Hooked on a Filling

vegetable dumplings

With the last-minute exams and grading just before Thanksgiving, I peddled home with barely enough energy to tear open a cardboard box and microwave a frozen entrée. I selected a chicken-and-vegetable dumpling dinner last Tuesday, and during my first bite, a dangerous idea popped into my head…


I could make these myself!   Continue reading for recipe.


November 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Midweek Meals, Satisfying Sides. 15 comments.

Hiking Trails and Tuna Tales

Every childhood summer, we piled into our minivan and drove up to the mountains to pitch a tent and escape humanity for a while. Sometimes family friends joined in, and we all swam in the lake, cooked burgers in the fire, and munched on gooey s’mores.


But everyone loved hiking the most. Mom packed a backpack with all sorts of fruit gummies and peanut butter crackers and granola bars, and we stopped in the shade to sit on boulders and enjoy the snacks.


One girl always begged her dad to bring a can of tuna. While the briny fish smell repulsed my brother and me, she peeled back the lid and happily ate the fish plain or with a bit of mayo using her little fold-up spork.   Continue reading for recipe.

June 28, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Satisfying Sides. Leave a comment.

I Smell Smoke! Where’s My Fire?

As the temperatures jump up like little kids on pogo sticks, people begin dusting off their webers and lugging home big bags of charcoal briquettes. A couple of weekends ago, I honestly thought a forest fire had engulfed my neighbor’s porch because their grill’s flames were so high! (Kind of glad they didn’t offer me a bite of the unsuspecting steak that couldn’t escape…)


Maybe the smell of their charcoal smoke sets my heart on fire. Or maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t have my own little hibachi to experiment with. Either way, I wanted to join in the warm weather grilling crazy that infected my entire neighborhood.   Continue reading for recipe.

May 28, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Satisfying Sides. 2 comments.

Can This Italian Tradition Take the Heat?

When my dad’s coworker first suggested a local upscale Italian restaurant, we took careful notes on the entrées he advised. We ordered their pollo saltimbocca (chicken topped with ham, mozzarella, and a white wine sauce) and gnocchi gorgonzola to split between three people, ensuring that everyone ate bites of both.


But before we polished off the main dishes and mopped up the last drops of sauce with fresh warm bread, we bravely branched out to try an appetizer. The waiter recommended the insalata caprese, and within minutes, it arrived at our table.   Continue reading for recipe.

March 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Satisfying Sides. 6 comments.

Ditching Desserts — But Just for the Night!

When skimming through my recipes, I noticed that the sides and starters section desperately needed a little TLC before the cake and cookie categories took over my blog—and my waistline! Since the UPS man dropped off a package on my porch a few weeks ago, the new kitchen toys constantly nagged me for a trial run, so I put one to use in creating a new appetizer.


I already gave the immersion blender the task of mixing up a smooth and simple pizza sauce, and my fridge lacked meat to pound with the mallet or cook in the grill pan, which left me with the mini muffin pan. Oh darn, another thing to bake! (No, I do not have a sheepish grin on my face… Well okay, maybe a tiny one.)   Continue reading for recipe.

March 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Satisfying Sides. 11 comments.

Hosting a Dinner Party

The appetizers dictate the entire tone for every single dinner party. They’re the first thing people see as they walk in, they’re the main distraction from growling stomachs and nervous chitchat with complete strangers, and they’re the first bite of the night, which sets everyone’s expectations for the rest of the meal. Serve a lousy appetizer, and your guests will ask for their coats before you can even pour them drinks.   Continue reading for recipe.

August 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Satisfying Sides. 2 comments.

Lend Me Your Ear: Tips to Get Kids to Eat Their Corn

Mom developed numerous strategies to coax us into eating our veggies as little kids. While peas and lima beans were basically lost causes, corn was one we were easily tricked into consuming. How’d she do it?   Continue reading for recipe.

August 12, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Satisfying Sides. Leave a comment.

The Best Kind of Appetizer: Simple Ingredients, Irresistible Taste


If you don’t fall in love at sight—or the first bite—I’m throwing in my apron and quitting my nighttime blogging “job.” Don’t make too many of these, or else no one will have any room for dinner! They’re absolutely addicting, and they’re so easy to make.      Continue reading for recipe.

February 3, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Midweek Meals. 2 comments.

H is for Hummus

H got the short end of the stick and happened to fall at the end of a very long, stressful week.  I didn’t have the energy to make anything elaborately gourmet, super involved, or really exotic.  I wanted something that required minimal effort yet had maximum flavor – and was also fail-proof, seeing as I was half-dead from my week.  Hummus fit the bill perfectly, and clocking in at under 2 minutes, it’s the fastest “Alphabet Adventure” dish I’ve prepared yet!   Continue reading for recipe.

November 20, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Alphabet Adventure. Leave a comment.