Quinoa just got so much better.
And I really loved it before.
But this quinoa? It’s bite size and it is stuffed to the max with ooey gooey brie.
And there are sweet cranberries involved too. I almost added pomegranates, but stopped myself in fear that you guys would think I was addicted or something.
I kind of am though.
And brie, I cannot get enough brie! Blame it on the time of year. I feel like brie is a holiday staple for most people because it has universal appeal. I mean how can you not love brie, it is so creamy and delicious? I basically want to pair it with anything and everything.
But who wouldn’t?
If I am being honest, I hate appetizers and used to never make them.
But I only hate them because I love them so much. What?
Let me explain.
When I was a kid every summer my grandma and I would take a girls trip to Florida. Just her and I in the summertime Florida heat for a whole week. Other than Christmas, this week was probably one of my favorite weeks of the year.
We would shop, do a little lunch, I would sit in the sun (she would nap), then we’d shop some more and then it was time for dinner. Like I said, awesome. Every night before we went to dinner we would sit out on the deck and have appetizers and drinks. Wine for her, sparkling water for me (in a fun margarita glass!) and tons of cheese and crackers. It was good stuff. The only problem was, we would fill up on cheese and crackers and never be even able to make a dent in our fancy restaurant meals.
So, appetizers were something I saved for Florida. Unfortunately, we have not done that since I was thirteen.
Well, I have decided it is time to get back on the appetizer train. You would think that after all these year I would have learned some self-control, but all I learned was to make better appetizers and not to share.
Ok, but really, these are incredible. If you are not a coconut fan don’t freak out, you will still adore these and if you really just cannot even do coconut, swap it out for more panko or… gosh, go crazy and use crushed potato chips. Yum.
These little bites are perfect in every way. They come out of the oven oozing, but you can still pick them up right away and devour. The quinoa works amazingly well and stays pretty sturdy despite being stuffed with brie.
Oh, and the best part is that these are not complicated at all and can be made and assembled ahead of time. Then just throw them in the oven ten minutes before you are ready to serve. I personally love these when they’re hot and gooey with a little bit of the sweet cranberries, but they can also be served at room temp.
But, hear me when I say, warm and gooey is where it is at.
- Place your round of brie in the freezer while you make the cranberries and quinoa mixture.
- Add cranberries, brown sugar, honey, water and half of the orange zest to a medium saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve.
- In the meantime, combine the quinoa, mashed cannellini beans, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well to moisten the ingredients and then mix in the crumbled blue cheese. Mix well again and form into 28-30 equal balls. Place on a plate and put in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
- Remove the brie from the freezer and dice it into 28-30 equal chunks. Some may be bigger than others, but in general aim for the same size. Grab the quinoa balls and, working with one at a time, push one cube of brie into the middle of the ball and form the quinoa into a smooth ball around the brie, making sure all of the brie is covered. Repeat with the remaining balls. The cubes of brie may seem big for the size of you balls, but you want lots of brie! If you find that a few of you brie cubes are just too big, cut them in half.
- Place the remaining 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs, the 3/4 cup shredded coconut and a good pinch of pepper in a shallow bowl. Add the eggs and buttermilk to another shallow bowl. Dip the balls through the egg and then carefully coat them in the coconut. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining balls. Bake for 10-15 minutes, just until the tops of the balls begin to brown. I like to rotate and check the balls after 8 or so minutes of baking. Do not bake longer than 15 minutes or all the brie will ooze out!
*These can be fully assembled ahead of time and baked right before serving. Just rewarm the cranberries on the stove or in the microwave.
*Quinoa Adapted from these burgers.
The deliciousness is overwhelming!