Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spicy One-Dish Goodness: That Green Sauce Spicy Chicken and Rice...Featuring HEB's Primo Pick That Green Sauce

I’m so excited to announce my new partnership with Texas-based grocery chain HEB! Starting with today’s post, The Weekend Gourmet is going to be featuring one of their Primo Picks each month. Primo Picks are unique, tasty and cool products you likely have never heard of or tried before – some of them unique to HEB. Each month, I’ll introduce the featured product, share my thoughts, and showcase a recipe using the product as an ingredient. I’m kicking things off with an HEB-brand product: their addictive That Green Sauce. 

That Green Sauce is a dip/sauce that is made from jalapenos and other ingredients. It is indeed green, and it packs quite a punch…more than I was expecting, actually! It’s labeled Medium on the jar, but I would personally place it more in the Hot category. It’s spicy, delicious, and addictive! You can eat it right out of the jar with tortilla chips for a snack, pour it over scrambled eggs at breakfast…or you can use it to create a spicy one-dish dinner! I decided to make a spicy version of a comfort classic: chicken and rice. My That Green Sauce Spicy Chicken and Rice is perfect for busy weeknights. Once you mix the ingredients up, the oven does the rest of the work. I used a double shot of That Green Sauce: to flavor the rice AND spread on top of each chicken breast to give the dish some extra kick.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for October...Featuring Bohanan's Prime Steaks and Seafood

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out featured restaurant for October is Bohanan's Prime Steaks and Seafood. Whether you live here in San Antonio or are coming for a visit, this restaurant is sure to satisfy if you're a steak lover! It's located Downtown, right across from The it's perfect for  a pre-show or post-show meal. It's also convenient to most Riverwalk area hotels as well. Michael and I were recently Chef Mark Bohanan's guests to try some of their signature menu items. When we arrived, we were quickly escorted into a beautiful dining room overlooking Houston Street and offered a cocktail. Michael opted for the Muddled Orange Margarita, while I sampled the Crimson Pearl. Both drinks were delicious...and they certainly didn't skimp on the alcohol. Let's just say we were happy when the bread basket and butter made an appearance! In case you're curious, my Crimson Pearl contained fresh raspberry, vodka, lime juice , simple syrup, and Grand Marnier.

The addition of orange juice and Grand Marnier
made this margarita special! 
My Crimson Pearl was pretty and tasty...
and plenty potent!

Right about then, our appetizer arrived. We decided to share a Jumbo Lump Crabcake, which we agreed was hands-down the best crabcake we'd ever tasted. Imagine huge lumps of sweet crab with just enough binding to hold them together. Then imagine that it's perfectly seared and served with slightly spicy remoulade sauce. Simply put, it was perfection. 

The name doesn't lie: Jumbo Lump Crabcake...jumbo being the operative word! 

Just as Michael and I were battling with our forks for the last bite of crabcake, out came our soup and salad. We opted to share Chef Mark's Famous Tortilla Soup and the special Heirloom Tomato Caprese. The tortilla soup was rich and full of flavor, with pieces of smoky mesquite-grilled chicken, avocado, cilantro, crispy tortilla strips, and creamy Monterey jack cheese. The salad was especially delicious: locally grown tomatoes, aged balsamic, chiffonade basil, and some of the creamiest fresh mozzarella I've ever tasted! It was so creamy that it was almost like a burrata in texture.

Rich and delicious Tortilla Soup: Chef Mark's famous recipe.
Heirloom Caprese Salad...some of the creamiest fresh mozzarella I've ever tasted. 

Before we knew it, it was time for the main event: our entrees and side dishes. We decided to try one steak and one seafood entree, and our waiter encouraged us to try the very special bone-in New York Strip that had been dry aged for 45 days. Yes, please! Our mouths were watering before it ever made it to the table. We also ordered the Mesquite-Grilled Snapper Royale topped with lump crab, scallops, and chanterelle mushrooms in a creamy sauce. The fish was cooked very nicely, moist on the inside with just enough spice. The creamy sauce was rich, but not overly so. As much as I enjoyed the fish, I have to admit that the steak was the true star of the show!

Seared red snapper topped with more lump crab, scallops, and mushrooms. A little smoky, a little creamy...
and all good!
THE best steak I've ever eaten: a bone-in New York Strip dry-aged for 45 days. Perfection. 

I'm a Texas gal...I've eaten a lot of steaks in my life. I can say without a doubt that is the very best steak I've ever tasted. Ever. It was juicy, tender, and full of beef flavor. We were both grinning like giddy kids playing hooky from school while we ate this steak. To accompany our steak and fish, we sampled two side dishes from their large selection: Lobster Creamed Corn and White Truffle Oil Steak Fries. Both were rich and totally splurge-worthy. If you've never tried truffle oil fries, do yourself a favor: TRY IT!

By then, we were getting very full. Luckily, Chef Mark stopped by our table to chat with us for a bit...which gave us enough time to digest just enough to share one dessert. After looking over the menu, I asked Michael if we could get a flaming dessert. I absolutely love the theatrical element of leaping flames as it's flambeed dramatic! We settled on Strawberries Imperial served over vanilla ice cream. We had enjoyed something similar for dessert while on vacation in Cancun years ago, and we loved it!

The perfect ending: flambe strawberries served over vanilla ice cream...
a show stopper way to end a meal!

This dessert was delicious: not too sweet and full of fruit flavor. One of the best parts of a flaming dessert is that you get a show with your dinner! We were remarking what a fabulous meal it was, when we received one final surprise: two flutes of champagne were sent to our table to cap off this fabulous meal. There are few things I love more than a glass of good champagne, so it was the perfect ending to a remarkable meal! 

Bohanan's is a wonderful restaurant that's ideal for any special occasions you may be planning. I've already requested that we celebrate our anniversary here in December! Attendant service, beautiful and romantic atmosphere, and amazing food. What more could you want? 

Disclaimer: Bohanan's provided us with a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. The menu items were of our choosing, and the opinions stated mine.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

#SundaySupper Trick-or-Treat Halloween Party...Featuring Spooky Good Popcorn Snack Mix

This week, #SundaySupper is celebrating Halloween with a foodtastic virtual Trick-or-Treat Party featuring all sorts of fun goodies -- some spooky, some fun! My contribution to the party is a sweet and crunchy snack mix that makes enough to feed a crowd. It can also be bagged up in small portions and given out when trick-or-treaters ring your doorbell Wednesday night. 

I really like mixes like this, because they're yummy and so versatile. Sub in your favorite Halloween-colored candy...this time, I opted to add Reese's Pieces and jujube candy corn, along with a drizzle of orange-tinted white chocolate and dark chocolate. The main thing is to have fun and let your imagination run wild. Easy to make, yummy to eat, and colorful? That's a winning trifecta to me, people!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival 2012...aka San Francisco or Bust!

Last weekend, I had a fabulous time at Daily Buzz Food's Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in beautiful San Francisco! It was a whirlwind experience, but so much fun...I made some fun new food blog friends AND had a chance to meet some bloggers who I've been reading for ages now! I can vouch that Gina from SPCookieQueen, Gerry from Foodness Gracious, Chung-ah from Damn Delicious, and my #SundaySupper friend Anne from Webicurean are all just as fabulous and witty in person as they are on their blogs. As much as I enjoyed sampling all the great food...and was the personal connections that I appreciated the most. 

My official credentials...always love seeing my
blog name in print!
I left San Antonio super early  Friday morning so I could arrive at my hotel in time to enjoy a leisurely afternoon at Fisherman's Wharf. know what they say about the best laid plans. My quick "land, unload, and reload" stop in Phoenix turned into a frustrating four-hour delay. Such a bummer...but I did receive a $100 voucher from Southwest Airlines because of the delay. Long story short, I eventually made it to San Francisco, navigated the BART system, and made it to The Palace Hotel around 400 that afternoon. I literally had 20 minutes to freshen up and change out of my travel clothes before the welcome cocktail reception at 5oo. I met new friends Jennifer from Peanut Butter and Peppers and Marlene from Nosh My Way in the lobby. 

