Friday, November 29, 2013

My Italian Flag PLT Wins Honorable Mention in the King's Hawaiian Ultimate Sandwich Contest!

I hope that everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! We’re spending the long holiday weekend back home with our families in Houston. Time spent with family and friends enjoying some fabulous food is truly something to be  thankful for! Speaking of thankful…I’ve got a fun sandwich recipe to share that you’ll be definitely be thankful for once you try it! Earlier this Fall, I was invited to take part in King’s Hawaiian’s Ultimate Sandwich Contest. I played around with a couple of recipes, ultimately submitting my Italian Flag PLT. 

My sandwich creation features delicious King's Hawaiian Sweet Sliced Bread. I was thrilled to find out a few weeks later that I received an Honorable Mention award! My prize was a year's worth of yummy King’s Hawaiian products! I realized the other day that I never shared my winning recipe with you, so I thought this was the perfect time to change that! This sandwich is an Italian twist on the all-American classic BLT. It’s full of flavor and really easy to whip up…making it a fabulous quick dinner option during the hectic holiday season. This sandwich features crispy rounds of pancetta, fresh creamy mozzarella, lettuce and tomato, your favorite pesto and a creamy parmesan-balsamic spread. This sandwich is good…really good!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chive Spoon Bread...Featuring Morrison's Texas Style Cornbread Mix

Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s Thanksgiving morning and you head into the kitchen to get cooking…only to discover that there’s only so much space in the oven – which the turkey is taking up most of. I’ve been there, having to (not so) patiently wait my turn at the stove or oven to make my contribution to the meal. Imagine how excited I was to find a fabulous side dish that can be made in a slow cooker on Thanksgiving morning and will be ready just in time for the midday feast! This Slow Cooker Cheesy Chive Spoon Bread is decadent…and SO easy! I’m the first to admit that I don’t use my slow cooker as often as I should…mainly for roasts and soups in the Winter. I found a great recipe for spoon bread at Taste of Home’s website…I cooked it in my office, and it was  piping hot and ready to eat by the time our Thanksgiving luncheon potluck started at 1130!

If you’ve never had spoon bread, this Southern specialty reminds me a bit of corn soufflé. It’s a very moist cornbread-based dish that contains corn kernels and creamed corn. I used Texas-made Morrison’s Texas-Style Yellow Cornbread Mix in this recipe. Texans tend to like their cornbread a touch sweet, which works perfectly in this dish. Morrison’s is based in Denton, Texas, where Michael and I went to college. I’ve been using their products for the past 20+ years, because they always cook up nice and golden. I was thrilled when they recently sent me some of their products to create a Thanksgiving side dish with you! I used chive-flavored cream cheese and green onions to bring a mild onion flavor to the mix, then topped it with shredded four-cheese blend just before serving. All this side dish takes is a few simple ingredients, a quick stir to mix, and 3-4 hours in your slow cooker on  High heat! Folks…it doesn’t get much easier than that…and sometimes easy is just what you need to survive a busy holiday in the kitchen!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#BeingThankful #SundaySupper...Featuring Cornucopia Sweet Potato-Barley Salad

This week, #SundaySupper is focusing on Being Thankful. Our hostess is Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes, and she asked us to share our favorite Thanksgiving or Hanukkah recipes. Like most of you, I have my favorite Thanksgiving foods that are "must haves." These include my Grandma Wofford's cornbread dressing, my Mama's cheese potatoes, and green bean casserole! However, being a food blogger, I like to add a new wrinkle or two each year just to keep things fresh. This year, I'm sharing a modern spin on a Thanksgiving classic: sweet potatoes. I found a recipe for an interesting Israeli couscous salad from Giada de Laurentiis that sounded like an excellent starting point. 

I altered her recipe a bit and added some roasted sweet potato to come up with my Cornucopia Sweet Potato-Barley Salad. This chilled side dish contains healthy fiber-rich barley, roasted sweet potatoes, green apple, dried cranberries, and a few other fun goodies. Then it's tossed with an herb-infused honey-lime vinaigrette and refrigerated. This is a side dish you can make the day before Thanksgiving, saving you a little bit of stress on the big day. Healthy, delish, and stress-free? Sign me up!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Lightened-Up Football Feast...Featuring Subway and Baked Spice Donuts with Biscoff Glaze!

