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

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To Taste: Chicken under a Bri… Something Heavy

My boyfriend has come to love food porn as much as I do, so when he sent me Pinch My Salt‘s step by step photo blog of Grilled Chicken Under a Brick, I couldn’t wait to get my spatchcock & grill on! Dre & I were both working late on a Friday night, and seeing that I already learned my lesson in grilling in the dark, I decided to at least get my meal prepped that night for a yummy pre-work lunch the next day.

When there’s chicken of any kind on sale, I impulsively pack my already stuffed freezer with as much as I can. I thawed one of the roasting chickens to make some space for my next grocery trip, watched this very helpful video on butterflying a whole chicken, & got to butchering! Call me sadistic (I’ll spare my veggie friends/readers from seeing the pics), but I really enjoyed the whole hands-on process of removing the spine & breast bone of my chicken so it could lay flat for its visit to the grill.

I picked some Fresh Herbs from my garden, chopped, & combined with Olive Oil & Minced Garlic for a simple chicken rub. I coated both sides of the chicken & marinated in the fridge overnight. I also peeled & cubed a butternut squash; to me, its serves as a starch & veggie side to any meal.

Spatchcocked Chicken w/ a Basil, Lemon-Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic, & EVOO Marinade

Spatchcocked Chicken w/ a Basil, Lemon-Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic, & EVOO Marinade

Grilled Butternut Squash with Fresh Herbs, Spices, & Garlic

Grilled Butternut Squash w/ Fresh Herbs, Spices, & Garlic

Saturday morning, we got the grilled warmed to about 350 degrees per the Whole Foods recipe that Pinch My Salt referenced. I seasoned the Butternut Squash with Fresh & Dried Herbs, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, S&P, Garlic, & Olive Oil and divided them among 4 foil pouches while the chilled chicken came up to temperature. When it came to grill time, I realized that, uh…  umm… I didn’t have any bricks! So the only troubleshoot I could come up with was a heavy, foil-covered cast iron pan, which proved to be a perfect substitution. The original recipe called for a 3-4lb chicken, but I was working with a 7lb bird, so it took about 20-25 minutes per side. I tossed the squash pouches onto the grill, too, as they were tender after flipping a few times in about 40 minutes. Towards the end of grilling, the drums of the chicken fell off, but it fortunately gave them some extra time to cook when the breast & wings were perfect.

All future birds cooked in my household will surely be spatchcocked & grilled, as this was the juiciest & tastiest one I’ve ever made. Looking forward to a Turkey Under ALOT of Bricks this Thanksgiving!

Grilled Chicken Under a Cast Iron Pan

Grilled Chicken Under a Cast Iron Pan

Grilled: Chicken Under a “Brick” & Herb Butternut Squash

Butterflied Whole 7lb Chicken – Rubbed & marinated w/ Basil, Lemon-Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Minced Garlic, & EVOO, grilled under a Cast Iron Pan

Grilled Butternut Squash – Cubed & tossed w/ Fresh & Dried Herbs, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, S&P, Garlic, & Olive Oil, grilled in foil packets

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: Mmmm, Bacon Sunday

Sunday morn, the man & I made a quick Italian Market trip for some fresh bacon! We popped into Cappuccio’s Meats  (1019 S. 9th St.) for 2lbs & headed home for a very late day brunch for 4. My awesome mama sent me Kona Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix from Hawaii, the perfect main course. I’m glad I remembered I had a heart-shaped pancake mold in my kitchen gadget stash, as they were adorable & delicious with ripe bananas & strawberries!

 

Heart-shaped Banana Kona Chocolate Chip Pancakes (breath), Fresh Banana & Strawberries, Bacon, & OJ

Heart-shaped Banana Kona Chocolate Chip Pancakes (breath), Fresh Banana & Strawberries, Bacon, & OJ

Bacon Sunday wasn’t complete without another round of fried piggy greatness! The next best way to serve bacon besides straight-up at breakfast is the trusty BLT. I stuck to a pretty traditional setup of Bacon, Ripe Tomatoes, & Romaine on Country White Bread.

My man requested some Garlic-Herb Mayo to finish it off & I couldn’t let him down! The result was perfection on a new level!

Shallot-Garlic-Herb Mayo – Classic Hellman’s w/ minced Garlic & Shallots, sauteed in bacon fat (of course!), & chopped Parsley, Lemon-Thyme, & Thai Basil

 

BLT w/ Sauteed Garlic-Shallot & Fresh Herb Mayo on Country White Bread

BLT w/ Sauteed Garlic-Shallot & Fresh Herb Mayo on Country White Bread

Visit my Flickr Photostream for more pics of my Heart-Shaped Brunch & Garlic-Herb BLT!