First, a note of extreme thanks to everyone who participated in Cook Taste Eat & Whole Food’s Everyday 365 Coconut Milk recipe challenge. The Pig & Quill’s Chiles en Nogada didn’t quite make the cut, but it was an honor to be included with such talented foodies in the voting round. I know many of you committed special time to spreading the word via Facebook and email, and it was greatly appreciated. Perhaps most entertaining: Chris is actually a bit disappointed by not having to eat raw tomato. The volumes spoken by that sentence…
Sunday funday. Hope yours has been a blast. Ours has been incredibly satisfying. And by satisfying I mean productive. And by productive I mean laundry-filled. Yes, a day filled with laundry, closet-cleaning (nine bags to Goodwill!) and a meatloaf supper is truly all it takes. I know, too easy. It’s a wonder I find anything at all to complain about (and yet I manage…).
A couple of weeks ago FoodGal blogger Carolyn Jung hosted a giveaway, which she does on a rather awesomely frequent basis, and it had a bit of a nutty theme. Like, really, it was an almond giveaway, sponsored by the Almond Board of California. Like the lot of you, I read a whole buncha food blogs, many of which offer giveaways, and I really dig Carolyn’s style. For every giveaway, she generates a relevant, and often punny (!) or witty (!), comment prompt and then selects a winner based on her evaluation of the “best answer.” Of course, I’m only 100% biased in liking this method because, in the instance of the California Almond giveaway, I won.
Kind of a lot of almonds, actually, tucked into a cool almond-hued tote. Raw almonds, sliced almonds, almond flour, chocolate almonds, cinnamon almonds, seasoned almonds, almond butter.
And perhaps my favorite: these little tins that hold exactly one recommended serving (1 oz) of almonds. They’re all patterned and almondy and purse-sized and perfect.
I knuffing love almonds, don’t you?
And I love them even more when wrapped in sticky-sweet dates and topped with boozy bacon enrobed in spicy glaze. It’s a little bit life changing, I promise you. I can’t think of a better way to put my winnings to work.
Oh, and speaking of winnings, I suppose it’s only fair to post the prompt and comment that brought these lovely buggers into This Little Piggy’s House Made of…Stucco. It’s spectacularly embarrassing. Enjoy.
Carolyn’s giveaway prompt: Tell me something nutty that you’ve done that you kick yourself for now.
This experience is so nutty I’m a little conflicted publicizing it on the web. But with almonds on the table (or, as my grandmother would say, “ahhhmands”), I’m putting it all out there.
Several years ago my husband, Chris, and I were living in the midwest. We were fortunate enough to experience our first White Christmas, which I found absolutely charming, but it meant we had to deal with the many burdens of snow and snow removal.
Just after the holiday, I was cleaning the sofa in the family room when I found a holiday Nerd (yes, the candy) under a couch cushion. These red, white and green Nerds have been a staple in my husband’s stocking for as long as I can remember. Looking at Chris, I declared, “LOOK! A NERD!” as I threateningly moved the candy closer to my mouth. Chris, apparently no stranger to my eating things out of the couch, just looked at me. “Don’t do it,” he warned dully, without much conviction.
I did it.
About two seconds later, my mouth was on fire and a numbing sensation was beginning to spread across my tongue. “OHHHHMYYYGAAAABBB!” I gurgled. “ISSSSNAAAAHAHHNERRRRD.”
Turns out it wasn’t, in fact, a Nerd. It was a chemical pellet used to de-ice the walk that had made its way into the house. SO STUPID.
Clearly, I lived through the experience to tell it today, but the lesson was fast learned: when eating holiday Nerds from the couch, only go for the red or green ones.
Talk about nutty.
Roasted Stuffed Almonds with Bourbon Bacon Jam
By Emily Stoffel
Cook time: 30 | Serves 6 as an app
- 18 good quality Medjool dates
- 36 almonds
- 3 ounces (about 3 thick pieces) bacon, roughly chopped
- generous pinch red chili flakes (plus more for serving, optional)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 3 T brown sugar
- 1/4 cup bourbon
Preheat oven to 450F. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit into each date and remove pit. Stuff each fruit with two almonds and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until dates are browned in places and any exposed portion of almond is lightly toasted.
Meanwhile, place chopped bacon in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, about 10-15 times. Place bacon in a small saucepan and set over a medium flame until bacon is cooked and just beginning to crisp. Add thyme, chile flakes and sugar and stir to combine. Cook until mixture darkens slightly and sugar begins to bubble, several minutes. Add bourbon (always be careful to add alcohol off the flame), reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half and is thick and syrupy. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly. (“Jam” will thicken as it cools.)
Top roasted dates with wam bacon jam and an additional sprinkling of chile flakes, if desired.