Mashed Potato Pizza

Mashed Potato PizzaThis is not a lifestyle blog.

I don’t usually blog about recipes or how to clean your home or make wreaths from cord blood, roadkill and mason jars (Just in time for Valentine’s Day!) It’s not because I’m too good for that sort of thing. On the contrary, making that wreath  consumes me. I’m just not that great at it. Case in point, my gingerbread man cake pops that still haunt my nightmares. Also, pinterest hates me.

(Despite that, I make a sexy pie.)

But I do love to cook. And I’m not awful at it. Although, I’m no gourmet. I am the woman, who, just yesterday, fed her family items from the McDonald’s dollar menu and a bunch of grapes, because it was delicious. Never doubt a double cheeseburger.

But for the past almost eight years (dear Lord, eight years?!) of my marriage, I have been making pizza almost every Friday night. It started when we first got married and our TV was on crates and the only table we had still stank of my brother-in-law’s taxidermy experiments. I wanted to go out. Dave wanted to save money. So, I started my quest to make the perfect pizza.

About three years ago, I made a recipe for a delicious thick crust that we bake in a cast iron skillet and we love it so much, we actually prefer it to ordering out. But I’ve been scouring the internet trying to shake things up a bit. The crust isn’t a great thin crust, and I wanted to try pizzas with more variety in toppings, which works better on a thinner crust. Actually, you know what? Don’t get me started on pizza crust. I’ve actually ready almost every piece of literature about pizza crust and I sound like your PhD friend talking about his theories on the socio-ecological shift in the migration patterns of the Heron.  Really, really obnoxious.

While Christmasing in Minneapolis, where my husband hails from and where I spent many a formative year, I had the chance to eat from my favorite Pizza Luce, a restaurant known for their specialty pizza like Shrimp al Pesto and Spanish Chicken. And when we came back to Iowa, I had my mission. Make a Pizza Luce pizza, with the thin yet substantial crust, and conquer my favorite pizza, the garlic mashed potato.

BOOM!

Here is what I did. I made this crust. (Read the complicated directions, it’s worth it. Also, for the purpose of this pizza, I prebaked the pizza on my pizza stone for 3 minutes. I have a pizza stone, because I am so baller.)  If that’s not your style, I think Boboli would work. Something thin and pre-baked.

Then, I boiled six potatoes cut into chunks. Boiled them until they fell apart when pierced with a fork. I drained them, added 4 T of butter, 1 clove of garlic, and 1/4 C of sour cream and mashed it all together with my pastry cutter until mashed but still a little chunky. Salt to taste.

I spread the mashed potatoes on the pre-baked pizza. It was a thin layer. On top of that, I sprinkled chopped tomato, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, and bacon (WHAT?! I’m pregnant, haters.) I wanted green onions, but I was out and I’m lazy. I thought about caramelizing onions, but also lazy.

You can also add broccoli.

I have since learned that this is not how Pizza Luce makes their pizza (they use red potatoes, also they have two equally delicious versions of their mashed potato pizza). This only means I will be doing it again. Whatever, it was delicious. Dave and I were smashing it all over our bodies. Of course, the toddler disproved,  but that girl hates mashed potatoes. I know. She is probably the Devil.

Which is something I’ve suspected for a long time, since she tried to push me down the stairs that one time I was the ambassador’s wife and she rode her trike around our house.

Also, a cursory look at Google informs me that my favorite food site, Iowa Girl Eats, has a version of this recipe from last year. So, you should probably just ignore me and go there. 

 

10 Really Good Household Tips that You Should Probably Pin

As you may have noticed. Over here at casa Lenz, I’m pretty amazing at doing things. I don’t want to brag, but no one can make a cake ball look as unappetizing as me. No one. So, I thought it would behoove you all to benefit from my vast quantities of household wisdom, so you too can achieve domestic bliss.

1. One great way to fix a quick dinner is to do nothing and then when your husband gets home, yell, “WHAT ARE YOU MAKING ME FOR DINNER!” Repeat that over and over until the baby cries.

2. How to remove a stain: Take some white wine and pour at least a cup down your throat. If you still see the stain imbibe until you can no longer see the spot. This also works with red wine or whiskey.

3.  A super fast way to clean your house is to do nothing at all until it’s condemned or your family puts you on “Hoarders” and they pay someone to clean it for you.

4. My favorite fast, healthy and nutritious meal that I LOVE to cook for my family is a plate of cheese and a nice glass of ShutUpIHaveAHeadache.

5. Give your parties some pizzazz, by spelling out offensive slurs or insults with carrots and dip.

6. If you leave enough food on your floor the mice will pick it up for you.

7. Giving your babies a lobotomy is a bad idea and probably illegal even though they did it to that one Kennedy girl.

8. If you have a spill on your clothes, don’t change, just yell mean things at your friends. If you make them cry, they won’t notice the stain through their tears of weakness.

9. If you have a friend coming over, ready your home by putting on pants and eating all the cookies.

10. Organize your child’s toys by burning them all right in front of her. But make sure she’s old enough to remember. You want to give her something to talk about in therapy later on.

The Walking Gingerdead

Last week was my second week of SAHMness. And even though, I was technically still working my last week of regular hours for my permalaance, I considered myself full-fledged SAHM. AND I WAS GOING TO WIN!

So, on Tuesday, Ellis and I made trips to stores that normally give me panic attacks. Michael’s and Joann’s. But hey, I’m a SAHM now. We ladies have powers that make us impervious to aisles of ribbon. So, I soldiered in there pretending to care about the difference between normal paper and acid-free paper, and we bought crap like Popsicle sticks and modge podge so we could be amazing and crafty and make Christmas mother freaking magic.

I want to explain something to you. I’m not crafty. I mean, I can DIY the spleen out of a living room. But  gluing together beads and mason jars so you can put them on your mantle? It makes me twitchy and morose. Its the same feeling I have when someone at a party yells, “TIME TO PLAY GAMES!” Um, the hell I am.  Crafts are the same. Why should I spent my time gluing things together when I could read this book, or look, Vincent D’Ornofrio is solving crime and also, wine.

But I was the girl in High School who cried because she got a 99.9% when she wanted a 100%. Despite years of therapy, I still felt like I had to glue all the things and win at all the crafts.

By Thursday night, my fingers were scarred with hot glue burns and my dining room was a disaster. Dave came home to me swearing under my breath as I glued candy to Styrofoam. “What are you doing?”

“I’m making this Christmas wreath magical.”

“Why?”

“BECAUSE I AM A MOM AND THIS IS WHAT WE DO!”

“You can just put the glue gun down and walk away.”

“NO! I may be a crappy crafter, but I am not a quitter.”

“Can you eat that candy?”

I shook my head. “No. I thought it would be lovely. But now it’s just a symbol of first world excess. But I’m in too deep.”

I stuck it out. I had miracles to create and a toddler party to festoon. Friday night, I started baking, cookies on a stick, gingerbread men on a stick, and I was going to cut pizza dough in the shape of snowmen for lunch. I was going to make it rain Christmas for those babies.

Dave wandered into the kitchen at 11pm. “You can quit now.”

“I have to make the pizza look like snowmen.”

“Did you ever consider not doing that?”

“Well…” I actually hadn’t

I looked around the kitchen. My cookies on a stick look like they’d been pooped out by a snowman and my gingerbread men were now the walking gingerdead, so I threw in the towel. And this is what all those years of therapy were good for. This moment, when I looked at myself sinking in disaster, and sprinkles and glue, and I quit.

Just because I see it on Pinterest doesn’t mean I should make it. Just because I know someone who knows how to turn oranges into magical little pumpkins with Jello, doesn’t mean I should. Crafts are a gift. They are a talent. It’s like being skinny, sure we can do some things to help ourselves get there, but at some point you are at the mercy of your priorities, your genetics and a ready supply of booze. Also, Cheetos.

I told a friend about my craft freak out. “Step away from Pinterest!” She said. “Why haven’t you learned yet? What tube of glitter has to die for you to realize that this is not for you?”

