Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wendy's Favorite Things...May Edition

Just in time for the weekend, this month's edition of Wendy's Favorite Things is featuring a fabulous Great Eight roundup! This month, I'm featuring everything from a fabulous liqueur to a unique and spicy a sophisticated soda and a straw to drink it with. Let's get the fun started!

(1) Beekman 1802 Sauces. OMG...these gourmet sauces are truly fantastic! I tried both the "Mortgage Lifter" Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce and the "Mortgage Lifter" Heirloom Bruschetta Sauce. Both are made with heirloom tomatoes, and they taste great. The pasta sauce has a bright flavor...and I love that it's made with all-natural ingredients and leaves out high fructose corn syrup and added sugars. I used it to make a delicious bolognese that I served over penne pasta when we had unexpected company one weekend. The Bruschetta is bursting with chunks of heirloom tomatoes, garlic, onion, and a generous helping of basil and parsley. We enjoyed part of it served on crusty bread for a no-fuss appetizer. The rest I warmed and used as a chunky sauce over meatballs and cheesy mashed potatoes for an on-the-fly dinner that Michael proclaimed utterly delicious! I also received a jar of their Bourbon BBQ Sauce, which I'll be featuring in an original recipe in the coming weeks. All Beekman 1802 products are produced in small batches with items produced at 1802 Farm in New York, and many items are seasonal. This and many more amazing food, body, and home items can be purchased online at the Beekman 1802 Mercantile.

(2) Villa Massa Limoncello. If you’re a citrus lover and haven’t tried limoncello…what are you waiting for?!?!?!? Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that slightly sweet and bursting with bright lemon flavor. Not all brands are the same, though. I recently tried Villa Massa’s limoncello, and it’s hands down the most natural tasting limoncello I’ve ever sipped. Villa Massa is made in Sorrento, it's the real deal! I’ve featured their fragrant limoncello liqueur in a couple of recipes -- my sublime Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake and my fruity Tropical Breeze Sangria. The Villa Massa lioncello yielded perfect results in both recipes. It also makes a great cocktail mixer. Simply add 1-2 ounces of Villa Massa limoncello to a tall glass of sugar-free lemon-lime soda served over crushed ice. In less than 5 minutes, you’ve got a simple, refreshing citrus Summer spritzer.

(3) Simply Straws. I am completely in love with these amazing straws! Trust me, there’s a lot to love about these straws. Simply Straws is a family-run company that's based in California. Their sturdy glass straws are handmade, BPA free (that means no toxins!), and they’re reusable. That means they’re better for the environment than traditional plastic straws too! Simply Straws come in lots of fun colors, shapes, and diameters. My light pink Simply Wide straw has an extra-wide diameter, making it perfect for drinking everything from water and sodas to smoothies and milkshakes. When I’m done using the straw, I simply rinse it with a bit of hot soapy water in my kitchen sink…but they’re dishwasher safe too. Simply Straws can be purchased online via the Simply Straw website.  

(4) Saffron Road Crispy Chickpeas. I recently discovered this amazing crunchy, protein-packed snack…and now I’m totally hooked. Saffron Road cooks the chickpeas until crispy, then coats them in an exotic Indian-inspired spice blend. These snacks come in a variety of flavors, including Bombay, Falafel, and Wasabi. I'm crazy about the Bombay flavor – the seasoning is warm and inviting, with a curry-like flavor profile. This is a perfect after-work snack that I don’t have to feel guilty about. As an added bonus, they're certified to be non-GMO. Each 1-ounce serving of these crunchy chickpeas has just 110 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein. If you enjoy chips and nuts, this is a perfect substitute – all the crunch, with less fat. The Saffron Road Product Locator will help you find this addictive snack at a store near you. Go get yourself some of these crunchy chickpeas…like now! You can thank me later.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Red Gold Pesto #easyaioli...Featuring Pesto Aioli Chicken Sandwiches

My friends at Red Gold recently sent me a package filled with their flavorful petite diced tomatoes to take part in their #easyaioli promotion. If you're not familiar with aioli, it's a delicious and versatile mayo-based spread that's great on sandwiches or as a dip. Red Gold's easy aioli recipes are a snap to make and contain only a handful of ingredients. We love pesto so the Easy Pesto Aioli immediately caught my eye. It's made with Red Gold Petite Dice Tomatoes with Garlic & Olive Oil, light mayo, and your favorite pesto. It's full of my favorite Italian flavors, so I knew I wanted to make a sandwich that would showcase this zesty spread. What I came up with was my Pesto Aioli Chicken Sandwiches.
This big-flavor sandwich features lean boneless chicken tenders that are marinated in a flavorful marinade, gooey melted provolone cheese, and a generous amount of Red Gold's Easy Pesto Aioli. To further amp up the pesto flavor, I spread a nice amount of pesto on the warm sandwich rolls. Bottom line? This sandwich is bursting with our favorite Italian flavors, and it's a perfect weeknight dinner. If you do 5 minutes of prep work in the morning and let the chicken tenders marinate in the fridge while you're at work, these sandwiches can be on the table in about 30 minutes when you get home! That makes this dish a winner in my book...come see how easy it is to whip up.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A #Driscollsberry Strawberry Shortcake Contest...Featuring Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake @strawshort

May is National Strawberry Month…and June 14th is National Strawberry Shortcake Day. As much as we love strawberries, this is definitely cause for celebration in my house! The Daily Meal is partnering with Driscoll’s on a strawberry shortcake recipe contest for its Culinary Content Network. The winner will receive a year’s supply of Driscoll’s berries, so you can bet I jumped on the opportunity to take part! Driscoll's are my favorite berries, because they're consistently juicy and sweet. I put on my culinary thinking cap to come up with a great recipe. I love old-school strawberry shortcake – it’s one of my favorite Summertime desserts! I wanted to stay true to the original that features a sweet biscuit, ripe strawberries, and homemade whipped cream…but I wanted to amp it up a bit. My original creation is Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake. Just let that concept roll around in your brain for a moment or two!

Photograph courtesy of Driscoll's
If you’ve never had limoncello, let me clue you in. Limoncello is Italian lemon liqueur…and it’s downright addictive if you love citrus! I used this magical elixir to flavor my strawberries, as well as the whipped cream. To keep the lemon flavor going, I added lemon zest and a bit of lemon curd to my shortcake dough. The end result was just what I was hoping for! The sweet-tart limoncello and lemon curd complimented my organic Driscoll’s strawberries perfectly, without overwhelming them. The strawberries still take center stage, but the lemon flavor profile was amazing! This is  my kind of dessert: easy to make, but impressive to look and totally delish! Even inexperienced bakers can whip up a batch of these Limoncello Strawberry Shortcakes and impress everyone around your dinner table tonight.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Celebrate Summer with Tabasco SWEET & Spicy...Featuring Sweet & Spicy Sliders

Happy Memorial Day...a day that we pause to remember those in our military who sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy here in America. I live in San Antonio, which is home to a number of military bases. I want to extend a huge heartfelt thank you to all of the veterans and active-duty military (and their families) who read The Weekend Gourmet!! Memorial Day is also the unofficial official start of Summer, when we relax around the grill and spend time with our family and friends...and enjoy great food and drinks!
The kind folks at Tabasco recently sent me a sampler of their flavored hot sauces to create a perfect Summer meal for my readers. Original Red Tabasco has been a staple condiment in my kitchen for years -- we always have at least one bottle in our cupboard. Tabasco has been produced by the McIlhenny Family on Avery Island in Louisiana since 1868. We use this tart and spicy sauce to add zip and heat to our meals. My sampler had seven different Tabasco sauces to choose from, so it was hard to pick just one to spotlight. The handy metal caddy contained Original Red, Chipotle, Green Jalapeno, Habanero, Garlic Pepper, Buffalo, and Sweet & Spicy. The Garlic Pepper is one of our favorites -- especially sprinkled on top of pizza -- and the Green Jalapeno adds a nice kick to my guacamole and pico de gallo. We flipped when we tried the SWEET & Spicy -- slightly thicker than traditional Tabasco, it's a perfect combination of spicy and sweet. I just knew that I had to create an original recipe spotlighting this unique sauce!

I created a Sweet & Spicy Slider recipe that's bursting with sweet heat. I used Tabasco's addictive SWEET & Spicy sauce to flavor the burger patties, the sauteed sweet onions that top the patties, and in the flavorful spread that's slathered on the buns. The flavorful slider patties are made from a combination of lean ground turkey and Mexican chorizo sausage and seasoned with fresh ginger, garlic, and cilantro. The patties are grilled, topped with provolone and caramelized sweet onions, and served on slider rolls that are slathered with a creamy sauce. The sliders can be grilled outdoors on the grill, but they can be also be cooked indoors on a cast-iron grill pan if the weather's not cooperating. No matter how you grill the slider patties, kids of all ages will go nuts for these sliders. They have a nice kick, but the heat is nicely tempered by the sweetness of the SWEET & Spicy Sauce. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

June Foodie Contributor Program: Texas-Inspired Father's Day Recipes

Check out Texas-Inspired Father's Day Recipes
by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at

Father's Day is just around the corner next month, so it's time to start planning a special celebration that's 100% Dad-worthy! I'm getting you started today with a 15-recipe collection of Texas-Inspired Father's Day Recipes inspired by my own Texas Daddy. Wait until you see all of the amazing dishes I found to share. We Texans love our BBQ, Tex-Mex, chicken fried steak, and sweet treats -- and my family is no exception. We love getting together to cook...and eat...our favorite dishes.

I picked recipes that reminded me of my Dad and our time spent together enjoying some tasty treats! My family loves eating his smoked brisket and BBQ ribs, and he's often found grilling during warm-weather months. We also love eating spicy Tex-Mex dishes too! He and I often share a bowl of homemade guacamole and/or queso when I'm down for a visit -- especially if a football game is on the TV. The other recipes in my collection include banana pudding, peach ice cream, and a homemade spin on Frito pie -- something I loved eating growing up. 

For part of my Father's Day gift to my Daddy, I'm going to let him pick one of the recipes from this collection. Then, I'll make it for him when I'm home to celebrate Father's Day with him next month. I wonder which one he'll pick? Stay tuned next month for the big reveal -- along with a picture of the featured recipe.

Disclosure: I was compensated by the Contributor Program to create and share this featured recipe collection.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Kicking Off Summer with a Summer Kiss Cocktail...and a Pina Colada Fizz Mocktail!

Just in time for the three-day Memorial Day weekend, I’m sharing a couple of fun and refreshing Summer-inspired beverages with you today. One is an adult’s only fruit-infused cocktail, and the other is a fizzy family-friendly mocktail. Both beverages are flavored with fresh Summer fruit, and they're perfect for any BBQs or other outdoor parties you have planned this long holiday weekend...or all Summer long! First up is an original creation, my Summer Kiss Cocktail, which is flavored with juicy fresh raspberries. I absolutely love the vibrant pink color they brought to my finished drink! The Summer Kiss Cocktail features two of my favorite cocktail ingredients: Skimpy Mixers and Pinnacle Tropical Punch flavored vodka.
Skimpy Mixers are made in Dallas, and they really help keep the calories down in your favorite cocktails while   delivering a bright punch of flavor. For this Summery cocktail, I wanted a tart citrus backnote…so I used Skimpy Margarita mixer. It has just 20 calories per serving, and it contains real fruit juice. If you haven’t tried Pinnacle flavored vodkas, they have a great line of infused vodkas in lots of fun flavors. The Tropical Punch flavor provides just the fruit punch flavor that my cocktail needed. For fizz, I added sugar-free citrus soda, along with some cream of coconut for a tropical nod. Add some ice and blend the ingredients up, and you’ve got a fantastic cocktail to kick off Summer!

Summer Kiss Cocktail
a Weekend Gourmet Original
Ingredients (makes two cocktails):
  • 2 ounces Pinnacle Fruit Punch Vodka
  • 4 ounces Skimpy Mixers Margarita
  • 4 ounces sugar-free citrus soda [NOTE: I used Fresca]
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries (approx. 8-10 raspberries)
  • 1 ounce cream of coconut
  • 1 cup crushed ice
Directions: Add the crushed ice to the bottom of a blender container. Add the vodka, Skimpy Mixer, sugar-free citrus soda, raspberries, and cream of coconut. Cover and blend until the ice is completed incorporated, then pour into two cocktail glasses. Garnish with maraschino cherries if you like. NOTE: For an even icier cocktail, freeze the raspberries.

This cocktail is so delicious! I loved the tart background flavor from the citrus soda and Skimpy Margarita mixer. The tart, juicy raspberries provided a gorgeous color...and their flavor paired really well with the Tropical Punch Pinnacle Vodka. The little bit of cream of coconut provided the perfect coconut flavor and aroma that says Summer is here! Using sugar-free mixers helped keep the overall calorie count of this cocktail down too. This one’s a keeper, folks. Speaking of keeper…wait until you see the fun mocktail I’m sharing today!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for May...Featuring Max's Wine Dive

This month's featured restaurant for The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is Max's Wine Dive, located across from The Quarry shopping complex in San Antonio. Featuring an extensive wine list and fabulous casual-elegant food, it's a fantastic place for a relaxing after-work Happy Hour or romantic dinner for two. Max's Wine Dive had me out for a dinner tasting of some of their signature menu items, as well as some of Executive Chef Justin Johnson's seasonal menu creations. My friend Julie from the wine blog Venue & Vine joined me to enjoy some great food...and sample several different wines. Great wine, delicious food, and fabulous company make for an excellent evening.

We started out with a tasting of a few wines suggested by our server, along with a White Sangria for me. The sangria was fruity and not too sweet, and it paired perfectly with our duo of appetizers. Our first appetizer was the popular Pulled Pork Stuffed Peppers. One bite was all it took to understand its popularity! Smoky pulled pork and cotija cheese are stuffed into slightly sweet piquillo peppers. The peppers are served on a bed of spicy and smoky chipotle aioli and topped with cilantro chimichurri. This dish was bursting with the big flavors I crave, and it was gorgeous on the plate! We paired the stuffed peppers with another Tex-Mex inspired appetizer, this one from the seasonal menu. The Barbacoa Corn Masa Cakes featured crispy corn cakes topped with rich shredded beef and spicy ancho creme fraiche. They were savory, earthy, and delicious. Our meal was off to a fantastic start!
We opted to share three entrees -- two from the traditional menu, and one from the seasonal offerings. As soon as I spotted Shrimp & Grits on the menu, I simply had to taste their version. Their signature menu item is Famous Southern Fried Chicken, which is served with champagne. To quote their menu, "Why the hell not?!?!?" From the seasonal menu, we selected Blackened Redfish topped with a Berry-Mango Chutney. We sampled a few more wines while we waited for our entrees to arrive.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review of Gluten-Free Made Easy...Featuring Peanut Butter Power Balls

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts about a new cookbook that’s just hit the shelves. Gluten-Free Made Easy is written by food blogger and cookbook author Christi Silbaugh and Michele Vilseck. Christi lives in San Diego and has been eating gluten-free for several years. Her blog is Mom, What’s for Dinner, and it focuses on tasty gluten-free recipes. I’m especially thrilled to be spotlighting this cookbook, because I’ve met Christi in person and witnessed her vibrant personality and fun-loving nature firsthand! We met at Foodbuzz Fest in San Francisco in 2012, and we hit it off right away. We were part of a fun foursome of food bloggers who hung out together that weekend. We’ve stayed in touch via our blogs since then, and I was so thrilled to have a chance to receive an advance preview copy of her cookbook a couple of weeks ago.

Gluten-Free Made Easy is comprised of recipes that are family-friendly and easy to make – whether you eat gluten free or not. We don’t have dietary restrictions that require us to avoid gluten in my household, but I still found tons of eye-catching and mouthwatering recipes as I flipped through the book. When I was trying to decide which recipe to feature today, I had such a hard time. Would I go with something savory like "Kung Foo" Korean Beef , something sweet like the unique Avocado Cream Cheese Cookies…or maybe a portable breakfast or snack to tote to work? The second I saw her Peanut Butter Power Balls, I knew I had found just what I was looking for. Easy to make, healthy, delicious…and portable? Sign me up! These protein-packed snacks can be assembled in less than 15 minutes. Store them in the fridge in a covered container, and you’ve got the perfect on-demand breakfast or post-workout snack.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Idaho® Potatoes #SundaySupper: Potato Salad Possibilities…Featuring Ciao Bella Potato Salad

This week’s #SundaySupper is sponsored by The Idaho Potato Commission, a platinum sponsor  for this year’s Food and & Wine Conference. They challenged us to come up with creative Potato Salad Possibilities using Idaho® potatoes and share our recipes here. I’m so excited to take part in this week’s  theme, because I love making potato salad when the weather turns warm! It ‘s a dish that’s perfect for BBQs and potluck celebrations. I love a batch of old-fashioned potato salad as much as the next person…but sometimes? I like to mix it up and do something completely different. Today I’m featuring Ciao Bella Potato Salad, an Italian spin on an American picnic classic.
This flavorful potato salad features Idaho® russet potatoes, cooked pancetta, mozzarella pearls, and sautéed shallot. Everything’s tossed with a luscious dressing flavored with creamy mascarpone, pesto, and parsley. The pesto provides tons of flavor, as well as a lovely green color, to the finished dish. It’s the perfect side dish for roasted chicken or just about any grilled meat or seafood. Get ready to send your taste buds through the roof! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Special Announcement: I'm This Month's Gourmet Garden Guest Chef!

I have some very exciting news to share with  y'all today. This month, I'm Gourmet Garden's featured Guest Chef! If you're not familiar with Gourmet Garden, they're a fabulous line of refrigerated herbs and spices. I love using this product in my recipes, because the convenient squeeze tubes let me use as much or as little of an herb as I need...with no chopping or waste. Each tube contains organic herbs that have been washed, chopped, and blended. Each tube lasts for several weeks in the fridge, and they flavor is fresh and vibrant! The handy tubes save me a ton of time in the kitchen too...simply squeeze in just the amount of the herb that you need, and you're good to go. 

For my recipe, I focused on a quick-cook dish that's perfect for warm-weather al fresco dining. My Calypso Shrimp Salad is a snap to whip up, and it's ready to eat in about 30 minutes. Boiled shrimp, creamy avocado, and sweet mango are tossed in a creamy dressing that's flavored with Gourmet Garden ginger, garlic, and cilantro. This dish is simple enough to serve with salad greens or on a bun for a busy weeknight dinner, but it's elegant enough to serve to company. After you get the recipe for this delicious salad, be sure to read a little more about me on the Guest Chef page.

Disclosure: Gourmet Garden provided me with a cooler of their herbs and spices to facilitate recipe development. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hancock Gourmet Lobster Review and Giveaway

I love most food...but if you made me pick only one type of food to eat for the rest of my life, I'd definitely have to go with seafood! Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, I developed a love for Gulf shrimp and my Grandpa Wofford's fresh-caught fish. One thing we didn't eat much of was's not locally sourced, so it was an expensive treat that we rarely splurged on. Thanks to my friends at Hancock Gourmet Lobster, today I can enjoy their award-winning lobster and shellfish straight from Maine to my front door in Texas. I've featured their gift packs in my Holiday Gift Roundup and my Valentine's Gift Guide, so I can personally vouch that the quality of their product is top notch. Hancock Gourmet Lobster was founded by Cal Hancock in 2000 to share her love of Maine lobster to those of us who live miles away from the Maine shore!

The products are flash frozen and shipped via overnight or two-day delivery to ensure they arrive pristinely fresh. The seafood can be cooked immediately, or frozen for enjoying later. To celebrate the imminent arrival of Summer, Cal sent me their signature Maine Shore Dinner to try out in my kitchen. This sampler contains two lobster tails, a dozen mussels, eight large shrimp, eight sea scallops, and two ears of corn...along with herbed lemon butter sauce. The sampler arrived overnight and was still frozen when I opened the box. Inside was a foil pan enclosed in a double-layer foil bag. Between the layers of the foil were smoky Alder chips, designed to give a subtle smoky flavor to the finished product. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sneak Preview: San Antonio's Culinaria Festival...Featuring The Grand Tasting

One of the biggest events in the vibrant and growing San Antonio food scene is happening this week! It's time for the annual Culinaria Festival, an entire week's worth of fun and fabulous food and wine events. Culinaria is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to benefiting the San Antonio community, as well as promoting the city as an ideal food and wine destination. The Culinaria Festival truly offers something for every kind of food and wine lover in the region. From casual to elegant, they've got all the bases covered! The festival features lots of great events to choose from, including: food and wine dinners at some of the best restaurants in the city, the casual and family-friendly H-E-B Food Truck event, an elegant luncheon at Becker Winery in the Hill Country, The Best of Mexico (at The Shops at La Cantera), Burgers BBQ & Beer (at The Pearl Brewery complex), educational wine seminars...and The Grand Tasting. 

The Grand Tasting is -- as the name implies -- indeed quite grand! Michael and I were lucky enough to attend this fabulous event last year, and we're so excited to be attending again this year. We'll be doing tons of live social media shares during the event, so be sure to give us a follow! You can find me on Twitter @TheWeekendGourm and on Instagram at WEEKENDGOURMET. The Grand Tasting will be held at The Grotto at The Henry B. Gonzalez Center this Saturday from 700 p.m. to 1000 p.m. This event is a foodie's dream: chefs from some of San Antonio's best restaurants will be cooking tasty delights, and the indoor Wine Room offers tons of great wines for sampling. Add in live music and dancing, a beautiful Riverwalk location, and the chance to dress up a little...and you've got the makings of a fabulous evening! 

Here's a couple of pictures from last year's Grand Tasting to whet your appetite just a bit. As you can see, The Grotto is quite festive as the Sun sets and the lights come up. Dress for the event is cocktail attire for ladies, and gentlemen can feel free to break out their favorite tie and blazer. Tickets are $100 per person if purchased in advance, and $125 at the door the night of the event. Keep in mind that The Grand Tasting typically sells out, so hurry to get your tickets online now
Michael and I hope to see lots of food lovers from the San Antonio and Austin area at The Grand Tasting this weekend. A splendid time is guaranteed for all! If something more casual is more in line with your personality, make sure to click the link above to find information about some of the other fun, family-friendly activities going on during the Culinaria Festival this week.

Disclosure: Culinaria is providing The Weekend Gourmet with a pair of complimentary tickets to The Grand Tasting to facilitate coverage. Opinions expressed are solely our own.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road: Tookie's Burgers in Seabrook, Texas!

Although Michael and I currently live in San Antonio (in Central Texas), we grew up in the Houston nearby towns located between Houston and Galveston.  Our hometowns are in close proximity to both the beach in Galveston and NASA JSC. In this general area, Kemah/Seabrook has a lot to offer both residents and visitors...including lots of great water-based activities, the Kemah Boardwalk, and a legendary burger joint that locals absolutely love. Tookie's has been serving up hot burgers, great appetizers, and cold beer since 1975. In 2008, storm surge from Hurricane Ike closed Tookie's temporarily while it underwent a major renovation. They came back better than ever -- offering the same menu favorites and adding a full bar and outdoor dining patio. Tookie's is hugely popular, so you may find a wait unless you arrive early. But...I promise that your patience will be rewarded with some of the best burgers you'll taste anywhere! During a recent trip home, we visited Tookie's for lunch to try some of their signature menu items and share the experience with you.

Photo provided by Tookie's
We started out with two fried appetizers: Fried Pickles and their signature Pelican Eggs. Both items were served with Tookie's house-made ranch dressing. If you've never had fried pickles, you're missing out my friend! This Southern specialty features dill pickle chips flash fried until crispy and golden. Served with ranch dressing, it's an explosion of flavors: crispy exterior, a sour burst of dill pickle, and a creamy herbal flavor from the ranch dressing. These little bites are downright addictive! The Pelican Eggs are spicy jalapenos stuffed with bacon and a mixture of cheeses, then battered and fried. Between the spicy jalapenos, gooey cheese, and smoky bacon? wonder these have been a menu favorite for nearly 40 years! Both items were perfectly fried: crispy, but not the least bit greasy. This duo was the perfect start to our meal.

We decided to order two different sandwiches and share them: one signature burger and one non-burger menu item. We couldn't decide whether to order fries or onion rings to pair with our sandwiches...but we didn't have to. Tookie's offers a great French Fry & Onion Ring combo that gives diners the best of both worlds! Both arrived crunchy and piping hot. Once again? Not a hint of excess grease!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sneak Preview: Royal Caribbean’s Media Preview Cruise for #NavigatoroftheSeas

Michael and I are off this weekend for a little adventure…and a little family time! We’re celebrating Mother’s Day with our mothers on Sunday, and we’re having a belated birthday celebration for my father-in-law. Time spent with family is always great! But first…we’re off on a little adventure at sea courtesy of Royal Caribbean cruise line tomorrow! They recently refurbished their Navigator of the Seas ship, and they invited us to attend a special overnight media preview cruise out of Galveston to check out the changes! We’ll enjoy the ship’s amazing amenities, including: the FlowRider surf simulator, pools and whirlpools, a rock-climbing wall…and of course lots of great food! 
I’ll be sharing a full recap of our trip later this month…but be sure to follow The Weekend Gourmet on Instagram and Twitter for lots of as-it-happens pictures and thoughts Saturday afternoon and evening! You'll find me a WEEKENDGOURMET on Instagram and at @TheWeekendGourm on Twitter. See you on Monday…when I’ll continue Summer Kickoff Month with a review and giveaway of Hancock Gourmet Lobster, which offers amazing seafood straight from Maine to your front door!!!

Disclosure: Michael and I were invited to take part in a complimentary media preview cruise by Royal Caribbean. We received no further compensation, and all pictures taken and opinions shared are solely those of The Weekend Gourmet

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Foodie by Glam #trop50 Girls' Night In Recipe Collection

Don’t get me wrong…I love hanging out with Michael at home watching our favorite TV shows or listening tosome great music. But...I have to admit that there’s something special about hanging out with your best girlfriends. Let’s face it…sometimes an evening hanging out “just the girls” for some good girl talk and fun refreshments is just what I need! I was recently selected to take part in Foodie by Glam’s Girls' Night In campaign. I’m going to share some of my favorite sips and nibbles inspired by Trop50 Raspberry Acai juiceTrop50 is perfect for Spring and Summer drinks! It contains 50 calories per serving and is lower in sugar than traditional juices. Not only also includes a full day's supply of Vitamin C! The slideshow above shares 10 warm-weather drinks, many of which feature Trop50 Raspberry Acai. The other drinks I selected feature seasonal fruits and berries. To pair with my drink suggestions, I also selected a few noshes and nibbles that are simple to make and focus on healthy ingredients. Once you pick a couple of drinks and nibbles, you’re ready to party with your best gals.
My favorite party planning tips are centered on keeping the things stress free…the idea is to have fun, not stress over complicated menu items and fancy decorations! To keep stress low, I like to focus on food and drinks that can be prepped a day ahead. Punch and/or ice tea can be made up to a day in advance and chilled in a pretty pitcher in the fridge. I like to keep my décor simple too. I usually buy solid disposable plates/cups/cutlery…paired with pretty coordinating patterned paper napkins for a bit of pop! Because I want the focus to be on girl talk and lots of laughter, I set the mood with music, rather than a movie or TV program. Depending on the season, I like to create customized playlists from my large and varied music collection. For this Springtime Girls' Night Out, I created a mix that includes lots of feel-good music from Bob Marley, Motown, The Beatles…and even a bit of tropical salsa. The music really sets the mood, so pick your favorites and set your player on random. To complete the happy vibe, I love to burn scented candles…for this party, pomegranate or berry scents are perfect!
Good friends, tasty beverages and snacks, happy music…and girl talk? That, my friends, is the perfect combination for the ultimate Girls' Night In! I hope you’ll gather some of your best girlfriends and take time to hang out together -- whether it’s a weekday after-work party or maybe a relaxing weekend afternoon. Husbands and significant others are great, but it’s also important to nurture your relationships with the special women in your life!! I hope you’ll give the recipes in my collection a try and plan a ladies-only soiree of your own very soon. For more beverage inspiration, visit the Trop50 collection on Foodie.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Trop50 via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of  the opinions or positions of Trop50.

Puff Pastry Breakfast Chimichanga Rolls for #EBeggs #yourbestrecipe Contest + a Prize Pack Giveaway

May is National Egg Month, celebrating of the most versatile foods that I know of! Do you have a fabulous original recipe in your repertoire that features eggs? If so, then I've got great news to share with you today! You can now go visit the Eggland’s Best website to enter their 2014 Eggland’s Best Recipe Contest. They'll accept original recipes containing at least TWO Eggland's Best eggs via their website between now and July 31st. One lucky Grand Prize winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a year's supply of EB eggs. In addition, category winners will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a six-month supply of EB eggs. This year, Eggland’s Best is adding two new cash prize awards to their contest: the Kid Friendly Award and the Fan Favorite Award! Not all eggs are created the same! Eggland’s Best eggs are superior in nutrition, taste, and freshness. May is National Egg Month, celebrating one of the most versatile ingredients in your kitchen -- eggs! By choosing Eggland’s Best eggs over ordinary eggs, you're getting an egg that is fresher, tastes better, and contains more vitamins and nutrients. Did you know the majority of vitamins and nutrients of an egg are found in the yolk? Compared to ordinary eggs, EB eggs have:

o   Four times more vitamin D
o   More than double the omega-3s
o   Ten times more vitamin E
o   25% less saturated fat

Eggland's Best eggs are the brand that I use most often in my recipes, so I can vouch that they cook up great and have a fantastic taste! For my original contest entry, I'm sharing a fabulous dish that works equally well as a weeknight breakfast-for-dinner entree or a leisurely weekend brunch. My Puff Pastry Breakfast Chimichanga Rolls feature all my favorite Tex-Mex flavors in a savory handheld pocket. They're a snap to make, and they cook up flaky and golden brown. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May Secret Recipe Club...Featuring Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

Where the heck did April go to? All of a sudden, it's May...which means it's time for another fun Secret Recipe Club reveal! This month, my assigned blog was Cupcakes with Sprinkles. Meghan has so many great recipes to pick from, including tons of great sweet treats. Since May is Summer Kickoff Month here at The Weekend Gourmet, I focused on Summer-friendly recipes. I considered several ice cream recipes, but then I found her recipe for Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips. I knew I had found just what I was looking for! Fresh fruit in a lightly sweetened sauce...served with crispy cinnamon-sugar tortilla chips. Sign me up!

I made a few tweaks to Meghan's original recipe to use some fruit that I had on hand in my kitchen. In place of the apples and kiwis in her salsa, I used fresh pineapple and mango. For the sweet sauce, I thinned the jelly her recipe called for with a bit of Meyer lemon juice...and I added a bit of cinnamon. I had intentions of making the cinnamon chips in her recipe, but opted to save a bit of time and use store-bought cinnamon-sugar pita chips instead. They worked great, but visit Meghan's page to get the recipe if you want to make homemade cinnamon tortilla chips.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Homemade Liqueur and Infused Spirits Review and Giveaway...Featuring Blueberry Balsamic Liqueur

I have a fantastic cookbook to share with you today: Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss. In this book, he shares 150+ recipes that demonstrate how to make your own liqueur at home. Not only is it very easy to do, it saves money...and lets you try a few flavor combinations you haven't seen in stores before. I absolutely love this's my favorite cookbook of the year so far! Some of the flavors that immediately caught my eye as I flipped through the book were In Praise of Fraise (strawberry liqueur), Summer Cantaloupe, Raspberry Rose, and Lemon Mousse (a creamy liqueur). In the end, I opted to make the slightly exotic Blueberry Balsamic liqueur from the book. The idea of wild blueberries with a bit of acidic depth from aged balsamic really caught my attention. I headed to the store to buy the ingredients to make one quart of sweet-tart blueberry liqueur. 

Because this liqueur is made with a combination of vodka and red wine, it's a bit lower in alcohol than most liqueurs. I found Schloss's step-by-step directions in the book a snap to follow. The prep work to assemble the liqueur literally took less than 10 minutes, but you do need to allow 7 days for it to properly tincture. That's all hands-off time, so all you have to do after the initial prep is be patient. After a week, you'll be rewarded with a gorgeous purple liqueur that smells and tastes like sweet wild blueberries, with a back note of aged balsamic! Come see just how easy it is to make your own homemade liqueur.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Crispy Chicken Tortilla Rollups for #WeekdaySupper

For today's #WeekdaySupper, I’m sharing one of my all-time-favorite recipes: Crispy Chicken Tortilla Rollups. I originally shared this recipe for Cinco de Mayo in 2012, and it’s proven to be a very popular recipe with everyone who’s tried it. With Cinco de Mayo coming next week, I decided this dish deserves to be revisited! These spicy, cheesy tortilla rollups are perfect for hectic weeknights, because they’re  a snap to prepare. They’re also family-friendly. Thanks to store-bought roasted chicken, the flavorful filling is ready in a matter of a minutes. It’s then rolled up inside flour tortillas that are brushed with a savory garlic-infused oil and sprinkled with cilantro, and chili powder: the colors of the Mexican flag. See? Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

This recipe is easily adaptable too. Don’t like a lot of spice? Simply reduce the amount of (or even leave out) the diced jalapeno. Love cheese? Go ahead and add more! Feel free to have fun with this recipe, and get the family involved. Younger kids can help make the filling, while older kids can help with the stuffing and rolling. Because these flavorful rollups are baked instead of fried, you get two added bonuses: you'll save some calories, and avoid extra kitchen mess from splattering grease. Fair warning: don’t be surprised if these little taquitos become part of your regular dinner rotation like they have mine…because they’re downright addictive!