Sunday, May 29, 2011

My blogable omelet
I’ve sold some more old books to support my Williams-Sonoma habit, investing in the frittata interlocking flip pans. As pricy as the pans were, I can assemble impressive meals with a few cents of eggs and leftovers. With the set I can make two omelets at a time or one stuffed fritata. It’s a frugal cook’s dream.
I’ve got a friend raving over Hormel Natural Choice uncured bacon and I’ve come to love it, too. The bacon, part of a cheesy mixture incorporating fresh green onions from another friend’s relative’s garden, flipped over into a beautiful meal that might cost about $15 in a Houston restaurant. Success tastes so good.
So readers, I’m sharing my omelet inspiration in Culinary Thrill Seeking and reminding you that former locals and friends around the world can read Port Arthur News columns and blogs at

Another thing
About that Hormel bacon: If you sauté some fresh green beans in the grease, they’ll be like bacon-flavored French fries, a finger food, and you may have difficulty restraining yourself.

“Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll”
Just because you’re not sick, doesn’t mean you’re healthy, Dr. Nick Caras and Angel Tuccy note in their book, “Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll.” They ask readers to switch sugary morning coffee with a green drink. Say no to the “sugar breakfast” and concentrate on foods that were around 500 years ago, authors suggest.
Healthy habits can act as a preventative to get patients off pricey medications and families should rock together and exercise their bodies.
Women should shave their legs and remove grandparents’ photos from the bedroom while men should ditch sloppy clothes for a better sex life. Good sex, as in a loving relationship, between parents will improve the nature of the entire household, say these authors who want to bring healthy back.

Twists on tea
Lipton Iced Tea describes these summer recipes as “yummy.” Who am I to disagree?
Prep Time: 10 minutes/ Chill Time: 2 hours
1 bottle Lipton 100% Natural Diet Green Tea with Citrus
1-3/4 cups white grape juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime, all sliced
Combine Lipton 100% Natural Diet Green Tea with Citrus and juices in large pitcher. Stir in fruit. Chill at least 2 hours. Serve in ice-filled glasses.
Substitution: White wine in place of white grape juice.

Prep Time: 5 minutes/Stand Time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup grated cucumber
1 bottle Lipton 100% Natural Diet Green Tea with Watermelon
Combine Lipton 100% Natural Diet Green Tea with Watermelon and cucumber in 1-quart glass measuring cup or pitcher. Let stand covered at room temperature 30 minutes; strain. Chill until ready to serve. Serve in ice-filled glasses and garnish, if desired, with cucumber slices and fresh mint leaves.
Alcohol recommendation: Vodka

PINA TEA-LA DA: 3 servings, Prep Time: 5 minutes
1 bottle Lipton 100% Natural Iced Tea with Lemon
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup cream of coconut
Process all ingredients in blender until smooth. Serve in ice-filled glasses and garnish, if desired, with fresh pineapple wedges .
You could add: Light rum

Monday, May 23, 2011

Check into hotel’s pancake machine
Visitors couldn’t get over a stainless steel box at the Holiday Inn Express breakfast area. Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce coffee guests pressed a button and waited 45 seconds for two hot cakes to come rolling out. There’s no batter to pour. There’s just anticipation. Better have your plate ready to catch them at the end. The whole breakfast area and lobby is a first-class setting.
Jody Clausen and Ryan Dews of the hotel say the machine stirs a lot of talk among tourists.

Grab your chopsticks
A special occasion finally brought me to Port Arthur’s new Tokyo Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar and it was even more fun and delicious than I anticipated. The tableside chef did tricks with eggs and masterfully seasoned and grilled my luncheon calamari. One of the biggest onions I’ve ever seen became a flaming volcano that had diners leaning back in their chairs, amazed at the tower of flames. Then we got to eat this artwork. My party had the good fortune to dine with a man who lives nearby and says he gets to walk to the restaurant almost daily. Lucky him.

Win 1 Million, Cupcake
The Duncan Hines® 1 MILLION Cupcake Challenge will raise funds for Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale to help end childhood hunger. Through July 24, bakers may win prizes including one of five trips for two to Los Angeles and seats on the Red Carpet of the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Each week, the participants who raise the most funds for Share Our Strength have the opportunity to earn a matching donation from Duncan Hines.
Visit for recipes such as creamy Lemon Chocolate Cupcakes. Check out an instructional video on the Duncan Hines Facebook page for decadent chocolate cupcakes. Great American Bake Sale’s Top 10 Tips will boost bake sales. Join the Duncan Hines Baker’s Club at for exclusive access to additional recipes, baking tips and coupons.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Essence of Elivis mixed with Bakon Vodka
It’s not coincidence that Bakon Vodka is being launched in Texas in June, just in time for Father’s Day. This smooth stuff actually does taste and smell like bacon and men should love it. I tried this the very same day a woman told me she inhales bacon and would like to rub the scent on her wrists. The Bakon Mary, their version of a Bloody Mary, is something I have tried and appreciated. Drink the flavor of bacon sounds crazy, but they’re not done. Bakon can also go into cocktails featuring orange, pineapple and a little something called Swine Flu Shot.
I aim to mix up a Bakon Chocolate Martini with Bakon, chocolate liqueur and a splash of cream. This is fun stuff. Here’s one for the road:
The Elvis Presley
1 part Bakon Vodka
½ part hazelnut liqueur
½ part banana liqueur
Splash of cream
Shake with ice and serve like a martini or strained into a shot glass.

