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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dulcería Carucel

Aren't these piñatas cute? Makes me wanna have my own niño/niña - almost!

I was picking up a standard thin crust pizza with pepperoni and black olive this evening from the pizza hut at 36th St. and Thomas when I spotted some piñatas at a strip mall across the way (just east of the pizza hut).

Dulcería Carucel has just about every type of Mexican candy you can imagine - from pulparindo to some type of chicken lollypop (no foolin) and mango lollypops with chile. I was mesmerized as I made my way through the small shop which is filled with party supplies like invitations, table toppers, piñatas and there is also a small section near the front with San Marcos blankets (they are very warm and fuzzy) and cosmetics and hair accessories.

I think I remember the sign out front saying they had sodas too.

So, get yourself over to Dulcería Carucel and take care of that sweet tooth. Chicken Lollypops - oh my!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's in my fridge

I remember reading a blog - don't remember whose it was, but it included the contents of the blogger's fridge. It inspired me to do the same here, because it gave me ideas for economical cooking/snacking options.

I always have a gallon of milk around since I make a big (HUGE) latte every single morning, without fail.

Condiments/pickled/dried things: olives, guindilla peppers (Trader Joe's), garlic, parmesean cheese packets (thank you, Jason), figs (Trader Joe's) peanut butter, jelly, kung po sauce, liquid yogurt (lala is a really good brand from Food City).

Produce: strawberries, bagged spinach, roma tomatoes, yellow onion, grapefruit (from my aunt's neighbor - thank you, Bob), pears and apples. There is also some canned pineapple and a little cranberry sauce leftover from a couple of months ago. I keep telling myself, "it's still good!"

Meats: chicken (defrosting - not shown), a small salami from DeFalco's deli

Sweets: Toblerone, and a fruitcake (not shown).

Condiments are great because they can really enhance a pasta salad or a three bean salad - I should have dijon mustard because it makes a great salad dressing, but I am out of it now.

I try to buy produce in season and what's cheap. That usually means I buy bananas, tomatoes, bagged spinach, onions, potatoes (great for oven fries).

Typically I like to buy chicken thighs because they have a lot of flavor and they are pretty reasonable. I cook them at 400 degrees for 1 hour and put them in a pasta salad or a spinach salad for lunch almost every day.

There is a bottle of Limoncello on the bottom shelf - I don't drink it often - but after a long day, sometimes it is nice.

What's in your fridge? This kitchen wench wants to know!

Rabbit for Easter?

If you have ever eaten rabbit before, you might enjoy dining at Caffe Boa this coming Sunday. I have tried it braised with mushrooms, and it was delicious. There are a few butcher shops where you can find it in Phoenix, I believe the last one I purchased about 10 years ago was at Hobe Meats. You could also check with a carnicería, a Mexican butcher shop.

Hoppy (I mean happy) eating!

I spotted this article at

Caffe Boa defends rabbit-based Easter dinner after outcry

Caffe Boa and Boa Bistro have touched a nerve with their plans to serve a rabbit-based menu on Easter Sunday.

Easter dining at Caffe Boa and Caffe Boa Bistro

When: April 4. Brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Where: Caffe Boa, 398 S. Mill Ave., Tempe. Caffe Boa Bistro, 2837 N. Power Road, Mesa.

Admission: Brunch is served a la carte, prices range from $9-$12. Plus $19.95 for bottomless mimosas. Dinner costs $65.

Details: 480-968-9112, 480-981-2000,

"People just don't realize what wonderful pets rabbits are," said Doreen O'Connell, a volunteer at Brambly Hedge Rabbit Rescue in Phoenix.

"They're just the sweetest pets, so good-natured and funny and loving. And like any pet owner, when you see that on a menu you think how could somebody take my sweet pet and slaughter it and eat it?"

Executive chef Payton Curry, who planned the menu, said they had received more than 100 e-mails and messages about their plans. Last night, he said, the messages were running about 80-20 against the menu. By this afternoon, though, it had more or less evened out.

Feelings were running high.

One anonymous caller, Curry said, wished him a slow and painful death and told him he would end up in hell, then hung up.

"I try to unlearn people like that," Curry said.

In a press statement released Tuesday morning, Curry and Caffe Boa owners Jay and Christine Wisniewski stressed that the rabbits they serve are not domesticated bunnies.

"They are all-natural, free-range rabbits raised in humane conditions . . . ," they wrote.

O'Connell, though, thinks they are not that different from her house pets.

"I think (Wisniewski and Curry) underestimate the number of people who have pet rabbits," O'Connell said. Curry notes that rabbit has long been a staple ingredient of European diets and has become something of a dining trend in the United States.

A story in the New York Times documented the growing popularity of rabbit dishes in upscale restaurants across the country, and a workshop Curry held on the preparation of rabbit on March 21 was sold out.

Curry said the rabbit being served in the restaurant is no different than chicken, duck, lamb, pork or beef currently on their menu and that he and Wisniewski get many requests from their guests for more rabbit dishes.

Their holiday menu, Curry said, was simply a way to respond to that demand.

"I didn't do this to create a stir or insult or offend anyone," Curry said. "I grew up in Minnesota eating squirrel with my grandfather. To me, it's just food. I don't see what the big deal is."

Curry talked about how he works regularly with farm animals and only buys from farms where they're raised humanely. Just last week, he said, he personally helped a cow in distress.

"I don't just sit around thinking about how to slaughter and eat everything," he said. "These rabbits (we use) are wild. They need to be out on a farm, running around and not penned up in someone's backyard pen or apartment."

Curry and Wisniewski recognize that a rabbit-based menu is not to everyone's taste.

"We are doing something different, I know," Curry said. "It's making a few people upset, but we're bringing awareness to a lot of people who had no idea they could get this sort of cuisine in Tempe. I think it will be great for the dining scene."

The planned Easter dinners will consist of:

• Carrot soup with crispy rabbit confit.

• Rabbit-liver mousse crostini, fines herbes salad, quince mostarda, horseradish crème fraiche.

• Rabbit terrine with black truffle, celery root and parsnip slaw, black-pepper buttermilk vinaigrette, brioche.

• Ravioli of rabbit, local beet pasta, arugula-walnut pesto, local radish slaw.

• Prosciutto-wrapped rabbit leg, white-truffle omelet, braised black-eyed peas.

• Carrot cake.

An alternative menu is available for children, and both restaurants offer other choices on their Easter brunch menus.

The six-course dinner is $65. Reservations are required.

For more information on rabbit rescue, go to:

New floor update

The kitchen wench has a new floor in the living room - almost!

Okay, folks, my floor is "in progress" but I wanted you to see how it's coming.

This is a concrete paint - the other option was a stain, but it was more expensive in materials and labor.

What thinks you? I like it as it is akin to the red rock mountains in Sedona. I was going for a terra-cotta feel.

If you like interior decorating, you should read the articles by Constance Rosenblum in the - she recently interviewed two nice young men at their home and the architecture, inside and out (and decorating) is amaaaaaaazing!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cooking in tonight - spaghetti with sausage

It's nice to cook for someone who likes your cooking, and whom you like - a lot.

Recently I started a new job - and with that comes a new schedule. Honestly, I haven't felt too much like making dinner lately...but tonight I was inspired by my very significant other, Jason, to make spaghetti with sausage.

It was fortuitous, already having picked up sausage yesterday at DeFalco's Deli on Scottsdale Road.

All I needed to get next was:
1 can 16 oz chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
2 plum tomatoes
1 1/2 bell peppers
1/2 large yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil

To make the spaghetti sauce, I sauteed a few onion slices in olive oil, until transparent on medium heat, then added 2 minced garlic cloves and let them sit in the oil for about a minute. Then I added the chopped tomatoes, plum tomatoes, and 1/2 bell pepper and stirred. Then I added the tomato sauce and changed the temperature setting to medium low - so it would simmer, uncovered.

In the meantime I placed 4 italian sausages in a square baking dish lined with foil and preheated the oven to 400 degrees. To the sausages I added 1 bell pepper, cut in strips and 1/4 of a large yellow onion, sliced. This baked for 1 hour uncovered, and I took it out twice to stir it around so the onions and peppers could immerse in the juices of the sausages.

To serve, I removed the sausage and sliced it, placing it on a bed of spaghetti, topped with the sauce. Along side I placed the onions and peppers. Jason deemed it a presentation worthy of a photo opportunity. I hope you agree.

Happy eating.

Serpentinas - tamarind candy

I would describe serpentinas as a tamarind candy that is akin to a fruit roll up that is spicy, sweet and salty.

You can find this brand (el leon) at Food City at 44th St. and McDowell and also at WalMart - where I rarely shop but happened to be there with my Mom shopping for clothes at 36th St. and Thomas.

For some reason, these are not easy to find in the tamarind version at your regular dulerías (Mexican candy shops). I'm not sure why but most of the ones I find - like at Dulcería Pico Rico - are made of quince instead of tamarind - and tamarind is what this kitchen wench wants when she makes a chamoyada...or I also like to eat them on their own. Sort of like a gummy bear fused with fruit roll up that is spicy, sweet and sour.

I dare you - go get some serpentinas and try them for yourself. You'll be hooked - like me.

This el leon brand comes with a saladito (a dried plum) which is very very salty. I usually discard them but it occurs to me I should save them for something. Any ideas?

Maybe I could rehydrate them and put them in a chicken tagine - that moroccan dish that calls for chicken, raisins and preserved lemons. Ideas, ideas...didn't someone sing that song, "I get ideas, I get ideas..."

Oasis Raspados and a bonus - fringed car!

a chamoyada from Oasis Raspados - Mexican "slush puppie" - my favorite snack!

A "fringed" car - how cool!!

Check this car out! How cool is this? It has fringes all over it.

How do I get one of these?

Had to take a picture and share it with my yummies fans - I spotted it just after purchasing yet another medium chamoyada with mango at my favorite raspado place - Oasis Raspados on 32nd St./McDowell (see picture).

They have serpentinas again (tamarind candy) after having been out last time I was there. I do enjoy asian peanuts, but the serpentinas really add a certain something.

Go to Oasis Raspados now. Now...right now!!

Ode to Pedro Almodóvar and his love for women in the kitchen

Almodóvar's women are glamorous

a flan from the movie Volver - directed by Almodóvar

I am a huge (HUGE) fan of the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who has directed Volver, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (must see this), All About my Mother, and many other fine films.

Almodóvar has a love for women that is genuine and complicated. His women are glamorous - see this picture of Penélope Cruz along with the woman who plays her sister and her sister's client. Also, his women suffer - such as the main character in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - who brings her lover's suitcase up and down the stairs while dealing with her emotions regarding "he loves me, he loves me not." His films address women in complicated situations - in All About My Mother, Penélope Cruz's character is a nun who becomes pregnant and is diagnosed with AIDS, but then her baby is reared by the main character who has lost her son recently in a car accident.

How this director relates to this blog is significant: In all of his films there is cooking. In Volver, the sisters visit an auntie in her village and she gives them rosquillas (wafer cookies) made by their mother, whom they do not know is still alive. Complicated, yes, but significant. Also there is a scene in the movie where the sisters are in the kitchen and one of them opens a newly made flan (custard) - see picture.

In All About My Mother, you see the main actress preparing a salad and chicken wings (or a facsimile thereof) for herself and her son. In Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the main actress is seen making gazpacho (tomato soup) for her lover, laced with barbituates.

I am a lover of food, and of fine film; both have been provided by Pedro Almodóvar.

