Author Archives | John

Celebrate Siege Day at the Esquire

Celebrate Siege Day at the Esquire

Monday is Texas Independence Day, and the folks at the Esquire Tavern, 155 E. Commerce St., are teaming up with Alamo Beer for a party.

beers2From 6 to 9 p.m., you can enjoy live music provided by Tony Romero and the Spiders. Alamo Beer will be available on tap and your first request for an Alamo Golden Ale will bring you a complimentary pint glass to keep.

The kitchen will be open until 10 p.m.’

For more information, click here.

Store your beer

Do you cellar your beer?

You may want to start, according to the folks at Tasting Table.

“Aging beer encourages simple flavors to expand and evolve right inside the bottle, resulting in uniquely delicious brews. But there’s more to building and maintaining a vintage beer collection than forgetting about the tallboys in the back of your fridge.”

But how do you go about doing that? Read the full article here.


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Irish Stew Is Too Easy — and Delicious — to Settle for Processed

Irish Stew Is Too Easy — and Delicious — to Settle for Processed

I can’t say I had much Irish stew as a child. My mother didn’t cook much with lamb. Beef was more her thing. But I saw a frozen version of Irish stew made with lamb in the store recently, and I thought to myself that this is too straightforward and uncomplicated a dish to have to resort to a processed version. Plus, it’s perfect for these evenings in which winter seems to exhausting its last anger.

Irish Stew

Irish Stew

The only real work here is in chopping all the vegetables before you get started cooking. You could do it in a slow cooker, too, if you start with browning the meat.

You don’t need to add a lot of seasoning to make Irish stew flavorful. The lamb, onions, carrots and other vegetables will do their part. But you do need to use your salt and pepper wisely. Don’t be stingy with either in this recipe. At the same time, you don’t want your stock to overwhelm the dish either.

You can serve this the moment it’s finished, but it tastes better after sitting a day.

There’s nothing like a hot slice of Irish soda bread with melted butter and an Irish stout on the side.

Irish Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, fat trimmed and cut into small pieces
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 ribs celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cups pork stock or chicken stock diluted with 2 cups water OR 4 cups weak pork stock or chicken stock
4 small potatoes, peeled and cut in pieces
2 small or 1 thick leek, sliced and washed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemaryChopped fresh celery leaves or chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or saucepan with a lid over medium high heat. Add lamb and brown on all sides. You may need to do this in two batches. When each batch of lamb is finished, give it a good dose salt and black pepper (at least 1/2 teaspoon each, or more to taste).

When all of the lamb is finished, make sure it’s all in the Dutch oven. Stir in celery, onions, carrots and parsnip. Place bay leaf on top. Add stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add potatoes, leek and rosemary. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 30 more minutes.

Serve. Top with chopped celery leaves or parsley, if desired.

Serve with slices of Irish soda bread and butter.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From John Griffin

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Ruth’s Chris Renovates and Re-energizes as 50th Anniversary Approaches

Ruth’s Chris Renovates and Re-energizes as 50th Anniversary Approaches

Ruth's Chris owner Lana Duke (center) talks with Debi Struss and Gary Penny at the Concorde location.

Ruth’s Chris owner Lana Duke (center) talks with Debi Struss and Gary Penny at the Concorde location.

On May 25, restaurateur Lana Duke plans to lead a group of friends and business associates to a party at a cemetery in New Orleans. A band will be on hand, and at 11:30 a.m., a toast will be raised to memory of Ruth Fertel, the woman whose name lives on in the Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain.

The Concorde Ruth's Chris now has a new al fresco dining area.

The Concorde Ruth’s Chris now has a new al fresco dining area.

The time is important because it was at that moment 50 years earlier that Duke’s friend Fertel opened the doors on the first Ruth’s Chris in New Orleans.


“It’s a salute to Ruth Fertel and her legacy,” said Duke on a visit to San Antonio, where she owns both of the local steakhouses.

Duke has been working on her own tribute to Fertel’s memory in her own way.

