The Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer: Bacon Wrapped Dates

Happy Thursday friends! How is Thanksgiving only two weeks away? It’s almost here and I’m over here planning what I’m cooking for dinner, how to watch the parade online and outfit planning, because priorities y’all! But I recently attended an event where the best small bites were served including theses bacon wrapped, cheesy goodness, dates.

I’m still not sure how in the world I had never had these prior to this event. I’m pretty sure I had been living under a rock. But dates have always scared me. Like I don’t know how they cook, I’ve never blended them up in smoothies and never ate them on their own. But man oh man was I wrong. Delicious! So with discussing the upcoming holidays I was/am determined to make these for Thanksgiving appetizers. Way more fancy than dip guys!

These are so easy to make (minimal ingredients and minimal work) and so yummy. Everyone will love the sweet and savory mixture.




Goat Cheese


Aluminum Foil or Parchment Paper

Set oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the dates open on one side and remove the pit.

Stuff with a small amount of goat cheese. I added garlic salt and parsley to my cheese.

Wrap with bacon.

Secure with toothpick. This helps in flipping the dates to get evenly brown bacon.

Place on lined pan.

Bake for 7-8 minutes. Flip the dates and bake another 7-8 minutes.

These can be served hot, warm or reheated!



Also heads up! I found dates to be a struggle to buy. A local grocer Ingles had 4 dates in a package for $3.00. If making for a large crowd I would considering buying in bulk from somewhere. Because these little guys disappear from the plate fast!

July Favorites 2015

I can’t believe another month has come and gone, it seems like last week I just made my June favorites. But I do love August because Saturday (the first) is my birthday and this coming month I have a lot of exciting things happening.


This month I haven’t been in love with that many new products but my favorites for the month are Too Faced Born This Way foundation (see my review here), Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer and the Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream.

I'm With The Band

Fashion wise I really just can’t get out of graphic tees this month. Probably as casual as you can get has been my go to this month because my life is about to get really really hectic. I’ve also been living in a pair of knock off Birkenstocks I picked up at Target.

Healthy Chicken Caesar Pasta SaladSweet Farm to TableGarlic, Lemon, Parmesan Brussel Sprouts

This month I have been trying a lot of new recipes because I was in a serious food funk of eating the same boring stuff. So I came up with some twists on things I like to eat regular. A different roasted brussel sprouts, a chicken cesar pasta salad, a berry crumble and a childhood favorite have been new in my kitchen this month.


I have recently came across Alex and Sierra who apparently recently won The X Factor, and I am in love. They remind me of a more eclectic sounding Civil Wars and I am in love. I can’t stop listening to their songs.

Another Day Another Hike

Andrew and I enjoy hiking so I will post our hike to Chimney Tops in Gatlinburg TN as my favorite even though it was literally the hike from hell. It was extremely steep and we got rained out at the top, but the adventure does make me pretty happy..

The Perfect Summer Side: Roasted Green Beans

The Perfect Summer Side: Roasted Green BeansThe Perfect Summer Side: Roasted Green BeansThe Perfect Summer Side: Roasted Green BeansThe Perfect Summer Side: Roasted Green Beans

Veggies are in abundance right now! Everything from squash, beans and tomatoes; I’m in heaven! I got some fresh green beans from the North Asheville Tailgate Market. Fresh green beans bring back a lot of memories (I had a green bean fit as a child that to this day I have not lived down) and are delicious. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to cook them so I went to my tried and true of roasting them. And I wasn’t let down. They were delicious and full of flavor. I think these are going to be a staple for Summer side dishes and a cookout side!


  • 2 pounds green beans trimmed
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 chili flakes
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Place pan in oven for about 10 minutes
  3. Mix green beans and all the ingredients together in a bowl
  4. Place beans flat on a sheet
  5. Bake for about 8 minutes or until crisp



Countdown to Christmas

The Viva La Jewels Facebook Sale

Due to school, I have been planning my blog up until the end of the year since August.  Christmas goodies have been in stores prior to Halloween, Biltmore already has all of their Christmas decor up, and I am officially in the holiday spirit. I have taken an idea from YouTube (Vlogmas) and have decided to incorporate something similar into the blog; I plan to have a special holiday themed blog post every day until the end of the year! I have plenty of holiday themed posts lined up for all you that I am extremely excited about it. So if you are interested in some DIY, outfits, special occasions surprises, some recipes and plenty of other fun things! Make sure you are following me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram to see special extra posts. Also make sure you LIKE and FOLLOW me on Facebook because there will be extra posts there including some videos which you will not want to miss out on!

