I think my son Jack has a crush on a family from our church. Actually, I know he does. He asks to go to their house or for them to come to our house at least five times a day. In fact, when we recently asked him what kind of birthday party he wanted to have this year, he replied that he wanted to have a party with this family as the theme, a “Smith party.”
So of course I have been trying to coordinate a time for us all to get together and let all of our children play. But between the weather and people fighting sicknesses, figuring out a time that works for both families has been very difficult. Finally, this week, we have planned a playdate. Hallelujah!
Now, I love to cook and I really love to cook for people. It’s one of my favorite things to do and can serve as a tangible way to show people we care. Hospitality is something that I pray that my children will grow to appreciate, both as recipients and as givers. Getting them involved in planning and preparing food for our guests is a good place to start.
In all, there will be eight children and three adults eating lunch at our playdate. I offered to make a sure-to-please meal of pizzas. When I asked Jack to help me decide what kind of pizzas we should make, his winning combination was chocolate, marshmallows, and spicy mustard. Hmmm. While I appreciate that these are some of his favorite foods right now, I thought it best to channel his creative palate to a more probable combination to please our guests. Chocolate, marshmallows, and peanut butter it is.
Cooking with your kids can be challenging. Even just having kids in (or near) the kitchen during food prep can be stressful. So why bother? Why not save everyone’s peace of mind and keep the kids out? Well, we have seen several benefits from inviting our kids into the kitchen to help or to be near. We expect to see many more as they get older and more capable.
Here are a few of the benefits we have seen that you may want to consider when you are deciding if it is worth the effort to have kids in the kitchen:
- Companionship. The first benefit is simple. Kids like to be with us. Putting up with a little extra mess (and maybe a little headache) means an opportunity for memories to be made and relationships to be strengthened.
- Learning. Our oldest, Jack, is three and a half years old. His mind is a sponge and he constantly amazes me with the things he knows and remembers. We have discussions about food groups, why our muscles need protein, the benefits of eating a variety of colored foods, and the difference between healthy food and junk food, among other things. I’m not sure when we would talk about all this so much if we weren’t together handling food so often.
- Kitchen Skills. Obviously, cooking together also means that our children learn how to cook. In the future I will share more of what and how we teach our kids to cook and use kitchen tools. For now I will just say that during our time together in the kitchen, our kids are learning to recognize and use different tools, learning food and kitchen safety, and learning the various processes in preparing food.
Okay, now onto our chocolate, marshmallow, and
mustard peanut butter pizza.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients.
Gathering ingredients is a good job for little hands.
1 1/3 C all purpose flour
1/2 C hot water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 C chocolate morsels
1 C marshmallows
1/4 C peanut butter
1/4 C plain Greek yogurt
toasted coconut (optional)
Step 2: Make Your Pizza Dough.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together 1 C flour, salt, and yeast. Stir in hot water. Add enough remaining flour (1/3 C) to make a soft dough that is no longer sticky. Knead the dough a few times on your clean counter, adding flour as needed. Cover it with a dish towel and let it rest while you measure out your next ingredients.
Step 3: Assemble the Pizza.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Mix together the Greek yogurt and peanut butter in a small bowl. Stir until well combined. (You can leave out the yogurt if you’d like, but it helps to make the “sauce” creamier and keeps the peanut butter from overwhelming the overall flavor of the pizza).
As Gordon Ramsey would say, “taste everything”!
Butter a round pizza pan. With buttered hands spread the pizza dough onto the pan. This makes a thin crust pizza so carefully spread it out to the edges.
Spread the peanut butter yogurt sauce over the dough. Sprinkle the chocolate, marshmallows and toasted coconut evenly over the pizza.
Encourage your children to only eat a few pieces of the
toppings since they’ll be eating a slice of pizza soon.
Then sigh and shrug when they ignore you and continue to shove sweets
into their mouths as they occasionally put some on the pizza.
After all, it’s about the fun and memories, right?
Step 4: Bake the Pizza.
Bake the pizza at 450° for 10 minutes. The marshmallows will scorch a little. I enjoyed the flavor–made me think more of a campfire s’more. If you don’t like your marshmallows toasted, loosely cover the pizza with a piece of greased foil halfway through cooking.
Step 5: Cool, Slice and Enjoy!
Dessert pizza picnic.
Top with fresh whipped cream and conveniently
ignore the fact that you still can’t fit into your Spring clothes.
Step 6 (Optional): Repeat again for your special guests.
*This pizza crust recipe is from tammysrecipes.com. It is my go-to pizza dough recipe that I use multiple times a week for pizza, calzones, etc.