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Friday, October 24, 2014

California Gold BBQ Rub presents “Heroic!” + recipes by OC Food Diva



California Gold BBQ Rub is a side arm of the Tastee BQ Grilling Co., a catering company based out of Los Angeles, CA. Heroic! is their second blend of SuperFoods – including garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa. Heroic! is gluten-free and has no added salt or sugar. The spice blend is very aromatic and lends itself well to marinades and wet or dry BBQ rubs. Below are two recipes that I made using Heroic! as the base. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards + ceviche recipe



Even though we are in the middle of October, SoCal is still seeing summertime temperatures. Wild Horse Winery has teamed up with Chef Santos MacDonal to share his Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche recipe. Chef Santos owns Il Cortile which encompasses a Mediterranean approach to California food and wine. His latest restaurant, La Cosecha (which means harvest) focuses on Spanish and South American cuisine – simple food paired with wine.

2013 Viognier started with grapes from the Central Coast near Paso Robles. The 2013 growing season was 70% drier than average, yet temperatures and overall conditions were favorable. It produced a slightly higher than average crop with fruit from Wild Horse Estate, Nevarez, and Fralich. From bin to press, free-run juice was separated from the press fraction to maintain pH balance and avoid bitterness from the tannins. Fermented in tanks and transferred to neutral French oak barrels at 17° Brix to complete fermentation. The wine aged sur lie in neutral French oak for six months prior to blending and bottling. Tasting notes: Lychee, citrus, and stone fruit aromatics experienced; Peach flavor experienced on the front of the palate and lemon on the back end; Food pairing: Chicken and light pasta dishes. Rating: 3.6/5 stars 

To read more, see recipe, and slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/wild-horse-winery-vineyards-ceviche-recipe

Product Review: Blue Isle’s Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads



Cream cheese has been the American favorite spread for bagels and used as an ingredient for sweet and savory dips and treats. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative that’s rich in calcium, contains probiotics (for digestive health), and no added sugar, Blue Isle’s Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads are on the market and can be found in the dairy aisle. A 2-tablespoon serving has only 60 calories and 6 grams of fat (40% fewer calories and total fat than cream cheese). The ingredients are natural and OU Kosher certified.

The Original is creamy, tangy, and anything but plain. This is for the purist. This would be great as a spread for a sandwich, a bagel, or as a base for your favorite vegetable or chip dip. Rating: 4/5

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chicago, IL: Graphic design, Navy Pier, and grilling – Day 3



Rise and shine for another day. Breakfast at the Chicago Marriott was wonderful again with a Denver scramble, herby sausage, fresh fruit, cinnamon sugar donut holes, and bakery fresh blueberry muffin. I think I had a good mix of protein and carbs to keep me going until lunch. The conference day started out with a Keynote by Lynda Weinman, (co-founder of Lynda.com and every graphic designers’ hero), followed by 5 Essential Effects in InDesign and Accessibility and PDF: What You Need to Know. Breakout sessions followed and I sat in on these: Illustrator and Photoshop: Awesome Effects Using Our Two Favorite InDesign “Add-ons” and Catch Their Attention: What’s New in Print Today. It must have been Italian Day for lunch as the afternoon snacks were cannolis and tiramisu. Mille Gratzie! The conference ends every year with Q&A and, of course, prizes. Unfortunately, I didn’t win but there were a bunch who did.

We still had a few hours of daylight left and hopped on the free trolley service to Navy Pier. I’ve seen Navy Pier numerous times from the John Hancock Center Observatory (now called 360° Chicago), but never had time to go. The trolley route is a loop from Navy Pier with stops at Peshtigo Street, McClurg Court, Fairbanks Street, St. Clair Street, Michigan Avenue, Rush Street, CTA Station (Red Line), and Columbus Avenue. The summer service hours are long so you could spend the whole day at Navy Pier with lunch, activities and shopping, and dinner. With the sun starting to set in the west, Lake Michigan was sparkling as the waves lapped to shore. The Chicago skyline from the end of the pier was spectacular. I glazed back at the John Hancock Center. It still looked so tall even from this distance. The breeze from the lake was wonderful and we didn’t want to leave. But we had to get back to the hotel and freshen up before our dinner reservation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicago, IL: Graphic design, The Magnificent Mile, Italian Beef – Day 2


My day began early. Registration for PepCon opened at 7am at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile a block away from Homewood Suites. PepCon also provides the food fuel you need so your brain can capture all of the knowledge imparted over the next few days. The Chicago Marriott did a fine job with their breakfast buffet. The staff was very friendly. A smile and “good morning” greets the attendees as they served up scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, muffins, and more. The first breakfast is usually the quiet one as no one knows each other. I was looking around to see if I saw anyone from last year, but it was merely a sea of new faces. The folks who sat with me in the dining room were all first timers to PepCon. 

To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-il-graphic-design-the-magnificent-mile-italian-beef-day-2

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chicago, IL: Sliders, 360 view, and deep dish pizza – Day 1



I always like to keep my skills up to par. I am a graphic designer by trade and found a great annual conference to attend. I grew up using Quark, but the Adobe products are now the tools of the trade from basic and complex print layouts to websites to mobile apps. PePCon is a great way to learn about new techniques and innovations in the Adobe graphics world as we know it. I attended last year’s event in Austin, TX and definitely wanted to catch it again this year in Chicago, IL.

One thing I love about traveling now is utilizing the airline clubs in the different airports. I have been a member of the United Club for a few years now and it has been totally worth the money. In the mornings, they have continental breakfast items like donut holes, bagels, cereals, yogurt, coffee (some clubs even have a cappuccino/espresso machine) and a variety of fruit. Around lunch time, they swap out to snacks like snack mixes, baby carrots and ranch dressing, shortbread cookies, Tillamook cheeses and Pepperidge Farms crackers. The seats are comfortable to relax in and wait for your flight. Other amenities include workstations with electrical outlets to charge your laptops, phones, tablets, etc., small conference rooms to knock out some meetings if you’re travelling with fellow co-workers, and my favorite, concierge service to help with rebooking cancelled flights. The staff at the United Club has helped me numerous times. They are always professional and caring. The United App is also a great tool to keep all of your flight information at your fingertips with up-to-date flight information, locations of United Clubs worldwide, and your boarding passes.

After a day of flying, we finally made it to Chi-Town. It was almost midnight and we were starving. Luckily, we stayed at the Homewood Suites Downtown Chicago. They have a small on-site convenience store next to the front desk where we picked up some frozen meals to warm up in the room. The suites are cozy with a small living room area complete with a sofa bed and large LCD TV. The kitchenette had a full size refrigerator, countertop range, microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker, large sink, and was stocked with pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates, silverware, and glasses. The bedroom had a king size bed (which was surprisingly comfortable) and LCD TV. The bathroom was roomy and was recently remodeled with granite tile floor and countertop, and new water fixtures. The long day had caught up to us – we quickly ate, hit the hay, and dreamed of what Chicago had in store for us.