My Mid-Summer Dream at StoneFire Grill #SFGsummer @StoneFire

Posted on July 25th, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

My Mid-Summer Dream at StoneFire Grill

It’s summertime and what is better on a warm summer evening than sitting outside on the patio drinking cool drinks, eating amazing fresh food and hanging out with friends? (Disclosure.)

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Selfie with my BFF Carolyn West of #SCLB on the Patio at StoneFire Grill West Hills

That is exactly what I did last week with my So Cal Lady Blogger friends at the StoneFire Grill in West Hills.

The wonderful people at StoneFire Grill invited us over for dinner to sample their newest menu items. They are so hospitable and friendly, it was like being asked over to a friend’s home for a meal.  We had a whole section of the patio to ourselves. It was so nice, I wanted to stay longer.

My family enjoys eating at StoneFire all the time. We love to order barbecue and breadsticks and all the yummy sides and salads for parties. The cheesecake is to die for! Like most people I know, we try to eat healthy but we love the ease and convenience of ordering from our favorite restaurant. Since we always order our favorites, I had not looked at the menu or tried any of the new items since they were introduced. This was the perfect opportunity.

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Maddie and Colin at StoneFire West Hills

It was a special treat to meet the people behind the new menu at StoneFire. Justin Lopez was there serving us dinner and his brother, Kyle was actually doing the cooking. Everything was amazing!

Now I have some new, very healthy, favorites. The best part is they are very very yummy and just as worthy of craving as the rich meaty dishes I have grown accustomed to. I seriously have not stopped thinking of the Keen Green Salad and Grilled Shrimp. As much as I love the ribs and chicken at StoneFire, it will be easy to eat light this summer! 2014-07-22 03.47.13

So, it kinda makes you wonder why and how they did it, huh? I mean, why improve a good thing, right? Everyone loves the great food at StoneFire. Why the new items? Are they going to change? I hate when new things replace the old stuff that everyone loves. New management or owners or franchisees usually make changes like that. What’s the scoop?

Well, it helps if you know the background. The way things started over at StoneFire, I would be surprised if there were big changes in the plans. I received this story from my friends who coordinated the media event:

What happens when a strict vegetarian takes his place in his family’s popular “meat & potatoes” restaurants? That was the very real dilemma recently facing Justin Lopez, whose mother, Mary Harrigan and aunt Maureen, founded Stonefire Grill in 2000.  After all, the popular restaurants, with 7 locations in LA and OC, are known for large-portions of tri tip, ribs, pizzas, mac n cheese, carrot cake, etc.

To make his mark, Lopez did something risky – something that could have turned off the restaurant’s core customers and forever damaged its image.  He began reshaping the menu with a sharp focus on vegetarian dishes.  The result?  Sales of the new items quickly outpaced many of the favorite items that had been on the menu for years and the restaurants now are attracting a broader market share including many vegetarians and vegans.

He introduced items with key ingredients like kale, quinoa, chickpeas and arugula taking center stage.  Some customers had never even heard of some of these ingredients, however, they proved more than popular.  For instance, the Golden State Kale with chopped kale, red cabbage, cucumbers, golden raisins, roasted chickpeas and avocado with lemon tahini dressing has emerged as one of the top selling items on the entire menu.

photo by Melissa Reyes for http://mizmeliz.com copyright 2014

The Golden State Kale Salad: pretty, elegant, healthy and tasty!

Lopez also introduced a simple concept that has caught on – allowing guests to take any of the 16 salads featured on the menu and having it served as a wrap.

What are his latest offerings? Since cauliflower is the “new kale” this season, Lopez has developed several dishes featuring this cruciferous veggie like the Roasted Cauliflower Pita stuffed with chopped tomatoes, green onion, lemon tahini and a spicy cilantro-Serrano pepper sauce.

photo courtesy of StoneFire Grill

I never thought I would like cauliflower this much! The flavor from the roasted cauliflower is rich and savory.

Not all of the new items are vegetarian.  He has also crusaded for more lean protein items like turkey and shrimp that are key ingredients in several new dishes.

photo by Melissa Reyes for http://mizmeliz.com copyright 2014

The best grilled shrimp ever! Served on a bed of quinoa and a side of Keen Green salad.

