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Month: January 2024

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Hearts

Sometimes you have to take it up a notch!  And that is exactly what I did with this recipe!

Sweet potatoes are so healthy and work just as well for gnocchi as a white potato.  Factor in a heart shape – and there you have it:  a romantic addition to your valentines celebration.

I used about a 2 ” heart cookie cutter and of course the color of the sweet potatoes adds additional form.  If you can find ruby sweet potatoes, the color will be even deeper.

Toast the gnocchi in a little butter and olive oil with Italian herbs, and you have a tasty side dish meant to WOW.  You can top it with freshly shredded parmesan as well.

Honestly the time factor is minimized  when you present the results – just serve the dish, and wait for the acclamations!

Watch Video Here

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Hearts

You will love them!
Course Side Dish
Servings 4


  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, baked in skin
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Butter Sauce

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp Italian herbs
  • Grated parmesan to taste


  • Scoop out flesh of baked sweet potato and transfer them to a bowl. Smash or rice potatoes. Transfer to a sheet pan that's lined with paper towels to draw out any excess moisture. Press an additional paper towel on top to encourage additional moisture out of the potatoes.
  • Transfer potatoes to a bowl, mix in egg yolk. Add 1/2 of flour and salt and combine. Add remainder of flour and combine until the dough comes together.
  • Flour a silpat or chopping board and gently knead the dough a (only) a few times.
  • Roll out the dough and using a small heart cookie cutter (approx 2 in), continuing until all dough is used. Transfer the hearts to a floured pan.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the gnocchi and boil until the gnocchi rises to the top of the water which should take about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer to a pan

Butter sauce

  • Heat EVOO and melt butter together. Add Italian seasoning.
  • Transfer the cooked gnocchi into the brown butter and let them toast on one side over med - low heat for about 1 minute. Remove to serving platter, sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Serve and enjoy.
Keyword gnocchi, sweet potato, valentines

Life is not all wine and roses, it’s chocolate too!

Sissy Preston – WSET Level 3 Certified Wine Consultant, generously shares her vast knowledge of wine with Texicureans and YOU!  Enjoy and thank you, Sissy!

“Valentine’s day is around the corner and the city will be filled with lover’s holding hands and strolling the streets, sipping wine in corner booths and gifting chocolates. So, when you retire after dinner and open that special bottle of wine, before popping those chocolates in your mouth, there are a few things you should know that will make your wine and chocolate pairing much more enjoyable.

If you plan ahead, there are chocolatiers that make chocolates specifically for pairing with wine. I discovered this when I went to a Scotch tasting and there were chocolates made for each particular scotch. It was nothing short of amazing. When pairing chocolates with wine you must start out with one simple rule, the wine must be at least as sweet as the chocolate. You do not want a sweet milky chocolate with a tannic wine. This combination will make your wine very bitter and unpleasant.

Let’s start with milk chocolate, which is one of the easier chocolates to pair. Milk chocolate is usually very sweet and creamy, so you want a sweet wine. A sweet Riesling or dessert wine, like Eiswein have the right amount of sweetness to balance with the sugar in the milk chocolate.

Eiswein is made in Canada and Germany and is made from grapes which are frozen on the vine, freezing the water in the grape and concentrating the sugars. This wine is a “clean”, lighter wine that pairs beautifully.

For a wine with a little more substance and depth, a Ruby Port from Portugal or some of the new Port “style” wines from the Hill Country, with its fruit flavors compliments the chocolate nicely. Ruby Port is affordable and available and is made to be consumed young.

Dark chocolate and dark chocolate truffles go very well with Merlot and Petite Sirah. I have found that Merlot, with its jammy and chocolate undertones goes particularly well with rich dark chocolate. Girard Petit Syrah, which is on the list at Huisache Grill, has flavors of black currant, jam, cassis and vanilla and would pair nicely with dark chocolate strawberries.

Getting into the semi-sweet dark chocolates, Merlot still pairs nicely, as does Pinot Noir, but my favorite is Syrah with dark chocolate ganache or a dark chocolate with some spice or nuts. In Australia, the Syrah grape is called Shiraz, and although these wines can pair as well, I prefer the more subtle California or Texas version.

Bittersweet chocolate or chocolate with cayenne, peppercorn or ginger requires a warm climate Cabernet, (Texas, Napa, Paso Robles) or a Zinfandel. I prefer a spicy Zinfandel. If the chocolate is over 70% cocoa a vintage Port from Portugal would be bold enough to hold its own with the high cocoa percentages. This dark, bittersweet chocolate is a little more challenging and you will have to use trial and error to find what works for you.

White chocolate, which is not really a true chocolate, is very sweet and can pair with Moscato d’Asti, Tokaji, or fruitier Pinot Noir. As a general rule, Champagne or Sparkling wine does not pair well with Chocolate unless it is a demi-sec or sweeter champagne and usually only with the white chocolate.

Rose’ champagne or rose’ sparkling can pair with a raspberry or cherry cream filled chocolate.

To get the most out of your tasting, bite the chocolate first and rather than chewing it, let it melt on your tongue, then take a quick sniff of the wine and a sip. Enjoy the lingering flavors and see if you like the flavor and feel. Take your time to savor and appreciate the nuances. To make it extra fun with your partner, have one of you taste the chocolate, the other take a sip of wine and KISS!

Make your tasting fun and if you find a pairing you love, e-mail us at sispreston@aol.com or Cindy at cindy@texicureans.com.

Cindy and I found that a soft Garagiste’ Bordeaux paired nicely with Comal Pecan Farms Semisweet dark chocolate covered pecans. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Texas Valentine’s Day – Romance in the Details

As with most holidays, Texans have our own way of doing things. Sure you can grab some flowers and chocolates or snag a coveted dinner reservation. But romance truly lives in the gestures that are thoughtful and detailed. Texicureans is giving you two unique ways to show your love this month. So, grab your box of chocolates for the journey. We are going to Valentine, Texas by mail and sharing the sweetest outdoor picnic option right here in New Braunfels.

Have you ever heard of Valentine, Texas? Located in Jeff Davis County, and between West Texas towns Marfa and Van Horn, folks from everywhere send their valentine to the post office in February to get a postmark before the 14th. It’s quite a feat to accomplish for this little town of 200 to process the added post, but the community embraces it.

Lore gives a couple of options to the origin of the town’s name. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Valentine was founded and named with the South Pacific Railroad crew, building east, reached the site on February 14, 1882. The other story is that it was named after John Valentine, a significant stock holder in the railroad and president of Wells Fargo.

Get a postmark from Valentine, Texas 

Per the Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce, “Each Valentine’s Day the postmaster receives hundreds of requests to have their Valentine postmarked from Valentine, Texas. To have your Valentine sent from Valentine, place your card in an envelope pre-stamped and address to the recipient. Place this in another envelope and mail to:


Valentine, Texas 79854

The postmaster will postmark your envelope with a postmark from Valentine, Texas.”

Plan a Sweet Picnic 

While other parts of the US are experiencing chilly, snowy weather, Texas can have perfect days and evenings to enjoy being outdoors. Just bundle up a little and take in a sunny afternoon or bundle up a little more and enjoy the Texas starry nights.

A romantic picnic is a uniquely Texas way to enjoy the holiday. I caught up with Jessi Oehler, owner of Peaceful Picnic, to show us how to WOW your valentine with a romantic dinner.

Jessi set up a romantic Valentines picnic for Andy Powell and his fiance Lauren Lyssy in the outdoor dining area of Gruene Coffee House. Which goes to prove – let your imagination run with options for locations.

Go to  Texicureans Youtube channel to view the “how-to” video. You might even catch Andy and Lauren in a “kiss”!

 “Hosting a picnic or Table scape is a memorable, fun, unique event that allows you to really connect with your loved ones” enthusiastically exclaims Jessi.

 She shares her “recipe” for creating a romantic setting in a few simple steps. Let your imagination soar!

If you’d rather leave the creative genius to Jessi, you can contact her at peacefulpicnicnbtx@gmail.com or 830.302.0120.

You can find her at Peaceful Picnic on Instagram. Jessi has designed picnics for engagements, birthday parties, corporate events, baby showers, date nights, holiday parties and more.

XOXO, Texicureans

Texas Valentine Picnic

A Romantic Interlude


  • 1 Table - Low to ground
  • Pillows and Blankets
  • 1 Table Runner
  • 1 greenery garland, Silk or fresh flowers
  • Candlesticks and candles
  • Plate Chargers
  • Plates, utensils and Napkins (cloth preferred)


  • Set up a table in a park, backyard, or even living room. Aim for the ground. Throw pillows or blankets to serve as “chairs”. 
  • Arrange a table runner or use a piece of material as your base 
  • Top with a garland and sprinkle with either silk or fresh flowers 
  • Add Candlesticks and scatter small candles 
  • Set plate chargers for each guest
  • Set out plates, utensils, napkins, and glasses Inches above 
  • Add great food and Enjoy! 


Keyword Valentines, Picnic, Tablescape

Easy Baked Acorn Squash

Today, I’m going to ask you think “bright orange”.  (Aggies – stay with me!)

When it comes to food preparation, simple can be amazing.  Today’s recipe fits that mode, while being packed with nutrition.

Acorn squash is a beautiful, nutritious complex carbohydrate.  That bright orange meat is full of vitamins C, A, B, potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese.

They take about an hour to bake, but your “hands on” time is very minimal.

Another reason I like this squash so much is that you can purchase it, place it in a bowl on our counter, and you have quite a bit of time to decide when you would like to include it as part of your meal.

A note:  Fresh sage is awesome, but don’t be hindered if you didn’t snag some, since dried sage is quite tasty as well.

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Easy Baked Acorn Squash

Nutrition packed side dish
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or Tamara
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 2 tbsp Texas honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


  •  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper.  Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds, & lay flat on pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes until soft.
  • Scoop out meat & place in medium bowl.
  • Mix in sage, soy sauce, & honey.  Add salt & pepper to taste
  • Top with a pat of butter if desired.


You can adjust the soy sauce and sage according to your tastes.  Fresh sage is amazing in this recipe!
Keyword Acorn Squash, baked, side dish, nutritious side dish

Immune Boosting Cocktail

Who doesn’t love a drink that is tasty, makes you feel good, and can kick a cold to the curb!

Emily brings us this citrus immune booster cocktail full of orange, lemon, ginger, turmeric, and mint.  Easy to make in your blender, It also has the added benefit of pulp which you can throw in Asian dishes or a soup.

Beware – it has a kick!  You can control much of this with the amount of cayenne you apply to the rim of your glass.

In Emily’s words, “I hope this drink makes you feel good inside and out.  And that you can go into 2024 feeling healthy, and ready to conquer each and every day!  Cheers!”

Immunity Boosting Cocktail

Kick your cold to the curb!
Course Drinks
Cuisine American


  • 1 blender
  • 1 strainer


  • naval orange, rinsed and sliced with peel
  • 1 lemon, rinsed and sliced with peel
  • 1 large finger of ginger
  • 1 large finger of turmeric
  • 1 garlic clove
  • small bunch mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp texas local honey
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper


  • Throw washed and sliced orange and lemon into a blender with a little water. Blend thoroughly
  • Pour through a strainer placed over a bowl
  • Set pulp in strainer aside and freeze small portions for later use in asian dishes, soups, etc
  • Dip rim of glass in honey, roll in cayenne
  • Pour juice that has been separated from pulp over ice in the dipped glass. Enjoy and Heal up!



Place approximately 1 tablespoon of pulp between parchment paper and freeze for later use.
Keyword Immunity Boosting, healthy drink, citrus, ginger, turmeric,

Sui Mai

Chinese New Year

Sui Mai Recipe 

It’s January in Texas. By now, you’ve probably stored away your twinkle lights and New Years hats. Not so fast, a dragon is approaching February 10, 2024 to herald the Chinese New Year! Specifically, the first day of the Chinese lunisolar calendar is also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival.

If learning something new is one of your resolutions, we’ve got you covered. Soon, Chinese Texans across the state will be welcoming the Year of the Dragon with fireworks, red paper lanterns with accents of gold. And of course, food and dancing. To join in on the food, Texicureans is sharing a Dim Sum recipe from Austinite, Queenar Zhang. Make this traditional Cantonese dish at home and then plan to experience the beauty of Shen Yun in San Antonio and Austin.

Chinese Texans keep their traditions alive in a big way during the 15 day celebration full of gatherings and endless favorite foods, many with meaning.  Long noodles symbolize long life and dumplings shaped like the full moon represent family and perfection.

Mostly immigrating from western United States, Chinese Texans date back to the post-civil war era.  A ready job market to rebuild infrastructure – particularly the building of railroads provided the main attraction.

More recently, our Universities have attracted highly talented Chinese citizens such as Simon Zhang.  Continuing his studies at the University of Texas, he brought Queenar, his wife to join him in Austin..  I met Queenar at a Shen Yun production in Austin, and she graciously agreed to share her Cantonese customs and favorite dish – Dim Sum which is  a mixture of shrimp served in beautifully crafted wrappers and steamed.

Queenar shares her typical Cantonese custom surrounding this historical dish: “On weekends and holidays Cantonese people would  go to tea houses or traditional Cantonese restaurants that serve Dim Sum and tea. Tea houses are open everyday in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening.

It is a good way for people to get together enjoying delicious food and quality time with family and friends. Unlike going to restaurants where people would usually have a big meal because food is served on regular dishes, tea houses are more casual and flexible, providing more diversity in food. Sui Mai is always served on smaller dishes so people can try a lot of different dishes in one meal without being too full.  It is the most popular way of getting together and having some good food and good chat. Usually people would spend at least one hour in the tea house every time they go.

Tea is another highlight because in many tea houses Kungfu tea is served. Kungfu tea is tea freshly brewed on the table in delicate tea sets using premium tea leaves.   People can choose their favorite tea leaves, brew and serve the tea by themselves with the Kungfu tea set and enjoy the best of the tea when it is hot and fresh. Tea helps to reduce greasiness of the food and plays an important role in keeping the meal balanced and healthy. Personally I prefer having tea before and at least 15 minutes after the meal when I am having green tea or black tea. For flower tea anytime is good.”

Siu Mai

A Cantonese New Year's Snack
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4


  • 1 Steamer


  • 1.5 lb Whole head-on Shrimp, meat removed, chopped
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • black pepper to taste

Sui Mai Wrappers

  • 1/3 lb flour
  • 1 egg


  • Mix chopped shrimp and ground pork together
  • Literally "throw" the mixture onto a hard surface until appears like jelly

Sui Mai Wrapper

  • Mix flour and an egg into a smooth dough.
  • Press the dough to a very thin sheet (as thin as possible)
  • Spread flour on both sides, then cut it into small round pieces (about 4-5")

Create Sui Mai

  • Place about a tablespoon of shrimp mixture in middle of wrapper
  • Press together in the middle to give hour glass appearance
  • Steam in a steamer until done - about 7 - 8 minutes


Keyword Pork, shrimp, chinese