The Hardest Post to Write

I know that I have not written lately.

There are times when upbeat posts cannot happen.

I have considered ending the blog.

Many of my readers, those that are personal family and friends, would understand why.  In the early morning hours of July 17, Muffin and I lost our anchor.  Josh, my husband of nearly ten years (and Muffin’s proud father) passed away after a heart attack.

In many ways, it hasn’t hit yet.

On Facebook, I know my responses to the well-wishes seemed stilted and unemotional; my feelings were hardly the case.  I know, too, this post seems like a recitation of an event.

For one of the first times in my life, I do not have the words to express my feelings.

But I feel that I owe it to Josh, and to Muffin, to press on with the blog.

For my followers who are also Facebook friends, I am not posting this post on Facebook for others to mull over.  This post is too private, too personal, to do so.

I will post an abbreviated MPM post tomorrow, just as a catch up of things to come.

 

 

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Tip Tuesday: Pizza in Another Exciting Incarnation

Tip Tuesday

Pizza.  PIZZA!  Pizzahhhhhhhhh!!!

Is there a way that pizza (in its various forms) isn’t yummy?

But sometimes…the local pizza joint, or a Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pocket, or English Muffin Pizzas just fail to satisfy.

Sometimes, pizza gets a little ho-hum.  Mundane.  Ordinary.  Boring.  Trite.  Overdone (and I don’t necessarily mean burnt).

Sometimes you can (gasp!) get sick and tired of pizza.

That is when pizzahhh needs a reboot.

Today’s reboot comes courtesy of Kraft Recipes.  Well, mostly.  If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that it is impossible for me to follow a recipe exactly.  I.  Must.  Modify.

And luckily, this recipe is easily modifiable and adaptable.

What is it, exactly?

Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna.

Let me repeat that lusciousness again.  Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna.

Cheesy, saucy, meaty, pasta-y, veggie goodness.

And easily adaptable.

Yes, this is recipe nirvana.  (And not the band)

Nirvana (the band) is not exactly the genre of music I hear in my head when making and consuming copious amounts of this recipe.  Sinatra, yes.  Alternative?  No.  Think the Olive Garden soundtrack.  “When the moon meats your eye, like a big pizza pie…”

And, now back to recipe matters and not mangling-lyrics matters.

The original recipe calls for raw diced bell pepper and onion.  That creates two problems in our household.  1)  The peppers and onions don’t get completely cooked, and 2)  Muffin is not a fan of raw bell pepper and raw onion.  And, since he eats so many other healthy things, I have learned not to push my luck.

So, we adapted.  We subbed olives for the peppers and onions.  I think it would also be fabulous with most pizza toppings.  Except maybe pineapple.  As much as I love pineapple pizza, the thought of pineapple and lasagna noodles makes me slightly nauseated.

But Italian sausage, browned and added to the sauce and crumbled over the top?  Definitely!  (Even though we haven’t tried it that way yet.)

So, what do we do usually?

Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna

Adapted from Kraft Recipes (see link above)

1 egg, beaten

1 (15 ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

1 pkg. pepperoni, divided (I used the 6 ounce package from Aldi)

1 cup (1 can large pitted ripe olives, sliced) veggies, divided

1 jar (24 ounces) smooth pasta sauce (Traditional flavor, if possible)

1/2 cup water

1 package lasagna noodles, uncooked (You will not use them all.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the egg, ricotta, Parmesan, and half of the mozzarella.

Reserve 12-15 pepperoni slices and 1/2 cup olive slices (or 1/4 cup other vegetation).  Chop remaining pepperoni.  Add it to a medium bowl with sauce, water, and remaining vegetation (olives).

Spray a 9×13 dish or foil pan with cooking spray.  Spread 1/2-3/4 cup sauce on the bottom.  Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, broken to fit, as necessary; 1/3 ricotta mixture; and 1/2 cup of sauce.  Repeat layers twice.  Top with lasagna noodles, sauce, cheese, and reserved toppings (meat and vegetation).  Cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 35 minutes.  Uncover and cook 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Cut into serving-sized squares, with a slice of pepperoni centered in the square.

Chill or freeze.

When ready to eat, remove the desired number of squares and reheat in the microwave until heated through.

*Note:  I tried eating this 10 minutes post-oven, but the noodles are on the hard side of al dente.  For some reason, chilling it overnight after cooked softens the noodles to a more preferable al dente (as in, you can then chew them).

This recipe was definitely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite pizzahhhh variation?

Meal Plan Monday: The Between Christmas and New Years’ Edition

Meal Plan Monday

I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted.  For the last month, the meal plans have sorta not worked too well.  As in epic fails.  As in, I knew when I planned them that they were not going to go well.

I will spare you the horrific details.  This week is how-to-prep for New Years’ Eve and New Years’ Day while still enjoying the leftover goodies of Christmas.

I’m going to supply the menu for everything for the next two weeks (because the “eves” and “days” are a bit more complicated, recipe-wise).

Here we go.

Saturday (Christmas Eve):  snackies (little sausages in barbecue sauce and raspberry chipotle Tabasco sauce because choosing to wait until December 23 to purchase jalapeno pepper jelly simply doesn’t work, white sausage rotel and chips, treat tray, cream cheese and pepper jelly)

Sunday (Christmas morning/breakfast):  sausage biscuit breakfast casserole, fruit cup, tomato slices, sparkling grape juice

Sunday Lupper:  turkey, ham, cranberry orange relish, dressing, mashed potatoes, tourtiere, gravy, relishes (pickles and olives, plus carrots, tiny tomatoes, celery, and cucumber slices), macaroni and cheese, spinach madeleine, yams richard, crescent rolls, and treat tray

Monday:  leftovers see above

Tuesday:  hopefully leftovers (see above)

Wednesday:  chili (freeze leftovers)

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dog

Friday:  mini pizzas

Saturday (New Years’ Eve):  chicken and steak fajitas, guacamole, beans, pico de gallo and chips, Spanish rice, treat tray

Sunday (New Years’ Day):  probably ham (or some pork like form), greens, hot water cornbread, treat tray

Monday:  fajita leftovers

Tuesday:  sloppy joes, fries or tater tots

Wednesday:  pizza lasagna, green veg

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dog

Friday:  pizza

Saturday:  stir fry

Sunday:  roast of some kind

And there you go.  The latest Saturday and Sunday are not set in stone.  But the rest pretty much is.

How does your time look to be shaping up?

 

Back Online…

Well…after a big hiccup…and thanks to Josh…I am back online.  However, I am super exhausted after work, worrying about Lappy the Top, playing with Muffin, and trying to rebuild my Lappy the Top that I really want to go to bed.  Like, an hour ago.  (You know it’s bad if I’m reverting to Valley Girl speak.)

A Thousand Visits and a Thank You!

Thanks to all my readers and visitors!  I have finally hit the milestone of 1,000 views.  I’m not sure how many of them were from my own visits to check how the posts looked, but thank you to everyone.  I thank you and Muffin thanks you!

My dear sweet (almost potty trained, fingers crossed) boy!

Here’s to lotsa yummy recipes to come (and maybe a cooperative blog with my sister!)!