Breakfast at Tiffany’s Wine Country Brunch – Recap

 

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Little black dresses and strings of pearls aplenty set the scene for last Sunday’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s Wine Country Brunch benefitting the Scottsdale League for the Arts. Ladies channeled Holly Golightly and the gentleman sported dapper duds – it was fun to admire all the pretty dresses and debonair suits.

The Camby Hotel provided the perfect backdrop, the ballroom gussied up to suite theme, elegance and sophistication mingled with flair and fun. The wine flowed, a mimosa bar kept guests happy and tuxedoed hosts with silver gilded trays offered up glasses of sparkling champagne.

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centerpiece

Fundraising efforts included a silent auction and the sale of Mystery Bags, fancy grab bags containing anything from bottles of wine to museum tickets.

mimosa-bar

And the food! Oh, the food! Brunch was provided by the Artisan at the Camby, The Herb Box and Arcadia Farms. Tables adorned with pearls, candelabras and the iconic Tiffany blue boxes were laden with pastries, quiches, and other scrumptious delights. Wine tables surrounded the room, allowing guests to have as much wine as they desired, there was even a juice table offering fresh and healthy blends.

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The Wine Country Brunch is part of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival’s series of events. Next in this fun and delicious event series is Cooks & Corks, a not to be missed culinary affair featuring live entertainment and Arizona’s top local chefs and winemakers. Cooks & Corks will be held November 11, 2016. Get your tickets now before it sells out!

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Disclaimer: I attended The Wine Country Brunch as a member of the media. All opinions stated here are entirely my own. 

Easiest, Cheesiest Pasta Bake – EVER!

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Pasta finds itself on the menu at Casa de Fuchs at least once a week and I have many variations, from spaghetti and meatballs to mac and cheese. It’s always a pleaser and usually pretty easy to make. But none easier than this pasta bake recipe I’m sharing here. This recipe makes a TON, so I like to portion it out into two batches and freeze one for later. Nothing pleases me more than twofer meals, but this one is really 4 meals for my little family of three. Dinner with leftovers for now, and another dinner with leftovers for a busy day down the road. Can’t beat that!

Fry’s Food Stores, and all Kroger family grocery stores are in the throes of their Taste of Italy promotion so I stocked up on my pastas and Italian staples this week. Head in and find a variety of imported items at great deals! And be sure to pick up the ingredients for this super simple pasta bake.

Note: You can use any variety of short cut, tubular pasta for this dish – ziti, rigatoni, penne, etc.

Easiest, Cheesiest Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ziti
  • 1 jar pomodoro or marinara sauce (24 oz)
  • 1 jar Alfredo sauce (16.9 oz)
  • 1 container sour cream (16 oz)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta just shy of al dente according to package directions.
  3. While pasta cooks mix the marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, sour cream and parmesan together until well blended and sauce is pink.
  4. Drain pasta and return to pot, add the sauce and mix it all together until all the pasta is coated in sauce.
  5. In a large casserole pan carefully add half the pasta and spread it out evenly.
  6. Layer on the provolone cheese.
  7. Add the other half of the pasta to the top of the provolone and spread it out evenly.
  8. Evenly layer on the mozzarella cheese.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is all bubbly and browning on the edges.
  10. Enjoy!

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Disclaimer: I was invited to participate in the Fry’s #TasteofItaly Influencer Challenge. This post is part of the challenge and I will be compensated upon completion of the promotion. All opinions are entirely my own. 

Bacon Wrapped Chorizo & Cheese Stuffed Peppers

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It’s football season, which means means tailgating, potlucks and the need for delicious finger foods! I’ve got you covered with these Bacon Wrapped Chorizo and Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers.

Jalapeño poppers were my inspiration behind these appetizers, but I wanted something with less heat. Mini sweet peppers fit the bill and make the perfect vessel for stuffing with a creamy cheese blend and the Mexican sausage. The spice from the chorizo lends just the right amount of heat so you won’t even miss the burn of the jalapeño.

Note: if you make these according to my directions you will have plenty of extra filling leftover. I did that on purpose. That cheesey chorizo filling is so dang good and makes a perfect dip! So in making this recipe you are actually getting a twofer! Two appetizer dishes in one. Simply transfer the leftover filling to a heat safe bowl and nuke it in the microwave or pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and you’ll even get browned edges – yum! Serve with tortilla chips for a winning dip!

Here’s a video on how to make these tasty pepper poppers!

Bacon Wrapped Chorizo & Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 package mini sweet peppers, washed
  • 1 lb. chorizo (pork, beef or chicken)
  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12-15 slices of bacon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium skillet cook chorizo until cook through, breaking it up into small pieces.
  3. Set aside and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl add chorizo, softened cream cheese and shredded cheddar and combine thoroughly.
  5. Cut off the tops of each pepper and remove the seeds.
  6. Using a small spoon, stuff each pepper to the top with the chorizo and cheese mixture. Repeat until all peppers are stuffed.
  7. Wrap a slice of bacon around each pepper, creating a “cap” on the top of the pepper to hold in the stuffing and winding your way down. Place the peppers “seam” side down on a baking sheet. Repeat until all peppers are wrapped in bacon.
  8. Bake the peppers at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, remove from oven and crank temperature to 400 degrees. Return peppers to oven for additional 15 minutes or until bacon is cooked and browned.
  9. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving!

chorizo-stuffed-hoz

Family Fun: OdySea Aquarium

odyseaIt’s here! It’s finally opened! After what seemed like ages, The OdySea Aquarium opened it’s doors to the public a few weeks ago. It’s a massive, awe-inspiring complex, home to a variety of marine animals splashing and swimming around in 2 million gallons of water. OdySea is located at The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and is the largest aquarium in the southwestern United States.

Over the past year, drive-by’s past the site would turn up excited squeals of anticipation as I pointed out the progress to Jax, my four year-old daughter.

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“Mama, can we go inside,” my wide-eyed girl would ask with hope in her voice. “Can we please go see the fishes?”

A few weeks ago I could finally say yes to her pleas!

We prepped for a few days prior to our visit; watching “Finding Nemo” and “Octonauts,” raising Jacquelyn’s excitement and piquing her interest. Then the day arrived. I dressed my little mermaid in her sea-inspired best and we set off. Driving up to the complex, I heard her breath catch. OdySea is pretty massive and it dwarfs the adjacent Butterfly Wonderland in sheer size. She knew she was in for an adventure.

When you first walk in, make sure you look up. Giant orbs are suspended from the ceiling, filled with schools of fish. Each orb weighs an impressive 1,000 lbs. and the entire display is pretty awesome. A stop in the lobby bathroom is also a must! Instead of mirrors at the sink, guests are dazzled with a front row seat looking into the shark habitat, 200,000 gallons of water  with eight different species of sharks swimming around. Jax was mesmerized, and we spent a good 20 minutes in the bathroom, her perched up on the counter gazing at the gracefulness of those mysterious sea creatures. Between the ceiling orbs of fish and the sharks in the bathroom it was pretty difficult getting my pre-schooler out of the lobby area, trying to convince her there was so much more to see.

shark-bathroom

And there is!

OdySea has more than 50 exhibits, over 30,000 animals and 500 species! A few of our favorites included the Otter Banks, home to the aquarium’s adorable aquatic mammals. Jax loved seeing the otters endlessly play, diving in and out of their pool, chasing each other. Their energy reminded me of Jacquelyn’s, non-stop and fun-loving. The dapper penguins of Penguin Point were also a sight to see!

penguins

Jax refused to dip her hands in the cold water of the Tide Touch Pool, but she got a kick out of seeing me cringe at the feel of the squishy bodies of the sea cucumbers and the roughness of the star fish.

I was hypnotized by the ethereal tranquility of the blue jelly fish, swaying about in the large tubular tank.

blue-jelly-fish

Jax found Nemo and schools of other fish too.

nemo

The seahorses had her smiling!

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But the turtles seemed to make her a little mad. Haha.

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The Escalator to the Deep, the first of it’s kind, is an awesome feature. The photo I took doesn’t do it justice. Just imagine descending slowly into the abyss of the ocean, surrounded my all species, colors, sizes and shapes of sea creatures. I am always nervous taking my daughter on escalators but this one was a true adventure and we had to go up three more times just so we could go back down.

escalator

Downstairs in the depths of the aquarium is the 3D theater with seating for 200! The 10 minute, educational film, “Underwater Giants,” was produced exclusively for OdySea and features the ocean’s largest animals, humpback whales, whale sharks and more. Once the film is over the screen goes up exposing yet another view into a tank teeming with the brilliance of ocean life.

The movie plays every about every 15 minutes and while guests wait there are plenty of other things nearby to see. Like these creepy crabs.

crab

Also located below deck is the Living Sea Carousel. Called an engineering marvel, the carousel, like the Escalator to the Deep, is also the first of it’s kind. Visitors take a seat in what seems to be an auditorium and are whisked away on a 20 minute “ride” around the aquarium, stopping at different exhibits and learning about the animals in each one, such as sea turtles, sea lions, and sharks.

shark

I haven’t even scratched the surface of what OdySea Aquarium offers and what’s to come. I didn’t mention the grace and beauty of the rays in Sting Ray Bay or the wow factor of SeaTREK (which, I am dying to experience). You’ll just have to head over and check it out for yourself, no words I write or pictures I post could convey the magnificence of the place. Seeing my little girl, run around in excitement, floating from one exhibit to the next, alternating between yelps of excitement or silent and speechless in awe was truly priceless.

The OdySea Aquarium is located at: 9500 East Vía de Ventura, Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Hours of Operation: Sunday-Friday 9am-6pm and Saturday 9am-9pm.
Visit www.odyseaaquarium.com for more information and to plan your visit.

jaxie-fish

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Disclaimer: We experienced OdySea Aquarium free of charge as part of a media visit, however all opinions stated here are entirely my own. 

AZ Dining – The Gorilla Cheese Truck AZ

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I love a good grilled cheese sandwich. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than buttery grilled bread enveloping gooey, gooey, cheese. But it does get better than that because the troop from The Gorilla Cheese Truck AZ are giving the cheesey classic a makeover and blowing your mind while they do it!

Arizona has no shortage of of tasty food truck offerings and The Gorilla Cheese Truck has fast become one of my favorites. Even my picky, condiment-loathing husband feels the same and declared his messy, grilled cheese, loaded with turkey and bacon and oozing with sriracha mayo, “the best sandwich I ever ate! Even more shocking, my 4 year-old, who has a bizarre aversion to bread, gobbled up her toasty with enthusiasm. This is two be considered a double triumph!

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Putting mac and cheese into a sandwich is outrageous, adding smoked brisket, smoked pork and bacon is positively obscene and absolutely delicious. I savored every guilty bite of that beast and craved another an hour later. And the tater tots! Oh, my! The Gorilla Cheese Truck offers several types of outrageously tasty grilled cheese options ranging from the Hawaii 5-0, a special with the unexpected addition of grilled pineapple to the “OG” loaded with three different cheeses for the forage enthusiast.

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I suggest scoping out The Gorilla Cheese Truck’s schedule and planning a visit when the truck is closest to you!

close-uptruck

Disclaimer: This meal was provided to me and my family free of charge. However, that has no effect on my opinions or statements made in this post. 

 

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