Thursday, April 29, 2010

Enjoy RiverFest foods, then head for the veggies
Even if you indulge in this weekend’s Port Neches RiverFest goodies, you can still consider ways to get your greens, and reds and yellows.
Go veggies, says natural chef Patty James, author of “More Vegetables, Please! Easy Ways To Add More Veggies To Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.”
She reminds that a vegetable-rich diet reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers as well as lowering pressure and the risk of eye and digestive problems. Try her tips to eat more veggies:
• In a bit of olive oil, sauté onions, peppers, zucchini and garlic for a few minutes and then add eggs or tofu and spinach leaves for a healthier scramble.
• Add a handful of leafy greens to your morning smoothie.
• Add shredded zucchini to your next muffin recipe.
• Add pureed pumpkin or other squash to pancake batter in lieu of some fat.
• On your next sandwich or wrap, add some grated carrots and zucchini, sprouts and lettuce.
• Add pureed peas to your next guacamole recipe.
• Steam the stems of the broccoli, puree and add to hummus to guacamole.
• Add grated carrots and slices of cooked butternut squash to your next grilled-cheese sandwich.
• Add minced red peppers, celery, red onion and shredded carrots to your next tuna salad recipe.
• Add some spinach leaves to your homemade hummus or place store-bought hummus in your blender and add spinach leaves yourself.

• Marinara sauce used for pasta or pizza is an easy way to add more veggies …shredded zucchini, finely chopped broccoli, chopped spinach leaves, red peppers, onions and garlic.
• Add peas, chopped broccoli, and grated carrots to your next macaroni and cheese recipe.
• A meat loaf is an easy way to add more veggies to your life. Finely chop and add red pepper, onions, celery, carrots and any other favorite veggie.

Sweet deal for ice cream lovers
An ice cream trip to Baskin-Robbins was a big deal in my youth. I still remember the 31 flavors school book covers. A 31 Cent Scoop Night will be from 5 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28, at all Baskin-Robbins locations nationwide. The business will make a $100,000 donation to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The Baskin-Robbins at 4030 Dowlen Road in Beaumont has invited Beaumont Fire & Rescue to collect donations for the State of Texas Fire Fighter Memorial. The firefighters will be scooping. All donors giving more than $5 to the firefighter tip jar will receive a free music download card while they last. Look for new flavors such as Carmel Praline Cheesecake and Cotton Candy. Look for a new store with drive through scoops at 775 South 11th Street in Beaumont near Gateway Shopping Center.

Get grilling
Don’t you feel ahead of the curve when Culinary Thrill Seeking reports McCormick Flavor Forecasts? This time, they’ve gone grilling and predict these trends:
• Fired Up Fruit - Grilled fruits are being skewered alongside meats, pureed to make tenderizing marinades, and chopped for salsas and relishes.
• Ethnic Sizzle - Nearly every cuisine around the globe claims a place on the grill – especially current favorites like Caribbean, Latin, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian.
• Cilantro & Lime – Cutting across the diverse cuisines, this bright and zingy pair is a refreshing taste of summertime.
TRY IT: Tequila-Lime Skirt Steak with Avocado Chopped Salad
• Rosemary & Fig – Figs are an unexpected and regionally inspired match for aromatic rosemary.
TRY IT: Tuscan Grilled Lamb Chops with Warm White Beans Provençal
• Chipotle & Maple – This culinary comingling delivers an updated take on smoky, spicy and sweet.
TRY IT: Grilled Chipotle-Maple Salmon with Wilted Spinach
• Brown Sugar & Bourbon – A versatile duo that brings a delicious dose of Southern charm to the patio.
TRY IT: Brown Sugar Bourbon Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Cornbread and Peaches
• Cinnamon & Coffee – Bold and confident – with just the right edge of bitterness.
TRY IT: Cinnamon Mocha Ice Cream Sandwiches with Grilled Strawberries
• Red Chili Sauce & Mango –The unmistakable flavor of mango takes hot or sweet red chili sauce far beyond mere “condiment status.”
TRY IT: Thai Grilled Flatbread with Mango & Sweet Chili Sauce

Monday, April 26, 2010

That’ll wake you up
There’s a reason I put Tabasco in my smoothie. I love a recipe I saw years ago for a yogurt-poppyseed fruit salad dressing with a drop or two of Tabasco. I didn’t think it a stretch to add ginger and a few drops to my banana blender breakfast. It was a bit much, but tolerable. If you want to play with that, an after-dinner patio drink may work better.

Perfect Pinch
Many of you Culinary Thrill Seeking readers told me you were finding internet meal inspiration long before I got into it. All y’all, go to for a spin at McCormick’s latest concept, a personalized dinner plan to fit your mood. Categories range from Little Bit of Kick and Watch the Salt to Good for Guests and Surprise Me. The menu math calls for Lemon & Pepper Seasoning with fish, Salt Free Savory All Purpose seasoning with pork chops and Salad Supreme for a grilled chicken dish. I’ve enjoyed those three seasonings on a variety of grilled onions, omelet and salad.

Cereal stuff
Nothing against them, but I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve had Cheerios. A handful of the new Chocolate Cheerios, made with real cocoa, changed the course of my cereal path. I found them a great healthy dry snacking option with a sweet crunch.
The new Wheaties Fuel boxes make an impression on store shelves. Black and orange boxes with the artistic face of baseball champ Albert Pujols staring at passersby give a sleek, masculine feel. Sweet whole wheat flakes and crisp rice with real honey and cinnamon is the new breakfast of champions. Count me in.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sounds Good: New stuff energizes, glamorizes

First it sprays on you; it might grown on you. BaBoom! Energy Spray provides the boost, without the calories. If you like energy drinks, look for this at 7-Eleven. Spray one to five times and get as much as you want without having to buy a big can of energy drinks. Generex Biotechnology has a clever idea. One of my tasters likened the flavor to orange-flavored baby medicine. Others made a “face” at the taste, but I have to say, the second time was a charm, and I finished my work on time. It’s designed so that the energy solution is quickly absorbed through the inner lining of the mouth, so the consumer achieves the desired "boost" at a faster rate. It should last you through the summer.

Why frown?
“Frownies” asks wearers to “Feel the magic” of polypeptides and phenols in a concentrated micro-emulsion to maintain pH. The anti-wrinkle therapy label reads that it works immediately to relive the signs of stress, and who doesn’t have that. I enjoy squeezing what looks like liquid mud out of the tube and watching it sink into my skin. Why, just the motions of that could reduce stress. Tell me next time you see me if it’s working.

Mineral concept
I’m on board with the mineral makeup boom, but surprised to hear what Christopher Drummond Beauty has to say about it. The former model and makeup artist’s line goes all-natural, vegan and organic because he says most mineral makeup contains potentially toxic ingredients titanium dioxide, bismuth oxychloride and zink oxide, that could irritate skin. He reminds us that skin is our largest organ. I’ve read rave reviews and have a few of my own regarding the smoothness and colors. Eye and lip colors feel light and rich at the same time and some even sparkle.

Herban Renewal
From Twinkle Toes natural, pink, glittery powder to sprinkle into dance shoes and Shoo! Monster anti-boogeyman dust to herbal soaps, salts, etc., Herban Renewal is making folks feel fresh and contributing to disabled and homeless in its Abilene home area. I’m sharing goodies from the Livi.LuLu “tween” line of skin nourishment. A clear bag suitable for a birthday gift includes Fab & Fruity fun with sparkling lotion, shower gel, lip balm and some lavender polish I covet. There’s even flip flops, stickers and spiky balls in there. The tag says WOW and I agree. Big girls like goodies, too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I was the Hot Mama during ‘Zombieland’

