The Weekend Gourmet F

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sneak Preview of our Upcoming Culinary Adventure in San Francisco, Sonoma, and Napa Valley #WGTravel #Cali2016

I’m thrilled to announce The Weekend Gourmet’s next culinary travel adventure is going to be San Francisco, Sonoma, and Napa Valley! Next month, my four-person team will be exploring the very best, food, wine, and attractions in the area…and sharing all of the fun with you via live social media shares and a multi-part series of articles. I wanted to share a sneak preview of our itinerary today, because I’m so excited about this trip! After a Summer and early Fall that was spent tending to a wounded leg, then dealing with a nasty bout of shingles? I'm ready to have some fun adventures! Michael and I first visited the Bay Area and wine country area in 2009, the year before we founded The Weekend Gourmet. We fell in love with the area and are so excited to be going back! Our trip will start with two nights in San Francisco, where we will explore Fisherman’s Wharf, visit the Ferry Building Market, and eat our fill of Dungeness crab, clam chowder, and other local favorites. 
Our home base for the first leg of our journey is the beautiful Hyatt Regency San Francisco, which is ideally located near the picturesque Embarcadero and features stunning waterfront views. We will be dining at Pier 39's Fog Harbor Fish House, enjoying contemporary Japanese cuisine at Ozumo, and clam chowder and other seafood delights at Bistro Boudin. We will also be dining at Restaurant Gary Danko, one of San Francisco’s best fine-dining restaurants. We dined at Gary Danko during our 2009 trip, and it's one of the best dining experiences we've ever enjoyed!  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Summer Visit to New York...Featuring The Library Hotel #WGTravel #EastCoast2016

Photo provided  by The Library Hotel Collection
This Summer, we enjoyed a fabulous long weekend in New York. I’ve shared most of the trip with you over the past few weeks, but I still have a few more delights left to share today! We spent the last evening of our visit at the charming boutique Library Hotel. This gem is located – as its name implies – just down from the New York Public Library's Main Branch. This hotel is the perfect hotel for bibliophiles. Everywhere you look, you’ll find fun library- and book-themed décor! When you enter the lobby area, you find bookshelves and old-school library Dewey decimal card files. The theme continues to the main floors – each of which is named after a specific literary genre. Room numbers follow the Dewey decimal system – complete with corresponding books inside each room for reading. 
Our room featured a Queen bed and a soothing color scheme. It was a cozy and relaxing home base to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The room also featured a marble bathroom with a nice tub for soaking. Like all hotels in the Library Hotel Collection, The Library offers guests complimentary WiFi connectivity. For another fun decorating touch, check out the cheeky embroidered pillow that was on our bed!
We’ve stayed at all four New York properties in the Library Hotel Collection, and we’ve been very impressed by their excellent customer service, casual-elegant atmosphere, and amazing guest amenities. Apparently, we’re not their only fans! The Library Hotel Collection was recently named the #1 Luxury Hotel Brand in the world for 2016. They earned an impressive 96.1% score in the Guest Rating Index (GRI) based on 2.7 million guest reviews in 2015.

We dropped our bags for storage with the friendly front desk staff at The Library's check-in counter before heading out for a day of fun! Every time we come to New York, a stop at The Doughnut Plant for amazing artisan doughnuts and chai tea is a definite must. We made our way to the Lower East Side and made a beeline for Doughnut Plant's original location. We love enjoying our favorite flavors…and trying special seasonal flavors too! This time, our doughnut sampler included Peanut Butter & Jelly, Coconut Cream, Chocolate Blackout Cake, a Chocolate Hazelnut Doughseed, Tres Leche Cake (our personal fave!!), and a Creme Brulee Doughseed. The square shape of their filled doughnuts ensures you get a taste of filling with every bite. Take a look...and get ready to drool!
My cousin Michael lives in New York, so he and his little girl met up with us for a mid-morning foodie adventure. The only thing better than a breakfast of Doughnut Plant doughnuts and steaming hot chai tea is sharing the experience with family you don't get to see very often!
After stuffing ourselves with doughnuts and chai tea, we decided to make the short 10-minute walk to Vanessa’s Dumpling House in nearby Chinatown. We love going to Vanessa’s, because you can get a ton of delicious, authentic Asian food for not very much money. Vanessa's is actually one of our best tips for stretching our food budget when visiting New York!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The TMBBQ FEST Is Coming to Austin This Month! #TMBBQ

