Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sausage and Pesto Pizza Pies

This is such a fun, fun, fun recipe. My inspiration is from Kelly The Spunky Coconut's Spinach and Artichoke Pies. I tweaked her original recipe to fit with my own pantry staples and have made it several times, each time changing up the filling to whatever I happen to have on hand and whatever sounds good at the moment (ever the spontaneous cook). This filling happens to be my favorite, a classic paring of sausage and pesto, with a hint of sweet tomato.

I'm telling you though: no matter what you decide on as a filling (try my way first, then once you get the hang of it, experiment a bit), this dough will absolutely transform your gluten free life. I honestly never thought a pizza pie/calzone/pizza pocket/whatever you want to call it, was possible sans gluten. Kelly showed me that, not only is it possible, it is easy and absolutely delicious. I am overjoyed that such a traditionally glutenous meal is now part of my family's mealtime repertoire.

Please note that the chicken sausage I use here is fully cooked (either Amy's or Trader Joe's), which makes the filling come together in very short order. With two young children, I need all the shortcuts I can get. Also note that I always use chicken sausage without a pork casing, because pork is unclean (see Leviticus 11:7), not to mention just plain unhealthy (please read Holy Cow for some amazingly alarming news about swine).

Another great thing about this recipe is that it is kid-friendly. My son tells me at the dinner table the night we ate these, "Huh? Very tasty mommy." (As if he was surprised? That's a four year old, I guess.) Even my baby loved it, and ate half of one all by himself. For leftovers, I packaged each individual pizza pie in a piece of aluminum foil so that it was ready to go in our lunch the next day.

But the best part of this recipe is that it is just fun (haven't I said that already?). Do try!

Sausage and Pesto Pizza Pies


1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion
2 chicken sausage links (such as Amy's or Trader Joe's), about 4 ounces
1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons pesto
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Pizza pie dough:

2 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet with coconut oil.

To make the filling, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Chop onion and chicken sausages into bite size pieces and add to hot pan. Add chopped tomatoes. Saute for 5 or so minutes, until onions are translucent. Stir in pesto, turn heat down to low, and simmer until dough is ready.

To make pizza pie dough, whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Melt coconut oil and add to eggs, along with apple cider vinegar. Whisk again to combine. In a separate large bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a large spoon until a soft dough ball forms. Divide the dough into 4-5 equal size balls.

Lay out a piece of parchment paper on the counter. Take one dough ball and place on one side of parchment paper. Fold the other side of parchment paper a top of the dough ball. Press down the dough ball with your hand, until it forms a small, even circle. Using a rolling pin, continue to roll out dough until it reaches a 6 inch size circle. Carefully peel off the top piece of parchment paper.

Using a spoon, section the filling into equal size portions, depending on how many dough balls you made. Scoop one portion of the filling onto one half of the dough ball and top with 1/4 cup mozzarella, making sure to leave a 1/4 inch border. Take the parchment paper from the bottom and use it to lift the dough not covered with filling over the top of the filling so it is completely covered, forming the pie. Gently press the edges of the pie together with your fingers.

With the parchment paper underneath, pick up the pie and carefully invert it onto the prepared baking sheet. Peel off parchment paper.

Repeat with remaining dough balls, filling, and mozzarella.

Once all pies are on the baking sheet, bake for 20-22 minutes, until pies are golden brown. Let rest on baking sheet for 10-15 minutes to allow the pie crust to solidify a bit.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chocolate Cake (with Beets)

This cake is the real deal: chocoately, moist, fluffy, and healthy. Yes, healthy, for a number of reasons. First, there isn't a whole lot of sweetner in here, as compared with most other chocolate cakes out there. Second, it's packed with protein and fiber, thanks to almond flour. And lastly (my favorite part), there are vegetables baked right on in: beets! I recreated Jessica Seinfeld's chocolate cake recipe from her Deceptively Delicious cookbook to be both gluten and sugar free.

If you haven't read her cookbook, I encourage you to grab a copy at your local library and read about her system of keeping pureed veggies and fruits on hand all the time, allowing you to instantly blitz any recipe with nutrients. Then peruse through her fun and creative array of recipes and find a few to try using purees.

I started keeping purees on hand when my oldest was a baby, to use as baby food, and even after he was off of purees and onto solids, I would still keep purees in my freezer and add them to all sorts meals. (Four years and another baby later and you'll still find purees in my freezer!)

I use a bit of a different system than Jessica. Instead of storing purees in plastic bags in the freezer, I freeze my purees in ice cube trays; once frozen, I pop them out and store in a plastic bag, allowing me to have 2 tablespoons of any given puree at any given time (see Ruth Yaron's Super Baby Foods for this method).

This week I was cleaning my freezer and stumbled upon some pureed beets that had been in there for a while. I pulled them out to de-thaw in my fridge for a few days, not really knowing what I was going to do with them at the time. When the baking (and chocolate) urge struck later on in the week, I knew I needed a chocolate cake, so into the cake the beets went!

I do have to warn you though: when you pour the batter into the pan before baking, it will be a nice, deep pinkish color. But once it is baked and cooled, it takes on its natural dark chocolately color that we all expect from chocolate cake, allowing you to be a bit sneaky when feeding this to your kiddos and hubbies alike. I admit, I do love the element of surprise on people's faces when, after they've finished their serving, they find out it has unexpected veggies in it.

Tell me about your experience with pureed fruits and veggies and adding them "deceptively" to other dishes by leaving a comment below...

Chocolate Cake (with Beets)

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Xylosweet
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
2 tablespoons powdered Xylosweet or sugar (optional)

Wet Ingredients:

3 eggs
1/3 cup pureed beets
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup almond (or other) milk
5 drops liquid stevia (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with coconut oil. 

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. 

Whisk eggs in a separate bowl. Add beets. Melt coconut oil and add to bowl along with the rest of the ingredients (through vanilla). 

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to incorporate, getting rid of most lumps (a few lumps are ok). 

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle powdered Xylosweet or sugar over the top if using. 

Tastes amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quinoa Millet Bread

I'm alive!!!

I took a blogging hiatus for a while while I was recovering from some cold/flu/sinus infection crap that hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn't do a lot of cooking during this period, and really didn't do a whole lot of anything. So when I started to turn the corner late last week and feel better than I had in weeks, my kitchen was calling like a long lost friend. "Come and bake something in me," my oven beckoned to me... And like a true friend, of course, I obliged.

I've been eating a lot of soup lately to warm my body and nourish my bones. So what was I craving to go with that soup? It's perfect companion: bread. Good bread. Good gluten free bread, that is. Timing could not have been more perfect for Amy's Perfect Bread as my inspiration in creating this quinoa millet bread. Actually, this bread is really just a version of my pizza crust 2.0 (which I have been making faithfully every week for my family's Friday night pizza night, and have been so satisfied with the results!).

This bread is great alone, smothered in butter or almond butter, stuffed with cheese for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, or sliced thick and used for french toast. Whatever your bread craving may be, this bread will be your new favorite.

Quinoa Millet Bread

Dry ingredients:

2/3 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cup millet flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons almond flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:

1 1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Grease a 9x5 inch pan with oil.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl.

Warm water to approximately 105 degrees in a separate small bowl . Add yeast and sugar and give it a stir. Let set about 5 minutes, until bubbles and foam start to form on the top.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, oil, and vinegar in another bowl. Once yeast mixture is foamy, add to egg mixture and stir to combine.

Add wet mixture to dry and stir until dough ball begins to form. Pour dough into prepared bread pan. Set in a warm place to rise for one hour (the dough should double in size).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let stand an additional 30-45 minutes in pan before removing and placing on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Store in fridge for up to five days, or slice and freeze for up to three months.

This recipe is a part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays...