Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wendy's Favorite Things for July #WendyFaveThings

You may have noticed that The Weekend Gourmet has been a bit...silent...this month. That's because I came down with a nasty case of the shingles...not fun!! Per doctor's orders, I was told to rest and stay out of the kitchen...and no blogging. I'm slowing feeling better, so I'm dipping my toe back in to make sure this month's Wendy's Favorite Things column is posted before I flip the calendar tomorrow. This month's Great Eight features a few treats, a few healthy bites...and even a refreshing beverage to beat the Summer heat!!

(1) Callie's Charleston Biscuit's Cocoa & Cream Cookies. These Cocoa & Creams are quite possibly the best cookie I've tasted in ages...I'm hooked!! The best way I can describe them is like this: they're like a famous chocolate sandwich cookie and a whoopie pie had a baby...a delicious baby. These addictive cookies feature a rich, not-too-sweet chocolate outside and a generous amount of homemade buttercream filling. The cookie part isn't chewy, but it's not hard or crunchy either. It's got a perfect soft bite! Cocoa & Creams come packaged with one dozen large cookies just waiting to be enjoyed. To order a package of Cocoa & Creams -- or their amazing Southern-style biscuits -- simply visit the Callie's Charleston Biscuits online store. I know you'll go crazy for them too!!

(2) Terlato Kitchen Vodka Sauce. Terlato Kitchen's Vodka Sauce lets me put together a gourmet pasta dinner in no time, which is especially appreciated on busy weeknights. This creamy, richly flavored sauce is made in small batches, so it really tastes homemade! Made in California with a handful of fresh ingredients -- including San Marzano tomatoes -- it's ready to use in all sorts of creative ways. I sauteed shrimp and garlic in olive oil. I added the vodka sauce and some chiffonade basil. I served this delicious sauce over penne pasta. I had a delicious, restaurant-quality meal on the table in about 30 minutes! FYI...Terlato Kitchen also makes delicious Pomodoro and spicy Arrabbiata sauces. Terlato Kitchen pasta sauces can be purchased from their convenient online store.

(3) Spiceologist Thai Peanut Sweet & Spicy Curry Rub. This versatile spice rub is one of the most creative and flavorful seasoning blends that I've tasted in ages! Spiceologist Thai Peanut blend is made with dehydrated peanut butter, spicy red curry, coconut, and a touch of's truly a treat for the tastebuds! Thai Peanut rub's peanut flavor is perfectly balanced by sweet and spicy background flavors, and bits of coconut provide texture and added flavor. So far, I've used this yummy spice blend two ways. First, I generously rubbed chicken breasts with the Thai Peanut and  let it rest in the fridge. That night, I grilled the chicken and served it over rice with a simple sauce made by combining more of the Thai Peanut with plain Greek yogurt to taste. It was amazing! To find Thai Peanut blend and other great Spiceologist products at a store near you, visit their store locator. They also have a convenient online store that will ship direct to you.

(4) Wild Poppy Organic Peppermint Lemonade. The weather this Summer has been brutally hot, which means drinking lots of icy-cold beverages to help keep cool. My favorite new-to-me beverage this Summer is California-based Wild Poppy's creative and super refreshing Organic Peppermint Lemonade. It's the perfect blend of tart and sweet lemonade, then the cooling flavor of the peppermint kicks in. It's creative, unique...and oh-so refreshing! I just love this lemonade! Other creative juice flavors in Wild Poppy's lineup include smooth Peach Vanilla, zingy Grapefruit Ginger, and the lightly spicy Blood Orange Chili. Wild Poppy juice products can be found at major retailers nationwide. My Texas readers can find Wild Poppy juices at their local Central Market location.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A San Antonio-Based Summer Fun Day Staycation #SummerFun #WGHitstheRoad #CelebrateSummer

