The Weekend Gourmet F

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. 


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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake

I'm having one of those weeks, people. I'm getting ready to speak at Food & Wine Conference in Orlando this weekend, and I injured my finger this past weekend. I was washing dishes and managed to cut my finger pretty badly on the blade of my food processor. I managed to avoid stitches, but it's proving to be quite painful as it heals. My injury is keeping me out of the kitchen this week, so I'm re-sharing one of my favorite Summer desserts from last year: Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake! Strawberries are my favorite fruit, and they're at their peak of flavor during July. I love old-school strawberry shortcake, but wanted to create something special for the adults. I stayed true to the original strawberry shortcake that features a sweet biscuit, ripe strawberries, and homemade whipped cream. This adults-only Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake provides a lemony burst to every bite, and it's perfect for Summer parties!

If you’ve never had limoncello, it's a fabulous Italian lemon liqueur…and it’s downright addictive if you love citrus! I used this magical elixir to flavor my strawberries, as well as the whipped cream. To really amp up the lemon flavor, I also added lemon zest and a bit of lemon curd to my shortcake dough. The sweetly tart limoncello and lemon curd perfectly compliments the juicy strawberries without overwhelming them. The strawberries still take center stage here, but the lemon flavor profile works really nicely. This is my kind of dessert: simple to make, but gorgeous to look at and totally delish!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

July Mode Contributor Article: A Central Texas BBQ Tour

Check out A Central Texas BBQ Tour

by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode

For this month's Mode Contributor Foodie article, I'm sharing a subject that's near and dear to my heart: Central Texas BBQ! In the Central Texas area where I live, BBQ is a way of life. It's also the subject of intense debate. Texans are passionate about their football...and their BBQ! We'll debate our favorite places to go grab some 'cue, and we've been known to take weekend road trips to try out new-to-us BBQ joints. If you're not from around here, you may be wondering what makes Texas BBQ so let me clue you in. Texas BBQ is rubbed with a mixture of spices and smoked over low heat for hours, until it's succulent and deeply smoky. Sauce is NEVER (ever!) added during the smoking process -- and it's also considered optional when you eat your BBQ. Bottom line: Texans want to taste the meat -- not sticky-sweet BBQ sauce. 

At most old-school BBQ joints, your meat is carved straight from the pit onto a big piece of butcher paper. Slices of white bread, pickles, and onions are on the side. Your fingers are considered the best utensils, and sides are strictly optional. Remember...Texas BBQ is all about that smoky meat. Add a bottle of ice-cold Big Red soda, and you're all set! With that in mind, I'm sharing eight of the best Central Texas BBQ restaurants with you today. If you find yourself in Austin, it makes a great home base for trying any of these amazing BBQ joints. Some -- like City Market in Luling -- have been around for decades. Others -- like Franklin BBQ in Austin -- are relative newcomers on the scene. However, all eight BBQ joints are very popular and highly regarded. Come check out my slide show, and discover why BBQ from Central Texas is the best on the planet!

Disclosure: This Mode Contributor post was compensated by Mode Media. All opinions expressed are solely the opinion of this particular Texas BBQ lover. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Latin Twist Cookbook Giveaway...Featuring Panama's Tropical Punch Cocktail #LatinTwist

I'm very excited to share a fabulous new cookbook with you today! My blogging friend -- and fellow Texan -- Vianney Rodriguez from Sweet Life has teamed up with Yvette Marquez-Sharpsack from Muy Bueno to write Latin Twist. It contains a fantastic collection of tasty cocktails made with Latin flavors. They gave me a copy of the cookbook to check out in my kitchen, and I'm totally in love! Latin Twist from Hippocrene Books is full of gorgeous pictures and tons of cocktail recipes that originate in a broad range of Latin countries. As you flip through the book, you'll find recipes like Sangria Mexicana and Tequila Sunrise from Mexico, Berry Mojito from Cuba, pretty pink Coco Rosa from Honduras...and the delicious cocktail recipe that I'm sharing with you today.

From the tiny Central American country of Panama comes a yummy berry-licious frozen cocktail that's ready to pour into glasses in less than 5 minutes. Tropical Punch cocktail is bursting with a selection of Summer berries...along with some tequila and orange liqueur. It comes out of the blender the most gorgeous shade of reddish-purple you've ever seen, and it has a slushy texture that's perfect for cooling off on a hot Texas evening! Just wait until you see how simple this cocktail is to make.

Tropical Punch (from Panama)
Recipe from Latin Twist
Ingredients (makes two cocktails):
  • 10-ounce bag frozen berries (mine had strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce orange liqueur [NOTE: I used Grand Marnier]
  • 1 tbs. lime juice
  • 1 cup ice cubes
Place the frozen berries, tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. [NOTE: I had to stop and tap the blender jar a couple of times to blend it evenly.] Add the ice cubes and blend until slushy.  

