Tag Archives: appetizer

Greek Fish Roe Dip, Taramasalata

It’s time everyone, time for the 2018 Saint Demetrios Greek Festival in Fort Lauderdale.  It’s this weekend February 8th through the 11th.  The sun is shining, there’s a stiff breeze and the huge, white tents are up.  The kitchen’s a veritable hive of activity; our ladies group, Philoptochos, is in charge of the mouth-watering baked goods.  You know….all those little butter cookies calling out to you and no one else, telling you how perfect they are dunked in a hot cup of coffee with steamed milk for breakfast?  Or how about the butter and nut cookies resting on a thick pillow of powdered sugar?  I’m partial to the spice cookie that has been quickly dipped in a honey and orange syrup called melomakarona, redolent with cinnamon and cloves.  Ugh!  It’s a dieter’s nightmare.  But I tell myself it’s once a year and IT’S FOR THE CHURCH.  Thinking of all these ladies, most of them grandmothers and great-grandmothers, mixing and rolling and baking all these sweets from days gone by makes me incredibly happy.  Also sharing the kitchen is a team of chefs who crank out hundreds of trays of the most delectable food ever.  They are known for their enormous, meat falling off the bone lamb shanks.  Having worked on the outside food lines for years, I can tell you folks drive down from the Palm Beaches and up from Miami to savor this lamb.  They often purchase two or three additional lamb dinners to take home.  I don’t blame them.  These shanks aren’t available in grocery stores so you can’t make them at home even if you wanted to.  Again, it’s a once a year treat.  For those who might not care for lamb, thick, fat wedges of moussaka or the Greek version of lasagna, pastitsio, are available, both oozing with warm cheese and creamy bechamel.  But let’s pretend you don’t want a full meal, (who am I trying to kid but I’ll try), all you have to do is step outside for authentic Greek grilled sausage with cheese flamed in brandy, gyro sandwiches stuffed with savory meat, lettuce, tomato and cold Greek yoghurt sauce, hand-held spinach and cheese pies wrapped in phyllo dough so crispy they shatter when you bite into them.  Want more?  There is a whole lamb roasting on a spit outside while being basted with garlic, oregano and olive oil.  Boom.  It gets no better.  And, because we’re all adults here, you can enjoy your delicacies with an assortment of beer and wine or an ice-cold bottle of water or soft drink.  We, who volunteer all weekend, will also drink our weight in Greek coffee, hot or iced and prepared right in front of you.  I can’t wait!  As you walk in from any direction the gorgeous perfume of grilled food and the strains of Greek music surround you.  The children of the church, some small and some not so small, dance the dances from the villages of Greece all in authentic costumes of the region.  They’ve practiced all year, all the intricate steps seared into their memory banks.  They dance with joy and abandon as the choreography is now second nature.  You’ll meet kids in their late teens through their twenties smiling at you while serving beer and wine, parking cars or clearing food trays, all parishioners and most of them alumni dancers having started at five or six old.  And you know what the beautiful part is?  They’re ALL still close, close friends.  They’ve passed the baton to the younger kids and accepted the baton handed them from older parishioners whose achy knees or backs no longer allow them the pleasure of standing all day and selling homemade rice pudding or pushing around a dolly with five or six cases of tomatoes or pork souvlaki.  No, these men have earned their spots on fold out chairs.  This is their time to flip worry beads while wearing black wool fishermen’s caps.  And ladies, sit right down and enjoy that frothy Nescafe frappe while gossiping with your best friend about how your loukoumades syrup is made.  God bless you all for tirelessly giving so many years to this church and festival!  There is so much more I haven’t touched on.  There are glorious tours of the church touching on and explaining a myriad of details and facts about the architecture and iconography.  There will be Greek food demonstrations…you might just see me preparing hummus or roasted eggplant dip.  I hope you come see us and taste life at the Greek table!

