Gluten-Free Spotlight: Pushkin’s Bakery

Oh, do I have the spotlight for you today. I’ve been saving this one because this is my favorite gluten-free discovery to date. As much as I love cooking and baking, there is something so fun about going to a bakery. I’ve been to a few gluten-free bakeries before that are great, but Pushkin’s Bakery easily became my favorite because everything is gluten-free and dairy-free. Jackpot. This means that I can eat everything in there and don’t have to ask which items are dairy-free. If you haven’t experienced life with food allergies, let me tell you, the opportunity to go into a restaurant or bakery and eat anything there is incredibly exciting and liberating! Pushkin’s is located in Downtown Sacramento which is a bit of a drive from the Bay Area but is totally worth it! For the sake of research for my blog post (ahem, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) I may have tried quite a few items so that I could report back on them.

Pushkins

Walking into the small storefront, you are met with a bevy of options ranging from muffins to cookies to cupcakes to something they affectionately call Awesomes. Spoiler alert: everything that I tried was absolutely amazing. When deciding what to order, my family and I all had things that were on our “must-try” lists. One of those was the Awesome, which is a miniature lemon poppyseed poundcake. I’ll admit that poundcake isn’t something that’s usually at the top of my list, but I wanted to see if they lived up to their name. And oh my goodness, they did. It was perfectly moist and had just the right amount of tart and sweet. Another breakfast-type favorite was the zucchini bread. I don’t think I’ve had zucchini bread since becoming gluten-free, and this was absolutely delicious. The ideal small loaf, this is the type of bread that you cut off a slice of, and then find yourself back cutting another one 2 minutes later. Also worth mentioning was the maple walnut scone which was fabulous and not too crumbly which is often the case with gluten-free scones.

In the cupcake arena, I’ve had some great gluten-free cupcakes before so I was going in with pretty high expectations. Luckily, Pushkins did not disappoint. We tried three of their vegan cupcakes: the Barracuda Cupcake (chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache), the chocolate coconut cupcake and the chocolate cappuccino cupcake and all were winners in my book. Also sense a theme here? Clearly my family likes chocolate.

Pushkins Cupcakes

All of the things I mentioned were fabulous, however, the star of the show was the chocolate crinkle cookie. First, a bit of background story. Of all the cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies have always been my absolute favorite. For about 7 years my Mom, Grandma and I would attend plays together and at intermission they would serve the best cookies. As soon as intermission came, you know I was standing in line for our cookies and hoping that I could get a chocolate crinkle before they sold out. They were perfectly moist and chewy with powdered sugar on top that I had to eat carefully so it wouldn’t get all over my outfit. Needless to say, I have many happy chocolate crinkle cookie memories. I’ve had a chocolate crinkle cookie since going gluten-free from a different bakery that was delicious but didn’t recreate that memory. Well that all changed once I tasted the one from Pushkins. Not only did it look like the ones I remembered from my childhood but it was every bit as good. I can wholeheartedly say that this is the best gluten-free baked good that I have ever had. I know that’s a bold statement but it’s 100% true. A few weeks later, I found out I wasn’t the only one with this opinion. Sacramento News & Review held a blind taste taste with three of their food critics to determine Sacramento’s best cookie. As the only gluten-free cookie in the mix, I think it came as quite a shock to many that it won! But that’s just further proof of what I’m saying- this cookie is the best of the best! (Sidenote: I’d suggest calling ahead and putting a chocolate crinkle on hold if you plan on visiting later in the day. I failed to do this last time and my beloved cookie was sold out. Next time, I won’t be taking any chances!) Also, they are now offering sandwiches that look absolutely amazing and I will definitely be trying one on my next visit!

Pushkins Crinkle Cookie

Gluten-Free Spotlight: Mariposa Bakeshop

With Celiac and a host of food allergies, it can be really hard to go out to eat. But luckily I’ve found a few places that are safe to eat at and are delicious! So welcome to a new series on the blog where I’ll tell you about the best gluten-free restaurants, cafes and grocery stores! The first one I’ll be featuring is Mariposa, which is easily one of my favorites and one of the best GF bakeries in the Bay Area. I first visited their outpost in the Ferry Building in SF but then a few months ago was able to visit their restaurant/bakery location in Oakland.

Me at Mariposa

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It’s hard to describe, but when you are used to walking into restaurants and bakeries and not being able to eat anything, the experience of walking into one where everything is safe feels a little surreal and very exciting. In addition to snapping the pictures, I took my time examining each product and deciding what I was going to choose to eat. I may have wanted to get one of everything but I controlled myself. Also, not only does Mariposa offer amazing baked goods, but they also have a small section of grocery items as well! I always love when gluten-free places do this because it’s the best way to find out about new great gluten-free products on the market. As it was lunch time, I decided to split the empanada plate with my mom.

Two vegan potato curry empanadas made with organic peas and carrots baked in toasty hand pies and paired with our organic side salad (Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and vegan)

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Oh my goodness, I can’t even describe how delicious this was. The crust was hot and crunchy while also having a flakiness to it (which is uber hard for gluten-free goods) and filled with the most amazing curry filling. The salad also came complete with gluten-free croutons! I admit that at first I had a minor freakout thinking that I’d have to send the salad back because of the croutons but then I remembered that everything here was safe- what a wonderful feeling! I could have easily eaten the full portion of this but was saving room for dessert.

