Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Review of Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Cookbook...Featuring Chicken Enchiladas Rojas #enchiladas #cincodemayo

I recently received a review copy of the fantastic new cookbook Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex by authors Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. Lawton is a popular San Antonio restaurateur,  and Dunn is a cooking teacher and culinary consultant. This amazing cookbook features more than 60 different enchilada recipes -- both traditional and modern varieties. If you think enchiladas are strictly a Tex-Mex creation, this cookbook will show you otherwise! The cookbook features chapters for chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and dairy fillings...and it teaches you how to make your own enchilada sauces, toppings, and other accompaniments. If you're intimidated by the thought of making homemade enchilada sauce, don't be! Each recipe walks your through the process step by step, and the end result is so much more flavorful than pre-made canned sauce. I had a hard time deciding on one recipe to feature from this book, but ultimately opted to make Chicken Enchiladas Rojas.

From start to finish, it took less than an hour to make a batch of delicious homemade chicken enchiladas -- including making the spicy chile sauce from scratch. Two big time savers that I utilized were to use a roasted deli chicken for the filling, and I purchased fresh corn tortillas. These flavorful enchiladas are not the least bit heavy, and they can be assembled on a serving platter or on each person's individual plate. They're garnished with crumbly Mexican queso fresco, diced purple onion, a drizzle of Mexican crema. I'll show you step by step how to cook and assemble these colorful, flavorful enchiladas!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Regional Specialties #SundaySupper...Featuring Loaded Tex-Mex Chile con Queso

The theme for this week's #SundaySupper is Regional Specialties. Our hostess Sue from A Palatable Pastime asked us to share foods that are specialties in our part of the country. There are many foods that are staples here in Texas, including: BBQ, chicken fried steak, and chili. Since I live in San Antonio, I decided to share my personal spin on a classic Tex-Mex appetizer: chile con queso. Queso is an addictive melted cheese dip that pairs perfectly with crispy tortilla chips. It's typically made with easy-to-melt processed cheese, green chiles, and diced tomatoes. My Loaded Tex-Mex Chile con Queso takes this local specialty to new culinary heights -- and there's not a speck of processed cheese in sight!

My hearty, chunky chile con queso is flavored with spicy Mexican chorizo sausage, aromatic veggies, diced tomatoes, and a shot of tequila for fun. It's super creamy thanks to the addition of two kinds of cheese. Then, just before serving, this moderately spicy queso is topped with a generous amount of chunky avocado-pico de gallo salsa. This hearty queso is best served with sturdy tortilla chips and warm flour tortillas for dipping. It basically combines the best flavors of chile con queso and guacamole into one delicious bite!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sea World San Antonio's Seven Seas® Food Festival....Featuring a Ticket Giveaway

Attention San Antonio-area food and wine aficionados: SeaWorld® San Antonio guests are invited to set sail on a tasty culinary voyage during the park’s 2nd annual Seven Seas® Food Festival. This event is being held every weekend between now and May 15th. Festival goers can sip and savor a wide range of delicious foods, unique wines, and craft beers and cocktails that represent a dozen different countries -- including Italy, Greece, France, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Korea, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, United States, and Spain (new this year!) Last weekend, Michael and I attended an exclusive blogger sneak preview of the Seven Seas® Food Festival. We had a blast taking an around-the-world culinary journey without ever leaving San Antonio!

The Seven Seas® Food Festival is designed to appeal to all palettes, so there's literally something for everyone! Inspired by seven different seas, the savory cuisine reflects culture favorites of regions near the Mediterranean, North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, North Pacific, Pacific Ocean, and the South Atlantic. "Flavorful pairings range from spicy to sweet to totally unexpected," said Scott Ronczkowski, Executive Chef for SeaWorld & Aquatica San Antonio. In addition to authentic international cuisine, many of the country's food stations also provide authentic entertainment like Spain’s guitarist and flamenco dancer.
Guests can take their festival experience to the next level by purchasing a range of upgrade packages that include wine and cheese pairings and sampling packages. Cooks can also catch live cooking demonstrations presented by local San Antonio and celebrity chefs, who show audience members how to create mouthwatering dishes using products of The Coca-Cola® Company. When we were there last weekend, Chef Jeff White of San Antonio's popular Boiler House restaurant demonstrated how to make yummy savory pork carnitas. When the demonstration was over, we received samples of the finished product.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mode Foodie April Article...Featuring Unscrambled: Egg Recipes for Brunch and Beyond

