Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wendy's Great Eight for September 2017 #GreatEight #WendyFaveThings

It's time for another fun edition of Wendy's Great Eight. This month, I've got some really fabulous food and kitchen items to share with you! I'm featuring everything from cream cheese-filled bagel bites to a crispy protein bar...and classic Southern biscuits to crispy bite-size cookies. Let's get started!

(1) Callie’s Charleston Biscuits. Callie’s Charleston Biscuits is based in North Carolina…and they produce a delicious line of frozen buttermilk biscuits that are so good my Southern grandma would give them her seal of approval. All the flavors I’ve tried so far have been fabulous – but I’m especially partial to their Sharp Cheddar Biscuits! These yummy two-bite buttermilk biscuits are studded with sharp cheddar before being baked – and cheese always makes food better! I simply heat these frozen biscuits in the oven -- then serve buttered with cheesy scrambled eggs and bacon for a perfect weekend brunch. The biscuits bake up golden on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside – like the perfect biscuit should. This weekend, I’ll be trying Callie’s new Iced Blueberry Biscuits…and I know I’ll flip for them too! To order Callie's Charleston Biscuits, visit their convenient Goldbely online store.

(2) Mrs. Thinster’s Cookie Thins. Do you prefer your cookies thin and crispy? Then you simply must give Mrs. Thinster's Cookie Thins a try! These crispy cookies come in a variety of flavors like Chocolate Chip, Brownie Batter, and Cake Batter. Perfect for Fall, they even have a yummy Pumpkin Spice cookie that pairs great with pumpkin spice latte! Mrs. Thinster's delicious Cookie Thins are made with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or corn syrup – and they’re non-GMO. That means I don't have to feel nearly as guilty when I eat an entire bag in one sitting :lol:! To me, Mrs. Thinster's Cookie Thins are the closest to homemade of any packaged cookies I’ve tried. They’re buttery and downright addictive! To find Cookie Thins at a store near you, be sure to check out their handy Store Locator.

(3) Bagel Dots. Austin-based Bagel Dots offers a fun line of two-bite bagel rounds that are filled with cream cheese. They're perfect for a quick breakfast or an afternoon snack! Bagel Bites are available in the grocery store’s freezer case, and they come in four fun flavors: Plain Jane (plain bagel with plain cream cheese), Kitchen Sink (everything bagel with veggie cream cheese), Jalapeno Cheddar (cheddar-topped bagel with jalapeno cream cheese – reminiscent of a jalapeno popper), and Cinnamon Raisin (cinnamon raisin bagel with cinnamon cream cheese). Every flavor is fantastic, but I’m especially partial to the Kitchen Sink  -- the flavors and textures are really delicious! My Texas readers can find Bagel Dots at select grocers across the state.

(4) Large Marge Churro Cake. With a fun name like Large Marge, I just knew this cinnamon-infused Churro Cake would be fabulous! Being a big fan of the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, I immediately understood the reference. The owner of this Los Angeles-based company is originally from Texas, and her Churro Cake is a little slice of heaven! Each cake serves up to 10 people and is handmade with brown butter cinnamon cake layered with Mexican chocolate frosting, cinnamon-sugar churro snaps, Pralinella. Then, each cake is topped with churro snaps for a crispy, crunchy finish. After baking, each cake is packed perfectly and shipped direct to your door – simply sprinkle the cake with the pieces of chopped cinnamon-sugar churros and serve. If you love churros, you’ll go nuts for this creative cake flavor. To order, simply visit Large Marge's Goldbely shop.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gearing Up for Halloween...Featuring Ghoulishly Good Red Moscato Punch

Fall is in full swing...and that means Halloween is right around the corner in a few short weeks! Today, I'm sharing a frightfully fun wine-based punch that will help you set the perfect scary mood for any Halloween celebrations you might be planning next month! My Ghoulishly Good Red Moscato Punch is fruity, fizzy...and red like blood. It contains sweet sparkling Moscato, a mixture of fruit juices, and citrus soda. To take this punch display over the top, a ghoulish ice hand floats eerily in the punch bowl. I’ll show you how easy it is to make the icy hand as part of the recipe! 

