Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Sanity Saver- Checklists

I look forward to summer for the hot weather, flexible bedtime, and loosey-goosey we-can-do-whatever-we-want-whenever-we-want schedule. I do NOT like it, however, for the bugs and lack of structure. My children NEED structure, but I have to find just the right balance between sweet, sweet freedom and complete chaos. 
Now, I have FOUR children: boys ages 13, 9, and 7, and a 3-year-old girl. The boys have combined diagnoses of ADHD, anxiety/depression, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (only one does not have ADHD) just to make things extra fun.  
Finding the balance is really tricky. 
I printed the checklists through Costco's photo center for under $2 each. The clear pouches are from The Dollar Tree, as are the stickers. Also from The Dollar Tree: knockoff Velcro to attach the checklists to the front of the pouches, colored craft sticks for chore distribution, and foam sheets to make the chore stick holder. (Chores will be covered in a separate post.)
The first day went surprisingly well!  Today, not so great, but the expectations have been set and the guidelines are right in front of their face. They can refer to the checklist if they have any questions about what needs to be done, and I don't have to remember who has done what, and whether they have earned iPod/tablet/TV/computer time. 👍🏻👍🏻

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mom Hack: Pizza Pull-Apart Bread

Have you ever tried the Rhodes frozen bread dough?  It's AMAZING!! It's delicious baked the traditional way, or you can thaw your way to a yummy shortcut! 
Today, I thawed two loaves to make our easy, kid approved dinner. The first is a chicken and Swiss baked sandwich. It's pretty self-explanatory (and I did a post previously about this customizable meal) but feel free to comment below if you need step-by-step instructions. 
***Disclaimer: I am NOT a seasoned food photographer. You get what you get.  Hopefully, it doesn't look too unappetizing.***

The second dish-- the feature of today's post-- is pizza pull-apart bread. Are you ready for the simple awesomeness of this recipe??  Well, here you go:
- Thaw a loaf of frozen bread using the method of your choice. I didn't plan very far in advance, so I used the speed method. 
- Pregeat your oven to 350. 
- When the dough is nice and fluffy, roll it into ropes and cut it into bite sized pieces. 
- Pour a cup of the tomato sauce of your choice (I use whatever pizza or pasta sauce we have on hand) into a medium mixing bowl and stir the dough pieces in. - Add another cup of sauce to the mix, along with a cup or 2 of your favorite cheese (I used a mozzarella and Parmesan blend) and stir until the dough is well coated. 
- Optional: add cut-up pieces of pepperoni or other pizza toppings and fold in or sprinkle over the top after the dough is in the pan. You can also add extra sauce and/or cheese to you pre-baked creation (can you ever really have too much cheese?). 
- Baking in a tube-shaped pan works best for even cooking, so I used a bunny pan. If you don't have a similar pan, you can set a small oven-proof bowl in the center of whatever baking dish you use, and spoon the dough in around it. 
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is browning and the cheese is bubbly. 
- Remove from oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving. 

It's not pretty, but it tastes sooooo gooood! 😊

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mom Hack- Pocket Meals

You know those biscuits in a tube? The kind that scare the crap out of you when they pop open? Those have been my best friends lately when it comes to making fast and easy food my kids will actually eat. 
My favorite variety are the Pillsbury Grands! Flakey Layer biscuits. You just peel them apart (hamburger way) into two separate circles, flatten each half with your palm, mound the filling of your choice into the center one one, cover with the other and seal the edges completely before baking according to the package instructions. You could, of course, use 2 smaller, less expensive,  non-layer biscuits to accomplish the same results.  Whatever works!!
So, what can you fill them with, you ask? Anything! Our favorites have included deli meat and cheese, anything you would put on a pizza crust, chopped apples with cinnamon and sugar, and pot pie mix (chopped chicken, a can of cream of chicken soup, mixed veggies, and cheese). You could also use sloppy joe meat/sauce, scrambled eggs and sausage, pie filling, marshmallows and chocolate chips, and anything you would normally mix with rice, pasta, potatoes, or in between 2 slices of bread. The sky is the limit with this baby!  BONUS: Portable meals that don't require the use of silverware or dishes. Seriously, just let these suckers cool, hand them to your kids, and send them outside to feed the ants with any fallen crumbs. 
What would YOU put in your pocket?