Southwestern Grilled Lasagna

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Southwestern Grilled Lasagna.

Southwestern Grilled Lasagna – an original recipe from EncinoMom.com featuring Del Real Foods

Ingredients:

  • Flour tortillas
  • 1 Cup Del Real Frijoles Refritos
  • 2 Cups Del Real Carne Deshebrada
  • 1 Cup Chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Sliced green onion
  • 1 Cup Red Chile Sause (Enchilada Sauce)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Box Corn muffin/bread Mix
  • 1 Egg (for corn bread topping)
  • 1/3 Cup Milk (for corn bread topping)

Serve with these Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 Avocado, sliced
  • 3/4 Cup Sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Assemble ingredients. Cover the bottom of a lidded, cast iron casserole dish with tortillas. Layer Frijoles, Carne Deshebrada, 1/2 of Chile sauce, 1/2 of cheese, chopped tomatoes, red pepper, green onion, cilantro, the rest of the Chile sauce and the rest of the cheese except for one Tablespoon to top the casserole. Set aside.

In a small bowl stir corn bread mix with egg and milk according to package directions. Batter will be somewhat course, do not over stir. Spoon the corn bread mixture over the assembled casserole ingredients. Smooth with spatula. Cover completely making sure to seal the edges with the corn bread batter. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Cover dish and bake on the grill covered, or in the oven at 350° until heated through and batter has baked to a light golden crust.

Serve with extra beans, avocados slices and sour cream on the side. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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My favorite enameled cast iron casserole from Le Creuset.

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Layer tortillas and cover with frijoles.

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Add a layer of Del Real Carne Deshebrada.

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Add Santa Fe Olé Red Chile Sauce to meat layer and again after veggie layers.

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Top with tomatoes, . . .

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. . . red peppers, green onions, cilantro, more chile sauce . . .

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Cover with a generous layer of shredded cheddar or cheese blend (shown here, Monterey Jack, Colby & Cheddar).

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Make up corn muffin mix and cover casserole completely with batter.

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Bake on the grill or in the oven until heated through and muffin mix is firm, crusty and golden.

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Serve HOT. Extra beans, chile sauce, avocado slices, sour cream and fresh cilantro on the side, if desired. So satisfying!

Featured products:

Del Real Carne Deshebrada, Del Real Frijoles Refritos, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, Santa Fe Olé Red Chile Sauce

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Sprouts App Review

Sprouts Farmers Market App Review

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Put up a parking lot

Let me start by saying that I don’t usually like to do app reviews, but this is different. First of all, I’m a newly minted Sprouts fan. There are currently 200 stores across the US from California to Georgia and there are a few things that you’ll notice as soon as you become a customer. Firstly, it’s the parking lot. There is a grocery store that I have been shopping at since I first discovered it while in college. I won’t name names, but you know who they are! As much as I have loved their products through the years, the chain is notorious for having inadequate, over-crowded parking lots! Sprouts is actually committed to providing ample parking for their customers. So I’d like to officially say thank you! Happy parking lots make happy shoppers. Yes, you may quote me.

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I can see clearly now

The next thing you’ll probably notice at Sprouts is that you can see the whole store from the entrance – meaning the shelves do not go all the way up to the ceiling and someone like me, who is of average height can easily see where everything is stocked at a glance. It feels like a Farmers Market and the produce and fresh foods are located in the middle of the store with sundries, and departments located in aisles around the perimeter. The aisles are wide enough to keep the pleasant vibe going while you shop.

I get by with a little help from my friends

Thirdly, (okay, I know. I’m not talking about the app. The thing is, if you don’t shop at Sprouts why would you be interested in the app? I’m making my case for why you should shop here, the app is for bonus points.) So thirdly, I have encountered really helpful and knowledgable staff in the stores. I’ve gotten shopping and serving tips from the Butcher’s Department, stocking assistance from someone in Dairy (what I was looking for wasn’t on the shelf, but had just come in and was still on the truck), help choosing the best produce and just a general feeling that employees here are happy to be here.

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Money makes the world go ’round

The weekly flyer which comes out on Wednesdays, includes the specials for the coming week. If you are in the store on Wednesday, then the flyer from the previous week and the coming week are both in effect, so you will find extra savings! I use the flyer to see what’s in season and plan family meals accordingly. So the fourth thing about Sprouts is their flyer and the weekly specials, but the fifth thing is their everyday low prices. This is not a bargain basement shopping experience, but the prices throughout the store represent good value.

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You want it, you got it

Where are we now? Sixth? Yes, the sixth thing is the selection. Sprouts stocks foods and products that support your healthy lifestyle. You won’t find cola bottles, candy and pulp fiction at the checkout stands tempting you to splurge after you/ve managed to keep your healthful resolve while shopping. If it’s for sale here, it’s probably good for you, good for your family, fresh and delicious!

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There’s an app for that

And now, the app! The Sprouts’ app is fairly simple to use and has a shopping list feature as well as the weekly flyer and coupons loaded for your use. I am admittedly a remedial coupon clipper, at best. I’ve tried it in the past. I know I may be leaving money on the table, but it’s just outside my skill set. That’s one of the reasons that I’m such a Sprouts fan! Their prices are fair to begin with. If YOU love couponing, then you’ll find the app extremely useful, since coupons are pre-loaded in the app for you. That means no scissors or papers in your wallet, just click and save. Who knows? There may be hope for me, yet!

The best part of this free app, is helping me find what I saw in the flyer and then put on my grocery list. I can keep my list right in the app and then when I’m in the store, the app shows me where items are located by aisle number or department. If I do use a mobile coupon from the app, I click to clip and scan at checkout for extra savings.

PR-MobileApp-ImageOf course, there’s a store locator, too – just in case you’re on the road and you can search the weekly flyer by store section; Produce Bins, Grocery Aisles, Bakery Shelves, etc. Find, clip and save coupons and build your grocery list to ensure you don’t forget anything and help keep impulse purchases to a minimum. Shopping with the kids? Give them your phone and let them manage your list while you shop.

