Zucchini Boats

Happy Earth Day! I thought today would be a great day to share a great vegetarian recipe since meat is considered to be such a threat in terms of global warming. Everyone has their own opinions about what makes up a “healthy” or “balanced” diet, but I think people are finally beginning to understand that most people only need  about 1/4 the amount of meat the average American consumes per week, and for those of you that are trying to cut back or add some variety to your diet, this is a great recipe to start with since it’s so hearty and flavorful.

If you’ve ever grown zucchini or squash in a backyard garden, you are all too aware that you’ll reach a certain point in the summer where you begin running out of ideas of what to do with all of it. Unfortunately, it’s still spring so that wonderful problem isn’t quite upon us yet, but I thought that with the weather quickly warming, now is a good time to start prepping for the summer squash bonanza.

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Risata il Rosso

I have found that I’m beginning to like wine more and more over the years. I’m not a big drinker, but my boyfriend’s parents came to visit so I wanted to pick up a bottle to have with dinner. Since I don’t particularly like wine, I went with a sweet red, which I understand, is not very respectable in the world of winos. Regardless, I actually really loved the wine we got: Risata il Rosso. According to the bottle, ‘risata’ means laughter in Italian, which is always a good sign, and it tastes of cherries and strawberries. I picked up on a mixed berries sort of flavor, but the cherry didn’t really stand out to me. This delicious, sparkling, sweet red wine, however, won me over and I actually had two glasses at dinner! I hardly ever finish a glass, so everyone was stunned to see me refill my glass.

I highly recommend this delicious gem of a wine that I picked up for a scant $14.00 at a Fresh Market. I served it with an Italian beans and rice dish (Riso e Fagioli) which turned out to pair really nicely. The food was hearty and earthy, so I liked the way the sweetness of the wine contrasted, and then I cut up a Honeycrisp apple to serve for desert (non-dairy deserts are often rather depressing, but fresh fruit is always a winner in my book) and it went really well! Even my boyfriend, who isn’t usually in to sweets or fruit commented on how well the wine paired with the apple.

I will definitely be purchasing another bottle of this soon and keeping it on hand for a summer evening of entertaining as well as for an evening spent cuddled up with a blanket and a good book. I hope you can find a bottle in your area! It would be well worth your search. Cheers!

Wilder Quarterly

The best thing about gardening (if you’re doing it right) is that it creates beauty, self sufficiency, and food all at the same time! Wilder Quarterly is an awesome new quarterly about gardening in a contemporary and often urban setting. The themes of fermentation that I’ve seen in the Lucky Peach quarterly, food magazines, and recent literary journals also made it in to the fall issue of Wilder. While Wilder has a bunch of unique things to say and share with the world, it also is keeping up with the latest movements in the food world which makes this quarterly so well balanced with my interests that it is amazing.

I read through the first issue as soon as it came and loved it. Unfortunately it was as close to winter as we get in South Carolina so it was no time to be running outside to start a garden, but I was, none-the-less, quite inspired. What’s even better is that this quarterly donates part of their subscription price to the Fresh Air Fund, helping to provide a free summer camp to children from underprivileged communities. How can you go wrong with that?!

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Chicken and Dumplings

My father gave me a gift subscription to Bon Appetit and I’ve been loving it! The February 2012 issue was all about southern food and it got me thinking about how little I’ve learned about southern cuisine over the past 5 years. I wouldn’t go so far as to say chicken and dumplings is a southern recipe, but dumplings, like biscuits, tend to make me think of southern cooking.

To that end, I decided it would be a good idea to try out the Chicken and Dumplings recipe that appeared in this issue of Bon Appetit. Let me start by saying it is delicious. Let me follow that by saying it is super easy! The dumplings are a ricotta-based gnocchi and are packed full of taste but remain really light. Just dump the ingredients in a bowl, mix and chill. Nutmeg makes it such an interesting flavor. The chicken and gravy portion of the recipe is equally easy. Cook the chicken in the chicken broth, remove, make a roux of butter and flour, whisk it in to the broth, add the chopped vegetables, shred the meat and add it back to the pot. Viola a hearty, flavorful, healthy dinner!

Two of my dear friends from college came over to help me eat the large pot of this, and their were claims that this was the best meal they’d had in a long time. It doesn’t get better than easy to make, extremely delicious, and healthy too!

You can find the recipe on the Bon Appetit site, here. I made this again within the week and so far everyone who’s tried it has asked for the recipe. Now, I’ll just refer them here. I do hope you enjoy this though; it’s perfect for both a cold wintery night and a pleasant summer evening. This recipe is going down as one of my fall backs for many many years to come.


I am tempted to make this my shortest review yet by simply saying this: Yats is the best restaurant ever. Period. That being said, I don’t think I can resist this opportunity to gush over the incredibly good food and reminisce on the many, many meals I have enjoyed there.

Yats is my favorite restaurant, hands down. Yats specializes in Cajun-Creole food, and has been my go-to place for a quick bite to eat in Indianapolis for almost a decade now. For people located in and around Indianapolis, Yats is probably a staple in your diet, but for me it is food that I crave weekly and only get to eat once or twice a year. When I visit Indy, I try to go as many times as possible, often buying the stuff by the quart to freeze and bring home with me! Fortunately for my waistline and wallet, the food is even healthy and super affordable! For those of you with picky eaters in the family, they also offer rice with cheese and/or beans for children…I’m sure adults could get it too if they really won’t branch out.

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Poached Pears

You have got to try this super decadent, melt-in-your-mouth, super sweet treat! It is finally starting to get chilly in South Carolina, and I decided to pull out all of the stops with the desert for the dinner party. You can make these in a variety of different ways, but there are some pretty standard approaches.

First, wine is a must. However, there is an on-going debate about whether you should use red or white. I do not suggest sitting on the fence for this one, decide and move on. I however, decided that I really wanted the red coloring offered by the red wine, but not the flavor, so instead I used Relax, a Riesling (it’s amazing and sweet!) and some red sparkling grape juice. I would suggest trying out a few whites before deciding on what to use, especially if you are going to add sparkling grape juice to the mix. Seriously, taste the combination first. On a slightly different topic, if you go with just a white wine, throwing in some dried cranberries and/or cherries a couple minutes before the syrup is finished reducing is a colorful, tasty touch; they will re-hydrate a little and add nice texture to the dish too. I suppose you could add these to the red wine/grape juice version of this dish too, but they won’t be a visible addition to the dish.

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Stuffed Shells

I am a big fan of stuffed pastas, especially when there is more than cheese involved. This is a version of a recipe that I grew up with and really love. It involves spinach, so if that is not something you’re worth trying, skip ahead to the desert part of the meal (poached pears!). These are delicious, and don’t feel like your eating something particularly healthy, but they are still very light and refreshing. In my opinion, this is one of those super meals because it is really easy to make, fairly healthy, and delicious!


1 box of shell pasta

Cheese – a mix of Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Parmasean

Spinach – 1 package of frozen chopped spinach

1/2 onion diced*

2 tsp minced garlic (left overs from the Garlic Knots are perfect)

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

3 c tomato based sauce (Marinara or meat sauce works well)

*If you are not a fan of firm onions, you can sauté them lightly before adding them to the mixture.


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Garlic Knots

I grew up making bread. As I’ve been told, the first recipe I ever knew by heart was a cornbread recipe. But as I’m getting older, the sad reality is dawning on me that a diet entirely dominated by delicious bread and baked goods is not going to be very waistline-friendly. That being said, I still make bread all the time; now I just make smaller amounts of it, but that is not always an easy task given that bread recipes often do not scale easily/evenly. So this is a simple bread recipe that only makes 12 (albeit a fairly large 12) garlic knots. If you have a significant other, great, now you can split it evenly and distribute the consumption. If you have a significant other and kids/niece(s)/nephew(s)/neighbors/friends, even better. But I should warn you, you might not give these up so easily once you’ve tried them!


