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….

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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.

cara cara orange salad

cara cara orange salad | The Clever Carrot

For me, winter is a rough season.

Snow, bitter wind, schlepping toddlers around in puffy winter gear that’s impossible to fit into car seats- no thanks. I’ll take one of those hammocks in a palm tree any day.

But if there’s one thing that excites me about winter, it’s the abundance of seasonal citrus fruit. That would be Meyer lemons, blood oranges and kumquats to name a few. So you can only imagine my excitement when I sampled a pink orange for the first time. Yeah, that’s right, a pink orange.

Hello, Cara Cara…

cara cara oranges | The Clever Carrot

The Cara Cara was surprisingly sweet and delicious. It wasn’t like one of those designer oranges that look all nice on the outside, but is dry and mealy on the inside. You know what I’m talking about, right? (and by the way- what’s up with limes these days? It’s like they don’t come with juice anymore…). Anyways, I bought 2 bags.

I knew exactly what I was going to make.

cara cara orange salad | The Clever Carrotmiso dressing | The Clever Carrotcara cara orange salad | The Clever Carrot

Using some leftover grilled chicken, I made a salad with my new pink oranges and a miso vinaigrette. I love the flavor of orange and miso together. I’m quite obsessed with miso actually. But that’s another post… Oh, and I added some toasted almonds for crunch.

For me, this is the perfect winter salad. Citrus takes me to a place of warmth and sunshine, which is more than welcome in this brutal weather.

cara cara orange salad | The Clever Carrot

 * When preparing the oranges, you have 2 choices; you can either peel them by hand leaving the white pith intact (which is what I did), or you can slice off the outer skin leaving just the flesh. I’ve never been good at the latter, as I seem to masacre the entire orange. The choice is up to you! 

cara cara orange salad
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • ½ c. slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 leftover chicken breasts (preferably grilled)
  • 2 Cara Cara oranges
  • 4 handfuls of mixed greens, washed & spun dry
Miso Vinaigrette
  • 3 tbsp. white miso*
  • ¼ garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. mirin
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup vegetable or mild olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. water
*To make this gluten-free, be sure to look for brown-rice based white miso. Gluten-free brands include Eden Foods & South River Miso.
  1. Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a blender. Process until smooth. If it seems too thick, adjust the consistency with a little water. Set aside.
  2. In a small pan, toast the slivered almonds over medium low heat. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Dice the chicken into bite site pieces.
  4. To prepare the oranges, you have 2 choices; peel them by hand leaving the white pith intact (which is what I did), or you can slice off the outer skin leaving just the flesh. Then, slice the oranges into rounds.
  5. To serve, portion the salad onto plates. Top with grilled chicken, orange slices and toasted almonds.
  6. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the salad and serve extra on the side.
* Dress this salad right before serving (not in advance), so that it does not wilt.