The irony is that we live just a few minutes from downtown Des Moines, but you wouldn't believe how many critters have taken up residence in our backyard! We have a birds nest with three tiny little guys camping out just outside our kitchen window, and a few steps from our backdoor, our sweet dog discovered a bunny nest with five baby bunnies inside (not to worry, no bunnies were harmed in the discovery, and mama bunny is still caring for them).
It's like Animal Planet 24-7 around here. The little Mr. and little Miss have been getting lots of lessons in nature!
*Sorry, no baby bunny pics...I was too afraid to disturb the nest
again after getting them all safely home and out of Stella's reach.*
When the weather turns warm, we begin eating most of our meals outdoors and spend more and more time grilling. When we grill we like to do our entire meal from entree' to dessert on the grill...no sense in wasting good coals! That's right...coals. We're sort of grill snobs and prefer charcoal/wood over gas. To avoid that nasty lighter fluid flavor, we use a charcoal starter (which looks sort of like a chimney) to get our coals good and hot.
Our favorite thing to grill is pizza! I love how the pizza gets a nice smokey flavor and just the slightest bit of charring on the bottom of the crust...mmmmmm...delish!
*a kid pizza, an adult pizza, and a banana boat*
My favorite pizza on the grill is a combination of Italian sausage, red bell pepper, red onion, mozzarella and just a bit of goat cheese.
I love how the cheeses get all melty and gooey.
The key to grilling a great pizza is to make smaller pizzas. I start by spreading out the dough on a lightly greased sheet of foil (olive oil) then top with sauce and toppings. I recommend using thinly sliced mozzarella over the prepackaged shredded variety. The powdery anti-coagulant doesn't allow the cheese to melt as well. This is probably more of a personal preference.
Grill for about 5-10 minutes on the foil, then remove the pizza from the foil and continue grilling just to allow the bottom of the crust to crisp up a bit.
If you haven't grilled a pizza, you need to! It's really quite easy and pretty much any toppings will do. The only topping I did not have much success with was grilled chicken as cooking it ahead of time and then grilling the pizza made the chicken a bit tough.
The recipe for both the pizza dough and sauce are from 101 Cookbooks and are just about the easiest and most delicious I've found so far!
Do you want it? Okay, you twisted my arm, I'll share it with you...
Neapolitan Pizza Dough
4 1/2 C flour
1 3/4 tsp salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 tsp yeast
1/4 Olive oil
1 3/4 C Cold water
*Stir together dry ingredients--add oil and water, mix with mixer (fitted with dough hook) until ball forms. Dough will be sticky. Lightly oil bowl to prevent dough from sticking. Dough is ready to use after resting approximately 10-20 minutes.
5 Minute Tomato Sauce
1/4 C Olive oil
*1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Sea salt
3 medium cloves of garlic (crushed)
1-28 ounce can of tomatoes
*Zest of one lemon
Combine oil, pepper flakes, salt and garlic in cold saucepan. Heat pan medium-high just until garlic becomes fragrant. Add tomatoes and heat a couple of minutes then adjust seasoning and add lemon zest.
*I leave out the pepper flakes so it won't burn little tongues and I do not add the lemon zest. I also let mine cook much longer than the recipe calls for. As it cooks, I mash the tomatoes with a potato masher so the sauce thickens as it cooks. I cook mine uncovered about 15 minutes stirring and mashing every so often.
Oh...what about dessert you say? Well, if you like it messy, then get some s'mores going before those coals run cold! Or, you can do banana boats like we did:
1 banana (peel slit from end to end --do not slice the banana)
crushed graham crackers
pull the peel slightly apart and fill with chocolate chips and marshmallows and top with crushed graham crackers. Grill until chocolate and marshmallows are melted and all is warm. So yummy with vanilla ice cream!