The Weekend Gourmet F

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! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July Secret Recipe Club...Featuring Pesto Pasta Salad

This year is whooshing by so quickly...it's already time for another fun Secret Recipe Club reveal. This month, I was assigned the blog Claire K Creations. Claire lives in Australia with her husband and adorable baby boy, Ollie. We have quite a bit in common -- we both love to cook, but we don't like to spend hours in the kitchen. We also both love to dine out and travel, so I had a great time reading through her blog looking for a recipe to share. I ended up selecting her flavorful Pesto Pasta Salad for our July 4th weekend menu. Michael has been on a pesto kick recently, so I knew he'd really enjoy this quick-cook Summer dish! Flavored with bold basil pesto and tangy feta, it's got the big flavors I love.

It's Winter in Australia, so a pasta salad may seem odd to Claire when she reads this. However, it's 90+ here in Texas now that it's July, so a cold pasta salad is just what we were looking for this weekend. I made one tweak to Claire's original recipe, subbing diced Roma tomato and sweet corn kernels for the roasted sweet potato in her recipe. I had those veggies on hand, and it seemed a bit more Summery. This pasta salad can be made up to a day ahead, making it perfect for busy warm-weather entertaining. Feel free to use any pasta you like, but I opted to use a healthy high-protein, high-fiber pasta. Wait until you see how easy this great pasta salad is to whip up!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Easy, Fun July 4th Treats...Featuring Patriotic Peeps and Häagen-Dazs Gelato #StressFreeHoliday

July 4th…a time to celebrate our nation’s independence as we spend time with our family and friends. This year is even better, because it’s also a three-day weekend! If you're like me, the holiday also means it's time to unwind and enjoy a few of your favorite Summer BBQ and potluck dishes before it's time to watch the fireworks light up the night sky. This year, I vowed to make my holiday treats as easy and stress-free as possible. Today I’m sharing two July 4th treats that are so easy to make that you won’t end up frazzled putting them together. My friends at Peeps and Häagen-Dazs  recently sent me some fun Summertime goodies, so I decided to create a duo of fun goodies that taste great and are a snap to make -- even on a busy holiday!
These Patriotic Peep Parfaits are a snap to make. They’re festive red, white, and blue...and topped with a fun,patriotic marshmallow Peep. If you think that Peeps are just for Easter, think again! They make seasonal goodies year round! Their July 4th Patriotic Peeps are Vanilla Creme flavored and covered with red, white, and blue sugar confetti decorations. To make these parfaits, simply prepare two packages of your favorite white-colored instant pudding mix according to package directions. I used sugar-free cheesecake pudding, but white chocolate works great too. Spoon a layer of pudding in the bottom of a parfait glass. For your red and blue colors, spoon a layer of chopped strawberries and blueberries on top of the pudding. Top the berries with a second layer of pudding and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Just before serving, arrange a Patriotic Peep on top of each parfait. This dessert is cute as can be, simple to make…and totally delish!
If a frozen treat is more your speed, you’ll love staying cool with my colorful Stars 'n Stripes Cookie Gelato Sandwiches. These sandwiches are made with yummy Häagen-Dazs Pomegranate Swirl Gelato. This gelato combines tart pomegranate and creamy vanilla gelato swirled together, and it’s positively addictive! To make these fun gelato sandwiches, I dipped 5 store-bought sugar cookies in melted white chocolate. I placed the dipped cookies on a parchment-lined tray and decorated them with July 4th sprinkles. After a 15-minute visit to the fridge to firm up the white chocolate, I was ready to assemble. I placed a small scoop of the gelato onto the top side of 5 undecorated sugar cookies, then I placed the decorated cookies on top of the gelato and pressed lightly. After that, they went in the freezer for 30 minutes to let the gelato firm up a bit before serving. Talk about fun…and tasty! Kids...even us big kids...are guaranteed to go crazy for these frozen treats.
By the way…if you have any melted white chocolate left after dipping your sugar cookies, you can also dip some of the strawberries left from making the parfaits! Simply decorate with colored sugar or more July 4th sprinkles. As you can see, these strawberries make another great addition to your holiday treat table. I hope that you’ll give one of my stress-free July 4th sweets a try tomorrow. The holidays are all about spending time with those you love…not spending the entire day in the kitchen. These easy desserts can even be made tomorrow morning and stored in the fridge or freezer until it’s time for fireworks and dessert tomorrow evening.

