Archive for October, 2009

Trick Or Eat Zombie Dinner Show At The Cellar in Fullerton.

October 31st, 2009 No comments

The Cellar

We dared to descend the darkened stairway (freight elevator) into the depths of The Cellar Restaurant to celebrate their 3rd Annual Trick or Eat Halloween Dinner Party.  They report that the lore of haunted restaurants is talked about, but nowhere is it truer than in The Cellar.  The space in which The Cellar inhabits was home to untold mysteries and the haunting of The Cellar is a closely guarded secret that’s only revealed once a year.

Course One:  Radioactive abductor muscles in a pool of gamma charged ooze, black goop, and unearthed fungus AKA Pan Seared Sea Scallops with a Zesty Basil Sauce, Balsamic Reduction and Enoki Mushrooms.

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Course Two:  Dissected alien seed pods, toxic forest leaves in slimy secretions, with rotten and moldy milk AKA Mission Fig Salad with Baby Oak Leaf Lettuce, Maple Vinaigrette and Aged Gorgonzola.

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Main Course:  Fire charred boat deck aged fishing chum, steamed maggots, and finished with a gangrene and puss (yuck) sauce AKA Grilled Mahi Mahi with Savory Rice, finished with an Herbed Butter Sauce.

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Or decayed cow muscles with slaughterhouse drippings and fungal growths AKA Grilled Flavorful Rib Eye Steak, with a Merlot and Mushroom Reduction.

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Dessert:  Graveyard mud soufflé with dried blood and bloody sacks AKA Chocolate Soufflé with Melted Dark Chocolate and Fresh Raspberries.

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We thought the $49 price for all was pretty great and the show was entertaining.  The Scallops were just okay, a little rubbery, but the Mahi Mahi and Rib Eye Steak were definitely The Cellar’s usual caliber.  It was so dark that we didn’t know the sauce on the Mahi was bright green, until viewing the photos — Sorry a couple are out of focus.  Overall, it’s a good deal and a fun experience.  It’s sold out for tonight, but worth booking next year.  Luckily we survived the zombies.  Happy Halloween!

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New Black Jack Taco FREE After Dark On Halloween.

October 29th, 2009 No comments

Taco Bell's Black Jack TacoIf interested, be sure to mark your calendar to try Taco Bell’s New Black Jack Taco FREE on Halloween.  After dark (6PM to be exact), Taco Bell will be giving away its spooky black shelled Taco – (1) per customer.  Since we’ll hopefully be enjoying a costume party during that time, we tried one on our own dime ($0.89 to be exact) and it’s not bad.  Three of us tried one this day and all thought it was relatively good.  Aside from the shell that doesn’t taste any different than a tan one, the Sauce makes it different and flavorful.  We may have another before its limited time expires.

Win $25K In French’s Recipe Cook-Off & Possibly This Party Pack Too.

October 28th, 2009 14 comments

French's Prize PackFrench’s is having a Cook-Off.  Enter your favorite recipe using any one of French’s products to possibly win $25,000.  For contest details, view here — Then submit an original RECIPE here by October 31st, 2009.  Five finalists will be chosen to advance to a LIVE Cook-Off Event to be held in February or March 2010.  And if you can’t think of a recipe, enter to win all this — A sampling of French’s products, a colorful T-Shirt and a “super cute” (I’m told) Apron.  The French Fried Onions could come in handy for your Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole or the recipe you might enter in the contest.  All you have to do to win this yummy party pack is leave a comment on this post.  On November 1, 2009, we’ll draw a name randomly from all who commented.  You may comment once a day, until contest close.  And if you love French’s products (around since 1904), become their Fan on Facebook.  Good luck winning all prizes.

It’s Chocolate Day Today — Read All About It (Chocolate in the OC).

