Friday, February 24, 2012

Be a baron, or party like one

Daryle Singletary will no doubt be convinced to perform his hits “I Let Her Lie,” “Too Much Fun” and “Amen Kind of Love” at Cattle Baron’s Ball.

Ellen Jones, president and CEO of CHRISTUS Health Gulf Coast/Southeast Texas, will be honorary chairman of the event, set for 7 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport, Philpott Hangar.

How do I know all this? They kicked off the event at D’Vine Wine in Beaumont and served Mexican fare from Café Del Rio. Now that ought to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society event. Call Rodney and Kimi Franklin at (409) 540-0345 or visit to secure your seats.

Royal Blue on Congress

The Capitol is in plain sight of Royal Blue Grocery in Austin. It was so small, I walked past it, but so inviting, I turned back. You can get Spicy Asian Cole Slaw and giant cookies at this hip-yet-classic spot, and you can go past the paper towels to a nook of nice wines. Stop by next time you get to Austin.

Coffee tips

Port Arthur News Editor Roger Cowles has repeatedly told me serious coffee drinkers don’t want all that flavored stuff, so I guess I’m not serious.

Food Network’s Chef Marcela Valladolid has some serious tips for a brunch that lets guests compare the tastes and aromas from coffees of the world:

* Start with mild roasts and then move your way up to the more robust. If possible, brew one variety at a time so your guests get hit by each aroma separately.

* Serve cookies and pastries to complement coffee flavors. No need to add sugar to your coffee with these treats around. Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pie is a great dish to pair!

* As party favors, make a small burlap sack of different coffee roasts to give to your guests.

And of course, don’t forget the Kahlúa! Kahlúa on the Rocks is the perfect drink for this gathering, complimenting the varieties of coffee you will be tasting. Just fill a rocks glass with ice, add Kahlúa, stir gently to cool to its perfect temperature and finish off with orange zest.

Check out all of Marcela’s tips at Kahlúa’s Delicioso Brunch Club on, where readers may want to enter to win brunch with Marcela in her hometown of San Diego, followed by a trip to Veracruz, Mexico, the birthplace of Kahlua. The sweeps ends on Friday, March 2.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's a smash

It’s a smash

Smash. Sizzle. Savor.

Those words are posted all around Smashburger, chain I tried and loved in the Houston area. The to-go menu reads “Take it with you. Use it often.” Gourmet burgers include gourmet breads and “premium add ons” such as applewood smoked bacon and fried pickles. In addition to a memorable burger, I had the best seasoned haystack onions I think I’ve ever had.

Gilligan: ‘Feels like the first year’

Lamar University basketball coach Jim Gilligan can remember pitching stances of baseball greats from his youth. He demonstrated, at a Press Club of Southeast Texas meeting. He says he’s got a group of “extremely talented’ players in training for the season. He’s so excited, he told guests he feels like he’s in his first year of coaching. He said he could show video of some great pitchers, but what would be better is if the community comes out and watches the games live. Let’s go, Port Arthur.

So how did this tidbit get into my Culinary column? It all happened at Café Del Rio in Beaumont, and my Tex-Mex plate was pretty darned good.

Snack safe

The Dog Dicer is a pretty cool tool that cuts your hot dog into 48-half moon shaped bite sized pieces. I’m thinking that’s a good way for parents concerned about choking hazards to feel better about one of America’s favorite foods. It does some slicing on grapes and carrots, too. Go to for a look at this thing. I tried it on a food item not mentioned and got the “blades” out of whack, but my handy jeweler’s pliers put them back in order.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

See you on the sea wall for Mardi Gras madness

A collective celebratory mood hits Port Arthur when Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas rolls into town. I love seeing the floats lined up along the sea wall and I hope to be a Port Arthur News float walker at Saturday’s parade.

For those of you who never knew, the walkers help keep excited spectators of all ages at a safe distance as they call for beads. Observing from the street view can be nearly as fun as riding in the spotlight.

I’m also a fan of the float tailgating along the sea wall. I sure hope to run into some boudin dip, stuffed jalapenos and assorted Cajun delights. Come on out to Mardi Gras, Feb. 16-19. Port Arthur is ready to let the good times roll.

Red Lips on purple, gold and green:

Voli Light Vodka is co-owned by Fergie, who enjoys the Raspberry Cocoa version of her product just poured over ice. The vodkas are on average 25 to 40 percent lower in calories than leading brands. I have tried and enjoyed the lemon Voli. The makers share a seasonal recipe aimed at Valentines, but also good for Mardi Gras:

Red Lips

1.5 oz Raspberry Cocoa

2 ounces diet cranberry juice

4 raspberries

1/4 ounces fresh lime juice

1/2 packet natural sweetener

Splash of club soda

Muddle raspberries, add ingredients, shake and strain. Top with a splash of club soda

Glass: Martini

Garnish: lime and raspberry

About 86 calories

Wine Time to go

Readers, it’s possible I’ve mentioned this before, but something good bears repeating, and re-eating. WineTime sounds too good to be true. A nutritional bar that tastes like chocolate and wine? It’s true that I didn’t need one ounce of convincing to enjoy these bars that makers link to anti-aging and improving heart heart health. They say the WineTime bar has more Resveratrol than 50 glasses of red wine along with 7 extra “super fruits” including cranberry, noni, pomegranate, goji berry, acai, mangosteen and blueberry. The WineTime bar is high in fiber, vegan, contains no trans fat, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, cholesterol, dairy, gluten or artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors or preservatives. Sometimes you keep telling yourself that your bar is “good for you” so that you can get by the taste. This is one I crave.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Coffee Butter a worthwhile experiment

Here’s a quickie I found on the internet and had to try: Coffee Butter. Mix peanut butter and honey, which is already a winning combo, and add a tad of coffee grounds. If you eat it quickly, it’s kind of crunchy. If you wait, the grounds dissolve into a new flavor. I tried it on sliced apple and found it interesting enough to try again. Graham crackers seem another good option. If you don’t tell someone what’s in it, they’ll probably take a long time to guess.

When nuts meet cheese

I’m on board with Pepper-Jack Cheese, a new Blue Diamond Natural Almond Nut-Thins flavor labeled for “irresistible snacking” and smart eating.” The wheat- and gluten-free crackers are more healthy versions of what Americans love to munch. I wanted a second with the first was still in my mouth. Nut•Thins come in Almond, BBQ, Cheddar Cheese, Hazelnut, Pecan, Smokehouse, Hint of Sea Salt and Country Ranch. Look for them in the health section.

One more cereal choice

Post just came out with Honey Bunches of Oats new Fruit Blends cereal with two combos: Peach Raspberry and Blueberry Banana. I tried the second version by sprinkling it over yogurt and I’m thinking this is a tasty way to make a box last a good, long time. It’s in the middle of the sweeter stuff kids go for and the ultra grainy stuff health-conscience grownups choose.