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Chili’s Skillet Queso Dip Copycat Recipe: A Perfect Mash Up Of Others.

February 21st, 2017 No comments

We love Chili’s Skillet Queso and Chips on Chili’s Appetizer Menu.  And now I can make it perfectly at home.  Well, we think so — That’s six of us here who have tried it several times.  I searched the internet for a good copycat recipe and found five.  Enlarge photo above to view them. I took all into consideration to subsequently create my own, slightly different than the other’s variations, based on what I know about its actual flavor and texture.  My Chili’s Skillet Queso copycat recipe is posted below.  For the Dip only.  Chili’s Chips are too good to copy.

To make Chili’s ‘Skillet’ Queso Dip as easy as possible, I combine all ingredients in a small crock pot and occasionally stir — Technically this recipe should be called… Shelly’s Crock Pot Queso Wannabe Chili’s Skillet Queso, which is a long, dumb sounding name, but that’s what it is and how it tastes.

However, for the authentic Chili’s Skillet Queso and Chips experience, I serve the Queso in the small skillet below and pick-up Chili’s Chips to go, since I cannot re-create their thin, delicately crispy texture.  I’ve previously posted about Chili’s amazing Chips and Skillet Queso Dip here.

Shelly’s Crock Pot Queso Dip Recipe — A Copycat of Chili’s Skillet Queso Dip

Ingredients:

16 ounces of Velveeta Cheese (Chopped into small chunks)

(1) 15 ounce Can of Spicy Hormel No-Bean Chili (Or non-spicy version or other non-verified brand)

1 1/4 Cups of Milk

(1) Tbsp. Chili Powder

(1) Tbsp. Cumin Powder

(2) Tsps. Paprika Powder

(1) Tbsp. Lime Juice

(1/4) Tsp. Cayenne Powder (optional)

Salt to taste

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a small crock pot and stir occasionally until evenly melted.  Serve the Queso Dip from the crock pot or transfer to a small skillet or bowl.  If you don’t have a small crock pot, combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook on low stirring occasionally.

FYI:  After this process, I now realize that Chili’s Skillet Queso is most likely not prepared in the small skillet it’s served in, ha — Chili’s may need to clarify ‘Skillet’ too.

Pickles Loves Pickled Grapes: Favorite Blue Apron Repeat Recipe.

September 5th, 2016 No comments

Pickling Grapes

Have you ever tried Pickled Grapes?  I hadn’t until last year and will now eat them forever.  I buy Grapes more often because of it.  Pickled Grapes are amazing, especially when served with Fish over a Summer Succotash, pictured below — It’s our favorite Blue Apron meal that I’ve made several times.  The original recipe used Cod, which is fine, but I’ve since used Salmon and Yellowtail at different times.  This dish is extremely flavorful with much attributed to the Pickled Grapes.

Favorite Blue Apron Meal

A little White Wine Vinegar (2 T.), Sugar (1 T.), and a big pinch of Salt do a lot to elevate Grapes (at least 2 oz.), to a refreshing gourmet topping, side or special ingredient in another dish. Simply combine cut Grapes with all ingredients, let marinate for at least 10 minutes and see what we’re saying.  Yum!  Pickling is a beautiful thing, I’ve discovered.  And my husband happens to call me Pickles.  It’s just meant to be.  Consult Blue Apron for more about recipe #227.  We love it too.

Hello Fresh Meal Delivery: A Comparison to Blue Apron And Plated.

July 18th, 2016 No comments

Hello Fresh Test

Well… Hellooooooo Fresh.  It’s finally your turn — Nice to try you.  It’s hard to give-up Blue Apron, but I’m ready.   Temporarily that is.  We previously tried and reported about Plated, another meal (recipe + fresh ingredients) delivery company.  It’s my plan to try most, if not all of the popular meal delivery companies and here we try and compare Hello Fresh to Blue Apron and Plated.

Box from Hello Fresh

The Hello Fresh ingredients and recipe cards arrive in a large box that lists the enclosed meal’s nutrition facts on its side — A nice feature not included on the Blue Apron and Plated boxes.

Hello Fresh Menu

All ingredients were well packed and arrived fresh.