There is only one thing to say now, which is:

"¡Viva Pedro!" (in our parlance - Long Live Pedro Almodóvar!)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What's for breakfast - Mama Java

Elaine May played a great role in the movie The New Leaf

Toasted everything bagel (toasted by me, procured at Mama Java)

I went over to Mama Java (conveniently located across the street from me) this morning to get an everything bagel and a diet coke, since I had already imbibed a liquid yogurt and I was working on a big latte...but I didn't have any munchies.

Mama Java's has great coffee and pastries/bagels. There is also a very relaxed crowd that makes it a comfortable place to visit or just get something quick to go. If I remember correctly, they have live music on Thursday nights. And they display works by local artists like Scott Hughes, a very talented young man. I know because I have a set of 3 of his pac man ghosts.

Yesterday I had gone to Mama Java's for a latte because I felt lazy and like something sweet... I ended up with an everything bagel instead because they looked so good. Since Munch a Bagel and Katz Deli went out of business I have been mourning for great bagels - thankfully Mama Java's bagels are delicious, chewy and fresh.

Get yourself to Mama Java's now for yummies. Right now. NOW!!

Getting on your Italian eats

You can bake this sausage at 350 for 1 hour with onions and peppers for a yummy dinner.

hot Italian dry salami - good for snacking or a light dinner

Today after hitting the casino with my aunt - without luck - at least in the gambling department...we went to DeFalco's deli on Scottsdale Road. Picked up some hot and sweet Italian sausage and also a small hard salami the owner tells me is from Molinari's (in New York?) so it should be really good.

I'm going to slice the salami really thin tonight and eat it on this multi grain cracker bread I found at Trader Joe's - I think it's called On auk mor and it's a middle eastern thing. Maybe I will eat it with a bell pepper so my system thinks it's getting something healthy.

There is a rumor that the sausage at DeFalco's comes from my great-grandmother's recipe via a third party but this has not been confirmed.

Get yourself to DeFalco's now. NOW! They also make sandwiches (Italian, of course) to order and have hot dinners like lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs. If you're on the go and don't have time to cook, I highly recommend the dinner option at DeFalco's. Sandwiches are good for picnics. Mmmmm. Be still my heart.

Casino AZ with aunt Char

This is the best reason to go to Casino AZ - yummy fry bread.

Video poker

Video slot machine

Today my aunt and I went to Casino AZ to celebrate her birthday. The goal was to have a yummy lunch and win some money - we came out 50/50. We did have a yummy lunch - fry bread for me (see picture) and a tasty burger for her.

We played a bit of video poker and video slots which she enjoys. I was mostly along for the ride and she graciously gave me a tenner to play. Thank you and Happy birthday, auntie!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Employee around the world potluck

Chamoyada station - guess who brought this in?

The Italian table

Here are some pictures of our around the world potluck today at work.

Lots of yummy eats! Nice effort everyone!!


New floors...for this kitchen wench!

Choosing one's flooring is a very personal thing, I think. After all, we spend so much time at home, especially now, given today's economy.

Arturo Talamontes and his sidekick have taken up my dusty carpet and are painting my concrete floors a terra cotta color a la Sedona mountains.

He's available to work at your place too!! Let me know you want his contact info and I'll get it to you.

Did I mention he also does backsplashes???

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hail Mary's - trivia night

Tonight I met some co-workers, Scott and Wendie, along with my very significant other, Jason, at Hail Mary's for trivia night. It starts at 6:30 on Wednesdays.

They have great bar food. I had wings (medium) with veggies and ranch. Jason had chicken tenders and fries. We felt the quality of the food was very good, fresh and tasty. And fried. They don't have the fixins for a black and tan on tap, but they will open a bottle of Guiness and a bottle of Bass and make a black and tan for you (but you have to order two) - this is good to know and indicates you have an "in" or, you are "in the know."

We did not win tonight, but we came in 2nd place. An admirable placing, I feel...

Get yourself to Hail Mary's for trivia night. 14th St./Priest in Tempe.

Go now. NOW!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tokyo Express and the Gelato Spot

Strawberry gelato

Kiwi gelato

Hazelnut gelato

Went to Tokyo Express for dinner with my partner in crime tonight, Jason. We both had Tokyo Bowls with rice, veggies and white meat chicken. Delicious! Also we got that side salad that is very refreshing and shared a green tea. Thank you Jason for a fun weekend filled with movies and good eats...

Afterwards we went to the Gelato Spot and had a strawberry gelato shake. This one is my favorite, along with the pocket coffee shake - much better than any frapuccino, in this kitchen wench's humble opinion.

Get yourself to Tokyo Express for fresh fast and inexpensive food. Then go to the Gelato Spot to "fix" your sweet tooth!!

Go quickly!!

Tokyo Express - 10th St./Camelback
Gelato Spot - 32nd St./Camelback

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March Birthdays and where we celebrate

The Hamilton's have a lot of birthdays in March:

My Dad - March 13 (went to Avanti's - great, amazing, wonderful Italian food)
My brother - March 18 (went to Chipotle - tasty, fresh, healthy Mexican food)
My aunt - March 23 (she wants to go to Red Lobster, my suggestion was the Fish Market, not sure if any of you have noticed, but they have become something else. My heart sank!)
My mom - March 31 (she wants to go to Don & Charlie's as Mom has a thing for baby back ribs)

It appears none of us are shy when it comes to birthday eating experiences. These are some of our favorite places. I'd like to know where you like to celebrate there a place that you go to every year for your Mom's birthday, or yours, maybe? Let me know and I'll try to go there and review it - or better yet...write a review of your favorite place and I'll post it - here!

Happy eating.

Shopping with Mom

It is amazing how much a daughter and a mother can get done in one day when they (we) put their (our) minds to it!

