Archive for January, 2012

My Eyes Adored You: Carlsbad, So Close And Yet So Far.

January 30th, 2012 1 comment

Nibbles of Tidbits and company doing my kind of camping.

We also celebrated Bailee’s Birthday (Kids in the Kitchen) — The pictured Cake design is not recommended.  Don’t these things happen (lost a hunk) when it matters most?!  It tasted good, so I made the best of it.  It’s Chocolate Mountain Cake with an Orange Juice/Zest Glaze.

Unusually warm and extra beautiful in January on the South Carlsbad Cliffs.

Food, walks and painting rocks.

It’s mostly a rock beach now, after a storm a couple years ago.

Moments of branding wrapped in family time.

Christmas Crackers from Cost Plus — Wanted to try them.  A pop with jokes & prizes inside.

We had plenty of Dips, Salads, Chips, Coronas, Cactus Coolers and Mimosas at bay.

Talented Kids in the Kitchen — You’ve seen their work.

Simple eats to compliment all — Ground Beef Tacos.  The kind I grew up with.

Don’t you love the smell of a campfire?  I do!

Must have S’more ingredients on hand for these occasions.

Watching the surf with tunes and lazy dogs.

The sunsets were striking, like always, it seems — I’ve never seen a bad one.

Picnic tables are resourceful.

Playing games, flying kites, painting, taking pictures and eating — Ahhhh, free time.

Uniquely shaped rocks inspire — What’s its story?

Well wishes to your family in 2012 — Explore and eat together.

Enjoy all when and while you can.  Traveling mercies.

Food Coloring Series: In The Pink After A Cookie & Weekend Vay-Kay.

January 27th, 2012 No comments

Enjoy the weekend — There’s much to report after a mini vacation.  Have a Cookie.

Local Cuisine: The OC’s Best Restaurants Chosen By Local Experts.

January 25th, 2012 No comments

Have you visited Local Cuisine?  It’s an excellent resource to find the best restaurants in Orange County.  Search by restaurant name, cuisine type, city, zip code, or browse its specially selected list — Featured restaurants are voted on and off the Local Cuisine list by Local Experts, and I’m humbled to be one of them.  Our first meeting took place at The Playground.  Be sure to keep an eye on Local Cuisine for the latest and greatest restaurant additions and list of local food-related events, and create a profile and write a review, if you so choose.

Photo: Paté from Pescadou Bistro during Newport Beach Restaurant Week — More here.

To Sir With Love: Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts.

January 24th, 2012 No comments

A friend recently wrote…”Shelly, I just made this recipe and (if you like Brussels Sprouts) it’s SO DELICIOUS!  Just wanted to share it with you.” Thanks D, I do and you made me make them.

Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts with Dijon and Shallots sounded good to me too.

I thought the cooking process was interesting, especially the beginning.  I like how the Brussels Sprouts are placed cut side down in Olive Oil undisturbed for 5 minutes — Most were golden brown.  Shallots and Broth are then added and all is cooked covered for 20 minutes.

The exact RECIPE is here.

Remove Brussels Sprouts, stir in Dijon Mustard until well blended, and cook 2 minutes more.

Pour the Mustard Sauce over the reserved Brussels Sprouts (add optional Parsley) and serve.

Okay, it was good, but surprisingly rich — I didn’t love ’em like these, but all is well amiga.

The Playground: You Had Me At Your Name, Now It’s The Passion.

January 23rd, 2012 2 comments

The Playground, what a find.  I knew I’d like a restaurant named The Playground.  It’s in Santa Ana off 4th and Spurgeon, near the Plaza Fiesta.  A group of us recently met there for an amazing Champagne Brunch, and spent time with its passionate Owner and Executive Chef Jason Quinn, who loves what he does and only offers the best — Impressive food and team.

Fresh, sophisticated, quality ingredients combined simply for superb flavor seems to be the focus.  And they don’t skimp on the aesthetics, as you see, the food is beautiful too.

Unfortunately I didn’t capture all well enough, but the posted photos start with Wagyu Beef.

On to an artistic Soft Shell Crab Roll and Wild Boar Belly (both shown above).

Benton’s Ham is added to many tasty dishes and is out of this world alone.

The Playground’s MENU will vary, as creativity and enthusiasm overflow.

Breakfast Hash with Brussels Sprouts above and a special Short Stack below.

A bowl of the freshest Shellfish with Whole Shrimp hangin’ out — Nice Broth.

Thanks for the Oysters too — Tasted freshness over and over again.

Unique offerings of Beer and Wine are available at the Bar or anywhere inside.

We met at The Playground as a fortunate group of Local Experts for Local Cuisine.

I’ll soon spotlight Local Cuisine to note the cool things about it, after the Cinnamon Roll.

Ants To Overtake Picnik In April: Almost Time For A Real Picnic.

January 22nd, 2012 No comments

Experimenting with Picnik Premium Photo Editing, available to all for FREE until April, when Picnik packs up for Google town — They’ll no longer be growing grass and cueing bird songs.  We’ll miss Picnik in the Spring, and hereby toast to them with a plan for a real picnicCheers!

Great Maple Libations And Seasonal Plates At Fashion Island.

January 21st, 2012 1 comment

Its spot in Fashion Island (near Nordstrom) has gone through a few changes to become the Great Maple it is today.  I liked the Italian restaurants that preceded it and now appreciate the “Libations and Seasonal Plates” we had in the Bar this day — $5 Small Plates on Fridays.

It was Happy Hour time (4:00 – 6:30PM) and the start of Newport Beach Restaurant Week.

All deals were contemplated over a couple Black Lemonades, a seasonal drink special.

Bread in a bag with soft Butter, with a dash of Olive Oil, Parsley, Salt & Pepper, a nice touch.

Here for a quick bite on the way to elsewhere and do want to try the Moroccan Lamb Burger next time.  Today it was the Market Asparagus with Shaved Pecorino and Lemon Olive Oil.

Chorizo Picante Board and Aioli Mayo.

Creamy Polenta with Pancetta and Shaved Pecorino.

Great Maple:  Nice people, creative libations, a cool atmosphere and tasty seasonal plates.

Orange Guy Wanting On The Loose: Try To Peel Him Alive.

January 19th, 2012 No comments

Hi there said the Orange.  He/she/it sure looks friendly and it’s only an Orange Peel.  It’s funny how things come alive with eyes.  Does it look easy to create?  We’re going to give it a try.  I have the feeling it’s going to be harder than it looks.  We’ll see how it turns out and report in an update.  Check back to see if we’ve got the knack to create this Cracker Jack.  Try it too.

The camera took this photo on its own — Oranges and Tomatoes on the counter, a start.

It’s Called Theater Candy: Green Light To Bring In Your Own Candy?

January 18th, 2012 No comments

Print this photo and tell the Theater it’s okay to bring in Candy, but don’t tell them I said so.

BLT+A-L With Well-Spread M: A Just Right Sandwich Formula.

January 17th, 2012 No comments

BLT+A-L on Toasted White Bread with the perfect amount of Mayo — It’s how my Mom always made it and how I do now.  It’s just right.  We rarely add the Lettuce and mostly opt for Avocado with the Bacon and Tomato.  It’s technically a BAT or BTA, a tasty Sandwich.

Bacon, Tomato and Avocado — Layer in that order on Toasted White Bread with Mayo.

The amount of Mayo is key, not too much, nor too little — Mayo oozing out the sides is gross and not enough is dry.  I didn’t want any Mayonnaise on it as a kid and my Mom would add it when I wasn’t looking.  She knew, and I now know its compliment, when properly applied.

It’s a simple, flavorful Sandwich that consistently hits the spot with a cold glass of Milk.

A comfort food for years — With leftover or microwavable Bacon, it can be made in a flash.

Umbrella optional, unless it’s raining.

And May Your Dreams Be Realized: MLK Day With Pecan Pie.

January 16th, 2012 No comments

Sun Dried Tomato Dip: Flip This Dip Into The Onion It’s Meant To Be.

