Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Friday Night Specials

Wonderful Hubby has worked second shift for almost all of our 25 years of marriage.  For many years, he wouldn't get home before 2 or 3 a.m., after working a 10 - 12 hour shift. The kids and I really only got to spend quality time with him on the weekends.  Several years ago, his overtime was cut and his shift time was adjusted so that he was able to come home around 11 p.m.   I was still teaching so I was usually in bed by 11 during the week.  One Friday, I decided to stay up and surprise him with a little snack and a glass of wine when he got home.  I think I had something simple like cheese and crackers.  It was so nice to sit and visit and catch up with each other!  He really appreciated my effort (which wasn't that much!) so I decided to give it a try the next week. 
Over the next year and a half, my 'Friday Night Specials' became more elaborate.  I wasn't a very confident cook but it really didn't matter since I always kept some brie and cheddar on hand.  I tried quite a few appetizer recipes and actually amassed quite a collection of recipes we liked. 
Precious Daughter and Favorite Son took notice and had a habit of showing up about the time Dad got home to see what Mom had fixed to eat.  (I always made extras, just in case!) 
I've really enjoyed finding recipes and preparing these appetizers JUST FOR FUN!  Most of them were good, a few not so much, but that was ok.  Wonderful Hubby and I always enjoyed a bottle of wine and being together. 
Now, Wonderful Hubby is on first shift so I get to cook supper for him every night!  That requires a whole new kind of planning but I really enjoy it!  I believe I've become a better cook because of those Friday Night Specials and I certainly feel more confident.  Rumor has it, he may go back to second shift sometime this next year.  If that happens, I'll be ready to welcome our weekends!

Each month this year, I'll share one of our favorite appetizer recipes.   I hope you find time to make and enjoy them with the special people in your life!

This month's recipe is a spicy dip made with roasted eggplant, peppers, olives and lots of seasonings and fresh herbs.  Make it a bit ahead so the flavors have time to blend.  You can serve it with store bought chips but, if you have the time, the homemade pita chips go so well with it!

Roasted Eggplant Caponata
    A recipe by Ina Garten

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
Olive Oil
4 oz. jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
1/3- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons parsley, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
Toasted pita wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a half sheet pan with foil.

Place the whole eggplant on the pan, prick with a fork in several places, and rub with olive oil. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool. Halve the eggplant, peel, and discard the skin. Place the eggplant, peppers, and olives in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour into a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly browned. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, and add to the eggplant mixture. Add the parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice, capers, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and pepper and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles.

Toasted Pita Wedges
1 package pita wedges
Olive Oil
Seasoned salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut each pita bread in quarters and each quarter in half to make 8 triangles. Place them in a single layer on a sheet pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp, turning once.


Linking to these great parties:


My Garden Diaries said...

That looks absolutely delicious!!! I have never had this one before but will have to give it a go as we are app folks! I love the story behind this...it is sweet and romantic and just shows how traditions start! So heart warming! You have a great week! Nicole

Judy Biggerstaff said...

I do love eggplant so I am thinking I could enjoy your recipe and of course a taste of wine.

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

How could your husband not love this? All of your recipes look delicious and your presentation is great! Thanks for the inspiration and thanks for your visit and comment to my blog.

Martha said...

That's one of my favorite appetizers and reminds me that I need to make it again/!

Unknown said...

Sounds like you have lots of memories from all those Friday nights. The recipe looks wonderful, I defiantly want to try it. Thanks for visiting and I hope you stop by again. Have a wonderful weekend.

Unknown said...

Sounds like you have lots of memories from all those Friday nights. The recipe looks wonderful, I defiantly want to try it. Thanks for visiting and I hope you stop by again. Have a wonderful weekend.

Teri said...

What a wonderful recipe, and I love the story behind it! This appetizer would be perfect for Super Bowl parties. I am hosting a Super Bowl Eats and Treats Linky Party, and I would love if you would link this recipe up. You can link others as well, and as many as you like. They can be appetizers, desserts, crafts, party ideas, sandwiches, anything that says "Super Bowl" to you! We'd love to have you! http://bit.ly/Lvc0q2

Poppy @ With a Dash of Color said...

You made very special memories with those Friday nights and a sweet romantic story to share with us, as well:)Your presentation is absolutely charming and the dip looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing the delicious recipe! Happy Saturday! Hugs, Poppy

L Black's said...

We love Eggplant, so know we would like this! Love your Friday Night memories! <3

Tina said...

Now I am hungry! Sounds so yummy and I will definitely try this recipe!