The Weekend Gourmet F

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Spicy Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

It's mid-April, and I'm thrilled that Spring has officially come to Texas! The bluebonnets and other wild flowers are in bloom, and the weather is turning noticeably warmer. That means I'm ready to start making lots of lighter warm-weather foods. One of my favorite pasta-based salads is a delicious Spicy Thai Peanut Noodle Salad. It’s perfect for taking to parties and picnics, because it’s delicious served either cold or at room temperature...and it contains no dairy products. I originally shared this dish in 2012, and it's so good that I simply had to share it again today!

As soon as I saw this recipe on the Cook's Country website back then, I immediately knew that I had to make it! I used their peanut-based dressing recipe and prep technique, but I did make a few small ingredient tweaks. I added spicy Asian sriracha to the dressing instead of the suggested Tabasco, and I changed the veggies up just a bit. I used crunchy cucumber and carrot, as well as a double shot of onions. This Asian salad has since become a regular part of my warm-weather menu rotation. Once you taste it, you'll understand why: this salad is knock-your-socks-off good!
 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Red Gold's Pinterest Spring Shake-Up...Feautring Sassy Chicken Salad

I'm so excited today...after a chilly Winter, Spring is officially here! The bluebonnets are blooming here in Texas, temperatures are warming up, and baseball season started last week. Spring also means that it’s time to put on a pretty sundress, slip on some strappy sandals, and enjoy eating lighter fare. When Spring arrives, I love grilling, refreshing salads, fresh seasonal produce…and light, fizzy drinks. In Texas, we enjoy getting outdoors during Spring – before our long, hot Summer settles in. My friends at Red Gold recently challenged me to create a Pinterest Spring inspiration board. My Red Gold Spring Shake-UP Pinterest board features lots of great ideas for Spring food, drink, décor, and clothes – so be sure to check it out!

After you check out my Pinterest board, I hope you’ll join the fun too! From April 22 to May 20, Red Gold wants you to share your personal inspirations for a Spring Shake-Up at the Red Gold website. The idea is to have fun…and every pin equals an entry to win one of four weekly Red Gold picnic baskets that are valued at $350. To enter, simply go to the Red Gold webpage starting on April 22nd. From there, simply pin any idea from their specially designated landing page that helps inspire you this Springtime. Speaking of Spring…it’s the perfect time to make quick, light meals! Red Gold is sharing a fabulous recipe for sweetly spicy Sassy Chicken Salad. If you start with a pre-cooked deli chicken, this delicious chicken salad can be ready to eat in about 15 minutes! It’s tasty on its own stuffed in an avocado half...but it makes a sassy sandwich too.

Sassy Chicken Salad
from Red Gold Tomatoes
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
PREPARATION TIME:  20 MINUTES

 Ingredients:
  • 1 10-ounce can RED GOLD® DICED TOMATOES & GREEN CHILIES, drained
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups chunked cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup grapes, halved
  • ⅓ cup chopped toasted pecans
Directions:
Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine RED GOLD® DICED TOMATOES & GREEN CHILIES, mayonnaise and honey.  Stir in chicken, celery, grapes and pecans. 
Step 2: Cover and chill.  Maybe served in hollowed out melons, avocados or papayas. Also makes a great sandwich when served on a Croissant.
Cooking Hint: To toast pecans, bake uncovered in ungreased shallow pan in 350 oven for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Another option is to toast them in the microwave.  Place a single layer on a microwave safe plate and cook on high for 2 minutes.  Stir and cook for 1 more minute

That's it...so simple to whip up on a busy day! I can't wait to give this sassy chicken salad recipe a try for our next casual al fresco dinner. I think it would be perfect served on a bed of lightly dressed baby field greens, along with sliced avocado and some crispy crackers.

Disclosure: Red Gold provided me with a tomato prize pack to create Sassy Chicken Salad in my kitchen. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Guest Post: Hawaiian BBQ Pork Wonton Tacos from The Chunky Chef

