Appetizers Eat

Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Basil Flag

This fresh mozzarella tomato basil flag is perfect for any patriotic occasion. Bursting with flavor and color this dazzling dish takes moments to put together.

If you’re looking for a fun, patriotic appetizer that can be assembled before you can hum the phrase, “our country tis of thee”, then boy do I have a delish dish for you! I’m a big fan of dazzle without hassel. So in the spirit of my watermelon feta flag that has become an all time favorite 4th of July family tradition, I dreamt up the fresh mozzarella tomato basil flag.

This fresh, savory flag was a breeze to assemble and yet it exploded with tremendous flavor that made my spirits soar. So without further adieu, I give to you, freedom from slaving away over a hot & steamy stove…

Just place some fresh Opal Basil leaves into a square white dish to make a perfect field of blue.

Then lovingly line fresh mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes two by two, on a white rectangular platter, to make some splendid, scrumptious stripes.

You’ll be filled with glee to find that the three ingredients thread onto a bamboo skewer make a darling red, white & blue,

…bite of bliss just for you.

And for a little more bling to the taste buds,

drizzle with a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar…

And that my friends is an explosion of summertime celebration in your mouth.

You’ve still got time to run to the store for these 3 simple red, white & blue ingredients that will be sure to *woo* your guests at that post-parade picinc or pre-fireworks party.

Wishing you a most festive 4th that includes freedom from slaving away over a hot & steamy stove!


Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Basil Flag
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Wendy Hondroulis | Wenderly
This fresh mozzarella tomato basil flag is the perfect dish for Memorial Day, the 4th of July or any patriotic occasion. Bursting with flavor and color, this dazzling dish only takes moments to put together.
  • grape tomatoes – washed and dried
  • small fresh mozzarella balls
  • opal (purple) basil leaves- rinsed and patted dry
  • balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Arrange tomatoes and mozzarella balls into rows on a rectangular plate to make the stripes of the American flag.
  2. Place a square bowl in the top left corner and fill it with the purple basil leaves. This will make the *stars* of the flag.
  3. Serve with toothpicks and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.



Drying Herbs

Autumn is in the air, my garden is winding down and our kitchen counter top is filled with fabulous smelling herbs that are waiting to be used.

I just loooooooooooove herbs! Don’t you?

The smell is intoxicating and the taste adds such a depth of flavor and vibrancy to just about anything. If you could smell the fabulous aroma filling my kitchen at the moment…oh MY!

Luckily, I happen to be married to a darling husband who finds great joy in dabbling in the garden and especially loves to dry herbs.

For years we’ve had a running joke about looking in the oven before turning it on because one never knows when My Yanni might be in the process of his herb drying.

And let me tell you, I have done this a time or two and burned herbs don’t smell good. 

This past weekend My Yanni was at it again…a delicious stack of herbs were piled high on my countertop and I decided to snap some photos of the process. I have always taken the delightful dried herbs that we enjoy (on just about everything) for granted. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy the process really is and decided to share it with all of you!

Simply pinch off the tops of your favorite herbs, we used basil, thyme and oregano. Wash herbs in cool water, and roll them gently in a paper towel to dry up the excess water.

Grab a jellyroll pan (or a cookie sheet) and place a wire cooling rack on top, this allows the air to circulate.

Next, spread the herbs out into a single layer on top of wire rack, pop the pan (or pans) into the oven (that isn’t turned on) and let sit for 2-3 weeks. You may want to leave yourself & other family members, a reminder note about the herbs being in the oven…remember, burned herbs = not good.

After about 2-3 weeks, depending on the humidity in you house, the herbs will look like this…

Make certain that the leaves are perfectly crunchy, otherwise any leftover moisture in the leaves will cause the herbs to collect condensation and get moldy in the container .

And the only thing worse than burned herbs would be moldy-partially-dried herbs. Ick.

My Yanni likes to work in batches one herb at a time.

No to be confused with thyme…which just so happens to be the herb with which he started.

Are you confused? Sorry. This is how I amuse myself…bear with me.

My Yanni began by placing all of the thyme in a bowl, grabbed a piece of butcher paper and gathered the glass containers that would hold the dried herbs.

Ever so carefully, sprig by sprig, he plucked the fragrant leaves off of the stem…

And let them fall into a pile on the butcher paper. I kept saying in my type A personality way, “why are you letting all of that fall onto the paper, you’re making a mess.”

He just smiled knowingly and gave me that “I’ve got it under control” look.

After all of the leaves had been plucked off, I think he may have actually snickered as he picked up the paper and effortlessly poured it into the container.


I think that I may have mumbled something like, “you’re so smart” under my breath and we moved on.

