Chorizo and Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail


Ummmm hi I'm Kristina and iminlovewithchorizo. Andfestivedrinks. And especially when they fantastic food is combined with fantastic drinks. Wins to everyone all around. Confused? Keep reading. (Especially because toady's recipe is with Dani, one of my favorite people ever.)

When I moved to New Mexico, I quickly became enamored, ob.sessed. actually, with chorizo. Chorizo perfectly combines flavors usually found in Mexican food, tangy pork, and sublime spiciness. Chorizo is greasy, definitely, but I have yet to find a meat spiced quite as perfectly tasty as chorizo. 


Chorizo is most commonly found as a counterpart to eggs, like in a breakfast burrito, and less occasionally as a topping on flatbreads and pizza. Chorizo isn't wildly common outside of the Southwest; I think this might be because a lot of people are scared of chorizo, they just don't know how to make it so they stick to the most tried and true ways.

Last year, I created my Sweet n' Spicy Bacon Wrapped Dates, and they continue to be one of my most popular recipes on South of Vanilla. They're so loved, that even I have fallen into the habit of making them frequently. Currently, they're my most favorite breakfast (I know, not even a breakfast food...but there is bacon?), when I even bother to eat breakfast, because I can eat them easily while driving. I even made these dates last year for our family's Thanksgiving where they were agreed upon as "divine".

For this Thanksgiving, not only have I given you another variation of dates, but I’ve paired up with Dani from Care to Pair to give you the perfect Thanksgiving drink pairing for this new favorite recipe. Dani and her husband Andrew created an Andalucia Cocktail, which is entirely uncommon and definitely underutilized. This cocktail is made with walnut liquer and sherry, and pretty much screams “holiday” in a cup. Swoon.

And it totally goes great with this recipe.

Bacon wrapped dates definitely were a trendy food of 2014, but I am taking my date game this year to the next level. I know you see where I am going with this next: chorizo combined with dates. And goat cheese, because ummmm, goat cheese.

These Chorizo and Goat Cheese stuffed dates are so. good. Trust me, they won't last long. You might even want to make a double or triple batch. The honey-balsamic drizzle even makes them food channel worthy, but no one needs to know that it took all of 2 minutes to come together.

I am definitely making them this Thanksgiving (and every other week this year), especially since they make for such a gorgeous presentation, ESPECIALLY since these come along with an unusual and festive drink. Enjoy!

Some cook's notes:

  • Goat cheese isn't paleo, but some people tolerate the type of lactose found in goat milk much better than cow's milk.
  • The parsley in this recipe is mainly for garnish, you can omit if you would like.

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail

Andalucia Cocktail Recipe here

For the dates:

  • 30 dates, pitted lengthwise
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 lb chorizo
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano

For the drizzle:

  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup balsamic
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • Dash of salt
  1. In a medium sized frying pan, brown your chorizo. Set aside and let cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a lipped baking pan with parchment paper.
  3.  In a large bowl, add cooled chorizo, goat cheese, garlic, and oregano. Using a large spoon, mix well until well incorporated. You may want to use your hands.
  4. Fill dates by placing approximately a teaspoon of chorizo goat cheese mixture into each date.
  5. Place filled dates onto baking sheet and bake on middle rack for 25 minutes.
  6. While dates are baking, whisk honey, balsamic, olive oil and salt. Set aside.
  7. Once dates are done baking, assemble on a platter and drizzle with honey-balsamic.
  8. Enjoy immediately and serve with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail.








Starting 2015 with a bang: a better hangover

Guys. I'm a genius. 

Ok, maybe I shouldn't take the credit for this one, because I didn't create this recipe, but can I take the credit for asking someone else to mix alcohol with kombucha? Before I go into the glorious details, let me give you a little background on this drink's creator....

Dani, from Care to Pair, and I met freshman year in high school. Several middle schools in our suburban Chicago school-district funneled into our 2,000+ student high school. The people I had grown up with since 1st grade were diluted within the crowds by strange faces and other kids who had grown up along side me all my life, but of course without my knowledge. It was eerie. 

Dani was in my French class, in my gym class, and was also with me in band, which meant that not only was our nerd status indefinitely cemented, but we were bound to run into each other. By our first week of high-school, we figure out we saw each other several times a day, and by the end of the first month, we were fast friends. 

Dani and I our sophomore year homecoming, circa 2001. Dani is on the far left, and I'm on the right. Pretty sure we opted to hold hands with our dates like that all on our own. Awwwkkkwaaard. 