Work has recently finished on a $600,000 expansion and renovation of the Ruth’s Chris in the Concorde, 7720 Jones Maltsberger Road. The work, prompted by Duke’s son, David, included an expansion of the bar area, the addition of al fresco dining and the renovation of the private dining area. The work has resulted in an additional 4,000 square feet of space. A re-opening party Friday drew hundreds of regulars to check out the new space and enjoy a snack or two before settling down for Ruth’s Chris trademark sizzle.

Duke is also planning her third  SA location, which will be in a freestanding building at the Eilan complex off I-10 and La Cantera Parkway. “September 1 is the target,” she said. “I feel really good about this location.”

She’s also planning on expanding in the Toronto area. She currently has two restaurants north of the border and has plans for another to open early next year. Her seventh — and her final, she says — Ruth’s Chris will open in a Marriott Hotel in Markham, Ontario, before the end of 2016.

The time is right, Duke said, adding that the renovation and the expansion are helping bring in a younger market, “which is the future of Ruth’s Chris.”

The renovation included work on the private dining area.

The renovation included work on the private dining area.

Younger diners are particularly excited about the larger bar space as well as the new Sizzle, Swizzle & Swirl happy hour menu, which is available from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily in the bar area. Sizzle snacks include a prime burger with fries, a tenderloin and mushroom skewers salad, a steak sandwich with fries and seared ahi tuna, while Swizzle & Swirl drinks include a pomegranate martini, Ruth’s Manhattan and a Rocks Rita as well as wine and beer specials.

It’s obvious that Duke loves going over the changes that have taken place almost as much as she loves meeting and greeting her customers. She’s been that way throughout her career and doesn’t see a change anytime soon, though she admits she has cut back to “six or eight hours a day.”

There’s a good reason for that: “I love it too much, the mental stimulation of business, the excitement of growth,” she said.

But she also loves spending time with her grandson, Jackson, and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a granddaughter later this year.

Duke continues to be active with charity work, including giving a hand to Roy Maas’ Youth Alternatives. One project on behalf of the agency that helps abused and neglected children is done in conjunction with the Texas Cavaliers. Each year, the Cavaliers’ director selects an appetizer from the Ruth’s Chris menu, and a set amount from the sale of each order goes to Roy Maas. This year, William Wendell Hall chose Shrimp Voodoo, a favorite dish in which lightly fried shrimp are tossed in a spicy cream sauce. Last year’s promotion raised $18,000 for Roy Maas. Duke’s hoping this year will bring in even more, thanks to the expanded bar and the dish appearing on the happy hour menu.


“It’s an exciting time,” she said.

Posted in Restaurants0 Comments

Brian West Sends Up Smoke Signals; SpiceSea Gourmet Moves On

Brian West Sends Up Smoke Signals; SpiceSea Gourmet Moves On

A few years back, I ran into chef Brian West at Boardwalk on Bulverde during a festival featuring food trucks from all over the region. It was a hot afternoon, but that wasn’t stopping the crowds from lining up in front of their favorites. The queue was particularly long in front of Davila’s BBQ, visiting from Seguin, proving once again that barbecue, especially in Texas, has an appeal that transcends the venue in which its presented.

It could be a food truck, a sit-down restaurant, a roadside stand or even inside the main Whole Foods in Austin. It doesn’t matter. We’ll eat it.

smoke1That day, however, West was hoping for a little more cutting edge food from the trucks. Pork belly, maybe, he said.

What he didn’t know then was that Davila’s was serving pork belly tacos that day. They just weren’t on the written menu.

West also didn’t realize then that he would one day be running his own barbecue food truck.

Smoke the food truck is coming, and West is going to be offering a few of those cutting edge items he wanted along with the traditional items you expect.

Brisket, pulled pork, Dr Pepper pork ribs, Shiner Bock-brined turkey and house-made bratwurst will all be available by the pound while you can also order Frito pie, guava-glazed crispy pig tails, braised pork belly with apple butter and poutine-style tater tots. Beer-can chicken, brisket sloppy joes on handmade bread and fried catfish will also be on the menu.

West’s barbecue bona fides include teaching it at the Culinary Institute of America during his tenure as an instructor. He also wrote a history of Texas barbecue for Bonnie Walker’s and my book, “Barbecue Lover’s Texas.”

You can try Smoke two different ways: It will be a food truck and it will also be a restaurant at 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., which is a little more than a mile from West’s old restaurant, Cafe Mariposa/Cafe Paladar.

For more information, visit

Celebrate St. Pat’s at Boardwalk on Bulverde

Boardwalk on Bulverde

Boardwalk on Bulverde

Smoke is planning to be at Boardwalk on Bulverde, 14732 Bulverde Road, during the fourth annual Feast of St. Patrick on March 13-15. Sponsored by George Killian’s, the event is free and open to the public.

Throughout the weekend, Boardwalk on Bulverde will feature a variety of food trucks serving food from all over the world. From Cajun cuisine to Vietnamese and seafood, you’ll find something to satisfy every taste. Trucks include Treats on Streets, Gracie’s Kitchen, Vietnamese Cuisine, Smoke, Kitchen Cabin, Gilbo’s Grill, Mr. Fish and the first food truck built by Cruising Kitchens, Wheelie Gourmet. Adults can get into the St. Patrick’s day spirit by enjoying George Killian’s Irish Red during the Feast.

March 13 entertainment will be provided by DJ Quake, while The Kerosene Drifters will bring live music to Saturday night.

Boardwalk on Bulverde is San Antonio’s first food truck park. Newly remodeled, it features a playscape for kids, a mobile school bus arcade, washers and a basketball hoop.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Susan G. Komen San Antonio. While at the Boardwalk on Bulverde, attendees can register for Race for the Cure, which will take place at the Alamodome on April 11.

The event will run Friday, March 13, from 6 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, from noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, March 15, from noon to 8 p.m. For more information about Boardwalk on Bulverde can be found online at or by calling 210-402-2829.

Beer Week at Random

Random Beer Garden, 11 Upper Cibolo Road, Boerne, is jumping on the San Antonio Beer Week bandwagon. The annual celebration runs March 21-28, and Random’s part includes tap takovers on the bookending Saturdays.

On March 21, the lineup will feature Boerne Brewery and two from Austin: Infamous and Uncle Billy’s. On March 28, try beers from Independence (Austin); Wild Bunch (LaGrange) and Pedernales (Fredericksburg).

One of the trucks featured on March 21 will be Chef Bully, the new venture from Cibolo chef David “Bully” Page, a winner on TV’s “Frankenfood.”

spiceseaSpiceSea Gourmet moves on

The SpiceSea Gourmet is moving down the road. The well-loved food truck will serve its last meal in Texas at the Point Park and Eats, 24188 Boerne Stage Road, this Friday evening. Sorry to see this one go.

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Empty Bowls for Full Bellies

Empty Bowls for Full Bellies

SONY DSCSAMMinistries and the San Antonio Potters Guild are teaming up for the 15th annual Empty Bowls on March 8.

It runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Southwest School of Art, 300 Augusta St.

During the event, patrons can purchase handcrafted bowls made for the event. For each bowl purchased, the guest can enjoy soup and bread provided by local restaurants.

All proceeds benefit San Antonio families facing homelessness who are served by SAMMinistries.

The organizers offer a reminder for those planning to attend the Sunday event: “Don’t forget to set your clocks forward one hour on the night of Saturday, March 7th. We don’t want you to miss out on the fun!”

Admission is free, but the bowls are being sold with all proceeds going to SAMMinistries. For more information, call 210-340-0302.

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Embracing Bitters

Embracing Bitters

Our fascination with classic cocktails has grown in recent years, and with it has come a return to the way drinks were made back when people took the time to craft something by hand. We’ve seen a return to the use of egg whites, for example, to give a frothy head to drinks such as whiskey sours and pisco sours.

Dale DeGroff appears behind the bar at Soho Wine and Martini Bar

Dale DeGroff appears behind the bar at Soho Wine and Martini Bar

In the past four or five years, the interest in bitters has skyrocketed. Go into just about any liquor store and you’ll find bottle after bottle of bitters boasting flavors of celery (made for a bloody Mary), cherry (for Manhattans or old-fashioneds), grapefruit (for salty dogs) and mint (for a more righteous julep). Sure, the old standby aromatic bitters, Angostura and Peychauds, are on the shelf, and they still sell for anywhere from $5 to $10 a bottle, but mainy places are starting to stock more exotic mixtures with price tags in the $20 or range or more.

But what are these mysterious elixirs in their bottles, which are occasionally covered in paper wrapping? They are often alcoholic liquids flavored with a host of concentrated botanicals and aromatic herbs, most of which are predominantly bitter. Ingredients could include gentian root, orange peel, cinchona bark, cardamom, eucalyptus, coffee, you name it. Their purpose in the cocktail world is to provide balance to a drink so that it isn’t cloyingly sweet. Think about the indefinable touch in a Sazerac that keeps the licorice flavor of the absinthe in check or the trace of orange bitters that enlivens a real martini.

The seminar at Soho (Photo: James Goulden)

The seminar at Soho (Photo: James Goulden)

Brad Thomas Parsons has written the exhaustive “Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes and Formulas” for those who must know every last detail about bitters in cocktail history and want to try making their own at home. Bonnie Walker and I lassoed a recipe for barbecue bitters from Bohanan’s Heather Nañez to include in our own “Barbecue Lover’s Texas.”

Dale DeGroff, known as “King Cocktail” and the author of “The Essential Cocktail,” offered a dash or two of his perspective on bitters recently during a Manhattans seminar presented at the Soho Wine and Martini Bar on Crockett Street. The cocktail chronicler produces his own version of these aromatic gems, Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters. And it was one of five that participants got to taste in a series of Manhattans that had been made with George Dickel Rye.

Manhattans all in a row

Manhattans all in a row

While leading the tasting, DeGroff also offered a little history on the subject. Bitters were part of the first printed definition of a cocktail, he said. It dates back to a newspaper article from 1806. That’s when someone told the Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, N.Y., that a cocktail was a stimulating mixture of “spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.”

But they date back further than that. Actually, they’ve been around since the late 17th century, he said. Stoughton’s Bitters were first produced in England in 1690 and were that country’s second patented medicine in 1712. The original recipe from Jerry Thomas and Pierre Lacour included 8 pounds of gentian root, 1/2 ounce red saunders wood or cochineal, 6 pounds of orange peel, 1 1/2 pounds of Virginia snake root and 1/2 ounce American saffron, among other ingredients. Ten gallons of distilled spirits were added to the mix before it aged. Now, that’s medicine.

"King Cocktail" Dale DeGroff

“King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff

Bitters returned after Prohibition ended. Cole Porter mentioned them in the 1940 torch song, “Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please”:

     Leave out the cherry,
     Leave out the bitters,
     Leave out the orange.
     Just make it a straight rye.

But a funny thing happened to American tastes. Somewhere in the last 50 years or so, we surrendered our taste buds to syrupy sodas and other sugary confections. In doing so, we lost our appreciation for all things bitter. Or, as DeGroff said, “We have in our DNA an aversion to bitter things.”

So, for far too long, that bottle of bitters, which never goes bad if it has an alcohol base, was relegated to the back of the bar. Bartenders even took to joking: “What’s going to last longer, my bottle of bitters or my marriage?”

The Manhattan

The Manhattan (Photo: James Goulden)

No two bitters are alike, and each will influence the final flavor of your cocktail in a unique way, just as the profile of your whiskey, bourbon or rye will affect your Manhattan. So, do you prefer a bitter and fruity blend, such as the one attributed to Jerry Thomas that has been revived for modern cocktail drinkers? Or the classic, herbal profile of Angostura Bitters? You’ll have to conduct your own taste test. First, sniff and taste a tiny amount of the bitters by itself. What do you taste? Clove? Ginger? Cinnamon? Cola? All of the above? Then shake a drop or two into your drink and notice the changes that result.

