Posts Tagged ‘sweet potatoes’

Hotel Dining in Laguna

Posted in meals, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized on August 24th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

While we relaxed at the pool and lazed the day away in Laguna, the biggest decision of our day was where to eat.  Ah, that’s the life!

Before I get started on where we ate, I thought I’d share some  food related discoveries from the week of luxury:

  • Mojitoes: So refreshing, why not have a tasty adult beverage in the afternoon?
  • Champagne: I think I had one too many bad glasses of champagne in college and early adulthood…I’ve discovered it can actually be pretty good and a lovely way to start the evening.
  • Seafood: It’s more than just shrimp and crab cakes!  I continue to fall in love with fish.  I avoided fish most of my life (besides salmon) but now I can’t get enough of it.  So many varieties to try and almost always a good GF option at restaurants.
  • Hotel food is expensive, especially when ordered by the pool…a $5 Coke!!!!!  You’ve got to be kidding me.
  • As much as I love cooking, I really enjoyed a week without turning on the oven or washing a dish.  It was awesome.

Now to the dining…

Happy Anniversary, Friend!

David enjoying our Motif dinner (and champagne)

During our stay we dined at the St. Regis’ two restaurants, Stone Hill Tavern and Motif. While Stone Hill is the more well known of the two restaurants, we liked our experiences at both.  In comparing our gluten-free experience at the two venues, though,  we got the best attention at Motif.  They brought gluten-free bread to the table to enjoy with their homemade hummus and butter, which is always a huge plus.  Our server was one of the best waiters I’ve ever had, bringing us tastes of wine, and giving his honest opinion on what to order.  Everything was delicious and the servings were plentiful.

A fun (GF) anniversary dessert at Motif

While Motif felt a bit more laid back, Stone Hill Tavern was definitely a trendy, happening, spot.  There was quite a bustle and I felt like we paid the price a little bit since there was so much going on.  Our waiter was nice and willing to communicate with the chef but it felt like the chef didn’t really care much about my needs.  Fortunately, our waiter guided us to make the right decisions.  I understand that restaurants get busy and don’t have time to bend over backwards, but I just didn’t feel as comfortable with my meal here.  That being said, I devoured my delicious tomato salad and the short rib was out of this world.  So, I still had a very nice dining experience at Stone Hill, but don’t know if I would pay that price for that restaurant a second time.

Stonehill Restaurant at the St. Regis, Dana Point

Neither of these restaurants felt like “hotel food.” David and I did notice, however, that when staying at high end hotels and resorts (this was really my first experience at one), it’s difficult to find a simple dinner.  When evening rolls around, the only burger to be found involves Kobe beef and blue cheese crumbles.  So we ventured to downtown Laguna to enjoy a lighter meal, with a lighter price tag.  Stay tuned for those recommendations!

Our favorite view!

Also, Only a short walk from the St. Regis, we loved the bar at the Ritz, 180blu. It had our favorite view and the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten.  Yes, I’m serious.  Perfectly crispy and a great GF bar food.  This was also our best venue for sunsets and people watching…

Enjoying 180blu at the Ritz

Ritz sweet potato fries...definitely got these twice!

Sunset over the Pacific

A Roasting Extravaganza

Posted in recipe, vegetarian on December 8th, 2009 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Roasting vegetables is a simple, and delicious, side dish to make and it’s naturally gluten-free.  I love roasting vegetables because the meal changes as the seasons change.  If you have a CSA or go to a farmer’s market, just pick up what’s fresh and local and you’re ready to go.  The only steps involved are scrubbing, chopping, tossing in olive oil and baking.  Beautiful on the plate and delicious!  Goes well with pretty much any meal or it can be a meal on its own.


Our go to weeknight roasting vegetable is the sweet potato.  David sees sweet potatoes almost daily, but they’re just so fresh, delicious and easy!  On Sunday night, as we decorated our Christmas tree, I shook things up a little bit and added some other veggies to my roasting pan.  In between putting up the Christmas tree lights and the ornaments, we ate a dinner completely composed of fresh, roasted vegetables.  So delicious!

What did we roast last night?  Sweet potatoes (of course!), a variety of baby turnips, and sunchokes.  We also roasted romanesco cauliflower, as well as beets. A great meal and super easy cleanup!

Simple Winter Roasted Root Vegetables:

Select your desired vegetables.  For this recipe, I used baby turnips, sunchokes and two varieties of sweet potatoes.



Preheat oven to 425.  Clean vegetables.  I didn’t even peel mine but you can if you prefer not to eat the skin.  Since mine were fresh from Crystal Organic Farm I knew that I didn’t need to worry about chemicals and the skins are so good for you!  Chop root veggies, depending on what size they are and how big you would like them.  The key is to have them all around the same size.


Put vegetables on pan and drizzle with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Last night I added fresh rosemary because we had some extra in the fridge that needed to be used.  Toss vegetables to coat with olive oil.

Cook vegetables for 20 minutes, then flip and cook for another 20 minutes.  Add more salt and pepper before serving.


Roasted Beets:

I’ve developed an appreciation for beets in the last two years, thanks to my in-laws, Bob and Elaine, who grow beets in their garden.  Nothing beats fresh beets!  I enjoy them cooked and served simply.


Preheat oven to 375.  Clean beets and cut off greens and long stems.  (Don’t peel them.)  Put beets on tin foil and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Wrap beets in tin foil.  Bake for 45to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the beets.  Remove from oven, let cool.  Peel beets.  (The peel should come off pretty easily when they’re done cooking.  Be careful, your fingers can turn purple as you peel!)  Slice beets or leave whole.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Other ingredients that go nicely with beets are goat cheese, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar.


I used two varieties of beets, your typical beet that you find in a grocery store and the ‘candy cane’ variety.  You can see they’re red and white striped, like a candy cane!  Perfect for a night of Christmas tree decorating!

Roasted Romenesco Cauliflower:


What a cool looking vegetable!  I love looking at it so I had to experiment with cooking with it.  You can boil romanesco or steam it just like you would regular cauliflower, but I decided to stick with the theme of the meal and roast it.

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut cauliflower into florets like you would broccoli or cauliflower and put on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat romanesco with olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, flip with spatula, and cook for another 10 minutes.


Add ¼ cup of pine nuts  and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese for the last 4 minutes of cooking.  Toss with a little red wine vinegar before serving.  (If you don’t feel like including this final step, the cauliflower is delicious simply roasted with olive oil too!)


Since I made all three of these recipes in one night, I tweaked the cooking temps and baked everything at 400 and they turned out just fine.  You can judge how well you want your vegetables roasted.  I like a good brown crust on my roasted root vegetables so I keep an eye on them as they bake and just keep them in a little longer if need be.

So do you see a common theme with these recipes?  Vegetables and olive oil.  What more could you need?  Fresh, simple, delicious.  In one evening, we made a yummy, seasonal, vegetarian meal, put up the Christmas tree, and continued working on my ‘perfect chocolate chip cookie’ recipe.  Stay tuned for more details!

Adding spice to your gluten free cooking: Old Bay

Posted in cooking on November 24th, 2008 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

The husband and I love Old Bay! Ever since my friend, Becky, gave us a huge container of the seasoning salt as an engagement gift (she’s from Easton so that sort of explains the gift), we’ve loved using it. When I was first diagnosed with celiacs, we immediately checked to see if Old Bay is gluten free. Lucky for us, it is!

Old Bay is a seasoning salt that is typically used when eating crabs. The husband and I have found that it adds good flavor to many foods. Two of our favorites are sweet potato fries and burgers. This combo is one of our go to weeknight meals and it’s perfect for having a group of people over for dinner. Old Bay is yummy in both turkey burgers and hamburgers and the recipe we use is the same for both.

Old Bay Dinner for 6

Old Bay Burgers:
2 lbs. hamburger (I prefer 85/15…90/10 gets a bit dry)
2 eggs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 T. Old Bay (the husband and I vary our amount of Old Bay depending on whose taste buds we’re feeding…in our minds, you can’t have too much! 4 tablespoons is actually a bit conservative)
Sliced white cheddar cheese
Sliced avocado
Sliced fresh tomato

1. Heat olive oil in pan and add chopped onion. Saute until onion is brown.
2. In a bowl, mix meat, eggs, onion and Old Bay.
3. Make into 7 patties and they are ready to cook. I think everything is better on the grill, but you can make them on the stove top as well.
4. Add cheese when burgers are almost cooked through.
5. Top burgers with avocado and tomato.

*Note: we prefer to go bunless with these burgers. I still haven’t found a gluten free bun that I love and I find that eating burgers with a fork is not the end of the world; in fact, it makes the dinner seem a little fancier!

Old Bay Sweet Potato Fries:
4 Large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into strips (think steak fries shape…2 inches wide, 4 inches long, and about 1/2 inch thick)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Old Bay

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. In a bowl, mix olive oil and Old Bay; then add sweet potatoes and mix
3. Lay sweet potatoes flat on cookie sheet.
4. Cook for 10 minutes and then flip sweet potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes.
I keep my eye on them and serve them once they start to get brown and a little crispy. The husband thinks you can’t overcook them!

We usually serve this meal with a nice salad as well to add more color to the plate. You can use the extra tomato and avocado for the salad. One of my favorite GF dressings is Maple Farms of Vermont Balsamic Vinaigrette.