Leon and Hello Fresh

In fact, each meal is packaged individually in nice windowed white boxes.  It’s different than Blue Apron and Plated — The recipe ingredients are contained and sealed together in the large box.

Hello Fresh Packaging

The smaller boxes are impressive, but unnecessary — Hello Fresh can save on this packaging.

Hello Fresh Ingredients

The proteins arrive under blocks of ice, as like the others, and all was perfectly fresh.

Hello Fresh Meat

The Hello Fresh recipe cards are smaller than all others I’ve used, including the recipe cards from Chef’d, soon to be reviewed here on Nibbles of Tidbits — Check back for that comparison.

Hello Fresh Recipe

The Hello Fresh recipe cards are harder to read than the others — The card and photo are smaller, thus appear less detailed.  The Blue Apron recipe cards are more user-friendly than those printed for Hello Fresh and Plated.  Blue Apron includes a photo of the chopped ingredients and the others do not.  I had no trouble following the Hello Fresh recipe cards, but Blue Apron’s are better.

Hello Fresh Meal

Taste and the recipes — I made Jamie’s Roasted Chicken with Lemony Bombay Potatoes (above) and Spring Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto with Meyer Lemon (below).

Hello Fresh Shrimp Dish

I’m not sure why my Shrimp Risotto (below) looked albino compared to its photo (above).

Hello Fresh Risotto

Dukkah-Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Snap Peas and Citrus Sour Cream (below). I liked it best from our first box.  Not pictured, we also tried three Hello Fresh vegetarian meals. Since I forgot to deselect upcoming meals, I received a second Hello Fresh box in the mail. Related to that, the Hello Fresh web interface could use improvement.  It’s not as easy to view and/or cancel future meals as it is on the Blue Apron and Plated websites.  I had switched from the Hello Fresh ‘Classic Box’ to the ‘Veggie Box’ subscription on their website, because it’s a better value.

Hello Fresh Chicken Dish

Hello Fresh costs approximately $10 more for a Classic Box (three meals w/meat) = $70.  Three meals w/meat from Blue Apron costs the same as three vegetarian meals from Hello Fresh = $60. Aside from cost, we agree that Blue Apron meals are more flavorful and sophisticated overall. And since they do cost less, they’re a better deal all around.  I keep the Hello Fresh and Plated subscriptions open in case there’s a meal I can’t refuse, but need to manage them better so not to receive meals from all companies in the same week.  Each offers potential for a great meal.

A Safe & Happy July 4th Celebration To You: God Bless The USA.

July 4th, 2016 No comments

July 4th Strawberries

We wish all a SAFE and happy 4th of July celebration.  I made the above with Strawberries, White Chocolate and Blue Sugar Crystals.  They are easy to make and perfect for an American observance. They’re red, white and blue beautiful and tasty too.  God bless America today and always!

RECIPE:  Melt White Chocolate.  Dip half the Strawberry in the melted White Chocolate and then dip the Chocolate-covered Strawberry tip in the Blue Sugar Crystals.  As pictured above.  That’s it.

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.

Winning Salad Ingredients Inspired By Blue Apron Meals.

September 27th, 2015 No comments

Winning Quinoa Bean Salad

It was Red Quinoa, introduced by Blue Apron, that inspired me to create the pictured Red Quinoa and Garbanzo Bean/Chickpea Salad, with Shallots, Parsley, Mint, Arugula, Toasted Slivered Almonds, Red Wine Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Olive Oil and Salt & Pepper.  It was for the OC Fair’s Culinary Arts Competition this year and I won a 5th Place Ribbon for it.  Measurements aren’t listed, because they didn’t need to be submitted — I just fine tuned the combination until it tasted great and now it’s a Salad I’ll forever make in varying combinations, with Quinoa, Beans and Nuts.

Winning Ribbons

I won a second 5th Place Ribbon for a different Salad using Orzo Pasta, Broccoli and Pine Nuts.

Testing Out Blue Apron: A Weekly (You Cook) Food Delivery Service.

April 15th, 2015 2 comments

Spicy Turkey Meatball Pitas

Have you heard of Blue Apron?  It’s a weekly food delivery service.  Blue Apron delivers recipes and ingredients to your doorstep for YOU to prepare.  Blue Apron takes meal planning and grocery shopping off your To-Do List.  They do that for you then deliver all to you.  We tested them out.

Blue Apron Delivery

Our delivery included 3 Recipe Cards and all the ingredients to make them.

Leon and Blue Apron

All was wrapped in bubble foil insulation with sealed frozen ice blocks.

Blu Apron Box Inside

After review of its contents, let’s just say that I hope every box is as fresh as this one.

Fresh Ingredients

All produce was fresh — Kale, Spinach, Bibb Lettuce, Fava Leaves, Sugar Snap Peas, and the meat appeared fresh too.  The box of ingredients even smelled fresh.  The quality of all made me happy.

Blue Apron Ingredients

Each recipe comes with a “Knick Knacks” bag, which holds small and measured ingredients.

Shrimp Ingredients

Knick Knacks bags may include Butter, Cream, Spice mixtures, etc.  I love organization.

Beef Ingredients

I had fun exploring my first Blue Apron food box and couldn’t wait to make and taste everything.

Blue Apron Ingredients

Shrimp, Flank Steak and Ground Turkey were included in this delivery for Lemon & Black Pepper Shrimp with Fresh Linguine Di Cavolo & Fava Leaves, Pan-Seared Steaks with Green Peppercorn Sauce & Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and Spiced Turkey Meatball Pitas with Sugar Snap Pea & Bibb Lettuce Salad — A good variety of recipes I wouldn’t make or try, but for Blue Apron.

Blue Apron Meat

I like trying new things and I like surprises, so this type of service is entertaining.

Recipe Cards

You can look ahead at upcoming recipes online or surprise yourself when the box arrives.

Meal Prep

The step-by-step instructions on each recipe card are done well.  I’ll often change something in a recipe to make the dish better, but I didn’t need to and wasn’t going to, as I wanted to make all as instructed for this post.  Recipes are created by Blue Apron’s culinary team and renowned guest chefs.  Recipes will never be repeated in the same year and meals are 500-700 calories.

Lemon & Black Pepper Shrimp

Meals take about 35 minutes to prepare and ingredients are pre-measured, so there’s no waste.

Pan-Seared Steaks

Matt liked all the meals too — Maybe I’ll get him to cook one of the recipes.

Hey Matt likes it!

I didn’t expect to like Blue Apron as much as I now do, but I find it convenient and enjoyable — You still need to chop, mix and cook all, but it’s nice to not have to plan what to make and shop for the ingredients.  If I shopped for the quality ingredients I received here, it would probably cost more money, and more time and stress to look for and obtain all, let alone conceive the recipes.

Blue Apron Meal

Choose when you want your box of food delivered and how often — Once a week, every other week, once a month, etc.  I set up Blue Apron to deliver recipes and ingredients every other week for now and look forward to trying more recipes.  If everything remains fresh, I may be a customer for a long time, though I simply intended to try it.  I’ve seen advertisements for similar food delivery companies and may need to compare them to Blue Apron who sets the bar high.  Blue Apron’s prices are reasonable too, approximately $60/week for three meals for two.  Shipping is included in the price too, which helps sell me.  Check back to see how our second box of food turns out.  Posted will be a clear side by side comparison of each recipe card and meal.

Watching Angler Chronicles: Smoke Them If You’ve Caught ‘Em Sergio.

March 29th, 2015 No comments

With Sergio of Angler Chronicles

Have you seen Angler Chronicles on FOX Sports West Television?  We’re with its host and accomplished fisherman, Sergio (above) at the annual Fred Hall Fishing Tackle & Boat Show in Del Mar.  He’s a cool dude.  Matt, a state record holding fisherman himself watches Sergio on Angler Chronicles every week and now I will too.  The show brings viewers to the best wide open, fresh water and salt water sportfishing action on the west, including Southern California, Mexico, British Columbia, Alaska and Panama.  We’d love to fish with Sergio and the gang sometime.

Matt & Sergio

Matt quickly showing Sergio his state record so not to be too much of a geek.

