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Gluten Free Stuffed Crust Pizza Justice

Gluten Free Stuffed Crust Pizza Justice

Today was a day that will live on in my mind for a long time to come. Today I ate stuffed crust pizza for the first time since going gluten free about a year ago. There is just something melty cheese wrapped in pizza crust that just makes me weak in the knees. After my experiences with doughs and mixes like Bob’s Red Mill, which while tasty enough, just aren’t made to roll out (or more importantly, up and over…with cheese!)

Since switching over from specific prepackaged mixes to straight Better Batter flour (which can be bought online here), who also makes a variety of mixes I’ve heard lovely things about but have yet to try, I’ve been making pizza crust with a texture like I never thought I’d have again. And you (and I both) can thank the ever delightful Nicole Hunn over at Gluten Free on a Shoestring for her Pizza Dough Recipe, which is also in her cookbook, which is amazing and hasn’t left my kitchen counter in months. Literally. I’ve cooked so many things out of there, and each has been more delicious than the last. It really changed the way I addressed my pantry and planned my cooking. Just sayin’. If you’re new to gluten freedom, or even if you’ve been doing it awhile and still buy a lot of premade gluten free specialty foods, do yourself a favor and check out her blog and/or buy that cookbook.

Don't mind those edges, they'll be our little secret

So to make the leap from regular old gluten free pizza is really not a big one, but I’m going to share my process with you so no one can make the excuse that they didn’t know how it was done! I started out with the standard dough recipe (see above) and rolled it out as I would for your standard pizza. (Don’t sweat it if your edges aren’t perfectly round, once you get that edge tucked in, no one will ever know!) I sprinkled a moderate ring of mozzarella and cheddar cheese about an inch or so from the edge all the way around.

Then you just pick a place and start folding the edge right up over the cheese.

Once you have it kinda all tacked up in place, make sure you go around and seal your edges to keep all the meltiness where it belongs.

All tucked in!

Now you’re ready to blind bake (it’s a topppingless bake to make sure the crust is able to crispify), so go back to following the dough directions and bake at 400F for about 7 minutes, when you’ll be rewarded with this:

Topless Stuffed Crust...oooh la la!

Now get to dressing that crust!  Adam has a thing for pineapple on his pizza, whether or not turkey ham or turkey bacon is included in the mix, as in a more traditional Hawaiian.  I’ve grown rather fond of it myself over the years, so those of you who are troubled by that, feel free to stop reading right here.

(Now look who’s judging!)

Seriously, it was delicious and I apologize for nothing.

Lentil Love Affair, part 1 – Lentil Soup

Somehow, when I make soup, I feel more free to experiment and less stressed about “making a mistake” than I do when I’m, say for example, baking a cake, or perfecting a new side dish.  Maybe it just feels more like an open-ended equation than a concrete formula for success, maybe it’s all in my head.  But I guess in the end, all that really matters is that I’m satisfied with the final result (which I always seem to be).raw lentils

The soup I’m going to be talking about is one that I feel is too often under-appreciated.  It’s loaded with nutrition and flavor, high in fiber, low in fat, and undeniably hearty and satisfying.  It’s also one that is all too often given a bad rep’ by bland preparations, or just a lack of know-how when it comes to ‘zazzing it up.  If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about the red-headed step-child of the legume family, the oft misunderstood lentil.

Let me feed your brain with a little knowledge first; Lentils have been commonly consumed as a major part of traditional vegetarian diets, particularly in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, where there are large vegetarian populations.  With high levels of dietary fiber, protein, iron, folate, and vitamin B1, lentils are a total nutritional powerhouse.  In fact, a single cup of cooked lentils can provide 90% of the RDA of Folic Acid.  As an expecting momma-to-be, that’s a serious nutritional punch!  Lentils also happen to extremely cost effective, too, which is ALWAYS a big plus around our house!

There are many loyal devotees to the lovely lentil; some of the most ardent in our own backyard appear to be the lovely folks in Pullman, Washington, where the National Lentil Festival has been held annually since 1989.  You can check out the details of the festival here.

My love affair with the lentil wasn’t always so passionate; as a child, my first experience with lentils was less than delicious.  It was in the elementary school cafeteria, and it was the standard-issue condensed & reconstituted Campbell’s Soup.  It smelled pretty good, to be honest, but it literally tasted like lentil-water (no offense, Campbell’s).   Since my dear old dad really isn’t much a fan of it either (likely from similar experiences in his life), it was never really served in my house growing up.  It wasn’t until I attempted to make my first batch of split pea soup (which is yet another soup that I have incidentally had poor experiences with until preparing it for myself) at Adam’s request and he was so thrilled with my discoveries, that he turned to me and begged me to try my hand at lentils.  His former roommate had made it on several occasions, and it was one of his favorite kinds of soup.  Still riding the high from my split pea success, I agreed to give it a whirl.  I spent some intensive research time, reading up on any number of recipes for lentil soup (and there are about a million and one, by the way, if you’re counting).  The one that influenced my own recipe the most was one I found by Emeril Lagasse, which is as simple as it is satisfying.  I also found inspiration via searching through food.com, where this recipe  and this recipe both piqued my interest.

In the end, I came up with my own personal formula, which I’m about to share with you.  I hope you enjoy it and find enough inspiration here to overcome your own fear or mistrust of lentils, and maybe even come up with your own version!   Be advised that, since everything I do tends to be industrial strength, the recipe is very easily doubled, and once people taste it, it goes quick!  Also, as long as the bullion/stocks you choose are wheat/gluten-free (or even better yet, make your own!), this soup is perfect for those of us avoiding wheat.

ingredients

The Cast and Crew

Ingredients:

1 large onion (or 2 small), chopped

2-3 Carrots, sliced

2-3 Celery ribs, sliced

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed and chopped

1 package of dried lentils, rinsed and sorted

1 lb. Meat of choice (approximately, adjust to your tastes; I suggest turkey-ham, or turkey-sausage, but if pork is more your thing, feel free to sub in whatever floats your boat)

1 32 oz. carton of vegetable stock (or about 4 cups homemade)

1 32 oz. carton of chicken stock (or about 4 cups homemade)

3-4 bay leaves

2-4 T. olive oil (for cooking down the veggies)

meatsies

Turkey Sausage, getting ready to rock

  Start by browning the meat in a frying pan over medium heat.  I usually use turkey ham, which I cut into cubey-squares and brown with a little bit of oil.  This time, the store happened to be out of that, and the turkey sausage was on sale, so I figured it would be an interesting change of pace.  While the meat is browning, I usually do all the veggie prepping, starting with the onion, since he starts the party in the pot first with some olive oil, followed by the garlic once the onions start to soften a little, then the carrots and celery.  I throw the bay leaves in around now, and continue to cook over medium heat until the onions are about half-cooked (not totally mushy).  After picking through the dried lentils and rinsing them thoroughly with cool water, I add them to the pot with the meat and both stocks, cover and bring to a simmering boil.

party over here!

The gang's all here!

Continue simmering over medium-low heat for approximately 1.5-2 hours, stirring periodically, until the lentils seems to burst open and the soup suddenly thickens.   Some people stop right before this happens, but I like the soup to thicken to a stew-like consistency.  If you’re looking for a time saving short cut, you could always remove the soup from the heat after about 45 minutes to an hour, basically once the lentils have softened to a consistency you enjoy, and using either an immersion blender or ladling a few cups of soup into your regular blender, puree up some of the soup and then add it back to the pot.  The soup with dramatically thicken overnight as well, but if it gets to that point before removing it from the heat, I personally think it’s better.

Thickened the loooong way....

 Some people add a dash of red wine vinegar when they serve it, it certainly is delicious but I find it almost always ends in heartburn for me, but I’m pretty sensitive these days, so try it if you like!  Enjoy!!

Om Nom Nom...

Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to

Have you ever gone to the grocery store, armed with a carefully, even painstakingly prepared list, only to get back home to realize that you totally bought something (like, say, yet another 5lb. bag of potatoes) that you very definitely did NOT actually need?  Obviously in this case, I went a little overboard on taters, and rather than make a ton of mashed potatoes to freeze for later use, I decided to try something a little different than the usual around here—I made a frittata!

mmmm…yummy!

Now, mind you, I’m not usually one to suggest that something this simple or waste-preventing would be ideal for entertaining, whether for brunch or cut up into little squares for tapas, but this really fit the bill!  (Seriously, I’m always impressed when someone can cook eggs en masse and have them cooked fluffily and deliciously through, aren’t you?

Growing up, my mom (who I swear is generally considered an AMAZING cook of all things) would occasionally make a potato & egg frittata, but I really never liked it.  Why, you ask?  Because it only contained potatoes and eggs, period (and tasted mostly like soggy spuds).  I just couldn’t get down with it, despite my (partial) Irish heritage.  It was just so…blah!  So I decided to use up some of the veggies I had just laying around the fridge, begging to be used up, as well as some turkey ham that was just hanging out and take my frittata closer to the “crustless quiche” side of town (unless that means I was supposed to bake it, because I didn’t).  I regret nothing.

So to be more specific, I cooked up some frozen broccoli (one of those neato little bricks was plenty) as per package specs.  While that was working, I cut some of that turkey ham into cubey-squares (yes, that is the technical term) and browned it up a little in a pan over medium heat with a little vegetable oil.  While this is all going on, since I’m obviously a master of multi-tasking, I had cut up some peeled russet potatoes into slices that were about 1/8th inch thick and cooked them up in the big non-stick pan with some chopped onion over medium heat and threw a lid on it, stirring periodically for 20 minutes or so, until the potatoes were soft, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

Halfway through cooking the eggs

When the potatoes were good to go, I tossed in some chopped up red bell pepper, and added the turkey ham and broccoli.  Then I beat up some eggs (‘cause they were just being dicks, sitting there in the fridge like they were better than everyone else in the place).  I ended up using a whole dozen large eggs, but it’s because I was using a whopper of a non-stick pan to start with, something like 12-14 inches.  You could totally dial back on the eggs and other ingredients if you’ve got a smaller pan (I promise not to judge you for it!).  But seriously, I added a splash of milk, but I’m thinking that’s optional, and a little more salt and pepper.  I smooshed all the fun stuff down into the eggs, put a lid on it and cooked it over low heat for like 20-30 minutes.  I had to periodically lift the edges and let the raw egg run underneath and the timing is really dependent both on the size of your pan and just how low the “low” setting on your stove is.  Once the eggs were ALMOST set, I took it off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Then I used a highly advanced system of turning by which I flipped the entire frittata at once.  It requires a plate and a little finesse!  I put the plate face down on top of the eggs and quickly turned the pan over, then shimmied the whole thing off the plate and back into the pan so I could brown other side. (It helps to give the skillet a good shake or two to make sure everything is all loosey-goosey before attempting the big flip!)

At this point, I sprinkled cheddar cheese liberally on top and cooked it over low heat, lid on, to melt the cheese, for another 5-10 minutes.  I cut it into wedges with my spatula, and for the first time in my life, really enjoyed a potato & egg frittata…quiche…whatever!

See? The cheese *almost* hides any "well done" areas completely!

Basic Frittata Recipe (with Jazz Hands)

3-4 T. vegetable oil

5 Russet Potatoes, peeled, halved and cut into 1/8th inch slices

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 c. turkey ham, cut into cubey-squares (or whatever shape floats your boat)

1 c. frozen chopped broccoli, prepared per package

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

12 large eggs, beaten

1 splash of milk (approximately 3-4 T., optional)

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 – 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the turkey ham in a small frying pan with 1-2 T. vegetable oil, set aside.  Prepare frozen chopped broccoli as per package directions, set aside.  In a large (10-12 inch) non-stick skillet, heat 2 T. vegetable oil over medium heat, add onions and cook until softened, 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add sliced potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well to combine.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat until softened, approximately 20 minutes, stirring periodically.  Add ham, broccoli, red pepper and beaten eggs (with splash of milk) with salt and pepper added to taste again.  Cover skillet and cook over low heat, occasionally lifting edges of cooked egg to allow raw egg to run off top and cook underneath, approximately 20 minutes.  When the eggs are ALMOST set, remove from heat, let stand 10 minutes.  Lay a clean plate face down on top of eggs, flip the entire pan and slide the eggs back in.  Sprinkle liberally with cheddar cheese, cover and continue cooking over low heat an additional 5-10 minutes.  Slice into wedges or squares and serve!