Greek Fish Roe Dip, Taramasalata

  • Servings: 2 to 2 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 ounces tarama (fish roe)
  • 8 slices white bread, stale and crusts removed
  • 3+ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, additional if needed
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup, half canola oil and half extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • bread for serving
  1. Place slices of bread in a bowl and cover with water.  Allow the bread to soak up the water then, using your hands, squeeze the water out.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, add the bread, fish roe and lemon juice.
  3. With the food processor or blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  4. Taste for any flavor adjustments such as more lemon juice or olive oil.
  5. Continue blending until light and fluffy, 7-10 minutes.
  6. Serve with bread or transfer to container, cover and refrigerate.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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Kickin’ Sweet Vidalia Onion Dip

For someone who tasted flavor only when in friends’ homes, I vividly recall many first tastes.  Butter…Ann Avery’s house.  That was  beyond stellar.  Tuna salad would be at Andrea’s house.  Her mama mixed in a teaspoon of mustard that certainly made it the chicken of MY sea!  Pork chop gravy  at Dana’s house was seared into my flavor bank.  I had never had ANY gravy before and her mama made it from scratch.  Where has this stuff been hiding?!?  I experienced a double first at my neighbor and classmate, Susy Tankard’s, house.  We had come in from playing “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” outside, all hot and sweaty.  Her mama and mine were very close but worlds apart when it came to cooking.  Susy’s mom baked, cooked and liked it.  My mama couldn’t give a fig what went on in the kitchen nor would she have recognized a fig if there had ever been one sitting on the counter.  Anyway, that noteworthy day stands out because it is the day Susy offered me an English muffin with strawberry jam.  I had no idea what either one of those things were.  At first bite I was head over heels in love with both.  But probably my favorite first was a double of potato chips and onion dip, both processed, filled with preservatives and loaded with salt.  Holy smoke.  Talk about a lifelong passion for that kind of bad.  And I’m still a fool for chips and dip but now I prefer the real thing.  Homemade onion dip is from another realm.  Once you make homemade you will never go back to that powdered stuff in an envelope.  After caramelizing naturally sweet onions, you’ll end up with a skillet brimming with the flavors of a savory jam, all thick and gooey.  I add fresh thyme leaves and that brings out the earthiness and allows the dip to “pop”.  The addition of cayenne pepper lightens each bite and keeps the onion dip from becoming too heavy.  It’s always one of the first dishes to fly at a party; in fact, you’ll be hard pressed to stay out of it before you leave your house.  Perfect for a beach or pool party, whether it’s game day or not, this kickin’ onion dip will become a life long favorite!

 

This recipe makes quite a bit which is great for a party but if you don’t need that much, it’s easily halved.  It’s an incredibly flavorful appetizer so if you’re not a fan of heat, rest assured the cayenne pepper may be omitted and you’ll still have a fantastic dip.  Take your time caramelizing the onions.  You don’t want them to burn but to release their liquids and sugar.  Give them a good stir every now and again, cook them uncovered letting all excess moisture evaporate and you’ll achieve the flavors and consistency you want.  I tried a mess of chips to see which really brought out the flavor of the dip and this is my conclusion.  The best potato chip turned out to be Kettle Chips.  They were sturdy enough to stand up to the stiff dip both in structure and potato taste.  But my number one chip pick wasn’t a potato chip but a plantain chip.  Holy smoke!  They really complemented each other, not to mention, the plantains were much better looking.  In closing, I hope you’ll take the time to search out Vidalia onions as their sweetness truly stands out and makes a huge difference in this dish.  Enjoy!

 

Kickin' Sweet Vidalia Onion Dip

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3 pounds Vidalia onions, about 3 large Vidalia onions, chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves plus additional to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  1. In a large, heavy bottom skillet melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the olive oil, chopped onions, one tablespoon of salt and stir well until the onions are thoroughly coated with the olive oil and butter.
  3. Lower the heat to medium low and cook the onions uncovered until they are golden brown in color and all liquid from them has evaporated, anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.  Stir often to keep onions from browning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove onions from heat and allow to cool.
  5. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese to loosen.  Add the mayonnaise and whisk until completely smooth.
  6. Add the sour cream, thyme, cayenne pepper and remaining teaspoon of salt.  Mix until smooth.
  7. Add cooled onions to cream cheese mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  9. Serve chilled with chips and crudite.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

 

