Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cape Cod Select Cranberry Blogger Holiday Recipe Challenge...Featuring Cranberry-Thyme & Brie Phyllo Cups

Happy New Year! To bring 2016 to a festive close today, I'm sharing my official recipe entry for the Cape Cod Select Holiday Blogger Recipe Challenge. Cape Cod Select's premium frozen cranberries are hands down the best frozen cranberries I've cooked with! Cape Cod Select is a family-owned Massachusetts-based company that ensures cranberry lovers can use the tart red berry in their baking and cooking year round -- not just during the holiday season! Just in time for any last-minute New Year's Eve parties tonight...or even a fun game-day appetizer...I'm sharing my entry in the Baking Category: Cranberry-Thyme & Brie Phyllo Cups. 

For this savory-sweet bite-sized appetizer, a creamy whipped brie cheese mixture is baked in phyllo cups. Then, each cup is topped with a cranberry compote that's flavored with orange and fresh thyme. This appetizer looks sophisticated, but the components can be made up to a day ahead. Then you simply assemble, bake, and top when you're ready to serve. Add some nice wine or champagne, and you've got what I hope is an award-winning sweet-savory appetizer. Everyone who has tried these appetizers has loved them! Simple, gorgeous...and a winning combination!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet's Top 10 Recipes of 2016 #top10

As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to take a brief look back at The Weekend Gourmet's Top 10 most popular recipes for the past year. These recipes are the best of the best, as selected by The Weekend Gourmet's readers. These big-flavor recipes are bursting with fun flavors and textures! I hope you'll give them a try -- they're some of my personal favorites as well...

10. French Onion Pull-Apart Rolls. Pull-apart bread loaves were really popular last year, so I decided to make a smaller individual roll-sized version. I love French onion soup, so I used those flavors for these zesty rolls. They're perfect with salads and soup.
9. Classic Shirred Eggs with Gruyere and Ham. I had never heard of the classic French dish shirred eggs until I tried this recipe. It features baked eggs flavored with cream, thyme, nutty Gruyere, and's a decadent weekend brunch dish that you'll go nuts for!
8. Blueberry Muffins with Coconut-Citrus Glaze. The tropical coconut-citrus glaze takes ordinary blueberry muffins over the top! Citrus pairs perfectly with blueberries, and coconut is a fun's like a vacation with every bite!
7. Chunky Greek Feta-Veggie Dip. Made with fat-free plain Greek yogurt is creamy...but with much less fat than traditional dips. This dip is flavored with tangy feta cheese, Mediterrean  herbs, and chopped veggies. It's great with crackers, but it also makes a fabulous topping for grilled chicken pita sandwiches!
6. Island Breeze Pina Colada Panna Cotta. This light, refreshing dessert is perfect for warm-weather entertaining! The lush, creamy coconut base is topped with diced pineapple and shredded coconut. I love to serve this dessert in a cocktail glass for a fun presentation. If you love drinking pina coladas, you'll go nuts for this dessert.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Stonyfield Clean Plate Club...Featuring Streamlined Eggnog-Spice Cookies with Silpat and Levoons

Can you believe that Christmas is THIS weekend?!?!? I’m not sure about you, but it sure seems like we were just gearing up for Halloween the other day! I finally got in the kitchen to do a bit of holiday baking over the weekend. Just in time for holiday celebrations this weekend, I’ve got an easy-to-make seasonal cookie for your cookie trays and cookie tins! My Streamlined Eggnog-Spice Sandwich Cookies are a snap to make, and they pair perfectly with a glass of ice-cold eggnog. 

As a Stonyfield Clean Plate Club member, I recently received a Silpat non-stick silicone cookie sheet liner and handy Levoons self-leveling measuring spoons to help make my cookie-making easy and stress free. These sandwich cookies truly couldn’t be easier to make thanks to using these handy kitchen tools! To save time, I also used a convenient spice cake mix as the base for my cookies. The end result is a soft, cake-like cookie that's flavored with eggnog and rum extract. I also used a bit of Stonyfield vanilla Greek yogurt in place of melted butter to save a bit of fat and calories -- and ensure that my cookies had a tender crumb. 

Levoons are really cool measuring spoons that come with a handy built-in leveling tool that ensures your baking measurements are always accurate – which is very important when baking! The Silpat ensured my cookies baked evenly on bottom and didn't stick to my cookie sheet. Both of these items would make amazing holiday gifts for the cooks and bakers in your life! While the cookies baked, I whipped up a quick buttercream flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg…and more eggnog and rum extract. After the cookies cooled, I sandwiched them with the flavorful buttercream. The end result was somewhere between a cookie and a whoopee pie, with a pronounced eggnog flavor that’s perfect for holidays entertaining.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out: Anna de Codorníu Brunch at Grazye San Antonio #WGDinesOut

For this month's edition of The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out -- the last for 2016 -- I'm featuring Grayze. Grayze is located in a former home on Grayson St., not far from Downtown. That location makes it convenient for both locals and visitors to visit this great restaurant! During the week, they offer creative lunch and dinner menus...but on Sunday, they offer a fun and creative brunch menu. If the weather is pretty, there's a large outdoor covered patio to dine on. When we visited Grayze for a very special brunch last month, it was a gorgeous Sunday we headed outdoors to dine al fresco! Over the next hour and a half, we enjoyed delicious casual gourmet menu items -- paired with amazing mimosas courtesy of Anna de Codorníu sparkling wine. Let's face it...the perfect mimosa is a key component of any weekend brunch experience!

Throughout the Fall and holiday season, Anna de Codorníu teamed with restaurants throughout Texas -- including Grayze -- for spotlight brunch menus. Anna de Codorníu is Spain’s best selling sparkling wine. Elegant and feminine, Anna de Codorníu has a crisp, refreshing flavor that's pairs perfectly with classic brunch fare. With its striking white bottle, Anna is made in the "méthode traditionelle" from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes sourced from Codorníu’s vineyards in D.O. Cava, in the greater Barcelona region of Spain. Anna is perfect for mimosas, with its delicate citrus flavor profile -- and a touch of creaminess that comes from 15 months of extended aging. As we sipped on delicious mimosas, we looked over the Grayze brunch menu. After mulling over our options, we decided on a quartet of menu items. We started with two lighter, veg-friendly menu options: Caprayze Salad and Avocado Toast with Soft Boiled Eggs. Both were perfectly prepared!
The Avocado Toast featured creamy avocado spread on toasted rye bread, with shaved carrots, dressed baby greens, and sunflower seeds. The addition of a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg was genius -- the rich runny yolk worked perfectly with the creamy avocado. Grayze's version of Caprayze Salad featured fresh basil, purple onion, and a variety of perfectly ripe tomatoes. It was all tossed in a lovely pesto vinaigrette. Our brunch was off to an amazing start!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wendy's Favorite Things...Holiday Gift Guide Edition #wendyfavethings #greateight #holidaygiftguide

For this month's Wendy's Favorite Things roundup, I'm featuring my 2016 Holiday Gift Guide!! This month's Great Eight features holiday presents that are sure to please your favorite foodies. From sweet to cookbooks and even a handy kitchen appliance...there's truly something for every type of foodie on your shopping list!!

(1) Bissinger’s Peppermint Bark and Peppermint Marshmallows. It's true: peppermint and chocolate is an iconic flavor! For all of the peppermint lovers on your shopping list, St. Louis-based Bissinger’s chocolate has an amazing duo of peppermint-chocolate confections that will drive them wild! Bissinger’s Peppermint Chocolate Bark layers dark and white chocolate, then tops each piece it with a generous amount of crushed peppermint. This is amazing peppermint bark! For marshmallow lovers, be sure to check out Bissinger’s Peppermint Marshmallows. Handmade marshmallows are dipped in dark chocolate -- then the tops are sprinkled with crushed peppermint for a downright decadent treat! Both treats come packaged in a red box that's covered with festive red-and-white holiday packaging. Given separately or as a pair, Bissinger’s chocolate-peppermint confections are a tasty and fun holiday gift. To purchase, visit the Holiday section of Bissinger’s online store.

(2) Olive & Sinclair Artisan ConfectionsIf you have someone on your gift-giving list who enjoys trying unique artisan sweets, look no further than Olive & Sinclair! This Nashville-based company features creative Southern Artisan Chocolate™ bars, as well as modern spins on traditional candy. Two of my personal favorite items in their collection are their Sea Salt & Vinegar Caramels and Bourbon Nib Brittle. The addition of vinegar to traditional sea salt caramels adds a tart element that compliments the salt and cuts through some of the sweetness usually found in caramels. The end result is a little unusual…and totally delicious. Their Bourbon Nib Brittle features cocoa nibs that are aged in small-batch bourbon barrels, then added to a buttery brittle that's coated with Olive & Sinclair's fair-trade dark chocolate on back. This is one sophisticated brittle – you definitely won’t be able to stop at one piece! To order these two items – or anything from Olive & Sinclair’s line of creative selections – visit their online store.

(3) The County Line Air Ribs. Love Texas BBQ, but want to enjoy it at home? Whether you live here in Texas…or in a far-away state…iconic Central Texas restaurant The Country Line has exactly what you need! Their Air Ribs mail order program lets BBQ lovers order County Line’s delicious smoked ribs, brisket, and sausage for home delivery in the continental United States. The meat arrives cooked, vacuum sealed for freshness, and flash frozen. When it arrives, the recipient simply follows the enclosed heating instructions -- and it’s just like dining at The County Line! The Air Ribs program offers smoky Texas BBQ in a wide range of prices, depending on what and how much you want to order. There’s something for every budget, starting at around $100. I tried the Get It All Over Ya Combo, which came with brisket, beef ribs, baby back pork ribs, sausage, and two kinds of BBQ sauce. The meat cooked up perfectly in my oven…and it tasted exactly like what we’ve enjoyed at The County Line restaurants over the years. To treat your favorite BBQ lover to smoky Texas BBQ this holiday season, simply visit the Air Ribs website.

(4) Susan Branch's Heart of the Home 30th Anniversary Edition. When I was in college, I received a copy of Susan Branch’s Heart of the Home cookbook. In fact, it might be the first cookbook that I ever received. I loved the charming illustrations, Ms. Branch's friendly writing style…and the easy-to-understand recipes. Over the years, I'e used my book time and time again. I was really excited to see that Susan Branch released a 30th Anniversary edition of this iconic cookbook this Fall! Some of the many great recipes include Heavenly Banana Cream Pie and Lemon Chicken. This cookbook would be a perfect holiday gift for your favorite home chef – the recipes are all tried-and-true winners, and the illustrations are so cheerful. This updated classic can be purchased in major retail bookstores and online via Amazon. However, if you order direct from Susan Branch's website, you will receive a signed copy...making the gift extra special!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Eggnog Recipes #SundaySupper...Featuring Spiked Eggnog Hot White Cocoa #eggnog #boozy #cocoa

The holidays are finally here! With the holidays comes all of the signature sights, sounds...and flavors...of the season! In honor of National Eggnog Month in December, this week's #SundaySupper is all about Eggnog Recipes. Our hostess is Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventure, who asked us to share our favorite eggnog-inspired recipes, so I came up with an adults-only version of hot white chocolate that features everyone's favorite eggnog flavors in one creamy, warming spiked sip! 

My Spiked Eggnog Hot White Cocoa is made with a handful of simple ingredients, and it's ready to enjoy in about 10 minutes. It's spiked with spiced rum, but feel free to sub some rum extract for the under 21 crowd. This warming drink is perfect for any upcoming holiday parties that you're planning...and it pairs perfectly with holiday cookies. It's basically a holiday party in a mug!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Holiday #Foodies4Foodbanks Funraiser...Featuring Streamlined Weeknight Shepherd's Pie #BeefTogether

For me, the holiday season is a time of joy and wonder -- when I count my blessings for all the goodness in my life. Colorful decorations and lights, festive music, time spent with my loved ones...and lots of great food. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. Many American families are going hungry, or are food insecure, this holiday season -- so they struggle to have enough food to eat. I wanted to do my part to help! Enter Feeding America and the New York Beef Council via the #Foodies4Foodbanks holiday fundraising effort. Via Feeding America's nationwide network of food banks, there's a way to help feed those in need this holiday season -- which is where you come in!! The Weekend Gourmet is joining other food blogs to encourage our readers to donate to #Foodies4Foodbanks between now and December 12th. 

As part of this event, we're also sharing some of our favorite economical beef recipes. I wanted to make a streamlined version of shepherd's pie that can be whipped up on the busiest of holiday weeknights. My Streamlined Weeknight Shepherd's Pie tastes like it's been cooking for hours, but it's ready in about 45 minutes -- most of which is hands-off time! I used economical instant mashed potatoes here, which keeps the price of this comforting family meal right at my goal of $10 total to feed four people. Since shepherd's pie reminds me a bit of a pot pie, I cooked my shepherd's pies in four individual ramekins. However, you can layer everything in one 2-quart casserole dish instead.