March Break Fun with the Kids

March Break is officially on and hanging out with the kids can fill up a lot of time and can also be tricky when you are balancing other things throughout the week. My kids enjoy the usual relaxing things kids enjoy like watching movies, hanging out with their friends, playing video games and I like to think they enjoy food too. Not just eating it but playing with it to make creative and fun food. I thought this would be the perfect week to do just that. Taking an afternoon to just have fun and fool around a bit in the kitchen.

Inviting kids in the kitchen usually brings curiosity with them and hopefully intrigue to their palates so that they will then taste their creations. It doesn’t always work that way, as I know from experience but there have been times when I think because the kids have helped make it then they will surely eat it, unfortunately not always the case!

This time I thought I would start with something that they all like-pizza. Well not pizza but pizza dough. This is a great weeknight meal or fun time weekend treat or in my case something to have fun in the kitchen with.

The great part here is that you don’t have to make your own if you don’t want to. There are some great quality pizza doughs you can purchase, that are available in whole wheat varieties too.

Most store-bought pizza dough is about 1 1/2 lbs (750 g) or pretty close to that weight. You can create a variety of different things with that amount alone. With St. Patty’s day around the corner I thought some clovers would be in order, so our first adventure with the pizza dough was to use half of it to make clover buns. They are super simple!

Clover Bun Rolls

Half package of pizza dough

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter, melted

Sea salt

1. Cut the pizza dough into 36 equal size pieces. Roll each piece into a little ball (this is where the kids came in super handy!). Spray muffin tin with cooking spray or brush with some oil and place 3 balls in each muffin tin. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.

2. Let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes to let them rise a bit. Bake in 400 F (200 C) oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm.

Makes 12 buns.

Making the pizza too of course:

Now of course we did have to make a pizza too and here is where some arm muscle gets into it. Kids have fun using rolling pins that are larger than they are and making small little pizzas for themselves. It is truly a fun thing to watch. Letting them be creative and choosing what they want on their pizza can be interesting too. My oldest son will have any and all the meat he can fit on a pizza while my younger son would prefer just cheese. Now my daughter decided that she wanted hers plain so to that I said just cheese? “Nope mommy, nothing”. So she was the proud owner of a piece of flatbread for dinner!

I like my pizza crusts thin so rolling them out can be tricky. Let the dough come to room temperature and use a little flour on your work surface. Roll it out and let it rest in between so that you don’t feel like you are fighting with the dough. Kids may feel this frustration if younger, but older kids think its a race and the pizza dough is winning. At any rate, my recommendation is to bake your crust on a pizza pan that has mesh or holes in it and bake it at about 425 F (220 C) in the centre of your oven until it’s golden and crisp. Tasty perfection provided it has the toppings that everyone asked for.

And we couldn’t forget a sweet treat. So I thought the perfect ending to our pizza dough madness would be cinnamon rolls. With the same dough, we used about half of another package of pizza dough and rolled it out into a rectangle and brushed it with melted butter. My daughter patted down some brown sugar to cover the dough and we both sprinkled it with cinnamon. My excitement was building-she usually doesn’t like cinnamon. So I was certain this was going to be a winner with her, it still was pizza dough!

Well hold the presses because she asked if she could taste the cinnamon and she did. Nope not this time, not gonna happen. She didn’t like the cinnamon on it’s own. And you know what many don’t. We associate it with sweet things but itself is not sweet. Happily she helped me finish rolling and slicing the rolls and she brushed the tops with more butter. Again we let them sit and rise a bit before I baked them at 400 F (200 C) for about 20 minutes until they were golden and the sugar was bubbly.

What a workout! Not much clean up really either. It was more fun than anything else and it surprised everyone that from some pizza dough we created a few different things and I kept the attention span for more than 10 minutes. Probably because we changed what we were doing 3 times but not my much. Sometimes the simpler things in life are truly the best and pizza dough just happens to be one of those things right in our kitchens!

Emily’s Pizza Dough

Here is my favourite homemade pizza dough. It makes under 1 lb (500 g) of dough so you will need at least 2 to make any 2 of the above recipes. It can be made ahead and frozen too if needed.

Pinch granulated sugar

2/3 cup (150 mL) warm water

2 1/4 tsp (11 mL) active dry yeast

2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour

1. In large bowl dissolve sugar into water. Sprinkle with yeast and let stand for about 10 minutes or until frothy. Whisk in olive oil and salt. Add flour and scrape out onto floured surface and knead until dough forms. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

2. Knead again on floured surface until smooth dough forms. Place in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let stand for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Makes about 1 lb (500 g) dough.


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