Maybe Matilda

Friday, August 21, 2015

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Honeysuckle White. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who help make this blog possible!

I know full well that just a few years from now, I'll be looking back at today's schedule of activities and think it looks easy breezy. But it seems to me that regardless of how many items are on our to-do list and how many places we're headed in a single day, life with a 4- and 1-year old just consistently feels hectic and busy. 

And throw back-to-school into the mix? (Even though we're talking pre-K and not full-blown school school!) It's only getting busier.

So for a quick, family-friendly weeknight meal that's fast and easy to make (plus leftovers for another family meal tomorrow), I made this delicious Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza.

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

I love using turkey products occasionally as an alternative to beef or pork or sausage . . . they are still so flavorful and delicious, but a lot leaner without all the fat and grease. And I love that the Honeysuckle White turkey sausage I used for this recipe is made from turkeys raised without growth-promoting antibiotics.

This pizza, topped with mildly spicy turkey sausage, onions, mushrooms, and green pepper, did not disappoint in the slightest. It took about 10 minutes to prepare, 10 more to cook, and we had an awesome family dinner together in almost no time. Gotta love a quick meal that tastes just as great as the ones you spend loads of time working on.

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

Normally, I'm all about homemade doughs. But for the sake of time tonight, I used a store bought pizza crust for this meal. (And it was great, but I can't wait to make this recipe again with a homemade pizza crust!)

Start browning the sausage in a pan while you prepare your crust with your favorite sauce and freshly grated mozzarella cheese. (A side note on cheese: yes, it'll take *slightly* longer if you buy lump mozzarella and grate it yourself instead of buying the pre-shredded kind. But I think it is absolutely worth the extra few minutes--bagged, pre-shredded mozzarella doesn't melt properly or have the awesome flavor of the real stuff! But of course, time is often the deciding factor here, so do what works for you.)

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

When the turkey sausage is browned, sprinkle it over your pizza. Keep the drippings in the pan for now! They'll add awesome flavor to your veggies. 

I cooked up a full pound of the sausage, but only used half on my pizza. The other half pound went into the fridge to add to a quick and easy spaghetti dinner for tomorrow!

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

Add your chopped pepper, onion, and mushrooms to the pan and cook in the sausage drippings until they're tender. Oh, the delicious smells that will be filling your kitchen right now. Can I come over on the night you make this? Please?

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

When the veggies are tender, add them to your pizza. I only spread them over half, anticipating complaints from certain young children who will not be named. 

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

Into the oven for 10 minutes, and you'll have yourself a fragrant, rich, melty, gooey, crispy and delicious homemade pizza. Perfect for busy school nights--and between the extra sausage you already prepared and any pizza leftovers, dinner tonight and tomorrow night will be a breeze.

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

Turkey Sausage and Pepper Pizza

1 prepared pizza crust (mine was store bought, but oh, it will be even more amazing if you make your own!)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 pound Honeysuckle White Turkey Sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Brown turkey sausage in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. While it cooks, prepare your crust by spreading it with sauce and topping with cheese. When sausage is browned and no longer pink, sprinkle it over the pizza, reserving the oil and drippings in the skillet.

Add chopped vegetables to the skillet and cook until crisp-tender. Sprinkle over pizza.

Place pizza in preheated oven and bake for 8-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbly. When done, let sit 2 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy!
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Honeysuckle White is giving 2 readers a $10 coupon towards a turkey product of their choice! Leave a comment below to enter. 

Note:  Honeysuckle White turkey products are only available in select states. For those on the East Coast (ME, NH, VT, NY, NJ, MA, VA, RI, CT, PA, MD, DE, WV, NC, SC, GA, and FL), look for Honeysuckle White’s sister brand, Shady Brook Farms!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Sappy Homesick Post

For the first time since we sold our house and moved 3 months ago, I ended up on our old street again this week. I had a gift for one of our neighbors, so I packed the kids up and headed out to deliver it to her, just a block up from our old place.

I've driven past our old exit on the highway many times over the last few months, and I've even ended up within a few blocks of our old house, but I haven't actually been down our street since the day we drove off with the moving truck.

I can't say I've really missed our old place a whole ton--I miss parts of the house (the big windows, the fenced yard, the walking trail around the corner), and I definitely miss some neighbors and friends (who really aren't far away at all, so it's positively shameful that I haven't seen them more since we've moved). But we've been so busy this summer that I've hardly had time to think about it.

But as soon as I turned onto that street, homesickness hit me like a sack of bricks.

( ^ Darcy with my adorable grandma on moving day)

My family moved around a lot when I was young, so I think I learned not to get too attached to places. Leaving homes behind and creating new ones hasn't ever bothered me a whole lot. It was a normal, regular part of my childhood, and it never seemed like a huge deal.

But something was different about leaving that house. It was our first house, and Jeff and I lived there longer than we've ever lived anywhere else (about 3 1/2 years, which isn't a whopping amount of time, but it was our record).

Before that house, we approached every place we lived with the full knowledge that it would be a temporary stay and we'd be leaving it behind. It's hard to get attached to a place when you're counting down the months until you leave. And while we didn't expect to stay in that house for more than 3-5 years, either, we never thought of it as a temporary situation.

We loved that house, excitedly made plans for it, worked to make it better, and treated it--in every way--like a home. I think that's why it hurt me so much to hear occasional negative feedback after showings of the house. A commenter on the blog put it perfectly in saying that to potential buyers it was just another house, but to us, it was a home. Our home.

I have to admit, my eyes leaked a little on the drive down our old street. Even Forrest, who has rarely mentioned the old house since our move, excitedly pointed it out as we drove past, then sadly remarked that he would like to move back home now.


I certainly don't regret selling our house. That's what made it possible for us to get out of debt, and truth be told, I would have sold far more precious things than the house to get that load off our shoulders (non-essential organs, for instance) (I kid) (somewhat). And soon enough we'll be buying another house, one that will hopefully fit even more closely with what we need and want and envision for a more long-term home for our family.

But two thoughts gave me some peace as I sniffled wimpily through my homesick drive down our street. The first was that our old house looks loved. The lawn was neatly trimmed, the rose bush was in full bloom (and looking far healthier than it ever did under my inexpert care), and a cute wreath was placed on the door. We made so many happy memories in that house, and it looked to me like its new owners are loving that place every bit as much as we did, and making memories of their own.

And the second was remembering that we took that dive of a house and made it a place that our family felt happy and safe and truly at home. We're all together, making memories here and now, and well on our way to being able to buy another home that hopefully we'll be spending far longer than 3 1/2 years in. And I'm just feeling so grateful for this sweet family of mine, and that I have the wonderful job of being able to create a home for them to fill with memories of laughter and hugs and great meals and sharing stories and bedtime kisses. And I can do that anywhere.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer Field Day + JELL-O Giveaway




This post is sponsored by JELL-O brand.

To beat the end-of-summer slump, I threw my family and friends a fun and casual field day party. We had an awesome time, and it was such a great way to get out and have some outdoor fun, despite the heat!

fun summer field day party

fun summer field day party

frozen arctic grapes

pudding dirt and worm cups

green theme field day party

I went with a green theme for the food and decor--it felt fitting for this hot and vibrant summer we've been having. For decorations, I just used a few dollar store basics: a white plastic tablecloth hung on the wall, a green plastic tablecloth over the table, and some cardboard stars taped to the backdrop. Simple and inexpensive, but festive and cute.

We had our get-together around lunchtime, so I pulled together a bunch of simple finger foods that the kids and adults could grab and munch on while they played. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cut them into quarters for easy snacking. I also set out popcorn, grapes, 'worm' sand + dirt pudding cups, green strawberry-kiwi fruit juice, and Arctic Grapes.

pb+j party sandwiches

JELL-O Arctic Grapes

The arctic grapes made with JELL-O Lime Flavor Gelatin powder were such a fun snack to have. They were tangy and delicious, and so refreshing in our hot, dry weather. You can find the recipe here to make them yourself.

The kids loved playing games in the water. We divided them into teams to transfer water from one bucket to another using small plastic cups. They thought it was so fun, and we loved cheering them on while they raced back and forth, sloshing water all over themselves along the way.

fun outdoor water games

fun outdoor water games

We also played 'pin the petal on the flower,' keeping with our 'green' theme. And of course, I forgot a blindfold, so this game was played on the honor system (no peeking!). We have a bunch of little cheaters on our hands, it turns out. But they had fun anyway.

pin the petal on the flower

My final party game involved placing cookies on the kids' foreheads and encouraging them to get the cookies to their mouths without using their hands . . . and it was a monumental failure. Forrest ended up in tears, and some of his little friends didn't seem to see the humor we parents found in watching them try to scootch a cookie across their faces and eat it hands-free. So we quickly bailed on that game and the kids went back to splashing water all over each other.

pin the petal on the flower

We had such a fun day playing with family and friends, and I can't wait to throw another little shindig for us all to enjoy!

Thanks to JELL-O brand for allowing me to partner with them to throw my family field day summer party. I had a blast! Already planning to try this at home with your little ones? I'd love to hear how it goes in the comments below. For more inspiration visit: http://jello.com.

For more ideas be sure to check out Krystal’s Kitsch.

Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, August 14, 2015

Forrest's Avengers Birthday Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BDayOnBudget #CollectiveBias

Forrest has been counting down to his birthday since about 3 days after his last birthday. And he's actually got about 2 more weeks before his big day arrives (and thank goodness for that, because I am feeling more than a little weirded out by the idea of having a 5-year old), but that didn't put even the slightest of dampers on his excitement for his Avengers birthday party.

Avengers Birthday party

As a general rule, it's pretty difficult to nail this kid down to a concrete idea. In the months leading up to Halloween, he changes his mind every 20 minutes about what his costume should be. As Christmas approaches, he starts every day by rattling off a list of different, previously unmentioned toys he wants to see under the tree. So I expected him to toss out 18 different ideas for birthday party themes (and I was prepared to veto 17 of them, since I am not an elaborate party thrower), but he surprised me by spouting off one idea only--superheroes--and sticking with it as his birthday drew near.

I can handle superheroes. The 3-tier birthday cake he requested, though? Not so much.

Avengers Birthday party

Avengers Birthday party

Avengers Birthday party

I headed to Walmart to pick up these awesome MARVEL party supplies by American Greetings. I kept the decor simple with a red table cloth and star confetti (to represent his favorite hero, Captain America), themed place settings, and a birthday banner. I particularly loved using a different Avengers mask at each setting. Forrest wore his for hours, and went to bed in it, too. I don't expect to see his face for quite a few more days.

Only mildly creepy to see Captain America wandering around the house, requesting cupcakes. Forrest expressed some concern that with the mask on, he has "a grown-up man head but still a little boy body! (dramatic sigh) I just wish a was a big man already." Gonna have to disagree with you there, buddy. I hope your little boy body sticks around for a very long time yet.

Avengers Birthday party

(That pose, by the way, was uncoached. Give credit where it's due--you do you, little dude. You do you.)

Avengers Birthday party

I have to admit, party planning stresses me out in a serious way. I dread the days and weeks leading up to birthdays because I know I'm expected to produce something extraordinary and I just cannot handle it.

But throwing this party was absolutely a delight--I basically just wiped out the Avengers section of the party aisle at Walmart, ordered a pizza and frosted some cupcakes, and called it a day. So simple to pull together, but Forrest absolutely loved it. He declared it "the best birthday ever!!" many, many times.

I didn't have to do any projects, or go crazy with decorations, or spend tons of money to make his birthday special. I kept it simple with a fun table, kid-friendly food, budget-friendly party items, and just let the children have a fun time together without stressing.

Avengers Birthday party

Avengers Birthday party

Avengers Birthday party

Without a doubt, my favorite element of the party is the fun party favors. My talented sister (of Ritzy Reba fame) whipped up these darling favor bag tags to match our superhero theme:

Free printable for these adorable superhero party tags!

I spotted these MARVEL tumblers while buying my party supplies at Walmart and thought they would make the perfect alternative to traditional favor bags.

