Last Saturday night Andy and I attended a pre-opening dinner at Chicago Fire‘s newest location: 7101 Laguna Blvd, Elk Grove. The pre-opening lunches and dinners were held both on Friday and Saturday in an effort to train the staff and to ensure consistency amongst the other four Chicago Fire locations.
The weather was terrific, so we decided to sit on the patio. The dinner was complimentary for us except for alcohol (and was also free to everyone invited). It included an appetizer, a salad, a pizza and a dessert to share between us. The limitations on food were mainly because it was a training night and an effort to control conditions in service and in the kitchen. It’s kind of like when you are a brand new runner. You don’t just start out running a marathon. You train up to that distance. Likewise, the staff in the new location were learning to run in ideal conditions, a few miles at a time.
I was very excited to be there because I have loved Chicago Fire for a long time. I think it’s a great place for celebrations or just a dinner for two. Also I work for a printer in Roseville (yes, I have a day job) and we print their business cards and takeout menus as well as a few other items. The people running the show at the restaurant are great to work with altogether.
But back to the food we ordered! For our appetizer, we chose the Garlic Fries. Not really something on the diet plan, but a treat to share with Andy and always very tasty/crispy/herby/garlicky. In true Greek fashion, they are served with lemon. Super good. Diet Gods, I am so sorry.😉
We ordered a few starter glasses of wine, but afterwards ordered this bottle of Windy City Red. It’s a wine produced solely for the Chicago Fire restaurants by Boeger Winery. It’s one of their less expensive wines and a very good value. It’s also a great pairing for anything on the menu with red sauce or any pizza that has meat on it!
Our salad came next and we chose the Pesto Chicken Salad. It’s my favorite salad at Chicago Fire. My second favorite is the Greek Salad, but I can’t resist the pesto dressing. Plus, the chicken on the Chicken Pesto Salad is grilled to perfection, and then there’s all those big cheese shavings on top. I almost wanted to take the salad for myself and leave the pizza for Andy!
Typically, I try to load my plate with greens such as the salad above, and then maybe have 20% of the main course. That way, I have had a lot of fiber, vegetables, etc., and gotten mostly full before I move on to the next course.
Chicago Fire serves a gluten free version of most of the pizzas on their menu. This one is called the Stockyard. If you order gluten free it only comes in one size, but that is OK because with the appetizer and large salad, it was a perfectly shareable size between Andy and myself. The stockyard is a deliciously meat-loaded pizza featuring garlic sausage, pepperoni, salami and Canadian bacon. And of course we got the gluten free crust. I also always order a side of marinara, because I love to dip my pizza crusts in the sauce.
As of all the previous visits we’ve had at Chicago Fire, I would call it consistent and very enjoyable. The difference was the great new location, the fun outdoor experience and the well-landscaped area around the restaurant.
OK wine lovers! Grocery Outlet is holding a huge wine sale where all wines will be an additional 20% off Grocery Outlet’s everyday low prices. It’s the same high-quality wines you love at 50-70% off PLUS 20% more off, so that means you can save as much as 80% on all Grocery Outlet wines during the sale!!
Yesterday I visited my local Grocery Outlet in Roseville, CA, and spoke to the wine buyer, Michael, about the upcoming sale. He thought my blog cavegrrl referred to wine caves! I never thought of that. That’s actually pretty brilliant. Hmmmm…maybe someday I will rebrand AGAIN as a wine blog with the same URL! Anyway, he was incredibly nice to share about an hour of his time with me. He is passionate about making sure he finds wines customers are going to love. He has a “benchmark varietal” method in which he asks the customer what their favorite varietal is, and if they aren’t sure of that, he finds out something as simple as their preference for red or white wine. Through this process, Michael figures out the customer’s preference of sweet or dry, and eventually can help them pick a wine he believes they will enjoy.
It is that kind of customer service you can get, especially at this Grocery Outlet location, where it’s almost like having your own sommelier, but in a discount grocery store (kind of awesome). And truly, since my visit today, I can tell you there are some really great wines to choose from for the sale coming on Tuesday!
