by jove, I think I’ve got it!

I have been sharing with you my attempts at simplified homemade pizza: weeknight pizza, if you will. It revolved around Trader Joe’s pizza dough and canned pizza sauce.

whole pizzaI think I finally have this figured out. Forget the Trader Joe’s pizza dough. Keep the canned pizza sauce. The Trader Joe’s pizza dough sticks to the pan unless I coat it with a thick layer of Crisco. Even then it’s difficult to work with.

In my latest iteration I made my own pizza dough using a recipe I’ve had for many years. It’s straightforward and not difficult. You just have to plan ahead. I baked the crust for five minutes before adding the toppings. I used half a can of pizza sauce. The real effort and time sink with pizza is when you try to make your own sauce.

It worked out really well. I was quite happy. I think I’ve got the formula down for simplified weeknight homemade pizza.

pizza slices

hash brown crusted cod

Terry and I saw this recipe on The Kitchen. The recipe called for halibut, but the frozen halibut in our local store is ridiculously expensive so I used cod. Besides, halibut should stand on its own. It doesn’t need to be crusted with anything.

crusted codThe recipe was sponsored by a producer of refrigerated hash browns, which our store doesn’t carry, so I used frozen instead, which I thawed in the fridge. Seasoning with just salt, pepper, and garlic is not acceptable to either me or Terry, so I used the trusted, reliable Old Bay. Rather than using the stove-top method I cooked the cod in our toaster oven on the convection setting for fifteen minutes. The hash browns did not properly brown, so I gave it another ten on the broiler setting. Doing it again I might just broil the whole time.

Lettuce was thriving in our container garden, so I had a green salad with homemade vinaigrette.

A really nice Saturday dinner.

cheesy polenta skillet

This was a very enjoyable recent weeknight dinner.

Cheesy Polenta SkilletThe cheesy polenta skillet recipe came from Cooking Light. Rather than using packaged polenta I followed the outline of Ina Garten’s polenta recipe. However I omitted the parmesan, crème fraiche, and butter. I put the polenta in a cast iron skillet and put it cooked it on the stove top for several minutes.

I then prepared the meat mixture in the sauce pan in which I made the polenta. I used ground beef rather than turkey and seasoned it with smoked paprika. I put the mixture on top of the polenta in the skillet and topped it with grated parmesan and shredded Monterey Jack rather than mozzarella, as I had the jack on hand.

It turned out really well. Terry went back for seconds.

cheesy chicken pasta with broccoli and bacon

Cheesy Chicken and PastaI was looking for something in my database with the label “comfort food” and came across this cheesy chicken pasta with broccoli and bacon recipe by Geoffrey Zakarian, which I originally saw on The Kitchen on Food Network. It definitely qualified. Although I scaled back the portions considerably, this was a lot more work than it appeared at first glance. Fortunately Terry pitched in as my sous chef and all went smoothly. I used Fontina cheese as the store did not have Gruyere. For the chicken I used packaged cooked pollo asado from the self-service deli.

This dish turned out to be a tasty meal for a cold, wet evening. The crumbled bacon really makes this meal, so don’t forget it as I nearly did. It was indeed an enjoyable dinner.

Southwest black bean and rice bake

I have had this recipe in my database since I transferred all of my recipes there from a pair of 3-ring binders a number of years ago. It came from a now dormant Yahoo group called the gourmet garden of spicy vegetarian eatin’.

Black Bean and Rice BakeThe recipe calls for mixing cooked rice and salsa with cans of diced tomatoes, black beans, diced green chilis along with sour cream, green onions, and Monterey Jack cheese. It is then transferred to a baking dish, topped with tortillas and crushed corn chips, and baked at 350 for 25 minutes.

I pretty much followed this formula, though I omitted the green onions. I used whole corn chips rather than crushed, which turned out to be a good move.

It all turned out better than I anticipated. Terry certainly enjoyed it and there was plenty for leftovers.

Black Bean and Rice Bake

yellowfin tuna crusted with Moroccan spices

I have had this recipe from Cooking Light in my database for quite some time. The recipe calls for sea bass, not yellowfin tuna, but the store had no sea bass. Yellowfin is different from sea bass in that it is darker and meatier, but they share the quality of being a firm fish.

yellowfin tunaI made the marinade as specified but gave it an hour plus rather than 45 minutes. I also made the spice mixture as specified, leaving out the salt. The recipe called for grilling the fish on the stovetop, but I cooked it in our toaster oven on the convection setting (oh, how I miss our convection oven in Gilroy!) at 425 for about 15 minutes.

I served it with Rice-A-Roni broccoli and cheese. It was very tasty and worked out well. But I think this one deserves another go round actually using sea bass.

one pan chili lime chicken and rice

chili lime chickenThis recipe was a guest post on one of my favorite recipe blogs, The Recipe Critic. The recipes there are generally straightforward and reliable, and this one was no exception.

I pretty much followed the recipe as specified, except that I scaled it back to two servings. And, of course, I used vegetable rather than chicken broth. I did omit the cilantro. Terry hates cilantro.

The result was a very tasty and relatively simple. It was definitely a one pan dinner.