In Phoenix

Restaurant Reviews, Things to do in Phoenix, Festivals – Best Bites Forever

We don’t eat out very often because my husband says he prefers my cooking (he’s so sweet)! However, when we do eat out, there are a few places we like to go. Here are a some reviews for you to check out. There are more then restaurant reviews, because I also love going to food festivals and events. You won’t find any bad comments because I only want to write with love and I think there are enough negative reviews out there anyway. Plus, you should have no trouble finding a bad place to eat. It only makes sense to help you find the good ones instead :)!These are some restaurants and festivals/events that I have found that I love and I hope you love them too!

Reviews of Stuff in Phoenix

Arizona Bar-B-Que Fest

Ultimate Body Boot Camp

Aloha Festival in Tempe, AZ

Glendale’s Chocolate Affaire – Festival

El New Yorican – Puerto Rican Restaurant, Phoenix

Hoptoberfest/Chili Cook-Off – Festival

Arizona Bar-B-Que Fest

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Food Journal, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Arizona Bar-B-Que Fest

This past Saturday my family and I headed out to Salt River Fields for the fourth annual Arizona BBQ Festival with two things in mind. The redneck games (yep, I said it) and of course, the BBQ…..and my son wanted to see Metalhead (they had lots of other music too). My husband even gave himself a “redneck haircut” to celebrate the festivities, don’t worry, I took pictures so everyone can see. Can I get a “Yeehaw”? I think I should take a minute here and say that I don’t say “redneck” in a mean prejudice kind of way, but more in a I love my family that has plenty of rednecks in it kind of way. Remember, my family is spread between the Midwest and North Florida :D, that’s where rednecks come from lol. Anyway, my husbands’ haircut and outfit was super awesome, so I threw on my best redneck clothes too all the way up to the blue eyeshadow which looked pretty good in my opinion – wait a minute, is that the country girl in me coming out again :)? When we got there we decided to make an entire circle around the place just to check it out before we committed to doing one thing (unfortunately, we were on a schedule that day and had a ton to do). I had a few places in mind that I wanted to visit BBQ wise and I also wanted to check out “the redneck games”. They had the awesome contests going on. There was the broken lawn mower race – which my husband Xavier got second in, the redneck “horseshoes” played with toilet seats, arm wrestling, watermelon seed spitting, hub cap hurling, bobbing for pigs feet, beer pong, a pie eating contest and cornhole. YES! And guess what, they were giving away….. a remote control grill for the person with the most medals at the end of the contests. Pretty cool huh? Oh, and the rules for the medals were that you were allowed to trade, buy, and take, yes take each others medals. I think the fact that they were serving vodka, Jack Daniels, and beer made the rules all the more interesting. So, we kind of hung out watching the games for awhile (check out the video below) and then we went in search of some BBQ yumminess.  I, being the food nerd  that I am, did some research the night before on the different places that were going to be there and a few had caught my attention. Now, I want to be clear that everything we had was super yummy and that we didn’t get to taste all of the BBQ that was there – there were way too many and we would have exploded, but we did try quite a few. So, are you wandering who was the stand out for us? Well, there were two actually. Little Miss BBQ and Honey Bear’s BBQ. But, if you made me choose, I’d have to go with Little Miss BBQ. This husband and wife team sure can throw down some good food and they have the trophies to prove it! They’re ribs are out of this world, oh – and their jalapeno sausage, if you see them at your local BBQ Festivities, I highly recommend getting in the very long line that is sure to be there, it is worth the wait. As for Honey Bear’s, yes, yes, yes and another giant YES,  go to their restaurant (they have two here in Phoenix) if you’re in the area. They are super yummy too! They have the best logo, it says “You don’t need no teeth to eat our meat”. I just thought that was awesome because as tender as the meat was, you probably don’t need teeth :). Oh, I almost forgot to mention The Bacon Station, I loved these guys just on principal before I even tried them. They were serving bacon, yes just bacon served on top of…..more bacon, and then you had your choice of sauces to top your bacon. Mmmmmm, bacon. We had the chocolate sauce (salty and sweet) and the “redneck” hot sauce which was, well, hot. Actually, too hot for me but I’m a baby when it comes to spicy things, my son and my husband however gobbled it up like nobody’s business YEEEEEEEEHAW! Woe, sorry, it got me again. Let’s see, what else was going on? They had a huge area set up for the kids with bouncy houses, slides, giant hamster balls that they could roll around in and a few carnival type rides to make them dizzy, I got dizzy just watching one of them. They also had a mechanical bull, just in case you were in the mood to prove your manhood (or womanhood) by getting thrown off of something violently, cooking demonstrations, and a flavored vodka tent. They had lots of booths that were giving away fun stuff like drink koozies and temporary tattoos, another way to get into the spirit. Dude, I totally forgot to mention that Barrel Boy from KNIX 102.5 (country music) was there hosting the redneck games and of course I got my picture with him. He was so, so super nice (in case you were wondering). So, that’s it ya’all. All in all we had a honky-tonkin’, redneckin’, BBQ eatin’ Yeehawin’ fun day. We will definitely be there next year to try some more of the BBQ, who knows, maybe we’ll even win the redneck games and take home a grill…….that is if they’re giving one away next year. We’ll see. OK, one more time - can I get a  YEEEEEEEEEHAW!

