The Weekend Gourmet F

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Celebrating Hatch Chile Harvest Season with Frieda's...Featuring Hatch-Cheddar Shrimp Risotto #HatchFever

If you haven't tried famous Hatch green chiles, now is the perfect time to change that…but you have to act fast! From now through early September is the annual harvesting season for these amazing peppers. Hatch chiles are a popular group of long green chile varieties that are grown exclusively in the Mesilla Valley near Hatch, New Mexico. Chile lovers eagerly anticipate each year's harvest of these flavorful peppers. Hatch chiles look similar to Anaheim chiles, but they’re spicier. In fact, the Extra Hot Hatch variety is typically hotter than a jalapeno. My friends at Frieda’s Specialty Produce recently sent me a box of Hot Hatch chiles to create an original recipe to share with you today.
Although Hatch chile peppers can certainly be chopped and used raw, they’re ideal for roasting. Roasting is simple to do, and it enhances the chile's flavor and intensifies the heat level. Roasting can easily be done at home -- Frieda’s has step-by-step directions on their website. Once roasted, simply slip the skins off of the Hatch chiles and you’re ready to use them in a variety of recipes. Stuff them with cheese for chile rellenos...or chop them for using in homemade salsas, sauces, chili, etc. I recently roasted 5 lbs. of Hatch chiles one weekend afternoon. I packed them into ziptop bags and placed them in the freezer so I can use them this Fall, long after the Hatch harvest season is over!
For today’s recipe, I decided to use some of my chopped roasted Hatch chiles in a spicy fusion dish: flavorful Hatch-Cheddar Shrimp Risotto. Using the classic risotto technique, I added diced Hatch chile and creamy cheddar cheese. To add a bit of smokiness, I incorporated some diced pancetta – but bacon would work just fine too! This risotto makes a perfect one-pan dinner that takes classic risotto to spicy new levels. I used one diced roasted Hatch chile in my risotto, but feel free to double that amount if you want a bit more kick.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back to School #SundaySupper...Featuring Chopped Shrimp Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

Where has the Summer gone to? It seems like it was just Memorial Day…and now Labor Day is right around the corner. For many of you, that means one thing: back to school! Some school districts in Texas have already started the new school year, so today’s Back to School #SundaySupper is perfect! Our co-hostesses Tammi of Momma's Meals and Gwen from Simply Healthy Family asked us to share our favorite quick breakfast, brown-bag lunch, afternoon snack, or quick-cook dinner options. Since time always seems to be short for me no matter the time of year, I’m always happy to add new fast-and-easy recipes to my busy weeknight repertoire. The recipe I’m sharing today is for a refreshing, yet filling main dish salad.
My Chopped Shrimp Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette is refreshing on a warm evening…but it’s filing enough to satisfy even big appetites. The trick to preparing this salad as quickly as possible is to buy peeled and deveined shrimp from the grocery store. With that and a bit of multitasking, this complete meal-in-a-bowl salad is ready to serve in about 30 minutes. It features chopped grilled shrimp, avoacado, crumble goat cheese, select veggies, and a couple of crunchy components. Don’t be intimidated by the homemade dressing – it has just a few simple ingredients and comes together in just a couple of minutes. If your family is allergic to – or doesn’t eat – seafood, simply sub in bite-sized cubes of chicken. To make it veg-friendly, sub cubed tofu or roasted chickpeas. You really can’t go wrong!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Preview: San Antonio's Culinaria Restaurant Week, August 16-23rd!

The week of August 16-23, San Antonio area foodies will celebrate one of our favorite food-related events! Every August, Culinaria's San Antonio Restaurant Week spotlights the best restaurants in San Antonio. Our city is quickly developing a vibrant restaurant scene -- and this is the week the best restaurants in the city have a chance to show off their signature menu items! This week-long event is the perfect opportunity to try popular new restaurants, restaurants you’ve always wanted to try out...or even a restaurant that's a familiar favorite. There's literally something to suit every palate and every price range! Restaurants all over the city will offer three-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus in three different pricing tiers:
  • $15 lunch and $35 dinner
  • $10 lunch and $25 dinner
  • Restaurant Week on The Move: $8 lunch and $15 dinner
Restaurants run the gamut from casual eateries to upscale fine-dining...and everything in between. For me, San Antonio Restaurant Week is the perfect time to try out a new-to-me restaurant and try three menu items for a great price. Most menus include an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Michael and I will be visiting at least one restaurant next week, and we'll be sharing the experience for this month's The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out feature. You can visit the Restaurant Week website ahead of time to scope out each restaurant's special menu to see which one grabs your attention. The menu from Two Step Restaurant & Cantina especially caught my eye!

