Monday, November 19, 2012

A Pizza Revelation

With the holidays fast approaching, its a hectic time of year here at the cookie shop and there are no signs of slowing down until January!  This seasonal increase in business invariably means more time in the bakery, working into the night and less time in the kitchen, cooking for the family.

Over the years, I've had to come up with creative ways to feed everyone during busy season without giving in to the temptation of convenience foods and take-out, which can be lacking in nutrition and tough on the wallet.

These pizzas were an absolute revelation one hectic night when I was busy packaging cookies, my daughter was doing schoolwork and my husband was editing photos.  We were all hungry, but I was short on time and hadn't been shopping in awhile, so a sit down meal wasn't happening.

I rooted around in the fridge and found tortillas, but no taco fixin's.  I had some marinara, but no pasta.  I had a bumper crop of fresh basil from the Aerogarden and the remnants from a ball of fresh mozzarella.

The result of this hodgepodge of ingredients was an incredibly light, crispy pizza with fresh toppings that rivaled any good quality frozen pizza - and many delivery pies - and is a regular staple in our house now.

It's convenience food... but without the preservatives and ingredients you can't pronounce!

Tortilla Pizzas

Flour Tortillas (you can use any size, depending on your appetite)

Olive Oil

Parmesan Cheese (shaved, shredded or grated)

Marinara Sauce (I make my own, but jarred is fine)

Fresh Mozzarella

Toppings of your choice (use a light hand with the toppings)

Preheat oven to 425.  Brush each side of tortilla lightly with olive oil and place on baking sheet.

Sprinkle tortilla with a thin later of Parmesan cheese, add a little sauce and break up some mozzarella cheese over the top.

Add toppings - we like prosciutto, which crisps up beautifully in the oven, and red onion.  Add your favorites and get creative!

Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

I like to tear up lots of fresh basil and add to the pizzas after they come out of the oven.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Me and My Shadow...

 Vicky, shadowing me for the day

As I mentioned in my last post, we've made quite a few changes, both within our family and our business, these past 18 months, which is the reason for my long hiatus from the blog.

One of the bigger changes was the decision to home school our daughter.  My husband and I both work from home and have flexible schedules, which lends itself to the crazy, on the road, never two days alike world of homeschooling.  Her First Grade year was an adventure in kitchen table science experiments, road trips & field trips, backseat math and backyard discoveries.

Her time in public school (Kindergarten) and our first year homeschooling were both invaluable lessons to us, as parents, in what makes our daughter tick and where her passions lie.  We learned that educating children, whether through traditional school or homeschooling, is an ever-evolving process that you need to tweak as you go along.

This September, we made another change and decided to enroll Season in a part-time, alternative school to supplement our home lessons - The Birch School in Rock Tavern.

Season (holding the class dog) with some of her classmates

In addition to her core subjects, she also has ample opportunity to spend time learning about what she loves - in her case, animals, geography, cooking, sewing and science.  The school also matches kids up with mentors who have experience in the areas of study they are passionate about.  This is how I came to spend an afternoon with a remarkably mature 15 year old girl who loves to bake.

Vicky spent a day at our bakery not only observing, but baking side by side with me for much of the day.  It was an education for both of us.

I learned not to underestimate kids and their abilities.  This 15 year old girl had more focus, attention-to-detail and creativity than many adults!  She was well-spoken, enthusiastic, she took constructive criticism with grace and she worked incredibly hard.  It was evident that she was doing something she loved.

The experience also reinforced for me the importance of allowing my own daughter the time and the opportunities to discover what she loves to do.

When she asks to help me in the kitchen, I'll think less about the mess she is likely to make and more about the memories we'll create - and the passion it may spark in her.