Breakfast Pizza

“I love pizza; you really can’t go wrong with pizza.” ~ Nick Jonas

My daughter loves Casey’s breakfast pizza. However, in our neck of the woods, Casey’s doesn’t exist. After having made biscuits and gravy the other morning for breakfast, I had a wonderful good idea. Since she and I are the only ones who eat the biscuits and gravy (Sam just is not a gravy kinda guy), if I make a full pan of gravy, we’ll have leftovers. The old brain is starting to function.

You can use a roll of refrigerated pizza dough, or a purchase a prepared crust from the store. I’m sure the frozen cauliflower pizza crusts would work just as well. This makes for a great and easy breakfast (obviously) but it never fails that she asks for it on the dinner menu.

Breakfast Pizza

  • Servings: 8 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 refrigerated pizza crust or frozen prepared pizza crust

1-2 cups of gravy

5-6 eggs, scrambled

6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

2 cups shredded cheese, your choice (suggestions: Italian blend, Cheddar, Colby Jack, Parmesan, Pepper Jack, or mix-and-match)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. If using a frozen pizza crust, remove from box and place on pizza pan or pizza stone. If using refrigerated dough, roll out onto a pizza pan or baking stone. When oven is ready, bake for 5-7 minutes and remove. Spread gravy over the pre-cooked pizza crust. Top with scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, and cheese. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

The variations for this recipe are plentiful:

Gravy: If you prefer to not have chunks of sausage in your gravy, you may choose to use a country gravy mix packet and make the gravy, you may opt for a jar of gravy from the story or make your own sausage gravy.

Bacon: pork bacon, turkey bacon, or bacon bits may all be used as options

Scrambled eggs: Egg whites only, or liquid egg substitute.

Any other toppings you wish may be added such as: diced tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, diced peppers, avacado slices, fresh chopped spinach, or anything you can think of. Keep in mind: the more toppings you add, the more you may need to increase the cooking time by a minute or two.

I used our favorite pizza crust recipe which I may post in the future. While I frequently use Italian seasoning in my pizza crust, for this breakfast pizza I sprinkled ground parmesan cheese into the dough for added flavor. We kept our toppings minimal for the picky eater. When all was said and done, the kids gave it a thumbs up to put in our arsenal of “breakfast for dinner” ideas.

Meatballs

“Nothing mitigates the throes of depression like a steaming plate of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce and grated parmasan cheese, with a good fresh bread to wipe up.” ~ Paul Clayton

Photo by Dana Tentis on Pexels.com

I was going to add a photo of the meatballs as I prepared them, but the kids were otherwise occupied and my hands were meatball-y. So then I thought I’d take a photo after they were in the crockpot . . .that didn’t happen either. I was in a hurry to add the sauce and get it started cooking.

Take my word for it — they were beautiful meatballs!

The kids get tired of regular spaghetti with meat sauce and meatballs are kind of fun (in my mind anyway). I may even go to the store to get a few items and pick up a box of gloves. If you haven’t eaten spaghetti and meatballs sans silverware, just using your hands while wearing gloves . . . you haven’t lived!

Like meatloaf, everyone makes their meatballs a little differently. Perhaps you’ve never made meatballs. Perhaps you just want to try a new recipe. Follow along below and you too can have beautiful meatballs.

Meatballs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1.25 lb. hamburger

1 T. butter

1/4 c. yellow onion, diced

1 egg

1/2 sleeve club crackers, crushed

4 oz. cottage cheese

Cracked pepper

Himalayan salt

Garlic powder

Smoked paprika

Ground mustard

Italian seasoning grinder

32 oz jar of spaghetti sauce, your preferred brand

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, place the hamburger. Let it sit and warm up a bit while the onions cook. In a skillet, melt the butter and add onions, cooking until clear. While the onions are cooking, add the egg, cottage cheese, cracker crumbs and seasonings to the meat. I can’t give measurements on the seasonings because I don’t measure them — season to YOUR taste. When the onions have cooked, add them to the mixture. Stir, using either a fork or your hands, until well blended. Form into meatballs** and place into the crockpot. Cover with spaghetti sauce, I like Prego or Bartolli but you use what you prefer or have on hand. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

** for whatever reason I have the greatest difficulty forming balls. Yes, I realize that toddlers can form balls out of play-doh, I end up forming ellipticals, okay?? To combat the deformity of my meatballs, I use the medium scoop from Pampered Chef (the same one I use to make uniform chocolate chip cookies).

I don’t believe I need to add the directions for cooking spaghetti, but if I do please leave a comment to let me know.

