Follow us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our photos on flickr • We pay $10 per published guest review; E-mail Blogger for info.

SPECIAL TOPICS: Taco TuesdayDisneylandMenudo

Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl Ideas from Ortega

Ortega Taco Stadium

Food ingredients
·         4 boxes Ortega Fiesta Flats (keep the boxes too)
·         5 jars Ortega guacamole dip
·         or 3 packets of Ortega guacamole seasoning packets and 6 avocados
·         4 Ortega flour tortillas
·         1 8-ounce block cheddar cheese
·         1 can Ortega black beans, drained
·         1 can Ortega refried beans
·         1 cup sour cream
·         1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
·         2 cups tomatoes, chopped
·         2 cans black olives, sliced and drained
·         4 8-ounce bags shredded cheddar cheese
·         4 jars Ortega salsa
In addition, you’ll need:
·         1 large 20”x 30” foam core board to act as the base
·         5 15” x10 1/4” foil cookie sheets (they come 2 to a pack, so 3 packs) (Hefty makes them and available at most grocery stores)
·         roll of clear packing tape
·         ruler
·         1 squeeze bottle or turkey baster
To assemble the stadium:
·         Place one of the foil cookie sheets in the center of the foam core board to become the “football field” that will later be filled with guacamole.
·         Build the stadium seat risers. Using kitchen shears, make one-inch cuts about every three inches at both of the shorter ends of the foil cookie sheets (to make them bend easier).  You will have three short cuts on each shorter end of the foil cookie sheet. Then at each cut, fold the foil sheets in a zig-zag pattern to create steps, using the Fiesta flats boxes underneath each folded pan to hold up the stadium seats. Flatten the long ends of the foil cookie sheet with your hands and tape the bottom of the seats to the foam core board underneath the foil “field.” Attach the top of the steps to the top of the Fiesta flats box using clear packing tape. Repeat the process with another of the foil cookies sheets for the other side of the stadium.
·         To create the seats at each of the shorter ends of the stadium, cut each of the two remaining foil sheets into 11” lengths and make the cuts on the ends and fold into steps, as you did with the first two sides of the stadium. Attach those with tape to the foam base and the tops of the Fiesta flats boxes. You will now have created stadium seats on all sides of the “football” field.
To create the field:
·         With a sharp knife, cut out four goal posts (you will only need two but good to have extra in case they break when installing) out of the flour tortillas. Basically, they will look like large pitch forks. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable over medium heat, in a small, swallow frying pan and crisp the tortilla goal posts in the hot oil for about 1 minutes, flipping once, being carefully not to burn or make too brown. Allow to drain on paper towels and carefully set aside.
·         About an hour before party time, spread the refried beans about two inches at either end of the foil “field,” to create end zones. Then spread the guacamole dip or homemade guacamole using the Ortega seasoning packet onto the remaining foil “field.” With a squeeze bottle or turkey baster, carefully draw lines onto the guacamole “field” with the sour cream. Cut the block of cheddar cheese in half and then cut a one-inch incision in the top of each cheese piece. Carefully pull apart the incision and place the tortilla goal post in the incision, thus creating a secure stand from the cheese blocks for the goal posts. Carefully place the cheese stand and goal post in the center of the refried beans at each end of the “football” field.
·         Place the Fiesta Flats on the three levels of the foil steps. Fill each level with lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, olives and cheese. At the each stadium corner, open and place jar of salsa for dipping.
Possible Additions:
·         Use jalapeno slices as the “players” on the field or in the seats.
·         Attach long skewers about three inches apart with the tape onto the boxes and then cut blocks of cheese to fit between the skewers to create lights above the seats.
·          Crush the Fiesta flats or Ortega hard tacos shells in the food processor and sprinkle around the outside of the “stadium,” as walkways or parking lots.
Created by Dan Macey, dantasticfood, Inc.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
·         4 ORTEGA® Taco Shells (any variety)
·         ½ lb ground pork
·         ½ package (1.25 oz.) ORTEGA® Taco Seasoning Mix or 40% Less Sodium Taco Seasoning Mix
·         1 tbsp vegetable oil
·         1 can (10 oz.) ORTEGA® Mild Red Enchilada Sauce
·         ¼ cup water
·         2 ripe avocados
·         1 package (1 oz.) ORTEGA® Guacamole Seasoning Mix
·         12 ORTEGA® Fiesta Flats™ Taco Shells
·         Shredded lettuce
·         Place taco shells in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. (Or place in a resalable plastic bag and crush.)  Combine crumbs, pork, and taco seasoning in a mixing bowl.
·         Form mixture into small meatballs, about 1/2-inch in diameter. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown meatballs lightly, in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes per batch, turning frequently. Return all meatballs to skillet and add enchilada sauce and water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked.
·         Meanwhile, mash avocados and stir in guacamole seasoning mix. Let rest in the refrigerator according to package instructions.
·         To serve, spoon meatballs and sauce into Fiesta Flats™. Top each with shredded lettuce and guacamole.
Makes 4 servings.
Sticky Salsa turkey wings

