Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Adventures in Gluten Free cooking: Comfort Foods...

I experimented a bit this week with two foods that I love, but have a hard time leaving behind now that I am 100% Gluten Free.  Pizza & Spaghetti...  I still don't think that either of them compare to their gluten free versions, but they were very delicious options. 

First up on the menu was a Caramelized Sweet Onion BBQ Chicken Pizza that I messed with...  I thinly sliced some sweet onions, and sautéed them in a heated pan of a bit of olive oil to caramelize them.  It takes at least 15 minutes or more to do this, so I got that going first.  Then I proceeded with a GF Bisquick crust, following the instructions for GF pizza crust on the box, and pre-baking for 15 minutes.  While that was baking, I browned some chicken breast in a pan, how much chicken really depends on how much you would like, but I ended up with about 2 cups total once it was all cut into small chunks.  I mixed a gluten free pizza sauce with some Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce in a one to one ratio.  Sauce is always taste dependent, but I made about 1 1/2 cups, spreading it on the baked crust until the crust doesn't show through completely, but not tooooo saucy ;-)  Layer the chicken on next, followed by your cheese of choice, roughly 2 cups.  Topped with my onions, and a bit of Sweet Baby Ray's dragged around for extra taste...  Baked for 10 - 15 minutes more and it was delicious.  It rewarmed well also, but I always recommend rewarming GF Bisquick anything in the toaster oven to take away from the mushy texture a bit.    

Gluten Free Sweet Onion BBQ Chicken Pizza:

Bisquick Gluten Free Pizza Crust {per the box}
1 1/3 cups Bisquick Gluten Free mix
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or dried basil
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs beaten
Heat oven to 425F. Grease 12-inch pizza pan.  Stir Bisquick mix, Italian seasoning, water, oil, and eggs until well combined.  Spread in pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  Spread pizza sauce over crust, top with meat, cheese, onions.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes longer. 

1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 1/2 to 2 cups pizza cheese blend
1 to 1 ratio of Gluten Free pizza sauce mixed with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce {1 to 2 cups, depends on the amount you would like}
1/2 sweet onion caramelized in a bit of EVOO

Next up was altering a recipe that I found Here.  I love their recipes, but GF cream of anything soups are pretty terrible, and the non GF versions are just plain terrible for you.  I am going to experiment with making my own soon, but haven't made any from scratch just yet.  So I set out to find a comparable substitution.  In doing so, I completely changed the recipe, but I think it turned out delicious.  My husband {who does not need to be GF} loved it also.  It smelled wonderful while it cooked, and tasted very full of flavor.  Remember though, I am focusing on a comfort food here, not necessarily a 'healthy' food.  I have a recipe with my Magic Bullet for fresh alfredo sauce, so I will also try that in this recipe...  Okay, here's how it went down:

Gluten Free Tomato Basil Chicken Spaghetti:
{adapted from Six Sisters Stuff who originally adapted it from The Pioneer Woman}:

Microwave 5 strips of bacon until crisp, cut into small pieces. 
2cups cooked chicken, cut up {I seasoned mine with Italian seasoning while it was cooking}
1 {1lb} package uncooked GLUTEN FREE spaghetti noodles.  {GF penne would also be good}
1 jar Cheesy Ragu Light Parmesan Alfredo sauce {this is a controversial GF product so be sure to read the ingredients prior to using, everyone's sensitivity levels vary}.
3 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided 2 cups, and 1 cup.
1 {14.5} oz can Organic diced tomatoes with garlic and basil.
2 TBS dried onion flakes {you could use 1/4 cup fresh}
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp dried basil
Dashes of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
1 cup GLUTEN FREE chicken broth {I used mine to deglaze the pan after the chicken cooked in the spices to add a bit of flavor}
Optional additions:  1/4 cup vegetables like green bell pepper, zucchini, sautéed mushrooms, etc.

Cook noodles according to package directions, place in a large bowl.  Add chicken, alfredo sauce, onions, vegetables, canned tomatoes, 2 cups of cheese, seasoned salt, basil, cayenne and red pepper flakes, bacon, and mix together.  Slowly add in 1 cup of GF chicken broth, it will be slightly soupy.  Pour this mixture into a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Add remaining 1 cup of cheese to the top, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.  The mixture will seem moist if served immediately.  The moisture will help the texture for reheating, as it reheats very well and doesn't dry out.  Cover any leftovers and refrigerate. 

Both of these meals turned out well, and will become part of my regular meal rotation.  However, only once in a while because the GF noodles and GF crusts are so high in carbs that I cannot afford to eat them very often {being Pre-diabetic}...  But everyone needs a little bit of comfort food once in a while, and these are my go to meals after weeks full of "some kind of meat and some kind of veggie" meals... lol...  Happy Gluten Free cooking everyone!!!

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