat of this stuff to bring to a party. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $15 on puréed beans, so I just made it.

3 layer hummus | The Clever Carrot

Simply take a batch of traditional hummus and divide it into thirds. Purée 1/3 with the peppers, 1/3 with the jalapeño & cilantro, and leave the rest plain. Dollop each layer into a pretty bowl (preferably clear) and you’re all set. It’s a little messy, but it tastes really good!

Alternatively, you could always use 3 of your favorite store-bought varieties. It’s more expensive this way, but sometimes you can’t put a price tag on convenience! Serve chilled or at room temperature with blue corn chips.

*This 3 layer hummus is similar but not identical to Trader Joe’s. It has less garlic and the texture is more rustic. Feel free to make it your own!

3 layer hummus
Serves: 10-12
For the hummus
  • 2x 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. water
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 1 small roasted red pepper (about ¼ c. chopped)
  • 1 small jalapeno, ribs & seeds removed
  • 1 c. cilantro leaves
  • cilantro sprigs
  • chickpeas
  1. In a blender, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water. Process until smooth.
  2. Set aside 2 tbsp. of chickpeas (for garnish) and add the rest to the blender. Slowly stream in the olive oil to emulsify. If it seems too thick, add additional water or oil to loosen it up.
  3. Taste the hummus and add extra lemon juice and salt if necessary.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, divide the hummus equally into 3 bowls.
  5. To make the 1st layer, puree one bowl of hummus with the roasted red peppers. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry the blender.
  6. For the 2nd layer, puree another bowl of hummus with ½ of the jalapeno and cilantro leaves. Give it a taste. Add the rest of the jalapeno if you like it spicy.
  7. Dollop the jalapeno-cilantro layer into the bottom of a serving bowl. Spread it out using the back of the spoon. To prevent the layers from mixing together, dollop along the edges and work your way in towards the center of the bowl.
  8. Repeat with the remaining layers.
  9. Garnish with extra cilantro sprigs and chickpeas.
  10. Serve chilled or at room temperature with blue corn chips.
To make this 1 day in advance, refrigerate all 3 layers in individual containers. Assemble the dip on the day that you are going to serve.