Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Fortune Asian Noodle Blogger Recipe Challenge Entry...Featuring Tropic-Asian Shrimp and Mandarin Orange Noodle Salad

I was so excited to be invited to take part in the Fortune Asian Noodle Blogger Recipe Challenge for a chance to win one of three cash prizes. I selected Fortune's Yakisoba Noodles for my entry. They’re restaurant-quality pre-cooked, fresh refrigerated noodles, and they taste great! This handy product makes it a snap to prepare quick, healthy meals! Fortune Yakisoba Noodles are ready to eat in less than 3 minutes(!) and come in four delicious flavors: Mandarin Orange, Hot & Spicy, Teriyaki, and Soy Ginger. Simply add protein, vegetables, and toppings – and you’ve got a fabulous meal in no time!  Fortune Yakisoba Noodles are also 100% natural – with no MSG, cholesterol, or trans fats.
For our contest entry, we could choose between two categories: cold noodle salads or stir fry using a Fortune Asian Noodle product. I used the Mandarin Orange Yakisoba Noodles to create my Tropic-Asian Shrimp and Mandarin Orange Noodle Salad. My contest entry combines select tropical and Asian-inspired ingredients to make a refreshing main dish salad that’s perfect for warm evenings. It's a snap to make, and it tastes great! The dressing is sweet-tart, with a bit of nuttiness from the addition of almond butter. I loved this salad…and I hope it's a winner.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

How to Harvest Summer #SundaySupper...Featuring Tomato-Zucchini Pesto Flatbread with Chevre and Balsamic Drizzle

It's hard to believe that Summer is quickly drawing to a close and Fall is on the way...seems like it was just Memorial Day, and now Labor Day is coming up! To enjoy the best of Summer veggies like tomatoes and zucchini, this week's #SundaySupper participants are sharing our favorite tips to harvest Summer produce for use when the weather turns cooler. Our hostess is Caroline from Caroline’s Cooking. She encouraged us to share our favorite tips to keep the Summer flavors going all year long. I have to admit that I'm not that great at canning or preserving food...but freezing in-season produce to use later is so simple anyone can do it!

I recently found an easy-to-understand step-by-step tutorial via wiki-How that shows how to properly prep zucchini and other squash that lets me enjoy their Summer fresh flavor on the coldest of Winter days! However, for now? I'm taking advantage of economical, in-season zucchini to create lots of great my Tomato-Zucchini Pesto Flatbread with Chevre and Balsamic Drizzle. These veg-friendly flatbreads are super simple to make and bursting with flavor -- perfect for busy weeknight dinners!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wendy's Favorite Things for August - Back to School Edition #WendyFaveThings #GreatEight

It's that time again -- time to send your kiddos back to school. After the relaxing pace of Summer, things are about to get hectic for many of my readers. In response, this month's edition of Wendy's Favorite Things is going to share some food items that will help you get back into the back-to-school groove! This month's Great Eight feature culinary items that will help busy parents save time throughout the stay...and stay energized too! I'll start with mornings and move throughout the day.

(1) Kodiak Cakes Flapjacks On the Go. Pancakes are a breakfast classic, but who's got time to make batter stand over the stove making pancakes on a busy weekday morning? Not me! I was really excited to discover Kodiak Cakes Flapjacks On the Go. Simply add water to the handy cup and microwave for 1 minute. The end result is a fluffy and flavorful pancake that's ready to eat in 1 about instant gratification! My favorite flavor is the Blueberry & Maple with freeze dried blueberries. The entire cup contains 250 calories, 7 grams fat, and 5 grams of stay-with-you filling fiber. I like to take my Kodiak Cakes to work and enjoy them at my desk to make my co-workers jealous! They are lightly sweetened, but I keep a small bottle of pure maple syrup at my desk to drizzle on top for a purist pancake experience. Other flavors include Cinnamon & Maple, and Buttermilk & Maple. Kodiak Cakes can be found at leading retailers, including Target. They can also be ordered online from Amazon.