If you enter your e-mail address on the right hand side of the page, you will be notified immediately of new blog posts. I do not send out your information, nor are you spammed with e-mails (only one e-mail is sent when a new post is published).

I hope you guys are just as excited as am about the upcoming weeks!!!.

OOTD + Halloween Links

OOTD + Halloween Links

Meow!!! Happy almost Halloween everyone! It’s the day before Halloween and we should all be getting in the spirit of spooks and treats! I know I am, hopefully there is still candy at the store for my trick or treaters! If you aren’t in the BOO mindset yet, here are some things I have found around the web that can get you in the festive mood!

Are You Afraid of the Dark, every episode can be found here! I loved this show as a kid!

For all of you last minute pumpkin carvers, you can find tons of stencils here!

If you want to make a Halloween themed dinner if you aren’t going out, you can find some spooky dinner ideas here!

Netflix has some great scary movies if you are staying in. I have watched a ton this month and besides the classics some of my favorites are “You’re Next”, “V/H/S”, “American Physco” and a hilarious one “All Cheerleaders Die”. Check out the horror section tomorrow night and there will be plenty listed.

OOTD + Halloween LinksOOTD + Halloween LinksOOTD + Halloween Links


Cook With Crago Part 2

Vegan Nutty Double Chocolate Brownies


Meet your new best friend. If you are even a quarter of the chocolate fan that I am, you will absolutely love these brownies. If you are a die hard chocoholic (me) then you have also met your match; match made in heaven. I have tried (many times) to get the “vegan brownie” just right. I have failed miserably in doing so, and am so glad I can finally say I’ve gotten it pretty close to perfect. These brownies have no butter, eggs, milk, or refined sugar. Check them out and see for yourself how delicious one bite can be!

Cooking With Crago Part 2




2 c. flour

1 c. dark chocolate cocoa powder

2 tbsp. flax

1 tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. fine sea salt

¼ c. Veganese

¼ c. vegetable oil

2/3 c. pure maple syrup

½ c. agave syrup

½ c. almond milk

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

½ c. almonds; coarsely chopped

½ c. dark chocolate chips



First mix your dry ingredients together with a whisk (flour, cocoa, flax, baking powder, sea salt). Set aside.

Cooking With Crago Part 2

Now mix together the wet ingredients (veganese, oil, maple syrup, agave, almond milk, vanilla).

Cooking With Crago Part 2

Combine dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. There will be some bumpy texture to the mixture. Now stir in chopped almonds and chocolate chips.

Cooking With Crago Part 2

Cooking With Crago Part 2

Pour batter in a greased pan. I used a pan that was 9 x 10 ½ inches but any square or rectangle pan would work. Just adjust timing accordingly. I baked my pan of brownies for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let them sit to cool before serving. Enjoy! Careful…they may not last long.

Cooking With Crago Part 2

Dive in,




Cooking With Crago Part 2

Hi yall! My blog “Cooking with Crago” is where vegetarian cuisine meets flavor. All of my recipes are inspired by my vegetarian lifestyle and many, many failed trials in the kitchen. It’s a great feeling to finally get a recipe right and I enjoy being able to share these successful meals with all of you. You can find my recipes over at and follow me on Instagram for #instarecipes that are quick, simple, and just as delicious. Have fun in the kitchen!

Until next time,


Cooking With Crago Part 1

Cheesy Layered Tex-Mex Casserole


Gosh I love Mexican food and this dish has everything there is to love all in one pan! Here’s another kicker, it’s all vegan. Now don’t be too disappointed because this dish doesn’t just have “cheesy” in the title for no reason. Nestled within the layers of black beans, spicy quinoa, and sautéed peppers is a vegan nacho cheese dip that is to die. I guarantee no-one, I mean no-one, will notice that this nacho cheese contains no dairy! This particular dish makes the perfect dinner option or a great dip with chips for any party or gathering. It is a great option for those who are lactose intolerant as well. It will most definitely leave you feeling satisfied without all of the guilt often left from a Mexican meal. This simple, yet satisfying dish is sure to please any crowd, meat and non-meat eaters alike. Enjoy!

Cooking With Crago Part 1


Here’s the break down…


Ingredients for Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip:

2/3 c. cashews (soaked in water overnight)

1 c. water

4 oz. jar of pimentos; drained

½ c. nutritional yeast

Juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. cumin

Dash of cayenne

Salt to taste

*Salsa to stir in for more texture and spice (optional)



Process all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender. If using a high speed blender just blend until smooth. If using a food processer, once the mixture is mixed and cashews are fine, transfer mixture to blender to blend until smooth.