That's it -- this vibrant, fruity cocktail is a tropical fiesta in a glass! It's bursting with berry flavors, and the slushy consistency is perfect for enjoying outdoors with an al fresco grilled dinner. This Tropical Punch cocktail is easy to drink and super fun -- I can't wait to enjoy it all Summer long! If you'd like to own a copy of Latin Twist, it can be purchased online via Amazon. I'm thrilled to announce that one lucky reader is going to win a copy of this fun cookbook! To enter, simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14th. The giveaway winner will be notified via e-mail on Wednesday, July 15th. If the winner doesn't respond back via e-mail within 48 hours, then an alternate winner will be selected. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of Latin Twist from the authors to facilitate this article and giveaway. All opinions state are solely mine.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Introducing Pollo Tropical's New Avocado Menu Items...and a Swag Bag Giveaway! #PolloTropiCulture #giveaway

If you're like me, the Summer heat means you're focusing more on lighter, healthier dishes. When the weather turns warmer, I tend to eat more grilled meats and refreshing salads -- and I especially love creamy, cooling avocado! In honor of avocado season, Pollo Tropical restaurants have launched a duo of Summer-friendly menu items: their Chicken Avocado TropiChop® crunchy-cheesy Cheezy Yuca Bites. Both of these delicious menu items are available at Pollo Tropical locations in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida for a limited time. I love visiting Pollo Tropical for its juicy marinated, flame-grilled chicken -- it's perfectly flavorful and juicy. Add in their tropical-inspired side dishes, and it's a vacation without leaving home!
Photo provided by Pollo Tropical
The Chicken Avocado TropiChop® bowl features your choice of the following ingredients: hand-chopped avocado, citrus-marinated flame-grilled chicken breast, crispy bacon, white rice, romaine lettuce, Monterey jack cheese, and diced tomatoes. Guests can also enjoy diced avocado in Pollo Tropical’s Chicken Avocado Wrap and Chicken Avocado Salad. These items contain juicy grilled chicken breast, bacon, Swiss cheese, diced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and cilantro garlic sauce. This combination can be served wrapped in a thin flatbread and toasted on the grill press -- or on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce.
Photo provided by Pollo Tropical
For a fun, unique flavor experience, the Cheezy Yuca Bites make a really delicious appetizer or side dish. Each pop-able bite combines yuca that's filled with a creamy, melted cheese. If you've never tried yucca before, it's a starchy root vegetable that's similar to potatoes. These tasty yuca bites, a seasonal guest favorite, can be paired with any of the 10 zesty tropical signature sauces on Pollo Tropical’s famous Saucing Island. My personal favorite sauces are the Creamy Cilantro Garlic and the sweet Pineapple Rum.
So...who wants to give this duo of limited-edition Summer Pollo Tropical menu items a try -- and win some fun Pollo Tropical swag too? I’m teaming with Pollo Tropical to give one of my readers in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida a tote bag that's chock full of great Pollo Tropical branded items…and plenty of coupons for free Pollo Tropical food! To enter, simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below. I’ll be accepting entries until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 12th. The winner will be notified via e-mail on Monday, July 13th. If the winner does not respond to my notification e-mail within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Pollo Tropical provided me with complimentary food coupons to facilitate this feature. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Red Gold Summer Grilling Giveaway 2015 TV Appearance...Featuring Grilled Cheesesteak Pizza #RGParty

I love being a Red Gold Official Blogger, because I always use Red Gold tomato products in my recipes! One of the really fun perks of being affiliated with Red Gold is getting to do television cooking segments featuring their delicious tomato products several times per year. As part of their Summer Grilling Giveaway promotion with Laura's Lean Beef, I appeared on San Antonio KABB's Daytime at Nine program this morning. I joined host Esteban Solis to prepare Red Gold's delicious Grilled Cheesesteak Pizza during a live outdoor segment. 
If you love Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, you'll go nuts for this fun pizza variation that's grilled outdoors for a great Summer al fresco dinner. Esteban and I teamed up to assemble a personal-sized pizza and grill it up on camera. He taste tested the finished product, giving it a thumbs up for its robust flavor and crispy grilled crust.
For my readers who don't live in the San Antonio area, I was able to access the segment from the TV station's website. Here's how the finished cooking segment turned out.

This pizza is easy to whip up, and grilling it outdoors means you don't have to heat up your kitchen with a hot oven during Summer. up your grill and let your family and friends assemble their own Grilled Cheesesteak Pizzas!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gearing Up for July 4th with Applegate Natural Beef Hot Dogs! #whatsinyourhotdog #yougrillgirl #giveaway

Tomorrow is July 4th, so we're heading to Houston to spend the long holiday weekend celebrating with our families! If you're like me, your celebration is going to involve firing up the grill and having a Summer BBQ with family or friends. I'm partnering with Applegate on their Grill Power initiative -- and part of that power comes from knowing exactly what’s in your hot dog. Applegate is ready to help you serve up some cleaner wieners this Summer that contain only four simple ingredients: 100% grass-fed beef (raised without antibiotics or hormones), water, salt, and spices. That's it...and these all natural beef hot dogs taste fantastic! 

Face it...when you don’t have to worry about yucky artificial ingredients, synthetic nitrates, or antibiotics in your hot dog, there’s more time for the fun stuff – like tasty condiments and accessories! My friends at Applegate sent me a fun Summer grilling package that contained everything necessary for a delicious Summer hot dog party! The kit is pictured above and includes:
  • Applegate Natural Beef Hot Dogs (now made with 100% grass-fed beef)
  • Sir Kensington’s Ketchup and Mustard
  • Vermont Bread Company Natural Potato Buns
  • Applegate Cooler Bag
  • Applegate “You Grill, Girl” Apron
  • Applegate Grilling Mitt
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Applegate Bandanas & hair accessory tutorial
  • Applegate Hot Dog Boats
The trio of juicy Applegate Natural Beef Hot Dogs, tangy Sir Kensington's ketchup and mustard, and pillow soft Vermont Bread Company potato buns ensured the end results of my hot dog grilling adventure were delicious. The fact that I didn't have to worry about any unwanted "extra ingredients" was especially nice. I'm always looking for ways to eat cleaner, and these hot dogs definitely fit the bill!
How would you like to win one of these fun Applegate You Grill Girl packages? Well, you're in luck...because I'm teaming with Applegate to do just that! To enter, simply go to my Instagram page via your smart phone. If you're not already following me, I'm WEEKENDGOURMET on Instagram. You'll find a picture of the prize pack in my profile...simply comment to enter, and I'll select a winner via random number generator on Monday, July 6th. Good luck...and have a fabulous July 4th three-day weekend!!

Disclosure: Applegate sent me a You Grill Girl prize pack to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for June...

Just in time for the end of the month, I'm sharing this month's Wendy's Favorite Things. This month's Great Eight features a fabulous frozen treat, healthy snack ideas, and a way to make baked chicken that's juicy and flavored to the bone. I hope you're ready, because this month's selections are really great!

(1) Talenti Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Gelato. Talenti makes some of the most decadent gelato that you can buy. Their silky smooth gelato has been one of my favorite frozen indulgences for awhile now -- I just love their Caramel Cookie Crunch and Sea Salt Caramel flavors! I recently tried a duo of the newest flavors: Salted Peanut Caramel and Hazelnut Chocolate Chip. I obviously have a serious obsession with caramel! Both of the new flavors I tried were excellent, but the Hazelnut Chocolate Chip knocked my socks off! It starts with Talenti's smooth hazelnut gelato...and then adds pieces of toasted hazelnut and dark chocolate chips. Every bite is a fabulous combination of flavors and textures that work so perfectly together. To find Talenti's Hazelnut Chocolate Chip -- and all of their flavors of gelato and sorbetto, visit their online Store Locator.

(2) Falksalt Natural Cyprus Sea Salt Flakes. I recently tried Falksalt's line of flavor-infused salts, and I'm hooked! The large flakes of Cyprus sea salt are sprinkled on foods either before or after cooking. They provide a nice salty crunch, and they're infused with a range of seasonings and natural flavorings. Flavors in the line include Chile, Smoke, Citron (lemon), Wild Garlic, and Rosemary. Each imparts a subtle flavor to whatever food they're added to. I especially love the Citron and Rosemary flavors. Citron is a perfect finishing salt for sauteed fish or roasted chicken, and the Rosemary is delicious on roasted potatoes! Falksalt can be found at select retailers -- my Texas readers can find it at Central Market. It can also be purchased via the Falksalt online store.

(3)  KIND Popped Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt. I'm always on the lookout for healthy snacks that also taste great. Enter KIND's new Popped Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt snack square from its Healthy Grains line. This delicious bar contains six super grains: oats, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, oat flour, and popped sorghum. They're a little bit chewy, and the popped sorghum's a bit like popcorn. The bits of dark chocolate and sea salt work very nicely here. It feels like a decadent snack, but it's good for you! Each bar weighs in at 140 calories 2 grams of fiber. To find these tasty treats at a store near you, visit KIND's Store Locator.

(4) Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt Snacks. If you're looking for a flavor-packed lunchbox addition or afternoon snack, look no further than Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt Snacks. These fruity snacks come in both Strawberry and Blueberry flavors and feature a fruity center coated in creamy yogurt. Each box contains eight .8-ounce packets of Fruit 'n Yogurt Snacks. The creamy coating melts in your mouth, revealing a sweetly tart center. Both flavors are delicious, and each packet contains just 80 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. They're also gluten free if that's a dietary concern for you. I enjoy eating them for a quick pick-me-up in the afternoons. They satisfy my sweet tooth for less than 100 calories! Visit Welch's store locator to find Fruit 'n Yogurt Snacks at a store near you.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

#sponsored Dole Get Up and Grow Tour San Antonio Recap...Featuring Banana & Blue Breakfast Smoothie

I'm a blog ambassador for Dole Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, so I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the San Antonio stop of Dole's Get Up and Grow Tour earlier this month. This nationwide 11,700-mile, 115-day journey was created by the Dole Food Company and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze to give Americans information and recipes to make Summer 2015 their healthiest and happiest EVER! They challenged San Antonio-area residents to eat better this Summer to receive some exciting health and wellness rewards. Between now and September, the Get Up and Go Tour will stop at 480 supermarkets and special events across the U.S. The San Antonio event took place from June 13-18 at several local H-E-B grocery store locations. 

I attended a tour event at an H-E-B near my neighborhood, and it was a blast! The Get Up and Grow Tour Caravan featured a sampling tent that offered free recipe samples, a make-your-own smoothie bar for the kids, fun giveaways, expert nutritional advice, and other fun surprises! Visitors also created a customizable, interactive pledge that gave them an opportunity to receive wellness rewards like free DOLE fresh produce, Fitbits®, and even a wellness getaway to California! Participants sampled lots of fresh fruit, veggie, and salad recipes created specifically for the Get Up and Grow Tour. My favorite dish was the colorful, tasty Fresh Fruit Salad with Baby Spinach and Yogurt Poppy Seed Dressing.
I also had the opportunity to take part behind-the-scenes for a television shoot that spotlighted the San Antonio Get Up and Grow Tour. I did the recipe prep work and food styling for a television interview with a Dole representative that aired on a local television station. I had a great time preparing four different Get Up and Grow Tour recipes: a green power smoothie, vegan spinach hummus, yogurt parfaits with grilled bananas, and chilled gazpacho. All of the recipes presented were healthier options for meals and snacking --and all of them featured delicious Dole fruits and vegetables. The representative from Dole was super friendly and very knowledgeable -- demonstrating on camera how to garnish the chilled gazpacho before serving.
Another Get Up and Grow Tour recipe that I tried and enjoyed was the Banana & Blue Breakfast Smoothie. It's an ideal breakfast: quick to make, dairy-free, delicious...and very filling. One of these smoothies for breakfast keeps me satisfied for hours -- thanks to the addition of fiber-rich oatmeal!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for June...Sunday Brunch at New York's Iconic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

Photograph provided by the Waldorf-Astoria
This month's edition of The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring our truly remarkable Sunday brunch experience earlier this year at New York's iconic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. If you're a fan of weekend brunch, then the Waldorf Brunch at Peacock Alley is a definite must if you find yourself in Midtown Manhattan. This is an over-the-top culinary experience unlike any other brunch Michael and I have experienced before. We like to think of it as brunch on steroids! The lavish buffet is served in Peacock Alley restaurant, located adjacent to the hotel's main lobby. The decor is elegant, and the staff is very attentive. We were seated and offered perfectly prepared mimosas. Then, it was time to check out the food. Oh...what food it was!! 
The expansive brunch is served buffet style, with a wide range of both cold and hot foods to choose from. With so much delicious food to sample, we needed a strategy! We decided to start with a sampling of fresh fruit, bakery breads, cheese, and salads. The Waldorf-Astoria has a rooftop garden that supplies many of the herbs and vegetables served at their restaurants -- including Peacock Alley. We sipped our mimosas and nibbled on perfectly ripe fruit, artisan baked goods, and cheese. Our brunch was off to a great start!
After enjoying some of the buffets cold items, it was time to move to the entree portion of our brunch. I started out by visiting the impressive cold seafood display. It featured a caviar station with fresh-made blini, raw oysters, huge boiled shrimp, and lobster tails. Caviar and lobster aren't typically found at a Sunday brunch buffet...but this is definitely NOT a typical Sunday brunch!!
We also enjoyed a sampling of hand-carved, perfectly roasted meats -- including succulent rosemary-infused leg of lamb. If you love artisan charcuterie, you're in luck! This brunch also features a two-tiered display of cured meats that pair nicely with the breads and cheeses offered on the buffet. We were in heaven!

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