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Appetizers, Snacks & Hors d’oeuvre


Easy Lebanese Zahtar & Bread Bake (Middle Eastern – Mahnoosh B’Zahtar)


Great for a weekend “oil” day within the fast! When a can of biscuit dough or French bread dough is used, this recipe is both easy to make and is oh, so yummy! Serve it as an appetizer or as “bread” with any Middle-Eastern type meal. Serve warm or slightly cooled and savor that distinctive flavor blend of thyme, sesame and sumac found in the treasured Middle Eastern herb mixture called “Green Zahtar.”


1 Can Biscuit Dough or French Bread Dough

¼ C. Green Zahtar (Herb & Sesame Mixture)

¼ C. Olive Oil

Salt to taste


Flatten each biscuit into 1/4” rounds. If using French bread dough, unroll and cut into 3 to 4” squares.  For smaller pieces, when served as an appetizer, score each round into 4 to 6 pieces. Dimple the surface of the dough so it is uneven. Mix together equal parts of olive oil and Zahtar with a bit of salt to taste. Coat a baking dish with olive oil. Place dough pieces in the dish and cover with Zahtar mixture. Bake bread in preheated oven at 400 F. for about 8 – 12 minutes, until the dough is just browned.  Serves 8 – 10. 


Herbed Pretzels


Another recipe treat inspired by Lorraine Avanante.  These are quite addictive, and can be a shared as a snack or served as an appetizer.  The recipe can easily be multiplied when you need to make more!  Herbed pretzels can be served alone or can be used to dip.


1 – Lb. Bag Mini-Pretzels

½ Tbsp. Garlic Powder or Granules

½ Tbsp. Dill Weed

1 Tsp. Italian Seasoning, Optional

¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper, Very Optional

8 Oz. Orville Redenbacker Popping Corn Oil

½ Pkg. Dry Ranch Salad Dressing Mix, or Italian, if during the fast


Place the pretzels in a large zip lock bag.  Mix remaining ingredients together.  Pour these over the pretzels.  Seal the bag and gently shake to mix with pretzels.  Turn the bag around every 15 minutes for the next 5 – 6 hours.  Pour pretzels into a paper bag and heat in a microwave on HIGH POWER for 1 ½ minutes.  Shake the bag every 30 seconds. Serve. Store leftovers in an air tight container.


Sun Dried Tomato Spread


A flavorful spread which makes a wonderful appetizer or afternoon tea treat for serving to company. Although it is not difficult to make, this recipe does take some advance preparation. It is well worth the effort. The first time we ate this spicy spread, it was served by our long-time Rockdale County, Georgia friends, the Kinney family, out on their back deck which overlooks their lovely pond and the Georgia woods beyond.


1 ½ Oz. Dried Tomatoes

1 – 2 Dried Poblano Peppers or Dried Red NM Chiles (Ristra)  

1 C. Olive Oil

2 Lg. Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced or Pressed

2 Lg. Sprigs Parsley or Cilantro, Minced

5 Fresh Basil Leaves, or 1 Tsp. Dried Basil

½ Tsp. Salt

¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper, more or less, or to taste

Or, for a milder flavor, use 1 Tsp. Mike’s NM Powdered Chile Pepper Mix

Pinch of Sugar

1 Scallion (Green Onion), Minced

8 Oz. Cream Cheese or Creamy Tofu Spread


Unless they are already softened, place the dried tomatoes and poblano or NM peppers in a steamer and soften for about 45 minutes, while covered, over gently boiling water. Mix together all remaining ingredients (EXCEPT for the cream cheese).  Put it in a 2 C. container.  Shake well now and then, and refrigerate for at least 2 days.  Just prior to serving, put this in a food processor or blender and process briefly.  Serve a dollop of this savory spread on cream cheese topped bagel chips or on Cayenne Toast Caliente (see pg_).


Cayenne Toast Caliente


The perfect accompaniment to attend the spicy Sun Dried Tomato Spread above, or to serve with cheese or any savory spread.  My friend Julie Kinney also shared this recipe. Years ago while living in Austin, Texas, Julie learned all about the joy of life in a hot climate. There, she worked as a school bus driver, in un-air conditioned buses. According to Julie, that is where she learned how (and why!) to braid her hair up in a way that  it would stay off her neck and at least be a little bit cooler.


3 Loaves French Bread or Baguettes

1 C. Olive Oil

2 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Or, for a milder flavor: 1 Tbsp.+ of Mike’s NM Powdered Chile Mix

1 ½ Tsp. Salt

1 ½ Tsp. Garlic Powder

1 ½ Tsp. Onion Powder

1 Tsp. Hungarian Paprika

½ Tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Preheat the oven to 200 F.  Mix together all topping ingredients and set aside.  Carefully slice the French bread into thin, ¼” slices, with an electric knife.  Lay the bread in layers on ungreased baking sheets.  Shake the topping mixture and brush it onto both sides of each piece of bread.  Shake frequently while doing so, to keep the mixture well blended.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove from oven once and rearrange bread slices so all toast evenly. Cool completely and then store in airtight containers or tins.  To re-crisp these, place in an oven preheated to 350 F. for approximately 5 – 7 minutes.


