Thursday, December 30, 2010

Inside The Bungalow

In the heart of downtown Mesa, there's a hidden gem: Inside the Bungalow. It's an historic craftsman, bungalow house that's been converted into a cafe and yoga studio. When I was little my mum and I would go on lunch dates to the old house, I loved walking into a real-life Alice in Wonderland fantasy. Full of cozy chairs, fireplaces and charming decor, it's a wonderful spot to spent a day reading (and sipping on a handcrafted latte, complete with latte art). My favorite is the chicken curry salad, made fresh daily.

Hidden on Robson Street in Mesa's downtown district, Inside the Bungalow's entrance calls my name every time I walk by. 
The patio is just as charming as the interior of the cafe and yoga studio. There are gazebos, fountains and greenery to provide an hour's escape from the real world.

One of the rooms of the cafe portion of the Inside the Bungalow. See the Mad Hatter type character on the back wall? Notice the awesome tile work floor, too.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fair Trade Cafe

One block away from ASU's downtown campus, this coffee shop offers students a way to get caffeinated while supporting local businesses and ethical, fair trade sourcing. In addition to great coffee, Fair Trade Cafe also offers breakfast and lunch.

During finals week I stopped by for lunch (and to redeem my Groupon for the cafe!) and spent my afternoon cuddled up with my favorite book, sipping a cinnamon latte and munching on a chicken curry salad sandwich (that came with an amazing chocolate chip, peanut butter cookie).

I love the coffee bean bags used as decor for their counter front and their chalkboard menu!

I try to eat at local, Arizona restaurants whenever possible. For a list of other Phoenix restaurants I'm dying to taste test, check out this post.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Passed down from my grandma, Christmas hasn't arrived until my family has baked a batch of these delish, buttery cookies. We love decorating them together, personalizing them for all our friends and family. After rolling them out and before cooking, we gather around the kitchen to add our personal touch to each cookie.

What are your family's holiday food traditions?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Arizona Oranges

It's the most wonderful time of the year--and not just because it's Christmas season! It's also citrus season in Arizona! Oranges, grapefruit, lemons...we've got trees full of delicious, ripe citrus. Today Jesse and I picked a bucket of oranges to make fresh, right-off-the-tree orange juice. It's so much better than anything you can buy in the store!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spaghetti & Chickpeas

My dad loves chickpeas. Really. He eats them on salads, by themselves and even sauteed with green beans. They're one of his favorite foods. So naturally, any recipe that features chickpeas gets an automatic turn at the dinner table. This one was no exception. I never would have considered mixing spaghetti and chickpeas together, but Smitten Kitchen did, and we loved it. I liked the idea of the chickpeas adding some extra protein to a pasta dinner without adding the extra calories of meatballs.

15 ounces canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained or about 2 cups, freshly cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pancetta, diced (a little shy of 2 ounces)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch chile flakes
1 14-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
10 to 15 basil leaves
Salt to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Get Cookin'

Set 1/3 cup of chickpeas aside. In a blender or food processor, combine remaining chickpeas with chicken stock and pulse a few times until chickpeas are chopped.

Place a large pot over medium heat and add EVOO and diced pancetta. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly browned. Add onions, garlic, and chile flakes; cook until onions and garlic are translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add chickpea mixture, tomatoes, and basil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook until al dente. Reserve one cup of pasta water and drain the rest.

Toss pasta with chickpea sauce, reserved chickpeas and half of the reserved pasta water until evenly coated and heated through, about one minute. If sauce still feels too thick add reserved pasta water as needed. Season again, as needed, and serve with grated Parmesan to pass.