The Weekend Gourmet F

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Gallo Family Vineyards Labor Day Entertaining #SundaySupper…Featuring Grilled Shrimp Burgers with Quick Remoulade Sauce

It seems like Summer just got started, and now Labor Day is just around the corner. Now if some cool weather could make its way to Texas! Most of us bid the lazy days of Summer farewell with a celebration with family or friends -- and lots of great food and drinks. Whether you’re planning a BBQ or packing up your picnic basket and heading to a local park, food is likely in the mix for the upcoming three-day weekend. #SundaySupper is partnering with Gallo Family Vineyards today to share some fabulous recipes for your Labor Day celebrations! We’re featuring recipes that pair well with Gallo Family Vineyards’ Sweet White Blend and Café Zinfandel varieties. During the Summer, I absolutely love the sweet, refreshing flavor of chilled Sweet White Blend…and I’m pairing it with my fun Grilled Shrimp Burgers with Quick Remoulade Sauce.

I love a good beef burger as much as the next gal, but these shrimp patties are a perfect match for the Sweet White Blend’s sweet and fruity flavor profile! These unorthodox burgers feature sweet shrimp, and they’re topped with creamy avocado and a quick spicy remoulade sauce. If you’re a shrimp lover like me, you’re going to go nuts for these insanely delish sandwiches! Here’s my best hint to ensure your shrimp burgers cook up perfect: be sure to liberally oil both your grill and the exterior of the chilled shrimp patties, and you shouldn’t have any issues with them sticking to your grill. I guarantee that if you make a batch of these non-traditional burgers for your Labor Day feast, your seafood-loving guests will go crazy for them!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for August #WendyFaveThings

It's time for another fun edition of Wendy's Favorite Things, the monthly column where I share my Great Eight: the best eight food, beverage, or kitchen items that I've tried over the past month. Just wait until you see this month's fun lineup of snacks, beverages, and other fun surprises! Let's get started...

(1) Lenny & Larry's Complete Cookie®. I recently tried the entire line of Lenny & Larry's all-natural Complete Cookies®. These cookies are vegan, but you don't have to be vegan to enjoy them! Each cookie is HUGE, but they contain no preservatives, trans fats, dairy, or animal products. What they do have is 16 grams of protein and 6 grams of healthy fiber. There are seven great flavors to choose from: Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate, Lemon Poppy Seed, Pumpkin Spice, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Macadamia. They're all moist and delicious, but my two personal favorites are Snickerdoodle and Pumpkin Spice. I love to take one take one Complete Cookie® to work with me. I enjoy half with some yogurt at my desk for breakfast. I save the other half to enjoy with some fruit for an afternoon snack. To find these fun cookies near you, visit Lenny & Larry's Store Locator.

(2) DOLE Endless Summer Salad Kit. The calendar says Summer is nearing an end...but you can hold onto the flavors of Summer with Dole's fun Endless Summer Salad Kit. This kit has everything you need to whip up a quick salad to serve on the busiest of weeknights. The kit contains Romaine lettuce, crunchy red cabbage, and carrots. It also comes packaged with lots of other fun goodies: DOLE's sweet-tart Summer Vinaigrette, Swiss and Gruyere cheese, roasted sunflower seeds, artisan croutons, and a packet of herb seasoning. The combination of flavors and textures is so refreshing -- just like Summer. I like to add some sliced organic strawberries before tossing for a perfect side dish for grilled chicken breast. Next time, I plan to add mandarin oranges and grilled shrimp to this versatile salad kit for a refreshing main dish salad. 

(3) POM Wonderful's POM TeaOn hot afternoons, I like to keep well hydrated. One of the best new beverages that I've tried recently is POM Wonderful's POM yummy line of teas. These refreshing beverages combine the antioxidant benefits of pomegranate juice with a variety of teas. There are four flavors of POM antioxidant super teas to choose from: Pomegranate Peach Passion White Tea, Pomegranate Lemonade Tea, Pomegranate Sweet Tea, and Pomegranate Honey Green Tea. All four flavors are lightly sweet and very hydrating. Michael and I enjoyed trying them all. His favorite was the sweet-tart Pomegranate Lemonade Tea. My personal favorite is the Pomegranate Honey Green Tea. Each 12-ounce container has 130 calories and 22% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. All of the teas are smooth and very easy to drink. To find these POM Teas near you, be sure to visit POM's Store Locator.

(4) Acala Farms' Infused Cottonseed Oil. Acala's amazing line of flavor-infused cottonseed oil is really fun to have on hand in your kitchen. These versatile oils can be used to saute, add to marinades, or even as a bread dip. If you've never cooked with cottonseed oil, you should definitely give it a try! It's naturally heart-healthy, and it has a lightly clean flavor. It's perfect for cooking, because it also has a very high smoking point. I've tried two flavors so far: Fresh Roasted Garlic and Fried Shallot. I made some excellent pan-seared chicken with the Roasted Garlic flavor. It's also excellent as a bread dip -- simply add some salt, pepper flakes, and a chiffonade of fresh basil and serve alongside a loaf of warm bread. To try Acala Farms' infused cottonseed oil for yourself, simply visit their online store.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Celebrates FIVE YEARS!!

This month, The Weekend Gourmet is celebrating a huge milestone: FIVE YEARS of blogging! When I started blogging at Michael’s urging in August of 2010, it was solely a personal creative outlet. I've always loved to cook, so I thought a blog would be an easy location for friends and family to easily access my favorite recipes. So...I taught myself html, pulled out my camera, and jumped right in. I learned as I went, and I quickly discovered I was having a lot of fun. My undergrad degree is in Journalism, with an emphasis in Radio, Television, and Film – so it was a good fit for a hobby. Little did I know The Weekend Gourmet would turn into so much more than that over the past 5 years! Within a few months, I was starting to have people other than family and friends stop by…and I was starting to work with brands to create content.

Over time, The Weekend Gourmet has evolved from solely featuring adapted recipes found in cookbooks or online. I still love to cook, but this blog has evolved to reflect fully how I relate to food. First, I began to create my own original recipes. Then, I decided to incorporate dining out and travel features! We first incorporated restaurant spotlights in Spring 2012 via our monthly The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out feature. This series allows us to spotlight the best restaurants in the San Antonio/Austin area. We occasionally feature extraordinary restaurant experiences from our travels, but we normally to use this platform to showcase the best regional cuisine near us. Later in 2012, we began to feature culinary travel with our inaugural trip to New Orleans – one of our favorite food cities!

Blogging isn’t my full-time job. By day, I work as a very busy Government Market Analyst, so I handle my blog duties evenings, weekends, and lunch hours. It keeps me busy, but I love it! The Weekend Gourmet started as solely my project, but now it’s something Michael and I enjoy doing together. He handles all of the fabulous dining out and travel photography that you see here. It’s great fun to have this platform to share our culinary adventures! The Weekend Gourmet has also brought so many amazing opportunities into my life. Over the past 5 years, I’ve partnered with lots of great brands like Red Gold, Stonyfield, Driscoll’s, and Frieda’s Produce. Ultimately, The Weekend Gourmet is about the personal connections that I’ve made. My readers e-mail me and leave sweet comments about my recipes they’ve tried an enjoyed. I’ve also made some amazing and talented food blog friends – especially the supportive bloggers in my amazing #SundaySupper family! Finally, I’ve been on local television here in San Antonio numerous times for live cooking segments -- and I’ve even been a speaker at the Food & Wine Conference in Orlando.

Quite simply: The Weekend Gourmet is my happy place. I get to come here a few times a week and share my enjoyment of food in all its forms with my readers. Where else will this blog take me next? I honestly have no idea, but half of the fun is seeing what fun and exciting new opportunities come my way. I promise to keep bringing you more of the Big Flavor recipes I love creating, sharing more about San Antonio’s growing food scene, and bringing you along on our culinary travel adventures. Speaking of…I want to announce that our team is heading to Las Vegas in October to feature the city’s best restaurants, shows, and attractions!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Asian Cuisine #SundaySupper...Featuring Shrimp Rangoon Egg Rolls with Honey-Soy Dipping Sauce

This week, #SundaySupper is sharing Asian recipes! Our hostess is Amy from kimchi MOM, and she asked us to share our favorite Asian-inspired recipes. While Asian food is one of my favorite cuisines, I have to admit that I don't make it at home that much since my attempts don't always taste truly authentic to me. For this week, I decided to make an at-home version of one of my favorite Asian appetizers: crab rangoon wontons! My Shrimp Rangoon Egg Rolls with Honey-Soy Dipping Sauce have all the creamy goodness of the addictive wontons, with a few added surprises!

To the usual rangoon base of cream cheese and green onions, I added some fun extra ingredients. Chopped water chestnuts provide crunch, Korean Gochujang chile sauce (similar to sriracha) brings some heat, soy sauce, lemon zest, and large chunks of shrimp. These egg rolls fry up crispy outside and creamy inside, and the dipping sauce is so flavorful! It's a little bit salty, a little bit tart...with a touch of spice and honey. These appetizers would definitely be a fun addition to your next party...or just because!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Daily Meal's @Johnsonville Back to School Breakfast Recipe Contest...Featuring Tex-Mex Sausage and Egg Biscuit Cups #backtoschoolbreakfast

It’s back to school time…and that means busy mornings and a mad rush to get out the door on time. However, with a little bit of advance prep, you don’t have to sacrifice a well-rounded breakfast in the process! Today, The Daily Meal is partnering with Johnsonville sausage for a recipe contest featuring quick-cook breakfast dishes that are perfect for this hectic time of year. My Tex-Mex Sausage and Egg Biscuit Cups are perfect for making ahead on the weekend, when the pace isn’t quite so hectic. Bake a batch of these individual breakfast cups on Sunday, then freeze them in an airtight container for the upcoming school week. Simply reheat briefly in the morning and pair with a piece of fruit or maybe some yogurt…and you have a tasty, stress-free breakfast!
These Tex-Mex Sausage and Egg Biscuit Cups are baked in a muffin tin and feature a biscuit crust, Johnsonville fresh breakfast sausage, pico de gallo, and shredded cheese. It’s all held together by an egg and milk custard mixture. If you have time, top the finished breakfast cups with diced avocado, more cheese, and sour cream. If it’s one of those extra-crazy mornings, these biscuit cups can certainly be eaten “as is” for a perfect grab-and-go breakfast on the way to school or work.