Spicy Asian Peanut Dressing

With autumn settling in I am ready to bulk up.  Give me a salad with lacinato kale and Napa cabbage.  I want peppery sprouts, sweet shredded carrots and savory red onion.  No longer does a light lime vinaigrette dressed on romaine cut it.  This girl’s hungry and I have the perfect dressing to tame my runaway appetite.  My spicy asian peanut dressing marries well with the heft, sometimes tough and often leathery texture of kale and cabbage.  And when it starts getting dark at 5:30 in the evening I’m ready to tuck into an enormous salad topped with an organic grilled chicken breast or a spicy jerked Mahi filet.  The dressing keeps well for a week.  It’s also superb over cool noodles with grilled or raw vegetables or as a dip for meat or chicken.  Children love it but if you are serving it to little ones, definitely scale back on the chili oil as it packs some great heat. Gosh, I almost forgot.  All these products can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.  Please, please try the fish sauce.  If you’ve not tried it before know it smells bad.  Really bad.  But only in the bottle.  You don’t taste it at all in the dressing but it adds a depth, a level of flavor that you expect in a quality restaurant peanut dressing.  Without fish sauce this dressing is flat and one-dimensional.  So go for it and enjoy!

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Spicy Asian Peanut Dressing

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, I use one with no additives what so ever
  • 2-3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons hot chili oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, blender or Magic Bullet and pulse until mixture is completely smooth.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.  Allow to sit out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes if dressing thickens too much in the refrigerator.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Artichoke, Olive and Garlic Tapenade

Every once in a while I say to myself, “You’re not buying anything at the grocery store today.  You just make do with what you have at home.”  And that’s when I come up with some recipes I’m positively crazy about.  Here’s one of them.  You probably have all these ingredients in your pantry and an added bonus is that it comes together in no time flat.  This “dip” is a delight served with cold, crunchy celery sticks.  Served with some whole grain crackers your family won’t be able to stay away.  I found some organic, gluten-free, non-gmo, vegan, black pepper crackers at the grocery store that totally rocked my taste buds.  “Mary’s Gone Crackers”.  Holy moly.  You’d NEVER know they’re so healthful.  And they’re pretty, too.

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Spread atop grilled fish or chicken, this tapenade is a natural pleaser as all the flavors marry so darn well.  And guess what else?  It’s pretty low in fat calling for only a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  I hope you’re not put off by the one anchovy filet.  I promise, scout’s honor (even though I was thrown out of Girl Scouts when I sneaked out of a meeting to call a boy I liked from a phone booth), you will never know the anchovy’s there.  The rinsed, dried filet adds a deeper flavor and after being zipped through the food processor you’ll never even know it was there.  Leave it out and your dip will be flat and one-dimensional so give it a try.  Lemony and garlicky, it travels well to parties and keeps for days in the refrigerator…if it even lasts that long!

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Artichoke, Olive and Garlic Tapenade

  • 2 14.5-ounce cans artichoke hearts, well-drained, moisture patted out
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and without pimento
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 anchovy filet, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Place artichoke hearts and olives in a food processor and pulse until slightly chunky with pieces about the size of confetti.  Transfer to mixing bowl.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse until not quite smooth.  You want a bit of texture.
  3. Transfer to bowl with artichokes and olives and mix well.
  4. Serve with raw vegetables and crackers or cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Smoky Chipotle Dip, the best last minute party dip

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I don’t know about y’all but I can’t count the times I’ve been caught off-guard with last-minute guests especially during the holidays.  I run to the store and pick up frozen sweet potato wedges and already cooked jumbo shrimp.  Chances are I’ll throw a couple of pints of grape tomatoes in my basket.  And another box of crisp bread sticks…can’t have too many of those.  I’ll head to the taco aisle and grab a small can of Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.   Back home I’ll throw the sweet potatoes in the oven and head to the bathrooms with tubs of Lysol wipes in my hands.  Two or three quick swipes, fresh towels, a new candle and I’m done there.  I turn down the lights in the house and turn on my current favorite battery operated candles, the nice ones…the ones made of wax.  I put them all over.  With the lights low and candles lit no one will see any dust or gently rolling dog hair balls.  I grab an empty laundry basket and run through the house filling it with everything in sight that’s supposed to be put away; stacks of papers, mail, recipes, the little box of washers I haven’t returned to Home Depot yet, stacks of books, an errant running bra, anything that falls in the clutter category and then I tuck that mountainous basket in the bedroom closet.  I clean myself up as best I can then head to the kitchen to prepare the most simple dip on the planet.  Spicy, smoky and creamy, Chipotle Dip is my bestie.  Two ingredients.  That’s all.  Two.  Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and mayonnaise.  It’s fantastic!  I drop one cup of mayo in the blender or mini-chopper and, depending on my guests tastes, one or two peppers with a tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can.  That’s it.  The sauce from the chipotle tin adds such flavor because of the roasted tomatoes, onions and spices.  So blend until smooth and taste it for heat.  Add more peppers if you really want to see stars.  I have a hard time staying away from it.  James and Jimmy are crazy about it.  I put the dip in a pretty bowl, lay out a tray with all my vegetables and shrimp in bowls or glasses that show them off and I’m ready for guests.  Done.  Boom.  You’re welcome.

