Friday, November 15, 2013

Beer Pizza Dough - I'm Cooking for Foodie Friday

Since switching my kitchen over from processed pre-made foods, I have been trying to perfect the takeout my family still begs for almost every week - pizza. I've tried different dough recipes that are either too soft and we end up with droopy pizza or there was that one time I let my daughter oil the dough once it was on the pan, um oily and soggy are not words you associate with your favorite pizza. So now we've agreed who's doing the oiling from now on. I know pizza is not the ultimate option in most cases but I feel like if I'm making it from scratch myself, I know exactly what is going into it. This recipe contains no sugar and has only 6 ingredients, that's healthy in my book. That and the fact that there are things we just have to do for our husband's sake, take one for the team if you will. This recipe will make enough dough for 2 - 12 inch pizzas one of which I made meaty for the boys and the other just cheese for the girl, half tomatoes and spinach for mom.

Beer Pizza Dough

2 1/2 C Flour and another 1/2 C for rolling
1/2 C Corn Meal
1 Tbl Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Garlic Salt
12 oz Can of Beer
3 Tbl Olive Oil for pan and dough once on pan

Combine dry ingredients and add can of beer. If too sticky, add more flour. Knead on floured counter before rolling out with floured rolling pin to less than 1/4 inch thick. Put on oiled pizza pan and fold in excess edges. Lightly (stress lightly if delegating this to a child) oil crust and dough before adding toppings.

I have a hard time getting the thickness exactly right but I think I got it this time because the crust was actually crispy on the edges AND underneath like any popular place we order. The secret this time was that it was almost thin enough to break in places which can be repaired by pinching the holes together once the dough is on the pan. Also just folding in the excess rather than rolling it in seemed to leave it a bit crispier around the edges.

Kids actually love to help with this recipe simply because of the messy factor and they are actually great kneaders, just remind them that oiling is not a painting project beforehand, and that they can only use what you've measured out and you will likely have more success than we did the first time.

I'm linking up my sister at Muffin-Top-Less Mom - you really should go see her Sweet Potato NACHOS she has there today. ALL of her Foodie Friday recipes are healthy and most are gluten free and paleo friendly. I can't wait to make these! 

Do you have a pizza dough standby recipe?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Foodie Friday - I'm Baking Banana Muffins

My grandma makes the best banana bread in the world - you can ask anyone who's tried it, and she will swear up and down that it's the pan she uses. I have tried my hand at it and it's turned out decent but not the same, once it even broke my oven. Who am I to argue with a 92 year old woman? So seeing as her recipe wasn't going to turn out anyway since I obviously don't have a circa 1960 loaf pan, I decided to use hers as a base to make my own version. Where she calls for shortening I used butter, I cut the sugar with honey and these babies were gobbled up by my daughter and her friend she had over for a sleepover last weekend.

Banana Muffins

4 Ripe Bananas
2 Eggs
2 C Flour (I use whole wheat)
1/4 C Honey
1/4 C Sugar
1/2 C Butter softened
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl, set aside. In another bowl, cream butter with eggs, vanilla honey and sugar, mash in banana and add dry ingredients until combined.

Bake at 350 - mini muffins should take 20-25 minutes where if you fill a loaf pan it will take 45 - 50 minutes. I was able to get 24 mini muffins and a small loaf from this recipe.

Of course they go great with coffee!

I'm linking my sister Muffin-Top-Less Mom for her Foodie Friday - you will love the Paleo Banana Bread recipe she has over there today!

What's your favorite fall time recipe?

Friday, November 1, 2013

I'm Cooking - Stuffed Peppers for Foodie Friday

As far as dinner goes, sometimes things have to be thrown together in a pinch if it wasn't really planned like my dinners seem to go more often than not, ahem. I happened to get a few peppers from our last Farmers Market here in town last week and had a little revelation with our left over rice and a can of tomatoes.

Stuffed Peppers

1 pound ground beef or turkey
2 large peppers - I used a red and a green
2 C Brown Rice
1 8oz can Diced Tomatoes - drained
1 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1-2 Tbl Worcestershire Sauce
This could easily be spiced up with a taco type seasoning as well.

