This is the time of year (unfortunately) I start thinking ahead to the beginning of school again! But rather than getting into my classroom, I start thinking about what I can do at home. Preparing a few make ahead meals is always my goal! Doing this saves me loads of time and stress, especially those first crazy weeks of the school year.
One of our family favorites is homemade pizza. We have pizza at least once a week, but we rarely order out. Occasionally we have frozen pizza, but we really love to make our own. I grew up making pizza. My dad would buy frozen dough, let it thaw, then roll it out to make a few pizza crusts. Everyone could personalize their part (or whole) pizza and make it with whatever sauces, cheese and toppings they chose!
Although those pizzas were delicious, they required a long time in the oven to make sure the dough was fully cooked. We also had store bought crusts, and these were quicker, but not quite as good in my opinion.
Then I found a recipe for make ahead pizza crusts that was simple, easy and delicious!
MomsByHeart.net shared this recipe for make ahead crusts. (There is also a recipe for sauce that I’ve not tried, but would like to!). I’ve adapted the crust recipe slightly here.
2 packages active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1. First, combine the yeast, warm water and olive oil in the bowl. Let the yeast sit in the water for just a few minutes (while you prep the other ingredients!)
2. Then, add the flour and salt and use the paddle attachment on the mixer and knead for 5 minutes. (If you don’t have a mixer, you can do this by hand… consider it exercise!)
Sometimes I find that it is too sticky and needs a little more flour, and sometimes it is too dry and needs a few drops of olive oil or water. The dough should be sticky, but not so much so that it won’t form a nice ball!
3. Put it into a bowl that is lightly covered in oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it about doubles in size (about 45 minutes to an hour).
4. Divide the dough. If you plan on freezing them, you will want to make sure they fit into the plastic Ziploc bag! The recipe makes six “equal” sized balls of dough which turn into about 10-12” crusts (but no matter how hard I try, they never come out the same size!)
5. Set the sections of dough back in the bowl and let rise for another 5-15 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 500 ℉ (Yes that hot!)
7. Roll each crust out
8. Bake for 3-4 minutes until they can hold their shape well.
9. If you want to freeze them, make sure they cool completely, place in a sealed bag. They will stay good for several months!
When making the pizza:
1. Preheat oven to 425℉
2. Take the crusts out of the freezer (the crusts do NOT need to thaw ahead of time) and add any toppings you want!
3. Cook the pizzas for 7-10 minutes. Usually, the more toppings, the more time. Just watch carefully!
We love to customize our own pizzas with different toppings. I usually like to have crusts on hand for when guests come too. It’s a great alternative to ordering out, and people have fun making their own pie! You could even have a BYOT (bring your own topping) party and enjoy exchanging flavors! The possibilities are endless!
Every year near the beginning of July, a blueberry farm near us opens for U-pick!
We like to jump at the chance to pick our own! These berries are always bigger, juicier, and some years even cheaper than what you can find in the store. This year, I braved the farm with the two kids on my own. Although it was not a super productive picking session (it didn’t help that my son was fascinated with the porta potty), we had fun and brought home a couple pounds of blueberries!
The next week meant several blueberry treats!
Top three recipes:
Blueberry Muffins – This was the first (and most obvious) choice. My son really wanted to make them and “helped” bake some delicious, bursting with flavor muffins. I used the recipe here from Once Upon a Chef. Using just a touch of almond extract when baking tends to give the treats a little extra delicious flavor! I added a few more blueberries and about a half cup of oats (because that is all I had and obviously adding oats makes it healthier) and didn’t use any of the turbinado sugar. The muffins still turned out great!
Blueberry Pancakes – We had these tasty cakes a few times before our stash ran out. Typically, we just use a pancake mix and add the blueberries to the batter, however if you want to make your own pancake mix, you can use the recipe here.
Blueberry Bars – I made this recipe from AverieCooks.com with the intention of them being a dessert, but actually ate a few for breakfast too! One thing about this recipe: if you plan to cut them into bars, make sure to WAIT until they are cooled. I tried to rush things and the first bars ended up being a complete mess. However, the bars taste delicious warm! Add ice cream or whipped cream for extra indulgence. It’s got fruit, which puts it on the healthy side, right?
Also, you can simply add a handful of the juicy berries to any type of cereal or oatmeal. Quick, easy and still awesome.
There are so many more recipes out there for blueberries that would be great too! We even drove out to the farm again. My husband came with, so we managed to pick a few more pounds than I could the first time! You can bet that we will be making more blueberry treats!
A Roundup of Toddler 4th of July Hand print (and foot print) crafts!
Most people enjoy the middle of summer holiday with some good food on the grill, time off from work, and watching some fireworks. But if you have littles at home, fireworks may be too loud or too late to see! Instead, you could make your own holiday crafts. And of course, include the hand or foot prints of the kids! Here is a quick round up of some 4th of July handprint (or footprint) crafts for your littles! Why not try one of these for the holiday?
Really, you could do this project for any holiday! For the 4th, use patriotic colors and arrange the hand prints around in a wreath. You could do different hand prints of all your kiddos! Thanks for the idea, Decorating with Dodi!