Page 1

Premier issue

Issue 1 Volume 1 Spring 2011

Food&Living Magazine

Farm To Table Nor th Valley Farms

Gluten Free Living

Making the most of gluten free food

Children’s Fashion Spring wardrobe tips

Asparagus Soup pg. 7

Food&Living Magazine


Tel: (530) 222-4895 Email:

art direction & Design Sandra Harrasser

Tel: (530) 321-4420 Email:

Welcome! My life consists of many components: my kids, my business; friends, little league, laundry, soccer games, homework, and housekeeping. I’m a busy mom to the core. Yet, at the center of it all is my life in the kitchen. It’s what keeps me connected to the people I love. Sometimes, when exhaustion sets in before I’ve scaled the summit of Mt. Laundry, it’s best for me to walk away, find my favorite Pandora station, pull some herbs from my humble backyard garden, deeply inhale their scent, and start cooking. Even a simple meal shared with my family helps me remember what’s truly important. From my need to create quick, healthy, and delicious meals when we’re home from the ball fields at 8 p.m. on a weeknight, to satisfying clients with delicious dishes for life’s biggest moments with Blush Catering, my desire remains the same: to nourish people body and soul with great meals shared around a table. Each issue of Blush Food & Living Magazine contains recipes that will help you do just that. But don’t think I’ve got it all together all the time. Like any of us, there are days when I just don’t feel like cooking. Those are the times I’m thankful for the neighborhood Indian restaurant, the underground Chinese place, the gourmet burger joint, or the laid back pub. I love eating dishes created by passionate chefs as much as I love creating my own. From swanky to simple, great food is great food. Our “ Where to Eat” section should inspire you to find your own local gems.

IMAGES Ron Putnam Ron Putnam Photography Tel: (530) 809-0187

From seasonal recipes, to fun crafts from blogger Amy Culp at Increasingly Domestic, to tips for eating gluten-free, Blush Food & Living is here to offer you solutions for living well. Embrace the people you love, get your hands dirty in the kitchen, and try something new. Afterall, the most important ingredient in any recipe is you.


Editor / Publisher Jen Cartier

Jen Cartier is the owner of Blush Catering based out of Chico, CA. As a busy single mom of three on a gluten-free diet, she understands the joy and

visit us ONLINE Www.


challenge of cooking for a range of needs. An advocate of local, seasonal


eating, she understands that food is meant to both please and nourish. She’s

For advertising information and more about products or services featured in this issue, please contact us or visit us on the web.

an equal fan of high end restaurants and local hideouts. However, she’s not

Call (530) 222-4895

then? She loves to write, laugh, eat, sing, drink strong coffee, take long runs

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a purist. What would life really be without a peanut butter cup now and through Chico’s Bidwell Park, and share moments with people she loves.

Content 11 04 Food&Living Magazine



04 North valley farms

15 the jack of all burgers

“ Her cheese is delicate, grassy, clean

Newcastle in my left hand and a spatula in

content, and it pairs beautifully with

my right...”

07 seasonal recipes

“ Standing beside my grill with a

though complex, with wonderful moisture Sauvignon Blanc...”

16 Crafts

4 sensational seasonal recipes for spring cooking.

“ For Mother’s Day this year I decided to make my mom some home decor wood blocks...”

11 gluten free Living

18 Spring Fashion

“ Because my personal experience with


“ It’s that time of year: time to cycle out

gluten has reaped such an amazing

the cozy sweaters and footed pajamas to

reward, I want to share all that I’ve

make way for lighter fabrics and shorter

learned about living a gluten


free lifestyle... “

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North Valley Farms Chevre Feature article by Jen Cartier Photos by Ron Putnam

“It’s quiet this time of year,” says Deneane Ashcraft as I follow her steps toward the creamery. The morning fog has lifted. It’s a warm day for the middle of January and the pasture’s winter beige is melting in pools of sprouted green. The goats are heavy with kids. Spring is on her way. My rubber boots are glad they came. But they won’t stay on for long. Entering the creamery requires the removal of boots and shoes. If we had been “wrestling with the goats,” as Deneane put it, we’d have also needed a shower and change of clothes before heading inside. She’s just that careful. Deneane insists that putting her cheese in the hands of consumers creates an unspoken oath between her and the public. With every round of chevre she turns out, she promises to uphold the highest level of food safety. With every chunk of feta that leaves her steady hand, she vows to remain committed to artisanal quality. Actually, the goats at North Valley Farms have been continuously approved for raw milk production, something Deneane and her husband, Mark, are considering pursuing. The meticulous attention to detail and sticky obsession with excellence found at North Valley Farms can only be achieved when people are in love with their work. 4

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This line of work was born after Deneane spent years as a schoolteacher, all the while dreaming of (and saving up for) becoming one of the precious few dairy farmers who live close to the earth, practice respect for animals, and protect their products from commercial adulteration. In fact, North Valley Farms was the first dairy farm in the U.S. to receive the Animal Welfare Seal of Approval. Earning this award, like anything else on this farm, was no picnic. There’s an intense list of requirements that must be met in order to qualify, including ensuring the animals are grass fed with access

