Not-So-Typical Pizza

RPM Date Night!

RPM Date Night!

I recently checked another item off my Chicago bucket list and dined at Bill (my not-so-secret crush) Rancic’s RPM Italian. The food was incredible and they were more than accommodating when it came to my soy-free restrictions. The only disappointment of the evening came when I heard Bill & Guiliana had been in several times throughout the NHL playoffs and I had just missed them. Darn it. 

Since our visit, friends have asked if RPM lives up to its hype. ABSOLUTELY. For me, eating out is about the food. RPM’s food was to die for. We ordered wood-roasted octopus, morel mushrooms served on hand-cut tagliatelle, short-rib pappardelle, a wood-oven pizza special, and dessert (of course). Needless to say, I left stuffed! Over the next few days, I found myself daydreaming about how full of taste each dish was. Not one item we tried could be described as bland or average.

I decided to try my hand at recreating something with such profound and original taste. Let’s be honest, I’m not cooking octopus and I cannot afford fresh morel mushrooms. I’ve tried short-ribs before and they were a complete failure; I almost lost a tooth. So, pizza it was! I couldn’t tell you what cheese or toppings RPM used. My version is not meant to replicate theirs (I would insult them terribly), but rather to experiment with new flavors. Here it goes…

 

Ingredients:

Fresh whole-wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s offers a soy-free version. If gluten free – Better Bread Company offers a fresh option)

Pesto (Trader Joe’s now carries a soy-free pesto!)

Trader Joe’s freshly shaved parmesan, romano, & asiago cheese (If you’re lactose intolerant and can use Lactaid pills, I suggest this option. If not, a less flavorful rice cheese will suffice)

Cheese

Cheese

Fresh arugula

Fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Oyster mushrooms (Best from a farmers market- sometimes they offer mushroom medleys which will also work)

Crushed red pepper

 

Directions:

Follow the directions specific to your crust for rolling & baking. Regardless of the crust, I always sprinkle my stone with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

Once the crust is rolled out, paste it with a layer of pesto. Evenly distribute your cheese.

Wash & dry your greens. Tear the basil and arugula into smaller pieces. Layer them on top of the cheese.

Halve your tomatoes and layer them on with the mushrooms.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake.

Pre-baked pizza

Pre-baked pizza

Baked pizza

Baked pizza

 

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Middle Eastern?

I’m a mixer. The way I see it, everything on your plate is headed to the same place. So, why not mix it? Nothing beats getting a little bit of everything in one bite! This dish is definitely one for the mixers.

This is an incredibly easy and quick recipe for busy weeknights. My family refers to this as middle Eastern- it isn’t. My guess is the name stemmed from the pita. Whatever you opt to call it, it’s delicious!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground sirloin

1 red bell pepper

a handful of cherry tomatoes

a bunch of chopped green onions

1 cucumber

1 pita – Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have a few options for soy-free pita.

Ranch dressing – Annie’s Naturals Organic Cowgirl Ranch is SOY FREE. It is not, however, dairy free. If you’re lactose intolerant, I suggest Lactaid pills.

Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

Tear up your pita into bite sized pieces and spread on your plate.

Chop all of your veggies into bit sized pieces (I typically cut the tomatoes in half). Spread your veggies onto your plate. If you’re serving for company, spread them out on a cutting board and let your guests build their own plates.

Brown your meat with some salt and pepper.

Toss some of the meat on top of your veggies and pita. Pour ranch on top.

What I love most about this meal is the variety of temperatures (cold veggies/hot meat), textures (pita, veggies, meat, ranch), and flavors. Feel free to add your favorite vegetables!

And you thought we couldn’t eat chocolate…

I am two things for certain: a dog person, and a chocolate person. I don’t believe you can be indifferent about either. So, the prospect of eliminating chocolate from my diet killed me. Luckily for us, we don’t have to! Below is a quick and simple recipe for a delicious chocolate dessert.

Ingredients:

Strawberries

Soy-free, dairy-free chocolate chips (http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/chocolate-for-baking/?cat=chocolate_for_baking -Whole Foods carries them!)

1 spoonful of Earth Balance natural buttery spread -Also Whole Foods

Directions:

Rinse and thoroughly dry strawberries.

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Boil a small pot of water.

Put your chocolate chips and butter into a glass bowl.

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Once the pot of water has boiled, turn off the heat and place the glass bowl on top of it. Stir with a spoon until all of the chips and butter have melted.

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Hold the strawberries by their leaves and dip.

Place them on parchment paper to harden and enjoy an hour or two later!

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In the case that you have a chocolate craving you’d prefer to satisfy with less work, buy a chocolate bar! Trader Joe’s carries a milk chocolate candy bar that is soy-free and organic. It is not, however, dairy-free.

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Pizza Night

I grew up having a weekly family pizza night. Every Sunday entailed pizza, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Married with Children, and on the late nights, X-Files. The idea of life without pizza was unfathomable. I now make my own pizza. It’s easier than you’d think!

Trader Joe’s has a pre-made pizza dough with no soy. Whole Food’s (my typical go-to) does not! T.J.’s also has a fresh sauce that’s safe (kept in the refrigerated area next to the dough).

For most of you, regular mozzarella should do the trick. For those of you (like myself) who are also lactose-free, Whole Foods does carry a brand of rice cheese by Galaxy Nutritional Foods.

I suggest purchasing a pizza stone or pan. I love mine from Crate and Barrel. http://www.crateandbarrel.com/pizza-grilling-stone/s104322 The best part- you’re not supposed to wash it!

Let the crust sit out for about twenty minutes prior to rolling out (it gets much bigger). Toss some corn meal on the stone. Use flour to role out the dough. Put it on the stone, toss on your sauce and cheese. Add whichever toppings you like. I love tomato and fresh basil! Bake for about twenty minutes at 425 degrees.

A tip if you’re a pesto person- Williams Sonoma has a safe pesto sauce. It’s pricey, but I love it! If you’re really daring, you can make your own. Toss some pesto, pine nuts, parmesan, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor. That’s the simplest way I know- but Rachael Ray offers some much more tasty options.

Enjoy your pizza night!