Project Kids In The Kitchen : Pizza Night


Food is such an important and amazing part of life.  I feel bad for those who are not truly enjoying their food, and think of it only as a necessary substance to fuel their bodies.  Of course it does that, but it is so much more.  Food brings people together, and makes memories that last a lifetime.  Food comforts you.  Food shows people you care.  It excites and impresses them.  Food can take you on a journey, or make you step out of your comfort zone.

Obviously I love food.  So it kills me that my own kids don’t share that appreciation of trying new things.  They are crazy picky, and each has a small list of foods they typically eat.  I do have hope that someday they will come around, since I was admittedly a bit on the picky side myself as a kid, but I just don’t want them to waste so much time getting around to it.

My mom was a great cook, and knew the recipes in her repertoire like the back of her hand, never using a recipe or measuring things.  She wasn’t one to deviate too far from her comfort zone though, and so I wasn’t exposed to many different foods as a kid.  My kids have the opportunity to try a lot of different things, but getting them to do so is often like pulling teeth.

I have thought long and hard on many occasion about ways to make my kids try food, and always come up empty handed.  Ideas I thought would work, failed miserably, and I am left feeling discouraged and annoyed.  It occurred to me that I wasn’t really adventurous in my food choices until I got out on my own and started having to cook for myself.  I know as you age your palate matures, and so they wouldn’t appreciate some of the dishes I typically make, but I began to think MAYBE, if I could get them involved with what I was making they would not only learn valuable lessons in the kitchen that would serve them their entire lives, but maybe they would also be a bit more adventurous in their food choices.

So with loads of ideas racing through my mind I decided to carve out a part of this blog to hopefully share with all of you their transformation into little foodies with a jumpstart on kitchen skills…. or at least more tolerable eaters lol.

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For our very first installment of what I am calling Project Kids In The Kitchen (or KITK) I decided to go with something that I knew would be fun to make, and also something I knew at least one of my kids was crazy about.  I am planning to ease them into the more adventurous stuff later on.  As I mentioned, KITK is not just about trying new foods, but also teaching them valuable kitchen skills that they will use the rest of their lives, and hopefully help them skip over that period of time when kids first start out on their own and their best friend becomes a microwave when they no longer have mom to cook for them.  So in honor of my oldest’s favorite food, it was PIZZA NIGHT!

It made me excited that the kids were so excited about KITK.  My youngest asked for days each morning when he got up if it was that day.  In order to make a lasting first impression I went all out.  We made everything from the sauce (well one of them anyway, let’s not get TOO ambitious on our first run lol), to the dough, and grating our own cheese (more to come on that).  It was definitely a success, but there was an added bonus I wasn’t really planning on of just some good quality family time spent together.

Probably the hardest part was trying to document the process at the same time through photographs.  Not only is the light dreadful in my kitchen, leaving me quite restricted in where and how I could set up, but it’s not easy running back and forth to take pics while trying to teach, so I enlisted the help of my husband as well.  I apologize in advance for what will probably be a lot of pictures….

Things we learned today :

  • How to properly measure flour
  • The importance of dry and wet measuring utensils
  • How to make White Sauce
  • Time management and planning ahead
  • How to use yeast
  • How to knead dough, and flour our surface
  • How to roll out dough
  • Stove safety, and they watched me fry some proscuitto, and wilt some spinach
  • How to use a cheese grater… and how not to.
  • The art of assembling a pizza
  • Following a recipe, and directions

We started off by making the white sauce for my youngest’s pizza.  Even with this option pizza is usually a hit or miss for him, so I wanted to make sure I gave him his best shot to succeed with this.  We made just a basic alfredo sauce with butter, cream, and parmesan cheese.  And very importantly… we each tasted it when we were done.  This is something I want to encourage when cooking so they are not only more mindful of what they are making and how flavors go together, but of course to trick them into trying new things lol. Here are two eager boys (though you won’t be able to tell from their cheesy and bored expressions in these photos lol) ready to get started! _MG_0964-1 And diving right in! _MG_0978-2 _MG_0982-4 Once that was done we moved on to the dough.  We made two batches so we’d have enough for 4 pizzas.  I decided the best way was to show them how with the first batch, and then let them do the second while I took pics.  While they waited for my yeast to activate I had them measure out their flour so we’d be ready. _MG_0986-1 Watching the yeast provided some excitement… though they weren’t much impressed by the smell lol. _MG_0988-1 Once our dough was mixed, it was time to knead.  This proved a bit difficult for them, but they gave it their best shot anyway before I finished them up. _MG_0993-1 _MG_0994-2 Dough is proofing in the oven while we clean up and get ready for the next step. _MG_0996-3 Time to master the cheese grater… or in my youngest’s case, learn some respect for it!  Even though he knicked himself a little, he was a great sport and didn’t let it keep him from trying again, and it’s good that he learned this lesson.  Heck, who hasn’t cut themselves with a knife, or knicked themselves with a grater or peeler before?  As you can see they took these tasks very seriously lol. _MG_0999-1 _MG_1002-2 _MG_1005-3 Our dough was ready to roll out, but first the kids thought it was hilarious that we had to punch it down…. it’s the little things lol. _MG_1009-1 _MG_1010-2 _MG_1014-3 _MG_1021-4 Now comes the fun part of assembling the pizzas!  We had a mini success before we even finished because both kids tried proscuitto and spinach, with the youngest even opting to make one slice of his strictly cheese and white sauce pizza have some torn up proscuitto on it (which he loved). _MG_1022-1 _MG_1024-2 _MG_1025-3 Masterpieces ready to go in the oven!  And of course a shot of the final product for good measure.  Also not shown, we made two other pizzas for my husband and I.  His was some meaty concoction of course, and mine was my attempt to copy-cat my favorite pizza from The Rock. _MG_1031-1 _MG_1034-2 _MG_1035-3 _MG_1037-4 When all was said and done… and it was sort of a long day in the kitchen for sure… we all had a great time, and everyone enjoyed the pizzas they made from scratch.  Thank you for making it through this long, and I suppose personal post.  I hope that our adventures in the kitchen inspire many of you to get your own children in there as well, and I would love to hear about it from you!  Time to start planning our next dish!

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