Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “gluten free

Farm to Fork Wine Dinner Series: Sienna Restaurant Featuring Cakebread Wines

 

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Just look at that line up! Those bottles of Cakebread Cellars were the wines featured at Sienna Restaurant’s latest wine dinner last Thursday.

Andy and I were excited to attend this dinner because we are big fans of Cakebread, especially their Reserve Chardonnay.

Pictured below is the menu for the evening, kudos to chef Moses Hernandez at Sienna for making our dinner gluten free!!

Sienna Menu
We started with the 2013 Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc paired with a Scallop and Tiger Prawn Ceviche over cabbage and a mixed vegetable slaw with red chile and blue corn chips. This dish was the best pairing for a Sauvignon Blanc, as it was citrusy, light and refreshing, just as the wine was. And I was a hungry lady after a semi-stressful day at work. Andy remarked that he was transported to Mexico by this dish. Good thing we’re going in November! :)

ceviche

The second course was a Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Forbidden Rice, Soy Poached Bok Choy, Lemongrass Broth & Thai gremolata. It was paired with a 2012 Napa Valley Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay.

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I was so happy to have had this as the second course, as I love Thai food and this was certainly a Thai inspired dish. Again, really refreshing and just amazingly good. The broth was so flavorful, and the rice was cooked perfectly. We had some wine left from the previous course and it went with the Sauvignon Blanc just as well.

The third course was a Roasted New York Steak with Sauteéd Fingerling Potatoes, Citrus Swiss Chard, Pomegranate Molasses, and Roquefort Blue Cheese butter. It was paired with a 2011 Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

steak

This was the course that made Sienna as a restaurant really shine. Not only was the steak cooked perfectly along with the accoutrements. I want to comment for a moment on the service and attention to detail I witnessed at Sienna. First, one of the servers halted service of this course for Andy and me. They were not sure if we had been served the gluten-free plates or not. Now, that was highly appreciated, because although we do not have a gluten allergy, maybe someone who requested a gluten free meal might have. The staff at Sienna made sure we were delivered the correct entreés.

Another comment is that special attention to detail was given in handling the wine, as it was going to be pretty tight tannin-wise. The bar staff at Sienna took the time to both aerate the wine and then decant it long before dinner guests arrived, so that it would give its best showing.

And the wine was pretty phenomenal to both of us, and pretty much put a spell on Andy. He loved the Cabernet so much, that he ordered a case. I am pretty excited about that, because I benefit. I get to taste the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon as it matures and develops. Softens and becomes even more magnificent. I think he said we are going to open a bottle every 6 months. Don’t be jealous, maybe you’ll get an invite for dinner to share. ;)

Then, it was on to the last course. The dessert course. Sienna made sure to adjust ours so that it was gluten free as well. It was a Peanut Butter Mousse, topped with Whipped Cream and chopped Peanut Butter Cups. It was paired with a 2012 Red Hills Lake County Cakebread Cellars Zinfandel that to be quite honest, longed to be paired with the prior course. No matter. I gave Andy all but two tastes of my dessert and I enjoyed the Zinfandel pretty much as my dessert. It was spectacular. :)

dessert

I could pretty much sum this dinner up as pure bliss. It was a beautiful evening under the stars with like minded people. All food and wine lovers like Andy and myself. I want to thank the team at Sienna for making this an incredible evening for all of the guests. No detail was spared and I am pretty sure no one left hungry or the slightest bit unhappy. We’ll certainly be back to enjoy dinner when we come to retrieve the case of Cakebread Cabernet, but we’ll also save the date for your upcoming dinner on October 2nd with Jordan Cellars.

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PS: Sienna also does a Monday night Wine and Dine, it’s 3 courses paired with wine for $35 per person. Hook yourselves up by clicking here! Guess what… it’s Monday, you should totally go NOWWWW!!!

OK, that’s the yummy wrap for tonight. I’ll have more Farm to Fork Wine Dinner coverage later this week! Cheers!! :)

You can find Sienna Restaurant on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Black Tie Bacon Wrapped Dates and California State Fair Cooking Demo Date Announcement!

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Happy Wednesday! I thought I would quickly share with you a few desserts I brought with me to a party last night. I know, the whole chocolate covered bacon is passé, but I’ve been putting bacon where it doesn’t belong (tee hee) SINCE JUNE 2009;) Anyway, here’s what I’ve got:

“Suit and Ties” (Black Tie Bacon Wrapped Dates with Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Filling):
Pit some Mehjool dates (one per person you would like to serve), stuff with pistachio butter (1 cup ground pistachios with 1 Tbs coconut oil) and mini chocolate chips. Roll in bacon. Bake at 350°F until bacon is brown and crispy. Dip in white and dark melted chocolate or simply drizzle with melted chocolate. Voilà!

Cookie Dough Bites:
Make the recipe for Gluten Free Cookie Dough. You can substitute mini-chocolate chips for added cute factor. Roll the dough into bite sized pieces, dip in melted chocolate.

I’ll be doing a live cooking demo with Andy at the California State Fair this year: Saturday, July 27th at 7pm!! Any requests? What would you like to see Paleo-ized?


Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites Giveaway

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OK, I know it’s the end of a four-day weekend for most of us, so I have a little giveaway planned to make the work comeback sting a little less! By the way, I am actually starting a new job today, so I am just thankful to have work again after a 3 1/2 month hiatus. ;)

Today, I would like to share with you a new snack item sent to me by Setton Farms: Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites. It’s got two of my very favorite ingredients: pistachios and cranberries. The pistachios used in the Chewy Bites are grown right in the heart of California’s central valley (San Joaquin), and Setton attends to each detail of growing, harvesting, processing the pistachios.

Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites provide healthy snack lovers the amazing benefits of pistachios, cranberries and agave nectar in a delicious bite size bar. Pistachio Chewy Bites are heart healthy, 100% all natural, gluten and dairy free, low in sodium, GMO free, vegan and a great protein snack on the go. They also have no cholesterol, zero trans-fat and are a good source of dietary fiber. Each bar is about 100 calories. They’re also great before or after a race!

Do you want to try Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites for FREE? Enter to win a 16-pack bag by clicking the link below!

ENTER HERE!! :)

You can find Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites on Facebook here.


Gluten-Free LUNA Protein Bars Giveaway

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LUNA is graciously sponsoring this Gluten-Free LUNA Protein Bars Giveaway through my website/Facebook page! You can enter to win 3 boxes (36 bars) of your favorite flavors shipped directly to your door!
ENTER NOW.

Also, you can enter to win a stocked vending machine in your office loaded with LUNA Protein bars (for 6 months!!) over on their Facebook page here.

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Food. It can bring people together. Or, it can set them apart. In my case, it was the latter.

Last December, I accepted a position with a PR firm in downtown Sacramento. It was one of the happiest days of my professional life. I had dreamed of working there for such a long time. Finally, it seemed I would be able to make decent money, pay my parents the remainder of what they loaned me a few years ago, pay down credit cards, pay off my school loan and most of all, fix up my condominium which despite being livable, was still quite dilapidated from being flooded two summers ago.

I hit the ground running, working on formatting a proposal that would be a key factor in the company’s win of a bid to do business with a certain Department of the State of California. I was in the office quite a lot (leading up to and right after Christmas) working 9-10 hours a day, making sure my work was accurate and completed by the designated deadlines.

To meet my deadlines and take time to check my work, I would often work through standard lunchtimes (when everyone else would go out to eat). I did this for many reasons: 1. I didn’t eat out for lunch because it saved me a ton of money. 2. I got a lot more work done when there were fewer interruptions and less noise. 3. I don’t really eat lunch, so why would I start going out for lunch?

Of course, just to be social and to get to know my coworkers a little more, I made it a point (especially in the beginning) to go with “the team” for lunch once a week (usually on Fridays, despite the fact I really couldn’t afford the extra $50-60 a month to do so). It was then I discovered I got along better with the guys on my “team”. It seemed like I was always sitting across from the women in my department. Still, I tried to be friendly towards them (despite my almost painful shyness), and I tried not to think about it too much. I just wanted to fit in.

I’m not sure what happened after the holiday, other than when I was asked about my diet, I responded that I had cut out flour, sugar, and most daily since March of 2011. I have to also say that other than on this website, I really don’t talk about Paleo that much (unless I am asked). I really don’t care what anyone else eats. Really, I don’t. Like any normal office setting, (especially a PR company) it was typical for the break room to be wallpapered with bagels, muffins, donuts, cookies, et cetera (if it had wheat in it was on the table). There was always an excuse for constant eating. And pressure to eat constantly. It was always someone’s birthday or anniversary, or a client that was coming in (so we had to have food for them), or a client that brought something in for us.

I was not there to eat, I was there to work. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to eat. I just like to eat after my work is done. And, I would rather eat with my loved one. I don’t like to cram in errands and a sandwich in my mush in a hour time frame. In January, I treated my coworkers with some fun food samples from the Fancy Food Show, and again in February, I brought in a slew more from the Gluten Free Expo. And, I wasn’t really there to make friends, though I did respect my colleagues and definitely wanted them to like me. But, again, I was there to work and make money.

The donut and cake food frenzy continued past the holidays and I would always say “No, thank you.” or “None for me, thanks.” Maybe it was just too weird for people in the office. I could feel the awkwardness at times, but tried to overlook it. Besides, I thought I was safe because the HR department had set an appointment with me to receive benefits, and they had just placed me in the Business Journal’s People on the Move Section on January 24th! I was a PART of this company! I felt comfortable enough to wear some different hairstyles around the office, and I finally let my condition (alopecia) be known to a few people in the office. So, looking back, I’m not sure if it was my diet or my baldness that did me in…

Or maybe it was the day I went down to the second floor to get information on choosing medical, eye and dental insurance as well as other benefits in the human resources office, and I was accidentally handed a spreadsheet with a list of all the company employees (including the partners) and their salaries on it. I have to admit I stared at the sheet a few minutes before I even realized what it was… then I handed the paper back to the HR person and said, “I don’t think you intended for me to have this.” Yes, I am sure that didn’t help my cause either.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, Andy sent me a card about the size of Vermont, and a dozen red roses from Relles. I don’t think it helped my popularity either, but it sure did make me feel special. It’s so important in life to have a supportive partner. Especially when eating a certain way. And, especially when I lost a job I loved and worked so hard for, just short of three months after it started. On the day after Valentine’s Day, I was called down to the Human Resources office around mid-morning. My department director and the HR director were seated in her office. Within minutes, I was being escorted out. I was shocked and scared. Most of all, I didn’t know how I was going to tell Andy. I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me or think ill of me. My heart ached for explanation, and all they would tell me was, “It just wasn’t a good fit.” They must’ve really wanted rid of me because she practically walked me through how I could apply for unemployment that very morning and “it would be no problem” getting it. Huh?

So, I’ll never really know what it was. I am pretty certain one of the women in my department had it out for me (simply because she didn’t like me) and complained until I was gone. But I do know this: I was judged by my lifestyle and rubbed out. And maybe it was just everything combined about me that made me an outcast. And, sometimes people just suck.

I was never going to write about any of this because I was too embarrassed and to be honest, it’s still rather painful to think about (and actually pretty messed up that something like this could happen). That being said, I believe everything happens for a reason…LOL, though I am still trying to figure out what The Man upstairs has in store for me next. When LUNA contacted me about their latest promotion and the gluten-free bars, telling my latest debacle became somewhat dutiful.

Since gluten free snacking at work can be such a challenge (especially if people think you’re a freak for not eating wheat), LUNA wants to help you practice healthy workplace snacking with the “Feed Your Strength…At Work!” Facebook contest. Through June 30th, visit LUNA’s Facebook page and share how your office practices healthy habits and you’ll be entered to win a stocked vending machine full of delicious LUNA snacks including LUNA Protein- a great gluten free snack option that comes in five delicious flavors (Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry Almond, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate Chip) and has 12 grams of filling protein per serving so that you can do your best at work. The bars are quite delicious, however, they do not protect you from a knife in your back! ;) My favorite is the Cookie Dough, as I have been on quite the cookie dough crack habit lately.

Two winners will receive:
1. A vending machine at their workplace stocked with LUNA bars for six months.
2. Six nutrition sessions with a LUNA nutritionist.

Enter by June 30th, 5pm EST. You can visit the LUNA Facebook page here and follow them on twitter here.

This week, you can enter to win 3 boxes of LUNA Protein bars, any flavor of your choice. Click here to enter the giveaway!!
LUNA

Note: I realize that LUNA Protein bars are not Paleo, but I support healthier gluten-free products that would be of particular interest to athletes (especially runners).


Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Pizza featuring Colman’s Mustard

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Sometimes you just need to eat a pizza. Like, damn.

The crust for this pizza was made with Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix,  which contains rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and xanthan gum, so it’s not Paleo, but is a much healthier wheat crust alternative. It gives the crust such a close-to-the-real-thing texture, but you can omit the mix and just use cauliflower and cheese and eggs, but like… it just won’t be very close to real CRUSTY goodness. :(

But this will:

Crust:
1/2 package Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix
5 eggs
1 head cauliflower
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Line a pizza pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 385°F.

Follow Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough package directions for 1/2 the package. Steam cauliflower in the microwave until it is “falling apart” tender. Allow to cool. Pulse the cooled cauliflower in your food processor with the rest of the ingredients until they are well combined.

Spread onto lined pizza pan and place in oven to bake until raised and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prepare the BBQ sauce! When your crust does become slightly browned, you will want to remove from oven, but keep oven on, as you will be using it again to bake the pizza after you top the crust.

Now make the BBQ Sauce!
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BBQ Sauce Ingredients (adapted from Mark’s Daily Apple BBQ Sauce Recipe):
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 – 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 – 2 tablespoons honey
2 – 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Colman’s mustard
2 tablespoons water
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

In a small bowl mix together tomato paste, butter, hot sauce, honey, vinegar, mustard and water. In another small bowl mix together allspice, cinnamon, pepper, chili powder, paprika and onion powder. Mix the spices in with the wet ingredients. OK. There you go.

Spread on half baked pizza crust and then top with your favorite toppings. This time, I did mushrooms, onions, and chicken (tossed in a little of the BBQ sauce and whatnot).
Then bake until it’s all browned and bubbly like. Come on, I know you have enough common sense to figure it out! ;) xoxo

Drink some fine Milan Ruz with the pizza! Cheers!

 

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Gluten-Free Chicken Pesto Pizza featuring Bella Pizza & Foccacia Mix

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Andy and I always celebrate our monthaversary with a special dinner (either at a restaurant or by either of us cooking something that we don’t indulge in everyday). This month, I made one of Andy’s favorite foods and one of the things he used to eat most before going Paleo. Pizza! We both love pesto, but just don’t eat it that often either because it’s usually found on top of bread or pasta. Both no-nos of course. So we compromised with a rice and potato-based gluten-free mix and cauliflower blend for the crust. This time, I used Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix.

Bella Gluten-Free was founded by Mary Capone, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo last month, and who is also a celiac chef and mom of celiac children. She wanted “to create baking mixes that were beautifully tasting, heavenly in texture and wonderfully nutritious.” I have to say that of all the pizzas/crusts at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo, Mary’s was the best. And that’s coming from Andy Harris, who basically subsisted on two food groups–pizza and beer!!–during his span of running 23 marathons. ;) Andy selflessly (haha!) tasted over 5 slices of pizza at the show to bring you the report back. I did get to try the Bella Gluten-Free Mix at the show and was so impressed I wanted to feature it here on cavegrrl.com, despite its rice base. I think it’s a great product, and the bottom line is that it doesn’t have wheat.

So here’s what I did to make the pizza! PS: About the pizza I made with this mix, Andy said: “I ate the rest of that pizza today, and I swear it was the best pizza I’ve
ever eaten.  That was wicked!!!”

FYI: One package of Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix makes two 14” pizzas or two 9” focaccia or 12 hamburger or sandwich buns.

Crust:
1/2 package Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix
2 tsp Mayacamas Gluten-Free Pesto Mix
5 eggs
1 head cauliflower
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Line a pizza pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 385°F.

Follow Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough package directions for 1/2 the package. Steam cauliflower in the microwave until it is “falling apart” tender. Allow to cool. Pulse the cooled cauliflower in your food processor with the rest of the ingredients until they are well combined.

Spread onto lined pizza pan and place in oven to bake until raised and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prepare your pesto topping! When your crust does become slightly browned, you will want to remove from oven, but keep oven on, as you will be using it again to bake the pizza after you top the crust.

Pesto:
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (do not skimp on quality here!)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the nuts and garlic in your food processor. Pulse together until the texture is slightly grainy. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly puréed. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree until well combined.

Topping:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 red onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
2 chicken breasts (4 oz each)
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Slice onion and sauté it in a heated skillet with the olive oil. Add the salt and the mushrooms. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Once the onions are translucent, add the balsamic vinegar and cook a little further. Then add the chicken and cook until it is browned. Turn off stovetop and allow to rest.

Assemble the pizza:
Grate as much mozzarella as you like (we used about 1 cup)
Spread the pesto evenly on the the pizza crust, and top with the chicken, onion, mushroom mixture. Then top with the mozzarella cheese.
Return the pizza to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt and the toppings to heat through.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. If you can wait that long… :)
Wine pairing: Sangiovese from Vino Noceto (with the pizza) and an Assyrtiko from Gaia Estate, Santorini, Greece (with the salad). PS: On our salad, we’re still loving extra virgin olive oil and the Auntie Si’s Lemongrass Vinegar!


Primal-Friendly Gluten-Free Bleu Cheese Pecan Bread

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If you never make anything else from this website, make this recipe. It is a spin on an old recipe I used to make called “crack bread”. I call it that because it will turn you into an addict. ;) If you don’t mind eating wheat or sugar, you can look up & make the old recipe here. If you’re ready to have an amazing Primal-friendly meal, (with way less calories) read on:

I came up with the old recipe after tasting an appetizer called Billy Blue Bread at The Owl Grill in Grass Valley. It’s still on the menu there, but since I have cut wheat and sugar from my diet, I wouldn’t dare indulge. Instead, I tweaked my old recipe to make it gluten free and so that no added sugar is necessary! I even ditched the butter in the new recipe and replaced with with an onion “jam” of sorts. There’s so much flavor in the onion “jam”, you won’t miss the butter.

Special products I used in this recipe include Extra Virgin Olive Oil (everyday variety) made by California Olive Ranch and Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend. I’d like to thank both companies for sending me product samples. If you want to be truly primal, you can leave out the gluten-free flour blend (it contains rice), but I recommend leaving it in the recipe to help give your bread a better texture. It’s a really great product.

Primal-Friendly Gluten-Free Bleu Cheese Pecan Bread with Balsamic Reduction
Before you begin, you’ll want to line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and toast and chop your pecans so they are both ready to use. Also, if you don’t want to hassle with making a balsamic reduction, there are several you can buy to use instead.

For the Cauliflower Bread
2 heads of cauliflower
4 eggs
4 egg whites
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend
1 Tbs California Olive Ranch Olive Oil
pinch salt

Prepare: Preheat oven to 375°. Cook cauliflower either by boiling it or microwaving until it is almost falling apart. Allow to cool and then place in a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower with the eggs until completely smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the almond meal, the flour blend, and salt. Stir until completely blended and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in oven until golden brown and bread has set completely. (About 30 minutes). While bread is in the oven, you can prepare the onion jam.

For the Onion Jam
3 large red onions
1-2 Tbs olive oil (I used California Ranch Olive Oil)
1 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch salt

Slice onions and sauté in 1-2 Tbs olive oil. Add the salt. When the onions turn translucent, add the balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking slowly until onions caramelize, then add the garlic at the end. Incorporate fully until the onions are cooked. This should take about the same time the bread will take to bake. When the onions are finished, allow to cool a bit and then place them in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it turns into a paste or “jam”. Set aside. At this point, the bread should be ready to remove from the oven. Now you’re ready to make the balsamic reduction.

For the Balsamic Reduction
2 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar

In a saucepan, heat the vinegar until it is simmering and reduce it until it is the consistency of molasses. This will take about 20 minutes. You will be looking for something thick and viscous that will stick to the back of a spoon.

For the Finished Product
3/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Keep oven temperature at 375°.
Spread the onion jam over the bread, and top with 3/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese crumbles, then sprinkle the pecans over that.

Place bread back in oven, and bake for 10 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Then, drizzle the reduction over the bread. Serve immediately with a big glass of merlot! :) Also, I really enjoy dipping the bread in the Arbequena variety of oil that California Olive Ranch makes.

You can find California Olive Ranch on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Pamela’s Products Facebook page is here and follow them on twitter here.


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