This past week my friend Esther gave me huge bag of beautiful Red Peppers from her family ranch here in the Coachella Valley – Rancho Leamus. I knew immediately that I wanted to make some of this dip. All you need are the peppers ,a small handful of fresh ingredients and a food processor then you are home free. You can dip Veggies, Sliced baguette toasts or Pita Chips into it and enjoy.
Everyone has warm childhood memories and stories of their hometown and where they grew up. Well as many know I’m a born and raised Southern California gal who’s roots where planted in the Coachella Valley. A place that see’s the sunshine practically 360 days of the year. It is also the the “Date Capital” of the world.
When I was little I thought Dates where , well, just plain “gross”. But my mama every so often would take me to Sheilds Date Garden to have a date shake and sit up at the counter of the soda fountain (which is still there today).
The History of Sheilds Date Garden
Floyd and Bess Shields came to the California desert in 1924 and started Shields Date Garden, working long and hard to build up their business and educate their customers about date culture. In the beginning, Mr. Shields would give his lecture in the garden. As the popularity of his lecture grew, Mr. Shields incorporated a slide show, then recorded his presentation in conjunction with the slide show so that the show could be run several times a day. Today, the 15-minute film Romance and Sex Life of the Date shows continuously during store hours, where you can still hear Mr. Shields talking about his favorite subject: the Date.
As I grew up I slowly began to appreciate “The Date” and all the many varieties that it could be prepared. Here is one of my favorite appetizers that has been tested , tried and enjoyed and served at party after party for many years now. It’s a blend of Sweet and Savory……….. So make a “Date” with this recipe and give it a try, I promise you will fall in sweet love……….
My sweet niece Kara, just loves these………We had fun making them together………..
1 pound sliced Smoked Applewood Bacon, cut in half
1 pound pitted Medjool Dates
4 ounces blue cheese
1 Jalapeño (Discard the seeds and cut into slim strips)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Slice dates in half, and open them up. Stuff with pieces of blue cheese, insert a strip of the Jalapeño and place them into the center of the dates. Close the halves of the dates, and wrap a half-slice of bacon around the outside. Secure each one with a toothpick.
Arrange in a baking dish or on a baking sheet with sides to catch any grease (Or you can even bake them in a Cast Iron Skillet.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bacon is crisp. Turn dates over after the first 20 minutes for even cooking.
“Dates are stuffed with blue cheese and Jalapeño Strips, wrapped in bacon and baked until crisp. These are delicious and very easy to make for a party. You can serve them at room temperature, so it is okay to make a few hours in advance!
A couple of years ago I took a trip to Sedona, Arizona with my dear childhood friend Norma. She too has always enjoyed food and exploring the next great “Bite”. When where asked several time during our time in Sedona “Have you eaten at Elote”? Elote- translation “Corn”. Finally we Yelped Elote to read what all the hype was about, and it was 5 stars here and another 5 stars, and the final review I read was from a man from NYC he said and I quote ” If I had a private jet of my own I would fly to Sedona so that I could eat at Elote Every Week”. That sealed the deal we knew we had to check this place out.
Elote was everything and more that a True Mexican Restuarant could be. Norma and I where beside ourselves with all the dishes we tried. You see we are both Mexican Gals and we “Know good Mexican Food”, but this was Mexican Food on a whole different level.
The Chef and ower of Elote is Jeff Smedstad makes everything at and I mean “Everything” from scratch. All the way down to the homemade manteca. This Hot corn dip “Elote” was the very first dish we tasted and “Wow” did it leave a lasting impression. Think of this dip as a new hot dip to add to your repertoire of appetizers to serve at parties during these cozy winter months. It’s “Cozy” food at it’s best!