Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mix and Match Quiche

A few posts ago, I had shared a method with which you could change up pastas to create many different baked casserole dishes (, and this time, I'm going to share how to mix and match ingredients to make quiches!

For those who have not tried a quiche before (and I was actually one who had not until very recently), it's basically a pastry that is filled with your favorite vegetables, meats, and cheeses, and then is to be baked with a custard mixture! SO if you want to make this completely from scratch, here's how you would do it:

1) Make The Crust

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch plate with pie dough (store-bought or homemade) and crimp as desired; chill 30 minutes. Line with foil, then fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking until lightly golden, 5-10 more minutes. Let cool while you prepare the filling.

2) Choose Your Vegetables

Prepare 1/2 to 1 cup total. Choose up to 3 vegetables and transfer into a large bowl.
*Asparagus - roasted and chopped
*Broccoli - chopped and roasted or steamed
*Kale - chopped and sauteed (or frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained)
*Jarred roasted peppers or cherry peppers - roughly chopped
*Frozen peas - thawed
*Mushrooms - sliced and sauteed
*Potatoes - shredded and sauteed
*Cherry or grape tomatoes - halved
*Radicchio - chopped and sauteed
*Olives - pitted and sliced (use up to 1/4 cup)
*Onions or shallots - sliced and sauteed
*Scallions - chopped

3) Add Meat (Optional)

Prepare up to 1/2 cup total. Choose 1 or 2. Add to the bowl with the vegetables.
*Bacon - cooked and crumbled
*Sausage - cooked and crumbled
*Ham or salami - chopped
*Corned beef or pastrami - chopped
*Rotisserie chicken - shredded
*Crabmeat - picked over

4) Add Cheese

Shred or crumble 3/4 cup to 1 cup total. Choose 1 or 2. Add to the bowl with the vegetable mixture and toss.
*Swiss, gruyere, or jarlsberg
*Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack
*Gouda - regular, aged, or smoked
*Ricotta salata
*Goat cheese

5) Make the Quiche

Wisk 3 eggs, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, half-and-half or milk in a large bowl. If desired, stir in 1-2 tbsps chopped fresh herbs, 1/2 tsp paprika or chile powder, or some grated lemon zest. Spread the vegetable-cheese mixture in the crust, then pour the egg mixture on top. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the filling is set, 40-50 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.

I typically skip #1 and just purchase the pastry to save on time, but I know many people who make their own as well. My favorite fillings include broccoli, mushrooms, onions, asparagus, along with very basic cooked chicken (not even rotisserie as mentioned above), and a three cheese mix (mozzarella, cheddar, and swiss).

Here are three quiche recipes that you can look at for inspiration to create your own personal quiche:

1) Spinach and Bacon Quiche

2) Ham and Broccoli Quiche

3) Roasted Pepper, Scallion, and Sausage Quiche

*Note: this easy step-by-step quiche idea is not mine. I found it on and have resposted about it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Si Señor!

One of my favorite cuisines of all time is Mexican so whenever I see a Mexican restaurant in passing, I immediately add it to my list to try out! For today, I have to share with you a restaurant that we have been to quite a few times: Si Señor . This restaurant was established in 1984 by Martin and Irene Castillo in Deming, New Mexico. There is currently one restaurant in Las Cruces, NM which is currently the 11th fastest growing area in the US. The restaurant there has been awarded three "Best of the Best Reader's Choice" Awards: Best Mexican Food, Best Chips and Salsa, and Best Business Lunch Place! There is another location (the one we visited) in Chandler, AZ, which opened in October 2011. They have been serving amazing food there ever since!

My mom and I went there for a late lunch so we ended up only ordering one dish, but I'll go through everything that was served to us.

First, as many restaurants do, Si Señor also serves a basket of freshly made chips and salsa. They however, give you a variety of four different dips! As seen in the back left, they have their traditional salsa, and to the right of that is a bean dip. In the front right, as seen, they have a tomatillo salsa, and the last one is a jalepeno sour cream sauce. All of these were delicious and definitely a treat since they had something different for everyone to enjoy!

At the restaurant, for lunch time, they offer daily specials from 10:30am-2:00pm for $7.50 and these are: 
Monday- Cheese Enchilada, Tuesday- Ground Beef Tacos, Wednesday- Stuffed Sopaipillas, Thursday- Beef Chimichangas, and Friday- Chile Relleno Plate, all served with rice and beans.

