Monday, May 28, 2012

Something new and Ali's attitude


When home cooks want a mealtime makover, Lawry’s wants them to “Dinerise” with new products including Seasoned Salt with Mediterranean Herbs, Fire-Roasted Garlic Salt with Oregano & Basil and Fire Roasted Chile & Garlic Blend. I’m also working through new marinades including Santa Fe Chile and Mediterranean Herb and White Wine.

My daughter brought home a ton of extra white rice from a volunteer dinner she cooked and I played with these products in a manner not intended. Instead of marinating meat, I just made a vinegar and oil dressing from the Mediterranean marinade and spices. Several guests commented on this dish, so I had to “give it up” for Lawry’s. I’m all over the garlic and chili seasonings. They turn a breakfast egg into a treat.

Go Ali!

Ali Leombruni, owner of Ali's All Natural, is on a mission to get people healthy and has developed a line of barbecue sauces, etc., without a lot of the “bad stuff” in the ingredients list. I wrote about some, including Ali’s Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce. Readers know it’s rare for me to not like something, but Ali noted I wasn’t keen on the strawberry flavored sugar-free pancake syrup. She wrote me herself to “deeply apologize for the strawberry syrup as this is not an accurate representation of how the syrup should taste whatsoever. I am sure you found the strawberry to be flavorless as well as very bitter and sour.” She said it was a problem with materials, and sent me a new bottle, which is up to her standards. That’s another reason I think this Arizona company is one we will be hearing more about in the future. Thanks, Ali. Visit to learn more.


POM Wonderful 100 % Pomegranate Juice comes in little travel sizes for road trips. Makers have recipes from adult beverages to chicken dinner and I’ve got a tip of my own. A dash of this juice makes cheap boxed wine better. I’ve been having some straight up and also used as a flavoring for orange juice and sugar-free lemonade. A bottle of their antioxidant super tea, flavored with lychee, is what I grabbed to ease my allergy haze. I’m sure you’ve heard this pomegranate juice is good for you. Now, here’s an idea from the bottlers:

Frozen Pomarita

1 ounce freshly squeezed pomegranate juice* or POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice

1 ounce tequila

1 ounce triple sec liqueur
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

1 1/2 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water dissolved together in cold water)

Salt and lime for garnish (optional)

Shake all drink ingredients with ice to chill.

Serve this pomegranate cocktail recipe in a martini glass prepared as follows:
Mix in a bowl, one part ground cinnamon and one part granulated sugar.
Moisten the rim of a martini glass by swiping a slice of orange around the rim.
Dust glass rim with the sugared cinnamon mixture and decorate with a spiral of orange.

* This cocktail can be made with freshly squeezed juice from a POM Wonderful Pomegranate or by using POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice. To juice the pomegranate, cut it in half (as you would a grapefruit) and juice using a citrus reamer or a juicer. Pour mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve. One large POM Wonderful Pomegranate will produce about 1/2 cup of juice.

They made it easy for you

It sounds so exclusive the way they say it. New gluten-free Perfectly Simple Nutrition Bar by ZonePerfect Discover has a “limited number of ingredients.” Doesn’t it sound like all those preservatives that didn’t make the cut are behind velvet ropes at the club, still trying to get in? They won’t. Here’s the A List of who did: Peanut Crunch, Cranberry Almond and Toasted Coconut. I inside the club, having a party with all these delicious bars.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

St. Mary scores with new unit, Chef Andrews

St. Mary scores with new unit and Chef Andrews

Valero and Christus St. Mary Hospital get credit for teaming up for a top-notch pediatric unit with an under-the-sea theme. The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce sponsored a recent ribbon cutting. Carly Andrews, a chef there, gets credit for serving up a beautiful reception that wowed guests with avocado soup shooters. The creamy green soup came in small plastic glasses and were topped with tortilla ribbons or a sprig of cilantro. Panko shrimp and crab ceviche also made talk of the day.

Nuts to you

I harbor not one ounce of jealousy for my sister, who goes to Hawaii all the time. She brings me macadamia chocolates. I returned a nutty favor by sharing Betty Lou’s Nut Butter Balls in Coconut Macadamia. She said to tell y’all it’s good. It could have been my favorite from the lot of this line of individually-wrapped goodies that serve as a dessert or high-energy snack. Peanut Butter is already everyone’s favorite and these kick it up a notch with B-complex Vitamins in a “great for workouts” offering. I know some will concentrate on the gluten-free aspect while others will focus on the fact that almond butter, cashew pecan and spirulina ginseng are just yummy little combos.

Never Hung Over

I’m basically just telling you this is out there, I tried Never Hung Over with good results, but I wasn’t indulging in a way to push it. There’s actually a good story behind the little bottles that announce you can “Party Tonight; Feel Great Tomorrow.” A family developed this blend, designed to use as a shot or mixer, after the family’s father donated a kidney to his daughter. Someone else in the family sow now a nutrient-rich antioxidant enhanced recovery and this stuff was born. I didn’t find any unpleasant taste associated with the zero calorie, zero carb liquid. I broke out the bottles at a family party with guests of all ages and they were interested in the back story. In fact, we just couldn’t stop saying “Never Hung Over,” and some began making up pretend commercials and thinking back to Lucy in the Vitameatavegimin sketch.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My crawfish escort

So I’m at the store early on Mother’s Day and trying to buy a bag of crawfish tails. I can’t find them, so I ask the woman at the seafood counter. She says she can get me a couple, they keep them in the back, and asks if I’m done with my shopping.

I was a little confused, thinking she was worried they’d defrost in my basket. Turns out she had to escort the product and customer up to the front, because people had been making off with crawfish. Wow. I asked if there were other foods that merited such attention. Alligator, she said.

I don’t know if there is a name for what I made, but it seemed to make everyone happy. I heated the crawfish with cans of tomatoes, frozen okra, sautéed onions and peppers and some Cajun spice. I served it over rice and we ate it all up.

Pocket full of goodness

I’ve put salad, crawfish, cheese and eggs into my pockets. Oroweat Pocket Thins Flatbread, under the names Arnold and Brownberry, come in Italian Herb and 8 grain. They’re pre-sliced pita pockets that you pull into two just-right halves and fill with your own blend of breakfast, lunch or dinner. By the way, they’re good right out of the resealable bag, with nothing at all in them. Each half is just 100 calories. These are convenient basics to keep in the fridge.

Tangy meets island

I’m so not a “gummi” person, but I can see how sweet lovers could become addicted to Welch’s Fruit Snacks. A little bag packs vitamins C, A and E into 80 calories of fat-free translucent bits of flavor. They’re shaped like tiny fruits, too. You have to see the little, bitty pineapple. Flavors include Tangy, Island and Mixed. Try them as a bright garnish for yogurt.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shelf liner victory

Shelf liner victory

Why is it a product seems everywhere when you don’t need it, then becomes impossible to find when you do?

I stopped at a half dozen stores seeking the perfect shelf paper and found victory with a nice pattern that puts me in mind of a tropical palm weave. It’s like my pantry spices and coffee tins are on vacation. It’s not actually shelf paper at all, but the thick, foamy-backed roll of vinyl are something that’s easy to put down and easy to clean off. If you haven’t shopped for shelf paper in a decade or two, consider replacing.

Shelves in my current home came with a blue, flowery pattern I couldn’t wait to hide. I lovingly cut and measured a marble-look paper with a peel-off back and enjoyed that a while. When it began looking scuffed, I discovered the thick, easy-clean stuff and simply rolled it over the marble. Then I found it in a cork design and put it on upper shelves, until I ran out. I modernized with a roll that resembled stainless steel. When that started to get that dingy look, I went on my latest mission.

Before I found the straw design, I found a lot of options that were practical, but just not to my taste. One was labeled to look like black leather. I don’t know about most kitchens, but that’s a pretty dark look for my small space. A pity, I never found it in purple “leather,” which would have been my pick.

Spring Roll Express

My sister got a well-deserved treat from me. We spent an afternoon at Pleasure Island then I took her to Spring Roll Express in Nederland, behind The Schooner. It was her first experience with the uncooked rice paper wrappers. We shared an order of crab rolls and a grilled shrimp salad. She loved the peanut sauce. The staff was patient and willing to talk visitors through their many selections.

As for our venture on Pleasure Island, we sat under the gazebo with fisher folk. The walk is back in place. It was fun to watch families enjoying the great weather. Back on the mainland, we headed to the board walk behind City Hall, home of Las Posadas, Bethlehem on the Boardwalk.

My sister said she’d take us to a tree where we’d find shade. I’m thinking, “What tree?” It was a palm tree that was shorter than me. It had long fronds and a spiky, scratchy base. I thought she was nuts, but she knew there was the perfect, flat rock under there. We sat in the shade, listened to the palms rustle and the water lap against the rocks as barges passed. It was a perfect Port Arthur Day.

The Schooner

This Nederland restaurant seems timeless. I had the good fortune to dine there on a recent lunch and enjoyed friendly staff and observing the mix of diners. There were office people, refinery workers, families and ladies who lunch. From my line of questioning the server suggested an off-the-menu salmon salad. It was a winner. Go see your old friends at The Schooner.