Family Fun – Make Your Own Pizza Night

family fun make your own pizza

I love spending time with the kids and creating opportunities for family fun. I’m always trying to think of ways to create quality time with them. Quality time doesn’t always have to mean doing something big or expensive. We do pretty regular family game nights and movie nights, along with a smattering of other activities. (Check out my Geocaching post for example.)

But even when doing a chill family night in, people need to be fed! So I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and do a make your own pizza night! Everyone can experiment with putting different toppings on different slices, or just go ahead and make their good old favorite style of pizza.

By getting everyone involved in cooking dinner, you create a sense of togetherness while also creating a sense of independence and fostering living skills. Sitting around the table making pizzas, also creates a general light heartedness amongst everyone. Maybe it’s the casualness of the food – or maybe it’s the fun of not having to agree on what to make and eat. Whatever it is, it is the perfect time to talk and joke and just generally enjoy each other’s company.



It does involve a little prep, but it’s pretty simple.

If you have the time to make the pizza crusts too, more power to ya! There are many advantages to that. But to make it quick and easy (because those hungry bellies DO need to get filled), you can easily buy pre-made pizza dough.
So you’ll need dough, sauce, and any toppings you have on hand.
My kids like cheese so, even though I don’t eat it, I bought cheese for them. Things like spinach and mushroom are pretty easy because they’ll cook down enough on their own when you cook the dough. I had some broccoli and cauliflower on hand. The kids like when I saute it, so before we began I sauteed it. It was one more step, but one more I thought would pay off in child vegetable consumption. It’s up to you if you have time or want to include something that would add steps like that. Maybe leftovers would be a great option.

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

I love seeing them experience a bit of independence in a life skill. It gives them confidence.

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

family fun pizza night - mom is such a nerd

They crack each other up!

family fun pizza night - vegan pizza

I make mine vegan with no cheese. And I love veggies!
My camera conveniently died before I got a picture of the kids’ pizzas.

But the dough had directions to cook for 12 minutes. So once we got finished, I slid them in the oven (the kids’ first) and then we were able to enjoy the fruits of our own labor. And play games and hang out while eating pizza.

Learning, bonding, and eating. Le sigh…

family fun make your own pizza
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January 2017 Lifestyle Favorites

Lifestyle Favorites - January

2017 is already shaping up to be better than 2016. I’m already excited about what it has to hold. I know great things are in store for us. I have high hopes!

It’s so exciting when I find something or someway that makes my/our life a little easier, better, or more fun. I just thought I would share a few of my recent findings. So here are some awesome products/recipes/apps that I love.

        1. S’well Bottle
          My brother and sister-in-law got me this new water bottle for Christmas. I truly love it. I know S’well bottles are expensive but now that I have one, I totally understand why. I fill this puppy up every night (as well as multiple times during the day), put it on my bedside table, and when I wake up in the morning my water is still cold. It’s amazing and I love the color. It’s so fun and so pink which is amazing. But you can get almost any color or design if you prefer.
        2. Cuppow
          Another gift from my brother and sister-in-law. She gets me. 🙂 These are coffee style lids that go on top of mason jars and are then secured by the metal ring. They allow us to take drinks in the car or during family game night. (For some reason, cups and mugs seem to be ever more precarious during board games.)
        3. Minimalist Baker’s Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
          I am always looking for ways to streamline our routine. I love cooking, but I love even more when I find a way to make meals that are quick, easy, and kid-friendly. I love overnight oats because being able to toss a mason jar and spoon to my kids (and myself) makes mornings so much simpler. So when I found this recipe for overnight oats, I had to give it a try. We ALL loved it. My kids even said it tastes like peanut butter ice cream. I made it by the recipe (almost never do that!) and added bananas on top in the morning. It is absolutely superb!January Favorites - Overnight Oats
        4. Laser Tag
          I am always looking for ways to play together as a family – inexpensive and active ways especially. These galaxy blasters are especially great for that. My kids will happily grab one, toss one to someone else, and start firing without a thought for the TV at all. Of course, I enjoy being ridiculous because it makes it more fun for all of us. So run, hide, and roll around. They crack up and do it too. It makes us all laugh and hopefully creates some positive memories for them.
        5. App: Plant Nanny
          Plant Nanny is an app that my daughter found out about from one of her friends. Both of my kids have it downloaded on one of their devices. It’s an app that helps you to track your water consumption. When you drink water you record it on the app and the cute little plant grows. So they keep drinking water because they want to see their plant grow. After a while they will get sick of it, as they always do, but it’s nice that they become more conscious of their water consumption.

 

Have you found any new passions, strategies, or discoveries so far this year? How has January been for you?

* Mom is Such a Nerd is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no extra cost to you and I truly appreciate it!*

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Breakfast Quinoa – Easy Breakfast Ideas

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

Easy breakfasts that are also healthy, filling, and delicious are like gold in our house. They are what make our morning routines run smoothly.

This recipe for breakfast quinoa is not only all of those, but it is nice and warm for these colder mornings. It can also be a make ahead meal or as a bulk meal – you can keep it for a couple of days in the fridge and warm it up with some more milk (or make the quinoa and add the ingredients in the morning. And it’s good for a backup plan meal because it uses ingredients I generally have stocked while still being plant based – not processed! After a nice big bowl of this, I feel like I’ve given myself and the kids a good start to the day!

This can be made the night before or made in the morning with fairly little fuss. It does take about 15 minutes to cook quinoa but it’s fairly low maintenance. So I can start waking the kids up once I’ve turned the heat down. Just make sure to set a timer and don’t forget it’s on the stove!

Breakfast Quinoa with BerriesEasy Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients
1 cup water the
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup-1 cup frozen berrie
maple syrup (approx 1-2 Tbsp)
almond milk (about 1/2 cup)
cinnamon (approx 2 tsp)

*Easy Breakfast Quinoa Recipe*This is generally enough for my kids and myself. I’ll often double it and then keep whatever’s left for the next day. It will be super pink from absorbing the liquid and might need an extra dash of milk if you like it a creamier consistency the next day.

Make it:
Boil 1 cup water.
Rinse off the quinoa and add it to the boiling water.
Turn the temperature down, cover your pot, and let the quinoa sit for about 15 minutes or when the water has been absorbed and you can see the “tail” separating.
Add the frozen berries when the quinoa is still warm, mixing them in to melt them.
Stir in the maple syrup (to desired sweetness), almond milk (to desired consistency), and cinnamon or other spices (to desired flavor).

 

Let me know what you are loving for breakfast these days!

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

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Zoodles! – A Quick & Easy Family Friendly Meatless Monday

So I know I haven’t been around much lately.  It’s been a rough few weeks.  There have been a lot of serious illnesses and ailments in my family. (Not the kids – thank goodness!) But it has meant a lot of running around from one hospital to another, from one doctor to another, from one obligation to another. We end up eating on the road or coming home exhausted and don’t feel like cooking.

When my dad first had his stroke, I swore that I would do everything in my power to live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Maybe we can’t always control what happens to us (although our lifestyle does have the ability to either mitigate or increase risk factors), but we can potentially improve our ability to rehab.  I quickly got overwhelmed and that resolution slipped as quickly as I had made it, but I know intellectually that that is when you need to take care of yourself even more.

Needless to say, I’m going for super quick, super easy, kid friendly meals I can throw together and clean up quickly.

Enter: Good Ol’ Fashion Zoodles! Man we love zoodles!

zoodles

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash
  • Vegan marinara sauce
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes  (**we tell you how I do this below, but I usually have them ready ahead of time)
  • SPIRALIZER (I’ve heard people say they use a vegetable peeler in place of a spiralizer, but I have not tried)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Insert the zucchini into the spiralizer and turn.  It works best if you apply some pressure, but not too much.  The kids love to help turn the crank and watch the curly-Qs come out.  
2

Catch the noodles on a cookie sheet or bowl. Then watch the kids fight over who gets to eat the core of the zucchini/squash that comes through. Making ZoodlesMaking Zoodles!

You can stop here and eat them raw if you would like. Or if you would like to sweat them out in the oven, place the cookie sheet with all of the zoodles in the oven for 20 minutes on 200.

Making Zoodles!

Top with the marinara sauce and roasted tomatoes.

6

And enjoy!  (Don’t forget to marvel at how awesome it is to see kids shoveling veggies into their adorable little faces!)

Making Zoodles!Spiralizing Squash

Now for the Roasted Tomatoes:

My kids don’t like to eat tomatoes.  I’ve finally gotten my daughter to the point that she will eat them thinly sliced on a sandwich/wrap/or even taco.  I don’t know why so many people don’t like tomatoes.  I find them cool and refreshing.  Anyways, I discovered that my kids will eat them roasted, plus they are so good in so many recipes this way.  So I get a bunch of cherry tomatoes, save some for wraps and roast the rest to be used throughout the week.

Ingredients:

Cherry tomatoes
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Half or even quarter the tomatoes if they are bigger.  Place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil on them.

Put them in the oven for about 15 minutes on 400.  They are so delish when they are done!

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Watermelon Spinach Smoothie – sounds weird but it’s soooo good.

I’ve written before about how my kids and I love our green smoothies. I was in a funk for a while with them.  I just couldn’t bring myself to blend in the morning. What is that?!?But my kids were missing them (and honestly I knew in my head I was too). Plus if my kids start the day with a green smoothie, at least I know that whatever happens in school or on the road, they’ve had a bit of fruits and vegetables.Spinach Watermelon Smoothie

So my daughter came downstairs the other day claiming that she was craving a watermelon smoothie and proceeded to take the spinach out of the fridge. This stopped me in my tracks.  Spinach and watermelon in a smoothie? Together?  Welp, alright kiddo, the blender is that way. ->  So she made her Spinach Watermelon Smoothie.  It followed the same pattern as our usual smoothies (in this post), but I was blown away at how delicious it was! This one is definitely a keeper!

Here is our recipe:

Watermelon Spinach Smoothie
Makes 1 serving or 2-3 drinks

Ingredients
1 cup spinach
1 cup watermelon cubes
1 banana
2-3 oz water

Steps
Put it all in the blender and blend.  Add more water if you are having a hard time blending.  It won’t need much though, because the watermelon has so much liquid.
Drink it and enjoy!Watermelon Spinach Smoothie

 

You can also check out our Healthy Breakfast Cookie recipe here.

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The Best Green Smoothie Combination

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Did you get a leprechaun visit?  We did…but the dog woke up first and ate most of the gold coins (along with most of the wrappers!)  That’s okay, we didn’t really need moooore chocolate right now between birthday cakes (and the dog is big enough that he won’t be affected by it.)

image
Taking what she didn’t finish with her to school

imageSo instead, we had green smoothies with green eggs for our festive breakfast!

My kids adore their green smoothies.  That makes Mama happy!  People often ask me how/why my kids are so happy to drink them and honestly they didn’t always.  It took a while to find the right combination that everyone loves, but now that we know it, we make them all the time because I know they will quickly disappear into my kids’ tummies!

So here is what we do.  It’s so simple!

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Baking with Kids: Tears, Tribulations, Comfort, and Creativity

Last weekend I popped out of bed so excited, “I’m changing my post schedule for the week!  The SuperBowl is coming up and we should make football food!”  This was no problem because for Monday, I had already planned to post my vegetarian “wings” and now I was inspired to make a big football shaped brownie for Friday’s post in lieu of a 5 Nerdy Things post I have been trying to get down to actually 5 things (sometimes my nerdiness overwhelms even me).

I got the kids dressed, explained my INGENIOUS plan (to bake brownies in the shape of a big football and ice it to make the lines and laces), and off we went.  We had other groceries to buy so we went to the store and while we were there, picked up brownie mix and icing.  (I know I should make them from scratch, but that wasn’t the point I just wanted to make them look cute.  Besides one time a friend of my parents made us brownies using this Ghirardelli mix and they were so good, I’d almost rather make my brownies that way.)

We got home.  The kids were hype.  I had transferred my contagious excitement to them as they mixed and stirred.

We took pictures of the ingredients, forgetting the chocolate icing, and then taking a picture of it again later.

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They stirred and stirred.

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They poured.

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They happily licked the bowl and spatulas.

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Then I baked and I took it out of the oven to cool down.

This is where the subtitle comes in to play.  I know baking with a 4 and 9 year old brother-sister duo, you can expect something to happen – an argument over who gets to lick which part of the bowl, who stirs what, who will ice which color, even possibly an overzealous finger being stuck in the brownies and getting burned (hasn’t happened but I’m sure it could to somebody)- but no, not in this case.

Not in this case at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure I should never attempt to bake without my children. Ever.

See, once the brownies cooled down, I ran my knife around the edges to loosen the brownies.  It felt like I was just smudshing the brownies (I think that’s a cross between smudging and smushing AND more importantly it’s the only word that adequately describes what was happening) . FU…DRUCKERS!!! I screamed. We did NOT spray the pan before pouring the mix in.  EV.ER.Y.THING stuck.  The brownie fell one odd shaped morsel after another.  What landed on the plate actually looked like the shape of a football.

” That’s how you were going to turn it into a football?” the littles asked incredulously. “Nooooooooooooooo” I whined. It was supposed to come out like a circle we were going to cut out the diameter to create a strip one or two inches wide and then put the remaining together and it would’ve been an oval.  “How are we going to ice a pile of crumbs?!?” I slumped in frustration.

Then, my little genius asked, “can I do something with it?”

Be my guest! (I thought they were just going to eat it to be quite honest.)

But instead she enlisted my Hunky Monkey and I as her sous chefs.  We got out the white icing, melted and stirred chocolate chips, and listened for our next assignment.  He was to roll the crumbs into football shaped balls, I was to dunk them in the melted chocolate, and then she drew little laces on them.

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She rescued my football flop and created the cutest (yummiest) bite size chocolate footballs.

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Pretty sure this is why I had kids.  Because I should never be allowed to bake on my own.

These kids are definitely the best part of me.

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Cauliflower “Wings”

So I made cauliflower wings for part of a luncheon “tea” (we do those just because) one day.  They were so yummy that I had to take a picture of them!  I posted this picture on Facebook:cauliflower wings A few of my friends were interested in how I made them.

With the Super Bowl coming up I thought I would make them again as a great meat-free (vegetarian, NOT vegan) alternative to snack on.  They are fun to dip in ranch, blue cheese, something spicy, really whatever you might dip wings in.

This is what I did:

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A GUACAMERGENCY! (or how to make guacamole in a pinch)

Gurglegggguurrrgggllllrlrrrgooooooo…a strange rumbling came from somewhere deep within. I glanced out of the corner of my eye to see if anyone else had heard it.  Sure enough there were four eyes querying me, four eyebrows raised in wonder,  and two half smiles waiting for the cue. My smile cracked, that was the cue, and laughter erupted while silliness ensued. “Woah man” I sighed, looking at them with a glint in my eye. “Nachos?” my mind-reading daughter asked.  A wink and a smile was my reply. The three of us tore to the kitchen, a little hand grabbed for the cheese (at the point of this writing I’ve only begun to incorporate veganism into our pescetarian lives, but I hear that Daiya shredded cheddar is tasty and melts really well – I’ll try it soon I’m sure). A slightly bigger hand grabbed the tortilla chips and the bowl. My hand went straight to the avocados. I grabbed the first one. Oh no, I thought as I let the hard unripe avocado go and reached for the next. My grip loosened as it too was firm against my palm.  To top it all off the tomatoes were gushy and smushy and gross. My heart sank, my face fell, my eyes glazed over with potential tears. This is terrible. It’s absolutely awful!  This is worse than my latest mid life crisis times three. This is. ..it’s. ..it’s. ..IT’S A GUACAMERGENCY!!! I threw my hand to my forehead as I fell to the floor.  Life as we know it is over!  Quoth the raven “Nevermore.”

Then came Katie from Slow Down and Savor, riding in on her white horse to rescue me from my guacamole-less stupor.  She saved me using knowledge alone, a little like the doctor(?), by sharing the most life changing  piece of information.  Did you know that you can ripen avocados in the oven?  You should check out her page for the specifics, but basically you wrap the avocado in tin foil, place it in the oven for 20 minutes on 250 and voila.  Well I suck at following rules sometimes because I already had something in the oven and it was already heated to 400 degrees.  So if you find yourself in this conundrum I found that 13 minutes is just about perfect.

As we pulled my shiny wrapped present out of the hot, hot, (400 degree) hot hovel, my giddy fingers squeezed and felt the give of the now softened fruit under my fingers.  The skin had turned an ominous shade of brown.  Oh no! We have cooked it!  But as we sliced into the precious fruit, I saw the light green shade and gave it another squeeze.  It’s perfect! I squealed with delight as we scooped it and dumped it and gave it a smush.  It mashed up just right, but I still had no tomato.

Saved by another blogger whose name starts with a “K,”  Kelly from the Centsible Life, has an Easy Guacamole Recipe post in which she makes guacamole with avocado, lime, and garlic salt.  I have garlic salt and no lime, but lime juice which is really the important part.

We sprinkled and dripped, and before too long, the crisis was averted.  The nachos were devoured with gusto and the guacamergency became a guacamazing nosh.  We relished every bite and can now have guac no  matter what the state of the avocado.  The world may begin to spin again and life can continue.  It’s okay everyone, we are going to survive.

guacamergency

(It’s almost impossible to take a good guacamole picture isn’t it?)

What was your latest food-related existential crisis?  What did you do or learn from it?  I’m always happy to learn more kitchen hacks or quick fixes!

 

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