As far as spaghetti and meatballs mitigating the “throes of depression” as stated above, I have no scientific proof. I can state for the record, however, in my role as a camp nurse for several years I kept cans of beef ravioli on hand for the occasional homesick camper and it seemed to work miracles for the morale. They’d come to me crying and wailing about how they missed their parents, and after a plate of raviolis would scamper along to their cabin or activity with nary a second thought to going home.

So there you have it: the question of pasta vs. Prozac.

Vacation in Images

“Sometimes the most relaxing thing you can do is to step outside and do nothing. . .relax and enjoy nature.” ~ Melanie Charlene

“I go to Florida sometimes for vacation. I actually really like Florida. It’s a weird place, it’s surreal. It’s so close, but you feel like you’re in another world, or on an island.” ~ Jemima Kirke

“If there is a heaven for me, I’m sure it has a beach attached to it.” ~ Jimmy Buffet

“The waves of the sea help me get back to me.” ~ Unknown

Ch-ch-ch-changes

COVID-19 doesn’t change the beauty around us

You may have noticed a change to the site when you logged on.

You may not have noticed. It could depend on the amount and strength of your coffee this morning.

Yes, I changed the theme of the blog. Theme — as in the background colors and fonts, not the content.

Akin to life, this blog is not static. It changes. Just like opinions, beliefs, hairstyles, and (hopefully) your underwear.

We had a deep discussion last night — COVID-19 has changed our plans (refer to yesterday’s post). All of us are bummed and disappointed in some respect or another. Sam, however, has had so many changes recently and was hoping beyond hope that he would find a beach that had not been closed . . . when it did not happen, he had a meltdown. So much right now is beyond his control.

What can we control? Our attitudes, actions, reactions, and thoughts. We can be creative to try and find fun things to do. At the age of 12, this is a tough lesson to learn.

  • The restaurant that was supposed to be open until 9 pm with 50% seating capacity ended up closing early before we could get there. Again, a huge disappointment. The alternative? Buying fresh seafood today and some crab boil and making our own seafood feast.
  • For weeks . . .WEEKS . . .I have been trying to find the movie “Freedom Writers” to watch with Savannah who aspires to be a teacher. Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Redbox did not have it available. We got to the rental house last night and there it was on Netflix!
  • We looked up “autocorrect texting flubs” and were rolling with laughter until we cried. Serious stomach ache, side-splitting guffaws as we tried to read them out loud without losing our composure. I am happy to say we were all epic failures as we passed the tissues and gasped for air.

On the subject of change I leave you with this quote:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” ~ Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay

If you like the new layout, like a post or would like to leave a comment or ask a question, please feel free to scroll down to the bottom of any post and type your comment in the “Leave a Reply” box. All comments are moderated before posting.

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Weekend Reads and Plans

“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan – but never the goal.” ~ Unknown

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

So the plans for Spring Break included renting a house at the beach (done) and spending some time on the sand and in the surf, enjoying family time and bonding together as we rebuild and adjust to our new lives. Enter COVID-19 from stage left . . .

Social distancing now requires restaurants to switch to online and to-go-orders with curbside service, closing their dining rooms. Other social venues are closed, save grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals. Even the national parks have closed and now . . the beaches as well.

Change the plan, not the goal.

The change of scenery and setting will still give us a refreshing break. The sewing machine is traveling with us so Sam can practice and work on increasing his sewing skills. Jojo is bringing her paints and canvases. MacBooks and computers are riding along. We have a large yard with a fire pit available to us and I have ideas about securing swim sites – it just requires thinking outside the box (and staying away from the beach).

And of course . . . there will be books:

  • Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance by Christopher McDougall. Part history, part science – this is one of my all time favorite books! When you can intertwine two of my favorite subjects into a cohesive subject that is intriguing and holds my interest, I’m sold.
  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. The second book in the “Game of Thrones” series – yes, I am slow to start on this one and I know they’ve been out for years, but in my defense I was pursuing two degrees which monopolized my reading time.
  • 5 Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink. With COVID-19 hitting hard and depleting medical resources, this is a re-read for me. Italy recently announced a proposal to limit ICU beds and ventilator resources to patients under the age of 80 years. When I teach mass casualty triage to nursing students, I start with the ethics of hard decisions that must be made quickly and sometimes on-the-fly. This Pulitzer Prize winning novel records the decisions made by medical staff at New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital for the five days following Hurricane Katrina. With limited staff, limited resources including food, water and medications, it fell to the staff to make those hard decisions and the legal battles that followed.
  • Shelter In Place by Nora Roberts. This is an audible selection that I may listen to while driving or just enjoying some quiet time. Starting with an active shooter event at a mall, the author explores the effects years later on some of those who survived and the methods they used to cope. Yes, it’s fiction and romance, but even I need a little “fluff” every once in awhile.

