Archive for January, 2010

‘It Ain’t Pretty’ Goat Cheese Terrine From Williams-Sonoma Starters.

January 30th, 2010 No comments

Christmas Cookies 2009 006

Christmas Cookies 2009 014You can probably skip this Cookbook — It’s Williams-Sonoma New Healthy Kitchen: Starters (2006).  I’ve finally gotten around to utilizing it.  The colorful recipe photos are beautiful and offer so much promise, but when gettin’ down to wanting to make any of them, the pickings are slim.  Some recipes are impractical, others don’t even sound good, and ingredients should be altered in the pictured recipe I made.  It’s the Purple Bell Pepper & Goat Cheese Terrine (p. 33) substituting Red Bell Pepper, since Purple Bell Peppers are hard to come by.  Other than that, I followed the exact recipe and thought my unveiled terrine to be too runny and salty.  If you still want to make this recipe after this report, it’s recommended that you use half the Salt and Milk that’s listed, and possibly replace the Shallot with chopped Green Onion or Chives.

* I also have Williams-Sonoma New Healthy Kitchen: Desserts and will post what we ultimately make from it.  I hope it’s better than this Starter.  If you cannot view the enlarged recipe well enough to prepare a better version of it, tell us in a comment.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand At 50 Forks Restaurant At The Art Institute.

January 28th, 2010 2 comments

On February 5th & 6th, 2010, The Art Institute of California, Orange County will be hosting a special fund raising event to help raise money to aid in the search for a cancer cure.  All proceeds will be donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.  Chefs at 50 Forks Restaurant will be preparing a 6-course “delicious feast” that’ll be served by Art Institute students.  The small cost of this big event is only $50 (plus tax and gratuity).  There will be two seatings (6PM & 8PM) that are filling up fast.  Nibbles of Tidbits will most likely be attending the Friday event, second seating and we hope to see you there too.  Make your reservations today — (714) 429-0918.  It’s a win-win.

Kids In The Kitchen & Favorite Chicken Samples.

January 27th, 2010 No comments


Chef Lexi from Kids in the Kitchen is snapping photos of our Famous Family Chicken samples (below).  For years our family gatherings have included my Dad’s amazing BBQ’d Chicken — Before sitting down at a beautiful table setting designed by my Mom, we always enjoy samples that are now served by my lovely Chef Nieces.

Chicken Samples

* Check out the ingredients that make our family Chicken so unique — We post them here.

Full Rainbow In The Sky Looking From My Irvine Office.

January 25th, 2010 No comments


I’m still enjoying what’s left of the Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Beef in the form of Flautas, Enchiladas, Tacos and Tostadas.  It’s provided a week’s worth of lunches and dinners during the rainy days and nights.  Convenient and delicious meals bring rainbows. 🙂

Improvised Cup Warmer Sold As A $5.00 Candle Warmer.

January 23rd, 2010 No comments

Cup WarmerIn addition to having a freelance writing career, I’ve been a Litigation Paralegal for several years — And I’ve always gotten a big kick out of walking around the law office with my Coffee in this cup. 🙂 Fortunately I’m not abused by too many hours anymore, so the main point of this post is my excitement over Coffee that stays warm.  Yeah!  I no longer have to keep reheating it in the microwave.  This so-called Candle Warmer is working fabulously as a Coffee Warmer.  Although I cannot vow for its complete safety for this purpose, it’s been working well for me for 30+ days.  Use at your own risk.

*The identical looking product that’s sold as a Coffee Warmer usually sells for $12.99 – $14.99, and the pictured product sold as a Candle Warmer was only $5.00.

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa Beef Recipe (Wannabe) Is A WINNER.

January 21st, 2010 43 comments

Beef for Barbacoa

Since I LOVE Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa Beef so much, I had to make it.  I searched all over the internet for a recipe and discernibly chose to make this recipe, with additional ingredients that were common in other Chipotle Barbacoa Beef recipe wannabes (copycats).

Barbacoa Sauce Combination

I wanted to make my own Barbacoa Beef (partly) to avoid the unwanted fat pieces I’ve encountered in my Chipotle Tacos on more than one occasion.  They make ’em so fast.  You have to slow them down to truly get what you want, plus a side of Guacamole costs too much.

Searing the Beef   Blended Sauce poured over the Beef.   Shredded Beef

Photos parallel the step-by-step Barbacoa Beef recipe instructions above and below.  Links include recipes for Pico de Gallo and other Chipotle Mexican Grill menu items.  To accompany the Barbacoa Beef I made Refried Beans from dried Pinto Beans.  I cooked, then mashed and fried them with a little Bacon Grease, Lime Juice, Roasted Jalapeno and Salt.  They were good, but not mashed well enough — I learned it takes a fair effort and great masher.

Shredding the Beef after long slow cooking.

Please note that I’m not reporting this is Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa recipe — It’s an excellent variation of a copycat I found.  To me, it pretty much tastes just like it.  While researching this, I stumbled across another Food Blogger being reprimanded by a commenter that… “her recipe wasn’t like Chipotle’s at all.”  I don’t think that should happen here, but you never know.  Can’t win ’em all.  (03/02/12 Update: We enjoy this recipe often).

Strained Sauce poured over Shredded Beef.   Homemade Pico de Gallo   Preparing to make homemade Refried Beans from Pinto Beans.

For quick reference I’ve post the original recipe, with the changes I made to make this fabulous shredded Barbacoa Beef.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.  Enjoy it — We did.

Barbacoa Beef Recipe (Chipotle Copycat)

•1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

•3 Tbsps. Lime Juice

•4 Chipotle Peppers – Canned in Adobo Sauce

•1/2 Sweet Onion*

•5 Cloves Garlic

•4 Tsps. Cumin

•2 Tsps. Oregano – Dried Mexican variety is best

•1 ½ Tsps. Ground Black Pepper

•1 ½ Tsps. Salt

•1/8 Tsp. Ground Clove

•2 Tbsps. Vegetable or Canola Oil

•4 lb. Beef Roast – Favorite cut (Top Round, Bottom Round, Chuck, etc.)

•1 Cup of Beef or Chicken Broth

•3 Bay Leaves

•1 Juniper Berry*

1.  Combine the Lime Juice, Vinegar, Onions, Chipotle Peppers, Garlic, Cumin, Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt and Clove in a blender and blend until smooth.

2.  Cut Beef into smaller pieces (or not) and remove any excess fat.

3.  In a large Dutch oven, heat Oil and sear Beef on all sides until lightly browned.

4.  Pour the blended Sauce over the Beef and add the Beef or Chicken Broth, Bay Leaves and Juniper Berry.

5.  Cover and simmer for 6+ hours, turning every hour until the Beef can be easily pulled apart.

* I changed a few measurements and added a Juniper Berry and 1/2 of a Sweet Onion, since I repetitively saw both ingredients in other Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa recipes.  Pictured below is the first Taco enjoyed from the batch.  We also made Tostadas, Burritos and Taco Salads.

Chipotle's Barbacoa Ingredients

04/29/13 Update:  Barbacoa ingredients (minus the Beef) are pictured above.

Homeade Barbacoa Beef Taco

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Review: Special K Fruit Crisps & Low-Fat Granola.

January 19th, 2010 No comments

Special K Fruit Crisps

Special K just added a couple new products to their repertoire.  Over the years I’ve enjoyed many boxes of Special K’s Original Cereal, thus opted-in to try their latest products as a Tastemaker for Foodbuzz.  This day four of us gathered together to sample Special K’s Fruit Crisps and Low-Fat Granola.  We reached a consensus regarding one of Special K’s new products and were divided with respect to the other — Our assessment is noted below.

Special K Fruit Crisp BarSpecial K Low-Fat GranolaBowl of Low-Fat Granola

Immediately we ALL fell in love with the Blueberry Fruit Crisps.  They are indeed crispy, light and slightly sweet as reported.  Each pouch of (2) is only 100 calories, which makes for a great health conscious snack.  We’d all buy them next time.  They also come in Strawberry.  And with respect to the Low-Fat Granola we were divided — Two think it’s terrific, one is on the fence and another didn’t care for its after-taste.  Personally I’m a bigger fan of their Original, Cinnamon Pecan, Blueberry and Red Berries Cereals.  Overall, Special K makes a lot of tasty products and we appreciate the opportunity to try their latest.

The Cheesecake Factory: Small Plates And Snacks Menu Items.

January 17th, 2010 2 comments

Crispy Crab Bites

Continuing with our sampling of The Cheesecake Factory’s Small Plates and Snacks Menu, this visit we tried a few of their newest additions — Pictured are the Crispy Crab Bites ($6.95), Mini Corn Dogs (4.95) and Fried Zucchini ($3.95).

Mini Corn Dogs

We loved the Crispy Crab Bites — The Creole Mustard Sauce that’s served with them is a perfect compliment.  The Mini Corn Dogs are made with Nathan’s Hot Dogs which is good, but we thought the batter was bland.  We  have no complaints about the Fried Zucchini and especially like the Ranch Dressing that’s served with it.  It’s another tasty combination.

Fried Zucchini

We’ve had a lot of great meals at The Cheesecake Factory — You can see them all here.

Restaurant Options Near Newport Beach Pier And Surrounding.

January 14th, 2010 No comments

Newport Harbor

The restaurants and bars photographed for this post certainly aren’t all the restaurants and bars near and surrounding Newport Beach Pier.  We’ve previously posted others here and supplement them with this post.  It was a beautiful day in January and we did a lot of walking.  The Crab Cooker was our lunch choice this day, but we’ll eventually get around to the others.  Most of ’em we’ve already tried and some we haven’t.  The food available in Newport Beach is impressive.  If you’re looking for a specific food establishment, be sure to use our search box.  Many of the restaurants pictured below are within walking distance from the Newport Beach Pier and some are further down Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa.

Misc. Jan. 2010 059Old Spaghetti FactoryCharlie's Chili

21 OceanfrontPerry's PizzaThe Blue Beet

O CafeMutt Lynch'sMatahari

Newport Beach Brewing CompanyMama D'sLas Fajitas

Pescadou BistroMeat HouseEat Chow

Mimi's CafeOutback SteakhouseSand Shadow

Shown above from top to bottom (l-r) is the The Old Spaghetti Factory, Charlie’s Chili, 21 Oceanfront Restaurant, Perry’s Pizza, The Blue Beet, O Cafe, Mutt Lynch’s, Matahari Mediterranean Cafe, Newport Beach Brewing Company, Mama D’s Italian Kitchen, Las Fajitas Restaurant, Pescadou Bistro, The Meat House (Opened 01/2010), Eat Chow, Mimi’s Cafe and Outback Steakhouse.

* Enlarge photos for a better view of the respective restaurants.

Trans Fat Is Now Banned In California Restaurants.

January 13th, 2010 1 comment

Newport Harbor

A new law went into effect on January 1, 2010.  California became the first state to ban Trans Fat in restaurants.  I certainly don’t need Trans Fat, also known as Partially Hydrogenated Oils, but have a big problem with the government telling restaurant owners what they can and cannot use/serve in their respective food businesses.  It’s like rewriting a chef’s recipe.  Responsibility is with oneself.  There are more important issues to be tackled by local and federal government, which are blogged about elsewhere.  This is supposed to be a happy place. 🙂

* Photo is of Newport Harbor in Newport Beach, California.

Hey, I’m Frying Over Here. It’s With A Waring Pro Cool Touch Deep Fryer.

January 12th, 2010 1 comment

Fryer 011

For Christmas I received the Waring Pro Cool Touch Deep Fryer.  I didn’t really need one, as it means I’ll be eating more fried food, but what the heck — It’ll be fun to have when I need it.  Since counter space is rationed in an apartment, it will have to be stored away.  And before putting it out of sight, which usually turns into out of mind, I fried up a storm.

Fryer 001Fryer 002Fryer

My first frying experience started with the use of (3) different Oils — I purchased a large bottle of Canola Oil thinking it would be enough to fill the fryer to the maximum level, but it didn’t even make it to the minimum level.  I then added what was left of another Canola Oil bottle, and then what was left of some Peanut Oil and still didn’t have enough Oil to get frying.  Yikes, all I had left was Olive Oil.  I had to add it, since I didn’t want to run to the store and had already prepared a Donut Batter, as Donuts were at the top of the frying list.  I was afraid the Olive Oil would adversely flavor the Donuts, but am happy to report that the ratio used wasn’t noticeable at all.  Whew!

Fryer 2 002

I made an Easy Donut Hole Recipe that I found online.  I highly recommend the recipe for its flavor, but the consistency of my batter was such that I couldn’t form the Donuts into holes, nor anything else for that matter.  It was too runny to make Donut Holes and too thick for Funnel Cake.  Although the final product didn’t resemble either, it tasted great — Just like a Churro or Funnel Cake.  But for the life of me, I wasn’t able to make a Donut that didn’t look like an alien or internal or sexual organ, as pictured. 🙂 Fortunately the Powdered Sugar slightly masked the crazy shapes.

Batter 003Fryer 2 012Fryer 2 007

I then went on to make French Fries, Croutons, Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Onion Rings.  All turned out well, except for the French Fries.  I used the wrong type of Potato, a Long White, whereas I should have used a Russet.  Another mistake was that the Potato was chilled, since I’d pulled it out of the fridge.  Not good — The nicely cut French Fries had so much potential, but didn’t crisp up. 🙁

Fryer 009CroutonsBlue Corn Tortilla Chips

The Onion Rings tasted great, but were a bit greasy, as you can see in the photo (below).  The batter was a simple combination of Flour, Beer and Salt, which I’d use again.

Onion Rings

Overall, the addition of Olive Oil to the mix didn’t negatively impact the flavor of the sweet nor savory fried items, but to be on the safe side, I’d recommend that you be sure to have (2) large bottles of the same Oil on-hand before getting started.  It takes a lot of Oil to fry.  And once you’ve poured it all into the fryer, you might as well get use out of it.  That’s what I’m doing until I’m all fried out and ready to store it away.  And I’m now ready for that, since my apartment currently smells like a fast food joint, an unfavorable side effect.  It’s time to clean things up, light a few aroma candles, open the windows, turn on the fans and have a Salad.

Note:  I’m happy with the quality of this product.  The Waring Pro Cool Touch Deep Fryer (WPF100B Series) appears to work well and many of its parts are dishwasher safe.

The Crab Cooker’s Smoked Albacore Enjoyed On Newport’s Beach.

January 11th, 2010 2 comments

The Crab Cooker

The Crab Cooker is an oldie, but goodie in Newport Beach.  It’s been open since 1951 and still draws a crowd each day.  The prices are relatively reasonable for a beach area restaurant and the food is consistently fresh.  Most of my recent trips have been to its Fish Market.  Since the restaurant is within walking distance to the beach, we often get the Smoked Albacore to go.  With a little Cocktail Sauce and Tartar Sauce for dipping, you’re set for a beach picnic if you can successfully avoid the pesty seagulls.

Smoked Fish at The Crab Cooker

The Crab Cooker’s Smoked Salmon and King Crab Legs (pictured above) and their Manhattan Clam Chowder, Scallops on a Skewer and Romano Cheese Potatoes are also favorites of ours.  People travel miles to have the Romano Potatoes, but if you’re looking for New England Clam Chowder you won’t find it here, as they only serve Manhattan, which is different because most seafood restaurants only offer New England.

Surfing in January

On this beautiful day in January, we enjoyed our Smoked Albacore on the beach while watching the brave surfers and boogie boarders — The water is still way too cold for me, even with a wetsuit, but it’s entertaining (and warmer) to watch.

Boogie Boarding in January

Can you tell what’s in the photo below?  It’s our magnified sliced Smoked Albacore with Tartar Sauce and Lemon to go.

Magnified Smoked Albacore, Tartar and Lemon

FYI:  There’s a second Crab Cooker in Tustin, California.  For location information, the menu and more restaurant history, click here.  Eat lots of fish!

It’s Fun To Make, Sell & Eat Tamales: A Great Fundraising Idea.

January 9th, 2010 No comments

TamalesTo help raise funds for her daughter’s school trip to Washington, DC, one mother decided to make and sell Tamales.  She and her family first took orders from friends, co-workers, neighbors and others for homemade Beef, Chicken or Pork Tamales.  At $1 a Tamale, I ordered 10, 5 Pork and 5 Chicken.  It’s a win-win fundraising idea.  The mother and Tamale maker said it was a fun family bonding experience, but a lot of work.  Many said she should’ve charged more, thus tipped extra accordingly — She happily exceeded her monetary goal.  The Tamales were neatly prepared with nice chunks of meat and were thoroughly enjoyed by me.  And this Spring a little girl will get to join her class on a trip to DC.  It wasn’t easy, but all is good now.

Jumbo Deal At Jack In The Box Is A Jumbo Deal For $3.49.

January 7th, 2010 1 comment

Jumbo Deal

We were full and we lived and it wasn’t horrible and we might get it again.  It’s the Jumbo Deal at Jack in the Box.  For $3.49 you get a Jumbo Jack, (2) Tacos, French Fries and a 20oz. Beverage.  It truly is a Jumbo Deal.

* Cheese on the Jumbo Jack is extra — They always get you with that.

Stimulate The Economy — Dine Out More In 2010.

January 5th, 2010 2 comments


Nibbles of Tidbits will be making an effort to dine out even more in 2010.  There’s a lot of deals happening and we’d like to take advantage of them.  As the Orange County Food Examiner, I previously reported about several unfortunate restaurant closures in 2009, along with a few dining out tips to minimize the closures in 2010.  Let’s do our part to help stimulate the economy by dining out more this year.  It’s a win-win situation and there will be less dishes to wash.

Note:  Photo is of the Tenderloin Carpaccio served at Fleming’s Prime Steak House & Wine Bar in Fashion Island (Newport Beach).

Foodbuzz Has Partnered With Electrolux To Help Raise Money For The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

January 4th, 2010 No comments

I’ll be donating money to help fund Ovarian Cancer Research and hope you’ll do the same.  Thanks to Foodbuzz and Electrolux for their efforts to raise money for this very important cause.  As well as money, I’m hoping to dedicate time on February 9th, 2010 in New York City.  Foodbuzz and Electrolux will be hosting a Special Cake Decorating Event and Baking Demonstration (along with Kelly Ripa and renowned Pastry Chefs) to help bring more funds and awareness to Ovarian Cancer Research.  Foodbuzz Featured Publishers were invited to answer a few essay questions to (hopefully be selected) be sponsored to be a part of this significant event.  Chosen or not, I’ll do all in my power to represent and support this worthy organization.  PLEASE do the same.

Back Bay Bistro In Newport Beach, Near Newport Dunes Resort.

January 2nd, 2010 No comments

Back Bay Bistro 030

We thoroughly enjoyed the $45 prix fixe meal served at Back Bay Bistro Restaurant on New Year’s Eve — And we’ll definitely be going back again for the Lobster Bisque.  It’s one of the best we’ve had in a long time, due to a perfect balance of complex flavors.  Wow!

Back Bay Bistro 027

Included with the fantastic Lobster Bisque was a fresh Bistro Salad, Surf & Turf (a Petite Filet Mignon and Jumbo Shrimp served with Garlic Whipped Potatoes, Asparagus and Baby Carrots) and Chocolate Mousse with a fresh Raspberry Puree.  All was fantastic.

Back Bay Bistro 028

Back Bay Bistro is a little tricky to get to — It’s tucked back in Newport Dunes near a boat launch.  Be careful walking over and valet parking, so not to get run over by a launching boat.  Once you’re there, it’s a pleasant experience.

Back Bay Bistro 009

We received excellent service from everyone we encountered and were impressed by that alone.  We mistakenly arrived a 1/2 hour before the first seating and were content to hang outside, but a nice manager (Jesse) invited us in early.  That was super cool of him and on this colder evening it was a treat to be sitting inside with a glass of Merlot.

Back Bay Bistro 015Back Bay Bistro 012Back Bay Bistro 022Back Bay Bistro 035

We’ll be going back soon for Happy Hour — It’s an all around good restaurant that’s nice and airy, has interesting views, offers “dog friendly dining” on the outdoor patio, provides on-the-ball service and high quality food.

Back Bay Bistro 014

For all reasons noted above, we were happy with our decision to enjoy our last meal in 2009 at Back Bay Bistro — And we’ll be heading back over in early 2010 for more.

Back Bay Bistro 018

Happy New Year from Nibbles of Tidbits in Newport Beach, near Back Bay Bistro.

Wishes For A Happy, Healthy And Tasty 2010.

January 1st, 2010 3 comments

Lamb Chops

Happy New Year from Nibbles of Tidbits — We wish all a happy, healthy and tasty 2010!

Categories: Food Pictures & More, Lamb