The Weekend Gourmet F

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lone Mountain Wagyu Beef Giveaway...Featuring Giant Mozzarella-Stuffed Wagyu Meatballs #giveaway

We love our beef at my house...especially when it's really good-quality beef! I recently received a sampler of 100% fullblood Wagyu beef from Lone Mountain Wagyu to try in my kitchen. All it took was one bite, and we knew that their beef was something special! Lone Mountain Wagyu beef is all natural, pasture raised gourmet beef. Their Wagyu beef is highly marbled, so the end result is juicy and flavorful -- and extremely tender. Lone Mountain Wagyu is a family owned and operated ranch located in New Mexico that follows traditional Japanese methods to raise its beef. They're one of only a few U.S. ranches that raises authentic 100% fullblood Wagyu beef. Wagyu is a Japanese cattle breed that have the same genetics as Kobe beef -- making it highly marbled and supremely tender. Lone Mountain is proud to say that the quality of their Wagyu beef is Beyond Prime beef. 

I received a sampler pack that contained Wagyu skirt steak, ground beef, and sausage links. The first item we tried was the skirt steak, which we grilled for a family dinner. Everyone oohed and ahhed as we tasted the Wagyu. It had a rich beefy taste, and it was so tender and juicy. There were five us at the table that night, and we all raved about the Lone Mountain Wagyu! For the ground beef, I wanted to create a recipe worthy of the Wagyu's juicy goodness. I created my Giant Mozzarella-Stuffed Wagyu Meatballs. The meatballs are flavored with Italian seasonings and spices, wrapped around large cubes of fresh mozzarella, then baked in the oven. I served each single-serving meatball on a bed of creamy polenta topped with a San Marzano tomato sauce. These meatballs are indeed special -- beefy and full of flavor!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out: A Las Vegas Date Night...Featuring Elton John in Concert and Dinner at Border Grill

Photo provided by Caesars Palace
Last month, Michael and I -- along with a two-member social media team -- headed to Las Vegas for a few days of fun! During the coming weeks, I'll be sharing all of the great food, shows, and attractions we enjoyed during our visit. I'm kicking things off today with this month's The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out feature. I'm sharing a Las Vegas Date Night we enjoyed at Caesars Palace and the Forum Shops located adjacent to the large resort. Our evening started with Elton John's phenomenal Million Dollar Piano show at Caesar's Coliseum venue. We've been lucky enough to see Elton in concert several times over the years, including his Red Piano show in Vegas a few years back. If you're an Elton John fan, this show is a definite must! Because the venue seats 4,000 fans, it's a more-intimate experience than a typical arena concert. Elton's voice is still strong, and he shares lots of great stories and anecdotes between many of the songs. The show lasts nearly 2 hours and features many of Elton's biggest hits -- along with a very entertaining multimedia stage show. Elton even invites VIP ticket holders to come up on stage toward the end of the show. The Million Dollar Piano was a great way to kick off our date night!
After the show, it was a convenient 10-minute indoor walk through the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace to Border Grill, our dinner destination. The restaurant features Modern Mexican food from well-known Chefs Mary Sue Miliken and Susan Feniger -- also known as the Too Hot Tamales. We were quickly seated and served deliciously tart margaritas and some of their delicious and creamy Border Guacamole. Our meal was off to a great start! Over the next hour and a half, the staff hand-selected a selection of the restaurants signature menu items for the four of us to share. 
First out of the kitchen was a pair of crunchy fried delights: Beef Brisket Flautas and veg-friendly Crispy Potato Rajas. Both items were perfectly fried and not the least bit greasy! The flautas featured a tangy crunchy cabbage slaw, fresh smoked chile salsa, citrus crema, and salty crumbled cotija cheese. Texans love smoked brisket, so this mashup of BBQ and Tex-Mex was a huge hit with our group. The flavors and textures of this dish work so nicely together.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: A Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish: Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding

If your Thanksgiving menu planning is in full swing, I've got a fun and unique side dish recipe to share with you today! I originally featured this delicious Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding recipe last October, and fell in love with it. Lots of you did too -- I received lots of e-mails asking about it recently. The flavors are reminiscent of stuffing, so it would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. This savory bread pudding features spicy Italian sausage and gets a bit of tart sweetness from the addition of apples. If your Thanksgiving menu is already set, this bread pudding would also be a great brunch item over the long holiday weekend! It's easy to make and features lots of familiar Fall flavors. I bake mine in an apple-shaped Le Creuset baker, but a round casserole dish works perfectly fine too.

