Kid-Friendly Kid-Cooked CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce

KidsMarinara_stir

My girls love helping in the kitchen. Unfortunately, not every recipe is conducive to their particular brand of “help.” Sometimes the help is more of a hindrance, sure, but it’s always an adventure. But my thrift store find, the Fix-It and Forget-It Kids’ Cookbook, makes the adventures simple and slightly less messy.  I adapted the Super Spaghetti Sauce recipe (the original had meat, which we could’ve replaced with Lentil and Rice Ground Beef Substitute, but we prefer our “meat” optional in our sauce so we left it out) to a simple CrockPot marinara sauce.

While we have a favorite Slow Cooker marinara sauce, our kids aren’t as fond of it as we are. It’s a little too adventurous for them. This version is less spicy and they gobble it up even without pasta underneath it. Yes, that’s weird. But hey, I’ve never claimed they’re normal. :)

And of course, the most awesome aspect of this recipe is that I open up the cans for them, chop the onion and then I just hand them the ingredients. They put them all in the CrockPot and stir it up. Wander back into the kitchen hours later and wallah! Spaghetti Sauce!

Kid-Friendly Kid-Cooked CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup diced onion
2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
6 ounce can tomato paste
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 bay leaf

Instructions

Mom or Dad: Dice the onion.
Kids: Pour all of the ingredients into the CrockPot.
Drop the bay leaf on top.

Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

 

PS: Those are temporary tattoos on the girls’ arms. They’re not that wild and crazy…yet.

Kid-Constructed Funny Face Mini Pizzas Recipe

FunnyFacePizzas_feature

We found this crazy book at a garage sale a couple of years ago, called The Outrageously Big Activity, Play and Project Book. It’s a British import so there are a lot of craft and recipe ideas that I haven’t come across in American books. The kids love the book and ask to make something out of it frequently. We decided to make the funny face pizzas from the book recently and had so much fun putting them together as a family.

As it turned out, the kids wanted to eat the ears and bow-ties (made of kiwi and grapes) continuously and weren’t all that interested in the actual pizzas. I think they may be fruititarians. But the memory of making them together was the best part. And I think they turned out super cute.

You can really use whatever toppings you like for the ears, nose and mouth. The book suggests flower-cut slices of mozzarella cheese for eyes, a mushroom slice for the nose and a green pepper strip for the mouth. The book also adds “a carton of mustard and cress” for hair. We thought about adding alfalfa sprouts, but decided to go with bald funny faces instead so we didn’t have to head to the store. We used black olive slices for eyes and leftover purple hashbrowns for the mouths. The kids had fun making a crazy face that they named “Pete,” after the pseudo bad guy on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He had a lot of eyes, a melted off mouth, plenty of noses and was awarded no ears or bow-ties. Hilarious.

I think the most important part of the recipe is the kiwi ears and the cute little kiwi bow-tie. It’s so simple, but brilliant. For this recipe, we made six mini pizzas, so I sliced 12 slices of kiwi (about 1 1/2 kiwis…Bug obliged me my throwing herself on the extra kiwi half). Then you cut those slices in half. Slice the ear halves lengthwise and the bow-tie halves across the shorter width for the most accurate ears and ties. Then you top the center of each bow-tie with a grape for the knot! We left ours whole, but I suppose you could cut your grapes in half so they’d lay flat if you want it to be perfect.

Kid-Constructed Funny Face Mini Pizzas Recipe

 

Mini Frozen Pizzas Recipe

MiniPizzaCrusts

My new beautiful Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, combined with my super cool USA Pan bun pan from King Arthur Flour conspired to create these beauties: Mini Frozen Pizza Crusts.

And, while I thought I was brilliant to come up with the way to serve perfect servings of sauce in an ice cube tray. Apparently other people have done that already. But still, it’s perfect for mini pizzas, and heck, even regular-sized pizzas. When you make homemade marinara sauce, sometimes it’s hard to have the right amount on-hand for pizzas and pasta. Ice cubes of delicious sauce are the perfect solution.

So here’s how it goes, bake these beautiful pizza crusts in your pan (or just on a cookie sheet or pizza stone if you don’t have a bun/mini pie pan). You could also bake an even smaller version (think: bagel bites size) in muffin tins. Then freeze the crusts in a bag, freeze your ice cubes of marinara (and pop them into a freezer bag to free up your tray for other things). Then, when you’re ready to have mini pizzas, thaw out a cube and pour it on your crusts. Top with cheese and whatever toppings you like and bake for about 5 minutes at 425 F (until your cheese is melted) OR you could even microwave them for about 1:30!

These are a great after-school snack and great for little lunchboxes.

Mini Frozen Pizza Crusts

Ingredients

1/2 Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe
6 ounces marinara sauce (3 ice cubes of sauce)
cheese and toppings, as desired

Method

Preheat oven to 425. Divide into 6 dough balls.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes.

Let cool, place in freezer.

