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.


  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!

  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!

  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

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

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

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

  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!

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

  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.

    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

  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!

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

  9. My favorite holiday appetizer this time of year is Sugared Pecans. Thanks!

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

  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

  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.

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

  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.

  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

  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

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