Archive for December, 2008

Good Food In Orange County, California.

December 31st, 2008 No comments

I previously wrote the following SIDEBAR for a book that never got published, so I’ve decided to print it here on Nibbles of Tidbits.  It’s a short summary about FOOD in ORANGE COUNTY.

Orange County (“The OC”), California is more than one narrowly portrayed personality, as seen on TV – But we’ll focus on the food.  It’s a fine blend of many personalities, specialties and ethnicities. It’s a county made up of 34 diverse incorporated cities that span almost 800 square miles.  To associate Orange County with just one character, note or dimension wouldn’t be true.  But again, let’s get away from the gaggy OC television programs and back to its food.

Instead of one incentive to eat in Orange County, there are a multitude of motivations to enjoy a meal there.  From Aliso Viejo to Yorba Linda alphabetically, or San Clemente to La Habra geographically, you would be hard pressed not to find the best of your favorite dish there — The odds are in your favor and the payoff can be delicious.  One does not need to travel out of the county to find the best Steak, the best Taco, the best Fried Rice, or the best Fish, etc.  All can be found in the OC.

Many people still travel to Buena Park to stand in line for Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken, which has been served since 1934.  Since that time, the available food has evolved in such a way that there is now something remarkable for everyone.  The growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations in recent decades has significantly influenced its culture and food offerings.

Some of the finest Mexican food is here in almost every city — And who doesn’t love Mexican food?  The Asian cuisines are also well represented in Orange County.  Excellent Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants can be found without roaming too far.  Sushi is also very popular.  One can voyage to the coastal cities, such as Newport Beach and Dana Point to take pleasure in its fresh Fish offerings and oceanfront dining.  Oh, I can’t leave out Italian food, since I’ve had the absolute best in this county.  And finally, Indian food deserves a most honorable mention, since Orange County is where I learned to love it.  The flavors are intense and the OC’s offerings are top quality.

Many great chefs appear to be venturing out in this direction making the choices even better.  Fondue restaurants seem to be popping up recently in a few locations throughout the county.  And Irvine is the the hub of the business district, which tends to entice some of the more sophisticated restaurants.

Orange County has more than its share of small hidden treasures and fine dining establishments.  This sidebar merely touches upon the various specialties in the OC.  As stated, Orange County doesn’t just have one draw — It has too many to mention here.

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What I Learned From My First Large Ham.

December 30th, 2008 No comments

I learned there’s nothing to preparing a Ham, especially one that’s pre-cooked, like the one pictured here.  Since a Ham usually starts with a smoked flavor, it’s almost best to just place it in a Dutch Oven without anything else.  For this Ham, I read several recipes before choosing to add a combination of Brown Sugar, Pineapple Juice and Beer.  I also thought that a deep scoring would allow the baste to permeate more deeply into the meat and make it look prettier.

Overall, the Ham did look nice, but the too-deep scoring made it difficult to cut a decent slice for my guests.  It yielded too many small squares – HA.  And the Beer/Pineapple/Sugar combination wasn’t good either.  I could still taste the Beer, which I usually prefer in a glass.  I also added too much liquid to the pot, which isn’t necessary since the Ham was cooked covered.  When it was done (12 minutes per pound), I found myself shaving off the outside to obtain a reasonably sized slice of the traditional Ham inside.  Next time I’ll simply add a little Brown Sugar.  I had previously seen that recommendation, but thought I needed some liquid — I’ve since learned, when covered, a Ham will provide its own juice.  Now on to Split Pea and Ham Soup…

Ham & Cream Cheese Roll-Ups Are Easy & Good.

December 29th, 2008 No comments

My Aunt made a version of these for a Christmas appetizer.  The red and green colors worked well.  I must have had about twenty of them.  I was reminded how good Ham and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups can be.  My Aunt’s Roll-Ups were made with top quality Ham, Pimento and Green Onions.  This quick adaptation was made with Deli Ham, Red Bell Pepper and Chives.  Both combinations are quick, easy and yummy.  If you need to bring an appetizer somewhere, this is a good one.

“Crash Hot Potatoes” Aka Smashed Garlic Potatoes.

December 28th, 2008 No comments

This fabulously easy recipe is shown step-by-step in the links below.  It’s been made by several food bloggers/writers/cooks.  When I came across it, I had to make it too.  The preparation is simple — Just boil Red Potatoes until soft and smash them down onto an Oiled baking sheet.  Drizzle the smashed Potatoes with melted Butter, minced Garlic and S&P, then bake in the oven at 450° for 25 minutes without turning.  Voila!  They’re done and taste great.  If you need more information than that, check out The Pioneer Woman and For The Love Of Cooking.