Here are a few clips of our day!

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Ultimate Body Boot Camp

Posted by on Aug 29, 2012 in Food Journal, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Ultimate Body Boot Camp

So, a few weeks ago I was surfing around on Groupon and found this great deal for Ultimate Body Boot Camp – something I would probably never actually sign up for except that it was a really, really good deal and I can’t pass up a sale. Doesn’t the word boot camp just sound scary? It makes me think of like all of the movies where I’ve seen the drill Sargent screaming at the people and basically torturing them. Also, the first group was full, so I had to wait a month to start – more time to be nervous. Oh, you may be wondering what this has to do with food, after all , this is a food site. Well, the reason I’m writing this is because it is going to affect the way I cook for the next 4 weeks. There is no way I’m going to get up at 4:30 a.m. to go and get my bootie kicked and then come home and eat cupcakes. This will be awesome though because it is going to challenge me to expand my recipes into a healthier direction, namely I’m going to attempt some sort of dessert using agave and olive oil and stuff like that – you know the non-processed good for your body stuff. I’m also going to give you a day by day report (at least on boot camp days, so there will be 12 of them)  of what I’m eating and the results if any. Boot camp will be over the next 4 weeks on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for an hour each morning. So with that -

Day 1 – 147 lbs (I’m 5’8), 33 inches around the fattest part of my waist (just under my bellybutton) and 28 inches around the thinnest part of my waist – Today was my first day and I showed up with my husband, Xavier not knowing what to expect. Xavier on the other hand served in the military so he knew what we were in for. Our instructor, Richelle, took role and gave us a few rules like don’t be late or everyone will run laps and only bring water to drink. She also got an inventory of all of our injuries and stuff like that. Oh , and she explained that she has a potty mouth but that if you didn’t like it to let her know instead of going on Yelp and whining about it – I agree and respect that she said to just let her know. I personally being a Christian am anti-cussing, however, I’m not there to change her, but to have her change me so moving on. She got us started with – I don’t know 1,000 or so squats. OK, it wasn’t really 1,000, but me being a non-exerciser (except my once a week ballet) and all, well, I was sweating in the first five minutes. We moved on to lunges and lots of other exercises. The pace was very difficult for me and I couldn’t really keep up but, I tried. Also, I had sweat pouring off of me which is a little disgusting but exactly what I signed up for. She gave very good instruction on proper positioning and she kept me motivated. I have to say that right now, I think the motivation is key. I work out here and there at home, but I definitely have never pushed myself the way I did under Richelle’s instruction today. At the end of the workout she gave us instruction to eat as soon as possible. I loved the advice she gave on what to eat – “if it has a nutrition label, it is not a good choice”. “For example, a chicken doesn’t have a nutrition label, a cupcake does – there are no cupcake trees” (sad but true).  So when I got home, I ate a banana, no nutrition labels there. I also started some eggs boiling to eat later. So that’s it for day one. I’ll let you know what I eat the rest of the day, but right now it’s only 7:30 a.m. Oh, I had a fried egg (I used canola Pam) before boot camp. – Lunch – huge yummy salad – 5 or 6 cups of organic spring mix, 1/4 c blueberries, 1/4 c strawberries, 1 boiled egg, 1/4 oz feta, 1 Tbsp citrus dressing (3 grams of fat), snack – 1/2 c cottage cheese (low fat), 1/4 c strawberry yogurt (fat free), 1/2 banana Dinner – 4 oz grilled Sirloin, 3/4 c of very fattening and yummy mashed potatoes, 1/2 coleslaw (homemade with very little dressing) and an hour or so later, 3 bites of strawberry pie (homemade with a whole wheat crust) I have to point out that I know that this is not good for a diet, but I made it a few days ago and I wanted some but that will be it for straight up sweets – except the tiny brownie square I ate (not homemade, out of a box (my daughter made them) and very, very bad for you) and now, that is seriously it!

Day 2 Wednesday – No weight and inch measurements today, you won’t see those until the end. I have to start by letting you know that I am incredibly sore. Yesterday, it hurt to sit which is saying a lot. I really thought that I would get there today and Richelle would have us start and I would like tear or sprain something or something else like that. So suffice it to say, I didn’t have a real “go to” attitude going in today, but, I showed up. We started to warm-up – jumping jacks. Four minutes in, one of the people in the group showed up late. Awesome, laps :) my favorite – not. We did a few more stretches and the group started the run. Richelle kindly let everyone off with only 1 lap as a kind of warning I guess. I was glad because the one thing I can’t do (not won’t do, but can’t do) is run. I have an old gymnastics injury, so I walked half a lap. Then we got started on the workout. Richelle had brought the stretchy bungee cord things for everyone and we used those for a good part of the workout. It made it kind of fun because it wasn’t just the same exercises again, actually, I think most of the exercises we did were different from Monday. As for the pace, I expected to not be able to do anything (remember, I’m sore, sore, sore). But after the warm-up, most of my soreness was gone and I did better with the pace. She had said on Monday that most people feel improvement after the first week, but I felt better with my pace already. I didn’t keep up entirely, but I wasn’t in a heap sweating and watching today. Yay me!:D

Today’s food – before boot camp – 1 boiled egg, about a 2 inch square of blueberry waffle – no syrup or butter or anything added (the waffles were homemade from yesterday, and also whole wheat), after boot camp – 3/4 cup cottage cheese (low fat), 1 Tbsp strawberry yogurt, 1/2 banana – So far, so good :D, Lunch – big fat salad again (same as before) Dinner – 4 oz Roasted Chicken, Puerto Rican Rice and Beans, 2 slices of French Bread with Butter (fattening, I know, but very good)

Puerto Rican Rice and Beans (Brown Rice)

Day 3, Friday – I was so far beyond tired going in today. I was up packing for our weekend trip all night and had a family emergency on top of it. So, I went into boot camp today on maybe 4 1/2 hours of sleep. I could barely keep my eyes open. The really amazing news is that once we started exercising, I started feeling energized. Go figure, the Doctors are all right about exercise giving you energy :). So, anyway, lots of exercise.

Food – one boiled egg before boot camp, after boot camp – breakfast burrito (2 eggs, 3 slices of potato (baked), 1/2 oz cheese. Snack – 1 serving of Sun Chips (6 g of fat), Lunch – Nasty fast food cheeseburger, something I never eat, but we’re on our way up North and I didn’t pack anything healthy last night because of everything going on. Dinner – spaghetti (whole wheat noodles, 93/7 ground beef, and a piece of garlic bread) By the way, do you guys all know what the numbers stand for on meat packages? It’s the fat to meat ratio. So if you have 93/7, you have 93% meat and 7% fat. Now you know if you didn’t before!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Day 4, Monday – This morning I learned about a torturous exercise called a bur-pee. Not fun. Good exercise though.

Food today – bowl of puffed brown rice cereal and skim milk before boot camp, no food after (I crashed hard, I was so exhausted), lunch – salad, dinner - awesome Grilled Burgers  with Swiss Cheese and Mushroom Sauce

The Best Lean Hamburgers Ever with Swiss Cheese and Sauted Mushroom Sauce

Day 5, Wednesday – Today we used the playground at the park and did a bunch of circuit training. I don’t think I’ll be able to move my arms tomorrow :D! Also, I’m very sad to report that although I used to be able to do pull ups like they were nothing (back in my gymnastics days), I can’t do any now. That’s right, zero pull-ups, that’s how many I can do. Boooooooooooo! This shall change – done da done, da da da da done (that’s my trumpet sounding)!

Food Today – egg fried in Pam before boot camp, after boot camp – 3/4 c low fat cottage cheese with 1 Tbsp of strawberry yogurt, lunch – 2 eggs on a whole wheat English muffin with a really sad and thin slice of cheddar cheese and a tiny piece of fattening sausage :) that wasn’t big enough for my muffin, still yummy though Dinner – 3 or 4 oz of grilled chicken, 3/4 c couscous (not only fun to say, but yummy to eat), and 1/2 c peas – I know, I know, peas were not the best choice (2 starchy carbs in 1 meal), but my girls wanted peas, so I made peas. Dessert – I made a concoction that consisted of fresh cherries, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, bran, olive oil, a tiny bit of butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and Splenda and it was super yummy. I’ll post a recipe when I get it perfected.

