Sunlit ‘Zona Dinners

by Jenn (eating bender) on August 22, 2011

Hello from Arizona!

I’m here visiting my family for a long weekend, a weekend that involved many adventures, including the threat of a dust storm, two rounds of golf and a visit from this feline friend on our deck this morning.

She looks like she is contemplating life, doesn’t she? Or maybe I’m naive and she is looking at food. :)

Speaking of which, we have been cooking up a storm in the “Bender” household. The first night I arrived, Mama Bender pulled together another round of deliciously stuffed pork chops!

These tasted just as phenomenal as last time, with blue cheese oozing out of the middle.

She also served up her garlic and Parmesan asparagus with mashed potatoes. Way to go, Mama B.

Friday night was pizza night, as per usual, but in recent weeks my family has decided to forgo restaurant versions in favor of homemade crust and chopped veggies. A great plan for so many reasons!

Our Whole Foods mini whole wheat pizzas were topped with tomato sauce, grass-fed ground beef, mushrooms, olives and red peppers, then sprinkled with four types of cheese: Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Asiago and Parmesan.

Baked at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes for a crispier crust. These came out perfect!

Homemade pizza trumps restaurant pizza every single time.

The next night it was Papa Bender’s turn to step up to the (cooking) plate.

He made us Cornish hens on the grill, rubbed with a plethora of good spices (rosemary included).

On the side he served up corn and black beans.

Papa Bender struck again last night – this time with surf instead of turf!

A combination of grilled lobster tail and calamari…

…served with a corn and red pepper succotash.

Only time will tell what tonight’s dinner will be, but it promises to be wonderful. I am loving how much both of my parents have embraced healthy meals and cooking in recent months. As you know, Papa Bender has long been the main chef, but Mama B. seems to be enjoying it more and more. It’s great!

What were some of the highlights from your weekend?

I’ve truly enjoyed reading all the recaps from Healthy Living Summit. It was so much fun to attend in Chicago last year and I wish I could have been there this time around, too. No surprise that Meghann planned and executed an absolute success – congrats!


1 Rose August 22, 2011 at 11:45 am

Glad you are enjoying that Arizona sun! I can always tell when you’re at your parents’ house because the plates change :)

2 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Haha – I love that you know that! :)

3 Girl In The Pink August 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I missed out on the healthy living summit too! Maybe next year?!

I spent the weekend relaxing at home with my husband and went to San Francisco to see some friends on Sunday!

4 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 7:17 pm

There is definitely always next year! Sounds like you had a great weekend!

5 luckytastebuds August 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Home is always THE best!!! It sure looks like the fam is a family of chefs!! :) I totally see where you get it from. Those pork chops especially look and sound fantastic. And that hen!! I’ve never cooked one before, but looks like i should try.

Hope everything is going well for you dear! And hopefully I’ll get a chance to see you soon!!

6 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I haven’t cooked a hen either – but now I want to try it on my own, as well! I really hope you’re doing well, Michelle. I miss you! Let me know if you are ever in Chicago and I promise to do the same for Boston. :)

7 shannon August 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

culinary hook up. now i’m hungry :)

8 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

They definitely hook it up! :)

9 Erica August 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

What a delicious weekend with the fam! Is that a bobcat?? Everything looks fantastic, but I’m drooling over the garlic and Parmesan asparagus and lobster!!

10 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm

YES! It is a bobcat! They are (relatively) harmless. Whenever I see one, I’m more tempted to pet them than run. Probably not the smartest idea…

11 Marianne August 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Is that a cougar? Crazy. We get coyotes and bears in our neighbourhood, but never wild cats.

My weekend was spent with the extended family up at a local lake, then having a girly day of brunch, pedis, and getting my hair did with my cousin’s wife :)

12 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm

It’s a bobcat, actually! They aren’t as bad as a cougar or mountain lion in terms of aggressiveness, which is definitely a good thing. :) Sounds like you had a fun weekend!

13 withasideofhope August 23, 2011 at 7:06 am

Arizona is so beautiful! I went there for vacation several years ago. All of that food looks amazing! Have a great time! :)

14 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm

There’s no place like it — I hope to live here someday soon! :)

15 Paige @ Running Around Normal August 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

Dang, Jenn, your family knows how to COOK! Those pizzas look incredible. Hope you enjoyed being home with the family:)

16 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Haha! Thanks, Paige! :)

17 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) August 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

The food looks delicious, as always! Your whole family really knows how to cook!

Love, love, love those dishes! So pretty!

Really like the lighting in the photos! Makes for some cool pictures!

18 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm

It was definitely “sun lit” — always interesting to change things up every once in a while. Thanks, Foodie!

19 Megan (Braise The Roof) August 23, 2011 at 10:57 am

Wow, your parents pulled out all the stops! There is nothing better than lobster, that’s all I have to say. :) Hope you’re having a great time, and thanks for the birthday wishes!

20 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Agreed! And you’re welcome!

21 Melissa @ TryingToHeal August 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I’m sad we didn’t go this year to hang out at HLS….I miss you roomie. :) Glad you had fun at at your parents! They have such great food!!!

22 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I miss you too, roomie! Reading the recaps made me nostalgic. Fingers crossed I can summon the ability to come in November!!!!!!

23 Natalie @Will Jog For Food August 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm

You had me at “blue cheese oozing” :)

24 Jenn (eating bender) August 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Hahahaha – this is right up there on my list of best comments ever. Thanks for the smile! :)

25 Janiek August 25, 2011 at 5:54 am

Ooooh that pizza is cheesy goodness!

26 Meghann September 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I know I’m behind on my google reader, but thanks for the shout out! :) Wish you could have been there this year!!!

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