The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Kiss for a Free Queso – Today Only at Qdoba

Now here’s a Valentine’s Day restaurant promotion that I actually get a kick out of … 

Go into any Qdoba Mexican Grill today and kiss your mate – or a complete stranger, if they’re willing – and you’ll get a free entrée with a purchase of one of the restaurant’s Queso entrées.

The fourth-annual “Queso for a Kiss” campaign coincides with the rollout of the chain’s new Queso Diablo and Queso Verde creations launched just this week.

Queso Diablo features a blend of fiery jalapenos and smoky chipotles, while Queso Verde incorporates fresh cilantro and lime juice for a smooth and zesty flavor. The original 3-Cheese Queso is available, too, and any of these three options can be enjoyed in a burrito or variety of entrees.

Charleston’s two Qdoba locations are at Trace Fork and Charleston Town Center mall. For more information, check out

Now who’s ready to pucker up? I’m hungry!

Aphrodisiac Recipes: Love on a Plate, Guaranteed?

I’m not sure I buy into the concept of food aphrodisiacs.

Sure, a glass or two of nice wine may put you in a “bow chicka’ wow wow” state of mind, but can eating oysters or chili peppers really – and chemically – make you wanna, you know?

I find that hard to believe (especially with oysters being so foul) but that’s what they say.

If you want to spice up your Valentine’s Day with some easy-to-make Latin aphrodisiacs, check out these fairly simple recipes from Nuevo Cocino Latin Foods that’ll make your date think you were in the kitchen for days.

Start with a creamy Oyster Corn Chowder that wakes up your taste buds with a combination of sweet, salty and spicy. Then, you and your date can feed each other fondue (for dinner!) featuring Chocolate and Chipotle Mole Sauce with chicken or beef for dipping.


  • 1 pkg. corn soup mix
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups of low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ cups of diced white potatoes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 8-oz cans of oysters in water, with liquid
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onions, celery, carrots, corn and season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (to taste).  Sauté until all vegetables are tender.
  2. Add contents of the corn soup, plus the white potatoes, water and chicken broth.  Bring to a rolling boil and let boil for 1 minute. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are done.
  3. Stir in the cheese, the oysters and the parsley and simmer for 8 more minutes or until oysters are cooked. 



  • 1 pkg. chipotle taco seasoning
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 20 whole unsalted almonds
  • 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups of low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth
  • 3 ozs. of unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. of chicken (and/or beef) strips


  1. Toast the sesame and cumin seeds.  Add the olive oil, garlic, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cilantro, tomatoes (with skin) and onions.  Sauté for 10 minutes.  The skin of the tomatoes should blister some. Add the chicken broth and chipotle taco seasoning package and cook for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Blend the mixture, along with the corn, chocolate, pumpkin seeds and almonds to a smooth consistency.  The mixture is now a mole sauce.  Simmer the blended mixture for 1 hour, stirring often to keep mixture smooth.  Serve warm. 
  3. Cut the chicken (and/or beef) strips into medium cubes.  Rub them with salt and black pepper and braise them (fully cook them in a little water and oil).  Serve the mole as a dipping sauce with the chicken (and/or beef) on the side, along with short bamboo skewers.  Eat as a fondue.

Not-So-Sweet News: Not All Chocolate Good. GASP!

If you’re planning to buy chocolates for someone special on Valentine’s Day – and aren’t we all? – the folks at Consumer Reports suggest you purchase wisely.

Based on the results of recent testings, editors learned two important things:

  1. All chocolates are not created equally.
  2. Higher price does not always indicate better quality.

Big names like Hershey’s, Russell Stover and Whitman’s were deemed “merely so-so.” Even Lindt, perceived as a gourmet brand, only received a “good” rating.

The good news is they found 12 excellent (though pricey) chocolates they described as “ultra-smooth.” Among those recommended are, in order of taste, Norman Love Confections Signature Gift Box, Woodhouse Assortment, Christopher Elbow  and Candinas.

But the bad new is, most are only available online.

If you’re looking for something you may be able to find in local stores, Godiva’s Gold Ballotin earned praise for a good selection.

But your best bet – and my VERY STRONG RECOMMENDATION – is that you check out Holl’s at Capitol Market. Those wonderful, West Virginia-made Swiss-style chocolates are divine.

Check them out at

As for the Consumer Reports test, full ratings are available at

According to retail experts, Americans purchase about 58 million pounds of chocolate during the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, making Feb. 14th the second-largest chocolate holiday. So, how can you celebrate this day of hearts while still protecting your own heart and overall health?

Here are some light and luscious lessons to love from Carolyn O’ Neil, co-author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous! 

  • Bubbles for you and your babe: Did you know that Champagne is one of the lightest libations on the bar menu?  Toast your love with a glass of “Brut” Champagne or other dry (not sweet) sparkling wine such as Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco at only 78 calories for a 4-oz. glass.
  •  Choose chocolates with benefits: Ditch sugary heart-shaped candies in favor of Adora, a rich all-natural chocolate fortified with calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Adora is a win-win for taste and health, with each indulgent disk providing up to 50 percent of the daily value of calcium plus plenty of vitamin D3 and magnesium. Choose dark or milk chocolate varieties.
  • Keep the romance heavy and the menu light: Planning a romantic dinner? Eating too much may make you drowsy before the dancing begins. Whether it’s at a snazzy bistro or a cozy dinner at home, choose lean proteins such as sirloin steak, pork tenderloin, steamed shrimp or grilled fish. Go for the greens in side salads and steamed vegetables, plus avoid fat- and calorie-laden fried appetizers.
  • Red is the color of the day: So enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner. Studies have shown that drinking red wine in moderation, a glass or two a day, can lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Red wine and chocolate is a great flavor pairing, too, and both are good sources of disease fighting antioxidants.