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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Chef salad

Chef salad
Chef salad

If you look at our meal plans for the last several months, this tasty chef salad is the dinner you’ll find most often. We’ve gotten into the habit of having salad for dinner at least twice a week — and this is my go-to salad.

If you’re looking for quick meals during the week, you can prep the veggies and hard-boil the eggs on the weekend. Then, all you have to do is combine all the ingredients and you’re ready to eat! Another easy option is to use leftover rotisserie chicken in place of the deli ham. Either way, it’s delicious.

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Jambalaya with andouille and chicken

Jambalaya
Jambalaya with andouille and chicken

Happy New Year!

I decided to kick off the year by making a big batch of jambalaya for dinner last night —and I thought it was time to update the recipe and picture, as well.

Jambalaya is an easy meal and it makes leftovers (or feeds a crowd, especially if you double the recipe). I usually use andouille sausage and chicken as my proteins, but you could also add shrimp if you prefer. Either way, it’s a great, hearty meal and I hope you enjoy it!

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Grilled chicken souvlaki (salad or sandwich)

Grilled chicken souvlaki (salad or sandwich)
Grilled chicken souvlaki (salad or sandwich)

Michael found this recipe last fall when we were going through some old issues of Sunset magazine, and I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve made it a couple times now, and have tweaked the recipe to make it tasty and delicious — we really like the flavors of the lemon and oregano in the marinade. Since we don’t have a grill, I cook them in my grill pan, which works great.

I’ve used this grilled chicken in pita sandwiches, as well as a Greek chicken salad — either way, it’s best served with cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce.

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Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar

Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar
Garden-fresh summer salad with oil and vinegar

By the time summer finally rolls around here in the Twin Cities, I’m craving fresh, delicious vegetables. One of my favorite — and easiest —  ways to eat them is in a big salad. The great thing about this type of salad is that you can vary the ingredients based on what veggies you have on hand, and you don’t need to measure anything. Sometimes I like to add some sort of cheese, but you could easily omit that to make it vegan.

Instead of making or buying dressing, I keep things light by drizzling oil and vinegar over the salad. My favorite combination right now is a peach balsamic vinegar with Arbequina olive oil — both from Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars (online store and several locations in Michigan).

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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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Middle-Eastern spiced beef koftas

Middle-Eastern spiced beef koftas
Middle-Eastern spiced beef koftas

I first shared this kofta recipe a couple summers ago, and since then, it’s become one of our favorites. These koftas are quick, delicious, and versatile — you can make them out of ground beef, lamb, or turkey.

I often serve them sandwich-style in pita pockets with cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta cheese, but you can also serve them over rice. I’ve also used this recipe to make burgers a couple times — it’s a delicious option if you’re looking for something a little different from a traditional hamburger!

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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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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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