Thursday, December 31, 2009

Almost as Good as "Ice Cream and Cake and Cake"

I like this video almost as good as the BR commercial.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


i came across this wonderful quote from maya angelou today.  i thought it needed to be shared.

"I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at commensurate speed."

from her book I know why the caged bird sings

L'Oreal Lash Boosting Technology

As a BzzAgent, I often get samples of new products to try (see previous post).  This time, I received a sample of L'Oreal's new mascara with built in lash boosting technology along with the concentrated Lash Boosting Serum.

Here are the facts: (taken from the BzzAgent Brochure)

L'Oreal Paris Concentrated Lash Boosting Serum
- Apply to bare lashes before bedtime for an intensive overnight conditioning boost.  Also apply underneath your mascara for all-day benefits.
- For best results, use daily with Double Extend Lash Boosting Mascara
- Suggested retail price $14.95

L'Oreal Paris Double Extend Lash Boosting Mascara
- Step 1: The Lash Boosting primer, an exclusive serum-infused basecoat, perfectly primes and extends lashes.
- Step 2: The Ultra-Lengthening Mascara Topcoat instantly lengthens lashes up to 80%.
- Available in Black and Blackest Black
- Suggested retail price $12.95

They are also available in a 24-hour Lash Boosting Power System:
- This starter kit contains both Concentrated Lash Boosting Serum and Double Extend Lash Boosting Mascara at a special value price
- Mascara is available in Black
- Suggested retail price $24.95

In addition:
- Ophthalmologist- and allergy-tested, and safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers
- Available in the L'Oreal Paris cosmetics section in major retailers such as Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens beginning January 2010
- Visit the website to learn more

My Personal Thoughts thus far:

- I've always had short, straight lashes and am looking forward to seeing if this product will actually enhance them or simply fall flat.
- I've heard a lot about mascaras lately that have a basecoat which you apply underneath and then the mascara on top of that, in order to help boost the appearance of your lashes.
- I've also heard about the lash product that Brook Shields promotes called Latisse, which is the first eyelash growth treatment.  I'm skeptical of this product but what to make sure that this product is NOT like Latisse.

I will use the products for 4 weeks and let you know how it turns out.  I've taken some before photos of my lashes and will take some at the end of 4 weeks.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

must be santa

via the wonders of the interwebz, i found out about this video, starring none other than bob dylan.  yes.  that bob dylan.  from what i know of the man, i never would have pictured him doing something like this, but i'm glad he decided to show his humorous side.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reason #797 why I love living in AZ: 6 days before Christmas, its 72 degrees, and I'm in a t-shirt, jeans and flip flops!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

What a difference a year (plus a few days) makes! Last year it snowed. Today it was 70 degrees.

Food Should Taste Good Chip Tasting

Today I participated in another tasting by Tastecasting; however, this time it was a tasting of a product instead of a restaurant.

The company, Food Should Taste Good, provided a wide sampling of their all natural chips.  The chips come in a variety of flavors listed below: (nutritional facts are per serving = 12-15 chips)

- Cinnamon - 10g fat, 210 cal, 120 mg sodium, 5g fiber, 6g sugar, 2g protein
- Multigrain - 9g fat, 210 cal, 120 mg sodium, 5g fiber, 2g sugar, 4g protein
- Sweet Potato - 9g fat, 210 cal, 120 mg sodium, 5g fiber, 3g sugar, 3g protein
- Olive - 9g fat, 210 cal, 210 mg sodium, 5g fiber, 0g sugar, 3g protein- Lime - 6g fat, 140 cal, 80 mg sodium, 4g fiber, 0g sugar, 2g protein
- Potato and Chive - 10g fat, 210 cal, 180mg sodium, 6g fiber, 0g sugar, 3g protein
- Buffalo - 6g fat, 140 cal, 280mg sodium, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 2g protein
- Jalepeno - 9g fat, 210 cal, 210 mg sodium, 5g fiber, 0g sugar, 3g protein
- Yellow Corn - 7g fat, 140 cal, 85 mg sodium, 3g fiber, 0g sugar, 2g protein
- The Works! - 6g fat, 140 cal, 120 mg sodium, 3g fiber, 2g sugar, 2g protein

The chips come in snack size (1.5 oz) and regular (5.5 oz).

The company prides itself on "taking wholesome, all natural ingredients and capturing their great flavors by baking them."  The chips are gluten free, all natural, a good source of dietary fiber, trans fat and cholesterol free, lactose free, MSG free and Kosher.  All of the chips are not genetically modified, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

The chips have a strong corn presence as they are made with Stone Ground Corn and many of them have corn bran in them.

The chips are sturdy, ones that I wouldn't hesitate plunging into a hearty dip.

My favorites are the multigrain and the jalapeno.  The multigrain has flax, sunflower and sesame seeds, oat fiber, brown rice, quinoa and soy.  They are a nice natural tasting snack.  The jalepeno is a nice red color with a slight kick in the chip.  They have diced jalepeno peppers and crushed red peppers.

I also appreciate that the website, includes suggestions of what to pair with the chips.  Some of the things that I have thought of are:

- crush up the lime chips and serve them as the base in a taco salad;
- spread sweet cream cheese or cool whip on the chocolate or cinnamon chips;
- spread a savory cream cheese on any of the savory flavored chips;
- dip chicken breast tenderloins in egg and then in crushed chips and bake.

I'm sure there are many more possibilities!

I've found the chips (5.5 oz size) at Albertsons and I've heard that they are also available at Bashas.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Silent Sunday - The Beautiful Bean

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I (heart) Creme Brulee.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

football -palooza

lest some of you think that i'm swinging to the dark side, i wanted to make a quick post about the various football-related events julie & i went to over this past weekend.

i'm sure you've seen julie's recent post about our trip to watch the AZ Cardinals place the smack-down on the MN Vikings on sunday.  i will say it was a great introduction to live NFL matches.  the crowd was crazy-loud from the moment we walked in the stadium, and watching the Cards upset the Vikes was frosting on the cake.  mmm....cake.

but, that wasn't the only football event we took part in.  friday night we joined my fellow CMU alums at buffalo wild wings to watch the CMU Chippewas defeat the Univ. of OH Bobcats.  thanks to that win, CMU now owns their 3rd MAC championship in 4 years.  not bad.  i just wish they had been that good when i was a student there.

saturday was more my style.  as you may be aware, i've become involved with a grassroots group here in PHX called MLS Phoenix Rising.  it's a group that is working to bring a pro soccer team to phoenix.  oh, you know i'm geeked about that potential.  we met with chris from phoenix pro soccer, which is working with some investors to accomplish the same goal.  after that little meet & greet with him, i joined   the group to head to Reach 11 Sports Complex to watch the US Under-17 national team play Brazil.  it was fun hanging out with them & getting to know some of them a little better.  the final score was 1-1.  the US made a good showing against Brazil.

since you already know what happened sunday, i'll skip to last night (monday).  i drove back to Reach 11 to watch another soccer match.   for this one, i had an early christmas present.  the US U17s played the Netherlands!  i couldn't pass it up, even in 40-degree rainy weather.  i was pulling for the Netherlands the entire way.  i even wore my Netherlands jersey.  the Netherlands won, 3-0.  I met a  family from the Netherlands.   their son/grandson (i met the grandpa & mom) is a midfielder for the Dutch side, and plays in the youth division for AZ Alkmaar.  that was awesome.

needless to say, it was a lot of both types of football for 1 weekend, but it was great all the way around.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cardinals vs. Vikings

We went to our first NFL game last night and it was great!  We had fabulous seats (thanks Dad!) in the north end zone and enjoyed the University of Phoenix stadium.  It was extra nice that they beat Brett Favre and the Vikings and are one step closer to securing a wildcard!!!  Go Cards!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fogo de Chao Tasting

Last Monday night we had a tasting at Fogo de Chao, located in Scottsdale, AZ.  The restaurant is an authentic "churrascaria" is relatively new to the United States, originating in Brazil.  This brazilian steakhouse features a 30 item salad bar, signature items such as pao de queijo (warm cheese bread),  caipirinha (brazilian cocktail), and papaya cream.

I (Julie) have seen this restaurant in many of my travels but have not eaten at the restaurant.  I was excited that we were going to try this place.

