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A Date with Bacon

When I was a vegetarian, I missed one big thing about meat – BACON! My husband used to send me out in the hallway in our apartment building when someone was cooking with bacon just so I could breathe it in. To. Die. For. As I started eating meat again, bacon was definitley an occassional favorite treat but it has never shined for me like it does in this appetizer. Truly one of my favorites and I have a good friend to thank for it. You have not been to a dinner party until you have been invited to my friend Bob’s house. You may have thought you threw a good party – well you didn’t. Not like Bob. So when I was throwing my own little holiday soiree I decided to steal Bob’s recipe (actually I did ask permission) for Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Wrapped in BACON. And as usual it did not disappoint. With the exception of finding good dates, it is a very easy appetizer to make and one that is sure to wow your guests. I have seen this dish done – sometimes with almonds, sometimes with basil leaves, sometimes with added salt. No need – these flavors do not need anything to make it any better. They belong together. Gosh, just writing this I wish I would have stashed some away for myself.

I had to go to a specialty produce store to find nice plump dates, but I also found that if the dates are to small  you can splice them together and add your goat cheese, roll them in your hand a bit and wrap your bacon slice around it and bake! Just don’t forget to remove the pits.

Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon (adapted from Saveur Magazine)

  • 24 large moist dates, such as medjool
  • 12 slices of bacon
  • 2 oz. softened goat cheese

Move oven rack to upper third of oven and preheat oven to 500 °. Pit dates, tearing them open as little as possible. Set dates aside. Halve the 12 slices of bacon crosswise. Put the goat cheese into a pastry bag fitted with a round, plain 1/4″ tip. Pipe goat cheese into each stuffed date. Wrap 1 piece of bacon around width of each date. Put dates on a baking sheet, seam side down, at least 1/2″ apart. Bake until bacon is golden and crisp, 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool briefly before serving.

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The Quick Thinking Cook

I’m not a great cook, but what I lack in skill I make up for in resourcefulness. I don’t have the patience for a souffle, I scoff at recipes with more than six steps and I avoid baking whenever possible, but I can make a little something out of a lot of nothing as my husband can attest to night after night.

Until I met the roast chicken. I’ll be honest. It wasn’t love at first site. I had avoided  him for years – my oven was too small, it was too much of a commitment, I had a headache….I just wasn’t into it. Turns out I didn’t know what I was missing.

First off, roasting the chicken was much easier than I thought it would be – especially after the upside down turkey incident on Thanksgiving. Day one of the chicken was thorougly enjoyed by two hungry tree decorators. But day two left me with a dilemna – what to do with the chicken next? I’m someone who normally does not like leftovers. I like variety. And unlike most people, I despise chicken noodle soup so that was out. But minutes before my husband came home from work I found some inspiration with a can of crescent rolls from Thanksgiving. Chicken Pot Pie! So I sliced some mushrooms, grabbed some frozen peas, and went to work on my pot pie. A little flour and milk, some thyme, salt and pepper and we were cooking. I threw the crescent roll dough on top and in the oven it went. The result was better than I anticipated – my husband told me it was one of his favorite dishes so far. So I will take that as a success. Next up? Chicken salad with toasted walnuts and apples.

Why have I never made a roast chicken before?? See what happens when you give a guy a chance…

A little bubbly

First I have to share a picture of my turkey from Thanksgiving. My father in law helped quite a bit on this – apparently I cooked it upside down!

On Sunday dinner , were were craving something light and healthy after a four-day foodathon. But not wanting to waste the 5 lbs of turkey we still had in the fridge, I decided on a crunchy vegetable salad with sliced turkey. I chose an organic mix of lettuce and herbs (with a nice percentage of dill!), fresh organic carrots, pea sprouts, broccoli and cucumbers. Normally I just throw together my quick red wine vinegar and oil dressing but I decided to introduce some more flavorful vinegar into our salads.  On a side note, I used it as part of a salmon marinade as well and it was just right mixed with a little mustard and dill. The orange muscat champagne vinegar from Trader Joe’s was the perfect choice. Right blend of sweet citrus, roast turkey and crunchy veggies. It’s probably even better in the summer, but a little taste of summer now isn’t such a bad thing either. I might even like it better than this.

Orange Champagne Salad Dressing

Ingredients

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a jar. Shake it well. Serve.

Note: I always make it to taste – if you want less vinegar use less or vice versa. Do what you like!

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