From a business standpoint, retooling the menu was a risky move that could have alienated Stonefire’s loyal devotees, but that didn’t come to be.  In fact, the new items have invoked new energy, new customers and higher sales overall.

Sometimes, it really is that simple. It’s not a dream, but it is a dreamy way to spend your summer nights. Try one of Justin’s creations and let me know what you think.

photo by Melissa Reyes for http://mizmeliz.com copyright 2014

Served up with a refreshing Saint Archer Blonde Ale, the Grilled Cauliflower Pita was my favorite!

Tweet your favorites @StoneFireGrill and enter the #SFGSummer Contest

StoneFire

How I became a Sports Mom in a Sports Loving Family #WeAreFanatics @Fanatics

Posted on July 24th, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz

How I became a “Sports Mom” in a “Sports Loving” Family

by Melissa Reyes on July 24, 2014

We are a Sports Family because we support and love what our children love to do. (Disclosure.)

Senior Day, The whole family was there on the field to support our Varsity Player!

Senior Day, The whole family was there on the field to support our Varsity Player!

 

When I was approached by WeAreFanatics.com to share about how sports brings my family together, my first thought was, “I haven’t really shared much about sports on my blog.”

Then I realized, “Oh, Yes I have!” I share pictures of my kids on the playing field and enjoying the outdoors ALL the TIME! In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized my blog is perfect for the  “Family Fanatics” campaign.

Our family really are fanatics and sports enthusiasts. My husband’s favorite competition to watch on TV is the Formula 1  Grand Prix series and we always watch the finals for American Football, Baseball, Basketball, and World Cup Soccer. We never miss the Olympics. My brother follows all sports – seriously, he follows everything from Tennis to Bass Fishing! We are a family of sports fans!  So, how can I share my story of being a sports enthusiast when I, myself,  am not an athlete, and frankly…not a big fan? Well, maybe there are more people like me out there who are the ones watching, shopping for, and learning about all the sports our families love. Fanatics.com is my new favorite resource for all things sports related.

I never thought I would be a “sports mom.” It started almost as soon as they could walk. My little boys loved to play and quickly became little athletes. Even though my husband and I weren’t into sports or outdoor activities much, when we had our three sons we knew the importance of team sports and how beneficial participating in outdoor activities would be for them. Hmmm. Let me think. How did we know this?

My sons support each other and have always played together.

My sons support each other and have always played together.

It is true that we were each exposed to some physical activities when we were growing up. Each of us had great parents who encouraged us to try things. My husband played a few years of little league. I spent a few years on a tennis team. We both remember learning to bowl. However, we never considered ourselves the outdoorsy type and definitely were not athletes. In fact, when our first son was born, my husband held him in his arms and lovingly said, “You will never play football.” We had actually discussed this before having children. What he meant was, “I want to protect you from harm and I think football and contact sports are dangerous.”
Watching from the stands and praying that no one got hurt was my role as a Sports Mom.

Watching from the stands and praying that no one got hurt was my role as a Sports Mom.

Is that what sparked the love of football my first son carried with him throughout his life? It is a little ironic that the sport he most wanted to play was football ever since he played flag football for the first time in after school sports in the fourth grade. He was on a team every year since then, sometimes two teams, all the way through varsity football in high school. And, although we were reluctant to let him play and we were concerned about his safety, we quickly learned as parents that supporting a child’s dream and encouraging his natural talents and interests is more important than the idea of protecting him from harm. Yet, we struggled. I especially remember the resistance I experienced when I hesitated to join what I liked to call, “the Church of Football.” Football is a cultural thing. There is so much a parent must do to be involved besides showing up at practice and watching games from the sidelines. But that is another story.

