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Planting some herbs of my own

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As soon as the greenhouses started advertising their opening for the season, I made a decision. I will not spend another summer borrowing fresh herbs from other people's gardens. No. I'm done with that.

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I sat down and made a list of all the herbs I want to enjoy fresh-picked this summer. And then I started visiting the greenhouses. Now, normally I wait until June to buy flowers and maybe some parsley. I guess that gives you a good indication of what kind of gardener I am. As every enthusiastic gardener knows, by June there are not many herbs left. Not many flowers, either.

I was beaming with pride as I drove home with my little herb garden in the back seat. In my mind, I was making another list. Herb butters to melt over grilled meats and fish, herb-infused honey to enjoy with goat cheese, pound cake, sugar cookies, pestos - recipes that celebrate the fresh flavor of herbs snipped from a patch of ground right outside my door - they all made the list.

While I'm waiting for the ground to warm up, my herbs are spending their nights in the garage and their days in the early spring sunshine. With any luck, my thumb could turn green and my herbs will flourish. I'm hoping.

I couldn't wait to try some cilantro from the tiny plastic pots. One snip led to another, and before I knew it, only short green stems were left in the plastic tray. Oh, will they grow now when I transplant them to their new home outside?

Well, the cilantro layered on a tortilla with other tasty ingredients was an experiment. I've eaten other tortilla roll-ups that were bursting with taco seasoned cream cheese and cheddar cheese and a few other ingredients, and they were always quite good. The nice thing about these roll-ups that become pop-in-your-mouth finger food is that you are only limited by your creativity when you decide what to put in them.

I added a little goat cheese to the cream cheese to give the filling in Confetti Pinwheels a little more character and seasoned the mixture with horseradish-spiked mustard. If you don't care to use goat cheese, just use more cream cheese.

Cilantro leaves give bright, fresh flavor to every bite. The rest of the ingredients I chose to add are all those flavors and textures that I enjoy eating together. I added thinly sliced smoked turkey to some of the roll-ups. I left the olives out of some. The variety of colors of the ingredients in the sliced pinwheels looks like bits of confetti.

Whatever ingredients you decide to include, there are a couple of important keys to success with these snacks. Use plenty of the cream cheese mixture on each tortilla. This is not the time to be skimpy. Then roll them up as tightly as possible. This will assure nice-looking pinwheels that won't separate when they are sliced.

As your own herb garden grows this summer, you can change the flavor of the Confetti Pinwheels by using different fresh herbs.

Confetti Pinwheels are perfect for potlucks, summer picnics and even a graduation open house.

Just give the herbs time to grow before you start snipping.

Confetti Pinwheels

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 (3.5-ounce) package goat cheese

2 tablespoons horseradish mustard

4 to 5 (10- to 12-inch) flour tortillas

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed

1 (2-1/4 ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained

1 (7.25-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced into thin strips

2 avocadoes, peeled, sliced

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, minced

In a food processor or with an electric hand-mixer, combine cream cheese, goat cheese and mustard, blending well. Set aside.

Prepare remaining ingredients.

To assemble pinwheels, lay tortillas flat on work surface. Spread each tortilla with cream cheese mixture, going almost to the edges. Layer remaining ingredients in order listed, dividing evenly among the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas, working to get them as tight as possible. Wrap each roll-up in plastic wrap. Lay the rolls on a large platter or baking pan and place in the refrigerator. Chill for several hours or up to one day in advance.

Just before serving, remove rolls from plastic wrap and slice into pinwheels that are about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. Arrange on a platter for serving.

Tips from the cook

--To add more color to the serving platter, make pinwheels using green spinach tortillas and yellow cheddar jalapeno tortillas. I like to use whole grain tortillas.

--I recently brought a platter of Confetti Pinwheels to a potluck meal. I loosely placed a piece of plastic wrap over the first layer of Pinwheels, then laid a slightly damp paper towel over the second layer of Pinwheels before tightly wrapping the whole platter with Press 'n' Seal for the car trip to the dinner. This method prevents the Pinwheels from drying out.

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