Attention all Texas BBQ lovers! What if I told you that you could sample delicious BBQ from all over Texas…plus a BBQ joint from Paris, France…all in one venue? This scenario is a dream come true for BBQ fanatics! Texas Monthly's seventh annual TMBBQ FEST is being held Sunday, October 30th at The Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin. This smoketacular event will take place from 100-400 p.m., and tickets are now available! This will be our third time to attend and cover the TMBBQ FEST, and it’s always a great time. This year, 25+ of the best BBQ joints are taking part in the FEST, including Austin’s Franklin BBQ (currently ranted #1 BBQ in the entire state), highly acclaimed Killen’s BBQ from Pearland, and Pecan Lodge from Dallas. Every participating BBQ joint has a booth where hungry BBQ lovers line up to sample their brisket, ribs, sausage…and fun surprises like lamb chops too! As these pictures from last year’s TMBBQ FEST show, we had a great time sampling some amazing BBQ.
In addition to fabulous Texas BBQ as far as the eye can see, attendees can also purchase soft drinks, beer, and cocktails to wash it all down. There’s also plenty of great live music to enjoy – the event is in Austin, after all! Bottom line: TMBBQ FEST is a fun afternoon where BBQ lovers of all ages mingle and sample as much smoky Texas BBQ as they can eat in a beautiful location near picturesque Lady Bird Lake. Keep in mind that this is a very popular event, and tickets typically sell out before the day of the event. If you are interested in attending the 2016 TMBBQ Fest, I highly recommend you purchase your tickets online as soon as possible! VIP Tickets are already sold out, but General Admission tickets for this family-friendly event can be purchased online for $80/adult. Discount tickets for children 5 and under are just $10.

The Weekend Gourmet will be posting lots of fun social shares the day of the 2016 TMBBQ Fest – including live video streaming! If you’re not following us on social media, what are you waiting for? We’re WEEKENDGOURMET on Instagram and @TheWeekendGourm on Twitter.

Disclosure: TMBBQ FEST provided The Weekend Gourmet with media credentials to attend and cover this year's festival. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sleepover Foods #SundaySupper...Featuring Fluffernutter Puff Pastry Turnovers

This week, #SundaySupper is having a sleepover! Our hostess is Marion of Life Tastes Good. She asked us to share our favorite sleepover-worthy recipes. sleepover days were several decades ago. However, some things never change. All you need for a fun sleepover is good friends, a funny movie, colorful lip gloss, sparkly nail polish...and an amazing sweet treat! One of my favorite sandwiches as a kid was a fluffernutter: peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on soft white bread. This sweet sandwich was the inspiration for my Fluffernutter Puff Pastry Turnovers.

With just five ingredients -- including easy and convenient puff pastry -- these decadent sweet treats are a snap to make! I added some white chocolate to the filling to up the ante just a bit...and then drizzled a combination of white chocolate and more peanut butter on top. These amazing fluffernutter turnovers would be a welcome addition at any sleepover!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

#ad Gearing Up for Halloween with Tyson Foods…Featuring Boo-rific Halloween Corn Dog Cups with Green Goo Dipping Sauce

Disclosure: This post is written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpookyGoodSnacks #CollectiveBias
It seems like Summer was just here…but Halloween is just around the corner! Why not surprise your family with some fun and creative #SpookyGoodSnacks featuring State Fair® Corn Dogs and Tyson® Any’tizers® chicken snacks? These convenient frozen products allow busy cooks to whip up fun, quality seasonal treats that are also a good source of protein. I used State Fair® Corn Dogs that I bought in the freezer section of my local H-E-B to create my Boo-rific Corn Dog Cups with Green Goo Dipping Sauce. I also purchased some Tyson® Any’tizers® Tequila Lime Wings to pair with my fun corn dog display, because the tangy-spicy flavors also worked perfectly with my spicy neon green avocado-based dipping sauce.
State Fair® and Tyson® are offering their customers a very special deal during the annual FRIGHT FEST event at Six Flags® Fiesta Texas! To receive one free kid ticket, simply take the following steps:

(1) Purchase any State Fair® Corn Dog or Tyson® Any’tizers® snacks product.
(2) Snap a picture of your receipt with your mobile device.
(3) Text the word TYSON (along with your receipt picture) to 87654. Then, follow the prompts.

Once you complete these steps, you’ll receive a special code via text that can be redeemed at the gate when you arrive at Six Flags® Fiesta Texas. The codes expire on 10/30/16 at 11:59 PM ET. Be sure to check out the FRIGHT FEST at Six Flags® Fiesta Texas Program Rules for complete promotion rules.

I can't wait to show you how quick and easy it is to create my fun…and spooky Boo-rific Corn Dog Cups with Green Goo Dipping Sauce! It's also a great Halloween kitchen craft project to involve your kids in. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hamilton Beach 4-Cup Rice and Cereal Cooker Giveaway...Featuring Deluxe Mexican Rice #hamiltonbeachricecooker #giveaway

Let's' face is busy -- especially during the last three months of the year! Between school activities, holiday prep, and socializing...time is a precious commodity! I’m always on the lookout for ways to maximize my time and ensure I serve a healthy and satisfying dinner. I recently received a handy appliance from my friends at Hamilton Beach that saves me time while I’m making healthy dishes. Hamilton Beach’s versatile 4-20 Cup Rice Cooker and Hot Cereal Maker can be used in a variety of ways to help save time and make your kitchen life easier!  It’s definitely a foolproof way to make a perfect pot of rice – but this unit can also make other grains and cereals too. It also makes killer oatmeal in about 30 minutes, while you shower and get ready for work! 

Because this rice cooker comes with a handy steamer insert, this cooker lets you prepare an entire meal in about 30 minutes! Cook your rice in the pot, then add seasoned veggies and protein to the steam insert. When the rice is cooked, your veggies and protein are ready too! I used my Hamilton Beach rice cooker to make Deluxe Mexican Rice. The rice is flavored with diced tomatoes and chiles, corn kernels, and other seasonings. It cooks up perfectly fluffy and is spooned into bowls. Everyone can customize their favorite toppings – I love to add sour cream, shredded cheese, green onion, and avocado for a veg-friendly dinner. If you want to have a more hearty meal, simply steam some seasoned chicken tenders while you cook the rice!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stonyfield Clean Plate Club...Featuring Bob's Red Mill: Overnight Steel Cut Oats with Pecan Streusel and Cinnamon-Maple Yogurt Drizzle

This month, Stonyfield Clean Plate Club members are partnering with our friends at Bob’s Red Mill to feature some amazing recipes that pair Stonyfield's delicious organic yogurt with their nutritious steel cut oats. With Fall quickly making its way to Texas, cooler mornings are finally on the horizon. That means it's time to transition to warm, comforting breakfasts like my decadent Overnight Pumpkin Steel Cut Oats with Pecan Streusel and Cinnamon-Maple Yogurt Drizzle. Every spoonful of this over-the-top oatmeal is literally a taste of Fall! Simply assemble the streusel and yogurt drizzle before you go to bed. Then, take a few minutes to add all of the oatmeal ingredients to a slow cooker. The rest of the cooking is all hands-off. You’ll wake up the next morning to amazing smells coming from your kitchen...and a hearty, healthy breakfast that's ready to eat in mere minutes! 

If you’ve never tasted steel cut oats before, then you’re in for a real treat! Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats are a bit heartier and chewier than traditional old-fashioned oats. Each 1/2-cup serving contain 5 grams of filling fiber and 7 grams of protein. Talk about a breakfast with sticking power! If you love pumpkin pie, then you’re going to go crazy for this pumpkin-infused oatmeal. Before serving, each bowl is sprinkled with a flavorful pecan streusel and topped with a maple and cinnamon-infused drizzle made with Stonyfield Vanilla 0% Greek Yogurt.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for September...A San Antonio Restaurant Week Recap #sarw #WGDinesOut

This month's edition of The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is sharing our dining experiences for this year's Culinaria San Antonio Restaurant Week! This year's event took place August 13-27, and we enjoyed special three-course prix fixe dinners at a pair of amazing San Antonio restaurants: Asado Seafood & Grill and Grey Moss Inn. Both restaurants we visited featured creative and delicious Restaurant Week menus. Not only were Restaurant Week meals a delicious dining experience, but they were charitable ones too! With every meal that was ordered during the two-week event, every participating restaurant donated $1 per lunch order and $2 per dinner order to Culinaria to help advance all of its great local food-centric programs. Our first restaurant to visit was Asado, which is located inside the Hilton San Antonio Airport hotel.

My friend and I were warmly greeted by the restaurant's friendly staff and shown to our table. We were both impressed with the dining room's modern decor and soothing tones. While the restaurant's new chef went over the the Restaurant Week menu choices, we enjoyed a pair of creative cocktails from the bar. The featured Restaurant Week cocktail was the Rebecca Creek "Old Fashioned," made with locally sourced whiskey from San Antonio's Rebecca Creek Distillery -- and featuring a charred lemon for an oh-so-slight smoky flavor. We also sampled the refreshing -- and potent -- Moscow Mule Slushy. This icy cocktail featured a generous helping of mint, making this a perfect cooling cocktail for a warm Texas evening. Before we knew it, our appetizer courses appeared from the kitchen. The tasty and creative Asado Deviled Egg and Hobel Farms Goat Cheese Gratin starters were beautifully presented and delicious!
This trio of deviled eggs included a pickled Serrano pepper, a house-made smoked bacon jam, and a sprig of micro cilantro. The flavors going on here definitely elevated a comfort classic to new levels of deliciousness! The warm goat cheese gratin was creamy and rich, then topped with melty cheese and a piece of honeycomb for a touch of sweetness. We spread all of this goodness on warm flatbread and toasted sourdough. to a good start!

Next came our entree selections -- including a bonus third entree courtesy of the chef! We tried two seafood entrees and one beef entree. All three dishes were creative and packed with the big flavors I love. We opted to share all  the Gulf Red Snapper, Grilled Prime Ribeye, and Blackened Texas Redfish. All three were served with some amazing sides to round out their complex flavors.
The Gulf snapper was topped with lump crab gratin and served with roasted garlic shipped potatoes and a spicy Serrano-lime butter. The juicy, tender ribeye was perfectly cooked -- and accompanied by a decadent mac and cheese, grilled jumbo asparagus, and house-made chimichurri sauce. Finally, the blacked redfish was paired with charred corn, queso fresco, shallot butter, and a saffron-cilantro rice. It was an explosion of flavors and textures! 

Photo provided by Asado Seafood & G
We were getting quite full, but we still had a dessert course to come. While we waited for our desserts to arrive, we commented on how much we enjoyed the dining room's modern decor and soothing color scheme. Great food served in a pleasing environment? That's a win-win to me! Next thing we know, out come our duo of comforting desserts: Warm Chocolate Fondant Cake and Summer Berry Cobbler, with the cake being served a la mode. Swoon! I always make sure to save thismuch room for dessert, no matter how good my main meal is...for reasons just like this. We immediately grabbed our spoons and dug in, sharing both desserts like good friends always should. These desserts did not disappoint!
The chocolate cake was served warm, topped with vanilla bean gelato and a fresh berry salad. The texture of the cake was almost like a souffle, and the addition of cold ice cream and tart berries cut through its richness. The cobber was sweetly tart, with a sweet and crumbly topping. Instead of ice cream, it came topped with a lovely cinnamon-scented creme fraiche. of us might have snagged a bit of the ice cream from the cake to sample with the cobbler. With that, our amazing meal at Asado was over. I can't wait to go back and sample more items from their creative menu!

The second restaurant in our Restaurant Week itinerary was Grey Moss Inn, which is a long-time favorite restaurant in the San Antonio special-occasion dining scene. This restaurant is located in nearby Helotes, in a picturesque rural setting -- complete with deer in its adjacent fields! Grey Moss Inn is known for its great food, and it's also one of the area's most romantic restaurants. I know of multiple friends who got engaged here. I somehow had never dined here before, so I was very excited to try their food. The drive into the country was peaceful, and I was immediately impressed by the gorgeous landscaping and the rock structure of the building. We we warmly welcomed by the staff and shown to our table.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Recipes with Coffee #SundaySupper...Featuring Caramel Turtle Mocha Frappe

This week, #SundaySupper is featuring recipes with coffee! Our hostess is Wendy from Wholistic Woman, who asked us to share our favorite coffee-based recipes. I love to treat myself to an icy frappe from time to time, so I wanted to see how easy it would be to re-create this beverage at home. I tinkered around playing barista in my kitchen...and I came up with a decadent Caramel Turtle Mocha Frappe. It's super easy to make, totally delish...and it costs a fraction of what I pay at my favorite coffee shop. Even better? I can make and enjoy this frappe in minutes at home while wearing my comfy pajamas whenever the mood strikes!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...Featuring a Day in New York's SoHo and Nolita Neighborhoods

Photo via Adobe
It’s no secret that Michael and I love to visit New York anytime we get the chance! The city just has so much to offer in the way of food, the arts, and fun-to-explore neighborhoods. Every trip, we pick one New York neighborhood of and spend an entire day walking around, discovering the unique things it has to offer. We’ve previously shared our experiences visiting the Upper West Side, Lower East Side, and Lower Manhattan's Battery Park City. Today, I want to share our experience exploring the area of SoHo and Nolita this Summer. Whether you love to power shop, eat great food, or just people watch…this fun New York neighborhood will definitely deliver! The intersection of Broadway and Prince Streets is a great place to start your walking tour of this bustling neighborhood. 

We started our day in SoHo with morning pastries at Laduréethe second New York location of the renowned Paris bakery. Unlike the jewel box-sized Upper East Side location, the SoHo location features a large dining room and a full menu of both sweet and savory dishes -- in addition to a large bakery display case. Michael and I admired the beutifully decorated pastries in the display case…trying to select one each to try. I opted for the feminine Rose & Raspberry Saint-Honore. It featured puff pastry, rose petal cream, raspberry compote, rose-scented Chantilly cream, and raspberries. It was truly heavenly, with a subtle rose flavor that was more like a whisper in the back of my nose. Each bite was pure pastry perfection!
Michael picked one of the most gorgeous pastries I’ve ever seen – the La Fraise Strawberry cake. Both of our pastries were like exquisite works of art…almost too pretty to eat. We somehow managed to cut into them, though. As you can see, Michael's La Fraise looked exactly like a gigantic strawberry -- complete with a green marzipan stem. Inside was cake, cream, and strawberry jam. Before we left Ladurée, I hand selected some of their amazing macarons to bring back home. Ladurée macarons are some of the best in the world and come in amazing flavors like Rose Petal, Pistachio, and Salted Caramel. The friendly staff packed my cookies in a stylish gift box that ensured they made it safely back to Texas!
While we ate our pastries, Michael discovered that there was a Leica camera store just a few blocks away, so we decided to pop in and check it out! On our way to the camera store, we discovered an amazing hand-painted mural dedicated to Prince on the outside of a building. That’s always one of the very best parts of exploring New York on foot – you truly never know what fun thing you’ll stumble upon along the way!
Here's another example of that. On our way to the camera store, we were excited to discover the fun and unique Chobani SoHo Cafe . Despite having just eaten pastries, we had to go inside to check it out! Turns out, they offer a creative menu of both sweet and savory Chobani Greek yogurt bowls in two sizes. Michael and I decided to share the tropical-inspired Pineapple Coconut Agave since we had lunch plans in a couple of hours. It was so good! Creamy Greek yogurt was topped with juicy fresh pineapple, toasted coconut, and a drizzle of agave. I hope Chobani expands this healthy concept nationwide, because this location was definitely popular! From there, we headed to the camera shop to dream of camera upgrades. Before we knew it, it was time for us to start the 30-minute walk to Lombardi’s Pizza in adjacent Nolita for lunch.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stonyfield Clean Plate Club with Justin's Nut Butter...Featuring Maple-Almond Banana Smoothie

As part of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, we recently partnered with the nice people at Justin's nut butters to create delicious and healthy protein-packed recipes. I received a trio of Justin's delicious nut butters to play around with in my kitchen: lightly sweet Maple Almond, Honey Peanut, and Chocolate Hazelnut. All of the flavors were so delicious, but I especially loved the Maple Almond Butter -- I found myself sneaking a spoonful all the time! Don't get me wrong...I love peanut butter as much as the next gal, but I went absolutely crazy for the earthiness of the almond butter and the subtle sweetness provided by maple sugar. I knew that I wanted to create a smoothie using the Maple Almond Butter that could also double as an on-the-go breakfast or hearty afternoon snack.

I used the Justin's Maple Almond Butter and super creamy Stonyfield 0% Organic Vanilla Greek Yogurt to create my fun and tasty Maple-Almond Banana Smoothie. This smoothie is flavored with maple syrup and a touch of cinnamon. It also features frozen bananas in place of ice. The end result is rich and creamy, with plenty of filling protein to power me through the busiest of work days. Of all the smoothies that I've created this year, this is definitely my personal favorite. I know that this smoothie will be favorite of your family too. Just wait until you see how quick and easy it is to make. One tip, though: be sure to freeze your bananas ahead of time. I always have frozen bananas in a zip bag in my freezer so I'm ready to make this smoothie anytime the craving hits...which is often!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Easy Football Food Ideas for Game Day #SundaySupper...Featuring Touchdown Popcorn Toffee Bark

I absolutely LOVE it when football season starts! That's why I was so excited when I saw this week's #SundaySupper theme was Easy Football Food Ideas for Game Day. Our hostess for this week's even is Coleen of The Redhead Baker blog. She encouraged us to share our best recipes for foods to enjoy while watching the Big Game! We're huge Houston Texans fans, so game day each week will find us in front of the TV watching the game...and noshing on yummy food! I typically focus on spicy, savory appetizers for events like this...but I recently saw a recipe for a quick graham cracker-based toffee bar recipe in Bon Appetit that caught my eye and begged me to make it. I tweaked their recipe a bit to create my own version, which I call Touchdown Popcorn Toffee Bark.

A graham cracker base is topped with popcorn and other crunchy toppings. Then, a homemade vanilla-cinnamon toffee is poured over the top. After a few minutes in the oven, the baked ingredients are topped with a generous amount of both semisweet and white chocolate chunks. After the bark cools, it's broken into pieces to serve. I personally GUARANTEE that this sweet snack will score a touchdown with your hungry friends and family on game day...and no one will be able to stop with just one piece!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Fortune Asian Noodle Blogger Recipe Challenge Entry...Featuring Tropic-Asian Shrimp and Mandarin Orange Noodle Salad

I was so excited to be invited to take part in the Fortune Asian Noodle Blogger Recipe Challenge for a chance to win one of three cash prizes. I selected Fortune's Yakisoba Noodles for my entry. They’re restaurant-quality pre-cooked, fresh refrigerated noodles, and they taste great! This handy product makes it a snap to prepare quick, healthy meals! Fortune Yakisoba Noodles are ready to eat in less than 3 minutes(!) and come in four delicious flavors: Mandarin Orange, Hot & Spicy, Teriyaki, and Soy Ginger. Simply add protein, vegetables, and toppings – and you’ve got a fabulous meal in no time!  Fortune Yakisoba Noodles are also 100% natural – with no MSG, cholesterol, or trans fats.
For our contest entry, we could choose between two categories: cold noodle salads or stir fry using a Fortune Asian Noodle product. I used the Mandarin Orange Yakisoba Noodles to create my Tropic-Asian Shrimp and Mandarin Orange Noodle Salad. My contest entry combines select tropical and Asian-inspired ingredients to make a refreshing main dish salad that’s perfect for warm evenings. It's a snap to make, and it tastes great! The dressing is sweet-tart, with a bit of nuttiness from the addition of almond butter. I loved this salad…and I hope it's a winner.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

