Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Recipes

Putting the “Pazazz” in Your Holiday Feast

Every holiday table needs a little pizzazz. And so does every potluck. I present to you today a recipe that even the laziest person can whip together in less than 20 minutes (depending on how fast you can slice), but it will seem like the most gourmet salad you’ve ever made. More importantly, it’s gluten free, nutritious, and just happens to even be vegan. The star of the salad is Pazazz itself. Pazazz apples, that is!

Pazazz is a descendent of the Honeycrisp with a sweet, yet tart flavor. You may or may not have seen them in your grocery store, because they are quite new to the market. Pazazz apples are grown sustainably by second and third generation family orchards, who make sure the natural orchard habitat and the land is protected.

I was sent a box of Pazazz apples by Honeybear Brands to develop a recipe and feature it here. Since one of the main characteristics of the Pazazz apple is its crunch, I decided to use the apples raw. I also didn’t want to add any heat that would change their skin’s beautiful color. With those parameters, I chose to make a simple Fennel and Apple Salad with Lemon and Toasted Walnuts. I wanted a lighter counterpart to all the heavy food we tend to eat at holiday parties and family dinners.

If you go to the Pazazz apple website, you can click on “Find Pizazz” to locate where to find them in your area.

You can find Honeybear Brands on Facebook here and on Instagram here.


Fennel and Apple Salad with Lemon and Toasted Walnuts

4 Pizzazz Apples
1 Whole Fennel Bulb
Fennel Fronds for Garnish
Juice from 3-4 Lemons
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tbs Lemon Zest
1 tsp sea salt (to taste)
Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
3/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts.

1. Toast and chop walnuts and allow to cool.
2. Combine the lemon juice and the olive oil and whisk together.
3. Core and slice the Pizzazz Apples, with a mandolin or as thinly as you can with a chef’s knife.
4. Do the same with the fennel bulb. Pull the fronds from the fennel and reserve them to use as a garnish.
5. Place the fennel and the apples in a medium sized bowl and pour the dressing over them, making sure to coat both thoroughly.
6. Add the toasted, chopped walnuts.
7. Sprinkle the fennel fronds over the salad for extra flavor and garnish. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6.


Besides leaving you this recipe, I also want to say thank you for reading for another year. I haven’t written as often as I would have liked, but I hope next year it will be more often. This blog has been cavegrrl.com for nearly 8 years now, and I am headed into my 15th year as a blogger. I can’t believe time has gone by so quickly!

I wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season. I am off to travel for the rest of the year, but I will be back with more in January! Follow me on Instagram here to see what I am up to until then. Cheers!


Gluten Free Breakfast Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust


One of the things I miss the most being on a Paleo/Primal diet is BREAD. In that category would also be a nice, not too thin pizza crust that I have never been able to replicate with cauliflower. I also wanted to be able to PICK UP the slice of pizza and not have to use a utensil. A lot of gluten free pizza recipes require and knife and fork and leave me feeling like I am eating some sort of soggy polenta dish with tomato and cheese on top.

I finally came up with a ratio/blend of ingredients that make a great gluten free crust, and I will probably never make a cauliflower crust again. I felt confident enough about the crust recipe’s texture and flavor that I made it at the 2017 California State Fair Cooking Demo on the last morning of the fair. Try for yourself, and use the following crust recipe as a base for any kind of pizza you want to make. I am posting the exact recipe below that I made at the California State Fair. 🙂

PS: You’ll need a food processor, 3 sheet pans (at least 9 by 13) a cook top of some kind, and an oven to make this! (Just throwing that out there!) For the oven, place one rack in the middle and one nearer to the top.

Crust Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes (you can use orange or white, whatever you prefer)
1 1/4 cup nut flour of your choice (I used a ground pistachio/almond blend)
3 eggs
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 Tbs garlic powder
1/2 Tbs dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt



Step One

Peel and cut your sweet potatoes into roughly 1-2 inch squares and pre-cook them. You can do this any way you want, but I would stay away from boiling them because this will leave them waterlogged and soggy. My shortcut is the microwave. Cook them until they will mush between your fingers with almost no effort. You can also bake them if you want. Tip: Cook potatoes the night before, or even a few days before to shave a little bit off your pizza prep time.

Step Two
If you are making the breakfast pizza, this is the part where I go ahead and PREHEAT the oven and cook my bacon for the topping at the same time. Even if you’re not making the breakfast version, SURELY you’ll want bacon on your pizza anyway! 🙂 This is an easy way to get the bacon super crispy without burning it. I use a sheet pan lined with parchment paper to cook the bacon. While you’re at, go ahead and line THREE sheet pans with parchment paper. Two you will need for the pizza crust, so parchment paper line them and set them aside for now. The remaining pan will get a layer of parchment and then your 6-10 slices of bacon. Don’t crowd the pan too much, or the bacon won’t cook evenly and it won’t render (get crispy). Once you’ve put the bacon on the sheet pan, place it in the oven and THEN turn the oven on. Heat it to 400°F. You’ll want to cook the bacon slow, so a cold oven is OK to begin with. By the time you’re ready to put your crust in the oven, your bacon will be almost ready and your oven will be the temp you need it. Now on to the crust!

Step Three
Grind the nuts of your choice (I used a mixture of pistachios and almonds–1 cup ground pistachios, 1/4 cup ground almonds) until they look like coarse sand/start sticking to the sides of the food processor bowl (we don’t want nut butter, just finely ground). Pulse in your parmesan cheese. Add the salt, garlic powder and the dried oregano. Then begin adding your sweet potatoes in stages. You will need to add the water, olive oil, and 3 eggs in between adding the potato pieces so that the mixture continues to blend well. Depending on the size of the potatoes, you might not need to add all of them. Consistency-wise you are looking for a thin cookie dough, but thick cake batter. It won’t be the consistency of pizza dough from a pizza parlor, it will be more loose than that.

Step Four
Spread the dough mixture onto the other parchment-lined pan. Spread evenly across the pan, no thinner than a 1/2 inch thick. At this time, you can check your bacon. It may or may not be done depending on the thickness of the bacon slices. If it is not done, you can leave it in on the top rack and set the timer to remind you to check it (I go in 5 minute increments). Also, make sure to pour any excess grease off of the pan. Pour the grease into a coffee cup or something you can retrieve it from for later use (I will get to that later!) Place the dough pan on the middle rack and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Sauce Ingredients:
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs chopped garlic
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt

Step Five
If you want, you can buy a jar of pizza sauce and skip this step all together. I do this when I am pressed for time. If not, add your crushed tomatoes, paste, and herbs and salt to a saucepan and cook together while the pizza crust does it’s first bake for the 10-12 minutes. You will be simmering the sauce until you need to use it. Also, the bacon should be getting done by now, so check it again and take it out if necessary.

