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Monday, August 31, 2015

Cookies shapes are almost limitless at Cookie Cutter Kingdom

Cookies are a great way to express an occasion whether is a birthday, bridal shower, baby shower, wedding, holiday, anniversary, etc. Cookie Cutter Kingdom is a great place to start to find the shapes and sizes that perfectly capture your celebration.

Cookie Cutter Kingdom uses 3D printing technology to offer an array of thousands of cookie cutter designs and sizes. You can also customize your cutter with text as well. The ordering process is easy:

  1. Pick a shape
  2. Enter personalized text
  3. Your web browser will automatically show the results in 3D view mode so you can turn it and view it from different angles right on your screen.

Once you receive your cookie cutters, make sure you research a good recipe that will hold its shape. If you pick a dough that might spread, your cookie will likely not look like the cutout. Cookie Cutter Kingdom has a section on Recipes & Guides to help you build the perfect cookie.

I chose the 2-piece Beach Surf Cookie Cutter Set ($7.00) The construction of the cutters is solid and they will withstand the pressure of cutting through cookie dough. For the dough, I used a Heart-Shaped Sandwich Cookie recipe which held its shape in the baking process. For icing, I used Betty Crocker Blue Decorating Cookie Icing for the base color of the cookie and Betty CrockerWhite Decorating Cookie Icing for the details.

My mom and I did our best for our first time decorating cookies. For the most part, they were identifiable as a surfboard and swim trunks. Overall, the cookies were recognizable only with the detail from the icing. The surfboard could be mistaken for a rocket or mouth. The swim trunks could also be mistaken as boxers. But, even with that, it proves multiple uses are possible for each cutter for a child’s birthday party with rocket-shaped cookies or a Bachelorette’s party with boxer-shaped cookies.


  • Tag Cookie Cutter Kingdom in your baking creations on Instagram and Facebook and they will write you back with a 15% off coupon for you and your friends to enjoy.

For more information:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lemonade brings their modern cafeteria experience to Irvine, California

On July 24, 2015, Lemonade opened its second Orange County location at Park Place in Irvine, CA. This is the eighteenth location for Chef and Founder, Alan Jackson, and Partner and Chief Operating Officer, Ian Olsen. Lemonade is a Southern California culinary adventure that uses the freshest seasonal ingredients available. Alan likes to describe the Lemonade concept as a “choose-your-own adventure for lunch or dinner” with “a delicious and healthy change of pace” marrying “quality and convenience”. This philosophy matches perfectly with Park Place where you have people who are looking for lunch on the go, relaxed dinner, or just an intermission from shopping. The concept is very simple – grab a tray, choose from a selection of marketplace cold salads, hot and cold meats, sandwiches, pot roasts, braised pots, soups, stews, market tossed salads, desserts, and an array of lemonades. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but if you take it easy, it gives you an excuse to come back again another day.

Old Fashioned Lemonade tastes like homemade with the brightness of lemon. It is sweetened just right for a refreshing, tangy, ice cold drink. Rating: 5/5

Blood Orange Lemonade combines the old fashioned with the sweetness of blood orange. The beautiful ruby red color shines through with brilliance. Rating: 5/5

Moroccan Couscous, Cherries, French Feta, and Pistachio is a surprisingly light salad. The couscous are flavored by the salty, creamy feta, the sweet cherries, and rich, nutty flavor of the pistachios. Together, they make a harmonious bite. Quartering the cherries might be better to spread the flavor throughout. Rating: 4.5/5

Israeli Couscous, Wild Mushrooms, Parmesan, and Lemon Truffle is a beautiful salad. The pearls of couscous are perfectly cooked and have a wonderful mouthfeel. The earthiness and meaty texture of the mushroom, the saltiness of the parmesan, and tanginess of the lemon make a refreshing combination of flavors. Another addition to my favorites list! Rating: 5/5

Orecchiette, Tomato, Perline Mozzarella, and Chimichurri salad have the bright and attractive colors like the Italian flag. The fresh tomatoes and soft mozzarella work well together. The flavors were improved since 2013 and love the addition of chimichurri. It brightens the palate with herbaceous flavor and aroma. Rating: 4.5/5

Fig, Arugula, Bleu Cheese, and Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette is a wonderful play of sweet, bitter, creamy, and tangy flavors. The figs are ripe and have a refreshing sweetness. The bleu cheese is creamy and pungent. The arugula has a nice green flavor with a bitter bite. The sherry shallot vinaigrette adds a layer of tanginess without the harsh bite of raw onion. Rating: 4.5/5

Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Dates, Parmesan, and Capers is an interesting salad. As of late, brussels sprouts are making the rounds of being served in raw form versus cooked. The bitterness of the sprout is alleviated when cooked. In its raw form, it is a little too bitter for my taste. The dates made a good attempt on balancing the bitterness but it just wasn’t enough. The sprouts do have a nice crisp texture for a crunching bite. Rating: 3/5

Red Miso Beef Short Rib is another one of my favorites! Imagine braised short rib with an Asian flare from the red miso and black sesame seeds. With all of the sauce leftover, a side of sticky rice would have been perfect. Rating: 5/5

White Truffle Mac N Cheese is another one of my favorites! I have had a love affair with truffles since my first trip to Italy during truffle season. It has to be one of the best mac and cheese I have ever had – the cheese sauce actually tastes like cheese and is still gooey as you lifted the spoon from the bowl. The truffle was just enough to give you the flavor and aroma while not overpowering the cheese. The macaroni is cooked al dente with the sauce clinging lovingly to the outside. It actually makes its way inside the macaroni too. Rating: 5/5

Avocado Salmon Louie is such a pretty presentation. It will remind you of a dish served on a cruise ship with a luxurious and classic look. My only complaint again is that the avocado was not quite ripe enough making it was difficult to scoop out as you eat. This a great dish for summer as it is ice cold and very refreshing. Rating: 4/5

Ahi Tuna Poke, Mango, Macadamia Nut, and Coconut Orange Oil is enticing by the name. But if you are true lover of poke, this is not the dish for you. Being from Hawaii and eating poke since I was a toddler, this did not make the cut for me. If you like the California-style poke with the inclusion of avocados, fruits and nuts, you might like this. For me, it is overly sweet from the mango and the macadamia nuts add an unusual texture to the mix. Poke should really be more savory and really simple in flavor so the fish can shine through. Although, the presentation is visually stunning. Rating: 2/5

Coconut Cake is wonderful way to end your meal. The cake is light and spongy. The coconut along with the creamy frosting make the cake decadent and tropical. Another item to add to my favorites list! Rating: 5/5

Chocolate Buttercream is a Ding Dong in cake form. The ganache on the outside is beautifully shiny and glossy. The cake is rich in chocolate flavor. The buttercream inside is fluffy, creamy, and just sweet enough. Rating: 5/5

Next time you’re at Park Place in Irvine, make Lemonade your fuel stop! It’s healthy alternative and will give you energy whether your plan is to go back to work or shop.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
D├ęcor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Lemonade (at Park Place) 
2967 Michelson Drive
Irvine, CA 92612, United States
Hours: Daily from 11:00am to 9:05pm

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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Second Annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival starts October 2, 2015

The festival buzz started on July 30, 2015 with a media preview of the chef line-up and wines being featured at the Second Annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival. All of the chefs gave us a small-bite preview of the caliber they aim to show during the festival which starts on Friday, October 2 through Sunday, October 4, 2015.

Here’s a glimpses of what you might experience at the Festival:

Executive Chef Sarah Daniels of Del Frisco’s Grille presented a shaved prime steak sandwich.

Executive Chef Imran Ali of Tamarind of London presented a tandoori kofta meatball curry over saffron rice and cashew paneer bites.

Executive Chef Luke Turpin of Pelican Grill presented a cold smoked hamachi crudo with smoked tomato and hazelnut sauce.

Executive Chef Talia Zimmer of True Food Kitchen presented a super berry tart and kale avocado dip on a flaxseed chip.

Executive Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish presented a lobster BLT with avocado corn sauce.

Executive Chef Josef Morphis of Mastro’s Ocean Club presented mini butter cakes.

Executive Chef Rainer Schwarz of Driftwood Kitchen presented a honey dashi hamachi collar atop a yellow corn and piquillo pepper blintz and topped with Santa Barbara uni and masago and a tres leches strawberry shortcake.