(2) Bolthouse Farms Raspberry Blood Orange Juice Blend. By now, you know my friends at Bolthouse Farms offers tons of yummy, good-for-you smoothies and juice blends. One of their newest juices is also one of my personal favorites: Raspberry Blood Orange. I promise it will wake up your taste buds and amp up your typical morning routine! This sweet-tart juice contains deep red blood oranges, raspberry and strawberry, pomegranate, cherry, and apple juices in one 32-ounce bottle. Each 8-ounce glass of this powerhouse juice contains 100% of your daily Vitamin C requirement and 2 grams of healthy fiber! For the grown-ups, I also discovered this Raspberry Blood Orange juice is fabulous mixed with a glass of champagne for your weekend brunch. To find Bolthouse Raspberry Blood Orange Juice near you, be sure check out their handy online Store Locator.

(3) Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee Concentrates. Your morning routine might just require a bit of caffeine to make it through. Enter organic Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee Concentrates! Made in Austin, Texas, these coffee concentrates come in four fun flavors: Black, Mocha, Caramel, and new Texas Pecan. These handy fridge-stored concentrates save a ton of time brewing coffee in the morning. They also let each person customize their coffee blend. Add water and/or milk to taste and even match the strength and sweetness level of the cup you're aiming for. I prefer my coffee on the tamer side, so I mix my cup with 1 part Chameleon Cold Brew Texas Pecan, 2 parts water, and 1 part skim milk. Then, I add caramel-flavored creamer to taste. Customized coffee in my own kitchen! These great coffee concentrates aren't just for breakfast...they can be used as a cocktail mixer or even as a recipe ingredient. I'm perfecting a coffee-pecan turtle ice cream recipe to share soon. Texas readers can find Chameleon Cold Brew products at popular retail locations, and their products are available for nationwide shipping via their online store.

(4) CedarLane Ready-to-Eat Omelettes. Because my weekday mornings are so hectic, I tend to reserve heartier hot breakfasts for the weekend. With CedarLane's yummy ready-to-eat omelettes? I don't have to! These babies cook up in the microwave while I'm getting dressed, so I can enjoy a warm protein-rich breakfast on the busiest of mornings. Best of all, these all-natural omelettes are made with low-fat, protein packed egg whites. My personal favorite flavor is the Green Chile, Cheese & Ranchero Sauce. For just 240 calories and 10 grams of fat, it has all of my favorite breakfast flavors in one's also great rolled up in tortillas for a portable breakfast taco! To find CedarLane Egg White Omelettes near you, simply visit their online Store Finder.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for August...Featuring a Romantic New York Date Night #WGDinesOut

Earlier this Summer, Michael and I enjoyed a very special date night during a long weekend in New York. We got dressed up and enjoyed a fabulous gourmet meal, followed by an amazing  New York Philharmonic performance at Lincoln Center. We started our date night with dinner at La Chine restaurant, located inside the legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel. In a city with no shortage of Chinese restaurants to choose from, La Chine truly stands apart. The decor is elegant, featuring a soothing color palate -- and the food is equally refined. It is easily one of the best dining experiences we've enjoyed this year. La Chine offers diners an authentic culinary journey through China, showcasing the full range of Chinese cuisine -- including a rare Chinese raw bar. La Chine's creative menu combines Chinese flavors with French inspiration to create a singular dining sensation! 

We arrived and were warmly greeted by the hostess. As we were shown to our table, we stopped to admire the lovely decor -- including a gorgeous fresh flower display in the center of the dining room. That pop of color really worked nicely! We were seated and decided to start with a refreshing cocktail and a pair of starters. We selected the Crispy and Spicy Broad Bean Prawns from Guangdong and the sublime Eight Hour Golden Broth with Lobster, Scallop, and Crab Meat from Beijing. Both were expertly prepared and totally delicious! The richly flavored soup was light, but it had a great depth of flavor -- and the chunks of seafood were perfectly cooked. 
The crispy prawns were large, plump, and sweet. They were also perfectly fried -- not the least bit greasy! While we enjoyed our starters, we sipped on the aptly named Dream cocktail. This truly dreamy cocktail features Kamoizumi Shusen 3 dots Sake, lemon, lemongrass, and honeydew. The flavors were very unique, and they paired very nicely with our starters. Our meal was off to a great start! For our entrees, we decided to order one seafood dish and one beef dish to create an Asian-inspired surf and turf. That turned out to be a great decision! We picked the Wok Seared Diver Scallops with Honshimeji, Sugar Snaps, and Black Bean Sauce from Huayang. We paired the scallop entree with Wok Seared American Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Hickory Walnuts with Black Pepper Glaze from Zhejiang. Both of the entrees were expertly prepared and bursting with flavor.
The scallops were perfectly seared and tender-sweet, with a flavorful glaze. The Wagyu beef was fork tender and full of beefy flavor. The richness of the beef was nicely offset by the fresh vegetables in the dish. Both entrees were filling, but not the least bit heavy -- which meant we had plenty of room for a shared dessert. There were several options that caught our eye, but we opted for the artistic and delicious Coconut Tapioca Soup with Dragon Fruit, Mango, and Horned Melon.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

