The Weekend Gourmet F

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.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Savoring Fall with International Delight Coffee Creamer...Featuring Pumpkin Spice Hot White Chocolate

Fall is officially here! For many people, that means that it's time to enjoy all things pumpkin between now and Thanksgiving! I'm teaming up with International Delight coffee creamer to share a warming Fall pumpkin beverage with you today. Their line of flavored coffee creamers are perfect for flavoring your morning coffee, but did you know they're also versatile enough to star as a key ingredient in non-coffee beverages too? It's true! My Pumpkin Spice Hot White Chocolate features International Delight's Vanilla Caramel Creme. I also added some milk, white chocolate, warming spices, and pumpkin puree. It takes just minutes to whip up two servings of this decadent and soothing beverage -- and it tastes just like a piece of warm and silky pumpkin pie! You can enjoy this hot white chocolate on its own for a decadent treat...or you can add some cookies on the side for a comforting dessert or bedtime treat.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for September #WendyFaveThings

It's time for another Wendy's Favorite Things monthly roundup of my favorite new-to-me food products. I've got some great new finds to share with you this month -- including a quick-cook pasta, some great lunchbox treats, and a smooth-drinking red wine. Let's get started!

(1) Barilla® Pronto™. If you're like me, pasta is a regular part of your dinner menu rotation. What if I told you that you could cook delicious pasta in 10 short minutes...with no boiling or draining? It's true...thanks to Barilla! Their new Pronto™ line comes in several varieties, and it cooks in a skillet in 10 minutes. This pasta allows me to make a one-pan pasta skillet in less than 30 minutes...perfect for those busy weeknights. I made a simple chicken pasta dish using the penne variety. I sauteed onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Then, I browned some chicken breast strips. I added chicken stock, canned tomatoes, and Pronto™ penne pasta. The pasta cooked up perfectly al dente in my skillet, and I had a complete pasta dinner on the table in right at 30 minutes! This pasta is a busy cook's best friend. Barilla Pronto™ can be found in the pasta aisle of most major grocery retailers in the U.S.

(2) Menage a Trois Silk Soft Red Blend.True to its name, Menage a Trois' latest wine is silky smooth -- and so easy to drink! Soft Red Blend is comprised of 76% Pinot Noir, 12% Malbec, 8% Petite Sirah, and 4% Syrah. This combination of wines gives the wine a lush mouth feel and a deep flavor. The first thing we noticed was that Silk is a gorgeous deep red color. Then, you take a sip and notice flavors of cherry and ripe raspberry -- with subtle notes of rose petals and toasty spice. These flavors combine for a glass of wine that is indeed silky smooth! It pairs well with extra sharp white cheddar cheese and salty crackers for a quick, sophisticated appetizer. It also pairs nicely with a grilled steak and roasted vegetables. The best part? This fabulous wine is very affordable -- under $15!

(3) Mah-Ze-Dahr Bars. I recently discovered a fabulous bakery treat from Mah Ze Dahr Bakery in New York. Lucky for me, the bakery ships their amazing signature namesake bars across the country! Comforting Mah-Ze-Dahr Bars combine an oatmeal and brown sugar base with layers of toasted pecans and chocolate chips. Then, a generous amount of brown butter salted caramel sauce is poured on top...swoon! These bars are basically all of my favorite cookie flavors in one handy bar. One bite, and I was hooked. These are hide-them-from-the-family good, people! Even if you live far from New York, these decadent bars can be shipped direct to you. A box of 6 large Mah-Ze-Dahr Bars can be ordered online for $18 + shipping -- much cheaper than a flight to visit the bakery in New York!

(4) Rold Gold Fudge Brownie Pretzel Dippers. The combination of salty and sweet flavors in one bite is one of my favorite. I was dancing a jig when I recently tried Rold Gold's delicious Fudge Brownie Pretzel Dippers snack packs! This portable treat contains salty Rold Gold dipping sticks and a generous serving of fudgy brownie-flavored dip. This on-the-go treat is perfect for lunch boxes, chocolate cravings, an after-lunch treat -- or even an afternoon pick-me-up. Each single-serving package is 240 calories, which is pretty good for something that successfully gets rid of a major chocolate craving. These fun Pretzel Dippers also come in a fun Cookies & Cream version! To find Rold Gold Pretzel Dippers near you, visit Frito Lay's handy Store Locator.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for September: Russo's Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen #WGDO