Two Step Restaurant & Cantina Restaurant Week Dinner Menu
1st Course:
  • Tomato & English Cucumber Salad with Avocado, Cotija Cheese, and Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
  • Watermelon and Pineapple Salad with Feta Cheese, Cucumber, and Balsamic Pomegranate Vinaigrette
2nd Course:
  • BBQ Beef Ribs Spice Rubbed, Slowly Smoked and Glazed with Spicy BBQ Sauce 
  • Shiner Bock Shrimp Scampi with Jalapeño Bread Crumbs
  • 14 oz NY Strip with Habanero Butter
  • Choice of one side: Brussel Sprouts Sautéed in Butter with Bacon & Sweet Peppers; Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Corn Mashed Potatoes; or Roasted Corn Dressed with Cotija Cheese, Chile and Mayo
3rd Course:
  • Cobbler of the Day with Amy’s Mexican Vanilla Cream 
  • Banana Pudding with Nilla Wafers, Slices of Fresh Banana, Whipped Cream and Ice Cream
Photo courtesy of Duk Truk
Advance reservations aren't required, but they're a good idea since the most popular restaurants tend to fill up quickly. Simply call any participating restaurant directly to make reservations. Continuing this year is the popular Restaurant Week on The Move event, which features the best food trucks in the city. It's fun event is casual and family-friendly. It will take place this year on August 19th at Travis Park from 11oo a.m. - 200 p.m. Some of the participating food trucks include Chef Jason Dady's popular DUK Truck, Cheesy Jane's, and Saweet Cupcakes

San Antonio Restaurant Week benefits Culinaria, so your dining experience will also be a charitable one. For each meal ordered specifically for Restaurant Week, restaurants will donate $1 for lunch and $2 for dinner to Culinaria and the programs it supports. Culinaria is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to benefiting the San Antonio community and promoting San Antonio as an ideal wine and food destination. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Introducing the 5-hour ENERGY® #Yummification Video Contest...Featuring Pomegranate Pink Lemonade Sparkler

These days, it seems like having a crazy-busy schedule is a foregone conclusion. Like me, everyone I talk to seems to have a “to do” list that's a mile long -- and they feel like there’s never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Sometimes, we all need a little pick-me-up. From time to time, I pick up a 5-hour ENERGY® shot to give me a quick burst of energy in the afternoons. That said, its taste can be a bit…ahem…strong for my palate! The makers of 5-hour ENERGY® recognized this, so they recently announced their Yummification Video contest to find the best-tasting recipe featuring one of their ENERGY shots! Here's the details:
5-hour ENERGY® recently asked me to share this contest with my readers by creating a tasty Yummification beverage featuring any 5-hour ENERGY® shot of my choosing. If you’ve never tried this product, here’s some handy information:
  • 5-hour ENERGY® shots are dietary supplements that provide hours of energy and alertness.
  • They contain a blend of B-vitamins, amino acids, and essential nutrients.
  • They help people feel alert and energized for hours.
  • They contain zero sugar, zero carbs, zero herbal stimulants…and only 4 calories!
  • The amount of caffeine in a 5-hour ENERGY® shot is comparable to a cup of the leading premium coffee.
  • People may consume up to 2 bottles of 5-hour ENERGY®, spaced several hours apart. For moderate energy needs, simply drink half a bottle of 5-hour ENERGY®.

One quick note to keep in mind: 5-hour ENERGY® is not an energy drink or intended to be mixed with alcohol. It is not intended for children, women who are pregnant or nursing, or people with medical conditions. It does not increase physical performance, dexterity, or endurance – and it does not treat or cure any disease or medical condition. Do not drink more than two per day, and do not drink more than one at a time.