Additionally, they have their full menu which features everything from burritos to tacos to enchiladas that can be ordered for lunch and dinner. For this visit, we ordered the Chicken Enchilada in green sauce with rice and beans. The portion of food that was served was quite large and definitely sufficient for two people. It was very tasty, although I could have definitely done with less cheese on both the enchilada as well as the beans.

And finally, as their special, they also serve a Sopaipilla for each person (lunch or dinner) with the choice of plain or with cinnamon sugar. My mom and I each opted to get the cinnamon sugar and it was delicious! The perfect ending to a yummy lunch.

To take a look at information all about Si Señor, take a look here:

What is your favorite local Mexican Restaurant? What dish do you normally get?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dulce De Leche Crepe Cake

In light of Mother's Day being yesterday, I was doing some quality thinking about some of my favorite food experiences that I have had thus far with my mom. One that I recall clearly was before we came to the United States. I grew up in India and we lived there until I was age 6. After that, the first place we lived outside of the country was London, England! Well, while we lived there, we went on vacation to many tourist-y destinations and Paris was one of them! If nothing else there (except the Eiffel Tower, of course), I recall eating THE best crepes EVER!!! I think at that point of time (age 7), I wasn't exactly an adventurous foodie, so during this trip, crepes were my go-to food. My favorite crepes? Nutella! Haha, at least I had good taste right? Anyways, when wandering the streets of Paris, my parents had found a cart where they sold these were sold and we went back there pretty much every evening for the duration of the trip!

Since that time, I have been trying to replicate crepe recipes to make the perfect one ... no such luck yet, BUT the other day, I was browsing through a magazine and stumbled upon this: Dulce De Leche Crepe Cake! What a unique way of layering yummy goodness to make a delightful desert. Take a look at how to make this, below:

What you will need:

For the crepes:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Unsalted butter, melted, for brushing

For the filling and topping:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 cup dulce de leche (jarred or canned), plus more for drizzling
1 cup heavy cream


Make the crepes: Combine the milk, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate the batter 30 minutes.

Lightly brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet with melted butter and place over medium heat. Add a scant 1/4 cup of batter and quickly swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Cook until set on top and golden on the bottom, about 30 seconds. Carefully lift the edge of the crepe with a rubber spatula, then flip with your fingers and cook 20 more seconds. Invert the crepe onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 14 to 18 crepes, brushing the skillet with more butter as needed. Stack the finished crepes on the plate and let cool completely. (The crepes can be made up to 1 day ahead; let cool, then wrap the stack in plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

Make the filling: Beat the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add 2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar in 2 batches, beating until smooth and fluffy. Add the dulce de leche and beat until combined. (The filling can be made up to 1 day ahead; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, then beat for a few minutes with a mixer before using.)

Assemble the cake just before serving: Place 1 crepe on a platter or cake stand. Spread with a scant 1/4 cup of the filling, then top with another crepe. Repeat with the remaining filling and crepes, ending with a crepe on top.

Beat the heavy cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of the cake and drizzle with dulce de leche. Serve immediately.

Do you have a favorite crepe recipe? Let me know what it is!

*The picture and recipe featured in this blog post were both taken from the Food Network magazine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rashmi's Graduation Party 2012

As many of you know, I recently graduated college, more specifically from Arizona State University, and in celebration, we had a big party at my house, for which, we prepared some of my favorite things! Before I get to those, however, I would like to take a minute to go through a couple of other things first.

I have posted about this company before, and hopefully all of you are already fans on their Facebook page (, but if not, let me just take a moment to tell you about one of my MOST FAVORITE shoe companies EVER, Mojo Moxy! Very recently, Mojo Moxy and Izzy were awesome enough to pick winners to receive free shoes as Random Acts of Mojo (#RAOM). This year, the style that was given away, as seen below, was the Guility's. When I had originally seen this shoe (, I saw all the fabulous colors it was offered in and KNEW that it would look AMAZING with my graduation outfit. As it turns out, *I* was chosen as a lucky recipient. Even more perfect was the fact that I received a pair of black Guilty's because they went SO WELL with my dress that I had picked out! I wore them during the party, and with confidence, I can say that I rocked them because I received SO MANY compliments! Thus, I would like to entend a HUGE thank you again to Mojo Moxy and Izzy for being so wonderful, always!