And I’m sure there is a lesson here about wisdom and being yourself and loving who you are. But all I really learned is that the next time I have a party for babies they get Oreos and Little Ceasar’s. Because when it comes to motherhood, there are no winners and no losers, there is no grade. There is only the happy and the ones who are sobbing on their floor at midnight because the hot glue gun is an evil Benedict Arnold.

Babies for Everyone!

Several months ago, I went out to eat with some of my favorite ladies and one by one, three of them confessed to being pregnant all with their second pregnancies.

A friend and I discussed doing something for them, something to celebrate their successful execution of a pregnancy pact. Then, that friend got knocked up. So, if you are keeping count, that is four ladies who are pregnant.

So, I planned a little party and we invited some friends and holy crap batman, turns out they were all pregnant also. Ten pregnant women were going to be in my house at one time. That’s more than were in my birthing class at the hospital. More than were in the maternity ward the night I gave birth to Ellis.

And all of this totally made me rethink how you actually get pregnant. I mean, I know science and all of that, but anecdotal evidence proves all you have to do to get pregnant in Iowa is be my friend. Perhaps being in the land of fertile farm land also means fertile uteri (that’s the correct Latin, hoz!). Or perhaps the hot tub rumor is real.

I told Dave that there were going to be 10 pregnant women in our house and his eyes got wide and he said, “Can you pick up some scotch guard?”

“David, seriously!” I rolled my eyes. ‘No one is going to leak amniotic fluid on your couch.”

“Wait, what games do you have planned? Because I know I’m cheap and all, but I’d be willing to get a trampoline for a shower game and we can see who goes into labor first.”

“Yeah, because that’s science.”

“Perhaps you should have an ambulance standing by?”

All in all, nine pregnant women showed up. And while I contemplated handing out condoms at the door and playing a little game I like to call, “Here is how you put in an IUD,” I just had some wine and some crafts and we ate cake and feasted like pregnant ladies. Even those of us who were not so pregnant.

Here is how you properly fête nine pregnant women:

  • Buy donettes
  • Cake
  • Cupcakes
  • Punch
  • Candy
  • Make sure they all take a little something home. I had guests bring onesies, bibs and burp rags and we decorated them with iron-on designs. I kind of hate crafts, so this was really low-intensity and I had all the necessary supplies. Also, everyone got to take a little something home.
  • No games. No pregnant lady wants to talk about her stomach circumference or eat baby food. Not to mention 9 pregnant women. So, to avoid a pregnant coup d’etat I avoided games. And guess what, turns out if you have enough cake and jelly beans, everyone stays happy.
  • Wine. I greeted everyone at the door by saying, “I have lemon punch, mint-infused water or a white wine spritzer, I’M NOT GONNA JUDGE!” (I wouldn’t. Honestly.) Despite my exhortations, I think all the pregnant ladies stayed clean on the punch and the water. The wine was pretty necessary for us non pregnant ladies.  I mean, just the sight of that much fruitfulness-and-multiplying, made me need a stiff drink.

And now, I need a nap. I’m pretty sure coming into contact with that many pregnant bellies means that in a month I’ll be announcing my  pregnancy with quintuplets.

Thanks to Mel for a lot of the pictures. I completely forgot to snap some and Mel is basically an amazing photographer. And the pictures that aren’t amazing are the ones I took. And Mel is like a million months pregnant.

Also, BABIES FOR EVERYONE!!

 

 

Cloth Diaper 101: Gratuitous Poop Talk

Back in the olden days, when I was great with child and eating my weight in fried egg sandwiches, I told Dave I wanted to use cloth diapers. He grimaced. “But think of all the money we will save!” I said.

I know the way to a Dave’s heart.

So, I researched. Read. Schlepped my fat self on down to the local cloth diaper store and tested some models out. Made a decision to go with a cloth diaper that grew with the baby, had optional disposable inserts (for those times when I become lazy), showed the Dave and started buying. Once Ellis was actually here, I freaked out because I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO WASH POOP! But then she pooped on her clothes. And I washed that no problem. The doctor’s office told me that breastmilk poo was water soluble, so I sucked it up and started washing.

It’s so easy. I mean, once you wash your first poo, there is no going back. You become practically Evangelical about these things. No one just uses cloth diapers casually, people run up to you and say things like LET ME TELL YOU HOW THIS BUM GENIUS AIO CAN SAVE YOUR SOUL, YOUR TRASHY, WASTEFUL, DAMNED-TO-DISPOSABLE-HELL SOUL.

I was at a baby shower and this woman started polling people at the table. “Do you use cloth?” She asked while affixing her child to her chest with what can best be described as a large piece of cloth. “Yes, I do.” I said proudly.

I felt like I was answering some missionary at my door. “Do you know the Lord?”

“Yes! AMEN!”

But I was raised Baptist, so I should have known, it’s never enough to just know the Lord. You have to know the Lord. So, of course, my “yes” wasn’t good enough.

She sighed. “Yes but what kind of cloth? You should buy the ones I make. They work way better. Here, let me show you.” She then unaffixed her baby from her chest and changed her diaper, right there on the table. She was a true believer.

Apparently, I didn’t know the Lord of cloth diapering as my personal savior. I’m just one of those only-on-Sunday type of conversions, because I haven’t tested every brand or made my own. I don’t rinse the diapers in the toilet or own a sprayer. Instead, I just use liners and flush the poo. But I do love them. It’s just that if there were a cult, I probably wouldn’t be the one mixing the Kool-Aid.

This week is apparently cloth diaper week, which continues an American tradition of arbitrarily naming days, weeks and months as the official day of this thing I’m being paid to shill. (That reminds me, tomorrow is get a penguin drunk day. DO IT FOR THE PENGUINS!) And my local cloth diaper store is a host-site for some sort of event where a bunch of moms will get together and change cloth diapers, in an effort to trump the world record of most cloth diapers changed at one time. The world record is held by the Duggars and will probably be hard to beat. But Lord love them for trying.

I mean you have to give it to the atheist disposable diapering parents. They’d never get together and say things like, “let’s wallow in poo! Hooray! Suck it, Duggars!”

But I still love me some cloth diapering, not only for the money we save, but because we aren’t generating that much waste and and the poo thing? Seriously, just buy some diaper liners and flush that crap. No one needs to be wallowing in the toilet. In any case, even if you don’t drink this poo-laced Kool-Aid. That’s alright. I WILL PRAY FOR YOU!

Happy cloth diaper week! Here are some great links and articles that are way more helpful than the drivel I just wrote. And remember that tomorrow is get a penguin drunk day!

Almost Free Cloth Diapering – Cotton Babies Blog

Round up of the best cloth diapers – Babble.com

Our CD Journey– Hoo Goes Where

Let’s Talk About Poop – Bakersfield Mom

Too Poor for Pinterest

Pinterest has imbued in me a sudden and overwhelming desire to own a sewing machine and purchase my body weight in lace. This connection to my inner Mormon house wife came to a head when I decided to go all out for Ellis’ first birthday party. I assured Dave that everything would be under budget. “I have cheap ideas from Pinterest!”

He grimmaced.

You see, Pinterest is also creating a rift in my marriage. New rules that were never there before have suddenly appeared.

No, I can’t use the table saw. No, I cannot rewire the dining room to hang mason jar pendant lights. No, I cannot purchase 300 helium filled balloons in order to create a balloon wall.

It’s totally unfair.

This is the reason we got rid of HGTV. A few rounds of “House Flippers” and I was convinced we could just knock down a few walls, put up a bunch of hooks and double our home value.

But now, I just spend hours on the internet convincing myself that I do need to spend 5 hours making boxes for my non existent colored pencil collection. My friend Anna confessed that she was considering having a child just to use it as an excuse to try out all the things she’s pinned.

I have a child and I pinned the heck out of her first birthday party.

I had it all planned. A circus theme with tigers, elephants and lions. Clown noses. Popcorn. And then we could DIY cotton candy all I need is this special whisk and the ability to fling melted sugar around my kitchen. What could possibly go wrong?

“No, Lyz, you can’t fling sugar around the kitchen.”

That is what could go wrong. Marriage is a partnership. And while he has no problem with me smearing gelatin and hot milk all over my face because pinterest told me to, he draws the line when it comes to spending hundreds of dollars to create a balloon wall or fling hot sugar all over the kitchen because our baby needs cotton candy, he is not on board.

The night before the party, my sister-in-law Ashley and my sister Becky sat down and spent the next two hours piecing together my Ellis’ balloon garland as I popped enough popcorn to smother a family of rabbits.  I was fuming.

“I wanted this wall of balloons. but Dave told me there was a worldwide helium shortage, so I figured I could just buy a helium tank and cut down on the costs, because when you figure how many birthday parties I’m going to throw, I would save so much money.”

My sister sighed. “This is why I’m glad you’re a writer.”

“Oh?” I said. My mind immediately jumped ahead to a book on the fine art of birthday parties I would write. Of course, I would thank my sister, who gave me the idea in the first place.

“Yeah, because you’re too poor to do half of your crazy ideas.”

DIY: Coat Hanger/Crap Hider

Our living room is just one big open space, so there is no proper entryway, you just walk in and it’s on. One of the things that kills me is that people have no where to put their crap when they come. Coats are tossed hither and yon and purses end up shoved in corners. That’s no way to treat your guests. So, I’ve been trying to find a lovely entryway organizer/coat holder/crap accumulator. But when you Google that, you’d be surprised at how few options there are. And most of them cost approximately a million dollars.

So, at the first garage sale of the season, my neighbor, who might just be the Grand Pontiff of Bargain Finding found this and benevolently offered it to me (she had found enough deals, she was feeling generous).  This metal cupboard was only $1 and Dave was highly skeptical. But a can of spray paint (we already had the color). Some hooks from Home Depot (about $2 for 2 hooks and we have 6) and hooray! I think the cupboard needs a ship in a bottle on top. But other than that, I couldn’t be happier with how it looks.

Also, that black bench? I got that sucker FREE from the side of the road. I challenge you to be cheaper than this!

Looking Hot in the Cold: Cold Weather Beauty

Thanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all mine. Visit http://www.discoverbeautywithin.com/.

If there is one phrase I hear alot it is, “Wow, you look nothing like your baby.” And if there is a phrase that I never hear, it is, “You look so good what’s your secret?”

Looking good, while balancing a baby and a job where I sit at home in my skivvies, is a challenge. I don’t have to put on pants to go in early to the office all I have to do is throw on my glasses and hope the mailman can’t see my lack of pants from the front door. Poor man. Don’t worry, we gave him a nice gift this Christmas.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t try. I’ve been living in the Midwest for almost 10 years now. And if I’ve learned anything about winter it is this: it will literally suck the life out of you. Usually by the end of February, I’m shedding more skin than an iguana and my lips are perpetually puckered. Enter my friend: Vaseline.

Nothing says sexy, like slathering Vaseline all over your body.

I use this guy to soften my hands at night. Put on chapped lips. I even put it on blemishes to combat the inevitable dry skin that results when the blemish is gone and you’re left with the crater of grossness in its wake. I use it to remove eye make up. There is nothing, that Vaseline cannot do. From burns to dry elbows. This stuff should be handed out at the borders of all Northern states. Alaska should give it to you in bulk. You can have your fancy cremes. I like my beauty products to be cheap, effective and somewhat dubious of origin.

The other cold weather beauty item I love, my hairstylist Kendra introduced me to, it’s CHI Silk Infusion.

It's like butter for your hair.

While it’s a little pricey, a little bit of this stuff goes a long, long way and it helps fix those areas where winter has sucked out your hair’s will to live. I love this stuff. Putting it in my hair makes me feel like the Paula Deen of hairstyling. By which I mean, sexy.

Finally, I was recently required to be in a photo shoot for an upcoming project. These pictures are set to be plastered on a billboard down the street from where I currently sit pantsless. Yes, it’s just about as horrifying as it sounds.  In order to get ready, I did what any self-respecting Midwesterner would do. I went to Pinterest and obsessively searched for ways that I wouldn’t look like the guy from Goonies and gave myself an at-home facial using Knox gelatin, a plastic up, some milk and a spoon.

I'm melting.

Despite the horrifying flesh-eating bacteria look that you get during the process. I loved how my skin felt afterward. Smooth. Soft. And very pink. Not my everyday lifeless gray, this-baby-is-killing-my-youthful-good-looks thing that I usually rock.  This, plus a sassy new do and giant billboard, here I come!

 

What is your winter-weather beauty solution? Tell me in the comments! Also, if you’re looking for more ways to combat the winter hair blahs, my hairstylish Kendra has some fabulous tips for winter hairstyles and winter hair products.

DIY: Hardwood Floors

This is our kitchen. When we moved in 6 years ago, we were told the floors had “JUST BEEN” redone. Not quite. Add in 5 years of heavy traffic, several DIY projects and a plaster experiment gone wrong and our floors were hurting. Just look at the before. Look at it. I would scrub the floors and then scrub them again and they’d still be dirty.

Dave has wanted to redo the floors for a while. He loves messing with the house and loves Norm Abrams, so it was only a matter of time before he tore apart the floors.  But he needed to save up vacation days and I needed to mentally prepare myself for the dust. So, if you’re asking, “Hey, why didn’t you do this BEFORE you had a baby?” Our answer is, “We went on two awesome vacations before the baby came. Also, if she loses brain cells, we don’t have to save for college.”

So, starting on Thursday, Dave sanded, stained and polyurethaned the floors. There is no short cut. No tricks. Just a lot of hard work.

Here are some things we learned during the project:

1. If you are going to lose access to your kitchen for 4 days, PLAN AHEAD.

2. The day the staining and polyurethaning happen, take the baby out of town. Somewhere there is a nice grandma to watch the child, while you nap. As it was, I would have died if it weren’t for our neighbors letting us use their house and feeding me a chili dog.

3. When you tell your husband to get you a hotel, make sure that hotel is not a Howard Johnson. If it is, make sure you have a shiv and bring your own pillows.

4. If you are standing in line at the Howard Johnson waiting to change your room because the previous one smells so much like cigarette smoke you think that the stupid-inducing staining fumes might be a step up, protect your baby’s feet and hands or else meth heads might try to touch her.

5. Rent a sander that vacuums and sands.

6. Vacuum a lot during the project. VACUUM!

As it was, Dave did a good job of containing the dust. And the project wasn’t as complicated as, oh say, redoing the plumbing in a bathroom. But it was a lot of hard work. But it’s oh, so worth it.  They seriously make our rooms look brand new. Also, next summer Dave is going to redo the living room, but Ellis and I will be out of town.

 

Quick and Easy Recipes and a Winner!

Thanks everyone for playing the E-Mealz giveaway on my blog. It’s my second real giveaway (the first one I put the entries in a bra) and *sniff* this blog is getting all growed up. I do want to let you know that if you didn’t win, no fret. You can sign up for E-Mealz using the button the right-hand side of this blog and use the code: BLOGHER for 10% off. Honestly, E-mealz is like $5 a month, plus 10% off? That’s cheaper than the therapy you’ll need after going through these blog archives. Cheaper than paying for your addiction to those gross little corn candies that come out around this time of year and taste like earwax.

And for those of you, still holding out, I rounded up some of my favorite, quick and easy recipes from the entries and posted them here for you. If you try one for dinner tonight, let me know. Also, I have fancy pants readers who make orzo and Welsh Wererabbit Rarebit (do you shoot it with a silver bullet?). That recipe was from my mom and I would like everyone to know, SHE’S NEVER MADE IT FOR ME. This is because when I come home, it’s all, “So nice to see you sweetie, now make mama some dinner. I got this great completely complicated recipe for you to try while I stand here and watch.” One Thanksgiving, I came home and my mom was like, “Make this beef tenderloin. The meat cost more than your life. Also, I picked out a Martha Stewart recipe for you to follow.”

That was the best beef tenderloin anyone in my family has ever had. I ninja kicked that meal.

Alright. Now for the winner….AMELIA! Who posted a delicious recipe about kielbasa.

…kielbasa sausage + canned pineapple + canned yams + butter and brown sugar. Bake @350 for 30 minutes!

I can’t wait to try it out.

(My favorite recipes after the jump) [Read more...]

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