Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel

Posts tagged “chicken

Gluten-Free Chicken Pesto Pizza featuring Bella Pizza & Foccacia Mix

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Andy and I always celebrate our monthaversary with a special dinner (either at a restaurant or by either of us cooking something that we don’t indulge in everyday). This month, I made one of Andy’s favorite foods and one of the things he used to eat most before going Paleo. Pizza! We both love pesto, but just don’t eat it that often either because it’s usually found on top of bread or pasta. Both no-nos of course. So we compromised with a rice and potato-based gluten-free mix and cauliflower blend for the crust. This time, I used Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix.

Bella Gluten-Free was founded by Mary Capone, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo last month, and who is also a celiac chef and mom of celiac children. She wanted “to create baking mixes that were beautifully tasting, heavenly in texture and wonderfully nutritious.” I have to say that of all the pizzas/crusts at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo, Mary’s was the best. And that’s coming from Andy Harris, who basically subsisted on two food groups–pizza and beer!!–during his span of running 23 marathons. 😉 Andy selflessly (haha!) tasted over 5 slices of pizza at the show to bring you the report back. I did get to try the Bella Gluten-Free Mix at the show and was so impressed I wanted to feature it here on, despite its rice base. I think it’s a great product, and the bottom line is that it doesn’t have wheat.

So here’s what I did to make the pizza! PS: About the pizza I made with this mix, Andy said: “I ate the rest of that pizza today, and I swear it was the best pizza I’ve
ever eaten.  That was wicked!!!”

FYI: One package of Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix makes two 14” pizzas or two 9” focaccia or 12 hamburger or sandwich buns.

1/2 package Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix
2 tsp Mayacamas Gluten-Free Pesto Mix
5 eggs
1 head cauliflower
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Line a pizza pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 385°F.

Follow Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough package directions for 1/2 the package. Steam cauliflower in the microwave until it is “falling apart” tender. Allow to cool. Pulse the cooled cauliflower in your food processor with the rest of the ingredients until they are well combined.

Spread onto lined pizza pan and place in oven to bake until raised and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prepare your pesto topping! When your crust does become slightly browned, you will want to remove from oven, but keep oven on, as you will be using it again to bake the pizza after you top the crust.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (do not skimp on quality here!)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the nuts and garlic in your food processor. Pulse together until the texture is slightly grainy. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly puréed. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree until well combined.

1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 red onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
2 chicken breasts (4 oz each)
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Slice onion and sauté it in a heated skillet with the olive oil. Add the salt and the mushrooms. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Once the onions are translucent, add the balsamic vinegar and cook a little further. Then add the chicken and cook until it is browned. Turn off stovetop and allow to rest.

Assemble the pizza:
Grate as much mozzarella as you like (we used about 1 cup)
Spread the pesto evenly on the the pizza crust, and top with the chicken, onion, mushroom mixture. Then top with the mozzarella cheese.
Return the pizza to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt and the toppings to heat through.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. If you can wait that long… 🙂
Wine pairing: Sangiovese from Vino Noceto (with the pizza) and an Assyrtiko from Gaia Estate, Santorini, Greece (with the salad). PS: On our salad, we’re still loving extra virgin olive oil and the Auntie Si’s Lemongrass Vinegar!

Food/Wine Pairing: Spicy Chicken Korma & Casque Sauvignon Blanc


Last night, Andy came over to my house and I made Indian food for the first time. Chicken korma is one of my favorite Indian dishes and I don’t know why it took me this long to make it for him. It’s got a subtle heat that slowly builds. While we were eating, Andy told me it was one of the top 5 things I have ever made for him. Maybe he just wanted something from me after dinner? 😉

Enjoy this dish with a sauvignon blanc or viogier from Casque Wines (Loomis). Today and tomorrow they are participating in the Holiday in the Hills Event at their new tasting room at the Flower Farm – 8920 Horseshoe Bar Road – offering food and wine pairings throughout the weekend along with a logo glass or cloth wine gift bag for all customers that purchase wine. Just bring a new, unwrapped child’s toy to donate for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation Toy Drive and wine tasting at ALL 17 participating wineries is FREE for the day. (Cash donations will also be accepted in lieu of a toy). Where: Auburn, Lincoln, Loomis, Newcastle. When: Dec. 8-9, 11 am to 5 pm. Participating Wineries: Bonitata • Casque • Ciotti • Cristaldi • Dono dal Cielo • Fawnridge • Green Family • Lone Buffalo • Mt. Vernon • PaZa • Pescatore • Popie • Rancho Roble • Rock Hill • Secret Ravine • Viña Castellano • Wise Villa

And now the recipe!

2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless and cut in half or thirds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup sweet onions, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cardamom or 1 pod
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
1/3 cup golden raisins or currants
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh mint (leaves washed and coarsely chopped)
1/4 fresh cilantro (leaves washed and coarsely chopped)
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

Toast and chop the walnuts. Set aside.

Heat a large heavy sauce pot over medium high burner and when hot add oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. It will probably take 2 batches to cook all of the chicken. Brown both sides and remove from the pan. Add more oil and repeat until all chicken is seared.

Remove chicken and add onions, carrots, ginger and garlic and sauté until lightly caramelized about 3-4 minutes in the left over fat. Lower heat and add spices. Cook until spices become very fragrant…make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir. Add broth, walnuts and the seared chicken. Bring to a boil then simmer gently until chicken is tender, approximatly 20 minutes. Mix together cornstarch and water. Whisk into simmering chicken. Return to a boil to thicken. Turn off heat, add raisins and stir in yogurt and herbs.

On the side, I made some parsnip chips and some potato wedges and sprinkled them with garam masala and sea salt. I also made some sautéed onions and eggplant, as well as broccoli battered in coconut & almond flour and baked to simulate some of the common deep fried Indian appetizers I crave. 😉

More on Casque Sauvignon Blanc (2011): It is $20 a bottle, and is their inaugural release for this varietal. The wine was cold fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel without being allowed to go through malolactic fermentation, and no oak aging was used. It’s a drink now wine and just proof of the talents of winemaker Kevin Stevenson. The wine went so well with the Chicken Korma, crisp enough to cool, cut through the kick in the dish.

You can find Casque Wines on Facebook here. Cheers! 🙂

Grilled Zucchini Roll Ups with Cherry Almond Chicken Salad


Mom, I’m in the Bee again today and guess what? It’s a Paleo recipe!!


3 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Ground black pepper

Cherry almond chicken salad:
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup pitted dark cherries, chopped
1 cup sliced and toasted almonds

For zucchini: Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.
Brush the slices of zucchini with oil on both sides. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper.
Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.

For chicken salad: In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onions, fennel, shallot, salt and pepper; set aside. In a small bowl, add the lemon juice and poppy seeds to the mayonnaise and stir to incorporate. Then pour the mayonnaise mixture over the chicken mixture and combine the two. Then fold in the cherries gently, followed by the toasted almonds.

To assemble the roll-ups, take a grilled slice of zucchini, and place 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of the chicken salad on its edge. Then roll up the slice tightly around the chicken salad, like a piece of sushi, and fasten the end with a toothpick. You might need two toothpicks per roll-up. Continue this process until you are out of zucchini slices.

Now you can enjoy that abundance of zucchini instead of giving it away to your neighbors. 🙂

Berbere Spiced Chicken

So I am reading listening to Marcus Samuelsson’s autobiography right now… during long runs and my ultra boring work commutes to Auburn everyday. It’s called Yes, Chef, and it’s a really fascinating book, especially if you are into food/cooking, or have ever worked in the industry. And I just love being able to listen to the book, actually read by the author in his Swedish accent. 🙂

Anyway, Samuelsson’s staple spice is called berbere (originating from Ethiopia). I have enjoyed this spice in a dish called doro wat at Queen Sheba on Broadway here in Sacramento, and wanted to present the chef’s bebere spice recipe used in a Paleo setting.

So, I decided to make the spice mix and coat chicken breasts with it, then grill them. The flavor is a delicious mix of savory and sweet and can go on almost any meat.

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Berbere Spice Mix
(by Chef Marcus Samuelsson)

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 cup ground dried Serrano chilies or other ground dried chilies
1/2 cup paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Finely grind the fenugreek seeds with a mortar and pestle or an electric spice or coffee grinder. Stir together with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.

Toast the spices in a non-stick pan on low heat until the oils and aromatics are released. Remove from heat.

You’ll have enough spice to make about 6 chicken breasts (we use Mary’s organic chicken from Taylor’s Market), or you can make 2 breasts and save the rest of the spice for up to 3 months.

Place the chicken breasts in a medium sized bowl and cover them with 1 Tbs olive oil. Then coat the chicken breasts with the berbere and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator while your grill is preheating. If you can, buy the chicken breasts attached. This will help retain moisture during the cooking/grilling process. If you don’t have a grill, you can bake the chicken in the oven on a foil covered sheet or roasting pan.

We served the chicken with a chilled, white wine from Nichelini Winery, (they’re located outside of Napa Valley in the Chiles Valley region). The wine is called Muscadelle, and it was the perfect match for  the berebere spice, because of it’s crispness and higher sugar content.

We had sautéed vegetables: eggplant, squash, and broccoli, and also a salad on the side.

Another fun weekend in the record books. 🙂

Artichoke Pizza with Bacon, Chicken, & Pesto Dipping Sauce

Pizza? Yes. It’s all Paleo. The crust is made of cauliflower and almond. Before you shake your head and walk away, just try it. 🙂

So this is sort of a long recipe, but it’s highly worth it.

I promise you it tastes better than real pizza and you will get full on 2 pieces rather than eating 4 or 5 from a delivery joint.

Artichoke Pizza with Bacon, Chicken, & Pesto Dipping Sauce

8 ounces cooked and diced chicken
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup sautéed bell peppers
1/2 cup cooked onions
1/2 cup cooked mushrooms

So, before you begin the crust or the sauces, I highly recommend you sauté the onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers in some olive oil and garlic and pre cook them before you use them as toppings on this gorgeous thing I call a pizza. You can cook the chicken however you want (grill it for the best results)… and the bacon will do just fine in the microwave or in the oven baked on parchment paper.

Now that you have your toppings mise en place, you can begin to prepare the crust:

2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/8 cup ground flax seed
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, cooked and pulsed into couscous-like consistency
2 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with hands until well combined.
Press into a well-oiled baking pan and then bake in pre heated oven for 15 minutes while you prepare the artichoke spread and the pesto topping/dipping sauce.

Artichoke Spread (this will be one of the pizza “sauces”)
1/3 cup pitted green olives
2 15-oz cans/jars artichoke hearts, drained
1 Tbsp capers, drained
2 tbs crushed garlic
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor and set aside.
This spread can be used as a “hummus” type dip for vegetables, or as the first layer of spread on this pizza.

Red Sauce
This is the only step where I took a little teeny shortcut.
I used an organic pasta/tomato sauce in a thin layer over the artichoke spread before I topped the pizza with the cooked toppings and about 3/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese.

When you have all your toppings on the pizza, put it back in the oven and bake until the pizza is warmed through and the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Then, remove it from the oven and allow to cool slightly before topping it with dollops of the homemade pesto.

Pesto Topping
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor and set aside. You will use this “topping” on the pizza after it comes out of the oven and you are ready to eat it.

Ding! It’s not delivery… it’s Paleo… 😉