Cooking With Crago Part 1


Pour mixture into a small saucepan and set stove to medium to medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until dip is hot and ready to dip. That’s it!  Now enjoy with chips and try not to eat all of this dip before preparing the casserole. Might be tricky….

Cooking With Crago Part 1


Ingredients for Cheesy Layered Tex- Mex Casserole:

1 red, yellow, and orange pepper; chopped

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

¾ c. cooked quinoa

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. garlic powder

Dash of cayenne

1 14 oz. can of black beans; drained and rinsed

1 small onion; chopped

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 tomato; chopped

¼ cup of finely chopped jalapeno

Salt and pepper to taste

1 c. of vegan cheese (I used Go Veggie Mozzarella shreds)

*salsa (optional topping)



Rinse quinoa and put in stovetop saucepan. I cooked 1 cup and just saved the rest to use at a later time. For 1 cup of quinoa add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 11-12 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove pot from heat and place a paper towel on top of opened pot and then place lid back on top trapping the paper towel in between. The paper towel will absorb any extra moisture. After five minutes fluff quinoa with fork and add spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper). Stir in ¼ cup of the vegan cheese into quinoa. Set mixture aside.

Cooking With Crago Part 1

Next sauté chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in medium saucepan for approximately 5 minutes. Add chopped jalapeno and stir around cooking for a few more minutes. Add beans. Mash beans slightly with spoon. Add chopped tomato and salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything together and remove from heat setting aside.

Cooking With Crago Part 1

Finally chop peppers into small pieces and put in pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook stirring around some, until peppers have some dark edges and are tender.

Cooking With Crago Part 1

Now is time to prepare the layered casserole. Spray a square glass dish with cooking spray. First spread the black bean mixture on the bottom of the dish pressing the mixture so it is compact. Add quinoa mixture on top of bean mixture and press again so it’s compact. Next pour nacho cheese dip on top. Top off with peppers, salsa, and a sprinkling of vegan cheese.

Cooking With Crago Part 1

Bake casserole at 350 degrees covered in foil for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-7 minutes until top layer is getting crispy and bubbling. Serve up with tortilla chips and a fork. The best part about this dish is it tastes just as delicious the next day re-heated. So dive in and enjoy the best Mexican food has to offer with a vegan twist.

Cooking With Crago Part 1

Dig in!




Cooking With Crago Part 2

Hi yall! My blog “Cooking with Crago” is where vegetarian cuisine meets flavor. All of my recipes are inspired by my vegetarian lifestyle and many, many failed trials in the kitchen. It’s a great feeling to finally get a recipe right and I enjoy being able to share these successful meals with all of you. You can find my recipes over at and follow me on Instagram for #instarecipes that are quick, simple, and just as delicious. Have fun in the kitchen!

Until next time,


Cooking Healthy with Stephanie

As some of you know, I have had some health issues recently and now the doctor has me on a crazy strict diet. So I have been giving it my best effort ( I only broke it this past weekend; 5 Points Burger and Bojangles) but it is easier than I thought. Things I am making are full of flavor and seem much more fresh than the crap I was eating. Here are two recipes that I really enjoyed and hope you guys like them.

Cooking Healthy with StephanieCooking Healthy with StephanieCooking Healthy with StephanieHealthy Lasagna

  • Vegetables
  • Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Organic Tomato Sauce
  • Spices
  • Skim Mozzarella Cheese

Sauteed vegetables (I used onions, garlic, squash, mushrooms and carrots) in some Pam to get softened while boiling noodles. While cooking mix 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese with 4 tablespoons of greek yogurt for cheese mixture. When vegetables are soft  mix in spices of choice and 2 cups of organic tomato sauce. Begin to layer your lasagna and bake until cheese is melted on top at 350 degrees. I only used to layers of noodles to keep calorie intake lower. Andrew even approved of this meal!

Cooking Healthy with StephanieCooking Healthy with Stephanie


Green Smoothie

  • Fruit
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Liquid (soy milk, orange juice, milk, almond milk, coconut water)
  • Spinach/Kale mixture

In a blender combine 1 cup fruit (whatever you choose, I used frozen tropical blend), half a banana, 1 cup greens, 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup of liquid. Blend together to a creamy consistency..