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Smoky Chipotle Dip

  • Servings: one cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise, reduced fat or light is fine
  • 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce plus 1 tablespoon sauce.  I buy the small 7-ounce cans and freeze the peppers and sauce I don’t use.
  1. Place 1 cup of mayonnaise in a blender or mini-chopper.
  2. Add 1 chipotle pepper and 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce.
  3. Blend until smooth.  Taste for heat and if you prefer hotter and one more pepper.  Blend, taste and adjust.
  4. Serve at room temperature with roasted sweet potato wedges, cold poached shrimp, grape tomatoes, crudite and bread sticks.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Pollo en Escabeche, Puerto Rican Fried, Pickled Chicken

When I flew down to Puerto Rico 30…35 years ago to begin work with Delta Airlines nothing prepared me for the level of partying that took place on that island.  The island celebrates a good 26, 26!, holidays.  Both January and July have 4 public holidays!  Sure, I had spent months, whole summers, vacationing with our grandparents and making the rounds to visit all the extended family members during the holidays.  But as a child and even as a young adult, one has no idea the degree of seriousness taken to make merry until one is wholly independent.  There were scads of Lopez family parties.  All-day pig roasts were pretty common place at my Tio Enrique’s mountain farm.  Being girls my sisters, cousins and I were not privy to the surreptitious sipping of rum my male cousins and uncles enjoyed while overseeing the roasting of the pig on a spit.  Even the farm hand whose job was to stand all day and turn the spit enjoyed the fruit of the cane.  Whenever our grandfather or any of our uncles would wander up to the house they were always so relaxed and happy… there’s a big surprise.  So, after college, when I moved to Puerto Rico I completely embraced this new lifestyle of “party down”.  My friends were the kids who had also been hired by Delta; all 12 local except me.  We were known as “the Dirty Dozen”.

Just a handful of "the Dirty Dozen".
Just a handful of “the Dirty Dozen”.

Training had been incredibly rigorous and demanding.  We were often and regularly tested on airline and Delta standards and it was made perfectly clear we would not be hired if we failed.  I remember one woman crying and saying she couldn’t make it…it was too hard.  I tried to get across to her it was just a matter of memorization.  To have been hired by Delta was quite an achievement at that time.  Literally hundreds of people had applied for our 13 positions in reservations.  She quit.  Right in the middle of our six-week training.  Her name was Sonia.  I’ll never forget.  Anyway, when the weekend or any holiday rolled around we were ready.  We became really close, the 12 of us, and spent free time together.  We had parties in clubs, in each other’s homes, at the beach, really anywhere we could.  We’d dance the night away and sip on rum.

More of the "Dirty Dozen" with our beautiful Janet tearing it up with Rafa!! How I love my people!
More of the “Dirty Dozen” with our beautiful Janet tearing it up with Rafa.  How I love my people!

I remember one of the boys in our group went crabbing and I tasted for the first time crab cooked in tomatoes, wine, garlic, onions and fresh bay leaves.  The crabs were simmered in an enormous pot in the back courtyard of someone’s house.  The next day I went out and bought an equally big pot and still have it to this day.  One of the dishes I was introduced to was “Pescado en Escaveche”, ceviche or pickled fish.  It was eaten as an hors d’oeuvre, the sauce cold, tart and salty.  The fish was sweet and tender.  These tastes were most welcome on blistering, hot tropical days.  Through the years I’ve changed the recipe to feature bite sized pieces of chicken which are fried then marinated.  Steeped in a pot-pourri of vinegar, caramelized onions and black peppercorns, it’s one of those perfect pairings that need to be prepared in advance.  Yay.  I’m all for anything that can be made in advance.  Just right to serve or take to a party.  I usually offer this dish with whole grain wheat crackers, Triscuits, but I’ve also presented it with thin, toasted rounds of French bread.  It’s fantastic and no one, NO ONE, ever shows up with it!

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Pollo en Escabeche Fried and Pickled Chicken

  • Servings: 10-15
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 10-15 whole peppercorns
  • 5 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 2 pounds onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  1. In a large acid resistant pot or kettle simmer uncovered 1 cup olive oil, vinegar,  1 teaspoon salt, bay leaves and onions for about 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Mix flour with remaining salt and toss chicken in it to completely coat.  Discard leftover flour.
  3. In a large frying pan heat remaining 1/2 cup olive oil with the garlic cloves.  As soon as the cloves begin to brown remove from pan and discard the garlic.
  4. Over medium heat cover bottom of pan with one layer of chicken frying in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan.
  5. In a Pyrex or glass container pour half the warm onion-vinegar sauce.  Add half the chicken, the remaining sauce and then the remaining chicken.  Gently toss to thoroughly coat the chicken with the sauce.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  7. Serve cold.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Sweet Heat Sriracha Pecans for my Las Olas Girls

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My heart has been broken and has been empty since Mama died this past November.  At first we rejoiced that she was in Heaven and no longer suffering.  Mama’s last few years were absolute torture for her and there was nothing we could do to help her.  She is now at peace.  My best friends, Dana and Andrea, came to her services and that meant the world to me.

My ninth birthday. Mama gave me an iceskating party. Very cool for South Florida! L-R Dana, me, Andrea
My ninth birthday. Mama gave me an iceskating party. Very cool for South Florida! L-R Dana, me, Andrea

