Sweet Potato & Chevre Gratin

Cool weather is here and what better way to help heat the house than to bake something! Colder temperatures also mean that the flavor of certain vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and yams. The plant, when faced with dropping temperatures, starts to convert the natural starches into sugars so it can survive. What does that mean? It means fall time is the best time to eat these tubers.

This side dish is perfect for any occasion, especially right around Thanksgiving. Now, sweet potatoes and yams are interchangeable but they do have some differences. Most yams will have a little more water content than their close cousins. Yams are better to mash up but will work in a this sort of application. But “Jeweled” or “”Garnet” sweet potatoes are what are most common, although I’m sure your local farmer could help you decide.

SWEET POTATO & CHEVRE GRATIN

4 Large Sweet Potatoes

1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream

7 Ounces Goat Cheese

Heat oven to 375. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes using a mandolin, making sure that cuts are uniform. I find it easier to make “coins” rather than trying to cut the veggies lengthwise. Using a 7″ by 10″ baking dish, layer sweet potatoes with cream and crumbled goat cheese. I like to season every other layer with salt and pepper so that the dish is flavorful but not over seasoned. Potatoes should be covered in cream but not swimming, they have water that will cook out during baking.

Bake uncovered until gratin is easily pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.

melT: The Almond Drop

I met Melissa Thomas on a progressive dining tour with Local Table Tours. We got to talking about cooking, food blogging, the gluten free trend and just how terrible some of the “healthy” gluten free pre-packaged foods taste. Melissa mentioned that she actually made a gluten free treat called The Almond Drop. She told me┬áthat her original intentions were not to create a gluten free product, but it just so happened to be delicious and naturally gluten free, so she found herself right in the middle of the gluten free industry. As she was incredibly friendly, a knowledgable foodie, and passionate about her craft, I told her I’d love to sample them and write a post to help spread the word.

I was expecting a small sample, perhaps one or two of each flavor, so I was really surprised when she gave me four whole packages: Walnut White Chocolate Dried Cherries, Cranberry Chocolate, Apricot Chocolate, and Simply Apricot (a vegan treat). I’m really glad she was generous with me because these things were my nightly dessert for a week or so.

Almond Drops

A combination of almonds, dates, almond butter, unsweetened coconut, and flax has never tasted so good. These little bite-sized balls are sweet enough (agave syrup) to satisfy my sweet tooth, yet wholesome enough to indulge in more than just one, as those calories (140 per ball) are mostly comprised of nuts and healthy fats. I loved each variety of Almond Drop almost equally, and found that having all four in one sitting made for a most satiating dessert.

You can purchase The Almond Drop here in Boulder at Whole Foods and Lucky’s Market. Way to go, melT Foods! That’s a well-deserved product placement.

 

Boulder Granola

Let’s talk about granola.  I am not really a fan of it.  There’s something about granola that turns me off.  Maybe because it’s associated with hippies.  Maybe because people seem to think it is healthy when it is generally laden with sugar, fat, and calories… definitely not the “diet” food it often pretends to be.  Maybe I don’t like it because Boulder, CO, is the butt of some jokes about hippies, health, and granola.  
Whatever my personal issues with granola are, or have been… I found a brand I happen to love.  I mean that.  I love this granola.  
Boulder Granola, to be more specific, and, in case you need me to spell it out… it is made right here in beautiful Boulder, CO.

Boulder Granola will definitely satisfy all you granola-lovers out there.  This 45 year-old family recipe is worth tasting, and I tried Original, Cranberry, Gluten-Free, and Chocolate. I enjoy having this stuff in my house because it makes a great snack.  Everyone who knows me well knows I live off of Vitamix veggie smoothies all morning and afternoon.  So, I enjoy indulging in the evening, and Boulder Granola definitely satisfies my craving for something sweet (sweetened with maple), fulfilling, and organic.

This granola has a nice light crunchy texture and is just perfectly sweet.  I would be incredibly happy with a lifetime supply of the Chocolate Chip Granola, as I tend to eat this stuff in the later hours of the evening.   The Cranberry granola reminds me of my dad, so I’ll be sending him a package for him to try. The Gluten Free variety is fantastic and uses certified gluten free oats which are processed on equipment for certified gluten free grains.

You can sample some at the Boulder Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Or, go ahead and buy some online.  Give it a try and, as their tagline says, “unleash your inner hippie.”

The Organic Pizza Company

The Organic Pizza Company. Who/What is that? It’s a great take and bake pizza company and if you’re near a Denver metro location, pick up a pie for dinner.
Our private tasting event at the OPC’s new location in The Spire building started with a pizza making demo. It is all done by scratch- dough and all, and there aren’t any crazy funky ingredients either. The Organic Pizza Company makes pies like you would at home and they source organic ingredients.
We headed to a private dining area and were greeted with lots of good wines.

Then the pizzas started coming…

I ate a few pieces and got caught up in conversation. I soon realized that all of those wines were not some random wines for us to taste. The Organic Pizza Company partners with local liquor stores to provide pizza buyers with wine pairing suggestions for each pizza. I love this idea! You can plan an affordable pairing base on some great suggestions from wine enthusiasts.

I think the wine pairing idea is so good it’s copy-worthy. Really. Copy-worthy. Consumers often like a little help with this part of dinner, so I like that The Organic Pizza Company has thought this out.

They offer a gluten free pizza with Udi’s gluten free crust. I had a slice and it was really good. You can order any one of their pies gluten free.
At first, I payed a lot of attention as each pie was presented.

And then I got so caught up in conversation I found myself snapping photos way after people had served themselves.

In the end- I not only had a great time meeting people, drinking wine, and eating great pizzas… I got to take one home with me to bake on my pizza stone.

I ordered the Norwegian pie that comes topped with smoked salmon. It baked up nicely and my hungry man, who had not been eating pizzas with me all night, was happy I came home with dinner. The pizza baked well according to their baking instructions, and to me, that’s the most important part. It’s good to know that the pie actually bakes at home the way it is supposed to.

There are currently two Organic Pizza Company locations-
Denver Highlands- 4500 W 38th Ave 303-561-1111
and downtown Denver- 891 14th St 303-534-2223
They also deliver within 2 miles of their locations.
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