Archive for January, 2011

Do You Have A Favorite Girl Scout Cookie? I DO!

January 31st, 2011 No comments

All I have to say is good thing Girl Scout Cookies are only sold once a year, as I can’t stop eating their Samoas now known as Caramel deLites.  They are more like mini Candy Bars, than Cookies.  I’m limiting myself to (2) boxes this year, until I run out and pass another Girl Scout on the street offering more.  Do you have a favorite Girl Scout Cookie?

Lea & Perrins Now Offers A THICK Classic Worcestershire Sauce.

January 29th, 2011 2 comments

Did you know that Lea & Perrins Classic Worcestershire Sauce now comes in a thicker version for dipping and topping?  Thanks to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I recently tried and gave away several bottles.  It tastes just like the original beloved Worcestershire Sauce and works well in THICK amounts, without being overpowering.  Bravo!

Recipients of the Lea & Perrins [Free Sauce] coupons also opted to try this new THICK version and some will be replacing their A.1. with it.  It holds up to the original in a saucy way.

Note:  Pictured Rib Eye Steak is left over from dinner at Delicioso Restaurant.

Categories: Food Pictures & More

The Blackmarket Bakery Wants You To Decorate Your Own Cake.

January 28th, 2011 2 comments

The Blackmarket Bakery is a true find — First you have to find it, and then you’ll discover that the somewhat hidden treasure offers high quality, unique baked goods.  It’s quirky and stylish like its CIA-trained Pastry Chef Rachel Marie and my kind of place.  It can be found off Sky Park Circle, near John Wayne Airport for those passing through.

Although the colorful store front is small, it packs in a variety of fresh baked (and baking) goods and other cool items.  I love the tie dye chef’s jackets too.

In addition to the weekly baked treats, they offer Cooking Classes – Here’s the current schedule.  Recipes, baking tips and generous samples are included with all.

As you can see, Blackmarket Bakery has won a lot of awards.

I was recently invited there to decorate CAKES with other local, fabulous food bloggers.

The Cakes were frosted by Chef Rachel in the flavor of our choice and bloggers were paired to create their own masterpiece.  The Cakes were then split in half for each to take home.

As you can see, pre-frosted it’s no ordinary Cake — They’re delicious and we got to decorate and take ’em home.  How fabulous!  And YOU now get to do the same for a birthday, event or any day.  Order a simple two or three tiered Cake with the flavors of your choice.  You pick the Cake, filling and frosting, then take it home to decorate it however you please. 

Most of us here opted for the Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

The professionals added our chosen Cake borders and we decorated the rest.

It was a pleasure to meet other talented food bloggers at this event — Joseline of Daydreamer Desserts, Kimberlin of Rustic Garden Bistro, Quyen of Kitchen Runway, Priscilla of She’s Cookin’ and Anne of Orange Coast Magazine.  My Cake decorating partner was Todd, who will need to provide his link info — I think our Cake turned out pretty good.

This post provides a few ideas for this DIY concept — It’s fun dressing a naked Cake.

We could run amok with the options, but ultimately learned that simple is often best.

You really don’t need much to make them look good.

The above is our final CAKE, by Team Todd and Shelly.  It turned out better than expected.  Chocolate curls and sugar flowers go a long way — Hooray.

Every Cake looked great and it was the first time decorating for most.

What fun!  Thank you Blackmarket Bakery and Chef Rachel.

The Swedish Chef Says Hello: I think That’s What He Said.

January 27th, 2011 No comments

In The Studio With Smoky Paprika Chipotle Seasoning: It’s A Star.

January 26th, 2011 3 comments

A friend gave me a jar of Victoria Taylor’s Smoky Paprika Chipotle Seasoning — I fell in love with it at her house and she surprised me with it for Christmas.  It’s a flawless blend of flavors that lacks nothing.  Lately it has been livening up almost everything savory.  It’s incredibly great tasting.  I hope Victoria never stops making it, as I’m about to go through it fast. 

