[Foodie Friday] So you have to eat gluten free….

{sorry i didn’t get this up last night, loosey was sick and i was a little busy taking care of her. please forgive me!}

Okay, so I don’t have Celiac disease and I don’t eat gluten free but I have found that many of the things I love are naturally gluten free. Because my dear friend Emmy has recently started eating gluten free I thought now would be a great time to share some of the knowledge/ learn some more. I have found that a lot of the products that are gluten free are natural/organic, which is the best choice anyway! So without further ado….

STORE BOUGHT PRODUCTS:

*Food Should Taste Good chips
While I can almost guarantee that all of their varieties are good, I especially love the jalapeno tortilla chips with salsa/guacamole and the chocolate with nutella (which is also gluten free)!

*Pirates Booty White Cheddar – Your favorite, Emmy! All of the pirate’s booty varieties are crazy good.

*Udi’s Muffins + muffin tops…. these are really good.

*Larabars!
These bars are great, either as a snack, extra energy during a hike, or a quick breakfast. I especially love chocolate chip cookie dough and key lime pie!

*I love Amy’s natural frozen foods and they have so many gluten free items.

*All creamy soups from Pacific Natural Foods- my favorite. (also their broths + condensed soup)

*Bob’s Red Mill pre-mixed gluten free flour – perfect for all your baking needs!

*Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta- trick your tastebuds and enjoy your favorite spagetti and meatballs (for meatballs try the Jennie O italian styles meatballs)! Your gluten loving friends won’t notice the difference.

*Chex cereal!

THE THREE BLOGS YOU’LL NEED:
*Gluten Free Girl
*Gluten Free Goddess
*The Spunky Coconut

RESTAURANTS:
*Basil Docs Pizza- I haven’t actually tried it, but their GF crust is made with polenta which sounds yummy! and their regular pizza is the bomb!

Honestly, pizza is totally the way to go when eating out gluten free. Also try…
*Naked Pizza
*Mellow Mushroom
*Beau Jos

*Tokyo Joes- if you get the gluten free teriyaki sauce you can choose a rice or noodle bowl!

*Chipotle is totally gluten free friendly as long as you stick to bowls/salads/tacos. Here is their allergen friendly menu.

*THE COMFORT CAFE! I can not testify the deliciousness of this place enough. They are 100% gluten free so there is absolutely no chance of contamination. AND it is a charity!

*While at Coor’s Field, make sure to check out the gluten free concession stand in section 147 for hot dogs, beer, desserts, etc.

There are many more options out there, but these are the ones I’ve found most readily available. Hopefully this is a good starting point for those who are just starting out or those who would like to start eliminating gluten slowly!

Enjoy. 🙂

[Foodie Friday] Go Eat on South Broadway. Now.

First, I must apologize for my lack of consistency when it comes to posting lately. I have busy and lacking in ideas and I must apologize. Next week I will be better, I promise.

Until then, I must encourage you go to eat on South Broadway. This cute little neighborhood has MANY great restaurants/bars to enjoy and the best movie theater in Denver– perfect for grabbing your favorite guy/gal for a lovely dinner/movie date. Here are four suggestions for a great dinner….

*El Diablo:
It’s kitschy, comfortable, and offers a fantastic menu of modern and inventive Mexican food. Food wise, I recommend either the vegetarian tacos or relleno burrito. Drink wise, you will not be disappointed if you order a mojito. I had one there Wednesday that was to die for!
***This place does get super busy on the weekend nights, so try to make a reservation if you can.***

*Delite:
While Delite’s neighbor Deluxe gets all the credit, it is too stuffy for me. I would much prefer hitting up Delite for some amazing tapas and drinks. The small plates are all perfect for sharing and the beer menu is great!

*The Hornet
If you want amazing burgers and fries served up in a relaxing atmosphere alongside AMAZING cocktails, then you should go to The Hornet, simple as that.

*Sputnik
This is the place to go if you or your dining companion are vegan because over half of the menu is either vegan or available with a vegan option. AND the most expensive thing on the menu is only $9. Some may write it off because it is too “hipster”, but I think it is a cute little place for dinner/lunch/brunch/whatever.

And for an amazing treat after dinner + movie….

*Sweet Action Ice Cream:
I love frozen treats of all kinds and while lately I’m all about the frozen yogurt, when it comes to ice cream Sweet Action is my jam. Their flavors are really inventive and they use my favorite things  – like beer and Stranahan’s whiskey. They also have AMAZING ice cream sandwiches.

[Foodie Friday- Saturday Edition] Denver Restaurant Week

One of the best local Denver events is coming up soon! For two weeks the best restaurants in Denver and surrounding areas will offer three course meals for the AMAZING price of $52.80 per couple. It is a once a year opportunity to sample restaurants that you may not usually be able to afford and just looking at the menus makes my mouth water. White there are many to choose from, I narrowed it down to the five I would most be willing to spend $26.40 on based on prior experience, reviews, and overall opinion of the offered menu.

1) For a unique, fresh, organic dinner with an AMAZING view, try ROOT DOWN-

First Course (choose one each):

  • Organic Curry & Thai Red Curry Soup / Apple-Pear Chutney & Cilantro
  • Organic Roasted Baby Beets / Arugula, Cana de Oveja, Toasted Hazelnuts, Beet-Sunflower Seed Pesto & Basil Vin
  • Organic Butternut-Ricotta Gnocchi / Mushrooms, Spinach, Black Currants, Shallots, Chile Fake, Brown Butter, Sage-Hazelnut Pesto & Pecorino

Second Course (choose one each):

  • Country Fried Tofu / Roasted Brussels, Cipollinis, Polenta Cake, Blood-Orange Chili Reduction
  • Roasted Petaluma 3 Chili Chicken / Habanero, Chipotle, Jalapeno, Lemon Creme Fraiche, Green Chili Grit Cake & Carrot-Cucumber-Spinach Salad
  • Pan Seared Barramundi / Smoked Prosciutto, Shallots. Roasted Brussels, Blood-Orange Chili Reduction, Miso-Vanilla Butter & Pumpkin Seed Crust

Third Course (choose one each):

  • Chocolate Chip Croissant Bread Pudding / Sour Cream Ice Cream & Bourbon Sauce
  • Chocolate Coconut Pie / Blueberry Gastrique, Coconut Caramel, Almond Ice Cream & Salted Chocolate Flakes
  • Lemon Budino Cake / Pomegranate Sherbet & Toasted Merengue

2) For a modern and inventive dinner with a relaxed atmosphere, try VENUE-

First Course (your choice of):

  • Soup du Jour
  • Spinach Salad- golden raisin, candied pepitas, goat cheese, stout vinaigrette
  • Shrimp & Grits- black tiger shrimp, white corn grits, Thai chile, cilantro
  • Mussels- chorizo, oven roasted tomatoes, red onion, tarragon
  • Kurobuta Pork Belly- Colorado apple butter, pickled red onion, arugula, cider vinaigrette

Second Course (your choice of):

  • Shrimp & Grits- black tiger shrimp, white corn grits, Thai chile, cilantro
  • Vegetarian Pot Pie- emmenthaler mornay, seasonal vegetables, rapini
  • Cranberry glazed Salmon- roasted cauliflower, walnut & sage risotto
  • Chicken- wild mushroom ragu, house cured bacon, barley, duck jus
  • Braised Beef Short Ribs- parsnip puree, red onion marmalade

Third Course (your choice of):

  • Hot Chocolate- toasted cinnamon hot chocolate, vanilla marshmallow, snickerdoodles
  • Maple Walnut Tart- spiced walnuts, brown sugar poached apples, spiced apple sorbet
  • Butterscotch Pudding- whipped vanilla creme fraiche, candied almonds, dried cherries
  • Pear Tarte Tatin- house made puff pastry, salted caramel ice cream, cranberry orange compote
  • Trio of Ice Cream & Sorbet

3. For a taste of the most widely known restaurant in Denver, try VESTA DIPPING GRILL

Chef’s Taste:

  • Udi’s Filone Bread and House Roasted Garlic
  • Coconut Curry Tomato Soup

Appetizer Options (choose one):

  • Smoked Paprika Shrimp Skewer with Roasted Onion and Olive Salad, Spanish Salsa Verde
  • Arugula Salad with Prosciutto, Pears, Pecorino Romano, Sherry Vinaigrette
  • Roasted Potato and Vegetable Samosas with Red Curry and Roasted Corn

Entrée Options (choose one):

  • Masala Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Rice, Pickled Onion and Cucumber Salad
  • Grilled Petite Tender Steak with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes, Bacon Green Beans, Roasted Tomato and Horseradish Crema
  • Chinese BBQ Grilled Mahi Mahi with Szechuan Udon Noodles, Pan-Roasted Mushrooms and Bok Choi
  • Jalapeno Grilled Tofu with Sweet Chili Carrot Puree and White Soy Kim Chi

Dessert Options (choose one):

  • Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Cheese Plate with Brie, Manchego, Honey, Apples and Candied Walnuts
  • Lemon Cake with Cotton Candy Anglais and Blackberry Sorbet

4. For one of the best Italian dinners in Denver, try PAGLIACCIS

Soup:

  • Pagliacci’s “Famous” Minestrone ~ A family recipe since 1946

Salad:

  • Fresh Green Salad ~ Tossed with your choice of Italian vinaigrette or Gorgonzola dressing

Entrée (choose one):

  • Chef’s Special ~ To be announced
  • Italian Variety Dinner ~ Chicken parmigiana, manicotti, eggplant Parmigiana
  • Spaghetti al Pesto ~ Basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil
  • Salmon alla Griglia ~ Light tomato relish & fresh asparagus
  • Cozze all Possillipo ~ White wine, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, basil, and marinara
  • Chicken Marsala ~ Marsala wine, shallots, mushrooms, and butter
  • Gnocchi con Salsiccia e Funghi ~ Homemade gnocchi, Italian sausage, mushrooms, tomato-cream sauce
  • Pappardelle Friuli ~ Homemade chestnut pasta, Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, chili, white wine, marinara
  • Lasagne ~ Choice of meatball or sausage
  • Eggplant Parmigiana ~ Lightly breaded, fried and then baked with Italian cheeses

Dessert (choose one):

  • Cannoli ~ Filled with our homemade sweetened ricotta
  • Chocolate Mousse ~ Homemade (light and flavorful)
  • Tiramisù ~ Homemade Zabaglione custard over Marsala dipped lady fingers and dusted with dark cocoa
  • Spumoni ~ Marbled ice cream of chocolate, pistachio, and cherry
  • Wine Sundae ~ Creamy vanilla ice cream with our homemade wine sauce

5.  For an authentic taste of the islands, try Cuba Cuba

Your choice of:

  • empanadas de manchego~ empanadas filled with spinach & manchego cheese
  • rock shrimp ceviche~ rock shrimp, avocado, peppers, onions & roasted tomato served with fresh plantains

Your choice of:

  • lechon asado & maduros ~ slow roasted pork served with white rice, black beans & sweet plantains
  • grouper al mojo~ pan seared grouper prepared with garlic mojo served with mashed potato & a cherry tomato salad topped with queso fresco.

Your choice of:

  • flan de queso ~ cream cheese flan served with creme caramel
  • key lime tart~ key west key lime tart served in a graham cracker crust topped with merengue

This is really just a sample of the amazing menus being offered for restaurant week and let me tell you they are all just as exciting…. For a full list you can go here.

Where would you go for Restaurant Week?

[Foodie Friday] The “Pasquini’s Problem”

“I liked Pasquini’s before it was cool.”

My dad grew up in Denver, around Mississippi and Umatilla, which is really close to the original Pasquini’s at Louisiana and Broadway. When I was younger and my grandparents still lived at that house we would go to Pasquini’s and get spaghetti and meatballs to go for a big family dinner. To me, this was what good pasta was. For years and years I went there for every birthday dinner or any sort of special occasion.

Simply put, Pasquini’s has always been my favorite. Which is why it pains me to say that I don’t really claim it as my favorite anymore…..

There is this problem that sometimes arises when neighborhood family-owned restaurants become popular. Inevitably the demands of more customers end up diluting the original essence of the place- in the name of “progress” of course. As I was listening to the Pasquini’s commercial (!) on the radio, I couldn’t help but feel like they are the perfect example of this problem. Therefore, I must now dub this the “Pasquini’s problem”.

You see, the original Pasquini’s was adorable. It was a tiny cramped old building with mis-matched tables, plates, etc. When you walked in the owner’s mom was in front folding silverware greeting you with a smile. You sometimes had to wait a long time, but it was worth it because you got the feeling that you were in their home. And the vegetarian lasagna was life changing. Key word = was.

Pasquini’s is different now. The demand for more customers lead them to significantly increase their clientele by adding five more stores and expanding the original store. These new stores all look the same and they are very clean cut and “suburban” looking. The menu is exactly the same at all of them, but the quality has sadly decreased. This is not to say that it is bad- it is still a million times better than Olive Garden and the like- but it is not the spaghetti and lasagna I fell in love with as a little girl.

I feel bad for hating on Pasquini’s, because I am happy for their success. I’m sure 35 years ago when the first restaurant opened they had dreams of expansion like this…. and I’m sure they are happy with what they have built from the ground up… but I just can’t say it is my favorite anymore.

It probably makes me an uber hipster for having these thoughts, but whatevs.

HAVE ANY OF YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS SUFFERED FROM THE “PASQUINI’S PROBLEM”?

[Foodie Friday] il mostro verde….

I have a new favorite thing this week and it is The Green Monster! No, not that Green Monster…

THIS ONE:

I am seriously in love with green smoothies like the Green Machine and the Apples ‘N Greens from Jamba Juice because they trick me into drinking veggies….. But I’m not in love with the price.

When I started to frown at the cost of these drinks, I went searching for a good recipe to make my own. Along the way I found Angela over at Oh She Glows, who so lovingly calls these green smoothies “Green Monsters”. Using her recipe as a starting point, and my own personal taste, I came up with this recipe/framework… You can use this as a jumping off point to create your very own green monster.

1. First add about 4 oz of liquid and 1/2 cup yogurt to your blender… {I personal use 1/2 cup 0% greek yogurt and 1/2 cup coconut milk. You can use milk, water, apple juice, really anything liquid.}

2. Add about a cup of spinach or kale and blend with the liquid + yogurt. {I personally use spinach because it is readily available. You won’t be able to taste it either way I promise.}

3. Once you have a smooth mixture of liquid, yogurt, and greens, add your fruit and blend until smooth. {I personally like banana, granny smith apple, and frozen berries… but note that berries will make it significantly less green.}

4. At this point you can add any other extras you might want for nutritional value, such as protein powder, chia seed, flax seed, almond butter… and then give it one last spin.

5. Enjoy. 🙂

What would you put in your green smoothie?

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Thanks so much to everyone for reading! I am just a few shy of 1,000 views today and I’ve only been writing in the blog for a little less than 2 months, which is pretty amazing to me. I hope my musings are pleasing to you… If you have any requests about a special topic you’d like me to write about let me know!

And hey, don’t be a stranger… I know y’all are reading so you should leave me some love 🙂

[Foodie Friday] One FroYo to rule them all.

I have a new obsession, and it comes in the form of an adorable pink cup.

Oh Menchies, you have captured my heart, my taste buds, and my wallet. I have tried a lot of frozen yogurt and it is all wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but Menchies by far grabs the title of my favorite. 

Oh Menchies, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….

*The flavors are interesting and full (and not just “healthy”). A few examples: cheesecake, pumpkin pie, red velvet cake, chai tea, cookies in cream, pina colada tart, etc….. Do I have your attention yet? yummm.

*They have toppings I haven’t seen other places, like hot fudge and fresh fruit, and the BEST cookie dough chunks.

*Many of the flavors are low in carbs and sugar, gluten free, vegan (sorbet), and most importantly a bunch of them include those Live + Active cultures that are oh so good for the bod. That’s right, good for you! I won’t tell if you won’t.

*This seems like a small thing, but I absolutely LOVE that the containers holding the toppings have lids on them. Many yogurt places leave them wide open and it creeps me out.

*It’s pink and lime green inside which makes me smile the biggest.

*The smilage card is amazing! You get 25 points just for registering, 1 point for every dollar you spend, and every 50 points you get $5 free. Hello, amazing.

You HAVE to try Menchies! I promise you won’t be disappointed. I go to the one on 32nd and Clay in the Highlands, but they have locations all over the country, six of which are in Colorado with three more coming soon. Go chchcheck it out.

What are your thoughts on frozen yogurt? Have a place I should try? Let me know! 

[Foodie Friday] An Ode To Cheese….

My friend Sam posted an article on Facebook about someone’s Top Ten dishes in Denver this year which got me thinking about the best things I have had to eat this year. As I made my decisions, I realized that they all had one thing in common: cheese. I have been in a lifelong love affair with cheese and I have never met a cheese I didn’t like. Honestly, I bet 90% of my favorite things feature cheese. I just can’t help but love the melty, salty, gooey lumps of heaven. I’m not in the least bit surprised that the best things I ate this year featured cheese. So, without further ado, my top five dishes of 2011, or as I have dubbed it, An Ode To Cheese….

1) Modus Hoperandi Mac ‘N Cheese from Highland Tap and Burger

Don’t  get me wrong, everything I ate there was good. They make a lovely in house veggie patty, the beer list is amazing, Jordan said his burger was yummy, blah blah. But all I really care about is the mac and cheese. It includes a lovely mix of cheeses and it is baked in the oven just the way I like. Also, do yourself a favor and add the bacon. The crispy saltiness in the bacon really kicks it up a notch, not that it needs it.

2) Chorizo and Cheese, Spinach and Cheese, and Margarita Empanadas (to name a few) from Buenos Aires Pizzeria

Okay, so I didn’t technically try these for the first time this year, but I can’t write an ode to cheese and leave off these babies. They are only $2.50 each and they are so fresh and delightful. I usually make a meal of just empanadas because they are so tasty and filling. (and cheap!) Their pizza is good as well, but the empanadas and canastitas are the true stars and you can pick them up to go in the gelato shop.

3) Bacon Mac and Cheese Fries from Jonesys Eat Bar

Jordan and I went here after much urging from our friends Hap and Sam, and I hate to say that overall I wasn’t overwhelmed. BUT the bacon mac and cheese friends make up for my less than enthusiastic view of the rest because these. are. not. your. average. fries. Seriously, go directly to Jonesys, sit at the bar, order one of their many wonderful beer choices, and get down on some of these fries. You can live without trying everything else, because these alone will make you fall in love.

4) “Grown Up” Grilled Cheese from Mead St. Station

Pear, Brie, Havarti, and Black Forest Ham. Do I even need to say anymore? A.MAZ.ING. Make sure to get sweet potato fries and chipotle mayo as your side, because those are pretty amazing too. I can’t lie to you, everything here is good, but I don’t get a chance to order anything else very often because this grilled cheese sandwich has captured my heart.

5) Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Basic Kneads Pizza

I had this on my birthday while relaxing on the patio at Great Divide and I can honestly say it is the best pizza I’ve ever had. And I’m around pizza everyday. The Pesto Chicken Portabella is pretty bomb as well. Besides the pizza being amazing, I love the idea of basic kneads- a food truck that carries an entire wood fired pizza oven. It is exciting and delicious! Check them out at Great Divide every Wednesday and Friday night.

WHAT WERE THE BEST DISHES YOU ATE THIS YEAR? (WITH OR WITHOUT CHEESE)