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Downtown’s Aztecas stays a step above typical Tex-Mex

Advocate photo by Jill Arnold -- The shrimp El Paso featured eight jumbo shrimp stuffed with fresh jalapeno, wrapped in bacon and charbroiled.

The pulse of downtown Baton Rouge seems to beat faster each time we visit. A new park here, a new grocery store there and a large building going up right where The Advocate once stood. It’s probably a good thing the Aztecas restaurant wasn’t right across the street when we worked there, because the food is… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Bean Healthy

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Warm up with White Bean Soup With Pasta on a cold day.

We hear something every day about the importance of beans in our diet. Thank goodness, most Louisianans have grown up liking red beans and white beans. They’re full of healthy nutrients and fiber our bodies need, and the best news is that they’re cheap. In fact, dried beans, which I’m using in this recipe, may be one of… Continue reading →

Food Bowl for Super Bowl Sunday

Associated Press photo by MATTHEW MEAD -- The New England Super Seven Dip is made with barbecued pulled pork topped with skillet sauteed apples and butter.

Honestly, most football fans in south Louisiana probably will be more interested in what’s on the buffet than who wins the Super Bowl Sunday. Whether you are a fan of the Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots — or are more interested in the Super Bowl’s television commercials — it’s a good bet you… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Memories of 'beanie weenie night'

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND  --  For an economical and tasty dish, try Slow-Cooked Beans.

My husband I and joke about our early years together when the budget was especially tight and a night out meant a hamburger at the local college fast food establishment. We remember and commemorate those days every so often with what we call “beanie weenie night.” The menu, of course, is canned pork and beans with a… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Get on Kale bandwagon

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad combines two popular, good-for-you vegetables.

Have you gotten on the “kale” bandwagon? It is not just the ornamental, thick frilly leaves you see dividing the foods in the refrigerated sections in the grocery cases. There are new varieties, sizes and green mixes that are popular now. Raw kale in salads is all the rage. Personally, I like the “baby” varieties… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Christina always had a good word, good food

Staff Photo by Arthur D. Lauck   -- This is a 2006 Advocate file photo of Christina Bannister owner of Christina's Restaurant in downtown Baton Rouge.

Thursdays are fried chicken day at the popular Christina’s Restaurant near the Baton Rouge governmental complex. I know this because a friend always wants to meet there for lunch then. But, we get more than just good fried chicken at the little St. Charles Street eatery. It’s a good bet we’ll learn some interesting story about… Continue reading →

What’s Happening, Jan. 29, 2015

The grand opening of the first Schlotzsky’s Cafe in Baton Rouge kicks off at 10 a.m. Thursday at 5565 Essen Lane, Suite A. The restaurant includes a co-branding deal with Cinnabon. To celebrate the opening, there will be a day of events, including a prize… Continue reading →

Red beans and rice: A take on the classic Louisiana dish from Food Network’s Melissa D’Arabian

This Jan. 12, 2015 photo shows red beans and rice in Concord, N.H. This is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

When I was growing up, beans and rice were an end-of-month staple. As money got tight, my mom would whip up a beans and rice casserole, a healthy, budget-friendly choice that stretched our pantry a bit longer. Not that we necessarily appreciated it. “It’s a complete protein!” Mom would proudly announce as my sister and I groaned.… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Try these recipes with deer or duck meat for something tasty and a little different

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Gourmet Galley, deer sausage with sauted peppers for sandwiches,  and elk wrapped in bacon

Fortunately for me I’ve always had hunters and fishermen in my family, so I’m used to having wild game and fish available. Now, my grandsons, James Poché, 14, and Thomas Rimes, 12, are avid hunters. Each of them bagged a deer recently so I have a nice little stash of smoked deer sausage for gumbo or… Continue reading →

With generous portions, quick service, varied menu, New China hits all the usual bases

Advocate staff photo by GEORGE MORRIS -- The Singapore chicken at New China restaurant is both sweet and spicy.

One of the joys of dining out is that, apart from chain restaurants, every eatery has its own twist on things. Not every roux is as dark as others. Spice amounts and mixtures vary. Cooking techniques make familiar cuts of meat seem like something else. Sometimes, though, one has to look really, really hard to find the… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Overlooked squash can be mild, tasty treat

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Use boneless pork ribs to make Pizza Spaghetti Squash.

I am of the generation that was blessed with many new cooking conveniences, among them the slow cooker and the microwave, just to name a couple. They are both kitchen must-haves for me, and I find they pair well for preparing some foods. Take, for example, the versatile spaghetti squash. It often gets overlooked… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Jan. 22, 2015

Photo provided by SoFAB  --  Philip Dobard is vice president of New Orleans' SoFAB Institute, home of The Museum of the American Cocktail, and plays an integral role in all its programs, including directing the organizations Los Angeles-based West Coast operations,

Louisiana children and their families can get in the Mardi Gras spirit with a hands-on king cake decorating demonstration from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, New Orleans. Admission to the museum will be free to Louisiana children and their… Continue reading →

Off the Menu: More than 50 restaurants join in Restaurant Week BR

Restaurant Week Baton Rouge continues through Saturday, with more than 50 of the city’s restaurants offering three-course meals at discounted prices. The event benefits the local restaurant industry and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Go to eatbr.com for a list of the participating restaurants. The nonprofit Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Will French tea cakes be next trend?

Advocate photo by Cheramie Sonnier  --  Madeleines au Chocolat is a French tea cake version of the classic puff pastry, pain au chocolat.

Talk about specializing. Barbara Feldman Morse has written a cookbook limited to madeleines, the French seashell-shaped pastry. “Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake & Share” is filled with more than 70 recipes that Morse says she developed through years of experimenting to expand on the classic vanilla-flavored madeleine. In her book, Morse does such a… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: When it comes to desserts, think small

Photo by Julie Rimes  --  Think small when serving a decadent dessert such as Easy Tiramisu.

If you are going to have a dessert, think about making it small. A small dessert, just a taste, can look very special if it’s served individually. A layered or parfait-type dessert works fine in clear, miniature serving pieces. Think of small banana puddings served in a footed wine glass, and don’t fill them to the top.… Continue reading →

Here's a chicken dish that's special -- and simple -- to impress that someone special

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Chicken With Tangy Artichoke and Mushroom Sauce

Fifteen years ago, I made the first of what would become thousands of meals for my husband, Philippe. Back then, it was our fifth date, and he was visiting my tiny Parisian apartment for the first time, where we planned an evening of binging on episodes of "Friends" on the VCR. For our date, I wanted to make something… Continue reading →

From the caprese salad to the cannoli, Grimaldi’s hits the mark

Advocate staff photo by Beth Colvin -- The build-your-own pizza at Grimaldi's lets you customize your pie. We went with pesto pizza topped with artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, spicy chicken sausage and bacon.

Behind the Mall of Louisiana on Bluebonnet Boulevard is fertile ground for casual dining. In addition to the food court, the open-air Boulevard shopping center boasts a range of sit-down establishments, including a spanking new Red Robin, Bar Louie and BJ’s Brewhouse, which I mention because pizookie is fun to say. So the fact that another chain,… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: New slow-cooker users should start simple

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Try this simple-to-make, slow-cooked Enchilada Chicken.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of “What a Crock,” a column born out of a cooking population tired of struggling with the demands of work, growing families and a desire to find an easier way to put dinner on the table at the end of a long day. For those of you who received new slow… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Fresh pomegranate seeds secret to well-rounded salad

Photo by Julie Rimes  --  Spinach Salad With Strawberries, Cucumber and Pomegranate Seeds makes an easy, colorful choice for a luncheon menu.

The recipe for this pretty salad, sparkling with fresh pomegranate seeds, has made the rounds. I first heard about Spinach Salad With Strawberries, Cucumber and Pomegranate Seeds when Gretchen Kantrow served it at her study club luncheon. My neighbor, who tasted it there, served it for a luncheon she gave and then I made it… Continue reading →

Bites of History: Beans, peas and lentils — legumes, all — have a long, detailed history

Photo by Cynthia L. Nobles  --  Mango and Black Bean Salad

It’s January, and I’m starting to run out of the beans and peas I bought and froze this summer from the Red Stick Farmers Market. Every time I pull out a precious pack, I remember sitting in front of my family’s black-and-white television set as a child and dutifully shelling the pride of my father’s… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Jan. 15, 2015

The recent freezing temperatures have delayed the restart of the Thursday Red Stick Farmers Market, behind Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, according to spokeswoman Darlene Adams Rowland. “We’ll check in with farmers this weekend to see if next Thursday (Jan. 22) is a go,”… Continue reading →

Special Battle Crye libation commemorates historic battle in the War of 1812

Photo provided by Pat O'Brien's -- Battle Crye is a new drink developed by Pat O'Brien's in commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans. The drink is $6.40 and the glass is $5.

Some of the men who fought in the Battle of New Orleans 200 years ago might have welcomed a few sips of Battle Crye, a new libation developed to commemorate the historic Jan. 8, 1815, battle of the War of 1812. “Louisiana and New Orleans have a unique culture and history of celebrating important events. One such… Continue reading →

Turn the heat up on cabbage

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Curried Roasted Cabbage

My grandmother, who lived to be 92, always said the key to her good health was that whenever possible, she ate cabbage. Now if that isn’t a motto worth needlepointing somewhere, I don’t know what is. But maybe Grandma was on to something. Cabbage is full of vitamins, as well as calcium and iron. And 1 cup… Continue reading →

New Louie’s near LSU's campus is big on nostalgia; but service, not so much

Advocate photo by Leslie D. RoseThe chicken sandwich at Louie's Cafe offered a juicy and well-seasoned but rather thin chicken breast.

As a woman from New Jersey, 24-hour local diners are a huge part of my existence — there’s one on every corner back home. Here, there’s always Louie’s Café. When we dined there, it was nearly 1 a.m. on a Sunday. My husband and I had spent that Saturday evening at L’Auberge Casino, where we had enjoyed… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Cranberries useful for more than just holidays

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- for Julie Kay's What a Crock: Cranberry Pineapple Sauce.

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that cranberries are an integral part of our holiday dinners. But they aren’t just for holidays. From personal experience, it seems to be an acquired taste for some. That’s OK, but there are lots of ways to make cranberries more palatable for those who don’t care for them.… Continue reading →

Sisters work to expand market for Pretzel Crunch

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Linda McAdams, left,  has started a small candy company called Truly Scrumptious with her sister, Karen Daigle, right. They began selling their first product, Pretzel Crunch, in July and have it in several local stores. They, along with McAdams' husband, James, were at Calandro's Supermarket on Government Street in Baton Rouge in December to promote their product.

Selling candy may not seem like a risk, but the sisters who started Truly Scrumptious Candies and Confections had a lot to lose when they started the business. Linda McAdams, 50, was in need of work when she asked her sister, Karen Daigle, 60, to dive into a new venture making Pretzel Crunch, a sweet and salty… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Healthy and Southern can coexist

Advocate photo by Cheramie Sonnier  --  Start the new year with a healthful breakfast like Veggie Frittata.

Like lots of other people, I almost always begin a new year by resolving to improve my diet. This year is no different. Also, like a lot of others, I’ve already fallen off the diet wagon. But I can always try again. And there are plenty of cookbooks offering advice and good-for-you recipes. Among them is “The… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Jan. 8, 2015

Photo provided by Girl Scouts Louisiana East  -- Rah Rah Raisins is one of two new cookies being introduced during the upcoming Girl Scouts cookie sale.

While the Red Stick Farmers Market’s seasonal markets have closed for the winter season, the Thursday Market at Pennington Biomedical Research Center will resume on Jan. 15, a spokeswoman said. The Saturday market, held from 8 a.m. to noon at Fifth and Main streets in downtown… Continue reading →

Celebrate Elvis’ 80th birthday by eating like a King

Don’t get all shook up, but Jan. 8, would have been Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday. If you’re a hard core fan of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll but can’t be in Memphis, Tennessee, for the official Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on Graceland’s North Lawn (see graceland.com), do the next best thing.… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Smoky tomato soup warms from inside out

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Creamy Tomato Soup makes a warming lunch choice on a cold day.

It’s worth taking the time to make a good, homemade, creamy tomato soup to enjoy for lunch in the wintertime. Carmen Kellerman gave me this recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup years ago. It’s a true cream soup where you make the thin, seasoned white sauce and strain that into the cooked tomato mixture. The onions and garlic… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Cookbooks serve as local time capsules

“The Southern Living Community Cookbook: Celebrating Food & Fellowship in the American South” by Sheri Castle Oxmoor House, $29.95 320-page hardcover Every year in late December, I find myself going through new cookbooks looking for recipes to try for New Year’s Day. The recipes, of course,… Continue reading →

Seek the savory side of chocolate

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Chicken in Quick Mole Sauce

While I still pay attention to what I eat during the holidays, I nonetheless allow plenty of small splurges. And those splurges mostly can be summed up in one word: chocolate! Trouble is, the holidays eventually pass, but my cravings for the deep flavor of a perfectly roasted cocoa bean linger. Even more than the sweetness that… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Andouille adds some flavor, flair to New Year classic

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Use your slow cooker to prepare Cajun Black-Eyed Peas for New Year's Day.

For those of us who enjoy a traditional New Year’s dinner, there are some great recipe variations of the typical pork, cabbage and black-eyed peas dinner. It’s also one of the days when my slow cookers are very busy, starting with the pork roast. This year, one of them will be cooking a Cajun… Continue reading →

Usher in health, wealth with traditional veggies

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Even those who claim not to like cooked cabbage will like Scalloped Cabbage.

Eat Your Vegetables: Usher in health, wealth with traditional veggies… Continue reading →

The Advocate’s Best of the Best recipes for 2014

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Serve Shrimp Deviled Eggs as appetizers or with a salad and fruit for a light lunch.

The food team each year offers a roundup of the Best of the Best local recipes shared by great cooks. And, once again, we figured you could use a little extra so our Best of the Best includes lagniappe selections. There were simply too many great recipes in the 2014 food pages to limit the… Continue reading →

Spotter’s keeps calories in check without giving up taste

Photo by Gena Bergeron -- The savory sauce is a tasty accompaniment to the steak meal at Spotter's in Denham Springs

If you’ve chosen the always most popular New Year’s resolution — losing some pounds — you might want to check out Spotter’s. Specializing in “fast, fit food,” we visited the Denham Springs location for dinner and breakfast. There are also locations in downtown Baton Rouge, and in Addis and Hammond. The small eatery features eye-popping walls… Continue reading →

12 'Delicious' days of Christmas

Photo provided by CanolaInfo  --  Celebrate the 12th day of Christmas, which some say is Jan. 5 (Twelfth Night) and others, Jan. 6 (Epiphany), by serving 12 -- or more -- colorfully decorated Gingerbread Men.

The 12 days of Christmas of which the holiday song is named celebrates the time between the birth of Christ on Dec. 25 and when the three wise men or magi arrived to present gifts to the infant Jesus on Epiphany, or Jan. 6. So, there’s no better time than the next week and a half to… Continue reading →

Side Dish: 'Heaven Help Us' cookbook helps others

Christmas Day seems like the perfect time to mention a cookbook dedicated to raising funds to help others, especially when it’s named “Heaven Help Us 2014.” The 246-page, spiral-bound cookbook was produced by St. Matthew the Apostle Knights of Columbus Council 13425 in River Ridge to raise funds to support the church parish, youth, religious and humanitarian… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Raid the pantry: It's the last minute, but you'll surely have everything on hand for these holiday treats

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- For a special New Year's party dessert, make this quick Chocolate Fudge With Gold Dust Splash.

It’s New Year’s Eve and you need something delicious and splashy to serve at a party. The problem is time! Here are three quick treats that fit the bill and, best of all, can be ready in a couple of hours. You probably have the majority of the ingredients in the pantry. The… Continue reading →

Ending the year with the right wine

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Get ready to ring in the New Year with the perfect little blubby.

The countdown has made it to “one,” the fireworks are lighting up the sky and the next most-anticipated sound officially ringing in 2015 is the pop of a Champagne cork. There’s nothing like a little bubbly to start off the new year, but with so many choices, which one do you pick? First off, not all sparkling… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Dessert that's ready when you are

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --  Serve Cane Pecan Sauce over slices of homemade or store-bought pound cake.

If there’s ever a good time to throw caution, or should we say calories, to the wind, it’s during Christmas. As my late mother-in-law was so fond of saying, “I’m going to start my diet tomorrow.” So, when the presents are opened and most of the dishes are put away, it’s time for dessert. This sauce… Continue reading →

Urdiales serves up Mexican tradition in BR

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Severo

Peek into the kitchen at the rear of an unassuming A-frame building at 8334 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge, during lunch or dinner, and you’ll likely see a diminutive gentleman manning the stove or the food prep table. If you happen to catch 83-year-old Joe Urdiales handling a knife and engage him in conversation, he’ll make eye… Continue reading →

The Salad Shop offers delicious, healthy options to fast food

Advocate photo by Jill Arnold -- The avocado BLT ($7.25) featured spinach, red onions, half an avocado, cherry tomatoes and lots of bacon.

If you need a change from all the rich party fixings or just craving some fresh food give The Salad Shop a try. The minimalist decor with a nod to the urban look puts all the focus on the greens. We stopped by a couple of times and the service couldn’t have been more prompt or helpful.… Continue reading →