View my food journey on Zomato!

Search This Blog


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stefano’s has a second location in Laguna Hills, California

I have been going to Stefano’s since it was first called Golden Baked Hams. We found it in our Entertainment Book and have loved it ever since. The second generation is now working the business with Chef Frankie manning the kitchen and Alana heading up the Catering and Events. In October 2015, their second location opened in Laguna Hills so South Orange County can now have a convenient location right off of the 5 Freeway. On Saturdays and Sundays starting at 7 a.m., Stefano’s Laguna Hills has a breakfast menu that will knock your socks off.

The interior has a nice open feel with wrap-around windows for lots of natural light and a larger dining room area than the Yorba Linda location.


Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes ($12.50) are served with lemon curd and Crown Maple Syrup. The pancakes are fluffy yet hearty. The ricotta gives it a heavier texture than buttermilk pancakes and adds a creamy richness. The lemon curd and blueberries balance each other with their tangy lemon and sweet blueberry flavors. Rating: 5/5

Golden Baked Ham & Swiss Panini ($9) is made with Golden Baked Ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and honey mustard. The thick-cut ham is juicy and has the perfectly balance of sweet, salty, and smoky. The Swiss cheese adds a nutty flavor. The honey mustard adds just the right amount of tangy and acidic flavor to the mix. Rating: 4.8/5

One of my favorite menu items is the Bur-Gini ($10.25). Bur-Gini is a panini made with Stefano’s signature blend of ground chuck, short rib, and brisket patty and topped with roasted garlic, jalapeno cream cheese, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and onions. This is a fantastic burger in panini form. The spicy jalapeno cream cheese, sweet garlic, and creamy avocado and cheese pair well with the beef blend patty for the perfect burger. All the flavors in Laguna Hills are consistent with those in Yorba Linda. Rating: 5/5

If you’re in South Orange County, you really need to see what Stefano’s is all about and see what we North Orange County foodies love about Stefano’s!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
24781 Alicia Pkwy.
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Stefano's Golden Baked Hams Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, September 23, 2016

Yalla Mediterranean is healthy, filling, and fun food in Seal Beach, California

Mediterranean cuisine is on the rise with movies like The Avengers when Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man says, “Have you ever tried shawarma? There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I want to try it.” It is a cuisine that incorporates multiple cultures, ingredients, and spices for a healthy and fulfilling diet.


Yalla Mediterranean takes away any intimidation you might have with its friendly atmosphere. Their line is set up assembly-line style. The sides are all out calling to you with their fresh vibrant colors.


The meats are freshly grilled to order on skewers.


The dining room is Mediterranean in hue with the azure blue counters and chairs paired with a reclaimed look and feel.


Step 1 is to choose your style. Your choices are Wrap (choice of traditional toppings, spreads, and sauces), Chopped Greek Salad (romaine, tomato cucumber salad, feta, Kalamata olives, and Mediterranean vinaigrette), Power Greens Salad (kale, balsamic apricots, toasted almonds, feta cheese, and lemon vinaigrette) or Plate (basmati rice, choice of seasonal vegetables or spiced lentils, up to three sides, and pita.


Step 2 is pick your favorite. Your choices are Falafel (house made, GMO free chickpea fritters), Chicken Skewers (all natural chicken breast with fresh herbs and spices), Chicken Shawarma (slow roasted with Lebanese spices), Steak Shawarma (slow roasted with Lebanese spices), Shalafel (half Chicken Shawarma and half Falafel), Salmon Skewers (wild caught with fresh herbs and spices), or Kefta Skewers (Turkish spiced ground lamb and beef).


For the plates or if you want to order extra sides, you can choose from: Baba Ganoush (eggplant, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, tahini, and olive oil), Hummus (GMO-free chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil), White Bean (celery, red bell pepper, parsley, cilantro, scallion, dill, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar), Fire Feta (spicy blend of peppers, feta cheese, and secret seasonings), Beet & Kale (roasted beets, feta, and Mediterranean vinaigrette), Greek Potato (scallions, olive oil, and red wine vinegar), Turkish Slaw (red cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, honey, and olive oil), Tabouli (parsley, dill, tomato, cucumber, bulgur wheat, lemon juice, and olive oil), Moroccan Carrot (cumin, dill, golden raisin, honey, olive oil, and Mediterranean vinaigrette), Basmati Rice (cardamom, turmeric, lemon juice, and olive oil), Lentils (warm spiced lentils), and/or Grilled Vegetables (seasonal produce)

Sauce choices are Chermoula (cilantro, green onions, peppers, olive oil, mint, ginger, and sea salt), Harissa (tomatoes, paprika, brown sugar, chermoula, onions, garlic, sea salt, and spicy red chili peppers), Tzatziki (yogurt, cucumbers, dill, garlic, kosher salt, and olive oil), and/or Tahini (sesame paste, lime juice, Mediterranean vinaigrette, olive oil, and kosher salt)

Here are some combination plates you might like to try:

Plate ($14.00) served with Salmon and Kefta Skewers with Basmati Rice, Lentils, Beets & Kale, Hummus, Baba Ganoush, and Chermoula & Tzatziki sauces. The salmon is perfectly grilled with buttery, succulent flavor. It pairs well with the Chermoula sauce. I love kefta and it tastes exactly how I like it with bold beef and lamb flavor. It pairs well with the Tzatziki sauce. The basmati rice is good with cumin flavor notes. The lentils are cooked perfectly to a hearty stew/chili-like consistency. The Beets & Kale are sweet with tender beets and a little bitterness from the kale. Hummus has a creamy consistency and is not too lemony. Baba Ganoush is creamy and sweet from the eggplant with herbaceous flavor. Rating: 5/5

Plate ($14.00) served with Steak and Chicken Shawarma, Fire Feta, Greek Potato, Tabouli, Grilled Vegetables, Basmati Rice, Lentils, and Harissa & Tahini sauces. The steak shawarma is tender and juicy. It pairs well with the harissa sauce. The chicken shawarma is very flavorful. It pairs well with the tahini sauce but doesn’t need it since the chicken is quite flavorful on its own. Greek Potato is similar to German potato salad with a vinegar/oil base instead of mayonnaise. It is very light. The tabouli has a refreshing, clean flavor but needs some salt. The grilled vegetables add a nice contrast to the rice and lentils. Rating: 4.8/5

If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, Yalla Mediterranean is ready to spice up your next meal.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars
Sustainability: 5 out of 5 stars (100% compostable packaging, napkins, straws, utensils, and cups; Uses reclaimed wood in the décor.)

For more information:
Yalla Mediterranean
12420 Seal Beach Blvd.
Seal Beach, CA 90740
Hours: Daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Parking: Free shopping center parking

Yalla Mediterranean Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review of Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen by Katie Chin

Like most Asian households, the room that gets the most attention is the kitchen. Childhood is spent in the kitchen watching/helping mom and grandma cook. Katie Chin was brought up this way by her mom and Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook pays homage to her late mother, Leeann Chin, who was a legendary chef and restaurateur. During a presentation and cooking demo at Melissa’s Produce, Katie shared some precious memories of her mom and some of the dishes that she prepared with her mom. Like any cuisine, some people are intimidated by the preparation/cooking techniques, spices not typically kept in the cupboard, and restaurant-type meals that they might think only a chef can prepare. Katie dispels all those myths with easy-to-follow techniques and recipes.

I’d like to give a big thank you to Melissa’s culinary team and Katie who prepared the following dishes with the utmost care and expertise.

In the “Starters and Dim Sum” chapter, Potstickers are typically made for Chinese New Year and symbolize prosperity. Katie reminisced about the time her mom taught her twins how to make these. The recipe uses napa cabbage, salt, ground pork, green onions, white wine, cornstarch, dark sesame oil, white pepper, potsticker wrappers, oil, shoyu, and sugar. These little pockets of goodness are very easy to make once you get the hang of the crimping and folding. Katie also mentioned that you can just fold it half to make a half moon shape too. Rating: 4.5/5

Spicy Beef Skewers is a fusion of Chinese and Korean flavors and is a dish that was born from their catering business. The recipe uses baking soda, water, beef flank steak, oil, shoyu, salt, garlic, ginger, sugar, ground red pepper, cornstarch, and hoisin sauce. These skewers actually reminded me of beef satay. The beef is tender with a shoyu/teriyaki flavor with a spicy kick. Rating: 5/5

Firecracker Shrimp is a recipe that came about from Chinese New Year. With the shrimp tails and carrots sticking out, they look like firecrackers. The recipe uses shrimp, garlic salt, spring roll wrappers, carrot, egg, oil, mayonnaise, and sriracha. This fanciful shrimp eggroll will have your family and friends wanting more. Make sure to make double because they will be gone before you know it. They are addictive! Rating: 5/5

In the “Salads” chapter, Chinese Chicken Salad has a legendary story behind how it came into being. Invented by Madame Wu in the 1960s when she served it to Cary Grant at her Santa Monica restaurant. He loved it and now there is some version of it at most restaurants. Katie’s version is a lighter version using fresh vegetables for full flavor and texture. The recipe uses rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, chili garlic sauce, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), dark sesame oil, romaine, red cabbage, carrot, onion, almonds, rotisserie chicken, and wonton strips. The presentation is vibrant with color and refreshing in flavor. This would be great for a potluck or picnic. Rating: 5/5

Soy Ginger Edamame Salad is great for a hot summer day. The recipe uses shoyu, lime juice, rice vinegar, ginger, olive oil, dark sesame oil, salt, pepper, edamame, red bell pepper, jicama, green onion, pine nuts, and coriander leaves. This salad is good with vibrant color and flavor. I think it would taste better if it is made the day before so the seasonings and spices could seep into the edamame like a marinade. Rating: 4.5/5

In the “Beef, Pork and Lamb” chapter, Sichuan Beef is a popular dish that Katie makes for family reunions. The recipe uses top sirloin, oil, cornstarch, cornstarch, salt, white pepper, chili paste, shoyu, Chinese rice wine, water, sugar, hot chili oil, ginger, garlic, green onion, carrot, and Sichuan peppercorns. This dish is fantastic! The beef is so tender and the sauce is great over rice. I would probably swap out the carrots in favor of broccoli due to allergies. Rating: 5/5

In the “Drinks and Desserts” chapter, Chocolate-Raspberry Wontons are a quick and easy way to make handheld desserts in a flash. The recipe uses raspberries, water, sugar, cornstarch, Nutella, dumpling wrappers, egg, oil, confectioner’s sugar, and mint. These dessert wontons are fabulous! The Nutella and raspberry flavor pair quite well together inside the crispy exterior of a wonton. This is a great dish for parties. Rating: 5/5

Five-Spice Chocolate Cake was developed by Katie’s pastry chef friend, Theresa. The recipe uses flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, five-spice powder, bittersweet chocolate, brewed coffee, buttermilk, vanilla extract, eggs, sugar, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and powdered sugar. This spongy chocolate cake has an interesting twist with the five-spice. The only way to describe it is that it is similar to how ginger spice and cinnamon work in breads and pies, but different. Rating: 4.5/5

Make Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook part of your cookbook collection and you too can make Chinese food every day!

For more information:

On the search for an ingredient that you can’t find in the store, check out Melissa’s Produce’s website or call +1.800.588.0151.