We learned how to be “sports parents” through the wonderful example of my brother and sister. Before we had our own children, we loved going to see our nieces and nephews play soccer, perform in dance recitals, ride horses in rodeos, cheer lead at football games, and do all the fun activities that families do together.
My brother became very involved in A.Y.S.O. and World Cup Soccer when his kids were little. He started as a coach on his son’s team. An athlete himself, and a wonderful teacher and coach, he inspired us and lead the example of what fathers do for their kids. Yet, it was natural for him. He loved sports. He is very outdoorsy. He has been a tennis pro, a sailing instructor, he has taught us all to ski and surf and fish… All my life I witnessed his love of nature and sports. There isn’t anything he can’t do! So, of course he naturally lead the way for his own kids.
My sister, on the other hand was more like me. She loved going to Mammoth Mountain with the family to ski, but realized quickly that part of learning to ski was falling down in the snow and she would have none of that. She taught me the wonderful benefits of the ski resort experience and helped me develop my love of warm fireplaces, scenic views, hot cocoa, and saunas. Never did I imagine that she would become a “Soccer Mom” or a Horse Rancher! She did these things for the love of her children. She was even “Yellow Carded” and banished from the field for disagreeing with the referee and being too aggressive when her son was playing U17 soccer. My sweet sister! When her daughter became interested in horses, I remembered one time when we were young and we went on a trail ride together. She hated it. She promised she would never do that again. And here she was, practically living on a ranch and going to rodeos, boarding horses, and cheering on her daughter in barrel riding and rodeo competitions.
Our family on a trail ride together.

Our family on a trail ride together.

We all became a sports loving family together. So, with three sons who all love to participate in sports, our family has  always been there. My brother and sister-in-law and my sister and brother-in-law have always supported them and encouraged my husband and I to be outgoing supportive parents in everything our kids have been interested in trying. Birthday and Christmas gifts from Uncle John or Auntie Karen were usually sports related. First baseball mitts and footballs were special gifts from family. Later, ski trips and surfboards became the best graduation gifts. All the advice and searching for the best equipment; cleats, pads, helmets and the proper clothing came from the authority in the family, Uncle John. Aunt Jennifer, my sister-in-law, has helped me to understand the rules of the game as we cheered the boys on from the sidelines. An athlete herself and an inspiration to all my boys, I really couldn’t have done it without her support and example through the years. When something like hiking or surfing, which are outside of my comfort zone, requires a mother’s guiding love, she steps in for me. She actually goes with them!

For me, I love watching them grow and excel at everything they try. My sport is being a parent!
And that is how I became a “Sports Mom.” I have the title that encompasses all the sports that my boys have tried.
Here is a list:
Soccer
Basketball
Baseball
Karate
Football
Lacrosse
Wrestling
Tennis
Golf
Skiing
Snowboarding
Bowling
Swimming
Surfing
Fishing
Wakeboarding
Hiking
Volleyball
Track & Field
Julian, 19 has done all of the above and made football and lacrosse his focus in high school. He longed to continue playing lacrosse in college and made the difficult choice to pursue his interest in architectural engineering over playing on the college level. Still very athletic, he hikes, jogs, surfs and is in an off-road vehicle club in college. His love of the outdoors and his team/brotherhood mentality from football is a part of who he is and has inspired him to choose a career in construction/environmental design.
Colin, 17 is the natural born athlete. He is good at everything he tries. He loves all sports. As a youngster he wanted to be just like David Beckham. We even sent him to the David Beckham Academy! We thought he would play soccer in high school, but after being injured in eighth grade playing football (yes, our worst nightmare!) he played a few years of lacrosse and then picked up tennis and golf. He loves to snowboard and wants a career involving outdoor adventures.
Roman, 14, has tried all the sports his brothers have tried and he loves skiing. Now that he is starting high school, he is pursuing his passion for music and singing. Now, our family will support from the wings and the audience as he performs on stage instead of the playing field.
As parents we do what we do for love.

As parents we do what we do for love.

We are a Sports Family because we support and love what our children love to do.

Let me know what you think of the Fanatics.com website and the blog at WeAreFanatics.com (Disclosure.)

I was quite impressed with the extensive collection of surf products on the online Surf Shop at SurfFanatics!

I must admit, I love the huge selection of women’s shoes available in the Fanatics.com inventory. Why not get a little something for me, right?

Check out @Fanatics on Twitter – they have a major social media presence and you can follow them on Facebook, too!

 

Who Wants to Go to Madame Tussauds Hollywood? Me! I do! Pick Me!

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz

I am so excited!

