Tips, tidbits, and tales on food and the family table

Review: Brazi Bites Cheese Bread Snacks

I was given the opportunity to sample a few packages of Brazi Bites, a cheese bread snack in the form of bread balls. Um, yum. Cheese bread, known in Brazil as Pão de Queijo, is a popular treat in South America. (Little known fact: I’ve been to Brazil).

Brazi Bites is bringing north a little bit of the taste from way south of the border.

Rhonda Franz Brazi Bites review

There’s cheese in these. Who doesn’t want that?


The Ingredients

I was expecting a list of ingredients with unpronounceable names. Turns out, not only can I pronounce every ingredient, I know what each one is, and I have most of them in my kitchen. Even recipes for Brazilian cheese bread call for these ingredients – and in my book, that is a win. Bonus: Brazi Bites are a gluten-free food! These snacks do contain the allergens milk and eggs.

This cheese bread comes in three flavors: Original, Bacon, and Fire-Roasted Jalapeño.

The Prep

Easy-peasy. Put them on a pan, stick them in the oven, and 20 minutes later you have some nice bread bites to munch on. I stored them in a quart-size bag in the refrigerator (the packaging comes with a zip closure), and warmed up a few in the microwave.

The Ease

There is no mess to these convenient, finger-food snacks. You could set out a bowl on your counter and let the family grab a few when they walk by.

The Taste

These cheese bread balls aren’t bursting with flavor, but it was enough to keep me grabbing them for a nice snack throughout the day. The Jalapeño flavored Brazi Bites contain just the right measure of spicy (kids might not be in to that).


Ideas for using Brazi Bites in your family:

  • As an after-school snack: plain, or dipped in marinara/pasta sauce
  • As a side dish to pasta or pizza
  • Pop a couple in your child’s lunch. My kids ate ‘em up.
  • On a breakfast plate (especially the bacon flavor) along with a couple of eggs.
  • As a complement to a salad or soup.

And those are only an introduction to the scrumptious ideas Brazi Bites has for gluten-free mini sandwiches and party appetizers.

Look for Brazi Bites in the freezer section of Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and Fred Meyer stores.

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Brazi Bites for sending me their cheese bread, free of charge. What I’ve written here is my honest opinion. Now, I think I’ll go have a few more.


Stuck-in-the-House Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup


Rhonda Franz, slow cooker chicken noodle soup recipe

Here is the end product (we like it thick).

This recipe would be regular old Slow Cooker Chicken Soup on any other day. But not today. Mid America is having another snow day, (not that we’re counting), and we’re cookin’ up chicken at our house.

Or to be more specific, I let the deli at the grocery store cook up a chicken. Because the cost of these isn’t much and it’s worth skipping the whole cooking the whole thing and bleaching the kitchen counters afterwards and son on. So I buy the chicken already done. The flavor this chicken meat and skin adds to the soup is superb.


  • 1 cooked rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped (This is kind of a lot of parsley, and results in quite the robust flavor. If it’s too much, maybe just use 1/8 c. or so. Of course, you can use dried parsley as well, which in my experience isn’t as potent).
  • 1/2 c. diced onion, sautéed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (See below for how I mince my garlic on most days)
  • 1 lb. package egg noodles
  • 2 – 2 1/2 qts chicken broth (2 if you like your soup thick like stew, 3 if you like your soup with a good deal of broth)
  • 1 Tbsp. seasoning salt
  • salt and pepper to taste


Pull meat and skin off the bone and tear into bite size chunks. Place in slow cooker along with all the other ingredients except noodles. Mix well. Cook on high 4 hours or low 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally. Add egg noodles to slow cooker 20 minutes before serving and stir.

* Note: Adding egg noodles is where the broth really gets soaked up. You might add your noodles, stir and wait a bit, and take stock of how the soup looks. Even after serving, you can always add broth to the leftover soup for refrigerating or freezing. We like ours kind of thick, almost like a bowl full of noodles.


rhonda franz, slow cooker chicken noodle soup

I use a garlic press like this to mince my garlic. I don’t regret buying this at a kitchen store in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I do regret that it went in the dishwasher, where it collected a nasty tarnish. I do not regret that people in this house are putting things directly into the dishwasher, rather than on the counter right above it. But I digress.