Grilled Chicken – Also, a Little Extra About Brines

Day 6, Friday – Yep, we didn’t go. My beautiful husband is sick and I stayed home to take care of him and the kids.

***Food – As for my diet, well, I’ve decided to eat how I normally eat. If I’m honest here then I have to tell you that the reason I’m dumping the strict diet is that I love food and I don’t want to diet. It’s not a will power thing. I could diet. I just don’t want to. I have justified this to myself because if I diet then how will I know if my end results are from the diet or the exercise. Obviously if I diet I’ll lose weight, what we want to know is – Does this boot camp program produce results in and of itself? I definitely want to point out though that I’m a pretty healthy eater anyway. I don’t eat fast food (yes I know I ate that silly cheeseburger, but that was a very big exception) or very much junk food for that matter. I do eat sweets, but not everyday by a long shot. Also, I make almost everything from scratch – which is obvious if you’ve looked at the rest of the site. I am going to put a few links to some of the recipes that I’m going to be eating during boot camp at the end of the article and I invite you to check them out.

Day 7, Monday – Guess what happens when you take care of someone who is sick (and sleep by them and hug on them)? You get sick too. No, no, no boot camp today.

Day 8, Wednesday – Am I letting you guys down. We both still feel all tired. Plus, today is the first day of school and there’s lots to take care of. I am going Friday, sick or not. On the good side, Xavier and I both lost a pound or so from being sick – that is a good thing, right?

Day 9, Friday – Back to boot camp. I just like saying it now, boot camp. There I said it again. Plus, when you tell people you’re sore from boot camp they all get the same look of  being both horrified and impressed at the same time – it’s pretty awesome! I have got to tell you everyone that even with missing those three days, I feel great! I have also noticed that on boot camp days I’m full of energy. The fact that I get up at 4:30 a.m.  to go  seems to have no affect what so ever on me being tired the rest of the day. Who knew, less sleep plus more exercise equals more energy – how does that work out? So yeah,  that’s pretty amazing.

Day 10, Monday – Sick with some throat thing. It’s crazy, I never get sick. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve been sick, sick in a year. Now I’ve been sick twice in a month :( sad face, very, very sad face.

Day 11, Wednesday- Still sick with a coughing, chest throat thing – determined to be there on my last day, Friday, no matter what.

Day 12, Friday – Yes, I went to boot camp today. And guess what, it was raining. Finally, I get to fulfill my image of the mean drill instructor making us work out in a storm. Sorta. Actually, Richelle was sick today (not that she’s mean, LOL, that’s funny, I made her sound mean) so we had a replacement – Forest. He was so super nice when we got there. He introduced himself and was joking around with us and laughing. He seemed super cool and I thought (judging by his personality) that – “wow, this is going to be an easy day”. Wrongo Miss Ma’am. Guess what Forest’s favorite exercise is. Squat jumps. That ‘s right squat jumps. Or at least it seemed like his favorite because we did a bazillion of them. Do you know what this horrible exercise is. Yeah, it’s what it sounds like. You squat down and touch the ground and then you jump into the air with your arms up. And, it hurts. A lot. And you run out of breath after like four of them, at least if you’re me you do. I’m not complaining, well, maybe a little. But I’m not complaining about Forest. He was great and he actually did have quite a large variety of exercises. That ‘s just the one that stood out to me. So, my last day of boot camp turned out to be awesome. I got a great workout, of course and was full of energy all day once again.

So, what’s the final result? Even after dumping my diet half way through (still very justified in my head). Well, here are the results. I now weigh 140 pounds – that’s 7 pounds less then when I started and I lost an inch and a half off of my waist. Also, my clothes fit looser, not just around my waist, but around my bootie and legs too. I can look at myself in the mirror and see an over all result. No, I won’t be posting the bikini picture that you always see – that’s only for my Xavier :). What’s really great though is that not only did I get these physical changes out of this, but I got a few others. I have more energy, I’m continuing to work out on my own at home – 3 times a week. I definitely feel way more disciplined in my workouts though I probably still don’t push quite as hard as I did there. All in all, it was a great experience and I highly recommend doing it to anyone who can. I’m really super glad that I did! Yay Ultimate Body Boot Camp! And also yay Groupon! One more time – BOOT CAMP!