In addition to all these things, I believe there will be some cheese-stuffed jalapenos and chocolate chip cookies in the works. Impromptu sing-alongs with Disney songs are not unheard of and (if we can find a new kazoo) the ever popular “Name That Tune” on the kazoo!!

Everyone stay safe, stay 6-feet apart, stay home and . . . WASH YOUR HANDS!

Shifting Gears

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

They call it “social distancing”

Call it whatever you want.

Kids are out of school. Stores are limiting their hours (which is fine because they are out of stock anyway). People are now tele-commuting. Toilet paper is a distant memory — just kidding foks, we HAVE toilet paper. Some of us don’t get a break however. Police, fire, EMS and nursing are still expected to show up for work every day and take the risk of caring for and possibly getting infected with coronavirus themselves.

I’m still not concerned.

Here’s why:

I wash my hands quite frequently. I rest when I am tired, drink lots of water (and coffee), and eat healthy, fresh foods. I strive to get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day, usually more.

I can do my best to stay healthy, but the chance of getting the virus is higher for me due to occupational exposure risks. I know this. I also know that worrying about it will not prevent it.

We are choosing to make the best of things — when we went to two stores and both were out of bread, the decision was made to bake bread. School assignments are now e-learning on their MacBooks. We homeschooled when it was frowned upon, now websites and companies are providing free sites for kids to use during the pandemic phase. We play board games and have family movies without anyone forcing us to spend time together.

We tend to shift gears and go with the flow of things. Maybe it’s the pragmatic, logical Aspergian brain way of thinking, but when shit happens, you either go with it, or you sit around complaining and moaning and eventually still have to go with it.

So what are we doing?

Playing games – video and board games and card games

Yard work – raking leaves and trimming bushes

Cleaning – the car, the van, the house

Walking, playing ball outside, painting, drawing

Movies – Frozen 2 over dinner was pretty good but I still like the first one better

Reading, sewing, crocheting

Life is not going to stop because of a virus. Life as we have become accustomed to it may be altered. Change is inevitable, but life will go on.

I have no worries.

Coronavirus Concerns

I don’t have any.

Nope. I’m not concerned.

Not with the Coronavirus.

Viruses happen, routinely even. Influenza is a virus that kills many more people than Covid-19 has this flu season alone. Yes, “flu shots” or vaccines are offered based on what epidemiologists guesstimate the probable strain to be in any given year, but it is not an exact science. The flu shot lessens the symptoms IF you are infected by creating antibodies to the strain of the year, but it does not prevent the flu.

Coronavirus has been around for years . . . read that again. YEARS!! SARS is a coronavirus. MERS is a coronavirus. COVID-19 is simply a new strain of coronavirus. Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid 1960’s (CDC). Let’s do the math — we’ll take 1965 as the middle of the 60’s for arguments sake, and subtract that from 2019 (yes, I know it’s 2020, but this virus first reared it’s head in 2019 — work with me here.) So 2019 – 1965 = 54. That’s 54 YEARS that we have known about coronaviruses, but now suddenly we are going to panic and buy out toilet paper and baby wipes and hand sanitizers. Really?

First of all, this is a RESPIRATORY virus – put the toilet paper back on the shelf unless you’re actually running low at home, but even then you don’t need 144 rolls! Look for the 3-pack of tissues. Stock up on OTC (over the counter) medications such as Tylenol and ibuprofen to treat the fever you MAY get if you are infected. Mucinex, Sudafed, saline nasal spray, a humidifier, cough drops – a dang Neti pot if you want . . .but back away from the toilet paper. As my 14 year-old daughter said (and she appears to have more wisdom than the general public) this is a respiratory issue not an ass-atory issue.

Hand sanitizer is great IF YOU DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO SOAP AND WATER. Hand sanitizer is a quick, temporary fix until you can wash your hands with soap and water. You do not need to purchase 5-10 1-gallon jugs of hand sanitizer for your personal consumption. If a picture is worth a thousand words, just look below and I’ll hush up for a minute.

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-photos-why-you-should-wash-hands-with-soap-water-2020-3

There are some things that people apparently haven’t been taught as basic etiquette and hygiene.

  1. If you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and throw it away. If a tissue is unavailable, cover the cough or sneeze with your hand. If soap and water is not readily available, use a squirt of hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands.
  2. Do not pick your nose, rub your eyes, rub your nose, or lick your fingers and then touch something else without washing your hands first.
  3. Wash your hands after using the restroom and before you eat.
  4. If you are feeling under the weather: body aches (that are not a result of a hard workout), sore throat (that is not from screaming at a concert the night before, or yelling at your childs sporting event), cough (unrelated to smoking or allergies), shortness of breath (that is not because you chased another shopper down the aisle trying to reach the toilet paper first), or fever (greater than 100.5) — STAY HOME.