He repeated the same process with the basil.




Take care to keep the leaves whole while plucking them off the stem. Later when seasoning your food you’ll crumble the leaves to release the oils & aromas.

Ahhhhh, beautiful basil.

Next was the oregano.



I’m SO glad that I thought to put a piece of paper down to catch the leaves and make for easy pouring.

Just kidding.


Store the herbs in an airtight glass container with a lid. If using clear glass, store herbs in a dry dark place. Leafy herbs can loose their flavor faster than other herbs (but at our house we use them up quickly) as long as the herbs are fragrant they’re good.

Drying herbs is fun & easy…remember the 3 P’s.




And in no time flat you’ll have heaps of delicious dried herbs at your fingertips.


~ Wenderly







Eat Main Courses

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

I fell in love with stuffed peppers while on my honeymoon in Greece. My Yanni’s Yaya would spend a whole day preparing the divine little packages of deliciousness. The kitchen would fill up with the wonderful aroma of herbs and vegetables and tantalize my senses until I thought that I could take it no longer.

Let me tell you, when those beautiful stuffed vegetables appeared from out of the oven, we were right there fork in hand, ready to dig into those perfect little pepper packages faster than you can sneeze.

I could live on stuffed vegetables alone. Forever.

The other night I had a hankering for my beloved stuffed vegetables but didn’t have the time for the whole shebang so I made my favorite standby recipe, orzo stuffed peppers. These are simple, delicious and nutritious! They are the perfect side for any meal or they can be an entire meal on their own!

Let me introduce you to your favorite new dish.

This is what you’ll need… six peppers.

Orzo. LOVE orzo.

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Often times I’ll make the peppers with feta instead of the Pecorino Romano, but I (gasp) didn’t have any on hand.

Fresh basil. I picked mine from the garden, it was still warm from the sunshine. Wish I could bottle that scent.




Italian tomatoes whole or diced.

I like to squish the whole tomatoes with my fingers, personally. But that’s just me.

Of course some extra virgin olive oil,

a little salt & peppa…

and chicken broth.

First pour the chicken broth into a pan and bring to a boil.

Next pour the orzo in and cook for 4 minutes. We want the orzo partially cooked because it will finish off in the oven while nestled inside the peppers.

Next, cut the tops off the peppers and remove all seeds and ribs. Feel free to slice the bottoms off if they seem wobbly.

I like to dice up the extra pepper from the tops and add them to the filling.

Put all of your peppers into a baking dish that fits all six peppers snugly, a 3-quart should do the trick.

We don’t want any peppers spilling their filling. There’s just nothing worse than that!

Once the orzo has cooked for 4 minutes, drain and reserve the chicken broth. We will be using the remaining chicken broth in the bottom of the baking dish while the peppers bake.

Now it’s time to make the filling.

Grate the zucchini.

Grab a big bowl and put in the partially cooked orzo, chopped mint leaves, minced garlic, squished up tomatoes, cheese, diced pepper tops, olive oil, basil and salt and pepper.

Give it a gentle stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Heck, I could just eat this entire bowl of filling, but I won’t because I looooooove my little stuffed peppers too much!

Now fill each and every pepper with the filling. You may have some extra filling left over depending on the size of the peppers, just pop the extra into a small baking dish and bake it off with the peppers.

Aren’t they just gorgeous?

Now pour the leftover chicken broth into the bottom of the baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes remove the foil and sprinkle the tops generously with the Pecorino Romano cheese. Cook for 15 more minutes until the tops are golden brown and you can’t possibly stand the incredible aroma that is permeating your nostrils for – One. More. Minute.

Garnish the tops with ribbons of basil, it’s the perfect way to wrap up this perfect little pepper package!



Orzo Stuffed Peppers
(makes six peppers)

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Giada’s Kitchen

  • 1 (28 ounce can) can Italian tomatoes
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 6 peppers
  • 1/4 sweet chopped basil


Begin by preheating the oven to 400° F.

Boil the 4 cups of chicken broth, add orzo and cook for 4 minutes.

While the orzo cooks, prepare the peppers by cutting off tops, remove seeds and ribs. Discard the seeds and ribs but save and chop the pepper tops.

Once the orzo is ready, drain the orzo and save the chicken broth.

Next prepare the filling. Pour the orzo, tomatoes, zucchini, chopped pepper tops, mint, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper into a bowl and stir.

Put the peppers into a 3-quart baking dish, pour the remaining chicken broth into the bottom of the dish and stuff the peppers with the filling.

Cover the peppers with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil, sprinkle the peppers generously with cheese and bake uncovered for 15 more minutes.

Garnish with basil ribbons.