Blue Cheese Stuffed Medjool Dates

I am obsessed with dates; medjool dates in particular.  I feel like they have such a bad reputation though because they look so similar to prunes, sorry prunes.  They're wrinkly and not a bright fun color.  The taste though is anything but!  They are the perfect sweetness it's unbelievable!  The texture combination with the sweetness is perfect.  

The health benefits are tremendous too; they actually have more potassium than a banana and more antioxidants than blueberries!  They are so rich in dietary fibers and help sustain energy and stabilize blood sugar.  They're truly a superfood in more ways then one.  

There are a ton, over a hundred, of different types of dates in the Middle East but in the US there are only about 5; Medjool and Deglet dates being the most popular.   Medjool date is considered the "King of Dates" as it was reserved for the King and his family because of its large size, its chewy firm texture, sweetness and extremely labor intensive cultivation process.  In 1927 a disease struck the Medjool date palm in Morocco and threatened their existence but an American by the name of Walter Swingle brought back 9 offshoots to California.  Interestingly enough the medjool dates of today are the descendants of the surviving moroccan palms!   Another fun fact is the medjool date is the oldest cultivated fruit, dating back to 6,000 B.C in ancient cultures in the Middle East!  It is because of this that the date is so entrenched in middle eastern cuisine especially dessert.  And now, thankfully, the American mainstream has caught on to the secret exotic King of Dates and I can find dates in all natural grocery stores, vegan restaurants and all sorts of trendy LA restaurants.     

So this is all great, the health benefits, the taste, the history but I actually also consume a lot of dates especially when I have people over because of pure laziness haha.   It's soooo simple and yummy!  This is a super simple way and super delicious way to serve dates; stuff with blue cheese (or goat cheese, or cream cheese) and a sliver of crunchy red apple.  The color of the apple is a nice contrast to the white cheese and brown date and also adds a nice variety of texture.   Let's be honest, a wrinkly brown date doesn't stand a chance in appearance next to a bright beautiful bright red strawberry or a bright orange peach and we all know that people eat with their eyes first, or is that just me?? hmm insert pondering emoticon here.  So adding the bright red apple is a key touch for flavor and visual. 

When serving dates ALWAYS remove the pit and make sure it is clean on the inside because unfortunately sometimes they can be bad dates undetectable from the outside.  You want to NOT eat it if you see a bunch of tiny little dots, and you'll know when you see it.  I was hoping I would find one so I can photograph it for reference but fortunately and unfortunately I didn't have a rotten one.  

Muhammara pull apart wreath

This dish looks so impressive and looks so difficult to make but it's actually super easy!  I did semi cheat though (didn't make my own dough and used already made muhamamra) BUTT the idea is that the technique is what looks impressive and that part is not difficult at all.  You can make your own dough or use store bought, it's up to you.  You can also spread anything you want inside, it doesn't have to be Muhammara obviously.  I've made it with olive oil and zaatar, a variety of cheese, and also pizza sauce and mozzarella.  You can get as creative as you want!

For the Muhammara, you can make some and keep it stored in the fridge to use as a dip, spread on sandwiches or as a sauce.  That's what made this so simple, I had some already made and ready to go.  I posted the recipe for the Muhammara here

Since it only takes 10 minutes in the oven, I assembled it at home and wrapped it.  Once I got to my guests house I popped it in the oven for 10 minutes and it was fresh, warm and yummy!

Zaatar Crusted Shrimp with Lemon Tahini Drizzle

You have no idea the high that I get after my husband gives me the thumbs up after trying something that I "created" in the kitchen!  This was one of those highs.   

So what ha happened was, I met up with a friend, a fellow mom foodie that thinks about food just as much if not more than I do to talk about work, seriously.  We spent about 2 hours talking about the kids and food, just kidding it was pretty much all food and sweet pillar, work, you know.  Zaatar came up in the conversation.  That was that.  

I came home, saw the shrimp I got for a lemon shrimp pasta dish I was planning on making.  Lightbulb.  Zaatar from my subconscious jumped out, the shrimp was right in front of my face, boom bam, next thing I know I'm creating Zaatar crusted shrimp with lemon tahini drizzle.

I thought it tasted great and I love that it was so different.  My mom and grandmother, both the best chefs I've ever known literally make so much food on a daily basis for the family, the kids, and non stop guests it's as if they were running catering businesses.  My mom makes and experiments with food all the time and cooks every cuisine under the sun, but when it comes to Arabic food she is NOT comfortable experimenting.  If I ever consulted with her about making zaatar crusted shrimp she would have freaked out, gave me a look of confusion, and would've just said in arabic "we just don't do that.  we don't eat zaatar and shrimp.  It's just not done."  There is one way to eat zaatar and its taking pita bread, dipping it in a bowl of olive oil then a bowl of zaatar and then sipping tea.  I'll update this post and tell you her reaction once I show her the pictures and tell her what I did.  Insert emoticon of monkey covering his face here.  haha. 


So this is actually pretty easy to make.  The lemon tahini sauce is used for multiple dishes so it's definitely a recipe to hold on to and know how to access later.  Ayla eats this sauce with just pita bread, she loves it so much.  I made the shrimp the same way I would if I was making buffalo shrimp or coconut crusted shrimp and then I just drizzled the zaatar marinade at the end.  The challenge is making the zaatar wet enough to stick on to the shrimp.


  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt


  • whisk all ingredients together
  • As simple as that


  • If it is too pasty, add more water until desired consistency is achieved
  • If you don't taste the lemon burst of flavor, add more
  • I tend to use a lot of garlic, so feel free to add more or less depending on how you like it


  • Egg
  • Flour
  • 8 Raw Shrimp, deveined
  • 1/4 cup Zaatar
  • 2 Tbl Olive oil
  • Frying oil (I used vegetable)


  • Create an assembly line by whisking egg and a little bit of water in one bowl, flour in the second bowl and shrimp in a third.
  • Start by dipping the shrimp in the egg mixture then the flour
  • Refrigerate while creating the zaatar mix and heating the frying oil
  • Once the oil has heated, fry the shrimp for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove and place on a paper towel to remove excess oil
  • Mix zaatar and olive oil 
  • Drizzle on shrimp
  • Done and Done!