The Weekend Gourmet F

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for February...Featuring The Melting Pot's

Michael and I recently enjoyed a delicious and fun date night dining experience at The Melting Pot's San Antonio location. We enjoyed their signature four-course San Antonio Big Night Out experience that was a truly over-the-top dining experience! From the moment we were seated until we left completely stuffed a couple of hours later, everything tasted great. I can't wait to share the entire experience with you!!
The Melting Pot has locations nationwide and features cheese, entree, and chocolate dessert fondues -- as well as delicious cocktails and salads to round out your dining experience. Whether your're celebrating something special, looking for a romantic date night destination...or even a fun girls night out...The Melting Pot has you covered! When we arrived, we were warmly greeted and shown to our booth table. In the center was a heated insert where our fondue would be cooked. While we looked over the menu, a duo of delicious cocktails selected especially for us arrived for us to enjoy -- their classic Love Martini and the creative new The Melting Pot Mule. 
The Love Martini features Malibu Rum, peach Schnapps, cranberry juice, and fresh strawberries. It was sweetly tart, with a gorgeous red color...I definitely loved this martini. The Melting Pot Mule is a modern spin on a classic Moscow Mule that features classic mule Stolichnaya Vodka and Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur muddled with fresh mint, then shaken with lime and topped with ginger beer. It was refreshing and totally delicious. Then, it was time for us to enjoy tour San Antonio Big Night Out!

This four-course dining included a cheese fondue of our choice, salad, an elevated entree fondue experience, and a chocolate dessert fondue. We loved how personalized the entire experience was! For our cheese fondue course, we selected the delicious Italian-inspired Quattro Formaggio. It featured four different cheeses -- Butterkäse, Fontina, fresh mozzerella, and Parmesan -- melted with white wine, garlic, and basil pesto, and sun-dried tomato pesto. It was served with small chunks of different breads for dipping...and it was absolutely delicious. We loved how the flavors of garlic and pesto combined with the cheese. Our fondue experience for two was off to a great start!
Our second course was a refreshing salad. We opted for The Melting Pot House Salad, which featured crisp Romaine and iceberg lettuces, cheddar cheese, juicy diced tomato, crunchy housemade croutons, and slices of boiled egg. It was served with a delicious creamy peppercorn ranch dressing. 
This was such a great salad -- perfectly chilled and made with pristinely fresh ingredients. I especially loved the creamy ranch dressing, which is made in-house daily. We were having such a good time...and then our over-the-top entree fondue was set up for us!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Easy Pork Chop Recipes #SundaySupper...Featuring Spicy Maple-Glazed Pork Chops with Jalapeno Cheese Grits

One of my favorite quick-cook weeknight dinners is lean, boneless butterflied pork chops. They can be grilled or seared in about 10 minutes, and they're so versatile! This week, #SundaySupper is featuring Easy Pork Chop recipes. Our hostess is Shelby from Grumpy’s Honeybunch, who asked us to share our favorite easy-to-make pork chop recipes. My Spicy Maple-Glazed Pork Chops with Jalapeno Cheese Grits are a snap to make -- easy enough for a simple weeknight dinner, but fancy enough to serve to company.

This is my personal spin on a recipe that I saw in Southern Living awhile back. Lean boneless pork chops are sprinkled with an easy homemade spice rub, then seared and glazed with a spicy maple-infused BBQ sauce. These spicy-sweet pork chops cook up juicy and tender and are served over a base of creamy jalapeno cheese grits. This comforting dish is ready to eat in about 30 minutes, and it's so tasty. The spice level is moderate, but it can easily be adjusted to suit your family's preference.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Spotlight on Groomer's Seafood...Featuring Texas Crab Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Remoulad

Michael and I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast, so we've been seafood lovers our entire lives. My favorite food -- hand's down -- is seafood! Whether it's fish, crab, or wild-caught Gulf shrimp...seafood is always my first choice when planning a special meal. Here in San Antonio, the best place to purchase fresh seafood is Groomer's Seafood. Since the late 1800's, Groomer’s has been offering local cooks the best in fresh seafood. Through the generations, Groomer’s Seafood has stellar reputation. In fact, every month they move 250+ tons of fresh fish and seafood -- making them one of the largest fresh seafood suppliers in the entire country! Three generations of the Groomer family currently run the business, providing loyal customers a wide range of pristinely fresh in-season seafood. 