Testing out the Photo Studio — Do you see a difference between the two photos?

Still learning, but think the top photo looks much better than the has been above.

Why Does It Take Longer To Cook Most Things Than The Package States?

January 24th, 2011 No comments

Don’t you find that practically everything takes longer to cook than the package states?  I do.  Why do most manufacturers get it wrong on the label?  Is it to entice us to buy?  Oh, it only takes 10 minutes to cook — Let’s get it!  The small print should read… But if you want this product to taste good, it’ll really take 20 minutes.  I was reminded of this once again after wrongly conceding the 20 – 30 minute cooking time on a package of dried Split Peas.  Of course I opted for 30 minutes, but at that point I was still crunching on Peas.  And when all was said and done, an hour later they were finally right.  What’s up with that?  Is it just one big, bad psychological marketing ploy?

Endless Food & Fun In Huntington Beach – Who Wouldn’t Want It.

January 22nd, 2011 4 comments


Due to scheduling, I unfortunately missed this event at Endless Food & Fun in Huntington Beach.  It seems like my kind of place too — A giant one-stop destination for endless FOOD, fun and entertainment that includes a Buffet, Restaurant, Bars, an Arcade, Lazer Tag, and so much more.  The possibilities are seriously endless.  Our Guest Blogger, Bonnie was recently invited there and reports about it below.  I can’t wait to go.



Endless Food and Fun lives up to its name! There’s a brand new entertainment complex in Huntington Beach, Endless Food and Fun, and on Wednesday night they sponsored a private, complimentary event specifically for the local hospitality industry. Due to my connection with the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, which donated numerous items to one of EFF’s themed dining rooms, I scored an invitation.







In fact, I was personally treated to a VIP tour of all 47,000 square feet of this awesome complex.  Our first stop was their upscale restaurant, Delicioso! where parents can dine in comfort and style while the kids play nearby. The attention to detail was very much appreciated by the interior designer in me – they even thought to soundproof the room.



The next stop was the 200 foot long Las Vegas–style buffet, which serves fresh food that changes every night.  They even have a manned pasta “station” where you can personalize the dish any way you want. This night I opted to do just that — I asked the Chef to combine two different sauces, two kinds of cheese, asparagus, garlic and linguine, and my custom creation turned out quite tasty.





I dined with friends from the Museum in the Surf’s Up themed dining room, which is loaded with vintage surfboards and other memorabilia that was donated by the Museum. It even includes an exhibit board that I personally put together for the Museum’s Surfin’ Exhibit back in 2006. Plus, I got to meet two Surf legends, “Local Hero” inductee David Nuuhiwa and first ASP World Pro Champion Peter “PT” Townend.



After dinner, I continued on my personal tour with owner and operator Andrew, who showed me the other three themed dining rooms, the arcade, and the 7 private party rooms, which are used not only for parties, but for tutoring children after school as well. It’s a true multi-purpose facility.



Finally, we came to the pride and joy of EFF, which is their laser tag arena. The room is chilled to 64 degrees on a constant basis and it may be the most innovative laser tag arena in the nation. Though I did not partake in the laser challenge this night, it looks like a lot of fun.



Endless Food & Fun has two bars that serve an excellent selection of beer and wine. One bar is in Delicioso! which is only open on Friday and Saturday nights. I plan to take up their offer of dinner there in the near future, as I really had a great time and can’t wait to go back – Thanks Keeli!



Thanks Bonnie — I can’t wait to go to Endless Food & Fun.  Who wouldn’t want that?

Will There Be A Pearl? Missed The Bus, But Won The Lottery.

January 20th, 2011 No comments

Will this post title be tomorrow’s headline?  We didn’t make it to the casino, but won the lottery instead — All is A-okay now.  True?  I don’t know yet.  Uninformed that our bus to PALA Casino was leaving 45 minutes earlier than originally scheduled this morning, when we arrived at the departure point, it was a ghost town of parked cars.  No people.  It felt like the twilight zone.  We were 30 minutes early, checked and re-checked our watches, and re-read the printed calendar again.  What happened?  Where was everyone?

After returning home, we subsequently learned that the organizers called and left a message for us at an old telephone number.  All travelers received the vital information but us.  Terrific.  Could it be a hint?  Probably not, since we’re usually the life of the party. 🙂 Later back at the office instead, I was asked to join a lottery pool — Could it be why we missed our bus?  It’s fun to ponder.  Photos are from a previous trip to PALA’s Buffet, one of the best we’ve found.

Build Your Own Cheesecake: This Round With Homemade Lemon Curd.

January 18th, 2011 No comments

Since learning about the Create Your Own Cheesecake link at Fine, we’ve had fun making and tasting a variety of combinations.  This time it was a Blueberry Cheesecake, made with fresh puréed Blueberries and finely grated Lemon Zest.  What would you create?

The preparation of the Lemon Curd was inspired by the ravine in this Cheesecake — It’s okay, because toppings come in handy when your Cheesecake isn’t pristine, and for this one I found and will keep this easy Microwave Lemon Curd recipe that turned out beautifully.  Good taste and consistency.

Trying to hide the crack down the middle. 🙂 Admittedly the chosen topping didn’t do much to disguise it, but aside from that, it was cheerful and fantastic tasting.  Other Cheesecakes can be seen here and here.  Check back to see the next round or build your own here.

Observing: If Anyone Deserves A Holiday, It’s Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 17th, 2011 No comments

Observing Martin Luther King Day from coast to coast — I personally respect his tremendous patience.  And in relation to food, MLK makes us think of Milk, as it’s just missing a letter, and Milk Chocolate, a tie in to M&M’s World in New York’s Times Square, where Kids in the Kitchen Chef’s Lexi and Bailee are currently visiting.  They loved all the colors.

They say it’s freezing in New York right now, but we’re observing the holiday in Newport Beach where it’s 74° today — I love New York, but it’s hard to beat Southern California weather.

I also think about MLK by U2 on The Unforgettable Fire, one of the best albums of all time.

Toaster Oven S’mores In Less Than A Minute — Guy It’s Easy To Win It.

January 15th, 2011 No comments

Toaster Oven S’mores can be ready in less than a minute.  Do you even need instructions?

Layer as shown, then broil/toast the exposed Marshmallows and top with other Graham Cracker half.  They couldn’t turn out better!  Keep an eye out not to burn the Marshmallows and learn more about making S’mores here.  And if you want to head the opposite direction and make everything from scratch, The Cilantropist does it beautifully — Until then, these will do.  Make a bunch in the oven for a crowd.  No fire circle or wire hangers necessary.

The Asylum Is Now Open: Taco Asylum At The CAMP.

January 13th, 2011 No comments

Taco Asylum opened today at The CAMP.

Taco Asylum is technically presented in lowercase as taco asylum, but I just can’t get myself to write it that way at the beginning of a sentence — Moving on, taco asylum offers unique, totally gourmet Tacos in an industrial styled setting at The CAMP in Costa Mesa.

And Nibbles of Tidbits (we) luckily got to try most Tacos at a preview event.  Love that!  A few Tacos are pictured here, but you can see more and read about ’em on

Our favorite was the Short Rib Taco with pickled Red Onions, Salsa Verde, Cotija Cheese and Cilantro, pictured top-most here.  The Corazon Taco with Confit Beef Heart is directly above.

Peek inside the asylum.

The CAMP is a cool place too, especially if you valet, as parking really sucks there at times.

Fresh & Easy: It Hasn’t Been Easy, But Hopefully It Will Be Fresh.

January 12th, 2011 No comments

Since it’s across the street, I’d like to walk here someday when it FINALLY opens.  It’s been about 8 months since we first reported seeing Fresh & Easy signage in Costa Mesa.  I don’t know why it has taken so long — I’ve seen several potential customers park, and then walk purposefully towards the store to learn it’s still not open.  Bummer.  It’s been a bit of a tease.