This month, The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring a yummy new addition to San Antonio's growing dining scene. Russo's Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen opened at The Rim this Summer, near the Palladium movie theater. Russo's offers a wide range of creative pizzas, pasta, and wood-fired entrees. Michael and I recently visited Russo's for a dinner tasting of some of their signature menu items, and we were impressed with both the quality of the food and the relaxed atmosphere. We entered the restaurant and were warmly greeted by the staff. As we made it to our seat, we admired the natural light in the dining room -- along with the fun decor. Our booth was seated right under a black-and-white picture of Michael Corleone from The Godfather. We ordered iced tea and looked over the menu. We started with a shared appetizer and a salad.
The Prosciutto & Burrata appetizer featured a generous amount of prosciutto, olives, arugula, and house-made burrata. If you've never had burrata, it's a ball of fresh mozzarella with a creamy ricotta-like center. Add a drizzle of balsamic and some bread, and your meal is off to a perfect start. Our salad was a refreshing Greek salad with a house-made chianti balsamic vinaigrette. Our meal was off to a great start, and then our Pizza Two Ways came to the table!
Although we love nothing better than a traditional pepperoni pizza, we decided to try two of Russo's gourmet pizza selections: Chicken Rustico and Chicken Pesto. The Chicken Rustico featured tender chicken, Roma tomatoes, spinach, feta, mozzarella, garlic, and basil. It was a fresh spin on traditional pizza, and the salty pop of feta was especially nice.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Apple-Currant Dutch Baby Pancake for Fall Foods #SundaySupper #apple #breakfastfordinner

Later this week, the calendar flips to October -- and the start of my favorite part of the year. Cooler weather, football...and the holidays! To celebrate the return of Fall, #SundaySupper is sharing recipes featuring Fall flavors. It may not technically be Fall weather here in Texas just yet, but we're still enjoying warm Fall flavors in hopes that we encourage Mother Nature to turn on the a/c! When Fall comes, breakfast for dinner automatically enters my mind. When my siblings and I were growing up, Mom would serve us breakfast for dinner when Dad went on his annual hunting trip. There was something extra special about eating breakfast foods at night. I love it to this day...especially when I include my Apple-Currant Dutch Baby Pancake on the menu!

If you love the flavor of pancakes -- but not the pouring and flipping, a Dutch baby pancake is perfect for you. Simply pour the batter into a skillet and bake it to perfection in the oven! While the pancake bakes, you have a pocket of time to make the apple filling -- it tastes like apple pie and is flavored with dried currants and chopped almonds. I promise if you make a Dutch baby'll make them over and over again!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stonefire Flatbreads...Featuring Chicken-Caprese Flatbread #FootballFood

Football season is finally here! AT my house, that means that it's also time to create lots of fun new foods for us to enjoy while we watch our Houston Texans play! Football food should be fun to eat and stress-free to make -- because I don't want to miss a single play in the kitchen. With Stonefire Authentic Flatbreads, I can whip up creative flatbreads in no time for us to enjoy while we cheer on the Texans. Stonefire recently sent me a selection of their delicious naan bread, pizza crusts, and flatbreads to play around with in my kitchen. For this week's game, I created colorful and tasty Chicken-Caprese Flatbreads. I prepped all of the ingredients the morning of the game, then assembled and baked about 30 minutes before kickoff. Add some chips and dip and cold drinks, and it's a party!

This zesty flatbread features all of my favorite caprese salad ingredients: pesto-flavored chicken breast, creamy fresh mozzarella, diced ripe tomatoes, and basil-infused pesto. I also added some caramelized shallots and green onion for additional color and flavor. Since this flatbread features just a handful of ingredients, be sure to buy the best-quality items you can find -- it will really make a difference in your final results. Come and let me show you how easy this flatbread is to assemble!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September Mode Foodie Submission: A Taco Tour of San Antonio

Check out A Taco Tour of San Antonio
by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode

San Antonio is known for its fabulous Tex-Mex food -- including tacos! You can find delicious tacos in a wide range of styles and flavors all over the city -- from simple taquerias to large established restaurants. For this month's Mode Foodie submission, I'm sharing my favorite tacos the city has to offer via A Taco Tour of San Antonio. Whether you're coming to San Antonio for a weekend getaway -- or you're a local resident looking for new culinary adventures -- here's my seven favorite spots to enjoy a taco in San Antonio.