I substituted mild Italian turkey sausage for the apple-chicken smoked sausage Le Creuset's original recipe called for. I also used half and half in place of heavy cream and left out the green bell pepper. Then, I added a bit of poultry seasoning and cinnamon to the mix for a warming holiday background flavor. Finally, since apple goes so well with cheddar, I added a cup of coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. This bread pudding pairs great with roasted turkey or chicken.If you're looking for a something a bit different this year, I hope you'll give my savory bread pudding a try!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Guest Post...Gearing Up for Thanksgiving with Caroline's Cooking #Thanksgiving

While Michael and I are in Boston for my Cindy's Kitchen recipe video shoot...and a few other adventures...I'm leaving you in very capable hands! My #SundaySupper friend Caroline from the blog Caroline's Cooking is sharing a trio of her favorite Thanksgiving dishes with you today. She's sharing recipes for a citrus-infused cranberry sauce, a sweet and savory stuffing, and a classic pumpkin pie. Now...say hello to Caroline!
Being brought up in the UK, Thanksgiving wasn’t anything I ever experienced as a child. In fact, I didn’t have my first Thanksgiving meal until I was in my mid 20s -- when I was living in New York and a few of us out-of-towners (mainly from the UK, since we worked for a British company) went for a delicious meal to do our bit to join in the fun. We tried our best to throw ourselves into the spirit of things by eating too much and making our way home to rest as it was getting dark. But to be honest, the whole thing wasn’t that unfamiliar as the traditional Thanksgiving meal is very much like what we would have at Christmas in the UK. Being married to an American and now living in the US, these days we celebrate both holidays -- and I am looking forward to having my parents over for Thanksgiving this year for the first time. It will be a great excuse to enjoy some favorite recipes, some they will be familiar with and others a bit newer.
I’m sure most families have their own variation on cranberry sauce/relish/dressing (there are almost as many names for it) -- unless you buy it. I make a version based a bit on what my mum has always made. It is very low in sugar, using orange juice instead to sweeten. It’s incredibly easy and delicious, and you’ll never go back to re-made if you give it a go.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Stay Warm with Red Beans & Rice-Sausage Soup #soup #heartymeals #spicy

The weather is finally nice and cool here in Texas -- it's hard to believe that Thanksgiving and the busy holiday season are nearly here! If you're like me and your weeknights are short on time, you prefer quick, filling dinners. My Red Beans & Rice-Sausage soup is built around a package of spicy red beans and rice mix, and it's ready in under an hour. With the addition of two kinds of sausage, it cooks up thick and rich, with a smoky-spicy flavor that will knock your socks off!  I was thrilled to find a recipe for Andouille Red Bean Soup at the Zatarains website. I tweaked their recipe to suit our tastes and whipped up a pot of this hearty, delicious soup. I used a combination of smoked sausage and browned bulk pork sausage, subbed low-sodium chicken stock for water, and added a can of petite diced tomatoes instead of corn since that's what I had on hand. This recipe made enough for four large bowls of soup -- along with a container leftover to freeze for us to enjoy for dinner on a particular busy evening. That makes this soup a sure-fire winner!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Holiday Gift Giving with Don Victor Honey...Featuring Spiced Honey-Maple Pecan Topping #HoneyForHolidays #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HoneyForHolidays #CollectiveBias
The holiday season is nearly here...and it's my favorite time of the year! There's something about the season that evokes memories of family and special times together. My husband's grandmother made the best holiday hojarascas. If you've never had them, they're buttery anise-flavored cookies that are coated with cinnamon and sugar. Grandma Valverde's hojarascas were the best -- and I'm so blessed that she shared her recipe with me years ago. She's no longer here with us, but we can honor and remember her by baking and enjoying her special cookies during the holidays! Even a half batch of her recipe makes more cookies than we can eat, so they also make excellent holiday gifts. I love giving and receiving homemade holiday gifts. Knowing that someone took time to make me a gift is so special! Today, I'm going to share a simple and delicious homemade holiday gift idea with you.

