Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “primal

Scary Good Pesto and Blue Cheese Potatoes (sponsored by Whole Foods Market)

 

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Last Saturday, Andy and I went to a Halloween party and I took these potatoes. They were inspired by a dip that Andy buys for us (occasionally as a treat) at Taylor’s Market. The dip/spread is called Walnut Basil and Blue Cheese Spread, and it’s rather addictive. I thought I would take the same flavor components and make them into bite-size little party treats. It was a big deal that I make a good culinary impression at this party, and I knew these would be well received. PS: They were all gone within a half an hour! :)

Ingredients:
2 pounds red, blue, & yellow mini potatoes–if you can’t find these, red ones will do.
1 jar 365 (Whole Foods private label) Pesto Sauce
1/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk (or sour cream)
1/2 cup Crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
salt/cracked pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F and slice the potatoes into bite sized pieces. Generously oil a baking sheet and place the chopped potatoes it. Drizzle some oil over the potatoes (how much you use is up to you). Bake the potatoes until they are golden and crispy. Set aside while you prepare the pesto and blue cheese mixture.

For the blue cheese/pesto mixture, combine the pesto and the blue cheese in a bowl large enough to eventually hold the potatoes, too) and mix together with the back of a spoon, add the coconut milk (you can also use sour cream) to thin the mixture so that you can easily spread it on the potatoes.

Then add the potatoes in the bowl with the pesto/blue cheese mixture, and fold them in until the potatoes are well covered. Then place the potatoes back on to their original baking sheet and turn the oven on to the broil setting.

Broil the potatoes until the pesto and blue cheese mixture forms a crust and they look browned/crispy.

Go forth and be the hit of your party!! :)

Thanks to Whole Foods Market for sponsoring the food used in this recipe!! :) You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here.


Fueled by Whole Foods! (Nike Women’s Half Marathon Series)

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So, I finally had time to get out to Whole Foods and start using the gift card they gave me to feed myself during my half marathon training (the Women’s Nike Half Marathon in San Francisco on October 20th). For about $65 dollars, here’s what I bought:

  • 1/2 Gallon So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
    (will use in smoothies, sometimes morning coffee)
  • 1 pound bag frozen raspberries
    (will use in protein shakes with protein powder, ice and coconut milk)
  • 1 package Diestel sliced herbed turkey breast
    (love their products, a healthy splurge indeed!)
  • 1 head of organic cauliflower
  • 1 small block of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    (.25 pounds or so, my biggest splurge on the list!)
  • 3 pound bag frozen triple berry blend
    (will use in protein shakes with protein powder, ice and coconut milk)
  • 2.87 pounds of broccoli crowns
  • 1.17 pounds of organic bananas
    (will use in protein shakes with protein powder, ice and coconut milk)
  • 1.82 pounds of Grenache grapes
  • 1 pound of Organic Girl Super Greens
  • 1.5 pounds of parsnips
  • .75 pounds of coconut flour
    (will use in occasional treats after long runs)
  • ,75 pounds of almond meal
    (will use sparingly to make gluten free bread or occasional treats)
  • 1 orange flesh honeydew melon (my favorite fruit!!)

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This was my awesome dinner tonight, almost all of it made from the ingredients on my shopping list today from Whole Foods. It was a Diestel Turkey salad (2 1/2 slices), on a bed of Organic Girl Super Greens (dandelion, arugula, spinach mix), 2 hard boiled eggs, 1-2 Tbs grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, eggplant “croutons” and studded with about 1/2 cup of organic Grenache grapes. I don’t typically use dressing because the egg and cheese make everything so flavorful I don’t need it. :)

As far as the running goes, I have an app called Runkeeper to log my daily mileage. Here’s a look at my run this past Sunday. I wanted to put in a long run on the roads because I had not done one in a while. I was even wondering if I could make it past 10 miles! Followed by the map are my mile splits:

run map

1 mi: 9:05
+12 ft elevation climb

2 mi: 9:07 +1 ft elevation climb

3 mi: 9:01 -10 ft elevation loss

4 mi: 9:18 -3 ft elevation loss

5 mi: 8:44 -18 ft elevation loss
(water stop at 5.25 miles)

6 mi: 8:59 +23 ft elevation climb
(ran kinda through the mall and through the tunnel into Old Sac… AWESOME)

7 mi: 8:09 +15 ft elevation climb

8 mi: 8:20 -5ft elevation loss

9 mi: 8:35: +4ft elevation climb
(water stop around 9 miles)

10 mi: 8:36 -3ft elevation loss

11 mi: 8:47 +4ft elevation climb

12 mi: (last .24 of my run in front of the Sacramento Zoo) 9:38 -8ft elevation loss

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I am planning on running a short race the first weekend of October, but otherwise will mostly be concentrating on building my road tolerance and endurance.
If you would like to check out my profile and my running on Runkeeper, click here.

