Coconut Cream Cheesecake Bites on a Pretzel Crust

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ICEBOX CHEESECAKE
I started off with this ice box cheesecake recipe I spied on pinterest. With a few of my own substitutions/additions. Everything’s pretty muchthe same, except instead of whipping cream, I used whipped coconut milk. Instead of a graham cracker crust, I used crushed up pretzels. I added zest from one lemon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

PRETZEL CRUST
For the crust, I followed the quantities in the recipe above. Subbing out graham crackers for crushed pretzels and it turned out delicious!

I put the pans with the pretzel crust in the fridge to firm up, while I tackled the whipped cream. (Note: This recipe was good for one pan of 24 mini cakes and two small springform cakes. I believe the springform pans are 4-5 inches.)

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WHIPPED COCONUT CREAM
I pinned this recipe when I started looking into the Paleo diet & have always wanted to try it. Finally got to do just that, since I didn’t have regular whipped cream for this cheesecake recipe.

I was skeptical about this one. Plus, it calls for a “full fat” coconut milk and I only had “lite”. I stuck that light can in the fridge & hoped for the best. Luckily, we did a quick trip to the grocery store & they had the regular coconut milk. Stuck that in the fridge overnight too. The next day, opened the can, scooped out the thickened coconut milk, but it still didn’t seem like it would be enough, so I did open up the “light” can. It yielded even less than the full fat can. I combined the two & crossed my fingers!

Also, I couldn’t bust out my Kitchenaid Mixer because the thing weighs a ton & in my prego/incompetent cervix state, lifting it to the counter was not an option. So, I had to brave my first attempt at hand whipping cream! Boy was I relieved & surprised that it was actually working! I had to stop & ask my mom to video me whippin’ it real good! [Watch if you dare]

In this photo below, you can see the cream hadn’t fully firmed up, but I just couldn’t wait to taste it!

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Here they are the next night, nice & firm. When it’s chilled well overnight, the little bites pop out of the pan easily without losing shape or crumbling.

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RASPBERRY COMPOTE
The raspberry compote was a pure experiment! Never made nor ate compote before so I don’t know if what I made was a good compote! But it sure is tasty to me! I used a small carton of fresh organic raspberries, about a cup of boiling water, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, juice & zest from half a lemon and several sprigs of organic mint leaves. Threw it all in a little pot & boiled it for about 5 minutes. Took out the mint sprigs & transferred it to a mason jar to cool, before chilling in the fridge. It has a thin syrup sauce consistency and has a bright berry mint flavor. Delightful!

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Paletas Betty – A Cool Spot in Chandler

I have now experienced Paletas Betty three times and each time has been a refreshing pleasure! The first time I tasted Paletas Betty was when my friend Iris treated me for my birthday in the begining of this year. We picked out several flavors and then brought them home to share with the family. We cut up the paletas in cubes, so that we could all sample every flavor! I can’t recall all the flavors we tried that evening. I remember loving them all. But, being the spice loving kinda gal that I am, I had to try the mango con chile. It was a zippy treat, that was at the same time sweet/tangy and cold/hot. I’m not going to share next time.

The second visit, I attempted to treat my friend to her first Paletas Betty. But, I didn’t recall that they only take cash or check. I wasn’t able to get cash from the nearby Irish pubs ATM. (That’s another story, that ended in tears, to say the least.) But, Betty being so thoughtful and wanting me to have a happy experience that day, bought a Paleta of my choice to cheer me up. That’s not something she does on the regular, I’m sure. But, it certainly locked me into loyal fan status, as if the freshly hand crafted frozen pops aren’t enough. The Mexican hot chocolate was delicious, by the way. My friend Ninette was pleasantly surprised by her Arroz con leche…nice & creamy & just the right amount of sweetness.

On our third visit this Sunday, we multiplied into a group of 7 adults and 2 energetic toddlers. Our group tried had Mexican Chocolate, Arroz con Leche, Sandia (Watermelon/mint), Puro Mango, Nuez (creamy roasted pecans), Fresa con Crema (Strawberries/Cream) and Platano (bananas foster/caramel/rum). There was not a popsicle stick left unlicked in our bunch.


Our two rambunctious toddlers amused themselves for a long time with the stickers that come with each pop, as the adults chilled on the mod indoor seating, sipping on complimentary water infused with orange slices and mint. For fun, you can also bring your Paletas Betty sticker with you on your travels and photograph it in interesting places. Email it to them, and if chosen, you can win a free paleta! Lastly, let me just say, these are not ordinary popsicles. You can tell that these are hand crafted with lots of attention and love, with only the best ingredients. They have some heft to them and will be a perfect after meal treat on a warm-scorching hot AZ day.

I’ll be keeping my eye out for their “carrito” rolling around the Downtown Chandler Farmer’s market every Thursday. You can also hire Paletas Betty for your event and they can even create custom flavors for your event. I only wish they were around back in ’05 for our wedding!

*Please note: Paletas Betty currently accepts cash and check only.

p.s. Betty shared her recipe for her mango chile paleta < here >

Paletas Betty on Urbanspoon

Cake Pops – Round 1

I’m so smitten by Bakerella’s cake pops and all the cake pop versions that have popped up. Especially Papertreats woodland cake pops:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/papertreats/4146549643/in/set-72157622247904362/

I figured they would be super cute for my daughter’s first birthday coming up next month. So, despite the odds, I managed to make my first experimental batch. But there were several casualties. This shroom was top heavy and crashed with the weight of the choco dip.

I’ll have to make sure i push the stick all the way up the shroom cap next time. It’ll also be a good idea to not bring out all of the pops from the fridge. Just take out a few at a time, to keep them cold during the dipping. I also suggest using a little brush to paint on the choco dip.

Yet these were still delicious, moist and most important to me – not too sweet. I did alter the recipes that I found online for the “glue” frosting. I used only 3/4 cup powdered sugar instead of a whole dang box that most recipes called for. It’s even less than the 2 cups called for in some “less sweet” recipes. But, I did add 3/4 cup coconut cream powder and 1/2 serving (about 2 oz) of unsweetened organic applesauce. (Yes, I borrowed it from my daughter’s food drawer…tsk-tsk-tsk….shhh, don’t tell her.)

These are the almost finished cake pops. The owls and hedge hogs don’t have their faces painted on yet. The mushrooms need they’re classic spots. But, I’m starting to think, realistically I don’t have time to do all that anyways. Don’t they look cute as is?

Dark Choco Cake recipe used:

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/dessert/recipe-dark-chocolate-cake-014696 (i sub’d milk with soy milk because that’s what i had in the fridge…it turned out fine to me. next time i’ll try it with milk to see the difference)

“glue” frosting:

blend all of this together on med speed: 1 pkg of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, 3/4 cup coconut cream powder, 1/2 serving of unsweetened applesauce (about 2 oz).

Oh Romeo…


Soup of the Day (sounded really yummy, but passed on it, since it too was creamy like my dish…fortunately, hubby did let me enjoy a spoonful . Yum! Light soupy cream, red bell peppers…a little touch of spice, not salty…was there meat in it? I can’t recall.)

$9.50 – Feta Dill Fritters: A blend of gyros meat, feta cheese, fresh dill, spinach and pine nuts. Served with yogurt sauce. The three of us, all had our eyes on this and it was also our waiters favorite appetizer. He wisely suggested that one appetizer would be good for us…These were lovely every bite: Crunchy on the outside, warm and savory on the inside. The yogurt sauce brightened up the slightly heavy appetizer and made you think you could eat more.

$9 regular price, but had it as a side to my entrée. Bleu Cesar Salad: Tomatoes, spring onions, red peppers and capers, tossed with bleu cheese, Italian dressing on romaine lettuce with homemade croutons. Anchovies. I don’t mine had Anchovies, but this little salad was clean and simply delicious every bite. But, by now, I was starting to get full and worried, I wouldn’t have room for my entrée and dessert!

$15 – Penne Carbonara: Ham and bacon sautéed with red and green bell peppers in creamy cheese sauce with penne pasta . This was the birthday boy’s selection and yet again, I was able to sample a yummy mouthful. I’m a believer in that if the dish has bacon in it, then it’s going to be good. In addition to the bacon, the sauce was my favorite. It was creamy, but not too heavy, which is contrary to the Carbonara I’ve had a few times before. Again, not a bad thing. This was so good the next day too. Plenty of left overs.

$18 – Tortellini Kalypso: Crab meat, asparagus, red peppers, garlic, onions with tricolor cheese tortellini in creamy white wine sauce. This was my dish and it’s a beauty. Colorful pasta and veggies and you wouldn’t know it by looking at it, but every bite, had a large chunk of real crab meat. That alone made this dish a winner for me. While the price tag looks steep, it’s worth it, because this dish was deep. I was thouroughly bursting, but was surprised to see I barely made a dent.

$ 17 – Garlic Pesto Chicken: Chicken breast sautéed with roasted garlic, pine nuts and olive oil in basil pesto cream. My brother-in-law Ray wanted to test out what his favorite dish would taste like here at Euro Café. He liked it a lot, but wasn’t feeling the extra creaminess of the sauce…he also preferred the lighter cream sauce of the Carbonara dish.

Euro Café doesn’t have a set Dessert Menu because the selection varies day to day, depending on how long it takes them to make. While my two companions, were too stuffed to stand, I gleefully mozied over to the dessert counter and ogled at all the goodies behind the glass. I finally decided upon two truffles and a slice of three-layered cheesecake labeled “Fantasy” as an ode to my hubby’s favorite online sports pastime. I let our waiter know that the three of would be sharing the desserts and walked back excitedly to our table. The desserts were served a few moments later, but the waiter teased, by placing a truffle in front of Ron & Ray and the huge cheesecake slice in front of me! LOL! We shared, honest! Ok, well, I finished up the cake…and the chocolate drizzles…As if that wasn’t enough, Ray, ordered a Baklava Cheesecake to-go! He told me later, that it was goooooood. Judging from what we ate that night, I believe him.

Pecan (Fantasy) Cheesecake (I think this was about $5 a slice)
Chocolate Powdered Truffle (This was about $1.50)
Chocolate Ganache Pecan Truffle (This was a little more than $1.50)
Baklava Cheesecake (Don’t know, Ray got this to take home.)

Refillable Drinks:
Wine? (Ray had a glass…I can’t remember what kind.)
Passion fruit tea $2.25 (just a regular flavored tea, good.)
Needless to say, we will go back to Romeo’s Euro Café several more times.
Heritage Court
207 North Gilbert Road

Romeo's Euro Cafe on Urbanspoon

No more treats?!

Nah, there’s plenty of treatin’ to be had after Halloween. In my neck of the wood, instead of having to hunt around for it, my friends are bringing them to my door! Have I died and gone to heaven? Maybe not, but friends and food are always a good thing.

First treat bearers, I have to thank, are Ray and Christina…who came by with two huge pink boxes! I knew those pink boxes could be up to no good. And indeed they held some devilishly sweet treats from the local donut shop, Bosa Donuts. They had with them a dozen assorted donuts, some sprinkled, some cake, some chocolate, some glazed. But my eyes zoomed in on two donuts that bring back childhood memories, of cinnamon on my mom’s apron and the ring of the bell, as early morning customers stopped in to my family run “Lola Lly’s Donutery”.

The creations that mom and dad lined their trays with every morning sure could make a girl swoon. But, my first two donut affairs were staring back at me inside those pink Bosa boxes: Cinnamon Crumb and Boston Cream. Oh, my, oh my…I gobbled up the Boston faster than you could say “Lola Lly’s Donutery”. The donut bread was yummy and soft and filled with oh so good creamy goodness. The Cinnamon Crumb met a similar fate the next day. Unfortunately, I must watch my donut intake, another nuisance of poly cystic ovary syndrome, so I sent the rest of the lovelies to work with my hubby Ron. Lucky co-workers.

This is not the first taste of Bosa, I’ve had. I went with another friend Ninette, one day, just on her craving for it. This is small mom & pop biz with a drive-through and inside a couple of booths that seat up to 4. We were pleased to learn they also serve bagels, icecream and smoothies. But we focused on donut holes and french cruellers. All soft and yummy. I can’t recall what smoothie I had, but I do remember I liked it, but with the combination of donuts and smoothie…it was a bit too mush sweet for me. On the other hand, Little Mia downed a near dozen donut holes! The customer service was friendly and prompt. The food was yummy, fresh and affordable. Simple decor, a little outdated, but it reminds me of my parent’s donut shop back in Virginia, so it felt like home.

Bosa Donuts

1016 N Arizona Avenue
Chandler, AZ 85225
(480) 899-7134

Bosa Donuts on Urbanspoon

~ . ~

The 2nd treat bearer that I have to thank is Myrna! She came to drop off Mr. Marley for some hang out time, while she went to do errands…but before she left she revealed a very dubious white (unfortunately styro) container. Can’t judge a book by it’s cover, right? So, I opened it immediately because I hadn’t eaten lunch and it was already 3pm…inside were two half slices of cake that I knew from looking at them…were Better Than Sex Cake Classic and Chocolate Ecstacy!!!!! Myrna & I shared a slice of BTS cake Classic before and the memories of it’s moist sweetness made my eyeballs bulge out of their sockets. So, it was without question, skip lunch. Eat desert first! I wanted “Ecstacy” first and plunged my fork into it’s moist darkness: Chocolate Cake, Coffee, Coffee Liqour, Chicolate Mocha, Sweetened Raspberry, Topped with Whipped Crream and Shaved Chocolate. YUM! The raspberry seeds, may be off-putting to some, but, I didn’t mind the little bits.

BTSCC is located in a quaint little shopping center, off the main intersection of Arizona Ave and Pecos, just south of Downtown Chandler’s town center. Park behind the deli, walk underneath the little vine covered arches and follow the path to the left. That’s where you’ll hit the spot where they make cake that espouses to be better than sex. Now that of course is a topic I won’t go into too much detail. But, I will say, that take a bite of their cake, and you may elicit an ooooh! or an aaaaahhh!
Marely sure wanted a taste, but sadly for him, my BTS cake leftovers were saved for my hubby. I am after all a one man kinda gal.

Oh, don’t forget you can get a $1.99 BTSCC slice, if you print out their > coupon <

Better Than Sex Cake Cafe

241 S Oregon St

Chandler, AZ 85225

480-722-1220

Better Than Sex Cake Cafe on Urbanspoon

Crispy Sushi Icecream

Crispy Sushi Icecream by mars carranza
(inspired by Mojo’s from Moto’s in Phoenix)


You’ll Need:
1 bag or 2 of marshmellows
1 box of rice crispies
Butter or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
Magnolia Green Tea Ice Cream or Neopolitan Ice Cream.
Little Debbie Brownies or whatever brownies you’ve got.
Chocolate, Strawberry, and/or Caramel syrup.
Red or orange sugar sprinkles.
Plastic Wrap.
1 or more Rectangular Pyrex dish(es) at least 13 in. long…

OK…Are you Ready?

1. Before you start the rice crispy action, take out your
icecream & set it on the counter to soften a tad bit. (If you
do choose to use Magnolia Green Tea Icecream…it gets
soft fast, so no need to set it out on the counter.)

2. Prep your other “sushi filling”. Slice the brownies thin &
long. (Because later, you’ll be laying it down the center from
one end of the pan to the other.) Have all your syrup bottles
and sprinkle bottles open. Shoot…you can line up any kind
of toppings you want to put inside: nuts, cut up candybars,
more marshmellows, cookie dough, whatever! Just make
sure they are open, cut up, set out & ready for action.

3. Then, prep your Pyrex, by laying an oversized sheet of
plastic wrap inside it. Letting a good amount to hang over
the sides. Then, smother the plastic wrap with your butter
of choice. (If you’re making more than one roll, have 2-3
other pyrex prepped as well)

4. Now, basically, Follow instructions on the marshmellow
bag on how to make rice crispy treats, except add a
handfull of extra marshmellows from bag #2 or don’t use the
entire box of rice crispy cereal…less by 2 cups. (reason being:
more marshmellows make it easier to spread…you’ll see)

5. While the rice crispy mixture is still hot, start scooping it
out and smoothing it out, edge to edge, onto the buttered
plastic wrapped pyrex. Try to make it a maximum thickness
of 3/4 inch. (Any thicker, and it gets harder to roll up later)
Work quickly, if you intend on making more than one sushi
icecream roll. Because once the mixture gets cold…it’s
pretty hard to smooth out and you’re left with a pot of one big
rice crispy treat…which isn’t bad, but not what we’re going for.

6. Next, quickly smooth out your icecream down the center
(LENGTHWISE!) but avoid smoothing it all the way to the top
& bottom…LEAVE a 1 inch min. border on the top & bottom.
The icecream layer should be about 3/4 inch deep.

7. Speedily layer your other “sushi fillings” down the center
(LENGTHWISE)…don’t make it too thick now…remember,
you gotta be able to Roll this puppy next.

8. (this part can get messy) Lift the Plastic Wrap edge
closest to you, then start rolling the whole thing, but be sure
NOT to roll the plastic wrap into the sushi roll. After you get
the whole thing rolled, take the same plastic wrap to cover
it up, and twist the ends, then pop it in the freezer to let the
icecream get hard again…about an hour later, remove the
plastic wrap, set on a nice serving dish, take a sharp knife
and slice the roll. (1 – 1 1/2 inch thick each piece.)

For added flare, drizzle chocolate, red sprinkles, and whip
cream over top individual servings. Best if eaten the day it’s
prepared. If it’s not eaten up in one sitting, then it will keep
in the freezer for several weeks, but, the rice crispies will
lose 90% of their crispiness.

After I learn how to make chocolate ganache, I plan on
layering a thin layer of chocolate ganache on top of the
rice crispies before smoothing down the icecream layer.
Or putting the chocolate ganache layer first, then the rice
crispies…the possiblities are endless with this.

Have fun! And send me pictures if you try this out.

from mars
living a life inspired!