Easy Food Ideas for Weekend Guests and Saucy Mama Giveaway Winner!!

This post is all about happy, good news!  I’m announcing today my Saucy Mama Giveaway Winner!!!  And the winner is…..

Geni at Sweet and Crumbly!!

Congrats Geni!  Thank you for your support, your tweets and votes for my entre into the Saucy Mama Cooking with Mustard Contest.

Saucy Mama will be contacting you directly to ship you your prize!

I love having family and friends visit.  My little villa, as it is referred to, truly is little!  I have a beautiful view of a lake in the back that opens my patio and home to a bit more spaciousness, but inside we are all comfy and close!  So with that, it’s difficult to invite as many family and friends as I’d like.  Though sometimes I think if I did have more room, I’d be hosting a bed and breakfast every weekend!!

My friends Ayesha and Ken are visiting this week.  They are definitely my top foodie friends.  Ken prepared the Blueberry Basil Vodka Lemonade that has remained one of my top posts and favorite drinks!!  Can’t wait to see what drink he’ll be sharing on this trip!  (No pressure whatsoever Ken!)  Eating out is definitely in the plans as there are great places to dine in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area and getting to the ocean views and hot spots are always what my guests and I like to do.  So what I do plan for is prepping food for quick bites and appetizers to go with Ken’s drinks.  Ayesha is my cooking partner; we love to go out but we also love to get into the kitchen and create fun dishes together.

I’ve simply prepped a few things that she and I will be able to use in whatever we’d like to make.   These prepped ingredients are also some of the things I do normally just to have on hand to add to recipes.

The “green” bottle is Cilantro oil.  Fresh cilantro, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper are blended with extra virgin olive oil.   This can be made up to one week ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.  I’ve used it as a pesto for seafood, swirled into gazpacho or salsas and added to vinaigrettes for an intensity of flavor.  The other oil bottle contains whole, sliced fresh garlic and crushed red pepper.  I love to infuse olive oil with various flavors including lemon peel and dried herbs.  I prefer not to mix a lot of herbs, keeping it mostly simply flavored.  Make sure to use the oil within the week and while fresh herbs look so pretty in the bottles, the moisture they contain is prone to bacteria growth so use those within a day or two.

The other jars contain marinated cheese, beans and sun-dried tomatoes.  These can be served on the side for meals, mixed into salads and served on an antipasto salad.  Sun-dried tomatoes are mixed with salt, pepper, garlic slices and olive oil.

These tomatoes are also good mixed into a frittata or layered in a Panini.  The bean relish has chopped celery, andouille sausage, garlic, scallions, olive oil, salt and pepper.  This relish is great served as is on the antipasto platter or processed into a chunky puree for a dip or Panini spread.

Fresh mozzarella is cut in cubes and tossed with pepper, crushed red pepper and fresh basil.  We can use these on the antipasto plate or top grilled pizza.

Hummus is always a good recipe to have on hand for dips or spreads.  I will vary the flavors added in; sometimes heated with spices for a more intense hummus or lighter versions that we can use for breakfast spread on bagels.

My biscotti jar and granola jar are always filled as well and I make sure to pick up various cheeses and jams.  Guava and cheese quesadillas are fun to make with Mojitos or Margheritas.  The guava paste gives these a nice sweet taste.


I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


  • Courtney

    I do not know what happened, but you disappeared from my wordpress reader – and it looks like I’ve missed a bit. Best go catch up! I LOVE your cilantro oil idea. Cilantro is my most favorite cooking flavor and I definitely need to make some of this.

    • spicegirlfla

      I wonder if that happened when I recently went to self hosting as my blog is no longer I’m just learning about how to use this now too. I love the cilantro oil too even used it on my scrambled eggs this morning!!

  • Caroline

    Yay Geni–congrats! I’m with Courtney, the cilantro oil sounds delicious, and of course would be great to have on hand. Hope you have a wonderful time with your friends visiting! 🙂

    • spicegirlfla

      Sure!! When I was doing the personal chef thing I would prep all types of food for guests staying at vacation type homes or on yachts so they could stay in and snack whenever they wanted!! Dont’ forget to stock the bar too!

  • Geni

    Hang on Linda, I’m coming! I would be thrilled to stay at your “B&B” any day or your Villa. Lake front view, food like THAT and your company would be a triple hitter. 🙂 I am so excited I won the giveaway! Thank you! I’d better go back my bags…can’t wait for Ken’s cocktail.

  • ChgoJohn

    Were you a Girl Scout? You certainly are prepared! With those “building blocks” in jars, you can make just about any kind of appetizer, snack, or make a killer sandwich. What a great idea! And that lemonade is surely gonna get made this Summer. I hope you have a great time with your friends, Linda!

    • spicegirlfla

      Lol…no, I was never a Girl Scout..but I guess I am always prepared!!! You should be around here when I’m prepping for the hurricane season!!

    • spicegirlfla

      It varies week to week, but I do try to make a few ahead of time. It helps when I’m pulling together lunch for work as I bring my lunch every day!

  • Kristy

    Speaking of mojitos. I was craving one of your Champagne mojitos the other day. I actually bought some Champagne and am planning to whip one up the next time a craving hits. 🙂 You are such a great hostess Linda! I would love to stay/dine at your house. You always put so much thought and time into these delicious spreads. That hummus and the cilantro mix look fantastic to me!!! And yay for granola! (Refilled my jar today! 🙂 )

    • spicegirlfla

      Oh, you have to let me know when you try the champagne mojito! I should have planned for that for my friends visit, tho we honestly did alot of drinking as Ken is a bartender!! I think he would have liked my drink tho!!

  • Sawsan@chef in disguise

    So many great ideas! I can’t even decide which I like best.
    The flavored oil and marinated cheese both sound amazing and they can be used in so many ways, I think I will start with those.
    Thank you for an amazing post Linda

  • Lisa

    Congrats to Geni for winning! How did you do in the contest…I voted and shared it on my fan page for facebook and my personal page.
    I am so hungry right now and looking at your photo’s is not helping me. Everything esp. the hummus and salad looks good. 🙂

    • spicegirlfla

      Thanks Lisa. I don’t think the voting is over yet. You know, I never really enter to win, if that even makes sense! It’s just the fun idea of coming up with a recipe and entering. There are so many really good recipes out there!

  • Barb Bamber

    I’ve booked my flights.. just kidding! But it is so neat the way you have these items on hand and then improvise and create dishes with them. My girlfriend is able to do this as well.. alas, I am more of a recipe follower! I would love to learn and watch how you do this.. better get that bed and breakfast going!!

    • spicegirlfla

      Come on over – I’ll be ready!! I think I can throw things together as they are mostly Italian ingredients that I’m use to using alot and prepping these type of foods together helps me just put together recipes easily. Plus I love to look in my pantry and fridge and get inspiration!

  • Charles

    Congratulations to the giveaway winner 🙂 I love the look of these jars – Especially the marinated cheese! Which type of cheese are you using for that?

    I just noticed as well you’ve switched over to self-hosting! Did it all go well? I am pleased to report that you didn’t disappear from my feed-reader, but I use Google Reader – not WordPress 🙂

    • spicegirlfla

      Thanks Charles. That is mozzerello cubed with fresh basil, crushed red pepper and olive oil. I’m always changing around what I put in, sometimes crushed garlic as well.
      So I did switch over and it went well as I hired a Happiness Engineer to do it 😉 I wasn’t even aware of what a feed reader is and I guess I have fallen off because Courtney mentioned that. Is there something I should do??

  • Mary

    Oh my GOSH, you just reminded me about the lemonade. I’ve had it pinned to try since I saw it over at Rufus’ guide ages ago. I can’ hardly wait now! It still sounds delicious.

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