Here are a few more of the yummy recipes I used!

Frittata with Mushroom, Spinach and Gruyere

7 Layer Dip – Greek Style!

The Best Eggplant Caponata Ever

Hummus with Warm Pita Chips

Grandma’s Apple Pie (Plus My Healthier Version)

Awesome video of my husband on our last day of boot camp!

Aloha Festival

Posted by on Mar 13, 2012 in Food Journal, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Aloha Festival

This past Saturday and Sunday we had an amazing treat - The Aloha Festival in Tempe Arizona! We got to the festival sometime in the afternoon. As we walked up, we could smell what I thought was sure to be some of the best slow cooked pork ever! People were passing us by, the women’s  hair adorned with the Tropical flowers from the island. One guy we passed even had his beard done up with the flowers :)! There was a huge crowd gathered as we got closer.  The sound of Hawaiian music filled the air and as soon as we walked in we were greeted with the beautiful sight of the Hula dancers doing their stage performances. They were dressed in colorful traditional clothes and swaying in perfect time with each other. The sight of them along with the relaxing music made me long for a hammock and a nap :D, but that’s not what we had come for.  We watched for a little while, but it wasn’t long before our stomachs, and our kids were telling us it was time to move on. So off we went to find the food.

There were two things that I was determined to have before the day was over. Slow roasted pork, and my first taste of Poi. Poi is made from taro root that is often fermented. According to my Penguins Guide to Food (a must have for every foodie), most non-Hawaiians don’t care for Poi. We’ll see, I’m a pretty big fan of pretty much anything food! We went up to the first booth. I being a newcomer, was not sure what to order so I asked the girl to give me something traditional. I was served Kal Bi (short ribs), teriyaki chicken, white rice, and macaroni salad – not quite what I was looking for. I wanted something a little more exotic if you know what I mean. It wasn’t a problem though, the kids destroyed every bite and I went back to order more. The next thing I ordered was Manapua. The sign said “shipped directly from Hawaii”-sounds interesting. This turned out to be a delicious sweet bun sort of dish that was stuffed with a saucy (think sweet BBQ) meat. The bun was super soft, like a marshmallow. It is helpful to know that you peel the bottom paper looking thing off of this. It is used only for the cooking. The girl sitting across from us at our picnic table was kind enough to share this info before any of us took a bite :)! The Manapua was reminiscent of the sweet buns that I ate so many years ago in Japan. Super yummy :D! And now for some Poi.
After checking several booths, I found that the only form of Poi available (at least that I saw) was Poi Mochi. Translated at the bottom of the sign as Hawaiian Donuts. Sounds good! So I got an order of the Poi Mochi and had my first official taste of Poi!

Sticky, sweet, delicious Poi :P – soooooo goooood. It kind of reminded me of like a funnel cake on the outside and like hot sticky sweet rice on the inside which is not what it is at all, I know. Still, that’s what it reminded me of, and I want you to get an idea of what it tasted like.

We started walking around again and found a booth where they were smoking chickens on a spit. They looked amazing and smelled even better. I looked up at the sign and Yay, I found the pig place. But where was the pig? I didn’t see it on the spit – that’s because it was done – Yay again! I put in my order – not anything off of the sign, but “I’d like enough to feed my husband, my 16 year old son, and myself please – only pork”. I was given a box filled with white rice on the bottom and beautifully cooked shredded pork on top. Lots and lots of shredded pork. It was tender and perfectly smoked, and well worth the drive to Tempe! Now all of us were so full of pork and other goodies that we were going to explode if we ate another bite. That is at least until we passed the Hawaiian Shaved Ice booth and my three year old announced that she wanted ice cream. The sign read “choose up to three flavors and Azuki beans upon request”. Azuki beans, what’s an Azuki bean? I’ll tell you what an Azuki bean is (because now I know :D) – it’s a super sweet bean that you eat with your shaved ice. I’d never had them before so I asked for a taste. The woman gave me a spoon full and…….yummy again. Seriously, I need to go to Hawaii – they have good stuff there! We ordered our shaved ice – no beans (it was for the little ones, I couldn’t possibly eat anymore). We walked around browsing the shops for a while so the little ones could enjoy their last treat of the day. And when they were done,  it was time to go home, so sad :(. At least we still had some of the left-over pork to take home :D! Mmmmmmm!

