Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wendy's Favorite Things for October #WendyFaveThings

The month almost got away from me this time, but I'm here just under the wire with this month's edition of Wendy's Favorite Things. This month I'm sharing some sweet treats, healthy snack ideas...and a few other fun surprises. So...let's get started!

(1) Cosmos Creations Premium Puffed Corn. If you're searching for a crunchy snack you can feel better about eating, then you HAVE to give Cosmos Creations a try. I recently discovered these crunchy corn puffs, and I absolutely love them!! Not only do Cosmos Creations taste great, they're al trans fat-free. Since they're made with non-GMO corn, they're also naturally gluten free. Cosmos Creations comes in a variety of sweet and savory flavors, including Spicy Sriracha, Salted Caramel, Cheddar and Pepper, and my personal favorite: Sea Salt and Butter. I can't get enough of its buttery, salty flavor! Unlike traditional popcorn, Cosmos Creations has no hulls and no kernels to contend with. Because it's all natural and has just 160 calories per 2.5-cup serving, I love to enjoy it for at-home movie nights. To find Cosmos Creations near you, check out their Store Locator. My Texas readers can find Cosmos Creations at Central Market.

(2) Full Spirited Flavours Cakes. I recently tried Full Spirited Flavours' liquer-infused mini cakes, and I was immediately impressed with how moist and flavorful their cakes are! Full Spirited Flavors is a Pennsylvania company owned by a trio of sisters, and they're products are simply fantastic. Their four signature flavors are Limoncello, Amaretto, Chocolate Raspberry, and Mango Coconut Rum. The cakes come in a variety of sizes, but the Bloomin Blossoms sampler is a great way to try all four signature flavors. Each mini cake is individually wrapped, and they are easy to eat. These boozy little cakes are VERY moist, so make sure to have a fork handy! Full Spirited Flavours cakes can be purchased via their convenient online store.

(3) Sargento Balanced Breaks. I'm always looking for filling snacks that I can enjoy at my desk when the mid-morning or afternoon hungries hit. Sargento Balanced Breaks have been one of my go-to snacks lately. They come with three individually portioned snacks packs per package. Balanced Breaks include flavorful Sargento cheese, along with nuts and dried fruits. Each snack pack has less than 20o calorie and provides 7 grams of filling protein. Sargento Balanced Breaks come in four different varieties, but my personal favorite combination is Natural White Cheddar with Almonds and Cranberries. The combination of sharp cheddar, sea salted almonds, and sweet-tart dried cranberries is perfect. To find Sargento Balanced Breaks near you, simply visit Sargento's Store Locator.

(4) L.A. Burdick White Drinking Chocolate. New Hampshire-based L.A. Burdick Chocolates offers a wide range of decadent chocolate treats, but I was recently introduced to their decadent White Drinking Chocolate. The resulting beverage is like cocoa on steroids -- it's rich and creamy, with warming vanilla undertones. It takes just a few minutes to make L.A. Burdick's White Drinking Chocolate, you simply add a bit of the shaved white chocolate mixture to your favorite mug. Then, use the provided whisk to combine with 1 cup of warm milk. I love to top with a bit of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon for an indulgent treat. L.A. Burdick's drinking chocolate also comes in milk and dark chocolate varieties to please every chocoholic. I'm thinking this drinking chocolate would be a perfect holiday gift for the chocolate lovers in your life! L.A. Burdick Drinking Chocolate can be purchased via their website.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for October: Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen #WGDO

