A few years ago, while I was staying at The Bowery Hotel in good old NYC, I stumbled upon a cooking show on TV with the most adorable gal, whipping up some tasty bites. I tracked her down. I befriended her on Twitter, and it was soon after over drinks in Toronto that us two local LA ladies hit it off. I have watched the rising (and well deserved success) of Claire Thomas and her brand “The Kitchy Kitchen” grow over the years since our first martini playdate, and it pleases me to no end to see the world relish in her culinary charm. With the holidays right around zee corner, I turned to Claire to share some easy peasy recipe ideas to woo your guests. Let’s call it love at first bite. Thanks Claire!

 From Claire

Five ingredients, five different apps. It’s a simple concept, and the perfect idea for holiday parties.  Few things makes me happier than standing in front of an impressive spread with the knowledge that it didn’t take a lot of time, assembly, or stress. For these crostini, I have five basic ingredients that you can switch out easily: a roasted vegetable, toasted nut, cured meat, soft cheese, and a leafy green.  Mix in your favorites to this flavor palette for a customizable, inexhaustible supply of party snacks.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. To make the crustinis, preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Lay the baguette slices across a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  3. To make the roasted butternut squash, preheat the oven to 425 F.
  4. Peel and cut 1lb of butternut squash into 1/2″ cubes.
  5. Coat the butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes, until tender and golden brown. To get it extra crispy I like to broil them for a minute at the end.

Smashed Butternut Squash with Chili, Prosciutto & Arugula

  1. In a bowl, combine 1lb roasted butternut squash, a big pinch of chili flake, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and if needed, salt and pepper. With the back of a fork, smash the butternut squash roughly. Don’t overdo it though, it should still have some structure.
  2. Lay a few pieces of arugula on each crostini, then spoon on some of the smashed butternut squash. Top each with a slice of prosciutto and garnish with olive oil.

Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Ricotta & Honey with Walnuts

  1. In a food processor, puree 1 lb roasted butternut squash and one pint of ricotta, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  2. Spoon on top of each crostini. Garnish with a few pieces of walnuts and a drizzle of honey.

Ricotta Walnut Pesto with Prosciutto & Arugula Oil

  1. In a food processor, puree 1 cup roasted walnut halves, 1 pint of ricotta, and 2 garlic cloves together, drizzling in a little olive oil at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon on top of each crostini. Top each with a slice of prosciutto.
  2. To make the arugula oil, combine five large handfuls of arugula with about 3/4 cup olive oil in a blender or food processor. Add a pinch of salt. Blend until very very fine, and strain. Drizzle the arugula oil over the crostini.

Arugula Butternut Squash Salad Crostini

  1. In a bowl, combine 1lb of the roasted butternut squash, a large handful of arugula, 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, a few tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of vinegar, and, if needed, salt and pepper. Toss with your hands or a spoon.
  2. Spoon some of the salad onto the crostini. Top with a touch of balsamic.

Ricotta Crostini with Honey & Black Pepper

  1. Spoon some of the ricotta onto the crostini.
  2. Top with a touch of honey and black pepper. That’s it!
Images via: Claire Thomas, Instagram