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!

GF is for me, when it comes to mac n cheese!

GF mac cover

The one childhood food that I can’t live without is probably mac and cheese.  I ate the Easy Mac noodles and the Dinosaurs growing up and once I got older, I discovered Velveeta.  I made mac and cheese in the microwave and on the stove and probably ate the leftovers cold sometimes.  I remember babysitting some neighbor kids and I had to make the kids Velveeta for dinner.  I found it so strange that the cheese was so gooey in that little pouch.  (remember, I only knew about the cheese powder up until this point)  Oh but the cheesy shells…  I thought I had hit the jackpot with these Velveeta shells!  Mac and cheese was never the same after that.  So yummy.  Thank you Kraft!

Fast forward a decade and I’m still eating the Velveeta shells!  However, I wanted to try a new twist to mac and cheese – a gluten-free homemade version!

GF Mac partsIngredients:

  • 1 lb gluten-free shells – I got the Ancient Harvest brand shells from WalMart.
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup provolone cheese
  • 1 cup swiss cheese
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • hot sauce to taste (3 tsp)
  • salt/ground pepper to taste
  • Tomato slices for the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat with cooking spray.

GF mac cheese and shellIn a large saucepan, cook the shells according to package instructions.  I took down the cooking time by about 2 minutes since the noodles would be going in the oven after. Drain and set aside.  Shells – Done.

In another large saucepan, melt butter.  Add flour and whisk, making sure not to burn flour.  Slowing add the milk and keep whisking.  Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, cayenne and garlic and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.  Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens – about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in all the cheeses until all melted.

Combine the shells and cheese and place in a 13×9 baking dish.  Top with some parmesan cheese and tomato slices.  Bake uncovered for about 30-45 minutes until the top is nice and bubbly.  I only baked it for 30 because it smelled so good and I was getting hungry! 🙂

GF mac cheese

I loved this dish!  I shared this one (because that’s what I used to do with my mac and cheese as a kid) and I got 2 thumbs up.  Perhaps next time I’ll add some ham or turkey?

I must say, gluten-free is a lot easier than I thought.  It’s definitely more expensive in some areas (like these noodles) but so worth it.  Instead of the super full feeling of eating too much mac and cheese, I just felt like I had a very satisfying dinner! – still ate too much though!

For dessert – boxed brownies with a twist.  Some had peanut butter in the middle and the others had an Oreo on the bottom and Oreo crumbles on the top.  OK – I can’t have mac and cheese and feel like a kid without boxed brownies! Note: Not gluten-free.

GF mac dessert

Bon Appetite!


Quinoa with lemon chicken, pine nuts and tomatoes

Quinoa Cover

Quinoa.  “Keen-Wa.” It wasn’t until recently that I heard about quinoa.  Then I heard it everywhere.  It’s kind of like when you buy a pair of running shoes that you think are really unique and you’ve never seen them before and within days of your purchase, you spot your shoes on someone else.  And you want newer new shoes.  I guess that’s one of those #girlproblems

Anyway, when I was in Colorado a few months ago, quinoa was everywhere.  Every restaurant had multiple quinoa plates and people loved it.  I don’t see quinoa as much in Jacksonville, but I have spotted it at a few places recently.  First Watch has a great fall quinoa dish out right now.  Quinoa is gluten-free!  Yup, another GF dish!  This was the first time I made quinoa and actually the first time I’ve seen it in it’s uncooked state. (it’s nothing too exciting) I played it safe with a lemon chicken complement and I really liked this.  It was healthy yet hearty.  I was full without feeling that yucky full feeling if this was say, pasta.

So here’s my recipe for Quinoa with lemon chicken, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. (Serves 4)

Quinoa ingedientsIngredients for the Quinoa dish:

  • 1 cup quinoa (rinse it well)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Peppercorn Pepper and Sea Salt to taste

Ingredients for Lemon Chicken:

  • 4 chicken breasts – enough chicken for 4 people
  • 4 fresh lemons
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • parsley, salt, pepper to taste

Step 1: Cook the Quinoa.  Just follow the directions on the package.  Or follow these…  In a medium saucepan, roast the 1 cup quinoa on medium heat for just a few minutes until it begins to darken.  No water yet.  It might make little popping noises (mine did anyway!). Make sure to stir.  After 3-5 minutes, add 1 1/2 cup water to the pan and bring to a boil.  Once you get a boil, simmer for 15-20 minutes.  When the Quinoa is done, you will see little tail-like things on the quinoa.

Quinoa cooking

Step 2:  Pine Nuts and Garlic.  While the Quinoa is cooking, roast the pine nuts for a few minutes in a saucepan until it has darkened.  I think this took about 3-5 minutes. Transfer these to a plate.  In the same saucepan (I hate doing dishes!) sauté the sliced garlic and parsley in coconut oil for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer garlic and any remaining oil to the pine nut plate.

Quinoa with flavors

Step 3: Mix it all together.  Once the quinoa is done, add the pine nuts, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and cherry tomatoes (sliced in half).  Fluff the quinoa and let the dish sit for about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.





This is what the Quinoa looks like when it’s done:

Quinoa after coook

While you’re making the Quinoa, you can bake the chicken too.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken in a glass baking dish and cover with lemon juice, garlic (I liked sliced garlic for this), parsley, salt and pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken.  Do not over bake or the chicken will be tough.

I also baked zucchini slices with a little cayenne seasoning.  This dish could have been served in a bowl and eaten like that but my zucchini was going bad and had to be eaten soon.  Plus the green added more color to the plate, right?

This dish was actually really good.  Simple but tasty.  I did a poll of friends and not everyone loves quinoa (WhAt?!) but I’m determined to find more flavorful recipes!  What do you like with your Quinoa?

Quinoa Cover

Bon Appetite!