Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cooking with the Kids: Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza

If you're following the meal plan, then you probably expected to see Asian Style Braised Short Ribs posted today instead of this pizza. Sorry, no short ribs. I forgot to thaw them. Ooops. Instead, we're having burgers on the grill tonight. Since you've all probably seen what a grilled hamburger looks like, I thought that I would post about the pizza that we made last Friday night.

When I first saw this recipe on my friend Kim's blog Stirring the Pot, I was so jealous of her homemade pizza crust and sauce. I am going to do this! I thought. Week after week I typed "Pizza with crust and sauce from scratch" into my meal plan. Week after week I stuck to my old habits, patting a refrigerated crust into my pizza pan, pouring on the sauce from a jar. I've made my own pizza dough in the past. Although only once since I began this blog, with my Deep Dish Chicago Style Pizza. But Kim's thin crust version caught my eye. I love her blog, by the way. So many yummy recipes, fun "throw downs" comparing recipes, and most recently she is making a "Popsicle of the Week" just in time to beat the heat this summer. Speaking of beat, she's still got me beat with her amazing, from-scratch pizza. I didn't make my own sauce. I still need to do this. I remember making and canning pizza sauce when I was a kid with the plethora of tomatoes grown in our garden. As much pizza as we make, I may add pizza sauce to my summer canning list this year. You can check out Kim's pizza sauce recipe HERE.

As I gathered my ingredients to begin the pizza dough, I realized that I only had rapid rise yeast. This wasn't really a problem, it just meant that I needed to deviate from the recipe and combine all of my dry ingredients, including the yeast, rather than proof the yeast in warm water first. You just skip a step. I also opted to replace a cup of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Back in my teaching days, we always used whole wheat flour on pizza lab days. It never hurts to sneak in a little extra nutrition. Hey, it's family is going to eat it no matter what.

With my mixer running, my daughter poured in the warm water. My kids love cooking projects and this was a fun recipe for them to help with. My daughters have both been standing on a chair beside me in the kitchen since before they could walk. Sometimes it's a lesson in patience for me, but I'm starting to really see how these lessons in the kitchen pay off (especially with my oldest). She's learning measuring skills, practical chemistry, nutrition lessons, clean up skills,and the feeling of accomplishment and pride that come with taking a bunch of separate ingredients and turning them into a delicious finished product. She's finally at the point where she is actually helping me in the kitchen, rather than "helping" me in the kitchen. At 5, she can retrieve items from the pantry and even grab the correct utensil or pan when asked. She can stir a sauce to keep it from sticking while I complete another step in a recipe and she can pour water while I take a picture. : )

In addition to teaching lessons and receiving a little assistance, I find that there is additional advantage to cooking dinner with my distracts them from the dinnertime "melt downs". For those of you that have small children or remember the days when your kiddos were small, you know what I'm talking about. For whatever reason, maybe they're tired and hungry, I find that the "melt downs" peak around dinner time in my house. This is especially challenging for me because 1) I'm trying to accomplish something (getting dinner on the table), and it's frustrating to stop what I'm doing and deal with "drama" and 2) I find that my patience seems to be at it's lowest by the time that evening rolls around.

I'm not proud to say it, but sometimes all of these factors combine for the "perfect storm". Some days my poor husband walks through the door to find me screaming "Stop fighting!" and the kids wailing and fighting over a Barbie dress (or whatever the coveted object of the hour may be). On my worst days, I find myself yelling, "Just let her have it!" Which, in retrospect, is a stupid instruction, because for once my child actually listens to me and in fact, lets her sister have it. Uh oh. Not good. "Bad day?" My husband inquires upon noting the look of desparation in my eyes and the vein popping out in my neck. Well, not until 5 minutes ago...

Now that the weather is nice, I send them outdoors to play while I cook, but when that's not an option, I now try to come up with little tasks for them to complete in the kitchen and we all cook together. Melt down distraction. Yes!

Okay, so that's what 5:30 pm looks like in my house some nights. Feel free to empathize. Now back to the pizza. Here's the water going into the dry ingredients.

I mixed until the ingredients were mostly combined and then...

I traded in my paddle attachment for the dough hook and mixed it a little more until the dough formed a ball.

Now the fun begins! I turned the dough onto my pastry mat and agreed to let the girls help me knead it. Of course, the "melt down" tried to make an appearance as the bickering over who would knead the dough began. Arrgh! I implemented a "5 squish rule". Squish (or knead) the dough 5 times and then pass it to your sister.

If you've never kneaded dough by hand before, just press the heels of your hands firmly into the dough, pushing forward slightly.

Then, fold the far edge of the dough upwards, towards you, and press it into the middle of the ball. Rotate it slightly, too. Repeat this press-fold-turn sequence for the duration of the kneading process.

If you're admiring my daughter's lady bug manicure, that's a custom paint job by me (per her request). Clearly, I was meant to raise daughters.

My toddler tried her hand next. She also made sure to breathe heavily on the dough to give it that little extra special somethin'. By this time, I was taking some deep, cleansing breaths of my own.

Fact: toddlers have germy little hands. Even if you wash them first, their fingers will wander into germy places while you're cooking. I'm just sayin'. Thank goodness we baked this in a 425 degree oven. Cooking with my kids has definitely taught me that I have to "let go" a little. It's not easy. I can be a bit of a perfectionist and control freak. Patience is not my strong suit. This is good for me. Exposure-based therapy, if you will.

What's gonna work? Teamwork! Wonder Pets, anyone? The girls joined forces in the interest of pizza. It was a beautiful moment.

Finally, our dough was kneaded to perfection. I poured some olive oil into a large stainless steel bowl. I'm loving my new bowls, by the way. I found a set of 3 large bowls at my local Goodwill store for $1 a piece. What a steal!

Plop the dough into the bowl, turn it over once, then cover it with a towel and let it sit someplace warm to rise for about 30 minutes.

Ours more than doubled.

This recipe makes 2-12 inch pizza crusts. I should note that I doubled the recipe, because Kim pointed out that it could be frozen and I wanted to make some for another day. I divided mine into four balls. Then I rubbed two of them with oil and placed them in freezer bags.

I rolled the other two balls of dough into 12-inch circles and transferred them to baking sheets that I'd wiped with oil and lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. I also sprinkled some crushed rosemary onto the baking sheet that held the "grown up" pizza. I love just love a little rosemary baked into my bread.

I turned up the edges to form a narrow crust, then I pre-baked them for 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven. I wanted a nice, crispy crust.

Next, we topped the pizzas. Pepperoni and cheese for the kiddos. Pepperoni and a little bit of everything else for the adults. I topped the pizza for my husband and I with some fresh mozzarella too. YUM! I returned the pizzas to the oven and baked for 10-15 minutes longer, until the cheese was bubbly.

The pizzas turned out great! They were a big hit and the girls enjoyed bragging to their daddy that they had made them.

PIZZA DOUGH FOR THIN CRUST PIZZA adapted from Stirring the Pot.
**MAKES 2 - 12" PIZZAS**

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour (may sub whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose)
1 - (1/4 oz.) package quick rise active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil
olive oil for the bowl and baking sheet
crushed rosemary and cornmeal for sprinkling.

Add flour(s), salt, and sugar to a bowl. Using your paddle attachment on your mixer, stir to combine. Add olive oil and warm water. Combine. Trade in the paddle attachment for a dough hook and beat a little longer until the dough forms into a ball. Knead for 6-8 minutes until you have a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (add a bit more flour if you need to). Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Lightly grease two 12-inch pizza pans. Sprinkle with a little bit of cornmeal and rosemary. Divide dough in half. Place each half on a pizza pan and pat it with your fingers until it stretches over the whole pan. Try to make it thicker around the edge. If desired, pre-bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Then spread with pizza sauce and use the toppings of your choice. Bake at 425 F for 10-20 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot. Makes 2 12-inch pizzas.

Take a portion of dough, form into a ball, rub olive oil over it and place it in a freezer bag (the oil makes it easier to take out of the bag). When you want to make a pizza, take dough out of freezer and allow to thaw before using.

Pizza on FoodistaPizza


theUngourmet said...

Ha! The breathing on the dough made me laugh! I do so love the ladybug manicure! What a fun thing for kids to do in the kitchen. My son would have a blast with this! Great deal on the metals bowls. :)

Julie said...

I like the addition of the whole wheat flour...wonder if my family would notice. Thanks to the Wonder Pets, every time the phone rings, I have to sing "the phone, the phone is ringing!".

Mary | Deep South Dish said...

Great post! Yummy pizza - I had one today myself. Love your little sous chef and I'm pretty sure that dinner time melt down is pretty universal from what I've seen.

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

LOL! I bet it was so good with that little extra germy somethin' :) I understand, I have little germy princesses. I will have to let them make this soon. I'm sure they will have a ball with it!

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

yehah... love homemade dough... and all that help... But I think you meant Wonder Twins...

Wonder twins power activate!

Chicago Mom said...

I love having my daughter help me in the kitchen too! They can learn so much about food and temperatures and measurements, and it's a great way to spend time with them.

Keri said...

Wowza! This looks amazing. I'm printing this and trying this. Your'e amzing... .yikes

Keri said...

Wowza! This looks amazing. I'm printing this and trying this. Your'e amzing... .yikes

Kim said...

How did I miss this post, Krista? Thanks for the shout out! You are so sweet:D
I laughed my tail off reading about dinnertime with the girls. My kids are the same exact way. There is always fighting and drama right as I am trying to pull the whole meal together. Sometimes I roll with it, sometimes I get real frustrated. Patience has never been a strong suit for me.
Your pizzas turned out perfectly! They look delicious!

Christine said...

Wow great post!!! Thanks for sharing. This is a great kiddie activity. I will try this sometime with my kids. If you wont mind I'd love to guide Foodista readers to this post.Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post and it's all set, Thanks!

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