by Amanda Goetz
I like food. No, scratch that, I love food. LOVE. I love buying it, I love cooking it, I love photographing it, and most of all I love eating it (as my three stints with Weight Watchers can attest to). My love affair with food started early, like, before Kindergarten (I ate my cereal while watching Yan Can Cook, remember that show?). My grandma would get me to help her in the kitchen – baking cakes, making soup, taste testing (totally my favourite part) and stirring as much as my little arms could take. I had an Easy Bake Oven waaaay before the manufacturer’s suggested age and baked my very own cake in the oven all by myself when I was 7.
My mom was a cook for the first 18 years of my life. She cooked all day for other people and by the time she got home she was too tired and too sick of cooking to make dinner some nights, so I started making dinner for our family when I was in high school. I loved it! I flipped through magazines and cookbooks (no internet then, I’m old yo!) and watched cooking shows on TV looking for new ideas and recipes.
So with all that you’d think I went into the Culinary Arts in college right? Nope, my artistic side called and I became a Graphic Designer. I continued to cook and bake whenever I could and when I met my husband I won his heart with my Barbeque Baked Ribs and Hand Cut Fries (still his favourite meal!). A little voice in my head had been nagging at me to try out cooking professionally, so I took a job in a restaurant and after only a couple of months I became the sous chef. Restaurant kitchens are stressful and political (there’s a reason why Gordon Ramsey is always in such a bad mood!) and my days there left me not only physically exhausted but also emotionally drained. Back to designing professionally and “cooking for fun” it was.
Then blogging became popular, and my love of showing off my confections finally had an outlet! I started my blog and it has been so fun trying new recipes and sharing them with the world. My four year old, Lily, has been watching me cook and bake and her interest in helping has been ignited. She wants to help stir and pour and, of course, taste test.
Kids are way more capable than we give them credit for, and the more we involve them in the kitchen the more they’re willing to try new foods. Lily loves helping out on Pizza Night. In fact, the whole family has a hand in Pizza night. I make the dough and prepare all the ingredients, my husband rolls out the dough and “makes” the pizza and Lily gets to help him by placing the pepperoni on (more go in her mouth than on the pizza but whatev) and then she helps sprinkle on the cheese. She’s always so proud of it when it’s done and we make sure to tell her how yummy it is!
Pizza night is an easy and fun way to get your whole family into the kitchen and cooking. If you don’t have time to make your own dough, most grocery stores sell frozen balls of dough in their freezer sections or you can use Naan or Greek pitas and everyone can make their own! The point is to have fun in the kitchen and build lasting, special memories, like the ones I have of cooking alongside my Grandma.
Homemade Garlic & Herb Pizza Dough
1 1/2 c warm water (80-90˚F)
3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
3 3/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp bread maker yeast for pizza (if not using a breadmaker use quick-rise)
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
1. Add ingredients in the order they appear and mix on the dough setting of your breadmaker. If you don’t have a breadmaker, you can use a stand or hand mixer with dough hooks or a food processor with a dough blade (you will need to allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, punch it down and allow it to rise a second time).
2. Check the dough after about 5 minutes to see if it’s too wet or too dry. Add either flour or a bit of water to help with consistency. If you touch the dough and you get it stuck on your finger you need to add a bit of flour (1 tbsp at a time), if it isn’t forming into ball nicely, add a teeny bit of water.
3. Turn out dough onto a lighly floured work surface and allow to rest under a tea towel for 5 minutes.
4. Roll dough out to size on a pizza stone or pizza sheet.
5. Bake for 8 minutes in a preheated 400˚F oven.
6. Remove and top with sauce and your favourite toppings.
7. Return to the oven and cook for an addtional 16 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
For a great homemade pizza sauce recipe packed with veggies your kids will never know are there, visit my blog here.
Amanda Goetz is a WAHM to 3 kids under the age of 5. Her love of cooking was fostered when she was a preschooler helping her grandma in the kitchen. After a year long stint as a sous chef, she left the industry to continue cooking as a hobby before the stress and politics of a professional kitchen killed her love of cooking. Now she creates delicious dinners and delectable desserts for her family and friends and blogs about it at The Best Mom on the Block.