I do use a shopping app for another retailer that allows me to scan items to check prices. The Spouts app doesn’t offer that functionality, BUT I have found prices correctly and clearly marked throughout the store so it isn’t something I missed. Also, the other retailer allows me to scan my receipt. This comes in handy when returns are in order. Again, not something I’ve ever needed at Sprouts.

The scanned receipt is also checked for lower prices advertised by competitors and the difference is credited to my account. I really like that function. It gives me confidence that I’ll get good value while I’m shopping. After about 10 shopping trips, I have been credited with $10 or $11 in additional savings. Of course, I don’t know how to REDEEM the credit, but that’s another story. I don’t know if Sprouts plans to add any of these functions to their app in the future, but at this point I haven’t needed them.

I received an early version of the free app and compensation in consideration of providing this review. If you are a regular user of this site, you know that companies requesting reviews from EncinoMom.com are vetted before we accept them for presentation to you. The opinions offered here are my sincere reactions to the shopping experiences I have had at Sprouts.

 

You can find Sprouts listed on social media as follows:

Facebook: SproutsFarmersMarket

Twitter: @SproutsFM

Pinterest: @SproutsFM

Instagram: @Sprouts

Amazon affiliate links may appear throughout this post for your online shopping convenience. When you purchase merchandise through our affiliate links we jump up and down and pay our operating expenses because we receive an advertising fee at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Are you picturing us jumping up and down?

Plackers Flossers Dental Floss Review

Plackers Flossers Dental Floss Review

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Lisa Keating for EncinoMom and Lizzie Kay from Lizzy’s Teen beat check out Plackers Fruit Smoothie Swirl Flossers! Do your kids have healthy dental habits? If you could use some help in the flossing department, you may enjoy these new Plackers Fruit Smoothie Swirl Flossers. They are designed to make flossing fun for you and your kids. Not only do they remove plaque and food, but they reduce tooth decay, promote healthier gums and they contain fluoride!

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Meet Plackers Flosser Friend. This fun and functional Flosser holder fits inside of the average bathroom medicine cabinet to store your stash of flossers. Cute enough to leave out on the counter of the kids bathroom, this holder comes stocked with 30 Flossers. Refills come in packs of 75 and are easily accommodated in the wide mouthed Flosser Friend.

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With two gripping surfaces and angled flossing head, the Plackers Flossers do a good job of reaching those tough spots in your own mouth or your kids’ mouth whether you are flossing for them or they are ready to floss themselves. Plackers recommends adult supervision for kids up to the age of 10.

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With all the write ups on oil pulling on the internet (here’s a fairly balanced, albeit skeptical article on Snopes), we’ve even given that a try! It’s not all that surprising if you haven’t heard of it. Oil pulling has been around for thousands of years, but is experiencing a resurgence with the popularity of coconut oil. Basically, the idea is that you gargle and swish coconut oil around in your mouth for 5 to 20 minutes and then spit out – into your compost or trash to avoid clogging drains. The idea is that the oil works with the natural enzymes in your saliva to cleanse your mouth and maintain good oral hygiene. Some people recommend Sesame Oil or Olive Oil. Everything I read recommended rinsing your mouth and brushing your teeth after the process.

Since I already have coconut oil in the kitchen and each bathroom at our house, I decided that’s the oil we would try. Coconut oil is reported to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties that help prevent cavities, ease gum disease and stop bad breath.

Additionally, some of the oil is absorbed sublingually which some people attribute to a whole host of additional health benefits from relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis to curing heart disease. This is by no means to be construed as medical advice! Scientific, peer reviewed studies are few, but I didn’t see any harm in giving it a try as an oral hygiene aid.

Personally, I liked the clean feeling that the coconut oil left behind, although actually swishing the oil in my mouth took a little getting used to. Interest piqued? You can Google Oil Pulling or visit this link to Web MD. Notice that oil pulling is not a substitute for brushing or flossing, but does show promise in preventing gum disease, bad breath and for plaque removal.

Coconut oil is also credited with a whole host of applications from baking cookies, to improving your dog or cat’s coat and can be used to effectively remove make up, moisturize and soothe skin, hair, cuticles – just the list of applications suggests a story of its own! I’ve included a couple of affiliate links here for you. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, I love the mild coconut flavor of their product, especially in cooking. It’s a great choice for your Asian inspired and tropical dishes. (Last night. I used a combination of coconut oil and sesame oil to whip up some shrimp fried rice for dinner. Delicious!)

There are lots of brands available and prices range wildly. The Nature’s Way Coconut Oil is about half the price of the Trader Joe’s when purchased online. Many varieties are odorless and flavorless which can be welcome depending on how much you like the flavor of coconut and how you are planning to use the oil.

In any case, your dentist will still want you to floss. I’ve seen reports suggesting that you start your kids flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch! The actual floss in these Plackers Flossers is very thin, fitting into even the tightest of spaces between teeth. The fruity flavor is mild and pleasant. I think the best thing you can do to encourage your kids to floss regularly is to floss regularly yourself. So this Flosser Friend has found a home in the medicine cabinet at our house. The Plackers Flosser Friend is available at Target stores and online for about $5.99! Refills run $2.99 for 75 flossers.

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This episode of EncinoMom.tv brought to you by Plackers Flossers. We received the Plackers Flosser Friend and Flossers for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed here are our genuine reactions to the product provided. Thanks for watching! We hope you enjoyed our video and picked up some useful tips, too.

SUBSCRIBE to EncinoMom Magazine’s YouTube Channel. We’ll share the Best of the California Lifestyle with you, PLUS you’ll be eligible to enter exclusive contests and giveaways just for our YouTube subscribers.

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Video produced by: http://EncinoMomProductions.com for EncinoMom.TV

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

CELEBRATE ST. PATTY’S DAY WITH ONE OF L.A.’S BIGGEST PARTIES AT TAM O’SHANTER!

Legendary Restaurant Starts Full Day of Special Events at 11:00am!  

Can’t make it out for the festivities? See EncinoMom’s recipes to make at home, below!

