Saturday, June 29, 2013

Deep Dish Gluten Free Pizza?!

I'm on cloud 9 right now. I just got back from having dinner at Chicago Pizza Inc., and had an amazing meal. They have a gluten free deep dish pizza!! Who would have thought someone would actually make a deep dish gluten free pizza, and one that is so tasty on top of that! 

We went to the Chicago Pizza Inc. location on Irving Park road, (Old Irving). They have 2 other locations in the city as well in Ravenswood, and Lakeview/Lincoln Park

I would consider the Irving Park location a dive due to the small eating area of 10 tables. While we were eating a lot of people came and picked up food to go. It was definately a busy place for pick up orders. If you want some wine, or GF beer with your dinner, you have to bring your own, they are one of the many BYOB establishments in the city.

They bring out complimentary Focaccia bread for the table. The server did ask if everyone at our table was gluten free, so they knew how many regular and how many gluten free they needed to prepare. We ended up getting an order of each. The focaccia bread melts in your mouth, it's so light and airy. My dad and brother said it was lighter than the regular focaccia, and that they liked the texture even better. I had to make sure not to eat it all, and save room for pizza, or I might have eaten the whole plate of bread! They even brought out some parmesean cheese and a little bowl of olive oil to dip it in. This alone made me rank them at 4 dragonflies.

Their Menu... even besides the deep dish pizza, is awesome, it's huge, they have so many options. When reading their menu all items with a little green GF next to the item can be made gluten free. They have a wide array of pizza's, salads, pasta dishes, calzones, and desserts.

The deep dish pizza was awesome! It has been almost 3 years since I've had one, so it was a total treat to try this. We got the Chicago Special, the Italian Sausage was so tasty, it definate made the pizza for me. The pizza was really cheesey, and the sauce was flavorful, and very comparable to another well known Chicago Deep dish pizza chain. Before we even finished we decided we have to come back to try their thin crust pizza, since the description says it's light and flaky, it sounds too good to be true. Their deep dish was too good to be true, I wouldn't have imagined it could be so light and tasty. 

My rating would be for 4 dragonflies. This place could be a total example for a menu selection, and a very attentive wait staff. They made sure to emphasize when bringing out the focaccia and the pizza, which ones were GF and which ones were not. The waiter even told us how he's tried the GF thin crust, and he thought it was darn good. So that sealed it, we're going back again for pizza one night.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pillsbury Gluten Free Doughs

After the announcement that Pillsbury was going to have a refrigerated dough for cookies, pies and pizza's I was ecstatic. I use to love the dough boy, I have been looking forward to being friends again!! :)

Every time I'd go in to any grocery store in my area I'd wander over to the dairy case and see if they happened to have the Pillsbury gluten free dough. I finally found it on a recent trip to Mariano's in Arlington Heights. I know I let out a bit of a squeal of excitement, because the gentlemen studying the cream cheese labels looked up with a confused look and went back to studying the labels. (I say studying because he was there when I walked into the aisle, and after taking photo's texting friends, and figuring out what I wanted to get, he was Still staring at the label.)

It wasn't my turn to make dinner, so I decided to slave over making cookies... Wait, all I had to do was scoop them out of the tub onto the cookie sheet, whoa, whoa, how cool!!!!

Aaahhh~ How exciting, normally I don't have a lot of time for cooking or baking, so having a quick prepared option was amazing. I got the chocolate chip cookie mix, and I am considering getting the pizza crust to make calzones!

I happened to burn a few of the smaller ones, but it wasn't a complete waste, they were still very tasty right out of the oven. We had a few after dinner, and left the rest for the next day. They were just as good completely cooled the next day. My dad couldn't believe they were from straight from the tub. I was so happy. I hope this product does make it in the gluten free market because it's a great, quick option for making meals. I'm thinking a calzone night, with a pie for dessert might be in our future!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cooper's Hawk Winery Gluten Free

The first time I was at a Cooper's Hawk Winery, was actually back when I was going through my diagnosis period, it was for a bachelorette party. I went with my best friend and we split an appetizer, I remember it was our traditional type of appetizer, everything was breaded and fried. I remember going home and feeling so sick, and thinking, the food there just stunk!!

Fast forward to knowing that I have Celiac disease, and now I know what it was about the food, it's what we ordered. Plan and simple, I decided to give them another chance since my dad found that they had a huge gluten free menu, and I was curious. I met with a friend who also has stomach troubles and was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease, we have some of the most interesting to us, but get the weirdest look from strangers, conversations. I guess most people don't sit and talk about their stomach woe's and laugh with each other about our discoveries.

Their gluten free menu is quite impressive, they are a higher end price range, nice place to go for a nice date night out. I was delighted to see that the server offered to bring out a gluten free roll when he brought out bread for the table. Their bread comes from OMG it's Gluten Free in Frankfort, IL, they lightly toast it, so it comes out nice and toasty hot, with a side of butter. With the butter on the rolls they melt in your mouth. The roll is the same bread that's used for their sandwiches as well. I could come eat the bread and drink the wine, and be happy.

Dinner that night I had gotten the chicken parmesan which uses bread crumbs from OMG it's Gluten Free as well. It was very tasty, it doesn't come with pasta, but potatoes and a veggie. I was ok with that, their mashed potatoes are tasty. I've been back several times, one specifically for a wine tasting and dinner, another while traveling up near Milwaukee we decided to stop there. That visit I got to talking to our server and I ended up signing up for the wine club. I had tried several of their wines at this point, I like their wine, and since they have so many gluten free menu options, this really seemed like a no brainer. My family loves the large menu selection and the variety of options they have, so we are becoming regulars to their restaurants because we know everyone will enjoy a good meal here.

Here is a photo of the Anne's Chicken Saltimbocca. Amazing, we also got the Thai Chicken lettuce wraps for an appetizer, along with the gluten free bread, it was a great meal, I was so full I thought I might burst. There are 3 chicken breasts on top of mashed potatoes and asparagus. As well as the GF roll in the distance. The server had asked me while we were eating if I'd had their GF roll before I said yes, I really enjoy it, he responded, that he'd had it too, and thought it was pretty tasty. It made me feel their staff is really into knowing the gluten free foods they serve.

My absolute favorite dish here is the Short rib risotto, I'm a sucker for a well make risotto. Being in the wine club I had a free meal coupon, (double score; a free gluten free meal!) so the server brought out this cute little dessert plate, all gluten free! I'm not sure if this is the normal birthday dessert or if her modified it, but everything was delicious! 

On my rating scale they get 4 dragonflies, they really know their stuff in the kitchen, and their staff is very well trained and polite.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

RumChata Cheesecake Gluten free

I got a baking bug this morning, and felt the need to make a cheesecake. Since I still have a bottle of RumChata in my cupboard from making RumChata cupcakes a couple months back, (I'll put that recipe together soon) so I decided to look up a recipe for RumChata cheesecake. I couldn't find a Gluten Free specific recipe so I decided to work on tweaking one that was on the Rumchata site. Below is my tweaked version of their cheesecake recipe.  

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 boxes Schar graham crackers, crushed
  • 8 -10 Schars Shortbread cookies
  • 4 tbs butter, melted
  • 32 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup RumChata
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used Bob's Redmill) 
Grease 10" spring form pan. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the pan. In an extra large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Slowly blend in RumChata and eggs. Mix in sour cream, vanilla, and flour until smooth. Pour filling over prepared crust. Bake for 1 hour. Check to see if the center seems firm, you may need to add an extra 10 minutes to the time. Turn off oven and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours to prevent cracking. Chill in the refrigerator until serving.

The graham crackers are packaged with 6 squares per wrapper, to easily break them up I left them in the packs and just broke them up in there, before crushing them some more in the bowl. I was intrigued to try the new graham crackers from Schars to see how they would compare to a regular graham cracker. They were tasty, and had a good consistency, though they seem a bit thick to use for s'mores, but I would probably only use one cracker when doing that instead of 2.

The cake will puff up quite a bit before it finally starts to settle. Mine was up to the top before it settled to the proper height after sitting for a couple hours. I was impatient, and only let me mine set for 3 hours before serving. 

After letting the cake set for about 3 hours, we served it up for dessert. The crust came out a bit burnt, and very crumbly, but tasty. The cake itself was light and airy, it almost melted in your mouth. Of the possible 4 thumbs up from my family I got a 4 out of 4 thumbs up.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Namaste Taco Pasta

My boyfriend and I were planning a quick dinner for Friday night. He had asked if I wanted to come into the city and ride in the Critical Mass Last Friday of the month ride. I've taken up bike riding for exercise and as a nice calming activity. Dinner would need to be something that was quick to make after the ride was going to be the easiest. After a 14 mile ride, hoping the rain would hold off, I was hungry!

I had a Namaste Taco Pasta in my cupboard so I checked out what we needed to make it, and how easy it would be. The back of the package listed some extras that could be added in for a more robust meal. Chicken, Salsa, Onions, pepers, beans, corn, ground beef... I picked up some beans, corn, Oscar Meyer Pre-cooked chicken and some Colby Jack Cheese.

While the pasta was cooking I started the corn cooking, which only took a few minutes, once that was done, I added the chicken and some white wine. Just before the pasta was done I added the beans into the chicken corn mix, and let it all simmer. When the pasta was done, I added that and the seasoning mix to the pot with everything else, stirred it up, and voila! We had dinner in under 15 minutes!

I was pleased with the flavor of the seasoning, it had a bit of a kick, but wasn't too over bearing. We sprinkled the cheese over the top of the pasta to help add flavor, and cool off the spicy kick. I thought this was a great quick meal, tasty, and the pasta wasn't grainy and didn't leave an after taste. There are so many options of how to mix this up and make a new meal out of it. I'm thinking some sautéed mushrooms, chicken, green peppers and corn for the next quick dinner.