That’s where the magic happens to open range. But all these requirements just seem to make sense to the Ashcrafts - they don’t have to farm this way. They choose to. Additionally, the Ashcrafts purposefully limit their goat herd to around fifty head to keep a keen eye on the health and happiness of each member (and these are the happiest, friendliest goats I’ve ever seen). Every inch of tubing and every piece of equipment that houses milk is thoroughly cleaned each day. Deneane

based competition (held in the motherland of all cheese) North Valley’s Chevre won “Best In Class.” Hungry yet? I was hoping you would be. The following recipes are wonderful ways to use this fabulous goat cheese; I know you’ll fall in love with it. So, eat, share, and most of all - enjoy! also periodically inspects each goat and tests their raw milk to ensure the overall health of the herd. And that’s just the beginning. Now that the first buds of Spring have emerged, Deneane is hustling around the farm, bringing the goats in for milking during early morning’s dark chill, and spending her afternoons in the creamery. The process begins when she wakes at 2:45 a.m. for milking - just in case you thought farming included a fairy tale lifestyle - and doesn’t finish until the afternoon when she heads into the cheese room. That’s where the magic happens. After the goats are milked, the milk is pumped into a pasteurizer where it is gently heated in small batches to avoid damaging the curd. It’s then carefully processed and packaged before heading out to the various locations where it is sold. If all of that doesn’t prove Deneane’s passion, her attention to the goats certainly should. Not only does she know the name and personality of every goat on her farm, she knows what plants they each prefer to eat, which goat is most likely to be responsible for gate un-latchings, and that if you look into the beady eyes of those creatures long enough, it might make you do something crazy – like begin making cheese. She makes one mean goat cheese. Well, maybe mean isn’t the right word. Her cheese is delicate, grassy, clean though complex, with wonderful moisture content, and it pairs beautifully with Sauvignon Blanc. In a Wisconsin-

Visit the farm online at

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Pesto and Chevre Crostini I love the purity of fresh basil against the creamy goat cheese and savory chives in this appetizer. I purposefully left out any “filler flavors” in the pesto. The absence of parmesan cheese or pine nuts ensures that no flavor competes with North Valley Farm’s beautiful chevre (order online at Search your hometown for freshly baked baguettes. My hometown favorite is Tin Roof Bakery in Chico, CA. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the skin from the clove of garlic, and pulse it in a food processor until minced. Next, add the basil. Replace the top of the food processor, but stream 3/4 cup olive oil through the

Ingredients: 1 French Baguette 1 1/4 cups olive oil (more, if needed) About 5 cups loosely packed Basil leaves 1 clove of garlic 1 4.5 oz. round North Valley Farms Plain Chevre 1/4 cup Chopped Chives Sea salt, to taste

*Note from Jen: nothing is worse than a too-hard-to-bite crostini,

top in a steady stream while you process the basil and garlic together. Add more olive oil, if necessary, until the ingredients blend to create a smooth pesto sauce. Add sea salt, to taste. Open your package of chevre and chop your chives, set them aside Slice the baguette on the bias (at a 45 degree angle) into 1/2 inch rounds. Place the rounds on a cookie sheet. Pour 1/2 cup of the olive oil into a small bowl, and, using a pastry brush, cover the tops of the baguette rounds with the oil (It’s okay to be generous). Place the oiled baguette rounds in the oven for 7 minutes, or until the outside is crispy, but the inside remains soft. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with sea salt. Quickly (it’s best if you have someone help you) top each baguette round with pesto and a spoonful of chevre. Sprinkle with chives, and serve warm. Enjoy!

and se will toughen up after they’re removed from the oven, so, trust me, you don’t want to overcook these little rounds.

Rosemary Roasted Chicken with shallots, mushrooms, and chevre This chicken is stuffed with shallots, mushrooms, and North Valley Farms Chevre. Use a good quality, responsibly raised roaster chicken for this recipe. You’ll love this comforting dish. It’s perfect for a dinner with guests, and might even replace your traditional thanksgiving turkey. However you choose to serve it, you’ll be thankful you did. Heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Begin by slicing your mushrooms and chopping your shallots. Mince one clove of garlic, slice the other into thin rounds. Remove the giblets from the chicken. Wash the chicken under cool running water, inside and out, and pat dry. Set it aside.

Ingredients: 1 whole roaster chicken, about 4 lbs. 1 4.5 oz round North Valley Farms Chevre (You could use plain, herbs de Provence, or Garlic & Chive chevre for this recipe. Order online at

3 cups sliced mushrooms (about 10 good sized button mushrooms) 1 1/2 cups shallots, sliced. 2 large cloves garlic 2 sprigs rosemary 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for the chicken Sea salt

In a large pan, sauté the shallots in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until they begin to brown. Add the sliced mushrooms and more olive oil, if necessary. Stir the mushrooms until they are well coated by the oil, and sauté them until tender. Add the minced garlic, and remove the mixture from the heat. Allow it to cool a bit, then sprinkle the mixture with sea salt, and toss. Loosen the skin on the breast of the chicken. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil. Rub olive oil underneath the skin on the breast of the chicken, as well. Stuff the rosemary underneath the skin on the breast; one sprig on each side of the breast bone, along with the sliced garlic rounds. Generously salt the outside of the chicken. Break the round of chevre into pieces and mix it into the sautéed shallot and mushroom mixture. Then, stuff the cavity of the chicken with the chevre and mushroom mix and place the chicken in a roasting pan. Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reaches 165 degrees F when inserted at the thickest part of the thigh, and the juices run clear. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then discard the rosemary, carve it, and serve with the stuffing. Enjoy!


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Seasonal Recipes By Jen Cartier, photos by Ron Putnam COVER RECIPE


I know what you’re thinking. Winter is over and we’re needing to shed a few pounds. Infomercials promising the enlightened path to bikini ready thighs sprouted before the first daffodils. So...heavy cream? Yes, heavy cream; real, glorious, heavy cream. My goal is to teach you about eating; truly eating, and I’m afraid that just can’t be done without a little heavy cream every now and then. A little padding on the hips is good for you anyway. Oh, and the butter part: yes, I mean to say real butter. I like to use unsalted and then add my own salt, to taste. This dish does not have to be served as a main course, although it’s fabulous enough to do so. It could easily be served in small portions next to a lean protein like salmon or chicken breast, and rounded out with a crusty baguette. But however you enjoy it, the point is that you enjoy it. Summer’s blond warmth will curl her way in faster than a teenage boy can cannonball off the high dive, so take a Springtime Saturday to hope for one last rain and soak up this creamy yet vibrant soup. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 1 32oz. container free range chicken broth 1 cup shallots, chopped 2 lbs. asparagus 2 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp minced garlic 1/4 cup heavy cream 2 Tbsp. butter Salt Pepper Grated Parmesan Cheese (Optional)

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large stockpot. Next, prepare an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water) and set it aside. You’ll use this to stop the cooking process after you blanch the asparagus tips. While you’re waiting for the broth to boil, prepare your ingredients.

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Chop your shallots; set them aside. Snap the woody ends off your asparagus and discard them. Lay the tender asparagus shoots on a cutting board and chop off the tips, about an inch or an inch-and-a-half down. Set them aside. Chop the remaining stalks of asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces and set them aside, as well. Mince your garlic, grate your Parmesan, and get the rest of your ingredients out and ready to go. When your chicken broth comes to a boil, drop in the asparagus tips and let them cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until they are bright green and becoming slightly tender. Quickly remove them from the broth with a slotted spoon and plunge them directly into the ice bath. Let them cool completely, then let them drain on a plate while you finish up the soup. You’ll reserve the tips as a garnish for the finished soup. Next, add the chopped asparagus stalks, shallots, lemon juice, and garlic to the broth and boil them until the shallots are opaque and the asparagus is tender. Then, using a blender, blend the asparagus mixture in 2 separate batches, and empty into a large bowl (I like to dump the bowl I used for the ice bath and set it aside to use again to empty the blended soup into). Keep your stockpot handy, you’re going to need it again! Now, melt the butter over low to medium heat in your stockpot. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the heavy cream. Lastly, stir the asparagus mixture into the butter and cream until it is well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the shredded Parmesan and the blanched asparagus tips. Sit back in your chair, and say, “Mmmm.”



Did I mention that I love pub food? I ran across a similar recipe from Guy Fieri one day, but this is my gluten free, spiced up version. I love the sweet and spicy Jalapeño Aioli and the crispy texture that rice flour brings to asparagus when fried. For those of you who don’t have to worry about gluten intolerance, I suggest pairing this with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis. For those of you who can’t have gluten, just grab your favorite gluten free beer, and enjoy this. It’s pub food heaven.


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Ingredients: For the asparagus: 1 bunch thin asparagus spears (about 1 lb.) 3 eggs 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 3/4 cups rice flour 1/2 cup cornmeal 1/2 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp chili powder 1 tsp sea salt 4 cups oil, for frying

For the aioli: 1 clove garlic 1/2 of a small jalapeno, seeds removed (add more or less, to taste) 4 egg yolks 3/4 cup olive oil 1 Tbsp. lemon juice 1 Tbsp. honey 1 tsp. sea salt

Make the aioli first. Remove the skin from the outside of the clove of garlic and place it in the bowl of a food processor with the jalapeño and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Pulse until the garlic and jalapeño are finely minced. Next, add the 4 egg yolks to the garlic mixture, replace the lid, and switch the food processor on. Slowly stream the olive oil through the lid of the food processor, being careful not to go too quickly; you’re creating an emulsion, so it’s really important that the oil gets fully incorporated into the egg yolks for the proper consistency. Once the oil is added, stir in the lemon juice, honey, and another 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Set the aioli aside. Wash and dry the asparagus. Snap off and discard the woody ends. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, rice flour, cornmeal, and spices. In a large pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees F (if the oil is too hot, you may have problems with the batter separating from the


asparagus when you fry it, just turn down the heat and wait a bit if this happens). Dip the asparagus spears in the batter and fry in batches for about 2 minutes, turning carefully, until crisp and golden. Remove them to a plate line with paper towels, and immediately sprinkle them with sea salt. Serve with the aoili and your favorite beer. Enjoy!



