Becoming a stay at home mama was a big adjustment for me–especially during the first few months of Ellie’s life. My life consisted of a lot of sitting, more sitting, and a whole lot more sitting. Our baby needed to rest and grow, And never before had I experienced something as physically traumatic (and wonderful) as childbirth, so I too needed to slow down and do a little healing. So we sat. And we slowed down. And it was neither better nor worse than my previous or future situations, just simply different.
We spent countless hours on the couch watching Netflix marathons, napping (Oh how I grew to love napping), snuggling, feeding, and sipping on warm lattes that daddy would bring home.
Now that Ellie has gotten a bit bigger (and sturdier) she is ready to be more active, and we’ve experienced baby boredom more times than not. At first it was simply wanting something new to look at while she laid flat on her back. Now, she gets frustrated because she can’t move towards things, grab objects, or even sit up. I think my sweet baby will have a bit of an impatient side (but don’t we all if it’s for the right thing). For moments in our day we struggle through the frustration and those moments have rewarded us with milestones like rolling over! And for other moments I like to lift her up to curb her grumpiness and take her with me. She lives in an adult world, with the majority of her surroundings designed for adults so no wonder she gets bored down there on that floor! There isn’t much to look at!
So I slip her into our baby carrier. We fold laundry, we do loads of laundry, we vacuum, and we even bake for the portions of the recipe where the oven or stove are not involved. And today we did just that–we made pizza. And I mean WE. Ellie swung in the swing while I added the sour dough starter, flour, some water, salt, and olive oil to our mixing bowl. And we chatted while the dough hook went round and round and by the time it was time for the dough to rise, we set it high above the refrigerator on a shelf and Ellie was ready to settle in for a nice meal and then a long nap in my arms.
And then when my daughter was awake and ready to explore again, we pulled the dough down to take a quick peek. Suddenly I had an idea. I sat her little butt down on the counter and placed the dough in front of her. This shiny ball of dough was her perfect toy and something she’d never seen before. Supporting her little body I watched her dig her sweet little fingers into the dough. Her eyes got wide at the texture. I’ll never know what went through her mind, but I’m glad we played.
My sweet girl, I hope you grow up not just knowing recipes, but with a deep understanding of what goes into them–the smells, the textures, the way they look–the way they change because of the little amounts of love that we put into them along the way.
My life certainly has changed in many ways, but in others it has not. I still perform a lot of the same daily tasks I would have before. It’s just that now, I get to do so in the company of someone else. And it’s funny, how a little company can make a task you’ve done 10,000 times, feel like the first time all over again.
Penne Alla Vodka Pizza
- 1 package raw pizza dough, or homemade pizza dough
- 1 cup penne alla vodka sauce (see below for recipe)
- 2 oz penne (about 1/3 of a cup. A little goes a long way with pasta)
- 1 cup arugula
- 1/4 mozzarella cheese
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 minced shallot
- 1 clove garlic, or 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 c vodka
- 1/3 c heavy (whipping) cream
- 14 oz (or one half of a 28oz can) of crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 (or a pinch) of red pepper flakes
- In a medium skillet throw 1 tbsp of butter and melt it on medium heat. When guessing, turn your heat and burners onto the lower end because it is quiet easy to burn butter, and garlic. I do it all the time.
- In another small pot boil some water with salt and a sprinkle of olive oil.
- Throw in your shallots and cook for about three minutes, until they have softened. Then throw in your garlic and cook for about two more minutes. Garlic burns easily so keep a watchful eye.
- When your water comes to a boil cook your pasta until it is al dente (or mostly cooked but just a bit ‘hard’). Drain your pasta and set it aside.
- If using gas or open open flame remove the pan and add the vodka. If you’re using a glass top don’t worry about it. This is just for fire safety. Then mix in your tomatoes and your red pepper flakes. Cook for about 7-8 minutes until the alcohol has cooked off. You’ll be able to tell. When you smell the mixture it won’t smack you in the face with the smell of pure alcohol.
- Then add your heavy cream and turn the heat to medium low. Simmer the mixture for another 5-7 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally, and when it has thickened remove it from the heat. Immediately take about 1/3 of this mixture and toss your cooked pasta in it. Then let both the pasta and the rest of your sauce cool completely (about 30-45 minutes).
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F
- Dust your work surface lightly with flour and roll out your pizza dough into a 12 inch…anything really. Circle, square, sometimes mine look like ovals. Just roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
- Place your dough onto a pizza stone or a baking sheet. If you are using a baking sheet pop the raw dough into the oven for about 8 minutes. If using a pizza stone don’t worry about it. This step is so the pizza dough cooks and crisps up thoroughly and so you’re not left with a soggy middle. When the dough begins to brown around the edges pull it out!
- Smear about 1/3 cup of the vodka sauce onto the pizza. Smear generously–we want a nice thick layer, leaving a 1 inch rim around the entire pizza to leave room for the crust!
- Then add the pasta. Evening spread it all over the pizza.
- Sprinkle with your mozzarella cheese
- Pop back into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch the pizza and check on it every five minutes. When the cheese begins to bubble and the edges start to become a deep brown it is DONE! Pull it out.
- Toss your arugula in olive oil and sprinkle on top of your pizza.
- Enjoy 🙂