Rhonda Franz, snow day slow cooker chicken noodle soup

I sauté my onions before adding. It brings out the sweetness, and I can add lots more flavor to the soup without the bitterish taste of uncooked onions.














This is what the broth looks like pre-noodles. If, by chance, you’ve gone paleo, or you’re just cutting down on your carbs, reserve some of this before adding noodles. It’s all good.

Rhonda Franz, slow cooker chicken soup recipe


Now, while my kids are eating Shirley Temple Snow Cones for dessert, I ladle this soup into quart-size jars for refrigerating or freezing (if you freeze the soup, leave an inch or so at the top of the jar to allow for the food to expand). If you’re into canning, so much the better. But the soup doesn’t last long in the refrigerator at our house, and I bet it won’t at yours, either.

This recipe was first published in Our Daily Bread, the Springdale, Arkansas Spring Creek Fellowship cookbook. If you’re in a cooking slump, nothing will heal your soul (and ultimately feed your family) like searching through the recipes of a church cookbook. Gems in those, I tell you. Gems.

Snowed In: Shirley Temple Snow Cones (Recipe)

You’ve either heard about The Great Snow Storm of 2013, or you’re in it right now. We’ve enjoyed Maple Syrup Snow Candy and Snow Ice cream in recent years. Even with single digit temps, my kiddos still love the cold stuff. Do yours?


This week, we tried snow cones just to spice things up.

I happened to purchase some Grenadine syrup last week, a tasty ingredient used for making various adult beverages. I’m not much of a drinker, so I had some on hand for an occasional Shirley Temple.

And then it snowed. And snowed some more. And it kept on.

So we went sledding, and gathered up some of that snow in a bowl, and used an ice cream scoop to dish it into glasses.

It worked best to scoop in the snow, add a drizzle of syrup, and stir. Add more snow or syrup as needed. There’s really no strict recipe here, only the stuff of dreams.

My kids asked for more. I bet yours will, too.

And then, moms and dads, you can use that Grenadine for your own adult concoction. ‘Cause after nearly a week of school closings, you’re gonna need it.

5 Uses for Tea Towels

Tea towels are a pretty handy for kitchen use. There are different kinds, and I’m not for sure how they officially differ from regular kitchen towels.

The kind I use are big and made with thin fabric. And boy, are they handy:

1. Microwave steaming. To quickly heat flour tortillas or pita bread, spritz or drizzle a stack lightly with water, and wrap completely in a tea towel. Microwave on high 30-45 seconds, and use immediately for serving. Also use to heat corn tortillas, and soften stale bread.

2. Soaking juice. From vegetables, that is. If you’re making a dry salsa, and don’t want juice oozing from the tomatoes, slice them and press them onto a tea towel that has been folded several times. Just be sure to put your towel immediately in laundry water, or spray with a laundry cleaner to help prevent staining.

3. Anything you would use a paper towel for. Thin tea towels are like super-durable paper towels. Use for drips, spills, or just shining the kitchen sink.

4. Bibs. Large-sized tea towels offer more fabric than kitchen towels, making it easier to tie (loosely) around children’s necks at dinnertime. If you’re children are super-messy like mine, consider carrying folded-up tea towels with you to restaurants and picnics. Store them in a zipper storage bag so you have something to put them back into when they are covered in food. The bibs – not the kids.

5. Straining. A little bit like the soaking up juice use, but for more: squeezing juice from a lemon without spilling any seeds, catching drops of fat when reserving juice from beef or chicken, or as a substitute for using cheesecloth. Good old Martha – she knows so much.

Note: I wash my dish towels and cloths in hot water, and sometimes with a laundry booster /stain remover like Oxi Clean or Borax, but I don’t work on kitchen spots much. I feel like the effort would be futile, and I have better things to do than apply elbow grease to tomato stains.  :)

 stock.xchng photo by siteroom