Semi-Homemade Hot Dog Bar

Entertaining does not have to be fancy to be delicious and delightful to your guests. We love having friends over in the summer for a backyard barbecue, and instead of spending hours prepping for a fancy feast, we like to have a really fun menu like this Semi-Homemade Hot Dog Bar. We love that we can cook hot dogs to order and let everyone fend for themselves with the hot dog bar ingredients to make their own meal. We have included suggestions for some of our favorite summer hot dogs below, and also encourage our guests to create their own flavors! If you are really in host and hostess mode, you can write out our ideas below (and some of your own!) to help guide your guests through the hot dog bar. The key to success with a menu like this is to think smart, not hard. You’ll notice that there are some repetitive ingredients amongst the list. We have also “semi-homemade” some of the ingredients, including the bbq pulled pork and chili, which have come from the prepared food section at the grocery store. If you want to make all of the bar toppings from scratch, by all means have at it. But if you don’t have time, you can still pull this off pretty easily. Having repeat and pre-made ingredients helps eliminate a ton of prep time in the kitchen, but doesn’t take away from the fun of the presentation. For reference, we like to plan for 2-3 hot dogs per person when making our ingredient list.

The Hot Dog Lineup:

  1. Asian Slaw Dog: Asian slaw, cilantro, sesame seeds, sriracha ketchup.
  2. The Cincinnati Dog: chili, onion, mustard, cheese.
  3. BLAT Dog: bacon wrapped dog, tomato, arugula, avocado, mayo.
  4. BBQ Pulled Pork Dog: pulled pork, barbecue sauce, everything bagel coleslaw.
  5. Chicago Dog: tomato, mustard, giardinara, sliced dill pickle.
  6. Mexican Dog: avocado (or guacamole), pickled jalapeños, cilantro,

Grilled Supreme Pizza

Grilled pizza is a staple for us and is constantly popping up on our weekly meal rotation. We love how easy and versatile the base recipe is so that we can mix and match ingredients with the season and our preferences. For this week’s recipe we were craving a classic supreme pizza. We love the combination of veggies and sausage in a supreme – it is definitely the best of both worlds in our opinion and doesn’t feel overly filling like other pizza variations. If you have a home garden growing, this is a great time to incorporate a lot of those veggies! Because of pregnancy heartburn we chose to not add any spicy peppers in our recipe, but highly recommend adding chili flakes or giardiniera if spicy if your jam!

Grilled Supreme Pizza

  • Servings: 4
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Utilizing the grill as much as possible for our take on a classic supreme pizza.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb premade raw pizza dough
  • flour (for rolling the dough)
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage links
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into strips
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 can black olives, sliced
  • basil

Directions

  1. Turn on your grill to high heat or if you are using an oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, put it on the grill or in the oven to preheat as well. When the grill is hot, add the sausages, red onion, and yellow peppers. Cook the sausages 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway, until they are cooked through. Keep an eye on the bell peppers and red onions and remove when they are starting to char. Remove all of the topping ingredients from the grill and set aside.
  2. Use the extra flour to roll the dough into a thin round pizza. You want the pizza to be about a half inch thick so that it can support the weight of the ingredients.
  3. Place the pizza dough on the grill for 5 minutes (or in the oven for 7-10) until the bottom layer is crispy and has a hard crunch. Remove the dough from the oven and place cooked side up. Slice the sausage into bite-sized pieces and top the pizza with all of the topping ingredients (pizza sauce – black olives) in an even layer.
  4. Place the pizza back on the grill for 5 minutes (7-10 for the oven) until the dough is completely cooked through and the cheese is melted. Top with fresh basil, slice, and serve.


Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri

The weather is getting warmer by the day, which means that it is almost grill season in the Lavarnway and Cardillo houses. We love cooking on the grill as an easy way to get outside and add a little smoky char to whatever we are cooking. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that one of our signature dishes is our steak with chimichurri. In that recipe, we blended the ingredients of a traditional chimichurri into a smooth and delightfully zingy sauce. For today’s recipe, we have stuck to a more traditional variation. 

Chimichurri is a loose, herb based sauce that is held together by olive oil and red wine vinegar. It has a ton of flavor thanks to the additional of garlic, a pinch of chili flakes, and some shallot. For this recipe, we like to marinate the chicken thighs in the chimichurri for a few hours to help break down the meat – making it incredibly tender after cooking. To make sure that the chicken has the ultimate punch of flavor, we reserve 1/3 of the chimichurri before we marinate and drizzle it over top after cooking. 

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri

  • Servings: 4
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Char grilled chicken thighs with a zesty chimichurri. We can’t imagine a more perfect and quick summer entrée.

Ingredients

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 tbs fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 small red chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Put the dry chimichurri ingredients (parsley through red chili) in a food processor. Pulse the food processor to break down the ingredients. The ingredients should be finely chopped but not pulverized. Remove the ingredients and place into a large bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar to the dry ingredients and whisk well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 of the chimichurri into a large ziplock bag and leave 1/3 of the chimichurri (about 1/2 cup) in the bowl. Cover the 1/3 with saran wrap and set aside.
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Submerge the chicken into the chimichurri in the ziplock bag. Make sure that all of the chicken is coated in the sauce and that the air is removed from the bag before sealing it. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to overnight, before grilling.
  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 15-20 minutes before you want to cook it. Preheat the grill to 500 degrees. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes per side, or until the juices of the chicken run clear and the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining 1/3 chimichurri and serve immediately.


