spicy tortellini with eggplant and peppers.

spicy tortellini with eggplant and peppers.

I used to think my vegetarian friends’ lives were seriously lacking. Meat is so tasty, why go without it? Other times, I’d think, Man, they’re brave, knowing that I wouldn’t last a week. Sometimes, this led to resentful, defensive dialogues (with my own thoughts, mind you) about how they just couldn’t appreciate food as much as I could, what with my extremely developed taste buds, and were simply incapable of understanding how to enjoy a cut of savory, succulent meat like I could. In a whirlwind, I would suddenly pity them, their mediocre palates and inevitably malnourished bodies (ya know, since there’s no way to get sufficient nutrients without consuming tender slabs of cooked animal flesh).

Well. After sitting down with a few good nutritional reads (including Clean Plates NYC and Food Matters), watching Food, Inc., familiarizing myself more with the misinformation distributed by our government (and you trusted the Food Pyramid all these years) and doing some general boning up on the subject of food nutrition, I’ve learned a thing or two.

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garlicky sautéed shrimp, arugula and tomatoes.

garlicky sautéed shrimp, arugula and tomatoes.

I love shrimp. They’re heart-healthy, quick to defrost and great with endless flavor combos, so I always keep a bag of them in the freezer.

This fall, I also fell in love with arugula and its peppery taste and crisp, yet tender bite. I pick it up in bulk, rather than pre-bagged and keep it in a sealed Ziplock with a paper towel, which helps it stay fresh longer. It’s great for salads and on sandwiches, but as I’ve noted the abundance of recipes incorporating it into warm dishes, I recently tried one out to great satisfaction.

I actually found this recipe in the pages of Everyday Food’s June issue, as I had recalled a feature on arugula, but it was a light and tasty dish for a weeknight and literally took 15 minutes to make, as promised. Plus, arugula and tomato are both sources of Vitamin C to help stave off seasonal colds.

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nyc eats: a tasty new chapter.

nyc eats: a tasty new chapter.

Yeah, yeah. I know. I fell off the planet.

Got sucked right out of the blogosphere into a frenzied–albeit pleasant–black hole of packing, daydreaming, tying loose ends, and selling gobs of our stuff to strangers. I’ve shirked my food scribbling duties (though I’ve continued to take countless low-quality photos of slightly above-quality dishes and scrawl well intentioned notes on napkins and receipts), and I’m not proud of it, but I’m BACK I tell you. For good. To regale you with gastro adventures galore.

Also, by back, I mean that I’m once again a displaced Texan. This time, however, I’ve side-stepped a return to the Midwest and instead landed in a hustlin’ bustlin’ nabe of the Bronx. That’s right folks. This little foodie scooted off to the Great Big Shiny Apple. It’s been almost a week, and now that we have crappy Internet installed (yes, there is an ethernet cable surging Web life into my MacBook), I figure I’ll jump back in the dining saddle with a whirlwind wrap up of our taste bud travels thus far.

Ready? GO.

After a disgustingly early flight, feeding my kitty tranquilizers (vet-approved, mind you), a connecting flight in Philly, and an anxious taxi ride, we managed to find ourselves on the corner of Eastchester Road and Morris Park on the grounds of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where the male counterpart will continue studying gray matter. We giddily picked up our keys at the security desk (yes, mom, there is a 24-hour security guard on duty) and road the left of two 28-story elevators up to the ninth floor. Ta-DAH! An empty studio with a view of… well, the Bronx isn’t exactly gorgeous, but you can see a ways off. Look below, and there are three or four eateries across the street. Starving, Joshua? Me, too.

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gnocchi in sage-browned butter sauce (with warm spinach salad).

gnocchi in sage-browned butter sauce (with warm spinach salad).

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? How convenient.

Last Wednesday was Josh’s birthday, the big 2-3. Since he had a bio chem test the next day (real cool, prof), we postponed the raging and commenced the celebrating with a low-key with a dinner at my casa. For inspiration, I did some searching on Chow.com and found my muse in a “How to Make Gnocchi” video that suggested a simple browned butter sauce infused with sage, which sounded amazing and became a perfect opportunity to use the newest addition to my balcony herb garden. Bring on the gnocchi gnight!

We made gnocchi a while back with a homemade red sauce chock-full of zesty veggies, and Josh has been hooked on the little potato pasta ever since.

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