Groomer's recently provided me with a sampler of seafood items to do a bit of recipe development. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing a trio of recipes featuring extra-large wild Gulf shrimp and scallops. First up are my decadent Texas Crab Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Remoulade. These crab cakes feature huge chunks of sweet jumbo lump crab and very little binder -- I wanted this high-end crab to be the star of the show! To accompany my crab cakes, I made a quick remoulade sauce flavored with cilantro and lime. I'm not kidding when I say these crab cakes are over-the-top good...and perfect for any at-home Valentine's celebrations you might have planned!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fancy Appetizer #SundaySupper...Featuring Easy Caprese Puff Pastry Bites

With Valentine's Day in a couple of days...and awards season in full's the ideal time to add a few fancy appetizers to your culinary bag of tricks! For this week's #SundaySupper event, our hostess Wendy from Wholistic Woman asked us to share our favorite upscale appetizers. My go-to ingredient for easy, elegant appetizers is frozen puff pastry. Whether you use sheets, shells, or bite-size mini cups, they help make fancy appetizers truly effortless. 

My Easy Caprese Puff Pastry Bites are a snap to make, full of flavor...and veg-friendly to boot! Seasoned puff pastry cups are filled with a fresh mozzarella pearl, then topped with a pesto-cream cheese filling and a halved grape tomato. If you love caprese salad, you'll flip for these bite-sized appetizers. Simply add a nice bottle of wine, and you're ready to celebrate...the Grammy's, Valentine's Day, or the Oscars! Wait until you see how simple this appetizer is to make.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Crunchies Freeze Dried Fruit...Featuring Berry Colada Snack Mix #TheCrunchiesLife

Last year, I was introduced to a delicious and healthy food product that has been in heavy rotation on my grocery list ever since: Crunchies freeze-dried fruit. They have a line of 10 delicious varieties of freeze dried fruits -- and beets too! -- from farmers they know and trust. In fact, Crunchies is the only freeze dried fruit company that owns its entire supply chain, from field to fork. They directly source their produce directly from the farmers who grow it. I love that Crunchies tastes great…and it’s made from pure fruits and veggies! Their produce is harvested when it’s at the peak of ripeness, then quickly frozen. The frozen fruit or vegetable is then freeze dried with via a process that combines temperature and pressure. The majority of the frozen water turns directly to water vapor, resulting in a light and crispy snack! 

Even better, this process ensures most of the fruit or veggie’s color, flavor, and nutrients remain. Crunchies aren’t chewy like dried fruit…and they’re not hard like a chip. Instead, they’re light and crispy, with natural sweetness and no added sugar. I especially love the mango and banana varieties…and the freeze dried berries. I recently used Crunchies sweetly tart raspberries and strawberries to create a simple trail mix. My Berry Colada Snack Mix combines Crunchies strawberries and raspberries with nuts, dried pineapple, coconut chips…and some white chocolate chips for fun…to make a delicious on-the-go snack.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wendy's Favorite Things...Valentine's Gift Guide Edition! #WendyFaveThings #GreatEight #valentines

February is here...which means Valentine's Day is just around the corner. For this month's Wendy's Favorite Things, my Great Eight is featuring romantic and delicious Valentine's gift ideas for the special food and wine lovers in your life. There's something priced for every budget...and every type of Valentine. I love all of these items, and I'm so excited to share them with you today!

(1) Vosges Haute-Chocolat Valentine's Collection. An elegant heart-shaped box filled with beautiful chocolates is a classic Valentine’s Day gift. One of my favorite chocolate brands is Chicago's Vosges Haute-Chocolat. Vosges founder Katrina Markoff is known for her wildly creative flavor combinations that combine premium chocolate with a variety of delicious spices, flowers, roots, herbs, and liqueurs. This year’s Valentine’s collection features products in a range of prices for every budget. For just $10, you can buy your special someone their five-piece Dulce de Leche within Strawberry Hibiscus White Chocolate Hearts. Their delicate pink color is so feminine, and the flavors are perfectly balanced. If an upscale heart-shaped treat is your preference, Vosges has got you covered with a trio of creative offerings. 
The $15 petite purple heart contains 4 ounces of buttery Bapchi's Caramel Toffee topped with deep milk chocolate and chopped nuts. The Collection du Coeur heart boxes are filled with truffles, bonbons, and bites. The white heart box contains 17 pieces, including a delicious Rose Raspberry Truffle and a white chocolate Lemon Verbena Heart topped with red peppercorns. This beautiful Valentine’s gift is priced at $55. Priced slightly lower, at $35, is the nine-piece purple heart box. As a special Valentine treat, my friends at Vosges have provided The Weekend Gourmet readers an exclusive discount code to save 15% off online orders for the entire month of February -- and there's no minimum purchase required!! To redeem this special code, visit their online store and enter the code TWG15 at checkout. 

