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Every summer we take a lake vacation with dear, wonderful friends from Louisiana.
The first year we borrowed a friends cabin, but as our families grew larger, we started renting houses around Beaver Lake. Once our kids were older and safe on a boat without our constant supervision, and after one unfortunate incident with bed bugs, we decided to try spending our week actually on the lake, and rented a house boat.
The last few years, we have met on an 80 foot boat on Lake Ouachita. It is a beautiful, clear lake, filled with islands, with very minimal build up around the shore. We move the boat to a new cove every day, and it is very peaceful. There is not much else to do but read, relax and be out on the water (we take our ski boat and our friends supply lake toys – a canoe, inflatable trampoline, inner tubes), and the Mamas go into town for a day of flea marketing and antique shopping.
We take turns cooking, and this year we decided to put together a cocktail party, and served these little bites.


14 ounces vodka
12 ounces fresh clementine juice
6 ounces fresh lime juice
6 ounces Aperol
4 ounces agave nectar
12 ounces chilled club soda

In a pitcher, combine the vodka, clementine and lime juices, Aperol and agave. Stir well.
Refrigerate until chilled, 1 hour. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Working in batches and adding fresh ice, shake well and strain into 8 ice-filled collins glasses.
Stir 1 1/2 ounces of club soda into each glass.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, July 2013


2 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, peeled and coarsely mashed
Tortilla chips for serving

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Gently stir in mashed avocados. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe adapted from Cooks Secrets, August 2013


1 baguette, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 pound lump crab meat
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350F. Arrange baguette slices on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, fold together crab, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, shallots, lemon zest and juice and dill.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon onto baguette slices.
Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, April 2013
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed and chopped
2 eggs
5 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 cups mixed greens
Combine mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon shallots, 1 teaspoon mustard, buttermilk and lemon juice in a bowl, set aside.
Combine salmon, eggs, 1/4 cup shallots, capers, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon mustard, salt and pepper in another bowl, mix well. Shape into patties. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook salmon cakes until bottom is golden, about 6 minutes, flip and cook until golden, 5 minutes more. 
Divide salad among plates, top with salmon cakes and drizzle with dressing.
Recipe adapted from Self, April 2011

2 cups pumpernickel bread cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (10 ounce) package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 heads of endive, leaves separated

Cut the bread into small cubes. In a small skillet, toast the cubes with the olive oil over medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Let cool.
In a food processor, pulse the spinach, green onions, mayonnaise and sour cream until almost smooth, season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the spinach mixture onto the endive spears and top with the bread.

Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray