Tag Archive for back to school

DIY Frozen Pizzas

Back to school. It’s time has come.

Michael and I have been enjoying lots of time off. We went on a road trip, and have been spending lots of time at Second Beach Pool. But, with much trepidation, the time has come. He had his high school orientation yesterday, and school starts for real in a few days after the long weekend.

This is a big period of transition for us, from elementary to high school, from lazy days of summer with no schedules to busy days packed from morning to night.

diy frozen pizzas

The situation calls for one thing: comfort food. And not just any comfort food. It has to be fast.

Pizza is the perfect solution. On crazy nights when I know we won’t have much time between after school activities and homework, I set the oven to come on and pre-heat 15 minutes before I know we are going to walk in the door. Then, all I do is literally walk in the door, drop my stuff, pull a frozen pizza out of the freezer, and pop it in the oven. Add a few sliced raw veggies and dip, and 15 minutes later, dinner is served.

Now, you might be asking, “pizza, that’s easy, and cheap, why would I go to all the effort to make my own?”

Well, by making my own, I can control what goes in it, and what goes on it. And that means a more healthy final result.

When I make our own pizzas, I can customize it with veggie pepperoni, for example, or just put regular pepperoni on his half. We can also do some fanciful toppings you may not be able to buy in the store, like artichokes and olives. You could even make these pizzas individual-sized and have everyone choose their own toppings resulting in 98% less bickering.

It’s really all about control. I like a thin crust, I’m trying to watch my cholesterol, so I use lower fat cheese, you can use tomato sauce, pesto or even bechamel, and then load it up with toppings as you please. For the crust, you could easily substitute 1/2 whole wheat flour to increase the amount of fiber. If you’re vegan, use vegan cheese (the crust is already vegan).

Make a pile of these on the weekend, and pull them out for that one night of the week when getting dinner on the table is a nightmare. For us, it’s Wednesday.

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I saved myself more time and stress by ordering my groceries (including all the ingredients I needed to make these pizzas) online through Save-On Foods. I order the night before, drop Michael off at his after school activity, then jet over and pick up the groceries from the North Van Save-On. They load up the car for me, I have time for a quick coffee (ah, me time!) and then back to West Van to pick him up.

We go back over the bridge, and walk into the house–the oven is already preheated and ready to go. The pizza goes in, and you, my friend, have managed your Wednesday night like a boss.

frozen pizzas DIY

Our pizzas are loaded with artichoke hearts, olives, pesto, and lots of cheese.

DIY Frozen Pizzas

(makes 2 cookie-sheet sized pizzas, double if you want  to make 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ tsp yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (around 110 degrees)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup aquafaba
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • pizza toppings as desired

Method

  1. In a large bowl, place the water and sugar and mix them together. Sprinkle the yeast over in a thin layer, then leave to bloom for about 10 minutes.
  2. After the yeast has activated, add the AF and the olive oil, and stir well. Now add in the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring until it becomes hard to stir, and the dough forms a sticky, shaggy ball. Get in there with your hands with and mix it until it becomes a cohesive ball.
  3. Sprinkle a little more olive oil on your ball of dough, and rub it over the top. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about 20-30 minutes in a warm place.
  4. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper, and then greasing them with a little olive oil. You could also sprinkle some cornmeal. Divide your dough in half, and roll the dough out onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Push the dough out from the centre and form a lip all the way around the edges. You can brush the edges with a little more olive oil if you like.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Pop the pizza into the oven for 8-9 minutes. You want it to be set, but not done. Pull the pizza crust out of the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Now you can add your toppings. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce, then any meats. Next top with cheese. Finally, add vegetable toppings like spinach, sundried tomatoes, olives, artichokes, etc.
  7. Place the pan, with the pizza on it, in your freezer, making sure it’s level. Allow to freeze overnight. Once it’s completely frozen, pop it off the cookie sheet, and double-wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Store in the freezer until needed.
  8. To cook: preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and bake the pizza (either on a cookie sheet, or a pizza stone) for about 10-12 minutes, until it’s brown on the edges, and the cheese is melty and gooey.

This post is sponsored by Save-On Foods, but the recipe and opinions are my own.

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Back-to-School: Vegan Breakfast Cookies

I’ll be honest, I’m in denial.  School starts in a few weeks, and I don’t even want to think about it.

vegan breakfast cookies

This year marks a big transition for us. In June, Michael “graduated” from elementary school, and then a couple weeks later, he turned 13. In just a few weeks, he starts a new school, High School.

Grade 7 was a tough year–academically, it was his most challenging year, and on top of that, there was a lot of pressure as he applied to get into a special program at his high school. After all that was over (and he was in), it was like we could breathe a sigh of relief, and we’ve been taking a bit of a breather from the pressures of school ever since.

But soon enough, he’ll be starting his new school, and I’ll be back teaching again, as well, after taking the summer off.

There’s a lot to think about, worry about, process through. So it’s important that we are well-fed during this time, and that we’re not fussing about food. We want to keep it simple and nourishing.

I’ve teamed up with Save-On Foods to bring you a series of posts, both about how we are surviving this big transition, and also about some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned for coping along the way.

One of the awesome things Save-On does that will make your life infinitely easier is grocery pick-up. You just go online, clickety-click, order what you need for the week, and then you just pick it up on your way home from work.

For those of you who shop with kids, you will especially appreciate this. Not just the time savings, but you know if you take your kid with you to the grocery store, you are going to come home with things that were not on your list. That always happens. This way, it forces you to stick to just the things you need, making it slightly less realistic that you’ll find yourself binging on pizza-flavoured goldfish after they’ve gone to bed (speaking for a friend, pretty sure I’ve never done that ;-))

This first post is a recipe for breakfast cookies.

I love these breakfast cookies. First of all, I enthusiastically support the eating of cookies. No matter what time of the day. So… cookies for breakfast?? Sign me up!

Beyond that, though, they are actually pretty healthy. If you think about what goes into a bowl of oatmeal, you’ll find all of those ingredients here: whole grains, oats, and fruit.

These cookies can be a choose your own adventure story. Feel free to sub out the cranberries, dates and apricots for dried fruits of your choosing. What do your kids like? Cherries? They would be amazing. Apples? Perfect (maybe add a little cinnamon, too). If your kids are not allergic, you could also add some nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans) for some additional protein.

For more recipes featuring aquafaba, check out my new cookbook: Aquafabulous!: 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba (Bean Water).

One of the things I love about my local Save-On is that they have a wicked bulk section. Sometimes finding these dried fruits is a challenge at the regular grocery store. And when you do find them, they can be stale from sitting on the shelf, or you may be forced to buy a big package of them, and not know what to do with the leftovers, when you just use say, a quarter of a cup. This entire recipe is basically sourced from the bulk section.

The bulk section solves all of this. You just buy as much as you need, and, you can order bulk foods through the online service. And the variety of dried fruits at Save-On is pretty dizzying. In fact, I’d encourage you to experiment with different kinds, and then report back to me which combinations you liked the best.

These cookies are a great, portable breakfast (too busy to eat breakfast? These are great for the car, or if you’re walking), or as a snack for recess or after school.

cookies for breakfast

Vegan Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • ¼ cup aquafaba (the water drained from a can of chickpeas)
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup ground flax
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 ½ cups large flake or steel-cut oats
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 6 dried apricots, chopped
  • 6 pitted dates, chopped

Method

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter, AF, maple syrup, brown sugar, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix well.
  2. Next, add in all the dry ingredients.
  3. Finally, add the dried fruit and mix well.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheet and allow to cool on wire racks.
  5. These also freeze well, so feel free to freeze them in ziploc bags in the freezer, and just pull out as many as you need for the day.
  6. Makes about 2 dozen.

 

This post is sponsored by Save-On Foods, but the recipe and opinions are my own.

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