“And the Oscar goes to…”


James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host the 83rd Academy Awards this Sunday, February 27 at 5 p.m. on ABC.

This Sunday night, some of our favorite actors, actresses, and movies will walk away with little gold statues, feeling on top of the world. And although the Oscars aren’t a big deal to some, it’s the Superbowl for Hollywood.

But A-list celebrities aren’t the only ones that can live up the red carpet experience. Sort through your closet, find your fanciest attire and host your very own Oscar party! Here’s how:

1. Prepare Appetizers Fit for Fame: Whether they’re warm and elegant, or quick and easy, serving appetizers on silver platters will make your party Oscar-worthy and affordable. Here are a few recipes we recommend:


1-1/2 cups hot water
1 pkg.  (6 oz.) Stuffing Mix for Chicken
40 fresh mushrooms (2 lb.)
2 Tbsp.  butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg.  (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
1 cup Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

HEAT oven to 400ºF.

ADD hot water to stuffing mix in large bowl; stir just until moistened. Set aside. Remove stems from mushrooms; chop stems. Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Add chopped stems and garlic; cook and stir 5 min. or until tender. Add to stuffing with spinach and cheeses; mix well.

SPOON into mushroom caps. Place, filled-sides up, in shallow pan.

BAKE 20 min. or until mushrooms are tender and filling is heated through.

Pineapple-Glazed Cocktail Meatballs


1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup  undrained canned crushed pineapple in juice
30 frozen fully-cooked meatballs (16-oz. pkg.)

MIX first 2 ingredients in large nonstick skillet.

STIR in meatballs until evenly coated.

BRING to boil on medium-high heat; simmer on medium-low heat 10 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir Up Award-Winning Drinks: There’s nothing more elegant than sipping on something bubbly. Here are some drinks that are destined for success:

Sparkling Fruit Cooler


1 pkt. (makes 2 qt. drink) or 2 pkt. (makes 1 qt. drink each) Pink Lemonade Flavor Drink Mix
2 cups  pineapple juice
1-1/2 cups white grape juice
2 cups  water
1/2 cup gin
6   lemon slices

EMPTY contents of drink mix tub into large plastic or glass pitcher. Add juices and water; stir until drink mix is completely dissolved.

STIR in gin.

SERVE over ice cubes in tall glasses. Add lemon slice to each glass.

Double-Berry Martini


1 pkt. (makes 2 qt. drink) or 2 pkt. (makes 1 qt. drink each) Raspberry Ice Flavor Drink Mix
2 cups  water
2 cups low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup  vodka
2 cups cold club soda
6   frozen cranberries

EMPTY drink mix into 2-qt. glass or plastic pitcher. Add water, juice cocktail and vodka; stir until mix is dissolved.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until chilled.

STIR in club soda just before serving. Pour over cranberries in martini glasses.

3. Deliver a Course That Will Beg for an Encore: Complement your beverage with an elegant entree:

Shake ‘N Bake Coconut Shrimp


2/3 cup Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut, toasted
1 pkt.  Shake ‘N Bake Chicken Coating Mix
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp.  ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 egg
2 Tbsp.  water
1 lb. uncooked extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined

HEAT oven to 400°F.

COMBINE first 4 ingredients in pie plate; set aside. Beat egg and water in separate pie plate with whisk until well blended.

DIP shrimp, 1 at a time, in egg, then in coconut mixture, turning to completely coat both sides of each shrimp with egg before coating with coconut mixture; place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Press coating mixture firmly onto shrimp to secure.

BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until shrimp are done.

4. End on a Sweet Note: Dress up your taste buds with these delicious desserts:

Tuxedo Strawberries


1 tub (7 oz.) Baker’s White Dipping Chocolate, melted
16   fresh strawberries (with stems attached)
1 tub (7 oz.) Baker’s Milk Chocolate Dipping Chocolate

DIP bottom 3/4 of each berry in white chocolate. Place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm.

MELT milk chocolate as directed on package. Dip 1 side of each berry in milk chocolate, then turn to dip other side, leaving “V”-shaped white center. Return to baking sheet.

USE toothpick dipped in remaining milk chocolate to draw buttons and bow tie on each berry. Refrigerate until firm.

Molten Chocolate Cakes


4 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup  butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 whole  eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp.  flour
1/2 cup thawed Whipped Topping

HEAT oven to 425°F.

BUTTER 4 small custard cups; place on baking sheet.

MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted; whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Add whole eggs and egg yolks; mix well. Stir in flour. Spoon into prepared cups.

BAKE 13 to 14 min. or until sides of desserts are firm but centers are still soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run small spatula or knife around cakes to loosen; invert into dessert plates. Serve warm with whipped topping.

5. Play Along: Print out an Oscar Ballot and have a contest as to who gets the most winners correct! Provide some kind of “swag” for the winner.

As everyone rants and raves about your Oscar bash, YOU will be the one deserving of a little gold statue. Prepare your acceptance speech now!


These Heels Were Made For Walkin’

Slip on some sexy red heels and walk down 2nd Street for a good cause!

Attention all men, women and youth: It’s time to dust off your red high heels (or steal someone else’s) and put them to work this Saturday! That’s right, we said MEN – if Community Action Team (CAT) founder Justin Rudd is willing to sport some fierce heels, then so should you!

The Red High Heels Walk Down 2nd Street will take place this Saturday, February 19 at noon on 2nd Street in Belmont Shores.

The event will raise awareness and funds for local heart programs by walking a mile up and down 2nd Street. For each person that joins Rudd, CAT will donate $10 (up to $5,000) to a local heart program.

If you or anyone you know is affected by heart health or heart attacks, this is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and much-need funds. And besides, it’s an excuse to wear those killer heels – or even buy a new pair!

For more information, email Justin@JustinRudd.com.

The Art of Love

Gregorio Luke will discuss "The Art of Love" at the Long Beach Playhouse on Valentine's Day.

Not sure what to do on Valentine’s Day? Well if you’re not in the mood to wait hours for a table, consider taking that special someone to learn all about “The Art of Love” at the Long Beach Playhouse.

The evening will kick off at 6:30 p.m. and will celebrate Valentine’s Day with wine, live music, dancing, and aphrodisiac-inspired Hors d’oeuvres provided by Moondance Catering. At 8 p.m., Gregorio Luke will discuss “The Art of Love”.

Tickets are $45 per person, and $89 per couple, and can be purchased at www.lbplayhouse.org, or at the box office located at 5021 E. Anaheim in Long Beach.

For more information, call (562) 494-1014.

Let’s Get Chocolate Wasted!

Numerous variations of chocolate will be presented tomorrow at the 7th Annual Belmont Shore Community Chocolate Festival.

It has been said that chocolate can serve many different purposes. It has been medically proven to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol due to its antioxidants; it’s been believed to produce hormones that help bring positivity and break away from stress and depression; and it’s even been suggested to help reverse the signs of aging.

But to most of us, chocolate is simply a delightful treat – a tempting end to any diet and comfort food to any broken heart.

Regardless of your relationship with chocolate, it seems to have more pros than cons, and we encourage you to indulge in its goodness at tomorrow’s 7th Annual Belmont Shore Community Chocolate Festival.

The festival will take place tomorrow from 1-4 p.m. along 2nd Street in Belmont Shores. Chocolate lovers will get to enjoy delectable chocolate creations from various stores and vendors along 2nd Street and will have the opportunity to compete in a homemade dessert contest and pie eating contest.

Some tastings for the event include chocolate gelato, chocolate tamales, mint chocolate yogurt, chocolate-oatmeal parfaits, and chocolate covered bananas, coffee beans, cannolis, strawberries, graham crackers, apples, twinkies, and more!

Ticket books for the even are $10 and can be purchased prior to the event at the following locations:

-La Strada, 4716 E. 2nd St.

-Mail Boxes Etc., 5318 E. 2nd St.

-Sweet Jills, 5224 E. 2nd St.

-We Olive, 4725 E. 2nd St.

Ticket books can be purchased the day of the event in front of Chase Bank.

For more information, or to enter the homemade dessert contest, visit www.belmontshore.org, or call (562) 434-3066.

“V” is for Valentine

It’s February and the only reason anybody ever really likes February is because of Valentine’s Day. The holiday, which is celebrated around the world, goes beyond the candy and flowers and commercialized fiasco it has become over the years. It’s in fact deeply rooted in history and honors the very saint the day is named after. But like most other historical figures and events, there’s really not one concrete story as to what Valentine’s Day is all about. So here are a few takes on the origins of Valentine’s Day…

One legend – the most popularly believed – contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men – his group of potential soldiers. Realizing the injustice of the decree, Valentine defied the Emperor and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, the Emperor ordered that he be put to death.

According to another legend, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl while in prison. The girl, who also happened to be his jailor’s daughter, visited him often while he was in confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine”. This is believed to be the first Valentine ever sent.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beat and tortured, which would explain why the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine – or a variation thereof.

Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and most importantly, romantic figure.

Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day

• According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (The first being Christmas with an estimated 2.6 billion cards being sent).

• Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Gift Giving Ideas

There’s a lot out there to buy when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Of course, there’s the typical – and sometimes expected – gifts of flowers, chocolate, jewelry, lingerie, and teddy bears. But if you’re looking for something more meaningful (and maybe less expensive), think about practical ways to show the one you love how much you appreciate them – on Valentine’s Day and the rest of the year. That may mean cooking dinner for them, giving them a massage, spending the day or weekend with them, or making them a homemade card, picture frame, or any other crafty possibility.

If you lack some creative ideas, or would rather purchase something for that special someone, check out gifts.com – they have everything from personalized gifts to romantic getaways to gift baskets.

Enjoy finding something special for those that make you feel all warm and fuzzy. And remember, your love goes deeper than your wallet!