Monday, August 27, 2012

Get to know a cookbook author

I got to sit next to cookbook author Cathy Marshall-Essix who shared stories about her big, close family. This Houston area nurse from Birmingham, Ala. is beautiful, engaging and makes you feel good about yourself. Then I read her book and I think I’d feel pretty good about being at one of these family dinners.

“Cathy’s Family & Friends Cookbook” is a spiral loaded with 150 recipes from several cultures. A portion of proceeds will help Children Across America and help find a cure for cancer. The author is founder of Dougie’s Kids Inc. named after the son she lost in a motorcycle accident. If you want to hear her speak, or get your hands on one of these books, e-mail her at

Now, here are a few of her offerings:

Curry Crab

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon allspice

3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

½ teaspoon habanera or Scotch Bonnet pepper, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme, chopped

2 cups coconut milk

1 cup water

1 pound lump crabmeat

1 cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Grilled naan and hot sauce for serving

In a large skillet or wok, heat canola oil. Add onion and cook over medium heat for approximately 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes. Add spices and cook for another 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, pepper, thyme , salt and pepper and cook until tomatoes are soft, stirring often. Pour in coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring until liquid is reduced by 1/3 for approximately 15 minutes. Stir in crabmeat and let sit for approximately 3 minutes once heated through. Stir in the cilantro and serve with naan and hot sauce.

By Cathy Essix

Tonya’s Key Lime Pie

2 Key Lime yogurts

½ container Cool Whip

1 graham cracker pie crust

½ cup lime juice

Whip the Key Lime yogurt and the Cool Whip together well. Our into pie crust and refrigerate for approximately 45 minutes and serve. May garnish with whipped cream and lime slices

By Laonya Strugas

Lemon Quick Pie

1 small can frozen lemonade

1 small can of Eagle condensed millk

1 container Cool Whip

1 graham cracker pie shell

Mix can frozen lemonade, Eagle condensed milk and Cool Whip together. Pour into pie shell. Freeze for 2 to 1 ½ hour and serve.

By Janice Williams

Babies have it good now

I just became a Greek yogurt fan a few years ago. Now babies can get the good stuff with Plum Organics blends in resealable on-the-go pouches of wholesome flavor. Yes, I’ve been eating baby food again for you, readers. I can join in the Plum slogan, “All for Yum!”

Babie’s budding palate can enjoy cherry-sweet corn, raspberry-spinach and green bean-pear combos blended into Greek yogurt. You won’t be afraid of reading the ingredients listing. I had spoonfuls of each flavor, then I blended each into banana smoothies for myself. Parents, and grandparents, should be impressed.

Asian twist to barbecue

Sometimes kids have issues with vegetables. It was a sweet and sour Chinese sauce that got me to ask for more. As an adult, I can douse a little San-J on any vegetable I want. The line, headquartered in Richmond, Va., features amazing Japanese-inspired sauces, dressings, brown rice crackers and more to make it easy to travel across the globe for dinner.

Now makers are encouraging cooks to extend the barbecue season by marinating meats in San-J’s Asian BBQ, Teriyaki, Orange, or Sweet & Tangy Sauce. “You won’t find any questionable ingredients on their labels. Plus, all San-J sauces are gluten free and certified kosher,” the company reports. Look for recipes such as Szechuan Guacamole to Polynesian Kabobs and Asian Country-Style Ribs at:

They’re making it easy to go gourmet, but I’ve done something easier still. I cooked up a big batch of Jasmine rice and simply have a stir fry flavor of the night. Polynesian Glazing and Dipping Sauce gave my carrots personality. These are great to keep on hand.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Never get tired of salads or cupcakes

My Little Cupcake

Who doesn’t like those cake pops and balls that look like miniature, sugary art works? I know of two people in the “never again” category. They once loved them so much they tried to make them. After hours of investment, they threw their burned hands up in frustration over gooey product and messy kitchens. Now there’s something so easy I did it. Visit for an eye full of crazy-simple gadgets to launch your creativity. Colorful snap-shut little molds let you fill and chill, decorate and pop on a stick. The best part is the easy recipe: Ground up Oreo-type cookies and cream cheese. I tried a variation with graham crackers and Neufchatel cheese, with almond extract. My mom wants to borrow my molds and have a party for her classmates. Shape up your treats into the cupcake, heart, ball and party hat mold. If I can do it …..