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
·         1 tablespoon vegetable oil
·         6 whole turkey wings, jointed, wing tip discarded
·         1 large bottle (16 oz.) ORTEGA® Taco Sauce
·         2 cups orange juice
·         1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
·         6 to 8 garlic cloves
·         Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Heat oil in a large skillet and brown wings, in batches, for 4 to 6 minutes.
·         Combine taco sauce, orange juice, onion and garlic in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish.  Arrange wings in single layer and turn to coat.
·         Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, turning occasionally and adding water if needed, until wings are tender and sauce is thick, sticky and coats wings. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 6 servings.

Official Site

Let's Talk Turkey: Del Taco Introduces Turkey Tacos

I heard back in November that Del Taco was testing turkey tacos and advertising them as having 33% less fat than their regular ground beef tacos. I thought this might be a Thanksgiving promotion but I could never find any Del Taco stores in Orange County that were selling them. Then I found out near the end of December that the turkey tacos would be in all the stores beginning on January 2nd, 2014. I think the idea was to help people stick to their New Years' resolutions to eat better. I tried the turkey taco the day it came out and then got one again a week or so later but without the pico de gallo and just put some of their Del Scorcho on it. They are advertising their crisp tacos, soft tacos, and crunchtadas as the items you can get with turkey meat but they just tweeted today that you can get any item that regularly comes with ground beef with turkey meat instead (just got back from getting a Del Beef Burrito with turkey meat). Having had several items with the turkey meat I can tell you it tastes close enough to the ground beef so that you don't need to think there's anything "weird" about it. And, hey, less fat. That's a good thing.

Will this new protein offering catch on? From the press event I went to last week it sounds like it is and is selling pretty well. Let's see if it becomes a permanent menu option. Or maybe it'll be something they cycle back in from time to time like with their shrimp and carnitas.

"Let's Talk Turkey" Sign

Part of the Press Packet

Part of the Press Packet

Part of the Press Packet

Turkey Crunchtada Pizza

Drive-thru Menu Boards

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Red O

Red O by Rick Bayless
143 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Tel: (949) 718-0300
Fax: (949) 718-0303

Listing on OpenTable

Listing on Trip Advisor

Official Site

View Larger Map

Went a few weeks back to a food blogger's preview lunch at the new Red O restaurant at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. I'll be back to try some more food but you can read one of the reports about the food we had that day at Griffin Eats OC. As I approached the building and then entered and walked through it I was pretty amazed at the architecture of the place. I kept wanting to take pictures of all the different things I saw but there were so many customers already there that I felt it'd look a little weird for me to just stand around taking photos. After the preview lunch ended I asked the person who invited me if I could walk around the building and take photos. He said that I was absolutely free to but that they could also send me the professionally taken photos that they had. So, presented here are those photos plus an explanation he sent about how the architecture for the building was influenced:

The unique freestanding restaurant, inspired by the historic villas of Mexico’s breathtaking San Miguel de Allende, will feature an expansive 8,500 square foot dining room with an adjoining 1,100 square foot heated, outdoor pavilion with multiple cabanas, ideal for private events. Guests will be welcomed by an extravagant bar lit by handmade oversized chandeliers, and a live tree ascending into the tall ceilings of the main dining room. Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard has designed a stunning space which features an exotic atmosphere by night, yet comfortable and inviting by day, highlighted by rich, color soaked fabrics and finishes.