While Michael and I are enjoying some amazing food and cultural attractions in New York, I've got a great guest post to share with you today. My friend Amanda from The Chunky Chef is sharing a fabulous recipe that's perfect for warm-weather entertaining. Her fun Hawaiian BBQ Pork Wonton Tacos are exactly the type of Big Flavor food that we love at Casa Garcia. I can't wait to whip up a batch of these tropical-inspired tacos very soon!!!
If you know me, you know that “the other white meat” and I aren’t the best of friends…usually I don’t eat pork. I have no idea why, I’m just weird. But, hubby likes it and I’ve been trying to make an effort lately to break out of the standard beef and chicken routine. So I came upon this little gem on Pinterest (of course lol)… and I just had to try it!! These pork tacos are sweet and saucy with an attitude… absolutely delicious!  Wanna hear the BEST part? And no, it’s not that tantalizing sauce… it’s that the crockpot does most of the work for you! Three ingredients -- who doesn’t love that?!? 
There is a downside… if you’re home all day while that pork is cooking… well, you may want to eat everything in the house, because it’ll smell amazing and make you incredibly hungry! Your pork will cook in your slow cooker for 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high. About 30 minutes before you want to eat, shred your pork. It will seriously just fall apart, no effort required. You can omit adding a little sauce to the pork at this point, and only drizzle it at the end… but I like the extra boost of flavor!

I added a little of my sauce to the shredded pork, so it had tons of flavor. While it’s resting, go ahead and preheat your oven and gather your ingredients for the tacos. Now the toppings are up to you, but I went with the broccoli slaw, diced red onion and fresh cilantro!
As you can tell, I had some issues with my wontons not coming together too well. To assemble the tacos, lay out your wonton wrappers on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spoon a little of the pork filling in the center. I did about 1-2 tbs of filling. Now add your toppings on top of the filling. If you’ve worked with wonton wrappers before, you know that you need some water to help them stick together. They can also be a bit finicky. Have a small bowl or glass with some water nearby, wet your fingers, and pinch two opposite sides of the wrappers together (to make a “taco”). Your wet fingers should seal the wonton. As you can see from the picture above, mine didn’t exactly stick together. So I improvised and sort of folded them over in a makeshift wrap. It worked, just didn’t look as pretty.

Tip: If you don’t want to fuss with making the tacos, you can also spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and push the wonton wrappers down into the muffin cups to create a bowl shape. Fill with toppings just like you would for the taco shapes, and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or so.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cranberry-Pecan Panettone Bread Pudding with Apple Brandy Sauce...Featuring Bauli Panettone di Milano

Bread pudding is one of my favorite comfort desserts -- especially if it's topped with a creamy whiskey-laced sauce. I first learned to make bread pudding as a young woman, because it's one of Michael's favorites too! Over the years, I've made bread pudding from traditional French bread...croissants...and even doughnuts once. However, I recently came up with a great new version that features Italian panettone. If you've never had panettone, it's a cross between a sweet bread and a cake. I recently received a large penettone from Bauli that's a recipe from Milan featuring two kinds of raisins and candied orange peel. When I first tasted it, I just knew that it would be perfect for making a bread pudding! I added some dried cranberries soaked in apple brandy, apples, pecans, and cinnamon to make an off-the-charts bread pudding. Rather than my usual whiskey sauce, I decided to make a creamy apple brandy sauce instead. The end result was magical!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter/Passover Leftovers #SundaySupper...Featuring Savory Ham and Scallion Corn Cakes

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to everyone who's observing these two sacred holidays! We're in Houston for the day to celebrate Easter with our families. This week, the #SundaySupper gang is sharing recipes that you can make with your holiday leftovers; our event this week is being hosted by my fabulous friend Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake. If you're like me, there's usually a ton of leftover ham after your Easter meal...and you can only eat so many ham sandwiches without getting bored. Enter my Savory Ham and Scallion Corn Cakes! These savory pancakes make a great weekend brunch or breakfast for dinner entrée -- and they're a snap to make. Cornbread mix is the base for these pancakes, which are flavored with diced ham, corn kernels, scallions, and cheddar. Just before serving, they're topped with sour cream, salsa, and more cheddar. These are definitely not your typical pancake!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Campbell’s Soups for Easy Cooking…Featuring a Duo of Easy Weeknight Skillet Dinners #WeekNightHero #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WeekNightHero #CollectiveBias
My weekday schedule can get very busy…so I’m always looking for new ways to create delicious dinners that don’t dirty every dish in my kitchen or take all night long to cook. I recently discovered a great new product that helps me do both. Thanks to Campbell's Soups for Easy Cooking, I'm a #WeekNightHero! These delicious ready-to-use pourable soups come in convenient cartons, and they allow you to make a delicious weekend-tasting meal in 30 minutes – or less! Campbell's Soups for Easy Cooking comes in four yummy flavors, helping busy cooks create a wide range of comforting dishes and reinvent family favorites in fewer steps. 
  • If a recipe calls for Cream of Mushroom, try the Savory Portobello Mushroom in your recipe (great for skillet recipes)
  •  
  • If a recipe calls for Cream of Chicken, use the Creamy Herb & Garlic with Chicken Stock in recipe (perfect for pot pies)
  •  
  • If a recipe calls for Condensed French Onion Soup, now try the savory addition of Sweet Onion flavor in your recipe (this a savory addition to any meatloaf and skillet dishes)
  •  
  • If a recipe calls for Condensed Tomato Soup, enjoy Mexican Style Tomato (great for Mexican dishes)
I went to my neighborhood Walmart, where I easily located the square cartons of Campbell’s Soups for Easy Cooking on the soup aisle – just below the traditional cans of Campbell’s soups. All four flavors sound great, but I decided to try the Creamy Herb & Chicken with Chicken Stock and Sweet Onion flavors for the recipes I'm sharing today.
To save myself both time and money, I decided to center both of my dinner skillets on shared ingredients: sliced baby bella mushrooms and shredded Swiss cheese. My Beefy French Onion Pasta Skillet and Mushroom-Swiss Chicken and Rice are definitely a step above the usual casserole. Both skillets are a complete meal, and they can be ready to serve in 30 minutes. Even better? They both taste amazing!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Fun and Easy Easter Treat: Confetti Easter PEEPS® Sandwich Cookies