Dani and I our sophomore year homecoming, circa 2001. Dani is on the far left, and I'm on the right. Pretty sure we opted to hold hands with our dates like that all on our own. Awwwkkkwaaard. 

Now, Dani lives in Vegas, and she pretty much knows everyone and does everything in the beverage industry there, which is quite an accomplishment considering the whole world goes to Vegas to consume... beverages. 

Care to Pair is a blog that goes into details about wine and beer pairings, and had great insight into how flavors of meals can be drawn out by the right drink. Her most recent post, which went over everything Champagne related, was probably one of my favorites. Especially because popping bottles is something we can all get behind. popopopopopop. Ok, I'll stop now. 

Dani continues to be my go-to for anything cocktail, wine, and beer related. Although alcohol is not paleo, by any means, I do indulge in drinks semi-regularly. Life is just too short. Dani is also the one who taught me how to enjoy beer, and she's the one I went with on a VIP tour of Dogfishhead back in February. For this blog, I actually went to Dani with the idea of making a Kombucha cocktail. I have tons of the tea from brewing it myself, and I'm pretty sure everyone, paleo or not, wants a healthy, flavorful mixer for cocktails. 

Dani and I more recently: October 2014 at the Hoover Dam.

Dani and I more recently: October 2014 at the Hoover Dam.

This recipe is posted here, obviously, but also has been posted today over at Dani's own blog, Care to Pair. I'll leave the details of cocktail describing up to her, because I pretty much have no clue what I'm talking about. Serious. I can, however, talk about the kombucha.... because you know, booches are my thang

The kombucha used for this cocktail is a raspberry flavor, but any fruity flavor will do. Strawberry is currently my favorite kombucha flavor of the month, but use whatever you have on hand. If you're buying kombucha, try GT's Trilogy flavor.  (And to catch you up, the steps for making home brewed kombucha can be found here.)

Dani, and her fiance Andrew, hit a home run with this one. This cocktail is fizzy and flavorful, and perfect for a paleoish New Years. Down a few too many of these, and maybe your hangover will be a tad better than ones in years past. Can you guys let me know about that one? K, thanks. ;) (Also, one of my go-tos for ensuring a better hangover, or none at all, when I've had one too many is popping a couple coconut charcoal pills before bed and the next morning. My favorite brand is this one here, but I've also seen them carried at local drug stores. Of course, check with your doctor before taking any of these.)

Happy New Year! I hope your 2015 brings lots of joy, good health, and excellent eats!


Raspberry Kombucha Gin Rickey

  • 2 oz gin (any type)
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Raspberry Kombucha (or any fruity flavor will do)
  • basil sprig (for garnish)
  1. Fill cocktail shaker with Ice. Pour gin, lime juice, and simple syrup into shaker and shake thoroughly.
  2. Strain all ingredients into an ice-filled high-ball glass.
  3. Top off with Kombucha and garnish with a sprig of basil.

Back to Basics

I’m really hot.

And dehydrated. Which really doesn’t help things.

My now former job, which you can read about here, for many reasons, was incredibly stressful and hectic. Some days were so busy that I would leave my apartment at 8am and get home at 7pm, accumulate 5 miles of walking during the day, wouldn’t have time to eat more than a few bites of lunch, and would only be able to sneak sips of water here and there. I would drink a couple glasses of water after work, but be so exhausted that I wouldn’t have much time before going to bed to adequately hydrate myself. I would wake up the next morning, have coffee, not drink enough water, and then continue this cycle day after day. It got so bad that at one point I had to make an ER visit due to dehydration that started to affect my kidneys. Holy kidney beans, batman.


After this, I really had to step back and reflect as to why I wasn’t hydrating enough. Yes, I was crazy busy at work, but I have been insanely busy since my senior year of high school, and I never, ever neglected to drink water.  That’s when I realized that I was simply just bored of drinking water. I was bored of the taste, I was bored of feeling restricted; After all, I cut out all fruit juices, sweet teas, and sodas from my diet. Looking back, I probably should have predicted that this would happen. People who follow a Paleo diet have a lot of things that they can’t consume, but now that the primal movement is gaining more steam, there are many new sunstitutes for grains, refined sugar, and even dairy. But drinks? Nope. Nada. Water, coffee, tea, coconut water, and kombucha is all there pretty much is, my friends. So that’s when I made a conscious effort to flavor my water, and change it up every couple of days.

But then I moved to the desert.

And in the desert I need to up my water intake even more because 15 minutes in the sun now feels like 2 hours in the sun..

