Let’s make a deal

I broke one of my rules last week. A big rule, too.  I ate at a chain restaurant! EEK!! I got sucked in by the flashy advertising and their specials. It was AWFUL. I won’t tell you the name of … Continue reading

Protein Power

Protein is SUCH an important part to our diets! It’s the main component of our body tissues which include muscles, organs, and our skin! It is also a source of energy, particularly when there aren’t any carbohydrates available. And, very … Continue reading

“To Taste” Cookbook – Perfect Gift for Any Season

If your family is anything like mine, your birthdays are all clumped uncomfortably close together. Stacked one after the other, I spend this time of year searching for the perfect present or something special to let my family know they’re loved. As we’ve all grown up and moved past the action figures and roller blades, our presents have become more meaningful and thoughtful – truly reflecting who that person is, rather than getting them the newest, shiniest toy on the shelf.

Some of the ladies in my family love to cook. It’s a fun, therapeutic event that brings all of us together over something wholesome and is always peppered with good conversation and lots of laughs. In order to keep those family dinners frequent and always fresh, Leah’s cookbook came to mind as the ideal present.

Leah’s cookbook “To Taste” is a wonderful compilation of recipes from The Olive Branch and Leah’s personal kitchen, sure to satisfy ever appetite. Paired with beautiful images taken by Genevieve Peel, this cookbook is every bit as beautiful as it is practical!

Delicious recipes like garlicky goat cheese veggies always have us coming back to for more. Available online at www.olivebranchwaco.com or in the restaurant, you can take this lovely cookbook home for $24.99. It’s also a versatile gift that makes an ideal addition to bridal showers, house warming events, a simple present for the student who loves to cook or even a special way to appreciate an employee or business colleague.

Do yourself a favor and pick one up while you can! I’ve heard rumors of Leah working on a new cookbook and it’d be a shame to miss what’s sure to be the first installation in a fabulous culinary collection!

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  I am not sure how we even got to February to be honest.  I feel like we were just celebrating Christmas.  I don’t know about y’all, but I secretly – ok, maybe not so secretly- think Valentine’s Day is overrated.  I feel like it’s kind of a “trumped up” holiday to bridge the gap between New Year’s celebrations and Easter.  However, it does present a nice opportunity to make a concerted effort to show someone you care.  (I guess we really could use more of those.)

In an effort to get into the spirit of things, The Olive Branch is going to have a special Valentine’s Day Dinner.  February 14th must be the night more people eat out than any other night of the year!  Lines and waits are so long at every restaurant.  Getting a reservation is almost impossible, especially the day of!  So we decided to create one more place for friends and couples to eat.  We are pre-selling dinner for two for only $80.00.  No wait!  We are serving Tomato Basil bruschetta, Blue Pear salad with maple vinaigrette, your choice of roast pork tenderloin or stuffed chicken breast in a lemon cream sauce with mixed veggies and garlic mashed potatoes and for dessert either a molten chocolate cake or bananas foster cheesecake. There is still time to call and make your reservations!  (254-757-0885)

If you don’t feel like braving the Valentine’s Day dinner crowd, you may opt to make a special meal at home.  When I am planning a special splurge, I always turn to beef tenderloin.  Generally, I prefer my steaks cooked on a grill.  In February, that can be difficult with unpredictable weather.  So, I am going to share my “extra special steak” recipe.  You make these delicious, tender steaks in a sauté pan right on top of your stove.  My favorite way to serve these is with a fluffy, twice-baked potato.  A salad with fresh strawberries, rich cheese and a sweet, homemade vinaigrette, a deep, dark chocolate dessert, and good friends are the best accompaniments.  My friends Jonathan Garza and Tim, Courtney and Isaac Dale, were my taste testers and sous chefs for preparing this meal.  Jonathan poured drinks and sliced bread, Courtney tossed together the salad and mashed the potatoes and Tim chased little Isaac around the house!  It was a fun meal to prepare and enjoy together.  I hope you love these no-fail steaks as much as we did.  I also hope that you find time to share Valentine’s Day with someone you love and to show them you care!  A home cooked meal is a good start…

Extra Special Steaks:

  • 4- 4-5 oz tenderloin steaks, about 1” thick, preferably bacon wrapped
  • 2t fresh minced garlic
  • 4T grainy Dijon mustard
  • Red wine (about 1/2 bottle) cabernet or port works the best
  • 16 oz sliced fresh mushrooms


  1. Heat a skillet, not non-stick and large enough for all of the steaks, until it causes a drop of water to “dance”
  2. Put all 4 steaks into the hot skillet.  Sear the steaks for 2-3 minutes on both sides.  Remove the steaks from the pan.  It is Ok if bits of steak are left behind on the pan.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat or away from the burner’s flame, and very carefully pour about 1 cup of the red wine into the hot skillet. (this will help loosen the small bits of meat that are stuck.)  Return the pan to the burner and turn the heat down to medium low.  Using a metal whisk, stir, scraping the bottom of the pan until the heat and wine reduce.  Add the garlic and the mustard and continue stirring until the wine has thickened and the ingredients are all incorporated.
  4. Pour in more red wine (until the liquid is about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the skillet) Add the mushrooms, stirring them gently to cover them with the liquid.
  5. Place the steaks on top of the mushrooms and let them cook, about 4-6 minutes.  Flip the steaks and let them cook for another 4-5 minutes, adding more wine if necessary to keep the liquid level at 1/3 up the side of the skillet.
  6. Remove the steaks to a plate and let rest.  Turn the heat up to med high on the skillet and let the liquid cook until it reduces by half.
  7. To serve: Spoon ¼ of the mushrooms onto each of the steaks and then pour the sauce over the top.  These are so delicious and tender and really yummy with mashed potatoes which sop up the rich, garlicky sauce so well.

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