February 1, 2012

Keys in the Freezer = BBQ Chicken Pizza

It's been one of those weeks. Actually, if I'm going to be totally honest, it's been one of those months... maybe years.

You know the kind of week I'm talking about, because we've all had them. The kind where you lose your keys in the refrigerator because you can't keep your head screwed on straight for five minutes. And yes, as cliched as it is, I did that earlier this week. Technically I lost them in the freezer, but still. Please hold your laughter until I can no longer hear its echo.

The reasons for this debacle are many and varied, and totally unimportant. Just know that I'm trying to disentangle myself from the pileup as you read. I'm also indulging in a little chocolate therapy to make the world seem brighter. It's working wonders.

As for the Hubs... well, seeing as he left before sunup today, and came home well after sundown, you can only imagine that he's having one of those weeks too.

What do we do when the world is spinning like mad and we can't keep up? In this house, we make pizza.

Ha, you thought I was joking, but I'm not! Sometimes there is just way too much going on around us, and that leaves no time to plan for dinner. I can always tell when we're running too fast, because pizza is suddenly on the table.

When things get really bad, we order take-out Chinese. So at least we're still in the game. For now.

Pizza may seem a bit unhealthy as our go-to, quickie meal, but there are ways to keep it wholesome. Use a keys-in-the-freezer-week as an opportunity to clean out your vegetable drawer! Plus, you can always make your pie with whole wheat crust and low-fat cheese too.

Naturally, I did none of these things. But you could, if you really wanted to.

Instead, we made this:

BBQ Chicken Pizza

If you've lived your whole life without this indulgence, please correct the oversight immediately.

This recipe actually started as a challenge. The Hubs claimed that he would never eat barbecue sauce on pizza.

Oh, oh, oh.... I beg to differ. Loudly. Challenge heard, and accepted.

And so it began... with chicken.

Ingredients, Part I

While I was rushing around, changing out loads of laundry and answering my phone, I quickly tossed together the chicken for the pizza. So easy, even the Hubs could do it.

Two chicken breasts in a pan. Salt and pepper both sides. Toss with 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Let rest at least 10 minutes before dicing. DONE.

See? Easy. If you don't even have time for that, you can use some pre-cooked rotisserie chicken tossed with a little barbecue sauce. There are always ways to simplify.

One of the best parts of this recipe is that it makes enough for 2, 12-inch pizzas. Or one really big pizza pie. Either way, it means leftovers.

On to the next.

Ingredients, Part II
Yep, I'm using pizza crust from a bag. Remember, this is our keys-in-the-freezer dinner. Simple is better.

You can use any kind of crust you prefer. The toppings-ready kind is something of a miracle when you have very little time. But I prefer to mix my own, even if the mix comes in a Betty Crocker bag. I also like to do three things when making the crust:
        1. Spray the pizza pan with non-stick spray, then dust it with a little cornmeal. It makes me feel      
            like a professional.
        2. Dust my hands with a little flour before spreading the dough. I don't like my hands sticky.
        3. Finally, I prick the crust with a fork and pre-bake it for about 5 minutes before adding my
            toppings. Otherwise, I think the crust can get soggy. Bleck.

The next few steps might seem a bit labor intensive, but it only sounds that way. In reality, the whole process takes maybe 10 minutes. Trust me.

Slice a red onion thinly, into half-moon slices. Toss the slices into a skillet with a tablespoon or so of butter on medium-low heat. Let them cook, stirring them here and there, for about 10 minutes while you do other things. The onions will soften and brown, which brings out their sweetness. In the end, they should look something like this:

For a shortcut, you could just slice the onions thin and use them on your pizza raw. While they won't be caramelized, the oven temperature will help them cook right along with the pizza.

While the onion cooks, warm another skillet over medium-low heat. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 cloves of minced garlic to the pan. It's not necessary, but I also added a few fresh oregano leaves to my pan. I told you that pizza can help clean out your veggie drawer!

This only needs to be on the heat for about 60 seconds, just long enough that the garlic becomes aromatic and infuses the oil. After I pre-bake my crust, I brush this over it before adding any additional toppings. The flavor is delish, and adds a new taste level without a lot of hassle. You could skip this step if you want, but I seriously don't think you should. Also, just a quick tip: this makes a great sauce base for any blanco pizzas you might try in the future.

Now comes the easiest part of any pizza recipe, the assembly. After brushing the crust with the oil mix (you won't need to use all of it), sprinkle on about a cup of fresh mozzarella onto each pie (Remember, this recipe makes two!).

On top of the mozzarella, drizzle some more bbq sauce. This amount is at your discretion, but keep in mind that the sauce will thin and spread a bit as it bakes. Next, cover with your diced chicken, one breast per pie.

Here's one of the secrets to great BBQ Chicken Pizza... several types of cheese. Cover the chicken with 1 cup (per pie) of shredded Gouda cheese, then add your onions (1/2 on each pie), and then add a light sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

It's pizza time! Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is nicely browned. I top mine with some chopped cilantro, it's a fabulous finishing touch. But if you don't care for cilantro, you could try out some green onion, or maybe parsley. Whatever you choose, enjoy! This is a pizza that's not to be missed (Refer to photo #1, drool, then go make pizza!).

As to my challenge with The Hubs.... you guessed it! I win. Not only did he LOVE the pizza, but he's already asked me to make it again. Score one for me!

What are your keys-in-the-freezer, quickie meals? Feel free to comment below and share your experience with the rest of us!

The Standard Form:

BBQ Chicken Pizza


2 bags Betty Crocker pizza crust mix
2 chicken breasts
1 red onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup bbq sauce, plus more for drizzling
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded Gouda cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Toss with ½ cup bbq sauce. Bake in a glass pan for 20-25 minutes, or until done. Let rest 10 minutes before dicing into small pieces. Set aside.

Soften the onions in a skillet with the butter over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized. Set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Mix the pizza crusts according to package directions. Lightly spray your pans with non-stick cooking spray and dust with a bit of cornmeal. Stretch the dough to fit, then prick all over with a fork. Pre-bake for 5 minutes, then remove from oven.

In a skillet over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil with the minced garlic, and the optional oregano, just until aromatic.  Brush the oil over the pre-baked pizza dough, just enough to cover. Do not over saturate.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese on each crust. Drizzle with extra bbq sauce. Add the chicken (one breast per pizza), the top with 1 cup of Gouda cheese each. Divide the onion evenly onto each pizza, then add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Bake until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Top with the chopped cilantro, slice and enjoy! 


  1. Our keys in the freezer meal is pizza, too! And even though I can make crust, since it's one of those weeks, it's a dough-in-the-bag kinda pizza :)

  2. It's now Feb 26 and its still one of those months. Love you Honey. Please make next month less stressful LORD. I want to sleep in my own bed at least one day; Not in the back of a military vehicle. Oh, and can the wind stop blowing so hard. I mean 65 mph winds are a little excessive. Thanks.