Cook rice and ground beef accordingly in separate pans.
Core and take seeds from peppers, cut in half and set on baking pan with the openings toward each other.

Add tomatoes to rice when done, add spices to ground beef.
Stir rice mixture into the ground beef until combined
Fill peppers then add the remaining meat in the middle.
Bake at 350 for about a half hour or until the peppers are desired tenderness.

This dish was not entirely family approved as apparently I am the only one that will actually eat the peppers. I do remember having this as a kid and only eating the meat so I was okay with that. 

I am doing Foodie Friday with my sister over at Muffin-Top-Less Mom who is still in her first months of blogging and wouldn't know a link-up from a hole in the wall but that's okay because she has some fab recipes over there and I'd like to get her some extra exposure because she's my sister and go give her some love.

What's your favorite throw together recipe?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Growing Up is Hard

Growing up is hard.
I'm seeing it in my middle school son who is trying to make his way through the jungle that is sixth grade..going to awkward social events, making true friends, figuring out who's who, dealing with pantsing in the gym locker room, rejection, name calling, and bullying. It all comes with the territory in junior high. 

As a mom, I want to go in there and fight these battles like the mom that goes in on the dodgeball game in that commercial, blocking all the balls that come flying in her son’s direction. 

"It's okay, Mommy's here!"

I want to find out who these kids are and give them the what for. I want to start home schooling so neither one of my kids will have to deal with any of it. I want to turn into mama Bear and protect my cubs at all costs.

What good does that do really? How does that prepare them for the real world? We are so busy trying to protect our kids, we forget we can also use the uncomfortable situations as teachable moments. Our first instinct is to blame the other party for upsetting our child rather than helping them become resilient enough to handle an uncomfortable situation. Why? Why wouldn't our first instinct be to provide them with information encouraging them to deal with these challenges? Why wouldn't we want them to know what it's like to lose at a sport or be on the team that doesn't get a trophy at the end of the season because they placed last? Isn't the goal for them to be independent adults? If they depend on us to get them out of every jam they get in while they get the trophy no matter what, that isn't going to happen. We know from experience that independence is a process and it takes practice, it's our job to help them get good at it. 

As a parent, I want both my children to have more skills than I did at their age. I want to give them the tools they need in order to achieve this. I want them to understand that these things happen in life - I can't bear to tell them it doesn't all end in school - but that it's how we deal with these situations that actually make the difference in how it affects us. I want them to know that these words are coming from kids with a different family than we have and maybe they learn these words from being called them themselves. I want them to comprehend that if they ask someone to dance and they are told no that it doesn't mean that will happen next time, not everyone will say no. I want them to believe in who they are enough to know that these words are just words, where we put them and how much meaning we give them is what counts. Giving words power

"Mom, I went up and asked so and so if she wanted to dance and I got rejected."

"Well how did she say it? Was she like Ewww I'm not dancing with you or did she just say no."

"She just said no and walked away."

"So you got a no - maybe she was busy with friends. Good for you for taking the risk and even asking - that takes guts. Think of it in baseball terms. Those guys that hit all the home runs all the time in the big leagues strike out more often than they ever hit homers."
"So I just got the first one out of the way."

There’s a quote from Dani Johnson that says:
"Growing up is hard.  People who take us apart and tell us what we're NOT surround us. But it only takes one person to tell you who you are to overcome it all." ~Dani Johnson

I want to be that one person to remind them who they are, to keep that in the front of their brain and give those words power. I know I won't always be that one person but while I can I will and by doing that, I am assisting them in becoming that one person for themselves. 

"Mom, so and so called me a (insert ugly name here)* again today."
"Are you that ugly name? Do you believe you are that ugly name? Is that the truth about you?"

"No. Of course I'm not (insert ugly name here)"

(sometimes he doesn't even know what the word means - which to me is just an added bonus)

"What are you then? Are you smart?"

"Smart and funny...(believe the list could go on)"

"As long as you keep believing THAT, you will never believe that you are (insert ugly name here)"

Think for just a moment about what you call your children both in their presence and when you don't think they are listening. Just like all moms have eyes in the back of their heads, you know children have this sixth superpower sense of hearing that even when they can't hear you from across the room when told to take a shower or unload the dishwasher, they can suddenly hear a pin drop from two floors up when they think you think they aren't listening. 

Are you telling them who they actually are? Are you kidding when you say these things to them or other people? Are you using labels like (insert any vaguely ugly label here) - because if you are they will eventually believe it and start acting accordingly if they aren't already. Whether you are serious or not. It works with both negative and positive words – which direction do you want your child taking off in?
Power of words.

It's too easy to pick out the flaws and what they are doing wrong, leave that up to the middle schoolers and focus yourself on what they are doing right. Focus on qualities you would like to see in your child rather than actions or behaviors that you don't appreciate. I have to remind my husband of this more often than I do myself of course. You never know when a little encouragement could turn into an accomplishment.

It's a fine web we weave this parenting thing. I'm no expert, I'm only going on what happens here and by observing other parents interacting with their children. I have also been accused of sounding like Danny Tanner on more than one occasion. I think it's all the blah blah blah. Maybe it was the whole putting it into baseball terms thing.

Growing up is hard. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm Cooking with Gas - Mini Turkey Meatball MashUp

I've been perusing the recipe gamut here lately and I gotta tell you, in case you haven't noticed, there are all kinds! Multiple recipes even just for Turkey Meatballs...Some include oats in place of bread crumbs, some include sauteed spinach or onions.  I decided to do a mashup of these recipes I found and chose the ingredients I know I would eat and ones that I thought my family would like. I think I may have come up with a hit. Everyone in the family tried and liked them. Not that they would eat them on a regular basis because you know, turkey means healthy.  That's my husband's stance and he's sticking to it but he still tries everything I make and has no problem giving his opinion. He's a good guinea pig that way.

Mini Muffin Turkey Meatballs

1 Lb Ground Turkey
1 small onion - I used one slightly bigger than a ping pong ball
1-2 cloves garlic finely diced
1 Egg
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/4 C finely shredded parmasean cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley finely chopped fresh or flakes
1-2 Tbl Worscestershire Sauce
1 Tbl tomato paste

Preheat over to 400.
Mix turkey and other ingredients in a bowl until combined.
Spoon mixture into a pre-sprayed or oiled mini muffin pan.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
Makes 24 Mini Muffin Meatballs

I thought these turned out great and would be good with spaghetti or just in sauce for a game. My husband, convinced he has heartburn because of them, makes me wonder if I used a little too much garlic..I'll ease up on it next time I make these.

I've gotten some inspiration from some of these recipes that I've actually been cooking and baking in my kitchen since July more often than I have in a long time. I switched my kitchen out to unprocessed for the most part, aside from the places my husband insists or if I should happen to send him shopping. 

I've also tried some great recipes from my sister's blog this week - our Sunday meal was her Breakfast Cupcakes and Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes. Those were both approved by all family members, as in I better make a double batch of pancakes next time! She does a weekly series of Foodie Friday and I'm thinking that I may just have to start joining her.

What's a recipe that has inspired you?

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Skinny - I'm Getting Fit

So if you follow me on Twitter or are a friend on Facebook, you may have noticed I have started talking about fitness. Reason being, it's my new focus (not that I will ever stop focusing on coffee, make no mistake about that!). I started on this journey the last week of July and now have the encouragement and confidence to share with you what I'm doing. 

My sister over at Muffin-Top-Less Mom has been a certified personal trainer for a couple of years and has been urging me to jump on the fitness train and start working out. I admit I wasn't ready the first 87 times she asked me but I finally did it and started a new program by Beachbody and Shaun T called T25. It's a 10 week program that focuses on your core, upper and lower body, cardio and can be done in the comfort of your own home in only 25 minutes per workout. Since most people have an excuse about not having enough time to workout, this offers a great excuse buster being that you can get in and get it done in less than half an hour!

I have recently "graduated" from my first 10 weeks of T25 and with the great results I got from the first 10, I've decided to do a replay jumping into another 10 weeks. Here's my results: in the first 10 weeks, I've shed 15 pounds and 21 inches - 5 off my waist, 4 off my hips, 3 off my lower ab area, 3 off each thigh (that's huge for me!), 1 off each arm and 1 off my chest. The proof here really is in the pictures..