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One of the first things I do upon moving to a new town is try to find my go-to Chinese take out restaurant. Sadly, it has proved more difficult than usual in Columbia, but I have found nicer sit-down Asian places to visit. So far my favorite is Tsunami, which is in the Vista. On my first visit I tried warm, kiwi-flavored Sake (something that I strongly recommend sharing with friends if you want any chance of getting home safely. (Don’t worry, my friend ordered it and I just had a sip because, goodness knows, I can’t hold my liquor.) During that visit I also decided to order a couple sushi rolls rather than a main course while everyone else ordered more filling meals. One of our friends is Jain and cannot eat anything requiring the death of another organism and he ordered fried cheese and spinach rolls of which I was quite envious.

One a side note, the atmosphere of Tsunami is pretty cool. I am a big fan of using bold colors on walls and decorating with art that ads motion to the room. The picture to the right is kind of dark, but from what I could tell it was pieces of wood painted the same dark red of the wall over a semi-opaque white background that was back lit to create shadows and emphasis. Either way, I was really impressed with it, especially with the blue-ish lights hung in contrast to them.

Having seen a variety of the foods on the menu during my first visit, this time I knew better than to order two rolls of sushi. This time I wised up and ordered the Fired Cheese and Spinach roles as an appetizer and the Teriyaki Chicken Hibachi grill as my main course. Normally I don’t order meat at restaurants if I can help it, especially if it is covered in sauce because I have a sneaking suspicion that the meat is pretty low quality in such dishes. My boyfriend vouched for the quality of the meat, however, so my concern diminished slightly and I decided to order it anyway.

So we started with very light, bust still satisfyingly greasy fried cheese and spinach rolls. Rather than being breaded, they were wrapped in wonton wrappers, and they are the best cheese sticks I’ve ever had. The spinach makes them an even less-guilty guilty pleasure. I would highly recommend splurging on this appetizer. Also, I bet I could replicate these at home since wonton wrappers are widely available at grocery stores in the produce section. I’ll go out on a limb here and say if you just steam some spinach (or even thaw some frozen spinach, I suppose) and place a thing layer of it in with the mozzarella cheese, roll them up, cover with an egg wash or just oil (I’ll have to try both and see what works) and bake at a high temperature for a few minutes on each side, you’d probably have a pretty tasty and fairly healthy version of this delectable treat. Check back soon for a full post on an attempt at this make-at-home recipe.

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Bella Bolle' Moscato D'Asti

I am definitely not big on drinking, but I do enjoy trying new drinks once in a while. Not too long ago, I was picking up a few groceries and found a whole shelf of this wine on sale (admittedly not the best sign when it comes to wines), and decided to buy a bottle. I am so decidedly not a wine connoisseur that I might even come off as ignorant here, but I was so impressed by the fruitiness and lightness of this Moscato that I had to share.

Bella Bolle’ Moscato D’Asti claims to have “vibrant flavors and aromas of stone fruit, tangerines, and honey,” and it definitely lives up to this. The honey is subtle, more a consistent sweetness than a specific honey flavor, but the tangerine/citrus flavor is surprising, refreshing, and delightful! Rather than a tangerine flavor though, I was more reminded of a sweetened grapefruit, one of my favorite fruits, and was really impressed by the vibrancy of the citrus. However, I’ve heard from others that they thought it tasted like a more sophisticated sparkling grape juice. Either way, what’s not to love?!

So, when you are preparing for holiday parties, in-laws, and/or are stressed out about all of the cooking you have yet to do, pick up a bottle of this. I’m always up for a break from dry reds!

NOTE: If you invite me to a dinner party, I will probably show up with a bottle of this. You might want to save it for later so you don’t have to share it. This wine is definitely that good.