Easter is coming in a few short days…which means you’re going to need some sweet treats to share with those you love! Easter is also prime PEEPS® season…something about those sweet sugar-coated marshmallow  chicks, bunnies, and other fun Easter shapes makes it feel like Easter. My friends at PEEPS® recently sent me an assortment of their Easter treats to create a fun recipe to share with you today. Easter prep can be hectic, so my Confetti Easter PEEPS® Sandwich Cookies feature a convenient boxed sugar cookie mix. They’re rolled in fun, colorful sprinkles and filled with a sweetly tart grape buttercream filling and decorated with fun PEEPS® Easter marshmallows -- including Orange Delight chicks. Your little bunnies can even help you roll the cookie dough and coat them in the sprinkles. These festive cookies are cute to look at, yummy to eat…and super easy to whip up in an afternoon. So…gather your favorite sprinkles and let’s get baking!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spicy Strawberry-Glazed Fish with Strawberry-Avocado Relish...for the 2015 Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Recipe Challenge

Earlier this year, I was invited to take part in the 2015 Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Recipe Challenge. Food bloggers from across the country were asked to select a Healthy Solutions Spice Blend and create an original recipe. We love spicy food, so I selected their salt-free, sugar-free Spicy Cajun Seafood blend. I knew that I wanted to create a recipe inspired by Spring flavors. I had a large redfish fillet in my kitchen, so I decided to use that as my starting point. My Spicy Strawberry-Glazed Fish with Strawberry-Avocado Relish is a nice combination of sweet, savory...and a bit of heat. This light and refreshing dish is perfect to serve as the weather turns warmer. I used Healthy Solutions' spicy Cajun Seafood seasoning blend as a rub on the fish, as well as a component of both the strawberry glaze and the chilled strawberry-avocado relish. I served this dish on a bed of rice pilaf for a complete meal that's healthy to eat and gorgeous to look at!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for March

It's time for another Wendy's Favorite Things roundup...and I've got some great food and kitchen items to share with you today! As usual, I've tried all of these items out in my own kitchen and loved them...and I'm excited to share them with you. So...let's get started!

(1) Blake's All-Natural Frozen Meals. Blake's All Natural is a line of all-natural and organic frozen single-serve meals. If you don't normally enjoy frozen meals, Blake's will change your mind! These tasty meals heat in the microwave in minutes, but they honestly taste like a home-cooked meal. That's because they're handmade in small batches...not in a huge plant. You can really tell a difference in the end product. I tried several flavors of Blake's meals, and all were really delicious. My personal favorite is the homey Shepherd's Pie. It features a base of ground beef and corn in a creamy sauce, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. It was filling and comforting...and ready in about 5 minutes! Other yummy homestyle flavors include Chicken & Dumplings and Chicken Pot Pie, which contain large chunks of moist breast meat -- no mystery meat here! To find Blake's All-Natural products near you, check out their handy Store Locator.

