Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Want pizza without feeling weighed down by the crust? Here’s an easy solution:

You will need:

2 I lb bags of frozen cauliflower

2 eggs

Italian seasoning

Cook the cauliflower until it is soft enough to smash with a fork, or cut with a pie crust mixer. Before smashing the cauliflower, squeeze out at much water as possible.  Then, mash the cauliflower.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Then add eggs and Italian seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Spread out the mixture on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and shape into the desired size. This will make a large, rectangular pizza crust, or you can make two round ones.  Then, bake the crust for 18-22 minutes at 425 degrees.  The crust should be brown around the edges.

Then, top your pizza with sauce, cheese, and any other toppings that you would like. Bake until the cheese is melted.

Cut and enjoy.

All Done by December 01 – Week Two

Week one of “All Done by December 01” was the budget meeting. We made our list, checked it twice, and determined our budget for this Christmas, all the way down to stamps for the Christmas cards.

Week two of this process is to begin brainstorming gifts and starting to obtain them. Let’s be honest – the malls at Christmas are a trip through Crazy Town that I want to avoid at all costs because I already have enough weirdness in my life.  So this is not all about trying to get the gifts purchased this week, but is really about trying to do a little bit at a time and avoid that trip through Crazy Town.

Now is the time to start accumulating those coupons and special offers. Seriously, how many coupons do you get from Bed, Bath, and Beyond?  Start gathering those now, and start using those now.  Watch your ads and start shopping.  Use those reward points you have been saving all year.  Also start thinking about some out of the big box store gifts for people.  What are their hobbies or interests?  Favorite teams?  Places to visit?  Remember, the focus needs to be not on finding the most expensive gift, but finding one that is meaningful to the recipient.  And the recipient will never know if you used a coupon.

Also, if you have children, now is a good time to start thinking about those teacher gifts as well. Another source of stress is trying to rush around at the last second to find the perfect gift, so start chipping away at that list now.

Now is not the time to harness yourself to a hundred different Pinterest projects unless you truly have the time and energy to devote to those.

Remember, a little at a time, and you will get it “All Done by December 01.”

Run the Distance – Get the Sticker

Three things have come together over the past few weeks that helped create this blog. First, I ran my first ten mile race in about two years.  Second, I ran a 5k this weekend with my family.  And last…well, I will save that for the end.

After I ran in the Transplant Games 5k this summer, I did not want to suddenly stop training. I wanted to keep going and prove to myself that I could push my body farther than my brain thought it could go.  I also wanted to start running half marathons again.  Laughingly, I would tell people that my goal was to lower my time enough that I would make it across the finish line in time for the snacks at the end.  Usually, by the time I got there, the rest of the people racing had packed up and gone.  The reality is that I wanted to feel good about running again.  So, despite the heat of summer, I kept working – Crossfit four days a week and running another two or three days.  My awesome coach kept pushing me, and on that cool morning two weeks ago, I ran that ten miler.  I was 44 minutes faster than my last ten mile race.  And, I got snacks.

Yesterday, my family ran a 5k together. Well, not exactly together, but we were all in the same race.  My son was the first of our family to come across the finish line, and his time was pretty good.  He actually has run cross country off and on since 5th grade, and has always struggled a bit.  Now that he is training consistently, it is getting better for him.  He said he wants to start running again, which makes me pretty happy.  I was second across the line, and took 3:05 off my time.  But the even bigger deal, was my husband, for whom this was the first 5k that he did not walk the entire thing.  He’s been making changes lately to improve his health, and he has started jogging in small increments.  This is HUGE, and I am so proud of him.  He came across the finish line in a pretty good time, and even more importantly, proved to himself that it was not just possible, but probable that he would be successful at this.

The last thing that prompted this blog was an article that was shared on Facebook, the writer of which said that the distance stickers he sees on the backs of vehicles are essentially bragging, and that runners are being “arrogant.”

Really, dude?

The author is missing the point. Am I going to say that there are not arrogant runners out there?  Absolutely not.  But are all of us arrogant?

Absolutely not.

Those stickers are a representation of the hard work and dedication that runners put forth to train for these runs. It is not easy.  And runners should be proud of what they have accomplished.  Sure, you will not PR every race, but you will cross the finish line, which is far better than what you might have been able to do prior to that race.  To acknowledge that you ran that far is a good thing – bragging is not.

For me, my first half marathon sticker went on my car less than an hour after I crossed that finish line. It wasn’t so much that I wanted or needed to brag about it, but that I wanted it for myself – to remind me that it can be done.  I had worked for so long to get across that finish line, and I made it.  That sticker was my gold star on the A paper.  It is not arrogant or prideful; it was simply true.