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An Oyster & Dates At Oysters In Corona Del Mar.

December 27th, 2008 No comments

After eating at The Bungalow, one block North, we walked to Oysters Restaurant in Corona Del Mar for some appetizers and Live Jazz Music.  This visit we had a couple Oysters ($2.95 each) and the Roasted Nueske Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates with Laura Chenel Goat Cheese and a Soy Port Glaze.  The Oysters tasted fresh and the Dates were fantastic.  We wanted to eat something at a few other Corona Del Mar restaurants, but filled up after this one.  We’ll be back to try Bandera, the Quiet Woman and a lot more.

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Holiday Bison At The Bungalow In Corona Del Mar.

December 26th, 2008 No comments

The Bungalow Restaurant in Corona Del Mar is quaint, romantic, friendly and provides great service.  Almost too much service this visit, but way better than none.  I’d go back over and over again.  Here’s one of their December Specials, Bison Steak topped with Foie Gras and a Lingonberry Sauce.  It was a beautiful and tasty combination, perfectly cooked and not gamey.

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DMBLGIT January Contest Entry:

Merry Christmas.

December 25th, 2008 No comments

Merry Christmas!
And Happy Birthday Jesus. 

Christmas Cookie Decoration Ideas.

December 24th, 2008 No comments

Decorating Christmas Cookies is one of our new traditions, thanks to my great friend, Loretta, who makes all the goods.  As previously reported, the rest of us simply show up to decorate, eat and take home our works of art.

Not only do we get to take home our Cookies, but on this occasion we enjoyed, White, Milk and Dark Chocolate dipped Oreo Cookies, Milk Chocolate dipped Graham Crackers, and White Chocolate Peppermint Bark and molded cottages.  As you can see, all look so professional.

The cellophane bags magically turn our labors into gifts.  My office enjoyed much of the above.  Thanks to my wonderful friends for the laughs and goodies.  And Merry Christmas to ALL!

Be sure to check out the related links for more Cookie ideas and to read the story behind the messy apron (above).

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The Largest Taco In Orange County.

December 23rd, 2008 1 comment

I’ve discovered the largest Taco in Costa Mesa and possibly all of Orange County.  It’s at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Bar, a family owned place that’s been open for more than 35 years in Costa Mesa. Although I’d heard many great things about the restaurant, the Tacos weren’t specifically mentioned. The buzz seemed mostly about the Mexican Pizzas, gigantic Burritos and stiff Margaritas.

In a visit this year with friends, we happily confirmed the quality of the Margaritas, and I had my first Mi Casa Taco.  It was huge. Once I was able to pick it up, I didn’t put it down.  It was that good, plus I didn’t think I’d successfully be able to pick it up again, so I just kept eating.  Now I have Chicken Taco tunnel vision – And each visit it’s been stuffed with superior meat, fresh lettuce and what seems like a whole brick of grated cheese on top.  Yum!  It’s consistently enjoyable and filling.  My friend says the Beef Taco is just as delicious.

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Where Can I Get A Bottle of Flame?

December 21st, 2008 No comments

I’ve read that Burger King has started selling FLAME, a new cologne for men — It’s supposed to smell like a Flame Broiled Hamburger.  HA.  I’ve got to get my hands on a bottle.  I need a couple joke gifts and this cologne would be perfect. 

I called a few local Burger King Restaurants and most didn’t know what the heck I was talking about — It was fun trying to explain it.  Another fine example of good corporate communication (not) and advertisement without infrastructure.  I checked online and they appear to be sold out, unless I can get it WHERE???  What up BK?

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My Messiest Apron Contest On Foodbuzz.

December 20th, 2008 No comments

If you have time, please vote for me on Foodbuzz.  My messiest apron has Christmas Cookie Frosting applied with a little help from my friends.  I get by with a little help from my friends. 🙂

Food buzz is offering a prize for the messiest apron.  Could this be the one?  Check out the full story and picture on Foodbuzz.  Buzz it.  Related Link:

A Goulash Of The Latest Food News.

December 19th, 2008 No comments
Categories: Food News

Island Hotel’s Palm Terrace Lounge Bites.

December 18th, 2008 1 comment

The menu reads “The use of cellular telephones interferes with the Taleggio Sauce on Chef Bracken’s Macaroni and Cheese” — That’s funny.  It’s one of the items we tried, along with the Lamb Chops below.  Both were excellent, not inexpensive, but worth it.  We had them in the lounge, which is a very comfortable place to hang out.  Island Hotel Newport Beach is where the Four Seasons used to be on Newport Center Drive.