Executive Chef Marc Johnson of Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge presented a foie gras terrine with kumquats atop brioche toast.

Executive Chef Yvon Goetz of The Winery presented miso seared tuna with a mango cucumber salad.

Executive Chef Frederic Guerin of FIG & OLIVE presented a fig and gorgonzola tartlet, a zucchini carpaccio, and an asparagus, pea, and ricotta cheese crostini.

Executive Chef Jimmy Chang of Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille presented brown sugar crusted cod with cilantro oil, yucca chips, and green apple risotto.

Executive Chef Steve Kling of Five Crowns & Side Door presented absinthe Scottish steelhead salmon crostini with heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese.

Mixologists Michael Kaczorowski “Kaz” and Justin Young from Aqua Lounge handcrafted “Xyle” and “Sun of a Peach” using Abolut ELYX.

Techniques of world class chefs mixed with locally sourced produce, meats, and seafood from Orange County and the Pacific Ocean are bound to be an amazing collision of flavors and textures. To kick off the event on Friday, October 2nd from 6:30pm to 9:30pm, a launch party and charity event ($125) to benefit Project Hope Alliance will be hosted by Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge in the Island Hotel. The evening will include:
  • Silent auction of one-of-a-kind experiences
  • Live music to wine, dine, and dance under the stars
  • Specialty seasonal menu prepared by Oak Grill’s Executive Chef Marc Johnson
  • Special appearances from the Festival’s line-up of celebrity chefs

The festival will be held at the stunning, contemporary Newport Civic Center starting Saturday, October 3rd through Sunday, October 4th.

General Admission ($150 for Saturday or Sunday from 1pm to 5pm) includes:
  • Celebrity chef cooking demos
  • Wine seminar led by master sommeliers
  • 2 grand tasting pavilions with tastings from top restaurants
  • 200 high-end, boutique, and cult wines
  • Mixology courses, handcrafted cocktails, and beer tastings
  • Live jazz

VIP Admission ($225 for Saturday or Sunday from 12:30 to 5pm) includes:
  • All general admission activities plus
  • 30 minute early admission to the Festival
  • Swag bag
  • Access to the “24 Carrots VIP Chef Lounge” with passed hors d’oeurvres, high-end wines and access to celebrity chefs
  • Curb-side valet parking

Riedel Master Glass Seminar and Tasting ($75) on Sunday, October 4th from 11am to 12:30pm includes:
  • Exclusive wine tasting and education about the importance of using the “right” type of wine glass
  • Take home your 3 piece Veritas tasting set of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinot Noir glasses ($125 value)

Weekend Festival Pass ($200 for Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm) includes:
  • Saturday and Sunday festival programming
  • Celebrity chef cooking demos
  • Wine seminar led by master sommeliers
  • 2 grand tasting pavilions with tastings from 30 top restaurants (15 each day)
  • 200 high-end, boutique, and cult wines
  • Mixology courses, handcrafted cocktails, and beer tastings
  • Live jazz (musician change each day)

VIP All-Inclusive Weekend Pass ($425 for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)
  • Launch party on Friday, October 2 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm at Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge at the Island Hotel
  • VIP Daytime Weekend Pass for Saturday, October 3rd and Sunday, October 4th from 12:30pm to 5pm
  • Swag bag
  • Access to the “24 Carrots VIP Chef Lounge” with passed hors d’oeurvres, high-end wines and access to celebrity chefs
  • Curb-side valet parking

The Festival will be featuring live cooking demonstrations and appearances by:
  • Chef Rick Bayless
  • Chef Hubert Keller
  • Chef Rick Moonen
  • Chef Shirley Chung
  • Chef Louis Maldonado
  • Chef Brooke Williamson
  • Chef Brian Huskey
  • Chef Yvon Goetz
  • Chef Craig Strong
  • Chef Marc Johnson
  • Chef Raj Dixit
  • Chef Luke Turpin
  • Chef Marco Crisuolo
  • Chef Pascal Olhats
  • Chef Alan Greeley
  • Chef Casey Overton
  • Chef Lee Smith
  • Chef Joshua Severson
  • Chef Helene An
  • Chef John Vega
  • Chef Frederic Guerin
  • Chef Nick Foegal
  • Chef Josef Morphis
  • Chef “Jo-Jo” Doyle
  • Chef Moises Mendoza
  • Chef Andrew Gruel
  • Chef Rainer Schwarz
  • Chef Imran Ali
  • Chef Jimmy Chang
  • Chef Ron Lee
  • Chef Sarah Daniels
  • Chef Tony Nguyen
  • Chef Mathieu Royer
  • Chef Talia Zimmer
  • Chef Linda Johnson
  • Chef Steve Kling
  • Mixologist Tricia Carr

