Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates and #bookgiveaway

By Leslie Budewitz

I'm counting down to the release of GUILTY AS CINNAMON on December 1. Leave a comment below---tell me your favorite holiday appetizer---for a chance to win a signed copy!

One of the secrets of adult life is to choose friends who cook well. Our friend Zhamal is originally from Kazahkstan—she met her American husband, a long-time friend of my husband, when they worked on a Russian fishing ship. She’s a fun friend and a fun cook, and introduced us to these yummy stuffed dates. They’re perfect little flavor bombs, combining salty, sweet, and savory, and crunchy, chewy, and creamy. They’re also a perfect appetizer, and they transport easily—making them a great choice if you’re a guest contributing to the Thanksgiving feast.

We use Medjool dates because they’re large and yummy; other varieties would work, too. Don’t bother paying more for pitted dates— you need to cut them open to stuff them! And Medjool dates are fairly dry—the pits just popped out.

If you don’t have parchment paper, remove the dates immediately after baking—the sugar in the vinegar will caramelize as it cools, and the dates may stick to the tray. Use the thickest balsamic you’ve got. It won’t look like it’s staying on the dates, but it will make a nice coating anyway—and when you turn the dates, they’ll pick up a little more of the vinegar! You can drizzle with a little more vinegar on the serving plate if you’d like—test them and see if your taste buds want another hit.

We followed Zhamal’s lead and used Gorgonzola, but any blue cheese or goat cheese would provide a creamy tang that will make you a popular guest.

Leftovers will keep a couple of days—but I doubt you’ll have any. Especially if you make them for Thanksgiving. Me, I'm looking forward to seeing my blog sisters' menu suggestions---because we're going to Zhamal's house!

Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates

1/2 pound Medjool dates (18-20)
½ cup blue cheese
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


Pit the dates by making a slit along one side and popping out the pit.


Stuff the opening with cheese.


Cut prosciutto into 2 inch-wide ribbons, about 4 inches long. Wrap each stuffed date with prosciutto. Place wrapped dates on the baking sheet. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.


Bake 7-10 minutes, then turn dates and bake for another 7-10 minutes, until the prosciutto is slightly crisp.


Remove from oven and place dates on a serving dish immediately.

Serves 6 as an appetizer—plan on three dates a person.

Leave a comment below by midnight, Wednesday, November 18---tell me your favorite holiday appetizer---for a chance to win a signed copy of GUILTY AS CINNAMON, the second Spice Shop Mystery out December 1. 

Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…

From the cover ...

Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.

Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.

Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…


Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.


78 comments:

  1. This is an easy one. Get a jar of stuffed olives (medium to large) and peel 4 cloves of garlic. Place garlic in jar and replace the top. Shake vigorously to move the garlic around. Place in fridge for at least 24 hours. Drain liquid and throw away the garlic. Place in relish tray or spear with toothpicks. Enjoy!

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    1. Oh, that's fun -- and some holidays, my speed!

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  2. A favorite of mine goes by the name "Bullseyes". Stuffed olives (pimento stuffed or Jalapeno stuffed for more kick) wrapped in a cayenne spiced cheese dough, then baked till lightly browned. Yum!

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  3. Brie Cheese and Raspberry Jam Bites. We decorate our tree on Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve Dinner is Always a Selection of Appetizers.

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

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    1. Those sound great! My childhood Christmas Eve dinner was always appetizers, too -- it's a fun tradition.

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  4. My favorite holiday appetizer is my mom's homemade Spinach Dip in a pumpernickel bread bowl. Delicious and beautifully displayed. EMS591@aol.com

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    1. Hand me some right now, would you? (And a cute choice, given your screen name!)

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  5. We like to make meatballs, in the crock, using BBQ sauce and grape jelly....something we can dip in to and eat during Christmas Day, and New Years' Day......with different cheeses and crackers...simple, warm, and nice,. eggnog on the side!
    the3beersus@yahoo.com

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    1. Foods you can dip in and out of are perfect for holidays!

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  6. My favorite holiday appetizer is Sweet and Spicy mixed nuts (honey, cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne pepper covering walnuts, almonds and pecans). It is very good!
    Thank you for the chance to win.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Yum -- here's my version, for those intrigued by Jen's suggestion: http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2015/02/spiced-glazed-nuts-and-pretzel-mix.html

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  7. I love making appetizers! One year my Christmas dinner was almost all appetizers. One that we always have is super simple. Take blue cheese out of the refrigerator to soften. Take walnut halves. Cut the blue cheese and place it between two halves. Put in the fridge for a bit to harden up the cheese before serving. Plan on 2 or 3 per person.
    Can't wait for December 1st!

