But what if you promoted your kids to Chefs for an evening and helped them to make their own pizza themselves? Cooking with your kids doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster. (See what I did there? Recipe for disaster? No, please don’t throw your tomatoes at me! You may need them later.) You don’t need to be a proficient cook to make pizza. Cooking with your kids can be fun and easy, plus it helps them develop life skills such as following directions, self-control, and cooking. So let’s make some memories and get to it!
First, what IS pizza? Pizza can be authentic and proper and artisan, but most pizza isn’t. Italy doesn’t even have a Domino’s. To me, pizza is a carb topped with sauce topped with cheese and miscellaneous bits. This gives us great flexibility! Now instead of kneading bread dough while your kids try to lick the flour off of the table, you can use something more simple like French bread cut lengthwise in half, English muffins, or pita bread. Most bread products will work well. Hey, don’t you have some hamburger buns leftover from dinner the other night? Now you can use them up to make kid pizza. You’re welcome. And if you really want to make pizza dough from scratch, then by all means have at it. I usually make pizza dough in my bread maker, but today I will try something new.
You can also be wildly creative with sauce, but your kids might appreciate sticking with the old standby tomato sauce. I have a go-to pizza sauce recipe for which I always have the ingredients on hand. Honestly, your kids won’t care whether or not the sauce comes from a jar or not, so if an extra recipe gives you anxiety, get the jar. (Life hack: You’re doing this last minute and need something quick in your pantry? Use plain spaghetti sauce. Your kids won’t notice the difference. Heck, I’m not sure I would).
That leaves the toppings. The standard cheese is mozzarella, which is thankfully easy to come by, but feel free to experiment with whatever you’ve got hanging out in your cheese drawer. And now the fun part: toppings! The toppings can be just about anything. Open up your fridge and see what you’ve got. Chances are you’ve got pizza toppings in there and didn’t know it. You’ve had pizza before, so I won’t go over the basics, but don’t look over that leftover taco meat, bacon, broccoli, corn, etc. You’d be surprised how many veggies you can get your kids to eat when you let them put ‘em on their own pizza.
Alright, do you have your ingredients? I do!
Today I’ll be using French bread and English muffins for the crust, homemade pizza sauce, and a variety of toppings including pepperoni, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced olives, chopped red onion, chopped red pepper, and shredded chicken (the last three were leftovers I found in my fridge).
Prepare your ingredients. Chop up the toppings if you need to and slice the bread. My French bread wouldn’t sit flat, so I made it flat by slicing a bit off of the bottom. If you have older kids that can help with this step, now’s the time to teach them knife safety and let them assist.
Alright! We’ve got those pizzas topped and ready to go. Now, there are two ways of cooking them. The easiest is to bake them the old-fashioned way. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F and arrange your pizzas on a baking sheet. When the oven’s hot, throw them in and turn on the oven light so your little chefs can monitor for doneness. Turn on the convection function if your oven has one; it helps the cheese get nice and golden brown. It’s also not a bad idea to clean up your work area while your pizzas are baking.
Get excited and dig in! You’ve earned it.
I hope that you and your kids enjoy this activity as much as we do. Now why don’t you make an evening out of it and pop in a family movie and cuddle with your little chefs? (Ratatouille, maybe?)