Monday, May 21, 2012

Eating Gluten Free When You're in a Hurry

It's Monday, and let's face it, we're all going to have a crazy busy week this week, right?

I'm sure my house is no different than yours.  I have two kids.  They are in activities.  Sometimes, they need to go opposite directions at the same time.  Sometimes, when they need to do this, I am the only driver in the house - at least for now, but that's another story.  And it always seems they need to be somewhere shortly after dinner time.  So how do we manage?

The same way everyone else does - you either reheat leftovers or your grab a box from the freezer.

And what if you don't have any leftovers?

There are quite a few brands of gluten free convenience meals available.  A favorite in our house is Udi's pizza.  We usually get the pepperoni, but cheese and Margherita pizzas are also available.

Here's my blockbuster method for making EXCELLENT frozen gluten free pizza:  Start by defrosting it.  Yep, you read it correctly!  You probably know (or will know when the kidlets get home from school today) that tomorrow night (or whatever night this week) is going to be your nutso night.  Take the pizza out of the freezer now (or maybe when you get home from work tonight).  Put it in the fridge and let it defrost overnight tonight and all day tomorrow.  Now, to bake it!  When it's time to start dinner, preheat your oven to 425.  When you turn the oven on to preheat, put a cookie sheet in at the same time.  This is critical - you must preheat the cookie sheet!  It will act like a pizza stone, and cook the underside (and especially the middle) of the crust.  While the oven is preheating, remove the pizza from its box and plastic, ditch the cardboard circle, and set the pizza on a piece of parchment paper.  When the oven has preheated, lift the pizza using the piece of parchment paper, and place it on the cookie sheet.  Be very careful!!!  You should hear a sizzle when the pizza/paper makes contact with the cookie sheet.  Bake for about 17 minutes.

Maybe you'd like to make your own pizza?  Against the Grain makes a delicious plain pizza crust that you can use as a base for your own creations.  Be sure to bake the crust first - defrost crust, preheat your cookie sheet and oven to 425, crust/parchment on cookie sheet, and bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Then, you can have at it!  Try Annie's Naturals Sweet & Savory BBQ sauce, some leftover cooked chicken, a sliced red onion and some mozzarella cheese.  Or maybe a Hawaiian pizza is more your style?  Of course, you can always do a more traditional approach - Muir Glen pizza sauce, some Aidell's Italian Sausage, and mozzarella cheese.  The sky and your imagination are the only limits here.

And, I will let you know, that the Udi's pizzas and the Against the Grain crusts usually feed either two adults or two teenagers - so gauge your needed portions appropriately.  If you will be feeding the team after baseball practice, be prepared!

Another favorite in our house is Amy's.  The kids love her tamales and enchilada meals.  Princess also likes her gluten free vegetable lasagna.  Amy's also has several other heat-and-eat meals that are gluten free, and quite a few that are vegan as well.  Again, for fastest and best results, defrost them first.  I know it seems odd because freezer meals are meant to go from freezer to oven to table.  Just trust me.  I'm a mom.  I know these things.  Again, do the preheat the cookie sheet thing, and place the meals on the sheet when the oven is preheated.  We ALWAYS bake all Amy's meals on 400 degrees.  Some of them have different temperatures, but we get the best and most consistent results at 400.  Also, most of them take about 35-40 minutes to cook fully when thrown in the oven frozen.  By defrosting, you can save yourself about 10 minutes.  That may not seem like much, but sometimes those extra 10 minutes are all you need to make it somewhere on time.

Happy Monday, all - and hope your week isn't too crazy!

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