we typically do a movie night every friday.  we like to make a big production of it with popcorn + treats + a new or favorite movie.  one of our favorite treats is caramel popcorn.  this recipe is really good.  i know it might sound s little strange with the cinnamon bears and walnuts but i promise its amazing!  give it a try.


mix together in a large bowl


3 bags cooked popcorn

3 c. mini marshmallow

1  1/2 c. cinnamon bears, cut in small pieces (sometimes i leave them whole)

2 c. chopped walnuts


on the stove combine

2 sticks butter

1 1/3 c. sugar

1/2 c. karo syrup

boil for 3 minutes then add

1 tsp. vanilla

pour sauce over mixture and stir quickly




grimaldi’s is one of our favorite pizza places.  the crust is thin the sauce is simple and the cheese is fresh.  everything about their pizza is delicious.  this is another one of those places we went to 11 years ago when we lived in phoenix.  their scottsdale location was 10 minutes from our house.  grimaldis started in brooklyn.  i havent actually eaten at the one in dumbo.  when we walked by the line was so long and i thought not worth waiting when ive got one back home 5 minutes away.  ivan is really really good at recreating recipes.  his grandma’s even better.  leave it up to him to put together a recipe that i think tastes identical to grimaldis.  the kids love to get involved with dinner prep and this recipe is perfect for just that.

grimaldis pizza


1 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1 c. cold water
1 tsp. salt
3 c. flour (king arthur)
1 package fresh mozzarella thinly sliced
1/2 c. crushed tomatoes (i prefer pomi or cento brand)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 leaves fresh basil
place yeast into warm water, let stand for 5 minutes.  add salt and cold water then stir in flour a cup at a time. knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth usually takes around 10 minutes. cut into two pieces and form into a ball.  place dough in a sealed container and place in refrigerator over night.  do not skip this part.  the dough will rise so make sure you leave room to grow.

remove dough and sprinkle with flour and stretch until it is around 12-15 inches (the thinner the better).





preheat the oven to 550 F. place the dough on a pizza stone that has been dusted with flour.  add sauce + slices of mozzarella.  sprinkle black pepper and oregano, place basil leaves on the pizza and drizzle with olive oil.  we like to add pepperonis, you can add whatever toppings you like.  bake in oven for 5-7 minutes (the oven will be very hot so it cooks very quickly) or until crust is brown. enjoy.


Grimaldis pizza



i remember when we were in the hospital with jack.  after his open heart surgery we had a lot of struggles with getting him to eat.  i nursed him and when he was put on a feeding tube i pumped.  until he had a leak in his lymphatic system and had to be put on fat free formula.  he hated it, it upset his stomach.  he would scream and cry for hours.  i remember the nurse telling me “heart babies are difficult babies.”  i was eventually able to nurse him again thank goodness because he had a very sensitive stomach and couldn’t tolerate any formula.

so we nursed and nursed and around six months i introduced solid foods.  he loved them until he didn’t.  he’s a picky eater.  he has texture issues.  he can gag on a dime and throw up even faster.  he will gag at the sight of certain foods.  so we get creative.  i don’t push foods.  i know if i push him to eat a green bean everything else he ate will come right back up too and then we are back at square one.  we had a food therapist come in and she told me to take the pressure off.  make eating fun.  she put food all over the table which is not something i ever would have done.  but when you’re dealing with a baby falling off its growth chart you will do anything they tell you.  so i lay back and i let him choose.  i put out healthy options and i wait.  somedays he eats great and others he barely eats at all.  i’ve come to the realization that the less pressure i put on the situation the better for us both.




anything i can do to make eating fun i will.  when i saw this nuby monster plate and spoon set i knew jack would love it.  he’s into anything monster right now.  he gets so excited for his monster plate and if i can make eating an enjoyable experience my job is done.  i love the side grips on the plate making it easy for him to carry.  the fork and spoon are perfect for little hands and make learning to use utensils easy.  i love the bright colors and design.  if you want to purchase these product you can find them here and here.





i was sent this product to review, but all opinions are my own.




white chocolate grill in scottsdale, az is a favorite of ours and when we take our friends it becomes a favorite of theirs too.  when i find what i like at a restaurant i don’t venture out much, unless i get a recommendation and then still i’m hesitant.  i typically stick with that same item and go to that restaurant for that specific craving.  wch grill has a few  favorites and i rotate between them.

first ivan and i both get the tomato gin soup.  its a tomato soup with mushrooms + bacon and spices.  its our favorite soup and even friends who don’t like mushrooms love this soup.

Tomato gin soup

spit roasted turkey sandwich with mushroom gravy and a side of carrots.  this is the first thing i tried at white chocolate grill and i still really love it.  the sandwich is amazing.  the turkey is thin sliced with melted cheese and the bread is delicious.  it comes with a dipping gravy and the carrots are the best i’ve ever had.


filet mignon cobb salad.  lettuce + blue cheese + eggs + mushrooms + tomato + bacon + filet mignon + avocado.  everything a salad should be.  its huge so you can easily share it.

banana cream pie  i’d come just for this.  a waitress gave me a free one of these to try once and i’ve been hooked ever since.  its graham cracker crust + vanilla cream + bananas + white chocolate shavings + caramel + whipped cream.  i’m not a big pie person but i think because this isn’t a traditional pie crust i love it so.


next time you’re looking for a new place to eat give white chocolate grill a try and let me know what you think.


feta dip


i love this as an alternative to traditional bruschetta.  its a quick easy lunch or the perfect snack or appetizer.  i found this recipe years ago on pinterest.  i tried to source it and my best guess is it came from clover lane but im not positive.  wherever it came from its a keeper.




3 tomatoes

1 small bunch of green onions

olive oil

block of feta, crumbled

3 tsp cavenders all purpose greek seasoning

loaf of bread, i prefer french


dice up your tomatoes and onions, layer on a tray

cover with olive oil

crumble feta over the top and sprinkle with 3 tsp of cavenders

dip your bread in and enjoy!







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when ivan and i were first married we lived in phoenix near a cute little restaurant called La Grande Orange.  they have delicious food and an entire dessert case full of goodies.  i dont frequent it nearly as much now that we are across town and in the last few years its gained a lot of popularity.  they have a sea salt chocolate chip cookie that i love.  its the perfect amount sweet and salty.  i made my own version at home and its satisfies my LGO craving.


sea salt chocolate chip cookies

1 c. salted butter, room temp

1/4 c. white sugar

1/4 brown sugar

1 1/2 turbinado sugar

2 eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3 1/4 c. flour, i like king arthur brand

2 cups chocolate chips

maldons sea salt


mix butter and sugars fo 3-4 minutes until fluffy

add eggs and vanilla

combine dry ingredients in bowl

stir dry ingredients into wet until just incorporated, don’t over mix

mix in chocolate chips

i use a large cookie scoop like this one here to form cookies, i also always use a silpat baking mat

then top with a sprinkling of maldons sea salt

bake at 350 for around 12 minutes or until just golden brown

makes 24 cookies






ivan’s grandma is the best cook.  really, everything she makes is amazing.  this past year she put together all of her family recipes and published a cookbook.  i couldn’t be happier.  what an amazing legacy for her to leave.  ava is always complementing me when i cook and asking me if she can have the recipe when she’s older.  now she can, already put in a book and you can too.  buy it here or if you live in arizona you can buy it local at my mother in laws bakery, sweet cakes cafe in mesa.  i promise its worth every penny.


one of my families very favorite recipes is her southern style pancakes.  i tell you they cant get enough, i always double the batch.  i cant even cook them as fast as they eat them.  i also always make her gourmet syrup.  after you make this syrup you will never eat store bought again.  i sent this recipe over to my sister recently and her family raved about it too.  try them out.


grandma sue’s southern style pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2  tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 beaten egg

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

4 Tbsp. melted butter


in a mixing bowl add flour, cormeal, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  stir together.  make a well in the center and add eggs, melted butter and buttermilk.  stir until moist.  batter will be lumpy.


makes 8 small pancakes


gourmet pancake syrup

2 cups buttermilk

2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. Karo syrup

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. baking soda


in a large 6 quart sauce pan add buttermilk, butter, both sugars and karo syrup.  cook on medium heat stirring often until it starts to boil.  turn down to low and simmer 5 minutes.  take off burner and add vanilla and baking soda.  it will foam up a lot, this is why the large pan is important.


this syrup makes a ton.  keep it in your fridge for up to 3 weeks.





















we love mexican food.  i mean really love it.  we eat it a lot, probably 5 times a week if not more.  i’ve rounded up a few of our favorite places to get green chili in arizona.

first up is guayo’s el ray in miami, az.  they make their own chips and the flour are our favorite.  we always get several baskets full.  their green chili cheese crisp is my favorite.  its a cheese crisp topped with their green chili and tender beef.  the sauce is buttery and the tortilla are homemade and delicious.  ivan gets the green chili burro filled with green chili + beans + cheese.





another favorite in miami is burger house.  i have never tried the burgers but the green chili there is as good as guayo’s el ray.  we always get the green chili burro and grab a few extra to bring home.  you go up to the counter to order and pay then sit down.  its more fast food and el ray is sit down.  both places are worth the drive and you might have a hard time deciding which one to go to like we always do.  so sit down and enjoy your meal at el ray and the drop by burger house for a few burros to go.

another favorite is here in phoenix called rito’s.  its a little hole in the wall with outdoor seating.  the place is always packed but the line moves quickly. the menu is small with just a few items to chose from.  we like the green chili burrito enchilada style with green sauce. the kids like the cheese quesadilla with a side of guacamole.  the burrito is huge so you can share it or bring some home.  the neighborhood is a little rough so if you feel nervous go during the day.  i grew up in phoenix and feel completely comfortable and safe but as you can see there are bars on the window to order.  somehow these sketchy places always end up being my favorite.






IMG_4880 IMG_4873


another good green chili burro is at xaviers casa renyoso in mesa if you are looking for something in the east valley.




Family Beach Picture Rocky Point Mexico

puerto penasco is one our favorite places to visit.  i came a lot as a child and i love bringing my own family down there to the same beaches i spent my childhood on.  its changed so much since i was little. its such a small town so there are not many options for food but i wanted to share a few of our favorites.  the next time you take a trip down you should try them out.

las palomas resort and spa- this is where we always stay.  the rooms are big and there is plenty for the whole family to do.  the kids love the pool and water slide.  they have chairs and umbrellas on the beach to relax at.  they have golfing + spa’s + restaurants all right in the hotel.

taco’s el poblano- this is the first place we stop at when we get in town.  the waiter, fransisco knows us and just asks if we want the regular.  probably my very favorite meal in any city.  ivan and i get the caramelo taco’s, al pastor + cheese + guacamole + pico.  i top them with their green salsa and get a coke.  the kids get the cheese quesadilla’s and a fanta.

rosy’s- we get breakfast here.  we love the huevos rancheros and the kids get chocolate chip pancakes.

koffee hause- i get the stuffed french toast.  ivan gets the carne huevos rancheros, he says its even better than rosy’s.  the kids get the pancakes.

la curva- ivan loves the el pollo godorniz.  we love the chips they bring out before you order.  the mariachi’s sing to you at your table which the kids love.

thrifty’s ice cream- we go here after taco’s el poblano.  it’s just across the street.

max’s- i love their virgin bloody mary.  i know its an acquired taste but if you like a bloody mary they have the best i’ve ever had.

potato burritos on the beach.  also a breakfast favorite.  just wait for someone, prefferably sonya to pass by.  i like the soft and the crunchy with a side of valentina

mangos on the beach are our favorite snack.  just wait for someone to walk by selling them or there’s a stand outside las palomas resort.  i like mine with lime + chili + chamoy.  the kids like theirs with lime only.

get a pina colada in a pineapple.  you can find them off the side of the road just about anywhere.

visit choya bay mall for mexican blankets + dresses + vanilla and any sort of authentic mexican souvenir you want to bring home.  we also drive down to the fish market for fresh fish and shrimp and stop by mary’s for a shrimp cocktail.

we bring down our ranger, park our car at the condo and drive that around instead.  its a lot of fun and we can ride the sand dunes on the way into town.

on our home way we like to stop and grab tortillas in sonoyta.


Rocky Point Mexico

rocky point mexico

Rocky Point Mexico





i love when they play so much that they are this exhausted








everyday these guys on the beach would make a sand animal and everyday henri would recreate it in a smaller version


jack loved the mangos


my favorite beach snack



the left is the green salsa i love at tacos elpoblano


al pastor at tacos el poblano


tacos el poblano


la curva chips with sauce they give you before your meal


jack loved the pina colada





i love a good doughnut and when ivan told me he had fractured prune doughnuts at the suns game last week i knew i had to try them.  they are as delicious as he told me they were, if not better.  they are made to order so they’re hot when you get them.  eat them there while they’re still warm.  you can pick your glaze and topping or pick from one of their favorites.  we did both.

DSC03594 DSC03601 DSC03607  DSC03627

ivan and i loved the salted caramel which is caramel glaze + sea salt.  i also ordered a create your own with vanilla glaze + sea salt.  both reminded me of my favorite butter + salt doughnut from sidecar in newport beach.

we also ordered

carnival- honey glaze + rainbow sprinkle

this was the kids favorite, i liked it too

chocolate covered cherry

cookie + cream

oc sand- really good if you like cinnamon

blueberry hill

maple + bacon- we didn’t love the bacon on this one


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