Smoking FishTrout on Smoker      Smoked Trout

The Angler Chronicles gang needs RECIPES — As Matt and possibly I catch more Fish, more recipes will be developed.  Until then, smoke them if you’ve caught them, as there’s not much better than fresh Smoked Fish.  I recently smoked Rainbow Trout caught from Irvine Lake by a neighbor. After about 4 1/2 Hours of smoking with Hickory and Mesquite Wood Chips, every Trout no matter size was moist, smoky and cooked perfectly throughout (before smoking above left/after above right).

TIPS: Stuff the inside of most whole Fish with foil to have the Fish set/swim upright on the grill, so you won’t need to turn them and they’re less likely to stick to the grill.  Keep the Fish covered with smoker or grill lid.  Maintain water in the pan above the heat and keep all smoking by adding coal and soaked and dry wood chips when necessary.  Tips are good, but each smoker is different.

RECIPES: Several recipes using Yellowtail are linked here.  Keep checking Fish & Shellfish for more.

Best Dessert In Fullerton: Sticky Toffee Pudding At The Olde Ship.

January 9th, 2015 No comments

Sticky Toffee Pudding at The Old Ship

Have you had the Sticky Toffee Pudding at The Olde Ship British Pub & Restaurant?  It’s one of the BEST Desserts I’ve had in my life and it’s perfectly served in warm Heavy Cream.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I’ve had it three times and still can’t stop thinking about going back for it again.  I suggest going to The Olde Ship each time we’ve dined out recently, but my husband needs more food variety.  It’s a rich dessert that’s best shared, so not to be put over the Sugar edge.  The unsweetened Heavy Cream balances the sweetness beautifully.  I love The Olde Ship for this dessert, other authentic British dishes and its cozy atmosphere, especially during Christmas time.

IMG_9789

I searched for The Olde Ship’s Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe online, but didn’t find it, I’m told it’s made with Dried Apricots and other things.  I may attempt a copycat recipe after a little more study.  I visited The British Grocer, a store run by the same people at The Olde Ship in Fullerton and Santa Ana.  The British Grocer is in Fullerton, down the street from The Olde Ship British Pub & Restaurant on North Harbor Boulevard.  I’ve yet to visit its Santa Ana location, but hear it’s larger.

Heinz Sticky Toffee Pudding

Pictured directly above is a prepared, canned Sticky Toffee Pudding I purchased from The British Grocer.  I was told by a clerk there that’s its flavor is most like the one made at The Olde Ship. The store offered two options, one that’s frozen and this one that was canned.

Boiling Sticky Toffee Pudding

Surprisingly this one is made by Heinz and it does have a similar, rich flavor that’s good served with warm Heavy Cream, though it has a different, more Bread Pudding like texture, rather than a loose, Bran Muffin texture like the Sticky Toffee Pudding prepared at The Olde Ship.  I’ll buy more of both.

STP Label

I served the Heinz Sticky Toffee Pudding the same way, which made it taste great.

Heinz STP (Boiled)

It’s romantic and beautiful inside the Pub, with hundreds of lights in December.

Me at The Old Ship

Pictured below is the Great British Breakfast that’s served with a Banger, Baked Beans, Irish Bacon, a Tomato, Mushrooms and Fried Toast.  At first glance, the Toast looks basic, but it’s fried. I thought I’d like that more than I did, but toasted is better.  I like the Baked Beans a lot.

Breakfast at The Old Ship

The Olde Ship’s Famous Clam Chowder is very good too, with lots of Clams.

Clam Chowder

Back to why this post started… The magnificent Sticky Toffee Pudding at The Old Ship (below).

Sticky Toffee Pudding in Heavy Cream

Until we meet again, aka when my husband is ready to go back — I have to be reasonable.

Two Ingredient Pizza Dough: Self Rising Flour & Plain Greek Yogurt.

November 14th, 2014 No comments

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Did you know that you can make a Pizza Dough using only two ingredients?  You can.

Two Ingredient Pizza Crust 002

Two Ingredient Pizza Dough is made with Self Rising Flour and Plain Greek Yogurt.  I heard about it and had to try it.  And it’s true, it works with (1 ½ Cups of Self Rising Flour & 1 Cup of Plain Greek Yogurt).  I simply combined the two, then kneaded both into Dough.

Two Ingredient Pizza Crust 007

It didn’t take much time or effort to convert into a blank Pizza canvas.

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I made a basic Pepperoni & Pineapple Pizza, with a Pineapple homegrown by my husband, I might add.  I also added Pizza Sauce, Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese — Other Recipes.

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The Pizza was baked in a preheated 450° oven for 12 minutes and all turned out well, though the flavor of the Pizza Crust is a little bland and would taste better as a Three Ingredient Pizza Dough with the addition of a little Salt — That’s what I’ll make next time.

The Catch Of The Month Is Yellowtail: Fruits Of ‘The San Diego’ Labor.

November 2nd, 2014 No comments

Yellowtail Smoked Fish

My husband, Matt recently went on a 3/4 day sport fishing vessel called The San Diego and caught some nice-sized Yellowtail.  He brought home approximately twenty pounds of fillets and one whole Yellowtail for smoking.  It was Operation Yellowtail at our house.  We prepared several dishes immediately, gave a few fillets to neighbors and co-workers and froze the rest.

Matt's Yellowtail

The San Diego is known as one of the best sport fishing vessels in San Diego and Matt agrees. He loves fishing and even holds a state record for catching the largest California Sheephead Fish at 30lbs., 8oz., from his kayak in 2009.  It was quite impressive, like the Yellowtail above.

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As shown, we smoked the whole Yellowtail for 4 1/2 hours and it turned out amazing.

Yellowtail SmokerSmoking YellowtailSmoked Yellowtail on SmokerYellowtail Accompaniments

It was tender and flaky with the perfect amount of smoke flavor.

Eating Smoked Yellowtail

Smoked Yellowtail is a real treat with Cocktail Sauce, Lemon Caper Dill Sauce, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Cream Cheese, Red Onions, Capers, Pickles, Crackers, Red Bell Peppers and Pickles.

Smoked Yellowtail and Accompaniments

On the first day, I made Ceviche and Poke with a few of the Yellowtail fillets.

Ceviche and Poke

The Ceviche was simply made with Red Onions, Red Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, Cilantro, Lime and Lemon Juice — The Yellowtail marinated quickly and was ready to eat in 15 minutes.

Yellowtail Ceviche

Another batch of chopped Yellowtail was mixed with Soy Sauce, Ponzu Sauce, grated Ginger and Green Onions to make Poke, which was pretty much ready to eat immediately too.

Yellowtail Poke

We grilled Yellowtail fillets and ate ’em with a Mango Salsa made with fresh cut Mango, Red Bell Peppers, Red Onions, Jalapenos, Cilantro and Lime Juice — It was all so fresh tasting.

Yellowtail with Mango Salsa

We fried Yellowtail fillets to have with leftover Lemon Caper Dill and Cocktail Sauce.

Fried Yellowtail

Yellowtail fared well with all preparations — Raw (Hamachi), rare, smoked, grilled and fried.

Yellowtail Fried with Sauce

The rest was frozen to later prepare differently — Perhaps bake, stew and/or broil, etc.

Yellowtail Frozen

Preparation of the frozen Yellowtail fillets shall be posted as updates below.

Yellowtail Recipe Update:  Yellowtail Chowder.  Check back for more to be linked here.

Halloween Cupcake & Cookie Decorating: Priceless Annual Treats.

October 27th, 2014 No comments

Yellowtail, Halloween 008

The true annual treat is spending time with best friends decorating Halloween Cookies, Cupcakes and Candy.  Each year we take home trays and boxes of homemade and hand decorated treats after a fun evening of trickery — It’s quite a funny bunch (below).

Halloween 2014 Friends

I’m truly grateful for all!

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This year’s decorating ideas are posted here and others from previous years are linked here.

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We’re no design professionals, but have a lot of laughs and the Cookies always taste great.

Halloween Cookies 2014

It’s also possible that you may learn how not to decorate your Halloween Cookies here. 😉

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Halloween Appetizer Idea — Deviled Eggs with Olive Spiders.  You can figure it out.

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Happy Halloween from Nibbles of Tidbits and friends.

5-Hour Energy Yummification Contest: Introducing The 5 N’ Thrive.

August 19th, 2014 No comments

It’s likely we won’t win the 5-Hour Energy Yummification Contest, but we learned a lot trying.  The contest closes today, and then it’s our video amongst 400+ other video entries (I think) vying to win $50K, $30K, $10K or $1K.  All sound good to me.  We each created a Drink Recipe using (1) 5-Hour Energy Drink and a one-minute video preparing it.  Our drink, the 5′ N Thrive is simple to make and good tasting, but our video ended up compressed by time and size limits.  Overall, it was fun to do and we still hope for the best — Recipe is on the video.

Recipe Photo Contest Reveals More About Food Than Photography.

July 2nd, 2014 No comments

Turkey Burger Pie

From a Potato Contest I’ve learned to appreciate Ground Turkey, and other dishes I wouldn’t choose to make — At least there’s that, since my photos haven’t produced many wins.

* The pictured is not an official entry in the contest. The chosen ones are much better, I think.

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

July 1st, 2014 No comments

Cheese Platter Boat Ride 013

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.

Cheese Platter Boat Ride 001

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.

Boat Ride 040

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

Recipe Photo Contest: Bad Time To Taste Better Than Photograph.

May 18th, 2014 No comments

Potato Salmon Hash

Not sure that my photos will be chosen this go around, but we enjoyed the meals, though I’d rather have the $500 per photo prize from the Idaho Potato Commission for entries in their Recipe Photo Contest.  There’s still time to enter for a prize, or at a minimum eat a good meal.

Potato Contest Dish

The pictured weren’t chosen as official entries in the Idaho Potato Commission’s contest.

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Each is a different dish/recipe in the contest, ending May 29, 2014.  I made and entered (3) of the (6) posted recipes (from top down) — The Salmon and Shitake Idaho Hash that’s half eaten, the Western Scramble introducing the Eggs, and the French Red Wine Infused Idaho Grown Fingerling Potato Salad, a snooty sounding Salad with hard to find Fresh Chervil.

Fruit Trifle With Ladyfingers & Whipped Cream For The Best Lady.

May 11th, 2014 No comments

Fruit Trifle

Ladyfingers, Fruit, Whip… Ladyfingers, Fruit, Whip… Ladyfingers, Fruit, Whip — That’s basically how you make it.  Insert any Fruit for the “Fruit.”  I used Strawberries, Blueberries and Kiwis.  The Ladyfingers were store bought to save time, but I will always whip my own Heavy Cream with a little Sugar to make it taste best.  The pictured Fruit Trifle was made for Mother’s Day.

Fruit Trifle 009

If wanting to make it extra pretty, create the Trifle’s outer design separately from its layering.  Fruit looks best vertically through the glass, but is layered horizontally — In other words, place the Fruit and Ladyfingers against the glass as shown, or how you want it, and then layer as chanted in the middle/inside.  Repeat process as you build upward.

Everyday Thai Cooking By Katie Chin: Book Signing & Cooking Class.

April 21st, 2014 No comments

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Thanks to Katie Chin of The Sweet & Sour Chronicles — I’ve already made three dishes from her new cookbook, Everyday Thai Cooking.  We learned a lot at her recent cooking class.

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You can obtain her latest cookbook through Amazon or attend her next book signing and cooking class scheduled for May 8, 2014 at the Inspire Artistic Minds Culinary Center.

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The IAM Culinary Center is located in Orange and is brought to you by 100Eats and Le Gourmet Kitchen.  More information about Katie Chin’s upcoming book signing and cooking class is linked here.  She’ll be making a few items from Everyday Thai Cooking, as pictured.

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We got to try her Chiang Mai Chicken in Lettuce Wraps with Lime Ginger Dipping Sauce, Pineapple Fried Rice, Panaeng Curry Meatballs and Coconut Cake with Mango Sauce.

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All were flavorful and relatively easy to make.

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After our class, I made the Pineapple Fried Rice, Shrimp Coconut Soup (last photo) and the Chiang Mai Chicken in Lettuce Wraps and all turned out fantastic — Thai food is so tasty.

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Also, thanks to Greg of the OC Beer Blog, who brought Beer to compliment the food.

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Though I don’t have the specifics, he did a great job — His Beer selections paired well with all.

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Katie’s Coconut Cake with Mango Sauce is on my “To Make List.”

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If this looks good to you, be sure to attend Katie’s next cooking class and book signing.  She’ll be making all shown here and signing more books.  Thanks Katie — We’re happily cooking.

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And thanks to the IAM Culinary Center too, for current and future food possibilities.

Staub Enameled Cast Iron: The Best Chicken In The Best Pot.

March 21st, 2014 No comments

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We received this Staub Cast Iron Cookware as a gift for our wedding.

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It’s from one of the attorneys I work for as a paralegal — His family swears by it.

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I’ve given away Cast Iron Pots in the past — I generally thought them to be unattractive, to rust easy, and be too heavy to use.  Well… This one is NOT unattractive.  In fact it’s so gorgeous I can’t stop staring at it.  I want to keep it nice forever.  It’s still pretty heavy, but I greatly appreciate its enameled surface and think it would be less apt to rust.  Thank you!

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The first thing I cooked (several times already) is a Whole Chicken.

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This one is seasoned with Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and Paprika — Each has been different.

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And was simply placed a-top roughly chopped Onions and Carrots.

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I include Fresh Herbs if I have them.  Dill and Thyme (my favorite) were added to this Chicken.  I add most in its cavity and some to the Carrots and Onions, since I later puree all with a little Chicken Juice and Chicken Stock to make a Sauce to serve with it — A quick alternative to Gravy.  Cook Chicken covered in the oven at 325° for approximately 3 Hours.

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Put it in the oven and forget about it until the timer goes off.  It’s a great meal and our house smells good too.  I’ll experiment with a different pot to assess the difference in Chickens using the same cooking method and report back soon, if I can give up this pot for a bit.  Staub is made in France and this one has a self-basting system, you can read more about here.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas With Cookies And Cupcakes.

December 24th, 2013 No comments

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Back together again decorating Cookies and Cupcakes in 2013.

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With the Cookie Gang, minus member taking the photo — We wish you a Merry Christmas!

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Naked Cookies frosted to become Snowmen, Reindeer, Christmas Trees and more.

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Happy Birthday Jesus and Happy New Year to you — There’s much to appreciate throughout.

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Good tidings we bring to you and your kin — Good tidings for Christmas and always.

Not Close Enough Is Our Verdict: No Dinero For These Potatoes.

November 20th, 2013 No comments

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Well… I learned how to make Gnocchi (a good thing) and other dishes I’d never choose to make, but didn’t win a prize.  All was for a Recipe Photo Contest sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission.  My photos weren’t selected and I think I know why.  It’s all about the food (or Potatoes in this instance), not background, though important too, and I didn’t get close enough.  Or the competition was stiff.  I don’t know.  I appreciate the incentive.

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Moving on… to packin’ for moving, as previously reported — I’ll compete again when time.

It’s A Wrap (Or Fork Roll) With Gnocchi: Simmered & Entered.

October 29th, 2013 No comments

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I’ve been working on 9 out of 10 Idaho Potato Commission Recipe Photo Contest entries.  The September/October contest officially ends today, then judging begins.  It’s a wrap here with Idaho Potato Gnocchi with Pesto, the last dish prepared, photographed and entered to hopefully win again.  If nothing else, it was a learning experience with satisfying, tasty meals.

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I hadn’t made Gnocchi before — It’s relatively easy, but gets sticky, so be liberal with the flour.

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If you don’t have a Gnocchi roller, they can be rolled on the back of a fork.

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Contest recipe linked here includes a complete list of ingredients and instructions.

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Cook ’em until they bob to the top, plus 5 minutes are general guidelines, but my main focus was the FINAL photo of the prepared dish (and flavor too) — The photo is everything to the contest and flavor most of the enjoyment of the labor, though a win would enhance that too.

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Photos herein are not official entries in the contest — They’re runners up.

Potato Vegetable Casserole Supreme: Hit Of The Recipe Photo Contest.

September 19th, 2013 No comments

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The ten winning photographs in the Idaho Potato Recipe Photo Contest are now posted on the Idaho Potato Commission’s website here.  As previously reported, one of my ten entered photographs was chosen as a winner.  Pictured here is the Idaho Potato Vegetable Casserole Supreme, which didn’t win, but is our victor for flavor — Recipe and winning photo are here.