Pumpkin Devils on Horseback

Devilishly Good: Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

Pumpkin Devils on Horseback

One of my all-time, go-to apps is blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto, or as date eaters in the know call them, Devils on Horseback. They’re really simple to prepare and cook in a matter of minutes, plus their sticky-sweet-chewy-saltiness makes them sooo addictive.

I recently attended a fall potluck party and decided to autumn-ize my favorite devils by subbing the normal blue cheese filling with pumpkin goat cheese. They were just as delicious as the original version, with a festive seasonal twist. Your friends will rave about them, and only you will have to know the spooooky secret of these fall treats: they’re stupid easy to make.

Pumpkin Devils on Horseback

20 dates, pitted
1 small (about 4oz) goat cheese log
1/8 cup pumpkin puree
8 (thin!) slices of good prosciutto
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
black pepper & sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Let the goat cheese sit out for awhile so it’s nice and softened, then combine with the pumpkin puree. Add pumpkin pie spice and a couple pinches of S&P.

Stuff the dates with your filling – you want them to be nice and full but not overflowing, because obv the cheese is going to get melty in the oven and you don’t want a huge mess on your hands. I probably used about 1-2 teaspoons in each date?

Wrap each stuffed date in prosciutto. Just tear off a 1″ ribbon from the slice and stick it around the fruit. It doesn’t have to be perfect at all.

Place all your stuffed & wrapped dates on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake in the oven for just about 5-10 minutes. Once the prosciutto has kind of “melted” into the date and you can see the bottom of the dates slightly caramelizing, you’re good to go. Make sure to let these devils cool for about 10 minutes before serving – they get hotter than hell in that oven!

Acorn Squash Fondue

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Who doesn’t like cheese? Where I used to work, we determined that chocolate and cheese are the only foods that could really go with just about anything. Including each other. Go ahead – try to say otherwise. Add in the fall mood of us good-hearted folks, and my fiance and I decided to try out a twist on The Chew’s acorn squash fondue. We’re both trying to watch what we eat, so we tried to modify it to a “light” version. I was skeptical of whether or not you would taste the squash in the fondue, but the flavor is there, adding a slightly sweet and buttery flavor to the creamy cheese.

As we were picking our acorn squash at the farm, we looked up “how to pick an acorn squash.” While things like bananas, tomatoes, and most other produce have specific ways of showing they are ripe and ready, acorn squash isn’t as easy. So here’s the scoop – you need to find an acorn squash that is “heavy for its size.” Then, you want to find one that also has a balance of orange and green color. So there you have it – now you know you’ll have the perfect acorn squash. For our fondue at least, we followed the guidelines and the squash came out well.

The recipe is pretty simple. You’ll need to pick a balance of cheeses that you enjoy. The Chew recommends using Mascarpone cheese in the mix to add texture. I don’t think it was needed, but she did enjoy it so it’s really up to you. We picked a blend of Swiss and Smoked Gouda (since that’s what we had) and it turned out well. Dippers are up to you – we limited our bread intake, but that is the clear front runner. We also had radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, and apples. My favorite dipper was the apples.

Acorn Squash Fondue

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Spaghetti Squash Chicken Carbonara

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Somehow, the Sicilian fiance and I have found ways to replace pasta with grains and vegetables–mainly spaghetti squash. Sometimes the recipes turn out great, other times the become a bit of a sloppy mess. When I tried chicken carbonara with spaghetti squash, it turned out delicious, almost as if you could not taste a difference. They key is to use it in dishes where spaghetti is not the main emphasis of the dish. Here, the spaghetti squash absorbed the flavor of the Carbonara and provided a bit of a crunch to contrast the texture of the chicken and peas.

The key to a good chicken carbonara is the sauce. If the sauce is creamy, full of garlic, and extra cheesy, you really can’t go wrong with the rest of it. OH, and some tasty pancetta mixed together with peas, chicken, and the spaghetti squash. This is also a carbonara recipe that requires no cream, so it is healthy of course. I cooked the spaghetti squash in the oven–roasted is the best way to do it. While it’s roasting, the rest of the mixture is given time to cook and simmer. Then, all you have to do is mix the spaghetti squash in with the combination, let it simmer, and enjoy!

“Faux-ghetti” Chicken Carbonara

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The Power of Salt

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Remember when salt used to come only from those large cylindrical containers, and it was really just an afterthought, casually sprinkled atop your bland meal? I’m not sure what happened, but somewhere along this crazy foodie journey I ended up with six different kinds of salt that currently live on my kitchen counter (not to mention the salt block, for full-on salt cooking), and deciding which salt pairs with which dish is one of the toughest parts of cooking dinner.

I recently received a package of Salt Revolution’s Aztec Sea Salt, and I have to say this is one of my favorite ones yet. Harvested from Mexico’s Cuyutlán Lagoon over a 45-day period each year, it’s sorted by hand in small packages, and combines a beautiful, subtle salty flavor with just the right amount of crunch — it comes in big, flaky pieces, much smoother than a jagged piece of rock salt, so it settles in your mouth in just the right way. Their small-batch approach means that each harvesting season they sell salt until their supply is gone; you can sign up to find out when the new batch is available.

Adapting a dough recipe from one of my go-to cookbooks, The New Spanish Table, I whipped up this coca-dough flatbread, topped with onions, rosemary, pine nuts, pancetta and goat cheese…and of course, some finishing salt sprinkled on top!

Sea Salt Flatbread

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Is This the World’s Spiciest Burger?

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At Star City Kitchen in El Paso, Texas, Chef Sarah Kosravani recently introduced “The Ghost Burger.” It consists of five separate elements, each designed to light your mouth on fire.

1. Bun brushed with cayenne-infused butter

2. Burger patty seasoned with secret-recipe salsa, pepper flakes, and raw, diced habanero

3. Pepperjack cheese laced with he notorious ghost pepper!

4. Roasted habanero and garlic aioli.

5. Battered and fried toreados (jalapenos that have basically mated with onion rings).

Would you try it?

Growing a Serious Sandwich

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With spring weather (finally-maybe-is-it-really) coming to most of the country it’s about time to start talking gardening. Now, to put it nicely my cooking technique focuses on creativity and innovation at the expense of perfection and measurement, and my gardening experience, not surprisingly, has had about as much success as my baking repertoire. Which is to say…not much.

So I was excited to receive a shipment of Gro-ables, a foolproof new way to grow herbs and vegetables in your backyard, garden or kitchen. Gro-ables are ready-to-plant seed pods that come with a built-in environment for your seed. Each pod contains growing materials, plant food and seeds (basil, spinach, cilantro, dill, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes and more). All you need to do is open the seed pod, drop it in some dirt and then water occasionally. Now that’s my kind of gardening.

With sunny weather on hand this week, I was inspired to get going with my Gro-ables — planting some basil, cherry tomatoes and lettuce on my windowsill. That in turn got me hungry for some fresh herbs and veggies, so while I’m waiting for those to grow, I took the basil I already had on hand, whipped up some fresh pesto and put together a new take on an ES favorite sandwich.

BLT Sandwich with Fresh Pesto, Mozzarella and Basil

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