Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quick and Easy Pizza Crust For Hungry Kids

My daughter loves slumber parties.
She loves throwing them, she loves attending them.

What girl doesn't, right?
It's not until you're a boring adult that the thought of the insanity that is a a house full of excited, noisy, crazy girls gives you a bit of a headache.
So what is a mom to do?

Herd them.  Herd them like cats.
Keep that energy channeled folks!

At least that has been my philosophy.  Keep those little munchkins busy!

A few fun games with dollar store prizes are a given- both a wonderful time-killer and a great way to redirect the kiddos when things get a little crazy.

Personally, I like crafts.
Crafts are fun.
Crafts are time-consuming.
Crafts double as favors the girls can take home.
Generally speaking, crafts are fairly inexpensive (woohoo!).

Over the years we've tried a number of different projects with our guests.  One year I bought big wooden letters from Michael's in each of the girls' initials, spread out plastic trash bags, and let the girls go nuts painting their letters.  When the letters dried I hot glued ribbon to the back so that they could hang their projects when they got home.

Once I bought a couple of packages of plain white T-shirts and some fabric markers and let the girls decorate.  Yet another time I cut sleep masks from sheets of felt and set out craft supplies for the girls to have fun personalizing them.

This time I went with decorating picture frames from the dollar store.
The best part is that if you do much of any crafting you probably have a random bin like I do loaded with bits and pieces of leftover supplies the girls can use!
I'm all for saving money.

Twice I've even made my own invitations- they were so adorable that my daughter asked me to make them again for another birthday!

You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with pizza crust.
I probably would be at this point.  :-)

Well in addition to the kind of craft that involves glue and pom-poms I also like to make dinner itself an activity.  With the exception of the one time that my daughter wanted a taco bar for her friends, we always have the same thing for dinner at these shindigs- pizza.

Make your own pizza, to be exact.

Super simple, guys.

I make up a big batch of dough for pizza crust and split it up in little balls for the girls.

I set them loose on a well-scrubbed countertop with a little flour and some rolling pins.
Some girls go the more abstract, hand-formed, how-silly-can-I-get-this-shape route.
Some girls are perfectionists who won't settle for less than the perfect circle.
You know what?  That's part of the fun.  Let them play.

Yes, play!  I mentioned once how sad it made me when my daughter's friend helped make dinner and was like, "my mom would NEVER let me play with food like this!"

It's called cooking.  Help them learn to love it when they're young.  :-)

Once they've shaped their dough they get to top it however they like.  I put out bowls of sauce and toppings.  For larger parties I tend to have a little more variety (I'm always surprised how many young kids actually want veggies!) but if it's just a few girls I usually limit it a bit (think pepperoni, ham, olives, and pineapple for example).

It's a time killer, a great way to direct energy, dinner, and just an all-around fun activity!

My go-to crust recipe slow-rises overnight in the fridge and I wanted to find a recipe that I could throw together quickly for times like this (or just times when you didn't plan ahead for pizza!) that was also tasty.

This recipe is a winner, guys!
I'll definitely be using it in the future.  It comes together super quickly and it's amazingly soft and silky to work with.  I've made it twice now and it works just as well if you need to make it a little ahead and let it rise normally as it does if you follow the recipe exactly.  Everything I was looking for- enjoy!

1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 C warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 1/2 C bread flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan or baker's peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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