For my personalized Yummification beverage, I created a simple and fizzy beverage with only 3-ingredients, including the 5-hour ENERGY® Pink Lemonade shot. My Summer-perfect Pomegranate Pink Lemonade Sparkler is fruity and fizzy…and it gives you a boost of added energy too! Ready to see the recipe?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Staging an Applegate #Weinervention...Featuring Slow Cooker Hot Dog Chili

Today, The Weekend Gourmet is staging a #Weinervention! People, it’s time to change the way you eat hot dogs...so I’m partnering with Applegate to show you a healthier way to enjoy this American classic. A recent survey found that a whopping 92% of Americans bought hot dogs in the last year -- but  80% agreed that most hot dogs are low quality and unhealthy. When it comes to hot dogs, Applegate believes that it’s time for a “cleaner wiener.” More than 90% of people who eat hot dogs say they would rather purchase hot dogs with a short ingredient list, and that’s where Applegate steps in. The ingredient list for their hot dogs is simple: antibiotic and hormone-free beef, water, salt, and spices. That’s it, folks…no funky additives, preservatives, or mystery meat to be found!

Applegate recently provided me with a #Wienervention kit that contains all of the elements necessary to cook up a healthier hot dog feast. My kit included the following fun goodies:
Last weekend, I staged my own personal #Weinervention. I served my Applegate Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dogs two different ways: what I like to call Ballpark Style (with mustard, ketchup, relish, and diced onion) and Texas Style (with mustard, chili, and cheese). Michael absolutely loves chili dogs, so I knew that they had to be one of my menu options. 
For this occasion, I decided to step my game up a bit and make a healthier homemade chili topping. What I came up with was super-easy Slow Cooker Hot Dog Chili. It features lean ground beef, organic tomatoes, onions, and a few herbs and spices. Simply set this chili to cook in the morning, and you’re good to go by late afternoon/early evening. That makes this hot dog topper perfect for back-to-school dinners...or Fall weekend football-watching parties!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

POM Juice Blends Prize Pack #Giveaway...Featuring POM Hula-rific Smoothies

Staying hydrated is very important during the hottest part of the year…and August in Texas is definitely H-O-T! We keep cool and hydrated by drinking plenty of cold drinks. I prefer to stick with ice water and fruit-based beverages when possible. Today’s recipe for my POM Hula-rific Smoothies combines the best of both worlds: it’s refreshing, healthier than a milkshake…and it’s literally a tropical vacation in a glass! My friends at POM Wonderful recently sent me a trio of their POM Juice Blends to create a Summer blender treat to share with you. POM Juice Blends contain a light, refreshing blend of pomegranate and other juices. Juice Blends come in POM Mango (great for smoothies and mixed drinks), POM Coconut (a very hydrating blend), and POM Hula (blended with pineapple juice). All three 100% Juice Blends varieties taste great, but I especially love the POM Hula.

POM Hula Juice Blend contains 50% antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice, 30% tropical pineapple juice, and 20% apple juice. It’s flavor profile is a perfect balance between sweet and tart…making it a perfect starting point for my POM Hula-rific Smoothies. To maximize the tropical flavor of the juice, I added lowfat pineapple sherbet and a bit of cream of coconut. Chunks of frozen banana ensure that the end result is a thick and creamy smoothie. Even better, this smoothie is quick and easy to whip up…making it an easy afternoon snack or an on-the-go breakfast!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa Staycation

