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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dallas Eats

Last month I spent a week in Dallas, TX for a Kaizen event for work. So, the first thing I did was do some restaurant research and made a list of options. I made it to about half of the places on my list and was pretty happy with my choices as were the people that joined me.  Most of my lunches were spent at the training facility's cafeteria and wasn't really anything worth writing home about. The dinners were more fun and exciting.

The Blue Fish

The Blue Fish is a fancy (aka expensive) seafood place with very dim lighting that I pretty much spent all my per diem on for the day. It was one of the places I was looking most forward to. I went with the pan seared Chilean sea bass, topped with balsamic soy vinaigrette and served with shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers and rice. It was a nice light and healthy meal but not worth the expensive prices in my opinion.
  Tempura Tower Chilean Sea Bass

Goji Cafe

Goji Cafe is advertised as "Healthy Asian Food". What makes it healthy? It's 100% vegan! I've been to vegan restaurants before but this was the first Asian Vegan I've been to and was pleasantly surprised with how good it was, especially the spring rolls. They have a great sampler option on their menu with 6 sets of samplers or the option of creating your own sampler with any 2 entrees and 1 appetizer from any of the sets of samplers. I chose that option and got the Salt n Pepper "Pork" Ribs, Kung Pow! Tofu and the Spicy Dumplings. Goji Cafe - Vegan Asian Sampler

Koryo Kalbi

Koryo Kalbi is a Korean BBQ restaurant located in Dallas' Koreatown. It is one of the restaurants that was not on my list but came across it in some restaurant research I did while in Dallas. Texas is known for its BBQ and I couldn't go to Texas without trying some BBQ though I'm not sure they are very well known for their Korean BBQ. I do kind of regret not checking out any American BBQ places while there. I read reviews saying people drive hours just to eat here so I figured it must be good and it definitely was.  I love all the different side dishes they bring out. There's a little something for everyone. I went with the pork belly and they cook your meat of choice on the gas grill in the center of the table along with some onion and mushrooms. It was my favorite meal during the trip.
Plate of Korean Side Dishes Korean BBQ

Pasand Indian Cuisine

This was my last meal in Dallas on the way to the airport. Pasand was your typical Indian fare. They had a buffet set up with just about everything though I couldn't tell you what any of it was. I tried a little of almost everything.
Pasand Indian Buffet

The only other restaurant worth mentioning was Andalous Mediterranean Grill. It was kind of subway style looking. They had tons of different dishes and you had the option of creating your own platter from the various dishes on display almost like a buffet but you only got 4 or 5 options and they served it for you. They had 4 different types of hummus including a spinach hummus which I'm going to have to try making myself one of these days. I got a kabob combo that came with 3 different meats and the lamb was definitely the best of the three and if I went back would just get lamb and skip the beef and chicken. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the food here but recommend it.

Another thing to note about Dallas. A coffee capital it is not. It's difficult to find a coffee shop there besides Starbucks and even those are far and few between. Java Me Up was the closest option besides Starbucks and we drove 8 miles out of the way for it. It was nice that they had a lot of non-dairy milk options. I tried rice milk one morning and coconut milk another morning and it wasn't bad but I still prefer my Seattle coffee. I also found it odd that they didn't have any branding on their cups. They were plane white cups with a cup holder with Claritin advertising on it. It looked like something you'd get at a gas station. It was better than Starbucks but not sure if it was worth driving 8 miles for.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Hummus Recipe

Hummus Recipe I've wanted to make hummus for some time but kept putting it off and putting it off and I have no idea why. It's so easy to make and once I made it, I was hooked and have made it at least half a dozen times already this year. I first made it to snack on during the Superbowl, serving it with carrot and celery sticks. I've made a few different variations of it and like experimenting.  I had a tasty spinach hummus at Andalous Mediterranean Grill in Texas last month and am looking forward to adding some spinach to my next batch.

I've tried both a food process and a blender to make the hummus and found the hummus to be a bit creamier with the blender and is my preference.  Some people go through the trouble of peeling all the beans to make it even smoother but I don't have the patience for that and don't think it would make that big of a difference.

Below is the recipe I've used the last couple of times I've made it and it has gotten rave reviews from people, including Mark, who claimed to not like hummus before he tried mine. You can alter the amount of garlic and spice to suit your tastes. I prefer a garlicy hummus and usually use 3 garlic cloves.

Recipe: Gapey's Grub Hummus

Yield: approximately 2.5 cups
Total time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 can garbanzo beans
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
juice of one lemon, approx. 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

toasted pine nuts
dash of paprika
whole garbanzo beans

1. Drain beans, saving liquid for possible use.
2. Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, adding a tbsp or more of saved liquid or water to thin.
3. Garnish with toasted pine nuts. paprika and/or garbanzo beans.
3. Serve with sticks of carrots and celery or pita bread or pita chips.
Hummus Ingredients Hummus in the Making

Saturday, March 22, 2014

65.7 Degree Sous Vide Eggs

The first thing I decided to make when I got my Sansaire Sous Vide machine is eggs. Seemed like the easiest thing you can make with a sous vide machine. But there's really a lot of different ways to cook eggs in a sous vide machine. Not only does the temperature make a difference but the length of time does as well.

I was kind of hoping for a poached egg type of egg where the whites are fairly firm and the yolk is runny but I didn't quite get that. Instead the whites were just a little more runny than my liking but were white and cooked through and mostly held their shape but the yolk was not runny as I had hoped.

I later came across a post on Serious Eats that has lots of pictures of eggs cooked at different temperatures and different times that I wish I had looked at before making mine. But then I found a youtube post from Jeanette's Healthy Living who cooked the eggs at 63 degrees for 45 mins that came out perfectly poached. I might have to try that.

It definitely requires some experimenting. I picked up one of these machines from a Kickstarter for $199 and you can have one at the same price but they are currently sold out but will be making more. If you join their newsletter you will be notified when they have more available.

Breakfast with 65.7 Degree Sous Vide Eggs

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Maple Pickled Pears

Maple Pickled PearsThis was a recipe from Herbivoracious' desserts section. It was difficult to find a dessert that was both gluten free and sugar free. This was the only one. I thought it would make a great snack for the big NFC Championship game. It was a very stressful game but the Seahawks squeaked by with a win over the San Francisco 49ers which led to a Superbowl win.

I paired the pears up with Seaside Cheese Co English cheddar, Uniekaas gouda arrano, Simple & Crisp dried oranges and Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisp crackers. They all went well together with the maple and cider vinegar soaked pears. I have to admit Bosc pears aren't my favorite pear. They are a grainier pear but probably hold up better and don't get too mushy so I thought they worked pretty well for this recipe and they didn't seem as grainy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

RTC Campus Eats Food Trucks

When: Every Thursday 11:00am - 1:30pm
Where: RTC ATT Campus - 16221 NE 72nd Way, Redmond, WA
Schedule: ATT Campus Eats on Twitter & Facebook

If you're looking for food trucks on the East side you must check out the Redmond Town Center. It all started with a United Way food truck fundraiser and it must have been such a hit that they decided to have food trucks come out every Thursday. There are usually two different trucks to choose from. I used to be afraid of eating food out of trucks but there are actually some pretty awesome food trucks around and they are nothing to be afraid of. They've got some pretty amazing, restaurant quality food. Unfortunately I usually work from home on Thursdays so I miss out on the food trucks but occasionally I am in the office and am always sure to check out the trucks when I am. You'll find them in between ATT's RTC1 and 3 office buildings. You can find out who will be coming by following RTC Campus Eats on twitter or facebook. They will post the day before, the day of or sometimes not at all so you may need to risk it and just show up to see who will be there. The trucks have been coming for several months now and I've checked them out twice.

Papa Bois

My first visit to RTC Campus Eats was last November when I was surprised to find three trucks to choose from. Sweet and Savory Pie, Athena's Gyros and Papa Bois.  I was going to try Sweet and Savory Pies gluten free pie but unfortunately they were sold out by the time I went so I decided to go with Papa Bois jerk chicken though it wasn't gluten free but it was delicious. The chicken was tender and spicy and the bread was toasted perfectly, just a little black which some people may call burnt but it's just the way I like it. I got a green papaya salad to go with it. The salad was spicier than expected but I like spicy so it was good. It also had a bit of sweetness. It complemented the sandwich well. Papa Bois Food Truck Caribbean Jerk Chicken

 Sweet and Savory Pie

My second visit to RTC Campus Eats had Sweet and Savory Pie back and a first time visitor, the new Lumpia World truck. As much as I love lumpia, I went down early to make sure I got there in time to try the gluten free broccoli cheddar pie before they sold out. The crust was surprisingly good for a gluten free crust. I'm not sure what flours they use in it but I emailed them in hopes they will share the info. The filling was much thicker than I had expected and made no mess at all. I'm used to the Marie Callenders type pies which are more like a stew consistency. My only complaint is that it needed salt which I happen to keep at my desk. The pie is a little small so probably should have gotten another item off the menu. They have sweet pies including a gluten free ones, a couple of sides and Full Tilt ice cream.

