Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for September #WendyFaveThings

It's time for another Wendy's Favorite Things monthly roundup of my favorite new-to-me food products. I've got some great new finds to share with you this month -- including a quick-cook pasta, some great lunchbox treats, and a smooth-drinking red wine. Let's get started!

(1) Barilla® Pronto™. If you're like me, pasta is a regular part of your dinner menu rotation. What if I told you that you could cook delicious pasta in 10 short minutes...with no boiling or draining? It's true...thanks to Barilla! Their new Pronto™ line comes in several varieties, and it cooks in a skillet in 10 minutes. This pasta allows me to make a one-pan pasta skillet in less than 30 minutes...perfect for those busy weeknights. I made a simple chicken pasta dish using the penne variety. I sauteed onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Then, I browned some chicken breast strips. I added chicken stock, canned tomatoes, and Pronto™ penne pasta. The pasta cooked up perfectly al dente in my skillet, and I had a complete pasta dinner on the table in right at 30 minutes! This pasta is a busy cook's best friend. Barilla Pronto™ can be found in the pasta aisle of most major grocery retailers in the U.S.

(2) Menage a Trois Silk Soft Red Blend.True to its name, Menage a Trois' latest wine is silky smooth -- and so easy to drink! Soft Red Blend is comprised of 76% Pinot Noir, 12% Malbec, 8% Petite Sirah, and 4% Syrah. This combination of wines gives the wine a lush mouth feel and a deep flavor. The first thing we noticed was that Silk is a gorgeous deep red color. Then, you take a sip and notice flavors of cherry and ripe raspberry -- with subtle notes of rose petals and toasty spice. These flavors combine for a glass of wine that is indeed silky smooth! It pairs well with extra sharp white cheddar cheese and salty crackers for a quick, sophisticated appetizer. It also pairs nicely with a grilled steak and roasted vegetables. The best part? This fabulous wine is very affordable -- under $15!

(3) Mah-Ze-Dahr Bars. I recently discovered a fabulous bakery treat from Mah Ze Dahr Bakery in New York. Lucky for me, the bakery ships their amazing signature namesake bars across the country! Comforting Mah-Ze-Dahr Bars combine an oatmeal and brown sugar base with layers of toasted pecans and chocolate chips. Then, a generous amount of brown butter salted caramel sauce is poured on top...swoon! These bars are basically all of my favorite cookie flavors in one handy bar. One bite, and I was hooked. These are hide-them-from-the-family good, people! Even if you live far from New York, these decadent bars can be shipped direct to you. A box of 6 large Mah-Ze-Dahr Bars can be ordered online for $18 + shipping -- much cheaper than a flight to visit the bakery in New York!

(4) Rold Gold Fudge Brownie Pretzel Dippers. The combination of salty and sweet flavors in one bite is one of my favorite. I was dancing a jig when I recently tried Rold Gold's delicious Fudge Brownie Pretzel Dippers snack packs! This portable treat contains salty Rold Gold dipping sticks and a generous serving of fudgy brownie-flavored dip. This on-the-go treat is perfect for lunch boxes, chocolate cravings, an after-lunch treat -- or even an afternoon pick-me-up. Each single-serving package is 240 calories, which is pretty good for something that successfully gets rid of a major chocolate craving. These fun Pretzel Dippers also come in a fun Cookies & Cream version! To find Rold Gold Pretzel Dippers near you, visit Frito Lay's handy Store Locator.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for September: Russo's Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen #WGDO

This month, The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring a yummy new addition to San Antonio's growing dining scene. Russo's Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen opened at The Rim this Summer, near the Palladium movie theater. Russo's offers a wide range of creative pizzas, pasta, and wood-fired entrees. Michael and I recently visited Russo's for a dinner tasting of some of their signature menu items, and we were impressed with both the quality of the food and the relaxed atmosphere. We entered the restaurant and were warmly greeted by the staff. As we made it to our seat, we admired the natural light in the dining room -- along with the fun decor. Our booth was seated right under a black-and-white picture of Michael Corleone from The Godfather. We ordered iced tea and looked over the menu. We started with a shared appetizer and a salad.
The Prosciutto & Burrata appetizer featured a generous amount of prosciutto, olives, arugula, and house-made burrata. If you've never had burrata, it's a ball of fresh mozzarella with a creamy ricotta-like center. Add a drizzle of balsamic and some bread, and your meal is off to a perfect start. Our salad was a refreshing Greek salad with a house-made chianti balsamic vinaigrette. Our meal was off to a great start, and then our Pizza Two Ways came to the table!
Although we love nothing better than a traditional pepperoni pizza, we decided to try two of Russo's gourmet pizza selections: Chicken Rustico and Chicken Pesto. The Chicken Rustico featured tender chicken, Roma tomatoes, spinach, feta, mozzarella, garlic, and basil. It was a fresh spin on traditional pizza, and the salty pop of feta was especially nice.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Apple-Currant Dutch Baby Pancake for Fall Foods #SundaySupper #apple #breakfastfordinner

Later this week, the calendar flips to October -- and the start of my favorite part of the year. Cooler weather, football...and the holidays! To celebrate the return of Fall, #SundaySupper is sharing recipes featuring Fall flavors. It may not technically be Fall weather here in Texas just yet, but we're still enjoying warm Fall flavors in hopes that we encourage Mother Nature to turn on the a/c! When Fall comes, breakfast for dinner automatically enters my mind. When my siblings and I were growing up, Mom would serve us breakfast for dinner when Dad went on his annual hunting trip. There was something extra special about eating breakfast foods at night. I love it to this day...especially when I include my Apple-Currant Dutch Baby Pancake on the menu!

If you love the flavor of pancakes -- but not the pouring and flipping, a Dutch baby pancake is perfect for you. Simply pour the batter into a skillet and bake it to perfection in the oven! While the pancake bakes, you have a pocket of time to make the apple filling -- it tastes like apple pie and is flavored with dried currants and chopped almonds. I promise if you make a Dutch baby'll make them over and over again!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stonefire Flatbreads...Featuring Chicken-Caprese Flatbread #FootballFood

Football season is finally here! AT my house, that means that it's also time to create lots of fun new foods for us to enjoy while we watch our Houston Texans play! Football food should be fun to eat and stress-free to make -- because I don't want to miss a single play in the kitchen. With Stonefire Authentic Flatbreads, I can whip up creative flatbreads in no time for us to enjoy while we cheer on the Texans. Stonefire recently sent me a selection of their delicious naan bread, pizza crusts, and flatbreads to play around with in my kitchen. For this week's game, I created colorful and tasty Chicken-Caprese Flatbreads. I prepped all of the ingredients the morning of the game, then assembled and baked about 30 minutes before kickoff. Add some chips and dip and cold drinks, and it's a party!

This zesty flatbread features all of my favorite caprese salad ingredients: pesto-flavored chicken breast, creamy fresh mozzarella, diced ripe tomatoes, and basil-infused pesto. I also added some caramelized shallots and green onion for additional color and flavor. Since this flatbread features just a handful of ingredients, be sure to buy the best-quality items you can find -- it will really make a difference in your final results. Come and let me show you how easy this flatbread is to assemble!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September Mode Foodie Submission: A Taco Tour of San Antonio

Check out A Taco Tour of San Antonio
by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode

San Antonio is known for its fabulous Tex-Mex food -- including tacos! You can find delicious tacos in a wide range of styles and flavors all over the city -- from simple taquerias to large established restaurants. For this month's Mode Foodie submission, I'm sharing my favorite tacos the city has to offer via A Taco Tour of San Antonio. Whether you're coming to San Antonio for a weekend getaway -- or you're a local resident looking for new culinary adventures -- here's my seven favorite spots to enjoy a taco in San Antonio.

I'm sharing a popular food truck, a taco that was invented right here in San Antonio, a handful of beloved local establishments, and a popular restaurant offering a fun modern spin on traditional tacos. I'm even sharing the best fish tacos in the city! To see my picks for the best tacos in San Antonio, simply click through the slide show above. I hope you find something that makes your mouth water! Simply add some chips and salsa and a margarita to any of these picks...and you've got a fiesta!

Disclosure: This is a compensated post for Mode Media. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops with Maple-Balsamic Parsnips, Apples & Potatoes

As a food blogger, sometimes it's hard to determine which of your recipes will grab your readers' attention...and which ones won't. The recipe I'm sharing today was originally posted about 3 years ago, but it didn't really catch on with my readers. I love this Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops with Maple-Balsamic Parsnips, Apples & Potatoes so much that I decided to share it again now that cooler weather is starting to arrive. If you've never tried parsnips, this is a great dish to get to know them. They're similar to a carrot, but more starchy and not as sweet.
These juicy pork chops are bursting with an array of Fall colors and flavors, and the combination of sweet maple and sour balsamic on the veggies and apples is complex and flavorful. This recipe is a complete meal that roasts in a casserole dish -- and your house will smell heavenly as the pork chops, veggies, and apples bake away. This dish is a real winner in my book: practical enough for a weeknight dinner, but fancy enough to serve guests.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Staycation at the #SanAntonioMarriott and Dinner at Texas de Brazil #PerfectDaySA

Photo provided by Marriott
Whether you're coming to San Antonio for a weekend visit this Fall -- or you’re a local looking for a weekend staycation destination on the Riverwalk -- you should definitely consider a stay at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter! This large, modern hotel is convenient to both the famous San Antonio Riverwalk and Rivercenter Mall, as well as numerous Downtown dining destinations. Michael and I recently enjoyed a fabulous overnight stay in a gorgeous suite that included a fantastic Sunday brunch. The San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter is a perfect home base for enjoying all that the Downtown area has to offer. We arrived and were quickly checked in by the friendly front desk staff. Then we made our way to our large suite, which was decorated in soothing earth tones. The suite featured a large living and dining area, and a spacious bedroom and adjoining bathroom. 
After settling in, we stopped at the lobby bar for a late lunch. I selected the Cornbread Salad, and Michael had Fish Tacos. The food was perfectly prepared, reasonably priced, and delicious – the perfect start to our visit! My salad was perfect for a Summer day: cornbread croutons, avocado, bacon, boiled eggs, grape tomatoes, and ranch dressing.  
After our lunch, we walked to the back of the hotel lobby and noticed that it connected directly to Rivercenter Mall. This is very convenient for shopping, grabbing a quick bite, or even catching a movie or IMAX. We walked through the mall for a bit, then we headed back to our suite to rest up and get ready for our dinner at Texas de Brazil Steakhouse
If the weather outside is nice, the quick 15-minute walk to Texas de Brazil from the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter is very pleasant. Texas de Brazil is a Brazilian-style steakhouse that features a wide range of perfectly roasted meats, as well as a huge 60-item salad bar area. We arrived and were warmly greeted by the manager, who seated us and had us select cocktails while we discussed the menu. If you’ve never dined at a Brazilian steakhouse, the concept is pretty simple: pay one price for as much roasted meat as you care to enjoy! Before we enjoyed Texas de Brazil's wide range of roasted meats, we visited their expansive salad bar. It features something for everyone: hot and cold appetizers, vegetables, soups, and salads. 
After enjoying our salad bar selections, we turned our attention to the 16 different seasoned, roasted meats being offered. Each one is carved directly onto your plate from a large skewer by friendly gaucho servers who roam the dining room. All of the meat was perfectly cooked, well seasoned, and juicy -- but our two favorites were the lamb chops and the Brazilian picanha beef. 
Because you pay one price for as much food as you care to enjoy, it's easy to sit back and enjoy the parade of meats! We were pretty full after enjoying trips to the salad bar and multiple rounds of roasted meat, so we opted to share a dessert: Bananas Foster Pie served a la mode. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

An Upscale Casual Dinner at San Antonio's Esquire Tavern

Michael and I were recently invited to come have dinner at The Esquire Tavern, located Downtown on the Riverwalk. The Esquire has a very colorful history -- it opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition, and it has been a popular San Antonio bar ever since. Following a brief closure from 2006 to 2011, The Esquire is back in a new incarnation! It offers a colorful history, and it serves up cold beer, some very creative cocktails, and excellent gastropub food with a Texas accent. Visitors can enter from East Commerce Street, or via a Riverwalk entrance in the back. We were warmly welcomed and quickly seated. We decided to start with a cocktail and appetizer while we looked over the rest of the menu. We selected the Texas Onion Dip with Waffled Potato Chips, which takes "chips and dip" to a whole new level of deliciousness!
This appetizer features perfectly crisp house-made waffle chips and a creamy onion dip flavored with caramelized onions and a bit of heat. At first bite, you taste the sweetness of the onions...and then you taste a bit of heat from the addition of hot sauce on the back end. These two flavors are perfect together...we couldn't get enough of this delicious dip! We paired our appetizer with a Kill the Pain cocktail. This creative cocktail contains Jamaican rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, sparkling coconut water, and Chinese 5 spice bitters. The ingredients are shaken, then poured over ice in a tall glass. The flavors are tropical and refreshing, but not overly sweet. The Kill the Pain cocktail was a perfect match for our spicy onion dip. We quickly realized that we had eaten all of our chips. Lucky for us, it was time to turn our attentions toward our entrees. The menu features a range of creative entree salads, sandwiches and award-winning burgers, and large plates. Everything looked great, but a duo of fried options caught our attention. What can I say...we're Texans!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

No-Stress Weeknight Dinner with Barber Foods Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts…Paired with Creamy Cheddar-Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions expressed in this article are solely mine. #SimplySpecialMeals #CollectiveBias  
Let’s face it: we all lead busy lives! Various work, blogging, and family commitments keep us running from the time the alarm goes off until we head back to bed in the evening. I recently found a great product that helps me create delicious and stress-free weeknight dinners. Barber Foods Stuffed Chicken Breasts help me create quality weeknight entrees almost hands-free and how the product fits into your busy lifestyle. Because Barber Foods Stuffed Chicken Breasts bake up crisp in the oven, I can have a hot and tasty chicken entrĂ©e ready to serve in about 30 minutes! The flavors are great too: Cordon Bleu, Broccoli Cheese, and Chicken Kiev.

Barber recently introduced a new and improved recipe for in honor of its 60th anniversary -- including a new blend of seasonings, home-style breading, and more flavorful chicken. The new recipe is even tastier than the original! All three of the updated flavors are delish, but I especially love the Broccoli Cheese. The stuffed chicken breasts come two per package. They bake up crispy outside and juicy inside – with a generous helping of broccoli cheese filling. The cheesy flavor is great – especially with creamy mashed potatoes. For a recent weeknight dinner, I cooked two boxes of Barber Foods Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts. I served them with my delicious Creamy Cheddar-Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which pair perfectly with the chicken’s cheesy broccoli filling. Barber Foods Stuffed Chicken Breasts are found in the freezer aisle of select grocery stores nationwide
My Mom makes the best mashed potatoes ever, so I rarely make homemade mashed potatoes myself. Mom recently shared a few of her secrets to successful mashed potatoes with me, and I’m going to share them with you today. I added garlic and sharp aged cheddar to her recipe to make my Creamy Cheddar-Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Add a vegetable or a simple green salad to round out your plate, and you have the perfect no-stress weeknight meal!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Outdoor Dining with Beso del Sol Sangria...Featuring Seared Salmon al Fresco with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Sauce #IgotaBeso

Happy Labor Day! This holiday is typically considered the official end of the Summer season. School is back in session, and the weather is starting to cool off a bit. Mother Nature still hasn't quite received the memo here...we'll be near 100 the next couple of afternoons. However, last night our weatherman said that temperatures should drop to highs in the upper 80s by this time next week. For the uninitiated, that signals Fall here in Texas ;)! When our evenings start to get a wee bit cooler, we love to enjoy our dinner al fresco style. Today, I want to tell you about convenient Beso del Sol boxed sangria and share my recipe for healthy and delicious Seared Salmon al Fresco with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Sauce.

Beso del Sol is imported from Spain, and its name means "kissed by the Sun." It's also the first premium all-natural boxed sangria on the market. Beso del Sol is the perfect cocktail for a relaxed outdoor dinner! Simply chill the convenient box-style container and transport the sangria outdoors via the attached handle. Beso del Sol is made with Spanish Tempranillo red wine, citrus, and fruit juices. This smooth, lightly sweet sangria can definitely be enjoyed on its own -- but I love to add a handful of fresh flash-frozen berries to my glass first. It adds an extra bit of flavor and color, and it keeps my Beso del Sol perfectly chilled. This sangria pairs very nicely with my Seared Salmon al Fresco with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Sauce. The perfect side dish partners are rice and sweet corn on the cob. Even better? This entire al fresco dinner can be served on one oblong platter.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Favorite Dishes for a Delicious Labor Day! #LaborDay2015 #SummerEats

Can you believe that it's already September? I hope you're enjoying a well-deserved three-day weekend to celebrate Labor Day! We've had a very busy Summer...and our Fall/Holiday calendar is quickly filling up. We're going to spend this long weekend chilling at home. We'll mix in a movie and a dinner out, but our plan is to mostly relax and enjoy three mornings without the early sound of the alarm clock to interrupt our sleep! Like most food lovers, I'll be cooking for Labor Day. My menu includes grilled salmon and end-of-season corn on the cob. If you're looking for ideas for your Labor Day menu, here's some of my favorite warm-weather food that's perfect for entertaining. I'm sharing my favorite appetizer, cocktail, main dish, and dessert ideas with you! 

Appetizer: Tequila-Shrimp Confetti Guacamole: I kicked off Summer with this fun and flavorful appetizer in May, so it's only fitting that I end Summer with it as well! This adults-only guacamole has so much going for it: it's full of fun flavors, it's easily doubled to feed a crowd, and it looks gorgeous layered in a large margarita glass. It's perfect for those who love guacamole and shrimp cocktail -- now you can have both flavors in one great dip! You can omit the tequila if you prefer -- but it really adds a nice background flavor to all three layers. Simply add some sturdy tortilla chips and a festive cocktail, and your Labor Day festivities will be off to a great start. Margaritas are a natural pairing for this appetizer, but sangria works great too.
Cocktail: Wild Watermelon Sangria: Sangria is my favorite cocktail to make when entertaining a group. It's a party in a pitcher, and it's so versatile! Chop up some fruit -- add it to a pitcher, the add some fruit juice and wine. Best of all, it can be made ahead...and guests can serve themselves. This Wild Watermelon Sangria packs a sour watermelon flavor thanks to my secret ingredient: a simple syrup made with watermelon hard candies. Everyone goes wild for this sangria, so you may want to make a double batch if you have more than 4-5 guests at your celebration. 
My favorite hint to keep your sangria chilled if the weather outside is hot? I like to freeze my chopped fruit before adding to the bottom of my pitcher. It keeps the sangria chilled without diluting it with melted ice.