Stuffed Dates with Pistachios

Stuffed dates create a big bang for the buck in terms of time investment. They take roughly 10 minutes from start to finish, but taste much more complex. I made these in 2 versions – 1 version used goat cheese and the second version used non-dairy cream cheese to accommodate someone with a dairy sensitivity. Either one works so use whichever you’d like.

Pistachios give a savoriness to the dates to counterbalance their sweetness. Pecans could be substituted, but the saltiness of the pistachios does seem to elevate the final product.

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Skillet Gnocchi with Kale and Beans

When you need a one pot dish that’s ready in less than half an hour, this makes a great candidate. The ingredients are fairly flexible. I’ve made this with both chard and spinach with equally good results. Spinach gives a more mild flavor than the kale and chard is a much sharper green flavor.

You can also use canned tomatoes with other flavors mixed in if that’s what you have you have on hand. If you don’t have gnocchi, cook a box of pasta and stir it in – rotini works quite well.
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Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapenos seem to vary in spiciness from one pepper to the next so adjust the number you use (and whether you keep the seeds) to your own heat preferences.

The addition of liquid smoke and the breadcrumb topping make the flavor and texture more realistic to fried jalapeno poppers. It will seem like a lot of topping when you mix it up, but put it all on – it really helps with the flavor.
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Baked Mozzarella Sticks

These cheese sticks help hit the spot when I’m craving something savory and indulgant. I normally use low-fat cheese sticks which seem to work just as well in this recipe. These aren’t quite the same as fried cheese sticks, but they are pretty close and definitely worth the calorie trade-off. The key is to freeze the string cheese before coating and baking so that it doesn’t melt into a pile of goo.
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