little victories

posted in: on being a mom, Recipes, the Dahls | 1

In light of all the recent commentary on Mommy Wars, I feel a little funny posting a “Look what I did!” blog.  But the reality is, while comparison and envy and judgment and discontentment and all the things that come along with those “Mommy Wars” may indeed be possibilities, I still really appreciate moms who blog and share what they’re learning, along with the fun they’re having, the crafts they’ve tried, the recipes they use, and the ways they stay within their budget.  As Lisa commented after I posted the links to all of those articles,

One thing that motivates me is seeing other mother’s parent. I like thinking about their days and all the ways they create beauty. I love beauty. I love seeing women who knits and sews. I can’t do much of either. I like to see moms create comfy homes of shoestring budgets, because that is a thing of beauty too.

So I hope I can continue to share recipes and pictures and projects, not saying, “Look at how great I am!” but just for the sake of sharing and celebrating and enjoying and encouraging.

That said.  Though that introduction may have gotten your hopes up, there is nothing spectacular about these victories. 🙂  I am constantly trying to figure out ways to eat more healthfully without breaking our budget and while still actually enjoying what we’re eating, and I’ve come across a few new favorite things recently.

#1 Mac-and-Cheese

I’ve tried a bunch of macaroni and cheese recipes only to have Hadley request the “orange kind in the box.”  Yep.  I introduced Kraft and corrupted her for life.  Besides that, the homemade ones were a pain-in-the-butt because they required the whole flour/milk/butter thing without burning (not my forte in these stainless steel pans) and then often wanted you to bake them afterwards.  What happened to a fast and easy comfort meal?  So.  Needless to say, when I found this recipe and watched Hadley gobble it up, I knew we were onto something.  It uses eggs for the filler and requires no additional baking.  It’s all in one pot and it’s wonderfully delicious.

I found the recipe here.  I go a little heavy on the cheese (usually cheddar or mozzarella or some combination of the two, because that’s what we always have), and have yet to use the evaporated milk it calls for.  We usually have whole milk (the raw, from the farm kind :)) on hand so I use about 4 oz of that.

#2 Homemade Pizza

I have this problem that I love pizza.  I-would-eat-it-every-day-for-every-meal love.  This generally has resulted throughout my life in pizza delivery places on speed dial and pizza as the constant source of budget-breaking.  It’s a problem.

But moving out of town (where no pizza place delivers) has forced me to experiment.  And I have found that making pizza is not that hard, can be pretty quick, and is just as delicious as Domino’s.  (Yes, Domino’s.  I didn’t say it was a gourmet addiction.)

I use this pizza crust recipe, and try to always keep mozzarella, pizza sauce (though tomato sauce and seasonings could work too), and pepperoni in stock.  We also always have ground beef and I’ve recently discovered that if you brown it with some salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and fennel seeds, it gets all Italian sausage-like and is extra delicious.  Veggies would be nice, but rarely on hand when I need them so we go with what we’ve got.  The result is delicious, fast, in-the-budget pizza!

(Btw, I like that this pizza crust recipe doesn’t require rising, but I’m still perfecting if anyone has another recipe they would share!)

#3 Mexican Village Salsa

Another budget-breaking item is salsa.  I love Mexican Village salsa from the grocery store, which runs like $4 for this tiny little container.  Go with “The Village” salsa and it’s more like $3.  But still.  Considering that it’s a tiny container we can eat in one sitting, that can add up.  Especially with chips and salsa as the go-to snack.

I remembered that my sister Taryn made a salsa once that tasted just like Mexican Village’s, so I did some googling and some experimenting and came up with something easy and delicious!  I put 1 can of diced tomatoes (I think those are like 14 oz?) in a food processor with 2-3 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves), and about 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (to keep it family-friendly).  We have found that it’s better after being in the fridge for a bit, and even better the next day.

#4 Pretty Pretty Flowers

These are growing in our backyard.  I had nothing to do with them.  They’re just there and they’re pretty and I like them.  That’s all.

One Response

  1. 1) Thank you for the mac and cheese recipe. I’m afraid I am one who prefers Kraft but I don’t buy it because we are trying to stay away from things like that (boxed, fake cheese, etc) so this is very exciting to have a healthier option for occasional lunches=)

    2) I’ve been making homemade pizza for a couple of months now and it’s so great! Especially with my handy-dandy bread machine. I’m jealous you can get such a great circle. We lack a) a pizza pan and b) a rolling pin. I’ve gotten a little better but they always end up oddly shaped. Pizza sauce is also super easy to make with just a couple Tbsp of tomato paste+olive oil+a bit of sugar+seasonings. For times you don’t have pre-made sauce on hand.

    Making pizza makes me feel like I’m spoiling Eric without spending a bunch of money every week. (which he really likes) =)