How to Harvest Summer #SundaySupper...Featuring Tomato-Zucchini Pesto Flatbread with Chevre and Balsamic Drizzle

It's hard to believe that Summer is quickly drawing to a close and Fall is on the way...seems like it was just Memorial Day, and now Labor Day is coming up! To enjoy the best of Summer veggies like tomatoes and zucchini, this week's #SundaySupper participants are sharing our favorite tips to harvest Summer produce for use when the weather turns cooler. Our hostess is Caroline from Caroline’s Cooking. She encouraged us to share our favorite tips to keep the Summer flavors going all year long. I have to admit that I'm not that great at canning or preserving food...but freezing in-season produce to use later is so simple anyone can do it!

I recently found an easy-to-understand step-by-step tutorial via wiki-How that shows how to properly prep zucchini and other squash that lets me enjoy their Summer fresh flavor on the coldest of Winter days! However, for now? I'm taking advantage of economical, in-season zucchini to create lots of great my Tomato-Zucchini Pesto Flatbread with Chevre and Balsamic Drizzle. These veg-friendly flatbreads are super simple to make and bursting with flavor -- perfect for busy weeknight dinners!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wendy's Favorite Things for August - Back to School Edition #WendyFaveThings #GreatEight

It's that time again -- time to send your kiddos back to school. After the relaxing pace of Summer, things are about to get hectic for many of my readers. In response, this month's edition of Wendy's Favorite Things is going to share some food items that will help you get back into the back-to-school groove! This month's Great Eight feature culinary items that will help busy parents save time throughout the stay...and stay energized too! I'll start with mornings and move throughout the day.

(1) Kodiak Cakes Flapjacks On the Go. Pancakes are a breakfast classic, but who's got time to make batter stand over the stove making pancakes on a busy weekday morning? Not me! I was really excited to discover Kodiak Cakes Flapjacks On the Go. Simply add water to the handy cup and microwave for 1 minute. The end result is a fluffy and flavorful pancake that's ready to eat in 1 about instant gratification! My favorite flavor is the Blueberry & Maple with freeze dried blueberries. The entire cup contains 250 calories, 7 grams fat, and 5 grams of stay-with-you filling fiber. I like to take my Kodiak Cakes to work and enjoy them at my desk to make my co-workers jealous! They are lightly sweetened, but I keep a small bottle of pure maple syrup at my desk to drizzle on top for a purist pancake experience. Other flavors include Cinnamon & Maple, and Buttermilk & Maple. Kodiak Cakes can be found at leading retailers, including Target. They can also be ordered online from Amazon.

(2) Bolthouse Farms Raspberry Blood Orange Juice Blend. By now, you know my friends at Bolthouse Farms offers tons of yummy, good-for-you smoothies and juice blends. One of their newest juices is also one of my personal favorites: Raspberry Blood Orange. I promise it will wake up your taste buds and amp up your typical morning routine! This sweet-tart juice contains deep red blood oranges, raspberry and strawberry, pomegranate, cherry, and apple juices in one 32-ounce bottle. Each 8-ounce glass of this powerhouse juice contains 100% of your daily Vitamin C requirement and 2 grams of healthy fiber! For the grown-ups, I also discovered this Raspberry Blood Orange juice is fabulous mixed with a glass of champagne for your weekend brunch. To find Bolthouse Raspberry Blood Orange Juice near you, be sure check out their handy online Store Locator.

(3) Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee Concentrates. Your morning routine might just require a bit of caffeine to make it through. Enter organic Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee Concentrates! Made in Austin, Texas, these coffee concentrates come in four fun flavors: Black, Mocha, Caramel, and new Texas Pecan. These handy fridge-stored concentrates save a ton of time brewing coffee in the morning. They also let each person customize their coffee blend. Add water and/or milk to taste and even match the strength and sweetness level of the cup you're aiming for. I prefer my coffee on the tamer side, so I mix my cup with 1 part Chameleon Cold Brew Texas Pecan, 2 parts water, and 1 part skim milk. Then, I add caramel-flavored creamer to taste. Customized coffee in my own kitchen! These great coffee concentrates aren't just for breakfast...they can be used as a cocktail mixer or even as a recipe ingredient. I'm perfecting a coffee-pecan turtle ice cream recipe to share soon. Texas readers can find Chameleon Cold Brew products at popular retail locations, and their products are available for nationwide shipping via their online store.

(4) CedarLane Ready-to-Eat Omelettes. Because my weekday mornings are so hectic, I tend to reserve heartier hot breakfasts for the weekend. With CedarLane's yummy ready-to-eat omelettes? I don't have to! These babies cook up in the microwave while I'm getting dressed, so I can enjoy a warm protein-rich breakfast on the busiest of mornings. Best of all, these all-natural omelettes are made with low-fat, protein packed egg whites. My personal favorite flavor is the Green Chile, Cheese & Ranchero Sauce. For just 240 calories and 10 grams of fat, it has all of my favorite breakfast flavors in one's also great rolled up in tortillas for a portable breakfast taco! To find CedarLane Egg White Omelettes near you, simply visit their online Store Finder.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for August...Featuring a Romantic New York Date Night #WGDinesOut

Earlier this Summer, Michael and I enjoyed a very special date night during a long weekend in New York. We got dressed up and enjoyed a fabulous gourmet meal, followed by an amazing  New York Philharmonic performance at Lincoln Center. We started our date night with dinner at La Chine restaurant, located inside the legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel. In a city with no shortage of Chinese restaurants to choose from, La Chine truly stands apart. The decor is elegant, featuring a soothing color palate -- and the food is equally refined. It is easily one of the best dining experiences we've enjoyed this year. La Chine offers diners an authentic culinary journey through China, showcasing the full range of Chinese cuisine -- including a rare Chinese raw bar. La Chine's creative menu combines Chinese flavors with French inspiration to create a singular dining sensation! 

We arrived and were warmly greeted by the hostess. As we were shown to our table, we stopped to admire the lovely decor -- including a gorgeous fresh flower display in the center of the dining room. That pop of color really worked nicely! We were seated and decided to start with a refreshing cocktail and a pair of starters. We selected the Crispy and Spicy Broad Bean Prawns from Guangdong and the sublime Eight Hour Golden Broth with Lobster, Scallop, and Crab Meat from Beijing. Both were expertly prepared and totally delicious! The richly flavored soup was light, but it had a great depth of flavor -- and the chunks of seafood were perfectly cooked. 
The crispy prawns were large, plump, and sweet. They were also perfectly fried -- not the least bit greasy! While we enjoyed our starters, we sipped on the aptly named Dream cocktail. This truly dreamy cocktail features Kamoizumi Shusen 3 dots Sake, lemon, lemongrass, and honeydew. The flavors were very unique, and they paired very nicely with our starters. Our meal was off to a great start! For our entrees, we decided to order one seafood dish and one beef dish to create an Asian-inspired surf and turf. That turned out to be a great decision! We picked the Wok Seared Diver Scallops with Honshimeji, Sugar Snaps, and Black Bean Sauce from Huayang. We paired the scallop entree with Wok Seared American Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Hickory Walnuts with Black Pepper Glaze from Zhejiang. Both of the entrees were expertly prepared and bursting with flavor.
The scallops were perfectly seared and tender-sweet, with a flavorful glaze. The Wagyu beef was fork tender and full of beefy flavor. The richness of the beef was nicely offset by the fresh vegetables in the dish. Both entrees were filling, but not the least bit heavy -- which meant we had plenty of room for a shared dessert. There were several options that caught our eye, but we opted for the artistic and delicious Coconut Tapioca Soup with Dragon Fruit, Mango, and Horned Melon.

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