Monday, August 17, 2015

August Mode Foodie Contributor Program: New Spins on Party Dip!

Check out New Spins on Party Dip

by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode


Let's face it...chips and dip is one of the most fun foods that you can eat! That's why you see it at every party you go to. However, the same old tired chips and salsa and plain onion dip can get a bit old after awhile. For this month's Mode Foodie Contributor article, I'm sharing eight fabulous new spins on party dip!! With football season and the holidays right around the corner, these recipes are great to have in your culinary bag of tricks. Serve one of these dips at your next party, and you'll be the hostess with the mostest. If you're invited to a party, take one of these dips to share and you'll be on everyone's guest list all season long! 

I'm sharing two fun sweet dip recipes that are great additions to any dessert table, an amped-up warm onion dip, a duo of baked dips that feature your favorite pizza and sandwich flavors, a fresh spin on chile con queso, and a fun corn-based Mexican-style dip. I couldn't resist sharing one of my favorite dips: my Tex-Mex Shrimp Cocktail, which is served chilled in a large margarita glass. Click on the link above to check out my New Spins on Party Dip slide show...and grab these great recipes!

Disclosure: This is a compensated sponsored post by Mode Foodie. All opinions expressed are solely my own. Pass the chips!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to School #SundaySupper...Featuring Fruit 'n Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bites

Where on earth has the Summer gone to? It certainly still FEELS like Summer here in Texas, but the calendar says it's time for kids to head back to school! Today, #SundaySupper participants are sharing a collection of simple, quick-to-make breakfasts, snacks, and weeknight dinners that are perfect for this hectic time of year. There aren't any kiddos here at Casa Garcia, but I'm always looking for quick, healthy recipes to help make my busy life less stressful! This week's fun Back to School event is being hosted by Foodie Stuntman of Crazy Foodie Stunts and Caroline at Caroline's Cooking. I'm sharing a great no-bake snack today: Fruit 'n Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bites. 

These delicious bite-size granola treats come together in about 30 minutes. Simply whip up a batch on Sunday afternoon, and you're ready to face the school (or work) week! They're perfect for an afternoon snack, as a brown bag lunch addition -- or even an on-the-go breakfast on those crazy mornings you're rushing out the door to keep from being late! I especially like that I can control what ingredients go into them. I used dried cranberries here, but feel free to use whatever dried fruit you have on hand to customize them to your personal tastes.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Hamilton Beach® Wave~Action® Blender...Featuring Skinny Berry Cheesecake Smoothie #HamiltonBeachBlenders #spon #giveaway

A good blender is an indispensable kitchen tool, so it is really important to have one that can handle all of your blending needs! Today I’m sharing a great new blender I’ve been using in my kitchen: Hamilton Beach®' great new Wave~Action® Blender. This blender easily makes delicious smoothies or shakes, but it’s great for making soups, sauces, and salsa too. So, what is it that makes the Hamilton Beach® Wave~Action® different? Ordinary blenders simply spin the contents around the walls of the jar, which can leave you with whole chunks of ingredients -- or even ice -- untouched by the blades. Not Hamilton Beach®’s Wave~Action® System, though! This blender has a ton of great benefits:
  • Wave~Action® system pulls mixture into the blades for smoother results
  • No-drip lid spout makes pouring easy
  • 48-oz. dishwasher safe glass jar
  • Ideal for making smoothies, shakes, and icy drinks
  • 700-watt peak power motor
  • A 3-year limited warranty
  • Stirring wand included for mixing thicker foods & mixtures 
I used my Wave~Action® blender to whip up a Skinny Berry Cheesecake Smoothie for Michael and I to enjoy on a hot Texas evening. These smoothies are rich and thick, with fewer calories and nearly zero grams of fat! All you need are a few simple ingredients -- including sugar-free cheesecake pudding mix -- to make a thick, delicious smoothie that’s bursting with berry flavor. This one’s a real winner if you’re trying to eat lighter but don't want to sacrifice flavor!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for August...Featuring Bob's Steak & Chop House

 This month, The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring San Antonio's location of Bob's Steak & Chop House. Bob's was founded in Dallas in 1993 and has since expanded to multiple locations throughout the DFW Metroplex, as well as San Antonio, Austin, The Woodlands, Nashville, Tucson, and San Francisco. Bob's is known for its Prime beef -- they hand-select their steaks from the top 2% of all beef available to ensure impeccable quality. The steak is then trimmed and perfectly grilled before being served. Recently, Bob's was awarded a prestigious 2015 Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine for its spectacular wine collection -- one of only two San Antonio restaurants to receive this honor. We were recently invited to attend a very special dinner at Bob's Steak & Chop House to celebrate this accomplishment.
We arrived and were warmly greeted by General Manager Patrick Bean. While we waited for our cocktails to arrive from the bar, we admired a display of their prime beef, a gorgeous selection of seafood, and selections from their wine collection. The restaurant's wine collection features a wide range of white, rose, and red wines; local Texas wines; and wines from California and Europe. Bob's Steak & Chop House's wine list features selections in a range of price points to fit every budget. 
Before we knew it, our cocktails arrived! First up out of the kitchen was one of the most unique and amazing appetizers I've enjoyed this entire year: succulent Fried Maine Lobster, paired with Dickson Petard Blanc Texas wine. Lobster is always a treat, but this appetizer was over-the-top good! Lobster tail is cut into chunks, then fried in a lightly seasoned batter. Before serving, the chunks are placed back into the tail shell and served with lemon and melted butter for dipping. Pure bliss! After this rich treat, our second course was a refreshing Mixed Green Salad with sliced green apple, spicy pecans, goat cheese, and a champagne vinaigrette. It was the perfect second course on a warm Texas night!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Celebrating Raspberry Tart Day with Driscoll’s…Featuring Lemon-White Chocolate Raspberry Tartlets #raspberrydessert #spon

Did you know August 11th is National Raspberry Tart Day? To celebrate this annual event, I’m partnering with my friends at Driscoll’s to share a recipe for simple and delicious Lemon-White Chocolate Raspberry Tartlets. Raspberries and lemon are perfect flavor partners – tart, juicy raspberries combine perfectly with lemon’s bright citrus flavor. These tartlets are individually portioned for easy eating. To save time, they feature frozen tart shells. If you prefer, you can certainly make your own tart shells using your favorite pie crust recipe -- but using pre-made tart shells saves lots of time and yields great results.
My tartlets are filled with a fluffy lemon-infused white chocolate mousse, then topped with a generous amount of gorgeous juicy, red Driscoll’s raspberries. I pre-baked the tart shells and made the quick mousse the night before, then assembled the tartlets the next day to treat my work team to a Friday afternoon snack! Even if you don’t bake, I promise you’ll be able to make these easy-to-assemble raspberry tartlets. They also make a perfect kitchen project if you have young bakers in your house.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Purina® Beyond® Grain Free Cat Food…Featuring My Lucy and Maggie #PetsLoveBeyond #CollectiveBias #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PetsLoveBeyond #CollectiveBias
 
When I redesigned The Weekend Gourmet's header art a couple of years ago, I incorporated cartoon caricatures of our two cats: Lucy and Maggie. It made perfect sense to me: they're our family. Besides...whenever I cook, they're always by my side in the kitchen "supervising"...and hoping that I slip them a little taste of whatever I'm cooking. That's earned Lucy and Maggie the official title of "my four-legged sous chefs!" Since adding their likenesses to my header, I've had lots of readers ask me about them. So...today's the perfect time to tell y'all a little bit about my sweet girls Lucy and Maggie -- and why they love Purina® Beyond® Grain Free Cat Food.

Michael and I don't have children, so Lucy and Maggie are our furry babies -- they mean the world to us! Making sure they're happy and healthy is a big priority to us -- something that Purina® understands too! Lucy and Maggie are rescue kittens that we found abandoned and adopted into our family. Lucy is a feisty orange tabby. She’s super smart...and super sassy! She’s also very loving, as long as we don’t try to pick her up. Shortly after Michael and I got married, we found Lucy all alone in the parking garage of a local mall. She was a wee kitten on top of a pickup truck’s tire, dirty and full of fleas. We took her home, cleaned her up, and promptly fell in love. For the next 8 years, it was just the three of us. Lucy loves chasing treats and listening to music…her nicknames are Lucy Girl and Goose (short for Lucy Goose). She's camera shy and doesn't let us take a lot of pictures, but this is our favorite picture of her.
One Fall evening nearly 3 years ago, Michael and I came home from a late dinner. Michael said he heard a cat meowing somewhere in the parking lot. I ran inside to grab some cat food, expecting to see an adult cat. Instead, a tiny emaciated kitten with huge ears came toward me. I couldn’t leave her alone outside at night, so I brought her inside. She was so tiny and weak she could barely stand, and I could feel every single bone in her tiny body. She had a pretty rough start to life, but I was determined to help her grow and thrive. Maggie was only supposed to be a temporary visitor, until I found her a permanent home. Two weeks later, her name was Maggie…and she was a permanent resident. She loves going for walkies outside with me...and she sleeps right next to me every night. Her nicknames are Pie (short for Maggie Pie) and Chubs McGee -- and she's mostly grown into those ears!
I wish I could tell you that Lucy and Maggie are BFFs, but that’s really not the case. Lucy prefers being an only cat and wasn’t very happy to have a new addition to the family. She and Maggie seem to have their preferred zones around the house, and they don’t interact that much. I guess you can say they peacefully (mostly) coexist. Our favorite time of day is right after I get home from work. Both of our girls get a few treats and lots of pets. One thing that Lucy and Maggie can both agree on is that a bowl of nutritious, delicious cat food is the best way to start the day. Purina® Beyond® Grain Free Cat Food is the perfect food for my two best girls! I want them to live long, healthy lives…so what I feed them is important.
Purina® Beyond® grain free pet food products are natural, wholesome blends of quality products that help fuel Lucy and Maggie’s busy days. I purchase Purina® Beyond® Grain Free cat food in the pet food aisle at my neighborhood H-E-B grocery store location. There are several great flavors to choose from, but Lucy and Maggie’s favorite is White Meat Chicken & Whole Oat Meal Recipe. Real chicken is the #1 ingredient, so it has lots of protein to help make my girls lean, mean feline machines! What it doesn’t have in its ingredients list is corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-product meal. It also doesn’t have artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Without all that filler, there’s plenty of room for more of the good stuff that Lucy and Maggie need to stay healthy and energetic.If you want your cats to try out Purina® Beyond® Grain Free Cat Food, be sure to print a money-saving coupon to save on your first bag! I've shared how I stay connected with Lucy and Maggie after a long day at work. So tell me...what are some of the ways that you find time to connect with your special pet and show them how much they mean to you? Take a moment to tell me your pet’s name(s) and how much they mean to you in the Comments below!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

San Antonio Restaurant Is Coming: August 15-29!

http://culinariasa.org/Culinaria, San Antonio’s premier food and drink non-profit, is getting geared up for San Antonio Restaurant Week 2015! This year’s event will take place over two weeks, August 15 - 29. This is one of my favorite foodie events of every year! The citywide event will put the spotlight on many of San Antonio's best local chefs and restaurants -- including new additions to the city’s growing culinary scene and beloved mainstays. Participating restaurants will donate a portion of proceeds from their special Restaurant Week menus to benefit Culinaria and its continued outreach initiatives.
 
With every meal ordered during San Antonio Restaurant Week, participating restaurants will donate $1 from each lunch menu and $2 from each dinner menu to benefit Culinaria’s Hope for Hospitality Programs. Restaurant Week also gives San Antonio food lovers an opportunity to try new restaurants and support many local favorites. Participating restaurants will offer special three-course prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus in two different pricing tiers.
  • Tier 1 establishments will offer a three-course menu at a $15 price for lunch or $35 for dinner.
  • Tier 2 establishments will offer a three-course menu for a $10 price for lunch or $25 for dinner.
With these special prices, it's easy and convenient to sample multiple Restaurant Week locations! Last year, we provided coverage for Bite's Restaurant Week 2014 dinner menu. It was a fabulous dining experience that included a delicious three-course meal in a fun atmosphere.
Keep in mind that reservations are strongly encouraged for this popular annual event. To make reservations, please contact each participating establishment directly. Michael and I are excited to be working with Culinaria to promote San Antonio Restaurant for the fourth consecutive year! We'll be visiting one of the amazing restaurants taking part this year and feature their Restaurant Week offering for the September edition of The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out. Stay tuned for a complete bite-by-bite description of our dining experience via both Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourm).
 
Culinaria - a registered 501 c (3) tax-exempt organization - is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting San Antonio as a premier food and wine destination while fostering community growth and enrichment within the city we call home. Culinaria's Hope for Hospitality program includes mission benchmarks that have at their core, the food.
 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Steak with Red Wine Reduction and Blue Cheese #IsabelsBirthdayBash


Today, the #SundaySupper family is holding a surprise virtual birthday party for our fearless leader, Isabel! She blogs at Family Foodie, and she’s also the founder of the Sunday SupperMovement. Every single Sunday, the  #SundaySupper group gathers virtually to share delicious food and beverages centered on a fun weekly theme. It’s an amazing group of food writers…led by Isabel and her amazing support staff! Since we don’t get a chance to all dine together in person regularly, we’re sharing recipes today that we’d make for Isabel if we were cooking for her birthday. I considered creating a sangria recipe since we both love a good glass of sangria…but then I remembered I had two gorgeous Certified Angus Beef brand steaks in my freezer! I selected a few of Isabel’s favorite flavors to create my Steaks with Red Wine Reduction and Blue Cheese, which are perfect for a special birthday celebration. 

Beef also brings back happy memories of the amazing Saturday dinner that was served at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort for this year’s Food & Wine Conference last month! My steak recipe features tender center cut fillet of sirloin that is nicely seasoned and pan seared until cooked medium-rare. The red wine reduction is flavored with blackberry jam, garlic, and a bit of balsamic. It’s richly flavored and spooned over the cooked steak. Just before serving, creamy mild blue cheese is crumbled on top. Talk about a celebration-worthy dinner for Isabel’s birthday!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's a #SundaySupper Pool Party...Featuring Zesty Tex-Mex Shrimp Cocktail

Summer is in full swing, so this week the Sunday Supper Movement is hosting a Pool Party! It's really heating up here in central Texas, with afternoon temperatures soaring to near 100 degrees lately. All I can think about is having plenty of icy-c0ld drinks and refreshing dishes on hand to combat the brutal heat. Today, I'm sharing a recipe for Zesty Tex-Mex Shrimp Cocktail. It's super simple to whip up a batch of this appetizer or light lunch/dinner in no time! Because it's served chilled, it's perfect for keeping cool on a hot Summer afternoon. If you've never had Mexican-style shrimp cocktail (aka coctel del camarones), it's quite a bit different from the American-style shrimp cocktail you're used to.

My Zesty Tex-Mex Shrimp Cocktail is my personal spin on a dish that has tons of variations. My homemade cocktail sauce is flavored with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and chipotle flavored hot sauce. In addition to chopped boiled shrimp, it contains lots of diced avocado and pico de gallo. The entire dish comes together in about 20 minutes, then it chills in the fridge until you're ready to serve. I love to serve this fun appetizer well chilled in two large margarita glasses, with lots of crispy tortilla chips on the side for dipping. Your pool party guests will absolutely love this appetizer!

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for July: Gino's East Chicago Pizzeria Comes to San Antonio! #DeepDishIntheHeartofTexas

On a trip to Chicago a few year's back, we stayed at a hotel on the city's famed Michigan Avenue. We were here hungry for some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and discovered that Gino's East was a short walk from our hotel. We feasted on delicious deep-dish pizza that featured a buttery crust, tons of cheese and toppings, and a zesty tomato sauce. We commented we wished we could take the taste back to San Antonio with us. Imagine our delight when we found out Gino's was opening a few locations in Texas, including one right here in San Antonio! Gino's East San Antonio opened this April, and they recently invited us for a visit to sample some of signature menu items. It was truly an authentic taste of Chicago right here in Texas -- just take a look at that gooey cheese and deep dish crust! 
We arrived at Gino's and were quickly seated. While we looked over the menu, we were warmly welcomed by Gino's manager Gumero Obregon. Chicago-style pizza takes about 45 minutes to bake, so we ordered as soon as we ordered our drinks. One deep-dish pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage coming right up! While we waited for our pizza to bake, we decided to share an appetizer from the menu with our sodas. The Caprese Jar Salad was gorgeous to look at...and delicious to eat!
It featured fresh mozzarella, lots of fresh basil, and halved grape tomatoes. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette was poured over the jarred salad tableside, then the entire salad is spooned onto crunchy garlic toasts. Is it it a salad...or is it bruschetta? It's basically a hybrid of both...and amazing! It was a perfect start to our dinner. Our helpful server suggested that we also give the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta appetizer a try. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Stonyfield Introduces Two New Yogurt Items to Target's Made to Matter Program! #MadeToMatter #cleaneating #spon

I have some exciting news to share today: Stonyfield is now a part of Target’s Made to Matter program! I fact, Stonyfield is one of 31 brands – including Justin’s nut butter, KIND bars, and their in-house Simply Balanced line – in Target's collection of products that promote better living and sustainability. Made to Order participating brands are organic, non-GMO, non-toxic, fair trade...and more! I love that I can use these items and feel good knowing they're better for me...and the environment too! Beyond offering exciting and delicious flavors, Stonyfield is excited to be part of a program that focuses on companies making a difference to both the environment and healthy eating. 

If you’re looking for Greek yogurt with a little something extra, Stonyfield has got you covered! They’re featuring a pair of new Target Made to Matter exclusive items: Stonyfield Organic Super Seeds and Stonyfield Organic Super Grains Greek yogurt. Organic Super Seeds features nonfat Greek yogurt and softened flaxseed. It comes in orange-cranberry, blueberry, and coconut flavors. Organic Super Grains pairs nonfat Greek yogurt with buckwheat and quinoa. It comes in strawberry, maple, and vanilla flavors. Each 5.3-ounce cup of Greek yogurt is packed with protein for a wholesome, satisfying snack anytime. As an added bonus, all six new flavors are certified both organic and gluten-free -- and they’re delicious to boot! By late August, you’ll be able to find these new Stonyfield Greek yogurts with added grains and seeds on Target shelves nationwide.

Now that I’ve recently entered a new decade in my life, I try to make each day really matter! That includes ensuring that I include plenty of wholesome foods in my daily diet. That can sometimes be a bit of a challenge during the hectic work week. Thanks to Target’s Made to Matter lineup (and a little bit of advance planning), I managed to pack an entire work day of healthy meals and snacks! For breakfast, I enjoyed a Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt KIND bar topped with delicious all-natural Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter in a convenient single-serving pack. This pairing tasted great and provided me plenty of protein and fiber to keep my energy level high all morning long!
My lunch was a frozen Beef Stroganoff meal from Target’s Simply Balanced brand. It was tasty and filling, and the beef was hormone-free. My afternoon snack was a bag of crunchy freeze-dried mango slices, also from the Simply Balanced line. The entire 1.5-oz package contains three servings of fruit and just 160 calories. The mango pieces are lightly crispy, with a nice balance of sweet and tart. I rounded out the afternoon with a container of Stonyfield’s Strawberry Petite Cream when I got home. It's my favorite Stonyfield product -- so creamy and rich! With just 2.5 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein, it really helped tide me over until dinner later that evening! The verdict: my lineup of Made to Matter products kept me satisfied and energized during a very busy weekday. To learn more about Made to Matter brands at Target, simply visit the program’s dedicated webpage.


Disclosure: As a Stonyfield Blogger, I received samples of some of the Target Made to Matter products and compensation. As always, all opinions here are my own!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for July #WendyFaveThings

It's time for another monthly roundup of Wendy's Favorite Things, and this month's Great Eight features some really great products. Just wait until you see what I'm sharing this month to help you make it through the dog days of Summer!

(1) Honeysuckle Gelato. Honeysuckle Gelato is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Their gelato is ultra-creamy and so flavorful. I don't live in Atlanta to visit one of their store locations -- but I'm very fortunate that I can buy it here in Texas! I love all of their fun, creative flavors! My personal favorites are the Sea Salted Caramel and the Peppermint Bark -- it's like Christmas in July when you crack open a pint! Honeysuckle Gelato is available at select retailers in the Southeastern U.S. My Texas readers can find Honeysuckle's delicious gelato in the freezer section of all Central Market locations.

(2) Plated. Love to cook, but don't have time to grocery shop because of your busy life? Enter Plated! This fantastic mail-order food service lets you select from a variety of chef-created menus in several categories each week: Beef, Poultry, Seafood, Vegetarian, and Dessert. Simply select a daily menu that grabs your eye, and a box with all the pre-portioned ingredients to make that meal will arrive at your front door within days. Plated is so convenient, and they use only the best-quality ingredients! 
I especially loved how simple it was to create a gourmet Gruyere and Ricotta White Pizza with Asparagus and Balsamic Vinaigrette at home using Plated -- on a busy weeknight, no less! To try Plated for yourself, check out the delicious menus for August. Then, sign up and order the menus that appeal to you most.

(3) Pacari Premium Organic Chocolate. When I attended the Food & Wine Conference earlier this month, one of our sponsors was Pacari Premium Organic Chocolate. One bite was all it took to decide it's some of the best chocolate I've tasted in ages! Pacari is a line of premium organic chocolate, and it's the first single-origin organic chocolate made entirely in Ecuador. Pacari carefully selects the best ingredients and works in small batches to create their chocolate. My favorite flavors were the Pink Salt & Nibs and the Andean Mint. All ingredients used to make Pacari products are 100% organic and produced using fair and equitable standards. Every item is crafted to maintain the complex flavor profile of the Arriba Nacional cacao bean. Pacari partners with small cacao growers in Ecuador to preserve their traditional way of farming, which safeguards the biodiversity of Ecuador's cacao. Pacari offers sustainability programs that benefit the cacao-growing communities they work with. Pacari can be ordered online or purchased at select retailers.

(4) Ruffino Prosecco al Fresco Flutes by govino. Italian winery Ruffino has partnered with govino to create a gorgeous set of limited-edition flutes decorated with a vibrant Summer design that's the very meaning of effortless Summer fun. No matter where you go, a colorful flute of crisp Ruffino prosecco is the perfect complement to warm, sun-soaked days that define Summer. The flutes’ yellow and orange colors and unique floral pattern add notes of elegance and style to a glass that is both versatile and durable, making it the ideal companion for the perfect Summer wine: Ruffino prosecco! The flutes are available for just $20 per 4 flutes. If you haven’t tried Italian sparkling prosecco, Summer’s the perfect time to give it a try. Refreshing Ruffino prosecco is fruity and fragrant with notes of citrus, pears, and apples. It also has subtle hints of hawthorn, wisteria, and elder. Ruffino prosecco pairs well with pizza, fish, shellfish, and chicken dishes -- making it ideal for Summer entertaining! To find Ruffino prosecco near you, visit their online store locator.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Food & Wine Conference 2015 Recap...All That (and a Bottle of Hot Sauce)!!

This week is a milestone week for me: I turned 50 years old on Monday…that's half a freaking century, folks! I’m still letting that number sink in a bit. When I was 30, I fully admit that 50 sounded so OLD to me! Now that I’m actually 50? Not so much. I’m blessed with good health, a sweet husband, two very spoiled cats, an abundance of loving family and friends, and enough energy to work both a full-time day job and manage an ever-growing food blog. Last weekend, I ushered out my 40s with a bang! I attended – and spoke at – the third annual Food & Wine Conference. This three-day conference was the perfect way to say goodbye to one decade and usher in the next! This was my second year to attend and speak at Food & Wine Conference, so I was eager to enjoy three days of fun at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in sunny Orlando, Florida.
The weekend was full of the very best things in life: amazing food and wine, connecting with sponsor brands, and time spent eating and laughing with some of my favorite foodies! From the time I arrived late Thursday night until I headed back to Texas on Sunday evening, it was non-stop fun, learning…and eating (of course). It’s hard for me to adequately put into words what the Food & Wine Conference means to me – but I’ll try. Organized by #SundaySupper founder and Family Foodie blogger Isabel Laessig, this conference feels a bit like a big family reunion! Rather than give a full day-by-day recap of Food & Wine Conference, I’m going to share some of my favorite highlights of the weekend instead.

Amazing Florida Seafood
Before the conference officially kicked off Friday afternoon, I took part in a fun Florida seafood luncheon road trip. A group of conference attendees hopped in cars and headed to the new Shubee’s Coastal Grill & Bar in nearby Kissimmee. We were treated to a fantastic lunch by the chef and crew, including creamy and decadent Crab & Spinach Dip and Shubee’s award-winning Crab Cakes with Coastal Remoulade! We even paused to snap a group picture on our way out to our cars. Then, it was time for my fun roommate Marlene from Nosh My Way to get ready for registration and the first evening of festivities!
Group photo courtesy of Robin @Simply Southern Baking
Chocolate…and Other Sweet Surprises
Who doesn’t enjoy eating delicious handmade artisan chocolate? No one that I know, that’s for sure! Food & Wine Conference definitely delivered the goods when it came to amazing chocolates and other sweet treats. They featured a huge display of gorgeous, colorful liqueur-infused chocolates for the Friday evening cocktail hour. Everyone in the room was buzzing about the outrageously good Peanut Butter and Bacon truffles, which were seriously amazing. I also loved the creamy white chocolate ganache that was inside the beautifully hand-decorated chocolates. When we returned to our room later that evening, we found a gorgeous display waiting for us. It contained a high-heel pump made from chocolate that was filled with house-made macarons – along with more of the amazing handmade artisan chocolates.The next evening, we enjoyed another bedtime sweet treat courtesy of Gigi's Cupcakes in Orlando. It was very fitting that my custom flavor was their Birthday Cake cupcake -- which came complete with a cloud of pink icing and fun sprinkles!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Melting Pot of Texas Cuisine, Presented by WorldRemit

When I say the words "Texas cuisine" what image comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you probably think of Southern classics like biscuits, chicken fried steak, and fruit cobbler. However, you may not realize that Texas is a huge state with a population that comes from countries all across the globe. I’m a lifelong Texan, so I can vouch that my home state’s ‘melting pot’ of cultures makes it one of the very best places to eat in all America. Where else can you find slow-smoked BBQ, fresh Gulf seafood, spicy Tex-Mex and Cajun, and an entire range of Asian cuisines for you to enjoy in one state? Online money transfer service WorldRemit – to coincide with its launch in Texas this month – is celebrating Texas’ culinary melting pot and how the Lone Star State’s rich cultural diversity makes it one of the very best places to eat in the U.S. With more than four million foreign-born residents comprising 16.5% of the state’s population, my homes state is truly one of America’s most ethnically diverse states. Texas is home to 2.5 million Mexican-Americans, 190,000 Indians, 118,000 Chinese, 91,000 Filipinos, and hundreds of thousands more citizens from many other countries.

This vibrant mixture of cultures makes Texas one of the very best places to eat in the entire country! We’re probably most known for the thousands of Tex-Mex restaurants and BBQ joints located within our borders. However, did you know that Texas also has 605 Chinese restaurants, 260 Vietnamese restaurants, and 132 Indian restaurants located just in its four biggest cities (Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio)? I have to brag on my state just a bit. Austin, Houston, and Dallas were all recently listed in Travel + Leisure's America’s Best Cities for Foodies list. In fact, my hometown of Houston was named the #1 foodie city in the entire country!
 
Patricia Sharpe is Food Editor for Texas Monthly magazine. She says, “Texas food as we know it today wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for immigrants. This state’s cuisine is a huge international buffet—not just from Mexico and Central America but from Asia and Europe as well. It becomes richer and more diverse with each passing day.”
Whether you're a Texas...or if you find yourself vising our great state, here’s some suggestions for the best international restaurants in Austin, Houston, and Dallas.
Just like my home state is making residents and visitors alike change our perceptions of what "Texas cuisine" means, WorldRemit is changing the way that people send money. Whether you’re at home or traveling the globe, you can use WorldRemit to send and receive funds quickly and easily. Here’s some quick facts about WorldRemit I’d like to share with you today: 
  • Using WorldRemit is super easy! Simply open the app or visit the website – no more standing in line or dealing with agents.
  • Money transfers to most countries are instant, so you can send money as easily as you send an instant message!
  • There are multiple ways to receive funds sent – Mobile Money, bank transfer, cash pickup, and mobile airtime top-up. 
  • WorldRemit is currently available in 50 countries and 120+ destinations
  • WorldRemit is backed by Accel Partners and TCV – investors in Facebook, Spotify, and Dropbox. 
WorldRemit’s global headquarters are in London, UK. They also have regional offices in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 




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Disclosure: This post is sponsored and compensated by online money transfer service WorldRemit. Simply download the app to your smart phone or visit the website to send money to over 120 countries around the world.

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