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How Does Our Garden Grow? Temperamentally Well This Year.

June 30th, 2018 No comments

It’s been an interesting year (so far) in the garden — Good and sad, but mostly good.

Japanese Eggplant grew so well for us last year, but it was during a total kitchen remodel, thus we were unable to enjoy them — And this year it’s growing wonderfully for us again.  Yay!

We are also having luck with Swiss Chard again this year.  I LOVE it, since it can be eaten raw or cooked, like Spinach.  We’ve also plucked out a few Beets, which I boiled for a Beet Salad with Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar and Salt & Pepper.  Sadly, our Purple Cabbage plant is struggling beneath the towering Swiss Chard, Japanese Eggplant and Pickling Cucumbers.

Soon to turn orange, Sweet Peppers are pictured above.  We have yellow ones growing too.

And we just harvested twelve ears of Corn that sure looked beautiful on the outside, but were sadly chewy inside.  We might have waited too long to pick them.  Not sure.  Instead, we plan to grow Autumn Corn next year.  We like the fun of opening each husk to view the pretty, mystery colors inside.  We can usually buy edible, relatively inexpensive Corn in the store.

Our four Tomato plants are a bit of a disappointment this year.  We don’t have many Tomatoes and their skins are thick.  All taste good inside, but are tough on the outside.  I’ve been roasting them in the oven to easily remove their skins and use the insides in Vegetable and Pasta dishes.

We’re always growing Pineapples.  Well, Matt is.  He’s the Pineapple King, as previously reported.  We have several growing in pots and in a designated Pineapple Patch next to the Tomatoes.

We’ve been eating Blackberries from our Blackberry bush for the past month, but its yield seems to be slowing down.  They’ve been sweet to eat, once past the bush’s harsh thorns to pick ’em.

What to do with Pickling Cucumbers?  Yes, I’ve made Pickles a few times, but they just keep growing.  Tzatziki Sauce and Cucumber Salads are next.  The plant is beautiful with yellow flowers.

Not pictured — One Zucchini we’re growing is quite large.  It appears to have doubled in size overnight.  I want to pick it, but Matt wants to see how large it will get.  We’re also growing Salad Greens, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil and Kale to eat, which are all generally doing well.

We’ve been known to bring a large bowl of Purple Grapes to an Annual Fourth of July Party, but not this year.  The above is all we’ve got — One scrawny bunch.  Get out your magnifying glass to see them.  They are getting larger, so we will see if we get to eat them before the birds do.

Tend To Your Garden: Hopefully It’ll Be Vegetables Galore Here.

June 28th, 2015 No comments

Raised Garden

In two raised garden beds newly built by my wonderful husband and part-time Nibbles of Tidbits photographer, Matt, we planted seeds to grow Carrots, Radishes, Beets, Purple and Green Cabbage, Eggplant, Sweet Onions, Swiss Chard, Butter Lettuce, Broccoli and a Lettuce mix — I THANK him for making one of my dreams come true.  I’ve always wanted a vegetable garden and ideally hope to grow most food plants available to utilize and enjoy on a daily basis, but happily start here.

First Sprouts

After only a few days we’re seeing life — What a joy.

Vegetables Identified In Chaulk

We’ve been excited to check and tend to them each day.  Much attention will be given.

Home Garden

Check back to see how all develop — We’re hopeful for free food.

Tending To A Flourishing Garden: Appreciate Each And Every Growth.

June 12th, 2016 No comments

Tomatoes and more

Remember how all looked not too long ago?  Our garden is flourishing nicely.  We’re picking Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Jalapenos and Herbs daily, and the Fennel, Corn, Swiss Chard, Onion and Lettuce is coming along well.  Good thing we have a tortoise to enjoy the Arugula overgrowth.

Fennel, Herbs and more

I need to think of more recipes using Arugula.  Our garden is keeping us busy on the home-front. So far I’ve made Salsa and inhaled ripe Cherry Tomatoes and Blackberries before much else can get made. All had without photos, but do check back as we plan to grow, cook and eat forever.  Amen.

The Promenade Event Centre & Gardens: Choose Your Favorites.

August 11th, 2013 No comments

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Do you have an event coming up?  I recommend The Promenade Event Centre & Gardens by The Turnip Rose.  I worked within walking distance from it and enjoyed its gardens and many introspective lunches at Cafe Rose Express.  And now, a couple years later I have an event.  Photos here are from a tasting event held there for current and potential customers.

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Pick a date, package (if applicable) and food favorites, and all shall be great.

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Mini Sliders & French Fries, Seared Ahi, the best Chicken Skewers ever, and more are options as Hors d’oeuvres — Taste all and choose a favorite for your event.

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Crab Cakes too — Contact The Turnip Rose directly for actual choices and official dish names.

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The service has always been exceptional at all Turnip Rose venues and events.

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Your choice of an Entree is also in order — A small sampling of a large sampling is below.

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Several Chicken, Fish and Steak selections are available.

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I need (at least) one more tasting to be sure.

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Dessert Bars, Cappuccino Bars, Candy Bars and Beer & Wine Bars by request, oh my.

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Rock Candy Swizzle Sticks for the Coffee Drinks — I want them too.

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It’s a comfortable and classy indoor/outdoor Event Centre with great food to consider.

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If getting married and/or having a reception, a Wedding Cake by Creative Cakes is included.