And what is an outfit without the PERFECT nail polish to match? Well, for this, I would like to say thank you to an awesome nail polish blogger Cosmetic Sanctuary for finding Frenzy, as seen below, for me. I had originally commented on her Facebook page ( asking if she knew of any dupes to the BL polish "Slapper", for which she found Hard Candy's "Frenzy". I went on a search to find this polish and was unsuccessful but SHE FOUND ME ONE!!! "Frenzy" was pretty much a PERFECT match to my dress. As seen on the left, the bottle is set on top of my dress, and on the right is a swatch of the polish! I'm not a polish blogger so I have nothing fancy to say except that if you buy this color (which you should) make sure you have a good base coat ... you're going to need it! =D

And so, here's a collage of all the parts of the outfit:

Awesome! So, now, on to the food! We are a fairly ambitious bunch at my house so the menu consisted of 3 snack type dishes along with 2 main dishes and 3 desserts! The 3 snack dishes were: 7 layer dip with chips, cocktail samosas, and spinach rolls. The 2 main dishes were kofta curry and butter chicken with accompaniments of rice and naan. And lastly, the 3 desserts were my oreo pops, nilla waffer banana pudding, and my "Congratulations Rashmi" cake.

I have to say, up front, that while everything was being made, there was a lot of "I should add a little of this and little of that" going on, especially since the quantity prepared was fit for 50-ish people. I tried my best to change the recipe quantities such that they make food for less number of people (around 3 or 4). Okay, let's get started:

7 Layer Dip and Chips

What you will need:

1 can Refried Beans
1/2 bottle of Chunky Salsa
Sour Cream
Tortilla Chips


Heat refried beans in a pan with a little bit of oil. Layer the beans on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of salsa on top, followed by sour cream, tomatoes, olives, jalepenos, cilantro. Top with cheese and serve with chips. 

Cocktail Samosas

These can be found at pretty much any Indian store in the freezer section. They are the potato variety and the cooking of them entails frying.

Spinach Rolls

What you will need:

1 package of Puff Pastry Sheet
1 package of Frozen Spinach
Chopped Onions
About 1 package of Cream Cheese
Salt to taste


Remove puff pastry sheet from freezer and let thaw.

In a pan, sautee onions in a pan till golden brown, then add spinach. Stir together and remove from heat. Add cream cheese and stir together. Roll out thawed puff pastry sheet and spread spinach mixture on top. then roll the puff pastry over and cut. Bake as directed on puff pastry sheet packet.

Kofta Curry

What you will need:

For the koftas:

2 cups peeled and diced boiled potatoes
1 cup mixed vegetables boiled
1 cup paneer
2 tbsps of heavy whipping cream
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 cup chopped cashews
Salt to taste
Cooking oil (for frying)

For the sauce:

3 tbsps oil
2 large onions quartered
2 tomatoes quartered
2 tbsps garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tsps coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp poppy seeds lightly roasted and ground into a powder
3 tbsps cashews, ground into a thick paste
Salt to taste
2 tsps garam masala


Mash the potatoes, mixed vegetables, paneer and cream together. Add the kofta spices to this mash and mix well. Season with salt.

Make this dough into balls and put a few pieces of chopped cashews in the center of each ball.

Heat the oil kept aside to fry the koftas, on a medium flame. Deep fry these rounds till pale golden in colour.

Drain on paper towels and keep aside.

For the gravy, first heat the 3 tbsps of oil in a deep pan and fry the onions till light brown.

Grind into a paste along with the tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and red chilli powders.

Put this paste back into the pan and fry till the oil begins to separate from the masala.

Add the poppy seeds powder and cashew paste and fry for another 2-3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of warm water to this masala to form a sauce/gravy (the sauce for this dish is meant to be fairly thick so do not add too much water but if you need more than 1/2 cup, please add water accordingly). Mix well. Season with salt.

Bring the sauce/gravy to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

Gently add the kofas to this sauce/gravy and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes.

Turn off heat and sprinkle the garam masala all over the top of the dish. Stir quickly and cover immediately. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes prior to serving.

*Please note that this recipe is not originally mine and was taken from cooking site online but modifications were made to it, as shown, reflecting the way in which it was cooked by us.

Butter Chicken

I'm totally going to cheat on this one and link you to a previous post that explains how to make this in great detail. We use the same recipe each time! Here it is:

Oreo Pops

What you will need:

1 package Oreos
1/2 package Cream Cheese
Candy Melts
Sticks (if making pops)


In a food processor, crush oreos to bits. Add cream cheese to the crushed oreos in the food processor and mix until you form what is similar to a dough. Remove from food processor and use a scoop to make oreo balls. Put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator. Melt candy melts in a pot and dip a stick in the chocolate and press firmly into the oreo balls. Put oreo pops back in refrigerator and let chocolate harden for about at least an hour.  Remove from refrigerator and dip each oreo pop into chocolate until completely coated. Using a different color, decorate, if wanted.