St. Patrick's Day celebration, Irish Coffee with clovers.Tam O’Shanter, a member of the Lawry’s family of restaurants and one of the oldest restaurants in Los Angeles, is ready to host its epic St. Patrick’s Day party (on March 17, 2016, of course), which is one of the biggest Irish celebrations in Los Angeles. The restaurant will open at 11:00am, with a special tent area in the parking lot opening at 1:00pm, music firing up at 2:00pm, and the party going well into the night. On a day when people throughout L.A. will be green on the outside and inside, The Tam will be the best spot in town to show Irish pride.

The Tam will have a wide assortment of sweet and Irish-themed eats, including sugar shamrock cookies, Bailey’s cupcakes and corn beef and cabbage, as well as a mind-blowing assortment of ales and beers on tap, a world-class selection of scotch, green beer (of course), and light-up shamrock necklaces for guests who follow the restaurant on Facebook or Instagram or join their email list. The Guinness and Tullamore D.E.W. Girls will also be on hand, adding to the festive spirit.

Additionally, guests will be able to try their luck in a drawing where the winner will receive two tickets to an upcoming Whiskey Pairing Dinner Tasting ($150 value).

St. Patrick's Day at the Tam O'Shanter - Events Los Angeles and California listings from EncinoMom.com the California Lifestyle magazine.

The dining room.

St. Patrick's Day at the Tam O'Shanter looking at the menu

Taste testing at the Tam

the Tam O'Shanter wedge salad

Bleu Cheese Wedge – classic

St. Patrick's Day at the Tam O'Shanter green beer for St. Patrick’s Day

My first green beer – ever

St. Patrick's Day the Tam O'Shanter Scottish Rarebit

Yorkshire Pudding served with Scottish Rarebit

St. Patrick's Day the Tam O'Shanter corn beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day

Moist and flavorful Corned Beef & Cabbage.

St. Patrick's Day the Tam O'Shanter Toad in the Hole for St. Patrick’s Day

Toad in the Hole (filet mignon, Yorkshire pudding, pearl onions, burgundy gravy).

St. Patrick's Day the Tam O'Shanter sign

The Tam O’Shanter – 2980 Los Feliz Blvd., LA

St. Patrick's Day the Tam O'Shanter dessert

Sticky Toffee Pudding – save room for this sweet treat at the end of your meal!

 

 

Can’t make it out for the festivities? Try our well tested recipes at home!

Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner photo by Eve Ross for EncinoMom the California Lifestyle New Media Magazine.

St.Patty’s Recipes

Photo of Irish Whiskey Pudding in blue glass desert cups for EncinoMom.com.

Irish Whiskey Pudding

Irish Coffee with clovers.

Perfect Irish Coffee

Irish Soda Bread 9

Easy Irish Bread Recipe

 

Sprouts Farmers Market

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As the new year starts and resolutions, goals and dreams abound, I am struck by the power of little changes that bring big results. Making small choices daily, like choosing water instead of soda, can really help you get to lofty sounding goals when consistently applied over time. Enter Sprouts Farmers Market. We had the opportunity to pop into our local store for the first time last week. If your goals for the new year include providing healthier meals for your family, loosing a few pounds or even saving a few bucks, you’ll find support for these changes right inside the store.

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The first thing that got my attention was the weekly flyer. I started by taking a peek and thinking through what I wanted to make for my family over the course of the coming week. There were lots of specials that caught my eye, so I was off to the store with a list of ingredients to fill my menu plan.

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I’ve recently encountered huge stacks of soda on sale at the entrance to large chain grocery stores. One of the big challenges for me is finding something to replace Coke. Personally, I’m not a soda drinker. I might have a root beer or two over the course of a year. Replacing soda in my diet wouldn’t make much of a difference in my overall health. I get my sugar from wine! My daughter, on the other hand, is going through a soda phase. I was thrilled not to find mountains of Coke and Pepsi when I walked into Sprouts!

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The store was large and clean and chock full of local and organic foods. The fully stocked selection of bulk grains, nuts, beans, granolas and trail mixes was impressive and the pricing seemed extremely competitive. I picked up some delicious trail mix, granola and pistachios.

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The butcher was knowledgeable and was available to answer my questions as well as serve up a fresh package of wild caught salmon. Cilantro was on special, 3 for a dollar, so I grilled the salmon for dinner that night with a cilantro, honey, lime sauce – delicious! I served the salmon with asparagus (less than $2 a bunch) and steamed rice. Fresh blueberries from Chile were on special, four containers for $5. I couldn’t resist. I made a blueberry crisp for dessert. My daughter didn’t even notice the lack of coke!

On my next trip to the store, I plan to try some of the prepared foods offered. I expect to be delighted!

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Thanks to Sprouts Farmers Market for providing us with a gift card to sample the store and share our experience with you here!

 

Wonderful Halos Giveaway!

Wonderful Halos Giveaway!

Mandarins are back in season!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wonderful halos is sponsoring this fabulous prize package giveaway to start your New Year off right! Three pounds of sweet, seedless, easy to peel, California mandarin oranges in a reusable basket with a bag, insulated sack, lighted cup, lip balm and stress ball all imprinted with the fun Wonderful® halos® logo could be coming your way. It’s easy to enter! Just tell us which of the pictured items is your personal favorite in the comments below.

You can earn additional entries with Tweets, subscribing to our monthly newsletter (so you never miss and important giveaway opportunity) or our YouTube channel, which delivers fresh California content every week.

Wonderful Halos prize package giveaway.

Prize package includes, sack, insulated bag, stress ball, lighted juice glass, lip balm, basket and Wonderful® Halos®!

Wonderful® Halos® From the people who brought you Wonderful Pistachios and POM Wonderful, Wonderful Halos give families, and their little angels, a healthy snack alternative that’s filled with “pure goodness.”

Wonderful Halos mandarins are:

  • A sweet, seedless and easy to peel snack that’s a healthy alternative to fatty foods
  • About 50 calories delivering 45 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C

In season November through April, Halos are easy to pack in lunches, great to share at kid’s activities and sporting events, and they make a healthy snack choice any time of the day. We love having them at the office and in a bowl within easy reach around the house, too!

 

 

FXP Hula Hoop

FXP Hula Hoop With Workout DVD For Fitness On The Go

Stay fit while you travel this holiday season with the FXP’s Travel Hula Hoop. This hula hoop snaps together easily and feels substantial enough for a seriously fun workout. The included DVD featuring Niece Pecenka is clear and easy to follow and will have you hooping even if you haven’t twirled a hula hoop around your hips for decades.