Our teenage niece Lilith spent a long weekend with us earlier this Summer. We live in Texas...she lives in we only see her during the Summer. That means we have to pack a lot of memories into the time we do have together! During her recent visit to San Antonio, I planned a day that included a visit to the Riverwalk. Michael, Lilith, and I left home early that morning -- and we didn't get back until late that evening. From sunrise until way past dark, we had an absolute blast! Our day started at The Magnolia Pancake Haus, our favorite place for breakfast in San Antonio. We enjoyed fresh-squeezed juice, pancakes, and a duo of sweet and savory menu items. Magnolia has two San Antonio locations -- both of which are insanely popular. We arrived at the Medical Center location at 730 in the morning and were quickly seated. By the time we left an hour or so later? Tons of people were waiting for their tables in the spacious outdoor deck area -- talk about perfect timing! 
The Bananas Foster French Toast takes a breakfast classic to New Orleans. Tender French toast is topped with a decadent banana-rum praline sauce. So good! This dish was rich and tasty, perfect for sharing. For our savory entree, we enjoyed the Southern Bennie -- a Texas spin on traditional eggs Benedict. It was made with delicious Haus-smoked pulled pork served on top of a biscuit with two poached eggs, creamy Hollandaise sauce, and zesty Haus-made BBQ sauce. This was the perfect savory breakfast, full of amazing flavors that complemented each other perfectly. We also shared two types of Magnolia's amazing buttermilk pancakes: apple cinnamon and blueberry. The pancakes are huge and fluffy, with a generous amount of fresh fruit in every bite. We're absolutely nuts about their amazing vanilla-infused maple syrup. Thanks to Magnolia Pancake Haus, we started our day well fueled!

Our next stop was Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort in New Braunfels, a quick 45-minute drive from San Antonio. Texas Summers are incredibly hot, making Schlitterbahn an ideal location for cooling water-based fun! Parking was easy, and we quickly made it past the gate...toward the cooling water! Schlitterbahn has multiple locations in Texas, but this location is where it all started. It offers a wide range of water slides and water-based attractions -- all designed to keep cool and have a good time. This Schlitterbahn location is divided into two sections a few blocks apart -- thanks to convenient, free shuttle buses, it's quick and easy to spend time at both sections. We started out in the newer section, riding tubes in the lazy river and careening down steep, twisting water slides. That worked up an appetite, so we visited one of the convenient walk-up grills to order sandwiches: BBQ pulled pork and a bacon cheeseburger.
Having tasty, affordable food options onsite means you don't have to leave to eat. If you prefer to have a picnic, no problem! Schlitterbahn allows visitors to bring in coolers with their own food and drinks to enjoy a picnic at one of several covered picnic areas.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mode Foodie Roundup for July: Modern Spins on a Retro Classic: Fresh Deviled Egg Ideas!

Check out Modern Spins on a Retro Classic: Fresh Deviled Egg Ideas!
by Wendy Wofford-Garcia at Mode
Here in the South, deviled eggs are served at parties and potlucks all year long. Honestly, what's not to like? Deviled eggs are a great tasting, portable snack. Traditional deviled eggs are always great...but sometime it's fun to step up your game and offer your guests something unexpected! For this month's Mode Foodie roundup, I'm sharing a few of my favorite modern spins on traditional deviled eggs. Some of them are upscale and elegant enough that they can be served at the most formal parties. Other fun variations infuse this Southern staple with unexpected flavor combinations. Check out the slideshow before your next get-together and find a new deviled egg variation to surprise your friends and family!

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

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Coconut for National Pina Colada Day #SundaySupper...Featuring Island Breeze Pina Colada Panna Cotta

Today is National Pina Colada Day! To celebrate this iconic cocktail, #SundaySupper participants are sharing our favorite pina colada and coconut-flavored dishes. Our hostess for this week's event is Constance from Cosmopolitan Cornbread. I had such fun with this week's theme, because I love pina coladas. Their combination of coconut, pineapple, and rum tastes amazing...they're like a tropical vacation in a glass! My Tropical Breeze Pina Colada Panna Cotta is a perfect Summer dessert. The creamy base has a prominent coconut flavor, then it's topped with fresh pineapple and a sprinkle of coconut. If you love pina coladas, you'll go crazy for this refreshing dessert! Because the individual panna cottas have to chill for at least 6 hours before serving -- and overnight is fine too -- be sure to plan accordingly if you plan to serve them for a post-dinner dessert!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for July...Featuring Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen #WGDinesOut

This month's featured restaurant for The Weekend Dines Out is Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. Napa Flats serves up refreshing cocktails and delicious California-inspired cuisine at its locations in San Antonio, Austin, College Station, and Tulsa. We were recently invited to Napa Flats to check out their newly remodeled and expanded Bar Napa and try some of their signature menu items. When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the friendly staff and shown to the large bar area -- which featured soothing tones, high tables, and tons of natural light from multiple large windows. My friend and I looked over the extensive cocktail menu and worked with the manager to select some delicious food pairings. The first cocktail from the bar was the spicy Road Runner Tini. It featured Absolut Texas (vodka infused with cucumber and Serrano pepper), orange-scented Grand Marnier, jalapeno-infused tequila, agave for a touch of sweetness, and lime juice. This is Napa Flats' version of a Mexican martini. It was potent and spicy!
This cocktail paired perfectly with a simple asparagus flatbread and their creative Arugula Beet Salad. This salad features peppery arugula, roasted beets, mandarin oranges, pears, purple onion, pecans, and goat cheese. It's tossed with a tangy orange-red wine vinaigrette. This salad had so many great flavors and textures going on. Our meal was off to a great start! The next pairings sent to our table included a fun white wine flight, another salad, a refreshing tuna appetizer -- and an amazing chicken sandwich.
The white wine flight is a perfect way to try small servings of four different white wine varieties. The white wines paired perfectly with the Tomato Caprese Salad and Sesame Crusted Tuna. The caprese featured housemade fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto, basil and a balsamic glaze. The salty, smoky prosciutto was a very nice addition to the traditional caprese. The seared sesame-crusted tuna was served with Asian ginger sauce. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

BBQ'ing with Four Roses Bourbon...Featuring Spicy Bourbon-Maple Pulled Pork with Blue Cheese Slaw #FourRosesBBQ

Summer is officially in full swing! That means lots of relaxing, fun get-togethers with family and friends -- and lots of great food too. Today, I'm teaming with Four Roses Bourbon to share a recipe using their Yellow Label Bourbon in a really simple homemade BBQ sauce. My Spicy Bourbon-Maple Pulled Pork with Blue Cheese Slaw is perfect for feeding a crowd -- and the flavors are out of this world! Juicy pork shoulder cooks for 6 hours in your slow cooker -- which gives you plenty of time to whip up the simple slaw and homemade BBQ sauce. The Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon gives this sauce a great depth of flavor! Four Roses is gently aged undisturbed in new white oak barrels. The flavor profile of 80 proof Yellow Label features hints of apple and pear, honey, and spice. Its smooth finish works perfectly in my simple BBQ sauce. The bourbon is complimented by the addition of sweet maple syrup, tangy sherry vinegar, and a bit of hot sauce for a bit of heat. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Introducing...My Maple Bacon Burger Recipe for Cindy's Kitchen #burger #maple #bourbon #bigflavor

A few months ago, Michael and I spent a Saturday at the Cindy's Kitchen Test Kitchen in Brockton, Massachusetts. I created three original recipes featuring Cindy's Kitchen salad dressing and cooking sauces, and they invited me to come up and shoot a series of videos preparing my recipes. It was such an amazing experience! Just in time for July 4th cookouts, they shared a new video last week for my Maple Bacon Burger. I'm thrilled with how great the video came out! This burger is bursting with lots of amazing flavors thanks to Cindy's Kitchen Maple Bourbon Ultimate Cooking Sauce. This savory-sweet sauce flavors nearly every component of the burger. It's added to the meat mixture and sauteed onions, brushed on the bacon before cooking, and mixed with grainy mustard for a flavorful sauce. Add some nutty Gruyere cheese, and you've got one heck of a yummy burger. Here's the video -- hope you enjoy putting a voice to The Weekend Gourmet!

Now that you've seen the video, go visit the Cindy's Kitchen website to get the recipe for this amazing Maple Bacon Burger. The recipe has several steps, but many of them can be completed simultaneously. You can definitely have these burgers ready to serve a hungry crowd in less than an hour!

Disclosure: Cindy's Kitchen provided The Weekend Gourmet airfare and hotel accommodations for our video shoot in Massachusetts. All opinions expressed are solely my own.