The calendar is going to flip to December next weekend...which means that it's time for holiday celebrations. That can mean lots of excess calories along the way. Lucky for you, I'm here to help you save a few calories for any football-watching parties you have coming up! The NFL season is heating up, and college bowl games are on the horizon too. In my circle, football and food go hand in hand. Unfortunately, football-watching food can be hard on the waistline...but it doesn't have to! I teamed up with Subway this month to feature their sandwiches in a lighter menu that doesn't skimp on flavor. I saved time and stress on my end by building the menu around Subway's convenient catering menu. I simply called in my order on Saturday afternoon, then swung by just before kickoff to pick up a sandwich platter full of healthy and delicious Subway sandwiches.
One of the things that I really liked about using Subway's catering menu was the ability to customize the platter for my guests. With up to five choices for sandwiches, I was able to ask guests ahead of time for their preferences for meats, veggies, bread and cheese. This allowed me to provide a veg-friendly option for those who don't eat meat. Subway took care of the rest, cutting the sandwiches into thirds for easy eating. All I had to do was supply the rest of the simple and healthy menu. For those who wanted chips with the sandwiches, I opted for healthier options there too.  Look how fresh and gorgeous these sandwiches are!
The rest of the menu was lower in fat and calories than the typical football-watching party. It featured simple sides and appetizers, and a lighter sweet ending. Since I don't want to miss any important plays in the kitchen, I keep my gameday menus simple and low-fuss. I've learned that you don't have to end up a frazzled hot mess to provide a great spread! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...Featuring New York's Upper West Side & a Treat House GIVEAWAY!

Today, I’m going to spotlight one of my very favorite neighborhoods in New York: The Upper West Side (UWS). If you've never visited this part of the city, I hope you'll plan at least an afternoon visit to explore the area the next time you're in New York. The UWS is a more residential part of the city, where you'll see lots of gorgeous apartment buildings, strolling families, and adorable dogs. However, the area also has lots of great restaurants and cultural attractions. A few years ago, we decided to live like New Yorkers for a week and rented a studio apartment on the UWS. The apartment was located on W 85th, just a block from Central Park West and 1.5 blocks from a convenient subway station. We absolutely fell in love with the neighborhood, so we always make sure to spend time in this part of the city whenever we visit New York! During our most recent trip last month, we discovered two fantastic new places to eat…and we also visited one of our favorite bakeries.

We heard about Jacob’s Pickles online and knew we had to check it out: their motto is Southern Food, With a Twist...and they offer craft beer, house-made pickles and delicious comfort food served in a casual environment? Sounds like a perfect spot to me! We arrived and were warmly greeted and shown to our second-floor table…then the food started coming out. First up was a sampling of their house-made Pickle Jars. We tried the Sour Green Tomatoes, Sweet & Spicy Carrots, Candy Red Beets and Special Sours. All were crisp and flavorful...the perfect start to our meal. Next came fried Fried Pickle Spears with Spicy Red Mayo. The spicy and tangy combo was addictive.  As we munched away contentedly, out came THE BEST mac and cheese we’ve ever had, the Mushroom Mac & Cheese. It was rich and creamy, with crunchy melted cheese and a creamy mushroom sauce containing shitake, portabella and king oyster mushrooms on top. It was served with a sampler of some of their craft beers. We would’ve been content to eat this mac and cheese  all afternoon, but more food was heading our way.
We shared a Honey Chicken & Pickles Southern Biscuit Sandwich, which this Texas gal gives an enthusiastic thumbs up! As if the sandwich wasn't amazing enough, it was served with creamy cheese grits that tasted just like the South. Then, we pretty much died and went to heaven when we tried Jacob’s Biscuits French Toast topped with gorgeous strawberries. O.M.G. Bless my Southern heart...French toast made with biscuits?!?!? Genius! We were getting really stuffed by then, but we somehow managed to sample their Fried Oreos for dessert…the batter was crispy and light and the Oreos inside were pillow-soft. They were a decadent end to a really fantastic meal.
We absolutely loved Jacob’s Pickles and have been enthusiastically telling everybody we met in New York and upon our arrival home in Texas that Jacob’s is a must-visit in New York…the food is great, the atmosphere is casual, and the staff is fantastic. We still dream of that mushroom-topped mac and cheese and will use it to measure all other mac and cheese going forward!

From Jacob’s, we walked two blocks up to check out Treat House, which specializes in adorable – and delicious – rice cereal treats. Think of the cereal and marshmallow treats your Mom made when you were growing up...only on steroids! We met owners Chris and Jennifer Russell, who started their shop a year-and-a-half ago, after gourmet treats they made for a charity bake sale were a huge hit in their neighborhood. One thing's for sure: these aren’t your mama’s treats, my friend! These hand-decorated three-bite treats are made with homemade marshmallows and come in tons of fun flavors, some of which are seasonal. We stopped in to sample their entire treat lineup that day, which included seasonal Fall flavors like Maple Pecan and Pumpkin Spice. All of the treats were great, but my two personal favorites were Chocolate Mint and Caramel Sea Salt. The family-friendly decor reminded me of a cross between a club house and a tree house...welcoming and fun!
Treat House makes a perfect 1-2 afternoon combo with Jacob's Pickles because of their close proximity to each other. On our way out, Jennifer gave us one of their gourmet ice cream bars to enjoy on the cab ride back to our hotel. It was a sweet ending to our fabulous visit! We walked around the neighborhood a bit more, then we grabbed a cab to head back to our hotel in Midtown.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Squashin' Winter #SundaySupper...Featuring Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon, Goat Cheese and Pecans

This week, the #SundaySupper group is Squashin' Winter. Our hostess Heather from Girlichef challenged us to come up with a creative recipe featuring some type of squash. For me, November is about all things pumpkin...but I wanted to show how it can be used to make savory dishes sing with its sweet, earthy flavor! With that in mind, I present Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon, Goat Cheese, and Pecans. This is hearty enough to be a main dish, or it can be a fabulous side with roasted pork tenderloin. This recipe is my riff on a Giada de Laurentiis recipe I found at The Food Network website. I simply made a few changes to her recipe to use what I had on hand. 

I used olive oil in place of butter when cooking the risotto, along with subbing chopped shallot for leeks. I also added fresh thyme and half-and-half just before dishing the risotto up, and I added pecans to the topping to add a nutty flavor and a bit more protein. If you're intimidated by making risotto...don't be! It's not hard at just takes patience to stand at the stove and stir the entire time it cooks. Do what I do: pour a glass of wine and put on some great music. I personally find that Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is great risotto-making music! Let me show you how easy it is...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

#TheSaladBar for November...Featuring Sweet Potatoes!

Welcome to this month's #TheSaladBar post! This month's theme is sweet potatoes...what could be more perfect with Thanksgiving just around the corner?!?!? Our blog participants are sharing their favorite salad recipes that feature delicious, healthy sweet potatoes as an ingredient. Sweet potatoes not only taste great, but they pack a ton of nutrition, including: fiber, Vitamin B6, potassium Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. So...this is normally where I would tell you that I was very excited to share my recipe for Cornucopia Sweet Potato-Barley Salad and then show you a mouth-watering photo of said salad. Normally being the key word.

Instead, life intervened this week. I'm dealing with a demanding project at my day that's had me too busy and tired to make it into the kitchen to cook my dish. For that, I'm very sorry. However, I do plan to make it this week and share the recipe next weekend for your Thanksgiving side dish consideration. In the meantime, I hope you'll click on the pictures below and check out this month's #TheSaladBar sweet potato salad offerings. If you're like me, you like to serve a mix of family favorites AND a few new dishes each Thanksgiving. These are some great ideas to consider for your celebration.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wendy's Favorite Things for November...

Welcome! It's time for another monthly edition of Wendy's Favorite Things...a fun roundup where I share some of the best food and kitchen items that I've tried during the past month. I've got some great new finds to share with you this month, so let's get started!
(1)    Earnest Eats Hot & Fit Cereal. Now that the weather is cooler, we're starting to eat more hot breakfast cereal, and we love this Earnest Eats Hot & Fit Cereals! Their trio of tasty whole-food cereals are made with combination of superfood grains, including whole oats, quinoa and amaranth. Then they’re flavored with hearty nuts, toasty seeds and naturally-sweet fruits. These delicious cereals deliver nutrition and flavor! They’re available in multi-serve canisters and convenient single-serve cups that are great for on-the-go mornings. Flavors include American Blend, Mayan Blend, and the unique Asia Blend. Michael was a huge fan of the American Blend, which is flavored with cinnamon, dried cranberries, almonds and sunflower seeds. I’m crazy for the Mayan Blend, which is flavored with cocoa, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sunflower seeds. Not only do they taste good, Earnest Eats products are minimally processed, wheat-free and free of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
(2) PoachPods by Fusionbrands. I love poached eggs for creating elegant weekend brunch dishes, but my poached eggs never came out picture-pretty in my kitchen. Until now, that is! PoachPods are a genius kitchen tool made of silicone. Simply spray the wells of each PoachPod with a bit non-stick spray, crack an egg into the well, carefully lower the pod into floating water and cover. The pod will float on the surface and poach in about 10 minutes. The end result is a gorgeous, perfectly poached egg that’s totally photo-worthy and delicious! You can purchase PoachPods in a set of 2 for $10 at their website. They're also available at numerous retail locations, including: Sur la Table, Crate & Barrel and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

(3) Tazo Chai Tea Latte Concentrate. We’re both huge fans of spicy, exoticchai latte after first tasting it at The Doughnut Plant in New York a few years back. We’ve tried several brands of chai since then, but this is the very first make-at-home chai latte that has the perfect mixture of spice and sweetness that we like best. Now when we get a craving for chai latte, all we have to do is pour some of this flavored chai concentrate from the carton into a mug and add milk...or half and half. It comes lightly sweetened, but you can easily adjust the sweetness for each person’s taste by adding extra sweetener if you like. This versatile concentrate can be enjoyed warm or cold…but warm is perfect this time of year. Talk about simple! For $4.95, each carton of concentrate provides about 8 chai lattes, which is a great deal.

(4) O Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There are tons of olive oils on the market to choose from, so it can be really confusing to know which brands are the best. In my experience, it can be a frustrating hit or miss proposition. I recently tried this delicious California artisan olive oil, and I can personally vouch that it's fabulous! The oil's flavor is fruity and smooth, and the color is a beautiful rich green. This is the perfect selection when for you want the olive oil to take center stage in a dish. I used this olive oil in a homemade vinaigrette salad dressing, and the robust flavor worked perfectly. It's also great for simple grilled fish, where the fruity flavor of the oil can shine through. This Ultra Premium Olive Oil is made from pesticide-free Arbequina olives that are early hand-harvested on family farms. It’s also a Gold Medal Winner at the 2013 Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. O Ultra Premium Olive Oil retails for approximately $15 per bottle. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Frontera Seasoning Sauce Pouches...Featuring Shredded Pork Tacos with Pineapple-Ginger Pico de Gallo

I love making Mexican food…especially tacos for Taco Tuesday! I also love saving time in the kitchen without sacrificing on flavor. I’m really excited to share one of my secrets for serving up delicious tacos with streamlined preparation on my part. I recently discovered Frontera seasoning sauce pouches for tacos, fajitas and carnitas. These flavorful sauces are made with all-natural ingredients – no hard-to-pronounce additives – and fire-roasted chiles. They make Mexican dishes easy enough to cook on even the busiest of days. Yes, this is Frontera as in Chef Rick Bayless. He knows his stuff, so you can bet these sauces are authentic and flavorful! They recently sent me several varieties to try out in my kitchen, and they’ve all been winners. My favorites so far are the Three Citrus-Garlic Marinade for chicken, the Texas Original Taco Skillet Sauce, and the Garlicky Carnitas Slow Cook Sauce that I’m sharing with you today.

All you need is a meaty pork butt, a few flavorful fresh aromatics and a pouch of the spicy and garlicky carnitas sauce. After a few minutes of simple prep, your oven – or slow cooker – does the rest of the work for you. I made these tacos over the weekend for a group of hungry Texans football fans, so I baked my pork in a Dutch oven. For a busy weekday, the slow cooker option would work perfectly too. While the pork cooked, I whipped up a refreshing Pineapple-Ginger Pico de Gallo to pair with the savory pork. When it was time to assemble the tacos, I added a bit of shredded pork to a tortilla and topped with the pico, crumbled queso fresco and diced avocado. Simple never tasted so good!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...An Overnight Austin Getaway!

Living in San Antonio, one of our favorite cities for a fun, overnight getaway is Austin! It's a quick 90-minute drive up I-35, which makes it a perfect weekend destination for us when we want to have a lot of fun, but are short on time. Austin has a vibrant music scene, fantastic nightlife...and an amazing food scene. Last month, we zipped up to north Austin for a quick overnight stay to have some fun and take advantage of the cooler September evenings. We arrived at aloft Austin at the Domain and quickly settled in. If you've never stayed at an aloft property before, definitely check them out. The feel is like a modern urban loft with lots of natural light and bright colors. We immediately noticed it offers tons of amenities to make it family-friendly, business-friendly...and dog-friendly! The lobby features a well-stocked area that sells snacks and light meal options 24/7. There's even a microwave if you want to heat something up -- how convenient.
We loved the modern, colorful decor in our spacious room. The room featured a wall-mounted big-screen TV and a large bathroom and dressing area. Free in-room WiFi and bottled water were the perfect touches for staying connected and hydrated. I also loved that they feature Bliss Spa toiletries and soft water. Those little extras really make a difference to me! We freshened up, then headed out for a quintessential date night: dinner and a movie.

We are huge fans of Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. They offer first-run and special-event movies, along with great food and cocktails. For this visit, we opted to attend the Saturday evening Animal House Quote-Along at the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline location. We had a blast since this is one of our favorite comedies from our teenage years. It was so fun to quote aloud the movie's most famous line with fellow fans -- some of who even came dressed in togas! As we watched the antics of the boys from Delta Tau Chi, we enjoyed some great snacks. We shared an order of their Fried Dill Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch, along with a duo of shakes. I had the Salted Caramel Shake, while Michael had his favorite: a Strawberry Malt with extra malted milk powder. Both were the perfect movie snack...much better than the usual popcorn and sodas!
After the movie was over, I had a bit of fun in the lobby with somebody who was channeling a Delta Tau Chi brother, complete with a toga and faux least, I think it was faux! In case you're wondering...the yellow item in my hand has one of the movie's classic quotes, "Thank you sir...may I have another!" printed on it, and it made a popping sound when it was hit. We had such fun at this event and would happily attend another quote-along movie in the future.

We came outside to find that the weather had turned quite nasty...but we didn't let a little rain (ok...a lot of rain) and lightning dampen our spirits! We headed to our dinner reservation at Benji's Cantina in Downtown Austin. This restaurant opened this Summer, serving up Tex-Mex food in an upscale setting. The food is familiar, but the ingredients are locally sourced, with some great innovative touches. The decor is modern and inviting, with great bursts of color. We ate in the main dining room due to the storm, but they also over a fabulous upstairs patio that's perfect for al fresco dining on pretty evenings while enjoying night time views of the Austin skyline!
We came in from the storm and ordered a cocktail and appetizers. The Clasica Margarita comes frozen or on the rocks; I selected frozen, with the addition of strawberry puree. We coupled that with the Shrimp Diablo: Texas Gulf shrimp stuffed with goat cheese and chiles, then wrapped in pecan-smoked bacon before being grilled. They were smoky  and spicy...the perfect way to kick off our meal! The manager also brought out their signature Mexican Corn, flavored with cotija cheese and lime. It was amazingly fresh and full of my favorite big flavors!
For our entree, we decided to share an order of Benji's Signature Beef and Chicken Fajitas. They were brought to our table on a parillada grill to keep them warm while we ate. The fajitas were perfectly cooked: juicy and full of flavor. They came with sour cream, cheese, guacamole and hot flour tortillas so we could customize our fajitas. We were pretty stuffed by the time we finished our fajitas, but out came a surprise: dessert! The manager sent out their decadent and creative Cheesecake Sopapilla. This dessert featured a cheesecake filling in a cast-iron serving dish...topped with a soft sopapilla topping, Mexican vanilla ice cream and cajeta topping. Oh. My. Word. Even though I was about to burst, I couldn't resist a couple of bites of this treat!
With that, we collected our car from the valet and headed back to our spacious room at Aloft. After getting caught in the rain on our way inside from the parking lot, a hot shower and a comfy bed was just what I needed. It was time to get some rest...because we had another day of adventures waiting for us in Austin!

Friday, November 8, 2013

#REAL® Seal Keep Calm and Gobble On Challenge...Featuring Smoky Turkey-Pumpkin Chowder

I was recently invited to take part in the REAL® Seal Keep Calm and Gobble On Thanksgiving challenge. Participants are asked create and share Thanksgiving-inspired recipes using dairy products featuring the REAL® Seal label. Look for the REAL® Seal label pictured at left on a dairy product like milk, butter or cheese. If it’s there, you can be sure you’re getting a product that starts with milk that comes from cows from U.S. dairy farms that meet strict manufacturing requirements. When you see the REAL® Seal on a dairy product – whether in a store or restaurant – you can trust it’s the real thing…not an imitation.

I decided to use the REAL® Seal dairy trifecta – milk, butter and cheese – to create a hearty chowder featuring all my favorite Thanksgiving flavors. I don’t know about you, but we always seem to have a ton of turkey meat left after the big feast. I love a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich as much as the next gal, but I’m always looking for creative new ways to use my excess turkey. Now that it’s finally soup weather here in Texas, I was excited to come up with a chowder recipe so good that you’ll actually be looking forward to leftover turkey! What I came up with was my flavorful Smoky Turkey-Pumpkin Chowder.
This chowder is full of shredded turkey breast and chunky veggies like carrots, shallot, celery, potatoes and corn. It’s also flavored with fresh thyme and rosemary, two of my favorite Fall herbs. To make the chowder super creamy, I add milk, cream and a blend of cheddar cheese. My secret ingredients that take this chowder from the ordinary to the EXTRAordinary are canned pumpkin puree and a crunchy pepita-bacon topping. The pumpkin gives the soup an earthy sweetness, and the combination of toasted pumpkin seeds and bacon add flavor and crunch to each bowl.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for November: Featuring a Jazzy New York Date Night...

This month’s edition of The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out features a very special Jazzy New York Date Night! During our New York trip last month, we earmarked one evening for a romantic dinner, followed by late-night jazz at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. We had an amazing evening, and I’m very excited to share the details with you today. New York has a reputation for being an expensive city, and that can definitely be true. However, there are some great dining deals to be found if you do a little research. One of the best deals I’ve found is the Sunday evening Lobster Louie menu at David Burke’s Fishtail, located in the Midtown East section of the city. Chef Burke has several restaurants in the city, and we've enjoyed all that we've tried.

Lobster Louie was the perfect menu for a couple of hungry Texans! We eat a lot of Gulf shrimp and oysters, but lobster isn’t something we get to enjoy very often. For just $38 per person, this Sunday-only menu provides a prix fixe three-course dinner featuring a lobster appetizer, lobster entrée, and dessert! That’s truly a bargain for fantastic food served in a gorgeous setting. We entered the lobby and were warmly greeted and quickly escorted to the upstairs dining area, which feels like dining in a gorgeous Manhattan home. We started out with cocktails and some piping-hot popovers while we looked over the menu. I wanted something refreshing, so I chose a fizzy Strawberry-Basil Mojito. Michael chose the wittily named Tequila Mockingbird, which featured grapefruit, basil and tequila.
We looked over the menu and selected our three courses. Michael chose the Lobster Dumplings with Moroccan Glaze appetizer, the Baked Stuffed Lobster entrée, and Carrot Cake with Fresh Citrus & Spiced Whipped Cream for dessert. All three courses were amazing, and they definitely didn’t skimp on the lobster. His lobster was a showstopper: a whole lobster split and was stuffed with jumbo lump crab, baby shrimp, and chunks of sweet lobster meat. His entree very easily would’ve been worth the price of the meal on its own.
I chose the Chilled Lobster Cocktail appetizer, Lobster Risotto with Sweet Corn and Leeks entrée, and Black Forest Chocolate Pudding dessert. My appetizer was for the lobster purist: a chilled lobster tail served with lemon mayo and spicy cocktail sauce for dipping. Perfection! The risotto was fantastic too – creamy, with plenty of sweet lobster  – which worked perfectly with the sweet corn kernels. My dessert was sinfully good. It featured brownie chunks, brandied cherries, pistachios and spiced whipped cream atop creamy homemade chocolate pudding.
Before we knew it, our fabulous lobster dinner was over. We  jumped into a cab and headed over to Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola to listen to some late-night jazz! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Secret Recipe Club...Featuring Blueberry Shallot Jam Crostini with Crispy Prosciutto from Spinach Tiger

It’s November…wow, how did THAT happen?!?!? That means it’s time for another fun Secret Recipe Club reveal! My assigned blog this month is Spinach Tiger. I love visiting Angela's blog, so I was very happy to be assigned to share one of her recipes this month. If you haven’t visited her, be sure to go check out all her great recipes. She’s got everything from her family’s Italian classics to healthy options…and a lot of really fun small plates and appetizers. With the holidays coming, I quickly zeroed in on her appetizers.

The holidays seem to be full of last-minute invitations and drop-in visitors. I love to have a few quick appetizers  in my culinary bag of tricks that I can whip up and serve with a nice bottle of wine. I found just what I was looking for to add to this year’s options: Blackberry Shallot Jam Crostini with Crispy Prosciutto. Imagine toasted sourdough topped with sweetly creamy marscapone, homemade berry-shallot jam and smoky-salty crisped prosciutto. These crostini are easy and quick to make...and they’re gorgeous and taste amazing to boot!
I made a few minor tweaks to Angela's original recipe and halved the amount of ingredients since I was making it for two. I had a jar of Bonne Maman wild blueberry jam on hand, so I subbed that for blackberry jam. I also added a bit of rosemary to the thyme in the original recipe. Rosemary’s one of my favorite Fall flavors, and I happened to have some on hand and tossed it in with the thyme. Finally, I toasted slices of sourdough in a cast iron grill pan rather than bake the bread. These crostini make a fantastic first course or party appetizer.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hashcapades San Antonio #50Cities50Hashes

I was recently invited to take part in a really fun event by Clark Haass, cookbook author and blogger for Hascapades. Clark loves hash in all its forms, from classic to adventurous...and he wants to spread the love around the globe! Hash is a comfort food classic that features potatoes and a variety of meats and/or veggies to create a fantastic brunch dish. He decided to host the #50Cities50Hashes event, and I was selected to host Hascapades San Antonio! I had a fabulous time hosting the event at Magnolia Pancake Haus last Saturday. My guests and I enjoyed a fabulous trio of hashes, eggs and Magnolia's signature pancakes. I did live social media updates all during the event while we enjoyed this great lineup of hashes:
My Hashcapades San Antonio recap is being featured on the Hashcapades website today, so I hope you'll read my article and learn more about Hashcapades...and the amazing hash varieties we tried. If you think that only corned beef can be made into hash...I've got a few tricks up my sleeve for you!

Disclosure: Clark Haass/Hashcapades provided me with a gift card to pay for Hashcapades San Antonio, as well as a Hashcapades cookbook. I received no further compensation, and all opinions expressed are my own.