Paleo Super Bowl Snacks

The Top 10 Faileos of 2015

Since starting food blogging, I have learned a ton, but definitely still have moments of utter failure.

You know how everyone puts all their best shots on Instagram to show how awesome and incredible their lives are? Everyone does it, myself included. However, I also do the same sort of thing here on South of Vanilla: I rarely, if ever show or share recipes that don’t work out because this is a food blog. I want you to want to make the recipes I post. (I want you to want to do the dishes!)

Last year, I shared my Top 10 Faileos of 2014, or paleo recipes that just did not work out. This year, even though I thought I learned a lot, I still had my fair amount of faileos. Keep reading for a good laugh…

Top 10 Faileos of 2015

10. Buffalo Chicken Bleu Cheese Salad

Ugh, this salad. Honestly, it (kind of) tastes good, and I am still hoping that maybe it will work in the future. Also, it photographs horribly. Who wants to eat a bunch of leaves slathered in orange slime? Not me, and I’m pretty sure no one else does either. Also, I tried to “bread” chicken with almond flour and garlic, but it just turned out a pile of chicken with a weird almond garlic paste that would flake off into the dressing and make it chunky- and not in a good way.

The worst part? I still set up a photo shoot because I was so desperate to try to make it work. This photo shoot was oddly at 7am, which explains the weird shadows. Lesson learned.

9. Broiled Asparagus

In spring, nothing is better than fresh asparagus. Sometimes it can be hard to cook asparagus just enough to where its soft but not limp, but I took this one a little too far….

This dish went straight into the garbage.

8. Chemex Coffee

I have long been a fancy coffee fan, and the Chemex makes a great brew, however, I quickly learned that one needs to be careful when taking out the filter. Why? Because all the ground can easily spill straight back into your perfectly made coffee…

And I did this 4 times in 2015….

7. The Sad Cake

While on a road trip to Pittsburgh, we stopped and were so enamored with this sad pumpkin cake we spotted at a grocery bakery.

But we were the real sad ones after eating this conventional cake filled with wheat, gluten, coloring, sugary frosting, and a ridiculous amount of artificial ingredients. We quickly had the re-realization of why we follow a real-food diet. Although not a faileo of my own making, this one serves as a reminder to not be tempted by baked goods with faces, however sad they are.

6. All the leftovers in the fridge green beans

Just two weeks before the end of 2015, we moved…. again. This time, it was to a permanent place (Thank the lord), but we spent a good 2 weeks trying to eat everything in our fridge and freezer to minimize waste and any transport of food.

This concoction LOOKS great, and I even posted it to Instagram excitedly before trying it.

However, I quickly learned that throwing some oil, veggies, bacon, and a mess of herbs into a cast-iron skillet does not necessarily result in something tasty. These green beans were somehow limp on the outside but slightly uncooked on the inside with so many different flavors it was overwhelming.

The worst part? Somehow in the commotion of the move, we transported this to the new place where it sat in the back of the fridge and promptly became our first moldy food of 2016.

5. Raw-Dairy Alfredo Sauce

This sauce. This. This was one of the last recipes of 2015 that I made in trying to prepare some posts for the New Year.

However, during cooking, I had the realization that buying pricey raw dairy was foolish because once cooked, it was no longer raw. Plus, the combination of cream and a whole stick of butter made my lactose-sensitive stomach quiver. Also, it tasted like melted butter, which although delicious, isn’t something anyone wants to sit down a make a meal out of. I even tried adding a bunch or parsley to make it better, but it didn’t work. Lesson learned.

4. Activated Charcoal

Early in 2015, I was with my friend Kathy, when we somehow stumbled upon the topic of activated charcoal. Kathy, who was newly pregnant, was excited about a chemical-free way to whiten teeth, and I (being not pregnant and all) was excited to share how charcoal tablets were my go-to for avoiding a hangover after drinking too much.