My Spiced Honey-Maple Pecan Topping is a snap to make, and it tastes amazing! To give as holiday gifts, simply put in a air-tight jar and decorate with a festive holiday tag. The centerpiece of my pecan topping is flavorful Don Victor Honey. Because Don Victor Honey is raw filtered honey that's never heated or processed, it has a deeply rich flavor that really stands out in my recipe. I purchased a 16-ounce jar of Don Victor honey -- with the honeycomb included -- in the Hispanic Foods aisle of my local Walmart.
While my recipe doesn't use the honeycomb -- you can bet that I'm enjoying eating it! I love to spread honey and a bit of the soft honeycomb on a toasted and buttered English muffin or biscuit. If you've never tried honeycomb, you're in for a special treat! Speaking of treat...let me show you how simple it is to whip up a couple of jars of my Spiced Honey-Maple Pecan Topping. They make perfect holiday gifts for teachers, neighbors, and co-workers!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Unwinding with prAna and Stonyfield Oh My Yog! Yogurt #JustBeYou! #giveaway

Can we be real today? My life is hectic on a good day…and it’s about to get even busier as the holiday season kicks into high gear this month! Between a busy day job, a bustling food blog, and a husband and two cats who need my attention? It can sometimes feel like there’s simply not enough hours in the day to get it all done. That’s when it’s time for me to unplug and re-center, even if it’s just for 30 blissful minutes. For me, that means putting on comfy clothes, listening to some soothing music, and enjoying an energizing snack like Stonyfield Oh My Yog! yogurt. For me, a short respite to do something just for me means I feel less stressed and can tend to the other priorities in my life much easier!

As part of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I recently had the opportunity to try an item of clothing from prAna. Their clothes are comfy and cozy, and the cotton is so soft! If you’re an active person, prAna definitely has something that you will love  to wear – including yoga tops and bottoms and other workout gear, casual tops and sweaters, and pants for both women and men. I recently received a cute black Candi top from prAna's organic cotton line. This comfy top features gorgeous burnout jersey knit on the arms and back, a slightly longer back hem, and a comfy relaxed fit. The other day, I slipped into this comfy top and a pair of black knit stretchy pants, put on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, and treated myself to some Oh My Yog! yogurt.

Then, I enjoyed 30 minutes of time just for me between items on my to-do list. The yogurt is creamy and decadent, with three distinct layers: the top is rich cream, then you hit lightly sweet  yogurt, and then the bottom layer is sweetly tart strawberries. I love to sprinkle a bit of granola on top of the container for some added crunch...and fun! A bit more about my gorgeous prAna shirt: I just love that it's casual enough to run errands on a busy weekend -- but it's still dressy enough to pair with dressy jeans, heels, and jewelry for an evening out. The cotton is SO soft...and because it doesn't wrinkle, it's also ideal for packing for a trip. As the picture below shows, Brandi comes in a range of fun colors. That's what you call a win-win, my friends!
Speaking of win-win...prAna is offering readers of The Weekend Gourmet an exclusive savings code just in time for the holiday shopping season. Simply visit the prAna website between now and December 15th. Look around, do a bit of shopping, and then enter the following code at checkout to save 15% off your order: JBYF15WWG. Please note that this code is not valid for prAna Influencers, for the purchase of gift certificates, or with any other discount offers.

As long as we're talking win-win, how would you like to try an item from the prAna line yourself? You’re in luck -- prAna has offered to give one of you any item from their extensive collection (up to $99)! To make it super simple to enter this giveaway, simply leave a Comment below telling me how you would #JustBeYou by wearing prAna’s comfy line of cotton clothing + include your e-mail address! I'll accept entries until 11:59 p.m. on November 15th. A winner will be selected via random number generator and notified via e-mail on November 16th. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a shirt from prAna and coupons for free Stonyfield Oh My Yog! yogurt to facilitate this post. However, all opinions stated are solely mine.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Preview: The Weekend Gourmet Is Heading to...Boston!

When I started The Weekend Gourmet back in 2010, I never imagined how much it would evolve and grow over time…or all of the fun and amazing opportunities that it would bring our way! I’m very excited to share with you that Michael and I are heading to Boston next weekend, where I'll be shooting a series of online recipe videos for Cindy's Kitchen! Cindy's Kitchen offers a broad range of fresh and flavorful refrigerated salad dressings and cooking sauces. All it took was one taste, and I was immediately hooked! That's why I was so thrilled when they asked me to create a trio of original recipes using their dressings and sauces – and then come to their Boston-area test kitchen to create a recipe video series that will be featured on their website!