January 15th, 2012 No comments

Searching for a Dip to utilize a jar of Sun Dried Tomatoes, I came across Ina Garten’s Sun-Dried Tomato Dip or a variation of it, over and over again.  It didn’t sound all that terrific to me, but thought it had to be good if people keep making it — Well, that’s not necessarily so.  I didn’t like it.  Similar ingredients make more sense in Ina’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip, which is phenomenal.

I Kissed A Lobster Roll (At Santa Monica Seafood) And I Liked It.

January 13th, 2012 No comments

I’d been looking for the right Lobster Roll to try and it finally came along with great satisfaction — My first ever, since they’re more popular on the East Coast.  That’s my excuse and/or they are expensive when offered and haven’t had the quality ingredients sought.

The Lobster Roll is a popular special at Santa Monica Seafood — Generous chunks of Lobster are tossed with a refreshing Lemon Aioli and Chives, then served on a soft Roll.  It’s perfect.

Dine inside, on the patio, at the Oyster Bar or take something to-go from the Fish Market.

Shucking Oysters (below) — Tell them what kind you want or what you like in an Oyster.

We tried the Kusshi (left) and Misty Pointe (right) — Both were superb, especially the MP.

They have an amazing, well displayed and serviced selection at Santa Monica Seafood.

Live Lobster, an option I’m skipping for a while.  See why here — Too much going on.

Sashimi Grade Fish is also available.  Someday I’ll make Sushi.

Several kinds of Crab, Shrimp, Lobster and Fish are sold daily.

Prices vary and may not be the same as shown here today.

Indian Candy, a sweet, salty and smoky Salmon, in the case above is a favorite.

Cheese, Wine, Herbs, cooking tools and all necessities for a nice meal or picnic are here.

Since their re-design that happened about a year ago, it’s nice to dine in with a Glass of Wine.

Our server, Ashley was awesome, sweet and cool, and reminded us of Jody Foster.

Happy Hour looks good, if you can make it in before the 5PM cut-off.  It’s an early one.

And here’s that Lobster Roll I kissed — Smooch.  Time to get a room.  It was sooooo good. 😉

Santa Monica Seafood is better than ever and family owned since 1939.

It’s a dining option I’ll think of more often — There’s a lot to see, cook and eat.

Fire For Crumbled Paper And Post-It Notes: Not Just For Chicken.

January 12th, 2012 No comments

No regrets about yesterday — The path is officially clear for hope, growth, success and happiness in 2012.  The invitation (below) and experience (above) relate to this blog, since all was presented by and for EPL employees.  They do a lot of cool things.  My association with the wonderfully crazy Chicken is previously reported.  I’ll always wish EPL well.

I wanted to toast a Marshmallow.  Goodbye 2011 — Welcome 2012!

Santa Monica Seafood: Cheers To Its New-ish Design & A Good Time.

January 11th, 2012 2 comments

Whoever started Wordless Wednesday is a genius, though I rarely take full advantage of it, as you see words — There’s a lot to say about Santa Monica Seafood and its new-ish design, the Oyster Bar, the market, and the Lobster Roll that didn’t get away, but not today.

Soon back for (and with) more of everything — Cheers to that!

Now back to Wordless Wednesday                                                                     ;).

Food Coloring Series: Once A Brownie, Always A Blondie, Now Brown.

January 10th, 2012 No comments

The New Face of Food Coloring is here on Nibbles of Tidbits with a Jelly Belly nose, since we’ve arrived at BROWN — Do you need a drop of color?  It’s a magnificent thing, from the depths of the ocean through the sky.  Our Food Coloring Series started with orange to spotlight links to OC Blogs, then kaleidoscoped into purpleyellow, green, blue, red, white and black.  Without further ado, brown kicks off with a RECIPE for these Puppy Cupcakes.  Awe.

 Continuing with Sherry Mushrooms with Pine Nuts, on my ‘To Cook List’ that’s too long.

Steak Au Poivre by Alton Brown — It has to be good.  Filet makes the brown and red list.

