Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Citrus Chex Mix

I made this last summer and took it with us on our California vacation.  My little cousins went nuts over this and almost ruined their dinner appetites! It is such a fun, refreshing change from the chocolate peanut butter mix that is also a favorite.  With spring just around the corner, I thought this was the perfect time to share since this has such bright, citrus flavors!  If you can't find the dried orange peel you could probably substitute fresh peel.  I have another box of Chex in my pantry just waiting for me to make a new batch!

Citrus Chex Mix
adapted from Eat at Home

12.8 oz box Rice Chex
12 oz. bag white baking chips
5 tsp. dried orange peel
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon juice
5 Tbsp. butter
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Pour the cereal into a very large bowl. In a separate, microwave safe bowl combine white baking chips, orange peel, lime and lemon juices and butter. Microwave uncovered for 1 minutes. Stir, then microwave for 30 seconds more. Stir until smooth and melted. Pour over the cereal and stir to coat the pieces. Add the powdered sugar and stir until each piece is coated in powdered sugar.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Eclair Cake

As a teenager, I always loved to cook and make new things for my family.  One of my signature items was a Chocolate Eclair Cake.  I have no idea where I got the recipe, but I made it so man times that I had the ingredients and directions memorized!  I remember that in my cooking class in high school, I chose to make it for my live demonstration presentation because I was so proud that I didn't need to look at the recipe (I was just like a Food Network star!).  Somehow over the years, I had sort of forgotten about this recipe, even though it is so easy, so delicious and perfect for summertime in Arizona!  So when I saw this version with a peanut butter filling pop up on Plain Chicken, I knew that I needed to try it immediately!  Other than the twist with the peanut butter filling, the other change from my original recipe was using just a jar of chocolate frosting as the the topping.  While I was impressed at how easy that made putting this together, it was just too sweet for my tastes.  I think I prefer making the topping from scratch like in my original recipe using bittersweet chocolate and powdered sugar.  Either way, a cool, creamy chocolate peanut butter dessert is always a win in my book!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Eclair Cake
adapted from Plain Chicken

1 box chocolate graham crackers (there will be a few graham crackers left over)
2 (3 1/4-ounce) boxes vanilla instant pudding
1 c. peanut butter
3 1/2 c. milk
1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed
1 can chocolate frosting


Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with whole graham crackers. In bowl of an electric mixer, mix pudding with milk and peanut butter; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Pour half the pudding mixture over graham crackers. Place another layer of whole graham crackers on top of pudding layer. Pour over remaining half of pudding mixture and cover with another layer of graham crackers.


Heat the container of prepared frosting, uncovered in the microwave for 1 minute. Pour over the top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Breakfast Burrito Casserole

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!!

You must be thinking, it's not Christmas yet?!?! Well in my world, the most wonderful time of the year begins with football season!

Oh how I love game days, whether it be attending the game, tailgating, watching at a bar or watching with friends, football just make me happy!  The other day, the Cardinals game was starting at 10 am, so we decided we should make brunch and watch football, which made for an excellent Sunday!

Those of you that know me, know that I am NOT a morning person!  I love, love to sleep in; so the thought of getting up early to make something before I went to my friend's house for the game was not appealing, so I decided I needed to find something that I could prepare the night before and just pop in the oven the next morning.  I had quite a few recipes saved in my google reader that fit these requirements, but for one reason or another they just weren't right, then I stumbled upon this one from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures, and I knew it would be the one!

It was simple, didn't involve a lot of ingredients and was Mexican themed, which is always a bonus in my world.  This was really easy to put together, and you could substitute the sausage for bacon or ham, or even try it vegetarian style with black beans!  I baked this up in the morning and served it with salsa and avocado slices, to our crew, and everyone raved about it!  It was soooooo goood!  Touchdown!!! (Sorry, couldn't resist)  We ate the whole dish and I was already thinking about when I could make it again, which just might be this weekend.

Breakfast Burrito Casserole


1 16 oz. pkg. pork sausage, cooked (I used light)
10 - 12 small tortillas (I used corn, but you can also use flour tortillas)
2 c. shredded cheddar, pepper jack, or colby jack cheese, divided
2 c. half and half (you can use milk, but half and half is better)
6 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
For serving: salsa, avocado slices, sour cream

In a large bowl combine meat and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.  Put about 3 tablespoons of filling in each tortilla, and fold in half (you may need to warm the tortillas in the microwave first).  Place filled tortillas on their sides, overlapping slightly, into a 9×13 pan.