Today my Mom and I went to:

Target - got her a new purse, pillow, sheets and mattress pad (Happy birthday, Mom!!)
Home Depot - got 20 white 4x4 tiles for her bathroom
Oasis Raspados - it was mom's first visit, she was impressed with all of the offerings
Luggage & Shoe repair (40th St./Camelback) - shortening the handle on Mom's new purse
Water & Ice store (40th St./Camelback) - we walked in to find out that they make Hawaiian ice. I told them I'll be visiting them a lot - I mean a WHOLE LOT this summer. Whooohoo!!
Fresh & Easy (40th St./Camelback) - opening soon!

We tried to go to Arizona Tile but they are closed on the weekends. What's up with that?

Anyways, we got a lot done and had great mother/daughter time together. Oh! We also got some beautification done at a nice beauty salon called Magañas at 32nd Street and McDowell, where Mari took great care of my eyebrows and Lupe took special care of my Mom's hair. Mari reassured me that she can make my hair look beautiful for any special event...good to know, indeed. Muchas gracias, Ladies!

Carlos O'Brien's and AJ's Fine Foods in Scottsdale

Just one good reason for visiting AJ's Fine Foods...
yummy pastries!

The mecca of gourmet foods - AJ's

1) Had the pleasure of dining in last night with Jason, who is lovely. He brought food from Carlos O'Brien's (N. Scottsdale) and it was so delicious. We watched Pulp Fiction, because John Travolta is easy on the eyes... I had chicken tacos, beans and rice. He had the mini tacos and cheese crisp. I am not a fan of cheese crisp since I only like white cheeses (i.e. mozzarella, ricotta) - it's hard to believe that a foodie only likes those types of cheeses, but there it is. I digressed...the cheese crisp looked good to me, even though I do not like cheese. You must go if you haven't been, or go back if you have been before. Their salsa is really tasty and fresh. Chips were crunchy and slightly salted, just what you would expect.

Verdict: We'll be back.

2) This morning I grabbed a medium latte and tasty blueberry scone with icing from AJ's on Pima near the 101. They make great coffee and I am a coffee nut, with high you know you are getting a quality product when I tell you they make great coffee. They have inside and outside seating areas that are just so pleasant and this morning - it was still morning but it was close to noon - surprisingly there were few people sitting outside even though the weather was beautiful and they were grilling chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs.

Verdict: I'll be back.

Go to Carlos O'Brien's and AJ's Fine Foods. Now.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Learn Spanish

I'm reposting this because it's a program I attended, and I wholly believe in. And, there are lots of new food opportunities, something this kitchen wench really appreciates.


THE LEARN, LIVE AND LOVE SPANISH STUDY PROGRAM IN CUERNAVACA, MEXICO is celebrating its 23nd. consecutive year. The program which will take place June 18– July 3, 2010 is open to all students and members of the community. Students study at the well known UNIVERSIDAD INTERNACIONAL CENTER OF MULTICULTURAL STUDIES where they are totally immersed in the study of Spanish language and culture. Students are not only taught by Mexican university professors, but they also live with Mexican families.

Living with a Mexican family is the ideal way to learn Spanish in the shortest time possible. The purpose of the program is to offer students the opportunity to achieve fluency in Spanish conversation and an understanding of Hispanic culture. Classes are held daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4 p.m., and students study intensive Spanish conversation 3 hours a day in small classes with 5 students and one professor. The rest of their program includes classes on Latin America and workshops on different subjects like music, art, dance, literature and history.

$860.00 (Private room and bath) or $785.00 for PLAN B (shared room and bath). Not included in the cost: transportation, books and spending money. Students fly
to Mexico City and then take a bus to Cuernavaca, The City of Eternal Spring. Cuernavaca is an ideal place to study in that it is close to many interesting places: Mexico City, Puebla, Acapulco, Taxco, Tepotzlán, archeological sites as well as beautiful natural refuges.

This study program has been highly successful, and over the years, many university and community college students have enjoyed learning Spanish at EL CENTRO along with community members that have included college administrators, lawyers, doctors, teachers and business people. Families are welcome to participate in the program.

Virginia R. Foster, Ph.D. has been resident director of the program and can be reached at Phone: 602.254.9620.

Molto Mario

I couldn't help myself.

Thank you Butter Lover for sharing this poigniant observavation about Mario Batali:

Why didn't I see this before? For the last 6 years Mario Batali has been moonlighting as an actor, playing Berta, the fat, cranky, sarcastic maid on Two and Half Men.

I dare you, DARE you to prove me wrong:

Man that guy is huge.

Others food blogs I like

Want to know what others are baking? Check these guys out!

This blogger eats on $30 bucks a week (for two)! Impressive...

Mark Bittman of the NY Times. Enough said.

Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods (travel channel)

This blogger made scones...they look very tasty.

Spanish recipe - orange sponge cake

Orange sponge cake

I wanted to get this out as soon as possible because I know some of you se habla español:

(I promise to translate it soon)

Thank you Jose -from Vitoria - for this recipe:

- 250 gr de azúcar
- 3 huevos
- 250 gr de harina de trigo
- 1 yogur de natural
- 100 gr de aceite de girasol
- 1 pellizco de sal
- 1 naranja sin pelar
- 1 sobre de levadura royal
Preparación con Thermomix-31:
Paso 1.- Ponga en el vaso el azúcar, los huevos y la naranja troceada y programe
3 min, temp 37º velocidad 4 para que el bizcocho quede mas esponjoso.
Añadir los demás ingredientes menos la harina, la levadura y la sal y mezcle a
velocidad 3, 3 y media hasta que este bien mezclado.
Incorpore los ingredientes que quedan y mezcle bien mezclado en velocidad 5.
Preparación tradicional:
Paso 1.- Poner en el vaso de la batidora (de vaso), el azúcar, los huevos y la
naranja troceada unos 3 min. Poner está mezcla en un bol.
Añadir al bol el resto de ingredientes menos la harina, la levadura y la sal y mezclar
con la batidora de varillas hasta que este bien mezclado.
Incorpore los ingredientes que quedan y mezclar bien nuevamente.
Paso 2.- Engrase el molde con aceite, vierta la mezcla en el. Espolvorear con
azúcar y meter en el horno precalentado a 180º (yo a 200º) durante 30 minutos
(yo 40 min.). Si ves que necesita mas tiempo dejarlo unos minutos

I can't wait to make's like a Spanish quick bread, of sorts. Looks delish. I'm thinking it will be suitable for breakfast, with a big latte with cinnamon.