I thought a bloody-red cocktail would be the perfect refreshment for viewing a “Zombieland,” as I am not the Twinkie fan level to the character Woody Harrelson plays in the movie.
I was pleasantly on fire after mixing a Hot Mama from Sobieski vodka. I had followed the recipe with much less modification than usual. Well, I did substitute wasabi powder for cilantro I didn’t have. On my second sip, I remembered the reason for the fire in my belly. I followed instructions to rim the glass with pepper. I had cayenne powder in the corners of my mouth.
Here’s the Hot Mama instructions:
Sobieski Vodka
Tomato juice
Fresh lemon juice
Fresh ginger and cilantro
Soy sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Muddle cilantro and ginger. Add remaining ingredients, shake with ice and strain into martini glass rimmed with pepper and chili.
Visit for specs on the reasonably priced Sobieski Cytron Polish vodka, or the regular and vanilla versions. Here are some other sporting blends:
Sobieski Safety
1 ounce Sobieski Vodka
1/2 ounce Sour Apple Schnapps
Serve in a shot glass.

Time Out Shot
1 ounce Sobieski Vodka
1/2 once chilled beef bouillon
Dash Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt & pepper, celery salt, soy sauce
Shake with ice and pour into a shot glass.

Going barefoot
What’s up with sandals? I went to a party and the hostess had a thing for flip flop decor. I suggested she pose her mannequin feet sticking out from under a long curtain, like some partygoer was stationed behind them. I understand her love for the casual attitude, and suggest going even more barefoot. A $7 bottle of Barefoot Moscato is the sweet stuff of spring with ripe pear and lemon flavors that can go with a meal or, makers say, fruit salad and cake.
This white gave my favorite meal plan a punch. I served it with a tray of “whatever I have picnic” on the coffee table, which this time included tortilla with herbed olive oil, dates and cherry tomatoes. I was, of course, barefoot.

21 new beers
Del Papa Distributing Company of Beaumont has announced it is adding 21 beer brands. The company has acquired distribution rights for the brands from Duff and Neches Valley Distributing Companies. Look for:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Big Bear Stout
Pete's Brown Ale
Hop Rod Rye
Racer 5 IPA
Red Rocket
XP Pale Ale

Cave Creek Brewing Co.
Chili Beer

Flensburger Brewering Co.

Indian Wells Brewing Co.
Lobotomy Bock
Amnesia IPA

Dixie Brewing Co.
Blackened Voodoo

Carslow Brewing Co.
O’Hara’s Irish Red
O’Hara’s Irish Stout

Southern Star Brewing Co.
Bombshell Blonde
Pine Belt Ale
Buried Hatchet

Cerveceria Costa Rica
For more information on Del Papa Distributing, visit or call 1.800.770.6046.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Presidential fare cookbook offers a taste of the past

Ralph Burch of Port Arthur loaned me a 1917 copy of “Presidential Cookbook: Adapted from the White House Cook Book” that crumbled a little with every page turned. The reader had made some pencil notes, now faded, and marked pages with Jell-O recipes dated much later than the book.
Aside from canning and stewing information, there are etiquette tips on how to hold one’s glass and how many berries to take. Here’s a recipe that surprised me:
Fried cucumbers
Pare them and cut lengthwise in very thick slices; wipe them dry with a cloth; sprinkle with salt and pepper, dredge with flour, and fry in lard and butter, a tablespoon of each, mixed. Brown both sides and serve warm.

Fish fun
Gorton’s has a new resealable bag for beer batter fish fillets. I added to what the label calls “Crispy Pub Taste” with a dousing of malt vinegar. But my favorite news is of the newest product, which you may have sampled during Lent: Lemon Peppercorn Tilapia, which makers offers with some Weight Watcher-approved recipes. Get on their website for ideas. Gorton’s is working with cookbook author Aviva Goldfarb, founder of the “Six O’Clock Scramble,” who has a new cookbook coming out this spring. I’ve also recently enjoyed what was a seemingly-decadent breakfast of fish nachos, with Gorton’s Grilled Tilapia with roasted garlic butter. It was actually what Weight Watchers fans call “point friendly.”
Grilled Shrimp with Tropical Fruit Salsa
8 points per serving
2 servings
16-19 Gorton’s Scampi Grilled Shrimp
1/2 cup pineapple, diced
1/2 cup mango, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled & diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
4 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cups brown rice, prepared
Prepare Gorton’s Scampi Grilled Shrimp according to package instructions.
Combine pineapple, mango, cucumber, red pepper, cilantro, lime juice salt and pepper, place on top of rice with cooked shrimp and serve immediately.

