Life is good when the weather is beautiful and you’re boiling crawfish. Flowers are blooming, and the beer is cold. What a life we have here in New Orleans at this time of year!

There is only one problem, and that’s what to do with the leftover crawfish. Now I know a few hungry head-suckers who will polish them all off no matter how many there are, but I’ve also been left with several hundred boiled critters hanging around that I didn’t want to peel.

There is a solution, and that’s inviting those who help peel to come back for seconds – another dish made from the yield. I love making crawfish omelets the next morning when we have out-of-town guests. A little cheese, a few herbs and a handful of crawfish tails make a gourmet dish for breakfast or brunch.

It is Jazz Fest month, and I’ve found some shortcuts to favorite crawfish dishes served out there on the track. For the last few years, bread-making options at the grocery store have amazed me – frozen biscuits as fluffy as your mother’s and refrigerated pie crust as crusty as homemade. They are wonderful time savers to say the least.

For example, crawfish bread is a snap when using frozen bread dough. What usually takes two risings to make can be done simply with this modern wonder. Just roll it out and fill it with crawfish, cheese and some onions and it’s ready to bake. Delicious!

Another yummy treat is crawfish pies, made simply with circles of refrigerated pie crusts stuffed with an easy crawfish mixture and baked. This makes a wonderful appetizer.
My daughter got a great idea from a Food Network show using the potatoes from a crawfish boil to make amazing appetizers. You simply smash the highly seasoned potatoes to flatten them, add Parmesan cheese and bake until crisp, then top with sour cream and chives. Now, that’s creative.

We are always looking for appetizers here in party town, and these three are high on my list.

Easy Crawfish Bread

1 1/2    Tablespoons butter plus 1Tablespoon, melted
1    bunch green onions, chopped
3    cloves garlic, minced
1    pound Louisiana crawfish tails with fat
1 1/2    teaspoon Creole seasoning
Salt and pepper
2    11-ounce refrigerated packaged crusty French loaves
1 1/2    cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2    cups grated pepper jack cheese, divided

Melt 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter in a medium skillet and sauté onions and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add crawfish tails and seasonings, and sauté about 5 minutes more. Set aside.
Keep dough in refrigerator until ready to use. Roll out first dough into a rectangle on a floured surface.

With a floured rolling pin, flatten to about 1/4-inch thick. Place half the crawfish mixture down the center of the dough and sprinkle on half the cheeses. Roll up sides and mash together. Seal the ends with your fingers. Turn the roll onto a greased baking sheet, seam down. Repeat with other dough. Brush both with 1 Tablespoon melted butter and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until brown on top. Or, place under the broiler for the last couple of minutes to brown. Let crawfish bread set for 10 minutes before serving.
Slice into 2-inch pieces to serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Appetizer Crawfish Pies

4    Tablespoons butter, divided
1    bunch (6 to 8) green onions, chopped, white and green parts divided
1    medium bell pepper, chopped
3    large cloves garlic, minced
2    Tablespoons tomato paste
2     Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/3    cups water
1/2    teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1    Tablespoon sugar
1    pound Louisiana crawfish tails with fat
2    Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2-3    store-bought refrigerated pie crusts*

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Sauté white onions and bell pepper until transparent. Add green onion tops and garlic, and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in tomato paste and remove from heat.

Mix cornstarch with water. Stir into mixture along with salt and peppers, sugar and parsley. Add crawfish, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
When ready to bake pies, remove crusts from refrigerator and, using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut into circles. Roll out circles to 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter. You should have about 25 to 30 circles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 heaping Tablespoon of crawfish mixture on one side of each pastry, leaving at least a 1/2-inch edge. Fold over pastry and crimp edges together with a fork. Place on a greased baking sheet and brush tops with remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown, or brown under broiler in the last few minutes.
 Makes about 25 to 30 party-size appetizers.

*Two pie crusts are enough if you roll out and use the scraps from the first cutting. Otherwise, use 3 for better consistency.

Spicy Potato Flats

12    small red potatoes leftover from a crawfish boil
Salt and pepper to taste
1    cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sour cream
Chives or green onion tops

Reheat potatoes in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. With the bottom of a heavy glass, mash them until flattened, about 1/2-inch thick. Place on a greased baking pan sprayed with all-purpose cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spray tops of potatoes. Bake on top rack of a 450-degree oven until slightly browned on top. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan and continue to bake until brown and toasty on top. Or place under the broiler in the last few minutes to make them crispy. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives or green onion tops.

Serves 6.