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Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

*I was offered a tasting of Carino’s gluten-free menu as sponsorship for this post. My thoughts and comments are my own.*

Carino’s, located along I-35 in Round Rock, has expanded their menu to include gluten-free entrées and pizzas.

Making a good gluten-free pizza crust is a tall order, but the chefs at Carino’s pulled it off with the help of Udi’s.  You get to choose up to five toppings for your specialty pizza ($12.99 for a medium, plenty to split with a friend).  I ordered mine with artichoke, bacon, spinach, chicken, and extra cheese and you could have fooled me… it didn’t taste like a gluten-free pizza!

I invited my friends to try out the pizza with me.  They were equally impressed.

If you like soda, try the raspberry Italian Soda with cream!  Not too sweet for my taste and you get refills for free, good deal since I drank three of them.

The entrées on the gluten-free menu are mostly some kind of meat with vegetables.  There is gluten-free pasta, but I didn’t try it on this trip.

Carino’s

2600 N. IH-35 Round Rock,TX

512-238-8288

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A modern made-from-scratch bakery has landed in the Arboretum, it’s the Blue Baker. The line to order lunch wraps around the plexiglass enclosure housing bakers making bread.

Not to worry, the line moves quickly because there is a small army of blue aproned staff to receive your orders.  Merchandise is displayed to the hungry folks waiting in line, ready to be plucked off the shelves.  I cringed a little at the sight of loaves of bread for sale, I found my competition!  Well, not exactly.  My bread is different, it’s made with love!

I ordered the D’Vinchee pizza for lunch.  You can smell the pizza oven doing its work while salivating over those pesky loaves of challah, rosemary bread, and fendu.  There are cookies too, but beware if you have nut allergies!  Also ask if the chicken salad contains nuts, as many other places add nuts to it.

Being in the Arboretum, this is not a cheap lunch by any means.  My 13-inch pizza was $12, and another $2 for a drink (with free refills).  The pizza was good overall but it had no sauce on it.  I’m a saucy girl so this was the only disappointment.  The amount of toppings applied was enough to satisfy a grumbling tummy.

Will I go back again? Maybe.

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When time is short, pick up a frozen ready-to-bake pizza and add your own touches.  I used a Freshetta Hawaiian thin crust pizza here.  Left over chicken, red bell pepper, tomato, and jalapeno pepper gave the pizza a lift.  I should have added more cheese to help keep the toppings from falling off the slice as I stuffed myself silly.  Use extra toppings sparingly or you might bog down the pie.  Bake according to the directions for the frozen pizza.

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This was right next door to where I was headed at lunch and my very empty stomach wouldn’t let me leave without a pie.  A meat pie to be exact.  For once I didn’t feel quite so bad after eating pizza.  It might have been the organic ingredients.  The pie had very fennely sausage, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and a tasty cheese.  Lucky for me there’s a Promise Pizza close to work and close to home!  The menu points out what is gluten-free if you’re looking for that.

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The kids and I went to the park today.  There were two other younger kids there and two older ladies.  The ladies had a huge container of Magic Bubbles with them and were blowing free bubbles to the park goers.  The kids laughed and played in the cloud of iridescent spheres.  I was standing near the cement wall that marks the edge of the wood chip filled playscape and the steep hill that lies behind it.  One loan oak treeling stands near this wall.  The alien soapy bubbles apparently agitated a colony of butterflies hanging out on the oak tree.  A few of them darted out of the tree into the bubbles, around my head, then back to the tree.  These were no tiny butterflies either, no ma’am!  They were Texas-sized butterflies!  Beautiful although a little scary when they want to defend their little hiding place.

Are there such things as vampire butterflies?  This seriously crossed my mind while in the middle of it all.

We got home and I made Hawaiian pizza using fresh pineapple and chicken, mozzarella and apple smoked fontina cheese.  If you’ve never tried smoked fontina, try it on homemade pizza or a panini.  Oh, it would compliment bacon too.  (Should have put some bacon on my pizza.)

Applewood Smoked Pineapple Chicken Pizza

  • 3 x  6″ prepared pizza crusts of choice
  • 9 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup finely diced cooked chicken (dark meat)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup shredded applewood smoked fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese

Place the prepared pizza crusts on greased baking sheets.  Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.

Spread 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce evenly on each crust.  I like to go all the way to the edges to maximize my toppings.  Roughly divide the chicken and pineapple between the three crusts.  The kids like more cheese than toppings so one crust gets a smaller share of the goodies.  Divide the cheese among the pizzas and cover the toppings evenly.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.

Let cool on the pans before transferring to a cutting board to slice.

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At the request of Big Brother, we made noodle soup together for dinner.  He stirred the garlic and noodles (dry pasta) in olive oil while I peeled and chopped the vegetables.

Tomato Noodle Soup (Caldo con Fideo)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2/3 cup dry pasta broken in small pieces (angel hair) [fideo]
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • half a bunch of swiss chard, thick stalks removed, shred the leaves
  • chicken stock
  • 1/2 small can of tomato paste
  • fresh thyme
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Sauté the garlic, onion, and pasta in the olive oil until it begins to turn golden but not burnt.  Add chicken stock and water, about 2 cups of each ( I just fill up the small stock pot used for soups).  Add salt and pepper, thyme, tomato paste, celery, carrot, and potato.  Bring to a slow boil and reduce to medium-high for about 10 minutes or until the potato pieces are almost fork-tender.  Add the swiss chard and remove from heat. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Pizza Toasts

To use up the remaining half of the tomato paste, I made “pizza” under the broiler using leftover French bread.

  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 4 slices French bread
  • olive oil
  • Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • pinch of oregano

Turn on the broiler to low.  Drizzle olive oil on one side of the bread slices.  Toast under the broiler until crisp.  Spread the tomato paste on the bread, top with the cheeses and oregano.  Return to the broiler until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

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This is another idea for busy moms, and busy people in general.  Instead of paying for greasy overpriced delivered pizza, try this instead!

I picked up pre-made personal sized pizza crusts, fresh basil, tomatoes, and soft mozzarella cheese while grocery shopping.  A basic Margherita pizza can be the start of your own custom pizza and get the kids to help build their perfect pie!


One pizza had capers, the other black olives and slices of jalapeño with a little cilantro.  Both were awesome and super easy (and fun) to make.  Here is what I used for two small pizzas:

  • about 2 Tbsp tomato sauce per crust
  • 1 large tomato, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp capers (for the first pizza)
  • 2 sprigs basil, Julienne
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • dried up black olives from the fridge (for the second)
  • 1 tsp cilantro leaves (for the second)
  • 4 -5 thin slices of jalapeño (for the second)
  • about 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese

Crank up the oven to 400 or 425ºF and these little puppies will be done in about 10 minutes, just keep an eye on them.

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The answer is…. almost.

New websites and companies love to market to people like me.  I will take almost anything offered for free these days, then again in the state of the economy, wouldn’t you?

I received an email from Papa John’s Pizza telling me I have won a free pizza.  Almost free actually.  Tax, delivery and optional tip were not included.  Given that I had enough points as a repeat customer for a second free pizza, this wasn’t that bad of a deal.  4 bucks for dinner and probably lunch tomorrow too?  Heck yeah!  Mind you, we avoid the greasy pepperoni and opt for grilled chicken instead.  This won’t get around the fat in the cheese and whatever they put into the crust to make it so darn tasty, but it’s (almost) free!

Another nearly free item I picked up was a Krups coffee/spice grinder as a gift for my mother-in-law.  I was going to get this for her last year and missed the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals that I was hoping to catch.  It completely slipped under and around the radar (this can happen when there is a rampant toddler in the house).  Well, this little present for grandma is now on its way to her house thanks to OpenSky, and it was FREE!  OpenSky gives you credit just for signing up and it was enough to actually buy an item on Martha Stewart’s page outright, plus a few dollars to pay for half the shipping.  So again, for 4 bucks I found something I wanted.

Click here to visit OpenSky and shop for your gifts!

I’m hip to this idea too.  I’ve just opened a home business baking Finnish breads and cookies and to help my customer list grow I’m offering a buy 1 get 1 deal until the end of 2011.  So for all you local readers in Austin and Round Rock, check out my bakery page!

 I was not asked to review or comment on the above mentioned companies or products.  These are my opinions! 

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I made a strange no-knead bread with pumpkin seeds and 10-grain cereal.  I left it all day while I was at work and baked it off as soon as I got home with the kids.  It was so heavy and the fizzle of the yeast was long gone by then.  It didn’t budge.  It didn’t puff.  However, the interior was soft and full of the flavour of the grains and bite of the emerald seeds.  The crust wasn’t pretty but had a lovely golden hue.  I named it a flat bread and called it a night.

Now I’m stuck with this flat toad of a loaf until we eat it all.  I’m not making more bread until this sucker is finished off.

Some digging through the fridge produced deli ham and cheese, plus a red onion.  (I had bought the deli foods thinking I was going to bake bread this week to make sandwiches for lunch.)  Pizza was my first thought.  Split the loaf open and top with some tomato sauce, meat, onion, then cheese.

A quick stint under the broiler was all it took to “bake” my pizza.  What I should have done was broil the bread first and then top it, just like the Welsh Rabbit.  That would have given the pizza crust some stability once completed.  In other words, it was a little soggy, but not so much that it fell apart.

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Pizza Pinwheels

I saw an article in a parenting magazine about pizza rolls.  The idea is quite simple, but mine didn’t turn out all that great.  I had to put it back in the oven to get the dough to cook through.  Maybe if tomato paste was used instead of pasta sauce the dough would have cooked evenly.

Take a square pizza dough (refrigerated stuff is OK) and spread tomato sauce, cheese and whatever else you like.  I thinly sliced cooked italian sausage and shredded leftover chicken and put this in one layer.  Roll up and cut like cinnamon buns.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400ºF.

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