(2) Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls. One of my favorite new snacks this Spring is Stonyfield's flavorful frozen yogurt pearls. They feature a core of creamy frozen yogurt covered with an edible skin that's made from real organic fruit! They even come in a two-pack for easy portion control. Frozen Yogurt Pearls come in a variety of flavors, including: Strawberry-Vanilla, Strawberry-Chocolate, Peach-Vanilla, and Coconut-Chocolate (my personal favorite). Each pearl is approximately 2-3 bites big, and the flavor combinations are spot on! If you've ever had mocha, they're quite similar. This is one treat you don't have to feel guilty about enjoying, because each 2-pearl package is less than 60 calories. Most flavors are even fat-free! This great new addition to the Stonyfield lineup is available at major grocers nationwide.

(3) Woats Oatsnack. This Texas-based company makes one of my very favorite oatmeal-based products. These versatile woats soft oatmeal bites can be eaten straight out from the bag for an energizing on-the-go snack. However, they're also great for breakfast crumbled on top of Greek yogurt...or even as a topping for ice cream! The Cookies 'n Dreams and Nuts About Berries flavors are fabulous, but I'm especially partial to the Peanut Butter Graham Slam. It features natural peanut butter, crispy graham crackers, and butter toffee peanuts...along with the oat and honey clusters. It's lightly sweet, a touch salty...and totally addictive! To find woats at a store near you, check out their online Store Locator.

(4) Promised Land Salted Caramel Latte Milk. Promised Land Dairy's delicious milk products are made near my San Antonio home base, in Floresville, Texas. They make a full line of milk and other dairy products. However, their fun flavored milks seem to be especially popular -- especially their creative seasonal flavors. From now until the end of April, they're offering Salted Caramel Latte Milk. Trust me, it's as amazing as it sounds! This rich, flavorful milk features whole milk that's flavored with rich salted caramel and a mild coffee background flavor. It reminds me a bit of a melted milkshake...so decadent. It's rich, so a little goes a long way...making it perfect for sharing! This Limited Edition flavor is available at select Walmart locations in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. It's also coming soon to select Kroger locations in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana...as well as select Texas Brookshire Brothers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Springtime In Paris...By Way of la Madeleine's Country French Trio!

Spring is in the air...and the warmer temperatures put me in the mood for a romantic springtime trip to France. I look at blue skies out the window and daydream about sitting in a relaxing French countryside café enjoying tasty treats with Michael. Lucky for our wallets, la Madeleine makes it easy to enjoy a taste of France here in Texas without having to pack a suitcase! Symbolic of the comforting and flavorful foods found in quaint markets and cafés along the streets of France, la Madeleine is offering diners their Country French Trio for a limited time. Michael and I were recently invited to our local la Madeleine to try a Country French Trio, along with a seafood pasta dish that can be enjoyed during Lent.

Visitors to la Madeleine’s 70+ locations can customize their Country French Trio by selecting two halves of selected la Madeleine French specialties -- along with a cup of soupe or a petite salade. Hungry diners can choose from the following classic la Madeleine items:
  • Chicken Friand, a flaky puff pastry square filled with diced chicken, mushrooms, onions, and Swiss cheese. This dish comes with creamy wild mushroom sauce to pour over the top.
  • Spinach Pochette, which features a creamy spinach and Swiss cheese filling in a puff pastry shell.
  • Quiche Lorraine, which features a buttery crust filled with a creamy egg, ham, bacon, and Swiss cheese custard.
  • Quiche Florentine, which features a buttery crust contains filled with a house-made egg, spinach, and Swiss cheese filling.
The French Country Trio also includes a choice of delicious soup or salad. Options include White Bean & Vegetable, creamy Tomato Basil, French Onion, or Cream of Mushroom soupes. If salad's more your thing, you can choose from the Caesar or Wild Field petite salades instead. For my personalized trio, I opted for the Chicken Friand, Quiche Lorraine, and a petite Caesar salade. The Chicken Friand was crispy on the outside, with a flavorful filling inside, and the creamy mushroom sauce paired perfectly with it. The quiche was decadent and creamy, with a smoky bacon taste. The crust was tender and buttery...so good! The Caesar salad provided a perfect light counterbalance to the richness of the rest of the meal. The portion size was perfect for me to be comfortably full. I especially enjoyed that this trio encouraged me to try items that I don't normally order when I visit la Madeleine.

Michael decided to try a seafood pasta dish that can be enjoyed as the Lenten season winds down. The Pesto Pasta started with bowtie pasta tossed in a creamy pesto sauce. The pasta is topped with shrimp, diced tomato, and parmesan. It came with a toasty baguette for dipping in the flavorful sauce. The pasta was creamy, with a subtle pesto flavor. On our way out the door, we couldn't resist stopping by the bakery counter for a sweet treat to take home for dessert. I opted for an indulgent chocolate chunk cookie, while Michael opted for his favorite: oatmeal raisin pecan. If you've never been to la Madeleine, you're in for a treat. The company was founded in Dallas in 1983 and now has cafés located in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. The French Country Trio will be available until early April and costs less than $10 -- making it an affordable indulgence for lunch or dinner!

Disclosure: To facilitate this feature, la Madeleine provided us with a gift card to try the Country French Trio and a dish than can be enjoyed during Lent. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Choco-Cherry Brownie Cups...Featuring DOVE® Fruit Chocolate Dipped Cherries #LoveDoveFruits #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.   All opinions are mine alone. #LoveDoveFruits #CollectiveBias
Have I got a fun, flavorful recipe to share with you today! My Choco-Cherry Brownie Cups are pretty much perfect: portable, portion-controlled…and they taste AMAZING! Each brownie cup is topped with a dollop of sweet cherry buttercream and a DOVE® Fruit chocolate-dipped cherry for a burst of sweet-tart cherry flavor. Yummy DOVE® Whole Fruit combines the wellness benefits of dark chocolate and real dried fruit for an amazing burst of fruit flavor in each bite! DOVE® Fruit comes in three great flavors: blueberry, cherry, and cranberry. Each piece of real dried fruit is individually dipped in silky smooth DOVE® Dark Chocolate. They’re fabulous eaten out-of-hand as a quick snack…but they make a fabulous recipe component too!
I found all three varieties of DOVE® Fruit on the candy aisle at my local Walmart. They were very easy to find, and I especially love that each package can be resealed to ensure each piece stays fresh and flavorful until you're ready for a little indulgence!
I wanted to feature the cherry flavor in a recipe that played up their chocolate and cherry flavor profiles. I just knew these Choco-Cherry Brownie Cups would be fun to look at and tasty to eat! They make a great afternoon snack or fun dessert. The brownies are flavored with cocoa powder and baked in muffin tins. The brownies are lightly sweet and moist, making them a perfect foil for the sweet cherry buttercream. The DOVE® Fruit chocolate-covered dried cherry on top provides a bullseye of flavor.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gallo Family Vineyards’ Meals with Meaning #SundaySupper…Featuring New Orleans Red Beans and Rice Soup

This week, #SundaySupper is partnering with our friends at Gallo Family Vineyards to share our favorite Meals with Meaning. They say every recipe tells a story…just like every recipe is perfectly paired with a specific wine. Today’s recipes are being paired with Gallo’s easy-to-drink Merlot and Chardonnay wines. I’m sharing a recipe for spicy and smoky New Orleans Red Beans and Rice Soup, which pairs very nicely with Gallo's full-bodied Gallo Merlot. This soup is an updated spin on New Orleans’ traditional Monday meal of red beans and rice. This is my adaptation of a recipe I first tasted at Commander’s Palace the morning after Michael and I were engaged in 2001. That’s where this recipe’s story comes in!

Michael had initially planned to propose to me during Jazz Brunch at New Orleans’ iconic Commander’s Palace. He had let the manager know ahead of time so they could help make the proposal extra-special. However, Michael decided somewhere between Houston and New Orleans that he was getting antsy having my engagement ring in his bag…so he decided to propose to me inside the historic St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square instead. When we arrived at the church, a wedding rehearsal was going on (irony!)…so his plan to “put a ring on it” was thwarted. Rather than wait until brunch the next morning, he was so eager to get that gorgeous Tiffany diamond on my finger that he proposed under a gorgeous gazebo in the courtyard of the Ritz Carlton that afternoon! Long story short…we end up at Commander’s Palace for an engagement celebration brunch the next day.

Our server had been tipped off that an engagement was in the plans just before our dessert course…so he was a bit surprised to see me admiring my new diamond ring as it sparkled in the sunlight by our beautiful window table! Michael explained that he just couldn’t wait another day to propose…but the brunch was our official engagement celebration. Our server and the manager had a good laugh about this – and it was indeed an amazing celebration meal. On the menu that day was Red Bean Soup, which I had for my first course. I was so excited to find the recipe for this delicious soup in the Commander’s Kitchen cookbook. I’ve made a few tweaks to the original to suit our taste, including adding a scoop of rice to each bowl – similar to how gumbo is served. This soup is economical and tasty…and it also reminds me of our romantic engagement weekend in New Orleans!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out: Sea Island Shrimp House

