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.








The meaning behind South of Vanilla and an easy Thanksgiving Recipe You Won't Be able to Resist

Over the years, I’ve gotten several questions of where and how I learned how to cook, and the answers usually tend to surprise people.

First, my mom is a terrible cook. I mean that in the nicest way possible, and she is the first to admit it, which is why I don’t feel quite so bad announcing this statement to the general public. She just really is. She never liked cooking, and she never found joy in it the way so many others do. Now, there are a few dishes that she gets right, mainly the one I am sharing with you today, but for the most part, cooking just isn’t her thing.

What my mom is fantastic at, however, is baking. I learned how to bake from her, and I grew up alongside her on weekends baking everything from chocolate chip cookies to blueberry muffins to marshmallow-topped brownies. We baked so much that baking for me became natural, and by the time I was 10, I didn’t need to measure ingredients. I could eyeball the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon, a half-cup and a quarter cup. I knew when something was done baking, not by the timer, but by the type of smell coming from the oven. My mom used, without fail, more vanilla than what any recipe called for, and we went through bottles of vanilla so rapidly, that we often bought 3 bottles at a time from the grocery store. Vanilla was such an important part of my memories from learning to bake, that it became rooted in the title of the blog: South of Vanilla.

In a stark contrast, my dad was an incredible cook. I learned how to cook both through my paternal grandmother and my dad. My dad grew up with his mom in the kitchen, which is how he learned many of the things he knows today. To this day, my Grandma, who has sadly now passed, and my dad are two of the best cooks I know; the two of them have prepared some of the best meals I have ever had, which says quite a lot considering my extensive traveling and my healthy appetite for frequenting restaurants. My Grandmother grew up in the south, and her cooking reflected that sweet southern charm. She made grits like no one else I knew, and her meals were exquisite works of art that took hours to prepare. She wasn’t afraid of butter, and it was through her that I learned that a properly placed tablespoon of bacon fat could transform a whole dish. During my visits with her in Georgia, I would often watch her cook and try to figure out what the magic was behind her meals. A whole lot of it was love, but she was truly a very talented cook that took great joy and serenity through those hours in the kitchen. I would like to say that I get that same peace through her.  I credit my love and ability to cook to my dad and grandma: their southern style of cooking influenced the first part of my blog title: South of Vanilla.

In wasn’t until college when I realized that all of those hours spent watching my dad and my grandma in the kitchen had somehow, by osmosis perhaps, stuck with me. In high school I habitually burned anything from toast to mac and cheese, but I like to think that I just never really cared that much, as is the story with so many teenagers. There was a moment, while in college at Iowa, where my roommate was sick, so I made her homemade chicken and rice soup with homemade chicken stock. I had saved the carcass and bones from a chicken, and when asked how I did this, how I knew to do this, and which recipe I followed, I realized that my answer of “I don’t know, I just knew”, was atypical; most young adults away from home for the first time know nothing about cooking from scratch.

My mom, however, was able to cook several dishes extraordinarily well. This recipe that I share with you now is a twist on her original recipe: I’ve modified it to make it paleo, and have also added star anise, which I think is a nice seasonal flavor that is widely underutilized. I hope you make this recipe with love, and think of my family while you serve it to yours on this Thanksgiving.


Paleo Lemon-Anise Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce

  • ¾ cup freshly pressed orange juice
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • Zest from 1 large lemon
  • 3-4 star anises
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. In a large pan, combine orange juice, cranberries, honey, lemon zest, and star anise. Turn on high heat until mixture is slightly bubbling, then after 4 minutes while stirring frequently, reduce to low heat and let simmer.
  2. Let mixture simmer for about 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, and watching to ensure that cranberry sauce does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. When most of the thin liquid is no longer visible in the cranberry sauce, when the sauce is thick (after about 30 minutes), add water and stir.
  4. Continue to simmer for about 20 more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool. Sauce will jelly as it cools.
  6. Remove all star anise from sauce before serving.
  7. Serve or store in an airtight container int he fridge. 






Some Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas (and our 2014 Hybrid Thanksgiving Dinner Menu)

Its less than week before Thanksgiving.

LESS than a week. As in 5 days.

Five. Days.

Months ago, I decided that this Thanksgiving was the Thanksgiving I was going to head; I was going to be the master planner this year.

Ha.

Hahahahahahaha.

Not that I don’t have things under control, because I definitely do (Ummmm except I haven’t decided on how to cook the turkey in entirety yet. No. Big. Deal.), but its just a lot to think about and coordinate considering that I am flying to Tampa and have to make several trips to the grocery store (Everyone always has to make several trips to the grocery store to fight over the last can of pumpkin puree, right? Right.), and actually prepare the food. Oh, and I think the last headcount I got was for 11 people.

Now, I know 11 people for a major holiday probably doesn’t sound like a whole lot to most of you guys, but my family is so spread out (California, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and counting…) that over the past 10 years, I think we’ve had an average of maybe 4.5 people for most major holidays. And 4.5 people is not difficult to cook for, because that’s essentially the proportions I cook for regularly. (Christopher pretty much eats as much as 4 people [not kidding]. I don’t know why he is so skinny, but dear lord, life is not fair.)

A challenge I’ve already faced when trying to plan for this Thanksgiving was trying to strike a balance of paleo dishes and nonpaleo dishes. Although I’m an avid fan of the paleo lifestyle, and I am more than happy to share with anyone who asks, I definitely don’t push it on anyone, and I definitely do not want to spring a Paleo Thanksgiving on unsuspecting dinner guests. That would just be cruel. Delicious, but cruel. Singing the praises of a paleo lifestyle are never ending, but perhaps a holiday that celebrates gluttony is neither the time nor the place.

On the upside, I've outlined the menu, and created a grocery shopping excel spreadsheet with coordinated tabs by the area of where the product is found in the grocery store. OCD at its finest, folks. 

I’m sharing my menu with you all as a way to illustrate a way to plan a hybrid paleo and nonpaleo meal. I tried to choose paleo recipes that are not only tasty, but beloved by people who are also nonpaleo. I included links to all the recipes, whether they are from South of Vanilla, or not, so if you’re searching for some dishes serve, make sure to check them out. Some of these posts are also scheduled to be posted in the next week, so stay tuned for those. Enjoy!


2014 Hybrid Thanksgiving Menu

Appetizers: 

  • Sweet n’ Savory Bacon-Wrapped Dates (Paleo)
  • Brie with Pears and Apples (nonpaleo, technically)(annnd…. no recipe for this one. Just have a nice, high quality brie with some sliced apples and pears)
  • Home-baked Rosemary French Bread with Garlic-Chive Butter (nonpaleo)

Salad:

Main:

Sides: 

Dessert: 

 


Cinnamon-Sage Sweet Potatoes

Cinnamon-Sage Sweet Potatoes


Sweet n' Savory Bacon Wrapped Dates

Sweet n' Savory Bacon Wrapped Dates


Cranberry Sauce   

Cranberry Sauce

 


Kale Salad

Kale Salad

Not ready for pumpkin spice to end...

Its cold.

Like, really cold. And yes, I realize I am saying this as a Chicago girl who is now living in a climate where the average temperature in winter is 50 degrees, but its been getting down to 25 degrees overnight and in the early morning here. Which is chilly, but then our heater broke….

…which means that it is probably 40 degrees in the house in the morning. As one of my coworkers would say, “When it pours, it rains”. Or in this case, maybe snow.

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Trying to wake up for early morning Crossfit workouts when it is 40 degrees inside the house is really hard. Really really hard. I’ve started walking around the house with a down comforter wrapped around me, kind of like a red-headed big foot lookalike, while guzzling coffee before the air temperatures make my brew cold. At that point, since I’m all wrapped up in a blanket, drinking coffee, I naturally start reading the news and browsing on Pinterest and going through articles on Flipboard; I’ve realized that those moments in the morning are sometimes the only time during the day where my mind isn’t running a million miles a minute trying to catch up with all the things I have to do. Its blissful, those calm morning moments, even if they are cold.

I will say, however, that this cold weather is really making the holiday season seem more imminent. I realize that the holidays have been imminent for awhile, but now it finally seems appropriate to see Thanksgiving displays and Christmas lights at the stores and on my neighbor’s houses. Its also made me realize that its time to start saying goodbye to fall, even though I realize that these plummeting temperatures around most of the U.S. has made fall seem like forever ago, and that winter started early this year.

To celebrate fall, I vote we try to enjoy pumpkin spice at least a few more times before Thanksgiving comes and goes. After all, I think everyone knows that Black Friday indicates the start of the winter holiday season, and after that, its goodbye pumpkin spice and hello peppermint. (Not that I’m complaining!)  Now, I give you one more pumpkin spice recipe that definitely deserves a little sliver in your pumpkin loving heart, and would make a great addition to the dessert table at Thanksgiving or alongside a nice steaming cup of tea or coffee during these chilly mornings.


Paleo Chocolate Swirled Pumpkin Banana Bread

Makes 8 servings

For the pumpkin bread:

  • 15 oz  pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbsp. primal friendly pumpkin spice
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. grass-fed butter, melted
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/s tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Nonstick coconut oil or olive oil spray

For the Chocolate swirl:

  • 2 tbsp. grassfed butter
  • ½ cup high quality, dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat pumpkin puree, eggs, butter, coconut sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add pumpkin spice and continue to mix.
  2. Add in almond butter slowly, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  3. Add coconut flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Grease a bread pan with nonstick spray, and add batter to the pan.
  5. Make chocolate swirl by combining honey, chocolate, and butter in a small bowl and microwaving in 10 second intervals until chocolate has melted. Stir to ensure that everything is mixed together.
  6. Pour chocolate swirl on top of pumpkin bread batter in bread pan.
  7. With a knife, swirl batter with chocolate swirl.
  8. Place bread in oven on middle rack and bake for about 75 minutes.
  9. Bread is done when fragrant a a toothpick comes clean.


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