Otay Ranch Chow List

Otay Ranch Chow List – Top 5 Picks

How exciting is it to move to a new town and go exploring? The first things we encourage ourselves to do is hunt for something familiar or go bold and discover something new – especially when it comes to food. Instead of checking Yelp reviews, why not rely on experience from a local like me? Having grown up here when this area was just rolling hills and vacant lots, I’ve scoped out a few foodie hotspots in the Southbay, where San Diego keeps a suburban dream in its back pocket. This hidden gem is my home, Otay Ranch.

It’s tough to have a definitive list like this without explaining why, so each restaurant listed here has been categorized accordingly. Whether you are a young couple enjoying your first apartment together or a family that prefers something kid-friendly, there’s a restaurant here for you. Here are my top 5 picks for dinner tonight:

 

Best Date Night Experience at Savoie Eatery

Best Date Night at Savoie Eatery

Their website proclaims themselves as the “best food in town – where the French and Italian Rivieras meet.” If you don’t believe me, read their reviews. It is conveniently located in the Otay Ranch Towne Center across from the AMC Theaters. Dinner and a movie? Winner, winner chicken dinner! The decor is quite whimsical and you start feeling a bit like Alice lost in Wonderland or maybe like Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland. Beware, if you don’t have a reservation, then be prepared to wait a half hour or more. They are plugged right into Open Table, so make plans ahead of time or give them a call at 619-591-5757.
2015 Birch Road, Ste. 720 , Chula Vista CA 91915 (Image found on Savoie website)

Best Family Friendly Experience at Pho Hiep Grill

Pho Hiep Grill owners

Let’s get this straight – I’m referring to the Eastlake location. It is conveniently located in the Eastlake Villagewalk shopping center where you will also find Trader Joe’s and Sprouts. Just beyond, there is a spectacular coy and turtle pond where your little ones can pay a quarter for fish pellets. Some forewarning – the pellets look like Cheerios so supervision is recommended. Besides the location, their customer service goes a long way towards making you feel welcome. Where else can you find an owner walking from table to table greeting his guests? After chatting with him a bit, he will tell you that the decor is all handcrafted in Vietnam. He takes great pride in his heritage and the quality of his food. This particular location can cater to large families with your choice of dining inside or on the outdoor patio. Pricing for appetizers and meals are in the low range and what you’d likely pay for fast-food not a sit-down place. Score one for family-friendly and two for budget friendly as well!
872 Eastlake Parkway Suite 310 , Chula Vista CA 91914 (Image found at Pho Hiep Grill website)

Best Happy Hour at Romesco’s

Best Happy Hour

It was voted Reader’s Choice Best Restaurant of 2014 by Modern Luxury Riviera San Diego magazine and if this mouthwatering ad for Happy Hour doesn’t get to you, then convince yourself to enjoy one of the most unique happy hour experiences in San Diego. Not only is there live music – and when I mention live music it could be a classically trained violinist, a live band, or a DJ – but there is also a secret bar for those wanting to feel like they’re in a speakeasy.
4346 Bonita Road , Bonita CA 919102 (Image found on Romesco website)

Best Takeout Experience at In-N-Out

Best takeout experience

How familiar are you with their secret menu? Next time you wait in line at the drive-thru, order the 4 by 4 protein style with fries-well topped animal style. Since it’s early beginnings, this fast food chain took no shortcuts and stuck to using fresh ingredients – inevitably staying ahead of competition by catering to millennials who expect “Quality you can taste.” We are lucky to have one of the only In-N-Outs in the Southbay and yes, lines are usually out the door at lunch and dinner!
1725 Eastlake Parkway, Chula Vista CA 91915 (Image found at In-N-Out wallpaper downloads)

Best Place for Late Night Munchies at Lolitas Taco Shop

Best Late Night Munchies

Who else is stoked that they are opening another location? Show of hands please. When it comes to satiating the late night munchie monster, most restaurants open late tend to be of the Mexican flavor. However, when it comes to great Mexican food, Lolitas Taco Shop wins by a landslide. This restaurant is home to tsunami burritos (shrimp and carne asada) and freebies like fresh green onions, spicy carrots and salsa verde. In order to avoid the rush, it is best to call in your order ahead of time.
601-1A East Palomar Street , Chula Vista 91911 (Image found at Lolitas Taco Shop website)

A blog about food does a hungry writer make! If you fly in for a visit or decide to take a job and relocate to San Diego, be sure to stop by Otay Ranch and discover what else can be found in this hidden gem.

Camden Southline: Community First

When building anything from the ground up, one must always expect the unexpected. The most important part to remember is to make the most out of the situation. With the community opening delayed by a few days, the Camden Southline team decided to use their time wisely by donating it. The team headed to the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte to help prepare and serve lunch to those in need.

menshelter3

The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) is one of many homeless services agencies serving people in the Charlotte community who are experiencing homelessness and are considered chronically homeless (meaning they’ve been homeless often or for an extended period of time and they have an disabling condition, often mental illness). In fact, MSC provides safe shelter and supportive services to about 200 chronically homeless men each year.”

Camden Southline Assistant Manager, Anna lending a helping hand in the kitchen!

Camden Southline Assistant Manager, Anna lending a helping hand in the kitchen!

The day the Camden Southline team headed over to lend a hand, 195 men were served. The group helped prepare lunch in the kitchens and serve said food to the men that were in attendance that day.

Camden Southline Leasing Consultants Colby and Laura prep the salad for serving!

Camden Southline Leasing Consultants Colby and Laura prep the salad for serving!

With life drastically changing for many people everyday, homelessness is something that is on the rise in many of our cities in the United States . Working for a company that provides homes for many, it means a great deal to Camden to be able send our employees to assist those without homes. It is our hope, that with a little care and love, each person can better their path in life. Sometimes all it takes is a little personal attention and good people doing good things on their own accord.

All you need is love!

All you need is love!

With Camden Southline now open, and the employees now very busy assisting residents and potential residents, we are very appreciative of the time they have given and we thank them for representing Camden so well in their free time.

To anyone else looking to make a difference, either with a financial donation or a donation of time, please visit: http://www.mensshelterofcharlotte.org/ways-to-help/volunteer/ for more information!

Welcoming Your Guests

“We’re about fifteen minutes away.” Music to my ears, when I am awaiting the arrival of a houseguest. It could be family, friends, or even a babysitting gig it doesn’t matter, I get pumped. I enjoy doing special things to make my houseguest feel welcomed and here are just a few tricks that make the experience memorable.

Beautiful nosh cheese plate, with fruit and pastrami.

Beautiful nosh cheese plate, with fruit and pastrami.

After a long day on the road or at the airport, your guest can work up quite the appetite. Providing some easy to manage small bites, is a great idea to knock the edge off before your dinner plans.

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Happy Thanksgiving

3 Must Have Thanksgiving Side Dishes!

Featured image

Do you love gaining 5 pounds in one day? Do you love eating carbs? Do you love sticks of butter? If your answer is YES! Read this blog! I have 3 of the most AMAZING must have recipes to make your Thanksgiving memorable in 2014! I’m no Iron Chef, but when it comes to Thanksgiving I do not play around with my food. One of these recipes below is over 30 years old and it just gets better with time! My favorite part about Thanksgiving is making the recipe my own and experimenting in the kitchen!

Check out these recipes and let me know if you have any memorable Thanksgiving recipes you would like to share!

Happy Turkey Day Everyone!

1.) Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside. 

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill. 

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

2.) Best EVER Green Bean Casserole 

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE TOPPING:

FOR BEANS AND SAUCE:

  • tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
  • tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • cup chicken broth
  • cup half-and-half

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. 

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F. 

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. 

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

3.) Mom’s Best Stuffing 

Mom's Best Stuffing. Photo by DRB

INGREDIENTS

Directions:

  1. Saute sausage until brown; remove from pan and cut into small bites.
  2. In a large skillet, melt butter and cook onion, celery, and mushrooms over medium heat for 3 minutes or until softened.
  3. Transfer sausage and veggies, including any butter that is left in the pan to a bowl.
  4. Add stuffing mix, bread cubes, sage, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, pecans, turkey stock, and eggs.
  5. Toss well and adjust seasoning.
  6. Stuffing should be moist but not soggy. Add more stock if needed.
  7. Transfer to a baking dish.
  8. Bake in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered until heated through and crust forms on top.
  9. Stuff it into a big fat turkey.

 

Falling Into Festivities

You can definitely tell that fall is here in Atlanta. The leaves are changing, cooler weather has rolled in and there is a flood of festivals, attractions and events. We all love this time of year because we can enjoy the outdoors without suffering the heat and humidity. With that being said, Atlanta stacks the calendar with things to do for people of all ages. We have events for children such as Boo at the Zoo  and for adults we have Netherworld, one of the scariest haunted houses in the world. Here are some of my favorite events and those that I am most looking forward to.

Netherworld: We all hate to be scared but at the same time, secretly we enjoy the thrill. I figured why not get into the spirit by attending the 3rd scariest haunted house in the world and dragging my friend along. I will tell you that we are definitely in the spirit now! This giant house in Norcross featured 200 animated monsters, and employs almost 100 live actors to scare the crap out of any willing participant that walks through the door. The long drive added to the lure as we felt as though we were driving straight into a Stephen King movie. In the dark hallways we held hands like little girls and at one point my friend was actually crying and yelling at me for making her do this. She swore she would never speak to me again. Luckily we survived the witches and blood thirsty monsters and have a true understanding as to why it was featured on the “Travel Channel’s “Best Halloween Attractions for 2014”. I made a deal with my friend to attend whatever event she chose. That deal is leading us to a craft beer festival!

photo courtesy of jesuitcrusader.org

photo courtesy of jesuitcrusader.org

Georgia Craft Beer Festival: This one I can’t speak about from experience but I can’t wait to go! This event is boasting over 30 breweries, endless food trucks and more than 100 craft beers. This is the perfect event for all types of beer drinkers! We are going to taste all the local and seasonal beers you could ever consume in one day all in one place. This event is on held on the 25th in Candler Park. General admission covers the live music and the beer we will be sampling from brewers like Blue Tarp Brewing Co, Monday Night Brewing and Atlanta’s most popular Sweetwater Brewing Co. Sounds like a great idea right?  Probably not the best thing to do the night before a big race! That brings me to my next must do event!

Atlanta 10 Miler: One thing this fall weather brings is race after race throughout the area! This is a new run that is only in its 2nd year and the second part in the Triple Peach that is held on the 26th. I did this race last year in preparation for the Thanksgiving Half Marathon. What I remember of this race last year was the perfect weather, 8 miles uphill, and feeling sorry for the marathoners that had to finish 26.2 with all those hills in the last 10 miles. Not to mention a great run up the properly named Cardiac Hill! This may not sound fun to many of you but it is a great run that starts at Atlantic Station and travels through residential Buckhead and finishes with a run down our beloved Peachtree Road. No worries, there is also a 5K, miles of locals cheering you on and Halloween decorated areas to make the time fly by! Any runner out there knows that the one thing you want after a race, FOOD!

Cardiac Hill

Photo courtesy of atlantasrunnersblog.com

Taste of Atlanta: You may have not been to this in the past but you surely have heard about it. Last year I attended this after the race and it was a perfect ending to a very long day! This is the 3 day food fest that features over 90 of the best restaurants from all over the Atlanta area, located in Midtown’s Tech Square. Here you will find many of Ford Fry’s restaurants like JCT Kitchen, The Optimist and No. 246. Not to mention the sampling of restaurants like Bartaco, Rosebud and Iberian Pig! It’s not just food either. They have a ton of different activities including a Barcraft Competition featuring some of the best mixologists around, live music and a Big Green Egg Grilling Experience! With all of the amazing restaurants in the area, this is the best way to sample them all and pick your favorite!

Bartaco

There is an unlimited amount of things to do in Atlanta this time of year. Hopefully you will get out and explore as I did and experience everything this great city has to offer!

Opa! Houston!

Get ready Houston the wait is over… The Original Greek Festival is back! There is nothing I love more than a cool front and some amazing Baklava. You will be able to experience the people, food and music. Come out and embrace this wonderful culture.

Located at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the heart of Houston parking may be a little tricky, but worth it. The festival runs from October 2nd-5th and operates throughout day/night.  Also, what is great about this event is that part of the proceeds from the Greek Festival have helped many charitable organizations in the Houston/Texas area including Star of Hope Mission, Houston Area Women’s Center and many more. They have even partnered with Greeni Recycling in effort to recycle as much as possible during the weekend event. Last year they recycled 10,000 lbs of garbage.

Make no excuses and come join me this weekend, you won’t regret it!

 

 

Photo Courtesy of  http://greekfestival.org/

Photo Courtesy of http://greekfestival.org/

Thursday, October 2, 2014
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Friday, October 3, 2014
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Saturday, October 4, 2014
11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Sunday, October 5, 2014
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
3511 Yoakum Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77006

713.526.5377

For more information please visit The Original Greek Festival website.

Answer the Door – Fall is Knocking

I was in Pier 1 Imports the other day picking up my new dishes and what did I see? Fall decorations AND Halloween decorations…already. It felt like when Hallmark puts out Valentine’s Day cards in October and grocery stores put out Easter candy in February. I shook my head and giggled slightly. I may or may not have thrown in an unnoticeable eye roll. But then it hit me. It’s almost fall and technically Halloween, the way this year has flown by, will be here before any of us realize it. Then the excitement set in. I love fall. Like seriously love it.  If it was something I could marry, I would.  The last few mornings I was able to walk out on my patio and feel that slight chill in the air that makes me so content with life.

So what I am going to do is give you a little fall, a little early. That way you’re prepared and fall into the spirit (get it?!).

Fall Decor Idea

Chevron Painted Pumpkins Photo Credit : www.interiorsbystudiom.com

Chevron Painted Pumpkins
Photo Credit : http://www.interiorsbystudiom.com

Now either we are ourselves or have that one Aunt who changes out the decor for every season and every single holiday. Whether you do or not, you can certainly appreciate adding just a touch of the season to your home. It can be the tiniest shift in your decor to a wall-to-wall makeover. Hey, who are we to judge? Southern Living has awesome ideas from tablescapes to small touches of things you can do to incorporate fall themes into your home. Stay classy, Southern Living. I personally am obsessed with painted pumpkins like the ones above. They make me feel fancy.

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My First Trip to Pizza Port, Solana Beach

Solana Beach Pizza Port photo credit to pizzaport.com

Solana Beach Pizza Port photo credit to pizzaport.com

So if you’ve lived in Northern San Diego for a while, you know you’ve heard of Pizza Port.  Since moving to San Diego 12 years ago I had heard the name over and over and had even seen their signature beers all over the place.  Only recently was I finally able to dine at Pizza Port and if definitely met expectations.  My first expectation was that it would be crowded, so we showed up early.  There was a small line when we got there, but by the time Continue reading

Swimming Pool Etiquette

When you leased your apartment, one of your favorite features was the beautiful swimming pool and now that summer is here, you are excited to finally have the opportunity to use it. A fun and relaxing day at the pool can quickly turn into a nightmare if you or those around you are not following proper pool etiquette. As a competitive swimmer growing up and a pool manager for 4 years, I have seen my fair share of do’s and dont’s around a pool deck.

Photo provided by Camden Boca Raton

  Photo provided by Camden Boca Raton

 

With that being said, I have come up with a quick list to help you have a safe and happy summer pool side:

Save the Running and Jumping for the Track Field-

There are people of all ages at the pools at times. Be cautious of little kids that might not be as stable on their feet. Pool decks become very slippery when wet so to avoid any accidents, limit the amount of running and jumping inside the pool area. A stubbed toe or skinned up knee can put a damper on your summer fun!

Photo provided by Camden Copper Square.

Photo provided by Camden Copper Square.

Guest Limit-

The typical standard for Camden communities is 2 guests at the pool with the residents. The pools at our communities are designated for our residents first and for most. We want to make sure to not over crowd the pools with non-residents. Also, make sure that your guest know the pool rules and abide by them. With that, also keep in mind how your music and voices can travel. If you bring a portable radio, keep the music level to a moderate level to not disturb the residents around you.

Photo provided by Camden Gaines Ranch

Photo provided by Camden Gaines Ranch

Clean Up- 

Make sure when you are done for the day that you clean up the area around you. A member of the Camden maintenance staff will clean up the pool area in the morning before the pools open but be mindful that trash and messes attract ants and bugs. You wouldn’t want to come to the pool and find that the table, chairs and pool deck are cluttered with trash and messes. Help us keep our Camden pools beautiful!

Photo provided by Camden Amber Oaks

Photo provided by Camden Amber Oaks

No Glass Bottles-

My biggest pet peeve is when people bring glass bottles to the pool. I feel like people do not realize how dangerous it is when glass breaks on a pool deck. Broken glass and bare feet make for a painful combination. Also, did you know that if a bottle breaks and pieces of glass go into the pool, you have to empty all of the water out to pool to collect all of the broken pieces? Please bring your beverages to the pool in plastic cups or aluminum cans!

pool 6

Photo provided by Camden Main & Jamboree.

It is hard to believe that summer is almost half way over, so get out to your community swimming pool and enjoy yourself! Just remember these helpful tips to make the summer pool experience a happy and fun one!

 

The Sights and Sounds of Fort Lauderdale

I can think of many wonderful things to do in the City of Fort Lauderdale, after all it is a beautiful part of South Florida to visit. From the sunny beaches to the swampy marshes, you can never run out of places to see and have fun.  Below are some of my personal favorites. Continue reading