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Friday, March 30, 2012

tahini cookies -- gluten free + dairy free

oh no. i'm another week closer to turning 30. i've got just over one week in my 20's remaining. on the upside, that means i've got just over a week until i get to gorge on what i'm expecting to be an incredible birthday dinner and then again on gf/df birthday cake.

familiar with boulder? then you likely know the popular, james beard award-winning restaurant, frasca. well, a ways back the owners of frasca opened up a pizza joint a few steps down the block, pizzaria locale. i've spent the last year drooling over their menu. best part....wait for it....they have gf pizza crust! mark made reservations for us...i simply cannot wait.

my mom is flying out next week too, so she'll be celebrating with us. her birthday was earlier this week - so mark and i are planning to cook her a dinner of her choice and are making strawberry shortcake for her. a few days ago she called and asked me where she could score a gf/df bday cake for my bday. i suggested kim + jakes cakes. they do an incredible job and are experts on gf/df goodies. cake anticipation is building - its been YEARS since i've had a 'normal' cake. to top things off - the boulders farmers market opens the first sat of april - which just so happens to be my bday! i have a feeling turning 30 is going to be a little less painful than i've been expecting for the past year.

nuff about me - onto food. youre right, its been a while since i posted a 'sweet' recipe. so here she goes. i was at whole foods recently and came across a bunch of in-house produced gluten free + dairy free goodies.  i found myself staring down some delicious looking cookies and figured i'd be walking out sad faced and cookie-less. i bent down to take a better peak at the cookies and the ingredients - and to my surprise there were a few i could eat. hence my introduction to tahini cookies.

that aint cows milk folks - its hemp milk!
unfamiliar with tahini? i bet not. chances are if you've eaten hummus, you've had tahini. most hummus recipes call for it. tahini is roasted sesame seed paste. it lends depth of flavor as well as thick, creamy consistency to dishes that its added to. it was the perfect consistency - super smooth and creamy, not overly sweet - a bit of crunch from chocolate chips and walnuts - a smidge of tartness from dried cranberries - and some chewiness from raisins. i knew i wouldnt stop thinking about that cookie for a while. as soon as i got home from shopping i decided to take on the challenge of recreating these tasty morsels.

i've got to be honest with you - if you arent a fan of tahini - you may not enjoy these. depending on the brand tahini that you use the flavor intensity can vary quite a bit. sometimes folks think tahini has a strong, bitter flavor. when combined with the right ingredients and flavor profiles you can really manipulate this and mellow it out. so - give this a whirl and let me know if you like them!

tahini cookies
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free) - pulsed in food processor until coarse
  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 1/2 cup light agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts - roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries soaked in warm water for 30 minutes - optional 
  • 1/8 cup chocolate chips (dairy free) - optional
preheat oven to 325. pulse rolled oats in food processor until coarse. in a medium sized mixing bowl stir together agave nectar, tahini and cinnamon, then stir in coarse oats. when combined - gently stir in walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips. using wet hands form 2 tbsp sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet roughly 2 inches apart. bake approx 15 minutes, until cookies begin to brown around the edges. remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack for 10 minutes.

i highly recommend washing these down with an ice cold glass of vanilla hemp milk.

Friday, March 23, 2012

bison meatballs -- gluten free + dairy free

yay for the weekend! had a whirlwind week - that blew by quickly. i'm very excited to enjoy the super warm weather that we're expecting in CO - high 70's on sat + sun. i fully intend on sitting outside and soaking up the rays (with the added bonus of getting some much needed vitamin d). the next few weeks are going to be extremely busy - event season is ramping up at work and i've got lots of trade shows happening. my mom just booked a trip out to CO to celebrate both her birthday and my 30th (ewwwwwwwwww). i'm super excited to have her out - she's only here for four days, so i'm strategically planning all of the fun stuff that we need to do while she's here. a few days after she leaves i'm heading out to vegas for the huge NAB broadcast trade show. looks like i need to strap in and buckle down..

onto the yummy food stuff...

bison meatballs w/ asparagus
i recently reintroduced red meat into my diet per my doc and acupuncturists recommendation. let me tell you what -  i really didnt know what i was missing. its been around 4 years since i ate hearty, iron clad red meat. partly, because i was having allergy issues with beef. i decided instead to eat bison instead of beef - bison is both lower in fat and cholesterol than beef and tends to have a somewhat sweeter flavor. fortunately for coloradoans, bison is readily available at most grocery stores. if you havent tried it yet, you really should. 