Sausage and Shallots Preparation Ingredients:
2 shallots
Reserved bacon grease
1 lb ground turkey

Step Six
While the sauce is cooking and crust is baking, dice up the shallots. Then, in another saucepan separate from the one you used for the tomato sauce, pour some of the bacon grease you reserved from earlier, heat it up, and sauté the shallots until they are translucent. Add the ground sausage (turkey or pork, whatever your preference) and cook with the shallots, allowing the meat to cook through and brown. When the meat is browned, turn off the heat and set aside. At this point, the first bake of the crust is probably done, so go ahead and take out the crust and place the pan on a heat safe surface.

Step Seven
At this point, fetch the third parchment lined pan, and invert it, making sure the parchment paper stays put. Place it on the top of the crust and flip it over. This is so the pizza crust will cook through/dry out, and you will be able to pick up the pizza/not eat with a fork! Your oven should still be at 400°F. If you are making the breakfast pizza, this is the part where you will peel the parchment off the top of the crust, use the back of a spoon and make little “wells” on the pizza. I make 4 wells for 4 eggs. The wells I am describing are little indentations so that when you crack the egg on the pizza crust, it will not run all over the top. Instead, it will be captured in the little bowl you made for it. Once you have made the wells and cracked the eggs into them, carefully place the crust into the oven for another 10 minutes. This time, use the rack that is higher in the oven, so the eggs will set.

Toppings:
1 bunch green onions
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
6-10 slices bacon
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Step Eight
OK, we’re almost done! For final prep, chop the green onions and set aside. Also, chop the bacon you prepped earlier and set aside. I also like to measure out the sun dried tomatoes and the cheese and put everything in a row (so I don’t leave anything out). It’s like a little pizza assembly line. 🙂

Step Nine
Take the crust out (the eggs on top should be almost set). Turn the oven temp up to broil (low), you will need to use the oven one last time after you top the pizza (so that the cheese will melt). Begin with the tomato sauce and spread around the crust, being careful to avoid the eggs on top. Then add the sausage, bacon, sun dried tomatoes, green onions, and top with the mozzarella cheese. You should still be able to see the eggs through the toppings.

Step Ten
Place the pizza back in the oven until the cheese on top melts and browns. I like to keep an eye on the pizza through the window on the door of the oven to prevent over-browning. Once the cheese on top is melted, take the pizza out, allow to cool 5-10 minutes before cutting. This is the part where I set the table. By the time I am finished setting the table, the pizza is ready to cut and serve!

Did I leave out anything? Do you have questions? Contact me here!

For other adventures in gluten free pizza, you can click here and here. There’s even here.

If you don’t already, please follow me on Facebook here, on Twitter here, and on Instagram here. Thank you, and please enjoy the recipe! 🙂


SunBasket Offers a Healthy and Convenient Solution for Weeknight Meals

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If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do when you get home from a busy day at the office is go to the grocery store (after sitting in traffic for almost an hour), wade through the aisles, figure out what to make, shop for the ingredients, wait in the checkout line, then actually COOK a full meal after all of that.

Now, if I didn’t work full time with a giant commute, I would be planning out multi-course menus for the week, shopping for the freshest ingredients and taking my time with all the preparations. I would be all about making every night’s dinner an event to remember.

But, for most of us, that’s just not a reality. Enter Sun Basket. The product that delivers a weekly box equipped with 3 meals for 2-4, and inside the box includes everything you’ll need to make them.

With Sun Basket there are easy and delicious recipes that YOU choose weekly for 2 to 4 people at $11.49 per meal. You can customize for a Paleo, gluten-free, or vegetarian diet. All recipes are created by top San Francisco chef Justine Kelly and approved by a nutritionist.

The Sun Basket kits are certified organic and sustainably sourced. All the ingredients are pre-measured which is less hassle and creates less waste. You can feel free to skip the grocery store and enjoy the best seasonal ingredients. You might even enjoy an ingredient that is hard to find or you have not tried on your own!

Sun Basket delivers weekly right to your door. The ingredients are shipped in an insulated box so they stay fresh and the packaging is recyclable and reusable.

So what did we enjoy in our Sun Basket? We chose strictly Paleo options for the week and ended up with the 1. Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups, 2. Steaks with Artichoke-Red Pepper Tapenade and Sweet Potato Fries, and 3. Trout in Parchment with Warm Date and Apricot Salad.

Here’s what it all looked like!

Meal One: Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups, recipe HERE.

lettuce-cups-and-sides

lettuce-cups
Of all the meals in the Sun Basket, this was the smallest in portion size, and could be eaten as an appetizer if you are both really hungry. That being said, I enjoyed it the most because of the several levels of flavors with the pickled vegetables, fish sauce, maple syrup, etc. And, there were cashews in there, too, another favorite ingredient of mine. 🙂

Meal Two: Steaks with Artichoke-Red Pepper Tapenade and Sweet Potato Fries, recipe HERE.

steak-and-potatoes-22

And meal three: Trout in Parchment with Warm Date and Apricot Salad, recipe HERE.

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cod

If you’re a big eater, then perhaps you might choose the 4 person serving to feed 2 people. I like that the calories and nutritional information is all right there on the recipe card, as well as detailed instructions on how to prepare each dish that is in the box.

One of the best things about Sun Basket is that you can order when you want and skip when you don’t. There is no commitment to order week after week, but you’ll want to order repeatedly once you discover the convenience and taste of the box contents.

You can find Sun Basket on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here, Pinterest here and on Instagram here. To place an order, you can visit https://www.sunbasket.com/home.


The Sacramento Greek Festival Returns Labor Day Weekend!

greek festival logo

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The Sacramento Greek Festival is back this Labor Day weekend and will be celebrating its 53rd anniversary!

Come experience the culture, traditions and fabulous food of Greece right here in Sacramento. All of the food at the festival is homemade by volunteers and is derived from authentic recipes passed down through generations directly from the Greek Mediterranean.

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There is a fun and lively village-style atmosphere at the festival which accurately represents the Greek passion for family, life, church, food, drink and dance!

The food menu includes classics like:

  • Pitas – traditional tiropita (feta) or spanakopita (spinach & feta).
  • Saganaki – flamed kefalograviera cheese with a hint of lemon and brandy.
  • Loukaniko – traditional spiced Greek sausage, served with pita bread.
  • New Loukaniko – sausage with mountain feta and Kalamata olives, served with pita bread.
  • Keftethes – Greek meatballs with tzatziki (cucumber, garlic, and yogurt sauce) and pita bread.
  • Gyro – savory slices of lean beef cradled in pita bread, topped with onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.
  • Calamari – seasoned strips of crispy fried calamari.

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In the dining court there will be:

  • Spanakopita – phyllo dough filled with herb seasoned spinach and a blend of cheeses
  • Tiropita – cheese puff triangles made with a blend of cheeses, eggs and seasons wrapped in buttered phyllo dough.
  • Fasolakia – tender green beans baked with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, herbs, olive oil and seasonings.
  • Beef Dolmathes – grape leaves stuffed with rice, ground beef and seasonings.
  • Vegetarian Dolmathes – grape leaves stuffed with rice and seasonings.
  • Pilafi – rice flavored with butter and lemon juice..
  • “The Old Spaghetti Factory” Spaghetti – with browned butter and Mizithra cheese
  • Kota Psiti (a la carte) – Baked chicken basted with lemon juice and Greek oregano.
  • Horiatiki Salad – traditional village salad made with fresh veggies, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, olive oil, and seasonings.
  • Pastitsio – macaroni layered with Greek seasoned beef and cheeses, topped with a creamy Bechamel sauce.
  • Roast Lamb (a la carte) – dinner sized portion of the all famous Greek-seasoned lamb.
  • Moussaka – layers of eggplant and Greek-seasoned ground beef topped with a creamy Bechamel sauce.
  • Shrimp Santorini (Friday only) – shrimp in a tasty sauce with feta cheese and herbs with Pilafi and Fasolakia.
  • Stifado Dinner (Saturday only) – a popular and uniquely spiced beef stew with cloves and cinnamon, originating from the island of Cyprus. Served with Pilafi and Fasolakia.

Beverages include Kafeneion (Greek Coffee), Greek Wines and Beer, as well as water and soda. A full menu can be viewed here.

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There are also several activities planned during the festival. There will be live music, dancing lessons, choir presentations, and the famous festival raffle. In addition there will be cooking demos and a few eating contests! For a full schedule of events each day, you can click here!

The hours of the festival are as follows: Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday 12pm-11pm, and Sunday 12pm-9pm.

Price of admission is as follows: General $5, Senior $4, and Children (Under Age 12) Free. On Friday (9/3) from 11am-3pm admission is FREE. The price includes admission only. Food and drink are an extra charge and the price varies for each item. The Sacramento Convention Center is located at 1400 J Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814

chicken kabobs
You can the Sacramento Greek Festival on the web here, find them on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, and catch them on Instagram here. See you at the festival!

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Flights By Night #5: Lamb-Stuffed Tomatoes and a Duo of Reds

recipe
Flights by night is back with another food and wine pairing we recently had for dinner. I made this recipe in an emergency after being reminded via email that I was supposed to make the meal that evening. Fumbling to come up with a grocery list, I recalled a picture of some meat-stuffed tomatoes I had seen online somewhere a few days earlier… I think the author used beef and I couldn’t even remember if I even saw the recipe or followed the link, so I decided to come up with my own version using lamb and spices/herbs commonly used in Greek cuisine.

Ingredients:
4 Beefsteak tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 bunch of fresh oregano
fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp allspice
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pound ground lamb
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 385°F. Wash your tomatoes thoroughly, then use a serrated knife to remove the very tops of the tomatoes. Then carefully hollow out each tomato (without going through the bottom) and reserve the insides for later use. After the tomatoes are prepped, place them in a pan deep enough to catch any drippings. Place them in the oven so they can precook while you are preparing your lamb mixture.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and then sauté your onion (finely chopped) until it cooks through a bit. Return to the tomato pieces from the hollowing out process and chop them up. Add the chopped tomatoes to the sautéed onion and continue to cook them. Then add the ground lamb and the herbs and spices and cook them together until the lamb is no longer pink in color. Allow mixture to cool slightly (5 minutes or so), then stir in 2 beaten eggs, incorporating them thoroughly.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven, by now they will have gotten a nice head start. Scoop the lamb mixture into each tomato, and fill them to the top. You’ll most likely have meat leftover, so you can put it in the pan alongside the tomatoes to eat with dinner, or reserve for use the next day in an omelette! 🙂

Bake the tomatoes for about 25 minutes or enough time for the lamb to brown on the top. Now lets talk about those wines we drank!

wines
The Wines
The first wine we had with dinner was a Duckhorn 2012 Merlot. The fruitiness of the Merlot really paired well with the succulent tomatoes & the oaky heft of the Domaine Eden 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (our second wine pairing and a completely different tasting wine) balanced out the gamey, in-your-face, Hit-em-with-the Hein-iness of the spiced lamb. Color my teeth purple and my tongue impressed! Thanks to Andy for bringing out this powerhouse duo of vino on an ordinary week night.

You can read about other food and wine Flights By Night here! Keep up with all the latest by following me on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

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Flights By Night #3: Pork Chop with Apple Gastrique and a Duo of Pinot Noir

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In this edition of Flights By Night, we bring you a classic pairing of pork and Pinot Noir. A bone-in pork chop with an apple and onion sauté and an apple gastrique. Served with roasted Brussels sprouts.

The Pinot Noirs that Andy chose are some of the most delicious Pinot Noirs I have ever tasted and they are very reasonably priced. Wine number one is Handley’s 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (their self-titled “flagship wine”) and wine number two is Talbott’s 2013 Kali Hart Pinot Noir (which is my personal favorite red wine right now, because of it’s drinkability with or without food).

As for Handley, they couldn’t make a bad wine if they tried. Case in point, their Gewürztraminer ($20), but that is another pairing for another time. 😉 Handley’s Anderson Valley Pinot retails for $32 via their website and Talbott’s Kali Hart Pinot Noir goes for ($21). However, you can find the wines at lower prices if you do a google search for them. 😉

The food pairing was a no-brainer because pork is always a perfect match for Pinot Noir. I quartered the Brussels sprouts and roasted them in olive oil. For the apple and onion sauté, I sliced the onions and cooked them in olive oil, seasoned them with salt, and then added 2 Tbs coconut sugar to help caramelize them. Then I added some chopped apples, and cooked the onions and apples down together until the mixture was browned and thickened.

Andy was busy with the pork chops on the grill and meanwhile I made the apple gastrique. It was such a simple preparation. I just used one part honey to two parts apple cider vinegar. I started with the honey in a small saucepan, and roasted over low heat until the honey turned darker. Then I added the apple cider vinegar and brought to a simmer, then turned down the heat slightly and reduced until the gastrique stuck to the back of a spoon (gastrique will thicken even more as it cools). Tip: You can serve the gastrique with pork, duck, or chicken. 😉

That’s it for today’s Flights By Night! Check back in a few days for another great food and wine pairing!


Gluten Free and Vegan Banana Maple Walnut Donuts with Banana Date Filling

banana walnut long shot
I’m having a lot of fun with the donut mixes I was given by Dr. Bob’s Donuts and DoYos. I’ll be working with Dr. Bob’s in some upcoming blog posts to show you how you can transform their mixes (both blonde and chocolate) into your own unique creations.

To begin this series, I made a donut especially for Andy with many of his favorite ingredients. He was happy to find all four of them on the kitchen table after a 10 1/2 mile run! 🙂

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Today I’m sharing with you how I made them in case you’d like to buy your own Dr. Bob’s Blonde Mix and try and recreate! 🙂

Important: Make the Banana Date Filling and toast the walnuts first, as you will need some of both in the donut batter.

Banana Date Filling
10 pitted Medjool Dates (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained)
2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 very ripe bananas

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until well blended. This will be your filling for the donuts that will go in the little heart indentation in the donuts.

date banana filling
Banana/Date Water
For the banana and date “water”, measure about 1/2 cup of the banana and date filling into a measuring cup, and fill with 1/2 cup more room temperature water. Mix well.

water date banana mixture
Donut Mix
1 cup Dr. Bob’s Blonde Mix
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp banana extract (optional, but for extra banana kick!) 😉

To make the donuts, stir in the “banana/date water” into the donut mix ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Divide the batter into the 4 compartments of the Dr. Bob’s silicone pan. (I spray mine with coconut oil spray to make sure the donuts don’t stick to the pan).

Microwave the mixture for 2 minutes, then turn out the donuts onto parchment paper, or a parchment paper lined Mandala cooling rack.

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Then poke holes into the top of them and drizzle with maple mixture:
1 Tbs pure maple syrup
2 tsp water

Now you’re ready to make the maple glaze.

glaze ingredients
Maple Glaze:
1/2 cup coconut oil or coconut manna (melted)
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
4 packets powdered Stevia

Heat coconut oil until it is in a nearly liquid form. Stir in the maple syrup and the Stevia until well combined.
Fill your donut hearts with the banana date filling, then drizzle/ice each donut with the maple glaze. Then top the donut with the remainder of the toasted walnuts.

For a dramatic and delicious effect, top the donuts with more maple syrup and serve with banana slices.

Check back next week for another great recipe! 🙂

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Dr. Bob’s Donuts and DoYos is located at 336 Lincoln Street in old town Roseville. They are open 7 am to 5 pm Tuesday thru Sunday. For more information, you can call them at 916-742-5241. You can find Dr. Bob’s Donuts and DoYos and tons of photos/ideas for donut creations on their Facebook page here and you can follow them on Twitter here. You can also follow them on Instagram here! 🙂


Meatless Mondays: Quick and Easy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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We enjoyed this homemade soup (my own recipe) on Saturday night paired with delicious gluten free and vegan sandwiches from Pushkins Bakery. If you haven’t tried their “adult grilled cheese” or “the buzz”, please do. Both sandwiches are vegan and gluten free and are utterly delicious. It was fun to have a completely vegan meal for a change. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (peeled)
1 large onion
3 to 4 large red bell peppers
1 head of garlic
2 shallots
4 roma tomatoes
1 quart vegetable stock

1 1/2  tsp cumin
1 1/2 red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp paprika
salt to taste

1-2 Tbs olive oil per baking sheet

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 385°F.
Prepare 2 half sheet trays by greasing them liberally with olive oil.

before cooking potato onion
peppers

Chop all vegetables into uniform pieces. Place the onion and the sweet potato on one tray. On the other tray, you should be able to fit the chopped tomatoes, peppers, garlic and shallot. Important because the potato and onion will take slightly longer to bake. Bake the vegetables in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking to make sure nothing is burning and rotating them on the pan to prevent burning.

The peppers and tomatoes will be ready to remove from the oven when the peppers blister slightly and the garlic is roasted and tender. From the time you remove the peppers and tomatoes, leave the potato and onion tray in the oven ten minutes longer.

cooked potato and onion

roasted red pepper and tomato

other ingredients
In a blender, begin to blend all the vegetables. There will be more than one blender can hold, so blend a little at a time with the vegetable stock. Since you will be enjoying the soup, add the stock to the consistency you like (I used all but about 1/2 cup of the stock), as thick or as thin. Empty each round of blended vegetables into a very large bowl so that they will mix together.

Then add all of your spices and flavorings. The crushed red pepper, paprika, coriander, and the cumin and salt to taste. Stir the spices in the bowl manually. Then in batches, return the vegetable mixture to the blender and mix until completely smooth. Pour the smooth soup into a new large bowl.

This soup can be made up to a day ahead of time. Just simply ladle into serving bowls and reheat. I’m confident this will be one of the easiest, yet most tasty soups you will ever make! 🙂 We paired the soup with a 2011 Handley Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley and a 2012 St. Rey Celeste, Candyhill Vineyards (Revolution Wines).

wine pairings


Recipes from the 1st Annual Ladies Holiday Party and Gluten Free Cookie Exchange Sponsored by Challenge Butter and Bob’s Red Mill

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Special thanks to the suppliers of our ingredients for the First Annual Ladies Holiday Party and Gluten Free Cookie Exchange: Challenge Butter and Bob’s Red Mill.  As you can see above, our ladies put together quite a spread with your line of products.

Challenge Butter sent all baking attendees coupons for their butter and new cream cheese products. Bob’s Red Mill sent 4 packages of coconut, almond and hazelnut flours our way as well. We used these products to make and share the following cookie recipes (I’ll also be sharing other treat and savory recipes using Challenge and Bob’s Red Mill products throughout 2015 as well!):

Grain Free “Oatmeal” Chocolate Chip Cookies

shiloh
Ingredients
1/4 cup Challenge Butter
1 large egg at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
2 Tbs Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp finely ground flax seeds
3/4 cup finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

Procedure
Preheat oven to 350°F
Place the Challenge Butter and the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream for 1 minute on high. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use an electric hand mixer.
Add the honey and vanilla and mix for another minute.
Place the cinnamon, nutmeg, Bob’s Red Mill flours, baking soda, salt, and flax seeds in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Slowly add the dry ingredients


Gluten-Free Orange-Cinnamon Lace Cookies

susan

Ingredients
1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoons grated orange rind (zest)
5 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter
1/3 cup Pyure Organic Stevia
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon orange extract, optional
melted dark chocolate for drizzling, optional

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

In a small bowl mix together the flours, salt, cinnamon, and orange zest until well blended.

Combine the Challenge Butter, Pyure Organic Stevia, and honey in a medium saucepan set over low heat. Stir until the butter melts and the stevia dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and bring just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the dry ingredients into the pan, followed by the orange extract.

Drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet by teaspoonfuls, spacing the spoonfuls 4″ apart from one another. Bake no more than six cookies on a pan.

Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, until they’re an even golden brown. Transfer the cookies, on their parchment or foil, to a rack, and let them rest until they’re completely cool and crisp.

Bake succeeding batches while the first batch is cooling.

Once the cookies are completely cool, drizzle them with melted dark chocolate, if desired.


Caramel Date Thumbprints

kristy

cookies
Cookie Base
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
1 1/3 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped plump Medjool dates
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted Challenge butter, softened
¾ cup Pyure Organic Stevia
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Procedure
Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor. Remove dough from food processor and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour to firm up the dough. You can also place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to speed up the process.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Shape cookies into little balls and press your thumb into them to make a deep impression. Bake at 350°F until they are golden brown. Take out the cookies and carefully (as the cookies are still hot) press them back down in the center to make sure the impressions are deep enough to hold the caramel date filling.

Caramel Date Filling
Ingredients
20 medjool dates soaked in hot water and drained
2 Tbs Challenge Butter
sea salt to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
Procedure
Pulse in a food processor until the filling becomes a caramel texture.
When cookies have cooled, use a pastry bag to fill them with the caramel.

Chocolate Drizzle
Ingredients
2 cups chocolate (chips or semisweet)
2 Tbs coconut oil
Procedure
Melt the chocolate and the coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in between. When chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the finished cookies and set aside to dry.


Thanks again to Challenge Butter and Bob’s Red Mill for their awesome product supplies. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. You can find Bob’s Red Mill on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

If you would like to sponsor the 2015 Ladies Holiday Party and Gluten Free Cookie Exchange, you can contact me here. I am looking for wine sponsors, gluten free cookie ingredients, catered items for guests, and goodie bag items for attendees.


12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: DIY Chocolate and Pistachio Fudge

fudge
It’s Day Nine of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover, and today’s idea comes from my love of chocolate and pistachios. It’s my recipe for Chocolate and Pistachio Fudge!

It’s a pretty easy recipe to make, and once you’re done you can pick out a nice cookie tin and present it to your recipient (but instruct them against shaking it). Remember to tell your candy lover to store the fudge in the refrigerator (when they are not too busy eating it) 😉

For the Pistachio Layer:
2 cups roasted pistachios
1-2 Tbs coconut oil, softened
1½ Tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tsp sea salt

For the Chocolate Layers:
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate (whatever your favorite brand happens to be)
1/4 coconut oil, softened

Line a 9 x 13 in. baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Begin with roasted pistachios (either roast them in the oven or buy them pre-roasted, but try to get them unsalted, as this will add an unnecessary amount of sodium to the recipe). Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until the nuts begin to stick to the sides (you’ll end up making a pistachio butter by the time you are done blending). Add the coconut oil to help the pistachios turn into a butter. When the mixture is completely smooth, add your sweetener of choice, the vanilla and the salt. Set this mixture aside.

Melt your chocolate with the coconut oil (either in the microwave in 10-15 second bursts and stirs) or over a double boiler on the stovetop. When the chocolate is completely melted, spread half of it onto the parchment lined baking pan. You’ll want the layer to be a little less than 1/4″ thick on the bottom. Let the chocolate harden before you move onto the next step. You can speed things up by placing your pan in the freezer for 10 minutes.

When the chocolate has completely solidified, spread the pistachio mixture over it 1/4″ from the edge of the chocolate. Spread the mixture evenly. Then top the pistachio layer with the remaining melted chocolate and also spread evenly. The idea is to get all layers pretty even so that when you cut it, the pieces of fudge will look elegant and uniform. 🙂 Return the pan to the refrigerator/freezer and allow to harden completely.

The next step is to cut the pieces of fudge in little diamonds. You can do this by making diagonal slices all the way across from left top to right bottom, and then diagonal slices from the top right to the bottom left. You can place the slices directly into your parchment-lined cookie tin with a spatula.

Now you’re all set to give a delicious, addictive homemade gift. You might not want to give it away once you try it. 😉

Join me tomorrow for another 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover (DAY 10!!) Getting sooo close to Christmas now! Cheers! 🙂


Celebrate Thanksgiving with Sweet Potato Latkes and Beaujolais Nouveau!

TG Spread 2014
Thanksgiving 2014. Last week, Andy and I celebrated a little early because we will be in Mexico for the actual holiday, and I couldn’t resist making something special to pair with Georges Duboeuf’s new release of Beaujolais Nouveau—the inveterate red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France, that is only fermented a few weeks before being released for sale annually on the third Thursday of November.

Retailing at $10.99 nationwide, the 2014 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau complements an abundance of holiday dishes, from savory roasts to cranberry sauce. Suggested serving temperature for the Nouveau is between 62°F – 66°F, which is just slightly cooler than room temperature, to enhance the aromas and fruit flavors.

Our spread included:
turkey roulade stuffed with shitake mushrooms, shallots, chorizo and bacon, on a bed of carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions

turkey roulade
cauliflower and leek soup with a gluten free shortbread (did not take a closer image, snap!) 😉

sweet potato latkes

latkes

bacon wrapped persimmons and bacon wrapped dates

bacon wrapped persimmons

2014 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

2011 Walt Pinot Noir

Thanks to Georges Duboeuf for providing the bottle of Beaujolais!

Now the recipe for the latkes—skip the sweet potato casserole and give these a shot!

Sweet Potato Latkes

Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes
1 yellow onion
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup coconut oil (melted)

Procedure:
Preheat oven (425°F)

Peel sweet potatoes and grate them, using the large holes on the grater, into a large bowl—I cheat and use a food processor on the shredder setting.

Grate the onion, too. Then, squeeze out as much liquid from the potatoes as you can and then add the grated onion to the bowl with the potatoes.

Add all other ingredients and combine. Using your hands works best, so keep a towel nearby or work close to the sink.

Prepare two baking sheets by pouring melted coconut oil on them and coating the entire tray.

Then form the potato mixture into 4-inch (or so) discs and place on the baking sheets until you have filled them up.

Brush the tops with a little melted oil and bake to desired crispness. I recommend checking on them and flipping them midway through baking to get both sides crispy.

Remove from oven and drain on paper towels prior to plating/serving.

ENJOY!! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂


Roasted Carrots with Curry and Pecans

carrots
Every year Andy and I get together with another family for a nice dinner party on the back deck at our house in Incline Village. We collaborate on a menu for our guests and make a fuss over the food and wine. The first year, we tricked everyone into eating a fully Paleo meal. Since then, all the guests know it’s a Paleo meal, and no one seems to mind. 🙂 No one misses the bread or the sugar!

Typically, I am in charge of two side dishes, and Andy grills the meat (main course), makes a big salad, and makes his classic Bacon Wrapped Dates.

I have to say, Summer Solstice Party Number Three was a success and for one of my sides, I made and served these carrots.

I used a stevia sweetener called Pyure Sweet in the recipe. Many thanks to the manufacturer for sending me the samples.

Ingredients:
(feeds about 8-10 as a side dish)
1 cup pecans
5 pounds carrots
8 Tbs coconut oil (or butter)
1/4 cup Pyure Sweet
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs curry powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
Sea Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper

First, you’ll need to toast the pecans. You can do this in the oven or in a skillet on low heat. Whatever works for you. Just be careful not to burn them. Let them cool once toasted, and give them a rough chop. Set aside.

So, I personally choose the oven to toast my pecans, because it heats up the oven for my carrots that go in next. I have the temp at about 375°F for toasting the pecans. I heat it up to about 400°F when it is carrot roasting time.

Before the carrots go in, you’ll need to clean them up by peeling and cutting them into “french fry” shapes. It’s up to you what size you cut them down, but make sure they are uniform so they will cook evenly. Then, put them on a sheet tray (or two) that’s well oiled/greased (coconut oil or olive oil works best), salt liberally with sea salt, and roast until browned. I would tell you how long to leave them in the oven, but it all depends on how thick you have cut them, so I am leaving that up to you.

While the carrots are roasting away, you can make the curry sauce. Melt 8 Tbs of coconut oil (or butter) together over low heat in a saucepan with 1 Tbs molasses, 1/4 cup of Pyure Sweet stevia blend, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 1 Tbs curry powder. Make sure all ingredients have combined over the heat (without boiling) and set aside.

Remove the carrots from the oven when they are close to being done. Drizzle the curry sauce over the pan/pans of carrots. Return to the oven and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.
Then the sauce has saturated and cooked into the carrots, remove them from the oven, and sprinkled the toasted pecans over them.

Serve the carrots warm or room temperature. A perfect party side dish and a true crowd-pleaser! 🙂


A Trio of Pinots and Food Pairing with Holman Ranch Wines

 

three pinots
First of all, a big thanks to Holman Ranch for sending me six bottles of great wine to taste and give feedback to all of my readers. Not all wineries are quite that generous, and you make this particular writer feel appreciated for what I do. 🙂

Now, onto the reviews! 🙂

It was a lot of fun to have a varietal tasting last Wednesday night with Andy. We chose to break into the three different Holman Ranch Pinot Noirs I received in my mixed half case.

I also made a dinner to pair with the wines: Pork and beef meatloaf wrapped in bacon (with a mushroom and shallot sauce), hasselback potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts.

plated food

The first wine we opened was the 2011 Estate Grown Heather’s Hill Pinot Noir.

heathershill
The 2011 Estate Grown Heather’s Hill was the best wine to have with food. It’s lighter in color (ruby) and very tight/tart at first. It has lots of aging capability, as it even opens up in a 20 minute time frame. This wine is not as delicate as most Pinot Noirs I have tasted, but it’s got some good characteristics that will make this wine finer as it ages.

The second wine we tasted was the 2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir. This wine was Andy’s favorite. It is aged for 12 months in French oak.

estate grown
It’s lower in alcohol, smokier on the nose and palate, and just a little more… Pinot-y. It was a great wine to me because it was a little more quaffable without food, but was also a great pairing with our meal. The mushroom sauce (we had on top of the meatloaf) and this wine are a great match.

Our final wine of the evening (and my favorite) was the 2010 Hunter’s Cuvee Pinot Noir.

hunters
This wine was my favorite! I could drink it with or without food. It’s earthy/leathery, but lots of fruitiness as well. It’s the highest in alcohol of all three wines we tried, so no wonder I like it best. Hmmm…

To make the meatloaf, I blended 1 part grass fed ground beef and 1 part ground pork. I seasoned the meat with garlic infused alderwood salt, added two eggs, one 1/2 cup of almond flour, 1 Tbs crushed garlic, and 2 Tbs Bragg’s liquid aminos. Then I wrapped the loaf in slices of bacon and baked it at 400°F until the bacon showed signs it was getting crispy. Test the loaf with a meat thermometer and don’t let it get past 125°-130°F, or you’re gonna be hosed and you might as well use that loaf as a door stop or paperweight. Take the loaf out of the oven just BEFORE or as you reach that temperature range, and it will be perfect.

I topped the finished loaf with a mushroom sauce (for the Pinot Noir pairing, naturally). The sauce was made of shallots, mushroom, white wine, butter, garlic. No recipe there, I just wing it.

You can find Holman Ranch on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

If you represent a winery and would like to be featured in a wine/food pairing on my website, please contact me here.


Latin-Spiced Rooster Potatoes

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Have you ever heard of Rooster Potatoes? If you haven’t don’t feel bad. Neither had I.
This all-purpose potato is farmed right here in the US in Edison, California! It starts pink, but bakes golden brown with a light yellow fluffy flesh. You can bake it, boil it, mash it, roast it or fry it.

I was sent a bag of Rooster Potatoes to try, and I came up with this recipe (which was originally enjoyed on Superbowl Sunday as part of a giant buffet with other Mexican/Latin American type dishes). You can also make this recipe with any other variety of potato, and sweet potatoes are especially interesting with this spice combination.

Ingredients:
1 Kg (2.2 pounds) bag of Rooster potatoes
2-3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs adobo seasoning
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a cookie sheet or baking dish with olive oil spray or lightly coat it with olive oil. Cut potatoes into 1 1/2″ inch cubes or bite size pieces. Place potatoes in a medium-sized bowl and then set aside. Combine the adobo seasoning, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder and dried parsley in a small bowl. Then, drizzle 2 Tbs olive oil (use less or more to your taste/preference) over the potatoes and then sprinkle the seasoning blend over the potatoes to coat them. Place potatoes on the baking sheet. Check on them 15 minutes in and turn them with a spatula to brown evenly. Bake until golden brown.

For other recipe ideas, you can visit the Rooster Potatoes website here.

You can find Albert Bartlett on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Wellshire Farms Holiday Ham: Herbed Orange Ham Recipe

final plate
Having a ham on the table during a holiday gathering is pretty much a tradition in my family. Especially on Christmas Eve. They are great on their own, with a side of mustard, or my favorite is leftover ham chopped into cubes and reheated in a saute with onion and kale or chard and some dried cranberries. In this blog however, I developed a recipe to make the ham the star of the show. It’s got all the wonderful herbs present in a holiday meal, with orange and zest that compliment the ham’s saltiness.

A big thanks to Whole Foods Market for allowing me to try one of their delicious holiday products, a ham from Wellshire Farms. I ended up with a (half) traditional boneless ham. I liked this ham because I was able to create my own recipe to heat the ham, as well as carve to my liking. (I liked. A LOT). 😉

ham package
Here’s how I prepared the ham, as well as the side dishes I made to complete last weekend’s Sunday dinner.

Preheat oven to 325°. To reheat your ham, I recommend using a roasting pan with a rack, one with a bottom that you can pour some water in to help the ham retail moisture while it reheats. A meat thermometer is a pretty good thing to have as well. (Tip: A 4-pound boneless ham will serve about 12 people, and this marinade will be enough for that size).

Marinade ingredients:
4 Tbs fresh rosemary
2 Tbs fresh sage
2 Tbs toasted fennel seed
2 Tbs chopped garlic
2 Tbs orange zest
1 Tbs black pepper
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until completely blended (mixture will be a pretty bright green). Paint the ham with the mixture using a BBQ brush. (You can also pour it over or use your hands, but a brush will coat the ham nicely. Set aside while you prepare your side dishes.

ham with dressing
Cover the ham with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 140° (Allow 7-8 minutes per pound). Remove the foil and place the oven on broil. Leave in for 2 minutes. This will give the top of the ham a nice finish.

out of oven

Here is a link with videos to Wellshire Farms entire line of hams.

Wellshire Ham Details (traditional boneless ham)
Wood smoked
60% less fat
No preservatives and no antibiotics
Free of nitrates, no artificial ingredients or preservatives!
The natural wood smoke and rich tasting ham make a savory combination.
You can get creative with your own unique glaze.
Ham lays flat for ease of cooking and carving.
(This ham is wrapped in clear packaging, other varieties of Wellshire Hams are wrapped in red, gold, and silver foil).

For other great ideas and information on ham, you can check out the Whole Foods Market recipe ideas here. You can find Wellshire Farms on Facebook here.

To save yourself time, you can order your ham online by heading to Whole Foods Market’s online shopping cart here.

The other dishes in the photo above will be forthcoming over the next week (hopefully): Pommes Anna and a wilted spinach & kale, chestnut, & cherry salad with roasted shallots. Happy holidays!


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.


Grocery Trip and Dinner from Whole Foods Market (Nike Women’s Half Marathon Series)

Sorry for the delay on this post! I have been pretty behind on writing. 😉 It’s race week! Here’s another healthy recipe brought to you by Whole Foods! -cg 🙂
====================

First of all, I’d like to again thank Whole Foods Market of Northern California for sponsoring me for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon Series, and giving me a gift card to spend on food during training.

photo(7)
This week, my grocery trip/list was light. I had already stocked up (hoarded food, LOL) from a grocery trip a few days ago. So the above was really all I needed to make it through to the weekend.

1 pound of Brussels sprouts
1/2 pound of pork sausage
2 pears
1 cantaloupe
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 onion
1 avocado
1-6 pack of Zevia Ginger Ale
1 bottle of Roger d’ Anoia Cava (fueled by the grape!)

For dinner that evening, I made a stuffed acorn squash with onions, sausage, kale, and basil, with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts.

photo(6)
For the Brussels Sprouts:
1 Pound Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup olive oil

Slice the Brussels Sprouts and drizzle them with olive oil, then bake at 385°F until they are golden brown and crispy.

Now for the squash! You’ll need:
1/2 pound of pork sausage
1 acorn squash
1 onion (sliced)
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
4 cups kale (shredded)
1 egg
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (or parmesan cheese)

Split, de-seed and place your acorn squash on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Prebake the squash at 400° for 30 minutes then remove from oven. Set aside to cool.

Cook the pork sausage in a medium skillet until it is about halfway done. Remove from the pan. Then sauté the onion in the fat from the sausage. When the onion is browned/translucent, add the sausage back in with the kale, and wilt the kale in the mixture over low heat. Then add the basil last, and wilt it a little as well. Remove the mixture from the heat, and add the egg and the cheese. Mix until completely incorporated. Then divide the mixture into two parts, and stuff each half of the acorn squash. Then return the squash to the oven (385°) and bake the squash until the stuffing is set and the acorn squash is fully baked.

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.


Whole Foods: What’s in My Grocery Bag? (Nike Women’s Half Marathon Series)

whole foods loot
As you can see in the photo above, Whole Foods hooked me up BIG TIME with a goodie bag full of nutritious foods to fuel my training for the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon.
There were six Larabars, a bag of kale, two tangelos, two bags of Peeled Snacks dried fruits, a tetrapack of Almond Milk (365 brand), a bag of walnuts (also 365 brand), a jar of Cucina Antica pasta sauce, a bag of Rhythm Kale Chips (my absolute favorite brand), a jar of Maranatha Almond Butter, and a bag of Go Raw Spirulina Chips.

This weekend, I made a soup with some of the ingredients Whole Foods provided for me (along with some of the foods I bought with a gift card they provided), as well as a post-race kale and egg dish! The soup I made was a butternut squash soup topped with a slice of gluten-free toast and blue cheese walnuts. I cut the toast in the shape of a heart because Andy and I met 2 years ago and we are pretty much celebrating every day over the next couple months.

photo(3)
Butternut Squash Soup with Blue Cheese Walnuts:

Soup:
(makes 3-4 servings)

Ingredients:
2 Tbs bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 oz red wine
16oz chicken stock
6 ozs So Delicious Coconut Milk (Unsweetened)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Topping:
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted
2 Tbs blue cheese

1 slice (per each serving) gluten-free bread, toasted

Directions:
1. Oven roast the butternut squash at until it is tender. Approximately 45 minutes at 375°. Set aside to cool.

2. Cook the onion and shallot in the bacon fat in a medium-sized pot until they are browned. Add the red wine and allow the onion and shallot to cook further and to caramelize.

3. Pour in half of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to low and add the cooked butternut squash. Cook together for about 5 minutes, then transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Add the coconut milk to aid this process. When the mixture is smooth, return it to the pot, and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

5. To make the topping, place the toasted walnuts in a food processor along with the blue cheese and lightly pulse 5 or 6 times to incorporate. Do not overmix, or you will end up with blue cheese and pecan spread. You want the nuts to still have a texture to them. Once you make the blue cheese walnuts, you can top the soup with them and serve with the toast.

Here’s a pretty common scene when Andy and I have dinner together. Our carbs mostly come from wine and fruit. My joke is that I am “fueled by the grape”!

photo(4)
We ate the soup with a salad and sausages, and had fruit for dessert.

On Sunday, I ran a the Urban Cow 5K here in Sacramento and I broke my personal record for the distance by 8 seconds. After the race, I ran another 5K as a cooldown (from the race location back to Andy’s then a loop around the local park), and then I came back to Andy’s house to take a big ol’ bubble bath and prepare my post-race meal: A kale, chicken, egg, onion, and bacon sauté. I can describe it as sort of a fried rice thing without the rice, but with bacon and kale instead. OK, I know that doesn’t make sense, so here’s a picture, and what I did to make it below that:

photo(5)
Kale Post Run POWER Breakfast:
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 cup shredded chicken
3 cups kale
2 eggs, 2 egg whites
2 pieces cooked and chopped bacon
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until browned, and add the garlic, then the kale and sauté until wilted. Add the eggs and stir the ingredients in the pan until the eggs are cooked through. Then add the chicken and the bacon and leave on heat long enough to warm the ingredients through. Salt and pepper to taste and serve. Just what I needed after a run!

So that’s a little bit on what I have been eating! Another recipe to come in a few days and more on the 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.


Recap of the California State Fair Cooking Demo & Recipes

IMG_3138
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.

 IMG_3136
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.

IMG_3137
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:

IMG_3144
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


Make Your Favorite Summer-Inspired Recipe with Whole Foods! $20 Gift Card Giveaway!!

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I just made a terrific summer inspired dinner with ingredients from Whole Foods. I spent $54 dollars for everything you see in the above picture. And, it comfortably feeds four people.

My friends at Whole Foods had this great idea for a gift card giveaway on cavegrrl.com and sent me $40 to buy ingredients and showcase a recipe. Well, I spent a little over $40, but I did get more than a pound of chicken sausage (1.12 pounds), a package of sliced pancetta, a 1/2 pound of hazelnuts, 1/3 pound of mushrooms, 1 1/3 pounds yellow squash, 1 1/3 pounds zucchini squash, 1/3 pound of olives, 1 package of tarragon, 3 shallots, 1 lemon, an entire bag of kale salad (1 pound), 2 baguettes made by Against the Grain Gourmet, AND a bottle of French white wine. 🙂

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And what did I prepare with all of the groceries? A brown butter summer squash linguine with chicken sausage, a warm kale salad, garlic buttered baguettes, served with a French blanc de blancs.

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For the warm kale salad you will need:
1 pound kale salad
1/3 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 package of pancetta, sliced or diced (if sliced, you will want to chop/cut into finer pieces)
3 shallots, finely diced
1 Tbs olive oil

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots until they are translucent. Then add the pancetta and the mushrooms and cook together until the pancetta browns. Add the kale and turn with the ingredients, allowing it to wilt in the pan. Cover the pan with a lid to help wilt the kale. Add all of the salad and steam until the kale is barely tender. Set aside and prepare your summer squash linguine.

For the Brown Butter Squash Linguine, you will need a tool called a julienne slicer. I just bought one this past weekend in order to make the recipe and it has kind of changed my life. I’ll be making squash linguine at least once a month now! 🙂

I snagged the recipe from Fine Cooking.com and you can click here to find it.

1-1/2 lb. young yellow (summer) squash (about 4)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
1/2 lemon

You’re basically going to slice 4-6 summer squashes (I used green and yellow) to their core with the julienne slicer. It’ll make fine strips that when cooked are the texture and size of spaghetti noodles (linguine, maybe not so much as the recipe advertises) 😉

You’ll melt the butter and add the hazelnuts cooking until the butter reaches a nutty brown color, about 2 minutes. Then you’ll add the squash and salt. Coat the squash with the butter and hazelnuts, and continue cooking for about a minute. Then you’ll stir in half of the chopped herbs, and squeeze a little of the lemon over the squash and toss. It’s a pretty easy and totally rewarding operation! 🙂

The sausages were easy to prepare. I bought the house special chicken sausage with spinach and feta, exclusively made at Whole Foods. All I did was sear them in a hot pan and finish them off in the oven. Then, I sliced them on a bias to serve. 🙂

The bread was prepared with a little bit of crushed garlic stirred into melted butter and lightly brushed on the baguette slices. I placed them under the broiler until they were toasted to perfection.

And that, my friends… is one wonderful meal at about $13.50 per person including wine. 🙂

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My friends at Whole Foods want to give you a $20 gift card. So, enter by commenting below (tell me your favorite summer recipe or meal), and if you have a twitter account, follow me and retweet the link to this blog post for an extra entry (be sure to leave me your twitter handle in your comment!). I will announce the winner this Sunday. Good luck!

You can find Whole Foods Market on Facebook here (Roseville location here) (Sacramento location here) and on twitter here (national) and here (Sacramento) and here (Northern California)! 🙂


Paleo Panzanella Salad Featuring Julian Bakery’s Paleo Bread

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What do you eat when it’s this hot outside? Salad! This is a great meal for the current weather.
Since going gluten and grain-free, I have denied myself one of my favorite dishes: Panzanella Salad. I was surprised to find out that Andy had never had the salad before.The people at Julian Bakery make Paleo Bread, and they kindly sent me samples of the almond and coconut to use as I pleased––I had the salad in mind. The Paleo Bread™ Almond is Gluten Free, 60 Calories, 1 Net Carb, 7g Protein and 5g of Fiber Per Slice. Grain Free, Soy Free, Corn Free and GMO FREE.Panzanella Salad
Salad Ingredients:
6 cups Paleo Bread cubed (I used the almond variety, but the coconut variety will work, too!)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1  cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive tapenadeDressing Ingredients:
1 Tbs finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (we use Frate Sol)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperCut the Paleo bread into cubes and toast in the oven until browned. You can also toast the cubes in a pan in some olive oil.

To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, basil, and tapenade. Add the Paleo bread cubes and toss with the dressing. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Allow the salad to blend it’s flavors for about 30 minutes to an hour.

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You can find Julian Bakery on Facebook here and on twitter here. You can buy Julian Bakery Almond Bread in stores at these locations or online here.


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 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.” 😛

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: