Cooking with Kids {Basic Pizza Dough}

I love cooking with kids, my mom cooked with me, I cooked in my classroom and my two girls have been in the kitchen with me from early on. Now I am not going to say it’s easy, cooking with children. What’s easy is taking a picture of your child cracking an egg and then once the picture is taken it’s like “okay, you’re getting it all over, get out!” Am I right? The key is to go in knowing it is going to be messy and if you have multiple kiddos then there is always going to be a fight. BUT, it’s good for them, good for their brain and if you have your wine glass full, a little easier on you!

Kaili picked a pizza dough recipe out of her cookbook and read me the ingredients.

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup water

1 package yeast

2 tbs olive oil plus 1 more for the bowl

2 tbs sugar

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

Combine sugar, water and yeast in a measuring cup or small bowl.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.

Pour yeast mixture and oil in well and stir into dry ingredients until you have a soft dough.

If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Knead until smooth on a lightly floured surface.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled.

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How simple is that? Now the hardest part is a toss up between the clean up or the refereeing.—> Take a big sip of wine!

Once I put the dough on a hot baking sheet, they slathered on store bought pizza sauce {it was a weeknight meal y’all} and cheese. Anything else in their mind is “gross”. Side eye.

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And voila! A cheese pizza that they both ate and didn’t kill each other over!

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Thanksgiving and Homebound

We had a very nice and low key holiday. I don’t know why I say “low key” because there were 17 of us but since the kids were so entertained it felt, well calm.

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The girls had so much fun with their cousins, it’s too bad we don’t live closer.

No one went hungry. We had Brie en croute and plenty of snacks,  ham, turkey, all the side dishes and a plethora of desserts which I couldn’t even manage to eat until late that night.

I didn’t take any food pictures which is very odd and I have no excuses.

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We  woke up way too early the next morning to hit the road, home bound. We drove from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, went through five states and saw much of nothing but the girls did amazingly well considering. A good book doesn’t hurt either.

imageWe stopped for the night in Bishop, Ca. Luckily there was a Holiday Inn express with one room left that suited our needs. Once we were checked in we headed to a small Italian place for a decent pizza and then to bed so we could do it all over again But since we went so far the first day, the second day was much shorter. We pulled into San Diego by lunchtime.

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Would You Like Some Wine With Your Pumpkins?

Friday,we hit Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center. I was wrong to think it wouldn’t be overly crowded on a Friday, wrong I tell ya. We started with the petting zoo, Kaili was slow to warm up to the animals but I ended up having to bribe her out of there with a pony ride.

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She had no fear on her first equine, she quite enjoyed herself. Grandma and Grandpa, we would like a pony for Christmas.

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After grabbing a pumpkin, taking the obligatory pumpkin patch photos we hit the road. We had some wine to taste.

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We brought our growlers to refill at Triple B winery. Sat, sipped, and nibbled away while Kaili enjoyed the great outdoors.

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We found our stomachs rumbling and our palates teased so we headed on over to another winery for more sips and some damn good pizza.

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Pizza and Pumpkins

Friday evening Kaili was invited over to a friends house to pick a pumpkin. My friend has a serious green thumb and I feel like a bad human being when I go to her house because her backyard is like a little farm and I can’t even grow tomatoes in a container.

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Saturday I found myself with leftover blue cheese and Pears from our Farm Fresh delivery. I knew that I wanted to put them on a pizza with some arugula because I heart arugula . Sprouts didn’t have any pre-made pizza dough, are they done with that? So I was forced to make my own. I used this Martha Stewart recipe that only required an hour rise time, perfect.

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Preheat oven to 450.

Once the dough was rolled out i brushed garlic + olive oil onto the dough and baked it for a few minutes. Then I threw on some mozzarella, crumbled blue cheese, roasted pears and red onions and baked for 10 minutes, toss on some arugula and return to oven for a few more minutes.

I would actually recommend using gorgonzola instead of blue. The cheese was so strong that it overpowered the other flavors.

Paleo Pizza #2

This pizza has an eggplant base crust. I will be honest when I first saw the recipe I hemmed and hawed and tried really hard to keep the negative thoughts to myself. I reminded myself It was Father’s day and this is what he wanted, so don’t be a bitch.

This crust was pretty easy to make, peel an eggplant, grate it, squeeze out the liquid and mix in a few more ingredients…done.  I followed this recipe for the measurements and ingredients  but when it came to cooking it I more or less followed the cauliflower crust recipe. The two crust recipes were so different in cooking temperature and time but I was pretty sure they didn’t need to be and I was right. I cooked the eggplant crust on a slightly higher heat for a shorter amount of time and it was fine. I did however flip the crust over in the middle of cooking like the original recipe suggested, didn’t want to get too crazy.

I was highly surprised by how good this was as a crust. As Shane said, “you wouldn’t want to make bread sticks out of this”. Alone is has a slightly bitter flavor so use this for a pizza with strong flavors. I put caramelized onions, goat cheese, arugula, prosciutto, tomatoes and basil and it was delish. The sweetness of the onions is amazing with goat cheese…just saying.

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Eggplant Crust

1 eggplant, peeled and grated

1/4 cup Almond meal

1/4 cup Flax seed meal

1 egg, beaten

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Grate eggplant with a cheese grater, discarding the skin.

Place grated eggplant in a clean dish towel, and squeeze over a sink to remove excess liquid.

Pour grated eggplant into a large mixing bowl.

Add in the flax meal and almond meal.

Whisk egg in a smaller bowl and add to batter.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix until ingredients are evenly combined.

Pour out batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Smooth batter out with hands into a thin layer about 1/8 inch thick.

Bake for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown, then remove the crust from oven.

Lightly grease another piece of parchment paper with olive oil, and place on top of crust. Carefully flip the crust and then slowly peel off the parchment paper from the bottom side.

Brush the flipped side lightly with olive oil. { I used garlic infused olive oil }

Return to oven and cook 8-10 minutes until golden brown and edges are crisp.

Now you can add your topping and pop back into the oven until cheese in melted 7-10 minutes.

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Paleo Pizzas {Pizza #1}

What do you get a man that doesn’t need anything? That is what I always struggle with when it comes to buying Shane {or my dad for that matter } a gift. So for Father’s day I told Shane I would make him anything he wanted for dinner, he decided on Paleo pizza. I made two, one with a cauliflower crust and one with an eggplant crust, both with the same toppings. I thought it would be easier to decide which crust was better if the toppings were the same.

So, were they good? Yes, the cauliflower crust has a really good flavor but it is delicate and can’t hold a lot of toppings. You have to make sure you squeeze all of the water out of the cauliflower or it will take forever to cook. The edges get crispy and you can taste the cheese, yum. We didn’t have any leftovers but I don’t think this crust will hold up well over time.

The eggplant crust is easier to make and like the cauliflower you need to make sure to squeeze all of the water out, I had Shane help, man hands are better at this. This crust is sturdier and crispier than the other and overall resembled more of a “real” pizza crust. The eggplant crust is  the better of the two with toppings but alone it had a slightly bitter taste.

So if I had to choose, I would use the eggplant crust with a pizza that has a lot of strong tasting toppings and the cauliflower crust for a more mellow pizza like the Margherita or plain cheese.

These are the toppings I used.

No sauce just some garlic and olive oil.

Mozzarella + Parmesan + Goat cheese

Prosciutto, caramelized onions, fresh arugula and fresh basil { I added some chopped tomatoes on pizza #2 }

Cauliflower Crust  I used this recipe and it was spot on.

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1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower – should yield 2 to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg
optional 1 tablespoon almond meal

Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and ring the heck out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.

Dumped ringed out cauliflower into a bowl. Now add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want. I also added 1 tablespoon almond meal because my cauliflower yielded closer to 2 cups of cauli snow, this is optional and I would not add the almond meal if you have closer to 3 cups of cauli snow. Now add your egg and mix away. Hands tend to work best.

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.
Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8 – 11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.
Add your toppings and then slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.
Allow to cool for a few minutes then cut and serve.
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Caramelized Onion, Brie and Blue Cheese Pizza

I have been on the hunt for the best pizza dough recipe. The last time I made a Cooks Illustrated 24-hour-cold-rise dough recipe, and it was good but it was a bit of a process to make. This time I tried this recipe from Bon Appetit. [Dad, you would be proud!] This is by far the best home-made pizza crust I have ever had. Thin, chewy, crispy and tastes like REAL pizza crust.

I came across a recipe for a caramelized onion, Brie and gorgonzola tart made with puff pastry. I thought that sounded pretty damn good but even better on homemade pizza dough. So that is what I did and it was AMAZING! I am talking fancy-shmancy-top restaurant- style pizza.

*Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

Pizza dough

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 cups of sliced onions, sliced root-to-top in thin slices

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 oz chilled Brie cheese, rind removed and diced

2 oz crumbled blue cheese

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Directions

Heat pizza stone in a 500 degree oven for 45 minutes. Meanwhile,Heat oil in a large deep pan on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until wilted and starting to brown. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook gently, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until richly caramelized. Add a little water if the onions look like they are starting to dry out. Cool.

Roll out pizza dough and measure to fit your pizza stone.

Take out the pizza stone, reduce oven to 450 and quickly put your pizza dough onto the stone. Sprinkle the onions all over your dough, dot with both cheeses and bake for 14-16 minutes.  Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and thyme. Let cool for a few minutes if you can wait, cut and enjoy!

Prepared to be wowed!