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Pizza Night!

Pizza Night!

Let the kids make their own pizza – it's easy, fun, and more delicious than a pie delivered to the front door!

By Barbara Albright

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When you make pizza at home, you and your kids can design the pie to meet every taste. In the process, the kids learn some cooking skills and everyone gets a wholesome meal.

Make-your-own-pizza is a great idea for a slumber party or birthday bash for pre-teens and teenagers. Set out the toppings and supervise the cooking – the kids will do the rest.

Store-Bought or Homemade Crust?
You can buy very good pizza dough in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, which makes pizza-making simple. If you prefer to make your own, follow a reliable recipe.

Using a bread machine to mix and knead the dough cuts down on labor. Most machines come with recipe booklets.

The Shape of the Pizza Pie
Pat the dough into a circle or rectangle or divide it into several pieces for mini-pizzas. The shape is up to the imagination.

Some kids might want to think "out of the circle" and form oval, triangular, square, or heart-shaped pies. They could also fashion cars, footballs, houses, or animals.

Pat the dough with lightly floured hands on a lightly floured surface. Form a low rim around its edge.

Toppings Galore!
Your family's favorite jarred spaghetti sauce is a good place to start when you begin to assemble toppings. If you prefer to make your own sauce, all the better!

Look for sauces with flavor accents other than the traditional: Mexican, spicy, meaty, cheesy, or creamy. All work well.

Cook ground meat, bacon, and sausage meat before adding them to the pizza. This can be done ahead of time, since they will heat in the oven.

Firm vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, and onions benefit from quick sautéing or blanching. Softer ones, such as tomatoes, roasted peppers, and fresh herbs, can be placed on the pies raw. Mushrooms work either way, although they do better pre-cooked.

Drain toppings well. If they are too wet, the pizza will be soggy.

Choose shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan. Also consider shredded jack cheese, Cheddar, and provolone. Some kids might like to try American, Fontina, Swiss, or feta cheese.

Preheat the Oven and Go!
A good pizza requires a hot oven, so preheat the oven about 20 minutes before you think the pies will be ready.

If you have a pizza stone, use it. This is a tile that heats up in the oven and then helps maintain an even heat. Pies baked directly on the stone form crispy crusts.

Top the pies. Begin with a coating of sauce and then scatter the other ingredients over it. Don't overload the pies.

Grease the baking sheets and set the pies on them. Bake them until the crusts brown around the edges and the cheese is bubbling.

Remove the pizzas and cut them into wedges with a round pizza cutter or kitchen shears. Serve them with a green salad – or just "as is."


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