In a bowl combine eggs, half and half, and salt. Mix together well and pour over filled tortillas.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, remove them from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes more.

Serve with salsa, avocado and/or sour cream and enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beaver Choice - Tempe, AZ

I need to start this post off with a disclaimer: the owners of Beaver Choice are actually one of my clients; I leased them the space to open the restaurant, so I went into this hoping that it would be good and I wouldn't have to write a bad review, well, I am happy to report that the food here is excellent!!  I really shouldn't have worried, as all of the reviews on Yelp were glowing, but you just never know! 

So I know you are probably chuckling at the name, who would name a restaurant Beaver Choice?  Especially if that restaurant was to be located in the same shopping center as Ted's Hot Dogs?  It makes for quite a comical corner for food, but it is tasty food, so I guess it just adds to the experience.  The owner of Beaver Choice, Hanna, is the nicest lady you could ever meet.  She ended up in Arizona via Canada via Sweden via Poland, and there are influences of each in her food.  Apparently the national animal of Canada is a beaver, so that is how the restaurant got it's name, and yes, she does know what beaver is slang for, but she thinks it is funny and gets people talking about her restaurant!

Luckily, her food is good enough to get people talking, and the name becomes just a side comment!  The day we were there, they were still writing orders by hand, but were going to be getting a computer system in the next week.  My only complaint about my experience was probably the wait and confusion due to the hand written orders, so now that that should be all cleared up, there is no reason to not go to Beaver Choice!

The menu is full of delicious sandwiches and pitas, as well as favorites such as QuebecPoutine (fries covered in cheese curds and gravy, a Canadian classic) and Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberry Sauce.  There were so many choices it was hard to choose, but we finally were ready to order.

My sister went with the Pork Tenderloin in Gin and Cream sauce.  Each entree comes with three side choices, and she went with the side salad, broccoli and the pan fried thyme potatoes.   When the food was served her plate was heaping with food, making the $11.50 dish well worthy of the price.  The pork medallions were perfectly cooked and tender, and delicious when dipped in the cream sauce, that had quite a bite from the gin.  The salad, was a salad, but the lemon dressing was tasty.  The broccoli was cooked well, but nothing special, which was not the case with the potatoes, they were phenomenal!  Perfectly roasted, crispy on the outside and seasoned with thyme, they were the perfect pairing to the pork.  My sister was very happy with her meal, and vowed to be more adventurous with her side choices the next time. 


I decided to try the dish that everyone says is the best one on the menu, the Chicken Schnitzel Cordon Bleu.  It is basically a chicken breast, pounded thin, then stuffed with ham and brie cheese.  It is then breaded, and sauteed until crispy and served with a creamy mushroom sauce smothered over the top.....and Oh My God...it is AMAZING!  I don't even like mushrooms, but the sauce is scrumptious and goes so well with the crispy chicken, salty ham and creamy cheese.  I chose the creamy dill mashed potatoes as one of my sides, and they were perfect for sopping up the extra sauce.  I also got the marinated green beans, which were served like a cold bean salad, and had great flavor and the tomato basil salad, which was delicious as well.  Both were light and refreshing, which was the perfect compliment to the savory chicken dish.  The portions here are huge, so even though the dish was $11.75, I easily got two meals out of it.


The space doesn't have many tables, and is quite minimalist when it comes to decor (all from IKEA) but it makes up for it with the amazing flavors being pumped out of their tiny kitchen.  The menu is full of interesting and exotic sounding items, but also has a cheeseburger for the non-adventurous eaters in your life.  I can't wait to go back, and I really hope that when I do, Hanna has made some fresh pierogi that she has as a special every now and then! 

Beaver Choice
1743 E. Broadway Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85282
480-921-3137

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Phyllo Brie Tarts

I have a confession to make; sometimes (okay, more times than not) when I go to the grocery store and I see something interesting or on sale I will buy it, even if I have no idea what I am going to do with it.  I try to talk myself out of it, but I just can't pass up a good deal or a new find, so into the cart it goes.  These little tarts are the result of one of those purchases, and I am happy to report they were delicious! 

While cruising the aisles at Fry's one night I spotted an aisle display of these little babies.

