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    Looking for Some Great Holiday Recipes?

    We’re in the midst of the holiday season, and that means that many of you are planning not only Christmas dinners but work holiday parties and New Year’s parties.  We love this time of year, and it’s truly amazing time to experience great food.  Here are some great holiday appetizer recipes to keep in mind from NPR & Southern Living:

    Dates with Bacon

    “A traditional northern Spanish pintxo, this recipe is adapted from the restaurant Boqueria in New York City, soon to open in Washington, D.C. (171 Spring St., New York, NY; 1837 M St., Washington, D.C.). The dish consists of dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeon (a strong Spanish blue cheese), wrapped in bacon. The flavor is surprising, reminiscent of a burnt marshmallow. Serve as the restaurant does, three on a skewer, or individually, one per toothpick.”

    • Makes 16 servings
    • 16 Medjool dates, pits removed
    • 8 teaspoons of Valdeon cheese, or other strong blue cheese
    • 16 Marcona almonds
    • 16 strips of streaky bacon or raw ham such as Serrano, each approximately 5 inches long
    • Canola oil for frying

    Remove date pits by slicing into one side, so that the date resembles a clamshell. Take out the pit. Place 1/2 teaspoon cheese and one Marcona almond inside the date. Wrap the date with one slice of bacon and skewer the date with a toothpick. Once all dates are prepared, add ample oil for frying to a pan. The amount will vary depending on the size of the pan; the oil should be about 1 inch deep. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. If you do not have thermometer, stick a wooden spoon into the oil. If bubbles form around the spoon, the oil is ready for frying. Carefully drop the dates in and fry for about 2 minutes, or until bacon browns. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel to drain. Let cool and serve.

    Mushroom Puffs


    • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened*
    • 1 (8-oz.) can mushroom pieces and stems, drained and chopped
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
    • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
    • Parchment paper
    • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper


    1. 1. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Stir in mushrooms and next 4 ingredients. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours.
    2. 2. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together egg and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Roll 1 puff pastry sheet into a 16- x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut pastry in half lengthwise. Spread 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture down center of each rectangle; brush edges with egg mixture. Fold each pastry half lengthwise over filling, and pinch edges to seal. Cut pastries into 10 pieces each, and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining puff pastry sheet, egg mixture, and cream cheese mixture.
    3. 3. Brush remaining egg mixture over tops of pastry pieces; sprinkle with pepper.
    4. 4. Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned. Serve immediately.
    5. *2 (5.2-oz.) packages buttery garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese may be substituted.
    6. Note: To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed through Step 3. Freeze pieces on baking sheet until firm (about 1 hour), and transfer to zip-top plastic freezer bags. Freeze up to 1 month. To bake, place frozen puffs on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, and proceed as directed in Step 4.

    *Ashley McMakin, Birmingham, Alabama, Ashley Mac’s, Birmingham, Alabama,Southern Living

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