Thanksgiving highlights for Santa Cruz County

Popular restaurant Shadowbrook received 500 reservations the day they opened up Thanksgiving tables! Photo credit: Shadowbrook

Thanksgiving is almost here, and there are many Santa Cruz County restaurants offering special menus—here are a few highlights in Santa Cruz, Capitola and Aptos.

Shadowbrook, 1750 Wharf Rd., 831-475-1511, shadowbrook-capitola.com, has its Rock Room Lounge & Bar open from 11 am – 9 pm and its Dining Room open from 11:30 am – 8:30 pm. A traditional dinner includes Diestel Family Turkey Ranch, oven-roasted breast and thigh, cranberry-orange relish, Bourbon-Pecan dressing, garlic-whipped potato and traditional gravy ($31.95); other selections include house specialty slow-roasted Angus prime rib. Desserts include Gizdich Ranch apple and pumpkin pie, and dark chocolate pear bread pudding. Note: even though 500 reservations were made the first day that Thanksgiving reservations were available, as of Nov. 25 there were still some tables open.

Chaminade, One Chaminade Lane, (831) 475-5600, www.chaminade.com, has a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 6 p.m. The cost is $65 for adults, $20 for kids 6-12, $9 for kids 3-5 and free for kids 2 and under. Selections include cider-brined roast turkey with traditional gravy and cranberry orange compote, smoked rib eye with whipped Yukon gold potatoes and horseradish cream, butternut squash ravioli with porcini crème, several salads, and roast sweet potatoes with pistachio orange soup.

The Dream Inn, 175 West Cliff Drive, is offering a buffet from 1-6 p.m. in the upstairs event space. Cost is $70 for adults and $32 for kids 6-12. Selections include roast turkey and prime rib carved to order, a salad bar, local cheese and charcuterie, a shellfish bar, and a dessert display. Reservations are required at 831-460-5012 or events@dreaminnsc.com. Also, the hotel’s Jack O’Neill restaurant will be serving its regular menu plus Thanksgiving specials; you can book via OpenTable.

Severino’s Bar & Grill, 7500 Old Dominion Court, Aptos (831) 688-8987, is offering a buffet from noon to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $47 for adults and $19 for kids 5-10; ages 4 and under are free. Selections include slow roasted turkey, Angus prime rib, honey baked ham, leg of lamb, clam chowder and vegetarian ravioli. Visit severinosbarandgrill.com

Ideal Bar & Grill, 106 Beach St., is offering specials on Thanksgiving, including a traditional turkey feast ($23.95) and slow-roasted prime rib ($24.95). Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and a limited menu will also be available. Desserts include pumpkin pie and apple pie. Call 831-423-5271 or visit idealbarandgrill.com.

Solaire at Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean St., 831-600-4545, is serving a three-course prix fixe menu. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. and cost is $49. First course choices include spiced winter squash soup; second courses include traditional roast turkey dinner and Brandade crusted California sea bass. Dessert options include Watsonville berry crisp.

The Crow’s Nest, 2218 East Cliff Dr., 831-476-4560, crowsnest-santacruz.com, is offering brunch specials from 9-11 am, and the dinner menu from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.  Selections include a traditional turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, dressing, and cranberry relish. Cost is $29.95 or $15.95 for child’s portion. Desserts include pumpkin pie with salted caramel whipped cream and hazelnut brittle. Also, the Beach Market will be selling breakfast burritos, egg sandwiches and more on Thanksgiving Day starting at 9 a.m.

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Chocolate for Halloween and Beyond: Recchiuti Confections truffles & Chocolate on Pacific’s 20th anniversary

Calavera Truffles Collection, photo credit: Recchiuti Confections

I have sweet news from San Francisco-based Recchiuti Confections and Santa Cruz-based restaurant Chocolate.