Spring and Summer bring potlucks. And you can plan on bringing this potato salad. It’s as comforting as the classic potato salad, but updated to save your fellow potluckians from boredom. Ingredients: 10 medium potatoes (2.5 - 3 lbs.) I like to go halfsies with a good quality organic russet and a sweeter, golden potato. 10 brussel sprouts 2 tsp peeled, grated ginger 1 clove of garlic, minced 1 shallot, thinly sliced 2 Tbsp. olive oil, more if needed 1 cup plain goats milk yogurt 2 Tbsp. honey 1 tsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. curry powder 1 cup whole cashews Sea Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, wash your potatoes and cut into 1 in pieces. I like to leave the skin on the potatoes (because I’m sort of lazy, but they’re also full of nutrients!) but if you prefer them peeled, then peel away. Wash your brussel sprouts; cut them in half if they’re smallish, or in quarters if they’re large. Peel the ginger and grate 2 tsp. worth; set it aside. Mince the garlic. Peel and chop the shallot. Place your cut potatoes in the boiling water and cook them until they are tender, but not losing their skins (about 10-15 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan with a lid, begin to sauté the brussel sprouts in the olive oil over medium heat until the outsides begin to brown, then reduce the heat and cover. Continue cooking the sprouts until they begin to become tender. Add the shallots to the brussel sprouts and sauté until the shallots begin to caramelize. Add the ginger and garlic and remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the brussel sprout mixture, and mix well. Drain the potatoes in a large colander, then add them into a large mixing bowl. Add the brussel sprout mixture to the potatoes. Allow it to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, lemon juice, and curry powder. Pour over the potato mixture. Add the cashews and toss everything together until well mixed. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

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Page 15: Blush Bakery 1/2 page ad, Freshies 1/2 page ad

Gluten Free



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Available at: Chico Natural Foods Grilla Bites, Chico Orchard Nutrition Center, Redding Country Organics, Redding and online at

Gluten Free Living By Diana McCray


hroughout my adult life, I have suffered from digestive ailments that have only grown worse as I’ve gotten older. As gluten free diets became more mainstream, I began to wonder if gluten was the cause of my symptoms. I couldn’t imagine a hamburger without a bun, pasta without garlic bread, or cheese without crackers. So, I continued eating gluten and my symptoms worsened. Soon after my husband and I married, we tried to conceive a child. This proved much harder than we expected and we decided very reluctantly to use fertility drugs; I didn’t so much as take an aspirin for a headache. I was miserable taking fertility drugs and knew that I didn’t want to have a baby with pharmaceutical help. Then I learned something life-altering: Celiac’s Disease can cause complications with fertility and pregnancy. I knew that if I was truly serious about wanting a family, I had to give up gluten. Today, as the proud mother of a one year old girl, I can say that eliminating gluten was the answer to my problem. I got pregnant five weeks after giving up gluten and I haven’t eaten it since. To this day, I am amazed that something I was eating was keeping

me from the one thing I wanted most. Because my personal experience with gluten has reaped such an amazing reward, I want to share all that I’ve learned about living a gluten free lifestyle. My goal is to bring you healthy, seasonal, and tasty recipes that are gluten free and easy to make. I have worked in the Natural Foods industry for six years and am privy to new gluten free products, often before they hit the shelves. I use and recommend products I feel good about, for their taste and nutritional value, as well as for their commitment to stainability and our environment. By creating meals that put an emphasis on fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, you can not only feel good about what you’re creating, but also about your decision to be a socially responsible consumer. I hope to provide you with the building blocks to create such meals while preserving your time and fulfilling your need for convenience. Choosing to live gluten free can open up a whole new world of culinary exploration. Below, you’ll find a menu that I know you’ll love. It’s easy, delicious, and perfect for entertaining.

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Gluten Free Recipes Mediterranean Encrusted Boneless Leg Of Lamb Serves 8

Note: Leftover lamb makes great sandwiches. On gluten free multigrain bread (Udi’s makes a delicious sandwich loaf ), layer dressed greens from the goat cheese salad, a couple of thin slices of roasted lamb, and a piece of the baked, herbed goat cheese. You’ll find all the recipes, below. Ingredients 1 3 to 5 lb.boneless leg of lamb 10 gluten free crackers (I like Glutino butter crackers) 1 jar of assorted Greek olives 2 large cloves of garlic 1 tbsp capers 1 tbsp lemon zest* 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves Fresh ground pepper 1 cup red wine, such as Syrah or Malbec, or beef broth 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard

*When using zest, always make sure your fruit is either organic or homegrown.

Roasted Baby Potatoes In Lemon Vinaigrette Serves 8

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If your lamb is in netting, remove it, and trim away any large pieces of fat. Roll it up and secure with kitchen string. If your olives are not pitted, remove pits by placing them on your cutting board and pressing with the flat end of your knife’s blade. The pits should easily come away from the olive meat. 2. In a small processor, pulse the crackers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Remove crackers to mixing bowl and set aside.Add the olives, garlic, capers, zest, juice, parsley to the processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Combine the olive mixture with the cracker crumbs and season to taste with pepper. 3. Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and spread the salsa over the top. 4. Bake for 30 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the lamb has reached 145 degrees. 5. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Place roasting pan over 2 burners and turn the heat to medium low. 6. Pour wine into pan and start to deglaze by scraping the bottom with a whisk. Add mustard and continue deglazing until mixture is reduced by half. 7. Slice lamb and drizzle with sauce. 12

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Ingredients 1 ½ lbs fingerling, baby Yukon, or other small potatoes 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper ¼ fruity extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried, crushed between fingers to release the oils Salt and pepper 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 for convection). 2. Cut potatoes in half and place in roasting pan. Toss with 1 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper. 3. Roast in center of oven, stirring halfway through,for approximately 30 minutes, until potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. 4. While the potatoes are roasting, combine remaining ingredients. 5. Toss finished potatoes in dressing and serve.

Gluten Free Recipes Arugula Salad With Baked, Herbed Goat Cheese Serves 4 Ingredients 1 5 oz package plain goat cheese 2 tbsp dried herbs de Provence, or assorted dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary and dill 3 cups loosely packed baby arugula ½ red onion, thinly sliced 4-5 dried calamyrna figs, chopped 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 1 tbsp champagne vinegar 1 tbsp lemon juice Salt and pepper 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a cooking sheet with oil. 2. Place goat cheese log on your cutting board, parallel to the edge and slice into 4 equal rounds.. 3. Coat each disk with the dried herbs. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with oil. 4. Bake for 10 minutes. 5. Rinse and dry arugula. 6. In a large bowl, combine 2 tbsp of oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Add salt, pepper and arugula. Toss with dressing and divide among 4 plates. 7. Top with onion slices, figs and place one goat cheese disk in center. 8. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper, if desired.

Serves 8

Gingerbread Cheesecake

You will never guess this cheesecake is made with tofu, and neither will your guests, if you don’t tell them. For best results, make the cheesecake a day ahead to let the flavors develop. Ingredients 1 pkg of gluten free gingersnaps, 7 oz (I used Pamela’s minis) 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted 1 goat cheese log, 8 oz. 1 package Mori-nu silken tofu, firm, drained 1 cup sugar 1 ½ tsp vanilla Zest of 1 lemon 1 tbsp lemon juice 2 tbsp non-GMO cornstarch 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp ground cloves 3 eggs 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 2. In a food processor, pulse gingersnaps until they are the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add coconut oil and pulse until combined. 3. Press into a greased 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes. 4. In a food processor, combine cheese, tofu, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, cornstarch and seasonings. Process until smooth. With motor running add eggs, 1 at a time until thoroughly combined. 5. Pour mixture into cake pan and bake for 1 hour. 6. Turn off oven and leave cake in for 1 additional hour. 7. Remove cake, slice and top with fresh seasonal fruit.

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A Special Thanks to:

Ron Putnam takes amazing photos. In fact, he’s responsible for most of the beautiful images found in this issue of Blush Food & Living Magazine. I have trusted Ron Putnam to capture both my culinary creations, and my family. He is professional, talented, and fun to work with. Most of all, I rest assured that when Ron is on the job, the job will be well done. Please visit to find out how you can trust your life’s biggest moments to Ron Putnam Photography. I can’t think of better hands to be in! Jen Cartier Publisher/Editor Blush Food & Living Magazine


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Where to eat? The Jack of All Burgers by Chris Thompson


tanding beside my grill with a Newcastle in my left hand and a spatula in my right, I can only imagine one thing sizzling as I converse with my girlfriend through the screen of our kitchen: the quintessential American burger. It’s a meal that highlights major holidays and fulfills our appetites via fast-food restaurants, back-yard barbecues, and last minute dinner plans. But so often, restaurant chefs and home-cooking amateurs take for granted an opportunity to make a true burger that not only arbitrarily allows cheeses and onions to be melted together, but a burger that establishes a relationship of tastes and texture with every ingredient. Whether you prefer tomatoes, guacamole, or anything else that might strike your fancy, I am here to tell you that I have found this burger. It’s found at Jack’s Prime. It was a Monday night, and I was in San Mateo, just south of San Francisco. I saw Jack’s once or twice before thanks to their giant sign: “Jack’s Prime: Burgers and Shakes.” I was compelled to check it out. I mean, who could screw up a burger and shake? The place was packed. However, I was seated in the perfect spot: at the bar, facing the kitchen. I felt like a secret agent as I observed the cooks, servers, and managers. Surprisingly, everyone seemed to be working in calm symmetry. Jack’s pays attention to details. Here’s an example: According to Assistant Manager Grace Lynch, the fry guy is in charge of two different fryers. The first makes the majority of the fries. The second never has a gluten containing ingredient fried in it, to accommodate for customers who are gluten intolerant. In fact, Jack’s makes a lot of efforts to make accommodations for everyone. For instance, Chevin Scheve, manager at Jack’s, said that any person who wanted to bring in

Jack’s Prime their own bread or bun for their burger could. So, if you are like the majority of my family and can’t eat a gluten filled burger bun, bring your own gluten-free bread. “We’re all about family,” said Scheve as he passionately described Jack’s as a family restaurant. That’s why they provide a projection screen that plays Disney Movies in the evenings. I mean, let’s face it. If you’ve got three kids, and they can watch a movie during dinner, that means Mom and Dad can relax and enjoy their meal. I’m gonna say Jack’s got that one right. But I’ve probably rambled on long enough. Let’s get down to eating. I ordered the “Wine Country” burger. At the top of the menu, customers are comforted with a brief note stating that their burger will be served with a one-third pound patty made with all natural Niman Ranch Angus Beef. In other words, this ain’t no Jack in the Box. On top of this well manicured meat lays Laura Chenel’s goat cheese, complemented by cabernet balsamic onions, sautéed mushrooms, mixed greens, tomatoes, and their Prime Burger Sauce. My first thought when I was served this burger: “The hell I need ketchup.” One bite and I knew I found a special place. In addition to their attention to detail, alternative food selections, and wonderful service, Jack’s cares about the quality of their food. Every day, they have new produce dropped off. Before they serve up anything, they test the quality. If it doesn’t meet their “standards,” they throw it out. Jack’s believes quality is what brings back customers. I’ve been back as well. And I plan on going back again. real soon.

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Spell out your L.O.V.E. For Mothers Day this year I wanted to give my mom a handmade gift. I decided to make her some home décor word blocks that say “Love”. I just think that this is a great word to display in a home and it literally says what I want: That I love her. You can do them for any occasion or holiday. Here are step by step instructions. Get creative! Project by: Amy Culp Amy Culp is the blogger behind Increasingly Domestic, where she graces readers with her adorable personality and crafty expertise. She says: I have never thought of myself as domestic, but lately I have become exactly that...I am a housewife in training. I even want a minivan. If my 20 year old self could see me now she wouldn’t believe it. Follow Amy’s domestic adventures at

For this project you will need: 1. 2x4 cut to size. My blocks are 3 1/2” x 4 1/2” 2. Don’t have a saw? No problem, Home Depot and Lowes will cut wood for you! Just have your measurements ready and tell them at checkout that you would like it cut. 3. Sandpaper 4. Cardstock for the letters. My letters are 3 1/2” tall and were cut out using a Cricut. 5. You can also use chipboard letters or print letters and cut them out. 6. Scrapbook paper, cut 1/4” smaller than your blocks. 7. Mod Podge 8. Paint. I used acrylic craft paint in Baby Pink. 9. Paintbrushes. I used foam brushes because that’s what I had.

Sand your cut blocks, paying special attention to the cut ends and the corners. The left block is sanded and the one on the right is not. See the difference?

Paint the blocks using one thick coat or two lighter ones. Let it dry completely.


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Brush a thick coat of mod podge onto the front of your block. I used the less pretty side of the block as the front because it was going to get covered up with the paper anyway. Press your scrapbook paper onto the block, smoothing out any air bubbles. Brush another coat of mod podge over the top of the paper, paying extra attention on the edges and corners.

Place your letter onto the still wet mod podge and press into place with your fingers. Brush a final coat of mod podge over the top to seal it all together and let it dry. At this point you can add embellishments to personalize it even more or call it done!

Make this project your own! Use different size wood, different papers, and use different words.Here are a few ideas to get you started: Easter (I made some that say “He is Risen“) “Happy Birthday” Nursery/Childs room décor Names Inspirational words: Love, Laugh, Peace, Family Holidays Seasons

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Springtime Fashion for Your Little Buds By Marcelle Benedict

Marcelle Benedict is a single mom superstar. Both her inner and outer beauty shine through in everything she does. Marcelle is the blogger behind Mimi & Mum: my single motherhood fairytale... where she inspires us through her words and photos to live more beautiful lives. Follow Marcelle’s blog at

It’s that time of year: time to cycle out the cozy sweaters and footed pajamas to make way for lighter fabrics and shorter sleeves. For parents, this can seem to be a daunting and never ending task. Just as we catch the pace of one season, we’re taken over by the next. To make things easier, I have adopted some “fashion rules” when shopping for my daughter. Before I decide on an item to purchase, I ask myself a couple questions: Is the item a classic design and/or print that will last through the ever-changing fashion trends, even as a hand-me-down? Is the item a color/print/fabric that can be worn through multiple seasons? You may be thinking at this point, “Ok, boring.” Trust me though, adding “trendy-of-the-moment” fashion is entirely do-able through accessories. Madddox’s outfit is from his fall wardrobe and I updated it to be Spring ready.

As the seasons changed and my infant daughter grew, I found there were pieces of her wardrobe she wore only a few times. Therefore, I added a few other “rules” to the purchasing requirements. The rule of thumb is to select clothing that will “grow” with her. Most of these “rules” will apply for boys, as well. Girls: Will the dress become a shirt for future seasons? Is the cardigan a fabric that will allow it to be become a 3/4 length sleeve cardigan to be worn in warmer weather? Will the pants become capris or cut off shorts? Boys: Is the button up shirt a fabric that can be worn in warmer weather with the sleeves rolled as an over shirt? Can it become a layering piece? Will the pants become cropped pants or cut off shorts?


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A few other things to keep in mind: Sleeve shapes in raglan, sleeveless or kimono styles all allow for longer arms. Waistbands with adjustable waists or elastic will wear the longest. Shoulder straps that are adjustable by button or buckle will allow you to adjust the length of the garment. Fabrics should withstand fading, shrinking, and tearing. This may seem like a lot but it will become second nature in no time. I apply these “rules” to the vintage and secondhand items I purchase as well. It has helped to keep an organized and functional wardrobe for my little girl. Don’t be afraid to let out hems and cut off sleeves and pant legs to refashion a garment. The fun part of fashion these days is pretty much anything goes. Putting leggings under a too-short dress or skirt is an easy fix. While adding a lace trim to a a pair of too-short pants suddenly creates an adorable pair of ruffle pants. You can cut the graphic off a too-small t shirt and sew or safety pin it to a larger size. Many knits and denims will not fray so even if you don’t sew you can still have some fun! Speaking of having fun with your child’s wardrobe, here are the highlights I picked up from the Spring/Summer 2011 runways: Ruffles, lace and tulle Bold, brash colors, often in neon Feathers, animal patterns and snake prints Lots of white and very pale pastels Floral prints Gold metallics Abstract, bold, graphic prints and patterns {including stripes} mixed together Nautical inspired styles with lots of stripes Open weave crochet and hand knits Lower wedge shoes with cork, rope and wood

Meirabel’s top {dress} and sweater are from her infant wardrobe.

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Wake up and Move by Rhandi Orme, photos also by Rhandi Orme Rhandi Orme is busy mom and wife. She is passionate about fitness and great food. Rhandi is the genius behind the blog: Straight Up Good Food where she shares her amazing dishes, awesome photos, and helpful tips. Follow her blog at You will be inspired!


pring is all about feeling fresh and inspired. Starting a new exercise routine will give you the bright start to your spring season that you are looking for. Inspire your body and mind each morning by waking up and exercising. Exercise first thing in the morning sets the tone for a productive, energetic day. Exercise stimulates your metabolism and releases “feel good” hormones like serotonin that literally make you feel happier about your day and the tasks the lie ahead of you. In addition, early morning movement regulates your sleep cycle and helps to create long term habits that will help you build a consistent exercise regimen.

afternoon, when most people are hitting their lethargic, afternoon low, you will stay alert and productive. Inspire Motivation Imagine that it’s 7am and you have already exercised and are dressed and ready for the day. With that feeling of accomplishment, you will be motivated to keep it up and feel empowered to have a successful, accomplished day. The self-discipline that is required to exercise early is a type of self-control that will motivate and inspire you in many other aspects of your life. Sleep Better

Improve your Metabolism Exercise in the morning (between 5am to 9am) jumps starts your metabolism into full gear. By burning extra calories in the morning, you will continue to burn extra calories all day long, for up to 24 hours. For many, exercise also decreases ones appetite and desire for high calorie food. In essence, by exercising early, you will burn more and consume less- no one can complain about that.

When you wake up early every morning at the same time, your body begins to adapt. Although it may be tough at the beginning, if you give it a full month and let your body develop a new habit, you will begin to naturally wake up on time and it will get much easier. Naturally waking up at the same time every morning is proven to help regulate your sleep cycle and help you get a better night sleep. What kind of Exercise?

Increase Productivity Studies show that early morning exercise increases brain function for up to 10 hours. In other words, you can accomplish more in your day in less time. Late in the 20

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Early morning exercise comes in endless varieties and forms. If you haven’t worked out much in the past, don’t panic, when it comes to exercise there is something for everyone. Whether you are a stay at home mom or have a 90 hour work week,

there is some form of exercise that you can work into your fitness level and lifestyle. Do a 30 minute Yoga video or step outside for a run. Hit up a fitness class at the gym or meet a friend for a brisk walk or bike ride. In order to maximize the benefits of exercise, your main goal should be to work hard and get sweaty for at least 30 minutes. Now that you know the benefits and are willing to commit, take the steps to make sure that it happens. Pre-bedtime preparation is the best way to ensure that you will follow through with your morning workout goal. Make sure you do the following before letting your head hit the pillow. 1. Have a game plan the night before. Know the time, place and type of exercise you will be doing. 2. Set out your workout clothes. At 6am, you will look for any excuse to sleep for an extra hour, make sure a stinky pair of workout clothes doesn’t stop you.

Ultimate Green Protein Smoothie

3. Eat a healthy dinner. A heavy, fatty dinner will make you feel weak and sluggish for an early morning workout. 4. Accountability- If you are going to exercise outside of your home, try to find a workout partner. Whether you are meeting at the gym or on your street corner, you are much more likely to follow through if you know that someone else is counting on you. Exercising in the a.m. is a skill that is not developed over night. Make it your spring goal, give it a month of consistency, and soon you won’t be able to live without your morning workout. In fact, you may even be able to skip your cup of Joe, you will amazed by the added energy and vitality you feel as you adapt to this new lifestyle. After your workout, be sure to nourish your body with a healthy breakfast. One of the biggest mistakes people make at breakfast time is consuming too much sugar and not enough protein. You sugar sources should come from a natural source like fruit. My Ultimate Green Protein Smoothie will replace the energy you have used for your workout and re- hydrate and fuel your body for a productive day. I recommend a fresh green protein smoothie that is full of antioxidants and protein and low in sugar. Be sure to follow breakfast with a healthy snack 2 hours later.

1 1/2 cups packed, fresh Spinach Leaves (2 big handfuls) 1 tablespoon Isolated Soy or Rice Protein Powder, with no added ingredients. ½ cup Fage Greek Yogurt ½ cup fresh or frozen berries 1/3 ripe banana ¼ cup orange juice 1 ¼ cup water Ice if desired

Directions: In a blender combine spinach, water and juice. Pulse and blend until spinach is finely puréed and the consistency of the juice is smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. * Cooks note- If this is not sweet enough for you, try adding a teaspoon of vanilla &/or a teaspoon of Agave Natural Sweetener. As you adapt to this taste, try removing the Agave.

The authors photo was taken by: Kelly Willardson Bubba-Loo Photography

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From the Heart... By Carli Ray, Photo by Katie Luther Carli Ray is mom to four miraculous girls and the wife of one wonderful man. She inspires everyone she knows to laugh more often. She is strong, witty, and beautiful. Carli is the author of the blog Positively Pleasant where she chronicles her life, and life lessons. Follow her blog at


have had the privilege of experiencing true friendship; the kind of friendship that celebrates with you at your best and carries you through your worst. I could write novels describing the adventures this friendship was founded on. It’s a friendship that continues to grow as it carries me through life. I have experienced this blessing with three beautiful friends. We refer to ourselves fondly as”The Ya-Ya’s”. We are a posse, a gang. We are sisters.

That car was like fuel on a forest fire. The only thing better than singing loud, laughing hard, and dancing in the rain, was doing all of those things in a car with no top. It was our mobile stage. Seatbelt sunburns were our battle scars as we fought the inevitable. Growing up was our enemy and at the same time all we talked about.

Our story started in high school; before husbands and before children, when responsibility was an option and choosing it was rare. We were raised in the country, which to us meant we should sing louder, laugh harder and dance in the rain more often than city kids.

For almost two decades we have shared our lives with each other, growing and changing as we follow our passions. There’s the tall gorgeous one who looks good in everything, including pregnancy, and turns heads everywhere she goes. She is fashionable, smart, beautiful and business savvy.

God loved us and showed us in many different ways. Wildly fun opportunities and situations just seemed to follow us: house-sitting mansions; counseling groups of children at camps. God even gave me a bright red convertible to share with the Ya-Ya’s.

There is the creative one. She positively drips with artistic genius. To stand near her in a room is to put yourself in jeopardy of receiving a contact-inspiration. She is known for her work and continues to impress even the most seasoned artist.


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Then there is the one that holds us all together. She is, ironically, the youngest. To not describe her by her talents is not to say she is without them. She can do everything. And she does. One of the things she does best is love. As life tosses the four of us on it’s waves of change she is always ready, always waiting for us to take our place on her couch, cuddled up with her and a blanket for a chat. If we stay away too long, we can expect a stern call from her telling us we are all she thinks about, all she needs, and to come over right away.

We refer to ourselves fondly as”The Ya-Ya’s”. We are a posse, a gang. We are sisters.

My favorite part comes next: we arrive. Finally taking a moment from our busy lives to reconnect, each of us with half our minds still occupied by trivial issues from the outside world, and there she stands. She stands in front of her big country house, wearing a hoodie and rubber boots, holding her miniature cup of coffee because, “The big mugs make the coffee get cold before I can drink it,” she says with her gorgeous long hair blowing in the breeze. She is the definition of a free spirit, which allows her to choose whether the day requires a bra, while the rest of us feel as if we are contracted to don our brassiere in order to be seen. Even her hugs reflect her effort to keep the group close. Wrapping both arms and one booted leg tightly around us, one is unable to feel neglected after an embrace like that. She then pours us iced tea, and we all settle into a heap on the couch with stacks of magazines. The magazines are just busy work for our hands and eyes while our hearts get caught up.

kitchen. Sometimes, if one of us is pregnant, she will massage our feet with lotion and paint our toenails. She honors pregnancy the way everyone on earth should. When she is told a baby is kicking, she assumes her position beside, in front of, or occasionally even right on top of what’s left of your lap. She then puts both of her petite hands on your broad, taught abdomen and waits. She is not one to give up easily in any situation, and this is no exception. She waits for that flutter, that kick, or that roll as if she were meeting her own offspring for the first time, quietly conversing with the prenatal blessing, introducing herself as their “auntie” and informing them that she will be their favorite. Sometimes she leads us to her garden and fills our grocery bags with produce while the children graze on cherry tomatoes and hunt for tomato worms. Our children (eight girls and one lone boy) run wild on her beautiful land, singing loud, laughing hard, and dancing when it rains...they are the next generation of Ya-Ya’s. If becoming a Ya-Ya included an oath, it would go something like this: I promise to constantly long for the ocean. But never enough to move away from the Ya-Ya’s to live near it. I promise to love the country, more specifically: big barns, mason jars, country music (turned way up); wrangler butts are optional. I promise to love vintage antique-y things, more specifically: old windows, doors and chairs. And collect them for each other as if we have warehouses at our disposal for storage. I promise to garage sale as if it’s the one thing that will get me into heaven. I promise to respect and adore quality photography. I promise to disregard all notions of personal space, secrecy and modesty while in the company of the Ya-Ya’s. I promise to sing, laugh, and dance in the rain forever. I promise to never stay away long, and come right away when requested. After all it’s the least we can do for someone who allows us to make her life complete.

And so perfectly completes ours.

Sometimes she feeds us delicious goodies from her

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Welcome, Summer: A Celebration of Local Food, Drink, and Music. Saturday, June 11th Beatniks After-Hours Lounge 1387 East 8th Street Chico, CA 95928 Doors open at 6:30 Food & music begin at 7:00 No-host bar featuring local favorites! Music By: The Alegre Sisters The Bumptet Tickets are limited; $20 each. Available at Beatniks, 360 Ecotique, online at, or by calling (530) 222-4895 Find out more at Eat. Drink. Be Merry. Locally.

Spring 2011  

Blush Food & Living Magazine is Northern California's best resource for inspired recipes from local chefs and foodies, tips for living well,...

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