Executive chefs from local Orange County restaurants will be showcasing cuisine in the Grand Tasting Pavilion:

Saturday, October 3rd:
  • Red O Restaurant
  • Twenty Eight
  • The Winery
  • The Loft
  • Oak Grill
  • Aqua Lounge
  • Pelican Grill
  • Mastro’s Steakhouse
  • Mastro’s Ocean Club
  • Canaletto
  • Driftwood Kitchen
  • Tamarind of London
  • Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille
  • True Food Kitchen
  • Filomena’s Italian Kitchen
  • Honda Center

Sunday, October 4th:
  • Oak Grill
  • Aqua Lounge
  • Selanne Steak Tavern
  • Honda Center
  • Studio
  • Montage Laguna Beach
  • Slapfish
  • Del Frisco’s Grille
  • Boathouse Collective
  • Anqi by House of An
  • Andrea
  • Roy’s Stonehill Tavern

The Festival will be offering delectable desserts and sweets from local companies including:
  • B Candy
  • Godiva

Guests at the daytime Civic Center events will enjoy live jazz from world-renowned performers:
  • Lauren & The Mike Frost Band
  • Cooper Phillip

For the ultimate wine enthusiasts, a very exclusive sommelier panel will be held at the beginning of each day. Guests will taste and analyze a flight of six very different, highly notable wines. The panels will be moderated by:
  • Michael Jordan, Master Sommelier
  • Fred Dame, Master Sommelier
  • Sur Lucero, Master Sommelier
  • Thomas Price, Master Sommelier
  • Emily Papich, Master Sommelier

Guests will have the chance to indulge their pallets and educate their minds on fine wines from around the world with pairings and tasting booths throughout the event grounds. Exclusive, highend wines will be poured in the Grand Tasting Pavilion:
  • Bernardus
  • Cherry Pie Wines
  • Cherry Tart by Cherry Pie
  • Daou
  • David Arthur Vineyards
  • Bure Family Wines
  • Flowers Vineyard & Winery
  • Hanna Winery & Vineyards
  • Hi-Time Wine Cellars
  • Hundred Acre Wines
  • If You See Kay Wines
  • Jackson Family Wines
  • Justin Vineyards & Winery
  • Kenwood Vineyards
  • Landmark Vineyards
  • Champagne Laurent-Perrier
  • Leviathan
  • Luna Vineyards
  • Lucia
  • Mulderbosch
  • Mumm Napa
  • Qupe
  • Richard Partridge Cellars
  • Sanglier
  • Vargas
  • Wrath
  • Zaca Mesa
  • Baldacci Family Vineyards
  • Delectus
  • Hartwell Estate Vineyards
  • Head High
  • Lutum
  • Gamble Family Vineyards
  • Patel Napa Valley
  • Three Sticks
  • Talbott Vineyards
  • Ste Michelle Wine Estates
  • Louis Roederer Champagne
  • Argyle
  • Francis Ford Coppola
  • Domaines Ott
  • Ferrai Carano Vineyards and Winery
  • Franciscan Estate
  • Herzog Wine Cellars
  • Joseph Phelps Vineyards
  • Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
  • Listel
  • Pine Ridge Vineyards
  • Rodney Strong Vineyards
  • Robert Mondavi Winery
  • Terlato Wines
  • Whispering Angel
  • Ahnfeldt
  • Ampelos
  • Anne’s Boutique Wine
  • Ascension Cellars

If you love spirits and brews, you’ll have a chance to taste these fine distillers and brewers:
  • Stella Artois
  • Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Absolut Elyx
  • Laphroaig
  • Roca Patron
  • Cruzan Rum
Make plans to attend and get your tickets today before they sell out!

For more information:
100 Civic Center
Newport Beach, CA 92660