You KNOW how much I l-o-v-e going to Hollywood.

photo courtesy of Madam Tussauds HollywoodI just found out that Madame Tussauds Hollywood has announced the grand opening of their brand new, multi-million dollar Marvel Super Heroes 4D theater expansion as they bring their most legendary super heroes to life. (Disclosure) The new technologically advanced renovation will include innovative 4D experiences with multisensory entertainment including water, smoke and trembles in your seat- allowing visitors to come face to face with the action. My family enjoys the 4D theater experience. I asked them if they wanted to check it out with me, and of course they are in!  But…wait…there’s MORE!

In addition to the theater, Madame Tussauds Hollywood will grant attraction goers unprecedented access to mix and mingle with Marvel’s most beloved and idolized superheroes, including: CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, SPIDER-MAN, WOLVERINE, TONY STARK and…wait for it… (you know who I am talking about, right?) my best bud – IRON MAN. That’s right friends!

photo courtesy of Madam Tussauds Hollywood I know you are saying, “Get out Miz Meliz! Iron Man, again? Really? Yes! Really! I get to see Iron Man again. You can too! Click HERE for a discount and meet me and Iron Man at Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

photo by Melissa Reyes for http://mizmeliz.com copyright May 2014

I met Iron Man for the First Time at Hard Rock Cafe Universal

 

Please let me know if you go to see the Marvel Super Heroes 4D Theater Experience.

Do you like going to Hollywood?

Who is your favorite Super Hero?

Are You Dreaming About Adventure? #TheAdventureCompany @usfg

Posted on July 21st, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz

Every day this week, I will post about an adventure I have been dreaming about.

Make your dreams come true!

Have you ever wanted to go WHITE WATER RAFTING? 

I have heard that the rivers in Colorado are flowing big time this summer! According to The Adventure Company, as a result of the above average snowpack from this past winter and the cooler spring temperatures that prevented rapid early season snowmelt, river flows have been very sustainable this season. (Disclosure) That makes for some awesome white water rafting. And that makes for some amazing memories. My good friend, Yesmin, just went on a white water rafting adventure with her family. They had a blast! The pictures that she shared on Facebook were so out of this world, I asked if I could share them with you on my blog. Seeing how I will be able to give away a trip like the one she took, of course she was happy to oblige.

I went on an “incredible white water adventure. Follow the sequence of the pictures and see the Mother of the Year fail… Thank God for the best guide ever, Paul, who scooped Sophie out of the river! She wants to go back and try a harder river.”

I have never been on a trip like this. I don’t even have it on my bucket list. The only thing close to an experience like this that I have ever had was at Disney’s California Adventure. I was reluctant to go on it because I suffer from Vertigo and it looked like something that would make me dizzy. But, you know what? I had a great time! It was exhilarating and fun! Everyone on the boat got wet. I loved it actually. I am glad I tried it. If I am ever in a position to go white water rafting “for real” I will most likely do it. We only live once. I aim to live every day of my life.

Since 1987, The Adventure Company has been setting the standard for top quality white water rafting. In order to ensure that guests have a safe and fun trip, they only hire guides that have at least four years of commercial white water guiding experience. As the only company in Colorado with this strict guide experience policy, all guests will have an expert guide even on a beginner trip. 

Photo courtesy of The Adventure Company

Photo courtesy of The Adventure Company


The Adventure Company guides are able to share their knowledge of the river, canyon geology, point out wildlife, and tell stories to their guests because their high level of experience and confidence means they are not just focusing on getting through the rapids. The guides know the river like the back of their hand and they give their guests an education and fun experience. 

To ensure the safety of their guests, The Adventure Company takes extra measures by doing the following:

  • All guides have a minimum of four years of commercial white water rafting experience.
  • Colorado State regulations regarding river flow cutoff levels for commercially guided trips are strictly followed
  • An expert “safety kayaker” goes along on all trips to direct and assist any guest if they become a “swimmer” and are no longer a “rafter.” This helps ease the guest and ensures that their time in the water is greatly minimized.
  • A 2nd guide is added to the boat for the ultimate safety and security during high water if guests need extra assistance.
  • Boats have the ability to help each other very quickly because they leave the starting point in an organized periodic way.
  • Guides are trained for safety and rescue protocol and are required to be CPR/First Aid certified. Most of the guides also have advanced certifications and training in Wilderness Medicine.
  • Equipment and rental gear is always updated, maintained and operable.

Still smiling and loving every moment!

Still smiling and loving every moment! What a thrill!

So, with all the safety measures taken into account and Yesmin’s trust in God, her family had an adventure to remember. And little Sophie wants to go again!

Have you ever been white water rafting? Do you want to try it?

 Call 800-497-7238 or book online at The Adventure Company

Disclosure: This post was written as a part of my ongoing relationship with US Family Guide. The pictures of my friend’s family on a white water rafting adventure were taken while on a trip in California on the American River between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. My friend lovingly shared them with me so I can show you a first hand experience of white water rafting. Neither of us are being paid or receive any compensation for posting. We simply love life and have an adventurous spirit. As part of the US Family Guide promotion, I am able to offer you a coupon and a chance to win a trip.

Share your pictures with me.

I’ll post them in my next Adventure Blog Post!

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_vicnt'>vicnt / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Special offer: FREE WETSUIT PACKAGE (a $16 value – see coupon for details) 

Do you want a FREE white water rafting package?

Email me at info@MizMeliz.com for details on how you can win a trip like the one  Yesmin’s family took.

My Chocolate Dream Came True – 10 Things You Should Know About See’s Candies

Posted on July 17th, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Events, Everything Miz Meliz

If I could ask the universe for something special and completely indulgent to experience, just for fun, I might even hesitate to ask for this.

It is just too much.

It was like a dream. It was truly a dream come true! (Disclosure)

I have wcaralked into chocolate shops and candy stores before wishing I could have whatever I wanted.  Here was my chance! I got to share the experience with my hubby. We were invited to the soft opening of the new See’s Candies store at the Promenade in Westlake. We jumped at the chance to go and try some of See’s famous chocolates.

The store was closed, in fact it was the day before the official opening day. We were with a small group of bloggers, media people, and VIP guests. Why were we there? To share this exciting news with you, of course!

If you are a chocolate lover like me, there is no doubt that you have this same dream. I will admit, it was a Diabetic’s nightmare – but chances like this do not come by often. Lito and I love See’s Candies and we had such a good time at the new store. We learned a lot about the company’s standards, it’s history, and the quality of it’s products. We sampled many pieces of chocolate and my sugar levels did spike, yet I have been very careful since that day.

Mostly, it was a fun date! We got to compete in a contest much like the episode from I love Lucy where we learned how to quickly hand pack a box of chocolates. We came home with some gifts that the boys enjoyed and plenty of sweets to indulge in later. And next  time I need to get a gift, I know just the perfect thing!

Here is the famous scene from I Love Lucy:

 

10 Things You Should Know About See’s Candies:

  1. You can get a FREE Lolly Pop on National Lolly Pop Day ~ July 20th. Let the Yum Begin!
  2. Yes, Mary See is real and that is her actual picture on every box and in every store.
  3. See’s  Candies has always been based in Los Angeles, CA.
  4. The black and white decor in every shop is reminiscent of Mary See’s own cottage kitchen.
  5. Freshness is maintained by adhering to strict sell by dates.
  6. The finest quality candies are made using the freshest wholesome ingredients: fine Guittard Chocolate, Challenge Grade AA creamery butter, pure heavy cream, C & H Pure Cane Sugar from Hawaii, California Grown nuts, fresh fruit and other fine ingredients. Only the best!
  7. The dark and milk chocolate used in See’s Candies is aged for months to develop it’s fine smooth flavor.
  8. The original recipes that Mary See made for her children in the early 1900′s are still available in stores today: Chocolate Walnut Fudge, Victoria Toffee, Hand-dipped Bon Bons, and Maple Walnut Creams.
  9. The unique shape of See’s lolly pops are crafted to look like the original style in which they were hand rolled, cut, and then sticks placed in the bottom of each lolly pop by hand. When automated machinery was made, See’s kept the square style.
  10. Everyone gets a free sample every time they visit a See’s Candies store. That’s about a gazillion free chocolates a year! (I don’t know the exact number, but with over 200 stores, you do the math!)

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends on Twitter:

See’s Candies New Store Opens in Thousand Oaks @seescandies #seesatwestlake @thePromenade

 Don’t forget to go in your local See’s Candies Shop and get your FREE Lollypop on July 20th – National Lollypop Day!

Let the Yum Begin!

What is your favorite flavor?

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