Check out Unscrambled: Egg Recipes for Brunch and Beyond

by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode

Eggs are a staple ingredient for several reasons. I always have a dozen eggs on hand in my fridge! Eggs are economical, they're a great source of protein...and they're very versatile. For this month's Mod Foodie article, I'm sharing Unscrambled: Egg Recipes for Brunch and Beyond! The recipes in my roundup come from all over the web...and feature a wide range of recipes. There's everything from an Eggs Benedict-inspired burger, eggs baked in an avocado half...and even a pizza that includes an egg in the center! Click the slideshow above to get all of these amazing and versatile egg-based recipes.

Disclosure: This is a compensated article for Mode Foodie. All opinions are solely mine.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Celebrating National Pecan Day...Featuring Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

April 14th is National Pecan Day, and I want to celebrate by sharing one of my favorite pie recipes with you. Pecans are a popular staple ingredient here here in the South...we often use them in savory and sweet dishes. My Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe combines the goodness of sticky-sweet pecan pie with decadent melted chocolate chips and a shot of bourbon. It's a decadent treat, but it's really simple to make. If you love making pie crust, by all means use your favorite recipe. If you're like me and making scratch pie crust makes you twitchy, do what I did: buy a good-quality frozen pie crust.

Monday, April 11, 2016

My Sur la Table Cooking Class Experience...Learning to Make Homemade Pasta

Michael and I recently took a Let's Make Pasta! cooking class at our local Sur la Table location, and it was an amazing experience! During this informative and fun hands-on cooking class, we learned how to make fresh pasta to create two dishes: Fettuccini Carbonara with Asparagus & Smoked Bacon and Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni al Pomodoro. During this informative 2.5-hour class, we learned a lot...and we enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner in the process! 
We were especially excited to take this pasta class, because Michael gave me a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas. I wanted to learn how to properly use the attachment -- and how to make fresh pasta. Our instructor, Chef Cindy Drake, taught class participants how to make fresh pasta dough. Then, we learned how to use a hand-crank or automatic pasta roller for a stand mixer to make thin sheets of pasta. From there, we used half of our pasta to make fettuccini and half to make pasta sheets for the cannelloni. If you're intimidated by the idea of making fresh pasta, don't be! We left this informative class with hands-on knowledge and skills to make fresh pasta at home. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven #Giveaway...Featuring French Onion Pull-Apart Rolls

I love being a Hamilton Beach Brand Ambassador, because I get a chance to try out lots of fun and helpful kitchen appliances! This month, I was sent a Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven oven to try out in my kitchen. I'm not sure how, but I've never owned or used a toaster oven before -- not even when I was in college living in a dorm back in the day! After using this amazing toaster oven the past few weeks, I'm a convert! The Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven fits easily on your kitchen counter and features an innovative roll-top door, which makes it so easy to place food in and take food out of the oven. Even better, the roll-top door comes off for easy cleaning. Hamilton Beach's Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven can fit up to four slices of pizza or bread -- and it offers bake, broil, and toast functions. It also features a 30-minute timer with automatic shutoff, and it includes a bake try and a rack with two positions. 

I love how versatile this toaster oven is! We're a two-person household, so the Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven has been great for reheating slices of pizza to crispy perfection, creating hot toasted sandwiches...and making the amazing recipe for French Onion Pull-Apart Rolls that I'm sharing here today. Flavorful toasted pull-apart loaves are all the rage these days, so I decided to create a version for smaller households that can be made in a toaster oven. If you love French onion soup, you're going to go crazy for these cheesy onion-infused sourdough rolls!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Food Lover's Weekend In Boston Part 2

During our trip to Boston, we spent one evening across the Charles River in nearby Cambridge. Our home base for this portion of our trip was the modern Royal Sonesta Boston. This gorgeous newly renovated 400-room property is located right on the Charles River, and it offers gorgeous Boston city views! The check-in process in the Sonesta's sleek lobby was very quick and simple, and we were on our way to our room. Our Executive Suite River View featured pretty Boston city views across the Charles River, a spacious living area that came with a large dining table, and a comfortable bedroom. We felt like we were staying in an urban studio apartment rather than a typical hotel room!
The bed was very comfy, and the linens were so soft! The suite's large bathroom featured a deep soaking tub and fragrant spa toiletries. The little touches make all the difference, so we were delighted to find some welcome treats waiting for us on the bar area between our bedroom and living area. In addition to perfectly chilled bottles of artisan Voss water, we were provided a platter of chocolate-dipped strawberries, hand-dipped artisan chocolates, and a colorful fruit display. After we settled in, we hopped in a cab and headed back into Boston for brunch at Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse

When we arrived at Davio's, we were warmly greeted and showed to our table. We were immediately impressed with the elegant decor in the main dining room. The vibe was more like dining in someone's elegant home than a typical restaurant. We started our meal with a duo of cocktails. Michael sampled Davio's fun signature create-your-own bloody Mary cart. I opted for a seasonal Pumpkin Pie Martini. Both drinks were just strong enough and excellently prepared. As we sipped our drinks, we shared the creative and tasty Spring Roll Sampler, which featured five flavors: Philly Cheese Steak, Chicken Parm, Buffalo Chicken, Shrimp Cotija, and Reuben. The flavors of the perfect fried spring rolls were robust, and each was paired with a tasty dipping sauce. Our brunch was off to a great start.
For our entrees, we selected a pasta entree and a steak entree since those are Davio's two signature menu items. Michael opted for the beef tenderloin served inside of a popover. It was topped with a poached egg and decadent truffle hollandaise sauce. I selected Davio's specialty: Tagliatelle Bolognese topped with braised veal, beef, and pork tomato sauce. Both entrees were expertly prepared delicious. Michael's tenderloin was fork tender, and my pasta was positively decadent. The slow-braised sauce was deeply flavored and luscious.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for April...Featuring Boston's Bostonia Public House

This month's featured restaurant for The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is Boston's Bostonia Public House. During our visit to Boston this Winter, Michael and I enjoyed a great dinner at this upscale casual Contemporary American restaurant. We found Bostonia's location to be ideal -- it's located in a lovely historical building in Boston's Financial District that was originally built in 1902. Bostonia Public House was an easy 10-minute from the Omni Parker House, where we were staying that evening. When we walked in on that Saturday evening, we immediately heard some really great live music playing in the first floor courtesy of a group of student musicians from nearby Berklee College of Music. We were warmly greeted by the hostess and shown to our table in the restaurant's second floor. We looked over the dinner menu and decided to start with cocktails and a shared appetizer. The restaurant's manager stopped by our table to say hello -- and to recommended we try the warm Lump Crab Dip. 
This decadent seafood-based appetizer features a creamy base flavored with sweet lump crab meat and is topped with melted cheese. The dip is served with addictive house-made salt and pepper potato chips. While we enjoyed this yummy dip, we sipped on a pair of expertly prepared cocktails from the bar. After we enjoyed our appetizer, we shared two quintessential Boston foods that we can't get here in Texas: a bowl of clam chowder and a lobster roll.
BPH Clam Chowder features smoky bacon, leeks, celery, and marble potatoes in a creamy clam-filled base. The bacon provided a nice smokiness and depth of flavor to this rich clam chowder. It was truly exceptional chowder! We paired the creamy chowder with an amazing Hot Lobster Roll. This sandwich contained plenty of sweet lobster tossed in warm clarified butter and piled into a toasted bun. This decadent lobster roll featured only a few ingredients -- but it packed a true flavor explosion! We were smiling ear to ear as we sampled these two menu items.