We then spent an hour brushing our teeth with charcoal at midnight and posing for terribly unflattering photos that her (extremely nice) husband took of us with black teeth. (PS Thanks Carl!)

These photos never made it to the blog because I soon realized that there were 100 other bloggers that already wrote about the topic more successfully, but I will always have these photos to cherish and look back upon.

3. “Crispy” Broccoli

Charred veggies are wonderful, and I tried to recreate them in the oven instead of a grill. However, I will now forever remember that when broiling, its important to watch closely because….. burning happens fast.

I even tried to still eat these because I hate wasting food, but I just couldn’t choke them down. I don’t know what I was thinking to even try them.

2. Glitter Donuts


This was going to be my New Years recipe, because glitter is synonymous with New Years. However, I somehow burnt the donuts without even realizing until I saw the pictures. 30 minutes after frosting these donuts with a coconut cream type glaze, they all melted into a slimy mess, and the glitter didn’t even look like glitter- it just looked like weird shiny bits.

I didn’t eat any of them because I thought they were gross, but the best fiancé award goes out to CK, who ate every last one in an endearing effort to show how much he supports South of Vanilla and all my weird food endeavors.

1. Exploding Ginger Beer


This was quite possibly the BIGGEST mess I have ever created in my kitchen, and uniquely sounds like something you could buy in Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes. I was trying to make ginger beer, through fermentation, which was going great until the glass bottle I had newly bought exploded all over my kitchen, and because of our open home layout, all over the living room too.

This meant that shards of glass, ginger pieces, and sugar went all over the top of the fridge (where I was storing it), all of the floor, countertops, walls, and carpet of the living room which I had to scrub several times to get clean. Naturally, the week it happened, the southwestern temperatures decided to soar and our air conditioning decided to take a little vacation, which meant that hard yet sticky invisible sugary globs decided to abstractly decorate the walls and floors.  It also took weeks of walking around our house with shoes on because we kept finding tiny glass shards in obscure places. Ugh.

Luckily, no one was hurt because no one was in the room when it happened, but I haven’t attempted homemade ginger beer again for my Moscow mules since. Maybe 2016 will be my year.

Happy New Year!

South of Vanilla's 2015 Foodie Holiday Gift Guide



Hey friends, did you notice that I missed November’s edition of the Daily 5? Yeah…I didn’t either.

Since the end of November usually marks the start of holiday shopping, I was going to post South of Vanilla’s 2015 Foodie Gift Guide (see last year’s here), but then I realized I forgot to hit “publish” after actually writing the post. Blogger fail. At least I am right in time for all of those (like yours truly) procrastinating on holiday shopping!

1.     Chambord Bodum French Press

If you haven’t tried French Pressed coffee (or a Chemex for that matter), you are missing out. Classic, affordable, and deserving of a place at everyone’s brunch table.  (This particular model also comes in a fantastic new copper edition.)

2.     Foodie Dice

Most foodies are eternally struggling with age-old question of what’s for dinner. Help them take the guesswork out of it.

3.     Kate Spade Fine China Place Setting

Is this number one on everyone’s wedding registry?  If not, it’s definitely at the top of everyone’s holiday list.

4.     Robot Tea Diffuser

I caaaaaan’t. And I thought no tea diffuser was more perfect than my tea-rex.

5.     Mast Brother’s Chocolate

I never thought I would recommend spending $9 on a single bar of chocolate, but here I am. Perfect gift for the person who won’t splurge on himself or herself.

Mast Brothers Chocolate

6.    Donut Print

Oh, this print is whimsical and perfect for the donut lover. (Read: everyone.) Shop small by purchasing this print, and take a look at all of Lily & Val’s chalkboard food art.

Lily & Val Donut Print

7.     Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Attachment

Perfect for the baker, perfect for the ice-cream connoisseur. You haven’t lived until you’ve made your own ice cream and custard.

