Archive for March, 2009

Bandera Restaurant, American Cooking In CDM.

March 30th, 2009 1 comment


Bandera is part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group — A collection of high quality restaurants that serve great food.  Walking from the nearby beach in Corona Del Mar (CDM), we stopped in Bandera on PCH.  This day we had the Sliced Leg of Lamb with Red Chili Sauce and Escabèche.  I love the Escabèche and want to go back for more.  The Lamb was good too, but I’m not sure about its presentation — It looked a little deflated. 🙂


Halibut was the Fresh Fish and we got it with the Braised Red Cabbage and Goat Cheese.  The Halibut couldn’t have been better and I recognize the Cabbage from Houston’s, another Hillstone Group Restaurant.  And I’ve previously posted a Copycat Recipe for the Braised Red Cabbage HERE on Nibbles of Tidbits.

Copycat Braised Red Cabbage Recipe:

Bandera American Cooking Restaurant INFO & Menu:

A Vegetable Escabèche Recipe:

Aloha Grill’s Salisbury Steak (I Mean Hula Burger).

March 29th, 2009 3 comments


aloha-grill-006I usually like to emphasize the good about a meal or location, thus if you’re a Salisbury Steak fan you’ll love this Burger.  I’m not saying that’s what it is, but the taste and texture hijacked my taste buds down that road.  Aloha Grill’s Hula Burger appears to be more dense than other good Hamburgers, and I think I tasted Salisbury Steak, whatever that really is, HA.  Is it just me?  Do you have an opinion about AG’s Burgers?  I got this Hula Burger from the Costa Mesa location just off Newport Boulevard.  It’s always good to have a new place to eat in town.  And I’m glad to see that it’s been busy, as I want all restaurants to succeed.

This Aloha Grill & Tiki Bar appears to pull in more of a Tiki Bar crowd and looks to be a good place for young partiers to hang out on a sunny afternoon.  Most of the restaurant seating seems to be on the outside, which I love.  This day it was understaffed, but the waitresses were nice and tried their best.  I may go back with a friend to try one of their drink concoctions and reassess the food.

Related Links:

The Best Deal For Me At The Flame Broiler Is…

March 28th, 2009 1 comment


My favorite isn’t The Works Plate, which is pictured here.  The most satisfying combination and best value for me at The Flame Broiler Restaurant is the “Chicken Veggie Bowl” with all White Meat*, easy Rice, Green Onions and 2 small containers of Magic Sauce.  All together it makes up a yummy well rounded lunch or dinner.  It’s the usual, but wanted to try their Beef, and a Plate in lieu of a Bowl.  Plates are roughly $2 more than its Bowl counterpart.

After this visit I learned it’s unnecessary to order a Plate, since the Salad it comes with is minimal and gets warm next to everything else (not a fan of that), and the other difference between a Plate and Bowl is the addition of a half Orange — HOWEVER, the Plate appears to have more meat (exact % unknown), which I’m sure appeals to many.  A fair portion of meat is served with the Bowls and Plates.  After more testing, I’ll be sticken with the White Meat Chicken while still kickin’, and I ain’t dk’in — That’s inappropriate I know, but so, got to go.  Ciao.

* There’s an extra charge for all White Meat Chicken. 🙁

Related Links:

Nibbles of Tidbits’ Thesaurus Revealed.

March 27th, 2009 No comments

The Nibbles of TidbitsÔ Thesaurus appears to highlight small and barbaric samplings of mostly small portions of an unlimited variety of FOOD — Emphasis added, because we’re about all that and a Bag of Chips. 🙂

(1)  Bites of Scraps

(2)  Tastes of Morsels

(3)  Chomps of BitsÔ

(4)  Pieces of AteÔ

(5)  Gnaws of Fragments

Enjoy it ALL!

Manischewitz Matzo Balls Are Good In My Soup.

March 26th, 2009 2 comments


Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix is a good start to a satisfying Matzo Ball Soup.  The Matzo Balls couldn’t be easier to make and they’ve got a nice flavor to them.  I prefer to use my own Stock/Broth if made and on hand, if not I’ve been using Wolfgang Puck’s Free Range Roasted Chicken Stock lately — It’s pretty good.  And sometimes I’ll boil a few onions with a canned/boxed Stock to add more flavor.


To make the Matzo Balls, you’ll just stir Eggs and Oil into the Matzo Ball Mix, set mixture aside in the fridge for 15 minutes, then shape it into small balls and drop all into hot Stock/Broth, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes — And that’s it.  This time I added Broccoli and Cauliflower.

MORE INFO about the Matzo Ball Mix I usually use:

FYI – Pete Schweddy didn’t make these.  He makes Balls for NPR’s Delicious Dish, as you’ll see HERE:

Häagen Dazs New Five Ingredient Ice Cream.

March 25th, 2009 No comments


I’ve got to get an Ice Cream Party scheduled real quick.  If not, I’m going at it alone.  I’m so excited about FIVE, a new line of Ice Cream by Häagen Dazs.  Each of the (7) flavors include only five ingredients (Milk, Cream, Sugar, Eggs), but I’m most keen on the uniqueness of the fifth ingredient — Ginger, Passion Fruit, Coffee, Mint, Milk Chocolate, Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar.  And many will like that they advertise that it has surprisingly less fat — Less fat than what?  I’m not sure, but it sounds good.  Nibbles of Tidbits will post our verdict soon, but not soon enough. 🙂

Häagen Dazs DIRECT:

Review NOW Posted:

Marie Callender’s Frozen Pie Crust Creations.

March 24th, 2009 2 comments

I received a coupon to try 4 Marie Callender’s Frozen Pie Crusts (Deep Dish Pie Shells).  I’d always liked their Pies from the restaurant, but never tried their Frozen Pies or Frozen Pie Crusts.  There’s a Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery down the street and fresh is always best.

My Grandma used to make the best Pie Crusts, but it’s hard for her to do it these days.  She now uses the Mrs. Smith’s Frozen Crusts, but says the Marie Callender’s Crusts were very good too.  And I thought they were surprisingly great.  I would now choose these Frozen Pie Crusts when in need.  The 4 Pies I made were Blackberry with a Cinnamon Crumble Topping (above) and continuing.

Orange Cream Pie with Real Whipped Cream.  I used a Lemon Cream Pie Recipe and substituted Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice and Orange Zest for the Lemon.  This Pie was the BEST! 

Pecan Pie from the Karo Corn Syrup Bottle Label Recipe.  It’s good and simple.  I add just a few extra Pecans.  I write only a few, because one time I added too many – HA.

Custard Pie was the fourth Pie we enjoyed during our Marie Callender’s Tour De Pies.  I cooked the excess Custard in the toaster oven and will report the results of that later.  It’s fun creating Pies when the tricky part is already done — I’d rely on MC’s Crusts to do it for me.

Related Links:

Homemade Cream Of (Leftover Celery) Soup.

March 22nd, 2009 1 comment


Since I had a bunch of washed, fresh cut/peeled Celery leftover from a Vegetable Platter, I made this impromptu Cream of Celery Soup.  Homemade is way better than any canned version.  Sorry there’s no measurements here, but YOU CAN DO IT — Be generous with the Onion, Herb and Garlic for optimum taste.

Sauté chopped Onion and Celery with S & P in Olive Oil until almost caramelized, then add minced Garlic, fresh Thyme Leaves and cook a couple minutes longer.  Add enough Chicken Stock/Broth to cover all ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool and purée in a blender. 

Return the puréed mixture to a saucepan, reheat and add a little Cream, not much, none is really needed if that’s preferred.  And to nicely combine the flavors, add fresh Lemon Juice and S & P to taste at the end.  It’s a quick, easy, much better than canned copycat Cream of Celery Soup if in need, or due to an abundance of Celery.

I Just Love These Adorable Little Tea Forté Bags.