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Cheers to all — Thanks for coming.  Okay, let’s party now!

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See you in January and in between with possible reports leading up, then happily ever after.

Grateful To Grow: The Start Of This Year’s Garden.

April 29th, 2017 No comments

Last year we planted six Tomato plants in one raised bed and this year we only planted four.  Though we love an abundance of Tomatoes, we could hardly get to them.  It became a Tomato jungle we had to forge through.  They look sparse now, but we hope to have the same luck this year.

In our other raised garden, we planted Jalapenos, Poblano Peppers, Japanese Eggplant, Red, Brown & White Onions, Cilantro, Curly Parsley, Purple Basil, Lime Basil, Pineapple Sage and Thyme.

We’re seeing at least ten small clusters of Grapes growing on the old Grape vine.

We bought a two-inch Boysenberry vine from Knott’s Berry Farm last year and we’re happy that it continues to grow.  We hope to see Boysenberries on it some year down the road.

Matt has a green thumb, and especially a Pineapple green thumb — We have one starting above, one maturing below, and four others that we’re hoping will do something.  He’s grown several.

Wild Blackberries grow on the other side of the house — They’re great to have, but VERY thorn-ey.

Serrano Peppers grow throughout the year in a couple other pots, whether we want them or not.

Zucchini is growing in another corner of the yard.  I have not grown it before.

And Oyster Mushrooms are growing in the house — In a Mini Mushroom Farm we got from Home Depot.  We soaked its internal plastic bag in water for a day, cut an ‘X’ in the front of it and returned it to its box to grow.  Pictured below is five days growth.  It’s fun to watch them grow so fast.

For non-edible enjoyment, flowers grow in the side planter below.  We planted hundreds of miscellaneous flower seeds to yield a flower-grab-bag to surprise us all summer long.

I had the sign below made for our garden shed — FW stands for Freis West.  Most of the Freis live back East.  In Michigan and Wisconsin.  They’re Freis East and we’re Freis West (FW for short).

We’re also growing Meyer Lemons, Limes, Tangelos and Rosemary (not pictured) and tend to our gardens daily.  We’re grateful to see all grow and will share the abundance in a few months.

Oh How Nibbles Of Tidbits’ Garden Grows: It’s A Better Year Here.

May 4th, 2016 No comments

Blackberries

Much is growing here this year.  It’s something I’ve always wanted.  An edible garden.  I want to grow everything possible to eat — Fruit, herbs, vegetables, berries, nuts, you name it.  It would be a dream come true. Though we’re unable to grow everything, it’s a better crop than last year.

Blackberries

Blackberries.

Pineapple

Pineapples.

Grapes

Grapes forming on healthy vines.

Planters

Six different types of Tomatoes, four stalks of Corn, seven Walla Walla Onions, and three types of Sweet Peppers are growing strong, while Cesar the tortoise mows the backyard lawn.

Early Growth

Before (above) and after (below) in just weeks — Corn, Tomatoes, Peppers and Onions are taking off.

Growing Fast

Herbs (Baby Basil, Oregano, Mint, Chives and Thyme), Jalapenos, Arugula, Fennel, Dill and various kinds of Lettuce are doing well in our other raised garden.  A couple seeds we planted I can’t recall.

Herbs

Heirloom Tomatoes are starting to form — It’s a beautiful sight.  All looks healthy.

Tomatoes

Boysenberries — We bought a Boysenberry plant from Knott’s Berry Farm and now see a mini berry.

Boysenberries

Lemons — A staple for zest and juice in many dishes.

Lemon

Strawberries — The birds or something else usually gets them before we do.

Strawberries

Too many Tangelos sometimes, but we appreciate the tree.

Oranges

Two Pineapples are clearly visible with the potential for two more.

Pineapples

Spring is springing — We’re grateful for all that grows and lives.  Thanks to God.

Leon and Cesar

If all goes well, we’ll be thrilled to show a bounty this summer.

Garden Update:  June 12, 2016 (check back for future updates and bounty).

Cheese Platter For A Newport Fun Tours Luxury Electric Boat Rental.

July 1st, 2014 No comments

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We rented a Luxury Electric Boat from Newport Fun Tours and cruised the Newport Beach Harbor with plenty to eat and drink for 90 minutes — You may have seen them on Groupon.

Cheese Platter Boat Ride - Grey Poupon

A Cheese Platter doesn’t come with a Newport Fun Tours cruise — We brought it and the Grey Poupon too, just in case anyone asked for it, plus it goes well with a fabulous Cheese Platter.

Cheese Platter Ideas

Balboa Fun Zone view (below) from our Luxury Electric Boat — Well, I really wouldn’t call it luxury, since our boat was a bit used looking, like an old water limo, but it ran well for us.

Fun Zone - Boat Ride

The day was cloudy, brightened with Cheese, Wine and cute, smiling serving utensils.

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I made the pictured Cheese Platter with 5 kinds of Cheese, Salami, Crackers, Pecans, Grapes from our garden, Kalamata Olives and Roasted Red Peppers, Peperoncinis and Pickles, with Mustard on the side — A couple seagulls landed on the bow wanting some.  Negative, sorry.

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Wine and snacks are sold at Newport Fun Tours check-in, but the options aren’t this good.

Il Garage Near The Garden At Park Avenue In Stanton Off Beach.

