Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crocant Biscuit

SO, I have something REALLY special for you all today! One of my good friends and fellow foodie Roro H. told me that she was planning to make a dessert and asked if she could share it! ... Well, of course I said yes, but when I saw her e-mail(s), I was literally BLOWN AWAY. Jaw-on-floor status because not only was she SUPER sweet to tell me all about it in the first place, but she sent me the recipe AND sent some AWESOME pictures. I pretty much immediately decided this recipe deserved its proper posting ... as a full blog entry!

So without further delay, here's what Roro has to share with us! ... A Crocant Biscuit!

What you need:

1 can Nestle Media Cream Table Cream (you can use 2 can if you like)
Whipped Topping Mix (pictured below - they are usually 4 envelops of mixes, bought from Kroger, found close to cheese cake ready to make box)
Small pan
Biscuits (unsalted)
1 cup Warm Coffee (If you do not like coffee you can use hot cocoa, Nescafe, or even cappuccino)   
1/4 cup Almonds (or more if desired ) 
2 tbsp brown or white sugar (I love brown sugar!) 
About 1 cup Milk (or less)
Ziploc bag 


Check the instruction of the whipped topping and put 2 envelops of mix in the mixer (you will most likely need one cup of milk). Then, add nestle media cream and mix for while until cream is thick (about 1-2 minutes). Put in the refrigerator for a while.

Prepare coffee and place it in wide bowl. Dip one biscuit in the coffee to soak, remove, and place it in the Pyrex dish. Repeat till the pyrex is full of biscuit.

Remove whipped topping mix from refrigerator and put HALF of it on to cover the biscuits.

Repeat step 2 to make another layer of biscuits on top of the cream.

Cover biscuits with remaining whipped topping mix.

Put the prepared dish in refrigerator 6-8 hours (or overnight).

This last step is optional with the brown sugar and almonds is optional!

Put sugar in a heated pan and stir till melted. 

Add almonds and mix together. Set aside to cool down but be aware it might stick in the pan so remove it quickly!

Put the sugar and almond in the ziploc bag ON ICE to cool.*

Smash the almond mixture to be put on the top of the Crocant biscuit!

*Please note: In the previous step with the ziploc bag, BE CAREFUL because you might burn your finger or even the ziploc bag. You need to make sure that the surface under the bag is very cold so that the sugar will not melt the bag.

And THIS is what the final product looks like:

Was this amazing, or was this ABSOLUTELY AMAZING?! --- I think this is definitely a do-able recipe and I am SO EXCITED to try it! I've not ever heard of this dessert but I'm so glad I now know about it. I would like to thank Roro for taking the time to send me all the details and pictures!!! <3

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chili and Cornbread

As many of you know, prior to moving to AZ, we lived in South Dakota where it was cold about ... 6-8 months of the year, with snow that was almost always OUT.of.CONTROL! --- Not even going to lie, it was one of my favorite places that we've lived (and we've been to quite a few different places now so ... that actually does mean a lot), but the greatest challenge for us was coming up with food dishes that would stay warm for long periods of time when we were going to potlucks and such! Well, our neighbors introduced us to cornbread and chili and we have been making it ever since!

First: Betty Crocker's Authentic Cornbread and Muffin Mix!

What you'll need:

1 egg
1/3 cup milk (plus a little extra ... explained below)
2 tbsp of melted butter
1 tbsp sugar
Betty Crocker Authentic Cornbread & Muffin Mix 


In a bowl, beat the egg completely. Then add 1/3 cup of milk along with a little extra (the little extra just varies depending on the day ... but I'd say it's equivalent to about 1 tablespoon), AND also about 1 tablespoon of sugar! -- Not to worry, the sugar will not make it a sweet cornbread ... it'll just add a little something! Mix with about 1.5 tablespoons of butter (save the rest to pour over the top), and the cornbread mix! ... Stir until all the chunks are gone, but do not over-stir.

After mix is ready, heat up the cast iron skillet and while heating, put a little bit of butter to coat the bottom and along the sides so the mix doesn't stick. When the skillet is completely hot, take the skillet off the heat and pour the mix into the pan. Top it off with the remaining butter (about 0.5 tablespoon). The cornbread mix may look like it has started cooking already in the pan, which is fine.

While preparing the mix and heating the cast iron skillet, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and then put the cornbread in!

This recipe has a cook time of 14-16 minutes. I typically only need around 13, sometimes 14 but I just watch it till it gets a nice golden brown crust on top! ... Here's what the final product looks like in the pan:

I then cut the cornbread into 6 slices and serve hot with butter and honey! YUM!

With this, we make vegetarian chili!

What you'll need:

1 can of black beans
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of dark red kidney beans
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons McCormick Gourmet Collection Chili Powder
Sour Cream
Cilantro, chopped


Primarily, add black beans, pinto beans, and dark red kidney beans into a blender and puree to consistency of choice. This really depends on how chunky you like your chili so decide accordingly!

In a pan, heat up oil and add onion. Sautee till gold brown. Then add pureed beans and chili powder and salt, as desired. Add water, bring to boil, and reduce. If it's too "soupy" just boil it until it gets to the consistency that you like your chili. Serve hot, with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro as a garnish!

As I said before, this makes for the perfect potluck dish, because you can take it with you and leave it heated in a crockpot till everyone is ready to enjoy! ... So let me know, do you have any favorite cornbread or chili recipes? What are some of your favorite potluck dishes?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quick, homemade pizza!

One of my favorite quick food items to have is definitely pizza ... but some of the times, I find myself having complaints about store-bought or restaurant-bought pizza: too much/too little cheese, not enough toppings, etc! So what I do instead is do a "homemade" pizza! --- Quick and easy, and delicious too!

What you need:

Pizza base
Toppings of choice
Cheese of choice
Salt and Pepper


So primarily, here's the pizza base that I use:

In a bowl, I mix together ketchup, salt and pepper, and use that as my "sauce" by spreading it on the base --

I know there's always the big debate on whether the cheese comes first or if the toppings come first! My choice? ... Topping first! I most frequently use onions, green peppers, and tomatoes!

Then, of course, the best part - the cheese! I tend to use either the Mexican 3 or 4 cheese blend or Mozzarella ... This time I went with the Mexican blend --

And then the pizza goes in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes and here it is --

A lot of the times when I make pizza, it's only for the family, but my friends mom entertains quite a bit and people LOVE pizza so she's whip up some and cut it into square pieces and serve as kind of a mini-appetizer! ... If you think about it, it's actually pretty convenient because you can make it EXACTLY how you want it, and it's quite a bit cheaper than store-bought pizza too!

What do you like on your pizza? Do you make it at home or usually get store-bought or from a restaurant?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trader Joe's Products

Hello everyone! I have something special for this post ... Well, actually WE do! Fiona came up with a great idea to review some products from Trader Joe's! ... Now, personally, I have only been to TJ's a couple of times and hadn't even gotten a chance to pick up too many things during those visits, but it's such a great store with a wide variety of products ranging from fresh fruits/vegetables to frozen products! Some of our favorite products are Trader Joe's Brand items, so we thought we'd do reviews about those.

The following products were purchased by Fiona and the everything was written and photographed by her:

Trader Ming’s Chicken Shu Mai

Trader Joe’s carries a variety of their own international creations, including a line of Asian inspired quick eats known as “Trader Ming’s.” One of my favorite Chinese morsels is their chicken shu mai, which is a type of dim sum. Dim sum refers to a style of bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates, and is often times brought to your table on carts pushed by servers. These dumpling wrapped delights are stuffed with a variety of meats and vegetables, and can be eaten as a quick snack, appetizer, or a side dish with rice for dinner. These are found in the freezer section. After 2 minutes in the microwave, they are ready to eat, but I prefer the traditional method of steaming them for 7 minutes. Chicken, green onions, carrots, ginger and garlic infused into a meatball texture… mmmm! A soy sauce packet is included, but they are simply delicious on their own. A serving size is 6 pieces and only 160 calories. Hungry yet?

Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter

Love peanut butter? A tasty alternative to try is Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter. Made from specially selected roasted sunflower seeds, its creamy goodness can be spread on all your favorite baked goods, pancakes, apples, celery or wherever you would traditionally use peanut butter. While it contains about the same number of calories and fat as regular peanut butter (2 tablespoons = 200 calories, 16 g of fat), it’s a great alternative for those who are allergic to nuts! The possibilities are endless. For a special treat or snack, I like to make a sunflower butter and nutella sandwich. If you prefer the texture of crunchy peanut butter, you can customize by adding whole or chopped sunflower seeds to the sunflower butter to your liking. Fun fact: when using sunflower butter to bake cookies, the cookies turn green as they cool down due to a chemical reaction with baking soda… perfect for St. Patrick’s day! A great recipe for these cookies can be found here:

I know Fiona is a big fan of this store and had quite a few recommendations for me to try out, and here are the products that I purchased for the review:

Trader Joe's Raspberry and Vanilla Cream Bars

Can I just start by saying: YUM! Okay then --- YUM!! ... As seen in the picture, Trader Joe's Raspberry & Vanilla Cream Bars boxes come with 8 bars that are individually wrapped and are what I consider a perfect personal-sized portions (or fairly small, depending on your love for ice-cream) with a calorie count of 80 per bar! They are split in half and provide for a sour/fruity flavor from the raspberry portion and a sweet flavor from the vanilla cream! I actually really liked these anddddd I may or may not have already had three by myself since I bought the box over the weekend! =/ Needless to say, I'd definitely definitely recommend this product! The only other flavor that I saw at the TJ's I went to was a coffee and vanilla ... one that I may have to pick up the next time I'm there!

Trader Joe's Vegetable Panang Curry

The first time I had Panang curry was at a Malaysian restaurant that I went to with my aunt in California and have been searching and searching for a bring-home product ever since. Well, I am SO SO glad that I finally have found one! Trader Joe's Panang curry with rice is quite delicious! If you've ever had Panang curry you know the general taste- it's a spicy peanut-y coconut-y curry! Traditionally, it is usually slightly less spicy than most other Thai curries and is made from dried chili peppers, lemongrass, coriander root and seeds, garlic, salt, peanuts, and cumin seeds, and has a base of coconut milk. I, personally, am not a huge coconut person, but hands down, this product is one you must try even if you do not like coconut! ... The cooking instructions for this item are very easy too - you just remove the tray from the outside package, make slits in the portion with the curry and in the portion with the rice, and heat for 4-5 minutes on high. Spoon curry over the rice and enjoy! ... If I had to state a "complaint", I'd say that this product needs some chicken or another protein in it, and that it was perhaps lacking a balance between vegetables and curry. Too much curry, not enough vegetables. Even so, I'd give it all the stars for flavor and will be going back to get some extras of this to have in my freezer!

So tell me, was that inciting enough for you? Would you like to try out some products from Trader Joe's? Well here's your chance! Fiona is generously donating TWO $5 gift cards to this store and you could be one of the lucky winners!! Here's how to enter:

E-MAIL ME at with your name and response to this question: What is your favorite product at Trader Joe's? ... If you haven't ever been, you can say that you haven't been there yet, and maybe pick one of the items that we featured as something you'd like to try!

This giveaway will run from now, when this blog post is published till Thursday, March 22nd at 11:59pm. I will then use to draw two winners and post them on my Facebook page by Friday, March 23rd at 11:00am PST! You must be a fan of my Facebook page to enter! Good luck!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sprinkles Cupcakes!

I know I have discussed this place with a lot of people already because I absolutely LOVE it, but I wanted to do an official post ... as proof that I actually love it THAT much! I speak of, of course, the amazing Sprinkles Cupcakes!

Sprinkles was founded by Candace Nelson, who is a judge on Cupcake Wars on the Food Network as many of you may have seen, and is a pastry chef at the world's first cupcake bakery: Sprinkles Cupcakes. The first Sprinkles location was in Beverly Hills, CA, which opened in 2005, and this place has lived up to its reputation ever since!

They have 8 different locations in the U.S which can be found listed here: as well as a Sprinklesmobile!

This cupcake bakery uses only the best ingredients and bakes fresh batches of cupcakes at each location throughout the day, with many different ingredients, creating many unique flavors. Here's how they describe their own product:

"Sprinkles Cupcakes are handcrafted from the finest ingredients, including sweet cream butter, bittersweet Belgian chocolate, pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, fresh bananas and carrots, real strawberries and natural citrus zests. Topped with Sprinkles trademark modern dots, rich chocolate sprinkles from France or seasonal sugar decorations, Sprinkles gourmet cupcakes are a deliciously sophisticated update on an American classic" (taken from

My brief description of their cupcakes? Butter-y, heavenly deliciousness packed into every single bite that you will devour! YUM!

They are open 7 days a week for your cupcake-enjoyment and offer their variety of flavors, depending on the day of the week (some offered every day and others offered only on some days). This is their complete list:

From this list, by far, my two favorites are Chocolate Coconut and Vanilla Milk Chocolate! Their most popular cupcake is the Red Velvet, which I have tried and loved, along with a few others: black and white, carrot, banana ... anddd the list continues! I have not yet found a cupcake flavor that I have not enjoyed! In addition to this list, they offer some cupcakes monthly/weekly/seasonally! This is the link to their full calendar:

I'm pretty convinced that with their flavor choice, you are bound to find something you'll enjoy. When you walk in the bakery, they have their cupcakes on display, which is absolutely captivating -

See what I mean?! ... I'm not sure how many people walk away with just one! ... Let me tell you - I never have!

Here are pictures of my favorite cupcakes that I've purchased:

 Lemon Cupcake and Black & White Cupcake

Milk Chocolate Cupcake and Salty Caramel Cupcake

Additionally Sprinkes offers a great perk! If you're a fan of their Facebook page- they post a daily "word / phrase" of the day which enables you get a complimentary cupcake! It is limited to the first 50 people, but I think there has only been one time that I went in and wasn't able to take advantage of this offer. I would say a lot of their times it's a selected cupcake that you can get for free, but I have seen both "receive a surprise cupcake" and "receive a cupcake of your choice" as well! ... In any case, it's a free cupcake, so it gives you chance to try something new or get one of your favorites at no charge if you can choose! Each individual cupcake store also has their own Facebook page where they sometimes publish additional free "word / phase" of the day offers, so when you're on their main page, be sure to find and become fan of those as well! ... If you're not on Facebook, they also have a Twitter page:!/sprinkles along with Twitter pages for each individual store, so you can find those as well!

And as if all that wasn't enough ... If going inside the store to pick up cupcakes is not your thing, Sprinkles Cupcakes currently offers a 24-hour CUPCAKE ATM (currently only at the Beverly Hills location). Yup - basically exactly how it sounds! All of your favorite cupcakes can be found inside an ATM that will dispense the cupcake of your choice after you've slid your credit card! ... This innovation was created by Candace Nelson during her pregnancy when she was having late-night cravings for cupcakes! They hope to have these ATM's at every store in the future.

Here's a link if you would like to watch a short video about the cupcake ATM's:

Other links:
Candace Nelson's Facebook page:

All opinions about this cupcakery are my own.

Let me know: is there a Sprinkles around your area? Do you have any other cupcake bakeries in your area that are your favorites? What are some of your favorite cupcake flavors? :o)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pizza, Pizza!

Oh my goodness! I had A LOT of fun taking pictures for this post ... and not even going to lie: I went absolutely photo crazy so you're going to probably going to get sick of the pictures by the end but PLEASE hang in there with me!!!

SO this is my first official restaurant review! It's for a local restaurant called 'Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana. I think it would be most effective if I split this post into three parts!

Part one: Location! .... The restaurant that we went to was 'Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, as I said before, which is located at The Borgata in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Borgata is an outdoor shopping center that consists of many little boutiques and only a few restaurants. I have walked around it many times and it's fairly small but the all the little shops that are there bring in A LOT of attention! Because it's in Arizona, in the summer it is way too hot to be outside, but in the spring/fall/winter, it is absolutely AMAZING. In what I call "the center" of this shopping mall, they have a large fountain which is surrounded by many tables. There are a few restaurants that are right near it, so I commonly see people grabbing lunch from one of those places and enjoying their meal in the beautiful sunshine! :) The following are a few pictures of what you would see if you were taking a stroll and here's the website if you would like more information about the Borgata:

Part two: All about 'Pomo!!! --- Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana is an official certified VPM: Vera Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza) which actually holds high distinction. The way in which they get their VMP distinction is by following guidelines that are set by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association and also the Italian Government and European Union. They get all their products from Italy and their pizzas are made with San Marzano Tomatoes D.O.P, which come from the base of Mount Vesuvius in Naples, Buffalo Mozzarella that is brought in fresh daily, and they make their dough with 100% organic stone ground flour. The pizzas baked rather quickly, with a cook time of only about 60 to 90 SECONDS in a 950 degree wood burning oven. Particularly, the oven that is found inside 'Pomo was made in Naples by a 3rd generation pizza builder. They ordered this one especially in order to obtain the "true charred and blistered crust" of a real Neapolitan pizza, which isn't obtained when pizza is baked in a fabricated oven! ... The waiter was telling us that there are only a total of around 500 Napoletana's in the WORLD, only 20 in the United States, and this is the only one in Arizona.

If you're thinking, "wow" then welcome to what I'm thinking too! This is truly much more of a special place to go to eat than I had originally thought! Here is how it looks on the outside, and we enjoyed our meal on the patio so I just included a picture of that:

And now, part three: the food. Can you say TRULY AMAZING?! Well, I guess that's pretty expected when a restaurant is using the freshest of ingredients that are shipped from Italy, which is of course known for their pizzas! Well, this was truly a treat. First, here's a little breakdown of the menu itself: it is split into a total of 5 different sections: Antipasti (Appetizers), Insalate and Piatti Del Giorno (Salads and Soups), Pizza Napoletana (Neopolitan Pizza with tomato sauce), Pizza Bianca Napoletana (Neopolitan Pizza with no tomato sauce), and Desserts. They also serve Panini's during lunch time Monday-Friday from 11:00am-4:00pm and also have a Bambini (Kids menu for 10 and under)! --- A few people enjoyed the salads from there and they were large-sized and came with a side of bread! Most of us, however, tried the pizza. They are each what the waiter claimed as "personal pan-sized" ... about 12 inches. They had very thin crusts and were pilled with toppings and had an exquisite taste. Hands down, I can say this was the best pizza I've had in Arizona. The kind of pizza I tried was the Regina Margherita, and some other favorites at our table included the Capricciosa, Principe, 'Pomo, and Bianca. Out of those, the Bianca was the only one that was a sauce-less pizza. Here are pictures from the pizzas we had:

The only complaint that I have is that the price is fairly steep, ranging from $10-$17 for one of the pizzas pictured above. And then if you want any additional toppings, it $3-$5. For one person, I would say that's quite a bit. I think most people only ate about half of theirs and took the rest home so I guess I could justify spending around that much for 2 meals, especially when you're getting something so unique, every once in a while! ... Additionally, please note that there are very few choices in the pizza selection if you're vegetarian! Those options included: The Marinara, which has just sauce and olive oil, the Regina Margherita, which has sauce, cheese, and olive oil, and the Ortolana, which has sauce, cheese, vegetables, and olive oil. I did spot some bruchetta in their appetizers that was vegetarian as well, but I think that's about it. I was actually fairly surprised that chicken was not included in their list of toppings! Not even as an add-on option either.

My over-all rating of this restaurant is 4.5 stars (minus point five for the price). There was a group of 10 of us that went and we definitely all enjoyed our dishes! No returned plates, no complaints! ... It was definitely a fun place to go.

Here's a link to their webpage where you can find a more detailed look at their menu (when we first sat down, some people were SUPER confused as to what everything was, but apparently we did well in choosing!) --

Do you have a local pizza place that you enjoy going to? What are some of your favorite pizza's?