Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she’s dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

2014 is drawing to a close and I am getting increasingly excited to celebrate the new year in a new state with a new baby. I get sentimental from time to time and mourn the crack in my favorite coffee mug or the baby onesies that start fitting too snug, but mostly I like to look forward and dream about the future. There are so many coffee mugs yet to be collected. So many baby rolls yet to be grown.

While some would call me annoyingly idealistic about the future, I do like to pause and reflect on the past year with all of the mistakes and lessons learned. (Believe me. I always have plenty.) I think it is sign of growth when you can gather around a table, own your own story, and humbly ask those closest to you what went right and what went wrong. New Years is like an empty platter, ready to be filled with fresh smells and new promises. I like that.

We typically celebrate casually with friends or neighbors and never stay up until midnight. With four children always in tow, I try to keep things simple with crowd-pleasing appetizers that can be put together quickly and inexpensively. These canapés look fancy but are SO easy to assemble. I usually roast my red peppers in the morning so they’re all ready to go, and then just assemble with the baguettes later in the day when my guests have arrived and I’m ready to serve. These are a wonderful trick to have up your sleeve when you need the perfect dish to bring to any type of gathering.

Makes: 24 canapés

2 small baguettes, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red peppers, sliced
8 ounces of blue cheese, crumbled
salt + pepper
fresh parsley, optional

Preheat oven to 375°. On a baking sheet, spread out parchment paper and arrange red pepper slices. Sprinkle the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast in preheated oven on top rack for about 45 minutes or till slices are beginning to blacken. Set slices aside.
When you are ready to assemble the canapés and serve, arrange the baguette slices on a cookie sheet and pile the roasted peppers and blue cheese on each piece. Put them in the oven under the low broiler for 2-3 minutes just until the blue cheese melts. You can sprinkle with parsley and fresh black pepper, but half the time I forget to do that and they are still amazing. Serve hot from the oven and enjoy!


December 31, 2014


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