Herbal Variation:  If not during a fast, use ½ C. Olive Oil & ½ C. Butter. Depending on your preference, either use or don’t use the cayenne or chile pepper, above. To the above mixture, add:  3 Tbsp. Mixed Fresh Herbs, Minced, such as: Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Chives, Oregano, etc.  Prepare as directed.


Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms


During Great Lent one year, I attended a spiritual retreat outside of Atlanta which was led by Fr. Michael Keiser of Florida. My “roommate” at the retreat was Vanessa Swatek of St. Elias Antiochian Church in Atlanta. She later shared this wonderful recipe.


1 Pkg. Large Mushrooms, Stems Removed & Reserved

8 Tbsp. Butter or Margarine

2 Tbsp. Onion, Finely Minced

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Finely Minced

1 – 10 Oz. Pkg. Frozen Spinach, Chopped

¼ Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

½ Tsp. Salt

1/8 Tsp. Freshly Ground Pepper

¼ C. Parmesan Cheese or Rice Parmesan Substitute, during fasts


Dip mushroom caps in melted margarine or butter. Place underside-up in a buttered baking dish. Chop stems and sauté with onion and garlic in 2 Tbsp. butter until vegetables are soft but not browned. Briefly cook spinach. Drain well and add to chopped mushroom mixture, along with spices and cheese. Mix thoroughly and fill caps. Bake at 375 F. for 15 minutes. Can easily be doubled or tripled.


Party Pecans


This is a version of the recipe given to me by a long-time friend’s grandmother, who for many years lived in Florida.  These nuts are a great treat at a party or reception.  Another type of oil can be used for Lenten fasts.


¼ C. Butter, Melted (or Oil)

4 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tbsp. Tabasco Sauce

1 Tsp. Mike’s NM Powdered Chile Mix, Optional

 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder, Optional

1 Tsp. Onion Powder, Optional


Place all of the topping ingredients in a saucepan and heat until well blended. Stir often. Add to this and mix together very well:


4 C. Pecan Halves


Toast in a large, heavy pan (such as cast iron) in an oven preheated to 275 – 300 F. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  Cool completely.  Pack into airtight containers or jars until time to serve.  These can also be frozen.


Chile Almonds


We adapted the following recipe from the package of “Diamond Premium Almonds” and it very good. Nuts make an excellent, high-protein snack during fasting seasons, and this recipe is also great for serving at parties.


3 C. Whole Raw Almonds

1 ½ Tbsps. Olive or Sunflower Oil

2 Tbsps. Paprika

1 Tbsp. Powdered Red Chile Peppers

1 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. Chili Powder

2 Tsp. Oregano, Mexican or Regular

Salt to taste


In a large, heavy skillet, brown almonds in the oil. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Put all spices in a blender or food processor. Blend all together until finely ground. When almonds are browned, immediately stir seasonings over almonds, and blend to coat thoroughly. Spread nuts out on a baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Store cooled nuts in an airtight container. Will last a month or more.


Chinese 5 Spice Nuts


A good recipe with an Oriental flare which comes from our Georgia friend and excellent cook, Julie Kinney. These spiced nuts can be served as a nice high-protein Lenten snack or party treat.  A handful can also be thrown into a stir fry dish, just prior to serving.


¼ C. Water

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Olive or Vegetable Oil

1 Tsp. Chinese 5 Spice

1 Lb. Raw Nuts (Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds or Mixed Nuts)


Heat the water. Add salt, oil and 5 Spice.  Stir to blend.  Evenly coat the nuts with the topping. Bake at 275 F. for 1 hour or more, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container, or freeze until used.


Sherried Ginger Variation:  Substitute for the ¼ c. Water listed: 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce plus 2 Tbsp. Sherried Ginger.  Add to the remaining ingredients: 1 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil. Then, prepare the recipe as directed above. 


Almond & Raisin Snack


A nice, high-protein fasting day or hiking treat, or healthy snack for the children.


1 ½ C. Whole Raw Almonds

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil or Sunflower Oil

½ Tsp. Salt

Pinch of Cayenne Pepper or Mikes NM Powdered Chile Mix

1 ½ C. Golden Raisins


Preheat oven to 300 F.  Mix together the oil, salt and cayenne.  Stir this onto the nuts.

Bake for 30 minutes in a heavy pan.  Stir or shake frequently.  Add the golden raisins and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Cool.  Store in air tight containers.


Candied Citrus Nuts


3 C. Nuts – Pecans, Walnuts or Mixed

1 ½ C. Sugar

2 Tbsp. Corn Syrup

Cream of Tartar – a pinch

¼ C. Sour Orange, Lime or Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp. Peel Zest from Citrus (used above)


Mix together sugar, syrup, citrus juice and zest and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and continue to boil until the sugar crystals have completely dissolved. Remove from the stove and bean for several minutes.  Add the nuts and mix well.  Pour these onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.  Separate the nuts from each other.  Allow to dry. Pack in a tin until time to serve.




¡Gloria a Dios por todo!
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