Inside the Mommyvan

Homeschooling & Life Inside the Mommyvan - an old dog learning new tricks


I’m… not a great cook. I don’t get much enjoyment from it either. As you might imagine, oven-ready lasagna noodles are my friend! As I was shopping last week, I decided to try something different, because I didn’t even feel like browning the ground beef for a regular meat lasagna. Recalling once upon a time when the twins were tiny babies and a friend brought us a delicious lasagna that had pepperoni added between a couple of the layers (amazing that I can remember anything from those days, but this was some really good food), I grabbed some turkey pepperoni and, on a whim, a package of sliced mushrooms.

I followed the directions on the lasagna package more-or-less (it called for ricotta cheese with egg and seasonings plus tomato sauce with the browned meat mixed in), but I used a jar of sauce on its own, without the ground beef.

I added the pepperoni (torn in half) and mushrooms atop the sauce layer, all except the very bottom & top. I added a little shredded parmesan cheese on top and baked as directed–350F for 30 min. with foil on top, then another 15 min. uncovered to make everything nicely browned and bubbly.

I really had no idea how it would turn out, but with the preparation as easy as it was, I’d be happy as long as it was edible. It ended up even better than that. The kids gobbled it up, my husband loved it, and the flavors were light but just different enough to make it interesting.


20121001-125614.jpgRecently I have been trying to get out of the prepared-food rut and do more cooking myself. I have a few cookbooks and websites that help me when I have the time and energy to plan a family dinner or Sunday brunch, but when it’s just me and the kids at mealtime I find myself falling back on the old standbys that were my favorites as a child. English muffin pizzas are one of those.

Ingredients: English muffins, tomato sauce, and cheese. Fancy spaghetti or pizza sauce with shredded mozzerella is good, but I grew up eating these made with Hunt’s tomato sauce & American cheese slices, and look where I ended up (uh… maybe not the best example ;)). 20121001-125622.jpgIn a pinch, you could even cut up string cheese sticks for the topping. Fancier moms than I could whip up a batch of white sauce or… well, the possibilities are endless.

Split & lightly toast the English muffins. Arrange them on a baking sheet — a toaster tray works fine if you have one, but you could use your oven for larger batches — and spread a small amount of sauce on each. Add cheese, and any other toppings you like. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned around the edges.

For extra fun & kid participation, let them spread the sauce and add the cheese or toppings.

That’s it, fun mini pizzas, right from your toaster! (Thanks, Mom!)

My children really like cake. Can you blame them? Not only is is tasty, it is usually associated with all sorts of other fun, like birthday parties.

A few weeks ago, I found a box of coffee cake mix in our pantry and baked a cake. The kids were very excited and asked if it was birthday cake. “No,” I explained, “It’s just because I love you. It’s I Love You cake.” My son immediately shortened this to “love cake.” This is one of those little things that melts my heart. It’s not just cake, it’s Love Cake.

I baked another cake today. This time I made it a REAL love cake:


I am, several decades past carrying bag lunches to school, developing a taste for PB&J. My laziness has convinced my taste buds that it’s not so bad after all — it’s easier to just make an extra sandwich for myself along with the kids’ lunch than to figure out what else there is for me to eat.

The only difference is that their sandwiches get cut into cute little shapes, while I eat mine whole, with the crust on, standing over the sink.