Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese (U.K.)

Hi Readers!! I was going to post this awhile ago, but I’ve been sick all weekend. Ugh. Being sick around the holidays is the worst, right? I’ve had lots of things to do so I’ve been heavily reliant on DayQuil to get me through it all. I finally took yesterday to just sit and do nothing and try for some recovery time! 

During football season, my husband and I have friends over to watch the games. We are all involved in a Fantasy Football league and it’s a lot of fun. This past weekend, we had a little spur of the moment dinner party for some of our friends who watch football with us. I made a slow-cooker ham, which I’ll share later, but for our appetizer, I made these little gems. Before I get into it, I will give you a fair warning: THESE ARE ADDICTIVE!!

Ok, you’ve been warned. 

For my appetizer, I made bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. It’s OK. I’ll give you a minute to savor those words.

This is an appetizer that originated in 19th Century U.K. and if often known as Devils on Horseback. The dates (or sometimes prunes) are often stuffed with almonds, but can be filled with other things like cheese or mango chutney. The dates are then wrapped in bacon and baked until the bacon is nice and crispy. Devils on Horseback are commonly found at Christmastime, but after trying them, I think I will find any excuse I can think of to make them.

This is a fairly simple appetizer to make and the result is a perfectly sweet/salty/creamy/crispy bite.

Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

15 slices of bacon, cut in half crosswise (don’t use thick cut bacon for this) For the kind I bought, it was the full pound.

30 pitted dates

8 oz log of goat cheese

You should be able to buy your dates pitted, if not, you will have to cut a slit down the side and remove the pit yourself. This recipe assumes you have the pre-pitted dates.

Take your date and find the hole in top/slit down the side where the pit was removed. Carefully open the date.

 

Fill the date with goat cheese. I tried a make-shift pastry bag with a ziplock bag, but that didn’t really work. I also tried using a spoon, but that ended up being more messy than I wanted to deal with. Ultimately, I just used my fingers. The goat cheese is pretty crumbly anyway so it worked perfectly.

Put the date back together and wrap it in half a piece of bacon.

 

Place seam-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. You could also stick a toothpick in it to hold it together, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler for another 3-5 minutes, until the bacon is nice and crispy.

Serve hot.

 

I made 30 of these beauties for 5 people and they were gone in a heartbeat!

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Goat Cheese Cranberry Cracker spread

A few years ago (which in my time-warped mind could be last year or 5 years ago), my friend Alison had a dinner party at her apartment. At this dinner party, she served this dip. Well, it’s pretty thick, so I guess it’s more of a spread. Anyway, I loved it. Then she told me there was goat cheese in it. Ugh, gross.
Sometimes I’m like a child in that they will like what you serve them if you don’t tell them what’s in it. I didn’t like goat cheese. Or at least I thought I didn’t. This time, I didn’t stop eating the dip even with the goat cheese. It was so yummy!
Over the past few years since I had this dip/spread, I’ve figured this out: It’s actually Feta cheese that I don’t like, which is made from sheep’s milk or a combo of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. So, regular goat cheese = OK; feta cheese = disgusting & vile. (I also can’t stand blue cheese, for the record)
Now that that’s situated, let’s get back to the dip.
This stuff is so good and it’s perfect for the Fall. The cinnamon and dried cranberries are essential Fall flavors, which could be why I love it so much. I’m a bit obsessed with Fall/Winter (even though I’m in Southern California and it’s October and supposed to be 95 today).  I’ve only ever served this with Wheat Thins, but it would probably make a good sandwich or wrap spread with turkey! Especially yummy leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!
I’ve only made this for parties because I know if I just had it lying around the house, I’d eat the entire batch myself, parked in front of the TV.
I’m sure there is a hard and fast recipe out there for this somewhere. I just make it from memory and eyeball it. If you find the perfect amounts of each ingredient for you, write it down, so you know how much you like.
8oz cream cheese, softened (I use the tub of whipped cream cheese because it makes mixing really easy)
4 oz goat cheese
cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice if you are out of cinnamon and keep forgetting to grab some at the grocery store)
dried cranberries, roughly chopped

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and goat cheese until well combined. Add cinnamon to taste. You don’t need much, probably about 1/4 teaspoon. You can always add more if you want. Stir well. Add the cranberries, again, just eyeball it. I think I used about a handful.
I’ll bet some chopped walnuts would be good in this as well.
Serve with Wheat Thins because that’s the best.
Perfect for a Fall dinner party. Or a Thursday night watching Scandal.

Mango Guacamole 

Oooh guacamole! My favorite way to eat an avocado.

I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life and it has recently occurred to me that I have taken my year-round access to avocados for granted. I have a friend who lives in the Midwest and she told me that her grocery store sometimes has frozen avocados for sale. Oh that makes my heart hurt. FROZEN AVOCADOS??? The tragedy.

Here, there are still seasons where avocados are better than other seasons, but they are always available. And there are beyond hundreds of things you can do with them! You can even make chocolate cake with them. I wouldn’t recommend it though. I made chocolate cake with avocados once and it was disgusting.

With guacamole, I figure as long as you have the avocados, some salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and lime juice, you are set. Anything else is just added yummyness.

For this recipe, this one time, though, I broke my cardinal rule and bought one of those premixed seasoning packets. I know, I know. Please don’t judge me. I know they are full of sodium and non-clumping agents and whatnot, but they have everything you need and they are a total time saver. Forgive me? OK, thanks!

I feel like I made up for the premixed seasoning by adding some mango. It was a whim and it totally paid off. So yummy! The sweet of the mango was the perfect balance for the spices in the guacamole.

2 large avocados
1 guacamole seasoning packet (or pinches of salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne if you want it a bit spicy. Everyone likes theirs a bit different so play around with the spices!)
the juice of 1 lime
1 mango

Mash the avocados really well. We like really smooth guacamole in this house. If you like it a bit chunkier, leave some pieces of avocado whole.

Add the seasoning packet or your combo of spices and the lime juice. Mix well.
Peel and dice the mango. Mix it into your guacamole.


You can eat this right away or better yet, let it sit for a little while so the flavors can develop a bit more. I made mine the night before I needed it and it was delicious. You will probably have to stir it because the avocados will brown on the top, but that’s not a big deal.
How do you like your guacamole?