I had read about the ‘Mid-Week Bites & Delights at Palm Terrace Restaurant and Lounge’ offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, but they’re not happening during the holidays.  That’s too bad because the food and prices sound great, especially the 2 for $5 gourmet Sliders, such as the Chicken and Truffle Slider on a Pretzel Bun with Oven-Dried Tomato Aioli.  I’ll report more if they reconvene the offering after the holidays.  I hope so — We’ll see.  Related Link:

See’s 8oz Box Of Truffles Happily Revealed.

December 17th, 2008 4 comments

Happy Holidays!  This is a yummy gift and indulgence.  See’s Box of Truffles has great flavors and its price isn’t bad.  I especially like the Pineapple Truffle — It was a tasty surprise.  All flavors are noted and shown below from back to front (L-R), if you can follow along.  It’ll help you decide which one to pick.  🙂

(1) Orange, (2) Cafe’ Hazelnut, (3) Raspberry, (4) Pineapple, (5) Light Chocolate, (6) Dark Chocolate Chip, (7) Key Lime, (8) Lemon, (9) Raspberry, (10) Cafe’ Au Lait, (11) Blueberry, (12) Dark Chocolate.

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The Flame Broiler Chicken Veggie Bowl.

December 16th, 2008 No comments

I live near two “The Flame Broiler” restaurants and finally tried one (off Harbor/Wilson) for the first time.  Here’s the Chicken Veggie Bowl with MAGIC Sauce (a Teriyaki-type variation).  The Chicken flavor was excellent, but next time I’ll request all white meat.  I heard a few others order it while I was eating.  It’s about $1.25 extra.  I like dark meat, but there were too many connectors included in the bowl — It’ll be easier to enjoy the white meat.  The Vegetables were fresh and the Sauce had the perfect sweetness.  I wanna go back and have another.

More Flame Broiler Food & INFO

Flame Broiler DIRECT:

How Guys Do Fancy, Charbroiled Steak Sandwich.

December 15th, 2008 No comments

I was recently offered the opportunity to try Carl’s Jr.’s New Charbroiled Steak Sandwich.  It’s always fun to try something new, but to be honest I usually don’t eat Steak or Chicken from fast food joints.  It’s a mental problem I have (HA) and I can be a bit of a food snob about some things.  I’m fearful of chewy/tough Beef or Chicken with cartilage attached.  I’ve had plenty of Hamburgers and Ground Beef from fast food restaurants, but never a Chicken or Steak Taco, Burrito, Sandwich, etc. 

HOWEVER, I have enjoyed an occasional Chicken Breast Sandwich and do especially like Carl’s Jr.’s Charbroiled Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich.  And today was another exception, since I tried my first fast food Steak.  Although the picture isn’t as good as the advertisement, Carl’s Steak Sandwich isn’t bad.  The Steak (100% Sirloin) wasn’t chewy or tough and the flavor was acceptable.  I think the Onion Rings add a lot to the Sandwich, just like the Western Bacon Cheeseburger, the Burger I like best at Carl’s Jr.

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The Rainbow Trout Of Sleepy Hollow.

December 14th, 2008 No comments


My Dad and his friend just caught this Trout while fishing in one of Bishop, California’s Lakes.  He BBQ’d and basted it with a little Lemon and Butter, then shared it with several of us.  We’ve happily enjoyed a lot of fresh Trout over the years.

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The Claim Jumper’s New Frozen Entrees.

December 13th, 2008 6 comments

I like the Claim Jumper Restaurant because they give you tons of food.  I was recently offered the opportunity to try a few of their Frozen Entrees.  The main purpose of this post is to provide visual insight to assist with consumer selection.  I like the Classic Ravioli Parmigiana pictured above — It’s spicier than similar dishes and has good flavor.

Claim Jumper’s Shrimp Scampi.

Claim Jumper’s Chicken Marsala.

Claim Jumper’s Chicken and Penne a la Vodka.

I was also supposed to try Claim Jumper’s New Chicken and Shrimp Penne Rustica, but didn’t see it in the store.  Instead I selected the Salisbury Steak for old time sake.  I haven’t had Salisbury Steak since I was a kid, when it was the first frozen entree ever.  It took me back.  You’ll need an extra plate for the Claim Jumper’s Salisbury Steak, unless you don’t mind mixing the Gravy with the Macaroni and Cheese. 

An honorable mention should go to Claim Jumper’s Spaghetti and Meatballs (not pictured), since the Meatballs are the best “frozen” ones I’ve had — They’ve got a surprisingly good grilled flavor.