Some people, DrGroff said, are so taken with the flavors of their favorite bitters that they’ll pour an ounce or so into an ice-filled glass and finish it off with mineral water or club soda. The end result is a digestif along the lines of a Campari, a bitter liqueur from Italy that’s often served with soda.

By the way, the name Angostura comes from a city in Venezuela, where the formula was developed in 1824. The distinctive bottle with its oversized label is perfect in such classic cocktails as the Horse’s Neck, Rob Roy, Singapore Sling or the Esmeralda, a winning blend of tequila, lime juice, honey and bitters that deserves to be resurrected. So versatile is Angostura bitters that one satisfied Amazon customer claimed they’re an effective mosquito repellant.

Luis Villegas with his winning Manhattan.

Luis Villegas with his winning Manhattan. (Photo: James Goulden)

You can take your bitters out of the bar and into the kitchen. In his book, Parsons suggests using them in everything from chicken wings to a topping for broiled grapefruit. I have used a dash or two in cherry and rhubarb pies to add a kick to the flavor. Just remember to start off slowly. The flavors are intense, so one dash may be all you need in the beginning. Your bottle will not go empty anytime soon. Or as DeGroff joked, if he ever goes into business again, it’ll be to produce something that people consume in quantities greater than a dash or two at a time.

After the seminar, three bartenders presented their own Manhattans to DeGroff and a representative of George Dickel Rye in a competition to see who could put the best spin on the classic. In the end, Luis Villegas of Houston, who consults at Costa Pacifica on Loop 1604, took the top prize for his variation, which he named “Come and Taste It!” Here’s his recipe:

Luis Villegas’ “Come and Taste It!” Manhattan

3/4 ounce George Dickel Rye
1/4 ounce Carpano Antica
1/4 ounce
Margerum Amaro
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Blood orange extra-virgin olive oil
George Dickel-infused Cherry

Stir rye, Carpano Antica, amaro, bitters and oil in an ice-filled glass. Strain into chilled coupe. Garnish with George Dickel-infused cherry.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Luis Villegas


Posted in Drinks, Featured, Griffin to Go0 Comments

The Paella Challenge Returns to the Pearl March 15.

The Paella Challenge Returns to the Pearl March 15.

The sixth annual Corona Paella Challenge, hosted by La Gloria’s chef Johnny Hernandez returns to Pearl on March 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Corona Paella Challenge is March 15.

The Corona Paella Challenge is March 15.

The celebration happens rain or shine (as folks who remember last year’s cold but cozy gathering already know) and will showcase the delicious food and wine of Spain, traditional sangria, a variety of craft and imported beers, and live entertainment perfect for the entire family. Presale tickets to the event are $65. Admission for individuals under 21 years of age is $25. Tickets can be purchased at and will also be available for $75 at the door, if the event is not sold out.

Can’t wait until the competition for some paella? Make your own. You don’t need a fancy paella pan. You don’t even need rice, as this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis demonstrates. There are a lot of ingredients, but the dish comes together easily and the flavors will win you over to pasta in your paella.

Noodle Paella

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 sweet Italian sausages, casing removed (about 12 ounces)
1 skinless boneless chicken breast (about 6 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced
3 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon finely crumbled stem saffron
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 Turkish bay leaves
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into 1-inch lengths
8 ounces halibut fillet, cut into eight 1-inch cubes
12 small littleneck clams, scrubbed
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 6-quart Dutch oven. Add the sausages and stir, breaking up the sausages into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken and sausage to a medium bowl, using a slotted spoon.

Add the garlic, fennel, onion, bell pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to the pan. Cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, tomatoes with juices, paprika, saffron, cayenne and bay leaves. Add the spaghetti and cook, uncovered, until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Return the chicken and sausage to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add the halibut, clams and shrimp. Cover and cook until the clams open, 4 to 5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Remove the cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until fish, shrimp and chicken are just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the parsley and serve.

From Giada De Laurentiis/Food Network


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Are You Up to the Challenge of Learning How to Eat Right?

Are You Up to the Challenge of Learning How to Eat Right?