I was delighted at how much I was able to do, in spite of thinking I wouldn’t be able to keep the hoop circling my girth. I wasn’t perfect, but was able to keep up with the workout right out of the box. There are additional workout DVD’s available, too.

The product is sturdy and reliable. The Fit in 15 workout is fun and challenging. This is a great gift for teens and travelers of all ages. I predict this will be the most stolen present at your gift exchange party this holiday season! You can purchase using our Amazon Affiliate link or at the FXPFitness.com website.

Punk Blue Tooth Portable Speaker

Punk Blue Tooth Portable Speaker

This is a great little speaker with big sound. This wireless Bluetooth Speaker from Sol Republic will have you tapping your toes in no time. 1/4 inch threaded mount lets you attach it to your bike or camera. Battery life up to 8 hours (depending on how loudly you play your music) works well up to 40 feet away.

We love using the speaker to bring music to our outdoor celebrations. It’s also great for powering a different playlist than the one in the Great Room. Especially handy for teens and tweens wanting to play their own music when the Grandpa commands the remote. Also works in reverse: Grandpa can listen to the game or get his Zen on in the guest room when the kids are in control!

Purchase using our Amazon Affiliate link for under $50, and enjoy free shipping.

Ai Weiwei Art Book

@Large Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

See our story with video from the exhibit.@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz - Events Los Angeles and California listings from EncinoMom.com the California Lifestyle magazine.

This art book is the perfect gift for Ai Weiwei fans and human rights activists around the world. Internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei created this inspiring exhibit remotely from his studio in China. Although the masterful exhibition exploring incarceration and human rights was displayed at Alcatraz, the artist himself never set foot in the former penitentiary as he is not allowed to leave China. Irony and inspiration abound in this visually arresting book documenting the exhibition in California.

New or used, opt for the hardback edition, available using our Amazon affiliate link from $10.

Evian Facial Water Spray

Evian Facial Water Spray

Whether she drives up the coast with the top down, slides down the slopes in the snow or flies through the sky logging more frequent flyer miles than a pilot, this is a must have! You can pick up the two pack pictured, one for home and one for purse, backpack or pocket, for $17.99. A great gift for keeping skin feeling fresh throughout the holidays. The fine mist is great for a quick spritz to set makeup, too.

Comes is 10 oz., 5 oz. and 1.7 oz. sizes. Available from Amazon using our affiliate link. I have been personally using this product for more than 10 years. A perfect stocking stuffer,  the 1.7 oz travel size is TSA approved and retails for under $10.

Santa Monica Gets a Cheesecake Factory

I’m a die-hard foodie. I hunt out every local cart, truck, farmer’s market, pop-up, and Mom-and-Pop-hole-in-the-wall to sample their kimchi-marinated, locally-foraged truffle tacos with charred shiitake ash. So it is with some trepidation I admit my guilty pleasure…

I love chain restaurants. Always have. Always will.

Santa Monica Cheesecake Factory Exterior.

There it lies!

That’s why when I got the opportunity to go to the new Cheesecake Factory opening at Santa Monica Place, I didn’t blink. Though I’d never actually been to a Cheesecake Factory before, it was everything I expected, in the best way.

Something I’ve come to accept as a foodie in L.A, is that most of the time great food comes with terrible service. At some point “Hip” became synonymous with “Rude and apathetic.” As if great chefs treat service like a test; if the food is good enough we’ll keep coming back, even if the disgruntled hipster server gives us the finger. Luckily that is not the case at the Cheesecake Factory! We were warmly welcomed into the massive space by an army of hostesses who showed us to our seats.

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A cheery atmosphere with lots of space!

Our friendly server flew in as we looked over the drink menu. There were certainly the silly-fun, sugary, neon slushies I’d expect at a chain, but as a welcome surprise, they had Venice Duck IPA, an often hard-to-find, delicious micro-brew made just a few blocks away.

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Frosty Venice Duck IPA

There was also a variation of a Whiskey Smash, which is normally Whiskey, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Mint, and often some sort of muddled fruit. They ditch the mint and add passion fruit and Aperol, one of my favorite Italian Amari (Bittersweet Herbal Liqueurs.) It was quite refreshing. The drinks came out faster than if I’d poured them myself.

Whiskey Smash at The Cheesecake Factory in Santa Monica, California

Their “Whiskey Smash” Passion fruit, Lemon, Bourbon and Aperol.

The food menu options were bountiful, with something for every palate: Salads, pastas, sandwiches and burgers of every shade under the bun. My guest ordered the Cuban Sandwich.

Cheesecake Factory review by Mike Anderson for EncinoMom Magazine.

The Cuban Sandwich.

I ordered the Fried Mac-N-Cheese Burger, a choice soundly applauded by our server. Some blessed genius had decided to take their fried mac-n-cheese balls and plop one right on top of a cheeseburger. I took the first bite and gooey mac and cheese exploded into my mouth, which made the kid in me giggle. Needless to say, the food portions were positively gargantuan. We could easily have split one of the entrees and still left stuffed.

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Whoever thought to put fried mac and cheese on a burger deserves two raises.

But of course we left room for CHEESECAKE!

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Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake

If you’re shopping in Santa Monica Place and looking for a filling, friendly, fun place to bring the kids, I’d recommend stopping by The Cheesecake Factory. You’re sure to get a warm smile, quick service, and a big plate of delicious!

Mikey and the Chocolate Factory

Mikey and the Chocolate Factory

Today I toured John Kelly chocolates in Hollywood, because sometimes life is really hard and you have to go sample delicious fine chocolates.

John (Left) and Kelly (Right)- The Wonkas themselves.

John (Left) and Kelly (Right)- The Wonkas themselves. And yes, turns out John Kelly is two different people.

