It has become our family tradition that on Christmas Eve I make an abundance of appetizer-type party food. In years past we've thrown a birthday party for Jesus complete with balloons and streamers and cake and punch. Since our children have moved away, it has morphed into a film festival of classic holiday films such as It's a Wonderful Life ,The Grinch, and The Nativity Story. I tell you all this to explain that the first time I made these muffins it was part of this past year's Fountain Family Christmas celebration. Since I had not started blogging at that time, I decided to revisit this recipe. Perhaps it was the Christmas advertising starting WAY too soon that put me in a holiday mood!
This recipe starts with focaccia dough that as I've mentioned before is very similar to basic pizza dough except that it seems to use quite a bit more oil (1/3 of a cup as opposed to 2 Tablespoons) and for this recipe I also added a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning. When the dough was ready, I rolled it out and then cut out circles with a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Into the center I spooned about a teaspoon of pesto. I added more on my first attempt and it all oozed out and made a mess, so I learned to be cautious about the amount of pesto. On top of the pesto I placed a small cube of mozzarella cheese, half of a grape tomato, and half of a kalamata olive. The recipe doesn't call for the olives, but Mike and I both agreed they were an excellent addition to this recipe.
I then pulled up the edges of the dough forming a sort of sack and pinched the top shut. Each little focaccia "sack" was then placed into a greased mini-muffin pan. The tops of the muffins were brushed with the pizza oil to give them a bit of heat and then a bit of sea salt was sprinkled on each. After garnishing with a sprig of rosemary, the pan of muffins was baked in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. These muffins received rave reviews from my husband, and I suspect they'll be on our Christmas Eve menu again this year. While we devoured these delicious delicacies, we watched Iron Man, a film that chronicles the adventures of a super hero played by Robert Downey Jr. I think Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in some of his other films is fascinating, and I have to say that his was probably my favorite character in The Avengers. Since I am not familiar with the comic book characters, I enjoyed the focus on this super hero from The Avengers and discovering just what motivated Mr. Stark as he developed into Iron Man.