Southwestern Chicken Pizza

IMG_8769

Every once in a while I crave pizza, but it isn’t very often. To me pizza has always been kind of a snack food, not a meal. It needs to have a lot of amazing toppings on it or at least have a salad with it for it to be a meal. I know this sounds weird, but it just is not a meal in my world. However, I think I have come up with a substantial enough of a pizza to make it a meal with. Below is my Southwestern Chicken Pizza loaded with chicken breast, black beans, corn, and lots of delicious veggies. You can feel free to customize the toppings and spice level to your likings. If you are vegetarian omit the chicken and load up on some extra veggies and beans.

I don’t know how busy you all are, but if you are anything like myself, you are pretty darn busy. Most days I’m up at 4:00am and I’m home anywhere between 2:30pm – 10:00pm, all depending on that day’s schedule. Some nights are loaded up with homework and I don’t always have the time to make myself a fancy dinner so this comes in very handy. It is loaded up protein and nutrients. If you use a pre-made crust, this makes for a very quick and easy weeknight meal.

Southwestern Chicken Pizza

Crust

Topping

  • Sauce: Homemade or Jarred (all depends on how much and how big your pizza is
  • 1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast (boneless/skinless), cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup peppers: red, yellow, and orange, cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1/2 cup corn: fresh, frozen, canned (unsalted and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup black beans: rinsed and drained well
  • 1/4 cup red onion: sliced thin
  • 1 cup baby spinach: packed and rough chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 clove of garlic grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method of Preparation

  1. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add peppers and corn and cook for 3 – 5 minutes.
  3. Add black beans and red onions, cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add the baby spinach to the pan and cook until wilted.
  5. After the spinach has wilted, add diced chicken and season with cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, and salt.
  6. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Top pizza crush with sauce, cheese, and chicken and vegetable mixture…top with a little additional cheese if you so desire.
  8. Bake according to directions of the pizza crust you are using.
  9. Enjoy!

 

 

Mini Gluten-Free Stuffed Pizzas ~ Good Cook “Sweet Creations”

IMG_8162

I recently joined the Good Cook Blogger team and I am loving it! I get to pay with so many great products, create delicious gluten-free recipes, write about them and share my honest opinions with all of you – as always these opinions are 100% my own.

Below is my first creation with the Good Cook products. I was given a choice of packages that included many great things like whoopie pie pans, dough cutters, etc. However, I opted for one that included a cookie sheet, cookie cutter, squeeze bottles ~such versatile products! I had been craving pizza lately so I decided to make some mini gluten-free stuffed pizzas with mini pepperoni, baby spinach, mozzarella, and sauce (it was a mini themed event!) These little creations would be great to get your kids involved with as well. Easy to make, fun to put together, and you can even par bake them, freeze individually, and then pop in the toaster oven – makes a great afternoon snack.

Mini Gluten-Free Stuffed Pizzas

IMG_8165

1 Gluten-Free Pizza Dough Recipe (use your favorite recipe…I used the Cup4Cup Pizza Mix)

1/4 cup Marinara Sauce

2 tablespoons Mini Pepperoni (Hormel makes these cute little things, and they are gluten-free!)

1/8 cup Baby Spinach, Chopped

1/4 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Equipment Needed:

Sweet Creations Cookie Sheet

Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Sheet

Sweet Creations Cookie Cutters

Method of Preparation

  1. Pre Heat oven to 500○
  2. Prepare pizza crust according to recipe or package
  3. Roll crust to 1/8 inch – when working with gluten-free pizza dough (pie dough etc.) it is best to place it between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to roll out. You can also use a silicone baking sheet and plastic wrap.
  4. Using the cookie cutter (any shape works, but I loved the fluted square one for this) cut out 16 pieces of dough (this was 95% of the dough that the mix made).
  5. Place 8 of the cut pieces of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Evenly distribute the sauce onto each piece of pizza dough
  7. Top with mini pepperoni, chopped baby spinach, and mozzarella cheese.
  8. Take the remaining 8 pieces of pizza dough cutouts and place them on top of the pizza dough and press edges down to seal (you can also use a fork to press seal the edges)
  9. Lightly brush the tops of each mini pizza with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
  10. Bake at 500○ for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  11. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve with a side of warm marinara sauce.