I'm sharing a popular food truck, a taco that was invented right here in San Antonio, a handful of beloved local establishments, and a popular restaurant offering a fun modern spin on traditional tacos. I'm even sharing the best fish tacos in the city! To see my picks for the best tacos in San Antonio, simply click through the slide show above. I hope you find something that makes your mouth water! Simply add some chips and salsa and a margarita to any of these picks...and you've got a fiesta!

Disclosure: This is a compensated post for Mode Media. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops with Maple-Balsamic Parsnips, Apples & Potatoes

As a food blogger, sometimes it's hard to determine which of your recipes will grab your readers' attention...and which ones won't. The recipe I'm sharing today was originally posted about 3 years ago, but it didn't really catch on with my readers. I love this Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops with Maple-Balsamic Parsnips, Apples & Potatoes so much that I decided to share it again now that cooler weather is starting to arrive. If you've never tried parsnips, this is a great dish to get to know them. They're similar to a carrot, but more starchy and not as sweet.
These juicy pork chops are bursting with an array of Fall colors and flavors, and the combination of sweet maple and sour balsamic on the veggies and apples is complex and flavorful. This recipe is a complete meal that roasts in a casserole dish -- and your house will smell heavenly as the pork chops, veggies, and apples bake away. This dish is a real winner in my book: practical enough for a weeknight dinner, but fancy enough to serve guests.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Staycation at the #SanAntonioMarriott and Dinner at Texas de Brazil #PerfectDaySA

Photo provided by Marriott
Whether you're coming to San Antonio for a weekend visit this Fall -- or you’re a local looking for a weekend staycation destination on the Riverwalk -- you should definitely consider a stay at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter! This large, modern hotel is convenient to both the famous San Antonio Riverwalk and Rivercenter Mall, as well as numerous Downtown dining destinations. Michael and I recently enjoyed a fabulous overnight stay in a gorgeous suite that included a fantastic Sunday brunch. The San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter is a perfect home base for enjoying all that the Downtown area has to offer. We arrived and were quickly checked in by the friendly front desk staff. Then we made our way to our large suite, which was decorated in soothing earth tones. The suite featured a large living and dining area, and a spacious bedroom and adjoining bathroom. 
After settling in, we stopped at the lobby bar for a late lunch. I selected the Cornbread Salad, and Michael had Fish Tacos. The food was perfectly prepared, reasonably priced, and delicious – the perfect start to our visit! My salad was perfect for a Summer day: cornbread croutons, avocado, bacon, boiled eggs, grape tomatoes, and ranch dressing.  
After our lunch, we walked to the back of the hotel lobby and noticed that it connected directly to Rivercenter Mall. This is very convenient for shopping, grabbing a quick bite, or even catching a movie or IMAX. We walked through the mall for a bit, then we headed back to our suite to rest up and get ready for our dinner at Texas de Brazil Steakhouse
If the weather outside is nice, the quick 15-minute walk to Texas de Brazil from the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter is very pleasant. Texas de Brazil is a Brazilian-style steakhouse that features a wide range of perfectly roasted meats, as well as a huge 60-item salad bar area. We arrived and were warmly greeted by the manager, who seated us and had us select cocktails while we discussed the menu. If you’ve never dined at a Brazilian steakhouse, the concept is pretty simple: pay one price for as much roasted meat as you care to enjoy! Before we enjoyed Texas de Brazil's wide range of roasted meats, we visited their expansive salad bar. It features something for everyone: hot and cold appetizers, vegetables, soups, and salads. 
After enjoying our salad bar selections, we turned our attention to the 16 different seasoned, roasted meats being offered. Each one is carved directly onto your plate from a large skewer by friendly gaucho servers who roam the dining room. All of the meat was perfectly cooked, well seasoned, and juicy -- but our two favorites were the lamb chops and the Brazilian picanha beef. 
Because you pay one price for as much food as you care to enjoy, it's easy to sit back and enjoy the parade of meats! We were pretty full after enjoying trips to the salad bar and multiple rounds of roasted meat, so we opted to share a dessert: Bananas Foster Pie served a la mode. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