¡¡Buen provecho!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Next Friday at work: around the world potluck

Next Friday at work someone came up with the great idea to do an "around the world potluck." The department that I work in chose Mexico (smart move = great food abounds) so I will be making...chamoyadas!

The night before - next Thursday, I will go to Food City and buy:

serpentinas (tamarind candy)
asian peanuts
canned crushed pineapple in it's own juice

We have an ice machine at work - it won't be exactly like the ice in a regular raspado - fine and shaved, but I have a feeling that my co-workers will appreciate a tasty beverage with roots in Old Mexico all the same.


Chipotle - yummy Mexican eats

I went to Chipotle with my brother tonight on 16th St. and Camelback - it is his birthday and he felt like a chicken burro. His was filled with black beans, rice, yummy chicken and pico de gallo. I had the soft tacos with barbacoa (beef), lettuce, corn and pico de gallo. The pico de gallo was very refreshing, with just the right toque (touch) of cilantro.

The food is reasonable, fresh and my bro really likes it, so we'll be going back.

Also I got him a birthday box from Urban Cookies, it came with a dozen cookies and was beautifully decorated with festive orange ribbon, which my mother smartly absconded with so she can make headbands for my nieces, Brianna and Sophia.

To come - Weekend review: Carlos O'Brien's and Starbucks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rough day = raspado time (Oasis)

I'm going to give you a short version of my day - it was filled with difficulties and ultimately one event that may be in the larger forces category. But, life goes on, and sometimes the solution is...a raspado.

An Oasis raspado, to be exact. More exactly, a chamoyada.

I had one today before my larger forces event happened, and that lessened the blow, I believe.

Breathe, breathe...

My chamoyada had crushed ice, mango pieces, chamoy, asian peanuts but no serpentinas (tamarind candy). Me lo vendieron (they must have been out of it).

Refreshing is the operative word here with raspados.

The chamoyada brightened my day, and Oasis was packed. One of the girls there told me that it gets that way the closer they get to summer and then there is a big line that goes out the door.

I will still be going.

Get yourself down to Oasis now for a mexican slushie (raspado) now. NOW!!

(32nd Street/McDowell in Phoenix)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PF Chang's

I had the pleasure of dining tonight with a good friend and potentially much more, i.e. boyfriend material. Thank you Jason for a wonderful evening.

We went to PF Chang's at the Waterfront across the street from Scottsdale Fashion Mall.

The appetizer: chicken lettuce wraps
The entrees: chicken lo mein and chow fun noodles with vegetables

Dessert: Censored.

Verdict: We'll be baaaaack!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lordy lordy, look who's 40 (70) !!


We went to The Grand Orange for breakfast today for my Dad's birthday. We ate brioche toast (see picture). He had a drip coffee and I had a yummy latte.

You should go to The Grande Orange now at 40th Street and Campebell.

Note: Postino's is across the street and they have great sandwiches and salads. Ask for the Barbara salad, it is made for one of their locals who goes in every day. It has beets, pears, field greens, walnuts and chicken - if you ask for it.

Mangia, mangia (eat, eat)!!

Care 2 website post - contaminated hydrolyzed vegetable protein

This story came from the above link via my girlfriend Yecla. Thank you Yecla for bringing this important news about food to Yummies.

HVP: Biggest Food Recall in U.S. History?

posted by Melissa Breyer Mar 12, 2010 1:01 pm

HVP: Biggest Food Recall in U.S. History?

We will now attempt to scare you into walking away from the processed food. Why? Well for many reasons, but here is one that is immediately compelling. Thousands of types of processed foods–including many varieties of soups, chips, frozen dinners, hot dogs and salad dressings–may pose a health threat because they contain a flavor enhancer that could be contaminated with salmonella. Manufacturers have voluntarily recalled 56 products, and that number is expected to balloon in the coming weeks into what could be one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

The salmonella was found last month in the flavor enhancer, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), made by Basic Food Flavors, as well as inside the company’s Nevada manufacturing facility, according to the FDA. The company has an extensive customer list of manufacturers who use the powder or paste to enhance savory flavor–it is similar to monosodium glutamate.

“We don’t know precisely how large this recall will get,” said Jeff Farrar, associate commissioner for food protection at the FDA. “The potential amount of products . . . is very large.”

The contamination is believed to date to September 2009, with millions of pounds of potentially tainted HVP–all of which the company has recalled–shipped in bulk to foodmakers over five months. Many of those companies then sold their products to other clients, complicating the chain and making it hard for federal officials to assess the scale of the problem.

According to the Washington Post, the company at the heart of the problem knew that its plant was contaminated with salmonella but continued to make the flavoring and sell it to foodmakers around the country. Federal officials were alerted to a problem with Basic Food Flavors in early February and sent inspectors to the plant within days of the complaint. They documented dirty utensils and equipment–mixers and tubing coated with brown residue–and cracks and fractures in the floor, as well as standing water on the floor–all conditions where bacteria can breed. In one area where paste mixers and belt dryers were positioned, FDA inspectors noted “standing, grey/black liquid” in the drain near the area where the hydrolyzed vegetable protein was turned from paste to powder. “We sensed an odor in the vicinity of this drain,” the inspectors wrote. Enough said?

