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Quick Bites

An Ode to Mount Soccer: Buffalo Chicken Dip

I was introduced to buffalo chicken dip at my first high school soccer pasta party. I had never heard of it before and to be honest, I thought it looked extremely unappetizing. My teammates thought otherwise, and each grade was designated to bring their own tray to enjoy since it was in such high demand. The scorching metal tray with blistering orange-reddish chicken was placed on the freshman table; my classmates dove in like vultures. I was hesitant to try it, as I thought there was mayonnaise in the dish (Kuffners and mayonnaise do not mix), but once I took a bite, there was no going back. 

The creaminess of the chicken, the spice of the buffalo, and the crunch of the tortilla chip made for a perfect combination. I became hooked like all my teammates. Now, buffalo chicken dip is my favorite dip and one of my go-to appetizers for holidays or functions. Don’t be fooled by looks. You don’t want to miss a chance to have your chip in this dip!

Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breasts

4 oz cream cheese 

½ cup ranch

1-1½ cups Red Hot

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup cheddar cheese 

1 bag of tortilla chips

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken breasts in an oven-safe dish, and season with salt and pepper. Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the dish and about ¼ cup of Red Hot. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the chicken completely shreds. Make sure to check every 15 minutes after the first 30 minutes to see how tender the chicken is. Once shredded, let it cool for a few minutes and then use two forks to further shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Mix in the cream cheese, ranch, and Red Hot. Mix until everything is combined. Add more Red Hot depending on your spice preference. Top the dip with the cheddar cheese. Place it back in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly crisp. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of getrecipecart

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Quick Bites

PB Copycat Crumbl Cookie

Crumbl Cookies have crazed social media, and now locations are popping up all around the country. These massive cookies come in a variety of flavors, ranging from fruity pebble and caramel popcorn to a simple chilled sugar cookie. The cookies look and taste delicious, but unfortunately, there are no Crumbl Cookie shops in the close vicinity of Boston College. So, grab your whisk and butter for my take on a copycat peanut butter crumble cookie. 

Ingredients 

Sugar Cookie Base 

1 cup salted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder 

PB Buttercream 

3 sticks butter, softtend 

1 cup peanut butter

3-4 cups powdered sugar 

½ teaspoon vanilla extract 

Toppings

Homemade caramel 

Roasted, salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter on high. Once fluffy, add the sugar. Once incorporated, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Beat on high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the four and baking powder, ensuring not to overmix the dough. Scoop out a ¼-⅓ cup of dough, roll it into a ball, and flatten it on a cookie sheet. These cookies are meant to be big! Bake for 8-11 minutes or until slightly golden. Let cool. 

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and beat on high for 3-5 minutes or until a pale white color is reached. Whip in the peanut butter. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla. You may need to add more or less powdered sugar depending on your tastes, but a slightly thick consistency is needed.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, fill a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip with the PB frosting. Starting from the middle of the cookie, pipe outwards in a circle to create a rose look. Drizzle caramel over one side and garnish with 3 roasted peanuts. Serve chilled or at room temperature to impress all your friends. 

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Quick Bites

Overly-Easy Breakfast Hash 

Growing up every Saturday I would wake up to the smell of sizzling bacon and butter browning around pancakes. Breakfast foods are an absolute staple within the Kuffner household no matter the day of week or time. Without fail, every single Saturday my dad made us a full breakfast spread filled with heaps of bacon, different types of pancakes, and of course his world-famous scrambled eggs. 

As a child, I would only ever eat eggs that my dad made. They had to be from him, and they had to be scrambled. The gooey yolk in over-easy or sunny-side-up eggs freaked me out, and I refused to try them. In my mind they were raw, and that was not how eggs were supposed to be eaten. I held this notion until one day my best friend Eimile made me her famous avocado toast with a runny egg on top. My world was rocked and I instantly fell in love with the gooey inside of an over-easy egg. 

Now my interpretation of a perfect egg is a slightly crispy white with a mostly-runny yolk that can be soaked up by freshly made bread. Fried eggs evolved into my go-to enhancement to any dish, and my new favorite breakfast food. This recipe combines a take on my dad’s famous hash browns and my newfound favorite food. It’s a testament to the breakfast foods of my childhood and my new changing tastes as an adult. So grab your cast iron skillet and love for breakfast foods, and make this revamped Saturday breakfast dish for one. 

Ingredients

2 fresh sausages of your choice (out of the casing)

½ onion diced

1 large sweet potato, cubed

½ red bell pepper, sliced

½ yellow bell pepper, sliced

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper to taste 

1 over-easy egg

Handful of fresh cilantro 

Instructions

In a large cast-iron skillet, break the sausage into pieces and cook until browned. Remove the sausage from the skillet and add the onion. Sauté until lightly browned. Next add the cubed sweet potatoes, along with some water to the pan. Place a lid on the skillet and steam the potatoes for approximately five minutes. Stir and cook until the potatoes are soft. Add the sliced peppers and the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt and pepper. 

Once the hash is cooked through and has slightly crispy parts, in a separate non-stick pan crack the egg. Cook for approximately two to three minutes so the bottom is crispy but the yolk is runny. Place the egg on top of the hash, sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy 🙂 

Categories
Quick Bites

A Real Bean Pot

The annual Beanpot hockey tournament is currently in full swing, and students across Boston are repping their schools more than ever. This 66-year-old tradition brings the four major Boston-area university hockey teams together for an epic showdown to show who truly dominates. 

Sadly, our coveted Boston College eagles plummeted to defeat in their game against Northeastern on Monday, Feb. 7, and now must face Harvard in the consolation game on Monday, Feb.14. The seats were filled, but the BC spirit and Screaming Eagles Marching Band were not enough to rally the team for a win. 

Now, sad and defeated students must recover and watch from the dorms as Boston University takes on reigning champion Northeastern in the final game. Even though we lost the Beanpot hockey tournament, you can still indulge in the spirit and make this winning bean pot of chili. 

Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 medium onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced 

3 cloves garlic 

2 tablespoon tomato paste 

2 pounds ground turkey 

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes 

2 14-ounce cans kidney beans 

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin 

1 teaspoon cayenne 

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt 

1-2 cups water

Instructions 

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the onion until translucent. Add the diced peppers and garlic. Once slightly brown, add in the ground turkey. Sauté until the meat is fully cooked. Add the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and salt. Mix thoroughly until the meat is covered in the spice mixture. Add the tomato paste and stir until the mixture comes together. Add the tomatoes and drained beans. Stir and add at least one cup of water before simmering. 

Simmer on low heat for a minimum of one hour, or until the desired flavors have been met. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be. Before serving make sure to taste the chili, and adjust the spice level based on your preference. 

Enjoy, and GO EAGLES!!

Cover photo courtesy of Cooking Classy

Categories
Quick Bites

Ode to Hotteok

I was an unassuming passerby, merely meandering through the endless stalls in Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Square. I was a sponge to the environment, soaking in the unintelligible crowd chatter, slight October breeze, and the different smells: sometimes seafood, other times street food. Having eaten freshly cooked clams for lunch just half an hour prior with friends, I was not particularly hungry. We were on what I like to call a “digestion walk” — the casual stroll after a meal, usually done in high spirits. Little did I know that life had more in store, that the day was just about to get even better (as if fresh seafood for lunch was not enough). Even while I was “full,” there was a special 호떡 (hotteok) shaped space in my stomach;  I soon found that the sweet Korean snack carved a permanent place in my heart as well.

Our relaxing digestion walk took a sudden pause in front of a street food stall in the middle of BIFF Square. A blue, red, and green striped canopy offered the stall shade on the mildly sunny day. The top of the canopy read in Hangul, in large white font: 씨앗호떡 (ssiat hotteok). Seed hotteok. 1,000 won (which is less than a dollar). My hotteok-loving friend encouraged us to try it out. I couldn’t wait.

While studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea, I had tried a variety of Korean street food. Hotteok was surprisingly one I had not experienced until a couple months in. Because hotteok is incredibly popular, it can be found anywhere in Seoul (so I didn’t really have an excuse for waiting that long). However, visiting Busan for its annual film festival in October presented itself as a prime opportunity to try ssiat hotteok, a version only found in the southern city. 

The only information I could use to discern the characteristics of this intriguing street snack, having never tried it, was by observing the seller’s preparation of it. Here’s a video of how ssiat hotteok is made!

The vendor, a kind-eyed elderly woman, was lightning fast, having mastered the recipe. She shaped flexible dough into circles, spooned in a light brown mixture in the middle, and gathered around the edges of the dough to form a ball and secure the inside mixture. Watching her prepare hotteok was mesmerizing — so fast yet fascinatingly precise. 

I later learned that the dough was made of flour, yeast, milk, salt, and sugar. Sticky and flexible, it served as a secure encasing for the filling when shallowly fried. The filling consisted of a mixture of brown sugar and ground cinnamon. The vendor fried the balls in oil on a large grill and pressed them flat into disks. Hotteok was done cooking when it was lightly golden brown on both sides, after being turned over occasionally. The vendor then cut a slit in the middle of the disk to create a pocket for additional filling. In true Busan-fashion, the vendor generously stuffed the hotteok with seeds including pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

What makes Busan-style hotteok so distinct is this inclusion of the variety of seeds in the inside (hence called ssiat hotteok). Other preparations of hotteok around the country also add chopped nuts like walnuts, peanuts, or almonds. Some don’t add filling beyond the standard cinnamon and sugar mixture, as hotteok preparation can vary city to city, and even between vendors of the same city. A couple weeks later I even tried matcha hotteok! There is something for everyone.

Vendor frying hotteok.

Photo credit: Saamia Bukhari

The vendor carefully placed the hot and fresh ssiat hotteok in paper cups. Time to dig in.

Biting inside the hotteok, the gooey sugar and cinnamon syrup immediately greeted my taste buds and oozed out. It was piping hot. Should I have waited a couple of minutes and let it cool down? Maybe. But I couldn’t resist. The seeds doused in the sticky sugary goodness offered a textural element and crunch. The density of the fried dough cut through the sweet inside. It was divine. The perfect post-lunch dessert.

Hot and fresh hotteok.

Photo credit: Saamia Bukhari

Upon first chew, I immediately concluded that it topped my Korean street food rankings. It was unlike any other sweet street food I had tasted in the country: an impeccable balance of crunch and sweet, an elite dough to filling ratio. Dangerously addictive. And under a dollar? An absolute dream. At that moment, my life was divided into two parts. B.H. and A.H.: Before Hotteok and After Hotteok. Was it really that impactful? Yes.

Standing in the shade, the three of us held our hotteok preciously, as if they were going to grow wings and fly away at any moment. We ate carefully to not get burned from the hot, gooey sugar, though I still managed to despite my best efforts. I was overwhelmed with a sense of happiness, a certain contentment felt when experiencing good food with good friends. At the same time, there was an underlying, heart-tugging sadness, as each bite inevitably meant getting closer to finishing it. However, the memory will remain as fresh as the hotteok made that afternoon. Busan’s mid-day warmth, film festival excitement, adventurous friends, and of course, ssiat hotteok… together these seemingly separate elements planted the seeds to a wonderful day.

Categories
Quick Bites

Haymarket Boston Intro: A Farmer’s Market Highlight

Located in the heart of Boston is Haymarket, an outdoor farmer’s market which dates back to around 1830. Between historic pubs and restaurants, stalls line the cobbled streets of Haymarket, boasting a wide assortment of various fruits, vegetables, and other fresh produce. Haymarket opens every Friday and Saturday, from dawn to dusk, enticing passers-by with the vibrant and bustling atmosphere surrounding the outdoor market. Produce is sold for some of the best deals in Boston, and further encouragement is provided as after around 3pm on Saturday afternoon, all remaining produce is further marked down. In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables of Haymarket, specialty grocers located along Blackstone street offer a variety of cheeses, eggs, fish, Halal meats, and more. 

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Quick Bites

Pineapple-Marinated Chicken

Recipe courtesy of New York Times.

Categories
Quick Bites

Big Eats in the Big Easy

Living in Baton Rouge for most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by good times, great people, and hearty foods. Louisiana specialties include gumbo, jambalaya, bisques, etouffees, and many other variations on the large-pot meal. As my Bostonian friend, Emily, came down to visit at the beginning of the summer, I introduced her to the bulk of what makes up Cajun and Ceole cuisine. 

Starting with a Southern classic, she tried gumbo. Though this dish has no specific recipe, it is usually cooked with various mixtures of seafood, meats, and vegetables. It is a dish that is made for sharing, and will last you weeks. The gumbo that we had was from a local restaurant in Baton Rouge called The Chimes East; this is the place to be on any LSU game day if you want to be surrounded by Tiger fans that love to shout.

At the same restaurant, Emily was also introduced to a slightly less known, but just as memorable dish called crawfish etouffee. In Louisiana, crawfish is thrown in everything you could imagine: from fried crawfish in salads, to crawfish in soup, to just boiling it and enjoying it as a full meal. However, crawfish etouffee is probably one of the best, most unique crawfish dishes, usually served atop rice and with a side of bread. This dish is not only hard to pronounce, but also the best curated dish on any menu.

Louisiana is famous for its delectable desserts, but the biggest crowd pleaser is by far the famous beignets. Cafe du monde is a New Orleans large chain cafe restaurant that serves beignets, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. However, as a Baton Rouge resident, I have always preferred our local beignets from a coffeehouse called Coffee Call. Serving beignets day and night, Coffee Call differs in its beignet-making with the introduction of beignet fingers, which are smaller slices of the large beignet puff that are easier to eat, and, in my opinion, so much more delicious. When visiting Coffee Call, you can’t just get their beignets, but also a cup or two of their hot chocolate as well.

Moving onto our day in New Orleans, also known as the Big Easy, I took Emily to a restaurant called Superior Seafood, known for their happy hour, where raw oysters are only 50 cents a piece. Since Emily was not the biggest fan of raw oysters, she tried multiple kinds of chargrilled oysters on this trip, from both Superior Seafood in New Orleans and The Chimes East in Baton Rouge. These were topped with herbs and cheeses, served with bread, making for the perfect appetizer. 

Another classic Louisiana dish, perfect for lunch, is the poboy. In other areas of the country, this type of sandwich might be called a hoagie or a sub, but Louisiana’s take on it is the poboy. Usually stuffed with fried shrimp, fried fish, or fried oysters, poboys are served in many restaurants, both large and small, for lunch and sometimes dinner. My personal favorite is the shrimp poboy, especially from Superior Seafood, where they give you the next meal’s serving of fried shrimp as well. 

The last menu item on this food tour of Louisiana is the underrated shrimp and grits. Served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, grits are a classic part of any dish in the South. This dish is served in many different restaurants, but is definitely daunting to newcomers and visitors of Louisiana. This dish takes on multiple flavor combinations with each bite, and is a personal favorite of mine at home.

This concludes our mini food tour of dishes and cuisines served in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Louisiana holds a special place in my heart, and I was ecstatic to share it with friends from BC. Hopefully, this inspires you to book your next trip to the Big Easy to experience these big eats.

Cover photo courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler

Categories
Quick Bites

Au Poivre: Recipe Inspired by a Parisian Bistrot

The concept of flavor and preservation reached Europe around the time of the Roman Empire. By the first century AD, Rome had a thriving trade in spices, and pepper was one of its most prized possessions. It had become such a valuable good that, during the fifth century when the empire was in decline and almost invaded by the barbaric Visigoths, the Romans offered 3,000 pounds of pepper to buy back their city. 

Like the Romans many centuries before me, I felt as if I introduced flavor into my palette for the first time on a recent trip to France. In Paris’s eleventh arrondissement, I ate a famous dish of boeuf au poivre in the small, yet renowned, Bistrot Paul Bert.

When I asked the waitress what was in the sauce, she looked at me dumbfounded and slowly enunciated the terms au poivre with her finger on the menu, as if she were teaching a child how to read. When the waitress dashed off, I turned my eyes to the middle of the table and stared confusingly at the wooden pepper grinder: that’s it

For years, I thought of pepper as the last resort for bad food when salt was not doing the trick. But after Bistrot Paul Bert, not only did I crave to taste the peppercorn sauce again, I wanted to make my own boeuf au poivre

After an early trip to the nearest market, I began preparing the recipe by setting two tablets of boeuf bouillon into boiling water. With tear-filled eyes, I chopped one onion and one shallot, threw them into the broth, and stirred while adding some fresh herbs and three cow bone fragments. Then, I let the broth stew and began grinding the peppercorns. When I released the peppercorns from the épicier’s brown bag, I admired their appearance; they were the color of tall grass in an untamed field. In a silver bowl, I carried the peppercorns from the countertop to the stove while they swayed side to side, as if dancing—but their waltz ended as soon as they were crushed into dust. 

Afterwards, I poured 200 microliters of the stewed broth into the skillet and mixed it with 150 microliters of butter and 150 microliters of heavy cream. Finally, when the sauce began to get thicker, I added the last ingredient: a handful of pressed green peppercorns. I took a deep breath and gave myself a little pat on the back before picking up the wooden spoon to taste my creation. 

Closing my eyes and touching the spoon with my tongue, I expected to be transported to the bistrot. Instead, 3,000 pounds of pepper punched, kicked, and tore off my tastebuds. My nose began to run, and I started panting like a dog. The words, hot, hot, hot, were all I could utter. 

Just when I was about to give up, I looked at the raw morceaux des boeuf and decided to season them with salt, three tablespoons of olive oil, and 10 microliters of butter. Turning the steaks on the stove four to six times, I wanted to leave them as tender as possible but not too bloody. Once the meat was finished, it was pink and moist like the one at Bistrot Paul Bert. 

I looked at the meat satisfied but understood that I had not done the pepper sauce justice. I thought of her, the French waiter pointing at the menu, and started anew. I poured the broth, sobbed over the onions and shallots, measured the cream and butter, put a dash of cognac and wine for luck, and added 50 microliters of green pepper instead of a handful. The new sauce simmered and thickened as cold sweat ran down my back and my stomach growled. 

After giving the wooden spoon a final turn, I pulled it up to my lips, hesitated, and, finally, had a taste. I suddenly felt the weight of 3,000 pounds of peppers off my shoulders, and heard the deep, rowdy screams of the Romans and all the waiters at Bistrot Paul Bert cheering triumphantly. We had won back our city.

Categories
Quick Bites

Turkey Over Text

For the first 18 years of my life, I was spoiled rotten. I grew up on good food: tender mafaldine with luxurious lamb bolognese for my birthday;charcoal-grilled duck in the middle of a 15-day power outage; scallops and saffron-laced risotto on Valentine’s Day; fall-off-the-bone short ribs braised in red wine on any old Sunday evening. My dad, whether intentionally or not, has trained my siblings and I to expect a stellar meal at the drop of a hat. 

Even though I haven’t been home in three months, Dad saves me a seat at our tiny dinner table.  Every few weeks, I receive a plate of food in our text message conversations.  I’m sharing some of my favorites in the hope that you too will be reminded of the taste of home.

Note to reader: Read the text below as you would a text conversation.  My dad’s words and pictures are on the left; mine are on the right.  Italicized words have been taken directly from our messages.  All non-italicized words are additional thoughts and comments.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Dad:

Ina Garten’s Coquilles St. Jacques
A first in the Frias house, at least as far as I remember

Woah
Looks really good

Bay scallops, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, and cheese

Ah the idea of baking scallops and cheese doesn’t sit right with me
I clearly have trouble reconciling the combination of dairy and fish

I know
But I thought of a way to make it for you
He goes to great lengths to reconfigure recipes according to my dietary needs, and I could not be more grateful

How is that

No butter, gluten-free breadcrumbs, coconut milk, and skip the cheese
But I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’d rather pass on this adaptation.  Sorry Dad.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wear a mask….
Dad jokes from 300 miles away are almost funny.

That’s kinda gross

What if it coughs?

Let’s hope it doesn’t

Roasted squash, fire roasted sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with walnuts and pomegranate seeds, pâté in the middle
Thanksgiving (minus the smoked bird) dinner modified to feed five; a step down from our yearly menu for 10.

Looks BEAUTIFUL
Truth was, I wanted nothing more than to be home on Thanksgiving. Tom yum takeout in my dorm room wasn’t quite the same.


Thursday, February 4, 2021

Taiwanese popcorn chicken
Gluten free!
This made me giggle.  Maybe it was his way of telling me he missed me

Looks good
You don’t have to make things gf when I’m not there you know
I could see him shrugging exasperatedly as he read this.

The final product w/ fried basil

Looks really nice
Does it have a sauce?

No sauce―but feel free

To think about sauce?

Yes
I made a mayo/sriracha dip

Nice
I’d be a fool not to request this when I go home for summer break.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Pizzas!  Made the dough with the sourdough starter
Plugging Mary’s sourdough pizza recipe from Mucho Gusto.

Oooooo
Send the finished product when you’re done

Hopefully I don’t fuck it up
Unfortunately, Dad has a long history with fucked up pizzas. On one occasion, an entire pie fell through the grates of the grill. There was a lot of swearing involved.
*four hours later*
Okay, I need more practice
The dough portion was way too small (and I don’t know how to properly stretch the dough) so the pizzas were very small.  I don’t think they tasted bad, at least mine didn’t, but overall it was very stressful

Yikes
Any pictures?
I’m guessing there weren’t any pictures.


Monday, March 9, 2021

*Link to playlist titled “Pizza and Pasta*
A new playlist….Self explanatory
Some of my earliest memories in the kitchen were surrounded by the sounds of Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, and Sammy Davis Jr..  

Lovely
I have one like that
I didn’t tell him that I stole most of the songs off of his playlist.
Titled “dinnatime”
We think alike.
It’ll let me see what’s on the playlist but not play it
I’ll have to move it to Spotify manually

It’ll be good to play on a Sunday afternoon

With sauce
A Sunday supper staple.
Or eggplant parm
A once-in-a-blue-moon treat.

Exactly


Sunday, March 14, 2021

A shot from a 30-second video of Sunday red sauce bubbling on the stove.  The gently simmering pot and “‘O Surdato ‘nnammurato” by Pavarotti can be heard in the background.

Jealous

Soon enough…
I bet Dad could find a way to mail a jar of sauce to Chestnut Hill.
Great playlist
If I do say so myself

It is great
Much better than “dinnatime.”


Friday, April 2, 2021

Yes―I’m going to try this again

Godspeed
Send final product

I will

The perfect pizza is Dad’s kryptonite. This is a major win.

VERY NICE
What about everyone else?

They’re all out there
All the same
I doubted that my brother Alessandro would allow anchovies on his pizza.

You did them on the grill?

Yes
A couple of new tricks
Used parchment paper to slide the pizza off the peel…and did a better job with the dough


Food is the way my family shows love. I can’t enjoy every dinner with my family from several states away, but these photos are the next best thing. While my dad doesn’t say “I love you” over text, he does send plates of food. And to me, that’s even better.