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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Skillet Desserts well built at STACKED in Huntington Beach, California

For a limited time this fall, STACKED is featuring an array of Skillet Desserts that are only available at the Huntington Beach location. The Skillet Desserts are available in seven new craveable flavors: Butter Cake, Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Peanut Butter Brownie, Double Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Chunk Brownie, Salted Caramel Brownie, and Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip. These desserts are baked fresh to order and arrive tableside warm and ooey-gooey. Just like the rest of the menu, you can “stack” them up with a variety of toppings like ice cream, whipped cream, fresh fruit, chocolate chips, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and more.

Here are some tasty skillet dessert combination to stack:

Chocolate Chunk Brownie ($8.70 as stacked) is topped with double fudge brownie ice cream, toasted coconut, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, peanut butter sauce, and whipped cream. This is a rich and heavy dessert, yet decadent. The brownie itself is not too dense and hot and gooey right out of the oven. The peanut butter flavor from the sauce and Reese’s pairs nicely with the uber chocolate flavors. Peanut butter plus chocolate equals onolicious! This is definitely a dessert for the chocoholic in your life, like my hubby! Rating: 5/5

Butter Cake ($10.55 as stacked) is topped with strawberry ice cream, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, almonds, and whipped cream. The butter cake reminds me of pound cake in texture and holds up to any topping you pile on it. It has a neutral taste so you can go to any “flavortown” you please from fruit to chocolate. I personally loved it with the berries. Their natural sweetness and tanginess bring out the vanilla in the cake. As the strawberry ice cream starts to melt, it turns into a sauce that lends more moisture to the cake. I would really love to see this option on the permanent menu!!! Rating: 5/5

Pumpkin Bread Pudding ($7.75 as stacked) is topped with banana, strawberries, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, almonds, and whipped cream. If you are a pumpkin lover like I am, you’ll love this bread pudding. It has a nice pumpkin pie flavor from the nutmeg and cinnamon. I went a little overboard on the toppings and would keep it more minimal next time with more neutral flavors; maybe with just the caramel sauce, almonds, and whipped cream. Rating: 4.5/5

If you plan to eat dinner, save room for some of these yummy desserts. You can also just stop by and stack up desserts and sip on coffee with friends and family.

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:
7490 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Hours: Sunday through Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Parking: Free in shopping center lot

STACKED: Food Well Built Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, October 23, 2016

“God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To” San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino with the opening of Rock & Brews

Dave and Dell’s love of rock & roll and merchandising started back in 1967 at an emerging rock emporium called Winterland in San Francisco. The Rolling Stones were set to perform and Dell saw an opportunity to merchandise around this concert. With a collection of psychedelic t-shirts with the Winterland marquee on the front with the Rolling Stones stenciled on the marquee, they sold hundreds of t-shirts. After this success, they formed Winterland Productions and began the merchandising business in the music industry. Dave met Peter Morton, founder of Hard Rock Café, who wanted to see if they could get some guitars and other rock memorabilia for his restaurants and in exchange bought millions of t-shirts from Dave and Dell. This sparked the dream of one day owning their own rock & roll restaurant and selling- t-shirts. In 2010, Dave, Dell, and Michael Zislis (restaurateur/hotelier extraordinaire) got together at a KISS concert. After the concert, they enjoyed a cold beer and hung out with their longtime friends Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, front men of KISS. Dave said, “What’s better than rock and brews?” This group of talented, creative, and business-savvy men brainstormed and Rock & Brews was born.


Rock & Brews opened its newest location at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA. It is also their first casino location. The restaurant is situated in its own wing of the casino. The glow of the Rock & Brews red-letter marquee draws you in and “serving those who rock”! Growing up with KISS and being a total headbanger since high school, I was just so excited be invited to this special preview.

The interior is 5,500-square feet and seats 225 guests. The restaurant also includes state-of-the-art Technomedia special effects and LED light panels that extend from floor to ceiling inside and outside the restaurant. As a graphic designer, I appreciate the design. There is a wooden wall structure that reminds me of being inside a jukebox with records stacked upright and also alludes to the fluid motion of sounds waves.