Here’s the lineup I bought today and (all of them I highly recommend):
From left to right, Cuerda Sparkling Wine ($4.99)–tastes like an $8-$10 bottle and perfect for unwinding after a busy day or blending in a mimosa or bellini, Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc ($8.99)-I will update the description when I try this one, but Randall Graham is behind this one, so I think it will be pretty good. Also, it’s a white wine blend with Roussane, so I am sure I will be a fan. Next is the Paraiso Pinot Noir ($5.99)-a bargain and goes for $24.99 per bottle elsewhere, by the way does Santa Lucia Highlands ring a bell?? You should have seen me try to contain myself with this deal!! Finally, there’s Goss Creek Red Blend ($4.99)-I really loved, tastes like a $15-18 bottle and goes for $16.99 per bottle elsewhere.
Not only is Grocery Outlet a great place to buy wine, it’s a great place to find food to pair with your wine! Today, I bought a bag of Brussels sprouts, an onion, and some Aidell meatballs to throw together a simple and tasty dish!
Brussel Sprout, Onion and Meatball Sauté:
1 small package Brussels sprouts (quartered and pre-cooked in Microwave for 3-4 minutes)
1 package Aidells meatballs
All you have to do is slice the onion, saute it in olive oil with some salt until translucent, then add the Brussels sprouts––I like to quarter them first and then microwave them for 3-4 minutes to get ahead of the game. Usually, I am tired at the end of the day and I just want to eat and relax, so I am looking for any shortcut possible.
After the onions get browned and are pretty well cooked, add some balsamic vinegar to your liking (2-3 Tbs for me), and then add the microwaved Brussels sprouts and sauté them until browned. Then add the Aidell’s sausages. Cook the entire thing until it’s heated through (the Aidell’s are already pre-cooked, you just have to warm them up in the pan. It literally takes less than 20 minutes to make this dish and it’s a great pairing with ANY of the wines I bought above (especially the Paraiso Pinot Noir!!)
You bet I will be back in the store at 8am on Tuesday to clear out my favorite wines and save an extra 20% off when the wine sale begins! If you love wine, do yourself a favor and visit your local GO March 22-26th!! If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask the wine buyer (if that person is present) or the store manager. In my personal experience (I was a customer before I was compensated for this blog post) and the following held true: the management team at Grocery Outlet just wants you to find the right wine for you and for you to be happy with your purchase.
Join the fun on social media by tagging your posts with #GOWineSale!! Cheers and happy shopping!!
A few months ago, I was introduced to a company called Hungry Root. Hungry Root’s mission, via their website is to: Unleash the flavor of vegetables, bring them to the center of your plate, and make them craveable.
OK picky people. I know what you are thinking… Vegetables and craveable are oxymorons! Not anymore.
Since going Paleo in 2011, I have been a proponent of obtaining most of my carbohydrates from fruits and especially vegetables.
Yes, I am the person who will roast root vegetables like carrots and parsnips until they are caramelized, and eat them for dessert! Maybe that sounds a little nutty, but when you start a true Paleo diet, you omit all processed sugars and so even vegetables when roasted can actually taste sweet!
I was really interested in Hungry Root, because they are making similar things with vegetables that we do on a daily basis, and yet, Hungry Root can ship meals pretty much really to cook with no prep involved other than heating oil in a pan, which is the perfect thing for busy people who need a quick and healthy meal!
This is the Cauliflower Coucous with Moroccan Almond Curry ($6). This VEGAN side is finely chopped raw cauliflower with a container of Moroccan almond curry made from fresh cilantro, parsley, mint, almonds, raisins and madras curry in the package. It’s super easy to prepare and you can eat the WHOLE container for only 121 calories. I don’t know about you, but I am a whole container kind of gal.😉
And THIS is the Sweet Potato Noodles with Creamy Cashew Alfredo which contains Fresh-cut sweet potato noodles with creamy cashew alfredo (cashews, sesame tahini, garlic, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, lemon juice, black pepper), tossed with curried carrots and chopped, roasted chickpeas. The cashew alfredo is absolutely ADDICTIVE. And BOOM, another vegan dish. P.S. There’s so much Vitamin A in the house in this dish, your eyes and skin will thank you just as much as your tastebuds!
The third item we tried was the Almond Chickpea Cookie Dough. Ingredients: Chickpeas, sweet potato, almond butter, sesame tahini, maple syrup, organic cane sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, vegan chocolate chips. And we loved it so much, we ate it raw. Because it was so HARD CORE yummy that way—and only 60 calories per serving!! YAY. Cookies for everyone!!
Want to try out Hungry Root? Well, you’re in luck! The marketing team at Hungry Root sent me a special code to pass along to you so that you can save 20% OFF your order. Just type in KRISTY20 in the promo code field at check out. Also, they are currently running a promotion of FREE shipping for orders over $40. Click here to start shopping!
Last Monday, Andy and I attended a hospitality professionals meeting and I won a bag of groceries from Whole Foods Arden (Sacramento). They are also members of the group and brought the bag to give away at the meeting through a raffle of business cards of all the attendees.
We rarely buy quinoa, because it is a grain and not technically Paleo, but since it is a gluten free grain that is high in protein and the box was in the bag of groceries, I decided to make good use of it and post the recipe here as my thanks to Whole Foods!
Chili Lime Shrimp with Vegetables and Quinoa
Inspired by a Kaiser Permanente recipe
2 tsp chili powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tbs teaspoon cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes (this will make the recipe moderately spicy, omit if you don’t prefer heat)
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper
20-24 uncooked, peeled and deveined medium-sized shrimp (roughly one pound)
Note: If you can’t find peeled and deveined shrimp, it’s pretty easy to do at home, it just takes about 15 more minutes to do it. After you peel back the shell, use a small knife to make an incision right on top of the vein and down to the tail. The vein will come practically on its own under running water. I also removed the tails for this recipe.
Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the shrimp, tossing them in the bowl until they are coated. Set aside and work on your vegetables.
2 Tbs olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 of a large red bell pepper
1/2 of a large yellow bell pepper
1/2 of a large yellow squash
1/2 of a large zucchini squash
1/2 of a large eggplant
1/2 of a large onion
1 1/2 cups of your favorite tomato (I used some cherry tomatoes left over from a veggie tray and one large heirloom tomato)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 of one bundle of cilantro
After you wash and chop up the vegetables (cube or cut each into bite sized pieces), set them aside and prepare the quinoa.
1 1/2 cup 365 Organic Quinoa
First, for a nuttier flavor, toast the quinoa in a skillet until it turns a little brown in color. Then prepare according to package directions. For even more flavor, cook the quinoa in a vegetable or chicken broth (substituting the water and using the same amount of broth in the directions on the package).
Prepare Vegetable Sauté:
While the quinoa is cooking, begin your vegetable sauté by heating the olive (or coconut oil) in a skillet and cooking the onion until it is translucent and then adding both the red and yellow bell peppers. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, then add the squashes, and then the eggplant. At this point the pan will be getting dry, so add a little water or white wine (1/2 cup), add the tomatoes and the garlic powder, and cook until vegetables are tender and the alcohol has cooked out of the mixture. Lastly, remove the pan from heat and add the cilantro leaves allowing them to wilt into the vegetables.
By this time the quinoa will be done or nearly done. Drain any excess water (or broth) out of the quinoa and set aside.
Cook the Shrimp:
Heat a pan big enough to accommodate the 24 shrimp and get the pan really hot. Place your shrimp in the pan, along with all the marinade and cook the shrimp 3-4 minutes (until they sear and turn color). Then add the shrimp to the vegetable pan, and place the vegetable pan back onto low heat. Fold all the ingredients together until everything is well combined and heated through.
Begin with the quinoa, and place the amount of your liking in a circle shape on a large plate. Make a nice big crater in the center of the plate, and fill it with the shrimp and vegetable sauté. Then garnish with a little more cilantro if you’d like.
You can also make this recipe with chicken if you don’t like seafood. I would marinate and cook it in the exact same fashion.
You can find Whole Foods Arden (Sacramento) on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.
I am a fan of trying new things and I love getting surprises in the mail, so when I heard about Send Me Gluten Free, I immediately checked them out!
Send Me Gluten Free is a monthly subscription service that introduces you to new gluten free products. The company was kind enough to send me a sample box (just like I would get if I had a subscription to their service).
I didn’t want to describe/review the individual products I was sent, because they vary so much in individual boxes each month, but I will tell you that I enjoyed everything in the box, and there were even coupons/offers in the box along with the products. I want to thank the people at Send Me Gluten Free, as they must be mind readers!
But, to be honest, they sent me some REALLY addictive (yet organic, non GMO!! stuff), and I’m sure that’s pretty much the norm every month!! Some of these items included: Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter that can substitute peanut butter), Skinnypop popcorn (hello popcorn, I missed you!), some amazing chocolate coated pumpkin seeds called SuperSeedz (probably my fave in the box), and some Alter Eco chocolate. YESSSS!! Box already scarfed down.😉
Along with the assortment of products, I also received an envelope in the box containing coupons good for gluten free products. I’ll definitely be using the one for SunButter spread.
Soooo, the Send Me Gluten Free subscriptions range from month-to-month, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months (the 3, 6, and 12 months are prepaid in advance, and offer discounted rates that increase the discount the longer you commit to the service).
Each month, your box will contain 8-10 new gluten free products. You’ll get both full-size and sample size food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support your gluten free lifestyle. Your chosen subscription will automatically renew, but you can cancel at any time. You box will ship on the first Monday of each month.
Send Me Gluten Free requires all of their brand partners to be certified gluten-free or tested to the FDA standard of less than 20 parts per million.
Would you like to try a sample box from Send Me Gluten Free? You can enter to WIN one by commenting below AND sharing this post on Facebook with your friends. In your comment, please answer these questions: Why did you go gluten free & what is your favorite gluten free snack? Also, let me know in the comments that your shared with your friends and please tag cavegrrl.com when you do. Contest lasts until the end of April, and I will pick a winner at random.
Below is an example of the type of products found in a box, not the actual contents of what the winner will receive. It changes every month, that’s the fun of it!
PS!!: If you decide to subscribe, Cavegrrl.com readers can get a 20% off an subscription length by using discount code BLOG20 at checkout.
It’s time to make the donuts and time to choose a winner for the giveaway of the Dr. Bob’s Donuts and Doyos Complete Starter Kit that includes all three of Dr. Bob’s gluten free and vegan donut mixes, as well as a pan to make them in, a cooling rack and a vented lid.
I entered all of you for the number of times you commented, liked, shared, etc. this blog post and used random.org to generate a numbered list of all of you, and Andy picked a number at random (number 17). Number 17 is going to have a blast with this kit! I know I have with mine.
Before I reveal the winner, I would like to share the donuts I made today. I used the very last of my blonde mix (my favorite, by the way) to create a honey vanilla donut with honey vanilla glaze.
I used the blonde mix in the standard way, except I added 1 tsp of vanilla and 2 Tbs of honey in the 1 cup of liquid mixture. (The standard recipe is one cup mix and one cup water). I also added 1/2 of the beans from one vanilla bean pod to the batter.
To make the glaze, I used 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1 Tbs butter, 2 Tbs honey, 1 packet of stevia, a pinch of salt, and the contents of the other half of the vanilla bean pod.
After you steam the donuts in the microwave, brush them with a mix of 2 Tbsp honey & 1 Tbs hot water. This makes them super moist inside and gives them a little more sweetness. Then glaze the donuts with your glaze and place them in the refrigerator to set. It’s that easy!
Now, let’s cut open the donut to find out the winner of the starter kit!
Congratulations to Mindie! You have won the starter kit and Dr. Bob’s will ship it directly to you. I will contact you privately to get your mailing address. Thanks again for your entry. I hope you’ll share some of the fun things you make on Dr. Bob’s Facebook page or the cavegrrl.com Facebook page.
If you didn’t win the contest, I have some buy one, get one FREE coupons (good for Dr. Bob’s Donuts and Doyos Roseville Store location only). Just email me with your address and will send one your way (one per family, until I run out of them).
And to those interested in buying Dr. Bob’s products online, I have a discount code for you! Just enter CAVEGRRL15 for 15% off of your online purchase! (Apply Your Coupon or Discount Code on Final Payment Screen)