The holiday season has finally begun to wind down, which is a relief as I had been quite the busy chef! As promised, I made an edamame dip to take to all of my holiday parties. I food-salad-dinner-eatingalso brought along bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with pecans. I love bacon-wrapped dates now and, after tasting them this week, so do a lot of my friends and family! Like me, quite a few people had never heard of them let alone eaten them. But as they found out, they are so good it is almost impossible to just have one!

I think my granddaughter was the only person who tried a bacon-wrapped date and didn’t like it. That is if you consider licking the date actually trying it. Her reaction was similar to some of the three and four year olds in the Healthy Bodies Project who are eating their way through the alphabet.  If you want to be amused just hand some three and four year olds a date and watch their expressions.pexels-photo-1261408

Like my granddaughter, some “tasted”  the date by touching it with their tongue; others took one look at the dates and simply refused to taste them.   2018 was not the year my granddaughter was going to get hooked on dates, but she did recognize right away that she could easily peel the bacon off of the offending date, and eat only that. Which she did, because she already knew she loved bacon.

I did not even offer her a taste of the edamame dip. That I saved for the adults. This particular recipe called for chili paste which I didn’t have, however I did have some hot chicken paste stashed away.  For the uninitiated, the only ingredients in “hot chicken paste” are various types of peppers—including scorpion peppers. I don’t know if hot chicken is a southern dish but it is definitely a big deal in Nashville. And hot chicken paste is used to make delicious Nashville hot chicken. It is also used to make hot edamame dip! The kind of  dip that is cool and light at first, with just the right edamame and garlic teaser, and then a heat that sneaks up on you and offers a nice little kick. If spice is your thing, I can definitely recommend trying edamame dip made with chili paste or, even better, hot chicken paste.

The week before schools went on holiday break, our food of the week was feta cheese. Feta cheese is a tangy and salty cheese traditionally made from sheep’s milk or a pexels-photo-992822.jpegcombination of sheep and goat milk. I typically have feta cheese in a salad or sometimes in a pasta dish. For Cooking Through the Alphabet I decided to try two new dishes with feta. First and foremost, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with feta (are you even surprised?). I think just about anything stuffed in a date and wrapped in bacon is going to be delicious. And while the bacon and the dates were delicious, they totally overwhelmed the feta in this recipe.

My second new dish was bacon and feta stuffed chicken breast. The chicken was tender and juicy—brushed with olive oil and Italian spices—and the bacon added a lot of flavor. But again, sadly, the feta cheese failed to contribute much flavor at all. I decided to taste the feta cheese right out of the container. It was wonderful; exactly the way I remember it tasting in a salad or sprinkled on a pasta dish. But that is when I noticed that my feta cheese container said 100% cow’s milk. Cow’s milk? Do I even know what “real” feta cheese tastes like? Have I ever had feta cheese made from sheep or goat milk? Would “real” feta cheese have made a difference in either of these recipes? Fortunately I live in a town where I feel certain I will be able to find feta cheese made from sheep’s milk or at least the combination of sheep and goat milk. And, well, I already have dates and bacon…



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