October 28th, 2009 No comments

ChocolateIt’s reported to be Chocolate Day in some places.  Why not? hosts many reports about Chocolate today.  As Orange County Food Examiner, I write about Chocolate in Orange County, not a bad combo.  The pictured Chocolates are by Christopher Michael Chocolatier in Newport Beach.  They’re gorgeous and the flavors are unique and fun.

A Small Sampling Of Rubio’s Tacos.

October 27th, 2009 No comments


Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill currently serves more than (12) different Tacos.  We’ve tried most, but feature only (4) here.  They’re not necessarily our favorites, but what’s photographed thus far.  We’ll be adding to this post, as we sample others.  Pictured above is the Grilled Portobello & Poblano Taco — It’s pretty messy, but is one of our favorites


This day we also tried the Grilled Mesquite Shrimp Taco, the Carnitas Rajas Taco and the All American Taco (R.I.P.), no longer on Rubio’s menu.  The Carnitas was good and the Shrimp was okay (a little tasteless).


And we love the idea of the All American Taco, a Cheeseburger in a Taco, but the meat served in it was way too tough.  It appears this Taco didn’t sell well, since it’s no longer on the menu.  With a few improvements, we wouldn’t mind having it again.


At most locations, Rubio’s “World Famous Fish Tacos are $1.25 every Tuesday from 2:30PM to close.  We also like the price of Rubios Street Tacos, but they’re sure tiny.  View their full menu here and be sure to check back for a sampling of Rubio’s other Tacos.

Enter TODAY To Win FREE Chicken For A Year From El Pollo Loco.

October 26th, 2009 No comments

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Enter TODAY ONLY to win FREE Chicken from El Pollo Loco for an entire year — Translated it means (52) 2-Piece Meal Certificates.  All you have to do is become a fan of El Pollo Loco on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.  And while you’re there, tell them why you think flame-grilled Chicken is better than oven “grilled” Chicken.  From all entries received on 10/26/09, El Pollo Loco will randomly draw the name of the lucky winner on 10/27/09.  It’s a one day Sweepstakes, which makes for better odds and a short wait for the tasty prize.  Enter now and good luck.

Or you can stand in line at KFC for one FREE piece of their oven-grilled Chicken today only — I’d rather win a years worth of flame-grilled Chicken from EPL without standing in line.  In fairness, I enjoy KFC’s Fried Chicken on occasion and their Apple Turnovers, Wedge Cut Fries and Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, but they can’t compete with EPL’s truly grilled Chicken.

UPDATE 10/27/09:  EPL announces the winner of the free Chicken — Congratulations to Theresa Wilson Goldman.

More Halloween Cookie & Cupcake Decorating Ideas.

October 24th, 2009 1 comment

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As a fairly new tradition, a group of us get together to decorate Halloween Cookies.  These photos are from our 2nd annual gathering.  Above the Wicked Witch of the West is melting into several Cupcakes — They’re made with green frosting, a upside-down Fudge Striped Cookie, a Hershey’s Kiss and orange piped icing.  And the other is what the Wicked Witch of the East must have looked like after the house landed on her.

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All the professional looking goodies in this post were prepared by our host, Loretta Shaw (a Personal Trainer by day and Creative Baker by night).  She seamlessly prepared the Chocolate Dipped Oreos and Graham Crackers, the White Chocolate Tangerine Bark and the Eyeball, Finger, Hand and Gummy Worm Cupcakes, while the rest of us decorated the Cookies she baked.

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As noted in previous posts, decorating holiday Cookies, Cupcakes and Candies is a fun way to spend time with friends.  We have a blast, then get to take home the goodies to our awaiting families, who are much appreciative.  Enjoy the ideas and have your own Cookie party.

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Be sure to check back every year, because we 5 Cookies (and another BFF missing from the photo) plan to keep decorating edible Cookies for many years to come.  Loretta (middle) is located in Orange County — If interested in having professional looking (and tasting) goodies prepared for your holiday party, please leave a detailed comment here and we’ll get back to you.  Happy Halloween!

Arthritis Foods: What To Eat & What To Avoid.

October 22nd, 2009 No comments

Since Arthritis runs in my family and my 86 year old Grandma will soon be getting a computer and the Internet, this is a quick post for her.  This link provides a quick reference regarding foods to eat, foods to avoid and foods that may help prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Chicken Thigh Lettuce Wraps Without Much Effort.

October 20th, 2009 No comments

Chicken Thighs

Don’t these Chicken Thighs look good?  They do (above), but did have an unattractive transition shortly before serving (below).  They were cooked in a Crock Pot skin on, thus don’t come out with the preferred tan.  And since they were in a Crock Pot all day long, they needed to be removed carefully to keep ’em from falling apart.

Chicken Thighs in a Crock Pot

Before leaving for work, the Chicken Thighs were placed in a Crock Pot with Chicken Broth, Rice Wine Vinegar, Water and S & P.  After arriving home several hours later, all was gently transferred to a baking dish and broiled in the oven.  Once pretty and crisp, the Chicken Thighs were served with Lettuce Leaves and an attempt at Sticky Rice.

Chicken Thigh Lettuce Wraps

The meat just fell off the bone, the state always strived for when preparing boned Chicken.  And it tasted great in the refreshing Lettuce Leaves.  No Sauce was needed, but a little Sweet Chili Sauce was added to our third Taco.  These delicious Lettuce Wraps didn’t require much effort.  As for the Sticky Rice, it’s back to the drawing board. 🙂

Will Drinking Warm Water After A Meal Help To Avoid A Heart Attack?

October 19th, 2009 2 comments

A friend sent me this article a couple weeks ago and I found it very interesting.  It kind of makes sense to a layman.  I learned that it’s best to drink warm water after certain meals, instead of a cold beverage.  After reading the article, you may want to opt for a cup of Green Tea with your French Fries in place of a Soda.  Since there are many factors involved in a heart attack, we don’t purport that following this advice will avoid one, but don’t think it will hurt.  The report includes several links to additional beneficial (healthful) information.

Cafe R+D Restaurant In Fashion Island, Newport Beach.

October 17th, 2009 2 comments

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Cafe R+D is part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group.  Its decor reminds me of Houston’s, one of my favorite restaurants in the group.  This R+D is in Fashion Island, another is in Dallas and one just opened in Santa Monica.  We enjoyed the Newporter Roasted Chicken Salad with Avocado, Bacon & Huntsman Cheese (above) — It’s a fun and tasty deconstructed Salad.

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Mediterranean Seared Tuna Salad with Sushi Grade Tuna, Avocado, Cucumber & Goat Cheese.  It’s a good flavor combination and the Tuna melted in our mouth(s).

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Cafe R+D Chicken & Spinach Salad with Bloomsdale Spinach, Apples, Cashews & Bacon.  During this visit, we realized that all entrees (above) were served with a Deviled Egg — That’s after we had the Deviled Eggs starter.  You might want to take that into consideration when ordering, although they’re only $4, a small concern compared to other prices on the menu.

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The Dip Duo includes Tortilla Chips with Guacamole and a Salsa-Queso type dip with a bit of a smokey flavor — We loved it!  The Chips were endless, but we wished the dip was too.  Back to the Deviled Eggs, half of our group liked them and the other half didn’t care for ’em.  There’s a lot of crunch and sweetness in the R+D Eggs and some were hoping for a high quality traditional flavor.

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They have an outdoor patio and a window view into the kitchen from the outside of the restaurant, which is always fun.  This day we watched the Chefs making Huntsman Cheese.  Cafe R+D has a small menu and it’s not cheap, but the food, atmosphere and service makes it desirable.  For more information, read what others are saying on Yelp.

Crystal Head Vodka Is Just In Time For Halloween.

October 15th, 2009 No comments

Crystal Head VodkaCrystal Head Vodka— I haven’t yet tried it, but love the bottle.  It’s created by Dan Aykroyd.  Inspired by his long-time fascination with ghosts, spirits, and other un-worldly presences, as well as his interest in the legend of the 13 Crystal Skulls, screen legend Dan Aykroyd has created Crystal Head, a super-premium Vodka that’s quadruple distilled and then triple crystal-filtered through Herkimer diamonds, which are said to emit positive energy.  Dan’s favorite cocktail for Halloween is The Cranium

It’s 1 ½ oz. of Crystal Head Vodka, Cranberry Juice and Grenadine — Pour Crystal Head Vodka and Cranberry Juice over ice, then add a splash of Grenadine (unstirred) on top.  Garnish with a Blood Orange slice and you’re ready for Halloween.  It makes me want to party.

Jack In The Box Mini Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwiches.

October 14th, 2009 2 comments


I like Buffalo Sauce, Original Ranch Dressing and sometimes Fried Chicken Sandwiches, but don’t like these, nor the repetitive song played to advertise them.  Since I usually like the combination of all, I had to try the Jack in the Box Mini Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwiches, but they’re just not good — Unsure why (perhaps quality) and don’t need to analyze it.  Three people agreed during this tasting.

Nature’s Pride Rustic Multi-Grain Bread Pudding Recipe.

October 13th, 2009 No comments

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Still hoping to earn a Foodbuzz Blogger Festival Scholarship, I prepared this Bread Pudding recipe.  It’s adapted from a recipe created about 10 years ago.  This version is dubbed Rustic Bread Pudding— Recipe entries for a Nature’s Pride sponsorship to attend the festival are due today.  Nature’s Pride’s Multi-Grain Bread was used in this recipe, since the 100% Whole Wheat and 12 Grain Bread I received as a Foodbuzz Tastemaker was gone.  Click here to learn more about that.  I subsequently purchased the Multi-Grain for this recipe, since the 12 Grain wasn’t available.  The Bread was first toasted, which brings out its flavor and ultimately adds a marbled look to the finished Pudding.


8 Bread slices (Nature’s Pride Multi-Grain or 12 Grain)

4 Eggs, beaten

2 Cups of Milk

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

2 Tsps. of Butter (melted at room temperature)

1 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract

2 Tsps. of Cinnamon

1/8 Tsp. of Nutmeg

1 Tsp. of Orange Zest (or zest of one Orange)


Place Bread slices on a cookie sheet and toast in a 325° oven until golden brown, turning slices once (about 10 minutes).  Remove Bread from oven and let cool — Tear slices into rustic pieces, add to a baking dish and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the Eggs, Milk, Butter, Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Orange Zest, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.  Mix well, then slowly pour over the toasted Bread until all are well moistened.  Set aside to allow the liquid mixture to penetrate evenly before baking — Press down gently with the back of a large spoon.  Once moistened throughout, bake in the 325° preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until set in the center.  Remove from the oven, let cool a little and serve warm.  It’s best that way.

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NOTE:  The pictured Bread Pudding was a little dry and definitely needed Powdered Sugar and/or an Orange Juice Glaze (OJ & Powdered Sugar).  The above recipe was written to improve the taste and texture of this initial test.  We regret to report this information, but believe it’s important to consider.  No time is left for re-testing, but still want to join the festival. 🙂

UPDATE 10/22/09:  Unfortunately I didn’t win this one, but you can check out the winning recipes here.  Thanks for the opportunity Foodbuzz and Nature’s Pride.

Vegetable Moussaka, It’s Back To The Drawing Board.

October 13th, 2009 2 comments


The Vegetable Moussaka Recipe in The Olive and The Caper had such promise — I’m not quite sure why it wasn’t as good as it should have been.  An assembly line of baked Eggplant, blanched Potatoes and sliced Tomatoes was prepared, as well as homemade Bechamel Sauce.  All was layered as instructed with Bechamel and Cheese poured over top.  It looked terrific going in and coming out of the oven, but unfortunately didn’t become the fluffy cloud of Bechamel with goods underneath that I’ve previously enjoyed at a few Greek restaurants.  Instead it was dry throughout and curdled in places, not a desirable combination.


I like the cookbook, but will be moving past the Vegetable Moussaka.  Until choosing the next tasty Greek recipe to make, I’m sticking with the Greek Fried Egg and heading to Papadakis Taverna for a luscious Moussaka fix.  Opa!

Pickles & Pine Nuts, Ingredients For The Next Best Recipe.

October 12th, 2009 1 comment

I’ve discovered that Dill Pickles and Pine Nuts (Pignolias) go very well together, especially with Bubbies Pickles.  I’m not quite sure what to make with them yet, but damn — It’s a good combination.  Until a recipe is conjured up, I’ll keep eating a handful of Pine Nuts with each bite of a Pickle.  Give it a try.

Tastemaker’s Report On Nature’s Pride Bread.

October 11th, 2009 No comments

Shaved Ham Benedict

As an occasional Tastemaker for Foodbuzz, I opted to try a new brand of 100% Natural Breads.  And although not much of a Bread person, especially Wheat Bread, I’m now sold on Nature’s Pride.  I didn’t expect to like their 100% Whole Wheat and 12 Grain Bread as much as I do — I most often prefer Sourdough, but was happily impressed from the start with the double wrapping and freshness.  The texture and color of the 12 Grain reminded me of the best Amish Friendship Bread I once had, a very good thing.  And the taste of the 100% Whole Wheat won me over.  Once it was finished, I started falling for the 12 Grain.  It appears Nature’s Pride makes high quality, tasty Bread.  Two thumbs up by each of our four Tastemakers who enjoyed the meals prepared above and below.  Hover over each photo for a brief description.  This opportunity was a pleasure.

Nature's Pride BreadShaved Peppered Turkey SandwichFried Egg Sandwich

Shaved Turkey Sandwich with Vinegar ChipsScrambled Eggs and ToastFrench Toast

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Since we also report about cooking mishaps, keep an eye on your Toast.  We burnt way too many slices. 🙁

Orange County Food Blog Wants To Eat The World.

October 10th, 2009 1 comment

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Nibbles of Tidbits is an I Need Text Company Blog that provides helpful cooking tips, meal preparation photos, recipes, restaurant reviews, travel reviews, food television commentary, informative links, food event and product reports, and good, bad and funny stories about all things food related.  We’re working hard to provide the best information in the cleanest format.  As we continue to test for optimum functionality this weekend, we’ve posted the above photo as a preview of our Tastemaker report on Nature’s Pride Bread.  It’ll be interesting.

Nibbles of Tidbits is Cookin’ Up a New Theme.

October 10th, 2009 1 comment

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Nibbles of Tidbits will be getting a new look this Saturday & Sunday — It’ll still be simple, yet updated.  Any transitional formatting issues are in the process of being corrected.  Thus if you see weirdness (overlaps, covered text, or other), it’s just temporary growing pains.  We’re excited about the future and plan to do a lot more cooking, dining and reporting here. 

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Although these photos don’t represent the theme of this post, they were thought to be nice to look at while testing out our final theme selections.  Both were taken while camping in Carlsbad — We experienced the gorgeous sunset while basting skewered Shrimp with Lime, Soy Sauce and melted Butter on our portable grill.  Ciao.

POMx Iced Coffee — Does It Have Pomegranates?

October 8th, 2009 No comments


Have you wondered if there is Pomegranate Juice in Pom Wonderful’s New POMx Iced Coffee?  I did.  It doesn’t, but it does have an antioxidant rich extract from Pomegranates.  And a high caffeine content for an extreme energy boost — I was a little afraid of that, but it didn’t make me spazzier than I am.  Overall, they’ve got a well-rounded flavor and the Cafe Au Lait Iced Coffee (pictured here) isn’t fake creamy tasting, like some prepackaged Iced Coffees can be.  They’re found in the produce department and called a healthy buzz, and also come in Chocolate, Caramel, Vanilla and Chai Tea.

Open Sesame In Belmont Shore, Best Of The LBC.

October 7th, 2009 No comments

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Belmont Shore, one of the best areas in Long Beach hosts a lot of great restaurants.  I spent many fun years living within walking distance from “The Shore” and ate at every restaurant on Second Street.  Too bad Nibbles of Tidbits didn’t exist then — It would’ve had quite the material.  Open Sesame featured HERE wasn’t there during that time, but it now occupies two spots, 5201/5215.

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Open Sesame has a corner location (a Cheese Steak Sandwich joint during my days) and another restaurant a few doors down.  If you plan on meeting someone there, be sure to specify which one.

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Before visiting, we heard nothing but good things about the place.  We started our meal with artsy HummusPita Bread and Fried Cauliflower, which turned out to be my favorite menu item of the meal.  We also had the Kafta Pita that’s made with ground charbroiled Sirloin and Lamb, and the Chicken Shawarma Pita, made with marinated Chicken breast and thigh meat.  Unfortunately, the Kafta Pita meat was dry and tough, thus we’d opt for a substitute next time.

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The service was good and they offer outdoor patio dining at both Second Street locations.  Love that!  Pictured directly above is the Green Hot Tea — And we also tried the Jalab, a combination of Rose Water and Grape Syrup infused with Incense and topped with Pinenuts.  It’s different and refreshingly crunchy.  I’d get it again, especially since I know I’ll be back to visit Belmont Shore (and the Heights), the best part of the LBC.

Chicken Tikka Masala Video and Murgh Recipe.

October 5th, 2009 1 comment

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Misc - 100409 004After having the most fabulous Chicken Tikka Masala at Chakra Cuisine at the Taste of Newport, I was compelled to recreate its flavor and tender texture of the Chicken.  I searched the Internet and found an informative video about its preparation.  Although I didn’t copy its technique, I learned a bit.  Instead, I opted for a slow cooked version (Murgh Tikka Masala) with most of the same spices.  It turned out good and the Chicken was tender, but it didn’t quite hit the mark.  Not bad for a first attempt, but not the fabulous I was hoping for.  Could it be the lack of Fenugreek (Kasuri Methi)?

Please Pick Me Bertolli — Doesn’t this look good!?

October 4th, 2009 No comments

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To become a “Bertolli Influencer” at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, it was required that applicants submit a MENU using Bertolli products — One Appetizer and One Entree.  Bertolli and Foodbuzz have teamed to offer a brand scholarship program to provide (10) Featured Publishers with free airfare and transportation to/from the festival, and accommodations for (2) nights in the heart of San Francisco.  Please pick me. 🙂

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Pictured HERE is the 2nd Course of my Bertolli Tasting Menu.  As an entry, I proposed the following:

1st Course (Appetizer): Melt in your Mouth Meatballs with Bertolli’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce w/ a Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Crostini.

2nd Course (Entree): Roasted Asparagus and Red Peppers tossed with Penne Pasta and Bertolli’s Garlic Alfredo Sauce with Aged Parmesan Cheese and Pine Nuts.

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Although I propose the use of Bertolli’s “Garlic” Alfredo Sauce, the original was substituted here, since the other wasn’t available at the store I shopped. Instead I roasted a bulb of Garlic in the oven and mixed in a few cloves.  All was a flavorful combination.  The (10) winners should be announced tomorrow, then Foodbuzz readers will vote for the top (3) menus to possibly be prepared at the festival — My fingers are crossed.

UPDATE 10/22/09:  Unfortunately I didn’t win this one, but you can review the winning menus here.  Thanks for the opportunity Foodbuzz and Bertolli.