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Breana Lai's Blog

June 29, 2015 - 12:33pm

It’s summertime and that means it’s very likely that a friend will drop by unexpectedly for a drink and conversation. To make sure I’m prepared, I always stock a few nibbles—cheese, crackers, olives and fruit—and my favorite drinks. Now that I live in Vermont, I do have a few craft beers in my fridge, but what I really stockpile is wine.

As a former sommelier, I get caught up in finding the “perfect” wine for every occasion and meal. I love Prosecco for celebrations, and dry Italian and Alsatian whites for seafood dinners. I pair Cru Beaujolais with chicken and Rioja with steak. I don’t mind spending a little more on a special bottle for dinner. But if friends are just dropping in for a drink, I open up a delicious, easy-drinking wine that doesn’t break the bank.

For the best deal on wine—and to impress...

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April 17, 2015 - 5:11pm

Growing up in the South, I was served biscuits at breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Each family and restaurant has their own specific way of making them. Some are skinny and tall, others flat and wide, and some come nestled together like Parker House rolls in cast-iron pans. Served with butter or jam, smothered with gravy or topped with ham and cheese or a piece of fried chicken, biscuits are as Southern as bourbon, collards and mac and cheese.

Even though my mom has lived in the South for nearly 20 years, she’s never gotten quite accustomed to biscuits. She is in the scone camp. She likes the crunchy, slightly sweet baked good, especially alongside a good cup of coffee. And since she is the baker in the house, I became accustomed to and developed a love for scones too. They are still my go-to coffee-shop splurge, especially at 4 p.m. on a Sunday...

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April 17, 2015 - 3:00pm

When I was tasked with testing vegetable noodle makers—aka “spiralizers”—I was hesitant. Growing up with a Chinese father, I primarily ate an Asian-inspired diet that included a lot of rice. But on special occasions, I had another option: noodles. And like most kids, when given the choice between rice and noodles, I’d always pick noodles. Noodles, in this case, meant ramen, lo mein, soba or egg and I loved them all—and still do. I was afraid that vegetable versions of my beloved noodles couldn’t come close to my enjoyment of the starchy originals.

Boy, was I wrong. Vegetable noodles are usually lower in calories and, depending on the vegetable, higher in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and a bevy of other good things. Vegetable noodles also add a layer of delicious flavor to the recipes, such as a touch of sweetness from sweet potatoes in the Sweet...

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September 24, 2014 - 10:17am

As the leaves on the trees change from green to yellow and red, the cooling weather means one thing for me: it’s pumpkin time.

Starbucks rolls out the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Halloween pumpkins start bringing their glow to the farmers’ markets and gardening stores, and my Pinterest board lights up with pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin and all types of winter squash have always been a favorite food of mine. So it’s a good thing they’re loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber, because I’m planning to eat my fair share as fall in Vermont is already settling in.

To keep things easy, all these recipes use canned pumpkin. But if you would like to use fresh pumpkin or squash, cut a small, 4-to-6-pound pie pumpkin or winter squash in half and remove the seeds. Lightly coat the inside with oil and roast at 350°F until very tender, 50 minutes to 1...

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September 17, 2014 - 3:58pm

Have you enjoyed having all your dinners planned for the past 3 weeks? Have you cooked anything you wouldn’t usually have made? I certainly have! I love how easy these recipes—like the Broccoli-Cheddar-Chicken Chowder—are to assemble. And I’ve been enjoying so many leftovers, my lunches inspire envy!

Get the full 1-month Healthy Dinner Plan!

You’ll be making steak, pasta, pizza, stir-fry, fish and stew for the last week of the 28-day plan—all delicious, healthy and praiseworthy. All your friends will be jealous (if they aren’t already).

So keep on cooking along with me. I promise you’ll love this last week of meals.

Here’s what I’ll make from the...

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