Travel

Nov
22
2011

The Disneyland Hotel Experience

A couple weekends was one of the best weekends my family has had together…..ever.  We celebrated my birthday and our anniversary at Disneyland and The Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim California.  I snapped pictures of our time to share….let’s take a look :)

To start, the hotel is under some construction right now, so make sure you ask about that if you plan on staying soon.

When you pull up to the hotel you have the option to valet your car for $22.00 per day or self park for $15.00 a day.

We checked in on a Thursday evening and met with friendly staff that showed us to our room.  As you walk out of your elevator you are greeted with this fun Disneyland banner on the carpet.  Too fun!

 

Skipping down the hall anxious to see our room.  Now, I will say I called one month in advance and most of the rooms were already booked.  The only rooms available were the suites so…..since it was my birthday and anniversary we splurged :)

 

As you open your door to the suite, you have a bathroom, separate living room and bar area.  Lots of space.  We had a decent view…not fabulous.  Next time, I will make sure we have a view of the park.

 

To the right of the living room was a separate bedroom and bathroom.  The beds were fabulous, soft and fluffy just like you would imagine.  My favorite part of the entire suite was the lighted Disneyland headboard.  Not only did it light up, but when you turn the light on, the lamp plays “When You Wish Upon A Star.”  It is magical without a doubt.  The boys and I would come into the room just to play the sweet song and watch the headboard light up.  Loved this :)

 

Every corner had Micky…..everywhere.  Perfectly festive.

 

My sweet boys had these fancy chocolate covered strawberries and Sparkling Cider ready when we checked in.  They were delicious.  There is also a room service menu you can peek at HERE.

 

The next morning we walked out the back door checking out the pool and restaurants.  Loved these Disney shaped bushes.

 

Here is the monorail water slide.  It was quite chilly when we visited, so we didn’t swim, but it looked very fun for summer!

 

Here is a separate pool area.  It was under construction during our stay, but it looked lovely from a distance.

 

Here is a shot of the vibrant blue hotel from the pool.

 

A couple shots of the water slide area.  The water slides didn’t open until 11am, but kids were still swimming around them.

Plenty of places to sit and watch the kids :)

 

Some of the scenery around the hotel grounds.  The boys loved the steam coming from the rocks.

 

One of the restaurants at the hotel, Tangaroa Terrace.  It is a casual dining experience.  We didn’t make it to this one, but will be trying it soon.  Click HERE to see the menu.  There’s also Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar you can see their menu HERE.

 

There is a Disney Fantasia shop to purchase plenty of Disney gifts for family and friends.  It was like a smaller Disney Store.

 

For breakfast one morning we dined at Steakhouse 55.  Next door is Goofy’s Kitchen (review coming soon) which is very busy.  Keep in mind if you waited last minute getting reservations to Goofy’s Kitchen you can generally get seated right away at Steakhouse 55.  Take a look at the menu.

Menu Date: March 2011


All That Jazz

Espresso – $2.99

Caffe Latte or Cappuccino – $4.19

Mocha – $4.29

Brewed Regular or Decaffeinated Coffee, Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream, Hot Tea – $2.99

Juices: Orange, Grapefruit, Cranberry, Apple or Tomato – Small $2.99, Large $4.99


Steakhouse 55 Struttin’ Selections

Buttermilk Stack – Steaming buttermilk pancakes piled high. Served with whipped butter and Warm Bananas Foster or Warm Berries. $11.00

French Toast – Thick-cut French toast dipped in eggs, cream with vanilla and powdered sugar served with Warm Bananas Foster or Warm Berries. $12.00


Sunrise Rhapsodies
With fresh-cut fruit or roasted potatoes with peppers and onions

Eggs Benedict – Two fresh eggs, expertly poached atop Canadian bacon and an English muffin. With hollandaise sauce. $14.00

Two Times Four – Two slices of French toast, two fresh eggs, any style, plus two strips of bacon and two links of sausage. $12.00

Build-Your-Own-Omelette – Choice of three: cheese, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, ham, avocado, tomato, onion or roasted peppers. With toast or bagel. $12.00

American Breakfast – Two eggs, any style with ham, bacon or sausage. With toast or bagel. $12.00

New York Steak and Eggs – A juicy, 7-ounce certified Angus steak, with two farm-fresh eggs, any style. With toast or bagel. $17.00


South-of-the-Border Serenade

Huevos Rancheros – Two fresh eggs, corn tortillas, cheese and black beans with fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream. $12.00

Sunrise Burrito – Scrambled fresh eggs, chorizo, potatoes and cheese in a flour tortilla with fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream on the side. $12.00


Healthful Harmonies

Egg-White Omelette – Egg whites, with mushroom, tomato, onion and peppers. With toast or bagel. $11.00