On the border of too good
My fish nacho breakfast was also inspired by another shelf newbie, On the Border Monterey Jack, Asadero and Smooth Blanco cheese dip in a jar, that is not over-the-top calorie wise when you enjoy it in the proper serving size. I served that Gorton’s fish over shredded cabbage and On the Border’s chips, salsa and new dip to rave reviews.

Spicy inspiration
There’s one fewer excuse for people who claim they can’t or don’t have time to cook. McCormick Recipe Inspirations packets feature six pre-measured, no-waste spices and herbs with a perforated, plastic-coated recipe card on the back you can file. How does garlic lime chicken fajitas, rosemary roasted chicken with potatoes or quesadilla casserole sound? These cards, which make great gifts, take just a little bit of prep and cook time, and come with the trusted flavor of McCormick products.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The lobster/chocolate breakfast
My friend Claire’s birthday had my family enjoying remnants of a 6-pound Papadeaux lobster and Lir Irish chocolates for breakfast. She wasn’t even there, but we toasted her.
It’s always a long story with Claire. I fast-foward to the part where she’s generous with the leftovers, so they don’t tempt her later. We ate large on our spring break but to our credit, we walked or tried The Bar exercise routine daily.
And I was looking fierce, with a spa-day facial massage, make up application and sassy hairdo by Beth, Michelle and Daphne, the Ladies of Beau Visage in Nederland. They did amazing things to me and I looked great for the fair, a seder meal and Le Grand Bal.
Readers, you may not have missed me, because I left columns to run during my week off. I missed you, so here’s more on what I did:
Panda has a new raspberry licorice with all natural ingredients, like carrot juice, that is so superior to what we are used to. It’s how they like it in Finland. The regular flavor looks a bit like road material, but is soft and subtle molasses flavor.

Treated my feet
Gehwol has been the stuff for feet since 1882, when the Westphalia family couldn’t have imagined the sexy foot wear women would be wearing in 2010. Eucalyptus, rosemary, mint, wheat, lavender and avocado are some of the “real” goods in the various creams and remedies in this line. Active ingredients such as camphor, ginger and oat extract and menthol are in there, too. The foot salve for cracked skin feels amazing and the hand cream simply feels different, somehow better, when it goes on. I have seen two people recently with heels so cracked they seemed a different color and I read a novel of a girl in a snowy clime whose mother rubbed her hands daily to prevent bleeding. I’d love to hand these folks a tube. The company has a bamboo and sugar scrub that sounds transforming. Hand cream with tapioca starch, of all things, reads Gerlan on the label.

Decorated myself
Orna Lalo’s face is partially obscured by a cucumber eye mask in her PR shot, but her beauty is seen in Lalo Treasures, flora and fauna inspired jewelry that has never made resin look so good. The very breath of spring is molded, by Bulgarian family women, into coral blooms, statement rings and hair décor that looks as though something flittery has just landed on your locks. I love her version of bangles that resemble India’s glass bangles. Mine come in orange and magenta dot and floral patterns that also put me in the mind of ‘70s pop art my sister sported.

Read up
• I turned directly to the art department of “College in a Nutskull,” a funny spiral filled with Professor Anders Henriksson’s findings of what students have actually turned in on essays and exams. Funny, funny stuff for teachers and others. Here’s the artistic answers:
Fresco was a popular snack food supplied by the church.
Degas specialized in belly dancers.
Too Loose Latreck could be found at work in cafes and brassieres throughout Paris.
Diego Rivera lived with Frito the Mexican Lady

