Kid Tested, Toddler Approved: Pizza 1-2-3!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Seriously, this cannot get any easier. Whenever my husband works late on a Friday night, I make a point to really up the fun for the kids. So we usually do a family movie night with homemade pizza and cupcakes. Since it's Friday and I'm pretty wiped out by then, I take lots of shortcuts to put together a meal that looks like it took all day. And the best part? It's super kid-friendly and your kids, no matter what age, will have a blast making all of it with you.
For the cupcakes I simply buy a box mix of their favorite and make it according to package directions. If the kids are old enough, they can help you stir and crack eggs to involved them in the process and teach them a little too about baking. Then I'll scoop out the batter myself and we'll bake them off. I'll frost them and let the kids put on sprinkles. It makes a mess but they have a blast doing it.
Then for the pizza, just follow this simple recipe. I let the kids choose and add their toppings. Add some popcorn and drinks and it's a fun (and healthier!) night with their favorite video.
Veggie Pizza with Chicken Sausage
1 package store-bought pizza dough (plain or whole-wheat)
your favorite marinara sauce
1 fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
1 cup leftover cooked broccoli
2-3 chicken sausages, cut into very small bites and cooked
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp frsh basil, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Roll or stretch out each piece into a disk about 1/4 inch thick. Use some flour to help you if the dough is sticky. Place disks on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spoon out about 1-2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top; less if you like it drier, more if you like it saucier. Using the back of your spoon, spread it out evenly leaving a 1 inch border around. Top with some sausage, broccoli, cheese and basil, and season with some salt and pepper to taste if desired.
Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and crust is just turning golden brown. Let stand 2 minutes before cutting and serving.

My Notes:
Obviously the topping options are endless. Chicken sausage is a healthier alternative for kids (and adults!) for fattier Italian sausage or spicy pepperoni. If you like those, then by all means go for it. My kids love broccoli so I add some left over from the night before or some broccolini I quick-blanch in some water. You can also add asparagus, bell peppers, olives, onions...whatever toppings you and your kids love.
You don't have to make your own marinara sauce just for this. Although I do, I also always have a back-up jar or two in my pantry for quick meals or emergency situations. I love Emeril's marinara, Batali's marinara, Trader Joe's organic marinara, and Gia's from Whole Foods. But you can of course use any kind you like! If you like it spicier, try a jar of arrabiata sauce!
Pizzas were invented as a way to use up leftover ingredients from main dishes and pastas from during the week. Why not apply the same logic today? I always have some pizza dough on hand, or make it quickly in a food processor. Have leftover roasted chicken? Cut it up and add some pesto sauce or marinara and top with cheese. Left over veggies? Same thing. It's a great way to use up leftovers and psychologically you can get the kids to eat the veggies and "good stuff" since they're technically eating a treat.

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