Treat your symptoms at home. Rest. Drink plenty (as in 64 ounces daily or more) of water. Remember that Tylenol and ibuprofen you picked up when you put the toilet paper down? Alternate them every 3 hours to reduce the fever and alleviate body aches. Chicken noodle soup actually does help you feel better. Wash your hands.

Go to the doctor if your fever is not controlled with the OTC medications or the shortness of breath becomes severe.

Consider this . . .

many people get the flu, some people will die from the flu. Now replace the word “flu” with “coronavirus.”

many people will get coronavirus, some people will die from the coronavirus.

Did you see that? many and some. Many and SOME. Not many and all.

This excellent article from Johns Hopkins here, compares COVID-19 with influenza. The concern with COVID-19 is that it is a new strain for which people have not built up an immunity. Statistically, unless you are extremely young with little immunity, or older with existing health issues that decrease immunity, the risk of dying is low.

So, please, stop racing around like Chicken Little. Put the toilet paper down, grab some tissues and chicken noddle soup and go home.

Smothered Chicken

“Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the possum that it could be done.” ~ S. Truett Cathy

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

I first had Smothered Chicken at an Applebee’s restaurant nearly 33 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest child. It was served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables which at the time was a mixture of zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and broccoli. For years it was my favorite menu item until they removed it, forcing me to make it at home.

When made at home, I like to serve it with any number of vegetables: baked sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, squash or a nice salad and a side of rice. This is one of those easy meals that uses ingredients I usually have on hand already and doesn’t require a lot of thought to create.

Smothered Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

4 boneless chicken breasts

1 T. olive oil

4 slices pepperjack cheese

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1/2 each red pepper and green pepper, sliced into strips

1/2 yellow or red onion, sliced

1-2 T. butter

Salt & Pepper to taste

Lemon Pepper (optional)

Directions

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste, you may also use Lemon Pepper if desired. On medium heat, place the chicken breasts into the skillet and cook 20-25 minutes before turning and cooking on the other side. There should be a nice golden brown color developing. While the chicken breasts are cooking, melt the butter in a different skillet. Add the mushrooms, pepper strips, and onion, cooking on medium heat until soft and onion is clear. Set aside and finish chicken. At this point you may preheat the oven to 350. When chicken is done cooking, place in an oven safe dish. (If you used a cast iron skillet to brown the chicken, bake them in the oven in the same skillet.) Top chicken breasts with saute’d vegetables. Place a slice of pepper jack cheese over each breast, covering the vegetables. Bake 5-8 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve with the sides of your choosing.

This probably ranks as one of my favorite comfort foods still and is tasty enough that my picky eater will devour it without complaint.

This Week’s Reads (aka What’s Next to the Bed)

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Always.

They say you shouldn’t use words like “always” and “never” — but I can affirmatively say there is ALWAYS a stack of books by my bed. Some are for enjoyment, some are reference, but all are in the process of being read by . . . ME. (With the exception of one this week, which you will probably figure out by the time you get to the end of this post.)

I don’t have much spare time to read, so unless I literally schedule it in my planner, it often doesn’t happen. We have developed a period of personal quiet time almost every day after work and school to give each of us time to decompress after “peopling” all day. This affords us an opportunity to spend time alone prior to coming together to make dinner and spend time as a family. Many times I use my quiet time to read.

There are usually at least three books near my bed, several on my Kindle, and perhaps a magazine or two as well. I try to avoid buying books, instead using the library to sate my desire for new reading material. I can honestly say, however, the kids and I enjoy going to Barnes and Noble to browse through the stacks and see what is available. With Kindle First Reads as part of my Amazon Prime membership, I also get a free download each month of a pre-release book.

Here is what I’m reading this week (with links to purchase if you find your interest piqued):

Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. Since my knee replacement, my run form has changed drastically. This was recommended to me by another runner.

The Beardstown Ladies Common Sense Investing Guide by the Beardstown Ladies Investment Club. If you handle your own investments, or just follow your investments closely, this book will help you understand the how’s and why’s of the stock market.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Espionage. Resistance. Suspense. Need I say more?

Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Yes, it is the children’s board book. It is also my son’s favorite book since he was small and he STILL enjoys having momma read to him when he is stressed.

Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing by the editors of Reader’s Digest. Complete doesn’t begin to describe the treasure of this book. anything and just about everything you want to know about sewing is explained in this book.

Triathlon for the Every Woman by Meredith Atwood. I am a woman and an aspiring triathlete, so this book is definitely for me.

And on my Kindle, Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts. Part interest, part time filler, I usually listen while in the car driving back and forth. Ms. Roberts is an excellent author and this tale of an active shooter and the impact on peoples lives is right up my alley.

What are YOU reading this week?