Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint does gluten-free pizza and peace of mind

Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint, Louisville, Kentucky
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, Louisville, Kentucky

I know a few Celiacs and gluten-free peeps around here.  I run with a couple of them too.  And one of them, my friend Keith, has been raving about Uncle Maddio’s for just about as long as I’ve known him in our running group.  And for some reason…I fell into the black hole of all the other local gluten-free pizza places, not branching out or just not going for pizza at all.  Despite the high recommendation and regards concerning their safety procedures when it comes to preparing gluten-free pizza for their customers…this one just kept sliding through the cracks.

I am happy to report, however, that this past Saturday…I went to Uncle Maddio’s…and yeah…I can see why Keith and so many other people have raved about this place.

First of all, Uncle Maddio’s looks to be a very small chain that is expanding.  They have a few locations in Georgia and the one here in Louisville, Kentucky.  I am so thankful for the location here in Louisville now that I have checked them out.

It was just about right after they opened when my roommate and I made our way over to Uncle Maddio’s for lunch.  One reason, aside from meaning to have checked it out long ago, was that we were already in the area.  I had been in the local park running a 5K race that morning.  After some coffee and a bit of shopping on Bardstown Road, we were ready for some actual food.  And there it was…conveniently…offering me gluten-free pizza.  Yeah…this was ideal.

So, my roommate and I entered and were greeted by the guy behind the counter.  We explained that it was our first time there and that I am gluten-free.  He immediately began changing his gloves.  “Oh, gluten-free?  No problem.”  So, we eyed the menu for a moment and finally I told my roommate to pick a pizza, because as long as it is vegetarian, I’ll eat any topping.  I’m not as picky as she is.  So with a moment of consideration, she decided to go with one of their signature pizzas.  Her choice – the Portobello Pesto ($9.99 (regular $7.99 + $2.00 up-charge for gluten-free)).  What I really felt good about was when we placed the order, the other guy behind the counter pulled out a list to check the ingredients to make sure they would be gluten-free.  Wow…that was an amazing thing.

Granted, Uncle Maddio’s does not make their own gluten-free crust.  They have a pre-made vegan/gluten-free crust that is made from: rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, water, olive oil, sugar, yeast, and salt.  It is only available in one size, a medium, which means six slices.  I am certain this has everything to do with cutting down on any sort of cross-contamination.  They have an extensive list of gluten-free toppings for the pizza as well.  It’s kind of cool because of the way they are set up, you can watch as your pizza goes down the line if you so choose…like someone would watch their sandwich get prepared at Subway.

The Portobello Pesto Pizza is basically the gluten-free crust topped with their herb pesto sauce, mozzarella , portabella and white mushrooms, feta cheese, Roma tomatoes and fresh basil.  Simple ingredients on a simple pizza, yes?  My roommate made a fantastic choice, because the toppings would mean that I could really get a taste of the crust without sauce overpowering it…and also be able to clearly taste all the toppings on this, one of their signature pies.

We went to fill our drinks and take a seat at a booth.  It actually took a little bit of time for the pizza to be prepared, which I actually do like.  It means they aren’t being careless or taking shortcuts.

The pizza did arrive at our table and man…it looked absolutely delicious.  Stunning.  A work of gluten-free pizza art.  I hated that I had to take pictures of it, because, honestly, I was ready to dive in for a slice.  But I have to make sacrifices for this blog at times.  Pictures first.  Then…pizza time!

I served my roommate up a slice of the pizza, then placed a slice on my plate.  With a fork and knife, I cut through the toasted crust, hearing the knife cut through the pre-made crust.  I liked the thin-crust and the crunch that they achieved without burning it.  Sometimes some places overcook those thin-crust gluten-free pizzas…but not Uncle Madio’s.  It was perfection.  And with the very first bite…I knew that this combination of toppings was now one of my favorites.  Enough for me to declare that I needed to start making pesto.  Hey…I love to be in my kitchen and lord knows I keep olive oil on hand.  It all worked.  The basil pesto didn’t overwhelm the pizza as a base.  It wasn’t too strong…just right.  And the rest of the toppings were seasoned and fresh.  The portobella mushrooms were cooked to perfection.  Not drippy or wet.  They were absolutely stunning, laying on top.  I could taste the freshness in the Roma tomatoes and the basil.  The feta and mozzarella cheese were not piled high on top, but used more as a compliment to the other toppings.  It wasn’t overwhelmed with cheese so the flavors really shined.

Yeah…I was impressed.  I was beyond impressed.  I was happy to be eating there.  I was already trying to come up with the next vegetarian pizza to get there and try out.  See how it does.  Or…maybe get this one again.  Because it truly wowed me.  When in doubt…go with a signature pizza.  They are signature meals for a reason, yes?  And this one totally deserved its spot up on that board.