(2) Bissinger’s Chocolate Covered Valentine Cookies. Is your honey a cookie lover? Then, Bissinger’s chocolate has the perfect Valentine gift idea for you! Their Valentine's line features an elegant gift box filled with a dozen chocolate sandwich cookies that are dipped in creamy milk chocolate and embellished with seasonal Valentine décor. These yummy cookies are pretty to look at -- and they’re downright addictive. We had a hard time stopping at just one cookie! Creamy milk chocolate gives way to a crunchy chocolate cookie filled with cream filling. These cookies come ready to give in a pretty box, so you’re good to go! The 12-cookie box costs $32 and can be ordered directly from Bissinger’s via their online store.

(3) Papyrus Truly Madly Deeply Stemless Wine GlassIf your special Valentine is a wine lover, this pretty and sentimental stemless wine glass from Papyrus is a perfect gift idea! This stemless wine glass is decorated with pretty red and gold hearts, and it has the words “truly, madly, deeply” inscribed on it. It’s like a romantic Valentine card they can use all year round! It comes paired with a matching gift box, so it arrives ready to present to your sweetie. Priced at just $14.95, you can pair this adorable wine glass with a bottle of your sweetheart’s favorite wine for the perfect combo gift to celebrate this special day. This -- and other fun Valentine wineglasses can be purchased at the Papyrus website.
(4) JARDESCA Apertif. Speaking of wine…why not give your sweetheart a little something different this year? JARDESCA aperitif is definitely refreshingly different! Aperitifs are intended to be enjoyed as a prelude to a meal, to stimulate the appetite without overwhelming the senses like some cocktails or heavier wines can do. Made in Sonoma, JARDESCA is a blend of three different white wines that's fortified with grape brandy (eau de vie) and 10 different botanicals. JARDESCA is meant to be served chilled over ice to best enjoy its light flavor profile -- and it can be used as a mixer for a range of wine spritzers! JARDESCA retails for $30 and can be ordered online for Valentine gift-giving. For my Texas readers, JARDESCA will be available at all Texas Whole Foods locations starting in March.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Stonyfield Clean Plate Club: NEW Double Cream Plain Yogurt and Simply Organic Spices...Featuring Adobo Chicken Fiesta Flatbread

I love luscious, creamy dishes...but I try my best to enjoy them responsibly. For this month’s Stonyfield Clean Plate Club event, I was very excited to receive some of their new Double Cream plain yogurt and a sampler of Simply Organic spices and dip mixes. We were asked to use the Double Cream and Simply Organic products to create a delicious savory dip or entrée. Specifically designed for cooking, Double Cream has a higher fat content than Stonyfield's other whole milk yogurts. It’s thick and creamy, but it still offers all of the nutritional benefits of yogurt! This decadent product is a perfect way to cut vegetable oils and sour cream in your favorite recipes. Simply Organic included a pair of zesty Mexican-themed spices: earthy Cumin and flavorful Adobo. I decided to create a big-flavor flatbread featuring both items.

My mildly spicy Adobo Chicken Fiesta Flatbread features tons of great flavors and textures! Juicy chicken tenders marinates in a robust yogurt marinade that's flavored wtih lime, adobo and cumin. A trio of colorful, confetti-like veggies round out the toppings. Just before serving, an adobo-lime yogurt sauce reminiscent of the marinade is drizzled on top of the flatbread. We loved how simple this recipe is to make...and how flavorful! To save time after work, I assembled the marinade and let the chicken chicken hang out in the fridge while I was at work. With that step out of the way before work, the flatbread was assembled and ready to eat in about 30 minutes at dinner time. Can't decide between pizza or Mexican food for dinner? With this fusion flatbread, you can enjoy the best of both worlds! 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Paying it Forward with Stonyfield Yogurt...Featuring Homemade Pampering Gift #StonyfieldBlogger

As most of you know, I'm a proud member of Stonyfield Yogurt's Clean Plate Club. I love using their delicious organic yogurt products to make good-for-you recipes all throughout the year...and I love their big hearts too! Last month, Stonyfield sent me a $50 VISA gift card to take part in their holiday Pay It Forward program. I could use the money any way I chose to donate to a cause close to my heart. What an opportunity! The holidays can be rough for those who lack the financial resources to provide holiday presents for their kids. Not that presents are the main focus of the holiday season...but every child deserves to have a little something under the tree on Christmas morning!