April 7th, 2014 No comments

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It’s Il Garage (il garage ristorante) and it’s set back within/behind Park Avenue Restaurant in Stanton off Beach Blvd. — It’s a separate dining spot on the beautiful grounds of Park Avenue.

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We ate at Park Avenue Restaurant — It’s reported here.  This day we were in the garage. 😉

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I’m not sure if it really once was a multi-car garage, but it looks like it, tractor and all.

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The view of Park Avenue’s famous Garden from our seat couldn’t be beat.

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The Il Garage Ristorante menu changes daily and is dependent on their gardens.

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Our favorites were the Cavatappi Primavera (below), utilizing many vegetables from the PAG.

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And the Orange Panna Cotta — Truly the best Panna Cotta we’ve had in our lives (below).

Il Garage Panna Cotta

It had so much flavor — Cheers to that (and our Two Year Anniversary).

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Enter the PAG — Park Avenue Garden through here (below).

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The PAG is a dream garden, with raised beds and trees growing everything you’d want to eat.

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I think I’d want to live here.

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You’re free to roam the gardens, no matter where you dine.

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My husband, Matt is looking through the weather protectant, plastic drop, near the tractor.

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Nice to receive a $100 Gift Card as a Wedding Gift that can be used at either restaurant.

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It’s not in the best neighborhood, but once inside you forget about it — A good thing.

Il Garage

We plan to go back to both for Dining & Cocktails, as suggested.

Having Our Cake & Eating It Too: Quick Wedding Recommendations.

March 12th, 2014 No comments

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We’re still looking back fondly while settling in.  Did you see our Wedding Cake?  It was perfect!  Not only did it look cool, but it tasted great too.  We highly recommend Creative Cakes and a few other superb wedding vendors noted and linked herein.  Check them out.

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These photos and hundreds of other amazing ones were taken by Tremble Media.  We love them all and the professional Wedding Video they shot and edited for us.  They captured it all.

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The Turnip Rose Promenade & Gardens was the BEST venue for us and people are still talking about the FOOD.  We appreciate so much about them — Quality, service, beauty, etc.

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And Photo Booth On Wheels did a great job too — Nice people run it.

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And mustn’t forget the Most Fabulous DJ around — Andy Nation.  Wow!  He’s an awesome, organized, professional person to work with and did an excellent job at our wedding.

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Everything was lovely, seamless, tasty, entertaining and pleasantly memorable THANKS to all.

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We’d DO it all again the same way.  Thank you!

Fair Foodie Tour: Pineapples, Bacon On Bacon & One Step Beyond.

July 31st, 2012 1 comment

We’re still not done eating at the Fair.  Madness, I call it Madness — Well listen buster you better start to move your feet to the rockinest rock steady beat of the Orange County Fair.

We appreciated the Foodie Tour and sampling of the indulgent and healthy OC Fair food.

The Pineapple Express by Chicken Charlie remarkably offers a few of the healthier options this year (in a Pineapple) — Naked Shrimp, Maui Chicken and a Shrimp Cocktail in a Pineapple.

Fried Pineapple with Chocolate and Coconut (above).

Associated with Juicy, the food concession stands with music, is Dogsville (above).

They serve up Ham and Cheese Corn Dogs, Jumbo Sausages and more.

Chicken Kabobs by Charlie is an OC Fair staple.

Fried Cornish Game Hen from Baja Blues — How about a Carne Asada Stuffed Avocado?

Tasti Chips is family owned and treats Potatoes with tender loving care, from earth to Chip.

Tasti Chips deserve respect and they’re most appetizing with the Jalapeno Cheese Sauce.

The Tasti Chips’ group also mans Grant Burgers — They’re not bad and have tasty Pickles.

And musn’t leave out Bacon-A-Fair, where everything comes with Bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs.

A Pound of Bacon Wrapped around a Turkey Leg (below).

Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos Wrapped in Bacon.

Beer Battered Deep Fried Bacon (below).

Deep Fried Beer Battered Bacon Dogs.

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Leg ready to be had.

Salted Chocolate Covered Bacon popularly photographed by Local Food Bloggers.

And my favorite Beef Brisket Sandwich is from the Chuckwagon.

I love this Sandwich and look forward to it every year.

Corn on the Cob grills throughout.

There’s a large amount of Meat.

Smokin’ Meat — It makes it so good.

On Fridays, small tastes of most seen here and more are available for $2.

Mini and singular variations of Fair favorites are offered (examples above) — It’s a great deal.

Legendairy Gelato has almost every flavor, including Birthday Cake — It really tastes like one.

And we always visit the Wine Garden for friendly tastings poured by the OC Wine Society.

We value the livestock too — Sshhhhhh, don’t tell ’em about the food.

With Hercules shown below — Worth more than the Alligator, if you get what I’m sayin’.

View of the OC Fair from the Ferris Wheel at night.

I never want to come down, well, until it’s time to eat again.

See you at the OC Fair.

Cafe Rose Express: Oasis At The Turnip Rose Promenade & Gardens.

May 19th, 2011 2 comments

One day each week I work within walking distance from Cafe Rose Express at The Promenade Event Centre & Gardens by Turnip Rose, and the funny thing is that I just discovered it.  It’s been tucked back behind my office of more than two years, but I rarely take a lunch that day, until I recently saw someone come back to the office with the most amazing looking Sandwich.

Where did you get that Sandwich?

At Cafe Rose Express, I was told — Walking distance from my office.  What a treat.