Both girls have lost a parent.  They get it.  After the funeral and in between my sobs we agreed on a Girl’s Weekend in January.  At Andrea’s house.  Less than a mile from my house.  This was a first.  We’ve always gone to the Keys and Girl’s Weekend has always been in September. As the weeks following her death flew by; the holidays came and went; her absence, her permanent absence, hit me hard.  I did my crying in the bathroom and in my car.  Think I’m sitting in the car listening to music?  Clearly, you didn’t look behind my RayBans.  So when our weekend was just days away I really withdrew.  I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t want to try to laugh or have to be entertaining.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone.  I didn’t want to see anyone.  With a lump in my throat I explained to my little sister, Pamela, I couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t.  She soothed me with words I didn’t want to hear.  “I know you don’t want to go but once you get in the car you’ll feel better.  Really.  What’s the weather down there supposed to do this weekend?”  I choked out the words, “We’re not doing it in the Keys.  We’re having it at Andrea’s.”  “Wait, what?”, she exclaimed, “You’re fine!  If you want to go home you’re 5 minutes away.  But trust me, you’re NOT going to want to go home.”  Sure enough.  Dana arrived at my house and wrapped me in her long, graceful arms.  More tears.  She understood and reassured me that she would return me home at any time, any hour if that was my wish.  And it was more of the same when we arrived at Andrea’s.  A few more tears on my part, sweet hugs and then, with her arm around my waist, she showed me to my room… the Bunny Room… the room she had picked out for me well-stocked with fresh flowers in silver and crystal vases, inviting Provencal pillows that had belonged to her mother and a breakfast tray filled with bottles of designer water, writing paper and sharp pencils tucked into a pocket.  In a corner and behind the door were tall, white, ceramic bunnies.  It was lovely!  Girly, lovely and incredibly thoughtful.  After unpacking we got down to “bizness”.  Large drinks were poured and I put out some spiced pecans I had made specifically for us.  As the alcohol worked its magic my tense and anxious shoulders dropped, our hair was loosened and tossed and our laughter echoed across the pool and off into the the sunshine of the afternoon.  That’s when Andrea’s little sister, Alyson, dropped by.  With hors d’oeuvre and bottles of wine.  She just wanted us to be happy. We begged her to stay and stay she did.  Dana’s little sister, Dawn, is Alyson’s best friend and she was expected down to spend the weekend with Alyson.  It was heading in the direction of a stellar Girl’s Weekend…booze and laughter…laughter that makes you laugh so hard you tinkle in your pants.  Which I did.  Dawn arrived that evening and launched a magical weekend that I think maybe only girls would understand, embrace and truly appreciate.  I’ve known these women since I was 4 or 5 years old and I was astonished and so grateful for the love and compassion they showed me.  We never took that tired, old walk down memory lane.  No.  We laughed and howled, there was a bit of crying, then back to laughing and screaming but all in the NOW.  None of that “remember when…?” nonsense.  The empathy mixed with a large amount of humor was so welcome and fully appreciated.  Andrea kept us entertained all weekend with proclamations such as “When the rave comes I’m going with my jewelry!” and “Sistah, yo glass is lookin’ mighty low theah, lemme get cha anothuh one”.  Dana knows how important it is to me to take Dad out every Saturday morning.  She offered to drive across town to pick up Dad, ferry us to a farmer’s market another town away and then stop at our Greek market to make Dad’s “outing” truly enjoyable for him.  And let me tell you, when you’ve been driving all week and drinking all night the last thing you want to do is get up early and get behind the wheel!  But she did…happily and with grace.  Back at Andrea’s house, Dawn stayed 2 steps ahead of the bar and before we ran out of champagne she was walking back through the door with another case of bubbly plus “4 bottles of red and 3 bottles of white, just in case, and some snacks”.  Her snacks consisted of crispy, warm French bread, pate, three or four cheeses, strawberries and red grapes.  Oh, wait!  And an olive tapenade.  Her generosity is boundless.  And then, what truly pushed me over the edge, I somewhat self-consciously asked Alyson if she would show me how to do my makeup.  Alyson is gorgeous, a real stunner, and knows like no other how to apply makeup.  Mama never was into makeup so none of us really were shown what to do or how to make the most of what we had.  Al sprang into action.  She said, “Sure!  Go wash your face, brush your teeth and grab your makeup bag.  I’LL go refill our glasses and meet you by the pool.”  That girl spent the next hour, hour and a half, transforming me from a 58 soon-to-be 59 year old Sea Hag from Popeye to a drop-dead, gorgeous, stop-traffic woman who could not keep her eyes off her reflection in ANY mirror in the house!  AND, let me add, she casually asked, “You wanna blow-out?”  Do I want a blow-out??  Oh, hell yes!  I came out of my makeover jaw-dropping.  Not only did she teach me how to use the products I had but she also told me exactly which products I needed to buy in order to uphold and maintain this level of beauty.  I felt loved.  And valued.  And appreciated.  So I thank my Las Olas girls for wiping my tears, giving me a hug and gently making me pull up my “big girl pants”.  To Girl’s Weekend!

My Las Olas girls doing what we do best...shopping! L-R Alyson, Dana, Andrea and Dawn
My Las Olas girls doing what we do best…shop! L-R Alyson, Dana, Andrea and Dawn

I made Sweet Cinnamon Pecans for Girl’s Weekend but today I bring you Sweet Heat Sriracha Pecans straight from a wonderful little cookbook entitled “Pecans” by Kathleen Purvis.  It’s a Savor the South cookbook put out by The University of North Carolina Press and is a jewel of a book.  These are fabulous with cocktails, travel well and everyone seems to love them.  Enjoy!

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Sweet Heat Sriracha Pecans

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce (more if you want a bigger kick)
  • 2 cups pecans halves
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°.  Spread out a sheet of tin foil.
  2. Combine the honey and Sriracha in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until liquified and well mixed.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the pecans.  Stir well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the pecans are lightly coated and the honey mixture is used up.
  4. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. While the pecans are baking, combine the sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl.  When the pecans are done scrape them into the bowl with the  sugar/salt mixture.  Stir until the pecans are completely coated and the sugar mixture is used up.
  6. Spread on the tin foil and let cool.
  7. Stir in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com