         BEFORE                                AFTER ONLY 7 WEEKS
I took this after picture about 3 weeks ago so I'm due for another update soon.

I'm also eating an unprocessed, healthy diet including Shakeology because let's face it, you can't outwork a crappy diet. I plan to share more recipes I'm using here with you as well. I feel better than I have in a long time and am real life proof that hard work and a little determination pays off. I've also come out of my comfort zone, making the choice to become a Beachbody Coach which means I can encourage, support and help you to get you the results you want just like I did! Shoot me an email or a message for more information. I have Challenge Groups starting each month that you can be an exculsive member of which will help keep you accountable, on track and offer support from me and other members of the group.

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Easy Breakfast Cookies

Need a super easy recipe for the next time your bananas are getting too ripe on your counter that is sugar, flour and dairy free? I found one that I altered a bit based on the size of the bananas I had on hand. I'm not a big banana person unless it's in something else (like banana bread) and I thought these were really good! It's an easy go to for a fast, healthy, out the door breakfast and only 5 ingredients.

Breakfast Cookies
3 Large Bananas (very ripe)
2C Rolled Old Fashioned Oats (Not fast cook)
1C Unsweetened Applesauce
1/2 - 3/4 C craisins (I used the cherry ones)
Cinnamon to taste 1-2 tsp
(I completely forgot this until they were in the oven and I saw the cinnamon sitting on the counter...oops)

Mix all ingredients together in one bowl, mashing the banana as you mix - easy peasy! (If I can do it...)
Spoon off onto a sheet pan with baking spray and flatten slightly with spoon - I've been told they will cook more evenly when flattened a bit rather than in a heap the way it comes off the spoon.
Bake at 350 for 35 - 40 minutes
Makes 24 cookies - 65 - 70 calories each depending on size

My son thought they were great - my daughter on the other hand, ahem, she's pretty finicky so we can't really trust her opinion.  At least it's one kid approved!

You could easily add ingredients to this such as mini-chocolate chips to make it a little more kid friendly. A friend suggested pumpkin and I thought slivered almonds would be a good addition as well. I may post this again with an altered recipe, there are so many options. What would you add for your own taste? 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What we did this Summer

This year we made a bucket list for summer back when the kids got out of school with the things we wanted to do while school was out. I think we did pretty well in getting most of the list crossed off aside from boating which weather was not agreeing with when we were available for it. Mall of America/Rainforest Cafe didn't end up working out when we were visiting my grandmother in Iowa. I wanted it to because the last time we were there was when my daughter was still in a stroller so neither one really remembers that visit. We still have time for park-a-palooza and Zig E's...

The summer weather didn't really start until this last week when the kids started school of course. Maybe we will make the beach next year!

Summer Bucket List
Ledge at Sears (Willis) Tower
American Girl Place
Crown Fountain
Lego Store
Navy Pier
Herhey Store
Albanese Candy Factory
Bike Rides
Bon Fire 
Wisconsin Dells 
Indiana Beach 
4 Square 
Drive-In Movie 
Rail Cats Baseball Game 
Scavenger Hunt 
Deep River Waterpark
Rainforest Cafe 
Mall of America 
Eye Doctor

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Bucket List

Since summer is officially more than a week in, we've started on our summer bucket list. Do you have one?  We just started ours this year, we sat down together making a list of things we wanted to do before school starts again. After going to Disney last year, we knew we would be staying local this summer. Of course every ounce of summer must be used - wisely and as much to mom's advantage as possible. 

We were able to get a lot of the Chicago stuff done in one day using the Chicago Trolley to cart us around the city most of the day.  They have 13 stops in the city and you can get on and off the trolley at any one of them, hang out for awhile at whatever destination and catch another one when you're ready to move on. It really is a great way to get around the city seeing the popular sites without having to hail a cab between stops. Before I get too far into a trolley tangent, let's review the list.  
Here's what we've done so far:

Double Decker Trolley
Crown Fountain

Cloudgate (The Bean) 

Lego Store

Hershey Store

American Girl Place

The Ledge at Willis Tower

We can't forget the yummy Garretts Popcorn we had to get before we boarded the train back home.  That's a lot in one day right?