Cathleen Nogueron of San Antonio

Cathleen Nogueron of San Antonio

David Nungaray of San Antonio

David Nungaray of San Antonio

Petra Pearce of San Antonio

Petra Pearce of San Antonio

Diet is a four-letter word that many, including dietitians, don’t like to use.

That’s because people have unrealistic expectations about what a diet is supposed to be. It’s not some magic bullet that’ll cause you to lose five — or 50 — pounds and then let you go back to eating whatever you want.

That’s not a way to live your life, says H-E-B dietitian Charlotte Samuel, who helps out with the supermarket chain’s annual Slim Down Showdown, a program that helps introduce people to healthier ways of eating while getting them to rethink the role of food in their lives.

The problem is that too many “people don’t have a sustainable diet,” Samuel says. “They try a fad diet or a highly restrictive diet.” Then they cheat and feel so badly about it that they quit.

The 30 contestants from around the state, including some H-E-B employees, who are taking part in this year’s 14-week Slim Down have begun to learn the importance of eating right, of having discipline and even about rewarding yourself with a treat on occasion. (Eight of these from the area are pictured here.)

“We try to teach them about balance,” says Samuel, who adds that the program follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations on It’s a Mediterranean-based diet that stresses how at least half of each meal should be made of up fruits, vegetables and whole grains while being observant about salt and sugar consumption. Lean meats are preferred forms of protein, and healthy fats are encouraged. In the end, the winner won’t be determined by weight loss alone. Other health factors such as lower cholesterol and LDL levels will also be considered.

Laura Cuellar of San Antonio

Laura Cuellar of San Antonio

James Griffith of San Antonio

James Griffith of San Antonio

Tamlynn Niemietz of New Braunfels

Tamlynn Niemietz of New Braunfels

So far, the group has had a pantry makeover session in which they’ve learned how to make healthier choices while shopping. They’ve also had a Fit Week in which Samuel taught them how to make flavorful dishes, such as a caldo with plenty of vegetables and Chipotle Chicken Tostadas. The recipes were easy and yet satisfied people’s cravings.

She also taught them how to make dishes with enough extras so they have variations that’ll work for lunch or dinner on another occasion and thereby save time.

Time, another four-letter word, is perhaps the biggest hurdle that the contestants say they face. “A lot of of people say, ‘I don’t have time … to eat healthy,'” Samuel says. But in her cooking classes, she shows them how taking the time to prepare your own food can make all the difference in your health.

It isn’t always easy for people to accept Samuel’s advice or to change their habits. Not everyone is willing to try new dishes or new ingredients.  “We encourage people to try things,” she says. “You’d be surprised — a lot of people are afraid to eat something because they’ve never had it before.”

But the people in the program are excited about being in the Slim Down. Something happened in their lives that made them want to change. One contestant named Reuben told Samuel that he wanted to change after his son told him that he wanted to grow up and be big and fat, just like his dad. Since then, Reuben has lost 150 pounds, while his wife has lost more than 100 pounds.  He realized that “what you do affects those around you,” sometimes in ways that you don’t even know, the dietitian says.

Manuel Naredo of San Antonio

Manuel Naredo of San Antonio

Veronica Jones of San Antonio

Veronica Jones of San Antonio

The contestants have become their own network, supporting each other in the process. They have also reached out into their own communities, creating events such as 5K runs to get others involved in living more healthfully.

For all those who are taking part in the program, they know the work doesn’t end when the 14-week competition ends. Unlike that all-too-restrictive cabbage or grapefruit diets, the new eating habits they have developed can be used for the rest of their lives.

Few could be as happy as Samuel to see how far they can go with their new outlook. “I want them to be proud of themselves,” she says. “They realized there was a problem and they made a choice for a healthy lifestyle.”


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Chipotle Chicken Tostadas Are an Easy Family Dinner

Chipotle Chicken Tostadas Are an Easy Family Dinner

This recipe for Chipotle Chicken Tostadas was a favorite among the people taking part in the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown, says dietitian Charlotte Samuel, who was trying to teach the 30 contestants about how easy it can be to make nutritious meals.

Chipotle Chicken Tostadas

Chipotle Chicken Tostadas

“It was something that was really familiar to them,” she says of the dish. It has the appeal of comfort food, which helps make people more comfortable with the program.

You’ll find it an easy and inexpensive winner for your family, too.

Chipotle Chicken Tostadas

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2  tablespoons white wine vinegar
1  tablespoon sugar
1  tablespoon  cilantro, chopped
1/2  teaspoon salt, divided use
1/2  teaspoon pepper, divided use
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
1/4  cup shredded carrots
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1  onion, diced
1  bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from canned chipotle peppers)
8  H-E-B Baked Tostadas
1/2 cup reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese or queso fresco

Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until cooked, about 7 minutes. Drain, transfer chicken to a bowl or plate, let cool and shred.

While chicken is cooking, prepare slaw. In medium bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, cilantro, 1/2 the salt and pepper, and lime juice. Add shredded cabbage and carrots and toss to coat. Set aside.

Warm oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper, and remaining salt and pepper. Cook 7 minutes. Stir in adobo sauce and shredded chicken, and saut? 2 minutes.

Top tostadas with chicken mixture, slaw and cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutrition per serving: Calories: 330, Total Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 420mg, Carbohydrates: 31g, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Protein: 28g

From My H-E-B Health and Wellness

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Sea Island Creates a New Special for Lent; Cocina Heritage Closes but Continues On

Sea Island Creates a New Special for Lent; Cocina Heritage Closes but Continues On

Sea Island Shrimp House is celebrating its 50th anniversary in part by offering a new fish special for Lent— Texas Fish and Chips — featuring crispy hand-breaded Alaskan whitefish marinated in Shiner Bock beer and served with coleslaw, hush puppies and your choice of fries or handmade potato chips for $8.49 all day throughout the Lenten season.

sea islandLent ends April 4 with Easter on April 5.

Sea Island Shrimp House, a family-owned and operated seafood company, is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

“Our restaurants are always bustling during Lent, and one of our goals as a company is to offer our loyal customers an excellent value on a delicious fish platter throughout this important religious season,” said Barclay Anthony, Sea Island CEO.

Say It Ain’t So, Cocina Heritage

Sometimes we get announcements that leave us bummed out, even when they’re written in the nicest way possible.

Cocina Heritage muffins

Cocina Heritage muffins

This notice from Silvia Alcaraz and Lupita Rivero, the two women behind Cocina Heritage, 118 N. Medina St., is one of those.

“I hope this message finds you in good spirits,” they write. “We are elated to share Cocina’s newest projects.  We have closed our doors to the restaurant due to the recently announced work extension of Medina street.”

Cocina Heritage will still be around, however, and they have these projects in the works:
1. We’ will offer a weekly supper take out service. More information to come, please add us to your contacts to avoid the spam folder (eventually we will use Mail chimp).
2. We will continue to offer catering services. Please keep us in mind for catered events and let us take your guest through the culinary tour just as you experienced it at the restaurant.
3. Lastly, We have an exciting project: we will host monthly long table dinners at Dorcol Distilling Company. (The first dinner is Feb. 20. For more information, click here:
Cocktail Conference Makes a Difference for Four Charities
Summer Raspberry drinkThe 2015 San Antonio Cocktail Conference was served up 168 different cocktail recipes to nearly 7,000 attendees in just four days.
But even more important was the fact that the SACC served up a $115,000 donation to four San Antonio children’s charities from the event’s profits. On Thursday, The Children’s Shelter, ChildSafe, HeartGift San Antonio and Transplants for Children were on hand to receive the money and celebrate the success of SACC 2015 with a light brunch and morning cocktails courtesy of the St. Anthony Hotel, Bohanan’s and Folc.
“We are thrilled to be able to make a significant contribution to our community through these charitable organizations that work so tirelessly to help save the lives of children,” says Cathy Siegel, executive director of Houston Street Charities, the organization behind the SACC. “It’s been at the heart of SACC since the beginning.
“Offering a beautiful Cocktail Conference to thousands of participants is great, but getting to present these charities with a check is the perfect garnish on the cocktail!”

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