Family-Style: Labor Day BBQin’

I couldn’t make it thru Labor Day weekend without some BBQ action, so I dug deep into the freezer for some ground beef & turkey to make burgers. The budget was tight, so I did my best to work with what I already had, including fresh Plum Tomatoes, a variety of Bell Peppers, & Sweet Corn on the Cob from my Zern’s stop on Saturday night. I seasoned the burgers, tossed them and the corn onto a hot grill, & chopped veggies for a light, simple Pasta Salad. Friends arrived, beers were cracked, & BBQ action we had!

Labor Day BBQ

Labor Day BBQ

Labor Day BBQ:

Grilled Beef & Turkey Burgers – Topped w/ American, Triple Smoked Bacon, Ripe Plum Tomatoes, Romaine, Ketchup, Gulden’s, & Mayo

Balsamic Pasta Salad – 1lb of Mini Shells, Farm Fresh (non-waxed) Cucumbers, Yellow Peppers, Violet Hybrid Peppers, Ripe Plum Tomatoes, & Shredded Asiago – Dressing: 3T Balsamic (or any vinegar), 1T Olive Oil, S&P, Fresh & Dried Herbs, 1 tsp Hot Chili Garlic Sauce, 1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Grilled Sweet Corn on the Cob – Finished with Butter & Salt

Labor Day BBQ Feast

Labor Day BBQ Feast

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Family-Style: Build Your Own Pizza

Last season of Top Chef, we started a tradition of “Family Dinners” at my house to watch each week’s episode along with a home-cooked meal! Tom, Dre, & Lex were the regulars at last season’s dinners, but couldn’t be happier to add Sarah to this year’s season. She brought along her homemade pizza dough for the return of Top Chef AND the return of “Build Your Own Pizza Night,” my favorite dinner theme!

The original plan was to do grilled pizzas, but after a summer of cooking and roasting Grape Tomatoes (via The Bitten Word’s amazing recipe) & Yellow Bell Peppers for pizza toppings, my grill ran out of gas. At least we always have the oven for back-up. I also prepared sauteed Zucchini, Chicken Andouille Sausage, Crab Meat, & Creole Shrimp, along with shredded Mozzarella, Smoked Gouda, Asiago, & Ricotta Cheeses, as topping options. Can’t forget some tomato sauce, as well! We all got to loading our shells with Dre opting for a Crab White Pizza & Tom piling on just about everying!

We were 3 episodes behind with all of our busy schedules, so we got together on a Thursday night to cook & recap via the DVR while the pizzas baked to perfection…

Dres Crab White Pizza - Pre-Baked

Dre's Crab White Pizza - Pre-Baked

My Pizza w/ the works

My Pizza w/ the works

Build Your Own Pizza Night

Homemade Pizza Dough a la Sarah

Roasted Tomatoes, Yellow Bell Peppers, & Zucchini

Chicken Andoille Sausage

Crab Meat

Creole Shrimp

Mozzarella, Smoked Gouda, Asiago, & Ricotta

Fresh Basil & Lemon-Thyme

Family-Style: Spicy BBQ Slow Cooked Pulled Chicken Sammies

I couldn’t wait to cook for my mom, as she made the trek all the way from beautiful Hawaii to visit Ker & I. Nothing is more comforting after a long travel (especially 3 flights & 14+ hours later) than a home cooked meal. The night before her arrival, I decided to dig out the ol’ Crock Pot. I usually rely on it to keep me warm during the winter months, but I had 6 chicken split-breasts waiting for a simmer.

I’d estimate that I make some version of pulled chicken in my Crock Pot about 4x each year, but never the quite the same recipe. This round, I took a Spicy BBQ approach for some summery flair.I tossed all the ingredients into the pot and set in the fridge with a can of chopped tomatoes on top so I wouldn’t forget to add in the morning. At 830am, I turned the Crock Pot on ‘Lo’ and headed to work. I love coming home to the aroma of a 9-hour simmer! Ker picked the bones out (a scorching & tedious task) & pulled the chicken. It simmered for another hour so the flavors could fully infuse.

I melted sharp cheddar on Whole Foods Onion Focaccia flat-breads, topped with leftover warmed collard greens, & a healthy pile of my Spicy BBQ Slowed Cooked Pull Chicken. I paired the plate with a Summer Roasted Vegetable Salad that I quick prepared the night before and finished with Rice Vinegar & Fresh Herbs before serving.

I always make a ton of chicken when I’m working with my Crock Pot. It works well on sandwiches, tortillas, quesadillas, salads, pizzas, inside a spring roll, & over rice to serve as extended leftovers. Get creative! I freeze a portion of every batch, too, to enjoy on a lazy dinner night!

BBQ Spicy Pulled Chicken, Melted Cheddar, Collard Greens, & Onion Focaccia w/ Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad

BBQ Spicy Pulled Chicken, Melted Cheddar, Collard Greens, & Onion Focaccia w/ Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad

Spicy BBQ Chicken Sammies w/ Summer Roasted Vegetable Salad:

Spicy BBQ Slow Cooked Pulled Chicken – BBQ Sauce, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire, Shallots, Garlic, Jalapeno, Olive Oil, Chili Powder & a Can of Chopped Tomatoes, marinated overnight & slow cooked in the Crock Pot for 10 hours

Whole Foods Onion Focaccia Flat Breads

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Leftover Collard Greens from my Grilled Crab Dinner

Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad – Roasted Yellow Squash, Cherry Tomatoes, & Sweet Peppers w/ Minced Garlic & EVOO, cooled & tossed w/ S&P Lemon-Thyme, Thai Basil, Parsley, & Rice Vinegar

Only regret is forgetting to add chipotles to the chicken. It really could have used a some smokey, spicier layers. Til next time…

Weekend Update: Asian Edition – Part 3

Friday was my sister’s 27th Bday so we celebrated with a Korean BBQ dinner at the new Miga in Center City. I’ll spare you stories of the horrendous service and just skip to the fun parts! Starting with the Japanese River Crab Photo Bomb a la Greg:

Japanese River Crab Photo Bomb

Japanese River Crab Photo Bomb

More photos of the teensy-weensy Japanese River Crab & festivities after the jump…

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Weekend Update: Asian Edition – Part 2

Thursday, I made a visit to my favorite (bc it’s close & I’m lazy) Vietnamese supermarket, aptly named Asia Market. Philly’s Washington Ave is lined with your choice of Asian markets, shops, & restaurants directly perpendicular to the famous Italian Market. I was certainly excited on this visit as now that I have a BlackBerry (aka my Frankenberry), I can look up all the crazy products encountered on my Asia Market excursions! This time was a quick trip for familiar dinner items for Friday night & some kitchen staples: Shallots, Fresh Ginger, Snow Peas, baby Bok Choy, Japanese Eggplant, & some chopsticks.

I had “plans” for a Friday night at home, cooking dinner & enjoying some TV/relaxation. A quick Google search for “chicken bok choy recipe” brought me to Food & Wine’s Ginger-Sesame Chicken w/ Mushrooms & Bok Choy, and thank goodness I had some fungi in the fridge! I always interpret recipes into my own taste, so I omitted the red peppers, prepared the baby bok choy on the side, & added my own splashes & dashes to the sauce. This recipe will def stay in my back pocket, especially for the brown sauce! I finished the meal with some white rice & good laughs via The Love Guru.

Ginger-Sesame Chicken w/ Mushrooms

Ginger-Sesame Chicken w/ Mushrooms

Baby Bok Choy

Baby Bok Choy

Restaurant Rewind: Bistrot la Minette

Rewind to May 16th, the proud day I got to see my big sis, Kerry, graduate with her Masters in Education from St. Joe’s University….

Mealtime in my family is a priority. We plan our days, vacations, celebrations, weekends, & social activities around what & where we’ll be eating. So when the conversation started on a lunch spot for after Ker’s graduation, it was time to try something new in the the gastro-city of Philadelphia. I accepted that challenge and went on a quest to find the right spot. Of course, with the onset of Spring weather, outdoor seating was definitely a must. Long story short, my process of elimination led me to what is now my new favorite restaurant in Philly!

BISTROT LA MINETTE

Happy Graduation, Kerry!

Happy Graduation, Kerry!

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Family-Style: Summer Feast

Here in Philly, it’s been raining almost daily for I dunno, 5+ weeks now!! So it was a nice treat to grill a summer dinner on a clear night with my girls. The real anecdote of the evening is strictly girl talk, but we had nothing to hide when it came to our appetites.

Herbed Zucchini Ribbons & Red Curry Chicken Skewers

Herbed Zucchini Ribbons & Red Curry Chicken Skewers

Our feast included:

Curried Chicken Kebobs ~ marinated overnight in red curry paste & Greek yogurt, skewered, & grilled

Herbed Zucchini Ribbons ~ sliced lengthwise with a mandolin, S&P, fresh herbs (basil, mint, & thyme from my garden), olive oil, & grilled in a pan

Sunshine’s Tangerine Cabbage & Bleu Salad

Sunshine’s Wheat Pellet Puffy Wheels ~ deep-fried in olive oil

Cucumber Mint Yogurt Sauce ~ Greek yogurt mixed with cubed cukes, fresh mint, minced garlic, & salt

Fresh Chopped Tomatoes

Pocketless Pita

Ariel’s Oatmeal Cookies ~ soft & delicious

Sunshine’s Sangria ~ lemon, orange, lime, peach, & plum

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