Wednesday, March 19, 2014

filled pockets

School is back from one of the most expensive breaks of the school year. At least in my humble opinion, that's how I view March Break.

Families either pay a dear price to travel to warmer climates, or scramble to find extra daycare or find time off of paid work to spend time with their kids visiting over-crowded, over priced "march break" special attractions.  Or attempting to forgo the lineups and chauffeuring playmates who are still in town, to keep the children occupied.

I'm not complaining.  It was a welcome break from the daily rigours of winter driving, making lunches and homework.  But often I ask, why are the most popular activities that fill March Break the ones that end up emptying our wallets.

I recently read a financial article about "millionaires", with a common theme that's been written about in thousands of "financial" articles:  Money doesn't buy you happiness.

As more gadgets and toys flood the market, I wonder if this is really something that my generation (or the next) can really understand.  As a parent, I've often wondered what kind of example I am to my kids as I covet the latest shoes or salivate going to the hottest restaurant.

Are we showing our kids that we have to spend the equivalent of a mortgage to do or acquire something in order to be happy? Do we really need to spend $200 to see the latest Disney on Ice show when we can enjoy the outdoors and just go skating instead?

It's a tough balance.  As adults, we strive for financial success because money alleviates the burden that comes with the lack of it.  But sometimes we can get carried away with our goals, forgetting that it's not the money that is our is only the means to allow us the freedom to get to it.

Honestly, I'm still struggling seeking the right balance.  I do know that balance might be in the way we view happiness and our definition of success. Working hard, being frugal and investing in our future, is really all about reaping what you sow. And we'll continue to pick our battles when it comes to what we sow.  Although I know we'll still sometimes splurge and empty our pockets to have the latest "shiny object", deep down I know that the happiest moments are usually the priceless ones...when we invest our time and have the freedom of knowing that in the future, our pockets will still be filled.

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Pockets 
(otherwise known as Panini Panzarotti/Mini Calzone)
(Makes 6 pizza pockets)

After discovering that my local Whole Foods sold pizza dough, tomato sauce and MSG-free pepperoni, I've always thought of making my own pizza instead of buying the ones they bake on-site (which I also love). These pizza pockets are easy to make and are much more economical (and healthier) than the frozen ones at the grocery store.  Great to pack for lunches...for a day trip or school lunch.  These were a hit at our house.

  • 750g pizza dough
  • 2 cups of mozzarella (or any cheese you wish)
  • 100g of sliced pepperoni (if you don't have a Whole Foods near you, pre-sliced, additive-free salami found in your local deli section works too).
  • ½ cup pizza sauce (or tomato paste, with herbs)
  • Sliced onions, vegetables or whatever you wish to add to this.
  • Heat you panini press, waffle maker or sandwich maker (I used the panini press/grill)
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal balls.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll out each pizza dough until you have 6 discs, each about ¼ inches thick.  
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the tomato sauce generously on top of the dough.
  • Add the cheese, pepperoni and other ingredients you desire.

  • Fold in half.
  • Place on panini grill and cook for about 5 minutes or until the crust is brown and cooked.
Serve and enjoy!

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