Mini Fillo (phyllo) Shells

I was surprised to see them in the middle of an aisle because normally they are kept in the frozen section, so I was intrigued, I was even more intrigued that they were on sale for just $1.00 per box!  With the holiday season coming up (yes, this is another recipe I made before Thanksgiving) I figured there would be some party coming up that would require me to bring an appetizer, so I threw 2 boxes in my basket.  Sure enough, just a few days later I was invited to my friend Jenny's "Modern Family Thanksgiving Dinner" so I quickly volunteered to bring an appetizer!  I googled around the web a bit and I came up with the idea for these tarts...and let me just say...they have a lot going for them:

1. They are EASY!
2. They look very IMPRESSIVE!
3. They taste DELICIOUS!

One of the nice things about these is you can change up the flavor of jam based on your preference or what you have on hand (blueberry for me, another one of those impulse buys!) and the second bonus is that they taste delicious hot out of the oven or at room temperature, so they are the perfect party food!  Plus, who doesn't like mini sized food...it lets us eat more right?


Phyllo Brie Tarts
from Jenn

1 pkg. Athens Mini Fillo (Phyllo) Shells
1/2 c. or so jam or preserves of your choice
Brie cheese, rind removed, cut into 1 inch cubes (You will need as many cubes as you have shells)
Pecan halves (Once again, one nut per shell)

Preheat oven as directed on package of shells.  Place shells on a baking sheet and spoon a teaspoon of preserves into the bottom of the shell.  Top with a cube of cheese, then press a pecan halve on top.

Bake about 5 - 10 minutes, just until the brie has started to melt and the phyllo starts to brown.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Italian Spinach Dip

Like many people, I grew up eating the cold spinach dip served in a hollowed out bread bowl.  I always ate it, but I never loved it.  I think part of it was due to the water chestnuts...yuck...I just don't get them.  I know they don't really taste like anything, but they are crunchy nuisance in my book!  I also didn't particularly care for the seasoning of the dip either, it came from a vegetable dip mix made by Knorr and there was just something to it that turned me off after so many bites.  When I saw this recipe and noticed the absence of  the standard vegetable dip mix I knew I had to give it a try, it still had those pesky water chestnuts, but I omitted them and just added more red peppers....and it was great!  It still had some tang from the Italian dressing seasoning mix, and the addition of the roasted red peppers covered nicely for those weird water chestnuts!  I brought this to a party (way back in November...slacker...yes me) and everyone loved it.  It paired really well with the buttery Ritz crackers, but I am sure it would be just as good in a hollowed out bread bowl.  This is my new "go to" cold spinach dip...give it a try!  Another bonus is with its green and red colors it is very festive for the holidays.

Sorry for the delay in sharing and the crappy picture, I didn't have my camera with me so I took it with my new phone, and I just couldn't figure out how to get the picture to my e-mail....technology and I are not always on good terms :)-


Italian Spinach Dip
adapted from Kraft 


1 c. light mayo
1 c. light sour cream 1 env. Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
1/2 c. chopped roasted red peppers (or more!)
Ritz crackers or bread slices for serving

Mix mayo and sour cream with the Italian dressing mix until well combined.  Add spinach and red peppers and stir; chill until serving.  Serve with Ritz crackers or bread.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bacon Pierogi Bake

I actually have this baking in the oven right now, but the picture below is from I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  This is a yummy, comforting casserole that came from Cooking Light of all places!  I am not sure how I missed it when I got my issue, but all of a sudden it started popping up all over the other blogs that I read, so I knew that I had to try it!  When I found my copy of the magazine, I realized why I may have skipped over it, the picture just didn't look that good, I guess we really do eat with our eyes!  The pictures on the other blogs were so bright and colorful, but the magazine made it look burned, boring and dry!  I think the dryness is maybe what threw me when I first looked at it, so when I made it I decided to double the sauce, making it extra saucy and extra good (but definitely not extra Light, ha!). The version I posted below is the double sauce version, but you can cut it back if you must!

This was really easy to throw together, and I had all the dishes done while it baked for just 20 minutes in my toaster oven.  I used the mini pierogis when I made it, although the original calls for the regular size, but I think I would stick with the mini, they are more fun!  This is creamy, salty, and fresh tasting all rolled into one!  I think it could easily be adapted for vegetarians by omitting the bacon and just cooking the garlic in a bit of olive oil or you could cook the bacon separate and just put it on individual portions!  Whatever you do, you must make this!  It is starting to get warm here in AZ, but with the fresh tomatoes on top, I can still consider it a Spring dish!

Bacon Piergoi Bake
Adapted from Cooking Light - December 2010


1 (16-ounce) package frozen potato and cheese pierogies (such as Mrs. T's) - I like the mini's
Cooking spray
4 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 c (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 c. fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 c (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c thinly diagonally sliced green onions
1/4 c chopped seeded plum tomato
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange the pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.