I (Brian) wasn't sure what to expect going into this.  was i excited?  yes.  simply because we were told there would be an endless supply of meat.  the carnivore in me was looking forward to this.  and I wasn't disappointed.

the service at fogo de chao was nothing shy of amazing.  the management and servers have a big focus on making sure every patron gets exactly what they want, and will go out of their way to make it happen.  we were seated in their private dining area which had beautiful decor and ambiance.  and while this restaurant also had wood walls and low lighting, it didn't have the same feel as the previous tastecasting restaurant, Morton's.  Fogo had a romantic and classy ambiance which paired well with the upscale menu items and superb service!

All but 3 of the menu items are safe for people with celiac disease (allergy to wheat) and those include chicken leg (braised with beer), tabouli salad (made with wheat grain) and salad dressings.  There isn't even any wheat in the bread that is served on the salad bar.

The meat is acquired from the U.S. but the spices come directly from Brazil.

we were 1st served a glass of caipirinha.  it was wonderfully sweet and had a margarita taste to it.  thanks to the sweetness, i enjoyed the caipirinha more than i usually enjoy a margarita.

we then made our trip to the salad bar.  the veggies were very fresh.  with crisp lettuce, wonderfully dark broccoli and a vast array of other veggies to choose from.  there were also several types of cheeses and dressings to make your salad complete.  these photos of our salad bar choices don't do the bar justice.

While we were eating our salads, the servers brought several magnificent side dishes to the table: garlic mashed potatoes, fried bananas, crispy warm polenta, white rice and black beans.

Julie: many of the side dishes were great! I especially enjoyed the polenta.

brian:  the polenta was a surprise for me.  i enjoyed it.  i liked the garlic mashed potatoes, but i think they could have put a smidgen more garlic in them.

as we finished our salads and side dishes, the "gauchos" (Southern Brazilian cowboys who train for over 3 years to perfect not only the practice of roasting the meats but also of the serving of the meats) arrived with the pièce de résistance, the meat.  They arrived one-by-one with the art they created using nothing but skewers, flavorings, fire and meat.  They have 15 different types of meat to choose from, which means it's very likely you won't have all of them in one sitting.   Julie and I were able to sample several of them, 

this is an example of the type of skewer the gauchos would serve the meat on.

(this is not us in the photo, but another tastecasting couple)

Julie: I really enjoyed the Lombo (pork loin crusted in parmesean cheese).  The cheese brought out the delicate tenderness of the pork loin.  the piece I received was just a smidge dry but overall very tender and great flavor!

Next I had the filet minon and Frango (chicken), both wrapped in bacon.  They had a great tender quality nicely complimented by the saltiness of the bacon.  However, they were also just a tad bit dry. Whenever I see or want to order meat wrapped in bacon, I usually decline because the bacon is soggy, fatty and not cooked to my standards.  The bacon was nice and cooked and just a tad bit crispy. 

Lastly, I had the Picanha (top sirloin) with a robust garlic seasoning.  It was very, very tasty and the amount of garlic blew the garlic mashed potatoes out of the water.  I love garlic and it was a very tasty feast with a very tasty, juicy piece of top sirloin.

brian:  i sampled a few more than julie did.  partially because i forgot to follow one of the procedures fogo de chao has in the serving process of the meats.  each customer gets a coaster that is red on one side and green on the other.  when you want more meat, flip the green side up.  as the gauchos come around with their meats, they know they can offer it to you.  the first time around, i forgot about the coaster and left the green side up.  oops.  :)

i first tried the cordeiro (Lamb).  delicious.  as i came to experience with most of their other offerings, it was nice and juicy and full of flavor.  the meat slid off the bone and it had a nice crispness on the outside and left me wanting more.

i next sampled the linguica (sausage).  it had a nice hint of garlic to it and again was flavorful.  it wasn't one of my favorites, since i normally only like the sausage links that come with breakfast, but i noticed a couple other tastecasters really enjoying them.

lombo (pork loin) was next.  it was not as juicy as the other meats i had.  it was dry.  on the other hand, the parmesan crust was great and made up for it.

frango (chicken) was offered next.  wow.  it even came wrapped in bacon!  i've said it before and i'll say it again.  bacon makes everything better.  julie's right.  they pay attention to the details, and the bacon was perfectly crispy.

filet mignon was my final sampling.  fogo de chao added a nice garlic flavoring to this meat, and i enjoyed every bite.

Following the feast of meat, we were delightfully surprised with being served the entire range of desserts, which we were told were not included in the tasting.  Among the options were: Fogo de Chao's signature papayan cream dessert (ripe red papayas mixed with vanilla bean ice cream and topped with creme de cacao), key lime pie, flan, creme brulee, molton chocolate cake and chocolate mousse cake.

Julie: As much as the meat experience was truly a culinary delight, this was THE BEST DESSERT SAMPLING I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE!  IT WAS TRULY AMAZING!

J: The papayan cream was something I could have piped intravenously into my veins. The rich papaya was so fresh and delicious!

b:  amen and amen.  the papayan cream was amazing.  i couldn't stop eating it.  i could become addicted.  sweet and cold, it was a great desert to end the parade of meat.

J: The key lime pie had a perfect blend of tartness and lime to compliment the sweetness of the cream.  I think I could have eaten the entire pie.

b:  this is the way key lime pie is supposed to taste.  normally i don't go for key lime, but this is the exception.  fluffy with the perfect blend of sweet and tart.

J: The creme brulee was a great balance of cream and sugary crunchy glaze.  And if you know me, you know that I am on the fence about egg dishes.  I don't particularly like eggs (over easy, sunny side up, soft boiled, etc.)  I only like scrambled eggs, when they are mixed with milk and scrambled well.  I don't like the smell of them when Brian makes them bcz he doesn't use milk and the egg smell is too overpowering.  I don't like souffles.  Egg drop soup isn't my favorite.  So it's sort of a surprise that creme brulee is so close to my heart.  Perhaps its because the French have done it justice.  Perhaps it's bcz it's the nice dressed up cousin of flan.  But this creme brulee was delicious.  (Although as a side note, when Brian and I went on our mini-honeymoon after our wedding, we stayed at a resort called Sedona Rouge, where we had vanilla bean creme brulee, and it was the best creme brulee I've ever had. The vanilla bean helped beat the egg taste in the creme which was great for me.  Surprising because even the creme brulee in Paris wasn't as good - too eggy for me.)

b:  i thought there could have been a bit more of the "crust" to the top of the creme brulee.  it was still yummy, but like julie said, not as good as the creme brulee we had at sedona rouge.

J: Molton Chocolate Cake - it was good and tasty and while I'll never turn down chocolate, I think the first three desserts named above were "took the cake."  :)

b:  how can you go wrong with molten chocolate cake?  i don't know, and neither does fogo de chao.  wonderfully warm with that great chocolate oozing from the middle.

J: Flan - see above.  Didn't even try it. Although I'm sure it was good.

b:  i didn't try this one either.  it didn't look too appetizing to me.

J: Chocolate Mousse Cake - Very good, better than the molton chocolate cake.  This would make a nice treat anytime.

b:  this is better than mom used to make (no offense to any mothers reading this).  perhaps this is a new addition to their menu since i don't see it listed on their website.  this cake only added to the feeling that i had died and gone to heaven.

We also were served our choice of white or red wine, water (sparkling or still) and an after dinner drink (coffee, espresso or tea).

Dinner runs $46.50 pp and Lunch $28.50 pp.  Lunch is only served M-F.  If you want the salad buffet only it runs $19.50 pp.  Drinks and dessert are not included.

J: Overall, this was my favorite restaurant in the tastecasting reviews.  The prices are really extravagant and hard to justify, despite the culinary feast. It is sort of a justice issue for me.   I was impressed with the excellent quality of the food.  I love the history of the restaurant and how they are empowering men of Brazil to learn a trade and then return home to be able to support their families.

b:  i agree with julie.  this was my favorite so far as well.  they create a great dining experience and invite you in to the brazilian way of cooking.  i was actually a little sad when i noticed i was full, because i was enjoying the tastes and the experience so much.  i thought it is great that in the 3 years of training to become a gaucho, they also focus on the culture surrounding the profession.   i would unhesitatingly go to fogo de chao again.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here are some photos from the fun day!