Ghoulishly Good Red Moscato Punch
a Weekend Gourmet Original
• 1 bottle sweet sparkling Moscato wine, well chilled
• 1/2 cup orange liqueur + 1 cup orange juice
• 2 cups chilled cranberry juice
• 1 cup Concord grape juice (i.e., the purple variety)
• 32 ounces lemon-lime soda [NOTE: I used diet soda, but feel free to substitute one with sugar if you prefer]

For the ice hand:
• 1 non-powdered latex glove -- this is very important! Clean the glove VERY THOROUGHLY with soapy hot water before using.
• Bottled drinking water 

Step 1: Make the ice hand. Use a measuring cup to fill the clean latex glove with water nearly to the top -- make sure the water gets into every finger.  Twist the top of the glove and secure tightly with a rubber band. Place the filled glove in the freezer until frozen solid. This step is best done a day ahead to save you tons of stress the day of your party. 
Step 2: Add the chilled sparkling Moscato, orange liqueur, orange juice, cranberry juice, Concord grape juice, and the lemon-lime soda to a decorative Halloween punch bowl. Just before serving, remove the ice hand from the freezer. Use scissors to cut just below the rubber band and carefully peel the latex glove away. Float the ice hand in the center of the punch bowl. Since my decor theme here is scary spiders, I placed small plastic spiders into my punch to float around the hand!
This wine-based party punch is full of fruity flavors -- and the deep red color is definitely reminiscent of blood! The sweet sparkling Moscato pairs very nicely with the fruit juices -- and the fizz is really fun. I hope that you’ll whip up a batch of this refreshing grown-up punch at your upcoming Halloween parties. With its eerie floating ice hand, it’s sure to be a hit! To make this punch kid-friendly, delete the orange liqueur and wine...and replace with additional cranberry juice and lemon-lime soda.

To ensure I have plenty of sparkling Moscato on hand during the upcoming busy Halloween season, I plan to purchase several bottles and keep them stored in a wine rack in my kitchen. Then, I can simply grab a bottle of wine to chill whenever I host impromptu get-togethers with friends and family during the Halloween season! Even big kids will enjoy this spooky Halloween-themed punch bowl motif. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hatch Chile-Cannellini Bean Turkey Chili...Featuring Bob's Red Mill Cannellini Beans

September is here…the weather is cooling off, school’s starting, and it’s finally football season! At my house, that means lots of hearty one-pot meals that we can enjoy while we watch the big game every weekend. Today, I’m partnering with Bob’s Red Mill to share a spicy turkey and white bean chili recipe! I love Bob’s Red Mill products and use them in my kitchen all the time. This employee-owned Oregon company was founded in 1978 and features a wide range of products, including flours and meals; baking mixes; oats; and grains, beans, and seeds. I used Bob’s Red Mill cannellini beans and corn polenta to create my Hatch Chile-Cannellini Bean Turkey Chili. Cannellini beans are a super nutritious white bean that are fat free AND high in protein, fiber, and iron. Cannellini beans are a traditional white Italian bean originally cultivated in Argentina. Bob’s Red Mill’s delicious cannellini bean variety has a firm, creamy texture and a mellow, nutty flavor. Because they hold their shape better than other white bean varieties, they’re perfect for soups and chili.
There are as many chili recipes as there are chili lovers…each person has their own personal nuance. My Hatch Chile-Cannellini Bean Turkey Chili is flavored with aromatic veggies, spicy Hatch chiles and Hatch chile powder, cumin, lean ground turkey breast, diced tomatoes with green chiles, and Bob’s Red Mill cannellini beans. My secret ingredient? A bit of yellow cornmeal/polenta stirred int0 pot during the last 10 minutes of cooking to achieve the perfect consistency. This chili takes about 30 minutes to prep, then it simmers away on the stove while you tend to other things around the house. I started this chili Sunday around 1100, and it was ready to eat by halftime of the Houston Texans game! When you’re ready to serve, set out bowls of delicious toppings like shredded cheese, pico de gallo, creamy diced avocado, crunchy tortilla strips, and sour cream…and let everyone create their personalized bowl of chili.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Football Party Finger Food #SundaySupper...Featuring Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Salsa-Ranch Dipping Sauce #footballfood #homegating

This weekend marks the official return of football season! We're huge Houston Texans fans, so we're eagerly waiting for the game to kickoff at noon Sunday! Of course, football season also means serving lots of tasty homegating appetizers and finger foods for us to munch on while we're cheering for the Texans. This week, #SundaySupper bloggers are sharing Football Party Finger Food that's guaranteed to have your friends and family satisfied from kickoff until the end of the fourth quarter. I'm sharing a simple, tasty finger food that can be made in about 30 minutes. 

My Tortilla-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Salsa-Ranch Dipping Sauce feature a spicy crunchy tortilla chip coating, juicy chicken breast, and a simple homemade salsa-ranch dip. Everyone who tries these chicken strips goes crazy for them. I like to use nacho cheese flavored tortilla chips, but feel free to use any flavor of tortilla chips that your group loves. Taco flavored tortilla chips are also really yummy!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Olivelle and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Giveaway...Featuring Sunshine Salad with Strawberry-Lemon Vinaigrette #salad #giveaway

Fall may be on the horizon, but I'm still making refreshing main dish salads in my kitchen! Here in Texas, it still quite warm...so I'm always looking for flavorful new salad combinations. Today, I'm partnering with Olivelle and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese to create my flavorful Sunshine Salad with Strawberry-Lemon Vinaigrette. It's bursting with fun flavors and textures -- including a zingy homemade vinaigrette that features Olivelle's sweetly tart Strawberry Barrel Aged White Balsamic and Sicilian Lemon Olive Oil. Olivelle is based in Boseman, Montana and offers a wide range of flavored balsamic vinegars, oils, and infused olive oils. The flavor of these two products is so fresh and authentic! The sunny lemon-infused olive oil and barrel aged strawberry white balsamic is a natural pairing for my homemade vinaigrette.

My salad also features crumbled Point Reyes Farmstead Original Blue cheese. Made in Point Reyes, California, this blue cheese is produced on their family farm since 2000. This creamy, mild blue cheese is made from raw cows' milk and microbial (i.e., vegetarian rennet), then aged for 3 1/2 months. I'm not typically a blue cheese fan, but fell in love with this delicious cheese when we sampled it when visiting San Francisco last Fall. It's ultra creamy and has just enough blue cheese flavor to be yummy -- without being overwhelming. It paired perfectly with the strawberries, blueberries, and salty proscuitto in my salad. It complemented these flavors without pushing them into the background. Add some creamy avocado and some sliced almonds for crunch, and my Sunshine Salad with Strawberry-Lemon Vinaigrette is a real winner!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dine Out and Help Texans Recover from Hurricane Harvey #TexasStrong

Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, it's been an emotional, tumultuous few days for my beloved home state of Texas. Most of you know I'm a native Texan who lives in San Antonio. However, Michael and I both grew up in small towns halfway between Houston and Galveston. Simply put: the Houston area is our home. Most of our family -- and many of our close friends -- live there. Thanks to an unexpected movement northward before making landfall last weekend, San Antonio was spared the brunt of Harvey's winds and rain. However, it hit many of our loved ones from Corpus Christi to the Beaumont/Port Arthur region hard. Michael rode the storm out at his parents' house, so he experienced Harvey's rain and high water firsthand. I'm sure you've all seen the devastation on the news...but I hope you've also seen the kindness and generous spirit my fellow Texans have displayed in the face of unimaginable adversity. I'm very blessed to report our parents and most of our immediate family were spared the worst of the devastation -- our parents' homes did not flood, and they never lost power. For that, we are truly grateful! 

If you've been wondering what you can do to help Texans impacted by Harvey's rain and floods, today I'm sharing a few restaurants that are holding fundraisers to raise money for the recovery effort throughout Texas. If you're planning to dine out over the long Labor Day weekend, I hope you'll consider visiting these restaurants so you can enjoy some tasty food and donate to the Harvey recovery effort at the same time!

From now through September 8th, Snooze is hosting a supply drive at its Quarry location here in San Antonio. Guests are encouraged to bring items including non-perishable food, baby food, batteries, and toiletry items to provide to those affected by Harvey in Houston. On September 8th, Snooze is donating 10% of all sales from its 20+ locations in Texas, Colorado, California, and Arizona to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, this fund will provide relief services for victims that have been affected by the recent floods. If you haven't tried Snooze's amazing breakfast menu, now is the perfect time to stop by and give them a try. Their food is delicious! We especially love their multi-flavor Pancake Flights, Breakfast Pot Pie, and Chile Verde Benny. 
To find a Snooze location near you, be sure to visit their convenient online restaurant locator.

Houston-based Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille is offering diners a very special three-course dinner menu the entire month of September to benefit Houston relief and recovery in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. For every meal served from this special discounted menu -- which includes special off-the-menu dishes -- $5 will be donated to the Houston Flood Relief Fund organized by Houston Texans player J. J. Watt. Their goals is to raise $200,000. This special three-course dinner menu has been discounted to $49.95 and will be available at five Houston Perry's locations (Baybrook, Katy, Memorial City, Sugar Land, and The Woodlands) -- as well as at locations in Austin, Birmingham, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, and San Antonio.  

The special three-course menu starts with a choice of the Wedge, Caesar, or Kale salads. Then you choose an entree: an 8 oz. Bacon-wrapped Surf and Turf Filet, 14 oz. Prime Ribeye, Perry’s Famous Seven-Finger-High Pork Chop, or Grilled Sea Bass. The menu concludes with either a Dessert Trio or the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Bar for dessert. The $49.95 menu price does not include tax and gratuity, and reservations are required.

As part of its strong commitment to serve its communities, all locations of the Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar restaurant brand are working together to aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey. With support from all their Goodnight for a Good Cause partners across the country, September’s beneficiary for all Hopdoddy locations will be the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, a Houston organization focused on supporting people affected by the massive destruction of the storm. On September 4th and 5th -- Monday and Tuesday -- all sales from every Goodnight/Good Cause Burger ($8.25-$9.25) sold at all 20 Hopdoddy locations nationwide will be donated to the Harvey recovery effort! This yummy burger features and Angus beef patty, Tillamook cheddar, caramelized onions, jalapenos, hickory BBQ sauce, lettuce and tomato. 
In addition, Austin-based Tito’s Handmade Vodka will donate $1 -- up to $10,000 -- for every drink Hopdoddy Burger Bar sells that is made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. After this two-day special event, all Hopdoddy Burger Bar locations will donate $1 from every Goodnight/Good Cause burger purchased throughout the entire month of September to the recovery effort!
Love eating ice cream to cool off on these hot Texas afternoons? Lick Honest Ice Creams is donating 100% of proceeds from Texas Sheet Cake ice cream pints sold at their shops to the American Red Cross. This decadent ice cream features chocolate ice cream swirled with chocolate-pecan icing -- just like the iconic Texas dessert! All Lick ice cream is made without any artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, or preservatives. For the entire month of September, every time someone buys a pint of Lick Texas Sheet Cake ice cream at any of their scoop shops, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort. For my San Antonio readers, Lick Honest Ice Creams has a scoop shop at The Pearl. There are also three Lick scoop shops in Austin.  
Who doesn't love eating a comforting peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I sure do! During the entire month of September, Which Wich Superior Sandwiches will donate $2 for every $3 Project PB&J sandwich sold to their friends and neighbors in areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Sandwiches feature creamy peanut butter and grape jelly on sliced bread -- an old-school favorite! Open donations will also be accepted from guests at any Which Wich location. Which Wich will match all donations made by guests -- up to $100,000 -- directly to the American Red Cross to aid in Harvey relief efforts. 

There you have it...a way that you can dine out and do good at the same time. I wanted to share dining options in a wide range of prices to fit any budgets. Simply purchase and eat something yummy...and do good for Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey. As a Texan, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!