At our media preview, the amazing sound system was tested by a 50’s Tribute Band featuring Brandon Bennett. These guys are fantastic! It’s like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley were brought together for one night. They sounded exactly like them! A “Ring Of Fire” excited the guests with “Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On” in their “Blue Suede Shoes”. As Elvis would say, “Thank you! Thank you very much!”

It’s time to “Lick It Up” with some tasty menu items:

Pineapple Mojito ($12) is made with Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Pineapple Rum, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, sugar cane, lime, and mint. I love mojitos and this one hit the pineapple spot. The mint and pineapple pair well together. It is a very refreshing cocktail! Rating: 5/5

A great “Opening Act” is the Giant Soft Authentic Bavarian Pretzel ($11.95) served with spicy-sweet mustard and bier cheese. It is definitely a show stopper when it comes out of the kitchen and makes its way across the dining floor to your table. I am a slut for pretzels and just had to have one! The exterior is glossy, caramel brown, and sprinkled with salt. The interior is soft and chewy just like a good pretzel should be. I am not a big mustard fan but I loved the spicy mustard with the pretzel. The bier cheese is also quite tasty! (Das bier käse ist sere gut! All of those years of taking German in high school and college finally paid off. LOL!) Rating: 5/5

Sweet & Spicy Asian Signature Wings ($13.95) are served with ranch dressing, celery, and carrots. OMG! These wings are amazing! They have the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The exterior is crispy and really holds up to the sauce. This is a great appetizer for sharing, but beware, you’ll be fighting for the last wing. Rating: 5/5

Gastropub Crafter Burger ($13.95) is topped with double melted Swiss, sunny-side up egg, bacon, caramelized onions, baby greens, tomato, and garlic aioli atop a sesame brioche bun. You also have a choice of natural fries, house potato salad, pasta salad, or coleslaw as your side. I love sunny-side up eggs on almost anything, but I really LOVE them on burgers. There is just something so sexy about a sunny-side egg yolk bursting as you take your first bite. It will make your eyes roll back in your head as foodgasm occurs! The burger patty itself is made with a great grind of meat making it beefy and juicy to the beholder. The play of sweet, salty, and smoky come into the play with the bacon and onions. Rating: 5/5

Fire Grilled BBQ Tri Tip Steak Platter ($17.95) is served with natural fries, grilled vegetables, onion rings, and spicy sweet BBQ sauce. It is a well-portioned entrée with ample slices of tri tip. I love the grilled skewer of vegetables. The BBQ sauce was just a little too sweet for me. As a certified BBQ judge, I simply do not like sweetness on beef, whether it is tri tip, brisket, or ribs. I ended up taking this home and made the leftovers into a tri tip veggie cheese fries the next day. Rating: 4/5

Our encore was “Purple Rain” Drops ($7.95) which are six chocolate filled French donuts drizzled with raspberry sauce, and served with whipped cream for dipping. This is a great idea but I think the chocolate needs to be sweeter or the donuts should be sugar coated after being fried. The donut tastes more like pizza dough so it needs a stronger counteraction to the dough flavor. Maybe even having the raspberry sauce as a dip instead of the whipped cream. These drops need a “bathing in the purple rain”. Rating: 4/5

I hope you enjoyed this first look at the new Rock & Brews at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino. Make it a day trip to check out the restaurant and take in the sights, sounds, and maybe Lady Luck will be on your side at this amazing casino.

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

777 San Manuel Blvd.
Highland, CA 92346
Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Parking: Free parking structure
Rock & Brews Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Turn your backyard into a pizza party with BakerStone Pizza Oven Box

There is nothing like a freshly fired pizza! The crispy, bubbly outer and chewy interior of the crust, the gooey cheese and the caramelization of meats, vegetables, and fruit on top send pizza geeks into a frenzy. Yes, there are frozen pizzas available at the market or you can order one from your neighborhood pizza shop. But, there is just something about humans and fire that is in our DNA that makes us want to do it ourselves. You don’t need to build an outdoor wood-fire oven in your backyard. All you need is a grill, a BakerStone Pizza Oven Box, pizza dough, and toppings.

The BakerStone Pizza Oven Box’s patent pending design raises the temperature of outdoor grills to the level of a wood burning oven which can be 750°F or higher. It combines convective, conductive, and radiant heat to quickly and evenly bake pizzas and other items like meats and even cookies. The outer dimension measures 22.8” wide x 16.3” deep x 6.3” tall. The baking chamber measures 14.9” wide x 13.8” deep x 3” tall. Be sure to measure your grill surface allowing for an extra 1 inch on either side and half an inch in the front and back for airflow and ventilation. During our party, we started the grill an hour before cooking. This time was ample to get the BakerStone Pizza Oven Box to achieve the high temp needed for baking the pizzas.

While waiting for the guests to arrive, you can prep and plate your toppings. Smart & Final has great prices on meats like pepperoni, salami, and bacon and even mozzarella cheese. I bought a whole chicken and roasted/cubed the breast meat the day before as another topping choice. Vegetables like bell peppers, onions, garlic, and mushrooms can be prepped the same day to retain freshness. Canned or jarred products like pasta sauce, sliced olives, and pineapple work well too. It will also save you some time. Adding fresh herbs like basil and finishing salts can also be a hit with your family and friends.

You can make your own pizza dough, but it will take a lot of time and it’s tricky to get just right. Trader Joe’s sells three different varieties of pizza dough that have already been proofed and are ready to go. Your choices are Plain, Wheat, or Garlic Herb. Each 16-ounce package is only $1.19. All you need is a place to roll it out like a large wooden cutting board, a rolling pin, and flour. Take it out from the bag onto your floured surface and shape into a ball. Using your floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle and about half an inch thick. Use the included BakerStone wooden pizza peel for sizing. If your pizza dough is larger than the peel, it will not fit into the oven. You can flour or add cornmeal to the surface of the peel and place the pizza on top.

Our first guest is ready to start topping their pizza. 

Nancie used the Garlic Herb dough as her crust and topped her pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, red onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms.

Jolie used the Plain dough as her crust and topped her pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pineapple.

Charmaine used the Wheat dough as her crust and topped her pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, turkey Italian sausage, bacon, olives, mushrooms, and basil. She’s a foodie and could not resist taking a photo of her pizza before going into the oven.

By the third pizza, the hubby got the hang of launching the pizza into the oven and turning it while baking. Charmaine’s pizza looked great with a bubbly crust, oven char on the top, and gooey cheese.

Jerry used the Plain dough as his crust and topped his pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, bacon, red onion, mushroom, olives, and bell pepper. After the pizza is launched, the BakerStone Pizza Oven Box does its work immediately. You can actually watch the crust bubbling up in the back of the pizza.

Jerry’s pizza came out of the oven with a bubbly crust, oven char on the top, and gooey cheese.

Judy used the Garlic Herb dough and topped her pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, red onion, olives, and basil. Her pizza came out of the oven with a bubbly crust, oven char on the top, and gooey cheese.

I used the Wheat dough as my crust and topped my pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, salami, pepperoni, bacon, garlic, red onions, and an egg. If you have never had an egg on your pizza, you’ll need to try it. It adds an extra creamy richness to the pizza and works well with pretty much any other toppings. The first time I had an egg on a pizza was at Soleto, an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. They made it more breakfast-like with bacon and potatoes. Ever since then, I love to have eggs on my pizza!

My pizza came out great and almost heart shaped. It has a bubbly crust, even oven char on top, and gooey cheese. I would probably add the egg half way through the cooking process so the yolk could be runny. I loved the combination of Italian flavors.

The hubby was the last one to fire his pizza. He used the Plain dough and topped his pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, salami, turkey Italian sausage, bacon, red onion, mushroom, olive, bell pepper, and basil.

By this 7th pizza, the hubby had a nice rhythm and timing going for a near perfect pizza. It had a bubbly crust, even oven char on top and sides, gooey cheese, and perfect placement of toppings.

If you love pizza or are looking to do something different on your grill, purchase a BakerStone Pizza Oven Box. You’ll be the star of the party!

For more information:
Available internationally online:
Australia – Bunnings Warehouse