At my previous job, we provided holiday presents every year to high school students who otherwise wouldn't receive any gifts. It was such an amazing feeling to watch them open a present from their wish list during our annual holiday party at the school. I immediately knew I wanted to do something similar with my gift card. I contacted a local community service organization and asked them to recommend a school that might have some female students who were in need of a holiday gift. They helped me connect with a high school, and I took it from there!
I selected items for the baskets that my teenage niece would like -- fun items the students' family budgets might not permit. I wanted the items to be pampering...and definitely girly! Nearly all of the items were purchased at a "dollar store" so I could provide baskets for four young ladies. I started with a sturdy wire basket that could be re-used after the contents were gone. I lined each basket with a colorful towel, then filled it with a variety of items. The baskets contained a scented candle, candy, nail polish, hot chocolate, trail mix...and some cozy holiday slipper socks. 

When the baskets were assembled, I delivered them to the school's guidance counselor -- who distributed them to four young ladies who wouldn't have otherwise received a holiday gift. It was a completely anonymous act...I don't know who received the baskets, and the students don't know who gave them their gift. I'm so happy imaging their faces when they received a little bit of unexpected holiday cheer! I hope you'll look for opportunities to Pay it Forward in your own life during the coming year. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to do something nice for someone else...and it will also bring you immense joy and satisfaction!

Disclosure: This was a compensated post on behalf of Stonyfield Yogurt. They provided me with a $50 VISA gift card to purchase the supplies to make the donated gift baskets featured in this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...Featuring Houston's Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE #WGHitstheRoad

Photo provided by Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE
My hometown of Houston is on a lot of radars at the moment, because the Super Bowl is being held there next weekend. We typically spend our time visiting our families when we go home. However, during a recent trip we enjoyed an overnight getaway with our teenage niece Lili at the elegant Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE. This 266-room luxury boutique hotel is located within the city's popular CITYCENTRE development -- which features lots of great restaurants and retail locations. We especially loved that once we parked our car, we never had to leave the CITYCENTRE area during our stay at Sorella. Everything we needed was available either at the hotel, or it was just a short walk away within the CITYCENTRE complex. Talk about convenient! Sorella is part of the Valencia Hotel Group. Key amenities include on-site dining, a large rooftop swimming pool area, a fitness center, high-speed Internet access, and a convenient complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby area each morning. 

Photo provided by Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE

When we arrived, we parked our car and checked in at the Sorella's spacious lobby. I loved the cool, modern decor. Our room wasn't quite ready, so we left our bags and decided to have lunch at Grimaldi's pizza at CITYCENTRE. Grimaldi's was a quick 5-minute walk from the Sorella. We're huge fans of Grimaldi's delicious New York-style pizza, so we were so excited to introduce Lili to it! We ordered our signature flavor: pepperoni and Italian sausage with pesto, paired with a Mediterranean salad. The salad was super fresh and bursting with flavor thanks to a generous amount of feta cheese and the perfectly tart vinaigrette. We always enjoy this salad at Grimaldi's while we wait for our pizza to cook.
The pizza came to the table with a perfect thin crust, zesty tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, flavorful pepperoni and sausage, and a drizzle of basil pesto. This is pizza nirvana, folks! After our lunch, we explored CITYCENTRE a bit more as we walked over to have dessert at Sweet bakery. This adorable bakery is known in Houston for its creative cupcakes, macarons, and locally produced Greenway Coffee. We decided to try a few of their signature cupcake and macaron flavors. 
The macarons were perfection! We loved all of the flavors, but our favorites were the Rose, Nutella, and fun Fruity Pebble flavors. Sweet's cupcakes were amazing as well, especially the Berry Cheesecake and their signature S'mores. The S'mores cupcake features a graham cracker base, dark chocolate cake, and a generous amount of marshmallow fluff that's dipped in rich chocolate ganache. Heaven! By then, our room was we made the short walk back to our home base at the Sorella.

We picked up our room keys at the front desk, then we headed up to our room. It featured dark hardwood floors and amazing views of CITYCENTRE from our large floor-to-ceiling window. After we admired the view for a bit, we noticed that the friendly staff at the Sorella had left us some snacks and wine as a welcome gift...such a nice touch! Our Double beds were very comfortable, and they featured luxurious Egyptian cotton linens. We were very impressed with the creature comforts in our room -- including a 37-inch flat screen plasma television and designer toiletries. After a brief rest, we decided to check out the rooftop pool area -- which is one of the Sorella's main social hubs. We changed into our bathing suits, grabbed our robes, and headed down to the pool.
The pool area features comfy poolside chaise lounges -- some with elegant white canopies -- and tasty cocktails from the adjacent Monnalisa Bar. We had fun splashing in the pool, visiting...and sampling some of the bar's signature cocktails.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wendy's Favorite Things for January...Featuring Healthy Products! #GreatEight #WendyFaveThings

In the new year, many of us are focusing on eating healthier and moving more...myself included! For this month's Wendy's Favorite Things, I'm sharing some of my favorite healthier food finds that have helped keep my healthy eating goals on track the past few weeks. Let's get started!!

(1) CedarLane Natural Foods Vegetarian Frozen Entrees. I try to balance indulgences with healthy eating for my good health, but I refuse to sacrifice flavor. CedarLane’s delicious line of frozen vegetarian meals helps me do just that! Their product line includes ready-to-eat frozen omelets, egg white frittatas, and vegetarian burritos. Their line of vegetarian entrees includes Eggplant Parmesan, Lowfat Garden Vegetable Enchilada, and Three-Layer Enchilada Pie. Every product I’ve tried in the line is tasty, filling…and healthy! My personal favorite entree is the Lowfat Garden Enchiladas. They're made with organic corn tortillas, pinto beans, cheese, and veggies…and topped with a lightly spicy sauce. It’s a delicious and filling meal that has just 280 calories and 6 grams fat for a hearty 2-enchilada serving. To find CedarLane products near you, be sure to visit their online Store Locator.

(2) Burt’s Bees Daily Plant-Based Protein Powder. You know Burt's Bees for its popular line of natural makeup and body care products. But you probably didn't know that they recently introduced a line of Daily Plant-Based Protein Powders. I've been using their Vanilla Daily Protein this month, and I'm loving it! It comes in Chocolate flavor too! Each serving contains 15 grams of plant-based protein, and it contains an optimal blend of plant-based protein and vitamins from fruits and vegetables. Each serving provides me with 15 grams of plant-based protein from Pea, Rice, Flaxseed, Sunflower Seed, and Oat, two servings of fruits and vegetables, and 10% of my RDA for a dozen essential vitamins. As an added bonus, it's non-GMO and made from 70% organic ingredients. The bottom line for me is that it tastes good! The instructions recommend stirring it into water, but I prefer it blended with milk and ice so it's more like a shake. The entire line of Burt's Bees protein powders can be purchased online directly from Burt's Bees.

(3) Miss Jones Organic Baking Products. Even if you're trying to eat healthy, you're going to want to enjoy a sweet so you don't feel deprived. The key is to treat yourself smartly. I recently gave Miss Jones Organic baking products a try, and I really loved them! Their line of organic, non-GMO cake mixes, brownies, and ready-to-use frosting tastes great...and they don't have a bunch of hard-to-pronounce preservatives. So far, I've tried their brownie mix and Salted Caramel Buttercream icing. The brownies bake up fudgy, with a deep chocolate flavor -- and they even provide instruction to make the brownies vegan. The salted caramel frosting is made with sustainable palm oil from Colombia instead of it's vegan and dairy free...and it doesn't have any artificial colors or flavors. Hint: it tastes especially great spread on one of Miss Jones' brownies! To find these amazing baking mixes and frosting at a store near you, be sure to check out their Find a Store option.