Cookie decorating ideas for any color — Brown and White Bite Size Cookies pictured here.

Beef on Weck — This Sandwich looks so good to me.  I can almost taste it all with the Pickle.

I love Candy Buffets and once set-up a mini buffet with my favorite flavor.

I like the feel of this photo, but is that Canned Bread?  I want to provide credit — Is it yours?

Mounds Brownie — I once was a Brownie, while still a Blondie, and won a ribbon for it too.

Kumato Brown Tomatoes — I think they’re interesting, but I’m more impressed by the blog I found ’em on.  It’s called Eat at Joe’s and it anonymously reviews all things Trader Joe’s.

I choose a Sugar Donut most often and the runner-up will always be any HOT Donut.

Chocolate Bar Brownies (above) and the RECIPE.

A Chocolate Keyboard — To eat or to write, that is the question.

 Rock Candy made with Brown Sugar.

Instant personality with a marker!  Funny Eggs — I want to replicate ’em.

Smile inside and out — Grateful for Bacon & Eggs on a t-shirt or rock in Carlsbad.

Brown Sugar Lil’ Smokies wrapped in Bacon — The RECIPE is here.

Which Sugar/Azucar doesn’t belong?  Do you remember that from Sesame Street?

A Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake and Step-by-Step RECIPE.

Chocolate Fountains — What a sight and site it came from.  Where’s the Strawberries?

I want to dine here with friends and Wine.  It’s so beautiful — Photo Credit.

Bread in many forms is mostly brown.

This cow wants to know what you’re looking at — How now brown cow.

IHOP’s National Pancake Day: Pancakes For Any Size Donation.

January 7th, 2012 No comments

IHOP’s Seventh Annual National Pancake Day will be happening on Tuesday, February 28th.  All day long, IHOP restaurants will be serving each guest a FREE Short Stack of Buttermilk Pancakes hoping they’ll donate what they would have paid, or more, to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities.  This year, the restaurant chain aims to raise $2.7 million, their most ambitious goal to date.  Mark your calendar to consume and contribute.

Note: In my own International Apartment of Pancakes, a Dutch Baby (pictured) was created.

What? David Rosengarten Is Following Me On Twitter. Cool Beans!

January 7th, 2012 No comments

Though I’m not a big Twitter or celebrity person, as previously expressed, it’s pretty cool to see David Rosengarten following me on Twitter.  Maybe he saw what I wrote about him or maybe it’s not really him!?  You can’t be too sure about the virtual world, but I’m sure I learned a lot from him on Taste several years ago — That’s real, and what I like most about this post.

Note:  Photo is completely unrelated.  It’s been so beautiful here lately and just walked 12 miles that started with a Naked Juice and freshly baked Morning Bun from Fresh & Easy.

Bacon & Eggs For Fodder And Freedom On Flexible Friday.

January 6th, 2012 No comments

Branding on a rock in Carlsbad by Kids in the Kitchen — Need Freelance Writing Services?

Nibbles Of Tidbits Most Popular Recipes In Photographs.

January 5th, 2012 No comments

A few of our most popular recipes were recently noted in this post — Here they’re linked and featured in photographs starting with the Quick Tender Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs.

Have you tried Chipotle’s Barbacoa Beef?  I love it and created a copycat recipe.  It may be the most viewed post on Nibbles of Tidbits — It’s a darn good recipe too.  If you know the flavors, you’ll see.  Our preparation starts by searing the Beef, then on to slow cooking to easily shred.

Though the above photo doessn’t look that appetizing, it’s tasty as all get out topped with Goat Cheese.  It’s another copycat recipe that works — Houston’s Braised Red Cabbage.

Have you ever gone through the hassle of preparing Amish Friendhship BreadWhen I did, I thought it was quite burdensome, but after tasting the finished product, I’d do it over and over again.  It’s one of the best Breads I’ve had — Complex, flavorful, moist and magical.

Spotlight On The Most Searched Recipes: Spinach Artichoke Dip.

January 4th, 2012 No comments

One of the most searched recipes on Nibbles of Tidbits is a copycat of Houston’s Chicago-Style Spinach Dip — To me (and confirmed by others), it captures the flavor and texture of Houston’s tasty Dip.  It’s a respectable recipe (linked above) that holds up well to this simplified variation.

The pictured Spinach Artichoke Dip was prepared using the same recipe, without the Heavy Cream and alternatively increasing the Sour Cream from 1/2 to 3/4 Cup — This may be the better recipe (below), if too much Water is in the Spinach.  Mix and bake pictured ingredients.

Bake in one to four dishes for an appetizer or individual side, depending on the crowd.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Recipe (a variation of this copycat)

Mix all ingredients together well, then transfer mixture to an oven proof dish and bake at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes.  Let cool slightly and serve with Tortilla Chips, Bread or Vegetables.

1 (16 oz.) Bag of Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed, drained of water

1 (12 oz.) Jar of Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped (Unmarinated is fine)

1 Large Garlic Clove, minced or pressed

1 Cup of Mozzarella Cheese, grated (Jack Cheese may be substituted)

2/3 Cup of Parmesan Cheese, grated or shaved

3/4 Cup Sour Cream

One dish to freeze for another time is good too.

Note:  The spotlight should also be cast on the following for being amongst the Top Five Most Searched Recipes in 2011:  Houston’s Braised Red Cabbage with Goat Cheese, Chipotle Barbacoa Beef, Amish Friendship Bread and Oven Baked Ribs.  Enjoy — Happy 2012!

Welcome Two Thousand Twelve: We’re Ready To Delve.

January 2nd, 2012 No comments

The OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party is almost like being at the Orange County Fair.

Dry Turkey Legs (sorry) best underscore my first sentence — You’ve seen them before.

Snapshots of the NYE event, Part (2) of (2) are posted here — Untimely camera issues caused spots on most photos planned for use.  Gourmet Food Trucks were parked throughout.

Cocktails & Desserts were available in each and every hanger.

The LA based Border Grill Truck was in the OC too, amongst many local darlings.

We were keen on the Casino games and won OC Fair tickets, as reported in Part (1) of (2).

I still don’t know how to play Craps — I like Poker best, but it wasn’t played this night.

In addition to the Gourmet Food Trucks and Baja Blues, a few OC Fair fixtures were grillin’.

As like 2010, a nice, respectable, friendly bunch of people attended this year’s Block Party.

Dueling Pianos were playing at Baja Blues, replacing last year’s Karaoke.

Unicycling and chainsaw juggling was happening in the streets, near the Ferris Wheel.

Piaggio On Wheels Chicken Milanesa Sandwich — I like their Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog best.

Do you remember what I reported about the Brussels Sprouts?  I’m still thinking about ’em.

To its right is the Truffled Fried Mac N’ Cheese, I think — Don’t recall its exact name.

It’s from Home Skillet, like the Brussels Sprouts — Most impressed with them this evening.

The Media Lounge was in a different spot this year, closer to the action they say — We stopped in for a few and most enjoyed the Cheese Platter, pictured in Part (1) of (2).

Thank you!  I already can’t wait until next year.

Happy New Year From Nibbles Of Tidbits: Pleasant Surprises To Be Had.

January 1st, 2012 2 comments

Snapshots of a colorful evening with FOOD, music, games and prizes — Happy New Year.

The surprise Best Dish of the 2011/2012 OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party (in our humble opinions) was the Crispy Brussels Sprouts from the Home Skillet Truck — With Capers, a smoky flavor and Herb Dressing, it’s quite phenomenal tasting.  We’ll try more from ’em next time.

Met a cool dynamic of people and won (3) Tickets to the OC Fair at the Black Jack Table.

Didn’t have a Takoyaki Ball, but they look interesting with added Octopus.

It’s The Cured (above), a tribute to The Cure, one of my all-time favorite bands.


Pleasant surprises continue to happen — Unexpected good wishes to all in 2012.

Happy Moo Year — It’s good I love Milk and a Cheese Platter in the VIP Lounge.

Note:  Part (1) of (2) re the happenings at the 2011/2012 OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party.