Peace of mind and a great serving and slice of pizza.  I left there after eating half of the pizza and wasn’t crazy-full…a definite plus as well.  The fact that they take such care with their customers who order gluten-free makes me feel confident about my next return.  And yes…there will be a next time!

Uncle Maddio's Gluten-Free Portobello Pesto Pizza
Uncle Maddio’s Gluten-Free Portobello Pesto Pizza

Recipe: Parmesan Baked Potato Halves

You know…it’s because of places like Pinterest that I can find new and exciting ways to fix up some of the produce that comes in my CSA bin every week.  Honestly.  While working with potatoes isn’t at all difficult, sometimes I can just get accustomed to making them one way and not really branching out from there.  I was determined not to just slice these up into cubes and make home fries to go with eggs in the morning.

My organic fingerling potatoes are beautiful, mind you.  And back when I first signed up for Pinterest, one of the recipes that I pinned was for Parmesan Baked Potato Halves.  Sounded great.  And here I was with some fingerling potatoes, ready to see if this recipe was all it was cracked up to be.  But you know me…I always take a recipe and twist it up some way.  In this case…I added…more cheese and a different flavor at that.  In addition to spices as well.

The original recipe comes from Favorite Family Recipes.  But below is my take on it.

Recipe: Parmesan Baked Potato Halves

Parmesan Baked Potato Halves
Parmesan Baked Potato Halves

Servings: 2
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 45 minutes


  • 6-9 small potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Chives & Dill Jack cheese
  • garlic powder
  • other seasonings (to personal preference) (I used a touch of crushed red pepper, rosemary, and salt)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter and pour into a 8×8 inch pan and spread evenly across the bottom.

Generously sprinkle Parmesan cheese and Chives & Dill Jack cheese and lightly sprinkle other seasonings all over the butter.

Place potato halves face down on the butter and seasonings.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.



My roommate enjoyed her half of this tasty potato dish this morning with some ketchup.  As for me…hot sauce was my game.  Or, you can serve with whatever dip you choose to enjoy potatoes with…or just plain on their own.  They are yummy that way too.  It’s a simple recipe that really just takes a little time to bake up.  But the cheese melts and crusts against the top and packs a whole bunch of flavor into each bite.

I’m making it again tomorrow morning!  Go ahead…try it out.  Flavor with whatever cheeses you fancy and whatever spices compliment it.  Get creative!

Mrs. Leeper’s takes a leap over the gluten-free pasta competition with Corn Vegetable Radiatore

Mrs. Leeper's Corn Vegetable Radiatore Pasta
Mrs. Leeper’s Corn Vegetable Radiatore Pasta

Product: Mrs. Leeper’s Corn Vegetable Radiatore Pasta – $3.69+

I was standing in Whole Foods last year, around the time I had to go gluten-free, just gazing at the prices on the gluten-free items and trying very hard not to break down into tears…yet again.  I was overwhelmed.  Having to change my diet so drastically so fast and not really having the means in which to fund said diet was weighing on me.

And then, this angel appeared at my side and just by looking at me could tell that I was in distress.  And she said, “I’ve been gluten-free for years…”  And she began listing off some of her favorite products for different uses…such as pizzas, breads, and yes…pasta.

At that point, I had only just started experimenting with the brown rice pastas.  While I found them to work, they didn’t reheat well and often would turn to mush or get gummy in the process.  I recalled this lady in Whole Foods telling me that one of her favorite pastas is Mrs. Leeper’s.  I had never heard of Mrs. Leeper’s before…so I made a mental note of it and went on purchasing my brown rice noodles.

Then…I discovered gluten-free corn noodles.  And I found out how much better they held up, not just in the initial cooking process, but also reheating leftovers.  I was thrilled.

And then, my local grocery store just happened to begin to stock the very pasta brand this woman told me about ages ago.  Mrs. Leeper’s.  The selection was minimal, but they did have the Mrs. Leeper’s Corn Vegetable Radiatore pasta.  So…one day while it was on sale, I picked up a bag of it and put it in my pantry.  And then proceeded to use up the other pasta noodles that came before it.  Until tonight…when with the Amish cheese I picked up in Pennsylvania…I decided to cook up my mom’s infamous macaroni & cheese (gluten-free style)!

Mrs. Leeper's Corn Vegetable Radiatore Pasta (cooked & drained)
Mrs. Leeper’s Corn Vegetable Radiatore Pasta (cooked & drained)

I had no open pasta noodles so tonight it was time for Mrs. Leeper’s to be put to the test.  I opened up the bag and measured out the 6 ounces I needed for the baked macaroni and got a pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil.  Once it got there, I poured the colorful pasta noodles into the water, gave it a stir, and let it cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

It was easy to drain, and I was quite happy to see that none of the noodles stuck together or fell apart.  It was a great consistency, very colorful, and would really bring some color to my mom’s recipe.  I began to layer up the casserole dish with noodles, onions, broccoli, seasoning, and two types of Amish cheddar cheese.  Repeat.  And the entire time, I didn’t have mushy noodles to contend with.  Even after I poured the white sauce over the top and stirred it all together before putting it in the oven to bake, nothing was falling apart.  Mrs. Leeper’s Corn Vegetable Radiatore pasta was rally doing its job and holding up.