This month, The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring a San Antonio favorite: Sea Island Shrimp House. Sea Island is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, and they're celebrating their 50th anniversary this year! They're popular for a reason: they cook up consistently delicious fresh seafood, the prices are reasonable, and the environment is casual and family friendly. Add it up, and you have one of our favorite restaurants. In honor of Lent, Sea Island invited us to try some of their signature menu items. We were warmly greeted by the General Manager, who seated us and brought out some of their signature house-made lemonade in both traditional and strawberry varieties. The chilled lemonade was served with their signature Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail and their new Greek Side Salad. Both items were fresh and perfectly executed.
If you’ve never had a Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail, it’s a real treat! It contains sweet boiled shrimp, chunks of creamy avocado, pico de gallo, cilantro, and cocktail sauce. It’s served with warm tortilla chips for scooping. I can make an entire meal on one of these filling shrimp cocktails – and I often do! The Greek Side Salad featured crisp romaine, feta, cucumber, tomato, pepperoncini, and a tangy vinaigrette. Our meal was off to a great start!

Next came a selection of Sea Island's signature entrees. We shared the Garlic Broiled Scallops, traditional Fried Colossal Shrimp (my favorite menu item!), and their new Blackened Grilled Salmon. Each entrée was served with a variety of tasty side dishes, including crispy hush puppies, creamy coleslaw, seasoned green beans, and crunchy French fries.
The Garlic Broiled Scallops were tender and sweet, served in a dish of buttery garlic-infused sauce. The Blackened Grilled Salmon had a spicy crust outside – and was perfectly tender and moist on the inside. Sea Island's classic Colossal Fried Shrimp were indeed huge…and perfectly fried. They were lightly crispy on the outside and not the least bit greasy. Every entrée was perfectly prepared, and the portions were very generous.
We ended our meal with a shared slice of Homemade Key Lime Pie that's made in-house. It was just the way I like my key lime pie: the perfect balance of tart and sweet, with a buttery graham crust.
On our way out to our car after our meal, the General Manager showed us a prestigious achievement that this Sea Island location had recently received: a Blue Plate Award. Here in San Antonio, receiving a Blue Plate Award means that a restaurant has a pristinely clean kitchen. When you see a restaurant proudly display a Blue Plate Award on its walls, you know that they have one of the cleanest kitchens in the city. There are six Sea Island locations in San Antonio, making it very easy to find one no matter what part of the city you're in. If you're looking for delicious, reasonably priced seafood served in a relaxed environment...Sea Island has just what you're looking for!
 Whether you like your seafood broiled, grilled, or fried...you'll find it on the Sea Island menu. Especially fun are their variety platters, which provide samplers of popular entrée options. In honor of their 50th anniversary this year, the 50-Year Favorites platter contains a bit of everything, including: Sea Island's world-famous charbroiled shrimp skewer, a fried fish fillet, four fried shrimp, and a cup of shrimp gumbo.

Disclosure: Sea Island hosted us for a dinner tasting to facilitate this article. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Simple Five-Ingredient Sopapilla Cheesecake Bites

Between two rounds of a stomach virus and our amazing trip to New Orleans and Biloxi to learn all about Gulf seafood, I haven't been in the kitchen much over the past couple of weeks. Never fear...I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes from 2014 with you today. I originally created these fun Sopapilla Cheesecake Bites for #SundaySupper last April, and they quickly became one of last year's most popular recipes. This five-ingredient treat is proof positive that a recipe doesn't have to have a mile-long ingredient list to be delicious. Sometimes simple really is best! Using ingredients that I always have in my kitchen, I can whip up a batch of these flaky pastries in about 30 minutes. They make a great weekend breakfast, a special treat with a cup of tea or coffee -- or even a great dessert for your next Tex-Mex feast!

If you've never tasted a sopapilla before, it's a Tex-Mex dessert of fried dough that's tossed in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey. The only way I could think of to make the original better was to stuff it with creamy cheesecake filling! I always have a package of puff pastry in my freezer. It's one of my secret weapons for making simple appetizers and desserts that only look complicated...now, it's YOUR secret too! With this magical ingredient in my freezer, I'm ready for sudden cravings. For these sweet puffs, squares of puff pastry are filled with sweetened cream cheese and baked. Just before serving, they're generously covered in cinnamon sugar. Let me show you how easy these are to whip up.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dining Out Options for Lent

Today, I'm sharing a few new discoveries that you can enjoy if you find yourself dining out on Fridays during the Lent. Like many of you, Michael and I have our favorite "go to" Lenten Friday recipes and quick bites. Here's a few more delicious finds that we recently tried!

First up is a veg-friendly skillet option from Denny's Skillets Across America menu. I absolutely love their seasonal Cali Avocado Skillet! It's a filling, veg-friendly Lenten option from their Fit Fare menu. You get all this delicious food for under 550 calories, and it contains 20 grams of protein + 8 grams of fiber! The Cali Avocado skillet contains seasoned red-skinned potatoes, steamed zucchini and yellow squash, and shredded cheddar served on a hot skillet. Then, the skillet is topped with scrambled egg whites, salsa, and avocado slices. This skillet is fantastic, so I hope you'll give it a try!
If seafood is more your thing, you're in luck...Lobsterfest is back at Red Lobster! We recently tried a few items on the Lobsterfest menu, along with a new shrimp appetizer. I had the Dueling Lobsters diner -- perfect for someone who just can't decide which lobster they love best. It comes with both a crab-and-seafood stuffed Maine lobster tail and a Maine lobster tail topped with creamy roasted-garlic shrimp. Michael opted for the Lobster Lover's Dream®, an ultimate lobster experience! This platter comes with a roasted rock lobster, a Maine lobster tail, and lobster-and-shrimp linguine Alfredo.

To make our lobster platters even more splurge-worthy, we opted for the upgraded Creamy Langostino Lobster Mashed Potatoes for our side dish. Imagine creamy mashed potatoes topped with a creamy langostino sauce...amazing! We started our meal with a new addition to the Seafood Appetizers menu: Crispy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps. This fun appetizer features crispy popcorn shrimp tossed in a tangy soy-ginger sauce. They're topped with sliced jalapeños and served with ice-cold lettuce cups for wrapping.

My readers in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico can enjoy a limited-time seafood offering at Taco Cabana. Their popular Shrimp Tampico is back for Lent! It's available in both soft tacos and cheesy quesadillas. Shrimp Tampico is hand-marinated at each Taco Cabana location using a secret-recipe marinade that contains ancho chiles and a blend of spices. Shrimp Tampico is available through early April, so be sure to get by before then if you want to try it!
Shrimp Tampico quesadillas and tacos are especially yummy paired with Pineapple Chipotle salsa. Pineapple Chipotle is that latest creation in Taco Cabana's Salsa Especial! limited-edition salsa line. Its sweet-spicy flavor profile pairs perfectly with shrimp.

There you have it...a trio of tasty dining out options for Lent! For even more great ideas, be sure to visit my Dining Out Lent Options page on Pinterest. What are your go-to places to dine out during Lent? I'd love to hear them, so please leave me a Comment below!

Disclosure: Taco Cabana, Red Lobster, and Denny's provided us with the food featured to facilitate inclusion in this article. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stonyfield OP Organic Protein Smoothies...Perfect for On-the-Go Lifestyles! #stonyfieldblogger

I'm very excited to be a part of Stonyfield's Clean Plate Club! I truly love their delicious, organic yogurt products…so I’m thrilled to be featuring them here at The Weekend Gourmet moving forward. Today, I wanted to share one of their new products with you: delicious and convenient OP organic high-protein smoothies! If you’re like me, you’re always go-go-go busy. I’m always on the lookout for healthy options for food to take to the office for breakfast…or an on-the-go snack when I’m out running weekend errands. Enter Stonyfield OP high-protein smoothies! These refrigerated ready-to-drink smoothies come in three great flavors: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. Simply give the bottle a quick shake, twist off the lid, and enjoy.
Each great-tasting OP smoothie makes a fast breakfast or snack – and it helps save me from snacks in the office vending machine! These creamy smoothies are organic and gluten free…and they contain 15 grams of filling organic protein. I enjoyed having these smoothies at my desk for breakfast, along with a piece of fruit. This combo provided me with plenty of energy to get through the morning, and I stayed full until lunch. Each 10-ounce OP high-protein smoothie has between 180 and 200 calories and just 2 grams of fat. All three flavors are delish, but we especially loved the strawberry flavor. It’s sweetly tart and very easy to drink!
I also froze one of these OP smoothies during my 30-minute after-work walk one afternoon. When I came back inside, it was perfectly chilled. This rich and creamy smoothie was a great way to refuel after my walk while I prepped our dinner…and it kept me from reaching into my snack basket. Score one for OP! To find these OP high-protein smoothies near you, visit Stonyfield’s convenient online Store Locator.
Disclosure: Stonyfield provided me with samples of OP high-protein smoothies to facilitate this article. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Guest Post: Scallop Ceviche from Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Michael and I are in New Orleans and Biloxi the next two days to learn all about how delicious Gulf Seafood is harvested, processed, and cooked! While I'm gone, one of my talented blogging friends is sharing a fabulous recipe with you today. Keeping with the seafood theme, Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing a scallop ceviche recipe with you! Light and refreshing, this ceviche is a perfect way to kick off any party or meal. I'd serve this ceviche with warm tortilla chips and crisp white wine!
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Ceviche is probably one of my favorite appetizers. It’s versatile and – best ever! – largely hands-off. Ceviche is a simple dish of seafood "cooked" by the acid in lemons or limes. It's easy, but it requires incredibly fresh ingredients. I usually ask my fish monger which is the best choice for ceviche that day. Sometimes he'll say shrimp, sometimes it's fish. The day I made this ceviche, he said scallops. Because you just have to try this refreshing seafood dish, I'm sharing it with the readers of The Weekend Gourmet. Enjoy!


Scallop Ceviche
by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound scallops, sliced. (Click here to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch findings on scallops)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 6-8 fresh lemons, juiced (I used Meyer lemons from a tree we have in our yard)
  • 1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh herbs, chopped (a mixture of cilantro, parsley, and other green herbs of your choice)
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tbs. salsa
  • Shredded cabbage, for serving
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste, for serving
  • freshly ground pepper for serving
Preparation:
(1) Place the raw scallop pieces in a glass dish and cover them with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The scallops should be completely covered by juice.

(2) Cover the dish and place it in the refrigerator. Let the scallops marinate or "cook" in the lemon juice for at least 4 hours. Once the scallops are "cooked" in the juices, add the remaining ingredients just before serving.

(3) To serve, place shredded cabbage on your plate. Top with the ceviche. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Baked Crab Cakes with Avocado Crema and Mango-Avocado Salsa

Michael and I are busy taking care of last-minute errands and packing today before we hop on a plane and head to New Orleans and Biloxi. While we're there, we'll be learning all about how Gulf Seafood is harvested, processed...and cooked! This trip is being provided by the Gulf Seafood Marketing Council. I'll be coming back here and sharing all the great information I learn -- along with tons of great seafood recipes -- throughout March! To follow my live social media shares during our trip, follow me on Twitter @TheWeekendGourm and on Instagram @WEEKENDGOURMET!

To get you in a seafood mood today, I'm sharing one of my very favorite crab cake recipes with you. If you've got the Winter blahs, this dish will definitely give you a taste of Spring! My Baked Crab Cakes with Avocado Crema and Mango-Avocado Salsa are lighter in calories than fried crab cakes, and they're served with a duo of flavorful sauces. The crema is made with avocado and fat-free Greek yogurt flavored with lime, cilantro, and a bit of spice. The sweetly spicy salsa is flavored with honey, cilantro, and jalapeno. Be sure to allot an hour or two for the formed crab cakes to hang out in the fridge to firm up before baking. That gives you plenty of time to assemble the salsa, so it's all good!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Perfect for Busy Weeknights: Skillet Sicilian Chicken Tortellini #WeekdaySupper #McSkilletSauce

The work week is always hectic for me…get home from work, work on blog tasks, and somehow find time to make a quick and tasty dinner. I recently discovered a secret weapon to save time in the kitchen – without sacrificing flavor in the process. New Skillet Sauces from McCormick provide all of the zesty seasonings and spices you want in a handy pouch! They come in a wide range of flavors – whether you’re craving Mexican, Asian,  Itlalian…or even good ‘ol American comfort classics like sloppy joes or BBQ! You simply add the protein of your choice and a few veggies…and dinner’s ready in about 30 minutes! For today’s #WeekdaySupper, I’m sharing my flavorful Skillet Sicilian Chicken Tortellini, made with the Sicilian Chicken with Tomato, Bail & Garlic Skillet Sauce.

This hearty skillet dinner is ready in just about 30 minutes, making it ideal for even the busiest of busy weeknights! This all-in-one meal features mushrooms, onions, cheese tortellini, and chicken breast in a creamy tomato sauce. The flavorful sauce is perfectly seasoned by the McCormick Skillet Sauce. Its robust Italian flavors and spices pair perfectly with the veggies, tortellini, and chicken.  Some shredded mozzarella blend added just before serving adds an extra layer of flavor too. Who doesn't love melted cheese?!?!? All you need to add is a simple salad and maybe some garlic bread to complete this simple weeknight skillet dinner!

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