And if my husband or son wants a 3.1, or 6.2, or whatever sticker for their car, I say go for it.

It is not bragging, just fact.

The fact is, you earned it.

All Done by December 01 – Week 1

So the first week of the “All Done by December 01” is the toughest one to tackle – the gift list and budget.

The Christmas season is so stressful because people feel obligated to spend a ton of money on gifts, and to have extra on hand just in case someone drops by with a gift who was not on your list. By all means, that kind of social awkwardness would be too much to bear.

But would it?

So make a list and check it twice. Are you giving gifts to people because you truly appreciate them, or because it is expected?  And are these your own expectations that you have placed on yourself or that have been handed down through years of family or social obligations?

Start paring down the list from there. Where are areas that perhaps you could have a group of friends together for coffee at Christmastime, and make it a fun a memorable gathering?  A cookie exchange?  A trip out to the movies or a hayride to look at Christmas lights?  Time is a very important gift, and one that would be more appreciated than another coffee mug or tiny soap.

Once you have your firm list, work on establishing a budget. Do not get in to debt over Christmas gifts.  That is not the point.  Make sure that your budget is a realistic picture of what you can truly afford.

Let’s face it, we would not want our loved ones spending beyond their means to make us temporarily happy. The happy gift exchanges should not lead to months of misery and anxiety trying to pay off debt.  That is not the point.

So this evening, my husband and I will sit down and go through this very process. By establishing a plan, we can make sure that we are able to have a realistic picture of where we are going through this season, not overspend or over gift, and enjoy what is important about this time of year – time with our loved ones.

Without the financial hangover….

Holiday Reality Check

Fall is in full swing…well almost. I do live on the Gulf Coast, and summer is tenaciously trying to hang on.  At least we have probably had the last of the 90 degree heat for a while, so that signals that fall is indeed here…maybe…

And if I look at the newspaper ads or walk into any bog box store, I also know that Christmas is coming. I know that it is October, but December is just around the corner.

GASP!!

Last year, one of the blogs I follow posted a six week plan called “All Done by December 01” and I loved it. It was genius!  Six weeks to prepare for the season so that my family and I could enjoy it.  There is no down side.  So I marked all of the weeks on my calendar, and it starts tomorrow.

The blog’s creator has already sent out an email about managing expectations of the season. It was a long list of preconceived notions that people have about Christmas, and they are the stuff of every Christmas themed Hallmark movie or Martha Stewart craft special.

Hallmark movies are not reality, and I am not Martha Stewart. In fact, she sort of creeps me out.  So to expect a perfectly decorated home, beautiful scenes of reunion, epiphany, or newly budding romance, hand decorated cookies, and family portraits where even the dog looks happy, are out of the realm of possibility.

There, I said it.

In fact, it is time to take a reality check about the entire holiday season. In another post from this same blog, the author talks about the stuff offered for Halloween, right down to soap dispensers.  I love Halloween and fall and Thanksgiving and Christmas, but do I really need all of that?  Better yet, where I am going to store it on the off season?  If you have the time and space for that – great!  But I don’t, and my guys are good with decorations that we have had for years and just love, and mason jars full of candy corn for added fun.  This is my season of life right now, and I need simple.

And considering that my cross country season just ended, and my son’s broadcast season is still in full swing, I’m feeling pretty good about having that much decorating done.

So I think it is time to stop beating ourselves up if our homes do not look like they could have appeared in Southern Living. It is time to stop spending hours on end preparing the perfect meal of items you have never eaten before and cost a ton to purchase, because it will just be a temporary thing.  No one will remember your perfect place setting.

But your family will remember the laughter, love, and fun traditions of the season, whatever they may be.

So don’t worry so much about being perfect – leave that to Martha Stewart.

Simply be present.

Homemade Jerky

It is starting to feel like fall, which means time to make jerky. Turkey Jerky is in the oven right now…

Simple Thoughts

We made jerky at my house this weekend.  I know you are thinking, “Why?  You can get great jerky at Buc-ee’s?” 

Two issues there – most commercially prepared jerky that I have found contain nitrates and/or soy, both of which are on my forbidden list.  Salt is the other issue, and that is on my husband’s forbidden list. 

It was easier than what I thought.  These directions will sound a little vague, but people who love jerky are pretty particular about their protein and seasonings, so those will be up to you. 

  1.  Start by partially freezing the protein of your choice.  Slice into thin strips.  Add seasonings or marinade as you would like.
  2. Remove one of your oven racks and move the other to the top.  Line the bottom of your oven with foil or put a pan in the bottom to catch the drippings.
  3. Take bamboo skewers and lay…

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