Highlights From Home

by Jenn (eating bender) on September 9, 2010

You are all very sweet! Thank you for the kind comments on the wedding weekend and our DIY wedding details. I can’t wait to share more and will be creating a wedding page, too, after seeing so many of your awesome links on your own blogs. I think it will be great to have years from now – one of the many great things about blogging!


Today I want to share the food highlights from while I was home in Arizona back in late August. You can always count on a delicious meal or two or three when you are near Papa Bender. But this trip, I was way impressed by what Mama Bender came up with, too!

My first night in, we opted out of cooking and instead headed to Brio Tuscan Grille, an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale. We were first greeted by the bread basket, which had delicious, soft sourdough and a homemade flaxseed flatbread that the waitress swore by – for good reason! I loved the crunchy flaxseed mixed with a hint of cheese and spices. We gobbled it up quick!

My mom and I both started with a glass of Merlot. Who is that peeking out from my glass?!

With our dinners came a Brio Chopped Salad, made with chopped greens and tomatoes, olives, onions, cucumber and feta in a red wine vinaigrette. This tasted very fresh and light – exactly what I’m looking for in a salad before a bigger entree.

My entree was the Grilled Citrus Chicken with Orzo, a wonderfully tart dish with grilled asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, arugula and lemon. Although I loved the flavoring of the chicken, the orzo was by far my favorite part of this dish. I need to recreate it at home!

We left Brio feeling satisfied with our menu choices and promises of return. It’s nice to find an Italian restaurant that isn’t all heavy dishes – there are plenty of healthy, lighter options to choose from!

Another restaurant we enjoyed on the trip home was Sapporo. This Pan-Asian restaurant was also a big hit and satisfied our craving for sushi. We visited during happy hour, so I took advantage of the cheap drinks and ordered an amazing pear-flavored cocktail, made with sake!

We also started out with an order of edamame. I love the salt on top. :)

Dinner consisted of four different sushi rolls, all of which were very satisfying. The first one that came out was the Las Vegas Roll, made with toasted eel, crab, avocado and cream cheese.

The remaining three rolls came out together. From left to right, we have the Alaskan, consisting of crab mix and avocado topped with salmon; the Philadelphia, made with smoked salmon, cream cheese and avocado; and the not-so-exciting California, made with imitation crab, avocado and cucumber.

By the time we finished these rolls, our bellies were full. But there is always room for dessert!

Especially when dessert is TASTI!!!!!!!

We don’t have one of these in Chicago – although apparently they are coming soon – and I didn’t have the chance to try it in New York, so I was delighted to see one in Arizona!

There were so many options to choose from, but eventually I settled upon the Chocolate Covered Strawberry topped with fresh blueberries, inspired by the blog header. šŸ˜‰

It was excellent! It tasted more like chocolate than anything, but there was definitely a hint of strawberry in there and the blueberry topping accentuated the fruity flavor.

Back at home, Mama Bender went to work in the kitchen. In other words, she bought all the necessary “components” of a dish and then took five minutes to put it all together. :) I clearly get my Lazy Chef tendencies from her. But these dishes were very creative!

For lunch one day, she made a chicken cantaloupe salad. She combined chicken salad – with cranberries and walnuts – together with a slice of cantaloupe. The result was mouthwatering! I loved scooping tiny bites of cantaloupe with the chicken salad. The sweet and savory flavor was a winner.

Mama Bender also did a great job with this barbecue pulled shredded beef wrap. She used Flatout wraps to combine the shredded beef with banana peppers and Mexican cheese.

Another fabulous combination! The banana peppers gave the wrap an extra kick and I loved the added sweetness of the barbecue sauce. Kudos to the chef.

Last but not least, every proper trip home includes that ultimate Papa Bender dinner, which I first blogged about way back on June 12, 2008. Amazing how time flies, isn’t it?

I bet you can guess what it is.

F-A-J-I-T-A-S. :mrgreen:

‘Nuff said.

Bobby and I are headed back to Arizona one more time later this month to meet with the priest and make sure that no detail is left undone. After that, the next time we will be there is when I add my own “r” (I suggest reading that post and letting Elise know how beautiful she looked)!

Question: What is your version of the highlights and/or comforts of home?


1 Shannon September 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Mama bender must’ve been feeling the pressure šŸ˜‰ She sure stepped it up!! Glad you had a good time, and get to go back so soon!!

2 John September 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

As usual your eats look great. Still can’t decide if I like MB’s chicken salad/canteloupe meal. Been tossing it around my noggin and can’t decide :-)

3 Erica September 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

Such great eats at home. Love the froyo and the stuffed melon. VERY exciting that the wedding is so so near. My mom makes the best, most comforting spaghetti sauce. I just love it to pieces. HOpe you have a great weekend

4 Tracey September 10, 2010 at 10:25 am

You just made me SO happy. I’ve always wished a Tasti would open up in Chicago! So excited!

5 LiveForTheRun September 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Woowee what fun! Wow, fantastic tasty photos. I still love tasti-d-lite. When I lived away for a few years we didn’t have a Chick-fil-a, so every time I came home I had to get it, lol.

6 elise September 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm

you are so sweet…it only gets more and more fun from here on out. i know youre gonna be bubbling with excitement just like i was and i cant WAIT to see you in all your bridal glory. i know youll be a stunner. bobby is one lucky guy. eek! im so excited for you!!!!

7 BroccoliHut September 10, 2010 at 3:27 pm

My mom and her friends have a weekly lunch date at Brio, which I occasionally attend…mostly so I can get my hands on some of those flaxy flatbreads!
Love the idea of stuffing a cantaloupe with a creamy salad–perhaps I’ll try this with a tofu or chickpea-based salad?

8 MarathonVal September 10, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I love to be TOTALLY lazy at home, laying on the couch chatting with fam, leisurely reading a book or blogs, or watching tv. Simple but oh so nice :)

9 Rachael September 10, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Home = fully stocked kitchen, lots of spices to cook with and….running water and full-functioning electricity. The joy of not hauling a bucket of grey water up the hill to my garden cannot be expressed with words.

10 CaSaundra September 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Sushi is surprisingly filling! I remember before I actually tried it, I was like “Oh how can those fill some one up?” I was wrong…the ones you ordered look delish! And of course, never pass up an opportunity for fro yo :-) :-)

11 Marianne September 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Man, I wish fro-yo was more popular here – that little cup you have looks delicious. As does the sushi, because you can never go wrong with sushi. Mmmm, sushi.

12 inmytummy September 11, 2010 at 4:50 am

There is this mediterranean place by my parents house that I just love! That’s a highlight. And napping.

13 VeggieGirl September 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Lovin’ the sushi! There’s a sushi place nearby that my family, friends, and I frequent. Loooooooove.

14 creative baby shower gifts April 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Italian Proverb~ To a quick question give a slow answer.

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