Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Crust – Yay or Nay?

When Pillsbury came out with their line of gluten free products, I was more than just excited. I was ecstatic. Finally, something gluten free that would make my life EASIER! Let’s face it, when I come home from a long day at work, I don’t always want to make a pizza crust from scratch. (Although it is delicious that way!) And chocolate chip cookies? I have missed the days of just baking 3-4 cookies at a time from a tub of pre-made dough that is always ready to go in the refrigerator. Pillsbury’s new line of products was offering me just that! The ease of my gluten-filled days! But would it live up to my high expectations?

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The first thing we tried was the gluten free pizza crust. Though the crust is a little bit sweeter than I was expecting, and if you use a standard pizza pie pan it rolls out to make a fairly thin crust, both my husband and I really enjoyed it.

However, every time I’ve tweeted a picture of a pizza we’ve made with Pillsbury crust, or posted one on my Facebook page, I’ve gotten mixed feedback. I’ve heard from lots of people who have had trouble with the Pillsbury crust. Anything from the dough not cooking all the way through to toppings actually sliding off the crust! If you are one of those people, here is what I recommend to you:

DO NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE CONTAINER.

That’s right – you read that correctly. Be a rebel. Don’t follow the instructions on the container the dough comes in. I know that this is a challenge for those of us in the gluten free community because we live for following baking instructions, but trust me, I’ve had great success with this dough by NOT FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS!

So how do I do it?

It’s simple really. First, I roll out my dough.

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Then, instead of pre-cooking it in the oven before adding toppings, as suggested by the instructions on the container, I simply place my toppings directly on the uncooked dough. (Aren’t I such a wild child?!) Adding toppings is the fun part! We’ve made regular pizzas with just sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Sometimes I even mix it up and add a little sausage for the hubs.

regularpizza

Or, when I really need a taste of home, I make a Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Those are my favorite. Instead of pizza sauce, I use Bleu Cheese as the base, sprinkle on Frank’s hot sauce (as desired), add some pre-cooked chicken and shredded cheese and bake.

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Now, here is the trick. Remember when I mentioned I don’t pre-cook my crust? I also don’t bake my pizza for as long as recommended on the packaging. The first time I ever made a pizza using Pillsbury dough, I simply kept an eye on it while it was cooking and after about 14 minutes at 400 degrees, I noticed it looked finished. It had cooked all the way through, even in the very center, so I was relieved. Now I know that my oven only requires about 13-15 minutes of cooking time, depending on how many toppings I pile on top of the crust.

pizza1

Your oven might not be quite as intensely hot as mine is. (I never keep any recipe I make in the oven as long as recommended) So if you find yours takes a little longer, don’t fret. The best thing to do is watch your first pizza and make a mental note for round two!

Hopefully this helps some of you who have been struggling with Pillsbury! And if not, stick with your other go-to crusts. Like Chebe Bread, which has always been a favorite of ours!

Good luck! 🙂

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Buffalo Chicken Pizza – Gluten Free!

When it’s dinner time and your husband is craving pizza (and your last experience with Domino’s Gluten Free Pizza went something like this…), it’s time to head to the fridge and see what ingredients you can scrounge up for a homemade Gluten Free version. This weekend, we did have a Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Crust at the house, but we were all out of pizza sauce. This meant it was time to get creative.

So I grabbed the essentials for any quality, Buffalo-inspired, meal: bleu cheese and Frank’s hot sauce. Then I set out to make a delicious Buffalo Chicken Pizza.

What You’ll Need to Make Your Own:
– 1 Gluten Free Pizza Crust (I love Pillsbury and Chebe, but any GF crust will work!)
– 2 Chicken Breasts, cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces
– Frank’s Hot Sauce
– Shredded Cheese
– Bleu Cheese

The process couldn’t be easier! Simply roll out your pizza crust. I always use my handy pizza pan from Williams Sonoma so I get perfectly round pizzas every time. What a fantastic wedding gift idea that was! 😉

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Then spread a layer of bleu cheese over the crust as your sauce. Top the bleu cheese with the chicken, Frank’s and shredded cheese (as desired). Add vegetables if you are feeling a little bit healthier than we were!

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. What comes out is a Buffalo-inspired masterpiece that looks a little something like this:

pizza1

Enjoy!

Getting Glutened Sucks

Let’s face it; getting glutened sucks. I could use other choice words to describe it (use your imagination here) but it is just plain old no fun at all. But when it’s your fault, it is so much worse.

I got glutened last night. My husband called me on my drive home from work to let me know his fantasy football draft was starting soon and that he was staying at his office to do his draft. I, being the loving newlywed wife that I am, offered to bring up dinner. He was super excited of course! But I was in a rush and was not in the mood to cook. So I ran home to let the dog out, grabbed a six pack of Redbridge and headed to Dominos to pick up a some Gluten Free pizza. Easy solution, right?

Wrong. Last night can be summed up in two words: EPIC. FAILURE.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of Domino’s gluten free crust. In the sense that it tastes amazing and I don’t have to do any cooking to enjoy it. In fact, I have enjoyed Domino’s gf pizza on several occassions before last night and been just fine. Despite this warning on their website: Domino’s pizza made with a Gluten Free Crust is prepared in a common kitchen with the risk of gluten exposure. Therefore, Domino’s DOES NOT recommend this pizza for customers with celiac disease. Customers with gluten sensitivities should exercise judgment in consuming this pizza.

If only this disclaimer worried me as much THEN as it does NOW

If only this disclaimer worried me as much THEN as it does NOW

It was always a risk I was willing to take. And for awhile, I got away with it. But now I am paying the price. No piece of pizza could be delicious enough for how crappy I felt later that night… And this morning… And all day… And still 24 hours later. :/

But I’m by no means the first person to get glutened and I won’t be the last. And this probably won’t be the last time it happens to me either. It’s just part of this wonderful gluten-free lifestyle. So what exactly did I learn from all this?

I am breaking up with Domino’s.

Eating Gluten Free in Jackson, MS

I get a lot of requests from friends, co-workers, customers, random people at the grocery store… All of them sound a little bit like this, “My friend is coming to town and she is gluten free. What restaurants do you recommend I take her to?” or “My cousin’s son just got diagnosed with a gluten allergy. Where are some good places in Jackson that he can eat at?”

The bottom line is people who are gluten free still love to go out to eat. They just don’t usually know the best places to go. Or they’re nervous about trying the food on new gluten free menus. Will it be any good? Will it even be worth the money or should they just stick with a salad?

I’ve been living in Jackson for almost four years now. In that time, I’ve eaten countless dinners out and I have watched restaurants add gluten free items to their menus – and others add completely gluten free menus! Since I travel so much for work, I know that Jackson is by no means a “Gluten Free Friendly” city. There are still not THAT MANY places to eat at. However, we do have some FANTASTIC restaurants in town that are definitely worth checking out.

So I wanted to put together a list of my favorite places. Keep in mind, all opinions below are completely my own. If your sister-in-law’s mother’s neighbor had a terrible experience at one of these restaurants that I love, I’m so sorry for her. If you or someone you know had a wonderful experience somewhere that I don’t particularly love, that’s okay too! Tell me about it! I love hearing about any great gluten free experience at a restaurant in Jackson.

Here are some of my favorites in the area:

Top 3 Gluten Free Pizzas in Jackson

Biaggis – The gluten free pizza is not only delicious here, but it is big enough that you can easily share with someone else or bring home leftovers for lunch the next day! And the crust won’t get all soggy and weird on day 2. It reheats extremely well.

Mellow Mushroom – I love that Mellow Mushroom lets you customize your pizza with any toppings you want. The downside here is the ONLY gluten free thing on the menu is the pizza. Try not to be jealous of the people at the table next to you munching on their delicious “gluteny” hot pretzel appetizer.

– Dominos – I actually LOVE Gluten Free pizza from Dominos. If you are super sensitive to gluten, do not order from here though. They make no guarantees that there won’t be cross-contamination during the preparation process. But if you’re not as sensitive, be sure to order one sometime! I know people how actually prefer it to the regular crust!
*Note – Since this was originally posted in July, I had my first bad Domino’s experience. You can read about it here if you’re interested. My husband still risks it once in awhile when I am out of town, but I haven’t been back since*

Skip the Trip: Pie Works in Madison – I actually just visited Pie Works in Madison last week for the first time in years, after hearing that they added gluten free pizza crust to their menu! However, I was extremely disappointed when my pizza was served undercooked – and with a whopping $18 price tag. For that much, it better be one heck of a pizza!

Top 3 Gluten Free Pasta Dishes in Jackson

Bravo! – This is hands down my favorite restaurant in town to get a gluten free pasta dish! It might be because I’m pretty much obsessed with their Gluten Free Bruschetta appetizer. (Not pasta, I know, but oh boy is it delicious!)

Biaggis – What a fantastic gluten free pasta menu here! Order penne or spaghetti noodles and choose from a variety of sauces. They will even make gluten free mac and cheese! (It’s delicious I might add)

– Homemade – There may be another restaurant in Jackson with Gluten Free pasta, but if there is, I have not heard about it (or tried it) yet! When we want really good pasta, we make it at home. We recently discovered that we prefer corn-based noodles to rice-based noodles. Why? They’re not as sticky, they don’t leave that really weird white gooey residue on all of your pots and pans, and they taste more like the real thing! (Again, personal preference!)

Top 3 Gluten Free Desserts in Jackson

– Bravo! – I know, Bravo! tops the list again, but this place really is incredible. Their peanut butter pie with pecan crust is INSANE. I mean it will leave you desperate to come back for more. (Not that you could probably finish your first piece, it’s so rich and delicious!)

Bonefish Grill – Their gluten free chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream is ridiculously delicious. I cannot eat here without ordering this dessert – no matter how full I am after dinner. It’s worth every calorie.

Local 463 – Their menu features a flourless chocolate cake that tastes just like the real thing. I mean it – this is a GREAT cake.

Bonus: Campbell’s Bakery in Fondren offers Gluten Free items every day of the week! One of the best (if not the VERY best) bakery in the state of Mississippi, they don’t mess around when it comes to gluten free. They’ve featured everything from cookies and brownies to cupcakes!

Best Place to get a Gluten Free Sandwich

Jason’s Deli – Hands down, Jason’s Deli tops the list as my favorite place to get a gluten free sandwich. Made with Udi’s gluten free bread, you choose what you want in your sandwich and they deliver it to your table in its own individual wrapper with a “Gluten Free” sticker. The entire process not only makes you feel good about what you’re eating, but there’s free ice cream at the end of every meal! What a great bonus!

Sweet Peppers – I was pleasantly surprised with Sweet Peppers recently added a Gluten Free bread to their sandwich selection. Made with Udi’s as well, the sandwiches are definitely delicious. Just know that Sweet Peppers employees don’t seem to have as great of an understanding of “Gluten Free” as those at Jason’s Deli. Though I’m sure they will learn quickly!

Place I desperately wish would go Gluten Free: Newk’s. I still love Newk’s, as they have some of the best salads around, in my opinion. Plus their to-go cups are the bomb dot com! However, with so many delicious pizzas and sandwiches on the menu, it sure would be awesome if they could cater to the gluten free community a little more.

Gluten-Free Pizza Prepped in Less than 5 Minutes

I’m not gonna lie. There are many nights I come home from work and the absolute last thing I want to do is cook. Especially when lots of gluten-free recipes take longer to prep. So I was definitely excited to find Pillsbury’s new Gluten-Free line of product in our local grocery store this weekend! How easy did this look? Cookie dough, pie crust and pizza dough! All ready to go!

Pillsbury - You are a lifesaver!

Pillsbury – You are a lifesaver!

Last night when I got home from work that easy to make pizza dough sure was calling my name. So I grabbed some easy ingredients – sauce, garlic powder, cheese and pepperoni – and NO JOKE (!!!) – LESS THAN 5 MINUTES LATER – my pizza was ready to pop in the oven! 5 MINUTES TO PREP A DELICIOUS GLUTEN FREE PIZZA?!!?! This must be too good to be true!

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Oh, but it wasn’t. This pizza was INSANELY good. I mean gloriously delicious. Lindsay-tested and Husband-approved. It was SO good in fact that we forgot to take a picture after it was finished cooking before we started eating it. Needless to say, there were no leftovers…

If you haven’t tried Pillsbury gluten-free dough yet, give it a go! I know we will definitely be enjoying many more Pillsbury gluten-free pizzas in our future. Now I can’t wait to try their other products!

The Biaggi’s Experience

For those of you who are gluten-free, you know what a treat eating at a restaurant with a really good gluten-free menu can be! I don’t mean one of those restaurants with a “pseudo” gluten-free menu where they really just highlight the salads, steaks and potatos and call that a gluten-free menu. I mean a really good, authentic gluten-free menu with pizzas and pastas and breads! Yum! Bet your mouth is watering right now just thinking about it!

Well Biaggi’s is one of those restaurants. And bonus for me – there is one less than half a mile from my office!

Check out the menu here: http://www.biaggis.com/pdf/menus/menu_glutenfree2.pdf

One of my favorite things about eating here has always been not just the amazing pizza and pasta, but also the delicious gluten-free bread they bring out before the meal. Of course you have to request it, but it’s always warm and SO SO good! Since being gluten-free means I hardly ever get bread at a restaurant, this is a special treat for me, and I come extra hungry whenever I plan a meal at Biaggi’s!

Well last Friday I went to lunch at Biaggi’s with my co-workers. Prepped for a carb-loaded lunch, I skipped breakfast and came to lunch extra-hungry. I ordered my usual Diet Dr. Pepper and gluten-free bread. Our server responded with “Gluten-Free bread is an extra dollar.”

I said, “Excuse me? We eat here all the time. When did that happen?”

She told us this was a new policy that went into effect about two weeks ago. She asked if I still wanted the bread and of course I said yes. I was starving! And so excited about eating bread at a restaurant!

My co-workers were so upset! Their regular “gluten-filled” bread was brought to the table at no additional charge. Of course I wasn’t upset about the dollar. It was just a dollar after all. But they were upset about me being singled out like that.

I understand that gluten-free items are more expensive than regular menu items. But several days later something still doesn’t feel quite right about my experience… I will definitely be removing Biaggi’s from my list of favorite Gluten-free friendly restaurants.

Have you ever had something like this happen to you at a restaurant because of a food allergy? Tell me about it!

Breadless Calzone

Usually 11 am rolls around in the office and it is time to start planning what we will be eating for lunch at noon. So for the next hour, we all toss around different ideas and instant message names of different local restaurants. Today someone suggested a local pizza place. (Not usually the friendliest of restaurants for a Gluten-Free diner like myself) But I know this restaurant well, and I had the perfect plan, so I happily agreed.

As we sat on the patio sipping our delicious Diet Dr. Peppers (seriously, if you are a restaurant and you don’t serve Diet Dr. Pepper yet, what exactly are you thinking? It is an incredible beverage!), I didn’t even need to look at the menu. I knew what I was going to order.

When the waiter asked me what I wanted, I smiled and requested a “Breadless Calzone – cheese and pepperoni only, please”, as I handed him the menu.

“Excuse me?” he questioned.

“Yes, a calzone with no bread. That would be just a bowl of cheese, sauce and pepperoni. Baked like a calzone. Without the crust.”

The look on his face was priceless, assuring me that he had never heard of such a thing. I promised him that it wouldn’t be a problem and I had ordered this very meal there before.

A while later, he returned with our meals. Delicious cheesy goodness in hand.

I am telling you, whether you are gluten-free or just low-carbing it, you must try this sometime. It is heavenly. What an incredible combination of ingredients all baked together! And of course, if you like things like vegetables in your pizza/calzones, go ahead and add them in! It is, after all, your creation! Live it up!

And that waiter giving you the crazy look? Don’t worry about him – he’s probably asking the kitchen to make him one of his own right now…