Archives for category: Cheeseburger

Over the mountains and through the dunes, to grandmother’s house we go… Welcome to Themed Thursday! This post is all about our adventures in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mars and I spent a few days in Phoenix where we visited our Arizona family members. And, of course, we stopped by some wow-worthy places in the area to share on the blog. After six hours or so of travel, Mars and I decided to stop by a restaurant called The White Chocolate Grill. Its interior was so elegant that I was even impressed by the elegance of their bathrooms! To start our lunch, Mars and I split a caprese salad. Then we split the BBQ bacon burger with a side of couscous (topped with golden raisins and roasted pistachios). All of it was very tasty so we weren’t very hungry by the time we finished, but we were at the White Chocolate Grill! How could we pass up dessert? So we ordered the brownie, which was great, but we couldn’t finish. We boxed it up and took it to Grandma (who ended up eating it for lunch the next day declaring it one of the best brownies she’d had from a restaurant). Next time we’re in town and end up here, I want to try their AZ egg rolls and their bread pudding!



One morning, Mars and I decided to do some Christmas shopping and hit up breakfast while we were out. We found a bakery nearby called the Wildflower Bread Company. It has a charming feel and the menu was extensive. Mars tried a sausage egg sandwich and I ordered lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry and maple syrups. For those who are particular about their maple syrup being warmed, let me tell you, they warm theirs at this place! I had to use my napkin as an oven mitt/pot holder to pick it up. That was a pleasant surprise. Their food was very good and fresh. We were tempted to go back the next day, but we decided against that as we’re both the type to be easily embarrassed if we’re recognized. But while there, I bought Wing a present of their own green (iced) tea with guava. He hasn’t brewed any yet, but the leaves smell delicious and refreshing.

Wildflower 2

That same day, Grandpa took us to the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge to see their display of gingerbread houses. They had built a small town where all of the buildings were about four feet high, using gingerbread “bricks” that were a bit larger than a sheet of graham cracker. Their gingerbread houses were impressive, but more impressive than that was the resort itself. If we ever need a place to stay in Phoenix (aside from the grandma & grandpa inn), this will be our spot. They have three or four restaurants inside, a small shopping area, golfing, tennis, fire pits, and a fancy pool with a lazy river. All Mars needed to hear was “lazy river” and he was sold!

Marriott 2

Marriott 1


Over the past week, Wing and I found ourselves in East County — the cities in the eastern part of San Diego County. We went there a few times for varying reasons. I happen to be very familiar with East County so, when it was time to eat, Wing let me choose the restaurants. I picked out some that I like and wanted him to try, and now I’m sharing our East County dining experiences with you.

Downtown Cafe, El Cajon (pronounced el kah-hone; meaning the drawer due to the city being surrounded by mountains)

Our first night, we ate at a restaurant in El Cajon called the Downtown Cafe, located in the newly renovated and now quaint and semi-historical downtown area. The Downtown Cafe had a nice variety of food on their menu and their alcoholic beverage selection was huge, including beers from local breweries. But Wing and I ordered burgers and soft drinks. He ordered a bleu cheese burger and I ordered the Santa Fe. We were impressed with the amount of bleu cheese and guacamole that we received. Wing said that we will definitely be back to try their other menu items.

Downtown Cafe

Casa de Pico, La Mesa

The next time we found ourselves in East County, we decided to go for Mexican. I knew of a great place called Casa de Pico, a local favorite ever since it was located in Old Town. Wing tried the cranberry mango chicken off of the seasonal menu and I ordered the chile poblano fresco off the vegetarian menu. Both were very good. The flavors in the cranberry mango chipotle chicken blended together perfectly and were subtle, not overpowering the taste of the chicken. The chile I ordered was packed with seasoned vegetables, topped with a creamy and delicious jalapeno sauce. We couldn’t resist ordering dessert, so we ordered the fried ice cream — a battered and fried ice cream scoop that rested on top of a bunuelo. Yum!

Casa de Pico

Anny’s Fine Burgers, Santee

The final trip to East County led us (and Mars) to Anny’s Fine Burgers. Its original store was in Santee, but it became so popular and crowded that it expanded and opened a second store in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. I’ve only been to the Santee location so my pictures are from there. Anny’s has a large variety of unique burger options. Since its opening, it has expanded to serving hot dogs and chicken wings. The burgers are huge so Wing and I split one. We ordered the hickory BBQ burger and some garlic Parmesan chicken wings. The burger didn’t disappoint. I was a little disappointed with the wings when they first put them on our table. I don’t really like the powdered Parmesan cheese which was sprinkled on them, but I ate one anyway. I ended up loving it despite the powdered cheese.


A Eulogy for Da Bayou 

Da Bayou was a Cajun/Creole restaurant located in Temecula, California. Wing and I lived in the area for a bit, and we discovered a few hidden gems (scroll to the end of the eulogy for a list of these). Da Bayou was one. I first tried it with a couple of co-workers during our lunch break. The three of us liked it and we talked about going back to try other items on the menu. That day I ordered the etoufee with chicken which one Yelper described as way too spicy. I personally thought it was about medium and it lacked flavor. The plate came with hush puppies and they were the most flavorful I’ve ever had so I was willing to give the restaurant another chance.

