Feta Fetish with Hummus Nachos

When it’s the kind of day where everything has gone wrong before 10 am, my co-workers and I always have a go to lunch spot in Tempe. Salut Kitchen and Wine Bar is hidden in a shopping complex but is the best surprise to find. The restaurant has a large patio with whimsical garden lights and reclaimed wood tables. This is my favorite spot (before the weather turns into the pits of doom) to relax with a glass of Bodini Malbec and eat away.

Salut has lots of delicious salads and sandwiches that I like to choose from, but there is nothing better than lounging while eating their Hummus Nachos. The dish itself its just pretty to look at, let alone eat. So many of my favorite things are made on these individual pita triangles: homemade hummus, red onion, pomegranate seeds, balsamic reduction and a sprinkle of creamy feta.

Hummus Nachos at Salut Kitchen Wine Bar

Feta isn’t the only dairy love this menu encompasses. There is a simple Caprese Salad that I love enjoying on a hot Arizona day. Lots of bruschetta choices, with my favorite being the FIG with mascarpone, proscuitto, figs and salty pistachios. And last but not least, the Bacon Grilled Cheese. The sandwiches at salut can be made panini style with foccacia bread, which creates an even crispier crust. There is a mix of honey butter and garlic aioli that is spread on the bread and it creates a comforting finish to the cheesy sandwich.

Salut is located on on University west of McClintock. They have a great Happy Hour that you won’t want to miss. A daily occurrence from 3-6:30 pm and reverse happy hour Sunday through Thursday from 9pm – Close. You can grab the Hummus Nachos for only $6.50 and a glass of house wine for $5, an easy justification to go try.

Salut Kitchen Bar


1435 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

Fun Run’s & Mac and Cheese

Last weekend some co-workers and I got our stretch on for a 5k run. The run was organized by a junior high student with all proceeds benefitting our non-profit client, Childhelp.

The turn out and weather were both great for a day of running, walking and supporting a local organization. In good athlete fashion, we of course needed to celebrate with lunch and mimosas after our 3 mile run!

The run began and ended at a local pub called Spoke & Wheel. On weekends they have brunch and a Bloody Mary bar. 

Among salads, sandwiches and appetizers, they had a great list of burgers. I went for the Bacon Truffle Burger: lettuce, tomato, smoked bacon, white truffle oil,
provolone, and balsamic syrup. 

Along with the juicy burger, you could chose from their long list of delicious sides.

  • kanabec tavern fries 
  • sweet potato waffle fries 
  • parmesan garlic fries
  • cole slaw
  • sautéed garlic kale
  • side salad
  • fingerling potatoes
  • grilled asparagus
  • cottage cheese
  • chilled green beans 

What else was on the list? Mac and Cheese of course!

This delicious pasta came in a mini pot and was filled to the brim.

Pesto Chicken CHEESY Pizza

My husband loves pizza. Let’s be honest, because so do I. But, sometimes I want a little healthier option when we make at home, so we compromise with a favorite recipe we have. This pesto chicken CHEESY pizza, is easy to whip up on a night when you don’t have a whole lot of time to cook. 

All you need is:

  • Pizza crust (buy pre-made to save time!)
  • Pesto sauce (I usually make my own with basil, EVO, garlic, Parmesan, & pine nuts, but opted for store bought this time).
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Goat cheese (Crow’s Dairy is a good local cheese!) 
  • Spinach
  • Grilled chicken (I usually marinate in an Italian seasoning for some more flavor)
  • Frozen or fresh corn

Spread the pesto sauce on the pizza dough. Layer the cheese. Add the chicken, corn & spinach. ADD MORE MOZZARELLA. I sprinkle some more pesto on top to keep the pizza saucy.

Read the pizza dough instructions for cooking time. Usually 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

This pizza would also be good with some red or yellow chopped bell pepper, leeks and/or purple onion if you want to add even more veggies! 

Truffled Macaroni & Cheese from Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but if my husband has a craving, our best bet is to make a trip to Scottsdale Quarter for Eddie V’s. I don’t complain because they have a good selection of steaks and TRUFFLED macaroni and cheese. Die.

Truffled Mac and Cheese by Eddie V's

Truffled Mac and Cheese by Eddie V’s

I sometimes feel that Donovan would shake his head for me sneaking around his back with Eddie, so I have to say, Donovan’s is still my favorite for my steakhouse macaroni. But, the black truffle addition on Eddie’s menu item switches it up and gives this dish a super savory taste.

Lucky for you, I found a copy cat recipe on tastebook.com so you can try at home for yourself.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood Truffled Macaroni and Cheese


  • 2 cups Bechamel, recipe follows
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan
  • 1 lb. Gemelli pasta, cooked al dente, very dry, previously cooked weight
  • 1 cup scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup PANKO crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons sliced Truffles (look for canned for frozen truffles or truffle peelings in a Speciality Grocery like Central Market or Whole Foods)


1. Start by making the bechamel sauce. Bring two cups of whole milk to a simmer in a medium sauce pan. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. In a separate sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk in 3 tablespoons all purpose flour to form a roux. Incorporate the roux with the hot milk and continue to stir until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and 1 tsp. nutmeg.

2. Combine the bechamel sauce with all of the other ingredients except for the truffles and panko crumbs. Place 2 cups of mixture into each of the 6 oven proof dishes. Bake at 400 degrees until the macaroni bubbles. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with panko. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes. After taking out of oven, sprinkle with the truffles and serve immediately.


Dublin – The Land of Golden Cheese

When a friend moved to Dublin for work and asked if we wanted to come visit, there was no other thought in our heads than to book flights and head to the beautiful and historic county.


We learned to pour the perfect pint,

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went to some of the oldest bars in the world,

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had plenty of beef and lamb stew, kissed the Blarney stone,

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saw Newgrange, one of the oldest monuments in the world

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and of course took in all that Downtown Dublin had to offer.

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On St. Patty’s day (yes the celebrate it there like us, and yes it was way more awesome), we held up the white flag after 10 hours of drinking Guinness and waiting in 30 minute toilet lines to head inside and grab a seat to eat. We were told we had to visit Fade St. Social for the tapas and a modern take on Irish foods. We sat at a community dining table in the Gastro Bar section of the restaurant, as there were some different items on the menu that we wanted to try and were not exactly dressed or in an appropriate state of mind to sit in the cushy dining room. We ordered an embarrassing amount of tapas and soaked up St. Patty’s Day. Favorites were the fries, lobster roll and pork belly.

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My favorite of course, was the Truffle pasta with charred white asparagus and fresh Parmesan. The noodles were hand rolled and thick. Thankfully, the Parmesan stuck to all sides of the firm noodles with a creamy white sauce. Even at tapas size, it was enough to help cure my next day hangover that was coming on.

Truffle pasta with charred white asparagus and Parmesan

Truffle pasta with charred white asparagus and Parmesan

On our last night in the cheery city, we didn’t want to venture far from home and walked over to the Crown Plaza. The hotel restaurant is surprisingly amazing and changes throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We went for the breakfast buffet on the first day and were able to try an array of Irish breakfast items from:

  • Scones
  • Soda breads with Kerry Gold butter and jam
  • Back rasher (the Irish version of our bacon. They call our bacon, streaky bacon)
  • Black pudding (pork blood and oatmeal)
  • White pudding (Similar to black, but without the blood, with pork meat and fat)
  • Fried eggs
  • Baked Beans

At night, the restaurant turns into Forchetta, the Irish take on Italian Cuisine. I only say this because certain ingredients were replaced by Irish items that you wouldn’t normally see in a true Italian restaurant. But as usual, The Scott’s couldn’t resist the thought of pasta, salads and breads.

We started with Pane all’ Aglio con Mozzarella or garlic bread topped with mozzarella. The presentation for the simple bread was the best that I’ve seen. We continued with the Rucola or an arugula salad with balsamic and Parmesan. We heard the Frittura di Calamari e Gamberi was a must try, so we did. It was worth being almost full before our entrees came.


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In true, More Chz Plz fashion, I ordered a creamy pasta for my entree; Tagliatelle Speck Gorgonzola e Noci.

Tagliatelle Speck Gorgonzola e Noci

The ribbon pasta was thin and weaved its way back and forth through a pool of Gorgonzola cheese sauce, thick cuts of speck and walnuts. The small bowl was deceiving as I began to “forchetta” the pasta into my mouth. The opposing elements seemed to work together, with an earthy taste from the walnuts. The cheesy sauce was incredibly rich, but still didn’t stop me from adding Parmesan on top. For an Italian restaurant in Dublin, I left happy and full.

The trip was an overall amazing experience and I recommend to anyone who wants to get a feel for Europe in a less busy town. Everywhere we went, people were enamored because we were Americans (unlike some of our experiences in Italy). Since Dublin is capital, the city seemed a bit more expensive, but overall it was worth the spend.

Eggs Benedict Puffins – with a little pepper jack.

Eggs Benedict Puffin

Eggs Benedict Puffin

A new Sunday routine is taking the pups to the dog park over in Chandler. My sister and I try to make it a weekly habit, and decided that we needed to extend the outing into brunch this week. We love to make our lives more difficult, so instead of mimosas and brunch on a patio somewhere, we went shopping and came back to my place. This was definitely a 2-person kitchen pursuit, but I’m sure it could be done solo if you just keep the bacon and Canadian bacon warm.

What you need:

  • Eggs
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Canadian Bacon
  • Croissant dough or puff pastry
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Arugula
  • avocado
  • tomato

We first cooked the bacon and CANADIAN bacon (our Dad is from Canada so we love when we get to use our family food 😉 ). I took 3-4 pieces of the bacon and cut up into crumble sized pieces. These would be used for topping on top of the Hollandaise drizzle.


Kaela worked on the croissant dough by cutting into square and putting on a baking sheet. Baked at 375 for about 10 minutes.

We got the Hollandaise sauce on the stove so that it was ready to drizzle on the finished product.

Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce

Avocado & tomato were cut up for toppings as we cooked the sunny side up eggs. Just a touch of pepper and salt on these.


The stacking process. (This is where it all comes together.)

We started with the puff pastry and cut in half so that the dough wasn’t the main filler.

Croissant Pastry

Croissant Pastry cut in half

The egg was placed on the bottom and then a layer of Canadian bacon and regular bacon.

A touch of arugula with a splash of garlic infused EVO.

Avocado. Tomato. PEPPER JACK.

Top with the other half of the croissant square.

A spoon full of hollandaise was drizzled on top and then a pinch of bacon to finish.

Puffin Egg Benedict Sandwich


The Henry – Side of Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts, Plz.

If you’re from Arizona, you can’t wait for the beginning of February when you shop at Fry’s grocery and see the Renaissance Festival signs start to pop up. I have been wanting to go back to the Festival for years, but as an adult, there are less excuses to go. My husband, being the good husband he is, finally made the want a reality when he said, “Let’s go!”

Arizona Renaissance Festival

Arizona Renaissance Festival

Walking in you are overwhelmed by amount of people and the directions to start walking, so we made an easy decision. Food.

Renaissance Festival Turkey Leg

Renaissance Festival Turkey Leg

After a day of medieval trinket shopping, some singing nuns, jousting and too many over-exposed chests, we headed out.

Part two of husband making this day date awesome. “Want to go to that restaurant you said we need to try, Henry?”

Why of course I do, best husband ever!

We get to The Henry, which might I add has bountiful amounts of parking, and right away I feel like I’m at a Napa restaurant. The patio that is visible from the parking lot has a Modern Steak vibe (A previous FRC restaurant blogged about last year), but definitely updated in style.  The inside is perfect for a “work-out-of-the-office” day, a bar to the watch the game and grab a bite spot, or a laid back “let’s get a quick drink on their couch” date. The inside was already packed at 6 pm, so we opted for the beautiful patio since we were blessed with a perfect day of AZ weather.

Fireplace at The Henry

Fireplace at The Henry

The Henry Patio

The Henry Patio

After a day of royal indulgences, I wasn’t starving, but was definitely parched. I opted for a cocktail – the White Cranberry Rum Punch to be exact. It was packed with rum and had a bittersweet punch that will be perfect for The Henry’s summer diners.

White Cranberry Rum Punch at The Henry

White Cranberry Rum Punch at The Henry

Next on the list was getting some veggies in me after all of the savory foods at the festival. Pretty much every restaurant that touts seasonal dishes has Brussels Sprouts on their menu right now. This has made me learn that I actually don’t mind the ball of green. The Henry has incorporated the cholesterol-lowering veggie into a Caesar salad on the menu. Caesar dressings can be either a hit or miss with me, but I wanted to give it a try. The dressing was creamy, yet light and the Brussels Sprouts were roasted and chopped to blend in with the romaine. The dark green mixed with the Chartreuse made this salad so fresh looking. There were thick slices of Parmesan Cheese to top it off.

Roasted Brussels Sprout Caesar from The Henry

Roasted Brussels Sprout Caesar from The Henry

I wasn’t satisfied with only some Parmesan, so ordered a side of the Mac and Cheese that I spotted in the picnic side options for the roasted half chicken dish.

Mac and Cheese from The Henry

Mac and Cheese from The Henry

This side was the perfect size to help me quiet my urge. The Parmesan, White Cheddar and Asiago were all blended to create a thick coat for the rotini pasta. The mix of cheese was a great hit, but as we all know, I am a sucker for super creamy mac and cheeses. But, with all the fresh and seasonal veggies that they had on this menu (Vegetarians, this menu would be heaven for you), I could see this dish being brought to the main menu with some colorful additions such as Brussels Sprouts, Kale or Artichoke Hearts.

Full stomachs or not, we had to end the meal with the home made Peanut Butter Bars and Chocolate Ice Cream dessert that The Henry’s Coffee Shop, XV had on the menu that day. The pastries are always changing; so don’t fall too in love with only one dessert!

Peanut Butter Bars and Coffee at The Henry

Peanut Butter Bars and Coffee at The Henry

My next visit I will be sure to come on an empty stomach because the Brie Toast (roasted pear, pomegranate & hazelnut), Heirloom Quinoa Tacos, and Long Bone Short Rib dishes caught my eye!

Open Faced Orange, Pesto and Cheesy Tuna Sandwich

Cold winter mornings always bring me back to those simple warm lunches that Mom would make. The stay in your pj’s all day kind of days. The fish of the sea is something some people wouldn’t touch, but it’s one of those comfort foods that I love to pair with a good cheese.

I went to a friend’s after Christmas holiday party and we played White Elephant. Guess what I won.  A box of delicious, cold cheese.

One of the cheeses in the box was Mountina Cheese, an Alpine cheese from Montana. It has a smooth nutty flavor, reminiscent of a Gruyère.

Open Faced Orange, Pesto and Cheesy Tuna Sandwich

Open Faced Orange, Pesto and Cheesy Tuna Sandwich

I was craving a tuna sandwich, but of course also some cheese, so I looked in my cabinets and fridge to see what I could whip up. Here are the ingredients I used:

  • Bread
  • Tuna
  • Mayo
  • Slice of orange for a spritz of juice
  • Pesto
  • Mountina Cheese or a Gruyère
  • Arugula
  • Olive Oil (I used one infused with garlic)
  1. Mix the tuna and mayo together
  2. Squeeze the orange to get the juice out. Normally I use lemon, but didn’t have any. I’m glad I didn’t because it brought a floral taste to the sandwich. Also, I drop the orange rinds down my disposal after to make my kitchen smell fresh!
  3. Use a cheese grater to get thin pieces of the cheese. Mix into your tuna.
  4. I don’t usually toast my bread  before I broil, because I like it to still be a little soft. If you like crispy, toast your bread.
  5. Spread pesto on bread, then the tuna mix. Pop in the oven and broil on low for about 10 minutes.
  6. After the cheese has melted and the tuna is warm, pull out and top with arugula.
  7. Pour a tablespoon of garlic olive oil and drizzle on top of the arugula.
  8. Get a glass of milk and enjoy!

These cheeses came from local Cheese Queen, Lara Mulchay, who owns Petit Fromage & of Hot Dish Inc., a pop-up cheese shop.  You can check out her products here: http://hotdishinc.com/shop/


Black Truffle Bacon Mac & Cheese

I’m sorry to those of you who I said I would post this recipe sooner but the holiday season brought on a wonderful sickness in my household! Cheers to Kleenex and Nyquil stocking stuffers!

Alright, so I met Go Lb. Salt at the Mac and Cheese Throwdown this past year. Aaron is awesome and gave me some of his new black truffle bacon. I knew when I laid eyes on this thick cut bacon I had to put it in my favorite dish. Lucky for my family, I made it on Thanksgiving for them.

Black Truffle Mac and Cheese

Black Truffle Mac and Cheese

Here is the recipe that I used from Chow.com to make my from-scratch macaroni and cheese. Chow.com got the recipe from Homeroom a restaurant in California that sell nothing but mac and cheese. (I die.)

The recipe didn’t include bacon but don’t forget it! I mixed it in before baking, and also saved some to sprinkle on top. The truffle bacon is going to be the hardest part. If you can’t get some of Go Lb. Salt’s bacon, get thick cut bacon and drizzle a little truffle oil into the dish.

 (My notes below in italics)

For the béchamel:

  • 4 cups (1 quart) whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (Since you’re using bacon, I would recommend less salt)

To assemble:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 8 ounces shredded 2-year aged sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 cups)
  • 3 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 2/3 cup panko (optional, but I used since I baked)

For the béchamel:

  1. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it just comes to a simmer, then turn off the heat and set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown in color, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. While whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture until evenly combined and smooth. (It will get very thick when you first add the milk, then thin out.)
  4. Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and while whisking constantly, cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the salt, taste, and add the remaining salt as desired. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To assemble:

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until it’s almost al dente (just on the edge of being underdone), then drain and rinse with cold water; set aside. (If you plan to top the mac ‘n’ cheese with panko and bake it, heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.)
  2. Place the reserved saucepan of béchamel over medium heat and stir in both cheeses just until melted and smooth. Add the pasta and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through and steaming, about 2 to 4 minutes. (THIS IS WHERE I ADDED TRUFFLE BACON.) Serve immediately or, if baking, transfer to a 5-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the panko (AND BACON), and bake until bubbling and brown on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.

If you don’t want to bake and want the ultimate creamy dish, just serve and top with the bacon.

Drizzle it, just a little bit…2013 Mac and Cheese Throwdown at Renegade by MOD

I officially have a mac and cheese food baby after last nights 2013 Mac and Cheese Throwdown.

I was fortunate enough to be voted as the third judge for the competition. I met two great food influencers in the Valley, Aaron from go lb. salt & Joanie from Restaurant Live AZ, who were the other two judges of the night.

2013 Mac & Cheese Throwdown Judges

2013 Mac & Cheese Throwdown Judges

After being told by our Judge Nazi, Susie (Girl Meats Fork), that we had to sit and eat, I got into my mac and cheese swing. There were 10 chefs and we were not told who created which dish. The judging was based on taste, cheesiness, consistency and creativity.

Here were the entries:

1. Rusconi’s American Kitchen: Chef Michael Rusconi

White truffle scented with San Joaquin Gold Mac & Cheese.

White truffle scented with San Joaquin Gold Mac & Cheese.

White truffle scented with San Joaquin Gold Mac & Cheese.

2. Renegade by MOD: Chef Michael O’Dowd

Rangoon style mac and cheese with chinese sausage, foie, edamame, dried cherries, cream cheese and veleveeta. It came with a cheese dipping sauce as well as a drizzle of cherry sauce.

Rangoon style mac and cheese

Rangoon style mac and cheese

3. 5th and Wine: Chef Joshua Yazzie-McLean

Fried onion string & chorizo mac and cheese

Chorizo mac and cheeserg427k

Chorizo mac and cheeserg427k

4. Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market: Chef Kevin Janeski

Three cheese mac and cheese

3 Cheese Mac & Cheese

3 Cheese Mac & Cheese

5. EVO: Chef Jeff Caswell

Prosciutto, Scallions and Parmesan mac and cheese

Parmesan mac and cheese

Parmesan mac and cheese

6. Cafe ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho, Chef Richard Garcia

Southwest mac & cheese with hatch green chilies, smoked corn, oven-dried tomatoes, double-cream gouda, shepard’s hope cheese, and a squeeze of lime, topped with a cheddar cracker crumb.

Southwest mac & cheese

Southwest mac & cheese

7. AZ Food Crafters: Chef Eddie Castillo

Jalapeno Bacon Mac N Cheese Pie Poppper: Jalapeno, mini pasta, cheddar cheese, pepper jack & cream cheese all stuffed in a buttery crust

Mac N Cheese Pie Poppper

Mac N Cheese Pie Poppper

8.  District American Kitchen & Wine Bar, Chef John Marchetti

Mac and Mole Short Rib with micro cilantro

Mole Short Rib Mac and Cheese

Mole Short Rib Mac and Cheese


9. Twisted Rose Winery & Eatery: Chef Nicholas Galakatos

Twisted mushroom mac and cheese


Twisted mushroom mac and cheese

10. Stacey’s Smoke Dem Bones: Chef Paul Williams

Red pepper mac & cheese

Red pepper mac & cheese

Red pepper mac & cheese

There was a clear winner in my book with a close second. The golden macaroni dishes triumphed as follows:

1st Place: Cafe ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho, Chef Richard Garcia (Green chili)

2nd Place: Renegade by MOD, Chef Michael O’Dowd (Rangoon style)

3rd Place: EVO, Chef Jeff Caswell (Prosciutto and Scallions)

Peoples’ Choice: District American Kitchen & Wine Bar, Chef John Marchetti (Mole Short Rib)

There wasn’t a category, but if there was, my homemade golden mac and cheese headband would have for sure been in the lead:

Finally meeting Chef Michael O'Dowd!

Finally meeting Chef Michael O’Dowd!

Thanks to all the chefs who participated and rocked the event! I can’t wait until next year!