Albanese Candy Factory also checked off the list.

Here's what we have left to check off:
Bike Rides
Bon Fire
Wisconsin Dells
Indiana Beach
4 Square
Drive-In Movie
Rail Cats Baseball Game
Scavenger Hunt
Deep River Waterpark
Rainforest Cafe
Mall of America
Eye Doctor

I added the last two to make them sound more fun.  They are more fun if they're on a fun list right? Regardless, they both need to be done before school gets back in so maybe if they are on the fun list, I won't forget to get them done! It's quite a bit to cram in in the next seven weeks but I'm hoping to get it all in there. Will keep you updated as we check things off!

What's on your Summer Bucket List?

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Ultimate in Partying

I have to spread the word about the Ultimate in Parties put on by Susan and Janice of 5 Minutes for Mom.  I have taken part every year since I started my blog but they have been at this for seven years and they are good at what they do.  If you've ever wanted to meet some great bloggers through a link up, this is THE place to start.  Every year I find a handful of people I really connect with and become friends.

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

Take a load off and chat.  I'm Amy and I'd like to welcome you into my little spot on the interwebs.  It's not much but it's what's been keeping me sane for the last three years.  I started blogging in 2010 after getting an itch doing it for my job at the time.  I don't consider myself a writer but it sure does help to get things down in writing sometimes. I've had a journal all my life so I suppose this is a pseudo social extension of that. I love bacon, music and the obvious, coffee. I would consider myself a tough love parent even though they secretly both have me wrapped around their fingers. (Just don't tell them that!) I'm the most funny when I'm actually trying to be serious, not sure what that says about me but people laugh the hardest when the last thing I wanted was to make them laugh.

While I could go on and on about me, I don't want to keep you from the rest of the party with my cake and coffee so I will just give you a quick run down on what goes on around here...

Things I Blog About

10 Quick Things
1.  My kids are 11 and 8 (going on 18) - he's happy to stay his age, she'd rather be out buying shoes or cruising around town.
2. We are going on 5 years in this house, I continue to call it the new house and there are still light switches we aren't sure what they do.
3. I have a cat I named Dweezil in 1997, he still romps around like a madman in heat almost every single night.
4. I moved back from out of state to live with the love of my life only 3 months after meeting him - we are going on 12 years of mostly blissful marriage and I wouldn't have it any other way and couldn't imagine it with anyone else.
5. People have always thought my younger sister is the older one.
6. I'm good at keeping secrets, it's mainly because I usually forget what people tell me but it keeps them coming back.
7. My mom had me a day before her 21st birthday, the only day she's ever thrown up a shamrock shake.
8. My son was born on my grandmother's 81st birthday - every year they talk and he tells her he can't believe she's 81 years older than him like she's getting so big.
9. Let me tell you about the time I went skydiving.
10. I have the attention span of a squirrel on coffee. I have trouble watching full length movies because it's too much of a commitment to sit there for an hour much less three.

Find out more on my About Me page if you feel the need but for some really entertaining people I know and love, please check out my Featured Guest page. 
Now please tell me a little something about you - like what made you click my page and how you're digging the party this year.  Enjoy yourself and if you need a pick me up later, I've got the coffee ready!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Calling Out the Bully Label

My son recently got in trouble for sticking up for a friend at school who was being made fun of by another kid in the library.
Not like trouble trouble, just in that he had to apologize for his behavior. 
Basically for his words.
This kid was mocking his friend and he called this kid a jerk.

"You know, you're being a jerk." 

I have been instilling in both of my kids that they can't stand by when someone is being bullied - say something, tell someone, don't just stand there and watch.

Now in real life, calling someone a jerk pales in comparison to the stabbiness that is sometimes reality to everyone at one time or another over something as simple as driving to work. Apparently in 5th grade, name calling is a very big deal because this kid turned around and told the library teacher that my kid used the word.

"David called me a jerk."

To which the teacher responded by telling my son to apologize to this kid with no investigation as to what was going on. I realize that 5th grade is about which situations to diffuse and which to investigate so I get that this did not constitute questions, it was about what an acceptable solution was for the teacher. I have also reinforced respect for adults and authority so he didn't argue or try to tell the story, he just followed the command given to him. End of story. He did what he was told - but it was apparent he wasn't happy about it at the end of the day. He was doing the right thing. He just went about it like a 5th grader would. He fought fire with fire.

As the teacher, and being that these kids are 11, something in me would want to ask this kid if they were in fact being a jerk. Maybe if he had used the word bully it would have been a different situation.  The big conclusion my son came to was basically standing on the sidelines instead of saying anything is better because at least then you won't be getting yourself in trouble.

In re-evaluating this situation, we determined it was his words that backfired. We talked about whether or not the person you are sticking up for is worth getting in trouble for, if this person would have done the same for him and if the problem would get better or worse if anything was said. We talked about the uncomfort factor and the power of words. We are big on practicing situations and so we substituted his calling this kid a name with something I'm personally becoming an expert at.  Here are some example responses we came up with instead of name calling:

"That was so nice of you."
"Saying that must have made you feel better."
"Was that really necessary?"
"I'd like to make chocolate out of you, you're so sweet."

Now I while know sarcasm and name calling may come from the same family, sarcasm is harder to tell on someone for so why not go there? Labeling didn't work so well. What if that bully label is thrown completely to the wayside and has no meaning? Why not instead toss out something to distract them and maybe make them think about how they are projecting themselves as a person?  He won't be doing nothing about it, he will be throwing them off instead of sitting there and watching. Instead of fighting fire with fire, smother them with kindness. Better to be pro-active than reactive. Kindness is better than name calling even if it's dripping in sarcasm, right? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Going Old School

So my best blogging bud who I'm still dying to meet and hopefully will this year, The Robot Mommy has tagged me in the newest pass it around post about going old school.  I think she knew I needed a reason to post something since I have been under my own rock for a few months now and really have no excuse.

Annnnd we're off!

1. What were you doing 10 years ago? 
Wow - 2003 I was still a new mom, had a 1 year old son. Still renting in our first house and my cousin was living with us.  We've come a long way since then!
2. What 5 things are on your to-do list?
• Write
• Drink Coffee
• Nip my PITA and skin issues in the bud with the quickness
• Flood my blogging dry spell
• Get some sun
3. What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
I'm not really much of a snacker, not that you could tell by my waistline...
• Coffee (it's a snack, right?)
• Cheese and crackers
• Bacon
• Anything cheesy
• Avocado
4. Name some things you would do if you were a millionaire:
First pay off the house and make my bathroom bigger. Open my own coffee house where if you're a regular, you bring your own mug and take a different one home each time, take a barge cruise in France, show my daughter Paris, go back to Ireland, take my parents to pay them back for all the crap I did when I still lived with them in high school and my early 20s.
5. Name some places you have lived:
• Dolton/South Holland, IL
• Mason City, IA
• Lansing, IL
• Lowell, IN
6. Name some bad habits you have:
• Procrastinating
• Over-thinking things
• Getting sucked into the internets
• Picking my nose (just seeing if you were paying attention)
7. Name some jobs you have had:
Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, Pharmacy technician, Coffee Beanery Barista/Supervisor, Preschool teacher, Counselor/Supervisor at an In-Home facility for abused children, Drug Counselor - Intake, Office Supervisor for a European Travel Consultant where I took my trips to France, Germany and Ireland.  Currently working Retail Services for impulse items in grocery stores, Girl Scout Co-Leader and blogger part time, taxi driver, referee, alarm clock, multi-tasker, accountant, chef of the future, maid of the minions, laundry queen extraordinaire, household CEO and coffee drinker the rest of the time.  I would like to go pro on the last one!
8. Name those you are tagging for #OSBlog:
All three of whom hold me accountable, support me no matter what and try to light a fire under my ass from time to time. I thank each of you for being great friends! Thanks also to TRM for getting this rusty ball rolling again!

So tell me, what (if anything) do we share in common?