IMG_8164

Be sure to check out Good Cook’s website, facebook, twitter, and pinterest!

Thanks again to Good Cook for the awesome equipment to play with! #sweetcreations #goodcookkitchenexpert

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items Part 2

On June 29th I posted some potentially good news: California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items.  There was a bit of mixed reviews regarding this post, which is completely understandable.  You never truly know if your meal will be 100% gluten-free (and free of any cross-contamination) when you are eating out in a non-designated gluten-free restaurant.  Many restaurants take extra precautions when preparing gluten-free menu items and will train their staff regarding the gluten-free diet and cross-contamination.

I will admit at first I was a bit skeptical about trying the new pizza but I asked a few other bloggers and readers who had tried the new pizza and they all said it was delicious and didn’t have any glutened symptoms.  When we went to Boston a few weeks ago with our dear friends Warren and Joyce we found a CPK and decided to give it a go (when you sign up to receive their e-mails you get a $5.00 coupon!).

Out of the four of us I am the only one with celiac disease so I ordered off of their Gluten-Free Menu! (which is actually just the real menu with “gf” notations next to the items that are gluten-free”). I also asked to speak with a manager about the process of the chefs making the pizza and serving it.  She did assure me that they use a “foil boat” to cook the pizza on, use a separate paddle, separate knife, and serve it right away to avoid any confusion.

I decided to go with what they are known best for – The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza (Invented here in 1985. BBQ sauce, smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, BBQ chicken, red onions and cilantro).  This was always one of my favorite pizzas before I went gluten-free and it was as delicious as ever.  The flavor combination may seem a bit odd when you are just reading about it but the sweetness of the BBQ sauce goes so well with the smoked Gouda and red onions.  Best part of all? I didn’t get sick from eating it!! It was so nice to eat pizza out at a restaurant. Sadly though the closest CPK to us is Boston so we won’t be going there very often.

Again, this is obviously a personal judgement call but I can say that I ate there with absolutely no problems and it was delicious, the staff was very friendly, helpful, and well-informed.  A nice change from my last visit to a CPK.  Again, please come back and let me know if you have tried CPK’s new gluten-free options and what you thought about it.

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Offers GF Menu Items

Hello All,

I wanted to share with you a press release that I received today about California Pizza Kitchen:

Hi!

The wait is over! Today California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) has launched gluten free pizza crust, making 29 of their original pizzas available gluten free.

CPK has taken notice of the increased demand with more than 3 million Americans affected by Celiac Disease and created a specialty menu with various gluten free items. Among the 29 different gluten free pizzas available is America’s favorite, The Original BBQ Chicken pizza, the Pear & Gorgonzola pizza and the Wild Mushroom pizza. CPK also offers other gluten free appetizers, soups, salads, specialties, kids items and desserts to choose from on their current menu.

CPK is thrilled to offer those that require gluten free items a menu with the same delicious offering that they’ve always had, now gluten free.

I also saw this on their website:

“*Not available gluten-free: Thai Chicken and Roasted Artichoke and Spinach”

Here is a PDF version of their new Gluten-Free Menu!!

This is really exciting news because this means that Gluten Free awareness has gone mainstream, however please keep on reading.

UPDATE 6/30/11: A reader just pointed this disclaimer out to me at the bottom of their menu – so to sum this up, it is very exciting that they are offering gluten-free options, however it seems like an “eat at your own risk” type situation as with many restaurants be very careful!!

“Gluten-Free” designations are based on information provided by our ingredient suppliers. Warning: Ingredients or production methods used by our suppliers may change, or there may be product differences among regional suppliers. Additionally, normal kitchen operations involve shared cooking and preparation areas, or we may need to substitute ingredients in menu items. We are therefore unable to guarantee that any menu item is free from gluten or any other allergen, and we assume no responsibility for guests with food allergies or sensitivities.

I was happy to receive the press release at first and sent back an e-mail asking about cross contamination and preparation of the menu items that were gluten-free but have not received a response as of yet. As soon as I hear back from them, I will update this post for all of you.

Coming from one who has Celiac Disease and not gluten intolerance I don’t know if I would eat there, especially if they are using the same pizza ovens.  When I was first diagnosed with CD I tried to eat there and just order a salad.  When I asked the waitress to check on the dressing ingredients for me she said that she would and when she returned said she didn’t read anything about it in the ingredients.  I was very very new at this so I ate my salad as she gave it to me and was extremely sick – I couldn’t even return to work that day.  I called the manager of my local CPK and he said he would retrain his staff on the importance of checking ingredients and preparing salads for those with allergies.  I had gone back a few times for salads and they were good but I was always nervous.

My nervous are from getting severely sick while eating there.  I know that there are plenty of chain and “regular” restaurants that offer gluten-free options and aren’t specifically gluten-free so there is always that risk of cross contamination, so this is again, a personal preference call. We don’t eat out very often, but when we do I always talk with the wait staff, hand them my awesome Triumph Dinning Card and most times even speak with the manager or chef (they come out, I don’t just go ask for them (-:) For the most part I have been fine eating out at “regular” restaurants, with a few exceptions.

I am thankful that there disclaimer is there and honest – I give them credit for that, some places aren’t so straight forward about it.

I know some of my comments are a little back and forth but I have to stress that it is a personal preference call to eat there or any non-gluten-free restaurant. P.F. Chang’s is one of my favorite places to eat because they take extra precautions to avoid cross contamination and I have never been sick there…they even serve gluten-free foods on separate dishes (the ones that say P.F. Chang’s on it…and “regular” meals are served on plain white dishes).  I don’t have one around me to try it out.  Most times when you talk to the servers, manager, chef, etc. they will take extra caution to avoid any cross-contamination and I suggest speaking with them about it.

If you are willing to try it – please come and leave a comment back here letting me know if there was any special precaution that they took in preparing your meal, how did it taste – was the crust decent, and did you get sick from it.  I don’t have one around me and at this point I am still a bit hesitant to try it.

My hope is that they aren’t just jumping on the bandwagon with a gluten-free option but they take this seriously and put together an action plan on how to prevent and eliminate cross contamination.  Fingers crossed this will happen – would be nice to eat pizza out at a restaurant again.

Please share your thoughts, concerns, etc. in the comments section – I would love to hear what you all have to say.

UPDATE 7/1/11 –

Hi Jenny – Thanks for your interest! Yes CPK is taking special precautions to make sure it’s safe. They use a separate ‘foil boat’ in the oven to cook the pizza then immediately transfer it to its own platter, cut with a separate clean pizza cutter then immediately put on a clean plate and then taken straight to the guests table.

Well with that said – I think double checking with the waitstaff that this process takes place and you should probably be okay.  Again, if anyone has tried this please come and leave a message, I know there are many mixed emotions about this news.  I wish there was one close to me so I could at least give it a shot but sadly there isn’t one.

(More photos curiosity of CPK will be posted soon)

Leo’s Ristorante (Bristol, RI) Offers A Gluten Free Pizza Option!

I couldn’t believe it but I actually found a local restaurant (NOT a chain) that not only listed on their website that they have a gluten-free option but they are actually reasonable in price!! If you have Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance and are looking for a gluten-free pizza option, go and check out Leo’s Ristorante. Leo’s is located at 365 Hope Street in Bristol, right down the road from Roger Williams University (according to their website, students if you show your school ID you get 5% off!! – wish we saw that before last night). Their over all menu is pretty extensive – starters, soups and salads, entrees, paninis, sandwiches, and of course pizza!  Now this is where the gluten-free option comes in!  You can order a medium size pie (pizza) for an extra .99 which is AMAZING I have seen some places (never went in due to price) that charged up to $20.00 for the same size pizza.  So if you get a one topping pizza at Leo’s you are looking at spending around $9.98!! Bryan and I ate there last night – he had an extremely good-looking burger and in his words “probably the best fries I have had in a long time” and I had my pepperoni pizza for under $20.00. I will be honest it took everything inside of me not to reach over and grab one of those fries!  I did ask in advance if they were fried separately or with other breaded items, and sadly the fryer is shared.

Seeing as we are still new around here, I called ahead and made a reservation for the two of us.  The place is cute, right down town on the main road in Bristol (If you haven’t been there, you should check it out.  Bristol was voted the most patriotic town in the US not that long ago).  We got a window seat (they also have out-door seating), and for people watchers like ourselves, it was a great place to be seated.  The staff was attentive, friendly and well-informed of their products.  Our waitress was great, very friendly and answered all of my many questions and if she didn’t know the answer she asked and came back to us.  We started talking about celiac disease and I handed her one of my business cards, which she gave to the proprietor of Leo’s.

Like I mentioned before Bryan really enjoyed his meal.  My pizza was great too.  The crust was nice and thin with a good crunch to it.  It even held up to the sauce, cheese and pepperoni…so soggy crust – which I think is some times hard to find with gluten-free pizzas. Now that you have all seen the photo above, I will shamefully admit that I ate that entire thing myself!  Eeeek!  But like I said last night, the crust is so thin that really it was like eating three sizes of “normal” pizza.  Needless to say we’ll be eating there again for sure.  Amazingly I didn’t have that “ooh I ate way too much feeling”.

On our way out I actually got to speak with Paul the proprietor for a little bit about gluten fee options.  As of right now they only have two gluten-free options – the pizza that I had (with a ton of topping choices!) and their Polenta with Rabe (Leo’s Polenta fried til crisp and topped with fresh rabe and grilled Italian sausage).  However, Paul is really considering offering some more gluten-free options on their menu.  He was very excited about off of this – eager to learn and grown this customer base.  Like I said before they are the only reasonable priced option around me.  There are a few places in Newport but all very expensive.  I was explaining to him that there are so many dishes out there that are naturally gluten-free (given they are prepared in a “safe” environment).  Most salads could be gluten-free with out croutons and a gluten-free dressing.  I am very excited to see what comes of this.  I would love to see some more options, maybe a Friday Night Gluten Free Special!  I also think it would be great for their business being the only ones around offering such a thing…so keep your fingers crossed!

Another very exciting part about Leo’s is they are using locally grown and seasonal produce – which is so great to see especially around here where there are so many great local products.  We try to go to the farmer’s markets around here as much as possible.  I’m loving our selections of fresh produce, veggies, cheese and even grass fed beef.

Thank you Paul and the rest of the Leo’s staff for a great dining experience!

Little bit of spice

I used to hate spicy food.  But somewhere along the way I grew to not only like it but love it.  I ate quite a bit while living in China so that may have helped.  I’m not going to go and burn all my taste buds and mouth off for something spice though.  I want to actually enjoy my food and all the other flavors that are incorporated into the dish – whatever it may be.

I really enjoy cooking with red pepper flakes and Thai Chili’s (see my sweet and spicy chicken recipe!). While in Italy I brought home some red pepper flakes from the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome along with a few other herbs to bring home and try.  I didn’t think much of the flakes but, these were super flavorful!!  Probably the best I have ever had or bought anywhere else.  Don’t ask me why these were so much better, but they were…maybe it was just because I bought them in Rome. Those little flakes packed a ton of flavor! That market was amazing, if you are ever in Rome I highly suggest going there and checking it out.  There was a man there hand slicing procuitto!! And the olives…oh they were to die for.

One night when Bryan was here visiting I decided to be a nice girlfriend and make him stuffed peppers (being nice because I don’t eat peppers) and having never made them before I had no clue what I was doing…oh it was a mess!! We used some hot Italian sausage and added some red pepper flakes…a bit too many because neither of us could breath, had to open the window and everything.  Amazingly, he ate them and didn’t complain.  Probably one of the worse meals I ever made!!

With one failed hot Italian sausage recipe down, we figured we would give another one a try.  So a few nights later I used a jar of Trader Joe’s Arrabiate Sauce (has a slight spice to it and is really good), four links of Trader Joe’s hot Italian sausage and a bag of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta.  This meal came out so much better.  If I had the time would have made my own sauce but it was a weeknight and we wanted dinner to be quick and easy. I made this meal again last night but added chopped zucchini to the mix-yummm.  You can add in any other veggies you may like – onions, mushrooms etc.  The sauce is great because it has a little bit of spice already and plenty of garlic.

Red Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage

1 jar of Trader Joe’s Arrabiate Sauce (or any sauce is fine)

4 links of Trader Joe’s Hot Italian Sausage

2 medium zucchini

1 bag of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta

Cut the zucchini in small-medium cubes.  Remove casings from sausages and either cut or tear apart the sausage into chunks.  In a medium skillet brown sausage over medium heat until almost cooked through out.  Add zucchini and cook for an additional two minutes.  Add the jar of sauce and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

In a large sauce pan bring water to a boil. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Add pasta and cook per directions on the bag (usually 9-12 minutes).  Strain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of pasta water to be added to the sauce.  Return the pasta to the pot, add a few drizzles of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together and about a ladle of sauce.  Serve the pasta with sauce and enjoy.

I was on hot sausage kick this week!  Victoria (one of my current roommates) was craving pizza really badly and the only place around here for me to get any form of it is Whole Foods – 4.99 for tiny little pizza from Glutino one hot sausage link and about 15 minutes later (that pizza takes more than than it says of the package!) I had one tasty little meal.  I’ve never had one of their pizzas before and it was good…not my favorite but still good.

Gluten Free: Pizza and Bread Stick Dough

DSC_0002

DSC_0006

DSC_0809

Let me start this post by saying I did not create this recipe (I wish I did), however I can’t remember where online I found it. I thought I had it bookmarked but sadly I do not and its not 100% accurate of the original. I only wrote down the Rice Flour Mixture and kind of guessed at the rest of the directions…wooops, but it turned out great, I promise!! I tend to find recipes and re-create them.

Tonight I made a gluten free spinach and mushroom pizza which was wicked good! I don’t eat pizza much because to me its more of a snack food than a real meal. I have to have a salad or something with it for it to be a meal.

Pizza or Bread stick Dough

1.5 cups of Brown Rice Flour Blend (see recipe below)

1 teaspoon Xantham Gum

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 Teaspoons Sugar

2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning

1.5 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

1 Packet of Quick Rise Yeast (or one Tablespoon Yeast)

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

3/4 Cup plus one Tablespoon Water at 110 Degrees

In a stand mixer add all of the dry ingredients including the Yeast. Heat water and olive oil to 110 Degrees and add to dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined and then on high for two minutes

For Bread Sticks:

Add a little bit of oil to a zip lock bag and scoop dough into bag. Cut a small hole (not too big) in the corner of the bag and pipe out bread sticks (you should have about 8 bread sticks) on to either parchment paper or a silplat sheet. Cover with lightly sprayed plastic wrap in a warm place for 45 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 20 minutes. For Garlic bread sticks – at the very end brush with melted butter or oil and a little bit of garlic.

For Pizza:

Scoop the dough onto a silplat sheet and spread out with lightly oiled hands (the dough is going to be sticky….let rise and reshape a bit). Cover with lightly sprayed plastic wrap in a warm place for 45 minutes. Once dough has finish rising a bit reshape into a medium – large pizza. Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Take out and add sauce and toppings. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Brown Rice Flour Blend

2 Cups Brown Rice

2/3 Cup Potato Starch

1/3 Cup Tapioca Flour

Blend well!  Store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator.