Sunday, November 29, 2015

Veggies as a Main Dish #SundaySupper...Featuring Greek Stuffed Baked Zucchini

For this week's #SundaySupper, we're focusing on Veggies as a Main Dish! Our host this week is my friend DB from Crazy Foodie Stunts, and he has asked us to share our favorite veggie-centric recipes. This week's theme comes at a very appropriate time -- after a few days of gorging myself at a variety of family Thanksgiving celebrations, I was really looking forward to creating something light and full of flavor. My Greek Stuffed Baked Zucchini features tons of great flavors and textures. This hearty dish is veg-friendly and loaded with vitamins and healthy fiber. The zucchini are halved and seeded. Then, they're filled with a mixture of brown rice, sauteed mushrooms and shallots, feta cheese, and green onions. They're served with a simple chunky tomato sauce that's flavored with oregano and garlic. 

Whether you're planning to cook for vegetarian guests this holiday season...or you're simply trying to incorporate more meatless meals into your weekly dinner menu...this dish is a great option! As an added bonus, the combination of green zucchini and red tomato sauce is perfect for any holiday entertaining. From start to finish, this dish is ready to eat in under an hour. With a veg-friendly dish this good, I promise that you'll never miss the meat! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lone Mountain Wagyu Beef Giveaway...Featuring Giant Mozzarella-Stuffed Wagyu Meatballs #giveaway

We love our beef at my house...especially when it's really good-quality beef! I recently received a sampler of 100% fullblood Wagyu beef from Lone Mountain Wagyu to try in my kitchen. All it took was one bite, and we knew that their beef was something special! Lone Mountain Wagyu beef is all natural, pasture raised gourmet beef. Their Wagyu beef is highly marbled, so the end result is juicy and flavorful -- and extremely tender. Lone Mountain Wagyu is a family owned and operated ranch located in New Mexico that follows traditional Japanese methods to raise its beef. They're one of only a few U.S. ranches that raises authentic 100% fullblood Wagyu beef. Wagyu is a Japanese cattle breed that have the same genetics as Kobe beef -- making it highly marbled and supremely tender. Lone Mountain is proud to say that the quality of their Wagyu beef is Beyond Prime beef. 

I received a sampler pack that contained Wagyu skirt steak, ground beef, and sausage links. The first item we tried was the skirt steak, which we grilled for a family dinner. Everyone oohed and ahhed as we tasted the Wagyu. It had a rich beefy taste, and it was so tender and juicy. There were five us at the table that night, and we all raved about the Lone Mountain Wagyu! For the ground beef, I wanted to create a recipe worthy of the Wagyu's juicy goodness. I created my Giant Mozzarella-Stuffed Wagyu Meatballs. The meatballs are flavored with Italian seasonings and spices, wrapped around large cubes of fresh mozzarella, then baked in the oven. I served each single-serving meatball on a bed of creamy polenta topped with a San Marzano tomato sauce. These meatballs are indeed special -- beefy and full of flavor!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out: A Las Vegas Date Night...Featuring Elton John in Concert and Dinner at Border Grill

Photo provided by Caesars Palace
Last month, Michael and I -- along with a two-member social media team -- headed to Las Vegas for a few days of fun! During the coming weeks, I'll be sharing all of the great food, shows, and attractions we enjoyed during our visit. I'm kicking things off today with this month's The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out feature. I'm sharing a Las Vegas Date Night we enjoyed at Caesars Palace and the Forum Shops located adjacent to the large resort. Our evening started with Elton John's phenomenal Million Dollar Piano show at Caesar's Coliseum venue. We've been lucky enough to see Elton in concert several times over the years, including his Red Piano show in Vegas a few years back. If you're an Elton John fan, this show is a definite must! Because the venue seats 4,000 fans, it's a more-intimate experience than a typical arena concert. Elton's voice is still strong, and he shares lots of great stories and anecdotes between many of the songs. The show lasts nearly 2 hours and features many of Elton's biggest hits -- along with a very entertaining multimedia stage show. Elton even invites VIP ticket holders to come up on stage toward the end of the show. The Million Dollar Piano was a great way to kick off our date night!
After the show, it was a convenient 10-minute indoor walk through the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace to Border Grill, our dinner destination. The restaurant features Modern Mexican food from well-known Chefs Mary Sue Miliken and Susan Feniger -- also known as the Too Hot Tamales. We were quickly seated and served deliciously tart margaritas and some of their delicious and creamy Border Guacamole. Our meal was off to a great start! Over the next hour and a half, the staff hand-selected a selection of the restaurants signature menu items for the four of us to share. 
First out of the kitchen was a pair of crunchy fried delights: Beef Brisket Flautas and veg-friendly Crispy Potato Rajas. Both items were perfectly fried and not the least bit greasy! The flautas featured a tangy crunchy cabbage slaw, fresh smoked chile salsa, citrus crema, and salty crumbled cotija cheese. Texans love smoked brisket, so this mashup of BBQ and Tex-Mex was a huge hit with our group. The flavors and textures of this dish work so nicely together.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: A Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish: Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding

If your Thanksgiving menu planning is in full swing, I've got a fun and unique side dish recipe to share with you today! I originally featured this delicious Savory Apple-Italian Sausage Bread Pudding recipe last October, and fell in love with it. Lots of you did too -- I received lots of e-mails asking about it recently. The flavors are reminiscent of stuffing, so it would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. This savory bread pudding features spicy Italian sausage and gets a bit of tart sweetness from the addition of apples. If your Thanksgiving menu is already set, this bread pudding would also be a great brunch item over the long holiday weekend! It's easy to make and features lots of familiar Fall flavors. I bake mine in an apple-shaped Le Creuset baker, but a round casserole dish works perfectly fine too.

I substituted mild Italian turkey sausage for the apple-chicken smoked sausage Le Creuset's original recipe called for. I also used half and half in place of heavy cream and left out the green bell pepper. Then, I added a bit of poultry seasoning and cinnamon to the mix for a warming holiday background flavor. Finally, since apple goes so well with cheddar, I added a cup of coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. This bread pudding pairs great with roasted turkey or chicken.If you're looking for a something a bit different this year, I hope you'll give my savory bread pudding a try!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Guest Post...Gearing Up for Thanksgiving with Caroline's Cooking #Thanksgiving

While Michael and I are in Boston for my Cindy's Kitchen recipe video shoot...and a few other adventures...I'm leaving you in very capable hands! My #SundaySupper friend Caroline from the blog Caroline's Cooking is sharing a trio of her favorite Thanksgiving dishes with you today. She's sharing recipes for a citrus-infused cranberry sauce, a sweet and savory stuffing, and a classic pumpkin pie. Now...say hello to Caroline!
Being brought up in the UK, Thanksgiving wasn’t anything I ever experienced as a child. In fact, I didn’t have my first Thanksgiving meal until I was in my mid 20s -- when I was living in New York and a few of us out-of-towners (mainly from the UK, since we worked for a British company) went for a delicious meal to do our bit to join in the fun. We tried our best to throw ourselves into the spirit of things by eating too much and making our way home to rest as it was getting dark. But to be honest, the whole thing wasn’t that unfamiliar as the traditional Thanksgiving meal is very much like what we would have at Christmas in the UK. Being married to an American and now living in the US, these days we celebrate both holidays -- and I am looking forward to having my parents over for Thanksgiving this year for the first time. It will be a great excuse to enjoy some favorite recipes, some they will be familiar with and others a bit newer.
I’m sure most families have their own variation on cranberry sauce/relish/dressing (there are almost as many names for it) -- unless you buy it. I make a version based a bit on what my mum has always made. It is very low in sugar, using orange juice instead to sweeten. It’s incredibly easy and delicious, and you’ll never go back to re-made if you give it a go.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Stay Warm with Red Beans & Rice-Sausage Soup #soup #heartymeals #spicy