Disclosure: Peeps and Häagen-Dazs provided me with product samples to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Weekend Gourmet Flashback...Featuring Refreshing Chunky Shrimp Salsa

Two Summers ago, I shared a recipe for a flavorful chunky shrimp salsa. Everyone who's tried it since has gone absolutely nuts for it...so I decided to whip up a batch for the upcoming July 4th weekend. I came here a couple of days ago to print out the recipe to make sure I didn't forget to buy any of the ingredients...but the post was missing. Yikes! Lucky for me, I had kept all of my pictures on my computer, and I had shared the recipe with a friend via e-mail. However, this recipe is too easy...and too tasty...to be missing from my archives. So, I decided to share it with y'all again. 

This chunky salsa is full of flavors and textures, with just a bit of heat from a seeded Serrano pepper. It's a great party dish, because it can made the morning of your party and hang out in the fridge until time to serve. It's great served with crispy tortilla chips, but I also love to spoon it over cream cheese and serve with sturdy crackers. Seafood lovers will go crazy for this salsa...and you might find yourself putting it in heavy rotation the rest of the Summer. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

July Foodie Recipe Collection: Southern-Inspired Picnic Dishes

Check out Southern-Inspired Picnic Dishes

by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Foodie.com


This month, I'm sharing a fabulous collection of Southern-inspired picnic recipes as part of the Mode Foodie Contributor Program. Summer is the perfect time to load up a picnic basket and dine al fresco -- preferably in the evening, as the Sun sets and there's a nice breeze! My Southern picnic basket is featuring recipes that include classic Southern foods. The recipes I selected are perfect for a picnic...or any Summertime potluck event.

I've got everything from tea-brined fried chicken and sides like pasta salad and corn on the cob...to a sweet tea-lemonade beverage and watermelon-shaped crispy treats for dessert! My collection is fun, and many of the dishes can be prepared a day or so ahead and stored in the fridge until it's time to load up your picnic basket. I hope you'll go check out my collection...and that you'll find some great inspiration for YOUR next picnic!!

Disclosure: This article is a sponsored opportunity with Foodie.com. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for June...Featuring Brunch at Corner Bakery Cafe

This month, The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring one of our favorite weekend brunch destinations: Corner Bakery Cafe. This casual dining restaurant chain is based in Dallas, and we have two locations here in San Antonio. We love to go visit the Alamo Quarry location for yummy food and delicious bakery items that are reasonably priced. We recently stopped by for Sunday brunch to try some of their signature menu items, as well as some of their new seasonal menu offerings. Since it was a midday visit, we decided to try a few breakfast offerings...as well as some of their lunch items. It was a beautiful early Summer day, so we sat in a corner booth that was surrounded by windows and lots of natural light. Then, it was time to look over the extensive menu and decide what to order.

We started out our visit by stepping up to the counter to order our food. Ordering is quick and simple thanks to the helpful staff...the hard part is not getting distracted by the gorgeous baked goods on display! We started out by ordering a duo of Corner Bakery's delicious all-natural seasonal fruit smoothies: Orange Carrot Ginger and Four Berry. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much I enjoyed the flavor combination of orange, carrot, and ginger. The carrot flavor was very mild, and the zing of the ginger worked perfectly to balance the citrus and veggie flavors! The berry smoothie was sweet-tart and perfect for berry lovers. 
Next up was a soup and sandwich pairing. Our soup was the refreshing Lemon Chicken Orzo, and our sandwich was the Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Panini from the breakfast menu. Both were excellent! The soup was creamy, with pieces of chicken and a slight tang from the addition of lemon juice. This soup was so comforting! I really enjoyed the breakfast panini too. Scrambled eggs, cheddar, and bacon were served inside grilled sourdough. The fresh fruit cup served on the side was perfectly ripe and sweet. 
We also tried two items from the lunch menu: a customized Salad Trio and their signature Pesto Cavatappi. The Salad Trio lets you combine any three side salads from Corner Bakery's extensive menu. We opted to try three seasonal offerings: Sesame Kale, Southwest Avocado, and Quinoa & Pico. All three salads were colorful, flavorful, and healthy. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