Glendale’s Chocolate Affaire

Posted by on Feb 16, 2012 in Food Journal, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Glendale’s Chocolate Affaire

Glendale’s Chocolate Affaire – Once a year, chocolate purveyors (and lovers) from around the nation gather in downtown Glendale, AZ for this award-winning festival, which celebrates chocolate, romance and the arts. Also, it has lots of yummy treats :D! Here is a little glance at my own chocolate affaire.

We had to park kind of far and walk, but as we got closer, we were greeted by the sweet smell of chocolate filling the air! People were passing us by on the way back to their cars munching on chocolate treats that they probably intended on taking home (I can’t blame them, none of mine even saw a box). I was super excited and could not wait to get there and get my hands on some delicious treats. Chocolate covered bacon was first on my list and chocolate covered key lime pie, an old favorite of mine, was second. Of course once I was actually in the festival I got side tracked. The first booth that caught my interest was called “Wei of Chocolate“. They have dark chocolate that is dairy free, vegan, naturally low carb, gluten free, soy free,  and did I mention Organic and Fair Trade certified.  Also it is really, really good! I tried several of their flavors including chai – infused, chili – infused, and the pure dark. Their flavored chocolates were all absolutely beautiful with just enough flavors added to compliment, not cover the smooth chocolate. They use organic herbs, spices and flower essences when they make their chocolates and you can really taste the love that goes into them!

The other thing that caught my attention in their booth was the chocolate lip balms (with actual Scharfenberger Chocolate in them- yum). “Ganache for Lips” – mmmmmmm! After smelling all of the samples, I chose to purchase two – the chocolate mocha and the chocolate orange. I am always a little afraid the first time I try a new skin product because I have the most sensitive skin in the world, and these are my lips we’re talking about. I tried the lip balm and to my delight, first of all, no allergic reaction- YAY :D! Second, this is the smoothest, most wonderful lip balm ever and I seriously recommend it to everyone. Plus you get the added bonus of smelling chocolate for like an hour after you put it on. My little girl gives me lots of kisses when I wear it too – she says I have sweet lips. How cute is that :D. As a side note, when I got home and checked out their site, I discovered the lip balm was not there. It is not made by the Wei of Chocolate people (I’m glad they support it though)! Thank goodness the side of the tube has a web address – I would have been totally bummed if I couldn’t find it in the future.
So, back to my quest for the bacon and key lime pie dipped in chocolate. Again, I didn’t make it very far. A few booths down I found myself engulfed in the sweet smell of peanut butter fudge! The “Oh Fudge” booth (Mackinac Island Style Fudge). Suddenly, wonderful childhood memories of my mother sprang to my mind. She makes what is without a doubt the best peanut butter fudge in the world (OK, she’s my mommy and I may be a little bias).

But to say the least, these people had a lot to live up to in order to  compare in my mind. I stood and watched for a few minutes as the man in the back of the booth was cutting the freshly made fudge. Every few seconds he would wave off the bees that were all around their booth – also enamoured by the sweet smell. He must of noticed me there drooling because after a few minutes, he walked over with a bunch of pieces in his hand and held them out to me. “Do you want to try it?” he asked. YEAH I DO! I got super happy and took a piece, and then I remembered I was there with my husband and kids who I should probably share with. It’s the right thing to do, eating fudge in front of your kids and not sharing is not really very cool. As I turned around to give them a little piece off of mine he very generously gave them each a piece of their own. Say this part like a little kid taunting a sibling – YAY, I get my o-own, I get my o-own. :D! After trying it, I realized his little ploy (:D LOL). There is no way to taste this fudge and not want more! It was just like mom’s! So, I got in line and bought a full slice. When the women working the front handed it to me she said “careful, it’s still hot”. I did a little secret happy dance inside at the thought of a slice of still warm fudge. The bad news is, these guys only work festivals, so if you see them – get some! From there we walked around for a few minutes indulging in our delicious fudge. Every few minutes, a little grunting noise emanating from the stroller – my two year old wanting another bite of fudge in her mouth.

We wandered around looking at all the deliciousness dipped in chocolate. There was everything from chocolate-covered churros and chocolate-covered twinkies to fried ice cream with chocolate strawberries, chocolate-covered crepes and even chocolate covered potato chips. But I was on a mission. Chocolate covered bacon and key lime pie. We grabbed some drinks and continued our search. It seemed the lines were growing longer by the minute, one more stop and back to my quest. After all, who can pass up a good truffle. This time it was from the candy maker who was sponsoring the event Cerreta’s. I got the double chocolate truffle filled with -yes, chocolate. It was about half the size of my fist and really yummy! We shared that along with a chocolate dipped strawberry – it’s important to feed your kids fruit you know :D!

Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted it – the sign for the chocolate key lime pie –  YAY. And then I noticed the  sign with the black sharpie writing - Out of Key Lime Pie. Sad, very sad.

And finally, aaahhhhhhhh (in your best opera voice) the chocolate bacon line! Also, quite possibly, the  longest line in the world. I guess everyone wants to try chocolate bacon. So, I waited, and waited, and waited and I’m sad to say that they announced that they were out of chocolate bacon. Booooooo, I was so sad :( . So I, along with most of the line, walked away disappointed. Oh well, I guess I have something new to make at home (don’t judge me, I want to try it – lol). So that was pretty much the end of the chocolate eating for the day. But, just in case you want to know….

Dr. Francisco Villarreal, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. was there to teach everyone about the medicinal properties of chocolate – not that we need an excuse to eat it :D! But….recent scientific studies have implied dark chocolate has health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease, increased brain function,  lowered blood pressure,   and lowered cholesterol  – cool. Also……

Glendale’s Chocolate Affaire has become the largest gathering of national romance novelists in the Southwest. Pretty cool! I don’t really get into romance novels myself or have the extra time to read them, but just having them there added to the whole romantic, chocolaty fun day! Oh, and they had romance cover model Jimmy Thomas there to meet and greet fans. He has been on over 2,000 book covers – which is super impressive. I mean seriously where does he find the time? Much to his fans disappointment, he was one of the few treats there that did not come dipped in chocolate – LOL :).

In the end, even though I failed at my mission of trying chocolate covered bacon, and there was no key lime pie, we had a great time! I plan on being there next year. I also plan on making my own chocolate bacon and key lime pie (I’ll let you know how they come out:D). Hopefully you’re feeling inspired to make a chocolate creation of your own! Happy Cooking :D!

OK everyone, here’s an update, it’s now 2013 (next year) and yes, I went again. How could I possibly resist a day of chocolate. This time, we headed straight for the Key Lime Pie booth. You see, this wonderful woman, Patti, who read my article last year was holding two pieces for me this year. Isn’t that the nicest thing ever. She e-mailed me and said she felt bad they had ran out and that she’d hold one. So, anyway, let me tell you, it did not dissapoint. The chocolate was so totally rich and dedadent and the Key Lime pie was actual Key Lime Pie – it’s easy to spot a cheater Key Lime Pie, they taste and look different. It was so good that when my husband took a bite, he asked me if she was from Florida. The little background there is that we used to live in South Florida together and would go to Key West to this place called Key Lime on a Stick where you could get frozen, chocolate dipped Key Lime Pie – and it was amazing. Imagine how excited we were to find that awesome taste again – not to mention the memories it brought back. And guess what else, Patti is a blogger. So, I checked out her site and ended up reading several of her pages before I left – she’s a really good writer. Here’s a link to her blog so you can all check it out too – Patti’s Blog.

Oh, guess what else happened. The fudge that we had last year that I went on and on about – you know the one – SOLD OUT when we got there. Sigh. On the good side, I found this other fudge booth called Mr. Fudge. They had placed second that day in the sweets contest. So, we got three different kinds of fudge – pumpkin, maple, and chocolate and of course on of the winning creations. I have to be honest here and say that I haven’t tried it yet. Mostly because that day I was already too stuffed with goodies. However, my son had some and said it was the best fudge he’d ever had – hey, what about my fudge! Just kidding! I do want to say too though that he wasn’t with us last year so he didn’t try the fudge from “Oh Fudge”. I am going to try it soon. I’m patiently waiting for this cold I have to go away so that I can actually taste again – it’s in my freezer. I will be sure to update as soon as I try it. And, I have pictures of the fudge, the winning creation, and the Key Lime Pie that I will put up on Monday.



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El New Yorican- Puerto Rican Restaurant – Phoenix, AZ

Posted by on Oct 25, 2011 in Food Journal, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

El New Yorican- Puerto Rican Restaurant – Phoenix, AZ


I recently had the pleasure of eating at El New Yorican, a local Puerto Rican restaurant here in Phoenix. Puerto Rican food is something that has become very close to my heart in the last 11 years (since I met my wonderful husband, Xavier). It is an amazing combination of Mediterranean and “island food” with some influences from Africa and yes, China. These influences stem from way back in history when trade ships from far away places would come to the island with their native food and cooking methods.

