Sunday, October 29, 2017

Steviva Blogger Recipe Challenge...Featuring Holiday Candy Cane Cocktail #steviva #nectevia #sweetandeasy #peppermint

I was recently invited to take part in the Steviva Blogger Recipe Challenge using one of the company's natural sweeteners to create an original recipe. Steviva's mission is to safely and healthfully replace artificial sweeteners and table sugar. Their product line includes ingredients like monk fruit, erythritol, coconut sugar, agave nectar, xylitol, inulin, and crystalline fructose. I decided to enter a recipe in the contest's Beverage category that features their Nectevia liquid sweetener -- which contains blue agave nectar and premium 100% pure stevia extract. The end result is a natural syrup sweetener that tastes great and has only a quarter of the calories, carbs, and sugars of regular agave or table sugar -- and just FOUR tiny calories per 1-teaspoon serving. 

My festive Holiday Candy Cane Cocktail is ideal for the upcoming holiday entertaining season! It features a simple homemade peppermint-infused simple syrup made with Nectevia, vanilla-infused vodka, Rum Chata liqueur, and a bit of cream for richness. To up the fun quotient of my cocktail, I rimmed the cocktail glass with melted chocolate and crushed peppermint for an edible peppermint bark effect. This smooth and creamy cocktail features an intense peppermint flavor that's sure to be a hit at any holiday parties on your calendar over the coming weeks. It would be an ideal centerpiece for your Christmas morning brunch!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wendy's Great Eight for October 2017 #GreatEight #WendyFaveThings #tryit

Fall is's soup weather...and the Houston Astros are leading in the World Series! Life doesn't get much better for us here in central Texas this week. I'm so excited to share this month's Wendy's Great Eight picks with you!! This month, I'm sharing some fun treats, a fabulous appetizer...and even a magical elixir that will help you get a restful night's sleep. Ready? Let's get started!

(1) Angie's Boom Chicka Pop White Chocolate & Peppermint Flavored Kettle Corn. I love popcorn...and I love peppermint anything during the holiday I fell in love with Angie's Book Chicka Pop white chocolate-peppermint kettle corn at first bite! If peppermint bark and salty-sweet kettle corn, it would taste just like this. Even better? It's just 110 calories per cup. That means I can have a sweet treat in the evening that won't wreck my daily calorie budget. Other yummy flavors in Angie's fabulous seasonal lineup include Hot Cocoa Marshmallow and Candy Corn. I also love their year-round White Cheddar popcorn -- so good! Be sure to check out their amazing online Store Locator, which can be searched by specific flavor to easily find your favorite popcorn flavors in a store near you...without the guesswork. How handy is that?!?!?!

(2) Gorton's Potato Crusted Cod Bites Seafood Appetizer. I love serving fun finger foods -- especially during Astros and Texans game days! One of my favorite recent finds is Gorton's new frozen Potato Crusted Cod Bites. These one-bite appetizers are fun mixture of mild flavored wild-caught cod and tater tot. The potato coating cooks up crunchy and golden. You can dip them in tarter or cocktail sauce if you like, but I prefer to sprinkle them with Cajun seasoning before baking to give them a spicy kick. Each 8-piece serving of these baked bites is 180 calories and has 8 grams of fat. Prefer your appetizers on the cheesy side? Gorton's also has a new Mac and Cheese Shrimp Bites appetizer. To find these two new frozen appetizers near you, be sure to check out Gorton's convenient online Find Your Fish feature.

(3) Stock the Crock: 100 Must-Have Slow Cooker Recipes, with 200 Variations for Every Appetite. If you're like me, the cooler weather has you using your slow cooker more. I'm always on the lookout for tasty "set and forget" recipes that I can make in my slow cooker, so I was thrilled to find Phyllis Good's amazing new cookbook! Ms. Good is a New York Times bestselling author whose cookbooks have sold more than 12 million copiesThis handy resource contains 100 must-have slow cooker recipes. Every recipe also includes variations to tailor it for gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or Paleo diets. Many recipes can also be adjusted to be more kid-friendly or made for two. Some of the delicious recipes that have caught my eye include Beef and Barley Stew, Sausage Barbecue Bean Dip, and Cornbread from the Tropics. This versatile cookbook would definitely be an ideal holiday gift for the cooks on your shopping list. Stock the Crock can be purchased online -- including via Amazon.