Like oysters? Then Farallon
is the place for you!
They were in the same hotel, so we decided to meet up and walk over to the Sir Francis Drake for the reception. I picked up my welcome bag, grabbed some appetizers...and a drink. After a stressful day, it was just what I needed! Drink firmly in hand, I met the lovely Christi from Mom, What's for Dinner?  The four of us spent much of the weekend together, and I had a BLAST getting to know these California gals better! Before I knew it, it was 600 and time to meet my uncle and aunt for dinner at Farallon. They live in the Bay Area, so it was great to spend the evening with them enjoying a fabulous meal courtesy of Daily Buzz Food and Open Table. I enjoyed some perfectly cooked salmon paired with bacon-roasted brussels sprouts, sauce beurre rouge, and creamy cauliflower puree. 

Fabulous salmon, creamy cauliflower puree, and roasted brussels sprouts! 

By the time we finished dessert, I was ready to change into my jammies and head to bed...but not before I looked through all the goodies in my welcome bag and called Michael to say goodnight. I slept like a baby...and woke up rested for a jam-packed day of activities. First stop was The Ferry Building Marketplace.
Say cheese! Hamming it up
on BART with Christi from
Mom, What's for Dinner?
I met Jennifer, Marlene, and Christi...aka The the lobby. Rather than walk to the Embarcadero, we jumped on the BART and were there in minutes. Living in Texas, I'm so jealous of big cities with fabulous public transportation! Christi snapped a pic of the two of us on the train. One stop later, and we were at the Ferry Building! This place is one of my most favorite food destinations ever...outside is a huge weekend farmers market with every kind of fruit/veggie/condiment you could ever imagine for sale. Inside is a huge variety of fabulous food stores. It was the perfect place for a scavenger hunt! I had so much fun buying food goodies to bring home. It was like a food wonderland, I tell ya!

The Ferry Building Marketplace, on the Embarcadero in San Francisco...this is foodie heaven, my friends!
A very small sampling of the huge weekend farmers market outside the Ferry Building Marketplace!

We wanted to finish the scavenger hunt quickly, because the four of us had been selected to take part in a bonus weekend event: a special tour and tasting at the TCHO chocolate factory on Pier 17. We learned about the company's commitment to making the best-quality, delicious chocolate...and doing it in a manner that helps cacao farmers around the world. It was fascinating and tasty! Each variety of chocolate has a distinctive flavor profile...but no flavorings are added. The unique taste of the cacao bean used has a specific flavor: Chocolaty, Nutty, Citrus, or Fruity. After viewing a video presentation and walking through the production facility, then came the fun part: tasting! We sampled each flavor in their lineup, along with biscotti and the intensely delish drinking chocolate. People, this is some serious please check it out!

TCHO chocolates...ready to be purchased and eaten!

After the tasting, it was time to head over to the City View at Metreon for the Tasting Pavilion. Tons of food and wine vendors had booths set up for us to sample their products and bring some samples home to cook with in our kitchens! I especially enjoyed the biscuits and toppings from Biscuit Bender...and the yummy Asian Pork Sliders from Made in Napa Valley sauces. Two hours later, we were stuffed and ready to head back to the hotel to nap and get glammed up for the Gala Dinner at the California Academy of Sciences.

What southern gal can pass up biscuits and yummy spreads? Not this one, that's for sure!
So good: Asian Pork Sliders with Slaw, made with Made in Napa's yummy Shanghai sauce.
The amazing cheese and fruit display that we
enjoyed at the Gala Dinner.

We caught the shuttle to the gala at the Sir Francis Drake. I had a chance to chat with Gina during the bus ride to the venue, which was really fun! The California Academy of Sciences was a fabulous venue...lovely scenery and great food. We were greeted with passed hors d'oevres and drinks in the foyer, then directed downstairs for drinks and appetizers. It was great to chat with lots of food bloggers as we admired the beautiful fish and enjoyed delicious appetizers and potent apple-orange martinis. Before we knew it, it was time to be seated for dinner. There were several action stations, all of which featured California-themed dishes. All of it was delicious, and the conversation was lively! After enjoying some fabulous mini desserts, it was time to jump back in the shuttle and head back to the hotel. 