The restaurant will include aged walls mingled with precious European tiles, exotic furnishings, leather accents, pierced brass lanterns and mosaic tile work. "This modern and luxurious space mingles with old world textures to create a beautiful and inviting space that is perfect to experience Chef Rick Bayless' modern Mexican fare," says Bullard. The authentic décor will also feature a magnificent viewing window into the kitchen accented by beautiful archways and meticulous woodwork as well as a specially designed Tequila Room, showcasing the depth of over 100 available agaves.

Clicking on any of these photos will take you to the full set, where you can also view the whole thing as a slideshow:



Red O Newport Beach Exterior

Red O Newport Beach Front Door

Red O Newport Beach Interior_Dining Room

Red O Newport Beach Lounge and Bar

Red O Newport Beach Patio and Fireplace

Red O Newport Beach table

Red O Newport Beach Tequila Wall

Red O Patio

Red O Bar and Lounge

Red O Chandelier Over Bar

Red O Newport Beach Dining Room and kitchen

Red O Newport Beach Dining Room

Red O Newport Beach Entry

Lighting Fixtures at Red O Newport Beach

Chips and Salsa

Dungeness Crab Tostadita

Guacamole Sampler

Goat Cheese Tamale

Tres Leches

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Taco Bell Beverages

Okay, I haven't posted anything in a while, and I do have more stuff coming, but just to get something new up pretty quick I'll post this press release I just got from Taco Bell:

Taco bell® embarks on largest expansion of beverage menu in company history with six UNIQUE flavors

As the First National Quick Service Restaurant to Offer Manzanita Sol®, Taco Bell Brings Fans More PepsiCo® Beverage Options at Select Restaurants Including: SoBe® Lifewater™ Yumberry Pomegranate, Mtn Dew Sangrita Blast, Diet Mtn Dew® Baja Blast and More
IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 17, 2014 – The brand that brought its fans exclusive products like Mtn Dew® Baja Blast™ and Doritos® Locos Tacos is about to help beverage buffs “Live Más®” even more while they sip.
With a 51-year history of Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry firsts, Taco Bell® announces yet another as the first national QSR to offer the crisp apple-flavored “Manzanita Sol®” – a classic flavor that has crossed borders. This will also be the first time that “Diet Mtn Dew® Baja Blast™” and the citrus-infused punch of “Mtn Dew Sangrita Blast” have ever been offered in any form.
The brand’s PepsiCo® partnership – a collaboration that has led to Taco Bell being one of Mountain Dew’s largest national customers – continues with six new beverages being added at select locations starting immediately and expanding nationally through 2014. The three new carbonated soft drinks are: “Manzanita Sol®,” “Diet Mtn Dew® Baja Blast™” and “Mtn Dew Sangrita Blast.” The three non-carbonated drinks include two bold flavors from Brisk: the tropically-inspired “Brisk® Mango Fiesta,” and a new refreshing mix combining Brisk Iced Tea and Lemonade, as well as zero-calorie and nutrient-enhanced “SoBe® Lifewater™ Yumberry Pomegranate.” Suggested prices will be $1.39 (16 oz.), $1.49 (20 oz.), $1.69 (30 oz.) and $1.79 (40 oz.) at participating locations.
“We hear how fanatic our customers are about Mtn Dew Baja Blast, and this inspires us to continue introducing exciting and exclusive beverages to Taco Bell fans,” said Taco Bell Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Brandt. “Beverages – like many of our food items – can be enjoyed on-the-go, which fits our fans’ lifestyle to get more out of every day. We really want to develop beverages that are as unique, tasty and portable as our food.”
A key element in the brand’s ongoing 10-year growth plan to double the business, these new flavors and Taco Bell’s continued innovation in specialty beverages extend the snacking day part for the brand. To that end, the brand also launched Happier Hour® in 2013 – $1 Loaded Grillers, medium beverages and regular Freezes from 2-5 p.m. at participating locations – and this value offering will continue for Taco Bell fans in 2014.
About Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation's leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant. Taco Bell serves made to order and customizable tacos, burritos, and specialties such as the exclusive Doritos® Locos Tacos, gourmet inspired Cantina Bell® Menu and lower calorie Fresco Menu. The company encourages customers to “Live Más,” both through its food and in ways such as its Feed The Beat® music program and nonprofit organization, the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens™. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations have nearly 6,000 restaurants across the United States that proudly serve more than 36 million customers every week.
Follow: @TacoBell (Twitter) and tacobell (Instagram)