10.21.2017

Quick and Easy Appetizer: Dates Stuffed with Manchego Cheese

I had no idea I loved dates so much until I attended an event at Whisk gourmet cooking store in Cary's Waverly Place.



Whisk is a locally-owned store that makes foodies squeal with delight. Not only does it have items that every home chef needs, but it also offers cooking courses.  The courses offered are quite extensive.

#OutaboutNC Local Find: Cute Kitchen Store in Cary, North Carolina with cooking lessons and demostrations.


While Whisk chefs prepared a meal for us that showcased the art of entertaining, I kept popping dates stuffed with manchego cheese in my mouth as if it was candy corn.  Yeah, they were that good. Manchego Cheese is from the La Mancha Region of Spain. It's made from the Manchega breed of Sheep.  It's a semi-soft cheese with a mild, nutty, fruity, sweet and tangy flavor. For me, that just translates into delicious.  Medjool dates are soft dates that also known to have health benefits.  You normally find them in the produce section of your grocery store, and they are very easy to find in fall and the winter months.

I loved the recipe so much that I wanted to share it with you as well.  It's a little sticky, but so worth it.

Enjoy!

Dates Stuffed with Manchego and Topped with Pistachios and Honey


Dates stuffed with Manchego Cheese and Topped with Pistachios and Honey.


Ingredients:
1 pound of Medjool Dates (approximately 30 dates)
6 ounces of Manchego cheese, cut into  1" X  1/2" strips
3-4 ounces of pistachios, salted and roasted
Drizzle of honey

Instructions:

Toast pistachios for 10-15 minutes in the oven at 325 degrees. Pull them out when they smell "toasty".

Use a paring knife, and make a slit down the center of one date.

Tuck a cheese strip inside the date, and repeat the same process for all 30 dates. Increase temp to 350 degrees.

Place in a baking dish and warm in 350-degree oven.

Remove from oven after cheese melts. Approximately 10 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then drizzle with honey and pistachios.

Easy and Quick Appetizer that is perfect for fall with Dates and Manchego Cheesetopped with Pistachios and Honey. #Entertaining #Appetizers #ManchegoCheese

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#OutaboutNC Local Find
Whisk 
Waverly Place Shopping Center
316 Colonades Way - Suite 214
Cary, NC 27518

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disclosure: press event with affiliate links.

10.16.2017

Join me for the Walk for UNC Children's Hospital at North Hills in Raleigh on November 4

As parents, we are blessed when our children are healthy. As parents, it's also good to know that we have UNC Children's Hospital in North Carolina if we ever need it. We are fortunate that this top-notch hospital is there for us. I feel even more fortunate that I have not had to call on them in a time of need with a sick child.

But, this hospital in Chapel Hill, N.C.  is there for us, whenever we need it. It does not care about our gender, race, or socio-economic status. It only cares about helping our children in need. I toured this facility this summer. I heard its' stories and saw what this hospital does daily for children. It is an amazing place. I am grateful to have this institution in my home state. 

UNC Children's Hospital is there for us. So,  let's join together as a community and be there for them. I plan to join them on November 4 in Raleigh for the Inaugural Walk for Children's UNC Health Care. The walk will be at North Hills. I would love for you to join me, be a virtual walker, or make a contribution in honor of someone, perhaps your own well children or grandchildren. Here is the link to sign-up, or donate.

Walk for Children's Hospital





Thank you for supporting this wonderful hospital.


10.15.2017

Create an Elegant, but Easy Cheese and Meat Board in Minutes

My neighbor loves Halloween so the other day, she wanted to coordinate a progressive fall-inspired dinner party for our street. I volunteered to host appetizers. My entertaining goal was to keep it simple and look to Italy and Spain for inspiration on an elegant, but easy cheese and meat board that could be put together in minutes. 

Three years ago this month, I was on a press trip to a winery in the Marche region of Italy. The event set-up was simple, elegant and perfect for tapas before a meal. I decided to do something similar with my own spin for this neighborhood get-together. 

Italian appetizer spread at Marche Winery


Liza loves Disney's Descendants movies.  Last year, she knew she wanted to be the character, Mal, for Halloween. In my house, the song, "Ways to Be Wicked" is played constantly.  I decided to have a little fun with a "Ways to be Wicked" song. The lyrics say, 
                                  

"Apple, apple dip, dip
Wanna try it?

Tick, tick
Take a bite, c'mon, be bold
Change the way the story's told"


Descendants. Apples. Villians. Evil Queen. It all fell into place.


Evil Queen Costume with apples as the star of the party.


I used fresh apples for my centerpiece decorations, and the fall fruit is in season right now. An apple, from tart to sweet, goes wonderfully with an Italian-inspired meat and cheese board.

Put together meat and cheese boards within minutes



I ordered my apples from my Papa Spud's produce box delivery. They were in abundance and cost-effective. I purchased everything else from Trader Joe's in less than an hour. 

Here's what I bought at Trader Joe's for my "Ways to Be Wicked" Inspired Party
Sparkling Apple Cider (non-alcoholic)
Draft Apple Cider
White wine
Bread Sticks
Several types of crackers
Goat Cheese with Herbs
A Spanish Cheese sampler with Manchego, Iberico, and Cabra Al Vino
Sliced Aged Cheddar Cheese
Two varieties of pears (One sweet and one normal pear)
Several cartons of the store's seasonal Greek Yogurt called, "Trader Joe's Apple-Caramel Whole Milk Greek Yogurt." 
Dried Apricots
Organic Trek Mix with Cashews, Almonds and dried Cranberries
Italian Hard Salami 
Two appetizer snack packs with Genoa salami cut like apple shapes and provolone slices 
Red Grapes

I have two cheeseboards that are simple and look like cutting boards. I also used three small glass dishes to hold olives, nuts in trek mix, and dried apricots. 

Add sweet and salty to your cheese boards


I placed the four kinds of cheese on the cheese first. I used the goat cheese on another platter separately with crackers, pears, and apples. For my hard cheese platter, I placed my nut bowl and my dried apricot bowl on the board. I put a few sliced apples on the tray, crackers, and red grapes for garnish. Presto. The cheese board was filled in no-time. 

On a round cheese board, I placed olives in a bowl in the middle. I then surrounded the olives with crackers, cheese, genoa salami, and hard salami slices. 

For my third platter, I took the olive oil appetizer breadsticks and wrapped Prosciutto around each one. I used apples and grapes for garnish. 

Italian prosciutto wrapped around breadsticks can be put together within minutes for party


I was amazed at how quickly I was able to create these elegant, but easy cheese and meat trays for this party in minutes. I think the total time may have been 15 minutes for all the three trays. 

I used the Apple-Caramel Grek yogurt dip with and apple slices. 

I really thought this was a no-fuss party idea and I will do it again. It did not take a lot of work, but yet, it looked like it did.  The hit of the night was the yogurt dip and the soft goat cheese. It all worked well because I had meat-eaters and vegetarians in attendance. 

Another neighbor served lasagna after my get-together and my other neighbor served a homemade limoncello cake. It was a great night.



Quick and Easy Meat and Cheese appetizer trays that can be put together within minutes. #Appetizers #Easy #Cheese #Antipasti

Pin for a future Halloween Party Idea 

Ways to be Wicked Inspired Halloween Party with apples as the star. Evil Queen is the host. #Halloween #apples #Easy #Appetizers

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