This month's featured restaurant for The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. This casual wine bar/bistro offers a wide range of delicious salads, pasta, and wood-fired pizza and meats. The first Napa Flats was opened in College Station, but they now have locations in San Antonio and Tulsa, Oklahoma -- with an Austin location opening soon! Michael and I recently visited the San Antonio location to try some of Napa Flats' signature menu items, and we were very impressed with the casual vibe and the delicious food. We arrived and were warmly greeted and given menus to look over. There were so many menu items that caught our attention that it was hard to decide what we wanted to try! We opted to start with a duo of cocktails and two shared appetizers. I had the Napa Flats White Sangria, while Michael enjoyed their Strawberry Sunrise. The refreshing sangria was flavored with sweet moscato, mango rum, peach Schnapps, and orange juice -- it was fruity, with the perfect amount of sweetness. The Strawberry Sunrise featured strawberries, Effen Black Cherry Vodka, lemonade, and a splash of Sprite for a bit of fizz. If you're a strawberry lover, this one's a must!
To go with our cocktails, we shared the Palo Alto Dip and the unique Wood-Fired Avocado. The addictive dip is served warm with toasted flatbread, and it's flavored with cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, parmesan, and herbs. The avocado appetizer featured grilled avocados filled with chimichuri sauce and served on a bed of corn salsa. I adore avocados, so this creative appetizer knocked my socks off! Just about that time, a wood-fired pizza and a duo of their creative salads arrived at our table.
The Carnivore pizza is perfect for meat lovers and comes topped with steak, meatballs, pepperoni, and proscuitto. It was cooked to perfection in Napa Flats' wood-burning oven, and the toppings were so tasty. Our duo of healthy salads included the Chopped Kale and the Arugula Beet Salad. Both were crisp and freshly made, topped with a variety of cheeses and fruits. The menu also said that any of the salads on the Napa Flats' menu can be made into an entree salad by adding wood-fired chicken breast or shrimp. We opted to try two different entrees from the menu: one wood-fire grilled fish and one decadent pasta dish.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Warming Trends for #SundaySupper...Featuring Spicy Meatball Tortilla Soup

The timing could be more perfect for this week's Warming Trends #SundaySupper, which features food and drinks to keep you warm when the weather outside is cool! Our host this week is my friend T.R. from Gluten Free Crumbley. I'm happy to report that Fall is finally in the air here in Texas! We're expecting north winds and afternoon highs in the low 70s this week, along with cool evenings. When the first true cool snap of the Fall arrives, my mind turns to one thing: making a big pot of soup! During the cooler months, I make a pot of soup for dinner at least once per week. I love how soup warms you from the inside -- and leftovers taste even better the next day. For this week's #SundaySupper, I'm sharing a hearty soup that will satisfy even the biggest appetites: Spicy Meatball Tortilla Soup. 

I normally put shredded roasted chicken in my tortilla soup, but I was inspired to try savory mini meatballs based on a recipe I saw at the Cooking Light website. My version features bite-sized pork meatballs and healthy veggies in a spicy tomato-based broth. Just before serving, each bowl is topped with crispy tortilla strips, diced avocado, sour cream, and a bit of colby-jack cheese. Feel free to adjust the spice level depending on how much heat your palate can handle. For reference, my version features a moderate level of spice

Friday, October 23, 2015

Don't Miss the 2015 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest November 1st! #TMBBQFest #TexasBBQ #smoky

It’s no secret that Texans passionately love our state's smoky BBQ! Michael and I have been known to hop in our car for a weekend day trip just to try a new-to-us BBQ joint, and we definitely have our favorite places to enjoy tender brisket, juicy smoked sausage, and pork ribs. Texas Monthly magazine even has a dedicated BBQ Editor – something you don’t find in every state, that’s for sure! In a state as big as Texas, it’s a daunting task to try all of the best BBQ joints. Lucky for us BBQ-loving Texans, Texas Monthly periodically names its 50 Best BBQ the World!…which are naturally all located in Texas. The magazine also holds its annual TMBBQ Fest in Austin. This popular festival features the state's very best BBQ joints and their pitmasters in one convenient location. BBQ lovers lucky enough to score a ticket get to sample the very best Texas BBQ in a single afternoon -- making the TMBBQ Fest a true Texas BBQ Nirvana. We attended the 2013 TMBBQ Fest and had a blast!
Photo provided by Texas Monthly
The 2015 TMBBQ Fest is being held on Sunday November 2nd from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Austin's City Terrace at the Long Center. More than 20 of the very best BBQ joints in Texas will be on hand to offer hungry BBQ lovers samples of their delicious smoked meats! Where else but the TMBBQ Fest can you try Austin’s Franklin BBQ (rated #1 in the state by Texas Monthly), Pearland’s Killen’s BBQ, and San Antonio’s The Granary 'Cue & Brew all in the same afternoon?!?!? Last time, we just  managed to snag some juicy smoked brisket and beef ribs from Aaron Franklin just before his stash was all gone.
The TMBBQ sells out fast, so don't wait to buy your tickets at the gate -- they can instead be conveniently purchased online. General Admission tickets are $80 per person, and tickets for children 5 and under are just $10. There will also be live music performances to enjoy as you sample the BBQ. I'm happy to announce that The Weekend Gourmet will be attending this year’s TMBBQ Fest -- so be sure to follow us on Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourmet) for tons of live pictures as we visit every booth and enjoy a cool Fall afternoon on the banks of Austin’s picturesque Lady Bird Lake!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mode Foodie Contributor Program for October: Las Vegas Best Bites