Good Puerto Rican food is hard to come by unless you can either cook it, or are part of a Puerto Rican Family. If you don’t have your own family of Puerto Ricans to turn to for some of this delicious food, El New Yorican is the next best thing. It’s like eating at Grandma’s house on the island!


My father- in- law, Carlos, was the person who introduced us to this wonderful restaurant. He had eaten there a few times before and couldn’t stop raving about it. Upon entering El New Yorican with him, Carlos was greeted with a hug and a hand shake from the owner, and from behind the glass kitchen wall, came a wave and a smile from the chef. We sat down and took a look at the menu. As it turns out, they serve all of our favorite dishes, making it impossible to decide. So, we went with one of every appetizer and one main dish. Everything we ate was perfectly prepared and an absolute delight to eat.


Part way through our lunch, the band showed up and started playing. It wasn’t long before half of the guests were up and dancing. The music is as hard to resist as the food! They were soon joined by some women in beautiful long skirts performing some of the traditional island dancing. We had such a great time!

If you are in the Phoenix area, I highly recommend stopping in at El New Yorican. It is casual, and homey, and it is down home Puerto Rican food, at its finest!

El New Yorican

2714 W. Thomas Rd.

Phoenix, AZ 85017


open Thursday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Hoptoberfest/Chili Cookoff

Posted by on Oct 25, 2011 in Food Journal, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Hoptoberfest/Chili Cookoff


Last Saturday, my husband Xavier and I loaded up the kids and went to the Hoptoberfest and Chili Cook-off. I have to say that when we left, we were expecting a typical festival where there are lots of families and tons of people walking around. Well, when we got there, from the parking lot, it appeared to be an empty festival with lots of tents set up and a rock – and – roll cover band playing. We debated for a few minutes going somewhere else and in the end decided to at least check it out.

I’m glad we did, because first of all it wasn’t empty. It just looked that way because everyone was in the tents trying to stay out of the sun - this is Phoenix  after all. Also, under the tents is where all the food, drinks and tables were.

Secondly, we ended up meeting some really cool people.


I have tried beer several times in my life, but have never really developed a taste for it. I always say though that you should try everything, even if you’ve had it in the past and didn’t like it. Your taste buds grow and change all the time, plus I’m not a big baby when it comes to tasting new things. Also, it was Hoptoberfest so we headed over to the beer tent.

The girls that we’re passing out the beer were very sweet and helpful. I tried one that was full of hops, not a good choice for me, but my husband liked it. One of the girls suggested that I try the one called “orange blossom”. She described the taste as an orange creamsicle. One of my favorite childhood treats. With a small amount of reluctance, but a bit of excitement I took a sip. Wow, the first beer I’ve ever liked! I have to admit though that when I finished my 2 oz sample, I went back to my beloved water.And what would Hoptoberfest be without some silly contests? In this one you had to hold a 40 oz glass mug full of beer straight out at a right angle – no bending that elbow! The announcer said the world record is 5 minutes but I didn’t look that up so we’ll have to take his word for it.

That’s my husband, Xavier, on the left. I had to coax him, although not very hard, into entering because he was sore from the previous days’ workout. About one minute into the contest, arms started shaking spilling drops of beer and eliminating the contestants. The ones remaining dropped out one by one, each rubbing their shoulder as soon as they sat their mug down.Three seconds before the four minute mark, Xavier’s arm started shaking too and down went his mug, putting him in third place. Not bad!

And the winner at four minutes and 37 seconds “The Mad Hatter”! This of course was not the only contest. They also had a charitable “bra walk” going on for The Susan G Komen foundation. This event entailed men walking around in bras and collecting dollar bills in them. It was quite funny. I have a great picture of one of the men in a black lace bra, a mask and shorts. I decided not to post it though because even though he was agreeable there at the celebration with a few beers behind him, I didn’t know if he’d feel the same in the morning. I would like to say to all that participated in this event a great big thank you though. It was for a wonderful cause. I think the guy who collected the most was at $57 at the 1 hour mark. So again, thank you guys for sporting your woman’s bra for the day in the name of charity.
Now, the reason we were there – the chili cook-off. They had some really great chilies to choose from. Everything from mild, to white to light your mouth and lips on fire spicy. After a few samples, I have to say that my absolute favorite was the White Chicken Chili put out by The Hungry Monk restaurant in Chandler, AZ. Very tasty. I went back three times. By the way, the rock-in-roll cover band, they rocked! They played all of our old favorites from Guns & Roses to Aerosmith. All in all, we had a great time. Hope to see everyone there next year!

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