An Upscale Casual Dinner at San Antonio's Esquire Tavern

Michael and I were recently invited to come have dinner at The Esquire Tavern, located Downtown on the Riverwalk. The Esquire has a very colorful history -- it opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition, and it has been a popular San Antonio bar ever since. Following a brief closure from 2006 to 2011, The Esquire is back in a new incarnation! It offers a colorful history, and it serves up cold beer, some very creative cocktails, and excellent gastropub food with a Texas accent. Visitors can enter from East Commerce Street, or via a Riverwalk entrance in the back. We were warmly welcomed and quickly seated. We decided to start with a cocktail and appetizer while we looked over the rest of the menu. We selected the Texas Onion Dip with Waffled Potato Chips, which takes "chips and dip" to a whole new level of deliciousness!
This appetizer features perfectly crisp house-made waffle chips and a creamy onion dip flavored with caramelized onions and a bit of heat. At first bite, you taste the sweetness of the onions...and then you taste a bit of heat from the addition of hot sauce on the back end. These two flavors are perfect together...we couldn't get enough of this delicious dip! We paired our appetizer with a Kill the Pain cocktail. This creative cocktail contains Jamaican rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, sparkling coconut water, and Chinese 5 spice bitters. The ingredients are shaken, then poured over ice in a tall glass. The flavors are tropical and refreshing, but not overly sweet. The Kill the Pain cocktail was a perfect match for our spicy onion dip. We quickly realized that we had eaten all of our chips. Lucky for us, it was time to turn our attentions toward our entrees. The menu features a range of creative entree salads, sandwiches and award-winning burgers, and large plates. Everything looked great, but a duo of fried options caught our attention. What can I say...we're Texans!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

No-Stress Weeknight Dinner with Barber Foods Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts…Paired with Creamy Cheddar-Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions expressed in this article are solely mine. #SimplySpecialMeals #CollectiveBias  
Let’s face it: we all lead busy lives! Various work, blogging, and family commitments keep us running from the time the alarm goes off until we head back to bed in the evening. I recently found a great product that helps me create delicious and stress-free weeknight dinners. Barber Foods Stuffed Chicken Breasts help me create quality weeknight entrees almost hands-free and how the product fits into your busy lifestyle. Because Barber Foods Stuffed Chicken Breasts bake up crisp in the oven, I can have a hot and tasty chicken entrée ready to serve in about 30 minutes! The flavors are great too: Cordon Bleu, Broccoli Cheese, and Chicken Kiev.

Barber recently introduced a new and improved recipe for in honor of its 60th anniversary -- including a new blend of seasonings, home-style breading, and more flavorful chicken. The new recipe is even tastier than the original! All three of the updated flavors are delish, but I especially love the Broccoli Cheese. The stuffed chicken breasts come two per package. They bake up crispy outside and juicy inside – with a generous helping of broccoli cheese filling. The cheesy flavor is great – especially with creamy mashed potatoes. For a recent weeknight dinner, I cooked two boxes of Barber Foods Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts. I served them with my delicious Creamy Cheddar-Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which pair perfectly with the chicken’s cheesy broccoli filling. Barber Foods Stuffed Chicken Breasts are found in the freezer aisle of select grocery stores nationwide
My Mom makes the best mashed potatoes ever, so I rarely make homemade mashed potatoes myself. Mom recently shared a few of her secrets to successful mashed potatoes with me, and I’m going to share them with you today. I added garlic and sharp aged cheddar to her recipe to make my Creamy Cheddar-Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Add a vegetable or a simple green salad to round out your plate, and you have the perfect no-stress weeknight meal!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Outdoor Dining with Beso del Sol Sangria...Featuring Seared Salmon al Fresco with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Sauce #IgotaBeso

Happy Labor Day! This holiday is typically considered the official end of the Summer season. School is back in session, and the weather is starting to cool off a bit. Mother Nature still hasn't quite received the memo here...we'll be near 100 the next couple of afternoons. However, last night our weatherman said that temperatures should drop to highs in the upper 80s by this time next week. For the uninitiated, that signals Fall here in Texas ;)! When our evenings start to get a wee bit cooler, we love to enjoy our dinner al fresco style. Today, I want to tell you about convenient Beso del Sol boxed sangria and share my recipe for healthy and delicious Seared Salmon al Fresco with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Sauce.

