The Weekend Gourmet F

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 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 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 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'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, 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!
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

  • 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
(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!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for February: Celebrating Mardi Gras at Luke San Antonio

After a bit of a hiatus during the holiday months, my monthly The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out feature is finally back! I can't think of a better way to kick off 2015's dining experiences than taking part in a fun Mardi Gras celebration right here in San Antonio. We were invited to enjoy a special taste of Mardi Gras menu at Lüke San Antonio, which is part of Louisiana Chef John Besh's family of restaurants. In fact, Lüke is Chef Besh's only restaurant located outside of his home state of Louisiana. We've dined here several times, and the food is always excellent. When we arrived for dinner, the restaurant was already hopping! There was live jazz music playing, and the staff was handing out colorful Mardi Gras beads to those lucky enough to have a reservation to this fun event. We were quickly seated and looked over the evening's special menu offerings.

Because the items served were reduced-sized menu portions, we were able to sample all five of the menu offerings. Add in a couple of tasty Mardi Gras cocktails, lively music, and some colorful beads...and our Fat Tuesday dinner was off to a great start! We started the fun by ordering a pair of Happy Hour-priced New Orleans-inspired cocktails: a Texas-sized Bayou Satsuma Hurricane and a French 75. Both were expertly made and very tasty. The hurricane was served over ice in a carafe, and it was fruity and delicious. Sort of like punch on steroids! Michael's French 75 was made with champagne, cognac, and lemon. It reminded me a bit of a sophisticated fizzy lemonade. We sipped our cocktails, which came served with a duo of locally sourced Peeler Farms Fried Chicken Wings. The wings were fried perfectly crisp, with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a fabulous house-made buttermilk dipping sauce.
As we sipped our cocktails, we had a great time people watching and listening to the live music the jazz trio was playing. This is my kind of Mardi Gras celebration -- lots of great food and drink -- without huge hordes of people! The other guests seemed to be having a great time too...and the staff at Lüke were in a festive mood. Next out of the kitchen was a four-course sampler of Louisiana specialties from Chef John Russ' kitchen.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Red Carpet #SundaySupper...Featuring Indulgent Lobster-Champagne Risotto

In honor of the Oscars this evening, #SundaySupper is throwing a Red Carpet bash featuring black tie recipes that be served for any special occasion or party. Our hostess this week is Katie from Ruffles and Truffles, and she asked us to share our favorite special-event recipes. To me, nothing is quite as indulgent as risotto...and I happened to have two lobster tails in my freezer. I knew that lobster would take this basil-kissed risotto into "red carpet" territory! The end result was my Indulgent Lobster-Champagne Risotto. It's an indulgent treat that is a perfect dinner for two. This creamy risotto is flavored with a bit of pesto and parmesan cheese...and morsels of tender lobster meat.

If you're intimidated by the idea of making risotto...don't be! It's not hard, but you do have to be patient and have 20 or so minutes uninterrupted to stand at the stove and stir and add the broth as it cooks. I like to pass the time by listening to some good music...and sipping on a glass of the wine I use to flavor my risott0. In this case...sparkling champagne. Your patience will be rewarded by creamy and indulgent risotto. Once you have the basic technique down, you're ready to experiment with as many variations as your imagination can come up with!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Is Headed to New Orleans and Biloxi to Learn About #GulfSeafood

As a native Texan who grew up less than an hour from the Gulf of Mexico, I've been a fan of Gulf seafood for decades. The legacy of the country’s great seafood belongs to the Gulf Coast. Comprised of five coastal states -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas -- Gulf seafood has been providing fishermen, chefs, and foodies with great food. Gulf seafood is also an economic engine that powers the entire region. In fact, the Gulf Coast produces 70% of the country’s oysters, 69% of domestic shrimp, and is a leading producer of domestic hard and soft-shell blue crabs. I love to cook with Gulf seafood year-round, so I'm very excited to share some fun news today: Michael and I are headed to New Orleans and Biloxi next month to learn about Gulf seafood up close and personal! The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition is hosting us and four other food bloggers to learn about how Gulf seafood is harvested and processed. Of course, we'll be eating lots of Gulf seafood too!
Gulf seafood features a superior flavorful profile as a result of the nutrient-rich environment in which it is born. With many different ways to prepare -- from grilling with Creole seasoning to baking with remoulade sauce -- Gulf seafood creates great flavor profiles. The Gulf coastline spans approximately 1,680 miles with access to many major ports and cities -- including Galveston, New Orleans, and Biloxi. Gulf seafood can be harvested, processed, and on the table in a matter of hours. By being in such close proximity to major seafood processors, this ensures the freshest catch possible. My personal favorite Gulf seafood is shrimp, which I like to enjoy in as many ways as possible. Today, I'm sharing a recipe for an easy Hot Gulf Shrimp Dip -- perfect for entertaining during the Lenten season!

Hot Gulf Shrimp Dip
From the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition

Photo provided by Edelman and Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition 

  • 1 pound Gulf shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined, and chopped
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • ½ chopped green onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack)
Step 1: Combine all ingredients in an 8x8 baking dish, reserving ¼ of the cheese. Mix well. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of mixture.

Step 2: Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with toasted pitas or sliced fresh bread for dipping.

I can't wait to whip up a batch of this spicy and cheesy shrimp dip for our Oscar menu this weekend! You can also visit the Eat Gulf Seafood website to find tons more amazing recipes. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @TheWeekendGourm or on Instagram at WEEKENDGOURMET to follow the fun of our upcoming trip. I'll be sharing tons of live social shares, so you won't want to miss the fun!

Disclosure: The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition provided me with the facts and photographs shared in this post. They are also providing us with airfare, hotel, and meals for our upcoming media trip. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Red Beans & Rice-Sausage Soup for Mardi Gras

I hope that you've got some fabulous Mardi Gras plans on your calendar tomorrow. We do! We won't make it to New Orleans to celebrate, but we are attending a lively Mardi Gras celebration at Luke San Antonio on the Riverwalk. Luke is part of Louisiana Chef John Besh's restaurant group -- so we'll get to enjoy a taste of NOLA right here in Texas! If you're celebrating at home, fire up some zydeco music, pop on some Mardi Gras beads...and make a simple, delicious dinner at home! I made this Red Beans & Rice-Sausage Soup for our Mardi Gras dinner last year, and it's so good I wanted to share the recipe again this year. It's an economical and delicious meal-in-a-bowl. If you're like me and your weeknights are hectic, this easy-to-make soup will make a perfect Mardi Gras celebration dinner.
This hearty soup starts with a package of Zatarains' red beans and rice mix, and it's ready to eat in less than an hour. Most of that time is hands off while the soup simmers on the stove, so you have time to do other things. I love quick meals during the work week, so I was thrilled to find a recipe for Andouille Red Bean Soup on Zatarains' website. I tweaked their recipe a bit, using a combination of bulk pork sausage and smoked sausage. If you can get your hands on andouille, definitely use that instead of the smoked sausage. I also subbed low-sodium chicken stock for water and added a can of petite diced tomatoes for additional flavor and texture. This recipe made a large pot of soup -- we enjoyed four large bowls of soup and still had a large container left to freeze to enjoy on another busy weeknight!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Perfect Valentine's Dessert: Split Decision Cinnamon-Orange Chocolate Fondue

To celebrate Valentine’s, I'm sharing a simple recipe for a luscious dessert that you can whip up in no time for your sweetheart tonight. In fact, this very dessert is on our dinner menu tonight! Nothing says Valentine’s quite like chocolate…and the ultimate romantic chocolate treat is fondue! What's not to like about rich, melty chocolate and tasty treats to dip into it. Best of all, this chocolate fondue easy to make…and really fun to eat! To ensure the best end result, make sure to splurge on the highest quality chocolate and dippers that you can find. From there, have fun…fondue is infinitely adaptable!! My Split Decision Cinnamon-Orange Fondue is sure to make your sweetie smile tonight…or any night that you’re looking to up the romance factor.

Around here, Michael is a milk chocolate fan…while I prefer semisweet. My harmonious fondue features both types of chocolate…hence the “split decision” in the title. This decadent fondue is flavored with orange liqueur and orange zest, along with cinnamon and a dash of vanilla extract. The mixture can be prepped earlier in the day and stored in the fridge…then it’s ready to be warmed up just before serving. Everyone has their favorite dippers…so make it your own. I paired our fondue with strawberries, apple slices, cubes of pound cake…and salty ridged potato chips. The potato chips are a bit of a curve ball, but they’re super fun! I'm serving our fondue in a fun Fire Water Chocolate Fondue Tower from Max Brenner’s. If you’re lucky enough to have a Max Brenner’s location near you -- or come across one during travels to the East Coast -- you can pick one of these fabulous three-tier warmers up! This warmer keeps your fondue perfectly melted, without scorching. The base holds a lighted tea light, the center piece holds warm water, and the top piece is for the fondue. The candle heats the water, which gently warms the chocolate. That means you're good until the last dip!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Double-Dipped Strawberries with Strawberry Cheesecake Filling...Featuring Driscoll's Long-Stemmed Strawberries #ValentinesDay

One of my favorite Valentine's treats is chocolate dipped strawberries. They're simple, yet they feel like a very special treat. That's why I was so excited when my friends at Driscoll's Berries asked me to share a fun new spin on chocolate-dipped strawberries. To up the wow factor just a bit, I created Double-Dipped Strawberries with Strawberry Cheesecake Filling. These berries are over-the-top good...and they're really simple to make. I splurged and picked up a package of Driscoll's seasonal long-stemmed jumbo strawberries. These strawberries are sweet and super juicy...they're good by themselves straight from the package, but chocolate and creamy filling are a great accompaniment!

I removed the steams and used a sharp spoon to make a well in the top of each berry. Then, I dipped each berry in both milk and white chocolate. I let the chocolate set up in the fridge, then piped a strawberry-flavored cheesecake mousse into the top of each berry. To ensure the most decadent treat possible, make sure to purchase the best quality chocolate you can find!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for February: Valentine's Gift Guide 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for February is focusing on Valentine's...specifically on Valentine gifts that are perfect for the food lovers in your life. I've got some great suggestions, so let's get started!

(1) Godiva Six-Piece Valentines Day Truffle Flight. Godiva is offering a deliciously decadent Valentine's collection this year, and one of my favorite items is the six-piece Valentines Day Truffle Flight. It's perfect for couples to share at the end of their celebration, and it contains some fabulous truffle flavors. When you Valentine opens the festive red box, they'll find the following seasonal truffle flavors inside: Aztec Spice, Chocolate Lave Cake, Strawberry Crème Tarte, Dark Chocolate Souffle, Milk Chocolate Mousse, and White Chocolate Passion Fruit. Some of the truffles even come decorated with a heart on top to complete the romantic mood. The hardest part may just be deciding who gets to eat which truffle. If so, just do what Michael and I do: each of us takes a bit of each truffle so we can taste them all! Godiva's entire Valentine line is available online and at their boutiques.

(2) Frexeinet's Mia Rose. Mia Rose is the perfect wine for your Valentine's celebration. If you show up with a bottle of this wine, your sweetheart will know that you've got romance on your mind! This pink-hued Spanish wine is lightly sweet and really easy to drink. It's a rosado wine that's made with a distinctive, unusual red grape. Frexeinet uses Bobal to give this wine its gorgeous pink color, and they only allow the skins to have short contact with the juice to ensure a delicate body. The result is a perfumed and slightly floral wine with a real tang of strawberry and raspberry. Mia Rose should be served well chilled as a companion to dishes like salmon, seafood, pizza and Thai food. I absolutely love this wine and can't wait to enjoy it during the warmer months.

(3) Monterey Meringues. If your sweetie is a die-hard music lover, Monterey Meringues' line of delicious meringue cookies with fun music-inspired names is a perfect Valentine's gift! The meringues are packaged right after baking and decorated with a colorful ribbon, then shipped direct to you. They arrive perfectly crisp and fresh. They taste great...and they come in a variety of bright, festive colors. Some of their creative, fun flavors include: Oreo Speedwagon, Miley Citrus, Nuts 'N Roses, and Purple Haze-lnut -- my personal favorite! It features a crunchy purple swirled meringue with a hidden surprise: a center of chocolate-hazelnut spread! They are also offering a special Valentine's flavor: My Yummy Valentine. In addition to enjoying eating these delish meringues? Your Valentine will know that a portion of proceeds from all sales supports music education and music rehabilitation! To purchase Monterey Meringues, simply visit their online store.

(4) Kansas City Steak Surf and Turf. Let's face it: waiting for hours with hordes of other couples at a crowded restaurant on Valentine's is a real romance buzzkill! Instead, why not order surf and turf from Kansas City Steaks and whip up a romantic dinner for two at home? Their Surf and Turf package contains two 8-ounce super-trimmed fillet mignon and two 5-ounce cold-water lobster tails. Simply add a dinner salad and baked potatoes, and you've got a steakhouse-quality meal at home. Without the crowds. If lobster's not your thing, they also offer surf and turf packages that feature shrimp skewers or crab cakes instead. To purchase this dynamic duo, simply visit Kansas City Steaks' online store.

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