At last, Fresh & Easy will be opening in Costa Mesa (Newport and Harbor) on February 9th.

Lucky Taco: A New Way To Recognize Taco Tuesday.

January 11th, 2011 No comments

It’s Taco Tuesday again and time for a Lucky Taco.

It’s a Mexican Fortune Cookie and today my fortune reads — Get your sunglasses on, your world is about to get a lot brighter.  Sounds good to me!  And I also learned the Spanish word for shark: tiburon.  Important stuff, but where are the lottery numbers?

Lucky Taco’s taste good too — Red is Strawberry flavor.  Check out their website to learn more about the different shapes and flavors they offer. 🙂

Tapenade: An Impressive Appetizer Isn’t That Complicated At All.

January 10th, 2011 No comments

A good friend brought Tapenade to a party I had last month and left the leftovers, which I LOVED having the next day.  It tasted and looked like it was from a restaurant.  Her husband made it and I finally got the recipe (kinda).  No measurements, but I understand.  Prepare it to taste.  He simply wrote — Two kinds of Olives, Garlic (not powdered), Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasonings.  For the Italian Seasonings, I used Oregano and Basil.

I think mine (pictured) tasted like his, but I’ll have to find out if he adds more “Italian Seasonings” than Basil and Oregano.  At first the above Tapenade had too many Green Olives in it and then I overcompensated a bit with the Black Olives.  Overall, I learned that good Tapenade can be made in an instance with items always on hand.

Marshmallows Roasting In A Toaster Over, Jack Frost Still Nipping Outside.

January 8th, 2011 No comments

Using up leftover Mini Marshmallows — Roasting them in the Toaster Oven on Fondue Forks.

Aren’t they cute?

What To Do With A Leftover Vegetable Platter And Bar Garnishes.

January 7th, 2011 No comments

After a party, I’m often left with a fair amount of washed and trimmed vegetables — I love it because it’s a convenient, healthy snack to have ready, but after a few days it gets a little boring, thus I hunt for other ways to use ’em.  I TRY to make something different each time.

This time with Iceberg Lettuce and an abundance of Cucumbers on hand, I made a simple Salad with a Cucumber Dressing — I’d link the recipe, if it was good, but it wasn’t.  I’ve yet to master the flavor I’m searching for in a Cucumber Dressing.

After the latest party inspiring this batch of ideas, I cooked Eggs over leftover Salsa, which I loved having (over and over again) with a side of Sour Cream.  I’ve since made and purchased more Salsa to make the same.  I can’t stop eating Eggs Over Salsa for breakfast and dinner.  It’s simple and fabulous with or without Tortillas, Chips or Toast.

This time I roasted the Carrots with a little Olive Oil and Spice Blend I found locally.  Carrots are always good roasted in the oven, but were better last time with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and S & P — Past ideas are linked here.

A tasty Artichoke Heart, Olive and Tomato Bruschetta Dip that was leftover from the same party was cooked and served over Angel Hair Pasta — Why not?

And then there’s Celery, which always stumps me — The best thing I’ve made thus far is Cream of Celery Soup and this time I made a Braised Celery and don’t see its appeal.  I followed a highly ranked recipe, but yawn was the consensus.

If not in a Soup or a mirepoix, I might prefer good old-fashioned Celery with Peanut Butter.

Peppers roasted in the oven with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and S & P.

Asian Cucumber Salad made with Rice Wine Vinegar, Canola and Sesame Oil, Honey, Soy Sauce, fresh grated (or powdered) Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes and S & P.

And with the leftover sliced Oranges, bar garnishes from the night before, I made Candied Orange Slices.  I’ve always wanted to make them — What better time?

Here’s the recipe I used from The Repressed Pastry Chef — Candied Orange Slices

Candied Oranges – I’ll use this recipe again.  They turned out great and weren’t bitter at all, as some are reported to be.  I think one key is to cook them for a fair amount of time.