March 21st, 2009 No comments


ruth-chris-tea-flu-006I so enjoy these cute, sturdy triangular Tea Bags by Tea Forté.  They make me smile when I use them.  And the Teas (Silken Infusers) are superb.  I’m working my way through all the flavors.  I’ve almost finished the Exotics Box and my favorite is the White Ambrosia.  And now I’m enjoying the Dolce Vita Box, where I fell in love with the Raspberry Nectar (above) — It’s amazing!

Tea Forté INFO:


The Cheesecake Factory’s Special Menu.

March 20th, 2009 2 comments


The “Special Menu” is the Cheesecake Factory’s New Small Plates & Snacks and Specialties Menu.  Here we had the Beets With Goat Cheese Salad and a Margherita Pizzette.  The plates are “small” as they note, but the prices are small too — Each was $4.95.  It’s a better lunch than fast food for the same price, except for the tip. 🙂


Related Links:

A Few Appetizers At Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

March 19th, 2009 1 comment


Most people go to Ruth’s Chris Steak House for the Steaks (obviously), but don’t overlook their Appetizer Menu.  We happily enjoyed the Sizzlin Blue Crab Cakes, with huge lumps of Crabmeat that come sizzling in Lemon Butter.


The Shrimp served with the Shrimp Cocktail is also large and come served with Cocktail Sauce or Remoulade Sauce.  We had to get both, which are above par in taste.  The Remoulade Sauce is extra impressive and flavorful.


The Barbecued Shrimp (above) is sautéed New Orleans style in reduced Wine, Butter, Garlic and Spices.  We especially liked the Garlic flavor in the Sauce, and it comes ready with pre-dipped Bread.


And the Veal Osso Buco Ravioli comes with Sautéed Spinach.  It’s more than an Appetizer.  Their portions are good.  One should consider Ruth’s Appetizers as an excellent meal addition, or a substitution to Steak and possibly a way to have a great meal and save a few bucks.

ruth-chris-010To me, the Sweet Potato Casserole with a Pecan Crust is Dessert.  It’s served as a Side, but preferred by many as a Dessert.  Some get it served with Ice Cream.  We visited the Irvine location and found the Chef, Manager, Bartender and all staff friendly, proud and knowledgeable.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and visit.  Thanks Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Irvine.

Related Links:

The Unofficial Flu Diet Delivered.

March 18th, 2009 1 comment

flu-005There’s enough homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in the Tupperware to feed a small army.  I thank my Sis for delivering all this to me.  The Flu isn’t fun, but I’m blessed to have a wonderful family.  This Unofficial Flu Diet includes a choice of 3 Chicken Noodle Soups, 2 flavors of Gatorade, White Bread and Oyster Crackers.

More ‘What to Eat While Sick’ INFO:

Carl’s & The Green Burrito’s New Crisp Burritos.

March 15th, 2009 1 comment


I think I’ve had these before — Not from Carl’s or The Green Burrito, but when I was in elementary school.  They taste like Burrito Day back when.  And they also taste like those Mini Tacos in the frozen food’s section of the grocery store, plus a food sample I once received at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. 

In other words, the flavor combination is reminiscent of foods gone by.  And I actually liked Carl’s Crisp Burrito’s flavor and texture.  I received a coupon to try a 3-Pack, but two are enough.  Three were a bit heavy, but they do hit a tasty note I’ve enjoyed before.  Next time I’d need a side of Sour Cream and Hot Sauce.


Tradition By Pascal For Lunch Is A French Treat.

March 13th, 2009 No comments


I’ve come to love this restaurant — Tradition by Pascal in Newport Beach serves spectacular food and offers excellent friendly service.


This day we had the Lunch Prix Fixe Menu, which is a great deal.  It includes a choice of four Entrées — Three are pictured here.  Starting from the top on down are Pascal’s Baked Chicken Crêpes with Gruyere, Rainbow Trout with Steamed Organic Fingerling Potatoes and Caper Meuniére, and My Mother Therese Homestyle Cooking, which is Veal, Broccoli Rabe and Fettuccine.


