Would You Like Samoa Pie?


So you may have saw the recipe going around Facebook for the Girl Scout Samoa Pie. If you haven’t, I have attached a picture (left) and the link here. Basically, it is a creamy, caramely, gooey pic covered with caramel, coconut and chocolate. I was finally having my mom over to celebrate Christmas, yes, don’t judge, we have been crazy busy.  I needed a dessert, so thought I would attempt a Facebook recipe.  Now I made the recipe according to the directions, but I must say, the creamy pie portion just didn’t firm up as expected.  The dessert resulted in, although tasty, a gooey mess.

Fast forward to the next week, I decided to change up the recipe and create my own Samoa Pie.  Here is how I changed it:

I bought a store bought chocolate pie crust (this one was Oreo).  To that, I added a layer of cream cheese mixture (4 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 c cream cheese and about 4 oz. cool whip.) beat these together and spread on bottom of pie. Anyone ever making the Oreo pie, or similar will recognize this step.

Then I added a layer of caramel sauce, drizzled, not too think (I used Ghiradelli’s, you can find by ice cream or in baking).

Next layer, a layer of instant Jello brand caramel pudding.

Let firm up in fridge for a bit, then add your cool whip topping, layer of coconut/caramel mix (1 C coconut mixed with 1/2 C caramel sauce).

Drizzle with melted chocolate and viola! Same great tastes, perhaps even more complex, but none of that gooey mess I had before.

I even had extra layer mixes, so in order to accommodate more people than pie, I made these adorable mini deserts.

I think adding chopped pecans would have just vaulted this recipe into the stratosphere, but alas, I did not have any.

Here is what my desserts looked like! Happy Eating!

img_3629 img_3630

Gimme Some of Your Tots, Gosh!

To celebrate a co-worker’s birthday my company, the whole lot of us, went to lunch Jim Brady’s in Royal Oak to celebrate. The restaurant accommodated the large (25) person group we had, and had a table waiting and set for us.  The waitstaff was friendly and efficient.

Jim Brady’s has a whole section on their menu allocated just for “tots”. Well, they say “awesome tots”. We of course had to try some as an appetizer.  The Ochos Totchos Tots, which were crispy tots loaded with Chipotle chicken, melted cheese sauce, Jalapeños, fresh Pico and cilantro sour cream were amazing.  I wish in hindsight, I just ordered a big gooey plate of just these for my entree. Sharing with the group I got a mere tasting.  Good for my waist, but not so good for satisfying my calorie overload needs.

We also ordered naked tots (how controversial). Which came as standard tots. Crispy and hot but not unusual.  They did come however with some fun dipping sauces, including Spicy Buffalo – Buffalo sauce made with Franks Red Hot and butter, Choco-Tella – A combination of Nutella and chili spices, McClure’s Bloody Mary Ranch –Ranch infused with McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix,  Maple-Sriracha – Maple syrup and Sriracha sauce, Rockin’ Rye BBQ –Jim Brady’s own recipe which includes Faygo Rockin’ Rye pop and lastly the Maple Bourban sauce, which literally tasted like a doughnut glaze, making your tot more of a desert than appetizer.

I decided I would behave myself and order a salad.  I chose the Baby Kale with Grilled Salmon salad, which came with Delicate Baby Kale, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Avocado, Grapefruit, Watermelon Radishes, Candied Walnuts, Feta Cheese, and Lemon Vinaigrette.  I find salads that have ingredients like spinach or baby kale difficult to eat with the long stems that always accompany the leaves.  I feel like I am constantly trying to look cool, yet cramming what looks like green worms into my mouth, but I digress.

3632133_origThe salad was disappointingly boring.  I had high hopes for the myriad of interesting ingredients.  The salmon was fishy to start, which tainted the salad from the start.  Combine that with the difficulty in looking classy while trying to cram the leaves in your mouth, which really after a while just makes me angry. LOL. Add the weird bitterness of the kale, along with grapefruit, which in hindsight is not a good fruit for a savory salad and the need to hunt for the few candied walnuts that were there, made the meal quite a let down.  The salad was under dressed, with a benign and understated lemon vinaigrette. That’s what I get, when I choose to eat healthy.  Sometimes a salad can be a home run, but in this case was strikeout. The picture I have put in this blog is from the website, and resembled my salad if you took the salmon portion and cut it in half. More greens, less protein.