Bakery Basket – Choice of three: Blueberry or Bran muffin, Croissant or Fruit Danish. $6.00

Granola – Rolled oats with sliced almonds, with choice of one: fruit, yogurt or small juice. $8.00

Seasonal Fruits with Yogurt – Fresh-fruit cocktail or a grapefruit half. $8.00

Kellogg’s Cereals – Froot Loops, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Mini Wheats, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies, Special K or Corn Flakes, with choice of one: fruit, yogurt or small juice. $8.00

Oatmeal – Served with brown sugar and raisins, with sliced bananas or strawberries. $10.00

Smoked Salmon and Bagel – Dill cream cheese and traditional accompaniment. $12.00

Here is a fun seating area as you walk into the restaurant.  My son was trying to dance like Michael Jackson and got embarrassed when I tried taking a picture :)

 

You’ll find a very nice dining area.  I will say this is not really kid friendly, however there were other families with kids dining around us.  This is more of a nice dinner atmosphere, but the breakfast was really good.

 

I ordered the eggs benedict, which was great.  The boys wished they would have ordered it for themselves.  They loved it….so did I!

 

The boys ordered the Micky Pancakes.  What kid doesn’t like pancakes in the shape of a mouse?  They gobbled these up no problem.  I like that it came with a side of yogurt and fruit.  Here is the menu for kids.


For Kids Ages 3 through 9
Each meal includes a side of Seasonal Fruit and Yogurt plus one of these beverage choices:
Minute Maid Juice, Low-Fat Milk, Low-Fat Chocolate Milk, Dasani Water

Kellogg’s Cereals – Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Mini Wheats, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies or Special K $6.99

“Mickey” Shaped Pancake. $6.99

Jr. Scramble – Scrambled Eggs with Breakfast Potatoes $6.99

My husband ordered the French Toast with a Banana’s Foster Sauce.  This was heavenly.  Overall, Steakhouse 55 was a great place for breakfast with no wait during a Holiday weekend.  Love that!

The Disneyland Hotel

1150 Magic Way
Anaheim, CA 92802

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Goofy’s Kitchen review coming next!

Hope you enjoyed our review of the hotel.  Have you been?  Tell us your experience.

 


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Sep
5
2011

La Paz Mexico

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A little over a month ago, I had no idea La Paz Mexico existed.  I put a rush on my passport and now have such fond memories of this beautiful part of the country and  am thrilled to share with you the highlights of my weekend.  A group of food and travel bloggers were whisked off to the Costa Baja Resort and Spa for a fun filled weekend.

The travel was intense, but the memories that were made were worth it.  My one regret is not bringing my big camera.  I was unsure whether or not to bring it and wished I would have.  My point and shoot did pretty good, but you’ll see some borrowed pics from my good friend Amanda who was smarter than I :)  For the record, I felt completely safe in Mexico the entire time of our trip.

Scroll down and I’ll show you everything :)

Photo via Amanda

The group arrived Thursday August 25th to the resort.  This is a photo of the lobby.  It was open and airy with beautiful views of the pool, beach and marina.

Photo via Amanda

When we checked in, we headed off to our rooms.  Amanda snapped this gorgeous photo.  It was nice with a view of the pool, giant glass door shower, flat screen tv and comfy bed.

Here is the pool area.  Nice and inviting.

 

Friday morning we had breafast right down the beach from our resort, this is The Beach Club.  We LOVED spending time here.  It was just gorgeous as you can tell in the photos.

Another shot of the pool at The Beach Club.  This infinity pool was so pretty.  This is definitely a place I would like to hang with my family all day.

Right across from the restaurant where we had breakfast were these fun little cabanas.  You can rent these for no extra charge.  How inviting does this look?!

Here is the front view of The Beach Club Restaurant.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We had a little of everything during our trip….and it was all delicious.

Another view of The Beach Club.  We had the whole place to ourselves for breakfast.

Here’s Amanda, Lisa, me and Katie enjoying our breakfast.  We had a lovely table right by a waterfall behind us.  So relaxing.

No kidding, the best fresh squeezed orange juice I’ve ever had.  Wish I had a glass right now :)

Friday morning after breakfast we met in the marina to get ready for our snorkeling adventure to Isla Espiritu Santo.  This was by far the highlight of my trip.

Just sailing off, passing beautiful boats and yachts.

Getting our sunscreen on and enjoying zipping through the water in our party boat.

I am still in awe of how crystal blue the waters were.  It’s hard to believe it until you see it for yourself.  Stunning.

Couldn’t help but snap a photo of the fish swimming all around our boat.  I have never seen water this clear.

This was the area where the sea lions hung out.  They chose a great home :)

Love this.

Photo via Amanda

Here we are getting ready to snorkel.  The water was perfect.  Lots of little fish all around us.  The sealions were on the rocky area behind us.