The Lunch Prix Fixe Menu also includes one of three Starters.  We chose the Homemade Pâté and Soupe Du Jour, which was a Puréed Vegetable Soup without Cream.


We were celebrating a Birthday, so they customized one of the Desserts with a candle.  This day it was Flan.  We added a Lemon Tart for a little more sweetness.  A Chef’s Choice Dessert or Glass of House Wine is part of the Lunch Prix Fixe Menu ($22) — I like the Wine/Dessert swap because I don’t always want Dessert, and it’s an extra savings on a sought after beverage.


Here’s a link to Tradition by Pascal and MORE:

Pascal Epicerie Food Photos

Happy Birthday Arlene and Thank You Very Much Shanda.  The food and company are always GREAT!

Happy Hour All Day, Everyday For A Week.

March 12th, 2009 No comments

Happy Hour Week is approaching in Orange County.  It’ll take place April 12th through the 18th in 2009.  The restaurant line-up already looks great and more will be added before the kick-off.  Thanks for continually seeking to provide great food related deals for the locals! 

MORE INFO re Happy Hour Week:

JOIN Orange County Foodies Network:

Rao’s Meatballs On Wednesday Nights In Harlem.

March 11th, 2009 2 comments


It takes months to get a reservation at Rao’s in Upper Manhattan New York.  The hundred year old restaurant hardly has more than ten tables in a corner of East Harlem.  I’ve read “the dishes are magical” and since I’m in California, I bought Rao’s Cookbook.   It’s my way in.  I’d love to eat in the restaurant someday, but until then I THANK Anna and Frankie for the BEST Meatball Recipe ever.  I need no other.


I make the exact recipe and my own Breadcrumbs, but I bake the Meatballs instead of fry them.  It’s a lot easier and turns out great.  I bake them in a preheated 400° oven for about 25-30 minutes, and then add ’em to simmering Marinara Sauce as noted in No. 4 of Rao’s Recipe below.


I’ve included a link to their Cookbook and posted “Anna and Frankie’s Meatballs” Recipe HERE — They’re only served on Wednesdays at the restaurant.  They really are tasty and I can now eat them all week long in California.  I’ll also freeze the Meatballs individually and reheat a few in Sauce whenever they sound good.  It’s an easy way to be reminded of their authentic Italian flavor and be transported to happiness.


Rao’s Cookbook Link:

Easy Read Recipe Link:

Nibbles of Tidbits Budget Advertising In Carlsbad.

March 10th, 2009 No comments


camping-carlsbad-005Can you find the Nibbles of Tidbits rock with the Hot Dog (mustard only) painted on it?  This is sort of like “Where’s Waldo” but a lot easier.  We enjoyed the sunsets and BBQ’s over the weekend in South Carlsbad, California.  While camping along the beach cliffs, we painted rocks that we placed throughout the camp site with many others.  I wonder how many new readers we’ll gain through this mainly just for fun method of promotion. 🙂

Related Link with CAMP FOOD:

Wendy’s New Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich.

March 9th, 2009 1 comment

misc-003Wendy’s “Premium Fish Fillet” Sandwich is made with Panko Breadcrumbs and Cod, which made me want to try it.  The meat was white, but a bit flavorless, and the Panko didn’t make it as light and crisp as I hoped.  The Bun was good, it didn’t disintegrate as fast as other Wendy’s Buns do (too much air).  I’d like Pickles on this Sandwich if I have it again.  The Cheese was $0.40 extra.  Overall it’s an okay value.  Related Link:

Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp, I’m Already Over It.

March 8th, 2009 1 comment


This Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp Recipe is lots of places on the Internet.  To me the combination sounded intriguing and possibly gross, but several food sites sing its praise.  The recipe includes Shrimp, Feta, Dill and Cinnamon among other things.  The way some raved about it made me want to try it.  So I finally made it and wasn’t impressed.  It’s not bad, but it’s not really good either.  With all due respect, I won’t be making it “again and again” like too many exclaim.