The weather is finally nice and cool here in Texas -- it's hard to believe that Thanksgiving and the busy holiday season are nearly here! If you're like me and your weeknights are short on time, you prefer quick, filling dinners. My Red Beans & Rice-Sausage soup is built around a package of spicy red beans and rice mix, and it's ready in under an hour. With the addition of two kinds of sausage, it cooks up thick and rich, with a smoky-spicy flavor that will knock your socks off!  I was thrilled to find a recipe for Andouille Red Bean Soup at the Zatarains website. I tweaked their recipe to suit our tastes and whipped up a pot of this hearty, delicious soup. I used a combination of smoked sausage and browned bulk pork sausage, subbed low-sodium chicken stock for water, and added a can of petite diced tomatoes instead of corn since that's what I had on hand. This recipe made enough for four large bowls of soup -- along with a container leftover to freeze for us to enjoy for dinner on a particular busy evening. That makes this soup a sure-fire winner!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Holiday Gift Giving with Don Victor Honey...Featuring Spiced Honey-Maple Pecan Topping #HoneyForHolidays #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HoneyForHolidays #CollectiveBias
The holiday season is nearly here...and it's my favorite time of the year! There's something about the season that evokes memories of family and special times together. My husband's grandmother made the best holiday hojarascas. If you've never had them, they're buttery anise-flavored cookies that are coated with cinnamon and sugar. Grandma Valverde's hojarascas were the best -- and I'm so blessed that she shared her recipe with me years ago. She's no longer here with us, but we can honor and remember her by baking and enjoying her special cookies during the holidays! Even a half batch of her recipe makes more cookies than we can eat, so they also make excellent holiday gifts. I love giving and receiving homemade holiday gifts. Knowing that someone took time to make me a gift is so special! Today, I'm going to share a simple and delicious homemade holiday gift idea with you.

My Spiced Honey-Maple Pecan Topping is a snap to make, and it tastes amazing! To give as holiday gifts, simply put in a air-tight jar and decorate with a festive holiday tag. The centerpiece of my pecan topping is flavorful Don Victor Honey. Because Don Victor Honey is raw filtered honey that's never heated or processed, it has a deeply rich flavor that really stands out in my recipe. I purchased a 16-ounce jar of Don Victor honey -- with the honeycomb included -- in the Hispanic Foods aisle of my local Walmart.
While my recipe doesn't use the honeycomb -- you can bet that I'm enjoying eating it! I love to spread honey and a bit of the soft honeycomb on a toasted and buttered English muffin or biscuit. If you've never tried honeycomb, you're in for a special treat! Speaking of treat...let me show you how simple it is to whip up a couple of jars of my Spiced Honey-Maple Pecan Topping. They make perfect holiday gifts for teachers, neighbors, and co-workers!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Unwinding with prAna and Stonyfield Oh My Yog! Yogurt #JustBeYou! #giveaway

Can we be real today? My life is hectic on a good day…and it’s about to get even busier as the holiday season kicks into high gear this month! Between a busy day job, a bustling food blog, and a husband and two cats who need my attention? It can sometimes feel like there’s simply not enough hours in the day to get it all done. That’s when it’s time for me to unplug and re-center, even if it’s just for 30 blissful minutes. For me, that means putting on comfy clothes, listening to some soothing music, and enjoying an energizing snack like Stonyfield Oh My Yog! yogurt. For me, a short respite to do something just for me means I feel less stressed and can tend to the other priorities in my life much easier!

As part of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I recently had the opportunity to try an item of clothing from prAna. Their clothes are comfy and cozy, and the cotton is so soft! If you’re an active person, prAna definitely has something that you will love  to wear – including yoga tops and bottoms and other workout gear, casual tops and sweaters, and pants for both women and men. I recently received a cute black Candi top from prAna's organic cotton line. This comfy top features gorgeous burnout jersey knit on the arms and back, a slightly longer back hem, and a comfy relaxed fit. The other day, I slipped into this comfy top and a pair of black knit stretchy pants, put on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, and treated myself to some Oh My Yog! yogurt.

Then, I enjoyed 30 minutes of time just for me between items on my to-do list. The yogurt is creamy and decadent, with three distinct layers: the top is rich cream, then you hit lightly sweet  yogurt, and then the bottom layer is sweetly tart strawberries. I love to sprinkle a bit of granola on top of the container for some added crunch...and fun! A bit more about my gorgeous prAna shirt: I just love that it's casual enough to run errands on a busy weekend -- but it's still dressy enough to pair with dressy jeans, heels, and jewelry for an evening out. The cotton is SO soft...and because it doesn't wrinkle, it's also ideal for packing for a trip. As the picture below shows, Brandi comes in a range of fun colors. That's what you call a win-win, my friends!
Speaking of win-win...prAna is offering readers of The Weekend Gourmet an exclusive savings code just in time for the holiday shopping season. Simply visit the prAna website between now and December 15th. Look around, do a bit of shopping, and then enter the following code at checkout to save 15% off your order: JBYF15WWG. Please note that this code is not valid for prAna Influencers, for the purchase of gift certificates, or with any other discount offers.

As long as we're talking win-win, how would you like to try an item from the prAna line yourself? You’re in luck -- prAna has offered to give one of you any item from their extensive collection (up to $99)! To make it super simple to enter this giveaway, simply leave a Comment below telling me how you would #JustBeYou by wearing prAna’s comfy line of cotton clothing + include your e-mail address! I'll accept entries until 11:59 p.m. on November 15th. A winner will be selected via random number generator and notified via e-mail on November 16th. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a shirt from prAna and coupons for free Stonyfield Oh My Yog! yogurt to facilitate this post. However, all opinions stated are solely mine.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Preview: The Weekend Gourmet Is Heading to...Boston!

When I started The Weekend Gourmet back in 2010, I never imagined how much it would evolve and grow over time…or all of the fun and amazing opportunities that it would bring our way! I’m very excited to share with you that Michael and I are heading to Boston next weekend, where I'll be shooting a series of online recipe videos for Cindy's Kitchen! Cindy's Kitchen offers a broad range of fresh and flavorful refrigerated salad dressings and cooking sauces. All it took was one taste, and I was immediately hooked! That's why I was so thrilled when they asked me to create a trio of original recipes using their dressings and sauces – and then come to their Boston-area test kitchen to create a recipe video series that will be featured on their website!

The recipes that I'll be making for the shoot include Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Lemon-Feta Slaw (featuring their Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette), Acapulco Chicken Cobb Salad (featuring their Mexican Pepita Caesar Dressing), and The Ultimate Maple Bourbon Cheeseburger (featuring their Maple Bourbon Ultimate Cooking Sauce). Cindy’s Kitchen products feature the big flavors that I love – making them a perfect fit for the type of recipes that I love to create! I truly cannot wait to share these recipes -- and I’ll be sure let you know when the videos are live at the Cindy’s Kitchen website for you to go see.

Photo provided by the Boston CVB
After the video shoot is over, Michael and I have decided to extend our trip a few extra days so we can explore Boston a bit. We’ve never been to Boston, so we’re very excited! We're looking forward to enjoying the city's water views, eating lots of its amazing regional food (hello clam chowdah and lobster rolls!), and seeing some of its historical sites. We're also looking forward to experiencing some real cool Fall weather -- not the Texas version of Fall -- and seeing the colorful leaves.  
Photo provided by B&G Oyster
Photo provided by Omni Parker House Hotel
I’ll be sharing our entire Boston experience in real time -- including some behind-the-scenes views of the video shoot -- via Instagram (WEEKENDGOURMET) and Twitter (@TheWeekendGourm). sure to follow The Weekend Gourmet to see all of the fun as it happens!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Celebrating National Sandwich Day with Strawberry BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Today is National Sandwich Day...a day that is dedicated to celebrating one of my favorite quick meals! If you've got a loaf of bread and something to fill it with, you can whip up a sandwich in a matter of minutes. Sandwiches are also very versatile -- grilled cheese, PB&J, and chicken salad are just a few of my favorite sandwiches. Sometimes you want to shake up your usual sandwich routine, though. Enter today's flavorful, unique Strawberry BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches -- definitely not your average sandwich!

In 5+ years of blogging, this is one of my favorite sandwich recipes! I originally shared my take on this sandwich I found in a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook for #SundaySupper -- but it's fabulous any night of the week! It's also perfect for your National Sandwich Day celebration. I make the flavorful filling in a Dutch oven, but it certainly can be made in a slow cooker as well. Strawberries may seem out of place in a BBQ sauce, but I promise that one bite will make you a convert!