AmFam Family Favorites Turned Healthy #SundaySupper...Featuring Enlightened Southern Banana Puddings #ChooseDreams

Growing up here in Texas, one of my favorite desserts at family celebrations and holiday diners was banana pudding...sigh! What’s not to love? Layers of creamy pudding, sliced bananas, vanilla wafers, and billowy whipped cream make for a Southern dessert classic. One problem: this dessert packs tons of fat and calories. For this week’s AmFamFamily Favorites Turned Healthy #SundaySupper, I’m tackling a Southern classic. American Family Insurance and our hostess Katie from Ruffles and Truffles challenged us to reduce the fat and calories in family favorites without sacrificing flavor in the process. I took several steps to reduce the fat and calories in classic banana pudding. I started by making individual puddings in clear single-serving trifle cups rather than making it in a large pan.

Just by taking this step, I’m reducing the typical portion size just a bit. I also used sugar-free instant pudding mix and made it with skim milk to save additional calories and fat. Reduced-fat vanilla wafers carried the essential banana pudding flavor, with a bit less guilt. However, because banana pudding simply must have whipped cream, I opted to use a lesser amount of homemade whipped cream. Add these changes together, and you’ve got a healthier spin on a quintessential Southern treat.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Celebrating International Picnic Day with a #PicnicGame...Featuring Wild Watermelon Sangria

Today, we are celebrating International Picnic Day by bringing you a basket packed with goodies from A to Z, in the style of the #PicnicGame! Drop by the Sunday Supper Movement today to see the whole picnic spread out on our virtual blanket.

I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing...
Asian Chicken Salad from Try Anything Once Culinary
Beautiful Beet Salad from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Chicken Muffuletta from Marlene Baird
Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups from The Dinner-Mom
Elote from Peaceful Cooking
Fennel Slaw from FoodieTots
Greek Farro Salad from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Honey Porter Glazed Chicken and Vegetable Skewers from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
Italian Pasta Salad from Casa de Crews
Japanese Plum Sushi from NinjaBaking.com
Kudos Kitchen Kolaches from Kudos Kitchen by Renee
Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake from In The Kitchen With KP
Molasses Lovers Baked Beans from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
Northern Bean Salad with Egg and Prosciutto from Family Foodie
Orzo Salad from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
PICOBLAT from Simply Healthy Family
Quinoa-Stuffed Grape Leaves from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Roasted Fingerlings with Capers and Dill from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Spicy Southern Fried Chicken from Food Lust People Love
Tuscan Bread Salad from Curious Cuisiniere
Ultimate Potato Salad from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen
Veggie Loaded Sandwiches from Momma's Meals

...and I'm sharing a refreshing Summer beverage, my delicious Wild Watermelon Sangria. Watermelon is the perfect Summertime fruit, and it works really nicely in sangria. Simply mix together this sparkling sangria up to a day ahead and store it in a plastic container in the fridge. When you get to your picnic, simply pour the vibrant-pink sangria into a clear pitcher to show off its gorgeous color. Then, get ready to wow everyone. Just wait until you see my secret ingredient to really up the watermelon flavor!

Monday, June 16, 2014

San Antonio's Culinaria Grand Tasting 2014...an Evening of Food and Drink!

Michael and I were invited to attend the Culinaria Grand Tasting last month. This fun event is San Antonio's premier food and wine event, featuring some of the city's best chefs...along with lots of great wine and spirits. The Grand Tasting was held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center last month. This amazing evening was just one of many great events that comprised the annual week-long Culinaria Festival. An evening sipping cocktails and nibbling on food presented by some of San Antonio's best chefs...and in a gorgeous setting? Sounds like the makings of a perfect foodie evening to me! We parked our car, enjoyed a stroll along a peaceful section of the Riverwalk, and were greeted by colorful lights in the Grotto section of the Convention Center. The entire area -- both indoors and outdoors -- was filled with enticing aromas and mouthwatering food stations. We picked one end to start and made our way around the entire circuit, savoring bites of so many delicious foods! Our first stop was Stella Public House, which was featuring Italian delights.
I especially loved Stella Public House's light and refreshing Caprese Salad Skewers and the luscious, creamy Salted Caramel Panna Cotta. Both dishes were expertly prepared and delicious. Our evening was already off to a fantastic start! Another highlight of the evening was the creative and refreshing Golden Tomato Gazpacho from Las Ramblas, located inside the Hotel Contessa. This cold soup was the perfect light bite on a warm Texas evening!
With all the tasty bites we were enjoying, we needed something to wash it down. Enter the large wine sampling stations, which offered something for everyone. Whether you prefer white or red (...or both, maybe?), they had plenty of offerings to sample. One of my personal favorites was the Barrel Reserve Port from Texas' Messina Hof winery. It was sweet, smooth, and medium bodied...and very easy to drink! If wine's not your thing, no worries! There were also several spirit companies on hand providing samples and mixing up some fun cocktails.
We took our time visiting each station to chat with the chefs and sample their delicious culinary creations. One of the most creative dishes we tried that evening was created by Chef Jason Dady, one of San Antonio's best chefs. He was featuring a dish from his newest restaurant, Umai Mi.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Roast Chicken 101...Featuring Knock-Your-Socks-Off Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken

Let’s face facts, my friends. Roasted chicken can be a thing of beauty…or it can be a dry, tasteless mess. Today, I’m sharing my technique for ensuring that your roasted chicken comes out of the oven with crispy golden skin and juicy, flavorful meat. Once you have a few simple tricks up your culinary sleeve, you’ll be ready to make the perfect roasted chicken. My Knock-Your-Socks-Off Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken is flavorful and juicy – even the breast meat! All you need is about 5-10 minutes to prep your bird, and then your oven does the rest of the work for you.
My personal tips for roasting a perfect chicken are as follows:
  1. Start with a locally sourced farm-raised chicken. Here in San Antonio, I love to buy Peeler Farms natural chickens at the weekend farmers market. Their chickens are pasture raised -- never caged -- and they're not given medications or medicated feed.
  2. Flavor and season your chicken on both the outside and the inside. I rub my bird down with herbs, salt, and pepper. Then, I stuff it with lots of flavorful aromatics.
  3. Cook your chicken in a Dutch oven. I start out cooking it covered, then remove the cover the final 10-15 minutes to ensure the skin is crispy and golden brown.
  4. Let your chicken rest for about 10-15 minutes before carving, which allows the juices to redistribute back into the meat. That's how you end up with juicy chicken.
Wait until you see how tasty this chicken recipe is!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wendy's Best Bites for June

I'm back home after spending a few days in Ohio and Pennsylvania -- and we had such a great time! We attended our nephew Levi's high-school graduation, then we explored the area for a few days. I'll be sharing all of the fun details in a culinary travelogue next month, so stay tuned. I'll tell you all about our visits to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Frank Lloyd Wright's breathtaking Fallingwater home, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...and Cleveland's fantastic food scene. But first...I'm excited to kick off a new monthly feature today: Wendy's Best Bites. I get a chance to try seasonal and new menu items at lots of great restaurants, and I'll share my favorite each month. 

For June, I wanted to share some of my favorite Summer menu items. These light menu items are perfect for warm days...they'll fill you up with out filling you out. First up is the new seasonal fruit smoothies at Corner Bakery Cafe. These smoothies are made with fresh fruit and contain no added sugar. In fact, each smoothie provides a whopping four servings of healthy fruit! The two Summer flavors are the Orange Carrot Ginger and Four Berry. Both are refreshing and perfect for an on-the-run breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. Michael is a berry lover, so he naturally gravitated toward the sweet-tart Four Berry. I was intrigued by the ginger and carrot in the Orange Ginger Carrot. I'm not a carrot lover, but it worked really nicely in this smoothie -- the orange and carrot blended really nicely together, and the ginger gave it a nice zing. 
If you live in Texas and love salads, you simply must pay a visit to your local Salata Next-Generation Salad Bar. This new-concept salad bar lets you create you own customized salads featuring your favorite greens, fruits and veggies, nuts and cheeses, and protein. Whatever creation you can dream up, they'll assemble it for you. I especially love that most of their dressings are low in fat and full of flavor! For Summer,  love to focus on their seafood offerings: shrimp, Krab Salad, grilled salmon, and a tasty seafood combo. Simply select your ingredients, add a protein and dressing, and they'll toss it up and serve your creation in a large salad bowl...along with a piece of hot garlic toast. You can also pair your salad with your choice of hot soups if you like.
Chick-fil-a is a staple in Texas...and they recently introduced a new and improved grilled chicken. They added a zesty lemon-garlic-herb marinade, and they gave the new chicken a backyard grilled taste. I wasn't a fan of their grilled chicken until I recently tried this new recipe...now, I'm hooked on the slightly smoky taste and the juicy marinade! They offer this new-recipe chicken on salads and in nugget form, but I especially love the new Grilled Chicken Sandwich. With just 310 calories, it's served on a multigrain bun and topped with lettuce and tomato. It tastes so great that it doesn't need sauce, but a bit of honey mustard works nicely too! 
Did you know that Fogo de Chao also offers a handful of tasty seafood options on their menu? Until a recent visit to this grilled meat mecca, I didn't either. I had a chance to try their healthy...and gorgeous...Mango Chilean Sea Bass. This dish consists of a healthy portion of tender sea bass that is grilled and served on a bed of grilled asparagus. Then, the fish is topped with a tropical mango salsa that has just a touch of heat. This menu item can be ordered a la carte or paired with Fogo de Chao's signature 30-item gourmet salad bar. They also offer a fabulous jumbo shrimp cocktail that will knock your socks off! The shrimp are huge and perfectly cooked, served on a bed of ice with their house-made cocktail sauce. 
There you have it...my suggestions for some Summer menu that can be found at restaurants located in Texas and beyond. I can personally vouch that I tried all of these items and loved them...if you try them, let me know what you think! Come back next month to see what other new and/or seasonal menu items I've discovered.

Disclosure: I was hosted by the featured restaurants to facilitate inclusion in this feature. All opinions expressed are my own, and I only recommend items that I have personally tried and enjoyed eating.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Guest Post: Taste of Summer Salad

My adventures in Ohio...and Pennsylvania are continuing today. We watched our oldest nephew, Levi, graduate from high school over the weekend. Now, we're planning a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater...and we're headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow! While I'm gone, my #SundaySupper friend from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing a fabulous salad with you today. To me, there's not much better during Summer than a juicy, ripe tomato paired with creamy avocado...my mouth is watering. Enjoy!
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Luscious, flavorful tomatoes are harbingers of Summer. When they begin to appear at our local farmers’ markets, I scoop them up by the basket and dream of simple dishes to highlight their sun-kissed sweetness. This salad, pairing tomatoes and avocado, does that and can be whipped up within minutes. It’s a perfect dish to stave off hunger after a day at the beach! It’s almost not worth calling this a recipe, but because you have to try it, I’m sharing it with the readers of The Weekend Gourmet. Enjoy!

Taste of Summer Salad
by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Ingredients (serves 2):
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tbs. freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Procedure:

Peel and slice the avocado. Lay it on your salad plate. Slice the tomato and arrange it on top of the avocado. Sprinkle the salad with parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Guest Post: Potluck Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

While I'm in Ohio for a few days of family and fun adventures, I've got a couple of guest bloggers lined up to share some great recipes. Today, my #SundaySupper friend Cathy from Delaware Girl Eats is sharing a fabulous Summer potluck salad recipe. There's just something about a cool, refreshing salad on a hot Summer day...and layered salads have such a big visual impact!!
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I’m happy to be here today sitting in for Wendy who is off on a well-deserved break. And, since it’s June, the month of graduations, family reunions and church socials, I am offering a salad that will feed a crowd. Think of this as free-form expression of garden delights. The idea is to present layers of colors and textures so that the salad is as enticing to view on a buffet as its ingredients are tasty to eat. 

While I am offering an ingredient list, your imagination and the availability of ingredients are the only limit to what you might include in this composed salad. And, to top off this salad experience, I am resurrecting a well-loved dressing from the past – green goddess dressing. Its lemony, herbal and creamy flavors complement any salad composition.


Potluck Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Ingredients:
  • 2 Heads Iceberg Lettuce, rinsed and cut
  • 5 Hard Boiled Eggs, quartered
  • 8 Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ Red Onion, sliced
  • 8 oz Cheese, Feta or Cheddar as you like
  • 1 10-oz bag of frozen peas, thawed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Green Goddess Dressing:
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2 Tsp Chopped Garlic
  • ¼ Cup Lemon Juice
  • ¼ Cup Basil Leaves, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Preparation:
In a glass bowl, fill the bottom with iceberg lettuce, then arrange ingredients in layers around the perimeter. Fill the center with lettuce. End with peas on the top. Serve with Green Goddess Dressing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer and Hand Mixer Giveaway...Featuring Blueberry Muffins with Coconut-Citrus Glaze

Today, I’m sharing a pair of fabulous kitchen appliances…and an equally fabulous blueberry muffin recipe! I was recently invited to take part in Hamilton Beach's Brand Ambassador promotion. They sent me two of their mixers to try out in my kitchen: one hand mixer and one stand mixer... and one of you is going to win the very same mixer duo!! I received a stand mixer as a wedding gift from my parents, so I hadn’t used a hand mixer in 10 years. I was really excited to try out their SoftScrape™ 6 Speed Hand Mixer, which features nifty coated beaters that won't scratch bowls or non-stick pans. The beaters are dishwasher-safe too! This powerful hand mixer is PERFECT for when I don’t want to set up…or dirty…my stand mixer. I used it to make whipped cream for a dessert recently, and I was very impressed with how quickly and easily it made light and fluffy whipped cream. This hand mixer will be used in my kitchen for quick jobs…of that, I’m sure. I can’t wait to make mashed potatoes with it!

I also received their 6 Speed Stand Mixer to try out. The model I received had many great features: lightweight, easy to use, a 3.5-quart stainless steel mixing bowl, and a lot of power. This mixer's 300-watt motor can stand up to everything from muffin batter to bread dough. It comes with a paddle attachment, whisk attachment, and bread hook. It features a handy guide on the side of the mixer that shows you which implement works best for specific ingredients or recipes. I especially love this mixer's convenient Fold mode, which perfectly folds in delicate items like blueberries…without breaking them up. I used the stand mixer to whip up a batch of blueberry muffins. Not just any old blueberry muffins, mind you…but Blueberry Muffins with Coconut-Citrus Glaze. These moist muffins are flavored with cream of coconut and lemon extract. While still warm, they’re glazed with a mixture of orange juice, cream of coconut, and powdered sugar. These muffins are moist and full of flavor! My recipe is based on one I found at the Williams-Sonoma website and tweaked a bit to play up tropical Summer flavors. This recipe makes 16 standard-size muffins. My pan makes a dozen, so I cooked a second smaller batch while the first batch cooled.

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