Sweet and Savory Pie Truck Broccoli Cheddar Pie

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gluten Free Pizzelles

Gluten Free PizzellesI made a couple of different gluten free/sugar free holiday cookies this year. I posted a recipe for the spritz cookies earlier and wanted to share these too because they turned out surprisingly well. If you've never hard these they are like a flat crispy waffle, made much like you would make a waffle. The batter texture and consistency is similar but as they cool they become crispy and you can even form them into a cone and fill them up with fruit or whatever else you'd like.

I looked at a few different recipes online and finally decided on a recipe on queenofquinoa.com. I wasn't sure how well a gluten free version of these would come out. I didn't really think they'd be as crispy but I was pleasantly surprised.  The recipe actually calls for adding cooked quinoa to the batter which I found strange but I went with it.  I made a couple of substitutions to the original recipe. I'm used to traditional Italian pizzelles which are anise flavored and have anise seed in them so instead of using vanilla and almond extract I used vanilla and anise and added some anise seed.  I have 17 different gluten free flours but sorghum isn't one of them so I substituted amaranth.

Recipe: Gluten Free Pizzelles

Adapted from: queenofquinoa.com
Yield: approximately 25-30
Total time: 20 minutes

1 Cup Amaranth (or sorghum) flour
1/4 Cup brown rice flour
1/2 Cup potato starch
1/2 Cup cooked quinoa
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp anise seed
1 tsp powdered stevia
3 large eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp anise extract
1/2 cup maple syrup

1. Preheat cookie press and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Add dry ingredients, including quinoa in medium mixing bowl.
3. Beat eggs in large mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in the coconut oil and extracts. Add syrup slowly while whisking until well combined.
4. Beat in dry ingredients until smooth.
5. Add a tablespoon of batter onto pizzelle iron and close, cooking for approximately one minute.
6. Let cool on wire rack. 

Pizzelle Making

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Year in Review

It's a new year and it's time to take a look back at the happenings of last year. One way I have been doing this every year is by creating calendars using photos I've taken over the past year and giving them as Christmas presents to close friends and family. This year I did a food one which is made up of photos of dishes I've had at restaurants this year in the Pacific Northwest. Due to health reasons I haven't eaten out much for a few years but things have been improving and I've been able to eat out more this past year. The calendar features dishes from the following restaurants and food trucks: Urbane, Blue C Sushi, Veggie Grill, Facing East, Stumbling Goat Bistro, Ma'ono, Hugo's, Adam's Northwest Bistro, Pinky's Kitchen, Pho Hung, Six Seven and Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails.
Pacific Northwest Dining 2014 Calendar
I had extra calendars made so have a few available for selling. Let me know if you are interested in one.

Below are my most popular Flickr photos, tweets, blog posts, Facebook posts and instagrams over the past year.


Gluten free recipes seemed to be a big hit this year. My top 3 most viewed posts were gluten free recipes.

Most viewed posts in 2013:
  1. Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies (posted in 2012)
  2. Gluten Free Banana Bread
  3. Gluten Free Asian Dumplings (posted in 2012)
Most viewed posts actually posted in 2013
  1. Gluten Free Banana Bread
  2. Methylation: MTHFR CBS Genetics
  3. Genetic Testing: 23andme


Unfortunately couldn't find an embed code for the video that Vizify created so will just share the link: https://www.vizify.com/paula-thomas/twitter-video



Most popular photos on Flickr this year
Most Popular Photos of 2013
1. OMD video setup, 2. Fall Sky, 3. Blueberry Fly, 4. Olympus Holy Trinity, 5. Jeep O Lantern, 6. Lumix GX7, 7. Blooming Geraniums, 8. Sunrise, 9. Jessie, 10. Chicken Pho, 11. Jeep Back, 12. 2013 Supermoon


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gluten Free Refined Sugar Free Spritz Cookies

Gluten Free Spritz Cookies When I was kid we had a tradition of making spritz cookies every year. It was one of my favorite holiday traditions. I loved picking out the shapes and still do. You can come out with some different shapes even out of one template by pushing out more or less dough.

I haven't made these in the last couple of years since I changed my diet but this year I decided to try making gluten free ones using raw coconut crystals instead of refined sugar for the sweetener. This is the first time I've used coconut sugar but I've been reading a lot about it.  The crystals are made from the sap of a coconut tree and is very low glycemic and contains 17 amino acids. I used Coconut Secret brand that I found at PCC. They are certified organic and non-GMO. The crystals are dark brown, about the color of brown sugar and actually tastes similar to brown sugar.  The dark specks you see in the cookies are from the crystals.

I followed a recipe I found on landolakes.com but substituted the coconut crystals for the refined sugar 1:1 in the recipe. My first attempt at pressing out cookies was a big disaster. The shape didn't hold at all and was left with a sticky glob of dough on the sheet pan. I didn't give up though. I added more flour to the batter and also refrigerated the dough for about 45 minutes to firm it up. Tried again and it worked out pretty well.

If you've never had spritz cookies before, they are similar to shortbread. They're kind of dry and crunchy and should be eaten with a big glass of milk!

Recipe: Gluten Free Spritz Cookies

Yield: approximately 50 cookies
Total time: 90 minutes

2/3 Cup Raw Coconut Sugar Crystals
1 Cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 Cup gluten free flour

Gluten Free Flour Mix:
2 Cups brown rice flour
2/3 Cup potato starch
1/3 Cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan gum

1. Combine crystals, butter, egg, salt and vanilla in mixing bowl and beat at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add gluten free flour (use your own or use mix above) to bowl and beat until well mixed
3. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
5. Fill cookie press with dough and desired template. Press dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. If dough does not form a shape, refrigerate longer and/or add more flour to the dough.
6. Bake 7 minutes or until edges are lightly browned
7. Enjoy cookies with a glass of milk.

Spritz Cookie Making
Gluten Free Spritz Cookies

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

brussels sprout and apple hash

Brussels Sprout and Apple Hash It's been a busy couple of months since IFBC. I'm long overdue for posting about another great recipe from the Herbivoracious cookbook. This recipe comes from the "side dishes" section of the cookbook and would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal. I never liked brussels sprouts as a kid but I like them now. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is with bacon which I also didn't like as a kid. This recipe however is vegetarian so no bacon this time.  Instead, the addition of apple sweetens it up and I don't even miss the bacon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sahale Snacks Factory

I don't usually eat store bought snack foods mainly because of all the nasty ingredients that are in them and prefer to just make my own. Then Sahale Snacks came along which I was introduced to at the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle a couple of months ago though they've been around for many years. I was happy to see that the ingredient labels didn't have a laundry list of ingredients like most processed snacks in a bag. They use whole ingredients: nuts, unsulphured fruits, spices, organic sweeteners (honey, cane syrup and/or tapioca syrup) and no preservatives and they are gluten free! Seemed like my kind of snack so I tried the maple pecans and was blown away by the flavors and texture.

I was excited to get an invite for a tour of their snack factory. It was during a week day so I took the day off from work and made a 45 mile drive to Tukwila, WA for the tour. Their mission statement is displayed on the wall as you walk in the front entrance.


BreakfastWe were greeted with a nice breakfast of yogurt and berries topped with a choice of two of their nut blends. I chose the cashews with pomegranate and vanilla and a cup of coffee. While enjoying breakfast, the owners, Edmond Sanctis and Josh Schroeter, joined us and told us about the history of Sahale Snacks and about the pride they have in the ingredients that go into them. Edmond and Josh have been best buds for 25 years. People say you shouldn't go into business with your best friend but they've proven that it can be done. After 10 years of being in business together their friendship has only grown stronger and it shows if you ever meet them.

The Beginning

Sahale Owners and BFF'sEdmond and Josh met as news reporters right out of college and went to graduate school together at Columbia University. They didn't always live near each other but they stayed in touch and every year they got together to go hiking in the Cascades.  Edmond and Josh aren't your typical hikers. They are both food enthusiasts and they want their hikes to include a good food experience. Every year they stop at Pike Place Market and stock up on gourmet meats, cheeses, capers, spices and yes even wine and whatever else they could find that looked good and brought it all with them on their hikes. It sounded like a blast and it made me want to go hiking with them. They started looking into what was available for snacks while preparing for a Rainier climb. They didn't have room in their packs to bring their usual spread of gourmet food and had to resort to boring trail mixes and energy bars. When they got back from their climb, they decided to do some experimenting in the kitchen and make their own enjoyable gourmet snacks that they can take on hikes and the rest is history. They named the brand after Sahale Peak, one of their favorite hikes in the Cascade mountains. I embarrassingly only recently learned the proper way to pronounce it: suh haw lee. Edmond and Josh are best friends and business partners and it was a challenge to get them to pose and be serious for a picture.


IngredientsThey put a lot of thought into each and every ingredient that goes into their snacks and choose the best they can find. For example they get their cinnamon and black pepper from Vietnam and their Vanilla from Madagascar because they did their research and found that is where the best is. They love to travel and have been to Vietnam and saw how the cinnamon is harvested. They are involved with Peace Trees Vietnam, a Seattle based organization that is working on the safe removal of bombs and land mines that are covering 85% of the land in Central Vietnam. Once the land is made safe, buildings can be constructed and much of it will become farmland which Peace Trees also helps with planting. Edmond and Josh are hoping to also visit Madagascar and see how the vanilla is grown, harvested and processed in person.


Edmond and Josh did a lot of experimenting with flavors, they still do and we got to do some experimenting of our own. We put on some lab coats and started thinking about what we wanted to make. We got to choose between pistachio, almond, cashew and pecan for our main ingredient. We also had a selection of fruits to choose from but I'm the only one that decided to do a no fruit blend. They also had a cabinet full of spices for us to use.  We had a little assistance with the nut to fruit to spice ratio and the rest was up to us. I made a pistachio Mexican blend with guajillo chile powder, cumin, ginger, salt, pepper, lemon, orange and a little buttermilk. I liked how it came out though I think lime would have worked better than the lemon and orange but that wasn't available. Some cayanne would have probably been good too for some more heat. They did the glazing and toasting for us and shipped everyone a sampling of all 5 creations. I had some fun and did a little taste test with Mark and made him choose his favorite. He had no idea which one was mine and I assured him I wouldn't feel bad if he didn't pick mine.  He had a hard time choosing between Jacqueline's Mango Salsa and A&J's Ricotta Blueberry Pancake but ultimately went with the mango salsa and we both agreed it was the best looking one of the bunch but my favorite was hands down the blueberry pancake.
Jess's Creation My Creation
Blogger Blends Jacqueline's Mango Salsa Blend


After the experimentation we went back to the conference room we had breakfast in and had lunch. We had a nice green salad with sliced chicken breast and a few choices of Sahale snacks to garnish. This time I chose the pomegranate pistachio and drizzled some creamy balsamic dressing over the top.  I learned that Sahale Snacks are great addition to any meal.
Sahale Style Lunch Sahale Salad

Factory Tour

After lunch we put on hair nets and went for a walk around the production floor. We got to see the almond roaster which is a really old machine but still works surprisingly well. It's in its own room and the aroma of roasted almonds filled the room. We also walked through the humongous pantry where they store all of their ingredients and inventory. One of the challenges for companies is deciding how large of a building to purchase. This isn't their first factory as they have had such success and had to expand. It looks like this building has plenty of room for growth so they should be able to stay in this location for a good while. The last stop was the packaging room where a machine does a pretty quick job of packaging the snacks. They were packaging Almonds with Cranberries, Honey + Sea Salt, one of my favorite blends.
Nut Roaster


Sahale Snacks takes the quality of their product very seriously. Every batch that comes out of the factory is taste tested for appearance, aroma, texture and taste and if they don't score high enough they they don't get sold to customers but are donated. We got to play inspector and judge the maple pecans and almonds with cranberries that were produced the day before. It was interesting to see how the different batches had slight differences in the 4 categories.
Sahale Quality Manager Quality Control

Where to Buy

I will warn you that if you try them, you will likely get addicted to them like I have and start putting them on everything. Use their store locator to see where you can purchase these incredibly tasty gourmet snacks near you or you can get them on Amazon. Below are links to a few of my favorites.

You can find more pictures from my tour at the Sahale Snack factory on my website. Jacqueline, the hedonista, also posted about the tour on Heed the Hedonist along with the recipe for Sing Buri Cashew Brittle from our dinner at Urbane.