Recchiuti Confections

Recchiuti Confections makes small batch chocolate using traditional European techniques and chocolate from Guittard, El Rey, and Valrhona. Their Calavera Truffles collection launched late last month just in time for Halloween. This collection ($22, available in-store and online) consists of eight pieces of Recchiuti Confections’ signature burnt caramel truffles. They are decorated with hand-placed artwork of the calavera, “meaning ‘skull’ in Spanish, symbolizing the celebration of ancestors and vibrant journey of life,” says a Recchiuti representative. On Oct. 29, the company is releasing a similar truffle box but this one is “fall-themed.” Also priced at $22 for eight pieces, Autumn Harvest Truffles have founder/chocolatier Michael Recchiuti’s signature burnt caramel truffles topped with visuals of autumn-inspired greenery. If you find yourself falling in love with the caramel flavor (as I did when the company kindly sent me a sample), you should know there is a scrumptious-sounding Burnt Caramel Sauce available as well — $12 for a nine-ounce jar. Recchiuti’s web site recommends serving over your favorite dessert or eating by the spoonful.

Store locations are One Ferry Building, Shop #30 (415-834-9494) and 801 22nd St. (415-834-9494), San Francisco. Visit recchiuti.com for details or to order online.

Chocolate

Restaurateur David Jackman is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his Santa Cruz restaurant Chocolate with a dinner and party from 5-9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3. The event will feature live music, and attendees can choose a family-style dinner for $35 (or four for $120) or can order from the regular menu. Visit eventbrite.com for tickets and more information. The family-style dinner will include appetizers, antipasto, hot and cold entrees, a special birthday cake, and assorted chocolate mousse truffles. All seating will be at tables for six to nine guests seated together. Cocktail servers will have trays with drinks for an additional fee.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chocolate, the traditional menu includes lots of fabulous desserts plus savory dishes like spicy chocolate BBQ roast pork, or chicken mole made with Mary’s free-range chicken braised in mole sauce made with organic bittersweet chocolate. Mole lovers have the choice of poblano (roasted sweet peppers, peanuts, chocolate, garlic, and chipotle pepper) or Oaxacan (plantains, peanuts, almonds, chocolate, and five kinds of spicy toasted chiles). The restaurant is also renowned for its hot chocolate menu with about a dozen options, such as a dark chocolate/milk chocolate/cardamom combination and drinks with Mexican or Belgian chocolate. See chocolatesantacruz.com.

Location: 1522 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-427-9900

 

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Gourmet Grazing on the Green benefits cancer research: enjoy lots of delicious food and wine

Attendees at a previous Grazing on the Green, photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

The 16th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green—noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Aptos Village Park—is an always-fun annual celebration with more than 75 vendors including local restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries, and spirits distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG) .

 

Buy $65 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online or pay $70 at the door if it’s not sold out. Adult admission includes food, drinks and a souvenir wineglass. Designated driver tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door. Kids 10 and under are free; kids ages 10-20 are $35.

 

Longtime sponsors New Leaf Community Markets, Coke Farms and Watsonville Coast Produce generously donate lots of locally grown produce and products for chefs to create special tastes for event attendees.

 

Participating restaurants, food suppliers, food trucks, and other vendors include:

  • Alterra Solar
  • Ashby Confections
  • Ate3One
  • Back Nine Grill and Bar
  • Brew Dr. Kombucha
  • Café Cruz
  • California Lavash
  • Cantine Winepub
  • Cinnamon Bay Clothing
  • Cruise Coffee
  • Drink La Vie
  • East Side Eatery
  • Efi’s Dutch-indo Kitchen
  • Ella’s at the Airport
  • Fran Battendieri Designs
  • Friend in Cheeses Jam Co
  • Hollins House
  • Hula’s Island Grill
  • Judge Casey’s
  • K Dezynz Jewelry
  • Malone’s Grille Scotts Valley
  • Martinelli’s
  • McKella Jo
  • New Leaf Community Markets
  • Pacific Coffee Roasting Co.
  • Pure Valley Water
  • Sandbar Solar
  • Santa Cruz Fish Co.
  • Shadowbrook Restaurant
  • Smart Chicken
  • SunRidge Farms
  • The Crow’s Nest
  • The Turkey Boat
  • Vital Mystic
  • Watsonville Coast Produce
  • Whole Enchilada
  • Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine

Wineries, breweries and spirits include:

  • Alfaro Family Winery
  • Armitage Wines
  • Bargetto Winery
  • Bonny Doon Vineyard
  • Burrell School Vineyards
  • Carbonic Service
  • Discretion Brewing
  • El Vaquero Winery
  • Hallcrest Vineyards
  • Integrity Wines
  • Kathryn Kennedy Winery
  • Kings Mountain Vineyards
  • Lester Estate Wines
  • Loma Prieta Winery
  • MJA Vineyards
  • Muccigrosso Vineyards
  • Muns Vineyard
  • New Bohemia Brewing Co.
  • Pelican Ranch Winery
  • Roudon-Smith Winery
  • Sailing Shoes Wine
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
  • Sante Arcangeli Family Wines
  • Scrumpy Hard Cider
  • Seabright Brewery
  • Sones Winery
  • Soquel Cider
  • Storrs Winery
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Venus Spirits
  • Via Vega Winery
  • Villa Del Monte Winery
  • Wrights Station Winery

 

Proceeds from SCCBG’s events benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association, Katz Cancer Resource Center, researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy.

 

Since 1995, SCCBG has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with cancer in the Santa Cruz community, by raising money to support beneficiary organizations and fund new research that will provide possible cures and better solutions for treating cancer. Just in the last decade, they have distributed more than $2 million to directly support the Santa Cruz community.

 

For more information on the event, see sccbg.org. Parking is limited at Aptos Village Park. There is free shuttle service every 15 minutes from Cabrillo College (parking lot K); parking is free. If you Uber, dropoff is at the top of the park.

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

 

Attendees at a previous Grazing on the Green, photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

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Special Mother’s Day chocolate gifts: Recchiuti Confections, Ashby Confections

Mother’s Day Truffle Collection.
Photo Credit: Recchiuti Confections

Fancy, delicious chocolate is a perfect Mother’s Day gift—San Francisco-based Recchiuti Confections and Scotts Valley-based Ashby Confections have many offerings to choose from.

 

Recchiuti Confections

Recchiuti Confections handcrafts their recipes in small batches using traditional European techniques. They blend chocolate from Guittard, El Rey, and Valrhona to create “signature flavor profiles.” Store locations are One Ferry Building, Shop #30 (415-834-9494, and 801 22nd St. (415-834-9494). Here are a couple current selections; there are lots more options on the web site including items for fruit- and or nut-lovers, and a “sauce duo” with flavors Extra-Bitter Chocolate and Burnt Caramel. Visit recchiuti.com for details or to order online.

  • Mother’s Day Truffle Collection: this is a best-selling truffle assortment available both in store and online. The 8-piece collection ($26) holds one piece each of Kona Coffee, Sesame Nougat, Rose Caramel, Piedmont Hazelnut, Ginger Heart, Bergamot Tea, Burnt Caramel, and Candied Orange Peel. The Burnt Caramel piece is topped with a sweet Mother and baby bird design. I had the opportunity to receive a complimentary sample of these truffles; they were unique and wonderful. The Kona Coffee was my favorite, so rich!
  • Sharing Gift Box (just under 2 pounds, $110): If you want to give Mom a gift that she might share with you, try the aptly named “Sharing Gift Box.” It includes a Sepia Truffle Box, Fleur de Sel Caramels, Cacao Nib + Fleur de Sel Mendiants, Malted Dark Milk Revolutions, Dragée Sampler, Dark Milk Bar, Semisweet Bar, and Bittersweet Bar. This is only available online.

Ashby Confections

Jennifer Ashby makes her Ashby Confections treats from scratch, in small batches. Everything is 100 percent handmade. Ashby exclusively uses locally sourced organic chocolate from Guittard and White Label Chocolate, and Clover Organic dairy products. Fruits, herbs and spices are fresh, organic and sourced locally whenever possible. Her store is at 16C Victor Square, Scotts Valley, 831-454-8299. Here are a couple current selections; there are many more options such as sea salt caramels, sour fruit strips and pates de fruits (fruit jellies). All of Ashby’s fruit confections are made with only five ingredients. Visit ashbyconfections.com for details or to order online.

  • Assorted Chocolate Boxes ($13.99-$63.99): Four-piece assortments are available in choice of milk or dark chocolate. The five, 10- and 25-piece collections are a combination of milk and dark.
  • Tortoises ($8.99): There are seven varieties (including choice of milk or dark chocolate, and additions like Monterey Bay Sea Salt) and this is one of Ashby’s most popular products. They come in pairs, and are all made with roasted pecans, and their original handmade caramel recipe.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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Restaurants for Easter in Santa Cruz, South Bay and SF

Past brunch dishes at Porta Blu in Menlo Park. Photo credit: Porta Blu

Dining out for Easter 2019? It’s this coming Sunday; here are some restaurant and food vendor highlights for Santa Cruz, the South Bay, and San Francisco.

Santa Cruz & Scotts Valley

Chaminade Resort & Spa

The Chaminade offers its annual Easter Brunch Buffet from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; the price is $65 (adults), $20 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Selections include fresh carved prime rib and leg of lamb, a seafood bar, omelets made to order, a devilled egg trio, a Mediterranean mezze display, several salads, and desserts such as Easter specialties and pastries. There will be hourly Easter egg hunts for the kids between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – these are open to restaurant and hotel guests only. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations. Visit chaminade.com.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Hilton Scotts Valley

The Hilton SV offers its annual Easter Brunch Buffet from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; the price is $35 (adults), $19 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Selections include roasted herbed turkey, a carving station with honey glazed ham, a smoked salmon platter, Belgian waffles with berry compote, chicken apple sausage, an omelet bar, and desserts including a shortcake bar and cinnamon apple bread pudding. There will be Easter egg hunts at noon and 2, and an appearance by the Easter Bunny. Call (831) 440-1000, ext 4 for reservations.

6001 La Madrona Drive, Scotts Valley

South Bay

Manresa Bread

At the three Manresa Bread  locations (Los Gatos, Los Altos & Campbell), a few special dishes are available for Easter feasts. Guests can pre-order partner/head baker Avery Ruzicka’s seasonal strawberry apricot Panettone, fig walnut or chocolate Babka, and tomato and asparagus quiche, to pick up at the bakeries between April 19-21. For advance orders, visit pre-ordermanresabread.com. Additional treats are available at the two bakeries (276 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, and 271 State St, Los Altos) and the one all-day café & bakery (Campbell, 195 E. Campbell Ave.) during Easter weekend. For Easter brunch April 20, Manresa Bread Campbell will add dishes such as burrata and asparagus toast, vegan vegetable soup, and doughnuts. Visit manresabread.com.

 

Porta Blu

At Porta Blu there will be an “Easter Brunch Bash” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bay Area native / Chef de Cuisine Michael Riddell, has created a menu with dishes such as Lemon Pancakes, Rosemary Ham Benedict, and Dungeness Crab Toast. Families are invited to indulge in a gourmet spread of dishes, snap a photo with the Easter bunny, grab a basket for the egg hunt, or play in the petting zoo. Porta Blu’s weekly jazz brunch series will continue on Easter, with live music provided by local saxophonist Michael O’Neil. For reservations, visit portablurestaurant.com.

200 Independence Dr/, Lobby Level, Menlo Park

 

San Francisco

Recchiuti Confections

An artisan chocolate leader for over 20 years, Recchiuti Confections is known for meticulously sourcing ingredients and hand-crafting their recipes in small batches using traditional European techniques. Store locations are One Ferry Building, Shop #30, and 801 Twenty-second Street. Visit recchiuti.com. The below items are available both in store and online.

  • Force Noir Eggs (12 pieces, $25): Dark chocolate shells filled with vanilla-laced chocolate and hand-painted with a fresh new design of lustrous pink and purple. 12 egg-shaped halves making up 6 whole eggs packed in an elegant platinum box
  • Almond Hazelnut Praline Eggs (12 pieces, $25): Signature 45% milk chocolate shells filled with 45% milk chocolate hazelnut-almond praline. 12 egg-shaped halves making up 6 whole eggs packed in an elegant platinum box
  • Bunnies and Blossoms (8 pieces, $22): Hop into Easter with the Bunnies and Blossoms truffle collection. Each Burnt Caramel truffle is topped with original artwork; truffles are made by blending dark, smoky caramel with 70% dark chocolate ganache and enrobing it in semisweet chocolate

 

Presidio Social Club

Nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s iconic Presidio National Park, Presidio Social Club (563 Ruger St.) is a former military barrack turned modern eatery paying homage to its historical past by celebrating classic Americana cuisine and a completely in-house maintained barrel-aged cocktail program. Presidio Social Club invites families to enjoy Easter Sunday Brunch between 9 a.m. -3 p.m. either indoors or on the restaurant’s tree-lined open patio (dependent on weather). They will offer both classic and specialty a la carte menu items such as those listed below. Visit presidiosocialclub.com. Reservations can be made via OpenTable.

  • Mission-style chilaquiles ($15.95): with scrambled eggs, tomatillo, cotija cheese
  • Slow-roasted Leg of Pork ($23): with soft polenta, fried eggs, and salsa verde
  • Challah French Toast ($14.50): with pecan butter and maple syrup
  • Brioche Beignets ($10): with brown sugar hot chocolate

 

Capo’s Chicago Pizza & Fine Italian Dinners

Celebrating “Chicago-style cuisine with an emphasis on authenticity and quality ingredients,” Capo’s owner Tony Gemignani invites guests to experience a traditional Italian Easter dinner with classics such as his Stuffed Crust pies. Originally derived from the traditional Italian Easter pie, Scarciedda, Capo’s offers stuffed pizzas like the Big Jim, Old Chicago, and Frank Nitti.

641 Vallejo Street

 

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Valentine’s Day gifts for the coffee & breakfast lover

Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker — one of many gift possibilities from Hamilton Beach for Valentine’s Day or any occasion
Photo courtesy of Hamilton Beach

If you’re looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift for someone who takes their home coffee and breakfast making seriously, I got to sample some Hamilton Beach products recently and can tell you about a few. Hamilton Beach products are generally available online at hamiltonbeach.com, Amazon.com and at select retailers.

First, the FlexBrew Coffee Maker, which is a combination of Single Serve and Full Coffee Pot. If you want a full or half pot of coffee, use the traditional glass carafe. If you want a single cup, use the other side of the machine with either K-cups/pods or ground coffee, depending what size cup you’re looking for. It’s very convenient to have all these options; my family has used all three in the few days since we first got the machine. It retails at $89.99 and can be found at the aforementioned places plus Walmart.

Next, the Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker, which allows you to make quick-yet-delicious customizable breakfast to enjoy at home or on the go. You choose your bread and add ingredients like eggs, cheese, precooked meat, avocado, vegetables, etc. If you need sandwich inspiration, there are enticing recipes on the company’s site like Avocado, Egg White & Swiss Cheese Breakfast Sandwich (see below for one more). You can cook two breakfast sandwiches in five minutes or less, and then cleanup is easy because the removable parts are dishwasher-safe. In addition to Hamilton Beach’s site and Amazon, this one’s available at Target. Cost is $39.99.

Last but not least, the Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker — which as of early February was out of stock on the HB site, but is often available at Walmart or Amazon ($39.99). You can change the browning setting depending how light or dark you like your waffles, and because of the “Flip” style, it’s easier to make thick, fluffy waffles like you find at restaurants. There are easily accessible recipes for traditional buttermilk waffles and unusual spin-offs like Tater Tot waffles (yes, ingredients like 40 thawed tater tots play a part in this concoction!).

No matter what you choose to buy your Valentine—or yourself—for the occasion, I hope it’s a happy one for all you foodies and home chefs out there.

Recipe: Cheddar, Apple, Bacon and Egg Croissant Sandwich

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach / From The Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 mini croissant, halved
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 thin slices Granny Smith apple
  • 1 slice precooked bacon, cut in half
  • 1 large egg, lightly scrambled

Directions

  1. Preheat Breakfast Sandwich Maker until green PREHEAT light comes on. Lift cover, top ring and cooking plate.
  2. Place bottom half of croissant, cut-side up in bottom ring of Breakfast Sandwich Maker. Top with cheese, apple slices and bacon.
  3. Lower cooking plate and top ring. Add egg to cooking plate.
  4. Top with remaining croissant half, cut-side down.
  5. Close cover. Cook 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Slide out cooking plate by rotating handle clockwise. Lift cover and rings; carefully remove sandwich with plastic spatula.

Serves: 1

Test Kitchen Tip: For a lightly browned croissant top, cook the egg in the top ring without the croissant for 3 to 4 minutes or until egg is just about done. Lift the cover, add the croissant and continue cooking until top is lightly toasted and egg is cooked.

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Give to the hungry this holiday season

I write a lot about food, and know that those of you reading my articles are “foodies” – this holiday season, let’s remember those who do not get enough food! How about donating to people in need, like those struggling with hunger (which is 1 in 8 people). Here’s an opportunity to double your impact:

 

I recently discovered Wells Fargo Bank has donated $4 million to Feeding America, and announced they are matching up to $1 million in additional donations (that come from ordinary people like you and me) through Dec. 31, 2018. Even if you can’t donate much, every single dollar helps. And with Feeding America, $1 equals 10 meals. You can donate at a local Wells Fargo bank branch (even through the ATM) or donate online. The money will be matched, and for those donating in Santa Cruz County, it will be given to Second Harvest Food Bank (the first food bank in California and the second oldest in the nation). I love the fact that more than 60% of the food Second Harvest distributes is fresh produce! I learned that on the web site, in addition to being reminded that Second Harvest reaches 55,000 people each month. These are kids, seniors, veterans, homeless, and others.

 

I hope you join me in supporting this important cause!

 

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Christmas shopping: last minute restaurant gift card bonuses

Photo caption: Sushi Garden is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

Two weeks ago I posted this article with eight different “gift card bonus offers” from Santa Cruz and Capitola restaurants. Here are a few more for any of you doing very-last-minute shopping.

 

Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville

Sushi Garden is offering 10% off if you purchase at least $50 worth of gift certificates. You have to buy them by Dec. 24, and they’re valid at all three locations: Capitola (820 Bay Ave.), Scotts Valley (5600 Scotts Valley Dr.) and Watsonville (1441 Main St.).Visit sushi-garden.com.

 

Capitola, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz

Jamba Juice is offering a gift card deal this holiday season, through Christmas. If you buy $25 in gift cards, you get a $5 bonus card redeemable in January and February. For more information, visit jambajuice.com. Local stores include Capitola (3555 Clares St.), Santa Cruz (1550 Pacific Ave.), and Scotts Valley (214 Mt. Hermon Rd.).

 

Santa Cruz

At Blaze Pizza (1901 Mission St.), if you buy a $25 gift card by Dec. 31, you get a free pizza reward to use at in 2019 (Jan. 1-Feb. 28). Restrictions: You must be a Blaze Rewards member (but it’s easy to sign up). For more information, visit blazepizza.com/locations/santa-cruz.

 

And finally, even though it’s not food-related, I have to mention Bookshop Santa Cruz because it’s such a wonderful, independent resource—and it’s been so for more than 50 years! Through the holiday season, you receive a free $10 BSC gift card when you purchase four $25 gift cards, or a free $5 gift card when you purchase five $10 gift cards. Speaking of food, your gift recipients (or you!) can buy a cookbook or a different type of food book (Ruth Reichl’s Comfort me With Apples…Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, etc.). Visit bookshopsantacruz.com.

 

Best wishes for a great 2019!

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Last-minute Cuisinart gift ideas for chefs and foodies

Cuisinart released this Air Fryer Toaster Oven in 2017. Photo credit: Cuisinart

Have some last-minute holiday shopping left to do? If any of these gift recipients are amateur chefs or just plain foodies, Cuisinart has a few gift ideas. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, Williams Sonoma and Walmart.

 

First, the Air Fryer Toaster Oven, which was released in 2017. This product is a full-size toaster oven with a built-in air fryer. It bakes, broils, and toasts, AND it allows you to air fry inside the oven. Curious about air frying? This is from Cuisinart’s web site: “Air frying, which uses powerful ultra-hot air, is a healthier way to prepare delicious fried favorites, from wings to fritters to fries to shrimp.” The product’s interior is large enough to “…air fry up to three pounds, toast six slices of bread, or bake a four-pound chicken or 12-inch pizza.” Retail price is $199. See below for a three-ingredient “Airfried S’Mores” recipe. Also visit Cuisinart’s online recipes for more.

 

Cuisinart’s eight-cup food processor, originally released back in 2014, is stainless steel and retails at $99.95. The company kindly sent me a sample—I love the shape and size (different than my previous one, which I used religiously for years!). Also, I appreciate that the parts can go into the dishwasher. The last thing I want to do after spending a bunch of time cooking is then using more time washing dishes by hand!

 

I know that many people have two food processors, so that they can use a smaller one for things like pesto and light chopping needs. If you know someone who cooks a lot, that already has a large processor, I would consider this four-cup chopper/grinder. It’s only $39.95 and it apparently comes with a handy recipe book (I don’t have one personally, so I can’t vouch for the recipes).

 

If you’re looking for bakeware, I’ve found Cuisinart’s line to be highly dependable. Actually, I like using the mini heart pans to make savory dishes as well as sweet ones. I often make egg bakes in a glass baking dish or mini-muffin pans, and then save some of the batter for one of the mini hearts. It’s fun to surprise my 7-year-old daughter with a heart-shaped concoction. My latest was simple, with egg, chicken sausage, onion and a topping of shredded cheese, but it did the trick! I have also used my “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet with silicone grip handles ($23.95) for successful cookies and equally successful sheet pan dinners.

 

Airfried S’Mores Recipe (courtesy of Cuisinart)

Makes 8 servings

 

Ingredients:

16 graham cracker squares

8 squares milk chocolate (about 2 ounces)

8 standard marshmallows

 

  1. Put 8 graham cracker squares on the AirFryer basket. Place a chocolate square in the center of each cracker and top each with a marshmallow.
  2. Put the basket in the upper position. Set to AirFry at 350 degrees F. AirFry for 3 ½ to 4 minutes, or until the marshmallows are lightly toasted.
  3. Carefully remove from the AirFryer and transfer to a plate. Top each with the remaining crackers.

 

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Santa Cruz holiday shopping: Gift card bonus offers for restaurants

Pono Hawaiian Grill is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

If you’re in Santa Cruz or Capitola and have some gift or stocking stuffer shopping to do, you’ll be happy to know that several restaurants are offering “gift certificate bonus deals” for the 2018 holiday season. Here are a few options – if you hear of any more, let me know at tara@santacruzfoodie.com so I can share with everyone, thanks!

Santa Cruz

Pono Hawaiian Grill (120 Union St.) – If you buy a $25 gift card, it costs $20. If you buy a $100 card, you get a $20 bonus certificate. The offer is valid until Dec. 31. For more information, call 831-426-7666 or visit ponohawaiiangrill.com.

 

Hula’s Island Grill: ((221 Cathcart St.): Purchase a $50 gift certificate and get a $10 card free to keep for yourself. Purchase $100 and get a $20 certificate free. Offer available until December 23. For more information, call 831-426-4852 or visit hulastiki.com.

 

Mission Hill Creamery (1101B Pacific Ave., 831-216-6421) is offering gift cards at a 20 percent discount. Purchase cards such as a $10 card for $8 or a $50 card for $40. The promotion is valid through Dec. 24. Visit missionhillcreamery.com.

 

Woodstock’s Pizza  – Now through Christmas, for every $50 in gift cards you purchase, you get 5 free “Woody Bucks.” The Santa Cruz location is 710 Front St. Call 831-427-4444 or visit woodstockscruz.com.

 

Denny’s: customers who buy a $25 Denny’s gift card will receive $50 in coupons for future visits. The offer is valid through Dec. 25. The Santa Cruz location is 1515 Ocean St. Call 831-426-4628 or visit dennys.com.

 

Capitola

Paradise Beach Grille (215 Esplanade): Buy a $100 gift certificate for $80. Offer valid through Christmas. Call 831-476-4900 or visit paradisebeachgrille.com

 

Chili’s  – If you buy $50 in gift cards, you receive a $10 bonus card to keep for yourself. The Capitola branch is at 1855 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-462-1813 or visit chilis.com.

 

IHOP – If you buy a $25 gift card, you receive a $5 bonus coupon. The Capitola branch is at 1549 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-475-0540 or visit ihop.com.

 

Happy holiday shopping & Bon Appetit!

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