Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “gluten free

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! 🙂


Listen to Me Today on Serious Talk. Seriously.


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Today I am a guest on the podcast Serious Talk. Seriously. hosted by Johnny Flores! We chatted about my rebranding of cakegrrl.com to cavegrrl.com, Paleo, gluten free, bread, Oprah, the importance of having a supportive significant other, alopecia, the changing roles of men and women and even vocal fry! Click below to have a listen and if you enjoy, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes HERE or on Stitcher here. Click the link below to listen! 🙂

http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/58636/48107684

You can like Serious Talk. Seriously. on Facebook here, follow on Twitter here.

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One-of-a-Kind Hofsas House Hotel Celebrates 70 Years

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In Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Theis family is celebrating 70 years of European hospitality in their Bavarian-inspired Hofsas House Hotel.

The Hofsas House Hotel is within walking distance to the beach, multiple restaurants and shops, and several tasting rooms.

The hotel is also within just minutes driving distance to Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Pacific Grove. The Hofsas House’s boasts 38 spacious rooms (all unique) with fireplaces, private balconies, wet bars, kitchens and patios, and the Dutch doors in every room allow guests to welcome in the ocean air.

Before I jump into all the amentities the Hofsas House has to offer, I want to talk about the hotel’s rich history, and what makes the hotel so special. On the Saturday morning of our stay, Andy and I met with Doris Theis, the mother of the current owner of the hotel, Carrie Theis. She was such a joy to interview and she filled me in on a lot of the history of Carmel as well as the Hofsas House.

The Hofsas House story begins with a woman named Donna Hofsas and her husband Fred. They moved to Carmel from Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and purchased four cottages in town. They lived in one of them and rented out the other three. The cottages were the humble beginnings of the hotel, as the main building was built in 1957, adding 25 more rooms.

Donna commissioned her friend, artist Maxine Albro (also famous for painting a fresco at Coit Tower in San Francisco) to paint a Bavarian-themed mural which has since been restored and still remains as a lovely welcome to guests. A swimming pool was also added at that time, making Hofsas House Hotel a Carmel destination.

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Fred Hofsas created the mosaic coat of arms, the Latin inscription translates to English as “Leisure with Dignity”.

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The various additions to the hotel proved to be very stressful on their marriage, and eventually Donna and Fred divorced. Donna retained ownership of the hotel and in the mid-1960s, she added the north wing and a meeting room. Also around that time, she built her house, and the cottage she had occupied became a family suite (Room 9/10) and is still available to guests today, as well as the three other original cottages.

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In 1981, Donna passed away, and her only son Jack took over the Hofsas House Hotel. Which brings us to Doris, the incredible lady I spoke with about the history of the hotel. Doris was Jack’s wife. Together, they had two children: Carrie and Scott. The hotel was very much a family affair and Jack ran the hotel until 1996, when he passed away. Doris and Scott then took over the management from 1996-2000.

Then in 2000, Carrie Theis returned to Hofsas House to become general manager. Carrie was no stranger to the Hofsas House Hotel, because she had been escorting guests to their rooms since she was 8 and working behind the welcome desk at check-in since she was 12. Carrie had pursued a college education and a career path of her own, however, felt it was important to carry on her grandmother’s legacy of service and hospitality at the hotel.

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And the hospitality is really what keeps the guests coming back to Hofsas House Hotel. I’m told that there are many guests that return because they know the history and the family and there is simply no other place in Carmel where they would rather stay.

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I can understand that. My first visit to Carmel was in June of 2013 and I stayed at Hofsas House Hotel. It was my birthday weekend and incredibly special. I think once you know the family and the history of the hotel, you just have to stay there. For me, it’s like being part of the hotel’s legacy. Below is a shot of the bedroom in which we stayed during this visit.

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Below is the incredible view from outside our room.

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Hofsas House Hotel is located on San Carlos Street, north of Fourth Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. For more information, call (831) 624-2745 or visit www.hofsashouse.com. You can like them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Before I go on to recommend some dining in the area, I’d like to list some add-ons the Hofsas House offers that you can book during your stay:

• First is the Monterey Wine and Cheese Pairing (which we enjoyed, there were two cheeses and a bottle of wine in our room upon arrival) for $30. It’s pretty wonderful to finally get to your hotel room and there’s a chilled bottle of wine with cheeses waiting for you!

Champagne and Cheese Pairing with Hofsas House engraved flutes for $50.

• The Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea Passport for $65.

In-room his and her couples massage starting at $160 for 45 minutes.