The recipes that I'll be making for the shoot include Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Lemon-Feta Slaw (featuring their Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette), Acapulco Chicken Cobb Salad (featuring their Mexican Pepita Caesar Dressing), and The Ultimate Maple Bourbon Cheeseburger (featuring their Maple Bourbon Ultimate Cooking Sauce). Cindy’s Kitchen products feature the big flavors that I love – making them a perfect fit for the type of recipes that I love to create! I truly cannot wait to share these recipes -- and I’ll be sure let you know when the videos are live at the Cindy’s Kitchen website for you to go see.

Photo provided by the Boston CVB
After the video shoot is over, Michael and I have decided to extend our trip a few extra days so we can explore Boston a bit. We’ve never been to Boston, so we’re very excited! We're looking forward to enjoying the city's water views, eating lots of its amazing regional food (hello clam chowdah and lobster rolls!), and seeing some of its historical sites. We're also looking forward to experiencing some real cool Fall weather -- not the Texas version of Fall -- and seeing the colorful leaves.  
Photo provided by B&G Oyster
Photo provided by Omni Parker House Hotel
I’ll be sharing our entire Boston experience in real time -- including some behind-the-scenes views of the video shoot -- via Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourm). sure to follow The Weekend Gourmet to see all of the fun as it happens!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Celebrating National Sandwich Day with Strawberry BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Today is National Sandwich Day...a day that is dedicated to celebrating one of my favorite quick meals! If you've got a loaf of bread and something to fill it with, you can whip up a sandwich in a matter of minutes. Sandwiches are also very versatile -- grilled cheese, PB&J, and chicken salad are just a few of my favorite sandwiches. Sometimes you want to shake up your usual sandwich routine, though. Enter today's flavorful, unique Strawberry BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches -- definitely not your average sandwich!

In 5+ years of blogging, this is one of my favorite sandwich recipes! I originally shared my take on this sandwich I found in a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook for #SundaySupper -- but it's fabulous any night of the week! It's also perfect for your National Sandwich Day celebration. I make the flavorful filling in a Dutch oven, but it certainly can be made in a slow cooker as well. Strawberries may seem out of place in a BBQ sauce, but I promise that one bite will make you a convert!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for October #WendyFaveThings

The month almost got away from me this time, but I'm here just under the wire with this month's edition of Wendy's Favorite Things. This month I'm sharing some sweet treats, healthy snack ideas...and a few other fun surprises. So...let's get started!

(1) Cosmos Creations Premium Puffed Corn. If you're searching for a crunchy snack you can feel better about eating, then you HAVE to give Cosmos Creations a try. I recently discovered these crunchy corn puffs, and I absolutely love them!! Not only do Cosmos Creations taste great, they're al trans fat-free. Since they're made with non-GMO corn, they're also naturally gluten free. Cosmos Creations comes in a variety of sweet and savory flavors, including Spicy Sriracha, Salted Caramel, Cheddar and Pepper, and my personal favorite: Sea Salt and Butter. I can't get enough of its buttery, salty flavor! Unlike traditional popcorn, Cosmos Creations has no hulls and no kernels to contend with. Because it's all natural and has just 160 calories per 2.5-cup serving, I love to enjoy it for at-home movie nights. To find Cosmos Creations near you, check out their Store Locator. My Texas readers can find Cosmos Creations at Central Market.

(2) Full Spirited Flavours Cakes. I recently tried Full Spirited Flavours' liquer-infused mini cakes, and I was immediately impressed with how moist and flavorful their cakes are! Full Spirited Flavors is a Pennsylvania company owned by a trio of sisters, and they're products are simply fantastic. Their four signature flavors are Limoncello, Amaretto, Chocolate Raspberry, and Mango Coconut Rum. The cakes come in a variety of sizes, but the Bloomin Blossoms sampler is a great way to try all four signature flavors. Each mini cake is individually wrapped, and they are easy to eat. These boozy little cakes are VERY moist, so make sure to have a fork handy! Full Spirited Flavours cakes can be purchased via their convenient online store.

(3) Sargento Balanced Breaks. I'm always looking for filling snacks that I can enjoy at my desk when the mid-morning or afternoon hungries hit. Sargento Balanced Breaks have been one of my go-to snacks lately. They come with three individually portioned snacks packs per package. Balanced Breaks include flavorful Sargento cheese, along with nuts and dried fruits. Each snack pack has less than 20o calorie and provides 7 grams of filling protein. Sargento Balanced Breaks come in four different varieties, but my personal favorite combination is Natural White Cheddar with Almonds and Cranberries. The combination of sharp cheddar, sea salted almonds, and sweet-tart dried cranberries is perfect. To find Sargento Balanced Breaks near you, simply visit Sargento's Store Locator.

(4) L.A. Burdick White Drinking Chocolate. New Hampshire-based L.A. Burdick Chocolates offers a wide range of decadent chocolate treats, but I was recently introduced to their decadent White Drinking Chocolate. The resulting beverage is like cocoa on steroids -- it's rich and creamy, with warming vanilla undertones. It takes just a few minutes to make L.A. Burdick's White Drinking Chocolate, you simply add a bit of the shaved white chocolate mixture to your favorite mug. Then, use the provided whisk to combine with 1 cup of warm milk. I love to top with a bit of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon for an indulgent treat. L.A. Burdick's drinking chocolate also comes in milk and dark chocolate varieties to please every chocoholic. I'm thinking this drinking chocolate would be a perfect holiday gift for the chocolate lovers in your life! L.A. Burdick Drinking Chocolate can be purchased via their website.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for October: Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen #WGDO

This month's featured restaurant for The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. This casual wine bar/bistro offers a wide range of delicious salads, pasta, and wood-fired pizza and meats. The first Napa Flats was opened in College Station, but they now have locations in San Antonio and Tulsa, Oklahoma -- with an Austin location opening soon! Michael and I recently visited the San Antonio location to try some of Napa Flats' signature menu items, and we were very impressed with the casual vibe and the delicious food. We arrived and were warmly greeted and given menus to look over. There were so many menu items that caught our attention that it was hard to decide what we wanted to try! We opted to start with a duo of cocktails and two shared appetizers. I had the Napa Flats White Sangria, while Michael enjoyed their Strawberry Sunrise. The refreshing sangria was flavored with sweet moscato, mango rum, peach Schnapps, and orange juice -- it was fruity, with the perfect amount of sweetness. The Strawberry Sunrise featured strawberries, Effen Black Cherry Vodka, lemonade, and a splash of Sprite for a bit of fizz. If you're a strawberry lover, this one's a must!
To go with our cocktails, we shared the Palo Alto Dip and the unique Wood-Fired Avocado. The addictive dip is served warm with toasted flatbread, and it's flavored with cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, parmesan, and herbs. The avocado appetizer featured grilled avocados filled with chimichuri sauce and served on a bed of corn salsa. I adore avocados, so this creative appetizer knocked my socks off! Just about that time, a wood-fired pizza and a duo of their creative salads arrived at our table.
The Carnivore pizza is perfect for meat lovers and comes topped with steak, meatballs, pepperoni, and proscuitto. It was cooked to perfection in Napa Flats' wood-burning oven, and the toppings were so tasty. Our duo of healthy salads included the Chopped Kale and the Arugula Beet Salad. Both were crisp and freshly made, topped with a variety of cheeses and fruits. The menu also said that any of the salads on the Napa Flats' menu can be made into an entree salad by adding wood-fired chicken breast or shrimp. We opted to try two different entrees from the menu: one wood-fire grilled fish and one decadent pasta dish.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Warming Trends for #SundaySupper...Featuring Spicy Meatball Tortilla Soup

The timing could be more perfect for this week's Warming Trends #SundaySupper, which features food and drinks to keep you warm when the weather outside is cool! Our host this week is my friend T.R. from Gluten Free Crumbley. I'm happy to report that Fall is finally in the air here in Texas! We're expecting north winds and afternoon highs in the low 70s this week, along with cool evenings. When the first true cool snap of the Fall arrives, my mind turns to one thing: making a big pot of soup! During the cooler months, I make a pot of soup for dinner at least once per week. I love how soup warms you from the inside -- and leftovers taste even better the next day. For this week's #SundaySupper, I'm sharing a hearty soup that will satisfy even the biggest appetites: Spicy Meatball Tortilla Soup. 

I normally put shredded roasted chicken in my tortilla soup, but I was inspired to try savory mini meatballs based on a recipe I saw at the Cooking Light website. My version features bite-sized pork meatballs and healthy veggies in a spicy tomato-based broth. Just before serving, each bowl is topped with crispy tortilla strips, diced avocado, sour cream, and a bit of colby-jack cheese. Feel free to adjust the spice level depending on how much heat your palate can handle. For reference, my version features a moderate level of spice

Friday, October 23, 2015

Don't Miss the 2015 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest November 1st! #TMBBQFest #TexasBBQ #smoky

It’s no secret that Texans passionately love our state's smoky BBQ! Michael and I have been known to hop in our car for a weekend day trip just to try a new-to-us BBQ joint, and we definitely have our favorite places to enjoy tender brisket, juicy smoked sausage, and pork ribs. Texas Monthly magazine even has a dedicated BBQ Editor – something you don’t find in every state, that’s for sure! In a state as big as Texas, it’s a daunting task to try all of the best BBQ joints. Lucky for us BBQ-loving Texans, Texas Monthly periodically names its 50 Best BBQ the World!…which are naturally all located in Texas. The magazine also holds its annual TMBBQ Fest in Austin. This popular festival features the state's very best BBQ joints and their pitmasters in one convenient location. BBQ lovers lucky enough to score a ticket get to sample the very best Texas BBQ in a single afternoon -- making the TMBBQ Fest a true Texas BBQ Nirvana. We attended the 2013 TMBBQ Fest and had a blast!
Photo provided by Texas Monthly
The 2015 TMBBQ Fest is being held on Sunday November 2nd from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Austin's City Terrace at the Long Center. More than 20 of the very best BBQ joints in Texas will be on hand to offer hungry BBQ lovers samples of their delicious smoked meats! Where else but the TMBBQ Fest can you try Austin’s Franklin BBQ (rated #1 in the state by Texas Monthly), Pearland’s Killen’s BBQ, and San Antonio’s The Granary 'Cue & Brew all in the same afternoon?!?!? Last time, we just  managed to snag some juicy smoked brisket and beef ribs from Aaron Franklin just before his stash was all gone.
The TMBBQ sells out fast, so don't wait to buy your tickets at the gate -- they can instead be conveniently purchased online. General Admission tickets are $80 per person, and tickets for children 5 and under are just $10. There will also be live music performances to enjoy as you sample the BBQ. I'm happy to announce that The Weekend Gourmet will be attending this year’s TMBBQ Fest -- so be sure to follow us on Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourmet) for tons of live pictures as we visit every booth and enjoy a cool Fall afternoon on the banks of Austin’s picturesque Lady Bird Lake!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mode Foodie Contributor Program for October: Las Vegas Best Bites

Check out Las Vegas Best Bites
by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode
Michael and I just returned from a fabulous five-night trip to Las Vegas. While we were there, we saw some great shows, drove out to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, enjoyed relaxing spa treatments...and ate some amazing food! For this month's Mode Foodie Contributor Program, I'm sharing Las Vegas Best Bites from our trip. We sampled everything from burgers and pastries to an opulent buffet brunch and dinner at a 5-star restaurant inside Bellagio. It was all fantastic, so I'm sharing a slide show of our favorite restaurants and dishes from our trip. I'll be sharing lots more details on our trip very soon, but I hope this slideshow whets your appetite for more in the meantime! If you're headed to Vegas this Fall, I hope you'll try out some of my restaurant recommendations for yourself.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween Fun with Mondelez/ConAgra...Featuring Creepy Crawly Dirt Go-Cups #SnackAndGo #CollectiveBias #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnackAndGo #CollectiveBias
Have you heard of walking tacos? They're a cool new food concept where traditional taco ingredients are served in a handy, portable form so they can be enjoyed on the go. Just in time for Halloween, this fun trend can also be used to make seasonal sweet treats using NABISCO Go-Paks! The cups are plastic, so they won't leak. They're also filled about halfway with product -- making it super easy to add fun and tasty ingredients to the container! Economical Go-Paks! are perfect to purchase in large quantities for Halloween parties -- they're available at Walmart for only $1!

In fact, all of the products needed to make my Creepy Crawly Dirt Go-Cups are easily located at your local Walmart. The Go-Paks! in my location were placed on shelves of snacks at the checkout registers, the Snack Pack Pudding is part of a large shelf display, and the Reddi-wip is in the refrigerated section -- near the milk.
Versatile Go-Paks! and Snack Pack Puddings come in a wide variety of flavors, allowing creative cooks to add tasty extras to create a multitude of fun flavor combinations. You're only limited by where your taste buds and your imagination can take you! For my Creepy Crawly Dirt Cups, I combined OREO Mini Go-Paks!, Chocolate Fudge Snack Pack Pudding, colorful blood-red strawberry jam, Reddi-wip, sour gummy worms, and fun Halloween sprinkles. The OREOS are chopped and layered with the fudgy pudding and blood-red strawberry jam. The cups are topped with crushed OREO "dirt." For decoration, I used creepy crawly sour gummy worms, a generous dollop of Reddi-wip, and a sprinkling of colorful Halloween jimmies. These handy sweet go-cups are all treat...and no trick! Wait until you see how easy and fun it is to whip up these fun treats!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Glade® Limited Edition Fall Collection...Featuring Pumpkin Spice Bundt with Maple-Pecan Glaze #GladeForFall #CollectiveBias

Disclosure: This compensated post is part of the #CollectiveBias #GladeForFall promotion. All opinions stated are solely mine.

It’s no secret that the last three months of the year are my most favorite season. The long, hot Summer is finally on the way out in Texas -- and cool(er) temperatures are here! Sundays are all about football, and my thoughts turn to Fall flavors in my cooking. I love to set the Fall mood by enjoying Glade® seasonal scents in my home too! The Glade® Limited Edition Fall Collection is featuring two amazing scents that immediately evoke visions of Fall in my mind: Pumpkin Pit Stop™ and Hit the Road™. Both scents immediately transport me on a journey in my mind to experience the perfect Fall day – even if afternoons in Texas are still a bit warm! I found these Glade® Limited Edition Fall Collection items -- including wax melts, candles, and room spray -- on a special display at my local Kroger. Because it was in the middle of a wide aisle, it was easy to find!
I love to use scents to inspire me to create fun seasonal recipes in my kitchen. From the moment I smelled Pumpkin Pit Stop™ wax melts warming in my living room, I decided that I wanted to create a decadent pumpkin dessert -- but I wanted it to be easy and stress free! Pumpkin Pit Stop™ features notes of orchard blossoms and meadow grass that give way to the mouthwatering scent of sweet cream frosting and whipped vanilla. This scent inspired me to go in the kitchen to create my Pumpkin Spice Bundt with Maple-Pecan Glaze. This cake is a snap to make, because it starts with a convenient box cake mix. If you love pecan and maple, the glaze that tops this cake is perfect for you. Put it all together, and this bundt is the perfect cake for Fall.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

#CelebrateLosMuertos with NESTLÉ®...Giant Frosted Butterfinger Chocolate Chip Cookie #CollectiveBias #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone #CelebrateLosMuertos #CollectiveBias
For most Americans, October is all about spooky Halloween traditions...but are you familiar with the Mexican tradition of Dia de Los Muertos (aka Day of the Dead)? Living here in San Antonio gives us a fantastic opportunity to learn about the rich cultural traditions of the city's large Hispanic community. Dia de Los Muertos is observed on November 1st and 2nd. Celebrations focus on spending time with friends and family remembering their loved ones who have died. Participants may visit the cemetery to be with the souls of the departed and make private altars -- which can be decorated with marigolds. These altars contain the person's favorite foods, as well as photographs and memorabilia. The idea is to encourage visits by the departed's soul, so they will hear the prayers and of the living directed to them. Although this sounds like a somber event, celebrations are lively and often humorous, as celebrants remember funny stories about departed loved ones.

Every celebration needs tasty treats, so I created a Giant Frosted Butterfinger Chocolate Chip Cookie. I love chocolate and peanut butter together, and this easy recipe is perfect for a Dia de Los Muertos observance. It features convenient ready-to-bake NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Refrigerated Cookie Dough, crushed NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER®, and orange tinted icing. Just before serving, it's topped with colorful sprinkles. This cookie is also very easy to make -- perfect for having even young kids help out with the preparation and decorating! I found the ingredients for my cookie at my local H-E-B grocery store. The cookie dough was found in the refrigerated case, and the candy was on the end of the seasonal candy aisle.
My local San Antonio H-E-B also had a large display with lots of great decorations for your Dia de Los Muertos observance. That's where I bought the table cover and cups featured in my photographs. Ready to get baking?!?!?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Guest Post: Spicy Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate from Brunch with Joy

H, there! Michael and I are having a few days of fun in Las Vegas! Follow us on Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourm) to see all of our fun in real time! We'll be eating lots of great food and seeing some great don't miss the fun! While I'm gone, my talented friend Linda from Brunch with Joy is sharing a fabulous chicken recipe today. My mouth is watering -- and I can't wait to try this recipe out soon!
Hello friends! My name is Linda, and I blog over Brunch with Joy, a blog about modern classics homemade adventures. Thanks to Wendy, because I get a chance to meet Wendy's lovely readers today. I hope you like spicy food, because I have this spicy roasted chicken to share. First things first...spicy food + pomegranate doesn't even make sense, you say. But it most definitely does. I've been thinking about this post since early of this week. I drafted this post with very non-descript name, thinking I would change it when I was about to publish it, but my brain is...taking a break.

So here are my thoughts. It's been a long day at work and you're hungry (with a capital H), and the dark night absorbs your energy ten times than any other nights. You are not inspired to cook, not even after browsing your Pinterest board -- and driving to the grocery store is a distant dream at this point. Like many of you, I always crave for homemade comfort food on days like that...something that is lickity-your-lips-good. Well, I found a solution for you: spicy roasted chicken that will make your mouth dance.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gameday Food Astros Playoff Edition: Cheesy Baked King Ranch Chicken Dip

Have I got a fabulous gameday appetizer for you today! I normally share a monthly gameday bite during Texans football season, but this month’s recipe was created especially for our Astros MLB Wild Card Playoff menu. The Astros have been pretty terrible the past few years, but it’s the dawn of a new era – they’re back in the playoffs!! To celebrate, I created a hearty dip for us to enjoy during the game. My Cheesy Baked King Ranch Chicken Dip has all of the amazing flavors of King Ranch Casserole – a Southern specialty that is one of our favorite comfort dishes. This hearty dip is creamy, a little spicy, and it has a double dose of cheese. It’s a hearty and filling dip, but I also added a bowl of homemade guacamole and store-bought chicken taquitos to round out our menu. This dip can easily be made up to a day ahead and then refrigerated until you’re ready to heat. This dip is great whether you’re watching baseball, football, or basketball. It basically goes perfectly with cheering on your favorite team!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sneak Preview: La Madeleine's Seasonal Fall Menu Items

Fall is in the air...and La Madeleine Country French Cafe has introduced its new Fall menu items. This seasonal menu features two delicious new pasta dishes and two delectable pastry items. I had a chance to try these new menu items over the weekend, and they're really fantastic! The first item we sampled was Creamy Pasta Lyonnaise. It features bacon, mushrooms and bowtie pasta in a creamy demi-glace sauce. The flavor is rich, flavorful and earthy. The pasta can be enjoyed as is for a vegetarian meal -- or you can add grilled chicken or shrimp. I had it with chicken and found it hearty and filling.
The other new pasta dish on the Fall menu is Spicy Basque Country Pasta. This robust entree features chorizo sausage, roasted garlic, red bell pepper, and bowtie pasta. It's tossed in tomato Gruyere cream sauce. If you like your pasta spicy and full of flavor, this is the entree for you! It's also available as is or can be topped with grilled chicken or shrimp. Both pasta dishes are served with a freshly baked mini sea salt baguette. These addictive baguettes are crusty and golden brown on the outside and pillowy soft inside -- with a nice salty bite. Before we left, we had to sample both of the Fall seasonal bakery items.
 Apple Cream Danish features croissant pastry filled with chunks of baked apple and pastry cream. After its baked, it's drizzled with a caramel glaze. It was so good, and not overly sweet. This pastry is perfect with a cup of coffee flavored with cream and sugar. Also perfect is La Madeleine's popular Traditional Carrot's back just in time for Fall! It features two layers of moist and spicy carrot cake and rich cream cheese icing. If you're looking for a decadent Fall dessert, this carrot cake definitely fits the bill!

If you want to try these delicious seasonal menu items, you'll need to act fast! This duo of pasta dishes and bakery items will be available until October 28th at all La Madeleine locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. I hope that you'll give them a try and enjoy them as much as we did! Whether you stop in to enjoy an Apple Cream Danish and cup of coffee in front of La Madeleine's working fireplace, a pasta lunch with your co-wokers -- or even a takeout piece of Traditional Carrot Cake to enjoy at home -- you'll sure to love all of these yummy Fall-inspired items. 

Disclosure: La Madeleine provided me with a gift card to sample these Fall seasonal menu items. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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