gluten free love (cranberry and cilantro salad)

Gabs and I had a lunch date a couple weeks ago, which meant I made one of my favorite go to quinoa dishes – a cranberry and cilantro salad (which I originally stumbled across on allrecipes). Quinoa is a great option for gluten free dishes because it’s so versatile and picks up the flavor of whatever it is cooked with.  This particular quinoa dish has just the right mixture of spice and flavor.

unnamedA delicious and easy lunch!

Start by boiling the water (I made 1 cup of quinoa so I needed 2 cups of water) – I always add a bit of salt to the water to give the quinoa more flavor (and it helps the water boil faster!). Once the water is boiling add the quinoa, cover the pot, and reduce the heat.  Let it simmer until all the water is absorbed  which takes about 15-20 minutes. In the meantime chop up a red onion, cilantro (one half of a bunch), and carrots.  Once the quinoa is cooked add 2 teaspoons of curry powder and a pinch of cumin. Then stir in the red onion, cilantro, and carrots in addition to 1 cup dried cranberries  and ¼ cup chopped almonds. Squeeze one lime over the it and serve! Gabs brought over shredded chicken that we used to top off the quinoa – and just like that a perfect lunch was made!

foodie find (upstairs circus)

Like many people I know, I have a mild obsession with Pinterest. I pin and pin and pin things like interesting DIY arts and crafty projects (evidenced here), but rarely (read: never) actually make any of these fun creations. Going out and purchasing and assembling all of the necessary materials seems like a lot of work. But, a new venture in Denver is taking the prep work out of it and giving Denverites a place to craft and imbibe. Enter Upstairs Circus. Located downtown at 15th and Wynkoop, above Squeaky Bean, Upstairs Circus allows patrons to choose from 4-5 craft projects and then provides all the needed materials and tutorials to complete said projects. AND of course, adult beverages are available for purchase! 🙂 Cost for each visit, or “project social” is $35, any desired beverages are additional .

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Thank you to my lovely friend, Leslie, for letting me in on this gem – you can bet we will be assembling a group of friends to check out Upstairs Circus soon!

foodie find (bourbon family tree)

Happy Monday After Thanksgiving! (If we can call that happy). I hope you all had a fun and food-filled Thanksgiving weekend. Cait and I headed to our respective homes (Wisconsin and C-Springs) to take a break by eating food and not blogging about it. But now we are back!

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did:

A couple weeks ago, GQ published an awesome article and infographic on the Bourbon Family Tree. Read more here about a classic American spirit.

bourbon-family-tree-largeI don’t know about you but this is much more interesting than my own family tree. /source/

foodie find (gobble gobble)

Well, the time has finally come. The best day of the year, Thanksgiving, is finally upon us. Bring on the stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, and of course, turkey! In honor of this great day, here are some collections of fun facts / trivia about the bird of the hour.

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Twenty interesting things about…Turkeys – #12 surprised me here, who knew that eating turkey is linked to healthy eyes?!

Facts About Turkeys – #19, Americans really eat on average 18 pounds of turkey a year?!

14 Fun Facts About Turkeys  – #9 does not surprise me at all… (I once had a traumatizing experience at Colonial Williamsburg involving a turkey chasing me. Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

foodie find (hot chocolate)

Brrrr! Baby it’s cold outside! Yesterday it was about 15 degrees here in Denver and today it is supposed to warm up to a balmy 32 degrees. Compared to the sunny 55 degree day we had on Tuesday, this still seems pretty darn cold to me. And this blitz of cold weather and snow has got me craving what else, hot chocolate! Yesterday I attempted to feed the craving by making a trip through the Starbucks drive-thru. And, it didn’t quite satisfy me.

BUT, then, I stumbled across this gem, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (quite possibly my favorite food blogger, cookbook writer, and all-around awesome person whose life I am envious of). A recipe for homemade hot chocolate, AND a couple variations (orange hot chocolate, raspberry hot chocolate, and Mexican hot chocolate).

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[Photo image courtesy of The Pioneer Woman]

Today (as soon as I get this post posted), I will be braving the cold to purchase a new winter jacket (bah, long story) AND picking up the essentials to make this delicious, homemade hot chocolate!

Enjoy!

foodie on the move (barcelona)

Well, after a couple weeks of eating and drinking my way around Spain, Italy (or Eataly as Gabs and I like to refer to it), and France with Mama and Papa C-Rock, here I am back in the Mile High. The other day, I finally got around to organizing some of my photos and (obviously) found myself drooling over some of the food shots. Needless to say, I enjoyed quite a few delicious meals and thought I’d share some of the details.

Of all the places we visited, Barcelona was one of my absolute favorites. Actually, I think I’ll even go as far as to say that Barcelona is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. I loved the old, historic architecture and very narrow streets of the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter). Walking around, I felt like I’d just stepped out of the pages of The Shadow of the Wind (one of my all-time favorite books, I highly recommend).

Anyhow, back to the food – if you’re ever wandering around the Barri Gotic in Barcelona, here are three gems that I absolutely loved (Thanks Rick Steves)!

Xaloc – a really nice, polished tapas place (with really cool decor, by the way – Iberian hams hanging all around and a wall covered with wine bottles). We ordered several tapas (and several glasses of Rioja) and everything was wonderful. I especially liked the bread which was not served with butter, but with a fresh tomato spread (which is the norm in Barcelona, at least at most of the restaurants I frequented). It was really tasty and a nice change.

Cafe de l’Academia – a dimly lit restaurant on a little side street, adjacent to the Basilica del Sants Martirs Just. My absolute favorite dish here was potatoes au gratin topped with Iberian ham, a perfectly poached egg, AND a nice little piece of seared foie gras. Poached eggs and foie gras happen to be two of my favorite foods and finding them combined in a dish was perfect.

Granja La Pallaresa – this little gem was where I had the tastiest treat of the entire trip. Churros. Dipped. In. Hot. Chocolate. And not just your average, run-of-the-mill hot chocolate. Creamy, rich, thick hot chocolate that was so decadent I almost didn’t think I’d be able to finish it (somehow I prevailed). Seriously if ever find yourself in Barcelona and remember one thing from this post, make this be it. You won’t regret it.

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Clockwise from the top left: Charcuterie plate complete with Iberian ham and Manchego cheese (Xaloc), toasted bread with tomato spread (Xaloc), ham croquettes (Xaloc), potatoes au gratin with Iberian ham, a poached egg, and foie gras (Cafe de l’Academia), Iberian ham (Cafe de l’Academia), Bulgarian frozen yogurt with brandy soaked cherries (Cafe de l’Academia), salmon stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes (Cafe de l’Academia), smashed potato and ground beef croquettes with spicy tomato sauce (Xaloc), and lastly, in the center: churros and hot chocolate (Granja La Pallaresa).

foodie find (another use for your coffee maker)

I have an [embarrassing] confession to make. I didn’t know how to use a coffee maker until the summer of 2010 after I had just graduated from college. Our gluten free expert Mel Bel was the one who had to teach me this very basic life skill. Now I brew my own coffee every morning and bring it to work in my very stylish thermos so, needless to say, I’ve come a long way in the past three years. (Did I really just refer to making coffee as coming a long way)?

JuraJ9My coffee maker is nowhere near this fancy. But a girl can dream. /source/

Anyway, since I have clearly mastered this skill, I was intrigued to read this NPR article yesterday regarding other, more unorthodox, uses for this appliance. I can’t say that I will be replacing the use of my stove for this anytime soon but it is an intriguing idea nonetheless. Who knew a simple coffee make could have so many alternative and tasty uses?!

foodie find (ste. ellie)

Well, I may be a little late to the game on this one, since it is week old news now (Friendsgiving took precedence this weekend). However, the grand opening of Ste. Ellie is a big deal in my little corner of the world. At 8:30pm this past Friday night, the sister bar of Colt & Gray officially opened its doors. Since Colt & Gray is my favorite restaurant in Denver, I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Ste. Ellie ever since construction started in April. It’s taken a bit longer than anticipated but she’s now open for business. Cait and I will be overindulging tomorrow night – needless to say, we are counting down the hours and minutes.

ST_ELLIE_2621eUmmmm – this is basically amazing. /source/

P.S. For more information on what I am sure will be my new favorite haunt, check out this Eater Denver article and this Westword Slideshow.

my favorite brunch menu…well ever

DUO III/source/

I had an epiphany this past weekend – around 10:45am on Saturday morning to be exact. I found what I have been looking for since late 2006 – the perfect Denver brunch menu. I met up with some old friends, Mari and Rae, at Duo Restaurant located at 32nd and Zuni in the Highlands. I had never been before but had heard great things about their dinner. I will be making a dinner reservation ASAP because, if their brunch is this awesome, I can’t wait to try it for a different occasion.

We started off with some French Press Coffee (to numb the hangover) which I always love. But fear not, we also ordered the necessary cocktails as well. Mari ordered a mimosa-esque cocktail and I ordered a cocktail made with Tequila, Aperol, Grapefruit Juice, and a splash of soda. It was the perfect amount of sweet and bitter – a great Saturday morning recovery drink for sure.

duo /source/

To start off with, we ordered a pastry basket – we simply could not resist the idea of banana bread with chocolate chunks. And yes, it was just as amazing as it sounds. For main courses, Mari ordered the Egg-in-the-Basket, Rae ordered the Cider Glazed Pork Benedict, and I ordered the Zippy Cake (I mean with a name like that, how could I not?). We all raved about our choices – mine, in particular, was really different from anything I have ever had. It was a pork grit cake (slightly spicy) topped with a tomato ragu of some sort and two poached eggs. I know, I know. Sounds weird. IT’S NOT and I would recommend it to anyone who goes.

All in all, as I mentioned before, this was my favorite brunch menu I have seen in Denver so far. It’s unique, creative, and full of different flavors. Usually I can narrow my selection down to two or three potential items. But on Saturday, we had to send the waitress away three times before we could finally make up our minds! In addition, Duo has a cool relaxed atmosphere full of cool eclectic touches. If you haven’t been yet, put it on the top of your top “must dine” list!

Gabs: GGGG1/4

foodie find (oyster nachos)

Earlier this fall, Cait and I set out to find the best and most unique nachos in Denver. As exhaustive as we thought that list was, our friend Stace has notified us of another new and totally different nacho dish. Get ready for this – oyster nachos. Yes, you heard me right – OYSTER nachos. Now, not having tried these yet, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. However, I am very intrigued and will be making every effort to give them a shot soon.

oysternachos-thumb-565x378Yes, these are the now infamous oyster nachos. /source/

Stace found this fun find on Westword’s “Guess Where” feature this past Monday. And where can you find these oyster nachos you might ask? Well, look no further than Punch Bowl Social on 1st and Broadway for your fix!