Saturday, July 27, 2013

Favorite restaurants: Santora’s Pizza Pub and Grill

Santora’s Pizza Pub and Grill has two locations in Amherst – 1402 Millersport Hwy. at Flint Rd. (near UB’s North Campus) and 7566 Transit Rd. (across from the Eastern Hills Mall). Both restaurants have dozens of beers on tap, daily Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. and lots of televisions for the sports fans in the area. They also both have great food.
In two recent trips to Santora’s, the one constant was the fresh cut French fries – just like my mom makes! For a relatively small price, you get a big basket of fries – you can also get them with cheese or cheese, bacon and chives.
Out for apps one night with my cousin, we also got the Buffalo bread stix – 12” pizza dough topped with medium wing sauce, romano cheese and spices. It had just the right amount of sauce for some heat, and was a great alternative to their Cheesy bread stix and their Dough Knots – both of which are also very good.
Mom and I visited for a pizza one night (took some home for Dad as well) – a great thick, doughy crust with lots of cheese and perfect pepperoni (for me, that’s the kind that stays flat). I have also gotten the Chicken Parmigiana and Pizza subs in the past, as well as the baked penne – all three were great as well. The only thing I haven’t been overly pleased with were the boneless wings – the first time we ordered them, they came grilled (we didn’t order them that way) and the second time (not grilled) they were on the tough side.
For a full menu and other specials, visit their website,

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Favorite restaurants: Jim’s Steak Out

Confession time: even though I’ve lived in the area for my entire life, I had never been to a Jim’s Steak Out until a couple months ago (gasp!). I enjoy simple foods (some people will call it being picky), which is likely evident from the number of pizza-based restaurants I’ve talked about here – but I also enjoy chicken, and found a couple of things on Jim’s menu that appealed to me.

While I like my chicken, my mom, however, counts the steak hoagie – available on a Kaiser roll or as an 8” or 12” sub – as her favorite; she gets the combo with Kaiser roll, fries and a drink for a very affordable $6.99. There are eight combos, including a chicken finger sub (Dad’s favorite), a steak of beef taco, or – my favorite – the single chicken finger wrap (not a small finger, I might add!).

Chances are there’s a Jim’s near you – there are 11 locations in the Buffalo-Niagara area. Find them all at

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie Bites – Forwards and Backwards!

The Smart Cookie Cook is a great source of information and recipes – after all, she highly recommended the Thomas’ Limited Edition Banana Bread English Muffins (which are da bomb!) and she made these lovely little bites featuring two of my favorite things – peanut butter and chocolate.
copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
I halved the original recipe, as I was planning on keeping them all to myself like a good little PB/chocoholic, and I’m still happily eating them – they keep well in the fridge, and actually taste REALLY good cold. Something else I did that varied from the original – I rolled all my brownie balls first, which worked out better except for one thing…I didn’t have enough peanut butter “cookie dough” to wrap the last two brownie bites! So I improvised – I split the remaining PB in half and rolled that in the two remaining brownie pieces!

copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
And I must add, they’re equally good forward or backward! :)
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie Bites (adapted from the Smart Cookie Cook):
1/2 of a 13” x 9” pan of brownies (your favorite box or recipe)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1/2 stick of butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/8 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup water
Prepare brownies according to directions and cool completely. Cut off the edges of the brownies and crumble remaining interior section in a bowl. Add mascarpone and mix until combined – mixture should form a ball; if not, add more mascarpone.
In another bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, vanilla and sugars on medium speed with a hand mixer; add flour on a low speed until it starts to combine, then turn up to medium speed until it begins to clump. Add water and combine until it resembles cookie dough; if it’s too dry, add more water, approximately one tablespoon at a time.
Take teaspoon-sized pieces of brownie mixture and make balls, placing on a plate to work with later. When done, take a piece of peanut butter dough (approximately one tablespoon) and flatten out; place brownie ball in the center and wrap the peanut butter dough around the brownie and seal edges together. Roll into a ball and repeat with remaining dough; place in a refrigerator-safe air-tight container for storage. Makes around two dozen.