Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce

You know those recipes for pizza and pasta sauces? The ones with the 15 ingredients and the hours of simmering to get that authentic taste?

This isn’t one of them.

My cooking style is best described as no-nonsense.

We like to make flatbread pizzas, and we prefer a sweeter pizza sauce.

Store bought ones always taste a little flat, and even though they are often on sale, I can do better on my own.

Pizza Sauce

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 2 minutes


  • 1 6 oz can Tomato Paste
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Dried Oregano
  • Red Pepper Flake
  • Olive Oil


  1. In a small microwave safe container that has a lid, combine the contents of the can of tomato paste and a splash of olive oil. 

  2. Add spices to taste. And I mean really taste - add them in, mix it thoroughly and taste it. Add more of what is missing.

  3. If sauce is too thick, mix in a little water.

  4. Microwave with the lid covering the dish but not on tightly (let steam escape, but use the lid to protect the top of the microwave if it explodes). Heat in 20 second intervals stirring after each until sauce reaches desired temperature.

Recipe Notes

This creates a thick, sweet sauce which we like to use on flatbread pizza.

Because it is thick, it is also a good sauce for zoodles (those "noodles" made from spiralized zucchini) since those tend to be watery and will dilute the sauce to a better pasta sauce texture.

Leftovers can be refrigerated, or frozen.

This does not keep long in the refrigerator because it contains no preservatives, but does well in a freezer bag and reheats just fine.

Grilled Asparagus

A simple recipe that brings out the flavor

I do not really remember eating asparagus as a kid, and I only saw it a few times at holiday meals in my early adult life. All the recipes for it seemed ultra-tricky – I don’t own a stand up steamer and hollandaise sauce looks pretty finicky to make and not have separate.

A few years ago, when we tried grilling pretty much everything to see if we could, we tried asparagus and it was a nearly instant success. The only real trick is you need a grill pan of some sort to keep those stalks from rolling into the grates and being eaten by the fire.

Simple grilling brings out great flavor in asparagus | suzerspace.com

We add garlic cloves to the pan for an additional kick of carmelized flavor, but you can skip this step if you are not a fan.


Grilled Asparagus

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 3


  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Splash Balsamic Vinegar
  • Splash Splash Olive Oil


  1. Pre-heat the grill with a grill pan on the grates. 

  2. Rinse and pat dry the asparagus. Cut off the tough bottom ends (quick tip – leave that bottom rubber band on and cut above it to make trimming easier).

  3. Peel the garlic. If a milder taste is desired, place the cloves in a microwave safe measuring cup with a cup of water and microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Combine asparagus and garlic in a bowl and add a splash of olive oil; mix well (I use my hands) to make sure everything has a light coating of oil to prevent sticking.
  5. When grill pan is hot, add vegetables and toss, being careful to avoid splatter from the oil.
  6. Monitor while grilling, stirring/flipping occasionally. 

  7. Remove from the grill using long-handled tongs and transfer to a serving plate.

  8. Splash with Balsamic Vinegar, and cover with foil to keep the heat in while you plate up your other grilled dinner items.

Recipe Notes

The 30 minutes of prep time includes bringing the grill up to cooking temperature; actual hands on prep time is less than 5 minutes.

For grilling vegetables, we use a cast iron grill pan, but I've had success with those thinner metal ones with the holes in them that you find in the grilling section of hardware and cooking gadget stores.

Stir occasionally while grilling - these are not fussy and do not need to be perfect; like the grilled mushrooms, the goal is get them good and charred but not burned.



Smashed Beans

An ugly but tasty side dish that’s a step up from canned refried beans

I have several recipes that if I were going to categorize them beyond the meal courses they belong to, I would have to put them in an “ugly but really tasty” group.

Smashed Beans is one of them.

But don’t judge too harshly – if you normally use refried beans from a can, then you really can’t argue that they are much better in appearance.

Personally, I don’t really like the texture of refried beans, nor the way they look kinda of like dog food when you remove them from that can. (Side note – what is that extrication method called? The one where you try and unseat them from the bottom of the can with a knife and vigorous upside down shaking? I’m offering “Unsuck them from the can” but the ballot is open for entries).

Instead, I take a can of regular beans and mash them with spices and a little olive oil and onion to exactly the taste and consistency I want. This also lets me use Black Beans, which I like better in taste than red/pinto. I’ve also made these with beans from scratch, on those rare occasions that I’ve remembered to soak them overnight ahead of time.


Smashed Beans

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 11 minutes


  • 1 15 oz cab Black or Pinto Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Diced Jalapeno
  • 1 Tablespoon Diced Onion
  • 1/4-1/2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil


  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add a splash of olive oil to the contents of a can of rinsed and drained beans. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, until warmed through and soft (but not really hot).
  2. Add spices and jalapeno and onion. Use a large fork or a potato masher to mash/smash the beans to the desired consistency.
  3. If using as a side dish, heat an additional 30-45 seconds to completely cook through.

Recipe Notes

We enjoy these  as a side dish, a soft taco/burrito/wrap filling. They also make a great layer in 7-layer dip or Taco salad.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

An easy version of a classic restaurant appetizer

Do you subscribe to the New York Times Cooking newsletter? You might consider it (not an affiliate link). It’s free, and I really like how the editor works current affairs into the weekly pattern of recipes.

I especially liked a recent edition where the subject of Spinach Artichoke dip was reviewed – I had no idea that some foodies consider it a controversial subject.

I am not a foodie. I like tasty, easy to make food that’s easy on the budget and fits my health plan.

The recipe from the New York Times site didn’t actually fit those requirements, but I skimmed it for a basic jumping off point and then slimmed it down literally and figuratively.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 8 oz Lowfat Cream Cheese at room temperature
  • 1 Tsp Mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup Feta Cheese crumbled
  • 4 oz fresh baby spinach rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 stalk Green Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic peeled
  • 1/2 jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts (Jar was 7.5 oz)


  1. Finely chop the garlic, spinach and green onion.

  2. In a small saute pan, heat olive oil and once it begins to shimmer, add garlic, spinach and green onion. Saute until spinach is fully cooked and very wilty.

  3. While the garlic/onion/spinach mixture is cooking, combine the mayo, cream cheese and feta in a large, heat safe bowl.

  4. Roughly chop the marinated artichoke hearts and add to the mayo/cream cheese mixture.

  5. When the garlic/onion/spinach mixture is done, remove from heat add to  the mayo/cream cheese mixture.

  6. Stir thoroughly to combine. 

Recipe Notes

The heat of the cooked vegetables will melt the cream cheese/mayo mixture. At this point, the dip can be enjoyed warm.

Leftovers should be refrigerated.

The dip will solidify, and can either be enjoyed as a chilled spread, or reheated in the microwave if you wish for a hot dip.

Grilled Mushrooms

Kick up the flavor with high heat

We grill year round at SuzerSpace, but like most people I really enjoy the summer months the best.

It’s the vegetables – grilling them is a super easy way to boost the flavor and create a side dish that tastes restaurant quality.

There isn’t much of a recipe here – the main goal is to keep the veggies moving so they get roasted but not burned.

Grilled Mushrooms on the grill


Grilled Mushrooms

Whole button mushrooms are transformed when they are cooked on high heat with just a bit of balsamic vinegar.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2


  • 8 oz Button Mushrooms Whole - not sliced
  • splash Olive Oil
  • splash Balsamic Vinegar


  1. Pre-heat grill with a cast iron grill pan on grates.

  2. While the grill heats, clean mushrooms under running water to remove dirt. I like the stems, but if you don't, remove them.

  3. In a bowl, toss mushrooms in olive oil and balsamic vinegar - make sure they are evenly coated.

  4. Add mushrooms to grill pan (be careful to avoid oil splatters). Turn as needed to get them heavily charred but not burned.

  5. Remove from grill (I recommend using long handled tongs to keep from losing them into the grill grates) and serve as a side dish with dinner.

Recipe Notes

The prep time is deceptive - I've included the time needed to bring the grill and the pan up to roasting temperature. Actually hands on time is something under 3 minutes to wash and set the mushrooms into the marinade.