The FDA has posted on its Web site a searchable list of products being recalled by manufacturers. It can be found here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nutrition tips for real people

Nutrition Tips for Real People - from

In honor of National Nutrition Month, I thought I'd tackle the question I get the most: "What's a snack that I can grab and take with me or get when I'm out that will taste great and satisfy?" I thought I'd help with some ideas I call: Real Food for Real People.

Are You a "Real People?"
Let's start with the "Real People" part as lesson number one. Who are Real People? I use this term to distinguish from the people you might see on TV or read about in a magazine, who either for their job, or for a contest, are getting their food provided to them daily. While their daily meal plan may work for you too, if you don't have someone bringing you food daily or hourly, then access may prove a real challenge. So "Real People," my clients and maybe you, are ones who don't always have time to prepare their eating occasions the night before. You, like they, may not have the option of organic food delivery or a personal chef to portion and provide optimal nutrition eating occasions (although these are more prevalent in cities around the country. Real People may be at work during the day and not get longer than 10-15 minutes for a break to eat and use the restroom and stretch their legs or other body parts). They, like you, may be responsible for feeding a family or a partner, as well as themselves, so the recommendations need to fit more than their food preferences. And Real People may have real financial issues, so the right eating occasion must come in at a price that fits in their purse as well.

Skip 'Snack' or 'Meal': Have an Eating Occasion Instead:
You will notice that I also use the term "Eating occasion" here as opposed to snack; this is my second lesson for all Real People. Why? The terms "meal" and "snack" carry certain connotations that may cause one to overlook the body's actual needs in favor of what the term means. For example, let's say that it's noon and you are rushing around with little time for a "meal" so you grab an organic apple and peanut butter. While you may be satisfied and get energy and enjoyable taste from this combo, your thought now and certainly later is "I missed lunch, I didn't have a meal." This can lead to overeating later. Similarly, let's say you are starving at 3 p.m. and run to the store and make a large salad with vegetables, beans and dressing -- or perhaps you grab a wrap that has vegetables and turkey. Now you feel that at 'snack' time you've eaten a 'meal' so the question becomes what do you do later for dinner -- skip it? Possibly, but then are you making popcorn or grabbing ice cream at 9 p.m.? So for these examples and for one scientifically proven reason -- that your body doesn't care what term you use -- I avoid the terms 'snack' and 'meal' and recommend using 'eating occasions' or if we want to make the point that your latte and juice have nutrients, we could use the term 'nutrient occasion' too.

An eating occasion should ideally be comprised of each macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat -- see categories and portion sizes here) and should occur about every three hours. Why? Our bodies are designed like race cars as opposed to street cars. Whereas a streetcar stores the energy and uses it on an as-needed basis, our bodies don't use storage without consequence -- extra energy becomes fat and it's not readily called upon when the body needs energy. Instead, when our bodies need energy, they cry out for more, and we typically answer that cry with the quickest for of energy (carbohydrates) as well as the most available energy form (i.e. whatever we encounter first), which can result in eating less good quality food or overeating. For optimal efficiency and energy, our bodies need "pit stops," just like a race car. Think carbs for 'gas,' protein for 'air in the tires' and fats for 'oil.' Just as the pit team refuels, adds air and oil as needed at each pit stop, we need to do the same for our bodies.

Real Food, Really Easy:
So what have we learned so far? "Real People" need nutrient-balanced eating occasions with regular frequency. Okay, so where does "Real Food" fit in? "Real Food" means the stuff that the body recognizes. It also means the foods that you prefer, including taste, religious, ethical, and personal preferences. When the body gets items that it recognizes its workload feels manageable, and it responds favorably -- allocating nutrients appropriately as well as taking time for rest and recovery. When the body gets food it recognizes, in addition to the aforementioned macronutrients it needs, it gets vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and phytochemicals. Examples of this include eating whole grains (this doesn't mean whole grain flour) and you get the magnesium and B vitamins the body needs to de-stress, energize and support heart health.

Instead of a "hydration" beverage, if you eat or drink foods rich in potassium, you get other electrolytes as well, and avoid the risk of getting too much of anyone nutrient or getting nutrients in the form the body doesn't recognize. Potassium-rich foods that contain other electrolytes include: plain coconut water, potatoes, avocado, and lima beans. And if you eat wild salmon as opposed to farm-raised, you support the health of the oceans as well as get omega-3 fatty acids which have significant health benefits.

What's not "Real Food?" Anything that starts, ends or pit-stops through a lab for alteration is not "Real." It's pretty simple. These include items that have to tell you what they are by their name "Cheese Food," for example, or "Blue Lake #5." Or items that have hyphenated or otherwise connected, confusing or unintelligible descriptions: "high-fructose corn syrup" (despite the commercials where Geek gets Girl, this product isn't a "Real Food" it's "Real Science"), "texturized vegetable protein," (vegetable protein is vegetable protein, it doesn't need to have any further texture created), or partially hydrogenated oil (until you can show me how nature 'partially' hydrogenates anything, skip this one).

Putting It All Together:
So if you've nodded your head to the above points, believe yourself to be a "Real People" and recognize the benefits of "Real Food," but still don't know what to eat, the following should help.

1. If you want grains, grab whole grains and top them with some nuts and cinnamon. If you take a packet of instant organic oats to work along with the chopped nuts (you can add the cinnamon at home or stock some spices at the office) -- this is a 'just add water' eating occasion.

2. If you want to have chips, yes you can. But have chips made from real potatoes as they contain potassium for hydration. Also, make sure to portion control -- perhaps with a 100-calorie pack or check the label for what 15 grams of total carbohydrate looks like. Also, keep the fat and sodium low, with baked, low sodium versions. And then, make a dip from organic Greek yogurt which is naturally low in carbohydrate and high in protein. Add some spices and even some organic chives and this Chip and Dip snack will have you crunching with a nutrient-balanced, energized smile.

3. Go organic, especially with your produce, so you eat Food versus Food plus Chemicals. Make an apple or pear sandwich with delicious nut butter in the middle or use my recipe for Omega-3 pesto and top your favorite fruit or veggie for a more savory treat (hint: hempseeds are a complete protein so this completes your eating occasion.

4. Latte please? Sure thing, but go for a small or cappuccino, noting that a serving of milk is six ounces. And use nonfat, as dairy fat is less healthy for us than that in a serving of nuts and seeds Latte plus nut and seed mixture could be a perfect eating occasion.

5. Gorilla sandwich anyone? Got an appetite that won't quit? Grab a cucumber -- hollow it out by using an iced tea spoon to remove the seeds -- and stuff it with hummus. King Kong says Yum to this one.

6. What about a taco? Take a corn tortilla (palm-sized) and top it with salsa, guacamole, and organic chicken for a delicious and nutritious eating occasion.

7. Sea this eating occasion. Sea vegetables like seaweed are rich in nutrients and add crackle to any snack - take seaweed and top it with hummus for a cracker-less eating occasion that still crackles in your mouth.

What's your favorite eating occasion idea? Email me at and in the next month I will be choosing several to post in an upcoming "Real People, Real Food" blog - if I select yours, I will also be sending you a prize package featuring some AshleyKoffApproved products.

Fat - the sixth "taste" - from

This looks like a good argument for visiting Lolo's Chicken and Waffles...

Salty, sweet: study says fat is the sixth "taste"

An order of french fries and chicken sit on a tray in New York Reuters – An order of french fries and chicken sit on a tray in New York October 30, 2006. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) – People sensitive to the taste of fat tend to eat less of it and are less likely to be overweight, according to Australian research that found human tongues can detect fatty tastes.

Researchers at Deakin University, working with colleagues at the University of Adelaide among others, found that fat was the sixth taste people can identify in addition to the five others -- sweet, sour, salty, bitter and protein-rich.

In a statement, Deakin researcher Russell Keast said the findings built on previous research in the United States that used animal models to discover the taste for fat.

"Interestingly, we also found that those with a high sensitivity to the taste of fat consumed less fatty foods and had lower BMIs (body-mass indices) than those with lower sensitivity," Keast added.

The research team developed a screening procedure to test the ability of people to taste a range of fatty acids commonly found in foods.

They found that people have a taste threshold for fat that varies from person to person -- some people have a high sensitivity to the taste while others do not.

"With fats being easily accessible and commonly consumed in diets today, this suggests that our taste system may become desensitized to the taste of fat over time, leaving some people more susceptible to overeating fatty foods," Keast said.

"We are now interested in understanding why some people are sensitive and others are not, which we believe will lead to ways of helping people lower their fat intakes and aid development of new low fat foods and diets," he added.

The researchers said the discovery of the fat taste could be key to reducing obesity. The results of the study are published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Chris Allbritton)

Avanti - an old standby for great Italian eats

Randall Barnes tickles the ivories at Avanti

Avanti's Restaurant of Distinction

This place should be a historical monument, in my opinion. They have great Italian food - fancy stuff. There is a piano bar, and their cantinero (bartender) Homero will take good care of you with a fine selection of wines, espresso or a cocktail.

Back in the day (the early 80's) they used to host (catering) Julio Iglesias's concerts at Celebrity Theatre - I know this because I was there. What was a ten year old doing at Celebrity Theatre watching Julio? Having a great time, to be sure. Ahead of my time, this kitchen wench was.

"Me va, me va, me va, me va, me va..."

I digress.

We are going there this weekend for my Dad's birthday.

Steak pizzaiola, anyone?

Enough said. Go, now!

Tote bags for shopping - great for the environment

Get your tote bag today and become the "bag lady" you know you can be!

Okay, folks, I know I have posted these bags before. I use them all the time for shopping and travel.

Get yours today for the special reduced price of $15 each.

Let me know if you want one - shipping available for $5 buckaroos...

Email me at if you want one and I will email you a Paypal invoice so you can pay with credit or debit card. Ahhhh, convenience :)

They are going fast!!

Tortillería Panadería Guerrero to the rescue for tres leches cake

Visiting with others at Tortillería Panadería Guerrero

Warmed the cockles of mi corazón

I posted earlier that my Dad's birthday is this weekend and I had gone to La Purísima Bakery on 24th and Indian School to order his cake.

Alas, their decorator is out at the moment, so they are not taking cake orders.

Last night I learned that Tortillería Panadería Guerrero is accepting orders and they only need a 2 day advance notice.

They are at 32nd Street and Thomas across the street from Starbucks.

I will post a picture of the cake I ordered for my Dad in a few days - Saturday, to be exact, which is his BIG DAY - 70.

The flavor of the cake is tres leches and it is filled (relleno) with strawberries (fresa).

There is only one word to describe:


Go get yours now.'s important to mention, the Tortillería Panadería Guerrero has more than just cakes. It is a full-on Mexican Bakery and restaurant. When I was in there last night, it was like a party, people buying trays and trays of delicious Mexican pastries and dinners. It smelled so good and there was a sense of community that I have not seen in other places - it warmed my corazón (heart).

Gastronomica - a foodie magazine

How am I just now finding out about this mag?

I am tempted to subscribe. Also I like the idea of receiving Cooks Illustrated Magazine.

Do any of you subscribe to cooking magazines and if so which ones do you like?

Storing your kitchen knives

The NY Times has a cool article this week about storing your kitchen knives - my favorite option is this magnetic bar that you just anchor to your backsplash - it is very modern and utilitarian.

Happy shopping...!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sweet pillow made from kitchen towel

You're asking what does a pillow cover have to do with a food blog, right?

Well, the pillow cover made my co-worker and talented friend Nicole Reap is made from a kitchen towel from Frances. Nicole did such a great job - she used muslin that she bought and did a zig zag stich pattern on the front and back.

