Roasted Garlic Crostini with a Wicked Mocktail

Garlic is known to repel Vampires, so fend them off this Halloween with this simple crostini appetizer. Roasted garlic, roasted tomatoes, goat cheese and a baguette create a unique richness that's perfect for fall. To pair with this crostini I made a non-alcoholic blood red, wicked good mocktail. Impress your guests at your next party by adding a fun mocktail to your drink repertoire. Shaken not stirred, of course.

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini

1 head garlic
8 ounces goat cheese
1 pound grape tomatoes
Olive oil (approximately 3 ounces)
Sea salt and ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar
French baguette
Fresh thyme sprigs

Slice baguette into 1/4 inch slices. Toast only the tops in the broiler, until lightly golden. Set aside. Once cooled place baguette slices in a gallon size Ziploc, and seal so they don't dry out while you roast the garlic and the tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 375. Slice 1/4 inch off the top of the head of garlic, so that all of the cloves are exposed. Place garlic head in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil, on a rimmed cookie sheet, and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over all of the cloves. Season with salt, cracked pepper and add some sprigs of fresh thyme. Wrap aluminum foil up into a sealed packet and roast garlic in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Open packet and let cool. 

At this point take the goat cheese out of the refrigerator so it can soften and get to room temperature. 

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the grape tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and cracked pepper. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes until the tomatoes are very soft and the skins have burst. Let cool.

Once the roasted garlic has cooled, squeeze it out of its skin into a bowl with the goat cheese and blend until smooth. 

Divide roasted garlic goat cheese among the crostini and top with roasted tomatoes. To serve, drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and cracked pepper.

Wicked Mocktail

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounces cherry juice
2 ounces fresh orange juice
Splash of simple syrup

Muddle the pomegranate seeds in the bottom of a shaker. After muddling, add the pomegranate juice, cherry juice, orange juice, and a splash or two of simple syrup. Add ice and shake. Pour through a strainer into glasses. To complete this wicked mocktail, add a frozen spider ice cube. 

Cheers and happy Halloween! 

Apple and Walnut Breakfast Bread Pudding

Save time this holiday season with this delicious make ahead bread pudding. It's simple to put together, and you just pop it in the oven the next morning. It also makes a wonderful dessert, but in my opinion this bread pudding is best served as an effortless, crowd pleasing brunch.

Apple and Walnut Breakfast Bread Pudding

Serves: 10

2 tablespoons butter for greasing pan
1 loaf french bread
2 apples - peeled, cored and cubed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
6 eggs - lightly beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups milk
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Melt butter and brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Cover the bottom with cubes of french bread. Sprinkle top with apple cubes and walnuts. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, milk, half and half and vanilla, whisk to blend. Pour the mixture over the casserole and press down so all of the bread is covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, bring bread pudding back to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover pan with foil and bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and allow the top to brown for a few minutes. 

Serve with maple syrup and fresh whipped cream.