Beso del Sol is imported from Spain, and its name means "kissed by the Sun." It's also the first premium all-natural boxed sangria on the market. Beso del Sol is the perfect cocktail for a relaxed outdoor dinner! Simply chill the convenient box-style container and transport the sangria outdoors via the attached handle. Beso del Sol is made with Spanish Tempranillo red wine, citrus, and fruit juices. This smooth, lightly sweet sangria can definitely be enjoyed on its own -- but I love to add a handful of fresh flash-frozen berries to my glass first. It adds an extra bit of flavor and color, and it keeps my Beso del Sol perfectly chilled. This sangria pairs very nicely with my Seared Salmon al Fresco with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Sauce. The perfect side dish partners are rice and sweet corn on the cob. Even better? This entire al fresco dinner can be served on one oblong platter.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Favorite Dishes for a Delicious Labor Day! #LaborDay2015 #SummerEats

Can you believe that it's already September? I hope you're enjoying a well-deserved three-day weekend to celebrate Labor Day! We've had a very busy Summer...and our Fall/Holiday calendar is quickly filling up. We're going to spend this long weekend chilling at home. We'll mix in a movie and a dinner out, but our plan is to mostly relax and enjoy three mornings without the early sound of the alarm clock to interrupt our sleep! Like most food lovers, I'll be cooking for Labor Day. My menu includes grilled salmon and end-of-season corn on the cob. If you're looking for ideas for your Labor Day menu, here's some of my favorite warm-weather food that's perfect for entertaining. I'm sharing my favorite appetizer, cocktail, main dish, and dessert ideas with you! 

Appetizer: Tequila-Shrimp Confetti Guacamole: I kicked off Summer with this fun and flavorful appetizer in May, so it's only fitting that I end Summer with it as well! This adults-only guacamole has so much going for it: it's full of fun flavors, it's easily doubled to feed a crowd, and it looks gorgeous layered in a large margarita glass. It's perfect for those who love guacamole and shrimp cocktail -- now you can have both flavors in one great dip! You can omit the tequila if you prefer -- but it really adds a nice background flavor to all three layers. Simply add some sturdy tortilla chips and a festive cocktail, and your Labor Day festivities will be off to a great start. Margaritas are a natural pairing for this appetizer, but sangria works great too.
Cocktail: Wild Watermelon Sangria: Sangria is my favorite cocktail to make when entertaining a group. It's a party in a pitcher, and it's so versatile! Chop up some fruit -- add it to a pitcher, the add some fruit juice and wine. Best of all, it can be made ahead...and guests can serve themselves. This Wild Watermelon Sangria packs a sour watermelon flavor thanks to my secret ingredient: a simple syrup made with watermelon hard candies. Everyone goes wild for this sangria, so you may want to make a double batch if you have more than 4-5 guests at your celebration. 
My favorite hint to keep your sangria chilled if the weather outside is hot? I like to freeze my chopped fruit before adding to the bottom of my pitcher. It keeps the sangria chilled without diluting it with melted ice.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Layered Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Jalapeno-Lime Dressing...Featuring Stonyfield Greek Yogurt and Wayfair Kitchen Products

I heard a rumor that the weather is starting to cool off in some parts of the country. Not here in Texas…unless you consider afternoon highs in the middle 90s instead of the 100-degree temps from a couple of weeks ago cool! Here at Casa Garcia, we’re still enjoying refreshing main dish salads for our weekend dinners. Needless to say, I was very excited when I was selected to take part in this month’s Stonyfield Clean Plate Club partnership with Wayfair to feature creamy Greek yogurt-based salad dressings and salad serving pieces. If you’ve never visited Wayfair, definitely check them out! They’re the largest online retailer for home goods in the U.S. Their website is super easy to navigate, and the variety and prices offered are very impressive.

The salad I’m sharing today is perfect for busy weeknights! My Layered Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Jalapeno-Lime Dressing is perfect for warm evenings. If you start with a deli roasted chicken, this hearty salad can be ready to eat in about 30 minutes. I selected a gorgeous clear salad bowl from Wayfair to show off all the colorful layers of my salad. The dressing is perfectly creamy, but it contains only a fraction of the fat of most salad dressings since it’s made with Stonyfield Plain Greek Yogurt. Let me show you how east it is to create this main dish salad masterpiece!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

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

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!

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