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  8. Anything cheesy with seafood served hot in a bread bowl! Great series! ejbs3s@yahoo.com

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  9. My favorite holiday appetizer this time of year is Sugared Pecans. Thanks!
    JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

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  10. I am making these this year. I think I know exactly who will flip for them! Thanks, Leslie!

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  11. We do Thanksgiving BIG in this family. We celebrate 5 birthdays that Thursday. The all time favorite appetizer is sweet and sour meatballs. There is just enough to wet the appetite prior to our HUGE buffet being set up for dinner.

    NoraAdrienne (at) gmail (dot) com

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  12. Those dates sound yummy. We usually just do a relish tray before holiday meals. So its usually oliuves and pickles for me.
    Thank you for the chance.

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  13. I like steamed asparagus wrapped in peppered salami with cream cheese inside. Baked for about 8 minutes!! Heaven!!

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  14. My favorite is spiced nuts, although I'm making pumpkin pie chex mix this year so I might have a new favorite next week.

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  15. I love the old-fashioned sausage balls but also love the very easy cream cheese with pepper jelly poured over it. Thank you for sharing your recipe!
    afarage (at) earthlink . net

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  16. Little smokie links wrapped in crescent rolls, also a good dip is Campbell's crème of shrimp soup, mixed with crème cheese & a can of mini shrimps. Thanks for the chance at this wonderful book. Linda May My email is lindamay4852@yahoo.com

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  17. I like pigs in blankets. Also vegetables cut up with humus.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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    1. I'm picturing little piglets covered with fleece blankies! (I know, I know!)

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  18. These really do sound like a perfect blend of tastes and textures.
    I'm going to have to try them.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  19. I like spiced nuts. I would love to win this book.
    angelbear19662000@yahoo.com

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    1. HEre's my recipe: http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2015/02/spiced-glazed-nuts-and-pretzel-mix.html

      And one from Cleo: http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2014/05/Maple-Cinnamon-Glazed-Almonds-Cleo-Coyle.html

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  20. I enjoy a variety but my favorite has to be artichoke dip. Thanks for the giveaway.
    sallycootie@gmail.com

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    1. For those inspired by Sally's suggestion: http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2015/09/book-club-week-party-perfect-artichoke.html

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  21. Mine is Deviled Eggs, we have it every year. plain and simple! Thanks for the review and recipe this sounds very good.
    Penney

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  22. BBQ little smokies and meatballs.....think it was the toothpicks....lol

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  23. Our favorite family appetizer is a cheese ball with dried beef, worshestershire sauce, and minced onion. I take this to several pitch-ins, by request. Great with Townhouse or Triscuit crackers.
    ddingledy@yahoo.com

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  24. Oh, how did I forget to mention cream cheese!!

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  25. Your appetizer sounds absolutely amazing! My family get-together usually includes a hot, cheesy artichoke dip with crusty sourdough bread & veggies. Thanks for the chance to win! kimdavishb@gmail.com

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  26. Bruschetta with olive oil, tomatoes and basil. Our ultimate favorite. Thanks for this great recipe. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  27. My favorite is one I discovered a few years ago, applesauce kielbasa in the crockpot. It's addicting! I end up standing over the crockpot with a toothpick in hand for way too long. :) I can't wait to read the new book! Thanks for the chance to win.
    awilcox1182@gmail.com

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  28. Everyone's comments sound tasty but I really just like raw veggies and a ranch dip. I'm going to be eating so much I like to start off healthy. Boring, I know. But practical.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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  29. I remember some concoction with cream cheese, cocktail sauce, and little shrimp that I just loved on crackers.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  30. My husband's deviled eggs are my favorite. kec200@aol.com

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  31. I love deviled eggs also but my husband won't eat them so I look forward to finding them on the appetizer table at holiday parties! :) Mfg20A@aol.com

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  32. I love tortilla roll-ups, bacon roll-ups and blue cheese crackers - YUM! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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  33. Hi Leslie! My sister always makes sausage balls, and they're a family favorite but this year my sister-in-law wants to make stuffed dates, so it's so funny that you've posted that recipe!!! Happy Thanksgiving! Nicole
    nicolev.girldetective@gmail.com

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  34. So many fun suggestions -- I can't keep up with them all! Thanks for prompting lots of ideas for holiday appetizers!

