I took a trip to Seattle…

Yes, the great Northwest.  If Chicago is for foodies, then the state of Washington is for those of you who like your food and adult beverages.  My brother is a graphic designer and owns his own business, Fresh Bread Design.  He works almost exclusively with distilleries and breweries in the area north of Seattle as well as some in Seattle.  So I had the inside track on what was amazing to sip on while in Washington.  And it was a fun time!

I love flying into Sea-Tac on a clear day, the views are amazing!  I arrived at a good time in the morning and my dad and brother, Scott, picked me up just in time for lunch.  Since we had plans on going to Ghostfish Brewing Company when they opened at 3pm, we had time to kill.  Scott found a little fish and chips place that had a dedicated fryer for gluten free foods.  I loved the fact that he did research ahead of time, read reviews and planned this for us.  It meant so much!

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The fish and chips place that we went to was called Emerald City Fish and Chips.  It may not be the biggest place to eat but it packed a punch!  It turns out that they only batter their items in a Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free batter so the only things that aren’t gluten-free are their sandwiches.  It was awesome getting a great meal and knowing it was totally safe!

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We then headed downtown-ish Seattle.  We parked close to Ghostfish Brewing but Scott wanted to take us to Letterpress Distilling.  It was a gorgeous, sunny fall day so we walked there.  Letterpress is right around the corner from SafeCo Field, home of the Mariners and they currently make vodka and Limoncello.  Their vodka is super smooth with a hint of vanilla at the end, very enjoyable.  The Limoncello was smooth as well and lemon-y but not overpowering.  More like a lemon drop without too much sweetness.  We also got a tour of the facility which was really cool!

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Ghostfish was a place I was DYING to go to.  They brew only gluten-free beers and it was awesome to get to go to a brewery and drink a beer!  Since I’d never been there, I had a flight and my brother and dad shared a flight with other flavors.  I’d never had a saison before and fell in love with the light flavor with a hint of flowers.  Just a beautiful blend!  The other flavor, much to my surprise, that I loved, was the stout.  I’d never been too much of a stout fan, it’s usually got too much of a coffee flavor for me, but this one is less coffee and more chocolate.  Wow!  Talk about a beer you can sip and savor!  Needless to say, we took some beer home with us.

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A couple of days later we ventured to Anacortes.  If you have never been there, go visit.  It’s a beautiful sea town with a marina and fresh sea air.

IMG_4746 IMG_4745 IMG_4747We ate breakfast at the Calico Cupboard.  They have many gluten-free items including thick, fluffy pancakes for breakfast and carrot cake (my favorite!) and cookies to take home.  I didn’t get a picture of the carrot cake the next day but it made for a great breakfast!  IMG_4744On the way home, we stopped at a store and picked up a bottle of Ground Breaker Dark Ale.  This was also a great beer with a full flavor.  Not as deep as a stout, obviously, but had a great finish to it.  IMG_4791

That Saturday was our “Tour day”.  Scott took mom, dad and I out to see a couple more of his clients.  Our first stop was Temple Distilling.  Temple, for the time being, makes gin.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a gin drinker.  I always think that someone put Lysol in my drink.  Not Temple’s London Dry gin.  Super smooth, no bite, it might make me a gin drinker.  Put it into a gin and tonic and…wow.  So good.  You have to try it to believe it, really.  They also just released a Navy Gin which is a bit more potent.  (I’m also a photographer and the next day Scott and I did some publicity photos for Temple, they turned out so good!  Sorry, a little self promotion).

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After Temple we headed to Elemental Hard Cider.  Elemental does all gluten-free hard ciders and MANY flavors.  They also have lunch which is all gluten-free sandwiches. Whoa…lunch and cider and it’s all gluten-free?  I’m in heaven!  I decided to go with the classic grilled cheese and it was amazing.  But the ciders…oh, the ciders!  From a classic dry apple to cherry to spiced apple to spiced pumpkin to acai…these are just a few flavors.  And they just introduced a root beer, not for the kiddos to try!  All of them are so good but the acai was bottled and I took one home with me.  The root beer was to be bottled a few days after I left so I may have some mailed to me.  It really was hard to pick a fav but I loved the spiced apple or the spiced pumpkin.  Two distinct flavors and perfect for fall!

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It was an amazing trip and I had a great time visiting family too, it wasn’t all about the beverages.  My family is super important to me and I got to surprise my 4 1/2-year-old niece and my 2-year-old nephew.  Spending time chasing them around was so precious to me.  Seeing my brother and sister-in-law and having time to hear about their future was amazing as well.  It’s so hard being so far away…but the memories of this time helps get through to the next time.

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Recipe:  Pumpkin Cupcakes

I admitted in an earlier blog that I’m not a big pumpkin fan but I am up to try new things.  A few weeks ago I saw a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes (by Gluten Free Mama) and, since I’m a sucker for baking, thought I’d try them out!  Fall means baking in my world so break out the mixer!

Pumpkin Cupcakes:

1/2 cup butter                                                                                                                                                                          1/2 cup brown sugar                                                                                                                                                                1/2 cup sugar                                                                                                                                                                            1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)                                                                                                                                2 tsp. vanilla                                                                                                                                                                               2 eggs                                                                                                                                                                                        1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I use Jules)                                                                                                                                   1 tsp. xanthan gum (if your flour doesn’t have it mixed in)                                                                                                          1 tsp. baking powder                                                                                                                                                               1/2 tsp. baking soda                                                                                                                                                                  1 tsp. cinnamon                                                                                                                                                                      1/2 tsp. ginger                                                                                                                                                                        1/2  tsp. nutmeg                                                                                                                                                                         1 cup chocolate chips or walnuts, if desired (I used chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl mix together the flour, xanthan gum (if needed), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  In a mixing bowl cream butter with brown sugar, sugar and vanilla until creamy.  Add pumpkin and mix well.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add egg one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in flour mixture until combined.  Scrape down sides of bowl and mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds until well combined.  If desired, add in chocolate chips, walnuts or other desired filling.

Using a two inch scoop, fill cupcake liners with batter.  Bake for 26-28 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when touched.  Place on cooling sheet and cool completely.  Frost with frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup shortening                                                                                                                                                                    4 oz cream cheese                                                                                                                                                                      1/2 tsp. vanilla                                                                                                                                                                           1 1/2 cups powdered sugar                                                                                                                                                     1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Cream the shortening and cream cheese until soft.  Add vanilla, mix well.  Add cinnamon and slowly add powdered sugar.  Mix on high speed until smooth.  If needed add 1-2 tsp. milk to achieve desired texture.

These cupcakes smelled and tasted amazing.  They were very moist, flavorful and the chocolate chips added that “sweet treat” feel.  The cinnamon cream cheese frosting finished the cupcakes off perfectly.  I had my best friend, Shawna, taste them.  Shawna LOVES pumpkin and has a “30 days of pumpkin” challenge where she eats something with pumpkin every day for 30 days.  I call her the “Pumpkin Queen”.  She thought they were delish and gave them her stamp of approval!  My co workers also loved them and they stayed moist for a few days, which is unlike most gluten free baked goods.  My parents also gave their stamp of approval…three groups approved!

The other thing I loved about this recipe is that it is so easy to whip together.  If you need something quick, this is the recipe!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

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Recipe: Gluten Free Rhubarb Coffee Cake

A few years ago I bought my mom a couple rhubarb plants for Mother’s Day.  In the Dakotas it was a plant that was everywhere so we made everything with it:  coffee cake, rhubarb desserts and so much more.  But rhubarb plants produce a ton and so you end up freezing it so you can make things with it in the fall and winter.  Mom and dad were on vacation so I helped myself to some of it and then thought “now what?  What should I make?”  That sent me on an internet search for something yummy that I could share with my co workers.

When I saw this recipe, I thought “this can’t be this easy” but it really is!  Here is the recipe, courtesy of www.faithfullyglutenfree.com and with my slight modifications.

Gluten-free Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Author: Jeanine Friesen
Ingredients for Coffee Cake
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups Flour Mix, I use Jules GF Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
Topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Jules GF Flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix margarine and sugar together; beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. Mix in dry ingredients followed by milk, then finely chopped rhubarb.
  4. Combine topping ingredients & set aside.
  5. Grease a 9×13-inch pan, pour batter in pan and top with topping.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. When a toothpick is inserted, it should come out clean.

This cake was moist for days after I baked it.  It was AMAZING and I WILL be making this again…

Review: Spoons Bistro and Bakery

Last Friday I took the afternoon off to take my mom for a Mother’s Day mani/pedi.  Before we went, mom asked where we should grab lunch.  Since she had never been to Spoons Bistro and Bakery, and we had time, I suggested that we go there.

Spoons Bistro and Bakery is a unique place.  It is located on the campus of HopeWest, which is the Hospice center for Western Colorado.  All proceeds from the restaurant go back to HopeWest so you feel good about eating there because it supports and amazing cause.

Their lunch menu consists of sandwiches, paninis, pastas, salads and the like.  Simple fare with either chips, veggies, fries and more.  They also have amazing desserts!  They also have a dinner menu that appears to cover many different tastes, although I haven’t eaten there for dinner.

It had been a long time since I had eaten at Spoons but knew that they offered gluten free options.  We looked at the menu, made our choice and when it was our turn to order, the first thing I told the lady was that we were both gluten free.  I was shocked when she said “Are you gluten free or Celiac?  If you are Celiac, I would recommend not to have a panini because there may be bread crumbs from regular bread.  We have a special frying pan just for our gluten free bread and we can toast your sandwich.”

Wait…what?

She understood!  We told her that I was Celiac and she said that the chef had a sister that was Celiac so they carefully watched for cross contamination although they couldn’t guarantee it.

I was thrilled.  How often does that happen?  Mom and I both ordered the Rosemary Chicken and Avocado Panini in grilled sandwich form with carrots and celery on the side.  It’s not often that I get a sandwich while eating out so it was a treat!

The sandwich consisted of rosemary chicken, bacon (how can you go wrong with bacon?), avocado, lettuce and tomato.  It was amazing!  I enjoyed every bite of it…and could have eaten more.  I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture!

They usually also have a gluten free dessert but not that day.  We did discover that they have a weekly gluten free bakery item so I will have to check that out at some point.

I also love the fact that their prices are super low.  It was just over $15 for the two of us to eat, which is very inexpensive for a lunch anywhere.  Easy on the budget, great for the tummy!  In fact, I’m going there for lunch tomorrow and can’t wait!

If you want to know more about Spoons, visit their website.  The visit there will be well worth your time.

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Traveling on…

I just finished up my second trip for work, destination: Minneapolis, MN. I spent one year in Minneapolis in college and was there a few times while I lived in Sioux Falls. So, it was going “back to my roots”, in a way. None of the other three gals from my office had been to Minnesota but when they found out we were near the Mall of America, they were all kinds of excited.

Eating is always a big part of a trip so once we hit the Mall of America, it was on! We did our shopping (they even had a store that was ALL running gear! Can you say heaven?) then headed to Tony Roma’s. They had a great gluten free menu and adult beverages as well.  The service was lacking, our dinner there was almost two hours and we didn’t order anything special, but when it came, it was amazing.  I had the Mojo Chicken which had great flavor and a great pineapple salsa on a bed of rice.  Lesson learned, don’t go there unless you aren’t overly hungry or are in a time crunch!

Before we left Grand Junction, my manager called ahead to the hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Eagan, to make sure that there would be gluten free meals for me. While they weren’t sure about the breakfasts, and only confirmed that the eggs were ok, they did amazing with the lunches. The first lunch we had was Chinese and they made me a special plate with sauteed veggies and rice as well as a side salad. The second lunch was a huge bowl of pasta and they went the extra mile by going to the nearby gluten free bakery and getting me desert! More on that in a second…

After we finished up our first day of training, I told my manager that we were going to hoof it the half a mile to the gluten free bakery, Bittersweet Bakery.  Before I left for my trip, I did some research on good gluten free places in Minneapolis and was pleased to find that there was a gluten free bakery so close! There was a kindly gentleman at the counter and he helped me make my breakfast choice for the morning: cinnamon pecan coffee cake. Since I LOVE cupcakes, I couldn’t pass up the marble cupcakes with chocolate frosting and candies on top. I also nabbed a double chocolate chip cookie because, honestly, who doesn’t like cookies. All of those items were under $10 too! I’ve never purchased that much in gluten free items and have it that cheap! I tried the cookie out on the walk back to the hotel…ok, devoured it. It was amazing! I had the coffee cake the next morning and it was equally amazing. It almost didn’t even taste gluten free. The cupcakes, even after a day, were still soft and tasty.

When I returned to the hotel from my trip to the bakery, my workmates were at the hotel bar and I just had to show them the treats I had gotten, minus the cookie:

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake and Marble Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake and Marble Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

The bartender, who I later found out was the assistant general manager, Ronnie, overheard our conversation and told me that his son had a wheat allergy and he had forgotten about the bakery.  He said that they would get me something for lunch the next day from the bakery but I didn’t think much of it.  The next day they delivered:  two double chocolate chip cookies from Bittersweet Bakery!

We decided to stay close for dinner that night and we across the street to Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill.  They had amazing food and were very attentive to my needs, even checking to make sure that the Ooso, the Greek beverage, was gluten free.  When we ordered hummus, they accommodated me and brought celery for me to have with the hummus.  Our server was amazing!  They also had karoke so it was a fun time by all!

Our last night, we decided to stay close as well and Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill was recommended by Ronnie.  I was pleased with the huge selection of gluten free options on their menu, even appetizers, which I find aren’t always on a gluten free menu.  The Balsamic Tenderloin Skewers were a great way to start the meal.  So tasty!  For an entree I had the Spit Roasted Chicken.  It was the most tender chicken I’ve had in a long time and the mashed potatoes were so good too!

It was a great trip, great training, amazing people and amazing food!  I would recommend trying the above places, they won’t disappoint!

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