since reintroducing red meat ive been running amok - eating burgers, meatloaf and my favorite - meatballs. every few weeks i whip these together, they've become one of my staple meals. i typically serve bison meatballs with rice pasta or quinoa pasta, however, i've been cutting down on my carb intake lately so i've been serving them up with fresh veggies instead. this is a relatively easy recipe that you could substitute any ground meat for - chicken, turkey, beef, pork, etc. great fresh flavor and super hearty. 

bison meatballs

  • 3/4 lb ground bison
  • 1 egg (organic, free range preferably) 
  • 1/4 large sweet onion - finely minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 garlic clove - finely minced
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 tbsp tamari - wheat free soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt + pepper
  • olive oil - for the pan
preheat oven to 425. cover a large sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. in a large mixing bowl whisk egg with a pinch of salt and pepper. add in ground bison, minced onion, brown rice flour, minced garlic, ketchup, tamari, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs and a tad more salt and pepper. using your hands mix everything together until event dispersed. roll out 12 uniform ~2 inch meatballs and place on aluminum foil. bake at 425 20-25 minutes, or until meatballs are fully cooked and have begun to brown. *beware - since bison is so lean it cooks quickly and can dry out quickly - so keep an eye on these!*

homemade tomato sauce
  • 1/2 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 large sweet onion - diced
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • 1/2 container button mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt + pepper to taste
heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. heat onions, garlic, mushrooms until tender around 10 minutes.  stir in tomato paste and turn down heat to medium - cook for 2 minutes. pour in 1/2 can of fire roasted tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, red pepper flakes and stir. allow to simmer over low heat around 10-15 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

hope you all have a tasty weekend - and hope that you all have wonderful weather, like were expecting here.

last but not least - definitely stop by these great blogs!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

san francisco treat(s) -- gluten free + dairy free

first off - happy st patricks day! if youre looking for a good gluten + dairy free irish soda recipe check mine out from last year!

i cant believe vacation is already over. it came and went in a blinks time. mark and i got back late sunday night and were back at it in the office first thing monday morning - jumped right back into the swing of things.
muir woods

our time in san francisco was brief, but amazing. we ate, walked up and down hills, toured museums, ate more, drank some and then ate more. s.f. is definitely a playground for foodies. best part - the city surely caters to those with alternative diets and special dietary needs. the weather held out for us and it was sunny our entire stay. it was an extremely active vacation, but restful all in the same time. for the most part we stayed in the city - we hit up golden gate park, ocean beach, union station, fisherman's wharf, the embarcadero (amazing - a must see), chinatown, japantown, the fillmore, etc. we rented a car and made our way up to beautiful sonoma and took the scenic coastal highway back to the city.

sonoma poppy
if i summarized our entire trip this post would be pages upon pages long. i chose to write about a few of our most memorable restaurant experiences. for those of my readers that are living with food allergies/intolerances - always remember - you cant eat at restaurants. just do a bit of research beforehand and be willing to inform your food server of your restrictions! your safest bet - is to find locations that use fresh, organic foods. that way you wont have to question whats in your food. eat well + be very merry!

great cheese comes from happy cows. happy cows come from california. i cant eat their cheese :(

creme de la creme of the trip. i lived in berkeley for a brief period of time and always wanted to check this place out. no reservations? no luck. if you try to walk in the door and grab a seat for dinner you wont likely be seated. this place is a seller-outter. alice waters, a chef that i aspire to, opened chez panisse in 1971 - and has been credited with kickstarting 'california cuisine'. she believes in delivering fresh, local, organic ingredients to her customers. she also has an outstanding philanthropy- she continuously gives back to society by empowering/educating kids using food + hands on farming. 

need i say more?
as you will see - i dont have any meal pictures from our experience at chez panisse. per the request printed directly on the menu - i respected the restaurants request to not use my phone, laptop or camera. to be honest, i'm glad that i didnt - i wouldnt have been able to enjoy my meal to the fullest extent that i did. 

mark and i made reservations a month in advance and i'm so glad we did. we got in for first seating and were greeted by the most attentive server that we've ever come across. he knew his wines, ingredients and was extremely cautious of my food allergies. our meals were perfect. straight up perfect.

we started dinner off with hog island sweetwater oysters on the half shell served with mignonette. the oysters were so sweet and tasted fresh from the ocean. we then shared a chicory salad with fresh local beets + asparagus topped with a mustard vinaigrette. for my main course, i chose pan seared rockfish with garlic aioli, artichokes, black olives, cardoons (aka artichoke thistle) and roasted fingerling potatoes. the fish was seared to absolute perfection and the skin was ever so crispy. portions were surprisingly large - they definitely dont skimp. mark went with braised lamb in jus with baby carrots, fagiolet beans, green garlic, bread crumbs and marjoram. i've only seen his face light up so much during a meal on a few other scare occasions. sheer delight. we washed down our food with wine and beer (no beer for me) and wound up skipping on desert as we were both stuffed to the brim.

given the chance to choose my last meal - this would be it. alice waters and her chefs have created an amazing dining institution. unpretentious food - nothing to be afraid of. flavor profiles reminiscent of home cooking made the meal feel like it was cooked by a loved one. just  knowing that all of chez panisse's food is sourced locally and organic when possible makes it taste that much better.

go ask alice.
oh yeah - i couldnt walk out of the restaurant without purchasing alice's newest cookbook. to my amazement - last night i opened it up to have my first read and that the book had been autographed by alice!

japanese tea garden

on our second day in the city we ventured over to golden gate park, rented bicycles and toured around a bit. we landed at the japanese tea garden and ended up sitting down for tea service. we shared a cup of hojicha (pan roasted green tea) and genmaicha (green tea with brown rice) and snacked on small bites - including red bean paste mochi and hawaiian coconut mochi cake.

japanese tea garden - golden gate park
it was midmorning and this was the perfect snack to get us fueled up for the day. after we noshed on the little bites we rented bicycles and toured the park and then made our way down to ocean beach to soak up the amazing weather.
red bean mochi + hawaiian mochi cake 
if you're never tried mochi - its a must have - its both gluten and dairy free and made from mochiko aka sweet rice flour. it comes in various flavors like cherry, green tea, chocolate, coconut, etc - and usually has some sort of sweet pasty filling - like red bean paste. i plan on trying to make my own in the near future. if youre adventurous you should stop by your local china town or asian market. theres a very high liklihood they will have premade mochi. just be sure to check the ingredient list.

hojicha + genmaicha
yoshi's san francisco

before we departed boulder for s.f. we asked our favorite sushi chef - keizo-san of sushi zanmai where we would suggest we get good sushi in cali. he of course, being the cool cat that he is, suggested yoshi's. glad we took his suggestion. this place is the ultimate marriage of super fresh sushi and swanky live jazz. quite the combo. quite possibly, one of the smartest combos to date.

amazing sushi courtesy yoshis sf
mark and i made reservations a week prior and i'm glad we did - the massive dining room was packed within 15 minutes after doors opened for dinner. before we walked into the restaurant we had already decided that since we hadnt had sushi on our trip yet that we were going to skip getting plates and dine on nothing but sushi.  we ordered the scottish salmon belly sashimi, 2 of the chef omasake nigiri plate's and 2 rolls. the fish was incredibly fresh and of the utmost quality. among the stars of the night - albacore nigiri - it had a buttery consistency and no kidding - melted in our mouths. the rolls were HUGE and my favorite was the 'japonese' roll - maguro + hamachi, cilantro, jalapeño, avocado, chili oil, tobiko, lime. we wound up staying for hours upon hours enjoying sushi while listening to live jazz. looking around at other patrons - you could tell that everyone was in some sort of sushi/jazz zen coma. the room exuded chill. we left high on sushi and buzzing from wine. we ended up stumbling down the street and made our way to japan-town where we continued to heighten our buzz enjoying shochu at a hole in the wall japanese bar. awesome.

sweet woodruff 

just TWO MEASLEY blocks from our hotel sat this ultra inviting corner restaurant. everytime we walked past this place, we glanced at the menu, but for some reason we never ventured in. i have no idea why it took us so long to actually get our asses in the door. finally on our last day in the city mark and i decided to give this place a go. the interior was not unlike that of the kitchen cafe in boulder (if you are familiar with the place) even the menu and its fonts seemed very familiar. sweet woodruff was recently opened by chefs teague moriarty + matt mcnamara - both named the peoples best new chef by food + wine magazine for their first san fran restaurant - sons + daughters. they pride themselves on creating delicious tastes of pristine california produce. 

sweet woodruff.
chicken salad with fingerling potatoes
exterior sweet woodruff.

one may think chicken salad is a staple - and i dont blame you. we are all used to the same old, stock chicken salad with gobs of mayo and no real pronounced flavor. this chicken salad, however, was mind expanding. mark and i were both nursing a hang from our previous night out at yoshi's/japan town and were in need of something, anything to help us feel better. when i saw at chicken salad on the menu it was a done deal. i knew it would do the trick. and do it, it did. i asked for a gluten free chicken sandwich (means sans the bread + serve it on something green). the roasted chicken breast was mixed with citrus aioli, red + green grapes, fresh celery and pomegranate seeds abed crisp butter lettuce. holy hell. this stuff was great - the pomegranate seeds were such a great addition to the chicken and lended great texture to the dish. mark wound up ordering a suckling pig sandwich (served cubano style) with ghost pepper aioli, salsa verde, mustard and housemade pickles - served with a small arugula salad and a side of house pickled cauliflower and onions (that were wicked good). we both shared a side of roasted fingerlings topped with olive oil, fresh dill, egg + mustard - an awesome take on regular roasted fingers.

i'm (we're) still kicking ourselves for not getting into this place sooner. instead of stopping at the small deli right outside our hotel entrance we could have walked TWO MEASELY blocks up the street to sweet woodruff and could have been enjoying this great food during our stay. damn. hindsight.

ocean beach sf - photo cred - shark

simply said - i cant wait to get back to s.f. again - mark and i are already talking about what we plan on hitting the next time we head out that way.

stay tuned next week for a gluten + dairy free recipe!

xoxo - k

Friday, March 2, 2012

homemade falafel + tahini dressing -- gluten free + dairy free


thats me shrieking with excitement. 

im taking a long, long overdue vacation. sure, i get home to boston every now and then, but i'm finally taking a trip elsewhere. mark and i booked a spur of the moment trip to san francisco two months ago and its finally upon us. we leave next tuesday and i cant tell you how excited i am. i cant wait to get back to the incredible city - ive not been back since i moved to boulder from berkeley almost 10 years ago. holy heck - time goes by so quickly. i fully intend on eating my way thru the city and have already scoped out plenty of gluten free + dairy free eateries. i'm going armed with my camera too - so i'll have plenty of pics to share with everyone when i return. mark and i already have a few dining reservations - yoshi's in san francisco (first made popular by yoshi's in oakland) where we plan to gorge on sushi. the second reservation nearly has me busting at the seams. i never had a chance to go while i lived in berkeley and i'm not letting this trip go by without us paying a visit to culinary mastermind, alice water's, renowned chez panisse. cant wait to share everything once i get back!

this weeks recipe is another yummy, savory one. and pretty versatile. i always have cans and cans of organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in my pantry. im admittedly a hummus addict and make it on a weekly basis. instead of falling back on my normal routine, this past week i decided to put together something different with my garbanzo bean stockpile. 

i hate buying pre made falafel and i hate those boxed mixes that stores sell. my aversion is because they tend to be super dense and extremely oily. so, i attempted making my own version of the vegetarian/vegan garbanzo bites and i was pretty happy with the outcome. i also put together a simple tahini dressing with tahini (roasted sesame seed paste), fresh lemon juice, water, salt + pepper. wicked. easy. 

i was able to remove a lot of the oily component to these by baking them, instead of frying them. they turned out very light in texture and not even slightly lacking in the taste department. i dished them up on a greek-style salad with organic mesclun mix, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado, mushrooms and topped it off with fresh parsley and a drizzle of my homemade tahini dressing.

i never let any leftovers go to waste - so over the past few days i've packed up 3-4 falafels along with some avocado slices, a bit of tahini dressing and some mild salsa into work for a snack. they make the perfect mid afternoon pick-me-up. chock full of fiber and protein these falafels have the right goods to get you thru til the clock strikes 5 (or whenever your quitting time is).

btw - you really do eat with your eyes first. use fresh veggies to create a plateful of artwork and i guarantee that you'll find yourself eating healthier, more well balanced meals.

homemade falafel 
  • 1 can cooked garbanzo beans - rinsed and strained
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion - chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
preheat oven to 425. combine garbanzo's, parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined. scrape down sides of processor using a spatula and pulse a few more times to be sure everything is well integrated. place 1 tbsp heaps (rolled to form a ball in your hand) on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. then using a pastry brush - gently coat each with a tad of olive oil to help them brown. bake in oven 20 minutes, then turn them over and continue to bake another 20 minutes.

tahini dressing
  • 1/4 cup tahini - raw or toasted - i prefer raw, toasted can taste bitter
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • ~1-2 tbsp water - as needed, to thin dressing
in a small bowl combine tahini with lemon juice. whisk in water until desired dressing-like consistency is achived. you'll want this runny and easy to drizzle, like any other salad dressing. 

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