Nilla Waffer Banana Pudding

What you will need:

1/2 package Nilla Waffers
1 small box of Pudding Mix
2 cups Milk
1/2 container Whipped Cream
1 Banana


Prepare pudding as instructed on pudding mix. In a bowl, layer Nilla Waffers, bananas, pudding and whipped cream. Repeat.

"Congratulations Rashmi" cake

How awesome is this cake? I did a good job, right? HA. Fooled you. Nope, I didn't make this cake. It was a half-sheet marble cake with whipped frosting, ordered from Sam's Club! :o)

Fruit Punch Drink

What you will need:

Orange Sorbet
Mixed Berry Sorbet
Fruit Punch
Orange Juice
Ginger Ale


In a large punch bowl, add equal parts orange and mixed berry sorbet. Pour equal parts fruit punch, orange juice, and ginger ale over sorbet. Stir together.

Note: I wouldn't melt the sorbet completely because it helps keep the drink cold ... so, in fact, when I make this, I actually don't melt the sorbet purposely at all. I just have the sorbet sitting at the bottom of the punch bowl when I pour everything in, and once it is all added, I do a light stir and it's good to go! :o)

Anddd lastly, here are a couple of extra pictures:

Me and my mom

Me and my cake

Uff! I know this post was really long but I hope you all enjoyed reading and looking at pictures. It was a really fun party and thank you all who attended, making it such an awesome day for me!!

xo -Rashmi

Monday, May 7, 2012

Red Robin's Freckled Lemonade

I'm a huge HUGE fan of trying out new drinks, and I recently read that, apparently, Red Robin has an AWESOME drink called Freckled Lemonade. It consists of your normal lemonade filled with crushed strawberries. The crazy thing is though, this drink is so famous that the diners go through about 420,000 GALLONS of it every year AND Food Network (FN) states that the drink is "so famous that [Red Robin] actually has a cocktail, a shake, cupcakes, and even a pie inspired by it". Red Robin, of course, won't give up the recipe, so what FN did was, create a replica of it in their own test kitchen!

Here's the recipe by FN called "Almost Famous Strawberry Lemonade" ---

What you will need: [makes 6 servings]

Zest of 1 lemon, in wide strips
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped hulled strawberries
2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 10 large lemons)
1/4 teaspoon salt


Make the lemon syrup: Bring the lemon zest, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring, until the sugar dissolves; let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the strawberry syrup: Toss the strawberries and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and let sit at room temperature until the sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes. Strain the strawberry mixture; reserve the strawberry syrup and berries separately.

Make the lemonade: Combine the lemon juice, lemon syrup, salt and 2 cups cold water in a pitcher. For each drink, put about 1 tablespoon of the strawberry syrup in a tall glass. Fill with ice, then top with the lemonade and some of the reserved strawberries.

How amazingly perfect does this drink sound? ... It sounds WAY amazingly perfect because it pretty much is! I tried it out the other day when I had a few friends over and it was a HUGE hit! Some of us added the strawberries on top, and others didn't, but in either case, the strawberry syrup adds the perfect fruity flavor! Yum, yum, yum! ... My only criticism about this recipe is that it probably doesn't even need the salt, so next time, I won't be putting that in. But what I know is: with the summer here, this is going to probably be one of my favorite drinks for sure! Let me know if you try it out too!

The picture and recipe featured in this blog post were taken from

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Signing with Giada de Laurentiis

This weekend I had one of the most AMAZING experiences as I got to meet, by far, my favorite chef and writer who everyone knows from The Food Network: Giada de Laurentiis! This amazing chef, recently wrote a new book, "Weekends with Giada" and was on tour doing book signings all over the country! I am a fan of her Facebook page ( and had originally seen a post about how she was doing a singing in Washington, when I thought, "HMMM! I should check if she is coming to Arizona as well," and sure enough, one of her destinations for the month of April was one in AZ!!! ( I proceeded to ask my mom if she would like to attend this book signing with me, and she agreed, so we both went, and let me tell you, I am SO glad that I didn't hesitate in making my decision to go because it was an event that I will remember forever!

The book signing was held at Sur de Table ( in Scottsdale, AZ at 11:30am on April 29, 2012. It was divided into two parts, a Q&A session and then the actual book signing. So first, a little bit about the Q&A session. When Giada first walked to the area where the Q&A session was being held, everyone started cheering and rose from their seats to give her a warm welcome! The first statement she made was how she was very excited to be in AZ, in the sunshine, especially after being in the rainy weather of CA. She then stated how listening to her talk would get boring for all of us and immediately opened up the floor to others to ask questions to get to know a little bit more about her. There were SO MANY people who had attended and in my opinion, everyone asked Giada some very interesting questions! These questions ranged from things about what her favorite cookware was, to questions about her daughter, all the way to questions about the upcoming season of The Next Food Network Star. I'll just go through a few of the questions that I remember in great detail and explicate Giada's answers to each, and of course, as can been seen throughout the post, I've added some pictures from this portion of the event!

One of the first people to speak I remember was, a man. He told Giada that he was 23 years old and was done with college but was not sure what he was going to do now. He continued on to ask her how she had decided that she wanted to be a chef and asked what advice she had for him for the future. Her response was very heart-felt because she went on to describe the structure of her family and stated how, because she was an Italian female, there was not a whole lot of restraint that was put on her in terms of what she could do in the future. She was not very intimidated, but her family was worried at the time of her original decision because she is a very petite woman who was going to go into an industry that was dominated by big, strong men. She said she followed her heart and it has brought her to where she is now because of it! Well, good thing she had the confidence to do what she did because she has now become an inspiration to many aspiring chefs!

And so, speaking of aspiring chefs, there was a woman who attended that day for her 18 year old granddaughter. She had a chance to speak with Giada and had brought a letter from her granddaughter whose biggest inspiration is Giada. She told a VERY heart warming story and at the time, Giada was at a loss of words and very touched by the moment. She proceeded to approach the woman, sign her book, on the spot, and gave the woman a hug prior to continuing the Q&A session.

Another question that someone asked was with regards to Giada's daughter, Jade. That woman asked Giada, "what advice do you plan on giving your daughter as she is growing up and what kind of life lessons will you teach her?" Giada had to think about this for a moment and responded, "Well, thank goodness Jade is only 3 because this is a deep question!" --- Her response, in general, was that she plans on telling Jade to not limit herself in anything and to go forth with her dreams. She stated how, it is the case that most men already have built-in confidence and know what they are capable of, but in many cases (too many cases), women limit themselves due to a lack of confidence. So, with a daily reminder, she hopes to instill and enforce the confidence for the future, for Jade.

In addition to this, there were many more questions and the whole Q&A session lasted for about 45 minutes. I thought that Giada talked very passionately about her daughter and her family as well as her work. I'm so glad that now, I feel like I "know" a little bit more about a tv personality that I am quite fond of watching. It's easy to watch a tv show and formulate ideas about how you think a person is, but it's nice to know get a conformation on how that person is in real-life!

And finally, I have to add one more picture to this section because it was probably my favorite of the morning. There was a little girl who ran by, just in front of the stage that Giada was seated at, and waved. Giada looked at her and smiled ... it was a very sweet moment!


Okay so now on to the book singing part of the post! Below is my copy of "Weeknights with Giada" so you all know what it looks like:

The actual book signing was sadly very quick and the line was completely hectic so I didn't get a chance to say a whole lot to Giada as I was getting my book signed. I told her that I was very excited to meet her and thanked her for taking the time to come visit Arizona! Unfortunately, Giada was not posing for pictures during the signing, so I just snagged a picture of her signing my book! :o) 

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is how it looks:

Can you say, SO SO SO EXCITED?! Yes, indeed,I am!

In conclusion, I just want to add that this is such a unique book because it is filled with wonderful recipes including those for appetizers (soups and salads as well as bruschettas), lunch (sandwiches & pizzas), dinner (pastas & grains along with meat, poultry, & fish), desserts, and a few added extras such as breakfast for dinner! If you haven't gotten your copy yet, I would definitely recommend that you do so because it is a GREAT buy! I already have bookmarked many recipes that I'm planning to try out!!

AND because I'm a big fan of my fans, you all, I'm going to include a simple recipe from the book that instantly caught my eye when I was flipping through it. Let me know if you try it out and how it goes!!!

The above pictures and thoughts are my own. All that is included below this was taken directly from the book and is not my personal writing.


Similar to my family's Italian wedding cookies (which are a lot like the Mexican kind), these drop cookies get their flavor from the smooth velvety combination of melted chocolate and hazelnuts -- also known as gianduja.  This is the stuff that makes my mouth water and brings me back to my childhood. Just as with chocolate chip cookies, some people like theirs soft and other people like them crispy. For softer cookies, bake them for ten minutes; for firmer ones, give them a full twelve minutes in the oven.

Makes 36 cookies.

What you'll need:

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella, at room temperature


Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with parchment.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1/4 cup of sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With the machine running on low speed, gradually add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Beat in the chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Roll the dough into 36 (1 1/2 inch) balls and place 12 balls on each baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies flatten out slightly. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely for about 30 minutes.

Put the remaining 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl. In batches, roll the cookies in the sugar until coated. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pita Jungle

From about the first week that we moved to Arizona, I heard so much about one particular restaurant: Pita Jungle, that my mom and I had had to try it out as soon as possible! When we lived in South Dakota, we hadn't ever tried a Mediterranean restaurant, and quite frankly, I can't even recall if one exited there ... =/ Anyways, ever since I had my first bite of hummus and pita (more about that soon), this restaurant has been one off my favorites!

So, first, a little bit about Pita Jungle! This Mediterranean restaurant opened its first location in Tempe, AZ in 1994 and continues to feature a menu that promises a healthy variety of food made from the freshest ingredients. Thus, this menu encompasses salads, pitas, healthy burgers, wood-fired pizza's, and more! Currently, there are locations in both the state of Arizona as well as in California, but the growing popularity of this restaurant will hopefully mean that it will continue to expand across the country! 

So, let me now tell you a little bit more about their food. In this review, I have decided to feature three of my favorite dishes from the restaurant!

Dish number one: their cilantro jalapeno hummus, as seen below! This dish is on their "Starters" menu and comes with an option of two sizes: the small and the large. What is shown below is a small plate, which, as you can see, is fairly large! ... especially as an appetizer, which is why we order it with the meal. It is served with one pita and, of course, you can choose to order more pitas, as desired. I absolutely LOVE this hummus. It is by far my favorite hummus from here AND basically anywhere. I haven't yet found a good recipe to go use to replicate it, but it is definitely a treat. You can taste the mild hint of cilantro and get a small kick from the jalapeno peppers in it, and when combined with the tomato "salsa" on top, which is so fresh and delicious, it's sure to be a hit at any table! The other two hummus offerings that Pita Jungle has include a plain hummus and a roasted red pepper hummus. I have tried both, but as stated previously, I typically choose to order the cilantro jalapeno! Also, keep in mind that if you go to the restaurant while they're having happy hour, you can get a sample of each of the hummus types in a small hummus trio, which is served with a few pieces of pita bread as well!

Next, my favorite pita from Pita Jungle is the Mediterranean Roasted Chicken (Shawarma) pita. This pita has in it, pieces of marinated grilled chicken with onions, mixed greens, tomatoes, pickles, and garlic sauce, and tahini, as seen below. I accidentally made the mistake, when I went this time, of ordering an extra side of tahini, because it's not really needed, but I have to say that I really enjoy this pita every time I choose to get it! The grilled chicken is marinated perfectly and let me tell you: you will savor every. last. bite! This pita is packed with a punch: flavor from the chicken, crunchy-ness from the mixed greens, a little bit of sour-ness from the pickles, a little bite from the onions, and a hint of garlic and tahini to bring it all together. Need I say more?

Lastly, this, below, is the Spicy chicken wrap ... HIGHLY recommended if you enjoy spicy food! It contains marinated chicken, brown rice, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, yellow squash, cauliflower, broccoli, and herbs. I'm definitely partial to the chicken shawarma pita, as previously described, but I have to give credit where credit is deserved and this wrap DEFINITELY deserves credit. The wrap is full of flavor from the marinated chicken, slightly tangy from the tomatoes, and is VERY filling with the rice and vegetables! This is my mom's favorite dish from there, and she pretty much gets it at the restaurant, every time.

As you can see in all of the above pictures, the quantity of food that is served is quite large and we pretty much always have leftovers after we're done eating! The only downside is that Pita Jungle does not offer a special lunch menu, so the quantities are the same, regardless of whether you go for lunch or for dinner. Some of the other dishes that I've tried and enjoyed from this restaurant include: Philly Chicken Pita, Pesto Pizza, Chicken Combination Platter, andddd also, Baklawa ... because, I mean, who could forget dessert?

To take a look at Pita Jungle's complete menu, which includes pictures and descriptions of all their menu items, visit:

Pita Jungle offer Happy Hour specials on Tapas and Drinks, which vary by location, so if you're in the mood for small plates and drinks, take a look at their offerings here:

Additionally, Pita Jungle can cater your next party! To find out more information about that, please visit here:

Have you been to Pita Jungle? What are some of your favorites from there?