Marinated Flank Steak Tacos

Flank steak is one of those cuts of meat that we want to love, but seem to have a hard time preparing correctly. We tend to buy it in a pinch when we don’t want something as decadent as a ribeye. It’s thin like a strip steak but is still a tough cut of meat- it really tastes best after it has been marinated for a few hours, or ideally overnight. After a few attempts at marinating, we finally feel like we have a much better approach to flank steak.

What we love about this recipe is how vinegary the marinade is. The vinegar helps break down the steak and makes it much more tender than cooking it straight away. We have used the steak for tacos in this recipe, but it is versatile enough that you can eat it as is with grilled vegetables or with a drizzle of chimichurri

Marinated Flank Steak Tacos 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 24 hours    Total Time: 25 hours 

Ingredients For The Steak: 

  • 1.5 – 2 lbs flank steak 
  • 3/4 cup olive oil 
  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • salt and pepper  

Ingredients For The Tacos: 

  • 8-12 tortillas, warmed 
  • 3/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled 
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 
  • tomatillo salsa 
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges 

Directions: 

  1. Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and smashed garlic in a gallon ziplock bag or a pyrex baking dish. Pat the flank steak dry with paper towel and season it well on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the flank steak to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 15-20 minutes before you want to cook the steak to bring it back up to room temperature. 
  2. When it is time to cook the steak, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Let the pan get very hot, letting it get warm for a few minutes, before adding the steak. Cook the steak for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how close to medium-rare you want the steak prepared. Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest for 8-10 minutes before slicing. 
  3. Serve the steak sliced in tacos with the taco ingredients listed above, or any preferred taco accompaniments. Slice the steak and serve immediately. 

Juicy Lucy Burgers

We were challenged by our good friend Allison at Sweet Then Savory to create a burger recipe in honor of National Burger Month – YAY FOR MAY! We love burgers and dining outside during these warmer nights and jumped on board for this challenge immediately. We decided for a more classic route on this burger but amped up our cheese game by making our burger a Juicy Lucy.  For those unfamiliar, a Juicy Lucy is a popular burger that was invented in Minnesota where the cheese is stuffed inside the burger. If you haven’t tried any of our recipes yet, this one is not to be missed. It is indulgent, juicy and the ultimate way to kick off summer. 

Juicy Lucy Burgers  
Makes: 4, 1/2 pound burgers
Prep Time: 10 minutes  Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients For the Burgers : 

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 8 oz block of cheddar cheese 

Additional Burger Toppings:

  • 4 hamburger buns 
  • Red onion, sliced 
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes on the vine, sliced 
  • Ketchup, mustard, and any other condiments of your choice 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your grill to high heat (about 500 degrees). 
  2. Combine the ground beef, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands (or a spoon if you are grossed out), blend the meat and seasonings together so the salt and pepper are mixed evenly through the mixture. Separate the meat into 4 evenly sized patties.
  3. Cut the cheese block in half and then quarter one half of the block so that you have 4 cubes of cheese. Form each burger patty with one cube of cheese in the center of the patty. 
  4. Once the grill is hot, add the burgers. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. After you flip the burger to cook on the other side, top with an additional slice of cheese during the last minute so it gets nice and melty.
  5. Add red onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, ketchup and anything else your burger craving needs. Put in all in a bun and enjoy.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Spinach Chimichurri

This recipe became an instant hit when we made it for a ski trip a few years ago. Ever since, it is frequently requested because it’s just so. darn. good. You can use any type of steak for this recipe, but we like skirt steak because it takes just a few minutes to cook per side and can go a long way if you’re trying to feed a crowd. The key to this recipe is the sauce- it would taste good on anything, including a tire or piece of shoe leather. 

We call this sauce a chimichurri, but it really is chimichurri inspired. A traditional Argentinian chimichurri uses parsley as it’s primary ingredient, not spinach. It is also more of a chopped herb sauce versus our blended version. We like the spinach because of it’s added added vitamins and minerals, and blending it all together will save you some time in the kitchen. Even though grill season is almost over, we promise you’ll want to enjoy this dish year round!   

Grilled Skirt Steak with Spinach Chimichurri 

Makes: 4 main course servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients For Steak: 

  • 1- 2 lb skirt steak, at room temperature for about 30 minutes  
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil 
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients For Chimichurri:

  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach  
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes 
  • zest and juice of one lime 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • salt and pepper, to taste  

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. 
  2. While the grill is heating, liberally season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Rub the vegetable oil on both sides to create a rub. 
  3. To make the chimichurri, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Blend to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the steak on the grill and cook for four minutes per side, closing the grill between flips. This will give you a medium-rare cook on the steak. 
  5. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes on a baking sheet or cutting board. You can lightly tent foil over the steak to keep it warm.
  6. Cut into thin, 1/2 inch slices against the grain. Drizzle with chimichurri to serve.