I told Wing about it and we went back several times. The first time he and I went, I ordered the red beans and rice. It was a huge portion and I really enjoyed it. Wing ordered the softshell crab Po’boy sandwich and was thoroughly amazed. Each half of the sandwich had a whole crab, including its legs. Wing couldn’t stop raving about the quality. The fries that his sandwich came with were really good, too. They were sprinkled with a Cajun seasoning and hardly needed any dipping sauce.

Da Bayou Softshell Po'boy

Softshell crab po’boy

The next time, I ordered the burger. The meat had whole chile peppers, seeds and all, cooked into it. The heat was no joke, but I loved it! It came with green lettuce and fresh red tomatoes. It was so flavorful and delicious that I declared it my new favorite. Wing ordered the softshell crab Po’boy sandwich. Again, he thoroughly enjoyed his meal.

Da Bayou burger

Burger with chile pepper

Then, when we went again, Wing ordered the crawfish Po’boy sandwich to be different. He liked it, but he missed his softshell crab. I ordered the chicken and waffles. I’d never had it before and ended up liking it. The waffles were homemade from waffle batter, not from pancake batter poured into a waffle iron and declared a waffle (if you’ve never had a real waffle from real waffle batter, then you’re missing out on a much sweeter, lighter, more delicate treat). The fried chicken was really moist and they gave me about four large pieces with a ton of meat.

Wing and I have since moved back to San Diego, but one day we had business in Temecula so we gave ourselves a bit of extra time to have lunch at Da Bayou. As we travelled there (about an hour and a half drive), Wing told me he was going to get the softshell crab Po’boy again. I told him that I was going to get the burger and maybe try some fried okra or order the hush puppies. We were both practically drooling. When we pulled into the parking lot, something seemed wrong. I told Wing that I thought the restaurant might be closed, but he easily dismissed my foreboding feeling. As we walked to the front door, we saw there was no metal alligator to greet us. This ought to have been enough, but we tried the doors anyway. Locked. Wing just couldn’t believe it. He peeped through the windows. Sure enough, Da Bayou was closed. Closed as in we’ll never have their delicious food again. Needless to say, we are sad. We speak of Da Bayou fondly still.

Hidden gems that are (hopefully still) in Temecula/Murrieta area:

Anthony’s Lounge & Ristorante, Murrieta

Ayara Thai, Temecula

San Jorge Tortilleria, Murrieta

Ah the 70s! What comes to mind when you think of the 1970s? I personally think of Sanford and Son (of course its theme song is now playing in my head). Ever since Wing brought home a set of his mom’s General Mills/Betty Crocker recipe cards, dated 1971, I’ve been wanting to try a throwback dinner! And cheeseburger pie (on card #2, “Entertaining on a shoestring”) just plain sounds retro! But we decided to mix generations and make, along side the 70s dish, a modern version of “fries” – spinach and potato pancakes because we had an expiring bag of spinach we wanted to use. The pancakes are from a slow cooker book, Southwest Slow Cooking by Tammy Biber and Theresa Howell, that I bought on a trip to Phoenix. (My little sales pitch: it’s one of my favorite cookbooks! We have loved just about every recipe we’ve made from it. No, I’m not involved in proceeds in any way, shape, or form. I just seriously love it.) But with this recipe, we didn’t bother using the slow cooker. There’s just no need (except maybe to ensure that the flavors blend, but it was still great the way we made it).

Spinach Potatoes

Cheeseburger pics

I was slightly scared to try the cheeseburger pie because I’ve made some recipes out of an old cookbook that my mom has and some were, um, disgusting (I wasn’t worried about the potato spinach pancakes because Biber and Howell haven’t let us down yet). But I’m always willing to try new things and this was definitely new to both me and Wing. When we plated the food and sat down to eat, I dug into the pancakes first. Man, they were good. Crunchy outside and steaming cheesy potato inside. I let Wing try his cheeseburger pie before I did because if he doesn’t like it, I know I won’t. But he ate a bite and nodded his head with a smile. Safe! I tried a bit and it was bursting with flavor. The pie crust balanced the meat and cheese, and the chili topping gave it a small kick. We will definitely be making this dish again! The only thing that could have made this meal that much better would have been some Ripple! Below are our versions of the recipes (minus the Ripple).

Cheeseburger Pie

  • 1 stick or ½ packet of pie crust
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt, dry mustard
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Salt & pepper
  • Oregano
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumb (used garlic & herb)
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce (divided)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 3-4 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
  • Black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Prepare pastry for 9-inch one-crust pie as directed on package. Set aside.

In medium bowl, beat egg and milk. Stir in salt, dry mustard, and cheeses. Set aside.

In medium skillet, cook and stir meat until brown. Drain off fat. Stir in salt, pepper, oregano, bread crumbs, ½ the tomato sauce, onion, green pepper, and spinach. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Spread cheese mixture over filling.

Bake about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together remaining tomato sauce, chili sauce and black pepper.

When pastry is golden brown and cheese topping is melted and bubbly, cut pie into wedges. Serve tomato/chili mix with pie.

Spinach & Potato Pancakes

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped spinach leaves
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying

In a large pot, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add potatoes and garlic; cover and cook until potatoes are fork-tender. Mash and add remaining ingredients, except for the oil.

Mix potato mixture well with your hands and form into patties. Fry in hot oil until patties are golden brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and place on plate lined with paper towels. Serve with salsa and slices of avocado.