Mini-Pizza two ways

You all know my love of freezer cooking; it is slightly out of control. One of the items I always have in my freezer are mini-pizza’s for the boys. I use the veggie sauce (or any sauce of course), sandwich thins and mozzarella cheese. I toast them in the toaster oven for 4-5 minutes just to melt the cheese and they are my go to lunch or dinner option. I used to be able to sneak in some spinach between the sauce and cheese but Zach is now on to me about putting “lettuce” on his pizza. Fair point. I am making him eat sauce comprised totally of vegetables.

When I saw this recipe for mini-deep dish pizza‘s on Pinterest, I thought it might be a different way to make pizzas. More work, but so cute. And you know how I love cute food. Plus I had purchased a large bag of flour tortillas at Target on a whim. They were not whole wheat or grain or anything but delicious white flour. So, so fluffy.

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

And so, so cute, right? You know I get giddy about breaking out the biscuit cutter. They were especially good for James being mini himself. I cut them once in half and he could do the rest.

Mini-Deep Dish Pizza
Photo and slightly adapted recipe from Dashing Dish

3-4
Whole wheat wraps
1
(15 oz) Can pizza sauce
3/4 cup
Shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup
Parmesan cheese


1        Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12 count muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2        Start by laying each tortilla out individually on a flat surface, and use an empty can, cup, or cookie cutter to cut 3-4 medium circles out of each wrap.*I used a biscuit cutter
3        Press each wrap circle into muffin tin using your fingers. Note: it doesn’t have to cover the entire side of the tin, it should just fit snugly
4        Meanwhile, pour pizza sauce and Parmesan cheese into a medium sized bowl. Stir until everything is well combined. *Totally optional
5        Drop about 1-2 tbs of sauce in each wrap
6        Divide mozzarella cheese evenly over each mini pizza and any toppings.
7        Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

 

I have Leaned Out

I am currently in my second week as a stay at home mom. That is right, as of Friday the 14th of June I am no longer employed. It was my decision, don’t worry. Though I did tell one partner as I was leaving that, while it was not his fault, “he gave it his best shot”.

I was with my company for 9 years and 11 months to the day. When I started back in 2003, I had moved back to Austin to be with my boyfriend, Alex who was entering MBA school. I was so young. So stupid. I told the partner who hired me that, “I don’t do math.” His response, “We have plenty of people who do math here, Kinsey, that is not what I need you to do.” Thankfully. Because seriously, who says that??

But I digress, back to my decision to leave. I have been struggling with the full time working mom thing for a while now. Granted, I have only been full time for just under a year. But it was rough on me and our family. As Alex told his mom when I was on a business trip back in March, we were running very thin.

Oh my boys were fine. They loved their school and their babysitter who picked them up and took them home or to the museum or the library. I loved that when I got home they had already eaten, so I got to avoid the dreaded dinner hour (that I am going to miss). This decision was not about them, it was about me. Who is shocked?

I just felt like I was not being the mother that I wanted to be.  I want to say that I was half-assing it at work and at home, and that something had to give. But that is only partially true. I loved my job, and I think I was good at it. But the role needed more than I could give.  And I wanted to give more to my kids vs. my job.

I am not unique in this struggle. Every mom I know struggles with the pull of work and home. Even my stay-at-home-mom friends have work, or the thought or plan of working, pulling on them. And everyone has to make the decision that is right for them. For four years, I was 100% certain that for me, and for us, it was me working part time.  But once I went back full time I started to doubt it.

You all know I love my crafts. I love to get all sorts of crazy with snacks for school and making things for holidays. And work was really cramping my style. Also, I really love to cook dinner for my family. This sounds absurd, I know, since I don’t really want to be there while they eat it…. But I love it. It is something thing that makes me feel like a good mom (not that I think anyone else should feel this way – at all). It is my thing.  And I was doing my crazy freezer batch cooking, so they were eating what I made, but I could not make sides that I wanted.  See – I am crazytown, I know. It really just makes me happy, like mini-food makes me happy.

Of course I also want to see my kids more. I was home plenty early (5:30), but the evenings were just a nightmare. Alex is usually home two days a week, and Vince gets them one day, so we are only talking two days max that I am alone with them from 5:30 – 8:00. I would be so tired and just spent from work that I had very little patience and really, really didn’t want to play basketball. So I felt like an asshole. I have not seen my kids all day, and the one thing they want, I don’t want to do? Correct.

That is really what sent me over the edge – I don’t like to feel like an asshole and there is not room for two of us in the family.

Of course I am going to be annoyed with my children in the evening, who is not? But I want to be annoyed because we have been together all day versus just for a few hours. You are welcome for all this logic I am throwing at you.

So that, plus Alex being fully on board (you know my 1950s husband was beside himself excited), I decided to just do it. So I am staying home for a year at least. Then we shall see. My sister says talk to me in August when the boys are out of school for two weeks and it is super hot and boring in Houston.

We have all made it through week one! I thought you all would like a weekly rundown of my new routine. Don’t worry I won’t make retelling all this magic a habit.
Monday
Phone dies on the way to the grocery store (thanks to my old employer sending a signal that imploded all the data inside leaving me with a wiped clean phone) so must get a new one.
Pick the boys up and we hit a shaded park which was not scorching and try not to be the mom on her cell phone…but it is very hard with my pretty new toy.

Make Easy Chicken with Black Beans for Alex and I, and re-heat from the freezer mini-pizzas for the boys.
Tuesday
Blackberry picking out in Cypress, James was moderately impressed.

The babysitter comes to stay with James, so Zach and I can go to the Museum of Health and Science, and he can be scared by a 3D movie about germs. I know, gross, who wouldn’t be??

I make crispy curry chicken, until I realize that would be three chicken meals in one day for the boys and switch them to little smokies. Which they inhale.
Wednesday
The boys are in school, and I am glad
Finally hit the grocery, put my music back on my phone and go to the Y to exercise. They are shocked and thought they had revoked my membership card for lack of use.
Vince gets the boys and takes them swimming.
I make plum and poppy seed muffins for Zach’s school snack and a Swiss chard loaf to go with Liv’s enchiladas that I had made over the weekend.
Thursday
James wakes up with a fever so he stays home, and we go to Target for new sports bras (mine are 5 years old) and then to his doctor where she tells me he has croup. Awesome.
That does not stop me from going to lunch with a friend (Hi Melinda!) and taking him with me. He climbs on the booth and explodes a creamer packet on himself but is otherwise lovely at lunch.

 While he naps, I make a blackberry crumble (with all the blackberries from Tuesday) and a peach crumble because I want to.
We get Zach late because of James’s late nap, so we just come back to the house to play.
We have leftovers for dinner.
Friday
We are all home as Alex and Zach are heading to the river and James and I (due to his croup) are staying here. We send off the boys and go on a joy ride in Alex’s car to get me coffee and so I can talk to Sonia. And because James is sad when Alex and Zach leave so I appease him by getting in Daddy’s car.
We play and eat lunch at the house then hit the Y pool once he wakes up. I figure there are so many germs swirling around in that baby pool his little croup will be drowned for sure. And he personally tried to drown himself by launching his torso in the water about four times.

Mail-able Father’s Day

We don’t all have the luxury of living in the same city as our dads. Mine lives 300 miles away which means his Father’s Day (and birthday) gifts have to be mailed most years.

I saw this idea on Pinterest and loved it both for the fact I could have Walgreen’s print it for me and that it could easily be mailed in a large envelope to the boy’s Papa Wayne. Don’t worry, my sister and I already got my dad a car battery charger as well. We are so thoughtful.

I did things slightly different than the author did. I had the boys pose with a blank word bubble then filled in the words with my editing software, Picasa. That way I could take the photos when they were in good moods and fill them in later. And since I was doing this on Father’s Day weekend I was a bit crunched for time. It was easier for me to take the photos, let them run off and play and then type in what they said before creating the collage in Picasa as well. I went ahead and made one for Grandpa Vince too, while I was at it.

Of course getting them to pose with the empty paper was not easy…James wanted to hide behind it and Zach is incapable of smiling normally these days. I finally had to resort to yelling potty words to get a mini-smile out of him. For James I was popping out from behind the camera yelling Boo! As if my neighbors don’t already think I am crazy enough.

This is just another example of why I love Pinterest. This great blogger created all different versions of her file for anyone to use with the various names people call their dad/grandpas. So all I had to do was save it to my files, follow her detailed instructions and hand it over to the granddads like it was my idea all along.

Of course my dad is my biggest blog fan so he is now on to me…and on to the fact that this might get posted before he actually receives his version. Whoops!

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!

Pasta sauce you can feel good about

In case you refuse to buy any more whole wheat pasta because of the weird aftertaste and only serve your children the evil “enriched” pasta.
I have been making this pasta sauce for a couple of years now. It is super easy, full of veggies and tastes good too. It really should have been part of Deceptively Delicious. You basically roast a bunch of veggies, puree them in the food processor and voila, done. No stove cooking, no seasoning, just roasted veggies and some tomato paste. I also use the sauce to make mini pizza’s for the boys. It freezes great, you can put it in one Ziploc on in ice cube trays. Any place you need a pasta/pizza sauce you can sub this in and feel good about it.

Pinwheels with Roasted Veggie Sauce

Roasted Veggie Sauce
Photo and recipe from Cookingwithmykid.com

Ingredients:
1 large red pepper (cut into chunks) *Any color but green would work
1 medium eggplant (peeled + cut into chunks)
1 medium onion (peeled + cut into chunks)
1 cup baby carrots
2 tomatoes (cut into chunks)
3 garlic cloves (peeled) *I just use my bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place all the veggies, garlic and onions on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
Crack some fresh pepper and salt onto veggies and roast for 35 to 45 minutes or until tender but not mushy.
When the veggies are done roasting, combine the veggies and tomato paste in a food processor until it has formed a thick sauce.

Just a regular weekend

My sister always says that we do more in a weekend than many people do all week. I just chalk it up to having two three active boys who can’t be in one place for too long. But this recent weekend was a bit much, even for us.

The Y near us was having a festival of sorts and since it is in our hood we headed over Saturday morning. Zach enjoyed it the most, naturally James was not impressed the entire time, except for at the petting zoo. He really enjoyed screaming, “Mama, cow!” for 10 minutes straight.

Someone (cough, Alex, cough) decided to let my baby scale a rock wall. He did a great job going up but couldn’t get back down. He is only four and has the arm strength of, well, a four year old.

Oh yes, that is a camel in the middle of Houston being manned by a woman in a dog scrub top. Totally normal.

I was as unimpressed as James with the whole situation. I felt bad for the camel and was concerned it was going to spit on me. That is what they did in the Aladdin movie.

After that and a nap we hit the mom’s group fire station tour.

Then it was on to celebrate Auntie Tami’s birthday at Mia’s. Sweet Auntie, she agreed to go to a kid friendly place on her birthday so we could attend. I mean we can go to nice places (you know I totally disregard any stares) but no one enjoys it.

And turns out, you know what does make James impressed? Ice cream.

Big time.

Better luck this time

So remember when I thought I was sooo clever and turned the train table into a car table?

Yeah, that did not work out as well as I had hoped. Yes, the boys did play with it a ton at first, but slowly it just became a toy collector.

So the other day I decided to try switching it back to a train table. James is very into trains now so maybe, just maybe this would work. And with the table full of trains, surely it could not collect junk?

It is a moderate success! I got out the enormous Ziploc bag of train parts and put it together one afternoon when the boys were with the Walls. I followed the instructions and all the parts lined up perfectly, with the exception of the two bridges. There is only supposed to be one, but we have two so I had to get a bit creative with those tracks.

Anyway, Zach really liked it. He was excited when it saw it as was James. And I moved all the junk to three boxes hanging on the wall behind the table that are from Ikea.

I say it was a moderate success as it is starting to collect some junk again. But the bigger issue is my baby. He really likes to break apart the tracks and throw them on the ground. He loves the trains and wants to drive them…but he has thrown the tracks on the ground and can’t drive on them which makes him mad. So he throws more tracks on the ground. You see where I am going with this….

I think the moral is that I have to keep mixing it up. I am going to take 10 minutes and put it all back together so they can play with it for 10 more minutes. Then in a few months when they are both over it I will switch it back to the car track. I will pull out the house with the people and so the cycle will continue.

I am thinking about screwing the track in place and/or gluing the track together so there would be no throwing of the track. Does anyone have thoughts on that? Good idea, bad idea? I am torn. I don’t want to stifle creativity but having to put the track back together constantly gets a bit old. Plus the thought of a perfectly lined up track makes me entirely too excited.

Firetruck fun – but not for James

Just when I said I would be nice to James on the blog…

Actually he had a fun but you would not know that from the photos (as usual). A few weeks back was the annual mom’s group trip to the local fire station. James was too little to go last year but Zach loved it and I figured with James’ love of yelling at firetrucks he would like the tour as well.

And he did. They both got into the firetrucks, the ambulance and climbed all over both.

We took a break from crawling around the trucks to do some light coloring while wearing fire hats.

Then they wanted a group photo on the fire truck for the newsletter or something. Zach was playing basketball but you know my photo op loving self had to get my baby in there.

But he was not impressed. He was not even staring at me. He is staring down the mom taking the photo and she is disappointing him with her choices.

He was impressed with the water hose however. I didn’t think he was strong enough to hold it and Fireman Mike did have to help, but he took it very seriously.

Alex always thinks these things are cheesy until we get there. You know I made him go this year. Even he had to agree that it is cool to get to wander around your local fire station and say thank you to the firemen whose job it is to save you, your kids and/or your house in the worst possible situations.

Especially here in Houston where four firemen lost their lives recently fighting an out of control fire at a motel. The entire city mourned with those families. On the day of the funeral (at Reliant Stadium) the city asked everyone to turn on their lights as a show of support. It made me so proud of my city to see all the people with their lights on driving around downtown as I headed into work. And very glad that we got to say thank you to our very own fire station.