 

Homemade Whole Wheat Garlic Cheese Sticks Recipe and Superbowl Snacks Round-Up

I used to be a bit of a Papa John’s Cheese Sticks junkie. And the garlic butter sauce? Uh, yum! But, once I started eating more whole foods and cooking most of our food at home, we didn’t order cheese sticks or pizza much. One day last year, we were congratulating ourselves for a big cleaning and organization day, so we ordered some cheese sticks and pizza for dinner. It turns out, my memory of the store-bought variety was so much better than reality. I liked my own homemade pizza better! I was disappointed and overjoyed at the same time.

Since then, I’ve been making plain cheese, garlic and olive oil sauce pizzas (the kids favorite) pretty regularly. And I think with the new pizza dough recipe I’ve achieved simple perfection! These are incredible. And they don’t even need a dipping sauce.

And, also super cool, my daughters were able to help me make these cheese sticks. And Bug, our nearly 4-year-old, even took a couple of pictures, including the one below. She’s always saying she’s going to be grow up to be an artist, just like me. :) Cutie.

ChesseSticks_side

 

Homemade Whole Wheat Garlic Cheese Sticks

Ingredients

1 pizza dough
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I usually use a blend of Italian cheeses)

Instructions

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450.
Smear olive oil and garlic on dough and top with cheese.
Bake for 5-7 minutes.

 

And, check out these great other Superbowl Snacks:

 

 

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe

We’ve been making pizza dough at home for quite a while now, but once we changed to home-ground whole wheat white flour our recipe just hasn’t worked out quite as well. This bread machine pizza dough worked out pretty well. But, I got this Pizza: Award-Winning Pies for the Home Kitchen cookbook the other day and decided to try a recipe that’s meat to be all whole-wheat flour, thinking it might work out a little better.

I made only a couple of little changes, changing the sugar to sucanat and the salt to kosher salt. Come back this afternoon for a Garlic Cheese Sticks Recipe using this crust, and a few other Superbowl Snacks recipes, too!

WholeWheatPizzaCrust

 

PizzaDoughs

Homemade Pizza Dough

Ingredients
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons sucanat or sugar
2 3/4 cups whole wheat white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
extra flour, for dusting

Instructions

In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients.
Sift the flour.
Pour yeast mixture over dry ingredients. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

 

Quick and Delicious Marinara Sauce

marinara

I made this absolutely delicious caramelized onion-based marinara sauce somewhat by accident. I usually have a ton of Slow Cooker Marinara on-hand either on the canning shelf or in the freezer. But somehow I depleted my stock over the holidays without realizing it. And I had all the ingredients for lasagna out and ready to go—with no marinara sauce!

So, I decided I’d whip up a quick batch on the stove instead. And I was in a bit of a rush, so I just threw things together a bit willy nilly. And I even made a big goof when I went to add a little sucanat (brown sugar), pouring in way more than I thought it would need. It turned out absolutely delicious. I’m not ashamed to admit I was licking the pan. ;)

 

Quick & Delicious Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced tomatoes (I used Roma)
15 ounces tomato sauce
6 ounces tomato paste
1/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
salt, pepper and onion powder, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste

Method

Caramelize onions in olive oil.
Add garlic and cook another few minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Reduce to low, simmer for an hour.

Quick Spinach Pesto Recipe: This Week’s Cravings

I’m sharing my Quick Spinach Pesto Recipe for This Week’s Cravings. It’s delicious and nutritious and a great way to use up slightly wilted spinach. Yummy!

Spinach Pesto

Ingredients

2 cups spinach
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan

Method

Blend all ingredients together with a blender or stick blender. Heat and serve.

The Results

My absolute favorite pasta sauce. And it is so great to be able to pop out a cube of sauce for a serving of pasta. Delicious!

My This Week’s Cravings co-hostesses are: Tina at Moms Crazy Cooking and Nicole at The Daily Dish. As hostesses, we will try our hardest to visit as many of the links we can. We all enjoy your links and look forward to gathering recipes each week.The party has a few SIMPLE RULES and all of the themes for the entire year are list here on the THIS WEEK’S CRAVINGS tabat Moms Crazy Cooking. Plan ahead, check out the weeks you want to make sure to link up or just browse them to see what’s going on.

If you are a regular link-up we’re excited to see what you made this week. If you are new please read and follow the simple rules, so that everyone can enjoy the linky party! Thanks a million, we look forward to blogging with you!

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza Recipe #vegetarian #wholefood

You all probably know by now how much I love eggplant. And, my favorite eater, Baby Goose (our 2-year-old) also loves eggplant. Eggplant parmesan, roasted eggplant sandwiches, eggplant soup, she loves them all. Bug and Mr. Meaty…not so much. So, in our never-ending struggle to find eggplant recipes that the enter family can enjoy, I tried to create Eggplant Parmesan Pizza.

Seems like it will have to be a winner, right? Simply slice the eggplant (lengthwise) as thin as you can and coat in olive oil and kosher salt. Then roast it in the oven until it’s golden (about 30-45 minutes). Then you create your pizza as usual, layering eggplant slices on top of the sauce, topping with Mozzarella and then placing a few eggplant pieces on top to make it look pretty. Top with Parmesan and bake. Mmm…yummy.

Eggplant Parmesan was one of my favorite go-to pregnancy foods. And, in fact, a local restaurant, Scallini’s, claims their Eggplant Parm can send you into labor. There are pregnant women in there every day trying to kickstart the process! I went with Bug, but alas, she was still a week late. I considered going with Goose since she was scheduled (they give you a onesie and a free dinner if you have your baby within 48 hours of eating the Eggplant Parm), but that seemed like cheating. But I digress. I bring this up because I wish I’d thought of Eggplant Parm Pizza when I was pregnant! It’s so simple to make at home. With Eggplant Parmesan, I often didn’t feel up to making it myself so I went out to eat. It’s great to eat while pregnant though because it’s packed full of folate.

It is also a good source of Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber. Oh…and it’s delicious!

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

Ingredients

1/2 eggplant, sliced lengthwise
olive oil
kosher salt
1 pizza dough
1/2 cup marinara
2 cups Mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Bake crust for about 5 minutes.

Toss salt onto eggplant and let it sweat for about 10 minutes. Saute eggplant for about 10 minutes. Top pizza dough with sauce, eggplant and cheese.
Turn oven up to 450. Bake pizza for about 10 more minutes.

 

The Results

Oh my goodness. Why didn’t I think of this earlier?? Incredible. And Bug and Mr. Meaty found it “acceptable.” Hah.

This post is shared with  Keep It Real ThursdaysSimple Lives Thursday, Frugal Food Thursday, It’s a Keeper, Full Plate Thursday, Tastetastic Thursday and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Baked Seitan Pepperoni {Vegan}

I’m hoping this recipe will be another big step in our Get Real progress. Vegan pepperoni is one of the fake meats I buy occasionally for recipes (though I have had a little success with Zucchini Pepperoni). The spices in the infamous Seitan o’ Greatnessrecipe seem kind of pepperoni-y to me (and yes, pepperoni-y is completely a word…in my head). Now if this works out I’ll just need to find a good baked chickeny seitan recipe to use for our favorite chicken dishes.Baked Seitan Pepperoni
Adapted from Seitan o’ Greatness.
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoons cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoons all-spice
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 5 tablespoons (3 ounces) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

Directions
Preheat oven to 325. In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well. I start out with a spoon and then switch to my hands. Knead for several minutes.

Form into a log 6 to 10 inches long (depending on desired slice circumference), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends (I actually ended up wrapping mine more like a burrito). Bake for 90 minutes. Place it on a baking sheet or additional foil if you’re worried about leakage.

Unwrap and leave out to cool completely. Wrap in foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice it to use as you wish. I highly recommend using a bread knife for the slicing. This seems to work best for seitan in my experience.

The Results
This was incredibly easy. I am completely in love with the baking process. I’ve only ever tried boiled seitan and CrockPot boiled seitan before (of which I loved the CrockPot process ever so much more). The baking is incredibly simple. Squish the stuff up, pop it in the oven and walk away for an hour and a half. Win!

This did come out a little bit too salty for my tastes to eat on its own. It reminded me a bit of that Hillshire Farms sausage log they used to give out in samples at the mall when I was a kid, but not as sweet. Next time I’m going to try cutting the soy sauce down to 1 tablespoon and see where that brings us.

This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, Recipes I Can’t Wait to Try, What’s Cooking Wednesday, What’s on Your Plate?, What’s on the Menu Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Recipe Link Party, Foodie Wednesday and Bake with Bizzy.

Taco Macaroni Pizza {Vegetarian}

Day 364.

We sometimes go to one of those crazy toppings pizza buffets and one of the pizzas they have is a macaroni and cheese pizza. It’s OK, it’s more exciting for the novelty of it than anything. But I’ve always wondered if I could make a more delicious version at home: maybe with marinara sauce and good macaroni instead of the vague white sauce and bland mac and cheese. This is not exactly that pizza, but that’s where the thought process originated. I went with a Mexican version of the same idea since we had Taco Mac in the fridge.

Taco Macaroni Pizza
Ingredients

  • 1 12-inch pizza crust (I use Betty Crocker’s recipe)
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 cup Taco Mac (or your favorite macaroni and cheese)
  • 1/2 cup black beans, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese, shredded*

*Note: use dairy-free Mexican cheese shreds for a vegan version 


Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Pre-bake crust without toppings on a large cookie sheet spread with cornmeal at 425 for 7-9 minutes. Leave oven on. Pull crust out and spread on sauce, top with macaroni, black beans and Mexican cheese.

Bake at 425 for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

The Results
Now I find this hilarious: while Bug and I preferred yesterday’s Italian sausage pizza and the husband and Goose didn’t like it as much, we swapped opinions today. I thought this was pretty good, but not as delectable as the Italian sausage. Bug agreed. The husband and Goose thought this was the best pizza. I really liked the salsa base and theirs something satisfying about the gooey macaroni on top. Overall, I liked both of our pizzas this week, I just liked the Italian sausage pizza more than this taco mac pizza. I definitely want to try again with marinara and standard mac and cheese another day.

This post shared at Fat Camp Friday, Friday Favorites, Potluck FridayFrugal Fridays and I’m Lovin’ It.