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Italian

I have had Giada’s Roman-style chicken recipe bookmarked on my computer for months now. It is her most reviewed recipe on the Food Network site and with over 800 reviews that mostly say how delicious, healthy, and easy it is– I finally gave in and made this dish.

I added mushrooms and omitted the capers, so this Roman chicken ended up being a lot like Chicken Cacciatore—which is fine by me since it’s one of my all-time favorites. My Mom used to make Chicken Cacciatore in the crock-pot when I was younger, so this dish paired with rice is one that brings me right back to eating dinner in my plaid uniform at our old house on Vermeer Drive.

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I decided to make this vodka sauce with rigatoni after the locally owned company, Clique Vodka, offered to send me a bottle. A match made in heaven some would say—because I sure do love vodka. Plus there’s something about vodka sauce that everyone loves, whether it be the creaminess of the sauce or the subtle spiciness from the red pepper flakes, this recipe is definitely a crowd pleaser.

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I visited Piccolo Forno for the first time a few weeks ago to celebrate my friend’s 24th birthday. I had heard rave reviews about the cozy Italian restaurant in Lawrenceville for months and realized it would be the perfect place to have a girls night birthday celebration. Italian food? Everyone likes it. BYOB? Perfect for our group, because we love wine and it’s a lot easier on the wallet. And Piccolo Forno accepts reservations for parties of five or more, so the arrangements worked out perfectly for our party of eight.

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I first fell in love with linguine with clam sauce when I studied abroad in London and became quite attached to the little Italian restaurant, Cotto, just up the street from my dorm. The small, family-owned restaurant full of delicious comfort food was a nice change from eating fish and chips all the time. And then when I had Linguine con Vongole in Rome, I realized my love for this dish was going to outlast my six-month stay abroad and be a long-term love affair.

Linguine with clam sauce is one of those pasta dishes that you virtually can’t screw up. Butter, white wine, and garlic will work together no matter what and will have your guests, and in my case my family, licking their plates clean. Plus it’s a quick dish, maybe a half hour from start to finish. Serve with a green salad and fresh bread to sop up the sauce with.

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Myrtle Beach has always been my family’s destination of choice when deciding to go on a summer vacation. Lounging at the pool, drinking strawberry daiquiris, and relaxing on the beach filled those hot, summer days. At night, we would pile into my Dad’s car and visit Broadway at the Beach or Barefoot Landing, where I would be hell-bent on finding the perfect seashell necklace or souvenir T-shirt.

But there was always one night on vacation that we all especially looked forward to–the night we would go to Umberto’s. Umberto’s is an Italian restaurant at Barefoot Landing, a family-owned joint where you don’t mind sitting on plastic lawn chairs or waiting an extra 15 minutes for a table. The food is so good, you won’t believe how much of it you can actually eat. The multiple courses and very generous portion sizes are enough to keep you full for a few days, and there’s always the glorious leftovers to nibble on straight from the fridge the day after.

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From margherita pizza, to caprese salad and bruschetta–tomato, basil, & mozzarella is a flavor trio that can’t be beat. And with tomatoes being at their best right now, it is the perfect time to whip up a recipe of my own with them.

Essentially, you could use these ingredients to make this recipe two ways. You could go the non-cooking route by chopping up the tomato, basil, and mozzarella and tossing it with angel hair pasta and a little butter and olive oil. Or you could follow this recipe and cook it on low and slow on the stove. Either way–it will taste good. Trust me.

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