(4) Edoughble Edible Cookie Dough Dough-It-Yourself Kit. When I bake cookies, I only wind up with half as many baked cookies as the recipe calls for...because I love eating the raw cookie dough so much. I know it's not that healthy to eat typical raw cookie dough, so I was thrilled to try Edoughble's delish ready-to eat cookie dough! They only use real, natural ingredients like hormone-free butter and vanilla bean extract that's alcohol-free. To make Edoughble 100% safe to eat, each batch of cookie dough has zero eggs, raw flour, or chemical leaveners -- just great cookie dough flavor. The Dough-It-Yourself Kit lets you freestyle to create your own customized flavor. The kit contains two tubs of edible cookie dough in Dough Schmo (original flavor) and sugar (Plain Jane)...along with cookie crumbles, color sprinkles, and mini chocolate chip mix-ins. From there, simple mix and match your favorite mix-ins! My favorite combo was adding sprinkles and cookie pieces to the Plain Jane...positively addictive! This fun kit is perfect for holiday gift giving and can be purchased online from Edoughble's website.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sneak Preview: The 8th Annual Texas Monthly BBQ FEST #tmbbq #bbq #bestintexas

Attention all Texas BBQ lovers! What if I told you that you could sample the very best BBQ from all over the state in one afternoon? This scenario is a dream come true for Texas BBQ fanatics! Texas Monthly magazine's 8th annual TMBBQ FEST is being held Sunday, November 5th at Austin's The Long Center for the Performing Arts. This smoketacular event will take place from 1:00-4:00 p.m. -- and there are still a few tickets available for purchase. This will be our fourth time to attend and cover the TMBBQ FEST, and it’s always a great time. This year, more than 30 of Texas' best BBQ joints are taking part -- including Austin’s beloved Franklin BBQSnow's BBQ from Lexington (currently ranked #1 in the state by Texas Monthly), and longtime favorite Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. 

Every participating BBQ joint has a booth where hungry BBQ lovers line up to sample their brisket, ribs, sausage…and fun surprises like lamb chops too! As these picture from last year’s TMBBQ FEST show, we had a great time sampling some amazing BBQ.
In addition to fabulous Texas BBQ as far as the eye can see, attendees can also purchase soft drinks, beer, and cocktails to wash it all down. There’s also plenty of great live music to enjoy – the event is in Austin, after all! Bottom line: TMBBQ FEST is a fun afternoon where BBQ lovers of all ages mingle and sample as much smoky Texas BBQ as they can eat in a beautiful location near picturesque Lady Bird Lake. Keep in mind that this is a very popular event, and tickets typically sell out before the day of the event. If you are interested in attending the 2016 TMBBQ Fest, I highly recommend you purchase your tickets online as soon as possible! 
VIP Tickets for this family-friendly event can be purchased online. VIP tickets are $165 and include noon admission, two drink coupons, and a subscription to Texas Monthly. General Admission tickets are $80 each, and discount tickets for children 5 and under are just $10.
The Weekend Gourmet team will be posting lots of fun social shares the day of the 2017 TMBBQ Fest – including live video via Facebook and Instagram! If you’re not already following us on social media, what are you waiting for? Follow us via WEEKENDGOURMET on Instagram and @TheWeekendGourm on Twitter.

Disclosure: TMBBQ Fest has graciously provided The Weekend Gourmet team with media credentials to attend and cover this year's event. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Comfort Food Soup and Stew #SundaySupper...Featuring Slow Cooker Smoky Chicken-Potato Soup #fallfood #comfortfood #soup

It's late October...and Fall is in the air. Here in Texas, it's not terribly cool yet...but the worst of our heat is over for another year and evenings can be cool. That means one thing...soup weather! This week, #SundaySupper is focusing on comforting soup and stew recipes. I'm sharing a comforting Slow Cooker Smoky Chicken-Potato Soup that's hearty, without being overly heavy. It's a perfect weekend meal, because the slow cooker does most of the work. That leaves you time to take care of other stuff around the house...or maybe watch the Astros play World Series baseball!

Boneless skinless chicken thighs, aromatic veggies, and creamy baby potatoes are healthy additions to this chunky soup. This hearty soup is definitely a meal on its own, but I added garlic toast on the side. A simple green salad would be a perfect healthy accompaniment too!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Perfect Halloween Side: Spicy Purple Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Green Goo Dipping Sauce #halloween #spookyfood

Halloween calls for serving fun, creepy food to set a spooky mood! Whether you’re serving dinner before trick-or-treating this year -- or if you're planning a scary movie fest like I am -- today’s fun dish will be a perfect addition to your Halloween menu. My Spicy Purple Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Green Goo Dipping Sauce. The vibrant purple color of the sweet potatoes and the creamy green dipping sauce are really fun…and the flavor is spicy good. All you need are some fun Halloween serving pieces and creepy decor to complete the Halloween mood!
Purple sweet potatoes are similar to traditional sweet potatoes, with a vibrant purple color and a richer flavor. I tossed my sweet potatoes in olive oil seasoned with herbs and spices. Before baking, I sprinkled them with coarse salt and black pepper. While the fries baked, I made the “green goo” dipping sauce. This spicy dipping sauce is ranch dip made green by adding a puree of cilantro, green onion, and seeded jalapeno. The end result is definitely green…and monstrously good! This duo is great paired with burgers for Halloween dinner. Can't find purple sweet potatoes at your local grocery store? No worries! Simply substitute regular orange sweet potatoes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Make Your Halloween Purposeful with Global Purpose...Featuring a Wickedly Good Halloween Snack Mix Gift Bag #PurposefulHalloween #helponenow

The Halloween season is upon us, which means sharing fun, spooky treats – no tricks allowed! -- to your friends and family. Today, I’m teaming with a great company called Global Purpose to show you how to create a fun Halloween snack mix, then package it in a fun and purposeful way using Global Purpose burlap gift bags! My no-bake Wickedly Good Halloween Snack Mix Gift Bag is a perfect project to make with your kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews. While you assemble the snack mix, you’ll have a perfect opportunity to talk with them about Global Purpose’s life-changing mission! The company was founded by Kaylynn and Jon Jordan as a social enterprise to connect purchases and positive change in real, sustainable ways. This purposeful giving company provides education and income opportunities for people living in vulnerable communities. 

Through these giving bags, Global Purpose is providing fair wages and training for 50 teachers at four schools across Haiti -- as well as 16 teachers in rural Uganda. Via those teachers, the future of more than 2,000 students each school year are directly affected – talk about truly making a difference! The purchase of these giving bags supports teachers in a way that supports the entire community. Let me show you in a few simple steps how to create my Wickedly Good Halloween Snack Mix Gift Bags, that are presented in a Global Purpose burlap bag. I'm not typically crafty, but I had a fantastic time with this project!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Slow Cooker Comfort Food #SundaySupper...Featuring Slow Cooker Asian Garlic-Ginger Meatballs #meatballs

The hectic Fall season is here...cooler temperatures and hectic schedules are the norm these days. That means I rely on my slow cooker more than ever! I can start a meal early in they day, then take care of errands and other events while dinner cooks away. This week, #SundaySupper is featuring Slow Cooker Comfort Foods that are perfect for cooler temperatures. My contribution to this week's event is Slow Cooker Asian Garlic-Ginger Meatballs. These versatile meatballs can be served over rice or noodles for a delicious and easy dinner...or they can be served as a delicious finger food at your next game day spread!

These meatballs are made with a combination of lean ground turkey and a bit of ground pork. They're flavored with fresh ginger, garlic, green onions, hoisin sauce, and a bit of chile paste. Chopped water chestnuts provide crunch and texture. The meatballs are browned and cooked in a sauce featuring ponzu, more hoisin and chile paste, and a bit of white balsamic. The end result is moist meatballs in a sauce that packs a ton of umami, along with a bit of sweetness and spice. We absolutely loved them!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fall Baking with Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag...Featuring Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake #InTheRaw #giveaway #pumpkinspice #sponsored

October is here...and that means it's time for all things pumpkin! What if I told you that you could enjoy a decadent Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake that is lower in sugar and calories...but doesn't sacrifice flavor or appearance? I know it sounds too good to be true, but it's not...thanks to Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag! Stevia In The Raw® is a zero-calorie sweetener that contains an extract from the sweet leaves of the stevia plant. Convenient Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag measures cup-for-cup like sugar, so it can easily be used in recipes to reduce sugar and calories with no confusing conversions necessary.

The big key for successfully baking with Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag is to replace approximately half of the sugar in a recipe. This ensures browning, rising, and caramelizing that only sugar can provide. However, this simple substitution can save up to 700 calorie for every cup of sugar replaced with Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag. Most importantly, you'll never know that you've replaced half of the sugar in this Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake when you taste it!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Easy Taco Recipes for National Taco Day #SundaySupper...Featuring Surf and Turf Tacos #NationalTacoDay

Welcome to October...the last three months of the year are definitely my favorite. Cooler weather finally arrives here in Texas, football season is full swing...and there's all kinds of fun holidays to celebrate! First up is National Taco Day on October 4th. Tacos are one of my most favorite foods...what's not to like? They're so versatile...and they definitely feature the Big Flavors that we crave at my house! This week, #SundaySupper is celebrating National Taco Day by sharing our favorite taco recipes just in time for your celebration this coming Wednesday. 

I'm sharing a taco today that's perfect for those times when you just can't decide if you're hungry for shrimp or beef. My Surf and Turf Tacos solves that problem perfectly -- it features both! Add in a colorful avocado-corn salsa, a bit of sour cream, and some shredded cheese -- and you've got yourself one fabulous meal. To save time, the shrimp and beef can be added to the simple marinade the night before and refrigerated -- which means these tacos can be on the table in about 30 minutes for dinner the next day!