And 45 minutes later, I removed the hot, bubbling casserole dish from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before dishing out two servings – one for myself and one for my roommate.  Despite the cooking and then the baking, Mrs. Leepers Corn Vegetable Radiatore pasta really came through in the end.  Even better…the texture of it was fantastic.  The fun colors is an added incentive, but the look of it is rather unique from other pastas on the market.  And it was a lot of fun to see the different colors through the melted cheese in the final dish.

Mrs Leeper’s brand of pasta evolved as a wheat free and gluten-free line of enticing and often colorful rice and corn products for people who seek alternatives to wheat.  Using time-honored methods, simple and pure ingredients, and care when it comes to production, Mrs. Leeper’s products have met the demands of a constantly changing marketplace by offering innovative products that focus on integrity, quality and service.

Both my roommate and I agree that Mrs. Leeper’s turned out to be a really good pasta.  We’ll see how it does on the reheat tomorrow evening with some of the leftovers, but if it is anything like the corn pasta we have had in the past…it will hold up just fine.  Definitely hope to try more pasta options from Mrs. Leeper’s in the near future.  Full of yum.  And a definite pasta win!

Homemade Gluten-Free Macaroni & Cheese using Mrs. Leeper's Corn Vegetable Radiatore Pasta
Homemade Gluten-Free Macaroni & Cheese using Mrs. Leeper’s Corn Vegetable Radiatore Pasta

Local Pennsylvania chain, Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches offers smorgasbord of gluten-free options

Isaac's Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Ephrata, Pennsylvania
Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Ephrata, Pennsylvania

Restaurant: Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Ephrata, Pennsylvania

I have to once again break my vow to not blog about chains.  And why?  Because I recently visited a chain restaurant that is only found in Pennsylvania.  Much like California’s own In-N-Out Burger, this little sandwich shop is only available regionally.  Therefore, I will not be able to find anything like it where I live in Indiana.

Welcome to Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches.  This chain began on August 25, 1983, when two friends attending college, Phil Wenger and Isaac Williams, met.  After graduating and going in two separate directions (Phil taking a job in sales for a flower wholesaler and Isaac working as a chef in a local restaurant), the two friends began to brainstorm the idea of a deli/restaurant.  Isaac provided the knowledge of cooking and his flair for decorating, and created an eclectic interior and a working menu.  Phil provided the experience of running a business and his desire to create something that would give back to the community.  And with that…Isaac’s Restaurant and Deli was born in the heart of Pennsylvania.  Now with 20 restaurants in 6 counties of Pennsylvania, this local chain is providing a delicious menu with a variety of choices in soups, salads, and sandwiches.

So, how did this out-of-towner stumble upon this little chain?  The Internet, of course.  My roommate was researching possible places to eat after I ran in the Hershey Half Marathon while we were out and about in other areas of Pennsylvania.  She came across Isaac’s on Find Me Gluten Free, and it had really great ratings.  It also had gluten-free flatbread!  Now there was something new and worth checking out, yes?

So, after a very successful run that morning in Hershey, Pennsylvania, my roommate, my friend Jenn, and myself headed out of town toward Ephrata, Pennsylvania.  We wanted to stop by the grave of Major Richard D. Winters, best known from Band of Brothers.  After the drive out there and the visit to the cemetery, we found that we were ready for lunch.  There was actually an Isaac’s in Ephrata.  Even better…it wasn’t that far away either.  BONUS!

We made our way to the Cloister Shopping Center and pulled in to park.  The actual center itself looked a bit sketchy.  In fact, Isaac’s was located next to an open (WOW!) Blockbuster Video.  I wasn’t feeling too confident about the situation.  But, at this point, we were committed.  We stepped up to the door, which thankfully had a large-scale version of their menu up.  I double-checked the gluten-free option and it was listed…so we stepped inside.  As we came in near the Blockbuster Video, we had to walk down a very long hallway in order to get to the restaurant itself.  We stepped inside and went to the hostess station in order to be seated.

A table was just clearing up where the three of us could sit, so we were told it would only be a minute.  Looks had to be deceiving, because Isaac’s was quite busy.  Every table was taken.  I glanced around in awe, as it didn’t look like much from the outside.  Inside, it was very much like the old diners you are used to seeing in movies.  There are crazy decorations and colors throughout the interior.  And right next to the hostess stand…the dessert case.  The three of us too a moment to ogle the pies and cakes inside…but then were told the table was clean and ready for us to be seated.

We followed the hostess to the booth and got situated.  She said our waitress would be right with us and left us to peruse the menu.  There were a lot of options to choose from.  So much sounded really good.  I was having a hard time deciding and I knew both Jenn and Cathy were also eying a few options as well.  Our waitress came to our table to get our drink order, and we all stuck with water.  She returned and gave us a little more time with the menu.  When we were all set…a different waitress came over.  Our waitress just got assigned a large party and they wanted to get our order in first.  We appreciated that…and so we began to put in our order.

Jenn decided to create her own sandwich.  She put salami and provolone on a pretzel roll ($6.99).  It came with a side of ranch dressing.  And she kept the chips as her side item.  Cathy opted to do the half soup-half sandwich combo.  She went with a half Mockingbird Sandwich (thinly sliced grilled ham and provolone cheese, topped with tomatoes and onions with mayo on hearty multigrain bread) with a cup of Isaac’s Famous Pepperjack and Tomato Soup.  She had that with a side of the Utz Potato Chips ($7.39).  As for me, I alerted them that I am a Celiac and was interested in trying the Gluten-Free Larkspur, which consisted of muenster and cheddar cheeses, fresh tomatoes, spinach and sprouts all wrapped up in a gluten-free flatbread and served with ranch dressing, which I was assured was also gluten-free.  I ordered the dressing on the side and opted for the baby carrots as my side ($8.04).

I will point out that there is an up-charge for the gluten-free option on the menu.  The gluten-free flatbread carries an additional $0.75 charge.  Not a problem.  After all, most restaurants charge a lot more.

Our orders went in and we had a good amount of time to sit around and chat.  I mostly talked about how interested I was in this gluten-free flatbread.  After our wait, our meals were brought out to us.

Let me tell you, the sandwich I got was nothing like what I expected.  But…it looked fantastic.  The gluten-free flatbread was grilled to a beautiful golden color.  Inside it was stuffed with spinach, sprouts, and tomatoes.  The cheeses were there…but not in overabundance.  I appreciated that.  And, as I asked, the ranch dressing came in a cup on the side.  I was dying to try this out.  Pausing only long enough to take a picture for my blog, I picked up the knife and sliced into the sandwich.  I took that little wedge, dipped it in the ranch dressing and took a bite.

I died and went to sandwich heaven.  The gluten-free flatbread was definitely the star of the show.  In fact, what it reminded me of the fried bread that Taco Bell Chalupas were made in.  They had a nice crisp outside but were great and soft when you chewed them.  I found it to be the perfect compliment to my vegetables inside.  And I honestly appreciated that the cheese wasn’t filling the sandwich.  It complimented it instead.  I gave a piece of the bread to both Cathy and Jenn and even they liked it.  I savored every bite, not wanting the sandwich experience to come to an end.  But with each bite…my sandwich grew smaller and smaller.

Here’s what I have to say…while it looked like an absolute dive on the outside, inside, Isaac’s is a quirky, fun little soup/sandwich/salad deli establishment.  I had a great dining experience there.  The waitress wrote in big letters on the order that mine was gluten-free.  And the receipt also made mention that it was gluten-free and yes…it was an allergy.  These are the little things that someone like me appreciates while eating out.  It just puts your mind a little more at ease.

I never knew how much I missed flatbread until I could have it again.  And this was a great place to start as far as finding one that had lots of flavor, no strange texture, and was just awesome with every bite.  I didn’t even need the dressing…the bread provided a lot of the necessary flavor for a sandwich filled with fresh vegetables.  This was love in flatbread sandwich form.  And I was one happy gluten-free customer.

If I find myself back up in southeastern Pennsylvania again, I will actively seek out Isaac’s as a safe place for me to eat.  Looks can be deceiving as I have come to find out quite often.  And in this case…this little dive of a place in a strip mall provided me one of my favorite gluten-free sandwiches to date.  The care of the staff at the restaurant and the variety of gluten-free options on the menu was awesome.  Totally worth a repeat visit sometime!

Isaac's Gluten-Free Larkspur Sandwich
Isaac’s Gluten-Free Larkspur Sandwich

Recipe: Quin-y (Quinoa) Bean-y Lettuce Wraps

So, my CSA bin this week contained a beautiful bunch of very large, amazing romaine lettuce leaves.  Immediately, the first thing I thought of to do with it was make lettuce wraps.  They are simple, tasty, and low carb.  And, you can literally put anything you want to inside of them.  Pack them with your favorite foods, roll them up, enjoy.

As I’m attempting to use up the fresh produce in my fridge before my upcoming trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania for the Hershey Half Marathon, I had plenty of options to choose from.  What I ended up doing was cooking up some quinoa (a pantry staple in my kitchen), tossing it with some beans, green chilies, and roasted red peppers, giving it a dusting with vegan cheese, and viola…lettuce wrap perfection.  My actual recipe follows…

Recipe: Quin-y (Quinoa) Bean-y Lettuce Wraps

Quin-y Bean-y Lettuce Wraps
Quin-y Bean-y Lettuce Wraps

Servings: 2
Time: Prep 5 minutes; Cook 15 minutes


  • 6 large romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 Wild Garden Traditional Hummus On-The-Go pack (1.76 ounces each) (…or your favorite hummus)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, dry (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons green chiles (I used Ortega Fire Roasted Diced Green Chiles)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup cheddar cheese (I used Cheddar Flavor Rice Shreds)


Cook quinoa according to package directions.

While the quinoa is cooking, rinse and dry romaine lettuce leaves.  Spread hummus over each leaf and sprinkle with red onion.

When quinoa is cooked, remove lid from pot and add black beans, roasted red pepper, and the green chilies.  Stir.  Cover and allow to steam to heat through.  Remove from heat.

Spoon quinoa mixture into each leaf.  Top off with cheese.  Fold romaine lettuce around the filling.



These were really delicious.  My roommate even asked if we could have them again tonight.  And that is definitely the plan.  Not only are they easy to make and assemble, but they are full of flavor, low carb, high in protein, and just delicious.  As I like a little zing to mine, I added a splash of Cholula Hot Sauce to mine.

Looking for an easy meal to prepare without a lot of hassle and that’s not high in carbs or calories…give these a try.  Fill them with whatever you have on hand…or give my own recipe a try.  I’m totally looking forward to dinner tonight!

Recipe: Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

You know…with all the produce that I get delivered right to my door, it’s amazing I talk myself into buying anything else while out at the grocery store.  However, for some reason, I had the urge to make portobello mushroom burgers this week.  I have plenty of produce to use already, but no…these just had to be made.  I had made up my mind already in my head and all I needed were organic portobello mushroom caps…which my local grocery store happened to have.

The rest…was inspired by a recipe on Pinterest…which I then deviated from to work with the fresh veggies and items I had on hand in my fridge.  So…here is the recipe…

Recipe: Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger

Servings: 2
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 10 minutes


  • 2 portabello mushrooms, cleaned and gills removed
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce (I used San-J Reduced Sodium Tamari)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 6 grape tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1 ounce goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Galaxy Mozzarella Rice Shreds)
  • 2 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 2 buns, split (I used Schär Gluten-Free Sandwich Rolls)
  • butter for spreading on buns


Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Combine balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic powder and onion powder in a small bowl.  Pour over mushrooms, tossing a few times, and let marinate for 10 minutes.

When grill is nice and hot, turn heat back to medium and grill mushrooms for about 5 minutes each side.

During the last 2 minutes of grilling, throw buttered buns on just long enough to heat through, melt butter, and impart a nice grill mark on bread.

Remove mushrooms and bread from grill.

Place tomatoes, peppers, goat cheese and mozzarella cheese inside portobello cap.  Place in a hot pan and sprinkle water inside.  Cover to allow cheese to melt.  Remove from pan.

To assemble the burger, place romaine lettuce leaf on bun, then top with the vegetable and cheese topped mushroom.  Place top of bun on top and enjoy!


I handed this over to my burger-loving, meat-eating roommate and she took the first bite.  Her exact words were, “This tastes like a burger.  If you didn’t tell me it was a portobello mushroom, I wouldn’t know!”

Awesome.  I must say, the marinade does make all the difference when it comes to eating something like mushrooms.  This was a fantastic burger to dine on.  I added a little kick to mine buy spreading each bun with some Koops Arizona Heat mustard.  It was a really delicious and healthy dinner.  And it’s very easy to make and assemble too, which is even better.

Love mushrooms? Or looking for an alternative to red meat?  Give this one a try.  Honestly…it was SO good.

Monical’s gluten-free pizza a solid, but unimpressive slice of gluten-freedom

Monical's Pizza, Fishers, Indiana
Monical’s Pizza, Fishers, Indiana

Restaurant: Monical’s Pizza, Fishers, Indiana

Okay…granted, Monical’s Pizza is actually a chain.  A very small chain consisting of over 60 restaurants that are mainly in the Wisconsin/Illinois/Indiana region.  But…I had never heard of them and they aren’t in my area.  Thus…this chain will be getting a blog.

This past weekend, I was up in Indianapolis to attend the Gluten-Free Living Now Expo.  It was a great event with lots of vendors, samples, information, and way too much gluten-free goodness for my wallet to handle.  I showed up hungry and took bits and bites here and there.  But when all was said and done, and I had covered much every inch of the expo space…I was now ready for lunch.

The original plan had been to go to Uno’s and try their gluten-free pizza.  However, aside from already being in Carmel, Indiana, and the other place we wanted to go was where we were, driving South for pizza just seemed…ridiculous.  Only because we’d have to drive North again to hit up our ice cream place (aka: the other place).  So, after some searching on Find Me Gluten-Free, my roommate found a place called Monical’s Pizza.  And…the gluten-free option on their menu is a simple 10″ pizza.

We drove from the expo to the Monical’s Pizza in Fishers, Indiana and were promptly seated with fun activity place mats and the menu.  Obviously as I am completely gluten-free…pizza was on our mind.  My roommate and I had gone back and forth on what we wanted on the pizza.  Originally we thought onions and mushrooms.  But upon sitting down, she said the Margherita Pizza sounded good.  I told her just to pick one, as I just wanted gluten-free pizza.  So, when our waitress returned with the water we ordered as our drink, Cathy took the initiative and ordered Monical’s Gluten-Free Margherita Pizza.

With our order in, we sat around and talked.  I actually did some of the activities on the menu.  And a little bit later…our pizza was arriving.  I did love that it actually took some time to arrive.  When I order, I don’t want my food to immediately show up on my table.  I don’t want to even think about my food being prepared ahead of time.  I want my food made when I order it and fresh when it hits my table.

The thin-crust gluten-free pizza arrived and it looked really amazing.  The Margerhita Pizza was a nice version of a white pizza here.  The crust was brushed with olive oil and then topped with mozzarella cheese, tomato slices, minced garlic, and Parmesan.   It is actually one of my favorite pizzas out there.  While this one looked really good, and for the most part tasted very good…I found the gluten-free crust to be a huge disappointment.

Call my a cynic if you will, but since the inception of this blog as a gluten-free blog…pizza has been one of my passions.  And while at first the simple, pre-packaged, not made at the pizzeria crusts wowed me, they don’t anymore.  I have had one too many amazing gluten-free pizza crusts.  Some, like those at the Mellow Mushroom, exceed every pizza crust I have ever had while eating out.  Why?  Because it feels, tastes, and looks like a real pizza.  None of this cracker-thin-crust stuff.

But, at Monical’s Pizza, the thin crust is the standard.  It wasn’t bad.  The crust didn’t lose its crispness.  Nor was it tasteless or grow soggy with the toppings.  In fact…the crust wasn’t bad.  Not at all.  It just wasn’t something that blew me away.  And trust me…when it comes to gluten-free pizza, the crust needs to shine.  It is what sets it apart.  It is the very foundation of the gluten-free pizza.  A meh crust will yield a meh pizza which in turn yields a meh response from the gluten-free customer.

Monical’s delivers a solid, good gluten-free crust.  It reminded me a lot of Puccini’s Smiling Teeth.  Which is…good.  Just not great.  I love that the option is there…and I am very glad I can go into someplace like this and have the staff take proper care with my food preparation so as I won’t become ill from eating there…but…I love being able to rave about my food.

The toppings on this pizza were executed perfectly.  Honestly.  The cheese, tomato, garlic, olive oil combination is one of my all-time favorites and I found their toppings to be really good.  But the gluten-free crust needs some work.  Again, it wasn’t that it was bad, it’s just that I have had better.  Much better.

Would I go back to Monical’s for pizza?  Sure.  I mean, the gluten-free option is there and the pizza was good.  Honestly.  I just have grown to expect more from gluten-free pizza.  This is what happens when you start to get spoiled by restaurants who really know how to safely prepare a gluten-free crust in-house.  I’ve had many slices of gluten-free pizza and this one…was rather forgettable when all was said and done, and the pizza completely consumed.

All-in-all…a very good pizza…a lack-luster crust.  But…let’s not bite the hand that feeds us, right?  I appreciate the gluten-free option and wish more places would take the care and time to offer such things on their menus.

Monical's Pizza Gluten-Free Margherita Pizza
Monical’s Pizza Gluten-Free Margherita Pizza

Recipe: Gluten-Free and Vegan Mediterranean Pizza

Okay…I’ve become addicted to using hummus as the “saucy” part of a pizza.  I admit it.  Why?  Because it challenges me to come up with flavors that will pair well with it.  After my use of it yesterday on my version of a Tostada Pizza…I was ready to take on a new challenge.  And that’s exactly what I did.

Tonight, I created a version of a Mediterranean Pizza…once again utilizing hummus as the base and building the flavors on that.  Tonight’s result turned out to be one of my favorite pizzas that I have created to date.  I only wish I had a much more clever name for it.  But…that can always change.

There is some prep involved in this, but I promise…all the roasting, toasting, and caramelizing is worth it in the end!

Recipe: Gluten-Free and Vegan Mediterranean Pizza

Gluten-Free & Vegan Mediterranean Pizza
Gluten-Free & Vegan Mediterranean Pizza

Servings: 4 – 12 (depending on the size crust you use)
Time: Prep 40 minutes; Cook 15


  • 1 Pizza crust (either homemade or store-bought) (I used Rustic Crust Gluten-Free Napoli Herb Crust)
  • Wild Garden Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted
  • 6 organic plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 ounces (more if you are doing a larger pizza) goat cheese
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese (I used mozzarella flavor rice shreds)
  • 1 cup chopped spring mix lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons (more if your pizza is larger) toasted pine nuts



Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash the red bell pepper and place on a cookie sheet.  Roast in the oven, turning every 15 minutes, until done (about 30 minutes).  Place roasted peppers in a covered bowl or brown paper bag to make the skin easier to peel.  Once the peppers have cooled, carefully peel off the blackened skin and discard.  Pull or cut off the top of the pepper and squeeze gently to remove the seeds.  You can do this ahead of time, slice the peppers, and then keep in the refrigerator until you need to use them.

Once your peppers are out of the oven and chopped, dust your pizza stone with cornmeal and place in the oven to preheat.  If you are using a pizza pan, you do not need to do this.

Caramelize your red onion.  Slice your onions into half-rounds and place in a hot pan with olive oil.  Cook the onions over medium low heat, stirring every couple of minutes.  Adjust the heat so that they merely sizzle and continue to cook on medium-low to low heat, stirring, until the onions are soft and anywhere from honey-colored to deep brown, depending on how caramelized you like them.

While the onions are caramelizing, get out a small skillet and place over medium-low heat.  Pour in your pine nuts and shake the pan until the nuts are a golden brown.  Take off the heat and set aside.

Remove your pizza stone from the oven (or prep your pizza pan).  If you made your own pizza dough, cook it as you normally would, then remove to add the toppings.  If you are using a store-bought crust, simply place the crust in the center of the stone or pan.

Spread a layer of Wild Garden Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus across the crust.  Next, sprinkle the pizza with the caramelized onions.  Add the slices of plum tomato.  Then scatter your chopped roasted red pepper over the pizza.

Using your fingers, break apart the goat cheese and carefully drop small pieces of it around the pizza surface over the vegetables.  Add as much as you like.  Then, give a light dusting of mozzarella cheese to the pizza.

Place in the oven and cook the pizza for 8 – 10 minutes, allowing the crust to turn golden and the cheese to melt.  Remove from the oven and scatter chopped mixed lettuce greens over the top.

Next, drop toasted pine nuts over the top of the pizza and place back in the oven for 1 minute more, allowing the greens to just wilt.

Remove from oven, slice, enjoy.


Whew.  Like I said…the prep work that goes into this particular pizza can be quite daunting, but honestly, so much of it can be done ahead of time, or while something else is going on the stove or heating in the oven.  Chopping the vegetables is easy

The result, however, is a bold, delicious pizza with an amazing crisp crust.  The hummus creates a rich base that pairs beautifully with the roasted, toasted, and caramelized flavors of the toppings to this pizza.  I added the pine nuts for a bit of texture and they were a fantastic addition in the end.  It was my first time ever using pine nuts and now I can’t wait to try something else with them in it.

Looking for a different sort of pizza to serve on pizza night?  Try a blend of Mediterranean flavors that is sure to impress your taste buds and your dinner companions.

Recipe: Gluten-Free (and vegan…for me) Tostada Pizza

This was one of my favorite recipes for my mom to make when I was growing up.  Honestly.  She was the best at making her Tostada Pizza…including mixing the dough from scratch.

Of course, since my childhood a few things about me have changed.  First of all…I became a vegetarian back in 2010 and have never looked back.  So, the first alteration to the recipe I had to make was replacing the ground beef.  Thankfully, Trader Joe’s makes an amazing gluten-free and vegan chorizo.  YUM!  Secondly, I had to go gluten-free back in 2011.  So, the crust recipe had to change as well.  While I can make a gluten-free pizza crust, it was getting late, so I used a pre-made gluten-free pizza crust instead.  It worked just as well.

I’m going to post the original recipe for my mom’s Tostada Pizza here.  But I am going to make note as to how I changed it up to make it gluten-free and vegan.  If you are simply looking for a good pizza recipe, need a good gluten-free pizza recipe, or need a good gluten-free and vegan pizza recipe…this will do it (and hopefully not confuse you too much).

Recipe: Tostada Pizza

Gluten-Free & Vegan Tostada Pizza
Gluten-Free & Vegan Tostada Pizza

Servings: 4 – 12 (depending on crust you use and size)
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 15-25 minutes

Ingredients for pizza crust**:

  • 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
  • 2 cups packaged biscuit mix (use gluten-free Bisquick or other gluten-free pizza crust mix)
  • 1/2 cup water

**Or…use a pre-made and store bought gluten-free pizza crust to save time.  I used Rustic Crust Gluten Free Napoli Herb crust, which I purchased at the grocery store**

Ingredients for pizza:

  • 1 pound ground beef (I used Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Soy Chorizo)
  • 3 tbsp chopped green chilies
  • 1 package taco seasoning (make sure this is gluten-free) (I didn’t use this in my recipe as I was using vegan chorizo, which is already spicy)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans (I used Wild Garden Traditional Hummus)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese (I used Rice Shreds)
  • 1 cup lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • taco sauce


Sprinkle your pizza stone or a well-greased 12 inch pizza pan with cornmeal.

If making your own crust, combine the biscuit mix and 1/2 cup of water.  Stir with a fork until dough forms a ball.  Turn dough on a lightly floured surface; knead 5 to 6 times.  Roll to a 14 inch circle, pat into pizza pan or place on pizza stone, crimping the edges.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

If you are using a store bought pizza crust or gluten-free pizza crust…simply heat up your stone with the cornmeal on it.  Do not pre-bake the crust unless it is raw.

If you are not a vegan/vegetarian, brown the meat; drain grease.  Stir in the green chilies, taco seasoning mix and 3/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.  Skip this step if you are making a vegetarian version, unless you opt to use soy crumbles.  To take out the guesswork on the taco seasoning, I simply went with a vegan and gluten-free chorizo that I didn’t need to cook or add seasoning to.

Spread refried beans (or in my case, hummus) over the pizza crust.  Top with the meat and chilies.  Bake at 425 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with cheese.  Bake 2 minutes more or until cheese melts.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with lettuce, tomato, onion, and taco sauce on top.


I apologize for the unwieldy nature of this recipe.  But…changing up my mom’s original recipe to suit my dietary needs isn’t always easy.  And…I didn’t want to take away from the original recipe (even in this…a vegetarian food blog).  So…make substitutions as you see fit…just as I did.

The result…a pizza just like how my mom used to make it…except completely vegan in my case!  I remember why I loved it so much.  It’s like eating a taco in pizza form.  Two of the best comfort foods out there.

Want something different…go ahead and give this recipe a try.  Whether you are a vegan/vegetarian or not…and whether you need to eat gluten-free or not…this recipe will work either way.


Love at first cheesy bite with Schär Gluten-Free Cheese Bites

Schär Gluten-Free Cheese Bites
Schär Gluten-Free Cheese Bites

Product: Schär Gluten-Free Cheese Bites – $4.25+

Schär has most notably become one of my go-to companies for gluten-free products.  Why?  Because I have yet to really be disappointing by something that they have out on the market.  When it comes to that gluten-free “wow” factor, Schär constantly delivers, whether it is their par-baked bread products or pasta or otherwise.

As I am working my way through my gluten-free snack stock in my pantry, this week brought me to the small package I had of Schär Gluten-Free Cheese Bites.  Now…I can tell you right now, I loved these at first bite.  I had actually sampled a few at a Gluten-Free Expo back in February and it was honestly love at first bite.  First freakin’ bite.

But, that was awhile back and it had been a long time since my taste.  But there wasn’t any of that trepidation when I loaded up a serving (30g) for work on Friday.  I knew my afternoon snack would be enjoyed.  I remembered that much.

But when snack time rolled around, I remembered exactly why these were stocked in my pantry.  First of all, they were on sale one week.  I just hadn’t gotten to them yet as I work (in expiration date order) through my snacks.  Secondly…they are yummy!  Beyond yummy, actually.  They are a fantastic cheesy treat.

Forget Goldfish crackers (which are not gluten-free, so I have had to forget them anyway).  These take the taste above and beyond what those smiling snack crackers ever did.  Schär provides a gluten-free bite-size treat of cheese and powerful flavor.  What’s not to like?

These are love in cheese cracker form.  They actually remind me a lot of Ritz cheese crackers.  Buttery, cheesy goodness that you just pop into your mouth.  They have the right amount of saltiness to them to bring out the richness of the crackers.  And I find that these would be amazing as croutons in a tomato soup, or sprinkled with some olive oil and ranch dressing mix.  Yummy.  They could be used as croutons in a salad as well.  But my favorite way to eat them…straight out of the bag.

I let my co-worker, who is trying to learn more and taste gluten-free products to see how she likes them (most of them she doesn’t…but she is picky), try one and she loved them.  Honestly.  These are amazingly good.  I applaud Schär for this nutritious and delicious snack.  One serving is only 140 calories and 5 grams of fat.  Not bad for a cheese cracker at all.  And definitely not bad for an afternoon snack.

Schär…I hope you introduce more snack crackers like this one.  These are to be raved about…for life. And I intend to savor every bite-size morsel from the remainder of the bag.