Sometimes, you need a quick weekend getaway -- someplace where you don’t have to drive a long distance or purchase an expensive plane ticket. Luckily, San Antonio has a perfect weekend staycation destination: the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. Located just a few miles north of Loop 1604, this resort is close enough for local residents to drive over in less than an hour…but far enough away to feel like you’re getting away from it all. Once you arrive, you’ll find everything you need for a action-packed family staycation…or a relaxing, romantic getaway for two! The resort offers a huge onsite water park, terrific dining options, kid-friendly activities, the TPC San Antonio golf course, and the full-service Lantana Spa. Michael and I were recently invited to visit the JW Marriot for a weekend to experience all that it has to offer. We left rested and refreshed…and we arrived back home Sunday afternoon with plenty of time to get ready for the upcoming work week.
We arrived at JW Marriott after work on a Friday evening, dropped our cars with the valet, and were quickly checked in. Before we knew it, we were settling into our spacious suite. The family-friendly suite featured a large bedroom, two bathrooms, a mini kitchen, large living/dining room area that can sleep at least two more people…and a fabulous L-shaped balcony that provided sweeping views of both the water park and the golf course. We started our staycation weekend with a fantastic dinner at Cibolo Moon, which features spicy Southwest specialties and a highly regarded tequila program. We were warmly greeted and quickly shown to our table. We started our meal with a duo of appetizers and one of Cibolo Moon’s award-winning Cibolo Staple Margaritas. Their handcrafted cocktails are made with fresh-squeezed juice and organic agave. The restaurant takes its tequila very seriously! In fact, they've been given an Award of Distinction Agave del Oro category from the Tequila Regulatory Council. We enjoyed sharing their Guacamole with Bacon & Onion and the Smoked Brisket "Burnt Ends." The margarita was tasty…and potent!
The guacamole was creamy and fresh, and the tortilla chips were warm...not the least bit greasy. The brisket "burnt ends"consisted of crispy smoked beef brisket pieces topped with blue cheese...perfect for rolling in house-made flour tortillas. We opted to go with seafood for our entrees. It was a warm evening, so I chose the light and refreshing Gulf Crab Salad with Avocado and Chili-Lime Chips. Michael selected the spicy Chili-Seared Shrimp with Cheese Grits. Both entrees were well prepared and tasty. My salad featured a generous amount of sweet lump crab, and Michael's shrimp were large and perfectly cooked. Both entrees paired nicely with Cibolo Moon’s signature biscuits and strawberry jalapeno jam. They came served in a mini cast iron skillet and are some of the best biscuits I’ve ever had – tender and moist.
We ended our meal by sharing a dessert duo: Blueberry Cobbler with Blueberry Ice Cream and Deconstructed Banana Pudding. Both desserts were comforting and delicious. We had never had blueberry cobbler before, but we loved the sweet-tart taste of the warm blueberries. The banana pudding was an updated version of a Southern classic, served with bruleed bananas and topped with a toasted meringue topping. It was the perfect sweet ending to a fabulous meal. After dinner, it was so convenient to simply walk back to our suite! Within 10 minutes, we were back to our room to unwind and get some rest. 
Our suite was spacious, with tons of great amenities -- WiFi, two flat-screen televisions, and even a working fireplace! The suite was literally the size of an apartment. Before calling it a night, I hopped into the suite's deep jetted soaking tub for a bubble bath. It was perfection -- a relaxing ending to the first evening of our stay at the JW Marriott. Saturday was going to be a busy day, so we were very thankful for the comfortable King size bed in our bedroom. 
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott San Antonio 
We woke up Saturday and enjoyed a casual breakfast on the large patio adjacent to our suite's spacious living and dining area. Since our room had a mini kitchen with a microwave and a mini fridge, I had brought some fruit and yogurt with me when I arrived. We paired the fruit and yogurt with a stash of extra biscuits that our server at Cibolo Moon was kind enough to give us as we left the night before. The biscuits reheated perfectly after a few seconds in the microwave -- before being slathered with butter and more of Cibolo M0on's tasty house-made strawberry jalapeño jam. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Introducing Versatile Texas Pete Cha! Sriracha...

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of CHA! by Texas Pete. All opinions are 100% mine.

By now, we’ve established that Casa Garcia loves Big-Flavor foods. Bottom line: iIf it’s spicy, Michael and I love it! Today, I want to introduce you to a new product from Texas Pete brand hot sauce: CHA! by Texas Pete sriracha sauce. Texas Pete CHA! was introduced earlier this year, and it has rapidly gained popularity. Fans are going crazy for this versatile sauce for a variety of reasons. Some people enjoy its tantalizing blend of spicy sweetness that makes it the perfect topping for pasta, pizza, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Other people love its exotic heat, which makes it a fantastic ingredient in sauces, soups, and marinades. No matter how you use it -- in the kitchen or on the table -- it’s time to embrace your CHA!ddiction!!
 photo 1477442_10151875524602424_420544575_n2_zps2f0fadd7.jpg  
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I especially love that Texas Pete CHA! can be used as either a condiment or a spicy recipe ingredient. As much as we love Big-Flavor foods at Casa Garcia, you can bet that we'll enjoy using Texas Pete CHA! It’s delicious added to foods for a burst of spicy flavor – we will most likely drizzle it on top of takeout pizza to give it some extra pizzazz! However, its unique taste and texture also make it an ideal recipe flavor enhancer. I can’t wait to add it to spaghetti sauce and soups for an extra spicy kick! Although Texas Pete CHA! was released less than a year ago, it can now be found in many supermarkets nationwide. If you can’t find locate in a store near you…no worries! Texas Pete CHA! can also be purchased online via TexasPete.com.

Texas Pete hot sauces have been a staple on southern tables for decades – including my own kitchen! They’ve also been gaining popularity nationwide and in many other countries. To discover all of the delicious ways that you can use Texas Pete CHA! in your favorite dishes, head over to TexasPete.com and CHAddiction.com to view the recipes they’re sharing online. With football season coming up, I can’t wait to add the Cha!chos and this mouthwatering Cha! Country Fried Chicken to my gameday feasts!
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So...how would YOU use Texas Pete CHA! sriracha in your upcoming Big-Flavor cooking adventures? Leave me a comment below telling me which of the flavorful, spicy CHAddiction.com Recipes you’re most excited to try!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for July...Featuring Dough Pizzeria Napoletana

This month, The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring Dough Pizzeria Napoletana. This popular San Antonio pizzeria serves some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza that you'll find this side of Naples, Italy. Their pizza is the real deal, folks! Owners Doug and Lori Horn even brought their wood fired brick oven from Italy to ensure the authenticity of their pizza. This insistence on authenticity paid off. Last July, Chef/Owner Doug Horn received Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (APN) certification from Roberto Caporuscio, Delegato APN-USA. APN is the Italian governing body that teaches the art of Neapolitan pizza making and certifies adherence to authentic procedures. With recognition far and wide, Dough is regarded as some of the best pizza in the United States. All I know is that their pizza is some of the best I've eaten anywhere...and I'm lucky that Dough is located right in my backyard! We were recently invited to dinner to try some of their signature dishes, and it was a delicious experience from start to finish!

I started with a sweet and fruity champagne-based cocktail from the cocktail menu. It was light and refreshing, and it paired perfectly with our selection from Dough's extensive fresh Mozzarella & Burrata Bar. Lori recommended that we try the Fior de Latte house-pulled burrata, served with roasted Colorburst Farms tomatoes, basil pesto, roasted garlic, balsamic reduction, and flatbread. What a fabulous start to our meal! The plate was stunningly gorgeous...and incredibly delicious! If you've never tried burrata, it's a cheese lover's dream come true: the outside is fresh mozzarella, and the inside is a creamy filling. This burrata was creamy and mild -- and it paired perfectly with the robust flavors of the pesto, balsamic, and garlic. We spread a bit of each on a piece of warm-from-the-oven flatbread and smiled happy smiles! This substantial appetizer is perfect for 2-3 people to share. However, it would also work for a lunch or light dinner if dining solo. I could've happily eaten this burrata plate all evening...but then our pizza duo arrived. 
We opted to share two pizzas, one veg-friendly...and one that's a carnivore's delight! The Fontina features nutty Italian fontina cheese, oak-roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, and Parmigiano Reggiano. The meaty Pork Love pizza features a bevy of flavorful pork products: sopressata salami, sausage, pancetta, and speck...along with house-pulled mozzarella and tomato sauce. Both pizzas cooked in minutes in Dough's brick oven, which reaches temperates near 900 degrees. The resulting pizza comes to the table with a nice crust, chewy and a bit crusty...including strategic charring, which gives the pizza a slightly smoky flavor. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mode Foodie August Recipe Collection...Featuring Sensational Summer Seafood

Check out Sensational Summer Seafood

by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Foodie.com


For the August Foodie Contributor program, I'm sharing a collection of mouthwatering Sensational Summer Seafood recipes. Seafood is near and dear to my heart! I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast, about 30 minutes from Galveston. I grew up eating Gulf shrimp and fish that my Grandpa Wofford caught. From childhood, seafood has been some of my favorite food...and I still cook lots of fish and shrimp dishes. If I had to pick one favorite food, it would definitely be shrimp!

I pretty much love all seafood -- fish, shrimp, crab, scallops, crawfish, and lobster are my personal favorites. Seafood is perfect for Summer -- it's quick to cook, light, and so adaptable! The recipes I'm sharing run the gamut from seafood boils...to fish and shrimp tacos...to salads and appetizers. Whether type of seafood you love, you're sure to find a fabulous recipe to try out for your next outdoor event! So...fire up the grill, grab a big boiling pot, and get chopping. These Sensational Summer Seafood recipes are party-ready and full of the Big Flavors I love!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored opportunity with Foodie.com. Compensation was provided, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Food & Wine Conference 2014 Recap!

I’ve spent the past few days letting my experience attending and speaking at Food & Wine Conference in Orlando last weekend percolate in my brain. It was hands down the best blog conference that I’ve attended! I learned so much valuable information, and I met some truly amazing people – fellow food writers, brand ambassadors, and the friendly and helpful staff at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. It was an amazing experience from the moment I arrived (at 200 a.m. no less…) until the moment that I hopped into my handy uber ride back to the Orlando airport on Sunday afternoon. In between was three days of learning, amazing food and wine…and connecting with fellow food lovers! I met new friends, and I also connected in person with many members of my #SundaySupper family. We come together on Sundays to share recipes around a theme on our blogs. I’ve been in the group for 2+ years, so I’ve made lasting connections with many of these amazing cooks and writers. To finally meet some of them in person to put a voice with a face and spend time in their presence was one of the best parts of the conference. Although technically “strangers” in the sense that I hadn’t met many of them in person, the conference truly felt like a big family reunion.

Food & Wine Conference is organized and hosted by #SundaySupper founder Isabel Laessig of Family Foodie. She’s a dynamo…let me tell you! Despite being pulled many directions at once, she always had time for a hug or a shared smiled whenever our paths crossed over the weekend. I was honored when Isabel asked me to speak at this year’s conference. I co-presented a Media Kit Workshop with the very talented – and witty – Monica Bhide. She was a joy to work with, and presenting with her was an honor! Sunday was my birthday, and the entire session broke into an impromptu version of Happy Birthday before the conference…which was pretty awesome! I not only shared information, I learned a lot too. Saturday was jam-packed with back-to-back speakers. Each one was motivational and inspiring…I left the conference wanting to take The Weekend Gourmet to higher levels in every way. To hear successful writers and food brands speak about their experiences is a great catalyst to achieve more. The overall theme of the conference is to dream big, know your personal brand, and to not compare yourself to anyone else. Each of us has our own path to take, but we have to be bold enough to follow it!

When we weren’t learning…or hugging each other and posing for pictures...we enjoyed lots of great food and wine! The food we had was so tasty…breaks were sponsored by several brand sponsors. For example, we enjoyed a delicious mimosa and bloody Mary bar one morning…and three new varieties of Cabot cheddar cheese in the afternoon. We also enjoyed a fabulous sneak peek of Gallo Family Vineyards’ amazing new Riesling…as well as  first look at new Petite Crème from Stoneyfield. They were just a few of the delicious goodies that our sponsors shared with us! We also enjoyed A Taste of Rosen Shingle Creek on Friday evening, which featured small plates of menu items from the resort’s restaurants. Everything was so good! Then we returned to our rooms to find a cute and healthy snack from Duda Farms.
Speaking of Rosen Shingle Creek Resort? It was an ideal place for this event. The rooms were gorgeous, the grounds were lovely – late-night spa time, anyone? -- and the conference facilities were top-notch. I’m fortunate to stay in many resorts as part of our culinary travelogue travels, and this resort is first-class all the way. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Texas Frito Pie Burger...Featuring El Diablo Texas Chili Mustard #burgermonth #hotashell

By now, we’ve established that Summers here in Texas are crazy H-O-T! As a result, we tend to eat lots of light, refreshing main dish salads in an effort to beat the heat. That’s fine and good…but sometimes? Sometimes, you just want to sink your teeth into a juicy burger! Summer is the perfect time to celebrate #burgermonth. This fun celebration of all things burger is hosted by the lovely Kita of Girl Carnivore. Our burger-loving group is sharing 31 days of creative and tasty burgers this month. Each day, a different blogger is sharing their favorite burger creation. Today, I’m sharing my Texas Frito Pie Burger. These burgers are inspired by the menu at Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Austin. During a visit last year, I saw a similar burger on their menu. I didn’t order it and have been kicking myself ever since. So...I decided to create my version of a Frito pie-topped burger for #burgermonth.

These are definitely three-napkin burgers, but they’re really simple to make and bursting with the Big Flavors that I love. Wait until you see all the goodness going on in these burgers! One of our sponsors for #burgermonth is El Diablo Mustards. They have several flavors of spicy mustard, but their Texas Chili variety was absolutely perfect for my Texas Frito Pie Burger. Not only is the mustard spread onto the bun, it flavors the burger patties too. Each meaty 1/3-lb. burger is topped with chili, Fritos, shredded cheese, and chopped onion. Yeah…it’s a bit over-the-top, but in a good way! Feel free to use your favorite chili for this recipe. Growing up, it wasn’t truly a Frito pie in my house unless we used canned Wolf brand chili, so that’s what I used here. These burgers are piled high with ingredients, making them very dude-friendly. I’m certainly no dude, but I loved these burgers too!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On-the-Go Snacks...Featuring Life Choice Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bars #BarNutrition #CollectiveBias

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are solely my own.


I'm a busy women...I work a demanding day job in addition to publishing a growing food blog and running a household. I truly love what I do, but sometimes it seems like there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do it all. I often find myself in search of after-work snacks to give me the energy I need to edit photos, write articles, and keep my household running smoothly. I like to reach for something that's a good on-the-go snack, and I prefer for it to be nutritious too. Enter my latest discovery: Life Choice Energy Bars from Life Choice Foods. They come in two yummy flavors, but I'm hooked on the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor. It has the same flavor profile as my favorite candy, with a lot less guilt! Each generous 1.9-ounce bar provides 7 grams protein, 10 grams of whole grains, and 4 grams of fiber. That gives me the energy I need to make it until I have time to cook a healthy dinner.

I like to pair a chewy, satisfying Life Choice Energy Bar with fresh fruit for a nutritious after-work pick-me-up. As you can see from the picture above, juicy strawberries make a great pairing...but bananas work really nicely too. Not a peanut butter fan? No worries! There's also a Chocolate Fudge Brownie Energy Bar for those who prefer a double dose of chocolate. Life Choice Bars are available exclusively at Walmart, and they make it easier for you to get the added nutrition you're looking for in a snack. You'll find Life Choice bars in Cereal aisle, near the oatmeal and granola bars. These bars taste great, and they're more affordable than traditional health and nutrition bars.  Each box comes with five filling bars. The bars make a great afternoon snack, but I also like to eat them for breakfast at my desk. I add a container of low fat Greek yogurt, and I'm full all the way until lunch. Life Choice bars also come in other varieties, including: Meal Bars, Wellness Bars, and Protein Bars...so there's something for everyone!
I can't wait to try some of the other varieties of these filling, nutrient-packed bars. For less than $4 per box of five bars, you have a workweek's worth of snacks and/or breakfasts. With these Life Choice Energy Bars, it's easy to chase away that late afternoon slump.
When I eat these peanut buttery bars, I feel like I'm indulging...I certainly don't feel like I'm sacrificing flavor for health at all. I hope that you'll give these delicious bars a try very soon. I love to eat healthy bars, and these are some of the best I've tried in ages!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gallo Grilling #SundaySupper...Featuring Grilled Chicken with Blueberry-Merlot Sauce

This week, #SundaySupper is teaming with our good friends at Gallo Family Vineyards to share our best Summer grilling recipes that can either be paired with or include their delicious Merlot or Sweet White Blend wines. I love to grill lean, healthy chicken breast during the warmer months, so that was my starting point for today’s dish. My Grilled Chicken with Blueberry-Merlot Sauce may sound a bit unusual, but I promise that it’s one winning flavor combination. I recently found a recipe for Blueberry-Balsamic Chicken that caught my eye, so I used that as the inspiration for my flavorful blueberry-merlot sauce today. This savory-sweet sauce contains fresh in-season blueberries, Gallo Merlot, a bit of balsamic, shallot, and a few select herbs and spices. The sauce is made ahead and both brushed on and poured over grilled boneless chicken breasts. Feel free to fire up your charcoal or gas grill if you like, but this recipe also works great using a cast-iron grill pan for indoor cooking.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Family Favorites Turned Healthy #WeekdaySupper...Featuring Tex-Mex Shrimp Skillet #ChooseDreams

For today's Family Favorites Turned Healthy #WeekdaySupper recipe, I'm sharing a dish that's a sure-fire winner in my book. My quick-cook Tex-Mex Shrimp Skillet is healthy, tastes great...and you'll only have one dish to clean when dinner is over! This convenient skillet dish is a complete meal, and it's chock-full of healthy ingredients. Shrimp are one of my favorite healthy, quick-cook foods. They're naturally low in fat and calories, and I love their sweet flavor. My skillet also includes a triple dose of fiber-rich veggies: diced tomatoes, onions, and sweet corn kernels. To save time, I used a pre-seasoned Mexican rice mix. To increase the fiber in this skillet meal and stretch the servings even further, feel free to add a can of well-drained black beans to the skillet just before you add the rice. Yes, the avocado on top isn't strictly lowfat...but it's a heart-healthy fat that you can feel good about eating! 

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