I bought one cup for each guest, then stuffed them with tissue paper. Add some party goodies like pencils, hero stickers, and candy, then use curling ribbon to fasten the tags:

Free printable for these adorable superhero party tags!

Free printable for these adorable superhero party tags!

Every bit as easy as stuffing a treat bag, but I love using the Avengers cups instead! Forrest is always so excited to drink from cups with characters he loves, so I liked the idea of sending the guests home with favor cups they could keep and use.

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the back side of the tags--it has Captain America's emblem, since he is Forrest's favorite hero. To use these printables, right click on the images to save them, then print them out at home. If you want the Captain America emblem, turn the paper around after printing the first side and send it through again to print the emblem on the other side.

 You can find all my party supplies in the celebrations aisle at Walmart.


What was your best birthday party ever? 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Deep Thoughts with Forrest #14

deep thoughts with forrest

While Forrest was grumping around about who even knows what,
Jeff: What are you so mad about?
Forrest: (shouting) I'm not mad!
Jeff: You look mad to me.
Forrest: (shouting, near tears) This isn't mad!!! This is angry! They are different!!!

Forrest often comes home from church repeating kind of weird-sounding stuff that I guess he learned in class, but has certainly misunderstood and put his own childish spin on. And hearing his religious thoughts are usually a mix of young sweetness and sorta creepy ideas. After his church class on a recent Sunday . . . 
Forrest: Did you know that when you pray, it invites the Holy Ghost into your body?
Me: Um, I guess I knew that, yes.
Forrest: But the Holy Ghost does not have a body! He has no mouth to talk to you with! So do you know how he talks to you?
Me: How?
Forrest: He dings.
Me: . . . what?
Forrest: He dings! Like a little bell!
Me: . . . no . . .
Forrest: YES! And it sounds like this--*ding!*
Me: 

deep thoughts with forrest

In the car recently, we had to pull over while an ambulance zoomed by with the siren and lights on.
Forrest: Oh dear! Does that mean someone is hurt somewhere?!?! Or is the ambulance just practicing?!
Me: Well, someone is probably hurt.
Forrest: Oh dear.
Me: Yeah. Maybe we could say a little prayer that the person who is hurt will be okay?
Forrest: No thanks, that won't do anything.
Me: . . . yes, it could help. Heavenly Father will hear our prayer and maybe he will help the person.
Forrest: No, because he's not real.
Me: 
That's our little atheist.

Jeff took Forrest out to buy a birthday present for me, and Forrest was excited to choose a gift for me. Also, as a reminder, Jeff is a chiropractor.
Jeff: Are you sure you want to spend all your money on a present for Mama?
Forrest: Yes!
Jeff: Won't you be sad if you don't have any more money?
Forrest: No, I can just make more money.
Jeff: Oh yeah? How will you earn more money?
Forrest: Well, I will treat people.
Jeff: Treat people? What does that mean?
Forrest: I'll treat people! If people have ouchy backs, they will come to see me, and I will treat them and give them adjustments, and they will get better, and they will give me money.
deep thoughts with forrest

At the library, Forrest spotted a mom sitting at a table while her daughter played nearby. He strolled right up and, uninvited, took the seat directly across from her.
Forrest: Hi! My name is Forrest, and I was wondering if you would like to hear everything about me?
Lady: 

At the grocery store
Older lady: What a nice looking pair of kids you've got there!
Forrest: Yeah, and I'm even friendly, too!

deep thoughts with forrest

Telling me about something he saw on Sesame Street . . . 
Forrest: So then Culver said--
Me: Who?
Forrest: Culver the Grouch. He lives in the garbage can.
Me: Oscar?
Forrest: Ummm, no I think it's Culver.

He's taking a jiu jitsu class and earned his first stripe on his white belt this week. He's really excited about the idea of moving up and earning new belts, and seems confused about how exactly that happens.
Forrest: So I can get a black belt like my coach has?
Me: Yeah! You'll need to practice a lot and work really hard.
Forrest: Is there another way to get a black belt, without the practicing and working?
Me: What do you mean?
Forrest: Like, can I get one with some money?
Me: You can't buy a black belt.
Forrest: (dramatic sigh) FIIIIINE.
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