The tour began several feet from the door, as the wonderful aroma of cooking chocolate wafted outside. Kelly (Of John Kelly) told me that’s what inspired the storefront. They started making their signature truffle fudge about eleven years ago. At first, they sold it wholesale, directly from the factory to businesses. However, as people walked by and sniffed that glorious scent, they couldn’t help but peek in and demand to buy whatever was making that delicious smell. The demand grew so quickly they realized they needed a full walk-in retail location. It worked like gangbusters, and since then they’ve opened another location in Santa Monica.

John Kelly Chocolates, Hollywood, California. Photo by Mike Anderson for EncinoMom.com

The fragrant storefront in Hollywood.

Their unique truffle fudge chocolate is based on an old family recipe. It has the creaminess of fudge, but a depth and richness of flavor far from the stuff you’d buy for five dollars a pound from a roadside tourist trap. Hence the term “Truffle fudge”, which still barely manages to do it justice. Surrounding it all is a thin coat of fine chocolate, giving a bit of texture as you bite into it. It makes for a truly singular dessert bite. From there they include flavors like Habanero-Jalapeno, Grey French sea salt, peanut butter, and pumpkin spice for the holidays.

Drooooooool. John Kelly Chocolates. Photo by Mike Anderson for EncinoMom.com California Lifestyle Magazine.

Drooooooool.

There’s that old saying about seeing how the sausage is made… well, it’s the opposite for chocolate. Despite the drool-worthy Henry Ford assembly line, they retain a small-batch, handcrafted integrity. John and Kelly insist on starting with the finest all-natural, non-GMO ingredients, and that goes for every step along the way: From a woman named Lisa lovingly sprinkling fine Hawaiian sea salt on each bar, to the end where another worker inspected each bar to meet their high standards. I watched her throw one onto the discard pile, which made me jealous of whoever gets to enjoy those delicious rejects.

John Kelly Chocolates in Hollywood, California. Factory tour with Mike Anderson for EncinoMom.com

Small batch belt.

John Kelly Chocolate factory tour with Mike Anderson for EncinoMom Magazine; the finest of California Lifestyle.

There are no words.

With the holiday season approaching, I’d highly recommend John Kelly Chocolate as an elegant gift for the chocoholic in your life. Which, if you’re like me, is just about everybody on my list. It’s a luxury, small-batch, handcrafted food item in beautiful packaging.  If you’re not in the Los Angeles area to stop by the storefronts (Which I heartily recommend), order online at www.johnkellychocolates.com

2015 LA Beach Cities Modern Home Tour

2015 LA Beach Cities Modern Home Tour

What do you think when you hear the term “modern home?” What do you feel? What visuals, temperature, textures, auditory senses are conjured? I’ll tell you what I used to think: bland, cold, stern, echoing, sharp, empty. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong!


On the 2015 LA Beach Cities Modern Home Tour, I learned that modern homes are more about modern living than anything else. Modern living that encompasses a life of openness and togetherness. A life that can invite textures and vibrant colors and even a sense of humor – a life rich and minimalist all at once – a home where the people and interactions take center stage, set in a subdued background that is simply there for that function.

There is a zen quality to the modern homes I toured (most of them housed a Buddha figure somewhere), a peacefulness brought by simple surroundings—whether they were on a grand scale or smaller. The idea behind all the thought seems to have been, “How can people live in this space to the fullest?” Along with, “How can this home make the best use of the environment it’s set in?”

Let me tell you, this tour was a real eye opener for me, and I walked away as a fan of the modern home. Join me for a virtual tour through these photos I captured between my oohs and ahhs.

2015 LA Beach Cities Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 


 

2015 LA Beach Cities Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 LA Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 LA Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 LA Beach Cities Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 LA Beach Cities Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 LA Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 LA Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 Los Angeles Beach Cities Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 Los Angeles Beach Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.


 

2015 LA Beach Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

2015 LA Beach Cities Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine. 2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 


 

2015 LA Beach Cities Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.2015 L.A. Beach Cities Modern Home Tour. Photo by Laura Jarrard for EncinoMom Magazine.

 
You may also enjoy our coverage of the Alt Build Expo and Dwell On Design with Nate Berkus.

CPK’s New Menu Will Keep You Coming Back

Get your taste buds ready! California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) has a new menu that is sure to keep you coming back for more. The new cocktails, lunch, and dinner options are both tasty and affordable. The only hard part will be choosing from the wide selection of tasty options. Decisions, decisions.

So what’s new? Here’s the latest on the CPK new menu pages:

QUENCH YOUR THIRST:               

All of the new cocktails are delicious. (Adults, please drink responsibly). We were left crushing on the California Crush which is both refreshing and light with a hint of lime. It pairs well with any mood, occasion or meal.

California Crush on CPKs new menu in Encino, California. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom Magazine.

The California Crush with a hint of mint.

Quench your thirst with one of the new cocktails on the menu: The Honeybee Lemonade, Blueberry Ginger Smash, The Executive Decision, California Crush, Coconut Blossom, California Roots, or the Blood Orange Sangria.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

The Maine Lobster Flatbread ($11.29) is a seasonal choice that is a flavorful starter perfect for sharing or snacking while sipping something tasty from the bar. Chunks of Maine Lobster are complemented by fresh herbs, arugula and red onions on crisp parmesan flatbread.

Maine lobster flatbread at CPK. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom California Lifestyle Magazine.

Maine Lobster Flatbread on CPKs new menu.

LUNCH:

Treat yourself to a lunch-time duo Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pair a lunch size pizza or half sandwich with a soup or salad for under $11. We tried the oven-roasted turkey and brie with the baked potato soup. The sandwich was made with fresh ingredients and the baked potato soup makes for a creamy bowl of comfort that is sure to cheer you up if you have a case of the blahs or the blues. Be sure to try the Farmer’s Market soup which is healthier option that features seasonal ingredients – so satisfying and savory.

California Pizza Kitchen CPK new menu. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom Magazine.

Lunch special; pair two.

GO BIG OR GO HOME: These are my must tries!

The Fire-Grilled Ribeye ($25.99) is grilled with Pinot Noir sea salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter. Enjoy 12 ounces of tender and juicy bliss alongside fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad.

CPK Encino. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom Magazine.

Sizzlin’ Fire-Grilled Ribeye on CPK’s new menu.

The Hearth-Roasted Halibut ($23.79). This is a rich combination of wild caught Alaskan Halibut roasted on a cedar plank with grilled asparagus, butternut squash farro and baby kale.

CPK; new menu. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom Magazine.

The wild caught Hearth-Roasted Halibut.

The Roasted Garlic Chicken with Seasonal Veggies ($18.99) is sure to get your taste buds dancing for joy. The crispy-skin savory chicken breast in lemon-garlic sauce is absolutely mouthwatering.

CPK new menu, Encino. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom Magazine.

You can’t go wrong with the Roasted Garlic Chicken.

The new menu is absolutely yummy. Check back as we cover the makeover scheduled to update the decor at the Encino store, a part of the 30 year anniversary reimagining of the iconic California brand. The makeovers launched last year at the new flagship store in Woodland Hills, CA.

Now you are all caught up! We apologize if our pictures made you hungry, but making sure that your taste buds aren’t missing out is something that we take very seriously. Happy choosing! Bon appetit.

ViDi Video Camera Review

EncinoMom Unboxes the ViDi Action Camera For Review

Unboxing the ViDi camera at EncinoMom.com
Love the tiny size of the ViDi at the camera Unboxing for EncinoMom.com
Large touch screen on the back of the ViDi camera.
Unboxing the ViDi Action Camera for EncinoMom.com
The pretty ViDi and accessories Unboxed on EncinoMom.com
ViDi Action Camera review on EncinoMom.com
ViDi Action Camera comes with car charger, mounting hardware, waterproof casing and a selfie stick.
Excited to test out the ViDi camera's quality for the EncinoMom Magazine review.
The ViDi Action Camera lens is about the size of a quarter!
ViDi Action Camera Unboxed and reviewed by EncinoMom Magazine.
Still from ViDi video footage in low light conditions.
https://EncinoMom.com/vidi-video-camera-review
EncinoMom's Lisa Keating uses the ViDi Action Camera with selfie stick in Oatman, Arizona.
Western style shoot out in the streets of Oatman, Arizona.
Love this overhead shot captured by the ViDi Action Camera in Oatman, Arizona for EncinoMom TV.
Over the shoulder with Lizzy Kay in Oatman, Arizona for EncinoMom TV.
Watch the video review of the ViDi camera on EncinoMom.tv
ViDi camera, it's just so darn cute!

 

We received the ViDi Action Camera to unbox, test and review for you here. We were immediately engaged in the fun when we saw the box! Priced at $99, the camera comes with everything you need;

  • ViDi Camera with rear touch screen- takes video or stills

  • 4GB Micro SD Card

  • Transparent Waterproof case

  • Extension Pole (we’ve been calling it a selfie stick)

  • HD 720, 31 FPS

  • Skeleton Case

  • Sticky Mount with Clip

  • Handlebar Mount

  • Car Charger and USB Cable

You can see the camera in action in this video we shot with the ViDi while visiting Oatman, Arizona on Route 66:

We didn’t get good sound on our video shoot, but this was the first time out with the camera. We weren’t speaking loudly enough for the distance we were from the camera. We usually shoot with boom mics and lavs, so we were speaking normally. When we use the GoPro on our shoots, we don’t usually use the sound from that camera either. The idea behind a camera like this is to be able to capture action! We were in pretty windy conditions, too, which is harsh for ANY microphone to capture cleanly.

ViDi sends camera to EncinoMom

Due to bright, bright sunlight conditions – high noon, in Oatman, Arizona – and limited time, we didn’t bother to monitor what we captured with the camera until we took the video off of the SD card back at the office. So there were no retakes or adjustments of any kind. I’m not apologizing for the camera, but am trying to give you a fair idea of what to expect.

IMG_1536

You should know, I am not a fussy photographer. We have camera men and women who excel at sound and image capture. I leave the real camera work to the professionals. I’m more like you. If I have my phone in my hand, I’m likely to record the beauty I see around me with a video or quick pic and hope for the best. For every good shot I get, there are likely 30 more on my phone waiting to be deleted.

Palm sized ViDi in waterproof case.

With a modicum of effort, I think you could get some amazing footage with the ViDi. To be honest, I didn’t even look at the operation manual. This is starting to sound like they sent the ViDi to a monkey (no offense to monkeys). I think I’m probably an exact match for a large portion of ViDi’s customer base. I want to get the camera and go!

ViDi rearview in waterproofcase.

I love the results we got with the included extension pole, especially in the overhead shots, which would have been hard to get even if we’d had our camera crew with us! I also found the extension pole footage to be much more stable that I anticipated.

Unboxing the ViDi camera on EncinoMom.com

The ViDi camera is wicked cute, which shouldn’t be important, but, well, it just IS. Good looks make the camera more fun to use. At this price point, this camera is an ideal gift for teens, bloggers and active adults of all ages.

ViDi camera comes with selfie stick and car charger.

It’s important to note that no one was focusing the camera! Look at the clarity of the footage we got without ANY effort – literally NO EFFORT. We weren’t looking through the camera at all. We just stuck it on the end of the extension pole and turned the camera on. This is as idiot proof as it gets, people!

ViDi beauty shot in waterproof case.

Another feature that we love about the ViDi is that you can take still photos, too. The naked camera, without the waterproof case, is half the size of my phone, so it’s easy to slip into a pocket or tiny purse. We haven’t tested the camera underwater, yet. When we do, I’ll update this review.

The ViDi is photogenic, too. EncinoMom camera review.

THE SHORT REPORT

The ViDi Action Camera is an affordably priced GoPro alternative. With everything you need to get started, including a car charger, the ViDi comes ready to go! A perfect gift for the action adventurer on your list at $99 we don’t think you’ll find this quality anywhere else for less.

Naked ViDi camera next to a quarter. EncinoMom.com camera review.

Available for purchase here, using our Amazon Affiliate link. Click here for more information from the manufacturer.
Rear view of ViDi camera without waterproof case. Photo by Lisa Keating for EncinoMom.com

Alpine Village Oktoberfest

Alpine Village Kicks Off Oktoberfest In Torrance!

Have you ever been to a party that lasted two and a half weeks? Sounds like quite a celebration. Odds are that if you haven’t been to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest you haven’t partied Gemütlichkeit style or community style.

German Oompah band performs at Alpine Village's Oktoberfest in Torrance, CA. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.Now you can kick off October at one of many mini-festivals created to pay homage to this event that draws 7 million visitors annually. Alpine Village’s Oktoberfest in Torrance, California offers the Bavarian experience right here in the Southland. (Click here to see video from our visit to another local Oktoberfest.)

Dancing, singing, eating and drinking abound at this annual Autumnal event. Enjoy a line-up of German imported beers (21 and over only – please drink responsibly) and award winning sausages while you listen to the Oompah band from Germany play traditional folk music and American classics sure to rile the crowd!

If you’ve got the Oktoberfest spirit, throw on your Lederhosen, or your favorite jeans and a tee shirt and get yourself to Alpine Village stat. Get a taste of the Munich experience in a lively and friendly atmosphere. The camaraderie in the big party tent is like nothing you’ve experienced before. Be prepared to be social!

The Big Tent at Oktoberfest, in Torrance. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.

Oktoberfest is open through October 31st on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 5 p.m. Guests can eat, drink, sing and be merry all night long. From 8 p.m. to midnight the party continues in the Oktoberfest After Party which takes place in the Alpine Restaurant. For more information visit: http://www.alpinevillagecenter.com/

Spy Review: We Loved It!

Spy Review: We Loved It

SPY_BD_OCard_Front_01Melissa McCarthy stars in this hilarious, twisty, fresh take on the Super Spy genre. Somewhere between James BondInspector Clouseau, and Austin Powers, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) enters the field in this R rated comedy. Full of unexpected laughs and complete with custom spy gadgets, Agent Susan Cooper leaves the safety of her spy support tech desk to go under cover in Europe.

DF-12964_R_CROP Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) races to stop a deadly arms dealer.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) races to stop a deadly arms dealer.

More capable than Clouseau, less suave than Bond and less preposterous than Powers, Cooper lets her heart and Spidey sense guide her. Sidekick Nancy (Miranda Hart), Bondesque Super Spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law), his CIA frenemy Rick Ford (Jason Statham), cold blooded bombshell Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) and handsy Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) round out the cast, each contributing mightily to the heart and hilarity of Writer/Director Paul Feig’s (Bridesmaids, The Heat) film.

DF-03507_R2 Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) clearly has eyes for her partner, superspy Bradley Fine (Jude Law).

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) clearly has eyes for her partner, superspy Bradley Fine (Jude Law).

We viewed the Unrated Version. The DVD also contains a copy of the Theatrical release and tons of bonus features, including redacted scenes, alternate scenes, gag reels, outtakes, commentary and How SPY Was Made. We predict a sequel!

Want to see the trailer?

Just for fun, I’ve linked to Amazon’s pages for some of the spy films and collections of films mentioned above. You may be able to figure out my favorites if you click through. Clouseau, famously played by Peter Sellers and reprised by Steve Martin is the bumbling French detective in The Pink Panther films. I wonder which you prefer? As far as Bond goes, there are 50 years of films to choose from beginning with the original Casino Royal starring David Niven (a complete snore in my book) through Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and most recently Daniel Craig (swoon). So far the only incarnations of British International Man Of Mystery, Austin Powers have all been played by Mike Meyers who also plays his own nemesis in the trio of comedies.

DF-00699_00702R - Melissa McCarthy faces off against a knife-wielding adversary (Nargis Fakhri).

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) faces off against a knife-wielding adversary (Nargis Fakhri).

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed SPY (Unrated). It made us laugh, gasp, chuckle, giggle and snort.Want to see it, too? It’s out on Blu-ray and DVD and available for view on demand. Plus we’ve got ONE copy to giveaway. Click here to enter for your chance to win SPY. Giveaway ends: October 7, 2015.

Estérel Unveils Makeover At The Sofitel

Estérel Makeover

The Estérel restaurant unveiled its makeover including two unique and colorful new spaces, “Le Jardin” and “The Aviary”. It showcased the new design and decor at its opening in July where many Angelinos showed up to take in the view, enjoy drinks and sample the new French cuisine menu.

THE VIEW

Whatever mood you’re in, the Estérel has a room for it. If you’re an art connoisseur take in the view from their dining room, if you’re a private person you may enjoy a quiet evening in the Aviary and if you want to reflect after a long day you can do so in the mirrors of the beautiful mirror garden, Le Jardin.

Estérel makeover. A corner of Le Jardin at the Estérel in West Hollywood, California. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.

Estérel makeover. Inside Riviera 31 at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.

THE SAMPLE MENU

The French menu showcases the savory elements of the Mediterranean and the Golden State. As part of the remodel, guests will now be able to have a view of the kitchen and catch a glimpse of the craft that goes into capturing the Mediterranean experience on their plate. The menu presented by Executive Chef Boroda is carefully selected to only include meats that have been compassionately raised and produce that has been farmed sustainably. Ingredients are gathered from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, The Hollywood Farmer’s Market, Petaluma Farms, K&M Grass-Fed Meats and others. Bon appetite!

Estérel makeover. Fresh vegetables dominate the opening night array at Estérel inside the Sofitel Hotel across from the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.

Lamb ball yogurt and couscous

Estérel makeover. Lamb and yogurt at Esterel in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.

This little delight was served at the grand opening as one of the items that will be added to the new menu. The lamb and yogurt – both staples of Mediterranean cuisine – complement each other in tangy and savory celebration for the taste buds.

Heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and chermoula

Estérel makeover. New menu offerings at Estérel. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.

This zesty and sweet Mediterranean favorite will also be added to the menu.

THE BAR

Guests will now be able to cleanse their palates with new choices on the drink menu created by Ferrari Watts, resident mixologist at the Riviera 31 Lounge Bar.

Estérel makeover. Living wall backs the patio bar at the West Hollywood Sofitel Hotel. Photo by Melissa Lambarena for EncinoMom.com.

Whether you are looking for a place to take an out-of-town guest or you’re seeking a unique setting to enjoy a fine dining experience, the Estérel offers a picture perfect experience with stunning walls that make for great backdrops for your social media memories.

 

Save Your Fave Taste Test

Lisa Keating and Lizzy Kay taste test Lay's Potato Chips new flavors. Vote to Save Your Fave, today!

Vote to Save Your Fave (click here)!

In this video we taste the new flavors of Lay’s Potato Chips: Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Greektown Gyro, Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries and New York Reuben. Have you tried them? If your a chip nut, like I am, you can become an Ambassador and invite your friends to vote, too! There are prizes and incentives up to $10,000 for your efforts. Vote today. 🙂

 

Lisa Keating and Lizzy Kay taste test Lay's Potato Chips new flavors. Vote to Save Your Fave, today! Lisa Keating and Lizzy Kay taste test Lay's Potato Chips new flavors. Vote to Save Your Fave, today! Lisa Keating and Lizzy Kay taste test Lay's Potato Chips new flavors. Vote to Save Your Fave, today! Lisa Keating and Lizzy Kay taste test Lay's Potato Chips new flavors. Vote to Save Your Fave, today! Lisa Keating and Lizzy Kay taste test Lay's Potato Chips new flavors. Vote to Save Your Fave, today! Lisa Keating and Lizzy Kay taste test Lay's Potato Chips new flavors. Vote to Save Your Fave, today!

This episode of EncinoMom.tv brought to you by Lay’s Potato Chips, Save Your Fave campaign. SUBSCRIBE to EncinoMom Magazine’s YouTube Channel ( http://www.youtube.com/subscribe_widget?p=TheEncinoMom ) We’ll share the Best of the California Lifestyle with you, PLUS you’ll be eligible to enter exclusive contests and giveaways just for our YouTube subscribers.

Help us reach our goal of 10,000 subscribers!

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Video produced by: http://EncinoMomProductions.com for EncinoMom.TV

Costco Opens In Woodland Hills

New Costco opens in Woodland Hills, California. Photos for EncinoMom by Kathy Rappaport of Flash Frozen Photography.
Costco Opens In Woodland Hills at 21800 Victory Boulevard

New Costco opens in Woodland Hills, California. Photos for EncinoMom by Kathy Rappaport of Flash Frozen Photography.By Kathy Rappaport

Wow;  I was so honored to collaborate with Lisa Keating of EncinoMom Magazine. We’ve worked together on a few projects in the past, but for me this one was special! Could I go on a tour of the new Costco in Woodland Hills and write an exclusive on the store as well as cover the Grand Opening Party that night? YES YES YES!  Working and living in the West Valley for over 30 years, and being a big fan of Costco, I have been anticipating the opening of this new store and the experience did not disappoint!

As I pulled into the parking lot, workers scurried to get every thing finished in time for the Grand Opening. The new gas station was all clean and ready to go and opened just a few minutes after I left. Prices here are so competitive that waiting a few minutes to save $10 on a tank of gas is time well spent.

I was able to park easily right outside the front entrance. The store was still closed to the public. I met my host, JoDee Taylor, Director Social Media & Training for Costco Warehouse, to walk the space before the VIP Grand Opening Party and the first shoppers arrived.New Costco opens in Woodland Hills, California. Photos for EncinoMom by Kathy Rappaport of Flash Frozen Photography.

As I entered the newest warehouse – one of 686 in the world, it was familiar and yet eerily empty of guests. No baskets in the aisles, but all lined up for the next day’s opening. Everything was neatly stacked in 154,000 square feet of shiny new warehouse space. Costco has so many great products of high quality from jewelry and wines of every caliber to every day items from their famous toilet paper, and cleaning supplies, to bakery fresh breads and fresh produce.
New Costco opens in Woodland Hills, California. Photos for EncinoMom by Kathy Rappaport of Flash Frozen Photography.
The new store has a 
Pharmacy, Optical Department and even offers checks and services like payroll for businesses, travel services and a large selection of gift cards for experiences or dining out. This store also boasts luxury brands like Chanel and Burberry Leather Goods, Rolex Watches, Cristal Champagne, Screaming Eagle Wine and prime meats and seafood.


New Costco opens in Woodland Hills, California. Photos for EncinoMom by Kathy Rappaport of Flash Frozen Photography.

This new Costco has something for literally everyone including the family dog! I love the high quality of everything that I have ever used from Costco. My husband bought me some sparkly bling for an anniversary gift a few years ago, trusting the high ethics of the corporate culture, knowing that all the merchandise is top notch and that you can trust what you are buying is actually the quality stated. All that’s missing is the famous little blue box, but at half the price for the same quality diamond, you can go nuts on wrapping paper, ribbons and bows and still have enough money to contribute open an IRA!

The relocation of the Canoga Park store was more than five years from concept to completion. As the anchor store of what is being hailed as the New Downtown of the San Fernando Valley – The Village, Costco brings 330 employees to service its members including a Pharmacy, Optical Department, a Food Court and Photo Center. 

New Costco opens in Woodland Hills, California. Photos for EncinoMom by Kathy Rappaport of Flash Frozen Photography.

Later in the evening, I returned for the VIP Grand Opening Party. They pulled out all the stops. Buffet tables throughout the store were laid with everything from Shrimp Cocktail, to BBQ Brisket, there were Enchiladas, Chicken, Sausages, Meatballs, Sandwiches and staples like Kirkland All Beef Hot Dogs and Pizza. Expecting a crowd of 2000, 5000 people poured through the doors by the time I left. Members of the West Valley Warner Center Chamber of Commerce and other community leaders were all in line, ooh-ing and ah-ing about the new store’s beauty. 

Craig Jelinek with Assistant General Manager, JoanI was most impressed with the interaction of Craig Jelinek, Costco CEO and President with the employees. Many thanking him for his leadership as he shook hands and patted people on the back for a job well done. Each employee I met took obvious pride in welcoming the customers and community to the event. Everyone was truly celebrating the arrival of the newest business in Woodland Hills. 

Photographer Kathy Rappaport, Owner Flash Frozen Photography in Woodland Hills, California

Kathy Rappaport

Kathy Rappaport is the Owner and Photographer at Flash Frozen Photography, Inc. in Woodland Hills. For more photos and captions see Kathy’s Blog (click here) Kathy enjoys reporting on neighborhood events. Her studio specializes in portraits of people and pets

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