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Mariposa4

Mariposa has a stocked dessert case, but when I spotted the chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting I was sold. I’ve had this cupcake in cake form before and it is absolutely delicious. The cake is moist and rich and the vanilla frosting is creamy and the perfect amount of sweet. It’s very reminiscent of the Sprinkles Black & White cupcake but in gluten-free/dairy-free form! The only problem? It was over too quickly! It was accompanied by a delicious new-to-me drink, SolidariTea Blueberry Rooibos Red Tea served over ice! All in all, it was such a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to visit again soon!

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A Springtime Afternoon Tea

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had an amazing weekend and were able to stay out of the rain or enjoy the sun! Sorry I was a little mia last week- it was just one of those weeks but I fully intend on making up for it this week!

This weekend I had the privilege of attending an afternoon tea that was put on by my mom’s best friend. If you remember, I love going to tea and have been going with my mom, her best friend and her daughter since I was a little girl. Back then, I would wear my prettiest, frilliest dress (and I’m sure my mom would make me wear those horrible itchy lace tights) to afternoon tea. I always enjoyed going but being the picky eater that I was, I didn’t drink the tea nor eat the food.  Luckily though days are far behind me and I enjoyed every morsel this time around.

Aren’t the tables so pretty? My mom has always loved setting the perfect table and her best friend is the same way. I love a beautifully set table and it makes enjoying afternoon tea all the more fun! As does dressing up! I count Afternoon tea as the perfect time to wear my pearls (the necklace I’m wearing below my best friend gave me on my 13th birthday) and I got this BCBG Generation dress for the event! It’s one of those dresses that I got a great deal on and I know that I’ll get a lot of wear out of… aka a great purchase!

Having tea together since we were little girls

If you look closely, you can see I took my 5-inch heels off for the picture with my Grandma!

And now onto the main event… the food! Everything was absolutely delicious but as always, I enjoyed the scones the best! She served two different types but the White Chocolate Lavender was incredible with clotted cream and jam! Oh and I had 3 different teas over the course of the afternoon- Vanilla, Coconut Cocoa and my favorite Chocolate Peppermint! All were perfect with the delicious food!

All in all it was an absolutely fabulous day and I had such a wonderful time with family and friends. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend! Sunday included a relaxing day, an amazing Church service, a dinner of roasted veggies and quinoa and a screening of one of my favorite movies– Young Victoria.

Questions:

-What did you do this weekend? Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s day?

-Are you more of a coffee/tea person? What flavors do you like best?

-What item on the menu looks best to you?

Fourth of July… in August

Hi Lovelies! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend! I feel like weekends are becoming even more precious as our summer days are dwindling! There’s just something about summer that just puts everyone in a good mood, so hopefully we can all bring that feeling into Fall!

Yesterday, we had a going away party for my brother! He joined the Marines a few months ago and leaves for boot camp very shortly. We are all excited and proud of him, so we planned an Americana themed party! My mom and I have been shopping for weeks and today it all came together! Rather then tell you all about it, I thought it’d be better to show you some pictures instead!

3 Generations :)

We did burgers with over 20 different topping options, 3 bun options, and 4 different types of fries!

Daddy Jeff and the (almost) Marine!

The dessert table (+ unpictured root beer floats!)

The giant cupcake!

All in all, it was a wonderful party and I think that everyone had a great time! My mom and I love planning parties and this theme was really fun. We found so much great stuff, but could not seem to find the correct colored m&ms, so being a trooper as always, my Grandma separated all the red and blue ones so they would match the theme. They were popular but we still had a lot left over, so Sunday night my dinner ended up being red, white and blue tortilla chips and peanut m&ms… oops!

As for the giant cupcake- well lovelies, this is harder than it looks! It took me HOURS on Saturday night to make it and was very confusing. The two page directions for a kit that is supposedly “great for kids!” through me off a little bit, but in the end it came together and was delicious! I think next time, I would start making it earlier and fill the molds slightly more than they recommend for a fuller cupcake.

Questions:

-What’s your favorite theme for a party?

-What did you do this weekend?

 

 

Are You a Gleek?

If you are a Gleek then you would know that last night was the season finale of Glee! It was so good but I always think that season finales are bittersweet. One of my favorite parts of watching an episode of a tv show is seeing the ‘coming up next’ portion, so after season finales I’m always anxious to know what’s happening next, especially with all the cliffhangers! Back in LA, I’d watch Glee with one of my best friends while consuming our favorite cupcakes, Susie Cakes and champagne! It was always so fun and something I looked forward to every week, just as much as the show. So tonight when my parents brought home my favorite Greek food and cupcakes, I was understandably touched. They are so sweet and I am so lucky to have them!

My Glee-loving continues tonight as I am off to see Glee Live! Have any of you gone? I am so excited! I’ll report back tomorrow and hopefully post a few pictures!

Questions:

-What are your favorite tv shows? How do you feel about season finales?

-Do you have favorite celebratory foods? I am all about cupcakes and champagne- so much so that a couple of years ago one of my friends bought me the Juicy Couture cupcake necklace!