Decoration of room in a romantic, anniversary, or birthday theme for $75.

Golf packages that start at $65 per person including cart.

2-day pass for the price of one Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets.

And right now and valid until December 31st, 2016, you can celebrate Carmel-by-the-Sea’s 100th Anniversary and Hofsas House Hotels 70th Anniversary with a History Tour! Delight in the special charms of Carmel on a leisurely, fun and informative two-hour guided walk past enchanting Fairy-tale cottages, through secret pathways, hidden courtyards and award-winning gardens. At the end of the tour, you’ll  feel like a local. Cost is $25 per person. Guests who book this package will also receive a Carmel-by-the-Sea history book complimentary upon arrival (value $26.00). Learn about the 100-year history of Carmel-by-the-Sea. When booking use promotion code: HHWALKS. (Block out dates apply.)

On Friday evening, we were hoping to visit, Dametra Cafe. Since the restaurant was completely booked, we ended up at Mediterranean Restaurant (the sister restaurant of Dametra and just a few doors down). I have to say, if you can’t get a table at Dametra, Mediterranean is the next best thing. OK, well, except for a few menu items, it’s exactly the same thing. And you even get the same live music! They did not host our dinner, but I am recommending them as a favor to YOU! If you like Greek-Italian-Middle Eastern food combined, you should check it out!

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Another routine in Carmel for us is a lunch stop at La Bicyclette. It’s my annual excuse of the year to eat a high calorie lunch and love every bite. 🙂 Right now they have a cassoulet special (you must try). And they have a gluten-free dough which they can substitute for any pizza on their menu (I picked the fig, arugula & prosicutto). Pretty much heaven with the Alsatian sparkling rosé we had.

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On Saturday evening, we visited Lover’s Point walked around the coastline for a while, and then and went to the Beach House at Lover’s Point for dinner. It was one of the most beautiful walks I have ever taken and the weather was still really cooperating. It wasn’t cold or rainy that evening.


 

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The Beach House at Lover’s Point is a very popular restaurant. I highly suggest making a reservation and then arriving a little early to have a drink at the bar. The restaurant is right on the water, so the views are spectacular.

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For dinner we started out with a Brussels sprouts appetizer. It was prepared with roasted garlic cloves, chorizo, butternut squash, shaved parmesan, smoked paprika oil. I am probably the biggest fan of Brussels sprouts you’ll ever meet, which is funny because I HATED them when I was a kid. Not anymore. Especially when you throw in chorizo AND cheese! This was an interesting dish and I loved the roasted garlic cloves that added a a slightly sweet flavor–balancing out the spicy sausage.

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Next was a little side salad…

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For my entrée, I ordered the Crab-stuffed Petrale Sole with sautéed spinach, smashed potatoes, saffron cream, shaved fennel, micro green salad. I am getting hungry all over again just looking at the picture and remembering the textures of the tender crab and flaky sole and the creamy sauce over the potatoes.

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Andy had the Hazelnut Crusted Sand Dabs with charred Brussels sprouts, pumpkin gnocchi, cipollini onions, beurre blanc, arugula pesto, and balsamic glaze. We shared both entrées because they were equally fantastic. By the way, the chef could have put pesto, hazelnuts, or balsamic glaze on a shoe and I would probably eat it. #allmyfavoriteingredients!!

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You can find Beach House at Lover’s Point on Facebook here.

In closing, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming events at the Hofsas House Hotel! One is the hotel’s 70th birthday celebration on Monday, November 7th, at 10:00am.

The event will begin at with coffee and light bites from Paris Bakery, then at 10:15 there will be a ribbon cutting with the Carmel Chamber and a Champagne toast with birthday cake at 10:30. There will also be a property tour and history discussion of the hotel’s 70 years.

Additionally, there will be a raffle to win an overnight stay! To RSVP (required by November 1) to marci at chatterboxpublicrelations.com

The second event is a little closer to the holidays. On Saturday, December 3rd, the 5th Annual Fundraiser for The Carmel Library Foundation will be held. The event will be a Gingerbread House Making morning/afternoon for the family. Together, families can create a gingerbread house to take home and display throughout the holidays. Children will receive one gingerbread making kit, hot cider and a cookie for a $25 donation to the Carmel Library Foundation.

Adults that want to attend will receive a glass of wine of award winning Monterey County wines from Twisted Roots Winery and can enjoy a gourmet cheese and fruit and tray for a $10 donation to the Carmel Library Foundation. Additional glasses of wine can be purchased for a $5.00 donation to the Carmel Library Foundation. (The $10 donation for adults does not include decorating a gingerbread house.)

There will be two sessions and you can sign up for 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.

Cost: $25 per child and $10 per adult (Adult does not include decorating a gingerbread house. The cost to decorate a gingerbread house is $25. All proceeds benefit The Carmel Public Library Foundation.)
Call Carrie at the Hofsas House (831) 624-2745 to make a reservation.

I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Hofsas House Hotel for hosting us during our stay in Carmel and being a direct ambassador to the 5th Avenue Deli and the Beach House at Lovers Point during our stay. Happy birthday to Hofsas House Hotel and happy 100th birthday, Carmel!!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.


New Menu Features and Gluten Free Finds at Yard House

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A few weeks ago Andy and I checked out some new menu items and gluten free options available at Yard House in Roseville. You might remember my visit to Yard House shortly after they opened back in 2011. We kicked off our meal with this round of drinks. On the left is a glass of Zardetto Prosecco (sparkling wine is my go-to opener) and on the right is a glass of Honig Sauvignon Blanc.

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Then it was on to decide what to order. If you are reading this website, you are either eating a gluten-free diet, or you are thinking about eating gluten-free. Yard House makes it easy because there is a separate menu you can ask for when you are seated. The menu features many of items from appetizers to salads and burgers that can be served wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun, as well as three different gluten-sensitive beers.

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Our first appetizer was the Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Ripped Potatoes (served with Malt Vinegar Aioli). It’s featured on the “snack” portion of the menu, but can easily be shared if you are going to be ordering an entrée, too. The dish’s description was accurate as both items were very crispy, yet soft on the inside. The vegetables were highlighted by just the right amount of seasoning and were dressed with the Malt Vinegar Aioli.

For our second appetizer, we decided to try a new menu item (though it is not on the gluten-free menu), the Poke Nachos made with marinated raw ahi, avocado, cilantro, serranos, green onions, nori, sesame seeds, sweet soy, sriracha aioli, white truffle sauce, and crispy wontons. This plate is one of several you can get that features ahi tuna. I like this one not only because it is very shareable, but because it highlights the ahi by merging ingredients that are both used in Asian and Latin cuisine. The combination of the different textures and flavors is delightful.

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What is not delightful is an empty glass, so Andy and I revisited the drink menu and ordered another round. I was curious about the Fresh and Skinny™ Cocktail choices, so I ordered a Skinny Margarita with El Jimador silver tequila and fresh lime. Other drinks on the Fresh and Skinny™ menu are the Pure Cosmo Martini, the Lite Lemon Drop Martini, the Juniper Fusion, and the Citrus Crush. For more information on the Fresh and Skinny™ Cocktail Menu you can click here. Andy ordered another glass of wine, this time a glass of Meiomi Pinot Noir.

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For my entree, I chose the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad (from the Gluten-Sensitive menu) composed of greens, kale, tomatoes, edamame, carrots, radish, egg, blue cheese, corn, bacon, avocado, ranch. I usually get dressing on the side when I order a Cobb Salad because there is so much flavor (fat IS flavor!) from the blue cheese, egg, avocado and bacon, I don’t need to cover anything up with dressing. I love simple and fresh ingredients and this salad certainly fit that description.

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For dessert, we enjoyed two more glasses of wine, mine a glass of Protocolo Rose Tierra de Castilla (a Spanish Rosé made from 50% Tempranillo and 50% Bobal. Andy ordered the Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Michael David Winery (Lodi).

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Another healthy menu and gluten-free option we did not try, but was recently added is the Red Quinoa Salad Bowl, which Chef Jocson describes as the greatest hits of all super foods. The salad is a nice shareable dish or can be an entrée for one with a garden of kale, parsley, Brussels sprouts, roasted beets, cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, blueberries, baby tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. Guests can request that the cheese be removed for a vegan option. Carnivores can choose to add chicken or steak for a heartier meal.

Red Quinoa Salad Bowl

“In order to stay relevant menus have to evolve,” added Chef Jocson.  “Five years ago no one would have imagined blueberry ketchup, but it’s an amazing condiment for our Kurobuta Pork Burger and ours is made in-house.  These days offering vegan and vegetarian selections aren’t an option, but a necessity as more people reevaluate their diets and intake.  We already have several of such items, including our new Vegan Burger, as well as gluten-sensitive options.”

If you’re reading this blog post, Yard House will have already debuted its new menu items at all 65 locations. Open daily for lunch, dinner and late-night dining, Yard House offers one of the largest selections of beers on tap plus a creative list of cocktails and wine by the bottle or glass.

For more information, visit yardhouse.com or follow on Facebook at facebook.com/yardhouse and the Roseville location of Yard House on Facebook here or follow them on Twitter @yardhouse

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Elk Grove Welcomes New Chicago Fire Location

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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.

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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. 😉

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Andy enjoyed an ice cream with caramel sauce, but I decided to pass. Instead, I walked around and took a few more pictures of the interior of the restaurant.

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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.

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You can find Chicago Fire on Facebook here, on Twitter here and on Instagram here. Be sure to check out the newest location in Elk Grove now open for lunch and dinner!


Grocery Outlet’s Spring Wine Sale Starts This Tuesday, March 22nd!

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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!!
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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):

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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.

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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!

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Brussel Sprout, Onion and Meatball Sauté:
1 onion
1 small package Brussels sprouts (quartered and pre-cooked in Microwave for 3-4 minutes)
Balsamic Vinegar
1 package Aidells meatballs
salt
olive oil

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.

You can find Grocery Outlet on Facebook here, on Twitter here and on Instagram here.

Join the fun on social media by tagging your posts with #GOWineSale!! Cheers and happy shopping!!


One Last Cookie You Should Make Before the Holidays are Over…

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So, there are only a few days left in the year and there might be one more cookie exchange or party to attend. Or you might want to make one more treat before beginning a new diet on January 1st. If so, this is the cookie to make. It’s called a Santa’s Whisker.

I first heard of these delicious cookies when I worked for a bakery in Cincinnati that made them. Since then, I created my own recipe to fit into the Primal lifestyle. It is gluten free and used a product called Swerve (a sweetener made from a unique combination of ingredients derived from fruits and vegetables). I also added a touch of orange to the traditional cherry and coconut ingredients, to elevate the cookie’s overall flavor. Finally, instead of pecans (used in traditional recipe), this time I used pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. This recipe is addictive and makes 2 dozen cookies!

Ingredients:
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I used Swerve)
2 tablespoons almond or coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbs orange liqueur (I used triple sec)
1 tbs orange rind
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 pine nuts (or nuts of your choice, omit altogether if allergic to nuts)
3/4 cup flaked coconut (I used unsweetened)
1 cup coconut (for rolling the dough)

For “Snow” Topping:
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 Tbs coconut oil
2 Tbs almond or coconut milk

Directions:
In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together: the gluten free flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a mixer, cream the butter and your sugar substitute of choice. On a lower speed, add eggs one by one until well combined. Then add the vanilla, milk, orange liqueur and orange rind. Mix in the dry ingredients a little bit at a time until completely incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer stand, and fold in the cherries, seeds, nuts and coconut.

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Line a work surface with parchment paper. Then place some shredded coconut on the parchment.
Divide the dough into two and roll each division of the dough into a log shape 8-10″ long. Then, roll each log over the coconut until the edges are coated thoroughly. Wrap the two logs in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

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Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic wrap. Slice the dough into coin shapes and place on the cookie sheets. There should be enough for 12 cookies in each dough log.

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Place the cookie sheets in the oven and bake until edges are golden, about 10 minutes.

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Allow cookies to cool thoroughly, and make the snow topping. Place the milk and the coconut oil in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for one minute. Then slowly add the white chocolate chips and stir as they melt. You probably won’t use the whole bag, but will most likely need most of it to get to a consistency that will coat the cookies. Not too thick, not too thin.

Dip the cookies halfway into the melted white chocolate and place them back on the lined parchment paper until the chocolate sets up. If you are in a hurry, you can place the cookies in the refrigerator or even the freezer to quicken the hardening of the chocolate.

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Thanks to my loyal readers for following me in 2015! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I hope to write another post before the New Year, but if I don’t have a happy and safe new year. xoxo  -kd


Hungry Root: You Won’t Push These Vegetables Aside!

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! 🙂

So, the folks at Hungry Root sent me a 3-pack sampler of some of their most popular items to try them out:

Hungry Root Products

Cauliflower Couscous
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. 😉

 

Sweet Potato Noodles
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!!

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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!

You can find more information on Hungry Root here, find them on Facebook here, and follow them on Twitter here. 🙂

 


Recipe: Chili Lime Shrimp with Vegetables and Quinoa

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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
(serves 4)

Shrimp Marinade:
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.

Vegetable Sauté:
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.

Quinoa Base:
1 1/2 cup 365 Organic Quinoa
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 11.50.50 AMFirst, 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.

To Serve:
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.