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Steak au Poivre with Sauteed Asparagus

December 31st, 2019

 By Alisa Star

Classic steak au Poivre is a simple dish of seared peppercorn-crusted steaks with a creamy butter pan sauce. The secret is to start by encrusting  the steak on only one side. Pre-salting the steaks will allow the surface of the meat to dry out allowing the peppercorns to stick.

Pairing this easy elegant meal with a rich full bodied red is a given. Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet 2015. It has an exciting nose of maraschino cherries, blackberry bramble and brisket with notes of clove and star anise. This wine has a fruity mid-palate of current with toasted vanilla and roasted brown sugar from American oak barrels. (Bonanza Cabernet is a great substitute. It mirrors Caymus).

  • 4 (6-8 oz) boneless steak medallions, such as filet mignon
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Salt steaks first, let dry for 15 minutes. Meanwhile crack peppercorns into rough halves with a pepper grinder, or a mortar and pestle. Spread peppercorns evenly over only one side  top of each firmly so the peppercorn imbeds the medallion.In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add steaks, peppercorn side down, and cook until peppercorns are well toasted, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn steaks, trying not to break the crust. Add butter thyme and garlic and cook, coating the steaks with a spoon as they cook in the sauce, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, and check the internal temperature of the steaks. Medium rare will be 125F; if you want your steak medium you can continue to cook to 145F. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet, discard the thyme and garlic, add shallots and more crushed peppercorn, continue cooking over medium heat, until shallots are tender. Add brandy, cook until the smell of the alcohol goes away, add chicken stock and simmer, about 2 minutes. Whisk in heavy cream until sauce has reduced enough to glaze a spoon. Add mustard, and season with salt. Pour sauce over the tops of the steaks.  Coat asparagus with olive oil, lemon, salt and crushed garlic. Saute in pan for 8 minutes.

Family Promise: An Opportunity of Hope

October 1st, 2019

Ryan Kirksey, board chair, Jessica Lira, case manager and Gayle Nelson executive director of Family Promise

By Alisa Star

Family Promise was founded by Karen Olson in 1986 with the mission of helping homeless and low income families to achieve sustainable independence. It also allows communities to develop comprehensive, holistic solutions for families facing homelessness.

Many of the homeless are invisible and are professional. They have come upon hard times due to many legitimate reasons such as divorce, death, illness or medical reasons, just to name a few.

Families that are in crisis come to Family Promise for help, food , shelter, and support. They also provide counseling to families for prevention. Usually the time for most families that are placed in the program is three to six months. The ultimate goal is for the families to graduate the program, and to transition into their new life and home.

Statistics show that 60% of the homeless are women with children, and 40% are men with children. There were over 2,000 homeless children for the year 2018-2019 in the Clear Creek community. Not having a place to call home is probably the toughest for children, besides the feeling of uncertainty and shame of living in shelters. Homelessness also affects children’s learning and disrupts their entire life.

Family promise has a full library, as well as children’s books and videos, and it also offers a martial arts program for the children. This program teaches children to focus, and become more disciplined, which consequently helps the child to develop solid self-esteem.

There is a three step process for receiving help from Family Promise. Telephone screening and intake interview and paperwork “background check, and drug screening.” Families that are accepted into the program must have a job, and take the classes for the 5 step program, which consists of Shelter and Wheels, Life Skills, Ride to Success, Graduate Program and Prevention and Diverse Program. This allows families to successfully prepare to graduate from the program for success.

Out of 28 families in the program 12 of them have graduated the program since March 2017 and still remain independent.

There are five Family Promises located in the Houston vicinity, with one being in the Clear Creek area at 1101 Egret Bay Blvd. in League City. Clear Creek Family Promise opened its doors in March of 2017.

There are 19 churches and 13 host churches involved in the Family Promise network. The churches prepare home cooked meals every night and help host families. There are over 700 volunteers in the Clear Creek area program. Family Promise is 100% funded by the community. They rely solely on annual fundraising events.

Bay Area Houston Magazine Is proud to sponsor the Reach for the Stars Fundraising Gala on Oct. 5 from 6-9 p.m. at Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake. Tickets are $75.

The event will consist of live entertainment, cash bar, silent and live auction. Bay Area Houston Magazine President and CEO Rick Clapp will be the auctioneer for the evening.

For more information on Family promise or events, contact Gayle Nelson at 832-932-3963, or e-mail at

Bullying: The effects and the outcomes

October 1st, 2019

By Alisa Star

Bullying can affect everyone – those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicides. It is very important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying or something else is a cause of mood changes.

Bullying can happen at school, at home or online. It is often a deliberate misuse of power in a relationship through repeated verbal, physical or social and psychological harm, and makes the bullied feel superior to the person being mistreated. This is never okay, and is not a normal part of growing up.

One of the most severe outcomes of bullying today is suicide with children who are bullied. Some people often say that kids who are bullied need to toughen up. But that’s not true. It would happen no matter how thick skinned kids are. Some people think that bullying is “just a part of life.” Well that’s not true either, and they don’t take it seriously until someone they know has committed suicide over it.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,000 deaths per year. For every suicide among young people, there are about 100 suicide attempts. Over 17% of high school students have considered suicide due to bullying, and 8 percent have attempted it. Bully-related suicide can be connected to many types of bullying, physical, emotional, cyber, and texting. The link between bullying and suicides in schools are on the rise, and causing more awareness to teachers and parents to learn about the signs and dangers associated with bullying.

Bullying can create high levels of social anxiety and a sense of a loss of dignity, and so many children show these signs and go unnoticed, or think it’s just a phase. Feeling unsafe can also have a huge negative impact on learning and participation in school functions. Over 4 million students skip school to avoid bullying.

Students who witness bullying happen can also experience negative impacts. Students can feel stressed, not knowing what to do, or if they should tell someone, in fear of getting someone in trouble, or the loss of social status. They may be afraid of becoming bullied themselves if they say something.

Research shows that bystanders are key to stopping bullying, but these students are part of peer groups and there may well be issues for them if they speak up. Students weigh the factors for them if they intervene, including their relationship with those involved, the apparent seriousness and impact, whether they think someone else would intervene, and their opinion of the person being bullied

Why do people bully others? In some cases it may be to improve social status, having low self-esteem, feeling angry or frustrated, having lack of remorse or failing to recognize their behavior as a problem, or maybe being a victim of bullying themselves. Some people who bully are tough and strong. While other bullies are popular but thoughtless. Bullies are usually likely to have lifelong issues, such as depression, aggression, or maybe from abuse themselves from a family member, or friend. Children who bully enjoy getting their way, or may like conflict, and the feeling of aggression that makes them feel like the cream of the crop.

Le Pere Goriot once said “Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness.” While so many people would think this statement could hold a lot of trueness, it’s not acceptable. Throwing your weight around on people who are defenseless against your meanness is the worst form of cowardice imaginable. The desperate need to intimidate and control others in order to feel good about oneself is the most pathetic way to let out emotional and psychological steam. Everyone has some sort of problems in his or her life but resorting to bullying is the lowest form of handling the situation, in fact bullies tend to lose a lot of their friends. People don’t want to be associated with bullies, in fear they will be titled a bullier, too.

If you suspect a child or your child is being bullied, do what you can to get more information to take the first necessary steps to intervene. Bullying most often happens when adults are not around. Encourage open and honest relationships with your child, and don’t rush to judgement until you have had time to learn about the situation. Also you can educate your child on what bullying looks like. Teach them to recognize it when they see it, and to not be afraid to help or tell someone. This could save a life.

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are the majority. No one heals themselves by wounding another person. And you never make yourself look good by making others feel bad.

Teach your child to value themselves by showing them how much you love them. Tell them every day that they are strong and that they have power over their own lives. Teach them to talk to you, by talking to them. Above all…Let them know how much they are loved, and how important they are in this world we live in.

Here’s to Living the Best You.

Why Friendship Is A Lost Treasure

September 3rd, 2019

By Alisa Star

A true friend is the rarest thing to come by in today’s world. Love gets all the headlines, but friendship is where all the action is; after all, a friendship develop before love comes. Friends can challenge us, confuse us, and sometimes we might wonder why we bother. But friendship is as important to our well being like the air we breathe, the food we eat, or the shelter we live in. What’s more friendship helps us grow, learn, and make life long relationships. The people we bring into our lives as friends will help us learn how to forgive, laugh, listen, and love. Friends help push us out of our comfort zones, help motivate us while still providing a safe emotional space for us to be completely ourselves.

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. The great Muhammad Ali once said “Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning, then you really haven’t learned anything.”

A true friend will completely have your back, through the good and the bad. They will always stand up for you if you’re not there to defend yourself. They will always be there for you, no matter what time of day or night. They will listen to all your worries with an open mind, and give you good advice. Most of us only have a few good friends at a time. Friends are becoming extinct, really… You may only have 2-3 in your whole lifetime that will remain with you, and if you have that you are blessed. Cherish friendship close to your heart and treasure it like its gold.

Most of us wonder what the real meaning of the saying “A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed” The trust between best friends is such that if one friend is in trouble, the other will not think twice to help. If the bond between two friends is strong, two friends can endure even long distances, which so many relationships can’t even do that. It would not affect their relationship. True friendship does not fade away. In fact it grows stronger with time.

True friendship thrives on trust, inspiration, and comfort. A true friend you can tell your secrets to, and you know they’re kept a secret. A true friend inspires you to excel, and helps you go above and beyond your own expectations, admires your success and is not jealous of it.

What keeps the fabric of friendship solid and so colorful is a touch is spirituality. Friendship cannot become permanent unless it becomes a spiritual experience. It does not have to be defended or explained. It is only with the heart that we can understand what it means to be a friend or to have a friend.

It was God who said in the beginning, that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18); then at the fullness of time God sent his own son into the word, not only to be a friend, but to make and have friends (John 15:13).

Friendships are great investments. Friends can be influential concerning our jobs/ or career as they become a part of the network that we use to find our way through life. Friends can introduce us to new friends and expand our life experiences. It can enhance the quality in our lives, and help us produce better in a working environment. And a friend usually won’t let a mutual acquaintance steer you wrong, and will always try and lead you in the right direction. After all a true friend only wants the best for you.

Life is like a party, you invite a lot of people, some leave early and some leave late, some laugh with you, some laugh at you. But at the end, when all the fun is over, it’s usually your friends who stay or show up the next morning to help you clean up the mess. This is what a friend does. So support your friends, listen to their ideas, go to their events, share their posts, celebrate their victories, and remind them of their importance after their failures. A little support can go a long way in your friend’s life.

Friends are like your backbone they are always there when you need support, so be there for each other, remember friendship is a two way street. It takes two people to make a friendship.

I love and cherish my friends; there have been times I didn’t have the words that could make a bad thing go away, but I had the arms to embrace them and comfort them, and to cry with them. Sometime between friends there doesn’t need to be words, just be present. I thank God for the friends in my life. I don’t know what I would do without them, and I’m grateful that my children are also my best friends. I feel blessed to have such wonderful people in my circle to be a part of my life, and to go through my years developing such great, fun memories with.

There are some people in your life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little longer and just live a little bit better…….A Friend.

Here’s To Living The Best You!

Grand Opening Night At Cut Foil Benefits Longhorn Project

August 1st, 2019

By Alisa Star

Cut Foil wine and Piano Bar held several great and exciting events this past month. On Saturday July 6, a benefit for the Longhorn project was held and featured music by Jason Allcorn, who rocked the house with country music.

The Longhorn Project is committed to agricultural education. It is a one-of-a-kind, hands-on educational project. The Longhorn Project is a well known center of agriculture, science and engineering. It is located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on a 53 acre tract of land for grazing, complete with an 11 acre feeding lot and 7 acre garden area. The area consists of garden plots, a greenhouse, orchards, compost containers, aquaculture ponds and paver patio with a beautiful waterfall. The Western Heritage Pavilion was built and donated by the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo.

Under the direction of project manager, Henry Wilson, a select team of FFA students learn and care for the trophy steer herd, raising and exhibiting 25 longhorns at numerous shows across the state of Texas. The project is challenging and is a major responsibility for all the students involved. They are all proud to be a part of this unique opportunity.
Cut Foil hosted a silent and live auction to help raise money for the Longhorn Project. Chairperson Andrea Wilson kicked off the event. There was a lot of excitement and bidding wars.

Rick Clapp conducted the live auction and the passing of the cowboy hat to help raise funds for this worthwhile cause. Over $3,000 dollars was raised for the Longhorn Project. There was fun and exciting bidding on all the auction items. Some of the items included a BBQ dinner for eight, a photo of the longhorns, and a case of wine donated by Derek and Robin Holk. A tour of rocket park and lunch with retired Johnson Space Center Director George Abby was a hotly bidded item. A horse painting, a nice dinner gift card package and bottle of wine with glasses for two was donated by Bay Area Houston Magazine. Some of the auction winners included Tom Herman, Alisa Star and Rick Clapp to name a few. A special thanks goes to Derek and Robin Holk, and a great time was enjoyed by all.

Cut Foil is located at 20801 Gulf Fwy, Webster, TX 77598 next to the Fitness Connection. For information on live music and upcoming events, visit online at or like them on Facebook.