Look for another post using my groceries from Whole Foods, coming this week and more on my training as well!

You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here. The Nike Women’s Series is on Facebook here. Now get out there and go running! :)


Pig of the Month: The Gift that Keeps on GIving

At cavegrrl.com headquarters, I frequently get emails from different marketing representatives offering to ship me samples of their client’s product, hoping I will love it and tell all of you about it. Often, I get pitched for products that are gluten-free (but not grain-free) and still get several offers from people to send me candy, cake and the like from my old blog, which I rarely even update. So, it’s refreshing to get a request from a company that offers a line of products I really love.  And this time it’s worth the extra miles on the treadmill.

I bring to you the Pig of the Month.

Pig of the Month has taken your favorite meats and snacks and made them even better. Pig of the Month is an online retailer specializing in world famous barbecue.  Their products have been featured in several top national media outlets AND personally endorsed by The Chew’s Iron Chef, Michael Symon, and now, me! :)

Established in 2010 by Lea Richards after leaving her high stress job in finance, Ohio Based Pig of the Month BBQ is the product of a beloved family tradition and the result of one family’s insanely wild goose chase for the best barbecue. With a smoking technique that was perfected over decades, the company ships homemade, all natural BBQ products ranging from a variety of meats, sides, and sauces straight to your door!

I have now had the chance to try 3 of the products sent to me by Pig of the Month. Here’s the care package I received about a month ago:

pigpackageIt contained:
1. 1 pound of Duck, Pear, and Port Sausages
2. 1 package of 6 slices chocolate covered bacon
3. 1 pound Applewood Smoked Bacon
4. 1 pound Garden Herb Bacon
5. 1 rack (2 lbs.) Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs

The first item Andy and I tried were the ribs.

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We put together a little dinner around them with mashed sweet potato & cauliflower, as well as grilled vegetables:

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Then we tried the Duck, Pear & Port Sausage. I also made Brussels sprouts l’orange and sweet potato wedges with a grapple balsamic ketchup.

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With the Garden Herb Bacon that came in the package, I made an apple, bacon, toasted walnut and arugula salad. I made the dressing with: 1 tsp crushed garlic, 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts apple cider vinegar, and 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste.

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I gave the Chocolate Covered Bacon to Andy for a part of his birthday present. The bacon is made of nitrate free applewood smoked bacon, draped in a layer of 72% Swiss chocolate.

Other bacon cooking ideas include:
1. Use the bacon as a wrap around your favorite items when grilling: asparagus, scallops, meats.
2. Wrap around a feta-stuffed fig or pecan stuffed date and bake in the oven to create an amazing appetizer.
3. Lay on a rack inside of a baking pan, coat with date sugar, cinnamon, and a little maple syrup or honey and bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes: candied bacon!

For more ideas, there are a ton of recipes on the Pig of the Month recipe page here.  Use the coupon code “ILOVEPIG” for 15% off your next order. PS: If you live in Dayton, Ohio (where I happened to spend the first 25 years of my life) or the surrounding area, you can pick up your order at their facility!!

You can find Pig of the Month on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Recap of the California State Fair Cooking Demo & Recipes

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Look at that beautiful crowd! I want to thank all the people who came out to our cooking demo at the California State Fair. I realize many people were just passing through the kitchen and saw a place to sit down for a while, but there were a lot of people who stayed through our class, and many who actually new about Paleo, and wanted more information.

I was impressed there were a few couples in the crowd that showed up to see the demo because they already practice the Paleo/Primal diet/lifestyle. They were so nice to us (important because of my semi-stage fright/shyness), and it was fun to compare notes and results. It was a real encouragement to have like-minded people in the audience cheering us on!

Andy made a dish from last year, his ever-popular Bacon Wrapped Dates, which are simply three of the best ingredients you can find, bundled in a little package and secured with a toothpick. Pecan halves, Medjool dates and thick-cut premium (preferably applewood-smoked) bacon. Below is Andy making a tray to be baked in the oven (while we are actually doing the cooking demo) so some samples would be ready to be passed around before the end of the class.

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We were supplied with pitted Medjool dates (along with the rest of our ingredients) this year thanks to Savemart. The pitted dates saved a step in prepping those trays, as Andy places half a pecan in place of the pit, and wraps the date in one half slice of thick cut bacon, then secures each piece with a toothpick.

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After your tray looks like this, place in the oven at 400°F and bake for 12-15 minutes (start checking them when it gets close). The bacon should be cooked and browned.

For my part of the demo, I made this Paleo Mud Pie. Recipe is below:

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Serves 30-40 people

Crust:
3 cups almond flour/almond meal
1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine crust ingredients and spread on a large baking/jellyroll pan (you’ll want the pan to be at least 2″ deep).

Bake the crust for 20 mins at 375°F, or until you can smell the butter and the crust has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare your filling:

For the Filling:
8 medium -10 large Avocados
1 cup honey (ohhh yeahhhh)
8 Tbs Almond butter (once again, ohhh yeahhh)
1 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbs instant coffee
1/4 cup hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Topping:
1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Place the instant coffee in the hot water and allow to dissolve completely.
So, since there are a lot of ingredients quantity wise, you’ll want to split the recipe into half and then mix it all together in a big bowl. For instance: In a food processor, pureé the 4-5 avocados in a food processor, add 1/2 cup honey, 4 Tbs almond butter, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, then 1/2 the coffee mixture and 1 tsp vanilla. Transfer the mixture into one big bowl, then repeat with the remainder of the ingredients.

Then you’ll combine both chocolatey mixtures into one big bowl and stir together to incorporate fully. When the two mixtures are combined completely, spread them over the cooled crust, and then refrigerate the pie for 2-3 hours before serving.

To serve, sprinkle 1-2 cups chocolate chips over the pie. If you can get mini-chips, even better. I prefer the Enjoy Life brand because they are dairy free.

Paleo. Chocolatey. Mocha. Goodness.

The State Fair experience makes me want to do some local cooking demos/classes. Would anyone be willing to attend/pay for that sort of thing? Just curious. Leave me a note and tell me your thoughts!! xo


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?


Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

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I have a problem. It’s this recipe I invented for cookie dough. It’s addictive and I have had it, ahem… for breakfast the past two three days. But only a little bit at a time, with fruit. I swear. Can’t. Stop. Eating it.

You don’t bake it. You just eat it. You know, like you would straight out of the tube an institutional-sized tub. Sigh. Yes, because it’s way easier to stick your face in a vat of dough than it is to actually have to measure ingredients and use any muscle at all to stir it around in a bowl. I know you are stronger than me and none of you have ever purchased this product or eaten it only by candlelight the light from the fridge on your face at midnight. ;)

Anyway, to avoid the sugar, wheat and all the unnatural ingredients that cookie dough normally contains, I came up with this recipe over the weekend (as I was making a recipe from OMG it’s Paleo? called 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding.) I made the pudding with the idea that Andy and I would use it as a dip for bananas and apples. The recipe called for chocolate chips, and it made me think of chocolate chip cookie dough and a possible recipe for that… we could dip the fruit in that, too! Oh joy!

The secret in the cookie dough is Mehjool dates. They’re probably one of my biggest indulgences (60 calories apiece!). Not only do they give the dough sweetness, they also provide a molasses/caramel flavor. And, for diehard Paleos, I have made it two ways. Some people don’t believe in using butter at all, some people don’t eat any legumes at all. I myself, enjoy organic garbanzo beans once in a while. So, review the recipes below and tailor them to your own needs. :) Each one serves 2-4 people. Enjoy.

PS: You’ll need a food processor for this one. Puréeing dates is tough on the forearms. ;)

Recipe One: Paleo Version
Ingredients:
5-6 pitted dates (chopped)
3/4 cup toasted almonds
1 Tbs coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs honey
1/3 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks (this brand is great!)

Procedure:
Pulse the almonds in the food processor until they are a fine meal consistency, then add the coconut oil. Process until the mixture turns into almond butter, then add the chopped dates, honey, the vanilla and the salt. Then remove the mixture and transfer into a small bowl. Add the coconut flour and some coconut milk until the dough is the consistency you like. Then stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate until you are ready to eat. OK, I’m ready. What about you? :)

Recipe Two: Primal Version
Ingredients:
5-6 pitted dates (chopped)
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup organic garbanzo beans
2 Tbs greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
2 packets stevia
1 Tbs grass fed butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup coconut flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

Procedure:
Pulse the almonds in the food processor until they are a fine meal consistency, then add the butter. Process until the mixture turns into almond butter, then add the garbanzo beans, the greek yogurt, the stevia, the vanilla and the salt. Then remove the mixture and transfer into a small bowl. Add the coconut flour and some coconut milk until the dough is the consistency you like. Then stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate until you are ready to eat! As I stated earlier, I love to use the dough as a dip for apples, but you can form into little pieces and use as a topping for Greek yogurt or as a treat on ice cream. There are also plenty of recipes out there in the paleosphere for “paleo” ice cream using coconut milk. Here’s one from PaleoOMG :)


OMG That’s Paleo? Cookbook Preview & Recipe: 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding

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Today’s recipe for 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding is brought to you by PaleOMG’s Juli Bauer and her new cookbook, OMG That’s Paleo?

It was actually Andy who found Juli’s site PaleOMG and brought it to my attention when he saw her recipe for Chocolate Waffles, sent me the link and said, “Let’s make THESE!”
I started following Juli and really liked her down-to-earth personality and writing style. (Which actually encourages me to write more like myself and not so formally.) I especially loved her cooking videos. It takes a lot of courage to be on camera like that! :)

Some of her instructions on the website make me snicker (because I sometimes feel like writing them in my own recipes), such as this line in a recipe for Easy Chicken Dinner in 1…2…3:
“Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Not sure if it’s totally cooked through? Cut it open and look. Duh.” :P

A year later, and Juli has an entire cookbook! I have flipped though it and am looking forward to making her version of the popular Canadian dish poutine, as well as Bacon Chicken Alfredo. I especially appreciate the book’s 5 Ingredient Meals section (in which today’s recipe is included).

There is even space below each recipe to make notes if you change something in her recipes to suit your own tastes. The recipe for the Avocado Pudding is below, though since I was making it for dessert for both Andy and myself, I doubled the recipe. Also, it can be made vegan by sweetening the avocado with maple syrup or stevia drops (to taste) instead of honey.

Thanks to Juli for sending me a copy of OMG That’s Paleo? for review. You can buy it on Amazon here.

5-Ingredient Avocado Pudding
Prep time:  3 mins
Total time:  3 mins
Serves: 1
Ingredients:
1 avocado, mashed
3 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs + 1 tsp raw honey
2 teaspoons sunbutter (or other nut butter)*
pinch of salt
dark chocolate chips (optional, but rather necessary in my case) ;)Procedure:
Mash up the avocado.
Add in powder, raw honey (or syrup), sunbutter, pinch of salt and mix thoroughly.
Top with dark chocolate chips. Yes, please.

*TIPS: I used a pistachio nut butter in the recipe. Trust me on this. It’s gooood. Also, for best results, use a food processor to purée the avocado and remaining ingredients. Refrigerate before serving. Top with chocolate chips just before serving.

You can follow Juli on twitter here and like PaleOMG on Facebook here.

If you’d like to see Juli herself prepare the above recipe, her video tutorial is below:


Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Tots

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Last Saturday was the annual Komen Race for the Cure at Cal Expo, and Andy won his division! (Race photo by Morinico Photography)

To celebrate the win, I made one of his favorite foods (pizza!) these Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Tots (the pizza was a primal-ized BBQ Chicken Pizza, which I will share with you later this week). I had made an earlier version of the tots last week for myself, but was not satisfied with the texture or really, the flavor. This time, I used a combination of cauliflower and sweet potatoes, and it was a success! I also coated the tots in almond meal for extra crunch. Here’s the recipe!

1/2 head caulflower
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
1/4 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8  cup coconut flour or gluten free flour (to use as a binder)
cracked pepper (to taste)
salt
1/4 cup olive oil or a can of olive oil spray

1 cup raw almonds
1 Tbs coconut flour
1-2 tsp your favorite spice mixture (you can be creative here: chili powder, curry, rosemary, cumin)

Peel and cut potatoes into cubes and microwave until soft. While the potatoes are microwaving, pulse the (raw) cauliflower in a food processor until it’s texture is finely “crummed”, do not purée. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. When the potatoes are tender, set aside and allow them to cool.

Rinse out and dry the food processor, then pulse the almonds until they are almost breadcrumb consistency, then pulse in the coconut flour. Then if you wish, add in your favorite spices or extra parmesan cheese to finish off the breading. Set mixture aside on a plate and rinse and dry the food processor again.

Preheat oven to 385°F

Then place the sweet potatoes in the food processor and pulse to mash them up. Then add the cheese, the coconut milk, the eggs and the coconut flour, and pulse until smooth. Then remove the potato mixture and add it to the cauliflower crumbs. Stir until well combined.

Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or olive oil spray. Form the cauliflower and sweet potato mixture into little cylinder shapes and then roll in the almond/coconut flour/spice mixture. Set each shape on the baking sheet. This recipe will probably yield about 24 tots. Lightly drizzle the tots with olive oil, or pulse them lightly with the spray. This will help them get extra crisp.

Bake in oven until golden brown. (30-40 mins) Salt to taste. :)


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.


Grilled Monkfish Medallions with Mustard featuring Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Today’s recipe is from The New York Times Wine Club website and was brought to you by the makers of Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We were introduced to Tazah at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Andy coordinated the product sample at the show, picked the monkfish recipe, and even prepared it for us. I didn’t have to do anything but smile and pose with the bottle of Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sometimes I have it pretty easy. The recipe is fantastic and Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil is versatile enough to use in a recipe and also use in a salad dressing (which we also did the very same evening).

One of the photos is the monkfish with the marinade, and the finished plate includes one of our favorite sides: parsnip chips, sautéed eggplant (both prepared with Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a garnish of kiwi. I was really impressed with Andy’s cooking (he’s above average to start, especially when preparing meat, but this time was a real treat!!). The meal turned out so great! The flavor component that is key is the orange zest. It really amplifies the flavor of the sauce.

To make this recipe completely paleo you can use coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce.

Grilled Monkfish Medallions with Mustard

Ingredients
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 thick slices of monkfish, each about 6 ounces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 orange

Directions
Combine the mustard, orange juice and soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Beat well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place monkfish in a glass or ceramic dish and pour 6 tablespoons of mustard mixture over fish, turning each piece to coat both sides. Set aside at room temperature.

Preheat a grill or broiler.

While the grill is preheating, place the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Stir in the grated orange zest and the remaining mustard mixture. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grill or broil the monkfish 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Briefly reheat the sauce to a simmer, stir it and spoon it over the fish.

For more information on Tazah, you can call (323) 664-8956 and find them on Facebook here.


Vegetarian Recipe: Saag Paneer featuring Karoun Dairies

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On Saturday night, Andy and I stayed in for a change and I made another vegetarian meal with some products that were sent to me by Karoun Dairies. I decided I was in the mood for Indian cuisine and the Yanni grilling cheese I received from Karoun on Friday was the perfect thing to use in my own little version of saag paneer. :)

For fun, I added some boiled potatoes and parsnips into the finished stew and I also made the cauliflower breadstick dough (from a few posts back) into a thick sort of naan bread. Phenaanamal!! ;)

Ingredients:
4 cups baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound Yanni grilling cheese, sliced or cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs fresh ginger
3 Tbs crushed garlic
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup tomato sauce
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup Karoun Kafir lite cheese
3 parsnips, cut into half moons
2 potatoes, cubed
salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spinach in the boiling water until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Puree until finely chopped. Set aside.

Cut potatoes and parsnips into uniform pieces and boil them until they begin to soften. Do not overcook. Stay on the firmer side, as they will do their last part of cooking in the finished stew.

Next, sauté the onion and mushrooms together until the onion is translucent/cooked through. Add the tomato and the tomato sauce, along with all spices (ginger, garlic, tomato, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne pepper). Allow to simmer on low to medium heat so that the tomatoes will break down.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the Yanni cheese, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Return to the tomato sauce, and stir in the spinach purée. Salt to taste. Cover and cook for about 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Lastly, stir in the Kefir cheese to thicken the sauce. Then add the boiled parsnips and potatoes and coat them with the spinach and tomato sauce. Heat through and make sure the potatoes and parsnips have fully cooked through. Serve the fried Yanni on the side (to retain the cheese’s crispy edges!) :) Happy to report I did not miss meat that night! Thanks to Karoun Dairies for the great product samples!

To find Karoun products, you can enter your zip code in the store locator here.
You can find Karoun Dairies on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Recipe: Veggie February, Redwood Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

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For our first seafood & vegetable dinner this weekend, I made stuffed mushrooms and used three different products I picked up or were sent to me from vendors at the San Francisco Winter Fancy Food Show.

Redwood Hill Farm sent me three different products to taste, and one of them was a goat milk cheddar cheese. I was instantly intrigued because I love cheddar cheese. I had bought a few dozen crimini mushrooms earlier in the week, and needed to use them. So, I thought I could use the cheese somehow to make stuffed mushrooms. Another important element I used was a gluten-free seasoned coating mix from Hodgson Mill I also brought home from the food show. The final result was amazingly good, and I didn’t even use any eggs as a binder. Andy sautéed some shrimp (a wonderful departure from red meat) and I made a big salad to round out the meal.

My recipe for the stuffed mushrooms is below. I’d like to thank Redwood Hill Farms for the cheese samples and for the coupons for some of their other products that were sent to me.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Redwood Hill Farms Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese

Ingredients:
12 medium to large crimini mushrooms
1 diced onion
2 Tbs crushed garlic
1/3 cup almond meal
1/2 block of Redwood Hill Farms Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese (finely grated)
1/4 cup Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Seasoned Coating Mix
2 Tbs Karoun Dairy Lite Kefir Cheese (Labne)
1 Tbs olive oil or butter
cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 385°F. Remove stems from mushrooms and chop finely. Lightly oil a 13×9 pan and place mushroom caps gill side down on the pan. Roast the mushrooms while you are preparing the stuffing filling (10 minutes once oven has come to temperature.)

Then heat a pan with your oil of choice and sauté the onion with the mushroom stems. You probably won’t need any salt in this dish because the seasoning mix and the cheeses are salty enough on their own. Cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have cooked through. At this point, the mushroom caps should be ready to take out of the oven. Remove the caps from the oven and flip them over, allowing them to cool as you prepare the rest of the mushroom filling.

Add the crushed garlic, almond meal and the seasoned coating mix to the mushroom stem/onion mixture and coat evenly. Then add the kefir cheese and stir until well combined. Lastly add about 3/4 of the shredded goat milk cheddar (save 1/4 of it to top the mushrooms once they’ve been filled). Add a little bit of cracked pepper to your mushroom filling and then fill the caps. I find it is easier to pick up the caps and scoop filling into them rather than trying to fill them with a spoon. Then once I have scooped some filling into a cap, I dip it into the extra shredded cheese so that the cheese sticks to the top of the mushroom rather than a bunch of cheese ending up on the pan.

Once you have filled the mushrooms and topped them with cheese, return the pan to the oven and bake at 385°F for about 25 minutes. The cheese will turn a nice golden brown on top and the mushrooms will develop an even more roasted flavor. I was so happy with the way they turned out and I hope you will give them a try!

For some fun cheese and wine pairings, you can go to Redwood Hill Farms’ website here.

You can find Redwood Hill Farms on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Food/Wine Pairing: Spicy Chicken Korma & Casque Sauvignon Blanc

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Last night, Andy came over to my house and I made Indian food for the first time. Chicken korma is one of my favorite Indian dishes and I don’t know why it took me this long to make it for him. It’s got a subtle heat that slowly builds. While we were eating, Andy told me it was one of the top 5 things I have ever made for him. Maybe he just wanted something from me after dinner? ;)

Enjoy this dish with a sauvignon blanc or viogier from Casque Wines (Loomis). Today and tomorrow they are participating in the Holiday in the Hills Event at their new tasting room at the Flower Farm – 8920 Horseshoe Bar Road – offering food and wine pairings throughout the weekend along with a logo glass or cloth wine gift bag for all customers that purchase wine. Just bring a new, unwrapped child’s toy to donate for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation Toy Drive and wine tasting at ALL 17 participating wineries is FREE for the day. (Cash donations will also be accepted in lieu of a toy). Where: Auburn, Lincoln, Loomis, Newcastle. When: Dec. 8-9, 11 am to 5 pm. Participating Wineries: Bonitata • Casque • Ciotti • Cristaldi • Dono dal Cielo • Fawnridge • Green Family • Lone Buffalo • Mt. Vernon • PaZa • Pescatore • Popie • Rancho Roble • Rock Hill • Secret Ravine • Viña Castellano • Wise Villa

And now the recipe!

2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless and cut in half or thirds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup sweet onions, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cardamom or 1 pod
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
1/3 cup golden raisins or currants
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh mint (leaves washed and coarsely chopped)
1/4 fresh cilantro (leaves washed and coarsely chopped)
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

Directions
Toast and chop the walnuts. Set aside.

Heat a large heavy sauce pot over medium high burner and when hot add oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. It will probably take 2 batches to cook all of the chicken. Brown both sides and remove from the pan. Add more oil and repeat until all chicken is seared.

Remove chicken and add onions, carrots, ginger and garlic and sauté until lightly caramelized about 3-4 minutes in the left over fat. Lower heat and add spices. Cook until spices become very fragrant…make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir. Add broth, walnuts and the seared chicken. Bring to a boil then simmer gently until chicken is tender, approximatly 20 minutes. Mix together cornstarch and water. Whisk into simmering chicken. Return to a boil to thicken. Turn off heat, add raisins and stir in yogurt and herbs.

On the side, I made some parsnip chips and some potato wedges and sprinkled them with garam masala and sea salt. I also made some sautéed onions and eggplant, as well as broccoli battered in coconut & almond flour and baked to simulate some of the common deep fried Indian appetizers I crave. ;)

More on Casque Sauvignon Blanc (2011): It is $20 a bottle, and is their inaugural release for this varietal. The wine was cold fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel without being allowed to go through malolactic fermentation, and no oak aging was used. It’s a drink now wine and just proof of the talents of winemaker Kevin Stevenson. The wine went so well with the Chicken Korma, crisp enough to cool, cut through the kick in the dish.

You can find Casque Wines on Facebook here. Cheers! :)


Chevys Fresh Mex Friday Giveaway!!

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A few weeks ago, Chevys Fresh Mex (no apostrophe, not my typo :)) hosted me and RB for dinner to introduce all of you to their updated menu choices that meet the nutritional guidelines of the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWellSM program. I asked them if we could take things a bit further and show cavegrrl.com readers that Paleo is possible  at Chevy’s! Before I tell you about the new menu items for kids, I’ll show you our amazing Primal (I had cheese on my salad, so not completely Paleo) meal:

First up, we had the citrus-infused Ceviche Mixto. It was a combination of shrimp and calamari lightly cooked in lime and orange juices and infused with chile arbol and cilantro mixed with red onion and red bell peppers. Instead of the  corn tortilla crisps, we opted for a bed of lettuce. That’s probably about the easiest tip I can give you. Just ask for your meal on lettuce instead of chips! :)

I ordered the Santa Fe Chopped Salad: A Mesquite-grilled chicken breast, bacon, avocado, fire-roasted red peppers, crumbled bleu cheese served on hearts of romaine. I used salsa and avocado as my “dressing”.

RB had the Carne Asada with Shrimp Skewer: a chile-rubbed carne asada, mesquite-grilled to your liking, served on a bed of San Antonio veggies and topped with a fuego-spiced shrimp skewer. We asked for extra avocado and veggies instead of the side of rice.

Paleo/Primal can definitely be done, as well as gluten-free, even at a major chain restaurant. Just make sure you tell your server or get a manager what you need. :)

As for the kids menu, that debuted on July 17th at Chevys Fresh Mex, Carlos Franco (executive chef for all Chevys locations) says, “These exciting new menu and promotional offerings underscore our ongoing pledge to making dining out a healthy, fun activity for kids and their families. In keeping with all Chevys fare, our entrees for kids incorporate exciting flavor profiles and only the freshest local ingredients.”

The National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program launched one year ago in collaboration with HealthyDining to help parents and children select healthful menu options when dining out. Restaurants like Chevys that participate in the voluntary program commit to offering healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium. Though the menu items are not Paleo, I like the healthier direction they take by serving grilled vegetables and apple wedges instead of deep-fried sides. Here are some of the new menu choices:

  • Chicken Fajita with carrots, celery sticks and apple wedges (water for beverage)
  • Soft Beef Taco (without cheese) with grilled veggies, and carrots  and celery sticks ( apple juice for beverage)
  • Soft Chicken Taco (with 1 tablespoon cheese), sweet corn tamalito, grilled veggies (pineapple juice for beverage)

In addition to making dining out healthier, Chevys also recently instituted new elements that make the restaurant experience more fun for kids, adding games like the Burrito Maze, Sabroso Mad Lib and Be the Artista; menu items such as Build Your Own Taco. The restaurant will also continue its Kids Eat Free promotion on Tuesdays, where guests receive one free under-12 kid’s meal with the purchase of one regular adult entrée.

Chevys Fresh Mex’s new kids’ menus and Tuesday Kids Eat Free promotions are available in all 42 company locations.

For more information on Chevys Fresh Mex and its commitment to fresh, visit www.chevys.com. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

And now: The Giveaway!!

Chevy’s Fresh Mex has generously offered a “Be Our Guest” card to one of my readers.

The card is good for an entrée and a non-alcoholic beverage!

To enter to win the card, please comment below on the Chevys Mex menu item you would most like to try! I will announce a winner next Friday. :)

Happy Labor Day Weekend!!


Primal Pre-Race Dining at… Piatti Mill Valley

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A few weekends ago, Running Bum and I took a little trip to Mill Valley to poke around at some property he is interested in buying. I tagged along with him to run a race the next day. The race, the Marin Memorial 10K, is one of the fastest 10K courses in the area, but it’s still a really tough course. No PR, and I was definitely not running with “fun runners” that day.

For our pre-race meal, we dined at Piatti. And we kept it Primal. Since Piatti is one of my sponsors on cakegrrl.com and will be migrating to this site at the end of the month, I wanted to show my audience on this site what we had for dinner that evening–without touching wheat/pasta/grains/rice.

Our appetizer was the Kobe steak crudo, secret sauce, capers, and tiny arugula. The dish comes with crostini, but we politely asked the server to see if he could swap it out for something else. Instead of telling every server in the world we are Paleo, I simply just say, “we are gluten-free”, or “we are wheat-free”. Our appetizer was served, honoring our special request, with a small side Caesar salad. Perfect.

Next up, we split a chopped romaine salad with salami, chickpeas, olive, peppers, artichokes, and two cheeses. I don’t freak out about chickpeas, and enjoy them about once a month, so I love them on this salad. I ordered the dressing on the side, but to be honest, this salad has so many goodies on it, I didn’t even need dressing or my typical balsamic and olive oil blend.

For the entreés, he went for the cioppino and I the espresso crusted filet, served with bloomsdale savoy spinach, extra vegetables instead of the mashed potatoes, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, and aged balsamic. We ate everything family style, as I love to get RB’s input on things I plan to write about. (Sometimes he even writes for me!)

The cioppino is probably the best I have ever had. The chef did something magical with his addition of a small amount of sambuca to the broth. The stew was heavy on seafood and once again by request we were able to get some extra vegetables on the plate instead of the bread that is typically served with cioppino.

The espresso filet is something I liked so much, I am going to try and replicate it at home. The execution was flawless both presenation and cooking-wise (medium rare!!). I tried to share it with RB, but I think I downed most of it. :)

By the way, this meal is going down as one of the best since we have been together. Of course, the meal at Place Pigalle still ranks supreme, but this one rates top notch on service and food quality. It just doesn’t feel or look like a chain restaurant.

Another win was the wine we drank with our meal. Piatti has a selection of wines available on tap called Barrel-to-Table (Piatti’s revolutionary barrel-to-table wine program pours these wines through a custom tap and barrel system which eliminates oxidation and brings the wine directly to the table using the most environmentally sustainable technology – no corks, foils or bottles.) So, yes, I will take the wine hose for $1,000, Alex.

Indeed, I was intrigued, so we tried the Kemiji Pinot Noir (a Barrel-to-Table selection), because we both thought it would be the best compromise for a pairing between the cioppino and the filet–and it was! Instead of playing around with a mere glass or a 1/2 Liter, we went for the Big Gulp–a whole liter for $55. ;)

That evening, we stayed at Marin Hotel and Suites. We took advantage of an Amazon sale from a couple of weeks prior and got the room at a very steep discount. RB and I just love steep discounts. :) It was a pretty good room for the price, equipped with a mini kitchen: a coffee pot, microwave, full-sized refrigerator, sink, and dining area. A bonus for me was that the room had a clock radio by the bed with an iPod dock and speakers…I took advantage of it, and plugged in my iPhone so I could blast Born and Raised. ;)

You can find Piatti Mill Valley on twitter here and the Sacramento location here. The Sacramento menu changes around, but you can typically find my favorite salad (the salad pictured above) on it. :) You can find Piatti on Facebook here.

PS: At the Sacramento location, don’t miss the summer music series every Friday night (hello, live music on the patio!) and the $10 wine list on Saturdays. :)


Southwestern-style Caprese Salad

This past weekend, I needed to make something to bring to a birthday party for a good friend of mine. Since Saturday was packed full of fun activities (including 7.5 miles of running, a tour of the Roush Residence hosted by Sac Mod, and a “wine-by” of Raley’s Grape Escape), I didn’t have a big block of time to spend on the dish. Still, I wanted to bring something that looked inviting and would stand out on a potluck table. Something that would look and taste like I spent more time than I did ;), and something light that would pair well with the hot weather.

So, I was looking on the Nugget Market website for some sort of direction, and this recipe emerged. Thank you, Nugget!!

Of course, I never follow a recipe exactly, so I changed up a few things. Also, it’s not completely Paleo since there is cheese in the dish, but cheese is my little cheat.

Here’s my version:

Southwestern Caprese
Ingredients:
2 Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 organic tomatoes, sliced
4 Tablespoons cilantro (finely chopped)
1/2 cup Casero cheese (crumbled like bleu cheese)
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbs olive oil
cracked black pepper
lime juice

When you are prepping the avocados, squeeze some lime juice over them after you slice them to prevent them from browning. To prepare the salad, pretend you are making a lasagna or moussaka. You will have enough ingredients to make two layers.

Layer the bottom of a 9×13 in. baking dish with both kinds of tomatoes and one of the sliced avocados, then drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil over the layer. Add half of the cilantro over that, followed by half of the cheese crumbles. Then sprinkle half of the cumin and then crack some pepper over that. You won’t need salt because the cheese will be salty enough to season the salad. Repeat the process to form the top layer.

Make this salad within a few hours before you plan to serve it, or right before you plan to serve it, if possible. Organic tomatoes and avocados taste amazing, but their lifespan is extremely short. :)

You can follow Nugget Market on twitter here and like them on Facebook here.


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