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The Party’s in the Kitchen: Going Al Fresco

dutch ovensKitchens come in all shapes and sizes, and this weekend, mine was an outdoor grill at a campground. My husband and I took a departure from our regular routine and headed for the hills—literally. So glad we did. Relaxation and reconnection happened in the quiet surroundings with no real distractions other than occasional dog walking.

I have a confession to make. I didn’t actually do the cooking. My husband did. We decided to pull out our Dutch ovens and create some really delectable recipes. I used a shortcut to minimize prep time and pulled out some freezer meals before we left home. These meals were design to go right in the crockpot frozen, but to use them with the Dutch oven’s shorter cooking time, I defrosted them.

You can chose any recipe that can be baked or stewed when cooking with these cast iron pots. It is loads of fun and you WILL make your neighbors envious. Or maybe, it will be an open door for new friendships. You never know.

For our weekend menu, I chose Shepherd’s Pie and Lemon Chicken for our dinners. Both are a Pampered Chef’s secret recipe but I know there are some very good versions found online.

I also baked Pear Ginger Dumplings for dessert. This recipe is Ree Drummond’s recipe for Apple Dumplings with a couple changes. I used pears instead of apples and ginger ale instead of Mountain Dew. I also think if you have an open bottle of a sweet sparkling wine to use for the liquid, it would make it even more amazing.

Now, the weekend has come to an end. I am back home and leftover Lemon Chicken is needing to be used up. I am in the process of making a Lemon Chicken Pizza with Fresh Herb Sauce. I planted herbs in my window boxes this year (water regulations in Cali, you know) and they were begging for transformation. So, together with a little olive oil, the leftover chicken, a pizza crust and a bit of cheese, we are going to have something pretty yummy. To cap off our weekend of al fresco cookery, we will bake it on the grill.

Eating, loving, singing and digesting are, in truth, the four acts of the comic opera known as life, and they pass like bubbles of a bottle of champagne. Whoever lets them break without having enjoyed them is a complete fool. ~Gioacchino Rossini

Lemon Chicken Pizza with Fresh Herb Sauce


Put ingredients into bread machine in listed order on dough setting.


Process in small bowl of food processor until chopped finely.


To bake the pizza on your grill, heat to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll out to ¼ inch thickness. Place dough onto grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip onto plates and layer the toppings onto the cooked side and slide them back onto the grill to finish baking. Keep watch so bottom does not burn. Perhaps 10 minutes more.

No grill? Simply bake at 400 degrees in your oven until done.


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