Check out Las Vegas Best Bites
by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode
Michael and I just returned from a fabulous five-night trip to Las Vegas. While we were there, we saw some great shows, drove out to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, enjoyed relaxing spa treatments...and ate some amazing food! For this month's Mode Foodie Contributor Program, I'm sharing Las Vegas Best Bites from our trip. We sampled everything from burgers and pastries to an opulent buffet brunch and dinner at a 5-star restaurant inside Bellagio. It was all fantastic, so I'm sharing a slide show of our favorite restaurants and dishes from our trip. I'll be sharing lots more details on our trip very soon, but I hope this slideshow whets your appetite for more in the meantime! If you're headed to Vegas this Fall, I hope you'll try out some of my restaurant recommendations for yourself.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween Fun with Mondelez/ConAgra...Featuring Creepy Crawly Dirt Go-Cups #SnackAndGo #CollectiveBias #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnackAndGo #CollectiveBias
Have you heard of walking tacos? They're a cool new food concept where traditional taco ingredients are served in a handy, portable form so they can be enjoyed on the go. Just in time for Halloween, this fun trend can also be used to make seasonal sweet treats using NABISCO Go-Paks! The cups are plastic, so they won't leak. They're also filled about halfway with product -- making it super easy to add fun and tasty ingredients to the container! Economical Go-Paks! are perfect to purchase in large quantities for Halloween parties -- they're available at Walmart for only $1!

In fact, all of the products needed to make my Creepy Crawly Dirt Go-Cups are easily located at your local Walmart. The Go-Paks! in my location were placed on shelves of snacks at the checkout registers, the Snack Pack Pudding is part of a large shelf display, and the Reddi-wip is in the refrigerated section -- near the milk.
Versatile Go-Paks! and Snack Pack Puddings come in a wide variety of flavors, allowing creative cooks to add tasty extras to create a multitude of fun flavor combinations. You're only limited by where your taste buds and your imagination can take you! For my Creepy Crawly Dirt Cups, I combined OREO Mini Go-Paks!, Chocolate Fudge Snack Pack Pudding, colorful blood-red strawberry jam, Reddi-wip, sour gummy worms, and fun Halloween sprinkles. The OREOS are chopped and layered with the fudgy pudding and blood-red strawberry jam. The cups are topped with crushed OREO "dirt." For decoration, I used creepy crawly sour gummy worms, a generous dollop of Reddi-wip, and a sprinkling of colorful Halloween jimmies. These handy sweet go-cups are all treat...and no trick! Wait until you see how easy and fun it is to whip up these fun treats!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Glade® Limited Edition Fall Collection...Featuring Pumpkin Spice Bundt with Maple-Pecan Glaze #GladeForFall #CollectiveBias

Disclosure: This compensated post is part of the #CollectiveBias #GladeForFall promotion. All opinions stated are solely mine.

It’s no secret that the last three months of the year are my most favorite season. The long, hot Summer is finally on the way out in Texas -- and cool(er) temperatures are here! Sundays are all about football, and my thoughts turn to Fall flavors in my cooking. I love to set the Fall mood by enjoying Glade® seasonal scents in my home too! The Glade® Limited Edition Fall Collection is featuring two amazing scents that immediately evoke visions of Fall in my mind: Pumpkin Pit Stop™ and Hit the Road™. Both scents immediately transport me on a journey in my mind to experience the perfect Fall day – even if afternoons in Texas are still a bit warm! I found these Glade® Limited Edition Fall Collection items -- including wax melts, candles, and room spray -- on a special display at my local Kroger. Because it was in the middle of a wide aisle, it was easy to find!
I love to use scents to inspire me to create fun seasonal recipes in my kitchen. From the moment I smelled Pumpkin Pit Stop™ wax melts warming in my living room, I decided that I wanted to create a decadent pumpkin dessert -- but I wanted it to be easy and stress free! Pumpkin Pit Stop™ features notes of orchard blossoms and meadow grass that give way to the mouthwatering scent of sweet cream frosting and whipped vanilla. This scent inspired me to go in the kitchen to create my Pumpkin Spice Bundt with Maple-Pecan Glaze. This cake is a snap to make, because it starts with a convenient box cake mix. If you love pecan and maple, the glaze that tops this cake is perfect for you. Put it all together, and this bundt is the perfect cake for Fall.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

#CelebrateLosMuertos with NESTLÉ®...Giant Frosted Butterfinger Chocolate Chip Cookie #CollectiveBias #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone #CelebrateLosMuertos #CollectiveBias
For most Americans, October is all about spooky Halloween traditions...but are you familiar with the Mexican tradition of Dia de Los Muertos (aka Day of the Dead)? Living here in San Antonio gives us a fantastic opportunity to learn about the rich cultural traditions of the city's large Hispanic community. Dia de Los Muertos is observed on November 1st and 2nd. Celebrations focus on spending time with friends and family remembering their loved ones who have died. Participants may visit the cemetery to be with the souls of the departed and make private altars -- which can be decorated with marigolds. These altars contain the person's favorite foods, as well as photographs and memorabilia. The idea is to encourage visits by the departed's soul, so they will hear the prayers and of the living directed to them. Although this sounds like a somber event, celebrations are lively and often humorous, as celebrants remember funny stories about departed loved ones.

Every celebration needs tasty treats, so I created a Giant Frosted Butterfinger Chocolate Chip Cookie. I love chocolate and peanut butter together, and this easy recipe is perfect for a Dia de Los Muertos observance. It features convenient ready-to-bake NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Refrigerated Cookie Dough, crushed NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER®, and orange tinted icing. Just before serving, it's topped with colorful sprinkles. This cookie is also very easy to make -- perfect for having even young kids help out with the preparation and decorating! I found the ingredients for my cookie at my local H-E-B grocery store. The cookie dough was found in the refrigerated case, and the candy was on the end of the seasonal candy aisle.
My local San Antonio H-E-B also had a large display with lots of great decorations for your Dia de Los Muertos observance. That's where I bought the table cover and cups featured in my photographs. Ready to get baking?!?!?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Guest Post: Spicy Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate from Brunch with Joy

H, there! Michael and I are having a few days of fun in Las Vegas! Follow us on Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourm) to see all of our fun in real time! We'll be eating lots of great food and seeing some great don't miss the fun! While I'm gone, my talented friend Linda from Brunch with Joy is sharing a fabulous chicken recipe today. My mouth is watering -- and I can't wait to try this recipe out soon!
Hello friends! My name is Linda, and I blog over Brunch with Joy, a blog about modern classics homemade adventures. Thanks to Wendy, because I get a chance to meet Wendy's lovely readers today. I hope you like spicy food, because I have this spicy roasted chicken to share. First things first...spicy food + pomegranate doesn't even make sense, you say. But it most definitely does. I've been thinking about this post since early of this week. I drafted this post with very non-descript name, thinking I would change it when I was about to publish it, but my brain is...taking a break.

So here are my thoughts. It's been a long day at work and you're hungry (with a capital H), and the dark night absorbs your energy ten times than any other nights. You are not inspired to cook, not even after browsing your Pinterest board -- and driving to the grocery store is a distant dream at this point. Like many of you, I always crave for homemade comfort food on days like that...something that is lickity-your-lips-good. Well, I found a solution for you: spicy roasted chicken that will make your mouth dance.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gameday Food Astros Playoff Edition: Cheesy Baked King Ranch Chicken Dip

Have I got a fabulous gameday appetizer for you today! I normally share a monthly gameday bite during Texans football season, but this month’s recipe was created especially for our Astros MLB Wild Card Playoff menu. The Astros have been pretty terrible the past few years, but it’s the dawn of a new era – they’re back in the playoffs!! To celebrate, I created a hearty dip for us to enjoy during the game. My Cheesy Baked King Ranch Chicken Dip has all of the amazing flavors of King Ranch Casserole – a Southern specialty that is one of our favorite comfort dishes. This hearty dip is creamy, a little spicy, and it has a double dose of cheese. It’s a hearty and filling dip, but I also added a bowl of homemade guacamole and store-bought chicken taquitos to round out our menu. This dip can easily be made up to a day ahead and then refrigerated until you’re ready to heat. This dip is great whether you’re watching baseball, football, or basketball. It basically goes perfectly with cheering on your favorite team!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sneak Preview: La Madeleine's Seasonal Fall Menu Items

Fall is in the air...and La Madeleine Country French Cafe has introduced its new Fall menu items. This seasonal menu features two delicious new pasta dishes and two delectable pastry items. I had a chance to try these new menu items over the weekend, and they're really fantastic! The first item we sampled was Creamy Pasta Lyonnaise. It features bacon, mushrooms and bowtie pasta in a creamy demi-glace sauce. The flavor is rich, flavorful and earthy. The pasta can be enjoyed as is for a vegetarian meal -- or you can add grilled chicken or shrimp. I had it with chicken and found it hearty and filling.
The other new pasta dish on the Fall menu is Spicy Basque Country Pasta. This robust entree features chorizo sausage, roasted garlic, red bell pepper, and bowtie pasta. It's tossed in tomato Gruyere cream sauce. If you like your pasta spicy and full of flavor, this is the entree for you! It's also available as is or can be topped with grilled chicken or shrimp. Both pasta dishes are served with a freshly baked mini sea salt baguette. These addictive baguettes are crusty and golden brown on the outside and pillowy soft inside -- with a nice salty bite. Before we left, we had to sample both of the Fall seasonal bakery items.
 Apple Cream Danish features croissant pastry filled with chunks of baked apple and pastry cream. After its baked, it's drizzled with a caramel glaze. It was so good, and not overly sweet. This pastry is perfect with a cup of coffee flavored with cream and sugar. Also perfect is La Madeleine's popular Traditional Carrot's back just in time for Fall! It features two layers of moist and spicy carrot cake and rich cream cheese icing. If you're looking for a decadent Fall dessert, this carrot cake definitely fits the bill!

If you want to try these delicious seasonal menu items, you'll need to act fast! This duo of pasta dishes and bakery items will be available until October 28th at all La Madeleine locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. I hope that you'll give them a try and enjoy them as much as we did! Whether you stop in to enjoy an Apple Cream Danish and cup of coffee in front of La Madeleine's working fireplace, a pasta lunch with your co-wokers -- or even a takeout piece of Traditional Carrot Cake to enjoy at home -- you'll sure to love all of these yummy Fall-inspired items. 

Disclosure: La Madeleine provided me with a gift card to sample these Fall seasonal menu items. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Savoring Fall with International Delight Coffee Creamer...Featuring Pumpkin Spice Hot White Chocolate

Fall is officially here! For many people, that means that it's time to enjoy all things pumpkin between now and Thanksgiving! I'm teaming up with International Delight coffee creamer to share a warming Fall pumpkin beverage with you today. Their line of flavored coffee creamers are perfect for flavoring your morning coffee, but did you know they're also versatile enough to star as a key ingredient in non-coffee beverages too? It's true! My Pumpkin Spice Hot White Chocolate features International Delight's Vanilla Caramel Creme. I also added some milk, white chocolate, warming spices, and pumpkin puree. It takes just minutes to whip up two servings of this decadent and soothing beverage -- and it tastes just like a piece of warm and silky pumpkin pie! You can enjoy this hot white chocolate on its own for a decadent treat...or you can add some cookies on the side for a comforting dessert or bedtime treat.