It’s firstly a catering facility and event location that offers high quality breakfast and lunch weekly to the public through Cafe Rose Express and I’m happy to now know they do.

There are plenty of nice places to dine inside and especially out.

It’s genuinely an Oasis within walking distance.

The surroundings are beautiful and the food is exceptional.

It’s a pleasurable getaway for a half-hour or more.  Your time there seems longer.

People get married here and enjoy lunch on the lawn with a book when free.

The Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zucchini Bread is pictured above and the Cafe Rose Classic Salad is below.  All Salads have been fresh and generous in size and ingredients.

We also tried the Chef’s Special, Caramelized Garlic Chicken with Pesto Mashed Potatoes and Spring Vegetable Medley.  Everything I’ve tried at Cafe Rose thus far has been superior.

I’m also converted to Zucchini Bread, as theirs is so moist and delicious.

A portion of available inside dining is pictured below.

Ballroom or event room, an option for weddings and parties.  See what others are saying.

Share a Sandwich on the grass for lunch — It’s humorous, the Sandwich that brought me here for the first time is a Sandwich I’d order last.  It was Egg Salad.  I still haven’t tried it, but it looked so fresh and grand, with loose chopped Eggs and all.  I may get around to it someday.

I just love the grounds and food and look forward to going back.

I ate today’s lunch for dinner too, as the portions are extremely generous.

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.

Coy With More Koi From Sherman Library & Gardens: Don’t Eat ‘Em.

August 28th, 2010 No comments

Today we’re heading to Temecula for a lovely picnic among other things and we have a guest blogger goin’ to the OC Foodie Fest to eat from the 50 Gourmet Food Trucks parked at the Honda Center today.  There’s a lot of good eats happening right now.  We’ll soon report about them here.  Until then, enjoy the beautiful Koi, eyes only — They want to be fed too. 🙂

Join Roy’s L.A. Ohana Tour: It’s Going On Now Through August.

June 17th, 2010 No comments

What a great bunch of people they have working for Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine.  We recently visited Roy’s in Anaheim at The GardenWalk.  Did you know that each location’s Chef Partner is trained by Roy Yamaguchi himself, yet is encouraged to infuse their own style and inspiration into Roy’s classic menu items?  We just learned that cool fact, which makes each Roy’s special in its own way, thus if you’ve been to one Roy’s, you haven’t been to ’em all.

Roy’s just kicked off its L.A. Ohana Tour, which will give guests the opportunity to experience the different taste variations each time they visit a new Roy’s location — The specifics are detailed in bullet points below.

During our first tour stop, we thoroughly enjoyed Roy’s Original Hawaiian Martini, which includes fresh Pineapple, SKYY Vodka, Stoli Vanil Vodka and Malibu Coconut Rum.  And we loved the flavors of the Ekolu Tuna Roll, the “Rim Fire” Calamari and the Sweet Corn & Blue Crab Crusted Barramundi, which was our favorite — It’s made with a Sun Dried Tomato and Wild Mushroom Anisette Cream Sauce.  If you’ve never tried Barramundi, you’re missing out.  It’s a sustainable farm raised Fish with sweet succulent flesh indigenous to Australia. 

And for dessert, Roy’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake with caramelized Pineapple baked with Brown Sugar Pound Cake and Coconut Ice Cream was the perfect finish.

Roy’s recently announced the launch of its L.A. Ohana Tour, a new rewards program designed for diners to experience the creative chef variations on popular menu items offered at each location.  From June 9th until August 31, 2010, guests are invited to visit (3) Southern California Roy’s restaurants to receive dining rewards and be entered to win an all-inclusive trip to Hawaii, where guests will enjoy a personal dinner with founding chef Roy Yamaguchi.

Your chance to win a trip to Hawaii starts with an inaugural visit to any one of Roy’s participating restaurants, as noted below: 

· At the inaugural (first) trip to any participating Roy’s restaurant, guests are awarded an Ohana Tour Card to present at the next Roy’s location.

· On the second visit, guests will receive a complimentary Chocolate Soufflé with the purchase of an entrée.

· At the third location, guests will receive a $20 Gift Card with the purchase of an entrée, plus an entry into the Hawaiian sweepstakes.

· Restaurants participating in the tour include Roy’s Anaheim, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Pasadena, and Woodland Hills locations.

THEY SAY:  “In the Hawaiian culture, ‘ohana’ means family,” said Leiala Whattoff, V.P. of Training & Development, Roy’s restaurant. “We designed this tour to thank our frequent guests and encourage new guests to experience our exquisite food and the aloha spirit with their friends and family. By visiting three of our Southern California locations, guests will receive delicious rewards and the chance to win the ultimate dining experience in Hawaii.”

Nibbles of Tidbits will be heading to Roy’s in Fashion Island next for our complimentary Chocolate Soufflé.  Hope to see you on tour!

* We had hoped to post more food photos, but unfortunately didn’t capture the deserving quality of all aforementioned dishes.

Another Bouquet of Herbs From A Friend’s Garden.

