One of my 4-year-old son's favorite things to do is to help cook. I can hear his little voice in my head right now saying, "Mommy can I help you cook?" Then he runs off to get his little stool so that he can see what I'm doing on the counter. Tonight he had a real treat, he got to help make homemade pizza. Pizza is a delicious, easy meal that kids can help with and can't really mess up. It's also really flexible. You can buy prepackaged pizza shells, dough, and sauce or if you're so inclined you can make everything from scratch. Tonight I opted for homemade dough, semi-homemade sauce and already prepared shredded cheese and pepperoni. The result was a huge hit for dinner and cooking with my son brought some much needed enjoyment to my rather long day.
Yum! But seriously so easy and so fun, okay and a little messy, but if it's fun it's usually messy, right? We made the St. Louis Style Pizza Recipe from the Cook's Country All-Time Best Recipes magazine. If you don't have a subscription to Cook's Country I highly recommend it. I have honestly never cooked anything bad from one of their magazines. The instructions are detailed and you can read the background behind each recipe, which I really like because cooking does not come naturally to me; I have to read and research and repeat recipes over and over. But that's beside the point. Like I said before, all you really need is dough, sauce, cheese and whatever toppings you like on your pizza. I prepped everything into bowls so my son wouldn't have to wait around for me to get the sauce ready or the cheese out. This made the whole process run a bit smoother and kept him interested the entire time.
First we took the dough and we rolled it. Yes there was flour all over my kitchen and it took a little longer to allow my son to roll out the dough and then for me to fix it so that it resembled a pizza. But it was well worth it for the excitement in his eyes as he jumped around the kitchen saying, "We need the roller! I can do the roller Mommy!" when he found out we had to roll out the dough for the crust. Plus I'm pretty sure rolling out dough builds hand strength for fine motor tasks. I know, I'm always thinking like a teacher.
Next we spread the sauce over the pizza crust. I tried to have a little more control over this, since sauce stains, but my son was practically grabbing the spoon out of my hands saying, "I can do it myself" as I was trying to at least spoon the sauce on the dough for him. I was going to let him spread it out himself, but he actually plopped the sauce from the bowl onto the dough before I could. After he had ample time to spread around the sauce, it was "Mommy's turn" so that I could make it more even. See cooking with your children also allows you to teach life lessons such as sharing.
After the sauce comes the cheese. My son tried to make mountains out of the cheese and I tried to explain that you can't really move the cheese after it's in the sauce so you have to sprinkle it around evenly. That didn't stop him from grabbing handfuls of cheese and tossing it on willy-nilly onto the sauce. But you can never have too much cheese right?
After the cheese comes the toppings. My kids really only eat plain cheese pizza but my husband is a huge lover of pepperoni so we made two pizza's; one cheese for the kids and one pepperoni for the grown-ups. My son loved to put the pepperoni on the pizza and insisted on pressing them down into the pizza rather than laying them gently on the top; toppings are really fun, but wouldn't even try one. Silly boy.
After 10 minutes in the oven we had ourselves a delicious meal and the cleanup wasn't really that bad. It was an overall great ending to my day. "That's Amore!"