8.     Copper Flatware

Copper is the trend for the 2015 holiday season. Versions are popping up everywhere, and they are so lovely.

9.     Threshold Bar Cart

Imagine all the drinks your favorite person can make….and all the pinterest-worthy ways to style a bar cart. Quite possibly the best mid-century trend to make a strong comeback.

Threshold Bar Cart in Gold 

10. Tequila Mockingbird

A punny literary cocktail cookbook? Can’t wait until the sequel comes out. 


Chorizo and Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail


Ummmm hi I'm Kristina and iminlovewithchorizo. Andfestivedrinks. And especially when they fantastic food is combined with fantastic drinks. Wins to everyone all around. Confused? Keep reading. (Especially because toady's recipe is with Dani, one of my favorite people ever.)

When I moved to New Mexico, I quickly became enamored, ob.sessed. actually, with chorizo. Chorizo perfectly combines flavors usually found in Mexican food, tangy pork, and sublime spiciness. Chorizo is greasy, definitely, but I have yet to find a meat spiced quite as perfectly tasty as chorizo. 


Chorizo is most commonly found as a counterpart to eggs, like in a breakfast burrito, and less occasionally as a topping on flatbreads and pizza. Chorizo isn't wildly common outside of the Southwest; I think this might be because a lot of people are scared of chorizo, they just don't know how to make it so they stick to the most tried and true ways.

Last year, I created my Sweet n' Spicy Bacon Wrapped Dates, and they continue to be one of my most popular recipes on South of Vanilla. They're so loved, that even I have fallen into the habit of making them frequently. Currently, they're my most favorite breakfast (I know, not even a breakfast food...but there is bacon?), when I even bother to eat breakfast, because I can eat them easily while driving. I even made these dates last year for our family's Thanksgiving where they were agreed upon as "divine".

For this Thanksgiving, not only have I given you another variation of dates, but I’ve paired up with Dani from Care to Pair to give you the perfect Thanksgiving drink pairing for this new favorite recipe. Dani and her husband Andrew created an Andalucia Cocktail, which is entirely uncommon and definitely underutilized. This cocktail is made with walnut liquer and sherry, and pretty much screams “holiday” in a cup. Swoon.

And it totally goes great with this recipe.

Bacon wrapped dates definitely were a trendy food of 2014, but I am taking my date game this year to the next level. I know you see where I am going with this next: chorizo combined with dates. And goat cheese, because ummmm, goat cheese.

These Chorizo and Goat Cheese stuffed dates are so. good. Trust me, they won't last long. You might even want to make a double or triple batch. The honey-balsamic drizzle even makes them food channel worthy, but no one needs to know that it took all of 2 minutes to come together.

I am definitely making them this Thanksgiving (and every other week this year), especially since they make for such a gorgeous presentation, ESPECIALLY since these come along with an unusual and festive drink. Enjoy!

Some cook's notes:

  • Goat cheese isn't paleo, but some people tolerate the type of lactose found in goat milk much better than cow's milk.
  • The parsley in this recipe is mainly for garnish, you can omit if you would like.

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail

Andalucia Cocktail Recipe here

For the dates:

  • 30 dates, pitted lengthwise
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 lb chorizo
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano

For the drizzle:

  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup balsamic
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • Dash of salt
  1. In a medium sized frying pan, brown your chorizo. Set aside and let cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a lipped baking pan with parchment paper.
  3.  In a large bowl, add cooled chorizo, goat cheese, garlic, and oregano. Using a large spoon, mix well until well incorporated. You may want to use your hands.
  4. Fill dates by placing approximately a teaspoon of chorizo goat cheese mixture into each date.
  5. Place filled dates onto baking sheet and bake on middle rack for 25 minutes.
  6. While dates are baking, whisk honey, balsamic, olive oil and salt. Set aside.
  7. Once dates are done baking, assemble on a platter and drizzle with honey-balsamic.
  8. Enjoy immediately and serve with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail.