Deep dish pan pizza with sausage and tomatoes

Deep dish pizza
Deep dish pan pizza with sausage and tomatoes

Over the past several weeks, Michael and I have been working on improving our homemade pizza — and this deep dish pan pizza was our first project. After several iterations, we’ve come up with a go-to method and picked out our favorite ingredients. Like Papa John’s says: “Better ingredients, better pizza.”

One of the keys to getting a delicious, crispy crust is to use non-stick, 9-inch cake pans to bake the pizza. Also, we’ve found that buttering the pan and using butter in the pizza dough both give the crust a great flavor.

We chose sausage and diced tomatoes as our toppings, based on our favorite pizza from The Italian Pie Shoppe in St. Paul, and it was delicious. If you do want to change the toppings, however, I would recommend sticking with a 1 meat-1 veggie combination so you don’t overwhelm the pizza.

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Skillet chicken and mushroom pasta

Skillet chicken and mushroom pasta

I bought the ingredients for this new pasta recipe last weekend, and looked forward to making it all week. Well, I made it for dinner tonight, and it definitely lived up to expectations. It’s an easy skillet meal, but it’s fancy enough that I would certainly serve it for company.

The tarragon in this recipe gives it a slight anise-like flavor, so if you don’t like that, feel free to use another herb like basil or Italian seasoning. I also used campanelle pasta — it has a bell shape that is perfect for capturing the sauce. Finish this meal off with a green veggie like peas or asparagus, and you have a great dinner.

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Homemade turkey bolognese

Homemade turkey bolognese

A box of pasta with a jar of pasta sauce can make an easy pantry meal (see: vodka sauce and meatballs), but sometimes you have a little extra time or want something a little bit fancier. For those situations, I present to you this homemade turkey bolognese. While you do need some time to let the sauce simmer, there’s only about 10 minutes of hands-on time. And as a bonus, this sauce would be great to make on the weekend and freeze for a quick weeknight dinner.

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Heirloom tomato pizza

Heirloom tomato pizza

Michael and I made this pizza for dinner Wednesday night, and decided that it was probably the best pizza we’ve ever made — though it’s definitely not the best picture I’ve ever taken. Regardless, we loved the combination of sweet heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil and carmelized onions. Yum!

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Pepperoni and Hawaiian pizza spiral breads

Pepperoni and Hawaiian pizza spiral breads

Michael and I came up with this recipe last week when we had some extra pizza dough in the fridge but didn’t feel like making a traditional pizza. So we topped the dough with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese, and rolled the dough into a loaf. It was delicious! This week, we recreated our pizza spiral bread, but substituted bbq sauce and Hawaiian pizza toppings for the filling. We think that this version was even more delicious than the first, and would certainly recommend trying either for a quick dinner or snack.

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Tomato onion garlic bread

Tomato onion garlic bread

This simple, homemade garlic bread combines Italian flavor with our delicious pizza dough recipe. It’s the perfect side to a meal of ravioli or spaghetti — and would be great with a salad for a light meal.

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Italian-style pizza dough and flatbread

Italian-style pizza dough and flatbread

Michael and I first shared this easy pizza dough recipe when we had just started blogging, and it’s time for an update. Since first posting it, we’ve made it numerous times, and tweaked the recipe so it’s a winner every time. We usually make the dough with our Kitchenaid stand mixer, so I’ve added those directions to the recipe below.

This Italian-style pizza dough is an easy, delicious, and versatile recipe. We’ve used it to make bbq chicken pizza (pictured above), a chicago-style deep-dish pizza, pizza spiral breads, garlic bread, and even a delicious flatbread for our savory turkey burgers. Give it a try for yourself, and let us know what delicious meals you make!

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Tomato sausage polenta

Tomato sausage polenta

My mom found this recipe in one of her Taste of Home cooking magazines several years ago, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since. It combines a cornbread-like polenta with a simple tomato-sausage sauce, which is topped with cheese and baked to perfection.

As my mom could tell you, I often request this dish when I’m visiting my parents’ house. Last week, I decided to try my own hand at making this delicious polenta. And, believe me, it was DELICIOUS. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list — it does take around an hour to make, but it’s still an easy weeknight recipe.

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Vodka sauce and meatballs on rice

Vodka sauce and meatballs on rice

Oh, boy. This is one FANTASTIC meal. It is, and we’re not even kidding. When I first moved to the Twin Cities, I began shopping at my local Cub and Rainbow for groceries. Every time I passed through the aisle with spaghetti sauces, I somehow managed to notice a jar from Classico labeled “Vodka Sauce”. I began to wonder what such a sauce would taste like, so I went home and threw a shot of vodka into some marinara sauce. It was horrifying. After that point, I began to wonder who in their right mind would even like such a crazy sauce.

Then, one day, I was brave and thought, “Well, you know, I must have just screwed that one up, and I bet Classico could do a better job.” At this point, I searched online for what vodka sauce really was to discover that it was a tomato sauce mixed with cream and vodka. I forgot to add the cream (and probably other things too) when I foolishly tried to create such an amazing sauce. So I ran to the store and picked up a jar of the wonderful bliss called vodka sauce.

The recipe described here is amazing, yet also very simple. It was discovered as a result of thinking “what if we were to mix…” etc. We created a recipe for a sauce that can be served with meatballs and rice. In fact, it’s not a necessity to use meatballs, as this recipe goes quite well with stir-fried pork meat on rice or even pierogies.

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Pumpkin and sausage lasagna (recipe review)

Pumpkin and sausage lasagna
Pumpkin and sausage lasagna

This is an item from last November, when it was much warmer and more pleasant in the Twin Cities than it is now. Jane and I came across a fall-inspired lasagna over at Pithy and Cleaver, which we laughed at and ridiculed to nearly no end due to the strange sounding recipe and “odd” ingredients. Well, we eventually stopped laughing and decided to try our hand at the recipe, and we were shocked at the result.

This pumpkin lasagna was amazing. It was very delicious with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, accompanied by a sprig of thyme and a sage leaf on the side. A nice glass of wine increased the intensity of the flavors, leading to something akin of a perfect meal.

As is the case with any lasagna, the flavors of this one became more intense and improved as it aged a day or two. It made for several great meals of leftovers without any sort of regret or angst. Overall, it was an excellent dish, which we highly recommend and will probably make sometime again in the future.