The California Academy of Sciences was a gorgeous venue for the Gala Dinner!

Yeah, it's touristy...but I love
going to Fisherman's Wharf!
The festival was officially over, but I still had a few things left on my San Francisco to-do list! After a great night's sleep, I woke up on Sunday, checked out of the hotel, and stored my bags. Then I jumped into a cab and headed down to Fisherman's Wharf. It was a chilly, breezy my first stop was Ghirardelli for some salted caramel hot cocoa to warm up a bit. So good! I met a former co-worker who now lives in San Francisco, and we took our time walking down to Boudin Bakery. Along the way, we heard some really great musicians playing steel drums...and were visited by some pretty aggressive seagulls looking for a handout! Once we made it to Boudin, I bought sourdough bread bowls and clam chowder to bring back home for Michael. After my shopping expedition, we went upstairs to grab a bit of lunch. The view of the bay was fabulous...I could see Alcatraz right out the window! 

It's like Wonka Land for chocolate lovers! Of course, I had some hot cocoa and brought back a few exclusive bars!
On our last trip, I fell in love with Boudin's clam chowder in sourdough bread had to
make a return visit!
What to buy...decisions, decisions. Ended up with a baguette, four sourdough bread bowls, and two cans of chowder.

By the time my friend and I finished our lunch, it was time for me to jump in a cab and meet my airport shuttle at the weekend was so much fun, but it went by SO FAST! I made it to the gate with time to spare...thankfully, no delays this time. I made it back to San Antonio that evening with lots of goodies to share with family and friends. I am so glad that I had a chance to finally attend Foodbuzz Blogger Festival this was so much fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baked Cajun Seafood Dip...Featuring Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt

I love to make dishes lighter and healthier when I can…but I refuse to sacrifice flavor or texture! One of my favorite tricks for reducing fat while keeping dips super-creamy is to use fat-free Greek yogurt. Chobani recently sent me more of their yummy Greek yogurt to create a couple of fun new dishes for you! I love their yogurt, because I don’t have to sacrifice flavor or texture to eat more healthfully. I‘ve been developing one sweet and one savory recipe to share with y’all…first up is today’s offering:  Baked Cajun Seafood Dip. You’d never know that it’s lower in fat…it’s creamy and full of the big flavors we love at Casa Garcia. The creamy base is a mixture of Chobani 0% plain yogurt, reduced-fat cream cheese, and 2% shredded co-jack cheese. To that, I added a bit of Tabasco and Cajun seasoning for a nice kick…and lots of shrimp and crabmeat.

This dip is perfect with sturdy chips or thin slices of warm crusty bread! This is one of those recipes you’re going to want in your hip pocket for  the upcoming holiday entertaining season: it’s simple to make, easier on the waistline, and totally delish. Simple mix together the ingredients, pop into the oven to bake until bubbly, and set it out for your guests to devour. I’m betting that no one will have a clue that you’ve shaved fat and calories from typical creamy dips…without sacrificing texture or flavor. That’s a win-win situation in my book!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Celebrating National Pasta Day...Featuring Sausage-White Bean Minestrone

I'm so busy gearing up to leave for Foodbuzz Fest in San Francisco bright and early Friday morning that I haven't gotten into the kitchen much this week. I didn't want to leave you  without a fabulous recipe, though!  When I found out that today is National Pasta Day, I decided to dig back into the Weekend Gourmet archives and share one of my very favorite soups. This soup is hearty enough to be a complete meal in a bowl...and it tastes amazing! This is my take on Tyler Florence's Hunter's Minestrone, and it's chock full of beans, veggies, spicy sausage, and rigatoni. The soup is the real me!

This soup is simple enough to make on a weeknight if you buy pre-chopped veggies from the Produce department. It features bulk Italian sausage, white beans, and plenty of good-for-you veggies: tomatoes, carrots, onion, and celery. Add some pasta, fresh rosemary, and sage, and you’ve got a meal that will warm you up on the chilliest of Fall evenings! 

My tweaks to the original recipe are mainly because Michael isn't a huge fan of beans. So, I cut the amount of beans in half and upped the amount of sausage just a bit to account for that. I also added 1/2 cup of red wine along with the chicken stock. The wine gives the minestrone a fantastic depth of flavor that you just don't get without it. I also give each bowl a generous sprinkle of parm-reggiano just before serving.

Sausage-White Bean Minestrone
adapted from Tyler's Ultimate

Step 1:  Add 1 tbs. olive oil and 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage to a large Dutch oven over med-high heat. Cook until browned, breaking up the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Carefully drain off any excess fat. Turn the heat to medium and add the following ingredients: 1 finely chopped large carrot, 1/2 finely chopped yellow onion, 2 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 3 grated cloves garlic. 

Step 2:  Give the veggies and sausage a stir to combine and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add 1 chopped sprig rosemary, 5 chopped fresh sage leaves, 2-3 bay leaves, and 1/2 cup red wine. Stir to combine.

Step 3:  Add 8 cups chicken stock, 1 can diced tomatoes (Red Gold is my preferred brand), one can drained white beans, and a handful of chopped Italian parsley. Bring the soup just to a boil, then lower heat to med-low. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes...but an hour is better if you have the time.

Step 4:  After the soup has simmered, add 8 ounces rigatoni. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked. This gives you just enough time to make some crusty garlic-bread to serve on the side. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle of parm-reggiano cheese. 

This minestrone is amazingly good...and it's the perfect way to get even non-veggie lovers to happily eat their veggies. As an added bonus, it's also full of such pretty colors. I especially like to dunk my garlic-cheese bread into the flavorful broth. If you're a bean lover, feel free to double the amount of white beans. As a bonus, any leftovers are even better the next day. Since it’s just the two of us at Casa Garcia, we're able to get two dinners from each pot…and lunch one day as well. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker...Featuring Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolates

Ghirardelli's Intense Dark collection: fabulous flavors!
There are few things in this world that I adore more than chocolate...especially a good dark chocolate. That's why I was so excited when I learned that I had been selected to take part in a special post sponsored by the DailyBuzz Food  Tastemaker Program and Ghirardelli Intense Dark! I was literally like a kid in a candy store when the package arrived at my front door...inside were two bars of seven fabulous flavors: Hazelnut Heaven, Cabernet Matinee, Toffee Interlude, Sea Salt Soiree...and three varying intensities of pure dark chocolate: Midnight Reverie, Twilight Delight, and Evening Dream.  Before deciding on how to best pair the chocolates, I sampled one bar of each flavor...sharing them with my co-workers.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark chocolate has a characteristic "snap" when you break it into squares. As soon as it
hits your mouth, it begins to slowly melt! 

This Ghirardelli chocolate is fabulous: it melts velvety smooth on your tongue! All of them were delicious, but my favorites were the Sea Salt Soiree, Toffee Interlude, and new Cabernet Matinee. Sea Salt Soiree is a nice combination of sweet and salty, with finely chopped almonds for a bit of texture. Toffee Interlude features finely chopped toffee bits and candied almonds...I loved to let it slowly melt in my mouth! The Cabernet Matinee is a new flavor...dark chocolate flavored with the essence of blackberry and cabernet grapes. The aroma of this one as it melts in your mouth is nicely fruity. I predict this is going to be a very popular flavor. After my tasting, I started thinking about how to best pair these chocolates for my Ultimate Chocolate Experience. I came up with three different tasting combinations to share with you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

#SundaySupper Comfort Food with Lee Woodruff...Featuring Down-Home Comforting Shrimp and Grits

The theme for this week's #SundaySupper is Comfort Food, and we're being joined by a very special guest: Lee Woodruff. Lee is an author, TV contributor, and fellow food lover. She has a food blog called ...Food for Thought, so be sure to check it out! Comfort food has different meanings, depending on who you ask. For some people, it means food that warms you up on a crispy evening. For others, it's food that reminds them of their childhood or their heritage. Some of my favorite comfort foods are gumbo, my Mom's mashed potatoes, and my Grandma Wofford's Thanksgiving cornbread dressing. One bite of these foods, and I feel like I'm wrapped up in a warm, fuzzy blanket. Ironically? The recipe I'm sharing today isn't one I grew up eating...but have learned to love as an adult: grits. Not just any grits, mind you, but Down-Home Comforting Shrimp and Grits! 

This dish combines cheesy corn grits with spicy shrimp. This is southern comfort at its me, y'all!! My favorite grits are from Zea's restaurant. They're rich and creamy...and studded with nutty roasted corn kernels. Since the nearest Zea's is in Louisiana, I was THRILLED to find the recipe for these amazing grits on their website! The only tweaks I made to their recipe were to use half-and-half in place of heavy cream, roast the corn kernels in bacon fat (don't hate...this is COMFORT food, people!), and a bit of shredded co-jack cheese stirred in just before serving. The shrimp mixture is my own's spicy from a generous amount of Cajun seasoning, but the heat is tempered by adding a small amount of cream to the sauce. If all the fat in this recipe is making you feel guilty, do what I do: thoroughly enjoy a moderate portion...then pencil in a salad for dinner tomorrow night! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cowboy Salsa...Featuring Red Gold Tomatoes with Lime Juice & Cilantro

My friends at Red Gold Tomatoes recently sent me a couple of cans of their Mexican-inspired Petite Diced Tomatoes with Lime Juice & Cilantro...along with a fabulous recipe for a simple Cowboy Salsa that you can whip up in a flash. I made a batch of the salsa after work last night. I can vouch that it is definitely a snap to make AND tastes fabulous! I made a few minor adjustments to their recipe to suit our tastes, but I stayed pretty true to their original recipe. I don't care for blackeyed peas, so I subbed in a can of pinto beans. I can't eat green bell pepper, so I simply subbed in an equal amount of sliced green onion and jalapeno in its place to keep the pretty green color scheme. I love how this colorful salsa looks like festive confetti in the bowl!

This salsa is a fabulous, simple recipe to have in your back pocket during the upcoming football season. Simply assemble it the morning of the big game and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. By kickoff, you've got a healthy game-watching snack that will feed a crowd of hungry fans. Add some scoop tortilla chips, and you're ready for a party! Since the usual game-watching foods can be a bit high in calories, this will dip can help even things out a bit -- without sacrificing flavor in the process.

Monday, October 8, 2012

October Secret Recipe Club...Featuring Bacon-Maple Breakfast Crescents

Bacon-Maple Crescents...salty-sweet and SO
simple to make!!!
It's that time again...time for another fun Secret Recipe Club reveal! This is my second month participating with Group A, and I was assigned a fabulous blog this month...The Lives and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. Shelby is a fabulous cook with a TON of fantastic recipes to choose from. I was  drooling as I read through all the great options I had. When it came down to it, I needed something quick and easy. Michael was out of town last week, so I wanted something I could whip up to nosh on or have for breakfast. Her quick and easy Bacon Maple Breakfast Rolls were just what I was looking for! I love the savory-sweet flavor profile, and refrigerated crescent dough ensured they would be easy to whip up!

Shelby's original recipe calls for a sheet of crescent dough, but I wasn't able to find that despite checking several grocery stores. I just bought a can of regular crescent dough and improvised by making crescents instead of rolls. The only other changes I made to the recipe were to add a touch of cinnamon and vanilla extract to the filling and the glaze. The combo of sweet maple and smoky/salty bacon will BLOW your mind!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

All Things Orange #SundaySupper...Featuring Pumpkin-Maple Oatmeal

The perfect way to warm up on cool Fall mornings:
Pumpkin-Maple Oatmeal!
The theme for this week's #SundaySupper is All Things Orange, so we're celebrating Fall-inspired ingredients -- from breakfast, to main dishes, to desserts! Our hostess this week is Pam from The Meltaways blog. She challenged us to share a recipe that features any orange-colored ingredient. This could include pumpkin, butternut squash, oranges, etc. We're actually having our first big cool snap in Central Texas this weekend, so I wanted to make something with pumpkin to celebrate the cool breezes! I was looking around at the Food Network website a few days ago and stumbled across a fun recipe for pumpkin oatmeal. I played around with the recipe a bit, making a few additions and tweaks along the way.

I doubled the cinnamon of the original recipe and added a bit of cardamom and freshly grated nutmeg to up the spice quotient a bit. I also added maple syrup to the baking liquid, along with a bit of brown sugar for a touch of sweetness. Add in some golden raisins and chopped pecans for a bit of texture, and you've got a fantastic Fall breakfast on your hands! This hearty dish serves approximately six people.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekend Gourmet Spotlight: HEB Food Truck Face Off...

I was recently invited to take part in HEB's Food Truck Face Off event. This friendly cooking competition was sponsored by HEB grocery stores, and it was so much fun! Four of San Antonio's most popular food trucks created original recipes featuring HEB Primo Pick items. The chefs who took part in the Food Truck Face Off included:
  • Jason Dady's Duk Truck
  • Johnny Hernandez's True Flavors
  • Pieter Sypersteyn's Where Y'at
  • Michael Anthony Romo's MARS Mobile Kitchen
All participating food trucks received a donation to a local non-profit organization of their choice for taking part in the event. The size of the donation was determined by the placing of each truck's dish. One winner was selected by a panel of local foodie judges, and one winner was selected as Crowd Favorite.

This free event was a fantastic Saturday morning activity for San Antonio food lovers...and the food was indeed fabulous! I arrived early and chatted with the staff from each of the food trucks to find out a little about their dishes and have a sample. First up was MARS Mobile Kitchen, who was featuring a refreshing and healthy Heirloom Watermelon Gazpacho. The gazpacho was very nice...the watermelon provided a touch of sweetness that cut some of the acidity of the tomatoes in the gazpacho. Their charity was the Wounded Warriors Project and Soldiers' Angels.

The next truck I visited was Where Y'at, which was serving up authentic New Orleans BBQ shrimp. The sauce was flavorful and spicy, and the shrimp were plump and sweet. They served  their dish with thick slices of French bread, which worked perfectly for soaking every bit of the delectable sauce. This was the best BBQ shrimp I've had outside of New Orleans, and I can't wait to visit this food truck again!! Their charity was Gordon Pictures, a Christian movie ministry.

After enjoying my shrimp, I entered the line for Jason Dady's Duk Truck...and some of his cleverly named Not 'Cho Dady Hatch Chili Nachos. They were upscale comfort food...spicy with lots of layers of flavor and texture. These nachos would be very easy to replicate at home using the same HEB products that Chef Dady used. Michael would really enjoy noshing on these nachos on Texans game day!! Duk Truk's charity was Culinaria's new community garden and educational center.

My final stop of the morning was at Chef Johnny Hernandez's mobile La Gloria spinoff True Flavors. I'm a huge fan of La Gloria, and the mobile version did not disappoint! His team was cooking up Pork Street Tacos with Pickled Red Onions. The tacos were full of juicy pork, and the pickled red onions provided a tart contrast that matched very nicely with earthy corn tortillas. Their charity was The Culinary Institute of America. 

Before I knew it, the winners were being announced. The winner of both the judges and the crowd favorite was the amazing New Orleans BBQ Shrimp from Where Y'at. By claiming both First Place prizes, they received $10, 500 for their charity. Duk Truck came in Second Place and received $5,000 for their charity. True Flavors came in Third Place and received $2,500 for their charity, and MARS Mobile Truck came in Fourth Place and received $1,000 to be split between their two charities.

In the end, everybody was a winner at the HEB Food Truck Face Off: some great local charities received donations, and lots of appreciative San Antonio foodies got to taste some tasty food prepared by some of the best food trucks the city has to offer! I had a great time getting to know these talented chefs and try some of their culinary creations. Special thanks to HEB for inviting me to take part and share this experience with my readers.

Disclaimer: In exchange for covering this event, HEB provided me with a gift basket containing a beautiful red enamel-over-cast iron Dutch oven and some gourmet food products. All opinions expressed are my own