Friday, May 21, 2010

He may not be a snappy dresser...

...but he sure knows what to say to make a girl swoon.

Although you may not know it by the Spiderman underwear he's wearing on his head in this vintage boy is wicked smart.

You see, the other day I received a love note from him and I've gotta tell you, he could have asked for anything after I read it...a trip to Disneyland, the inappropriately expensive Star Wars Death Star Lego set he covets, a personal audience with George Lucas himself...I would have found a way to get it for him. Here's the note:

This kid knows how to play to his audience. Did he think I would want to hear, "Mommy you're so pretty," or, "Mama, you give me the best hugs"...well...yes, I guess! But when you think about it, what would be the ultimate compliment my child could bestow on me; the one guaranteed to drop me to my knees..."You give me the right food at the right time!" My boy knows what feeds Mamma's soul! He gets me.

I think the fact that it was so unexpected was what made it that much more of a gift. As I sat at my desk, banging on the computer keys posting yet another bill into Quickbooks, Will puttered around at my feet building something with the Lincoln Logs I keep close by in an attempt to temporarily stave off his ritual zombie-like communion with Sponge Bob or one of his fellow mind-mutating cartoon minions.

With my back to him, I couldn't see that he had put aside his three story wooden masterpiece, sneaking a sheet of discarded paper from the recycling bin and a pencil off the floor to go to work on a his spontaneous prose. Yah, Will is funny...he's cute...and the kid can dance but "Mr. Sensitivity" he is not (as opposed to Carly, my love bug, who at 14 still crawls into my lap and won't sleep until I tuck her in). So you can imagine, when I take priority over a play date, a Wii session or a bean and cheese burrito, I feel like I've won the lottery. Happy belated Mother's Day to me...I must be doing something right!

So, for all of you who want a way to give your kids "the right food at the right time" too, here's one of my favorite make-ahead snack alternative to the industrial-sized packages of Costco chicken nuggets and petrified potstickers we all keep in our freezers to keep the hungry tribe at bay.

Try these mini pizza's with a wholewheat crust (trust me, they won't even know it's healthy). Or, if you're chicken, I'll give you my standard white flour pizza dough recipe as you ease yourself in to the wonderful world of whole grains.

Willy is a cheese and olive fan...check out those big boy teeth!

Start with warm water in a measuring cup with a spout, add the yeast and a squirt of honey to feed the little yeasty beasties.

While the yeast is doing it's thing, pulse the flours and salt in a food processor fitted with a dough blade until it is mixed and fluffy.

Add the olive oil into the measuring cup with the bubbling yeast mixture and pour it through the feed tube with the motor running until the dough comes together. Note: if your yeast is not showing signs of life (bubbly and foamy) toss it and start again. Your poor little fermented friends have gone on to the big bakery in the sky (the yeast may have been bad or maybe your water was too hot).

Here is some overachiever yeast but yours should be good and bubbly too.

Time to knead...

Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead until it is relatively smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Enjoy the process. Get into it. Use your body weight, rocking back and forth into the dough versus pumping with your arms. Hard to believe this is coming out of my mouth but...take your time! I'm all for instant gratification, but making homemade yeast dough is one process that just can't be rushed (as simple as it is)! Give yourself this ten minutes, knead, think nice thoughts and breath in the smell the wonderful warm yeasty aroma wafting up from your dough as it transforms. Can you tell? I think bread (and especially making it with your own hands) is magical!

Shape the dough into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, put in a warm place and let rise until it is doubled in bulk. If it's a cold day, I turn on the oven for a minute, just until it clicks on, then turn it off and place the bowl inside the toasty a perfect warm day, not hot.

Punch down the dough and separate it into about 12 little balls. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, pat the dough balls into mini rounds or use an awesome muffin top pan. It makes perfect little deep dish pizzas. I don't remember where I got mine but I did a quick search and saw that they are available at Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Sur la Table...all over the place. Buy one...they're fun to have.

Spoon on some sauce and your favorite toppings. I like fresh basil, garlic and tomato...

Here's a "mean" trick...dice up some zucchini or julienne some spinach and hide it under the cheese. The kids won't know it's there and you'll be sneaking in some additional goodness...

But...the kids do like to make their own. Willy's is the one in the middle with the pepperoni and cheese. Check out Carly's...

I've made a ton of these with the kids' friends too. It's a great rainy day play date thing...

I make a bunch of 'em, stack 'em and freeze 'em. They're the best after school snacks. I tend to microwave them because I'm always hungry NOW but I must admit that they do turn out pretty chewy. I recommend using a toaster oven...if you can wait!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Dissolve together in a 2+ cup glass measure:
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 1/4 cup very warm (not hot) water
  • 1/4 ounce packet of active dry yeast

After it is bubbly, add:

  • 2 Tbs.olive oil (plus extra for greasing bowl)

Pulse together in a food processor fitted with a dough blade:

  • 1 1/4 cup white flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
With the motor running, slowly add the wet mixture to the dry through the feed tube of the food processor until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Shape into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place for about an hour until it is doubled in bulk.

Punch down the dough, shape, top and bake at 450 degrees for 9-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your dough. If you make them free form (without the pan), preheat your oven to 500 degrees with the cookie sheet in the oven. Shape your pizzas on a cutting board, piece of cardboard or pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal so they don't stick. Carefully slide your pizzas onto the super hot sheet (BE CAREFUL!!!). This is the trick to a crispy crust if you don't have a pizza stone (like me). Bake for about 10 minutes but watch them to make sure they don't burn.

Makes 12+ mini-muffin top pizzas depending on how thick you like the dough.

White Pizza Dough

Follow directions for whole wheat dough using these ingredients.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 ounce packet of active dry yeast
  • 3 cups white flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. oil (plus extra for greasing bowl)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sticky Situations...

April was full of 'em!

So...I'm sorry I haven't had even a minute lately to stay in touch.

I've missed you so!

I promise to post a real post really, really soon but, in the meantime, I wanted to draw your attention to the right hand side of this page* where I have added a new feature: "Recipes You've Requested." From hasty shouts across supermarket checkout isles to in-depth conversations over margaritas and bean dip, it's easy for me to lose track of the many oh-so-wonderful recipe requests I receive at random times throughout the week.

Soooo, until I figure out a better way to do it (which I will need to do), as soon as I get your request, I'll try to hop on my computer and slap the recipe up on the site, no fuss, no muss. There probably won't be any photos and there's a chance you'll get a scanned copy of crumpled piece of stained paper out of my files ... but at least you'll have it before next Christmas!

Today I'm adding recipes for the Black-Eyed-Pea Salsa and the Cinco(!) Leches Cake I served on Cinco de Mayo. For a "school night", it turned out to be a pretty fun fiesta (note evidence below). Thanks to our amigos who joined us!

I hope you also enjoy the other recipes I've added throughout the past month including a killer, no fail, recipe for Milk and Honey Whole Wheat's the one I make every year with our school's second graders as part of their Lenten tradition.

Together, those 60 sticky little hands produce 36 loaves of beautiful brown bread in one chaotic but memorable morning. I cherish this day every year and revel in the gift I receive by sharing this tradition with them.

So, please enjoy the few recipes I've shared to the right* and stay tuned for more Mudpies really soon.

*Note: if you receive Makemudpies via a feed (i.e. if it comes to you by email) you probably can't see the columns on the right including "Recipes You've Requested," my Twitter feed, blog archive etc... Simply access the blog via to see the entire blog in all it's glory!