Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gluten Free Pepperoni Goat Cheese & Spinach Pizza

I'm Listening to Prince on the record player and seriously regretting not grabbing that $3.99 bottle of red wine at Trader Joes. Before you cringe, it's organic and not that bad. But I like to say that every wine is decent by the second glass.

While at Trader Joes I happened upon a new item in the freezer section, Gluten Free pizza crusts. Yes, you can buy gluten-free pizza crusts elsewhere. But in my experience, those tend to cost almost the same price as a whole gluten free pizza. These were priced at a very affordable $3.69 for 2! The alternative to wheat flour ingredients consisted of Buckwheat, Sorghum and Rice flour.
I also bought some pepperoni slices (also $3.29) and decided I would use whatever was in the fridge for the rest of the toppings.

At home I investigated my ingredients for possible combinations. I knew I didn't have tomato sauce. I had pesto paste but I had used all my olive oil! Hmmmm but I do have coconut oil! I preheated the oven and let the frozen crust defrost on the top. They are a nice size too...almost 10" diameter. Once it was soft I coated the top with coconut oil, followed by pesto, spinach, pepperoni and topped with small spoonfuls of Honey Goat Cheese. Everything was from Trader Joes except the Pesto paste. They do carry pesto sauce and if you are not like me and can freely consume cashews by the handfuls, you could get all these ingredients in one place.

The crust was pretty decent, not the best I've ever had but certainly not the worst. It bumbled up a little and didn't fall apart. I could definitely taste the buckwheat. They reminded me a little of Pita bread. I was going to try a totally different concoction on the second crust but this one was so delish, I will probably repeat instead.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Gluten Free Zucchini Parm Pasta

Gluten Free Pasta

Pasta makes everything better. It creates an immediate comfort like no other food.
Gluten free pasta which once had a similar taste and texture to recycled cardboard has gotten fantastic in recent years. I've tried a lot of brands and by far my favorite linguine is Ancient Harvest quinoa and corn. I wait for a sale at Whole Foods or Target and stock up. They run sales on the product line frequently!

This quick (8-15 minutes) vegetarian recipe combines:

Olive Oil
Shaved Parmesan
Irish Butter
Pink Sea Salt

Boil water for the pasta. While you are waiting, sautée the sliced zucchini on medium in virgin olive oil (I add enough for a coating of the veggies but not a pool of it). Add a dash of turmeric to the zucchini and turn the slices over as they start to brown. After the zucchini is lightly browned on both sides, remove from heat. Boil the noodles until they are the texture of your liking. I don't like them too done so I try little pieces throughout the process until it tastes perfect. I make this for one and cook about half of the noodles in the box.

Drain pasta and put in bowl. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper to taste, a sprinkling of shaved parm and a few slices of Irish butter. Gently mix with a fork so the butter can melt. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Road Trip Day 9 - The Enchanting San Francisco

Road Trip San Francisco

Road Trip Day 9
San Francisco, California 

I brought the electric kettle and French press on the road with me to keep my coffee budget in check. I made a thermos of coffee in the motel room to take on the road. I stayed the night in Salinas, about an hour outside of San Francisco. I'd laid out my clothes the night before but it was cold enough for the addition of a scarf and hat. Saturday traffic was light and I sang along to the radio, getting more and more excited as the miles to San Francisco numbers got smaller and smaller. When I saw the skyline of downtown, I squealed. 

Road Trip San Francisco

I didn't really have a plan for the day. When I saw an exit I took it. The skies were blue at the beginning but as I drove further down Mission, the fog set in. I waited until I got good and lost before I consulted my GPS to see what direction the Bridges were, then headed in that direction.

Road Trip San Francisco

The cable cars started in the late 1800s. The steep slopes combined with slippery cobblestone could cause a horse drawn carriage to drag the horse to its death. This was not super common (5 horses) but one man, who's father held the patent for wire rope, witnessed this horrific sight and it gave him an idea. 

In the 1940s Maya Angelou, at the age of sixteen, was the first female and the first African-American streetcar conductor. They originally denied her application but with encouragement from her mother she went to the office every day and waited there from open to close. After two weeks she got the job.

Hyde Street

  San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis) was founded in 1776 by Spain. In 1821 it became part of Mexico and during the Mexican-American war it was claimed by the United States.

Maritime Historical Park and Aquatic Park Cove

Road Trip San Francisco

Aquatic Park Cove

The sun came out so I no longer needed a coat or hat.
I'm so freaking happy here. 

The Balclutha cargo ship launched in 1886 from Scotland. From Wales, carrying coal, it took 140 days to reach San Francisco. It took California wheat back to Europe during the grain trade. 
In 1899 it was transferred to the Hawaiian registry and was the last vessel to fly the flag of the Hawaiian Kingdom. 
In 1904 the Alaska Packers purchased her for $500 and renamed her Star of Alaska. 
in 1933 Frank Kissinger purchased the Star of Alaska for $5,000 and renamed her again, this time the Pacific Queen. It appeared in the film Mutiny on the Bounty.  
In 1954 the Maritime Museum purchased the Pacific Queen for $25,000 and assisted with donations and local labor restored her. They also changed her name back to the original Balclutha. 
It was by far the better name. Balclutha sounds like the massive ship that annihilates the sailboats Star of Alaska and the Pacific Queen. 

Pacific Queen Mutiny on the Bounty

Road Trip San Francisco

Parking was $25-$35 near the pier...I just refused. I wanted to walk through the neighborhoods anyway. I drove around until I found a meter in North Beach. I think it was $2.50 an hour.

I've wanted to live here since I was 15 years old. 

Victorian Homes

The salmon pink, look at the pink!

Edwardian Homes

The last time I visited the city was nearly 15 years ago. I remember the steep incline. You can obviously see the steep incline. And yet when you are walking the steep incline, you can't believe how steep the incline is.

Acid Green Windows

These acid green windows are unbelievable. And they are probably worth more than my car. 

Road Trip San Francisco

San Francisco Ferry Building designed in 1892 and completed in 1898. The clock Tower is 245 feet tall with four clock dials, each 22 feet in diameter. It makes you feel really small. 

Clock Tower

The stunning Bay Bridge originally completed in 1936. It was the longest bridge that existed at that time. View of the bridge's western side.

Patrick was worn out from a combination of the hills and chasing every seagull he saw. 
Seagulls 30,000 Patrick 0. 

Bay Bridge

It's estimated that 30K gulls live in the San Francisco Bay area and yet look how they don't crowd each other.


The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. Though it appears red, the name of the official color is International Orange, which was the color of the steel primer. The Navy originally wanted it to be painted in yellow and black stripes. And ladies and gentlemen, this is why designers are so important. The architect loved the vivid primer color so much he kept it. 

Road Trip San Francisco

The parking area near Golden Gate was full, as was all the surrounding pay lots. I drove up the hill a half-mile or so and found a dirt lot full of cars and squeezed my car between two giant tree stumps. It was such a tight squeeze, in fact, I had to climb out the passenger side door. But I would have climbed out the sunroof for free parking! I thought I'd just walk towards the bridge but when I climbed the hill behind the lot, I saw this park!

Road Trip San Francisco

It was a little windy but after a little coaxing, I was able to balance my phone on the fence post and use the timer. There were people around but not that many considering how beautiful this area is. I overheard a local passerby say, "wow, I've never been here on the weekend, it's really crowded. During the week there are like no people".  Dude, this is not crowded. 

A trail ran parallel to the edge where I saw women jogging. Can you imagine this jogging view every day? It might inspire me to actually take up running. Maybe.... No, I still wouldn't take up running. 

A young family and I exchanged cameras and took each other's picture. I never ask a stranger to take my picture, it's too nerve-racking for me. However, I will offer to take a strangers picture and if they return the favor then woohoo. This particular man was very excited to use, as he put it, a real camera and went into fashion photographer mode. It was a tad embarrassing but I'm thankful for the pictures!

Road Trip San Francisco

The gorgeous Golden Gate bridge is also the top suicide location in the world. Because of this, there are 11 crisis telephones on the bridge that will connect you with suicide prevention counselors. The first suicide happened 3 months after completion and it's estimated there have been 1,600 since. 
A 250ft fall into frigid waters has a 95-98% fatality rate. Only 46 people have survived the jump. 
The city is considering a net system under the bridge. 

The towers are 500 ft above the roadway. When the fog was thick earlier in the day, you could still see the top of the towers peaking through it like a magical kingdom.

Road Trip San Francisco

Good-bye beautiful city! Next Stop Portland Oregon!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Gluten Free Baking without a Net

I've been craving chocolate chip cookies for maybe 30 years now. As soon as I finish my quinoa or healthy vegetarian what not, I want a cookie. 
My go to gluten free flour is almond but at the moment I'm out. The less used side of my upper cabinets contained small leftover amounts of coconut flour, GF blend flour and some GF rolled oats. Coconut flour works better combined with almond flour, as alone it tends to make cookies dry and crumbly...not my favorite cookie consistency. 
Eliminating the coconut left me with the blend and rolled oats. Oatmeal cookies it is! Oatmeal cookies go hand and hand with brown sugar which I also didn't have. Raw sugar will have to do. 
Normally I would consult the internet for recipes but 2017 is my year of trying new things. I know what cookies consist of, surely I can do this from scratch. I grabbed ingredients from the cupboard and fridge to add to the mixer while I wrote the amounts down in case it turned out awesome. Though I'm not a strict recipe follower, always write down your cooking experiments! I go by texture on cookie dough to know if my dry to wet ratio is right. 

Using my Kitchen aid mixer with the scraper attachment I added these ingredients in the following order:  

3 Tablespoons Grass-fed Butter (melted)
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (added to melted butter to liquify)
1/4 Cup Raw Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1/4 Cup Bob Mills GF Baking Flour
3/4 GF Rolled Oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Saigon Cinnamon...just sprinkled some
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips

Using an ice cream scoop to measure, I scooped out a few trial ones. I cooked them at 375 for 8 minutes. They were too cakey for me.  Because this was a small batch recipe, I realized 2 eggs was a mistake. They were not terrible but not something I was raving about. However, this would have made a great muffin, especially topped with cream cheese. 


I put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.  The next day, I tried again. Using an ice cream scoop, I put 4 cookies on the cookie sheet. I slightly mashed them down so they weren't balls. This time I put the heat between 350 and 375 and for about 6 minutes. 
I watched them and took them out a little underdone. Once they cooled, the texture was more how I like, a lot less cakey. The difference between the two minutes and refrigerating the dough was like two different recipes. 

Just Right

Don't let being out of certain ingredients stop you from baking. 
I eat eggs almost every day and run out quickly. But there are lots of egg alternatives, for instance, a ripe banana or apple sauce. Look at what you have and experiment. Below is a fascinating article on what different ingredients do in cookies, such as melting the butter first or adding brown sugar instead of white sugar.