mrs.b and her boys

embrace the chaos

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MEATBALL PIZZA FOR THE WIN

What to bring to the Super Bowl party? What to bring to the next neighbor get-together? What to make for the group of teenage boys invading your house this weekend? This is the delicious, simple answer.

My Meatball Pizza is hearty and will satisfy a hungry crowd. My boys who {only!} like cheese pizza were absolutely crazy over this. They were {so!} scared to try it and were {pleasantly!} surprised to discover it was a new favorite of theirs.

 

If you make your own pizza dough, go ahead and use it for this recipe. Otherwise, use your favorite store bought crust. I got mine from a great pizzeria downtown.

I use leftover meatballs from earlier in the week when we had Spaghetti & Meatballs or Meatball Sandwiches. Sometimes, I will freeze leftover meatballs to have for recipes like this. It is key to have them cold; they will slice better for you then if they are warmed.

In the small chance that there will be leftovers, this would be great to put in the kids lunch boxes throughout the week. Cold pizza is always a nice change up for lunch.

Now, head to your Super Bowl party – and like me, watch mostly for the wonderful and wonderfully stupid commercials. Oh! And don’t forget about the half-time show!

 

MEATBALL PIZZA

 

1 uncooked pizza crust

1-2 cups pizza sauce

10 cold cooked meatballs, each sliced in 3

2-3 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan

 

Preheat oven to 425˚.

 

On a greased large cookie sheet, use your fingers to press out the pizza crust to fit the sheet. (It may not reach all the way to the edges, but it should be close) Cook crust for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven.

 

Slather the pizza sauce over the par-cooked crust; to your liking. Place sliced meatballs over sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over pizza and top with Parmesan.

 

Bake on the middle rack for 10 minutes; move to bottom rack and bake for additional 5-8 minutes or until cheese is cooked to desired brown.

 

Let it set for 5 minutes; serve immediately.

 

A New Year & Homemade Soft Pretzels

It’s a new year! We all have goals for the 365 days ahead of us. Most always have something on their list regarding weight or health. Some want to be more organized. Others vow to give more to others.

 

Something I would like everyone out in the world to add to our list of goals is to spend more “time” with our family. I put the word time in quotes because I do not mean just time, empty time. I mean real, uninterrupted, not-over-scheduled time. Driving in the car from activity to activity or sitting at the table doing homework is not real time together. We need to sit down at the dinner table with our loved ones, phones not present, talk about the day and get to know each other on a deeper level. Listen to each other. Laugh with each other.

Now, I am not of the ignorance that this can happen every night, but we need to do this as often as we can in the week. In our family, all 4 of us sit down at the table to eat as a family about 4 nights a week. I know for others, 4 nights a week cannot happen. But the idea that I love and love to preach is making your “table time” work for a different time of day. If everyone is finally home and settling in at 8:00 p.m., make that your quality time together. Gather around the table for popcorn, yogurt dunkers or homemade soft pretzels.

 

Make it non-fussy. Popcorn can be homemade, microwave style or the premade stuff in the bag {no judgment here!}. Our yogurt dunkers are just toasted cinnamon bread topped with a little slather of butter and peanut butter, cut in 3 strips, and served with a small bowl of vanilla yogurt to “dunk” them in. And homemade soft pretzels can be made ahead of time and stay delicious for about 3-4 days. Again, buy them frozen if you want, but I have a simple recipe for you to try. They are fresh and you know what ingredients are in them.

 

Soft Pretzels are fun to make for any age. They sound difficult and intimidating, but I promise you they are simple. If you have the time or sanity left {just keeping it real!}, let the kids help. They love to roll them and figure out how to twist them the right way.

 

 

 HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZELS

 

1 ½ cups warm water

2 Tb. agave nectar (or whatever sweetener you like)

1 pkg. dry active yeast

6 Tb. butter, melted

2 ½ tsp. kosher salt

4 ½ – 5 cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil

3 quarts water

¾ baking soda

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tb. cold water

Sea salt or kosher salt

 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray liberally with cooking spray.

 

In a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine water, agave, yeast and butter and mix until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes.

 

Add salt and flour; mix on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and let it knead until the dough is smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, about 4-5 minutes. If dough appears too wet, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove dough from bowl, place on a clean, flat surface and knead with your hands into a ball.

 

In a medium bowl, coat it with the oil, add the dough, turning to coat in the oil. Cover with a clean towel and put in warm place for about an hour or until the dough doubles in size.

 

Preheat the oven to 425˚.

 

Bring the water to boil in large pot and add baking soda. Slowly, to take care to not let water over flow from the reaction to the baking soda.

Take dough to a floured flat surface. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 24 inches long. Take hold of each end, pulling up (in a “U” shape), cross each other and press ends into place. Boil two pretzels at a time in water-soda solution for 30 seconds; splashing the tops with the water. Remove pretzels with a spider or a slotted spatula. Place pretzels on lined baking sheets and brush the tops with the egg wash. Season with salt of choice.

 

Bake for 16-18 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire cooling rack.

Serve them salted and as is. Or you can throw in a side of queso, honey mustard or classic yellow mustard.

Thanksgiving & an Appetizer

I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving just came and snuck up on me this year! This time of year more then any other always has me deep in thought of what I am truly grateful for and then wondering when I am going to get a chance to have the boys do their “Hand-Print-Turkey-Feather-I-Am-Thankful-For” project that we do every year. I also always get a bit sad because my grandfather passed away on my birthday 15 years ago this month. I get giddy at the thought of jelled cranberry sauce. And start anticipating another great Christmas with my loved ones!

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year. I’ve got the basics, like a healthy family, a warm home and food in our bellies. That Steve and I are raising good, compassionate boys that are wonderful and difficult all at the same time. But I am also forever thankful of amazing friends; old and new. A job I absolutely love, although I make pennies. Of modern technology like FaceTime so I can see my nephews in Arizona & Wyoming grow up. The opportunity to share my favorite recipes with all of you on my blog. And silly things like Trader Joe’s chocolate covered peppermint JoeJoe’s, a good light read by Nancy Thayer & one of my favorite shows ‘Life In Pieces’. But the big one for me this year was to celebrate the finalizing of my sister and her husband adopting their boys. What a gift! It fills my heart. {And it was pretty full before}

Then, after all that pondering I start to go into planning mode of what to bring to Thanksgiving. Desserts? Appetizers? My favorite, jelled cranberry sauce? All of the above? The answer still is “I don’t know”. I know a lot of you are going through the same thought process right about now, and I have got a great appetizer recipe for you.

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This cheese ball is so good. It’s not the bland old fashioned kind that everyone passes over for the BBQ weenies. This is worthy of your appetizer smorgasbord!

 

CHEDDAR CHEESEBALL

 

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 Tb. mayo

1-2 Tb. Worcestershire sauce (I like more, but its to your liking)

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup chives, chopped (I’ve used dried, but fresh taste best)

 

Process the cheese and next 4 ingredients through the garlic in a food processor until smooth. Scraping the sides when needed.

 

Transfer the mixture to center of a large piece of plastic wrap. Bringing the corners together, wrap plastic tight around mixture and form into a ball shape. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours or up to one day.

 

Put chives on a plate. Reshape ball and unwrap. Roll it in the chives; covering all but the bottom. Place on your serving plate or platter. Serve with crackers and vegetables.

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PASTA SALADS ON-HAND

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Evenings can get crazy busy with people coming and going. Parents working late, one kid needing to be at dance on one side of town and the other kid needing to be at basketball clear on the other side {at the same time!} When do we have time to eat dinner?

A simple solution to this problem is to have a couple of your favorite pasta salads ready in the fridge. People can help themselves as they come and go. They are also easy to pack in a container and take on-the-go with you.

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I stuff mine full of veggies and the kids can eat around the ones they dislike. I like to make one that has a sweeter sauce and one that has a more savory sauce – to keep everyone happy. {Yeah right!} Last night, I just chopped up veggies and olives, boiled one bag of pasta, but made two completely different salads.

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The first one, I threw in small cut broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with sliced black olives. Then, with the fusilli pasta, I stirred in some Dorothy Lynch dressing and salt & pepper.

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Then, the second one, again with the fusilli pasta, I tossed it with the small cut broccoli and cauliflower, and sliced black olives. And added some pepperoni and Italian dressing. No salt & pepper needed with a flavorful Italian dressing!

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They are colorful and full of veggies. They are tasty and simple. They are ready to go for those activity filled weeknights.

 

A HEALTHY NEW YEAR’S

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As New Year’s approaches, many of us are full of the heavy, rich foods from the holidays and as delicious as they were, we are looking at lightening up our plates a bit. You will enjoy this appetizer option for New Year’s Eve. It is healthier, lighter, but so tasty! And easy to throw together quickly. I could sit with this platter all night and be content. {I may, or may not have had a few bites before I took these pictures}

If you have trouble finding fresh herbs, these work wonderfully too. You find them in the produce section.

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DILL DIP

 

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup Miracle Whip (or mayo works too)

2 Tb. fresh dill, chopped

2 Tb. green onions or chives, sliced

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

½ tsp. sugar (It cuts the tang, but is completely optional)

Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

Mix all ingredients together. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour. Serve with cut up fresh vegetables of your choice and pretzels.

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I hope everyone has a joyful and safe New Year’s Eve! And may the new year bring you all happiness and opportunity to new things. Whether it be a new job, fulfilling a dream or cooking more homemade foods for your families. Enjoy!

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