Lori and I.  I am ready to go snorkeling again.  My boys would love this.

Photo via Amanda

On our way back , we found a group of dolphins that enjoyed racing the boat and jumping over our waves.  Adorable!  Love this photo Amanda captured.  We were all in awe!

Photo via Amanda

There they go.  It was a fun game for them to jump through our waves.  Little cutie pies!

Photo via Amanda

Saturday morning we headed to Todos Santos to the Hotel California.  Very bright and full of personality.

Here is the lobby of Hotel California.  Loved the colors.

Walking to the back of the hotel.  Great seating areas.

Nice sparkling pool area.

Photo Via Amanda

It was time for lunch!  We had a Mexican feast, all delicious.

 

Photo via Amanda

Lori, me and Katie waiting patiently for our lunch :)

photos via Amanda

We started with chips, guacamole and salsa along with some fish tacos.  Delish!

photos via Amanda

We also had chicken verde enchiladas and a chocolate truffle cake for dessert.

Photo via Amanda

Bloggers I spent the weekend with:

Rachelle Lucas, Lisa Overman, Katie Goodman, Amanda Bottoms, Katja Presnal, Dian Emery, Mardi Michels, Gary Arndt, Lori Lange and myself :)

A big thanks to the Mexico Tourism Board for having us and to the PR folks who worked so hard to show us a good time.  Had a great time in LA Paz.  Will treasure the memories forever!

Disclosure:  This was an all expense paid trip via Mexico Tourism,  thoughts and remarks are my own.

 


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Jun
20
2011

The Commander’s Palace Dining Experience

One of the highlights of my time in New Orleans was going to Commander’s Palace for Brunch Sunday morning. It’s hard to explain the ambiance of the restaurant, it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before, or at least that I have ever seen. A long line of waiters lined the halls and greeted us as we walked through the door and balloons were centerpieces at every table. You also get a live band that plays at your own table. The food was…..unforgettable. Scroll down, you’ll see what I mean.

So, here we are just walking off the bus, snapping photos like crazy as we did at everything :) To the right is Adam, Matt and Brooke looking great!

Here are those waiters that greeted us at the door and the balloons at each table. So fun and festive. It was also a treat to see some of the local women in their fancy Sunday hats as well. So different from what I am used to.

We got to walk through the giant kitchen to see all the kitchen staff hard at work.

More table shots

Tables were placed by big windows with gorgeous views of lush green trees.

Alright onto the food we enjoyed at Commander’s. We started with a single fried Oyster with Caviar and the Brandy Milk Punch (minus the Brandy) Both were a dream, especially that milk. It tasted like melted vanilla ice cream, yum!

Marla had that gorgeous salad and I ordered trio of soups that included a turtle soup. That was another first for me :)

Here were the guys from the band. Loved them!

Here were some of the brunch entrees that came out. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Amanda ordered this shrimp that was probably the best shrimp I have tasted. Want it again!

I ordered the White Chocolate Blueberry Pancakes…..they were as good as they look.

Photo via Marla Meridith

Amanda, Marla and me at our table, love these gals!

Dessert was a dream. Here is the Cookie Dough Bread Pudding.

The Pralines dessert and the Strawberry Shortcake. Both delicious.

The cheesecake was so photogenic and tasted even better.

This Bread Pudding Souffle was my favorite and I have the recipe for you from the restaurant! Enjoy friends!

Bread Pudding Souffle With Whiskey Sauce

Recipe by Commander’s Palace, New Orleans

Butter, for greasing pan and ramekins

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

3 medium eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 cups New Orleans French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (see *Cook’s Note)

1/3 cup raisins

Whisky Sauce

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup bourbon

Meringue

9 medium egg whites, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup sugar

Directions

*Cook’s Note: New Orleans French bread is very light and tender. If another bread is used that is too dense, it will soak up all the custard and the recipe won’t work.

Make the bread pudding: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs until smooth, and then work in the heavy cream. Add the vanilla, stir to combine, and then the bread cubes. Let stand so that bread soaks up custard.

Place the raisins in the greased pan. Top with the bread mixture, which prevents the raisins from burning. Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the pudding has a golden brown color and is firm to the touch. If a toothpick inserted in the pudding comes out clean, it is done. The mixture should be moist, not runny or dry. Cool to room temperature.

Make the whiskey sauce: Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Whisk cornstarch and water together, and add to cream while whisking. Bring to a boil. Whisk and let for a few seconds, taking care not to burn the mixture on the bottom. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar and the bourbon. Taste to make sure the sauce has a thick consistency, a sufficiently sweet taste, and a good bourbon flavor. Cool to room temperature.

