Question: I would like to request the Spinach and Artichoke Dip from the Pink Shell Resort's Hungry Pelican restaurant at Fort Myers Beach, Fla. (on Estero Island). It was wonderful. -- Patricia McBeath, St. Paul, Minn.,Answer: Treasure hunting on Florida's tropical Estero Island, just off the coast of Fort Myers in southwest Florida, is one way to shed winter doldrums. A favorite island hangout is The Pink Shell Beach Resort, a family-oriented resort nestled between the sugary white sands of the Gulf of Mexico and the mangroves of Estero Bay, at the secluded end of Estero Boulevard. Guests vegetate on the resort's 1,500-foot beach or hop a trolley to shop and explore the island. Sundown is gathering time at The Pink Shell's Hungry Pelican restaurant overlooking the Bay, and guests share stories while nibbling Spinach and Artichoke Dip with tortilla chips, pita wedges or crusty bread. To lighten the dip, substitute non-fat sour cream and non-fat salad dressing.

Diane Howard is a columnist for Hunt House Syndicate. America a la Carte welcomes recipe requests. Send the complete address of the restaurant along with your name, address and phone number to: America a la Carte, P.O. Box 5994, Austin, TX 78763-5337, or fax: 1-512-453-2145.

SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP

1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

14 ounces frozen or canned chopped spinach, drained

2 cups shredded Colby & Monterey jack cheese

12 ounces sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 package Ranch dressing mix

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 to 3 teaspoons Tabasco (more to taste)

1/2 small Bermuda onion, finely diced

Place drained artichoke hearts and chopped spinach in colander and press to remove as much moisture as possible. Transfer to paper towels and pat dry. In work bowl of food processor fitted with mixing blade, place artichoke hearts, spinach, 1 cup blended cheeses, sour cream, mayonnaise, Ranch dressing mix, garlic, black pepper and Tabasco. Pulse once. Scrape sides of processor bowl with rubber spatula. Pulse until combined but still chunky. Fold in Bermuda onion. Pour into microwave-proof serving bowl and microwave on high 45 seconds. Stir. Top dip with remaining cheese blend and microwave on high again until cheese is melted. Serve. Yields about 1 1/2 quarts.