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  35. My son's favorite item is deviled eggs or celery w/cream cheese. Can't ask for something simpler to make but yet add to the festivities. robeader53@yahoo.com

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  36. One of my favorites for how easy it is is to just set out a block of cream cheese and cover it with whatever jam, jelly, chutney, etc. I can come up with. Add crackers and it only took 2 minutes to put together.
    harbingerdc(at)gmail(dot)com

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  37. Lil smokies warmed up in a crock pot covered in barbecue sauce. These are my favorite. Love the title of your book because I love cinnamon! Thanks for the chance to win. crossxjo(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  38. My favorite is what we call "poppers" it's a tostito scoop w refried beans in bottom, a layer of pulled pork or whatever is in fridge, sprinkle cheese on top and finish w pickled jalapeño slice. Place in oven at 350 until cheese melts. Just pop email in your mouth and before you know it, you'll have eaten a dozen

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  39. Artichoke hearts and spinach dip are a favorite appetizer. Thanks for the chance to win. doward1952@yahoo.com

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  40. kat8762@aol.com. For the holidays...or just any occasion, I like to prepare my favorite easy appetizer treat. I steam artichokes and separate the leaves trying to get as much meat on them as possible. I then pipe a decorate star of Parmesan mayo on each leaf topped with a baby shrimp and julienned green onion or chive. Sometimes I leave plain, but other times I spice it up with a favorite seasoning...paprika, Italian mix. The last time I made this...it was gone in minutes!

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  41. For the holidays Smoked salmon on toasts are my best. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  42. As a Vegan I'm simple... Fresh fruit tray... Rosemary Biscuits with Tea...
    Veggie pizza:
    Baked Crescent roll crust
    Vegan Cream cheese mixed w/green onions, dill, garlic & Vegan mayo spread on
    Finely chopped: Cukes, Tomatoes, Green Onions
    Sprinkled with dill... Enjoy!!

    Kelly Braun

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  43. Thank you! I forgot my e-mail: Gaelicark@gmail.com

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  44. Congratulations Leslie on your upcoming release of Guilty As Cinnamon! My fave appetizer is any good spinach dip with sourdough bread dippers. It's strange, I do not like cooked spinach but can chow down on the raw spinach in the dip really well. Thank you for the chance to win. Good luck everyone! sxygrndma48@yahoo.com

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  45. I have to admit that homemade Chex mix is my favorite. I put Cheerios and Corn and Rice Chex in it. I buy the really thin pretzels to use in it. Then when you are eating it you can spear the Cheerios with the pretzels. Oh, so yummy! Congrats on the new book! It will be added to my collection.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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  46. I have had a similar appetizer to the one you describe but not with the balsamic vinegar to glaze. Can't wait to try that. My favorite holiday appetizer is shrimp salad and avocado slices topping a small walnut biscuit.
    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

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  47. Walnut stuffed dates. Bobbipad@gmail.com

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  48. I love my appetizers plain and simple. You can win me over with cheese and crackers. I love a good Port Wine Cheese spread. Add a glass or two of a nice sweet Christmas wine, and I will be over-joyed. I just noticed someone mention the smoked salmon. That is great too.

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  49. Yum, Leslie ~ your book sounds as good as the recipe! I can make a meal of just appetizers, and we sometimes do that! Some of my holiday faves are Artichoke Dip with Jalapenos, Mom's Cheese Rounds topped with a pecan half, Spinach Poppers, Stuffed Mushrooms, Baked Brie, Salsa with Shrimp & Avocados, Spicy Glazed Nuts, Dill Dip with raw veggies, well, you get the picture, I'm an appetizer kinda gal. Reading all these posts are making my mouth water! lola777_22(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Mine, too! I admit, we occasionally eat appetizers for dinner, too -- we call it "fun foods night!"

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  50. Love, love appetizers. One of our go-to apps is to take fresh figs, cut in half and wrap each half with proscuitto. Brush with a little olive oil and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.
    sharonquiltsatyahoodotcom

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    1. Fresh figs. Mr. Right would be in heaven. Can you believe I've never eaten one?!!?

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  51. The giveaway is open until midnight Wednesday!

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  52. Congratulations to Doward Wilson, winner of a signed copy of GUILTY AS CINNAMON! He's celebrating by serving artichoke and spinach dip -- yum!

    Thanks to all of you for sharing your appetizer ideas!

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  53. Old school pigs in blankets served with sharp mustard .Family can't get enough,

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    1. You can't go wrong with those little piggies!

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