September 11th, 2008 No comments

It’s always nice in the Summer to receive Herbs from a Friend’s Garden.  Here’s another creative way to keep them for a short period of time.  It’s fun to open the fridge to see a Cup-O-Herbs, especially if the Herbs have blooms.  This bunch includes Garlic Chives, Rosemary, Basil and Pineapple Sage.  There’s a little water at the bottom of the cup.  It’s like a decoration in your fridge.  I thought about adding a tablecloth. 🙂

But learn something from my unrelated mistake.  You probably wouldn’t notice, but if you do — I should have removed the Tomato Paste from the can before placing it in the refrigerator.  I’ve read that’s what you’re supposed to do.  I was just keeping it for a day, but that’s no excuse.  It’s the bad in the good, the bad and the funny.

Related Links:

http://www.ineedtext.com/FoodBlog/?p=744

Meal Kit Comparison: Which Is Best?

April 13th, 2019 No comments

It’s ABOUT TIME… my long promised Meal Kit Comparison post. We tried Sun Basket, Gobble, Marley Spoon, Green Chef, Purple Carrot, Dinnerly and Freshly. We rate and review each of these meal kit companies, recipes and respective ingredients below. I learned A LOT and report about it after making and trying the aforementioned and 100+ Blue Apron meal kits.

Meal Kit Comparison – Starts with Sun Basket

Sun Basket Packaging

Sun Basket — Fast Chicken Salad with Kale, Kiwi and Apples (Recipe 1). Top photo. The Kale arrived pre-cut. I found myself picking out the inferior, dry pieces. I would rather chop it myself. I usually remove the stem/center, but it was included in the chopped Kale. The provided dressing was just okay. And the Coconut Flakes would’ve been better toasted, seemed like an after-thought garnish. We (Matt & I) rate each recipe starting with this one.

Sun Basket Recipe 1: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6 (Out of 10).

Greek Salmon over Zucchini Noodles and Wilted Greens

Sun Basket — Greek Salmon over Zucchini Noodles and Wilted Greens (Recipe 2). I tossed out the pre-chopped Greens due to a bad smell. The Salmon was dry, though not overcooked. I liked the Tomato and Olive Relish. We liked the Zucchini Noodles, but they’re hard to stir and preserve as ‘Noodles’ when cooking. That’s fine, but good to know.

Sun Basket Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 5 1/2.

Mediterranean-style Cod with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives

Sun Basket – Mediterranean-style Cod with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives (Recipe 3). Cod quality wasn’t that great. Potatoes didn’t have much flavor though Salt and Peppered. I liked steaming the Fish over the Vegetables. Learned how well this cooking method works. Dish was easy to make and clean-up.

Sun Basket Recipe 3: Matt 6, Shelly 6.

Sun Basket Recipe Booklet

Sun Basket Overall — Menus are just okay, not as exciting as others, seemed somewhat repetitive with ingredients. Though Menu is international, which is good. Website is friendly and easy to use. Choose (3) out of (18) different recipes/meal kits. Recipes arrive in booklet form. Also within it are all the recipes you didn’t choose, which is nice. Best recipe score was 6 1/2.

Gobble Review Notes

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Gobble

Gobble – Nice packaging, similar to Blue Apron. Received one incorrect recipe card, but was easily able to print the correct one from Gobble’s website. They provide smaller recipe cards than other companies.

Gobble – Pan-Roasted Chicken in Three Peppercorn Sauce with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes (Recipe 1). Potatoes were not good. Gravy made up for it. Chicken was tough, though not overcooked. Odd cuts of chicken were provided. Not as pretty as the online photos.

Pan Roasted Chicken

This is how the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy arrived (below). No bueno.

Gobble Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 6.

Louisiana Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits

Gobble – Louisiana Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits (Recipe 2). Had to further devein the ‘deveined’ Shrimp. Like the Mashed Potatoes in Recipe 1, I don’t like unloading grits from a plastic bag to heat them in the microwave. Also, I didn’t like the pre-cut trinity. It looked a bit degraded in freshness, translucent Onions.

Pre-cut Trinity and bagged Grits, etc.

Gobble Recipe 2: Matt 7 1/2, Shelly 7.

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Gobble – Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Roasted Squash and Swiss Chard (Recipe 3). I had to toss-out the provided Swiss Chard. It was too dried out. It’s scary not knowing what’s inside a compact bag of pre-cut Greens. Good thing we’re growing our own Swiss Chard. I love the idea and components of this recipe, but the pre-made beans and rice were just okay. I plan to re-create this recipe sometime. Our score for this recipe is below. Best overall recipe score was 8.

Gobble Recipe 3: Matt 8, Shelly 7 1/2.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Marley Spoon

Marley Spoon – Box was delayed a day, because company didn’t have enough ice to ship. Recipe card photos are dull in color and paper is un-glossed. Nice packaging. Largest, tallest box received.

Marley Spoon Packaging

Marley Spoon – Cheesy Roasted Pepper Panini with Goat Cheese & Spinach and Side Salad (Recipe 1). Too much filling for the Panini, it overflowed. A Bun for the Panini Bread is not the best option. No photo.

Marley Spoon Recipe 1: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Cilantro Chicken and Rice

Marley Spoon – Cilantro Chicken and Rice with Bell Pepper and Lime (Recipe 2). Flavorful, but wouldn’t garnish it with raw onions again. It’s unnecessary and over takes the dish. Having to use a blender or food processor is a first for a boxed Meal Kit. Good thing I have one.

Marley Spoon Recipe 2: Matt 7 1/2, Shelly 8.

Four Cheese Ravioli Alla Norma

Marley Spoon – Four Cheese Ravioli Alla Norma with Crispy Garlic Breadcrumbs (Recipe 3). It was super easy to make and very good.

Marley Spoon Recipe 3: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Overall… good quality, nice packaging, tasty meals and good recipe selections. Marley Spoon costs about the same as Blue Apron, my long-time favorite Meal Kit company (so-far). Best recipe score for Marley Spoon was 8.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Green Chef

Green Chef also offers Paleo, Vegan, Keto and Gluten-free meal kit options. Very nice packaging. All looked good, though much was pre-prepared.

Green Chef Meal Kit Ingredients

A pre-cut Red Pepper was provided for a recipe. I want a whole one. There are small Red Bell Peppers. Pre-cut Onions too. I don’t like that either. They degrade, but I used them, and it didn’t ruin the meal.

Harissa Spiced Tuna Steaks

Green Chef – Harissa Spiced Tuna Steaks and Apricot Tomato Sauce, Kale Pistachios and Couscous (Recipe 1). The Tuna was nice looking. Recipe said to cook the Yellowfin Tuna 3 to 5 minutes per side, but was too long for the thin Fish provided. I cooked ours 2 1/2 minutes per side and it was still overcooked, as expected, but all was flavorful.

Green Chef Recipe 1: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Green Chef – Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps with Quinoa, Toasted Nuts and Seeds, with Lemon Pesto Aioli (Recipe 2). I liked the Couscous with the Vinegar, Agave and mixed Toasted Nuts. The Dressing was just okay, pre-made. Homemade would have been better.

Green Chef Recipe 2: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

Green Chef – Cheese Steak Stuffed Pepper with Provolone Cheese, Spiced Potato Hash with Red Peppers (Recipe 3). Uneven, pre-cut Onions and Grated Cheese were provided. The small Onion pieces burned a little while cooking. Not a good thing. However, not a bad flavor overall. Our score for this recipe is below. Best recipe score was 8.

Green Chef Recipe 3: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot Packaging

Purple Carrot – All was fresh and impressive. Some stuff was pre-cut, but mostly whole ingredients. Only the hardest thing to cut, the Squash was pre-cut, which was helpful. A booklet of all recipes was provided, as like Sun Basket. Only six recipes to choose from online at this time.

Black Bean & Polenta Casserole

Purple Carrot – Black Bean and Polenta Casserole with Chile Butter (Recipe 1). The large bag of Spinach was very fresh. I was a little nervous about the Vegan Cream Cheese and Vegan Butter provided for this recipe, but didn’t notice a difference. That was nice to discover.

Slice of the Black Bean and Polenta Casserole

Purple Carrot Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Autumn Bibimbap

Purple Carrot – Autumn Bibimbap with Gochujang Brussels Sprouts and Sesame Aioli (Recipe 2). I didn’t use the Kimchi or Vegenaise (Mayo instead). I didn’t like the color of the Vegenaise, yellow-ish. I liked the Brussels Sprouts with Gochujang. The Fried Rice ended up too hard. Seems 5 to 7 minutes is too long not to stir the Rice. I don’t know. Kind of a weird recipe, which I like, but it didn’t work properly.

Purple Carrot Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Purple Carrot – Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Cranberries and Hazelnuts (Recipe 3). A beautiful photo of this recipe is on Purple Carrot’s booklet cover. Had to toss out the Broccoli Rabe for this recipe, since it didn’t last a week. Used Swiss Chard from our garden instead. Added leftover sauteed Onions before the Squash. All was tasty with the Dried Cranberries, and had good texture with the Toasted Hazelnuts.

Purple Carrot Recipe 3: Matt 8 1/2, Shelly 8.

Black Bean and Polenta Casserole Ingredients

Recipes were grouped in plastic bags. I prefer no bags, loose ingredients or in paper bags, because all seems to stay fresher longer.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi Ingredients

Vegan Butter and Cream Cheese work okay. You won’t notice the difference. Though I’m still sketchy on Vegenaise (Mayo’s substitute). Someday perhaps, or not. Best recipe score was 8 1/2.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Dinnerly

Spinach and Ricotta Calzones

Dinnerly – Spinach and Ricotta Calzones with Tomato Garlic Dipping Sauce (Recipe 1). Crust was large and could have used more filling. I added Peppers to the filling too, and could have added more. It had a good flavor and texture.

Dinnerly Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Dinnerly is one of the least expensive Meal Kits available. You download the recipe cards from the internet, instead of them being provided. The menus make me think that I might as well make the dish myself and save even more money. Easy ideas. Dinnerly’s website functions just like Marley Spoon’s. The companies are related. Dinnerly is budget Marley.

Sausage and Kale Soup Ingredients

Dinnerly – Sausage and Kale Soup with Pasta and Parmesan (Recipe 2). It was just okay. A little bland. It made a lot of Soup. I added Beans for extra credit. I like the ‘extra credit’ options listed on the recipe cards. Helps company keep costs down, while suggesting something you might already have in your pantry.

Dinnerly Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6 1/2.

Banh Mi Burger

Dinnerly – Banh Mi Burger with Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers (Recipe 3). I didn’t like the provided Chipotle Mayo, weird taste. Would rather make my own combination.

Dinnerly Recipe 3: Matt 7, Shelly 6.

Overall… everything was just okay. With the right recipe choice, it could be a good dinner option, due to its price. And now I want to try Every Plate, Dinnerly’s budget meal kit rival I just discovered. I will amend this post after we try it. Best recipe score was 7.

Freshly = Pre-Made Meals

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Freshly (Not a Meal Kit, a Pre-Made Meal)

Freshly – Choose between 30 meals. Just heat in the microwave and eat. They arrived nicely packaged between three layers of ice packs. They are best heated in their respective packs, and then plated, to keep moist.

Freshly Meal Samples

Freshly – We, mostly I, tried 6 different meals. Balsamic Turkey (Meal 1). The Vegetables were dry, cut too small and bland. The Turkey was tough. The Balsamic Mushrooms were good. Matt 6, Shelly 5. Pork Al Pastor (Meal 2). It was flavorful, could use a tortilla or chips for varied texture. Matt 6, Shelly 7. Moroccan Style Tagine (Meal 3). It was just okay. Had to pick out a few tough Vegetable Skins, and the small Onions in it were hard and not satisfying to eat. Seemed like a heated, frozen meal I’ve had before. And not any better. Shelly 5.

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Freshly – Moroccan Style Tagine

Freshly – Buffalo Chicken and Cauliflower (Meal 4). Chicken was tender and good. Cauliflower was just okay, a little bland. Shelly 6. Southwest Chicken Bowl (Meal 5). It should have been tasty, but it was bland and dry. Needed Salt and Pepper and more sauce. The Corn in Freshly’s dishes seems once frozen or canned, not fresh. The Vegetables, Beans and Quinoa were dry too. The Chicken was tender and well cooked. Shelly 6. Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash (Meal 6). The Meatballs where okay. Sauce was very good. On a side note, I finally decided I don’t like the texture of Spaghetti Squash. Shelly 5.

Freshly Packaging

What I learned from all…

I want to prepare everything on my own. I don’t want to receive anything pre-cut. I never purchased pre-cut items in the grocery store. Also, few ingredients can be combined to make something great. And, I can save money not buying a Meal Kit every week. I can make simple, fancy meals on my own from what I’ve learned from Blue Apron, elsewhere, and from this Meal Kit Comparison. I also saved money taking advantage of the introductory offers from each of these companies. You should too. See their pricing below.*

Meal Kit Comparison Pricing:

Sun Basket – Introductory offer is 50% off = $25.

Gobble – Introductory offer is 30% off = $42. Generally $79/week.

Marley Spoon – Introductory offer = $30.75. Generally $61.50/week.

Green Chef – Introductory offer is 40% off = $38. Generally $79/week.

Purple Carrot – Introductory offer $25 off. Generally $72/week.

Dinnerly – Introductory offer is $30. Generally $40/week.

Freshly – Introductory offer $45 for 6 Meals. Generally $60/week.

*PRICES are estimated and subject to change. See respective websites for up-to-date pricing and other information.

Tomatoes Galore & Not The Corn We Expected: It’s Autumn Corn.

June 26th, 2016 No comments

Home Grown Tomatoes

Our garden and Tomatoes continue to flourish — Yeah!  Now I must put all to good use.  I’m currently oven roasting the pictured Cherry Tomatoes at 200˚ in the oven for approximately 4 – 5 hours.  They always turn out great that way.  And I’m contemplating what to do with the rest of them.  Most likely they’ll become a Soup or Sauce, or just had with a little Olive Oil, Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper.  We’re growing Basil too, a supplement for all the big plans.

Autumn Corn

As for the pictured Corn, we plan to set it aside until October.  They are beautiful and hard as a rock. We thought we were growing edible Yellow Corn, but found these under the husks.  Not sure if it’s something we did or if the baby plants were wrongly marked.  Either way, we’re pleasantly surprised and look forward to seeing what our other corny-children will look like. 😉  It’s exciting.

We’re Still Growing And Cookin’ Here On Nibbles Of Tidbits.

September 22nd, 2015 No comments

Freis West Garden

How does your garden grow?  Quite well as shown, though contrarily slow here and there.

Red Cabbage

There’s no shortage of food material and much fodder for here, nor lack of hot and woody Radishes growing in our garden, just a preoccupation with eating and cooking with a current minor in writing.

Eggplant Growing

Other than the abundant, less than pristine Radishes, our Red Cabbage, Eggplant, Beets and Carrots continue to truck along, while the Peppers, Peas, Onions and Beans crawl along, like the reporting here lately, but more is always to come and often.  Life is good.  We’re growing too.

What Grows The Fastest? Radishes, Beans & Peas, Oh My.

August 2nd, 2015 2 comments

Radishes from the Garden

Though we planted late this year, we’re enjoying the Radishes.  They’re pushing through the soil daily alerting they are ready to pick — It took about 4 weeks from seeds to grow and eat them.

Garden Status

And we learned that Beans and Peas practically grow overnight, but as of today they are far from being ready to eat, especially since our large turtle tortoise (Cesar) ate them when we weren’t looking.  We wrongly planted them in the lower planter, which we’re in the process of amending.

Cesar, our turtle.

As for the other seeds we planted, much is growing or trying to grow.  Our Purple Cabbage has sprouted large leaves, but the row of Purple Cabbage growing at the Orange County Fair includes numerous large heads of Cabbage.  Our garden is coming along slowly, but we’re optimistic.

Home Garden

I wonder what we get to eat (before Cesar) next — To be determined and announced.

Plated (Recipe + Ingredients) Delivered: A Comparison to Blue Apron.

