Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Pizza & Chocolate Chip Cookie Night -- Wheat Free Awesomeness...

Yesssss...Friday night finally got here!  It has been a busy week and I am so glad it's Friday.  It was another rainy day here today...but unseasonably cool.  We only made it to 66 degrees which is definitely not our typical August weather here in Atlanta.  Shortly after I got home this evening, hubby and I went ahead and took our walk before dinner so we could enjoy the cool weather and get it done before the sky opened up again.  This evening I was in the mood for a "Friday night special"...which for me simply means "pizza and chocolate chip cookies".  I made a few of my easy Almond-Flax-Parmesan Herb Pizza Crusts ahead of time a couple of nights ago and wrapped them, so tonight I had the luxury and convenience of a pre-made pizza crust, much like using a pre-made Boboli type of crust...only mine are wheat and grain free and I know exactly what went into them! I cruised my refrigerator to see what kind of toppings I might use. I found a little bowl of steamed broccoli florets from a couple of nights I decided to put that on my pizza.  I've never put broccoli on pizza before, but somehow tonight it sounded good.  I used Rao's pizza sauce because it's made with fresh ingredients with no added sugars, wheat or junk...and it's delicious. I preheated my oven to 375 degrees while I added my toppings.  In addition to sauce, I topped it with shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, broccoli florets, diced red bell pepper, sliced green spring onions and then popped it in the oven to bake for about 7 minutes to heat the toppings and melt the cheese. I then switched the oven over to broil and ran it under the broiler for about 3 minutes to get bubbly and brown a bit. When it came out of the oven, I topped it with a few diced cherry tomatoes...and 10 minutes I was having pizza...even Domino's can't do that!  A couple of nights ago, I also made a batch of my Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Toasted Walnuts & Ricotta. When I made them this time, I simplified the preparation and eliminated using a hand mixer. Instead, it is simply mixed by hand using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula...which means easier clean up and that's ALWAYS a good thing!  I did not notice any appreciable difference in the outcome of the cookies without using a why pull out another appliance!  With very little effort and time, I was able to enjoy my favorite "Friday night special" this evening. What a great way to kick off the weekend.  I snapped a few photos and posted the recipes for my pizza and cookies below.  Enjoy!

DESSERT...Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Almond-Flax-Parmesan Herb Pizza Crust
Makes 1 10-inch round pizza (approximately 2 servings)


Dry Ingredients
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup golden flax seed meal (organic golden flax is milder in taste than brown)
2/3 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
Dash cayenne pepper, optional
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste (decrease salt if using saltier cheeses and toppings)
Few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
4 - 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Wet Ingredients
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute such as Egg Beaters)
1 tablespoon olive oil (a little more, if desired)
1 to 2 tablespoons water (start with 1 tablespoon of water and add the second, if necessary)

Toppings (Optional)  
Pizza sauce, pesto sauce, etc.
Cheese: shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced or diced fresh mozzarella, etc.
**Pre-cooked vegetables of choice: onions, green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, etc. 
**Pre-cooked meat of choice: sausage, ground beef topping, etc.
Other: artichokes, olives, pepperoni, etc.

**Tip: Fresh vegetable and meat toppings should be pre-cooked and drained to prevent crust from becoming soggy


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients together; add wet ingredients and mix well. Let the dough sit for approximately 5 minutes to thicken. 

Spread dough on a lightly oiled large pizza pan or cookie sheet lined with greased parchment paper (you can also use Reynolds non-stick foil, lightly brushed with olive oil).  Using a lightly oiled rubber spatula, press the dough out to desired shape and thickness (I usually make it about 1/4" thick -- *see note below).  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through (check crust after 15 minutes and remove from oven when it looks and feels done).  Spread with a thin layer of sauce, cheese and desired toppings (fresh vegetable and meat toppings should be pre-cooked to prevent soggy crust); place back into the oven to bake an additional 5-10 minutes to melt cheese.  If desired, run under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown the toppings and make the cheese bubbly (be careful not to burn it).

*Note:  For a crust that is flat, smooth and even in thickness, lightly spray a 2nd sheet of parchment paper with olive oil spray and place it on top (oiled side down) of the ball of pizza dough that is centered in the middle of your prepared pizza pan or baking sheet.  Using either your hands or the flat edge of an object (I use a big container of black pepper) press the dough smooth by swiping it the direction you want the pizza crust to go.  When it is the desired thickness and shape, carefully peel off the top layer of parchment paper...and "Voila"...perfectly flat, smooth, thin pizza crust! If you don't have parchment paper, pressing the dough out with a lightly oiled rubber spatula works just fine, too.


Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Toasted Walnuts & Ricotta


2 cups blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup Swerve sweetener, or to desired sweetness (other granular sweeteners can be substituted such as xylitol or erythritol)
1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (toasted, if desired)
3/4 cup 70% or 85% cacao chocolate bar (3.5 ounces), chopped (use 70% for sweeter chips) -- I used Green & Black's 70%


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and Swerve sweetener (or other granular sweetener).  Make a well in the center of the bowl and add softened butter, ricotta, egg and vanilla extract.  Using a wooden spoon, cream and mix dry and wet ingredients together until the dough is mixed and blended well.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in walnuts and chocolate chips/chunks and mix just until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (or lightly roll into balls) onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet;  very lightly tamp down (do not flatten) -- the cookies do not spread much while they bake. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cookies are very soft when hot and will firm up as they cool. Let sit 10-15 minutes and then, using a spatula, transfer to a rack to completely cool. Makes about 20 cookies.



Melanie said...

I am drooling! Tonight looks like a great night for me and the kids to hit the kitchen and do a little baking :) Thanks so much for sharing these awesome recipes!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Melanie! What a great activity to do with the kids on a Saturday night! I hope you all enjoy it...thanks again! :-)

arlene said...

I needed a bit of incentive to do some baking. Your recipes look fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing!!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks, Arlene -- I hope you enjoy some wheat/grain free baking! :-)