Other people ordered Cesar Salad, which was plentiful but I don’t think anything to write home about since most did not opt for carryout boxes. I think I ate at the healthy table, because we all got salads, while other tables partook of burgers, and sandwiches.

The highlight of the meal was when my co-worker Liz and I split a scoop of the Nutella-Chocolate ice cream. It was gooey and creamy, and far too large for one person so it was good we split it.

The ambiance of the restaurant pays homage to the original location at 7 Mile and Greenfield. The entire place has an eclectic retro mafioso speakeasy feel. They boast craft beers from local breweries, including ROAK and Michigan products like Faygo, Bettermade and Vernors. They also have live music weekend nights.

Due to the ambiance, friendliness of the staff and amazing Ochos Totchos tots I would go back. I would try a different dish, but probably would return.

Irish You Would Try Malone’s

img_3244I had tickets the other night to Andiamo to see Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits.  It was a great show – even got to get an autograph and a picture with him! A wee bit tipsy, we invited him to my friend Michelle’s house for Nachos the night night , but he was heading for Ohio in the morning.  Otherwise, I am sure he would have joined!

We wanted something a bit easier and more economical than Andiamo’s for dinner, so we decided to try Malone’s Tavern, a local Irish pub, on Van Dyke and 14 Mile.  I made reservations, that we waiting for us when we arrived. The service was friendly and she took good care of us, even though she seemed to be one of the only waitresses.

Omar and I ordered a Super Trooper Coffee and Donut Brown Ale by Petoskey Brewing Company. 7.3% abv.  The beer was smooth, not too heavy. The beer is a brown ale that has chocolate malt, Colombian coffee and donuts in it, sourced from local companies.

From the website: The coffee grounds are from Higher Grounds in nearby Traverse City and the donuts are from Johan’s Pastry Shop in Petoskey. The brew smells more like a coffee than a beer.

Their menu is fairly large, with your standard bar fair, intertwined with Irish specialties. Some of their more unusual offerings are pepper jack cheese balls, reuben sliders made with Wigley’s corned beef, home made potato chips, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash.

I was not super hungry, and just felt like potato skins, which I ordered with a side salad. The potato skins were a bit disappointing.  They were under cooked, with a small amount of toppings.  The salad was inconsequential.  A simple bagged salad with a few soggy croutons and ranch dressing. Edible, not memorable.

Omar got a Louisiana Burger, which is a Cajun spiced burger, topped with jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo and onion straws. Served on a grilled brioche bun. He ordered onion straws on the side as he doesn’t like onion straws/rings on a burger. He said the burger was good, but didn’t order any sides so was not super filling.

Our other guests ordered such items as reuban sandwiches, atlantic salmon, burgers and shepherds pie.  Everyone said their food was ok.  Nothing special, but nothing terrible either,

Overall, I give the atmosphere and friendliness factor a 7 out of 10 and food, a mere 5 out of 10.  It is what it is, bar food, nothing less, nothing more.  I would go back again for the convenience, but don’t think I will be singling it out for its amazing food.



Nothing Fishy Here, Just Pure Seafoody Goodness

Marine City is quaint little town with a bustling main street that has antique shops,theaters ice cream parlors and a variety of restaurants. One of these restaurants is the Marine City Fish Company. This is a rather unassuming place with very little space, so reservations are a must. My beautiful Jen and I were meeting our friends Steve and Katherine there for dinner.

Arriving at 5:30, already there was a line at the door to get a table. Unfortunately, their patio was not being used because it was rainy and windy. Nevertheless, we were seated quickly and began to peruse the menu. Now when I am at a place noted for seafood, I do not order steak. We started with a bread basket, calamari and the Fish Company Spread. I must admit the house bread was just ok, rather forgettable. The fried calamari was good, but the spread was wonderful. The fish spread consisted of smoke salmon, herbs and Bermuda onions that you could place on baguette slices.

Again, because its a fish place I had to order fish. My beautiful hottie and I each ordered the fishermans platter which was a special combo platter of fries,walleye, perch and shrimp that could be fried or sauteed to your liking. When seafood is cooked correctly, it is hard to beat as a meal. The perch was very tasty, but the Walleye was beyond excellent, I had forgotten how good that fish tasted since it had been so long that I’ve eaten it. A great feast, well worth the 20 dollars. And to top it off they also served craft beers like Atwater Vanilla Java Porter. Please people I implore you don’t wash down a tasty meal like this with a Bud Lite. Ah but that’s a discussion for another time.

So, If you are ever in the area of Marine City and want to experience small town quaintness and are hungry, stop in the Marine City Fish Company. Better yet I advise you to call ahead first or may not get a table at this tasty little gem of a restaurant.

Beer Beer and more Beer

Looking for something to do, and somewhere to go, Omar and I decided we needed to try the brewhouse that his barber recommended. You never know where your next awesome restaurant referral will come from. We headed to the Brown Iron Brewhouse in Washington Township, at 26 and Van Dyke.

The place when we pulled up was already rocking, lots of people, full tables and a full patio with fire pit. We managed to grab a couple seats at the bar, and began to look over the many tappers on the wall.  Imagine an entire wall full of tappers with an array of beer offerings from light lagers to unusual porters to ever so fun and funky IPA’s. The menu of beers changes daily and sometimes even hourly we were told.

They offer sample size beers in small snifter glasses from 1.50 to 4.00 depending on the beer.  You can also get larger sizes but whats the fun in that? We both ordered to start a Liquid double fudge Imperial Stout by Evil Twin brewing company, abv of a whopping 12%. The waiter, who was amazing said we don’t want to do that what we want to do is order that AND an Evil Twin Imperial Doughnut Break, which was a Doughnut Imperial Porter, with a abv of 11%. I love that! I love an educated beer server who knows his stuff and isn’t afraid to speak his mind!!

Both beers were really smooth. Dark, rich and chocolaty. The Liquid Double Fudge had overtones of a bittersweet chocolate while the Doughnut Stout was a bit smoother, with a bit more sweet overtones of brown sugar and a little smoother.  I was so full after that I couldn’t do anymore. So disappointing. It was like being in a beer wonderland. Literally any kind of beer for every palate! Omar ordered a Jaden James Peanut Butter Porter with a abv of 6.8%.  The beer indeed tasted like peanut butter. Omar loved it. He loves peanut butter in many things. Shakes, sundaes, etc.  I thought it was really gross myself.  But I have to hand it to the brewers, it did have distinct flavors of chocolate, coffee, and peanut butter. Like breakfast in a glass. Although this brewhouse doesn’t officially brew yet, they were in the process of adding tanks and will begin brewing their own beer soon.

The menu is really interesting, Although a BBQ/smokehouse with the menu weighing heavy with your standard BBQ fare, ribs, brisket, burnt ends, pork, etc., it had eclectic and interesting appetizers. I had to order the loaded potato egg rolls.  Egg rolls filled with a warm cheesy mashed potato filling, with smoked bacon, sour cream, green onions, dipped in a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.  So unusual but they were so good!

We also ordmenuered the hot soft pretzels, which came with an amazing caramelized onion dip and spicy mustard.  We added by recommendation the warm beer cheese dip.  The pretzels were really good and that onion dip you could eat by itself, with a really big spoon!

We unfortunately started our journey here too full and too late but we will go back and are excited to try some of their other offerings. What a nice surprise to stumble into somewhere you had never heard of and feel you are transported somewhere else! We can’t wait to go back.  We give this place a million thumbs up!!

I have attached a pic of the robust beer menu – but remember it changes every day!!

Vivios Part Duex – Warren

In a previous post, Omar wrote about our visit to Vivio’s in Eastern Market.  How surprised we were to discover a great little restaurant we had walked by so many times before.  We found out they also have a location in Warren, on 12 Mile just West of Ryan.  Omar and I were looking for something new to do, and we enjoyed the Detroit one so much, we decided to check it out.

The restaurant feels much more like a bar than a restaurant, They had a live band starting in a few hours,vivios games on the TV’s (the owner is an obvious Pittsburgh Steelers fan because there was memorabilia everywhere and rumor has people just keep bringing him more stuff).

The Bloody Mary menu was more limited than the one in Detroit, so we each ordered just the classic Bloody Mary.  I have to say, if it was a competition, Vivio’s Detroit would win hands down.  We decided to order a couple things and split them to get a good representation of the menu. They said their pizza was amazing so we ordered that along with a burger and fries.  The burger was good. Juicy, the right bun, and served with really good fries.  The pizza however was rather disappointing.  It was frozen pizza-esque  and although was edible, it did nothing for us as far as wanted to repeat the experience. Lets just say the leftovers we took home did not get eaten, which is rare.

I don’t think I would return unless I was with other people who wanted to go. They did have a rather good craft beer menu, which was a nice surprise, but the food, nor the drink was really good enough to entice us back.  Not a bad, but a mediocre experience.

Sat down at Prickly Pear – good thing not ON one!

I decided to take a day trip to Ann Arbor to go check out Jamie (my daughter) and her boyfriend (Quinton’s) new apartment and take them out for lunch. They have a really cute apartment directly across from U of M, convenient for Quinton who is finishing graduate school there. Jamie is commuting to U of D Mercy where she is working on her Physician Assistant degree.  We decided to walk to main street, since almost everyone walks everywhere in Ann Arbor. An easy 400 block journey (kidding, just seemed like 400 blocks).  Ann Arbor is such an amazing town.  The energy in the air with all the students walking around and all the hustle and bustle.  Main street was just a plethora of restaurants, cafes, and eclectic shops. You can get a massage, buy some candles, and eat some Mexican food all within the same block!

We decided to go to Prickly Pear.  A southwest café, with a new age twist, with offerings for both carnivores and vegetarians alike.  As we were still in the Sunday morning brunch window, Quinton ordered the chorizo omelet.  An omelet made with cheese and chorizo sausage, with a side of fried potatoes.  Funny enough, the table next to us sent is back saying “it was not what they expected” but Quinton thought it was really good.

Jamie ordered a trio of tostadas.  They were supposed to served as one each corn & tamatillo tostada, avocado & cojita cheese tostada, and black bean salsa tostada, served with salsa verde, She however, got one with Portobello mushroom.  This make excite some but for Jamie since we both abhor mushrooms, was a huge disappointment, If you are going to substitute off the menu, let someone know.

I ordered the Beef Brisket burrito, served with a side of rice and beans. The burrito was really good, and what looked like a small lunch plate was so filling!

We also ordered chips and salsa and a side of guacamole. The chips were hot and fresh, the salsa and guacamole obviously made fresh, as they were both delicious.

The only complaint of the day, and completely outside the control of the restaurant was the bees.  We decided to sit outside on the quaint patio are to people watch, but were bombarded by bees.  Or should I say wasps.  Omar will correct me if I say bees. It just happened to be that end of the season bee loving time.

Lunch was great and a nice walk back to their apartment. I would definitely recommend a trip here when in Ann Arbor.  I want to go back soon, there are just so many places to see and visit!


The Great Mojito Challenge

So Omar and I headed to Bonefish Grill for our occasional Wednesday night Bang Bang Shrimp and Mojito/Manhatten night. Our favorite waiter Colin was tied up on the other end of the bar, and Steve, who we have never met asked what we were drinking, I ordered my standard Mojito, but asked that Colin, who was on the other side of the bar make it as his were so good.  That led to the great Mojito challenge.

My second drink, which I wasn’t going to have, had to be made by Steve, it was for good cause after all. Steve wanted to prove that his Mojito would be just as good, if not better than Colin’s. His drink was very good, light, refreshing, the right hint of muddled mint.  Colin, however, adds just a hint more lime, which I like. Both really good, but I think I have to give the award to Colin, who maintains his title of best Mojito maker, actually as best Old Fashioned maker as well.  On Old Fashioned, for those of you not knowing your whiskey cocktails, is a cocktail made by muddling sugar with bitters, then adding alcohol, such as whiskey or brandy, and a twist of citrus rind. His Old Fashioned are what Omar compares all Old Fashioneds to.

Omar and I have been trying a lot of new dishes at Bonefish.  The burgers are ok. Not unexpected as you are ordering a burger from a restaurant that specializes in fish.  Lately, I feel like I have been sticking to some bang bang shrimp and a wedge salad.  Just enough food to fill me up but not enough to make me feel like you have to roll me out.