April 22nd, 2016 No comments

Plated Fish

It’s official — I’ve prepared 100+ Blue Apron recipes.  My husband counted them.  After two-hundred plus total dishes, I decided it was time to try a few other meal delivery companies.  At least three to start… Plated, Hello Fresh and Chef’d.  It’s not because we don’t like Blue Apron.  We love them.  I’m now curious how others’ dishes compare.  Are they as flavorful and international?

Plated Box

The Plated Report — Plated’s box was huge and all was packed within a thick insulation that looked like it should be recycled in the garden.  Different than Blue Apron, but it kept all cold and fresh.

Plated Dessert

One of the BEST things about Plated is they offer Dessert.  Blue Apron currently does not.

Plated Recipe Cards

Dessert (recipe and ingredients) costs about $8 more, over Plated’s meal plan — Most comparable to our Blue Apron Meal Plan (3 Meals for 2 People = $60), Plated offers (2 Meals for 2 People = $48 + $6 for shipping = $54).  Shipping is free with $50+ purchases.  I thus added one of Plated’s weekly Desserts to try and to qualify for free shipping.  $56 was our total for 2 Meals and 1 Dessert for 2 People from Plated.  Leon thought all looked good upon arrival (below).  I did too.

Leon and Plated

Plated’s recipes were well written and somewhat unique, like those offered by Blue Apron.  The pictured Plated meals were good, but none knocked our socks off, like many Blue Apron meals have. We also missed the third meal offered by Blue Apron.  Apples to Apples, the same Blue Apron Plan (3 Meals for 2 People = $60), costs $72 at Plated.  I wouldn’t mind future meals from Plated, but I prefer to save money.  Plated is good, but they charge more for the same comparison of food.

Plated Soup

I prepared Plated’s Pan-Roasted Redfish with Baby Kale Risotto (top), Cheese Tortellini with Basil and Spinach in Tomato Soup (above) and Caramelized Pear Shortcakes with Whipped Cream (below).  We liked the Pan-Roasted Redfish the best and the other two recipes were just average.  Plated’s recipe cards are nice and large, but not as glossy as Blue Apron’s.

Plated Shortcakes

The Caramelized Pear Shortcakes aka Biscuits were already baked, which made preparation easier, but the Dessert not as homemade.  I may order from Plated again to try a different Dessert if its weekly menu sounds better than Blue Apron’s weekly menu.  I’m currently subscribed to all listed herein, though opt for Blue Apron most of the time.  If interested in trying any meal delivery company, be sure to obtain a coupon or coupon code, as each offers a $20 – $60 discount on your first box.  Don’t miss out on that.  Check back soon to read our Hello Fresh and Chef’d Reports.

Inspiration And Growth: The Largest Onion We’ve Ever Seen.

July 7th, 2015 No comments

Giant Onion

Would you believe we grew this?  You shouldn’t because we didn’t.  We bought it at the Fullerton Market in downtown Fullerton.  Though I had a Sweet Onion at home, I had to get this giant one for $3.  You can see the size difference below, although it was more impressive in person. People stopped us to ask what it was.  It should’ve been entered in the Orange County Fair.

Onion Size Scale

We continue to tend to our real life garden and we’re starting to see the Radishes, Carrots, Eggplant, Purple Cabbage, Sweet Onion, Green Onion and possibly the Swiss Chard grow — We have a long way to go to grow such a large Onion and will be happy growing one that’s any size.

Sixteen Candles Style Anniversary Celebration With A Fresh Cake Top.

February 3rd, 2015 1 comment

Anniversary Cake

Happy One-Year Anniversary to us, Freis West (above) — It’s told to be tradition to save, then eat the top layer of one’s Wedding Cake on one’s One-Year Wedding Anniversary.  Though the idea is romantic, I wouldn’t look forward to eating it.  Would you want a year old Cake?  Or would you prefer a fresh Cake, just like the one you had on your wedding day?  We opted for a fresh Cake and got it, because we were married at The Turnip Rose Promenade & Gardens, as previously reported. It’s how they do it.  You’ll get a fresh Cake one-year later, if married there too.  Our Cake was white with a Raspberry Mousse filling and Whipped Cream topping.  All is highly recommended.

Sixteen Candles Movie

As shown, we celebrated Sixteen Candles style — We call ours ‘One Candle’ for one sweet year of marriage.  What fun we had in our Las Vegas hotel room, with our Cake propped on an upside-down ice bucket, as we sat on the window sill/air conditioner overlooking the Stratosphere.  Our Anniversary Cake took us a year back, and we hope to be doing this again sixteen years later.

Creative Cakes OC: Custom Wedding Cake With Turnip Rose Package.

January 27th, 2014 No comments

Wedding Cake

Nice package indeed — We LOVED our Wedding Cake by Creative Cakes in Orange.  It came with the Wedding Package offered by The Turnip Rose Promenade & Gardens in Costa Mesa.  Our experience with both was superb!  We called it (above) our Graffiti Cake, since it was piped with amusing words and sayings related to us.  It looked cool and unique and tasted amazing.  As a bonus (also part of The Turnip Rose Package) — Instead of freezing the top layer of the Cake to eat it on our one-year anniversary, a tradition, Creative Cakes will bake us a fresh Cake to enjoy in its place.  We’ll just call around that time to tell ’em what we want.