(4) Cast Iron Paleo Cookbook. If you follow a paleo eating plan -- or if you simply want to focus on eating more veggies and protein and fewer carbs -- Cast Iron Paleo is a fantastic cookbook! Whether you use your cast iron on the stovetop or in the oven, cast iron is a fabulous way to cook. Here in the South, cast iron pans are often handed down from generation to generation like an heirloom, so I was really excited to receive this cookbook. This cookbook contains 101 one-pan recipes for quick and delicious meals, including Sizzling Portobello Fajitas, Honey Mustard Rosemary Chicken Thighs, and Maple Glazed Pork Chops. As a bonus, one pan means less cleanup after dinner! This handy cookbook is available at bookstores nationwide, and it can also be ordered from Amazon.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Celebrating National Soup Month with Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup

January is National Soup Month, so I wanted to share one of my favorite soup recipes with you. I originally shared the recipe for Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup...aka Sopa de Lima...a couple of years ago. It's so crazy good that I wanted to share it again in honor of National Soup Month. This soup is very similar to chicken-tortilla soup, with a citrusy kick from the addition of lime juice. This recipe is my spin on an Emeril Lagasse recipe, by way of Rick Bayless. I also made a few minor tweaks based on some tricks I learned from a server in Merida, Mexico -- where we first tasted this dish while on vacation a few years ago. 

I use skinless bone-in chicken breast to give a richer chicken flavor to my broth. Second, I add lime juice AND simmer lime halves in the broth for 15 minutes before serving. This allows the lime's citrus oil to infuse a deeper lime flavor. Finally, I add a bit of chihuahua cheese to the top of each bowl before serving -- because a little cheese is never a bad thing! This Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup is the perfect soup to serve on a chilly Winter day, and it'w also great for any upcoming game-watching parties on your schedule.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vegolutions with MorningStar Farms®...Featuring Lighter One-Pot Meatless Pasta #ad #CollectiveBias #DailyVegolutions

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DailyVegolutions #CollectiveBias
Like many of you, I’m making a conscious effort to eat a bit healthier in the new year. One of my goals is to include at least one meatless meal per week. Luckily, MorningStar Farms® offers a convenient line of delicious meatless products that help me meet my Vegolutions – and enjoy great-tasting meals in the process! MorningStar Farms®’s flavorful recipe-ready veggie crumbles are perfect for making healthier versions of your favorite recipes like chili, spaghetti sauce, and tacos. I love that they let me enjoy healthier, meat-free versions of traditional comfort foods! MorningStar Farms® items are convenient and delicious for everyone – not just vegetarians and vegans. Even my meat-loving hubby enjoys eating them! MorningStar Farms® products are a convenient way to help us stay on our healthier lifestyle journey.

I recently went to my local Walmart to pick up packages of MorningStar Farms® Grillers® Crumbles™ and Meal Starters® Steak Strips – along with some Great Value™ frozen chopped spinach -- to create a healthier meatless pasta dish. All three items were easy to locate in the freezer case.
To purchase MorningStar Farms® items to meet your personal Vegolutions plans, be sure to use a special Ibotta to earn yourself some money! Simply buy any three (3) MorningStar Farms® products at Walmart, and you’ll earn $3! This Ibotta offer applies to all MorningStar Farms® products available at Walmart. The offer began on 1/09/2017, and it lasts throughout the month of January.

My Lighter One-Pot Pasta Dinner conveniently cooks in a Dutch oven, and it’s ready to eat in about 45 minutes – making it perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. This pasta features MorningStar Farms® Grillers® Crumbles™ in place of ground beef, chunky organic marinara sauce, high-fiber bowtie pasta, mushrooms, and nutrient-rich Great Value™ spinach. The end result is a hearty pasta dish that’s lower in fat and calories than my typical pasta dinner.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stirrings Blogger Recipe Challenge...Featuring Sparkling Watermelon-Mint Limeade Cocktail #simplybettercocktails

I was recently invited to take part in the Stirrings first annual Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge. Stirrings makes a delicious line of super premium cocktail mixers that are made with real juice and no preservatives. These mixers taste great, and they make mixology a snap! They provided me with my choice of two mixers and a cocktail rimmer to create a Simply Better Cocktail. I opted to received Stirrings' Watermelon Martini and Mojito cocktail mixers, along with their Lemon Drop Rimmer for garnish. I used both mixers to create my Sparkling Watermelon-Mint Limeade Cocktail. This refreshing cocktail proves a delicious hint of Summer that can enjoyed year-round. A little sweet...and a little tart...this fizzy cocktail is ready to enjoy in about 5 minutes thanks to convenient ready-to-use Stirrings mixers.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's Almost Time for Culinaria's 2017 Winter San Antonio Restaurant Week #SARW

It's a new year...and it's it's time for San Antonio's most highly anticipated culinary event of the Winter season: Culinaria's San Antonio Restaurant Week! This fun, tasty event is taking place January 16-28, and it literally offers something for every kind of food lover! Restaurants all over the city are offering diners special three-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menus. Prices come in two tiers to ensure San Antonio food lovers a range of budget options:
  • Tier 1 Restaurants: $15 lunch and $35 dinner
  • Tier 2 Restaurants: $10 lunch and $25 dinner
If you've never taken part in San Antonio Restaurant Week, this is the perfect year to jump in with both feet! This delicious two-week culinary event is a great way to try a new-to-you restaurant...or dine out at one of the city's best restaurants for a much lower price point. There's truly something from everyone -- from casual family-friendly restaurants to high-end gourmet dining. Be sure to visit the San Antonio Restaurant Week website to check out the mouthwatering menus!

Photo provided by Asado Seafood & Grll
The Weekend Gourmet team is going to be sampling the creative Restaurant Week dinner menus at a duo of Tier 1 restaurants. We'll enjoy traditional American, South American, Caribbean, and delicious rotisserie creations at Bolo’s Rotisserie Grille. We'll also be returning to a favorite restaurant from last year's Restaurant Week: Asado Seafood & GrillWe'll be sharing these dining experiences live via Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourm). Be sure to follow The Weekend Gourmet's social feeds to see lots of pictures and video of our San Antonio Restaurant Week dining adventures!
Photo provided by Bolo's Rotisserie Grill
While reservations are not required to dine out during San Antonio Restaurant Week, they are strongly encouraged -- especially if you want to dine at the city's most popular restaurants. All reservations should be booked directly with the restaurant(s) you wish to dine at. As an added bonus...not only will your meal be a delicious dining experience, but it will be a charitable one too! With every meal that is ordered during San Antonio Restaurant Week, each participating restaurant will donate $1 for lunch and $2 for dinner to Culinaria San Antonio and all of the great programs it supports.

Disclosure: Culinaria provided me a pair of dining vouchers for Bolo's, and Asado Seafood & Grill is hosting us for a Restaurant Week Dinner tasting, to facilitate coverage of the event. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lean Beef Recipes #SundaySupper...Featuring Lighter Tex-Mex Albondigas Soup

Happy 2017, everyone!! It's time to say goodbye to holiday indulging -- and hello to making healthier food choices. This week, #SundaySupper is focusing on Lean Beef Recipes. Just because you've resolved to eat lighter doesn't mean you have to give up beef! Our hostess this week is Sarah from Chef Next Door, and she asked us to share our favorite light recipe showcasing beef. I knew the weather was turning downright frigid by Texas standards by the end of this week, so I knew I wanted to make a hearty -- yet healthy -- beef soup. I decided to make a lighter spin on classic Mexican albondigas (aka meatball) soup!

This flavorful recipe features meatballs made with 93% lean ground beef and rice. The meatballs are simmered with healthy veggies in a flavorful broth. This is definitely a complete meal in a bowl, and it's bursting with the big flavors we love! The spice level in this soup is moderate, so even those who are spice-averse will love it. To save time, the meatballs can be made up to a day ahead and stored in an airtight bowl in the fridge until you're ready to cook the soup. This is the kind of soup that will fill your tummy...and keep you toasty warm...on the chilliest of Winter days!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for January...Featuring San Antonio Detours' Pearl Brunch Tour

This month’s edition of The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out features San Antonio Detours’ tasty and fun weekend walking brunch tour of San Antonio's Pearl Brewery District. This tour company is based in Austin and recently expanded to San Antonio. They offer a wide variety of group tours that explore some of the city's famous historical well as a pair of food-based tours that spotlight some of San Antonio's best food. San Antonio Detours' motto is "We Create Fun!", and they really deliver on that promise. Group tours are kept to no more than 11 people to ensure a more personalized feel. Samantha was our tour guide, and she was friendly and knowledgeable. During the 2-hour the Pearl Brunch Tour, we enjoyed amazing food and beverages...and we learned a lot about the Pearl Brewery District that we didn't know. 

Known by locals as simply "The Pearl", this hot spot is located on the historic site of the former Pearl beer brewery. This multi-use complex offers area residents and visitors so much to see and do! The Pearl has several residential areas, 15 of the city's best restaurant, 13 retailers, 18 businesses, and a very popular twice-weekly Farmers Market. That makes this vibrant, growing neighborhood a fabulous place to explore on foot. One thing’s for sure: the Pearl District is one of the coolest places to eat and drink in San Antonio. With some of the city’s best restaurants, it’s a true culinary destination! The Pearl Brunch Tour weaves through the complex, making four different stops. At each location, Samantha told us about its history, what makes it so unique, the various cooking styles and ingredients used, and why certain menu items are so popular.

The first stop of our tour was for a cup of freshly brewed coffee at Local Coffee. As their name implies, Local Coffee sources the best coffee beans from around the world. The coffee beans are then roasted locally at their Merit Roasting Company. Local Coffee's commitment to quality means customers get to enjoy a cup of coffee that’s robust and smooth-as-silk. Local Coffee is very popular with San Antonio residents, as the line outside the door ably demonstrated!
The next stop of our tour was Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, where we enjoyed a cocktail and chilled starters. Southerleigh is located adjacent to Hotel Emma and offers seasonal comfort food and a variety of house-made craft beers. We started our brunch visit with a refreshing Pineapple Cocktail, which was a very nice change from the typical brunch mimosa. This delicious sparkling cocktail includes pineapple cider, champagne, and pineapple juice. While we sipped our cocktails, we enjoyed a trio of cold dishes. First up was the lovely Green Salad with Shaved Radish, Sweet Onion, Soft Boiled Egg, White Cheddar, and a delicious house-made Dijon vinaigrette. Next out of the kitchen were Iced Texas Gulf shrimp, which were served with house-made Fresh Horseradish Cocktail and Celery Root Remoulade dipping sauces. Finally, we sampled a seasonal fresh fruit plate with a variety of berries and melon. Everything was perfectly prepared and so fresh!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cape Cod Select Cranberry Blogger Holiday Recipe Challenge...Featuring Cranberry-Thyme & Brie Phyllo Cups

Happy New Year! To bring 2016 to a festive close today, I'm sharing my official recipe entry for the Cape Cod Select Holiday Blogger Recipe Challenge. Cape Cod Select's premium frozen cranberries are hands down the best frozen cranberries I've cooked with! Cape Cod Select is a family-owned Massachusetts-based company that ensures cranberry lovers can use the tart red berry in their baking and cooking year round -- not just during the holiday season! Just in time for any last-minute New Year's Eve parties tonight...or even a fun game-day appetizer...I'm sharing my entry in the Baking Category: Cranberry-Thyme & Brie Phyllo Cups. 

For this savory-sweet bite-sized appetizer, a creamy whipped brie cheese mixture is baked in phyllo cups. Then, each cup is topped with a cranberry compote that's flavored with orange and fresh thyme. This appetizer looks sophisticated, but the components can be made up to a day ahead. Then you simply assemble, bake, and top when you're ready to serve. Add some nice wine or champagne, and you've got what I hope is an award-winning sweet-savory appetizer. Everyone who has tried these appetizers has loved them! Simple, gorgeous...and a winning combination!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet's Top 10 Recipes of 2016 #top10

As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to take a brief look back at The Weekend Gourmet's Top 10 most popular recipes for the past year. These recipes are the best of the best, as selected by The Weekend Gourmet's readers. These big-flavor recipes are bursting with fun flavors and textures! I hope you'll give them a try -- they're some of my personal favorites as well...

10. French Onion Pull-Apart Rolls. Pull-apart bread loaves were really popular last year, so I decided to make a smaller individual roll-sized version. I love French onion soup, so I used those flavors for these zesty rolls. They're perfect with salads and soup.
9. Classic Shirred Eggs with Gruyere and Ham. I had never heard of the classic French dish shirred eggs until I tried this recipe. It features baked eggs flavored with cream, thyme, nutty Gruyere, and's a decadent weekend brunch dish that you'll go nuts for!
8. Blueberry Muffins with Coconut-Citrus Glaze. The tropical coconut-citrus glaze takes ordinary blueberry muffins over the top! Citrus pairs perfectly with blueberries, and coconut is a fun's like a vacation with every bite!
7. Chunky Greek Feta-Veggie Dip. Made with fat-free plain Greek yogurt is creamy...but with much less fat than traditional dips. This dip is flavored with tangy feta cheese, Mediterrean  herbs, and chopped veggies. It's great with crackers, but it also makes a fabulous topping for grilled chicken pita sandwiches!
6. Island Breeze Pina Colada Panna Cotta. This light, refreshing dessert is perfect for warm-weather entertaining! The lush, creamy coconut base is topped with diced pineapple and shredded coconut. I love to serve this dessert in a cocktail glass for a fun presentation. If you love drinking pina coladas, you'll go nuts for this dessert.

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