• Blaine Loomer describes work personalities you may deal with using terms such as The Rooster, who sits on the fence and crows about himself and The Point Shaver. You always owe him one. I don’t want to say the name of the book here. I’ll call it “Corporate BS,” though Loomer spells out, and sorts out, the BS. I agree that there are a lot of negative people out in workplaces who can make everyone miserable. I’m sticking with the suggestion of having a positive attitude and hoping it rubs off on others.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lift your cup and glass to support Haiti, Chile
The earth has moved in Haiti and Chile and it’s possible that we, a world away, can support a return to prosperity through drinking coffee and wine.
Oscar attendees always seem to rally around a political cause, and I toasted my own while viewing the awards by helping support a product of Chile.
While there’s concern over the country’s future fruit crops after the Earthquake, Root: 1 has done the work for this batch of wine already. Makers say Carmenere is known as Chile’s signature varietal, producing a deep colored, full-bodied wine that offers the charm of Merlot and the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon.
I was charmed by the story of this “lost” grape of Bordeaux, rediscovered in Chile in 1994 and doing just fine, thank you, in Chile’s long, dry growing season.
 Viña Ventisquero, in partnership with Click Wine Group, bring us Root: 1, cultivated on original, ungrafted roots, at about $12.99 a bottle. Collectors will love the bottle marked with a grape vine and long root, trailing through wording. Pair it with grilled meats, pastas and spicy entrees. At my party, it got Best-Wine award as I enjoyed it with steak bites and cherry tomatoes.

Haitian coffee “all about the bean”
Coffee and chocolate from Irving Farm Coffee Co. in Millerton, N.Y. are flavorful products, without question. The company has been working to do some good in Haiti long before recent tragedies. As part of the Haitian Relief Effort, Irving Farm Coffee Company will donate 100 percent of the profit from their new Reserve Select Haitian Highland Pic Macaya coffee to Konbit Sante, a Maine-based volunteer partnership working to save lives and improve healthcare in Haiti. 
The blend is a limited supply "in season" coffee grown by small landowners in the Pic Macaya National Forest, one of only two national forests in Haiti. Taste it for hints of almond, chocolate and ripe fruit. Visit

In support of Ireland
Bushmills Irish Whiskey is too good to color green. I’m not, however, above blending it into a chocolate, banana smoothie. It’s to get my fruit servings in. Think St. Patrick would approve?

In support of the cook
Redwood Creek Wine costs about $8 a bottle, and I dare you to get all wine snobbish about that. So called grilling guru Steven Raichlen has some ideas I’ve tried, though I almost hate to “waste” a nice wine by cooking with it. I know people do, so I tried this, and can say, it’s good stuff:
Grilled Skirt Steak with Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce (courtesy of Chef Steven Raichlen)
3 cups Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup beef stock (preferably homemade)
2 shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Make the sauce.  In a heavy saucepan, bring the wine, stock, and shallots to a boil over high heat.  Boil until reduced to 1 cup.  Whisk in the butter, 2 tablespoons parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  The sauce should be highly seasoned.  Keep the sauce warm.  
Rub the steaks on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
Grill the steaks for 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or to taste.  Transfer to a platter or plates.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.  Serves 4.
Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with Sauvignon Blanc (courtesy of Chef Steven Raichlen)
1 bunch rosemary (branches should be stiff)
1-1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground or cracked black peppercorns
Hot pepper flakes (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup Redwood Creek Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine in a spray bottle
Grill shield or sheet of aluminum foil folded in thirds like a business letter.
Strip the leaves off the bottom half to two-thirds of the rosemary sprigs and finely chop. You’ll need about 1/4 cup.    
Skewer the shrimp on the rosemary skewers (or use classic bamboo skewers) so that it passes through both the head and tail of each shrimp. Align the shrimp so all face the same way — this looks more professional.  Place the shrimp in a baking dish.
Lightly brush each shrimp kebab on each side with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes (if using), chopped garlic and chopped rosemary.  Let marinate in the refrigerator while you set up your grill and preheat to high.  Brush and oil the grill grate.
Arrange the kebabs on the grill and grill until the shrimp is handsomely browned and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Spray the shrimp with wine as they grill (Set the nozzle so the wine comes out in a mist). If the exposed parts of the rosemary start to burn, slide the grill shield or foil under them.   
Serve immediately.  Serves 4.