If you are interested in having her make pillow covers for you - or couch covers - or do alterations...send me an email at and Nicole will take care of the rest.

Thank you, Nicole!! Great, super, amazing job!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes Recipe

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

Thank you Elaine for providing this recipe from Dr. Weil.

Elaine is my best friend, from before grade school. She is running her first 5K race this weekend, hence the healthy eats. You go, girl!

This looks pretty tasty.

Ingredients 4 medium tomato(es), halved horizontally
1/4 cup(s) cheese, grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon oregano, fresh, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt pepper, black ground, to taste
4 teaspoon oil, olive, extra virgin

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet.
3. Top with Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper.
4. Drizzle with oil and bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Nutritional Info (Per serving): Calories: 91, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 375mg, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Total Fat: 6g, Carbs: 6g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Protein: 3g Carb Choices: 0.5 Recipe Source: Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 15 mins Total Time: 20 mins

Pita Jungle

I was at Pita Jungle tonight with my good friend and IT connection from Clear Skies IT Solutions - you know who you are - thank you for installing my monitor today!

By the way, if you need a good IT person - email or call Bogar at 602-349-2467. He has reasonable rates, is Cisco trained and will come to your home or office. He will also network your office, remove viruses, load software and also can build you a super-fast custom computer. How many IT geeks do you know that can do all that? He is a good techie type person to have around.

But, I digress...we had the most delicious food at the Pita Jungle location at 44th Street and Indian School:

He had: a Spicy Chicken wrap
She (me) had: lentil fetoosh salad
We had: hummus (red and green) with chicken
Beverages: tropical and berry iced teas

Verdict: Go, now, and eat yummy fresh food from the fine folks at Pita Jungle!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sur la Table and Oakville Grocery Co.

I am coveting this Tagine

You should check this place out - a great gourmet supermarket

I was at Kierland Commons mall today and went into the kitchen store Sur la Table - they have some really nice things these days - go and check out their sale section in the back, there are all kinds of kitchen gadgets at cheap prices. They also have pretty colors of Le Creuset bake ware and pots - one in particular I am coveting is a blue-green colored tagine (similar to the one pictured but with a more turquoise hue) for baking Moroccan dishes.

Across the street on the north east corner of Greenway and Scottsdale Road is Oakville Grocery Co. It is a pretty interesting gourmet supermarket - I spotted chorizo from Spain, wine from all kinds of places like Australia and South Africa, beers from many regions and fancy vinegars like champagne vinegar and different olive oils. A good place for a foodie to browse. They also have ready made sandwiches that looked of very good quality and wine by the glass. Also there is an espresso bar with pastries and I spotted Fairytale Brownies and gourmet chocolates.

Go forth and conquer aforementioned kitchen store and gourmet supermarket!

But, bring your wallet - this is the high rent district, after all...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sauce and Dutch Brothers

These guys have great coffee and chai

Tasty pizza and pasta at Sauce

I went to dinner with my brother tonight at Sauce (7th Street/Glendale). He had beef lasagna and a ceasar salad and I had a pepperoni pizza. The salad had quite a bit of cheese on it and it looked like a quality aged cheese. My brother ate the whole thing and that means it was yummy.

The meal was tasty but it was a little loud in terms of the atmosphere - I think the word has gotten out that this restaurant is "child friendly" because there were a lot of children and it was kind of noisy - we had to speak very loudly to each other in order to carry on a conversation.

But, I wasn't there for the atmosphere - for me, it's all about the yummies.

Verdict: I would go back. They have fizzy water, which I have mentioned my appreciation for in earlier posts - and wine by the glass/bottle. They also have cheesecake and tiramisu that we did not try, but in general I like them both and that gives a good excuse to go back. And their bread was really good.

Recommendation: Go, now!

Afterwards we went to Dutch Brothers at Central and Camelback for coffee (drive thru). My bro had a hot soy latte and I had a hot chai. Yummy again. There are many now in the Valley - and are worth a visit, especially if you run out of soy, milk or coffee at home!

NYPD Pizza, Universal Flowers and Petsmart adoption

contact info for Universal Flowers

If you need flowers, Universal Flowers is the place!

Sweet doggie!

Went to NYPD Pizza with my aunt Char today for lunch. She had mussels in red sauce and I had spaghetti and meatballs. I like the way they make their pasta "al dente." It is never overcooked which can be the case at some places. Their red sauce is tasty and the meatballs are delicious, just firm enough but slice easily with a fork. Their house salad is fresh and delish too, just $1.99 with your meal. It is big and you can get their balsamic dressing that goes nicely with the salad mix, grape tomatoes, croutons and olives. Mmmm. And we had a pleasant red wine, I think it was called Montipolicello or something like that - ask for the $5 red wine and you'll get it.

While we were dining (outside) a sweet girl from Petsmart came and visited with us with a friendly chihuahua that is up for adoption at the PetsMart on 20th Street and Camelback. Isn't this a cute doggie! I really, really wanted to take it home.

After visiting with my aunt, I went over to see Adriana at Universal Flowers. They are in the same strip mall as La Purisima Bakery on 24th & Indian School. She makes boutaniers and wrist corsages, along with other special event stuff like bouquets and large arrangements for weddings and quinceañeras. Her prices are reasonable and she does such pretty work - check out these gerbera daisies. She does a lot of different arrangements for Mother's Day - which will be coming up soon - so give her a jingle or go visit if you need something pretty for your Mom or a loved one on their birthday.

Sorry folks, the picture of my spaghetti and meatballs got deleted from my phone (user error). You'll have to trust me on this one without a photo - go to NYPD! Great food, reasonable prices and excellent service. Their pizza is really tasty, didn't have it this time but the last time my aunt and I went we shared a large pie and had some leftover to take home. It reheats nicely in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Note: their Italian sausage is a great topping.

Mangia, mangia (eat, eat)!