Make the meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 6 (6-ounce) ramekins and set aside. Make certain that the bowl and whisk are completely clean. The egg whites should be completely free of yolk, and they will better if they are at room temperature. This dish needs a good, stiff meringue. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add the sugar gradually, and continue whipping until shiny and thick. Test with a clean spoon. If the whites stand up stiff, like shaving cream when you pull out the spoon, the meringue is ready. Do not over-whip, or the whites will break down and the souffle will not work.

In a large bowl, break half of the bread pudding into pieces using your hands or a spoon. Gently fold in 1/4 of the meringue, being careful not to lose the air in the whites. Add a portion of this base to each of the ramekins. Place the remaining bread pudding in the bowl, break into pieces, and carefully fold in the rest of the meringue. Top off the souffles with this lighter mixture. Smooth and shape tops with a spoon into a dome over the ramekin rim.

Bake immediately for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Using a spoon, at the table, poke a hole in the top of each souffle, and pour the room temperature whiskey sauce inside the souffle.

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Have a great day, I’ll be dreaming of Commander’s Palace :)


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Jun
16
2011

Loving New Orleans

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Photo via Marla Meridith

What a great weekend I had in New Orleans last week.  I was fortunate to spend 4 days with a group of bloggers and the LA Seafood Board.  We ate our way through the best restaurants and met with seafood fisherman to get a hands on look at how much love and work goes into their jobs.  A real eye opening experience, I have so much respect for all of them.

Let me take you through a peek at the adventures we went on day 1.

We were so lucky to stay at The Bourbon Orleans Hotel, right in the middle of the French Quarter.

Photo via Marla Meridith

We had a lovely gift bag of sweets from Sucre’ Bakery Boutique and a giant arrangement of Zatarains products waiting in our rooms.  How gorgeous is this?

Last Thursday evening we dined at the Bistro at Maison De Ville.  The  food was delicious, I tried my first set of frog legs.  So cliche, but yes tasted like chicken :)

I am not sure what I will do without Camillia’s Grill. Amanda and I enjoyed their charming diner 3 times in 4 days.  No kidding, they had the best breakfast Western Omelet I have ever had.  See photos below.  We spotted their secret ingredient.  Finely chopped ham and peppers sauteed in LOTS of butter before the eggs get poured over.  Worth every single calorie.

Here is the inside diner.  Love Love Loved it :)

Here are the guys hard at work, they were as sweet as the food was delicious.  It’s a must do if you are in New Orleans.

The photos don’t even do these dishes justice.  We split a side of pancakes and some grits too.  Love!

After breakfast on Friday, we headed to the Louisiana Seafood Festival, lots to see and even more to eat.  I got a kick out of the gator offerings.  You don’t see this in Orange County :)  Matt and Adam tried the gator sausage and everyone raved about it, guess Mr. Gator is mighty tasty.

We also had front row seats to chef demo’s at the festival.  Talented local Chef’s prepared beautiful seafood dishes and shared.  How good does that shrimp and coconut look that Chef John Folse is holding?

Here we are getting interviewed by the LA Seafood camera man.  Not sure where our faces will show up.  Matt and Amanda doing a fine job on camera :)

Photo Via Matt Amaranderiz

Marla, Me and Gaby taking pics of the gorgeous chef dishes.  Always snapping photos aren’t we?!

Ahhh, the ever so famous Cafe Du Monde.  Before I went to New Orleans, EVERYONE said you must get beignets from Cafe Du Monde.  I don’t drink coffee, but I hear their coffee is a must order as well.  It’s a small outside coffee shop with powdered sugar all over the floor.  You can see why by the looks of those beignets.  Very charming indeed and how can you go wrong with a fried piece of goodness covered in powdered sugar?

Happy girl with my beignets :)

We also had the pleasure of watching cooking demo’s from Chef Ann at the New Orleans School of Cooking.  The food was outstanding!

On the left is Ann the cooking instructor who was the cutest sweetest grandma you’ll ever meet.  On the right is Dan serving up the grub.  We could come up and help ourselves….and even have seconds :)

Photo via Amanda

Maggy and I snapping some serious photos, lol!

Photo via Amanda

Me, Maggy and Amanda at the cooking school :) We enjoyed Corn and Crab Bisque, Crawfish Etouffee, Banana’s Foster and Homemade Pralines….which I have the recipe for you!!

Homemade Pralines

Recipe by The New Orleans School of Cooking

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup milk

6 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a “softball stage” (238-240 degrees F), stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

2. Stir until mixture thickens (again stirring constantly), becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture. Spoon out on buttered waxed paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper. When using waxed paper, be sure to buffer with newspaper underneath, as hot wax will transfer to whatever is beneath.

Note: To roast pecans, bake them on a sheet pan at 275 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.

Options: Praline sauce (add 1/2 cup corn syrup to mixture). Chocolate covered praline candy. Flavored pralines (chocolate, coffee, brandy, etc.)

Makes 1-50 pralines depending on size

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Stay tuned for more New Orleans Adventures and more recipes!

To see the full list of bloggers who I was with click HERE


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May
30
2011

Oreo Stuffed Cookie Jars and BlogHer Food, Atlanta

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I was so excited to bring one of these little Oreo Stuffed Cookie Jars to Amanda last week during out trip to Atlanta for the BlogHer Food Conference.  I wrapped it nicely in my suitcase and when I opened my suitcase my little jar was broken!!  I was devastated, but luckily we had plenty of treats over the weekend that made up for it :)

It’s basically the same recipe as my Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies just layered nicely in little jars.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Jars

2 sticks softened butter

3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar

1 Cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla

3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

10 oz bag chocolate chips

1 bag Oreo Cookies, I used the double stuff :)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars until well combined. Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

2. In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined. Using a cookie scoop a large scoop of dough into the bottom of each mason jar.  Layer with Oreo cookies, then cookie dough, repeating until you’ve reached the top of the jar, leaving 1 inch free.   Bake cookies 15 to 17 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Serve with a tall glass of milk, enjoy!

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Here are some photos from my trip to Atlanta :)

photo via Amanda

Atlanta was great.  Here is the view from our room.  It was quite stunning.  There is nothing better than a conference full of food bloggers.  We did not waste any time, shortly after we arrived it was time to get ready for our first party.  The ever so talented Susan from She’s Becoming Doughmesstic hosted a lovely party at the Hard Rock Cafe.  She is superwoman if you ask me, really was a perfect night to chit chat with friends, eat some good food and talk with brands.  I regret not taking many photos this trip, so I’ve borrowed my friends :)

photo via Sandy

Here we are just leaving the party with some great women :)

Left:  Marla, Amanda, Jennifer, Kelsey, Carrie and Sandy

Photo via Leslie

Friday morning was the first session of the conference.  Here is where I found the beautiful Leslie of Hungry Housewife, love her!  We both had on the exact same colors, and outfits from Target :)

Photo via Amy

Here is my sweet friend Amy from Mom Advice.  She is one of the sweetest most genuine women I have met.  I wish we were in the same town!

Photo via Amanda

Friday afternoon, Amanda and I skipped out of the 2nd half of the conference and went to some fun eats in Atlanta.  First was Taqueria del Sol, which had some of the best tacos I have ever had.  Next was Star Provisions, the treats you see in the above photo.  Their bakery was gorgeous and that Homemade S’mores Bar was incredible.  I must re-create it!

Photo via Lori

Here we are Friday night getting ready for the “Pork Crawl” an event put on by the National Pork Board and Jaden of Steamy Kitchen.  Talk about a night of over eating!  We were treated to 3 beautiful restaurants where the chefs created 3 course meals all with pork.  It was unforgettable and I still need to work off all of that food!

Photo via Amanda

Here we are in one of the biggest limos I have ever seen.  Left:  Lori, Angie, me, Jaden, Sandy, Georgia and Marla

photo via Amanda

Lunch Saturday afternoon was a real treat.  All of these women are so incredible.  I feel so lucky to have spent the afternoon with all of them!

Angie and I :)  What a treat to see her over the weekend.

Left:  Shaina, Amanda, Lori and me  2nd Photo:  Me and Betsy from Tasty Kitchen 3rd Photo Christy from Southern Plate and me :)

Photo via Aimee from Simple Bites

Saturday night was literally a dream dinner at Empire State South.  If I ever make it back to Atlanta, this will be one of the first places I visit again!!  Left:  Alice, Sandy, Amanda, Carrie, Me, Tara, Aimee, Lori and Shaina

Photos via Aimee from Simple Bites

Some of the delicious food we ordered family style at Empire State South

Photos via Aimee from Simple Bites

Food Fun and Friends, doesn’t get much better than that!

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Have a great new week!  See you soon with a new recipe!!


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Feb
2
2011

Sweet Shoppers NYC Day 1

Photo via Amanda

What a great time I had in NYC last week despite the wicked cold!  No kidding, this was the first time in my entire 34 years of age that I have ever witnessed falling snow.  It was quite the experience for me, it’s beautiful!  I prefer enjoying it from a warm hotel room, but what the heck, I was only in NY for a couple of days, so I didn’t let it slow me down….much :)

I love this photo above that Amanda snapped of us Left:  Me, Susan from She’s Becoming Doughmesstic, Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod and Lori from Recipe Girl.  We really were just cruising through the streets of NY hunting for the best bakeries around.

Fist up was this adorable little bakery called Bouchon Bakery.  I wasn’t expecting much since it was just inside a mall but boy did it prove me wrong.  The vanilla macaron photographed a few photos down was probably one of the best things I have ever eaten, hands down!

Here’s the homemade Oreo Cookie, it was just so so if I am being honest.

A nice big Bouchon chocolate chip cookie.  Doesn’t touch Levain’s cookies, but this one was good.

Photo via Amanda

Here is the ever so fabulous Vanilla Macaron from Bouchon that I will never forget.  It was soft and cake like, almost like a cream filled cupcake which is probably why I fell in love with it so much :)

The inside goodness of the vanilla macaron, drooling just thinking about it.

This is what we had left….how embarrassing.  We devoured these treats.

Photo via Amanda

Such a fun photo that was taken with Amanda’s camera in Central Park.  Left:  Me, Maria, Lori and Amanda.

Photo via Amanda

Here’s another shot with the same gals swapped with Susan on the right :)  Susan happened to be in NY the same time we were there, how fun is that?

Photo via Amanda

Amanda and I….we were due for an updated photo together :)

We walked through this snowy weather to find our sweet shops.  Are we nuts?!

Couldn’t pass up stopping in Magnolia Bakery.  Such pretty cupcakes that happen to be mighty tasty too.

Magnolia employee hard at work :)

This was quite fun, we wanted to capture the yellow taxi in the background of the photo.  Luckily they passed by every couple seconds.

The berry crumble and chocolate peanut butter pop were incredible.  Actually the red velvet cheesecake and vanilla cupcake were great too.

Photo via Amanda

We popped in Alice’s Tea Cup for a few minutes.  Cute little shop.

Ahhhh, finally back to Levain Bakery.  This tiny little shop produces some crazy good treats.  Go find them next time you are in NYC!

Deciding what to order :)

Photo via Amanda

I think Lori said it best on twitter about this photo….this is what happens when a bunch of food bloggers get together :)  Let the photo shoot begin.

Photo via Amanda

We got to meet up with Maggie from Three Many Cooks for lunch at Patsy’s Pizza.  This was such a great day.  Patsy’s has a killer salad.  I just remembered how much I loved it.  Left:  Susan, Lori, Amanda, Me, Maria and Maggie

After lunch we strolled on over to Momofuku’s for some unusual desserts such as crack pie, birthday cake truffles, compost cookies and cereal milk ice cream.  They were all…..really interesting.  I’ll leave it at that.  My favorite was probably the birthday cake truffles.

Photo via Amanda

We kind of took over the upstairs library for our hang out/dessert eating session.

Photo via Amanda

Left:  Me, Susan, Maggie and Maria

Photo via Amanda

Walked back to our hotel through Time Square.  I don’t ever get tired of this gorgeous city.  The lights are unbelievable.

Photo via Amanda

After our cupcake adventures we had a fun pampering night with the folks from I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter who provided us with the trip.  We then had a PJ party in Amanda’s room.

Stay tuned for day 2 where we spend the morning at Butter Restaurant, met Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and saw Kim Cattrall during more adventures with ICBINB.


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Jan
20
2011

Spice of Life :) Plus McCormick Spices/Spice Rack Giveaway!

I had an incredible opportunity to go to the McCormick Gourmet Kitchens last week with some other wonderful bloggers:  Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, Shauna of Gluten Free Girl and Nicole of Pinch My Salt.  I am really excited to work with these talented women and McCormick Gourmet.

We all met for dinner where the Chef mixed up some drinks and prepared a gorgeous dinner.  After not eating all day from traveling this was quite the treat.  I snapped some photos of our time with McCormick Gourmet, take a look :)

When we arrived to the McCormick Kitchens we were greeted by the lovely McCormick staff.  Chef Len fed us some delicious appetizers.  Tale a look below :)

Here is our menu for the evening.

Curried Chicken and Mushroom Spring Rolls.  INCREDIBLE!  Will definitely be making these again.

Marinated Shrimp with Mango and Radishes.  Perfect little appetizer.

Dirty Martini Steak Kabobs and Salad.  What a creative recipe for kabobs, full of flavor.  Loved these.

Sweet and Smoky “Pork and Beans.” I think we all had a few helpings of this one :)

Cheesecake Tart with Popcorn Crust and Berries.  This cheesecake caused quite the uproar, not kidding.  The flavor combinations here are unreal.  This will be made at my house very soon.

The next morning, we met for breakfast and enjoyed:  Tomato Zucchini Frittata, Cinnamon Apple Nut Muffins, Pepita Pumpkin Bread.

How good does this look?!

…and this?

This was one of my favorite parts of the trip…..along with the incredible meals, but learning about the history of the McCormick Spices was so fascinating.  Made me appreciate what goes into each jar I see at the store.

We also got to sample and smell a variety of spices.  The vanilla test was the most interesting.  If you’ve ever doubted buying pure vanilla….don’t.  It wasn’t even a comparison when sampled side by side.

Later in the day, we each whipped up 2 simple recipes that used a regular spice and then a roasted spice to sample and see the difference in taste.  I had a creamy cinnamon dip that I wanted to bottle up and eat with a spoon.  It was delicious!

Making my dip!

The other ladies Jaden, a sweet McCormick rep, Shauna and Nicole making their recipes :)

It was time for lunch and talk about a feast.  This salmon was one of the best salmon I have ever had.  Will be making it for my family. Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon

Will be making these too! Harvest Vegetables with Roasted Ginger & Cumin

This was another recipe that we couldn’t stop eating, so delicious and I think it was unanimous that we will all be making these ribs! Chipotle Cinnamon Baby Back Ribs

As if we hadn’t had enough food, we ended our meal with these cute “cup” cakes with a bite.  Loved the heat that came through with each bite . Mexican Hot Chocolate “Cup” Cakes

Giveaway: An assortment of McCormick Spices with Spice Rack

3 winners!

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED, Winners have been emailed :)

Here’s How To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment and tell us, what are your favorite McCormick Spices?

2.  For extra entries, Follow Picky Palate on Twitter, RSS Feed and Like us on Facebook.  Leave 3 separate comments for this.

3.  Contest ends Monday January 24th 8pm PST.  Winners will be chosen by random.org and will be notified by email.  Giveaway provided by McCormick Gourmet.

*Spices will not be exactly as pictured in Photo :)

Good Luck!

*Disclaimer:  I have been hired to
work with McCormick Gourmet as part
of their McCormick Real Gourmet
Program and am being compensated
however the thoughts are my very
own :)

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Jan
18
2011

San Diego Sweet Shoppin’ with Amanda

What can I say, Amanda and I were at it again…..hunting down the best bakeries in the city.  The city of choice this time was San Diego.  Lucky for me, San Diego is only about an hour away so I drove up to meet Amanda where we started our day at one of the best cupcake shops I have been to, no lie!  It is called Elizabethan Desserts Bakery.  It is tucked inside a quaint nursery and flower shop that is flat out adorable.

Get a load of these gorgeous mini cupcakes!  We couldn’t resist so we ordered one of every kind.  Can you blame us?  With names such as Bees Knees, Chocolate Toffee and Monkey Business we were drooling at the counter.

More shots of cupcake goodness :)

Isn’t the rose one adorable?!  It is called “Plain Jane.”  The red velvet with cream cheese frosting to the left was one of my favorites hands down.

The Mustachio is so darn cute we were afraid to cut into his mustache.  The Pistachio butter cream was killer!

This is the “Black Beauty”  It really was the most photogenic one, pretty tasty too.

The Ho Daddy Chocolate was the first one we cut into and it could quite possibly be the best chocolate cupcake I’ve had.

After a full belly of cupcakes we decided to walk off a couple calories in the flower shop where the sweet owner took some photos of us.

We needed MORE walking so we walked around La Jolla Beach which was perfectly beachy :)

After the beach, we went to this great lunch/gelato spot called Pappalecco.  My sandwich was so good I am tempted to make a drive back out to San Diego very soon!

Here’s Amanda’s Pizza :)  YUM!

Later in the afternoon we went in to the very fancy “Extraordinary” Desserts.

Get a load of these gorgeous desserts!  We spent a very long time photographing their beauty,  that was worth the pretty pricetag of these desserts :)

The Dulce de Leche Cake…it was featured on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  It was my favorite of all of our choices.

Amanda ordered this lovely Strawberry Shortcake.  Gorgeous huh?

The Pots de Creme was so photogenic but if I am being honest, was just so so :(

I am a Creme Brulee fanatic, I try it about everywhere I go that offers and this one gets a 6 out of 10.  Pretty, creamy but lacked something I can’t quite put my finger on.

LOVED watching these little birds finish up what was left on the table in front of us.  They are no dummies!

Last on our list was Babycakes.  An adorable little eatery/bakery with lots to offer.  I HAD to take my order home otherwise I may have busted at the seams but my boys and husband devoured these, so I am assuming they were killer!

They are quite lovely aren’t they?  See all of their Gourmet Cupcake selections on their website :)

Cute little box to go.  Thanks for peeking into our day of indulgence!

Be sure to take a peek at Amanda’s post of our trip too :)

It’s always a blast when Amanda and I get together, LOVE it.  Stay tuned for more sweet traveling :)


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Nov
20
2010

Dole Food & Wellness Blogger Summit

photo from google

What a great day yesterday was at the Dole Event.  My buddy Marla from Family Fresh Cooking and I were picked up by a driver at the crack of dawn and headed out to The Four Season’s Westlake Village.   I want to take my family back to this hotel, it was gorgeous!

both hotel photos from google

We started our morning with a “Breakfast for Performance” Demo and enjoyed a delicious and healthy meal :)

Mmmm, I am not  a cottage cheese fan usually, but take a look at that trifle.

My blogging buddies digging in :)

One of the highlights of my trip was meeting my beautiful friend Susan from “She’s Becoming Doughmestic.”  I LOVE her to pieces and wish she lived next door.  We need to be baking neighbors :)

Doesn’t get much better than spending time at a beautiful place with some of your best buds :)  Love all of these ladies. Photo:  Marla, Rachael, Me, Amanda, Susan and Maria.

Here we are at our Welcome Presentation where we learned about “The Wellness World of Dole” and listened to a keynote panel discussion on “The Latest Food, Nutrition and Wellness Trends.”  Great information here.  I was reminded…..Eat more fruits and Veggies Jen!  I need that reminder often :)

On our way to some product demo’s.  Had to snap a picture of this gorgeous chandelier :)

It was time to get our sampling on.  Think a great day at costco but even better :)  We had these delicious jello fruit cups and baked bananas.

Got to nibble on all the lastest Dole goodies and lots of salad.

A little chat time before getting the grand tour of the Dole Offices.  We’ve got Amanda, Ann Marie, Jennifer and Maria here :)

The Dole offices are beautiful, get a load of this centerpiece I wanted to stick in my bag for home.

Love this!

Checking out the Dole kitchen area.  Right photo:  Marla, Rachael, Ann-Marie and Sandy

We enjoyed lunch at the Dole Cafeteria where their staff gets daily healthy menu items to choose from.  If that’s not cool enough they get to eat outside by this gorgeous waterfall.  I could get used to that :)

Heading to get my facial and Nutrition Consultation….had to stop and smell the roses.  Ok, I am a geek.

photo from google

Another highlight of my day was enjoying one of the best facials I have ever had.  It was a dream.

Now, time to get ready for dinner.

Shaina from “Food For My Family”  gets the “You are Awesome” Award.  She was a rockstar on our team that had to prepare an entree with salmon, lentils, cranberries and spinach.  It turned out beautiful.  Thanks Shaina!!

Judges….our dish won for taste, but lacked “presentation.”  Lol!  Oh well :)

I happen to think it looks delish!

Overall, this was a whirlwind day packed with great information and lots of salad.  I repeat, lots of salad.  Loved every minute of it!  Thank you Dole for putting on a beautiful event!

Here are the wonderful ladies I spent the day with:

o   Shaina Olmanson (Food for My Family) www.foodformyfamily.com, @FoodforMyFamily

o   Jennifer Leal (Savoring the Thyme) www.savoringthethyme.com, @SavorTheThyme

o   Brooke McClay (Cheeky Kitchen) www.cheekykitchen.com, @CheekyKitchen

o   Kathy Patalsky (The Lunchbox Bunch) www.lunchboxbunch.com, @lunchboxbunch

o   Anne-Marie Nichols (This Mama Cooks!) www.thismamacooks.com, @amnichols

o   Katie Goodman (Good Life Eats) www.goodlifeeats.com, @GoodLifeEats

o   Sandy Coughlin (Reluctant Entertainer) www.reluctantentertainer.com, @SandyCoughlinRE

o   Anne Petraeus (Fannetastic Food) www.fannetasticfood.com, @fANNEtasticfood

o   Maria Lichty (Two Peas and Their Pod) www.twopeasandtheirpod.com, @TwoPeasandPod

o   Jenny Flake (Picky Palate) www.picky-palate.com, @PickyPalate

o   Marla Meridith (Family Fresh Cooking) www.familyfreshcooking.com, @MarlaMeridith

o   Gena Hamshaw (Choosing Raw) www.choosingraw.com, @choosingraw

o   Shanna Coady (My Favorite Everything) www.myfavoriteeverything.com, @MyFavEverything

o   Amanda Bottoms (Kevin and Amanda) www.kevinandamanda.com, @kevinandamanda

o   Lorin Falcon (A Cowboy’s Wife) www.acowboyswife.com, @acowboyswife

o   Amanda Acuna (Mommy Mandy) www.mommymandy.com, @mommymandy

o   Susan Whetzel (She’s Becoming DoughMessTic) www.doughmesstic.com, @doughmesstic

o   Rachael Hutchings (La Fuji Mama) www.lafujimama.com @LaFujiMama

*Discolsure:  Dole paid for all  expenses relating to the Dole Blogger Summit, including transportation, accommodations, meals and spa treatments.


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Jenny Flake, Picky Palate

Welcome to Picky Palate, my online kitchen! You'll usually find me with a cookie in one hand and a salad in the other. It's all about the balance :) The recipes you'll see are my creations. The Picky Palate Cookbook is now available. Enjoy!



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