So let’s get back to the basics here. We all need water. And now that I’m making a conscious effort to drink even more water, I’ve decided to share some fun flavored water recipes. They are incredibly easy, tasty, and make drinking water much more enjoyable. Plus, they’re gorgeous to look at and make for great accents to the table during meals and entertaining. Here are some of my favorite combinations, but the possibilities are really endless here.


Infused Water, 9 Ways

Each recipes makes approximately 4 liters of flavored water

Citrus mint

  • 2 lemons, sliced into wedges
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • ¼-½ grapefruit, sliced into wedges
  • 1 bunch of mint sprigs  

Basil

  • 1 bunch of basil

Chocolate Mint

  • 1 bunch of chocolate mint

Lemon-lime

  • 2 lemons, sliced into wedges
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges

Orange-Raspberry

  • ¼ cup raspberries, washed
  • ½ orange, sliced into wedges

Berry

  • ½ cup strawberries, washed and sliced with stem removed
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries

Pineapple-Watermelon

  • ¼ cup sliced pineapple
  • ¼ cup sliced watermelon

Lemon-Lavender

  • 1 rind from a lemon
  • 2 sprigs whole lavender

Rosemary Lavender

  • 2 large sprigs whole rosemary
  • ½ rind from a lemon
  • ½ rind from an orange
  1. Take 1 liter of water and add chosen herbs or fruit.
  2. Chill in refirdgerator and let infuse for at least 2 hours.
  3. Serve over ice.
  4. Fruit can be reused up to 4 times (Approximately 4 cumulative liters) before water starts to lose flavor. 







A Home is not a Home Without a Rhino

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t get anything done in the week. By the time I wake up late (every morning), I am stressfully hurrying from one thing to another until perhaps the hour before my bedtime where I force myself to chill the heck out so I can actually fall asleep:

 

The past few weeks have been so hectic for me (half marathons, visitors, traveling) that I have not updated this blog as much as I wanted to. I was just talking to a friend this past week (over Cinco de Mayo margs after we ditched the gym, naturally) about how we feel tricked about real life. Kathy and I met in grad school, when our lives were consumed with taking 10 hours to write an evaluation, spending late nights/early morning in libraries, and spending the 3 weeks surrounding midterms and finals on a coffee IV. Luckily, we survived, and have moved onto spending time together doing more fun things. Like buying these necessary animal busts for our homes:

Horse bust takes on D.C. 

Horse bust takes on D.C. 

Kathy and I assumed that after we graduated, we would have enormous amounts of free time after our day jobs. We could work out everyday! We could go to happy hour whenever we wanted! We could go on all the trips we've been dying to do! Ha. Hahahaha. No.

We feel tricked by life. Lies. Complete lies! Whoever has a rockin’, balanced life outside of a 40 hour a week workday is one talented soul. I am so non-productive outside of work that I rely on my weekends to do things like food prep, recipe creation, apartment cleaning, and just generally having a social life. I am so dependent on my time off on weekends, that when I need to go into work over a weekend, my following week is filled with baby carrots, avocados, and wine for dinner. Because that’s obviously how you stay Paleo when on a time crunch  ;)

Amidst the workweek chaos, I’ve been trying to up my vegetable intake lately. This has been a challenge. A couple weeks ago I almost broke down at lunch when I remembered that I had packed myself a.n.o.t.h.e.r. s.a.l.a.d. Since then, I’ve realized that I need to trick myself into eating my vegetables in less obvious ways than just downing a plate of leaves. (I’m 26 going on 6 sometimes.) Recently, I’ve realized that I can drink my vegetables in smoothie form. (Ummm duh, I am clearly late on this trend.) Smoothies are perfect because I can make a ton at one time, they freeze well, and I can grab one as a literally am running out the door in the morning. Since the weather is starting to change from spring to summer, here is one of my new favorite creations, and you can’t even taste the vegetables:

Paleo Spinach Pina Colada

Serves 2

  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ cup coconut cream or coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cup whole spinach leaves
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple*
  • ¾  cup frozen strawberries*
  • ¼ cup ice cubes

*You can swap out fresh fruit instead of frozen if you have that on hand. Just make sure to increase the ice to ensure that you smoothie is icy and cold.

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender with the ice and fruit at the bottom of the blender.
  2. Pulse until most of the ice and fruit has been broken into small pieces.
  3. Stop blending and stir with a large spoon every few second to ensure that all the spinach leaves incorporate and blend into the drink. Once everything has started to break down a bit more, blend on higher speeds until well blended and frothy.

 


*As you can see, I styled my drink with a lemon wedge, when it absolutely has no lemon in it. Why? Because it looked cute and I used all my strawberries and pineapples before I thought of the necessity of a garnish. I am full of logic, I know.