Below are just two of the posts/links [The RECIPE] I found regarding the same Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp pictured HERE.

And here’s a link to a “Spicy” Baked Shrimp Recipe I WILL make again:

Cruz Garcia [Real] Sangria The Easy Way.

March 5th, 2009 1 comment

misc-004A Glass of Cruz Garcia Real Sangria Imported From Spain.  A friend brought over a bottle the other night.  Her Mom discovered it while traveling and brought back a case.  And the following week she saw it for sale at her local Grocery Store, HA.  I guess it was bad news and good news for her.  And this bottle included a toast to my VAY-KAY the next couple days.  We’ll be back with more fabuloso foodola.  Ciao. 

Related Links:

Il Farro Caffe Trattoria Near The Newport Pier.

March 4th, 2009 1 comment


We went to Il Farro Caffe Trattoria for their prix-fixe meal during Orange County Restaurant Week.  It’s a small Italian restaurant within walking distance from the Newport Beach Pier.  We tried the Carpaccio di Bue al Sedano as an appetizer (above) and the Pollo all Pizzaiola as an entree (below).


Our other appetizer was the Ravioli di Funghi al Gorgonzola, and the entree was the Braciole al Forno, translated means Flank Steak filled and rolled with Rosemary, Sage and Parmesan in a Sherry Sauce.


It was a beautiful evening, the sun was going down and the food was good.  HOWEVER, there was something that bothered my friend and me (and I hope it’s isolated) — To preface the story, we had 5:30 p.m. reservations on a Friday night and arrived on time.


We were then seated in a small area in the front of the restaurant near the deli counter, which would have been fine if it was packed.  The restaurant is divided into two dining areas.  We were being packed up front, while no one was sitting in the larger back dining room. 

I asked if we could sit in the main dining room, but was told by the server that they’re “saving that area because [they] expect to be busy tonight.”  SAY WHAT?  It wasn’t until I asked if it was warmer in the back that they moved us — The entry door was propped open near the front dining area.  It was cold.

Then it was kinda funny because we were moved to the worst seat in the larger dining room, against the half wall of the clanging bus station.  Again, this would be okay, if they were packed.  Instead, we were the ONLY ones in there shortly before our move, which makes it almost comical.

And it wasn’t that they had a lack of servers, since several (5-7) walked by without offering Water or perhaps a glass of Wine.  To us, it seemed like they were saving the comfortable dining area and tables for the more important people, and then they were just oblivious.  It got better, but I guess we didn’t measure up that evening. 🙂

Related Links:

Get a FREE ‘Over Ice Tea Latte’ on March 5th at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

March 3rd, 2009 No comments

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is celebrating the coming of Spring with a Tea Party at all company-owned retail locations.  Tea enthusiasts are invited to attend the Tea Party at their local The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store to enjoy a complementary 12oz. Over Ice Tea Latte prepared with whole Loose Leaf Teas, including bold Chai, fruity Pomegranate Blueberry and aromatic Raspberry Ceylon — Invented by creative Coffee Bean team members, Over Ice Tea Lattes are Loose Leaf Teas freshly “espressed” through Espresso machines, then infused with Vanilla flavor, whisked and poured over ice.


Be sure to stop by one of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores between 2:00p.m. – 6:00p.m. on Thursday, March 5th ONLY to try one for FREE.  I’ve been advised that all California and Arizona locations are company-owned and most, if not all franchise locations are in Hawaii, so unfortunately there’s no free Tea in Hawaii that day.  Aloha.


Related Link:

Ikea Restaurant & Cafe Revisited, Tour De ’09.

March 1st, 2009 1 comment


The Chicken Kiev Special at Ikea Restaurant & Cafe exploded when I cut into it.  Yikes, it sure had a lot of the Herbed Butter inside.  The Chicken was tender, but I realized that I’m not a big fan of Chicken Kiev.  It looks like I’ll be heading back towards the Meatballs in the Ikea lunch rotation.


Previous IKEA Restaurant & Cafe Lunches and MORE INFO: