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!

Dirt Cake


Throughout the years I have seen multiple versions of this recipe online, even some for variations that resemble Kitty Litter, but this was the recipe my mom used to make and I figure why mess with a good thing.  My husband claims this is his favorite cake, so it was fitting that I made it for him for Father’s Day.  If you have not had the pleasure of having dirt cake, you don’t know what you are missing!  This is especially a big hit with the kids!

Speaking of kids… and I suggest you do this as well… while making this cake I managed to fool my oldest son into thinking it had REAL dirt in it.  Once I got the cookies processed I took them in a bowl outside and announced that I needed to dig up some dirt for the cake.  All he saw was me coming back in with the bowl of “dirt”.  I explained to him that though the cake had a real dessert pudding type filling and gummy worms (because who wants to eat REAL worms?!) it also called for real dirt and that mixed together it tasted really good.  Being a 6 year old boy, he was fairly easily convinced.  Putting real flowers in the cake erased any doubt he might still have had (he didn’t know I used straws to keep them out of the cake).  I am actually quite surprised he tried it lol.  Of course once he had a bite he knew it was cookies.

Perhaps your kids won’t be fooled, but I promise they will love the novelty of this cake as much as the taste and it makes for quite an impressive presentation!  It’s also quite easy to make!  I will list out the things you need to make it look like a real dirt cake, but please know these are optional, and you can certainly  make it and put it in any bowl if you don’t want to bother with the flowers/pot.  For a fun and tasty variation my mom used to make this with chocolate pudding and thin mint girl scout cookies.  And I can say that a lower fat version is still quite tasty if you are trying to watch your calories!

 

Dirt Cake

Things you will need :

  • flower pot (my pot is about 9.5 inches wide at the top, and about 7.5 inches tall)
  • real or fake flowers
  • if using real flowers straws that fit the diameter of the stems
  • foil or wax paper, or perhaps a bowl that fits inside the pot if you can find one (you just may want something to keep the cake from falling out the bottom of the pot depending on what type you have)

Ingredients :

  • 1 Family Sized Pkg. Oreos
  • 1/4 C. butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 12 oz. cool whip, thawed
  • 2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • gummy worms

Directions :

  1. In a large bowl whisk together pudding and milk for a couple of minutes, taking care to get out the lumps and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Add the pudding mix and combine.
  3. Fold in the cool whip and set aside.
  4. Using a food processor, pulse the cookies until they form “dirt”. 
  5. To assemble, place a little dirt at the bottom of the pot (or bowl) and alternate between that and cream until you get to the top, which should be completely covered in dirt so you can’t see any of the cream.
  6. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours to help set.
  7. If you are using fake flowers you can just stick them down in and you’re ready to go.  If you are using real flowers however you are going to need to stick them into the cake using straws.  What I do is stick the straw in, measure where I need to cut it, pull it back out (this is messy so be careful not to disrupt the cake) and then make the cut.  You can likely cut them all to the same length at that point.  I also found it easiest to insert the flower (I used Gerber Daisies here) into the straw before putting it back into the cake.
  8. You could decorate the finished cake with a couple of the worms, but I wouldn’t suggest putting them throughout the cake before serving because they could get soggy.  I usually put a couple in each dish when serving.

Recipe from My Mom ♥

dirtcake

Published in: on June 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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