Something new for salads

I could eat my own recipe for vinaigrette every day, but sometimes you want to mix it up a bit with your tossed greens. Bolthouse Farms has something for those who realize you aren’t eating as healthy as you thought if your dressing has hidden calories. Yogurt is once again to the rescue. They have a line of dressings that are 45 calories or less per serving – meaning they contain at least 55% fewer calories and 75% less fat than the leading mayonnaise-based brand. My husband loves the blue cheese version and I’m all about the ranch. We’re using both of these as both dips and dressings. They do a light vinaigrette, too.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Penny, try this icing: Remembering Murphy's Cake Shop

Reader Penny Daigle hoped to get the recipe for Murphy’s Cake Shop icing, from the famous Murphy’s that baked the cakes Port Arthur residents served at countless weddings. Joyce Pedigo has come to the rescue.

If you search Murphy’s Cakes in Port Arthur, you can find News Reporter Mary Meaux’s story that serves as Murphy Chatagnier’s obituary. It mentions how he developed his business after keeping costs low on a military ship, how area church goers could smell his bread baking and how he did share those recipes.

I missed Joyce Pedigo’s call, so someone else took notes and passed them to me.

When I finally got her on the phone, she said she explained to the note taker about Bake Rite shortening, because we don’t have it around here anymore. I wanted to verify that the chocolate called for was cocoa powder. She said she’s assuming it was, because she never made it that way. In fact, she said that while Murphy’s was famous in the area, her budget called for more “from scratch” recipes, so she was pleased as punch she just called up the bakery and a man there shared the recipe. Hope it helps Penny:

Icing that may taste like Murphy’s:

2/3 Bake Rite (like Crisco) shortening

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 cups powdered sugar

1/3 to ½ cup milk

If chocolate, add 5 teaspoons chocolate (cocoa powder) and tree teaspoons sugar

Corn bagel?

I had my mother close her eyes and inhale. She thought she was sniffing cornbread, but it was new Thomas’ Corn Bagels. I served them to my husband and he said “Smells like doughnuts.” That’s high praise, but I think it was more of a sweet cornbread aroma. We each had a half bagel with egg and cheese on top. Tomorrow, I’m thinking toasted, with peach preserves. These are new, and worth a try.

Texas Artists Museum

The Nederland Art Guild’s show reception at Texas Artists Museum drew a crowd with the Southeast Texas Dulcimer Friends performing “Amazing Grace.” Portraits, including a Native American, cowboy or two and a young woman in a tiara are among highlights, as are Bobby Pastorella’s drawings that look like photographs. My food note here is that sugar snap peas dipped in guacamole kept luring me back to the refreshment table. I mingled with talented and friendly artists, and family members who love them. But now I’m getting a hard time for not recognizing area photographer Clem T. Webb “under all this hair” he has accumulated.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Popcorn du Monde

Sometimes my friend indulges to her limit, then packs up all her temptations for me to get out of her house. I’m all-too-happy to help her out. This week it was shrimp and popcorn. She nearly overdid it on popcorn Saturday night. I did the rest of it Sunday night.

She’s a straight-up kind of popcorn lover, but I love to experiment. So, I hauled out shakers of cayenne pepper and dark cocoa powder and sprinkled them on my popcorn. Loved it, but the third batch had to be different. I sprinkled on powdered sugar, which put me in mind of the white powder that covers everything on a CafĂ© du Monde run in New Orleans. Not a kernel was left.

Hazlenut in flavor forecast

Those flavor forecasters of McCormick have some new cards with those measured-out spices to complete a meal Try Country Herb Chicken and Dumplings or Mediterranian Herb Crusted Tilapia. My mom will try that on another fish, as she has a weird anti-tilapia philosophy. Other new stuff includes a little bottle of pure coffee extract and imitation hazel extract. Both are perfect for my morning banana smoothie.

Did you miss National Bourbon Day?

Make up for it with a milk shake. This one has some ingredients that will shake up your shake for sure:

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Butter Pecan Milkshake

By Chef Lee Anne Wong, Maker’s Mark® Cookbook Editor1-1/2 parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon

1-1/2 cups butter pecan ice cream, packed

1/2 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons toasted pecans

1/4 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only, or ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup or maple syrup


Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree on the highest speed until smooth and creamy. Pour into a large pint glass or two 8-ounce glasses. Serve immediately.