An Applegate Hot Dog Picnic...Featuring Simple Slow Cooker Hot Dog Chili #cowsongrass #cleanerwiener

Hot dogs are one of my favorite quick-cook meals...but I'm very choosy when it comes to choosing a hot dog brand to feed my friends and family. I prefer my hot dogs to be all natural and without any hard-to-pronounce preservatives and mystery ingredients. That's why my go-to store-brand hot dogs are Applegate's Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dogs. They're made with just four simple ingredients: 100% grass-fed beef, water, salt, and spices. That's it! I also love that each yummy Applegate hot dog has just 6 grams of fat. My friends at Applegate recently sent me a great gift pack that included everything I needed to plan a Summer picnic! My gift pack included Applegate hot dogs, Vermont Bread Company Potato Hotdog Buns, delicious Sir Kensington's ketchup and mustard, a logo frisbee, water bottles...and a nice canvas tote bag to transport everything to my picnic site.
Us Texans absolutely love chili dogs, so I decided to make Simple Slow Cooker Hot Dog Chili the day before our picnic. When I packed our picnic tote, I spooned the warm chili into a thermos. It arrived at the picnic still warm and ready to top our hot dogs! This flavorful hot dog chili is a snap to make...and so much better than canned hot dog chili. I love that I have total control over the ingredients that I put into it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

San Antonio Restaurant Week 2016 Is August 13-27th! #SARW #culinariasa #WGDinesOut

August means that it's finally time for THE Summer event that San Antonio food lovers look forward to every year: Culinaria's San Antonio Restaurant Week! This year's event is taking place August 13-27, and it literally offers something for every kind of food lover! Restaurants all over the city are offering special three-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menus. Prices come in two tiers to ensure the event fits a wide range of budget options:
  • Tier 1 Restaurants: $15 lunch and $35 dinner
  • Tier 2 Restaurants: $10 lunch and $25 dinner
If you've never taken part in San Antonio Restaurant Week, this is the perfect year to jump in with both feet! This fun and delicious culinary event is a great way to try a new-to-you restaurant...or dine out at one of the city's best restaurants for a much lower price point. There's truly something from everyone...from more casual family-friendly restaurants to high-end gourmet dining. Be sure to visit the San Antonio Restaurant Week website to check out the mouthwatering menus!

Photo provided by Asado Seafood & Grill
This year, we're going to be sampling Restaurant Week dinner menus from a pair of  great Tier 1 restaurants: popular romantic favorite Grey Moss Inn and spicy grilled seafood favorites from Asado Seafood & Grill. We've always meant to dine at Grey Moss Inn, but have never made the drive out to Helotes. We're really looking forward to enjoying a romantic date night at this San Antonio landmark! We've dined at Asado Seafood & Grill once before, so we know how amazing their food is! We'll be sharing both amazing dining experiences live via Instagram, so be sure to follow The Weekend Gourmet (WEEKENDGOURMET) to see lots of pictures of our San Antonio Restaurant Week adventures!

While reservations are not required to dine out for San Antonio Restaurant Week, they are strongly encouraged -- especially if you want to dine at the city's most popular restaurants. All reservations should be booked directly with the restaurant(s) you wish to dine at. As an added bonus...not only will your meal be a delicious dining experience, but it will be a charitable one too! With every meal that is ordered during San Antonio Restaurant Week, each participating restaurant will donate $1 for lunch and $2 for dinner to Culinaria San Antonio and all of the great programs it supports.

Disclosure: Culinaria provided me a pair of dining vouchers for Grey Moss Inn, and Asado Seafood & Grill is hosting us for a Restaurant Week Dinner tasting, to facilitate coverage. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stonyfield Plate Club with Le Creuset and Kitchen IQ...Featuring Shrimp Remoulade Deviled Eggs

I'm still a bit behind with some of my blogging commitments thanks to my recent illness. I thrilled to share what was supposed to be the July edition of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, featuring amped-up deviled eggs! Better late than never...and I promise that my recipe for Shrimp Remoulade Deviled Eggs is totally worth the wait! For this fun event, we were provided a fabulous stoneware Le Creuset Deviled Egg Platter and some handy Kitchen IQ plastic nested measuring spoons! Did you know that you can make deviled eggs with organic Stonyfield Plain 0% Greek Yogurt in place of mayo? You certainly can! The end result is a supremely creamy filling. The yogurt also saves a ton of fat and calories -- without sacrificing one bit of flavor in the process! 

I wanted to create a fun, spicy spin on traditional deviled eggs. My spicy Shrimp Remoulade Deviled Eggs take this comfort classic favorite down to the French Quarter for a fun big-flavor makeover. These amazing deviled eggs feature all my favorite shrimp remoulade flavors in a two-bite appetizer! I loved using the gorgeous red stoneware Le Creuset deviled egg platter to serve my shrimp-topped deviled eggs. It holds two dozen deviled egg halves, and it's made from dishwasher-safe stoneware. I just love these shrimp-topped deviled eggs! I'm thinking they would be a perfect addition to your upcoming Labor Day menu -- definitely a step up from traditional deviled eggs. As an added bonus, the yogurt-infused filling can be made up to a day ahead -- making assembly just before serving quick and easy for your party!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Summer Adventure in New York Part I #WGTravel #EastCoast2016

Photo provided by St Giles Tuscany
Earlier this Summer, Michael and I enjoyed a long weekend getaway in New York City! We visited some of our very favorite foodie hangouts, and we discovered some fabulous new-to-us restaurants along the way. We had a fun weekend exploring one of our favorite cities, which I'm excited to share with you starting today. We spent the first half of our trip at the St Giles Tuscany hotel, located in the city's Midtown Murray Hill neighborhood. The Tuscany is tucked away on a quiet street between Lexington and Park Avenue. It was a perfect centralized home base for exploring the city. We found it very easy to grab a cab in minutes every time we left the hotel to go exploring. 

Photo provided by St Giles Tuscany
We loved the modern vibe of the lobby, and the front desk staff was friendly and welcoming. The check-in process was quick and simple, and we were on our way to our room in no time. We loved the extra security feature that required insertion of our room key into a slot in the elevator before we could go up the elevator to our room. We stayed in a spacious 450 square-foot Deluxe Studio Room that felt more like a studio apartment than a typical cramped hotel room. It featured a hardwood entryway that led to the spacious bedroom/sitting room area. We loved the red, black, and white color scheme...and the comfy King bed! The sitting area featured two plush chairs and a small coffee table, which was nice for relaxing and reading.
All rooms at The Tuscany include comfy robes and slippers, convenient iPhone/iPad docking stations, and  a 46" high-def flat-screen TV. I especially enjoyed the spacious bathroom area, which featured a lit vanity area in an alcove just outside the main bathroom. This handy feature let me put on my makeup and style my hair while Michael took a shower -- saving us lots of time each time we got ready to go out!
Our first night in town, we hopped in a cab and made our way to Jazz at Lincoln Center inside the Time-Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Performing that night was Wynton Marsalis and the immensely talented Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. They perform inside the beautiful Frederick P. Rose Hall aka The House of Swing. Featured that night was the music of Miles Davis to commemorate what would've been this jazz legend's 90th birthday. If you're a jazz fan, a visit to Jazz at Lincoln Center is a definite must! After the show was over, we were feeling hungry. We discovered that just outside of and around the corner from Time-Warner Center is the Mandarin Oriental New York
Photo provided by Jazz at Lincoln Center
Located adjacent to their elevator-access-only lobby is the Mandarin Oriental's elegant Lobby Lounge -- located 280 feet above Columbus Circle and Central Park South. With tons of floor to ceiling windows and cushy sofas, it's a perfect spot to enjoy late-night cocktails and delicious food while enjoying amazing city views! We were feeling tired, so we opted for a pair of non-alcoholic house-made craft sodas to pair with our appetizer duo.
I selected Thyme's Up, while Michael opted for the Mandarin Sunrise. Thyme's Up featured tart lemon and lime juices, lemongrass simple syrup, tonic, and fresh refreshing! The colorful Mandarin Sunrise included orange and lemon juices, orange blossom, and grenadine. It packed a perfect citrus punch. With beverages this good, we never missed the alcohol! For our appetizers, we selected the beautifully presented Dim Sum Bento and the Crispy Fried Prawns with Yuzu Dipping Sauce. The bento featured a variety of Asian dumplings, and the fried prawns were plump and sweet. 
We opted to share a perfectly executed Turkey BLT and Warm Apple Pie dessert. The sandwich featured crispy bacon, smoked turkey, and creamy avocado. The portion size made it perfect for sharing. The apple pie was served with vanilla ice cream, decadent whipped cream, and a delicious caramel sauce to drizzle on top. We were very impressed with the quality of the food at the Mandarin Oriental's Lobby Lounge! They also serve Afternoon Tea daily. It was getting late, so we made our way back to the Tuscany...where we fell into our comfy King bed and slept like babies.

Monday, August 8, 2016

#ad Back to School Recipes with Tyson®...Featuring Buffalo Chicken Wraps with Bacon-Blue Cheese Slaw #SchoolFuel

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SchoolFuel #CollectiveBias
The calendar flipped to August last week, which means it's back to school time! The new school year is full of lots of fun things to look forward to...and a lot of homework and after-school activities to fit into your busy evenings! To help you and your family get fueled up to deal with the demands the new school year brings, Tyson® chicken products helps you create delicious weeknight diners that are high in quality quality, but low in effort. I purchased delicious and convenient Tyson® Better for You Lightly Breaded Chicken Strips and Texas-made Wright Brand® Bacon at my local H-E-B grocery store. Both items were very simple to find in the store -- the Tyson® chicken strips are found in the freezer section, and the Wright Brand® bacon is in the refrigerated section.
I used these items to create my Buffalo Chicken Wraps with Bacon-Blue Cheese Slaw. This tasty weeknight dinner can be ready in under 30 minutes -- even less if you make the tasty slaw! These wraps feature all your favorite Buffalo Wing flavors in a simple-to-make wrap sandwich. The Tyson® chicken strips cook up light an crispy before being brushed with a mixture of hot sauce and melted butter. The slaw features blue cheese, crumbled Wright Brand® bacon, green onion, and celery...all tossed in a tangy, slightly spicy dressing. Add some fresh fruit and chips on the side, and you've got a family-pleasing dinner that everyone in your family will love!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Summer Corn #SundaySupper...Featuring Cajun Baked Shrimp and Corn Dip

For this week's #SundaySupper, we're sharing recipes that feature the most quintessential of Summer vegetables: corn! Our hostess is Ellen from Family Around the Table, and she asked us to share our favorite recipes featuring sweet Summer corn. The Olympics are just getting started, and football season is just around the I wanted to create a fun and flavorful baked dip that features kernels of sweet corn. I remembered a baked shrimp and corn dip that I had seen at the Tabasco website a while back, so I used it as the inspiration to create my Cajun Baked Shrimp and Corn Dip. 

This hearty, big-flavor dip is assembled and baked in the same cast iron skillet -- which helps streamline prep and cleanup. It features a creamy base that's accented with corn kernels, Gulf shrimp, green onions, finely chopped celery for crunch, spicy seasonings, and a heaping helping of gooey cheese. Trust me, it's very hard to stop eating this dip once you start dipping crispy tortilla chips into it -- and it was a big hit with my hubby too. That means this one's a keeper, y'all!