The food here is always consistently good, and the staff friendly.  It is a nice date night to just go sit by the bar, nibble on some appetizers and engaging in some good conversation.

I have said it before, we both recommend Bonefish, especially for ½ off bang bang shrimp on Wednesdays.  Just don’t take our seats at the bar!!

Bonefish Grill Steve and Colin


Vini, Vidi, Vici, Vivio!

My beautiful Jen and I always try to go to Eastern Market a few times a year. We always come back with a ton of tomatoes that we share with my folks. This year we decided to eat at Vivios. We heard that the place has good food and is famous for their Bloody Marys. Now this place is not easy to get into,it is always packed from breakfast until they close. They had a hostess outside with a podium taking reservations, so we put our name in the queue and walked around until they called us 30 mins later.

Well they didn’t call us as planned cuz they were so busy,but said we could sit at the bar so we did. Now it is a friendly place with all kinds of people,from families with little kids to groups of friends waiting to be seated,and this was all before noon!

Jen and I scoped out a place at the bar and promptly sat down. We were greeted by a friendly bartender who said they were changing kitchen from breakfast to lunch so we would have to wait about 15 mins to order lunch. However the bar was open so we ordered some cocktails,two bloody marys. Jen ordered the classic which had spicy vodka which they infuse on the premises. It also had a pickle slice in it. Now mine had spicy vodka a pickle slice with a smoky paprika sea salt rimmed glass. But wait there is more. It also had a large toothpick straddling the glass that had some prosciutto and cheese flanked by two jumbo shrimp. Yeah who needs lunch now? We tried each others drink and deemed them both wonderful concoctions fit for a king and queen.

We decided to each order a sandwich and split it. Jen ordered the Dinty Moore and I ordered the muffalata. The Dinty Moore was really tasty with ooey gooey cheese. The Mufalatta is usually a sandwich common in Nawlins (New Orleans). It is Italian meats and cheeses and an olive tapenade served on a round hollowed out bread. Now the sandwich was good but not great,I think I couldn’t get past the fact that it was not on the right bread. Either way we enjoyed ourselves and would return again. For those of you who do not wish to travel to Detroit, they have a location in Warren on 12 mile between Ryan and Dequindre.


St. Thomas Day 7 – Allison’s Birthday Woot Woot!

All Allison wanted so badly on her 21st birthday was not booze galore, but to swim with dolphins. The only place in St. Thomas area that you can do that is in Tortola, which is in the British Virgin Islands, requiring yet again another ferry ride, and a lot of money. I was sorry to say I had to pretty much put the kabbosh on that idea.

Friday was raining horribly, with periods of lightning and thunder. We had gotten pretty lucky up to this point with weather, but looked like today was not going to let up.

When you are in a tropical paradise, that is only paradise when you are at the beach, or by the pool, we sure didn’t want to spend Allison’s birthday watching TV.  We decided to get crazy and head to Coki Beach anyway.  Now Coki Beach, located right next to Coral World, a huge tourist attraction in St. Thomas is known for its somewhat “questionable” evening clientele and is supposed to be very touristy.  It is also supposed to be home to a coral reef area with lots of fish who are trained to eat dog biscuits right out of your hand. Now this practice as you can imagine is frowned upon by locals and anyone in the marine biology arena as dog biscuits are not meant for fish, but that’s a different blog for another day. After pondering whether or not we should even go, or if it was even safe, we decided to try it out, with the warning that is there was anything we deemed suspicious we would scram.

It was still raining pretty heavily when we arrived.  Luckily, Coral World was closed that day (as most things were we found out, going to St. Thomas at the end of the season). We were able to park at Coral World for free, and close to beach.  There was a nice scuba stand there, which allowed us to rent masks, snorkels and get our required giant dog biscuits.

The beach was most definitely not the nicest beach in St. Thomas. It was strewn with litter, had a small picnic table area that clearly hosted a slew of partiers and “after hours guests” to be polite. The pictures on the website were very deceptive.  It was really run down, and very dirty. Maybe I was also swayed by the dark, dismal, overcast day as well.  The people there, however were very nice, friendly and helpful.  They had chairs and umbrella rental if you wanted it.

The water however, was very scenic.  They had a whole coral are that fish just swarmed to.  When you took your dog biscuit out, your were surrounded by large hungry fish, some of whom looked like they had a full set of dentures about to take a finger with them.  It was rather terrifying 🙂

It was Allison’s favorite place to snorkel.  We hoped to stay longer but the sky turned black and lightning began to fill the sky.  Would have been a great snorkel place on a a nice sunny day, as long as, as the locals say, you are long gone by dusk.  I had a strange vision of the lost boys, coming out after sundown to fraternize and party looking for their next blood host, but I digress.

We decided to stop at a place called cup and cork and pick up sandwiches for lunch.  It was very near the “udder delight” dairy where they are supposed to have the islands best shakes.  You can even add a shot of rum in there if you’d like.

Cup and Cork is a quaint little deli with a small store. The meats, cheeses and bread are fresh and plentiful.  I opted again for a tuna salad sandwich, which was really good.  Jamie and Allison each had the “trashy bird” which is a whole wheat bagel, pesto and sun dried tomato cream cheese and smoked turkey. They both said it was great and Jamie later said it was the best thing she had on the trip (except for our awesome home cooked meals). Omar stuck with roast beef that was rare and flavorful.

Udder Delight’s shakes were good, not great.  I didn’t see how they were the “best” anything, but they were good. They had a wide variety of flavors, from banana to peanut butter.  I opted for the Jamocho, that was chocolatey and a hint of coffee and rum.

For dinner, we rallied the troops and headed for a restaurant called the Sunset Bar and Grill.  Unfortunately, all the restaurants we heard were amazing were closed due to the off season! Very disappointing. Restaurants such as Thirteen, and Room with View, both with amazing reviews, closed.

We opted for the Sunset Grill, but first, we had some shopping and stops to make.  We headed into Vendors Plaza, in Charlotte Amalie area, where the Cruise ships come in.  This hosts the main shopping area, with shop after shop of everything you could imagine from art to clothing to jewelry to booze. I picked up a silver chain for like $20 and a cute long sleeve t-shirt for a great deal as the season was winding down.  We perused vendors tents with booth after booth of touristy trinkets, cheap t-shirts and hats.  After about a hour or so or wandering the area, we decided, although too early for our dinner reservation, we would head to Iggie’s Beach Bar and Grill, located on the beautiful beach of Bolongo Bay, on the property of the Bolongo Bay Hotel.  We had intentions of spending the day here one day, renting water stuff and playing in the surf, but many locals warned us away, saying the bottom of the ocean there was rocky and not very good for swimming.  They also have a “carnival night” that we toyed with the idea of attending, but for a expensive buffet, even with the calypso show, we didn’t think we would get our moneys worth with kids that eat very little.

We stopped in for a quick drink, view of the beach and ability to say we had been there. I even got the t-shirt to prove it!

We loaded up the car again and headed for the Sunset Grill.  Located at the Secret Harbor Resort, this fine dining establishment is oddly in the same location as their bar and grill.  A mere curtain separated the two different dining experiences.  If you headed to the rest room, you left a tranquil fine dining experience to walk through the loud bustling bar area. Very odd.  What was odder was the communal men/women’s bathroom.  They were in one room, and each stall semi “private” with their own sinks.  It was odd however, entering and leaving along side some strange man. Sorry, I don’t care how progressive this may be, I would never get used to it.

Everything looked so good.  Allison and Jamie split a filet, which was tender and cooked perfectly. Omar ordered Ceviche and we split a caesar salad. Both were good, the salad was served in a very small looking bowl but really had a good amount of salad in it.  I opted for my main course the Grilled Mango Mahi Mahi which was served with Chayote and Green Mango Slaw, Coconut Jasmine Rice and a Mango Cream. The mango cream was very off putting.  The combination of coconut rice, mango on the fish, and mango cream, which tasted like a hot, melted mango ice cream created a very sweet overtone to what should be a savory dish.  I like a bit of sweet to compliment the savory, but this dish was cloyingly sweet and could lass for a fish laden dessert.

Beth and Andreas split the famous Lobster Pot Pie.  It was delicious and so filling, we were all able to taste a bite.

The waitress, super nice and a Michigan native, surprised the table with birthday cake shots for all to celebrate Allison’s 21st.  They really did taste like liquid cake!!

The evening was great, the view amazing and it was time to end our last full day in the Virgin Islands.