Gluten-Free Pizza – A happy alternative

GF pizza COVER

I love pizza.  I love pizza probably too much and if I lived in Chicago, I would have serious health problems.  With that’s said, I had to try a new version of pizza… gluten-free pizza!

Not looking for gluten-free?  Check out these:  Hawaiian or Buffalo Chickenmargarita on whole wheat or my all-time favorite so far – Chicago Pizza Cups.

GF pizza doughBut if you’re looking for a gluten-free recommendation, this Hodgson Mill Pizza Crust Mix is the bomb diggity!  I attempted GF pizza crust using GF all-purpose baking flour but it didn’t turn out that great (I didn’t cook the dough enough and it was a funky consistency).  I was super skeptical about this mix but decided to give it a try.  I found it at WalMart (and to my surprise, WalMart actually has a descent GF section!)

For the pizza crust, I just followed the instructions on the box.  Pretty straight forward – Mix 1 1/4 cup warm water and the yeast package (included).  Add 2 tbsp. olive oil and 2 eggs (protein, yeah!!).  Add the pizza mix and combine.

To prevent sticking, I would typically use flour.  GF – no flour.  Instead, I used cornstarch.    This dough made 2 – 12 inch sized pizza crusts and the key here is to COOK THE CRUST first, solo, without any toppings.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  This pre-bake is KEY.

GF pizza sauce

I wanted a very simple, healthy sauce so I used no salt added diced tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic and some parsley.  All combined to a sauce in the Food Network Food Processor (LOVE that thing!).

Here’s what the dough looks like before it cooked….

GF pizza toppings

For the toppings, I wanted something traditional didn’t want to go to Publix for the 4th day in a row –  pepperoni and fresh mozzarella it is!

While I was cooking, I had a special kitchen helper.  This is “emmie’s spot” if anyone is in the kitchen.  PS – this is right in the middle of the kitchen in front of the sink.  “emmie’s spot”  great….

Thai Spag Squash Emmie

After the crust is baked for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and add toppings.  I like to add in this order – sauce, meat, other toppings, cheese.  I just love how the cheese holds everything together when on top.

Bake for another 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is slightly golden.  I ran out of topping so made half of the second pizza a flatbread with olive oil and Italian seasonings.  This part was so good I didn’t have any leftovers of it!

I will definitely cook with this crust mix again.  Eventually, I might make my own pizza crust mix but I’ll stick with this one for now.

As I am writing this, I have a little buddy who wanted to be pictured with her favorite bone… 🙂


Bon Appetite and sweet puppy dreams!

Boulder, Co: Mile High Travels

Good morning! As I am writing this post, I am sitting in the JFK airport – Jet Blue terminal. I just got off a 3.5 hour flight from Denver… the red eye flight (1am!). If you ever wondered why they call it the “red eye” flight, wonder no longer. I look like a hot mess, and yes, my eyes are red. I got an eye cover up masky thing on the flight and boy did that come in handy! – Until I realized I slept through snacks! – pretty much the best part about flying. Then I realized I normally sleep at that time so probably a good thing I didn’t have a snack.

Analysis of my state of being: tried? – exhausted, hair? – static mess, eyes? – burning, breakfast? – it’s only 5am in Colorado so I think I’ll wait a little, head? – ouch, Starbucks? – nowhere to be found (I asked)….. HA yes, I’m sorry anyone who makes eye contact with me, this is true jet lag.

boulder road tripHowever, I’m remembering the last 5 days of my life and thinking… man I am lucky! I might be completely exhausted but it was-so-worth-it!!! I spent the last 5 days in Colorado. Colorado in the “summer.” Who cares about the exhaustion, headaches from altitude and red eyes that look like I’ve experienced all the mile high city has to offer. I mean, I got to spend the past few days visiting my step sister and traveling all around one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, the Colorado Rockies!!

boulder activities bike YThe adventures began in Boulder, Co. If you’ve been catching the new lately, you’ve probably heard about the Boulder County Flood that happened last week. The damage from the insane rain was, well, insane, for lack of a better word this early in the morning.

All trails were closed, streets destroyed and houses completely evacuated because they were under water. Luckily, Susan’s house (my step sister) was fine but not all units in her complex made it out unscathed.

Something really awesome was how the community was reacting to this tragedy. Bakeries, like Piece, Love & Chocolate, had special “flood relief cupcakes” where a portion of the “mudslide” dessert went to the relief efforts. Stores were having round-up days where you can round your purchase to the nearest dollar and that goes to the relief. Sprouts Farmer;s Market was doing this.

I also got to visit the Y in Boulder Valley which was also aiding in the relief efforts. The Y has partnered with the American Red Cross to be a shelter! So many people came in and out of the Y with supplies and smiles on their faces. Volunteers were actively engaged and everything was so organized. Without people and organizations like the Y and the American Red Cross, the flood victims would have nowhere to go.

Here’s a few pictures I snagged after my workout. — Note: working out in over a mile above sea level was tough!

boulder ymca

Colorado is absolutely beautiful!! If you read my Chicago post, you know that’s one of my top fav cities. Well, Colorado is definitely one of my top fav states (in the summer).

I arrived Thursday afternoon and adventured through downtown Boulder where I saw the really cool biking system in the picture above. EVERYONE bikes. I know that’s a generalization, but I think it’s appropriate. I think everyone owns at least 1 bike and people are biking all day long. It’s wonderful!

Friday morning, Susan and I hit a HOT YOGA class. Yes, Florida girl here goes to cooler weather, freaks out about the cold and finds herself in a hot yoga class… Floridian problems…

boulder red rocksThen it was off to ASPEN for the weekend!!! We loaded the car with my overstuffed suitcase and 2 of Susan’s friends, Jen and Erin, and hit the road. Susan and Erin were doing a half marathon trail ride and Jen and I were along for the ride. We stopped by the Red Rock Amphitheatre!! This was absolutely amazing. The views were breathtaking, if you didn’t already lose your breath from the hike and altitude combo. 🙂

Then we passed though Independence Pass which is a really pretty road that is only open in the summer.

Let me side note here and say I have been to Colorado a few times. In the COLD-FREEZING-TONS-OF-LAYERS-REQUIRED-WINTER. It was so refreshing to visit in September, see the leaves starting to change and wear shorts (well only one day).

boulder foodI can’t forget about the food. I ate too much. But it was-so-worth-it. There are so many healthy choices, local, fresh choices. Frozen yogurt from the Boom Bar Yogurt was yummy and dessert from Whole Foods was a fun treat too. I had pizza from Pizzeria Locale and it was AMAZING. Definitely a must visit place in downtown Boulder.

In the little town of Basalt, I ate the yummy eggs, potatoes and sausage you see here. The place was called Bernard’s Cafe and guess what, Bernard was a cute little old guy! Sorry I don’t have a ton of food pictures. In the moment of all the goodness, the camera was the last thing on my mind!

Friday-Sunday we spent in Aspen, then Monday I had a chance to explore Boulder. I went to the Y, to yoga (again) and just enjoyed the weather before my 1am flight to JFK!

I must say, Colorado exceeded all expectations and I can’t wait to go back and explore more, in the summer/warmer than cold seasons, of course!

I land in Jax around 11am and vaca is officially over! Until next time Colorado!

Thank you so much Susan for making my trip awesome!!

Pizza, Pineapple & Pinot

pizza night Cover

I think every kid likes pizza.  Big kids too.  So I think of myself as a big kid when I crave pizza.  Since I have a bread maker and making pizza dough is incredibly easy, I crave pizza a lot.  My favorite part about being a ‘big’ kid is that no one can tell me I’ve already had pizza this week, or this day, or a few hours ago so I can’t have pizza.  So what does that mean?!?!  PIZZA NIGHT!  WHAT!!!

For this pizza night, I made a traditional Hawaiian and a new experiment – buffalo chicken.

For the crust – just read this blog post about whole wheat dough.  That’s what I made and it was SO easy.  Let me say that again.  It was soooo easy.  I put all the ingredients in the bread maker, pressed start, ran an errand and came home to dough!

Let’s start with the Buffalo Chicken Pizza Recipe.

pizza buffalo sauce

The Sauce:  Process 1 can diced tomatoes (drained) in a food processor.  Add about 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  You can also add onions, garlic and other herbs.  I kept it simple.  Mostly because I was hungry!  Set aside.

pizza buffalo chicken

The Chicken:  Mix the following ingredients.  Set aside.

  • 1 can chunk white chicken, drained and shredded
  • 1/2 cup buffalo or hot sauce, or as needed
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese

pizza buffalo pre bake

The arrangement:  Roll out the dough into a circle or get creative and make whatever shape you want!  Spread sauce out on the dough. Top with some cheese of your choice.  I used monterrey jack and cheddar since I used it in my buffalo chicken dip recipe.  Then top with the chicken.  Then make a fun design with the buffalo sauce and voila!…

pizza buaffo cover

Now, let’s not forget about the pineapple….  I LOVE LOVE BBQ pizza so I decided to also make a Hawaiian Pizza with pineapple and ham… YUM!

pizza bbq ingredients

This is a really quick and easy recipe that is sure to wow.  Since the buffalo pizza is spicy, I wanted this to be sweet.

Hawaiian Pizza Ingredients:  

  • Sliced Sweet Ham
  • Chopped Sweet Onions
  • 1 can Sliced Pineapple
  • Honey BBQ sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese

I pre-cooked the pineapple in the oven for about 7 minutes to make it soft and ready for the pizza.  If you can grill it, DO IT!  That will make it sooo much better.  I don’t have a bbq pre bake

The Layers:  Spread a thin layer of BBQ sauce on the crust.  I wanted all the ham to be soft and stay in one place so I put the ham on the next later.  Plus you all know how much I LOVE Chicago and they do it this way. Then later with cheese and top with onions and pineapple!

pizza bbq hawaiian pizza Cover

Bake both pizzas at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with a glass of pinot and enjoy!

Since I made 2 pizzas, I had left overs for a few days… and I LOVED IT!  🙂

What’s your favorite pizza?