Growing up in the South, there were certain foods you knew would be served at any reception or church function: Cheese straws, finger sandwiches, pastel-colored soft mints, and lime sherbet punch. I always associated these items with special occasions. That is, until my mother found a new recipe she decided to make.

Once a month my parents and their group of friends took turns hosting a supper club. If we behaved while my parents hosted supper club, my brother, sister, and I were allowed to quietly go down the back stairs to the kitchen to taste the food my parents were serving that night. Supper club was the night my mother always made the new “trendy” dish, so we were exposed to new and different tastes, at least monthly. I think supper club was my first introduction to chicken curry.

The night my mother made cheese olivettes, a new special food was born. I could never look at a plain cheese straw the same way again. The addition of the briny green olive in the center of cheese straw dough took things to a different level. Cheese olivettes were such a hit with supper club that my mother began to include them at Thanksgiving and Christmas with our other pre-meal nibbles.

Once I was out on my own and cooking for my own family, I re-discovered our church cookbook that included the recipe. I immediately made a batch and a feeling of nostalgia took over. I could remember all those nights of supper club, sneaking down the back stairs, and having our family gathered around the dining room table for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Cheese olivettes soon became an appetizer that I began to include at my special gatherings. The cheese olivette didn’t only grab my attention, I still have requests to make them for friends who had them at my parties in the past. Now I’m excited to share the lightened-up version with you in our Cooking Light Family Thanksgiving Cookbook.