Stuffed Dates - Easy Appetizer or Dessert

Stuffed Dates - Easy Appetizer or Dessert

I'm not generally given to superlatives, but dates are pretty much a perfect base for bite-sized appetizers or desserts. A great dish for a Labor Day (or any other) pot luck or party, stuffed dates are delicious as well as pretty, don't require implements to eat, and work as well on a cool evening as on a hot summer afternoon.

Dates are the original survival food. They are what dessert peoples lived on when nothing else would grow in the arid land they inhabited. In fact, the syrup made from dates cooked in water is believed to be one of the seven original fruits and grains of Israel named in Deuteronomy, "A land of wheat, and barley, and vines; of fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey." (That last reference is typically palm date honey.)

While dates are a great ingredient in many dishes, they do well on their own too - stuffed with a filling to contrast with the chewy sweetness of the date fruit itself. The two most common types of dates I’ve seen on the East Coast of the U.S are the Deglet Noor and the Medjool varieties. The Medjool date is the better choice for stuffing as it is typically sweeter, moister, and larger than the Deglet Noor.

Sweet and Savory Fillings for Stuffed Dates

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Endive and Goat Cheese Appetizers

Endive and Goat Cheese Appetizers

Simple is good. Simple and elegant is even better. You can whip up this appetizer in minutes and there's no cooking or much mess to clean up. Can't beat that!

And when it comes to holiday parties, it's nice to break out of the mold. Endive and goat cheese appetizers are a welcome change from Labor Day party staples, like chips and dip or stuff on toothpicks and skewers. Plus, if you're going to the party, it's easy to transport the elements and set up the finished appetizers once you get to your destination. 

Endive is a remarkable little vegetable. Delicious grilled and great in salads, it also works remarkably well as an appetizer "boat," into which you can spread or dollop all sorts of spreads and creamy salads. This particular version of an endive "appetizer boat" is super easy, with a mild sweet-and-savory flavor that comes from mixing honey and apples with savory goat cheese and coarse salt. 

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Coconut Ice Cream Snowballs #IceCreamWeek

Coconut Ice Cream Snowballs #IceCreamWeek

Remember Good Humor toasted coconut ice cream bars? I adored them.

I am pretty sure that the actual taste of a Good Humor, as opposed to my memory of it, would not measure up to the expectations of my now grown-up palate. So I decided to create an improved version of that coconutty flavor inside and toasted coconut on the outside for Day 6, the final day of #IceCreamWeek.

Beginning with a not-too-sweet custard base that lets the coconut flavor shine through (the same one as for the ginger ice cream), I strained out the coconut to keep the ice cream silky smooth. Adding toasted coconut at the end gives the ice cream a crunchy exterior that will set those Good Humor bells ringing if you close your eyes when you taste it. I got fancy and rolled the ice cream scoops in the toasted coconut. Of course, it will taste as good if you simply sprinkle the toasted coconut on top.

Before we get to the recipe, just a quick reminder - the #IceCreamWeek giveaway is still on (with many thanks to our wonderful sponsors) and all of my blogging pals have got other great recipes and ways to use ice cream, so be sure to check those details at the end of this post.

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