Until the next leftovers…

National Daily, Weekly & Monthly Food Holidays: Too Many To Keep Up With.

January 3rd, 2011 No comments

We really don’t take the National Daily, Weekly or Monthly Food Holidays too seriously.  They can be fun if it’s something you’re interested in, but they are otherwise self-servingly developed and potentially create gridlock by too many doing the same thing for the sake of celebrating a designated day.  Instead, do and eat whatever and whenever you want in 2011.

In contrast to those thoughts and recognizing that others are interested in national and arbitrary food related holidays, as Orange County Food Examiner I wrote a short article about their observance in January — January 1st started them off with Bloody Mary Day.

And January 20th is National Cheese Lover’s Day, “they” say.  Read about the best places to find a Bloody Mary, where to buy quality Cheese, and who has the finest New England Clam Chowder in the OC, since a food holiday in January happens to revolve around it — It seems that every food has a holiday these days.

Eating, Drinking, Dancing & Demolitioning In The New Year.

January 2nd, 2011 4 comments

We had such a great time at the OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party.  There was much to do, see and eat and the VIP Lounge started it off just right.  The set up was cozy and warm with several couches and heat lamps arranged throughout.  I’d go back next year for the same.  They did a great job — It was relaxed, manageable, stimulating, hospitable and filling.

Certain Food Truck Appetizers were served in the VIP Lounge during the first hour — From The Greasy Weiner we had the above which was good, but we really wanted the Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog that seemed to elude us.  We didn’t get the few that were served during the limited time.  Bummer.  Oh well, on to other food.

Our favorites offered in the VIP Lounge were the “Gumbolaya” and Chicken & Sausage Gumbo served by Ragin Cajun Cafe on Wheels.  Their servings were generous, spicy and tasty.

Piaggio Gourmet on Wheels was serving Empanadas.

Adult Chocolate Milk and Monster Energy Drinks were a couple of the sponsors.

The Moo Girls were handing out Adult Chocolate Milk and Chocolates flavored the same — It tastes like a White Russian, which I like.  And the girls were really sweet too.  Can you tell which one is me? 😉

The guy being interviewed below is a Blasphemous Rumours band member/singer for the Depeche Mode tribute band scheduled to play later on the 80’s stage.  Their couch happened to be next to mine.

Wine Garden VIP Bar.

Hover over all photos to learn more.

The Burnt Truck offerings — A smiling face and juicy Sliders.

I want these Sliders again.

I didn’t have a Tornado Potato, but they looked pretty good.

More Tornado Potatoes swirling in the new year.

Dead Man’s Party, the Oingo Boingo tribute band playing on the 80’s stage.

Comedy Hypnotist Show.

Do you recognize these characters from the OC Fair?

The New Year’s Eve Bash Demolition Derby.

I think the objective is to bash into each other until you can’t start your car anymore.

It was a little hard to tell what was going on officially, but it looked cool.

There were several trophies being handed out and one big winner (below right), I think.

And Karaoke at Baja Blues — This guy wasn’t too bad.

Peeking in on Crepes Bonaparte, who had the longest line we saw this night.

And below is the Rajin Cajun Cafe on Wheels, who also participated in The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network.  They were eliminated in week two.

We liked The Flip Truck menu and meant to mosey on back to try ’em, but forgot.

Perhaps another time for The Flip Truck — Pondering.

Jumping Jack Flash, The Rolling Stones tribute band playing on the 60’s stage — They interestingly had the largest crowd approaching midnight.  I loved their look! 

Also in the VIP Lounge was a complimentary Photo Booth to take as many photos as you like.  What fun!  I took the one below with a couple cool new friends.  Thank you and Happy New Year — So many nice people out this 2010/2011 evening.

Near the Main Mall at midnight, in the right place at the right time — A good way to start 2011.

FREE Ferris Wheel and Super Shot Free Fall Rides were happening all night long.

God Bless America.