Shiitake in my desk drawer
Miso soup is breakfast-to-dinner nourishment in Japan. We Americans can keep packets of San-J Wakame with Shiitake Mushrooms and White Miso with Tofu and Scallions in our desk drawers for a little something-something that gets you going until the staff meeting. Just add hot water for an other-side-of-the-worldly taste. It’s very light at 40 or 50 calories a serving.

Everybody’s special order
When you’ve got a Boboli crust in the pantry, everybody gets a special order. Some horrible childhood memory prevents my husband from consuming onions on his pizza, but I don’t see the point of pizza without them. I just define my parameters, sprinkle onions in my space and bake for about 15 minutes.
These crusts let you work with what you have and create one-of-a-kind works of edible art. But if you want to follow a format, here’s one from the company:

Spinach & Artichoke Pizza
1 12-inch Boboli Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

1 cup part-skim Ricotta cheese

5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, drained and chopped

4–5 artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

 In a small mixing bowl, combine part-skim Ricotta cheese, frozen spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Place the crust on a baking sheet. Spread the cheese mixture onto the crust, leaving a ½-inch border around the pizza. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese and bake 10 – 12 minutes until bubbly and light brown on the edges. Add 1/4 pound cooked, diced chicken breast for a heartier version.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Confessions of the Secret Sauce
My secret sauce is no secret in my family. We don’t even buy fast food, but somehow packets of ketchup, taco sauce, etc. fill a big jar in the kitchen. Every once in a while I get similar packets, scissors and make up a sauce, then plan a meal around it.
Potatoes cut in wedges and heated in a little olive oil and rosemary get the ketchup and hot sauce.
A barbecue sauce basic get the sweet and sour of ketchup and mustard as well as jelly packets. I’m not making this up. I heard it somewhere and put it into practice.
My friend recently gave me great handfuls of packets from her husband’s Chinese food ventures. I put squeezed all the hot mustard into a jar for sandwiches and worked the soy and duck sauce into another jar . Contents have been been accenting jasmine rice dishes. I’m planning a breakfast of napa cabbage sautéed with this sweet sauce and topped by an egg over easy.

Go Turbo and tank up to get lean
TurboChargers don’t sip water or do exercise as they lose body fat at a rapid pace eating plenty of protein and fruit.
They actually tank up on lots of water and move a periods throughout the day as they eat fish, eggs, vegetables etc. in combinations and steer away from grains of any kind.
Siblings Dian Griesel and Tom Griesel want you to unlearn several diet concepts and get “TurboCharged,” from their book with the subtitle: “Accellerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust.
They would be proud that I’m hydrating even as I write this, but not that I recently ate pasta. Several anecdotes from successful TurboChargers note how they have made the program their own, but those on the “Super Highway” will want to be more strict, going for protein only or vegetable only meals they switch around. Once at goal, “Cruise Control” leaves room for playing around. Most of this book will make sense and sound familiar to dieters, but some concepts, such as the no-grain thing, will be new and challenging. I love the plugs for water and daily affirmations. I can also get into the frequent teeth brushing so as to deter eating when one isn’t hungry, but the part about spitting only, no rinsing, is another new challenge.

Salty and sweet is the ZonePerfect idea of living life to the “flavorfullest,” and my family’s idea of three grown people fighting for equal bites of one Cashew Pretzel bar.
Snack bar trickery was employed, and we should be ashamed. But, then we found the ZonePerfect Trail Mix bar. We gave a thumbs up for both, but next time we have to make sure there are enough Cashew Pretzels to go around. These are new to the family of what I recently dubbed “naughty” dessert for breakfast kind of bars. They’ll pick you up any time of day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mulling over Turkish Superfruit
My visiting sister requested mayhaw jelly and biscuits and I piped up that I had homemade mayhaw in the fridge, but it turned out to be mulberry. My mother made me double apologize for getting her taste buds ready because she would not eat the mulberry, no matter how many yummy noises we made.
Upon questioning, she recalled a tree in her childhood yard that swarmed with white insects and that her mother complained about berry bird droppings on clean sheets hung out to dry. I asked why they didn’t just cut down the tree and my city, modern self was not prepared for her quick answer. Even if their tree vanished, there were countless others in neighbors’ yards. Those sheets would never be safe.
I called her the next day when I opened a pouch of Navitas Naturals, get this, Sun-Dried White Mulberries, dubbed a Turkish Superfood with iron and Vitamin C. The pouch reads that trees came over the Silk Road to Turkey and have served as food for humans and silk worms for thousands of years. I had to reseal the bag so I wouldn’t eat more than my share of these sweet, chewy-yet-crunchy snacks. I don’t know if Mom will try them, but there may not be any left when I see her.
Navitas Naturals also has a new Maqui Powder, which is from the Patagonian Superfruit that Chile’s Mapuche Indians consume. I wonder if they like this delicious purple powder in their breakfast banana smoothies, too.

Spilling the beans on Cinco de Mayo
Ask and ye may receive. At Mexican restaurants my mother always asks to substitute charro or borrancho (drunken) whole beans for refried beans. Her request is typically honored with tasty and more healthy results. Her filling beans come in a bowl with broth and she offers everyone a taste. Try her technique if you’re out celebrating the holiday.

Organize the kitchen
Copco’s wire mesh organizers, a Container Store find, can help you be as OCD about your pantry as I am. Isn’t that what you want? Say you’ve got some stray taco sauce, oatmeal and chi tea packets cluttering up the place. Stand them up straight in these baskets, or get your utensils together. Neatniks can take the baskets to other rooms to keep makeup, scarves or socks where they ought to be.