Cooking With Fiori di Zucca

The seasonal fiori di zucca dishes offered when we traveled to Italy a few summers ago were some of my favorite food memories!  Each restaurant prepared them slightly differently, and my husband found a little grocery in Rome which had the delicate flowers delivered in the mornings, providing an opportunity for him to attempt making the savory stuffed appetizer himself.

Our shaded yard (not to mention the often short summers in northern Minnesota) does not provide an optimal space for growing squash, pumpkin or zucchini, but when we visited my parents in South Dakota recently, the zucchini blossoms in their garden were plentiful.  My husband carefully packed a half-dozen blossoms in our cooler for the 8-hour road trip home, and treated us to memories of Rome that evening.  Fiori di zucca fritti is a perfect mid-summer small plate to share!

Fiori di Zucca Fritti

Do you have a favorite zucchini/squash blossom recipe to share? I would love to see it!

Recipe my husband used for the Fried Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms pictured above, from Giada De Laurentiis and the Food Network:

Ciao! ~ Kat

Taking Time to Enjoy the Sunsets


The blog has been neglected, but summers are not meant for sitting in front of the computer screen.  Hope your summer has been full of the things summer is meant for:  soaking up the sunshine (although in Duluth, the first 1/3 of summer left us sorely sun-starved), digging in the dirt, playing in the sand, wandering along the trails, reading a good book, learning something new ….

Minnesota sunset

Posts may be a little less frequent over the next month or two, but patiently hang with me, and I will try to make time to stop by your blog, as well …. I always look forward to our conversations and visits.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Dessert for Summer Potlucks When You Have No Time to Cook (If the Cat Licks the Beaters, Even Clean Up Goes Quickly)

Kat at travelgardeneat:

With the Fourth of July weekend just ahead of us, here is a perfect quick and easy dessert for the holiday. Sharing this post again — Happy Fourth! ~ Kat

Originally posted on Travel. Garden. Eat.:

Kudos to those who enjoy and/or have time to spend hours crafting an elegant dessert that creates a memorable end to a meal.  I tend to be the one who thinks as I am working, “Crud, what are we going to make for the neighborhood gathering tonight?” and then runs a quick lunch-hour errand to pick up ingredients to throw together shortly before departing for the event (or frankly, runs an errand to pick up the end-product dessert itself!) .

Freshly washed berries

As we enter the season of family get-togethers, potluck celebrations, and graduation parties, I just had to share the newest of my “when you have no time to cook” recipes: Pillsbury’s Mini Fruit Pizzas While you are certainly welcome to make sugar cookies from scratch, I dutifully followed the recipe and gratefully placed the refrigerated sugar cookie dough squares on my cookie sheet (and thought to myself, “This could go…

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Our Home Away From Home in Puerto Rico

Sometimes you are fortunate enough to find a spot while traveling that allows you to relax and makes you feel like you are at home — without the hassle of housework, of course.  Instead, you can kick back, grab a good book, enjoy the view from a lounge chair, and even have a favorite four-legged friend at your side, for an extra-personal touch — so was our experience at the Ceiba Country Inn.

We spent a week in Puerto Rico in June of this year — a family vacation with the destination selected by my oldest son (the motivating factor: somewhere he could use his five years of Spanish without breaking the vacation bank).  He had the privilege of selecting the destination because the trip was in lieu of a high school graduation party.  (I admit, I strongly encouraged him to take the trip rather than the party — didn’t we all win that way?!)  It was a great week of family time at a stage in our family’s life that makes me appreciate how rare family time can be, as the countdown has begun before our oldest goes to college in the fall.

Our week was divided between four nights in eastern Puerto Rico, at the Ceiba Country Inn, and then two nights in Old San Juan.  If and when we return to Puerto Rico, as we certainly hope to do, the western side of the island has more sights to explore, but we would have to make time again for at least a night or two at this little Inn on top of the hill on the edge of the rainforest.

The days started with fresh fruits and freshly-squeezed juices from the property, along with Michael’s home-baked breads, yogurt and coffee.  One morning we had a special treat of fresh hard-boiled eggs from the resident chickens. The view from the patio deck stretches across the rolling hills of the rainforest to the sea.  Games and books were available for guests to borrow, with reasonably priced beer and wine available for purchase while the office was open in the evenings.

With only 9 rooms, the Inn has an intimate feel to it, yet is laid-back and friendly with its communal breakfast room and patio. While we fully appreciated the companionship of the canine and feline residents of the Inn, for those who were not as enamored, the owners and staff helped with minimizing interactions (as you can see from my photos, we welcomed their antics and friendly greetings as we came and went).  As the sun sets, the sounds of the forest come out:  the owls, the wind in the trees, and the little coquis.  Even if the night was warm, we left our windows open so we could fall asleep to the sounds of nature surrounding the Inn.

The Inn was a getaway in the countryside, just outside of the town of Ceiba, yet only a short 15-minute drive to Fajardo with many dining options, and just a few minutes farther to the Laguna Grande biobay kayak tours and some great beaches.  It was the best of both worlds.  Owner Michael was always gracious when answering questions about the property, area activities and dining suggestions. The Inn’s front office was often staffed by Chris, who also works as an area tour guide (our morning trip with him to Rio Tinajas will have to be the subject of a future post, along with some of our other favorite Puerto Rican experiences)!  For now, I leave you with a short video slideshow that gives you a small idea of why the Ceiba Country Inn is such a charming part of our travel memories.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

The line between comfort and despair …. good fortune and tragedy … is often much more tenuous that we care to acknowledge.

Gato in the doorway of Hotel El Convento

One of the gato of Puerto Rico sitting in the doorway of the classic Hotel El Convento, between a life of luxury and its life on the street, reminded us of this sometimes harsh juxtaposition during our stay in Old San Juan.

The Save A Gato organization has filled a critical need in Puerto Rico, with its spay-neuter-release and adoption programs, as well as supporting and inspiring both formal and informal volunteers to help care for the many gato on the streets of Old San Juan.  Support their efforts through a donation, and “like” their Facebook page, to share their important work with your friends.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ”Between” was this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.