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Grill Charms — They Could Come In Handy.

December 12th, 2008 No comments

These were created by a food lover and 10% of the proceeds go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  To learn a lot more, visit Grill Charms’ website.  If you type “grilling” in the Coupon Code box, you’ll save $5.00.  I could have used them on past occasions.  How about you?  Related Link:

UPDATE (09/29/09):  Leslie Haywood of Grill Charms just got offered a sizzling deal on ABC’s Shark Tank.  Congratulations and good luck!

Why Throw An Egg Or Tomato At Your Car?

December 11th, 2008 1 comment

Have you seen this yet?  I just got it from the OC Market Place aka the Orange County Swap Meet.  When you throw it against a hard surface, it appears to splat then slowly returns to its original shape.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  A guy was demonstrating them by throwing Tomatoes against his mini-van window.  It looked really cool, so we had to get a few.  On Saturdays and Sundays, the OC Market Place sells these Tomatoes, Eggs and other non-food related splatting toys.  We bought two Eggs and this Tomato. 

HOWEVER, my Tomato started leaking after one of my throw downs, so I sadly had to say goodbye.  I hope that doesn’t happen often — I’m not that strong.  We’ll be monitoring the Eggs.  Be careful if your kids have these, since I’m not sure what they’re filled with.  Related Link:

Gingerbreadman Gingerbread.

December 10th, 2008 No comments

I don’t have the complete story on this yet, but it’s the latest creation by Chef Lexi from Kid’s in the Kitchen.  Ta Da.  The recipe is most likely from the best kid’s cookbook I’ve seen so far — Family Fun Cooking With Kids.  I’ll find out and update this post soon.  UPDATE:  The recipe isn’t from the aforementioned cookbook.  It came with the Gingerbread pan and I’m told it tasted bad.  The words were “yukkie.”  If you buy the pan, use a different recipe.

Leftover Vegetable Platter Meal Ideas.

December 9th, 2008 1 comment

After my Christmas Party this year I ended up with leftovers from two generous Vegetable Platters.  I love having washed pre-cut vegetables on hand.  They’re a great snack, but you can only eat so many Celery and Carrot sticks with Ranch Dip.  Since I had so many, I tried a few recipes.  Before that I did eat the Red, Yellow and (most) Green Peppers, and there were no Cucumbers after the party — I made a few dishes with the remaining Cherry Tomatoes, Celery, Carrots, Broccoli, Bell Peppers and Sugar Snap Peas.

White Bean & Celery Soup – This may not look like much, but it’s good.  The recipe (linked below) is a combination of Celery, Onion, Garlic, Cannellini Beans, Vegetable Stock and S & P.  I substituted Chicken Stock and added some fresh squeezed Lemon Juice at the end, plus Scallions on top.  It hit the spot after that.

Creamy Vegetable Soup – I roasted Broccoli, Carrots, Bell Peppers and Sugar Snap Peas in the oven.  After all were a little charred, I removed the vegetables from the oven and added hot Chicken Stock.  I mixed some Milk with a little Cornstarch and poured it in, then brought all to a quick boil, simmered a bit and served this Soup within a short time.  It was easy and flavorful.

 Baked Cherry Tomatoes – I stumbled across this recipe (linked below) which seemed easy and a little different.  I had all ingredients, Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Chives, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and S & P.  I followed the recipe exactly, but next time I might add less Lemon Juice, or add the Peel/Rind instead.  I’ve found that the Rind imparts a Lemon flavor without making a dish too tart.  Or Lemon Juice added at the end is sometimes best.

Roasted Carrots – I roasted Carrots in the oven with a little Olive Oil and Salt.  I ate several, then mashed the rest and incorporated them into an easy Carrot Souffle recipe.  It didn’t turn out like I hoped, mostly because I didn’t have all ingredients.  I tried to improvise, but the final was too dense, not fluffy and light how I want.

Cafeteria Carrot SouffleHere’s the wannabe Souffle photo and recipe (linked below).  I mickey-moused this one, but you might want to give it a try.  It has potential.  After making all the above, I’m down to a small bag of Cherry Tomatoes, Carrots and Broccoli.  Any suggestions?

Leftover Party Food Is Sometimes Too Good.

December 8th, 2008 No comments

I’m eating too many of these, but trying to balance it out with the several dishes I’ve made from the leftover Vegetable Platter.  Many will be featured in the next post.  Until then, I’ll have a few more Peanut M&M’s.  🙂

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How to get personalized M&M’s for a gift, party, surprise, fun, etc. –