I often get asked what’s it like having kids that range in age from 20 to 11 to 3 yr old twins. And my first answer is “It’s organized chaos!” but my second answer is always it’s fun. Having all the kids home for the holidays or summer is pure madness. There are seven of us (husband, four kids and my mom is with us a lot during the summer and especially on weekends) so while it might seem like utter chaos, we make it work, and enjoy the very casual time of cooking, eating, and listening to music. I am especially glad when my oldest is home because as a college student, she needs to come home to recharge. She is such a great big sister and budding foodie. She likes my culinary style and is always watching me in the kitchen. She knows that one day this will have to be her; she wants a family – a long way away – and will take pride in what food she serves. I am teaching her how to have fun in the kitchen and to “playfully experiment.” As for the younger kids, I believe in getting them in the kitchen as soon as they can walk. We think it promotes healthier eating in kids when they can pick their ingredients and try foods in their raw and cooked stages as well.
Several times this summer we’ve spent time in the kitchen as a family. The two most memorable times have been making pizza and beignets. Here’s a recap of the first time the twins learned how to make pizza and got showered with flour & our most recent attempt to make beignets…trust me it takes practice. Please do not think that my children sit on my counter or that I pour baking ingredients on them daily!!
PS – the kitchen will be a mess but you’re creating memories not just a meal.
We are a family who loves pizza but I must that I’m a bit of a pizza snob. See I’m from Manhattan and my husband is from Brooklyn, so we know pizza and while I don’t want to speak ill of chain restaurants…I’m not a fan. So we tend to make our own. It’s fun, healthy and really delicious. We tend to get pizza dough from our local pizzeria or Publix.
Here’s what you’ll need to feed a family of 6:
- Pizza Stone
- 2 bags of pizza dough
- 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
- Our Favorite is Nello’s Southern – Crafted Premium Marinara Sauce
- Fresh Mozzarella
- 1 bag of Shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Basil – remember to always rip your basil or use a scissor any other method will bruise the basil
- Salt & Pepper…to taste
Now it’s time to cook:
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
- Do not place the pizza stone in the oven
- Heavily dust your surface with flour
- Roll out the pizza dough, if it rips just fold it over with a little flour and water and re-roll
- Roll it to about 1 inch in height
- Make a crust edge
- Top with pasta sauce, add S&P
- Here’s where it gets fun – add your favorite toppings…
- Always end with cheese to that your toppings stay put on your pizza.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the bottom doesn’t bend when you lift it off the pizza stone
- Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes then cut and serve
Here’s what you’ll need to make beignets:
- Rolling Pin
- Cold Water
- Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix
- You can find it in most Walmarts and other chain grocery stores.
- You can also order it online from Cafe Du Monde directly.
- Dutch Oven Cooking Pot
- Vegetable oil or cottonseed oil
- Bag of Powdered Sugar
- Roll of paper towels
I have found that the Cafe Du Monde website gives perfect instructions on how to make beignets at home.
Here’s their tips and tricks:
In a bowl, combine two cups of beignet mix with seven ounces of water. Be sure to measure your ingredients. Remember, sometimes it is hard to measure ingredients exactly. You may have to add a little more or a little less water to achieve a good beignet mix dough, and you may have to make more than one batch to get the hang of it. Mix the ingredients with a spoon until the beignet mix is all mixed with the water. The dough should be relatively soft, like drop biscuit dough. It should not be stiff like pie dough. Do not overmix the dough. You will have tough beignets if you overmix the dough.
Scoop the mix from the bowl onto a well-floured surface. You will need additional flour to roll the dough flat; or else, the dough will stick to your rolling pin and your hands. Flour keeps the dough from sticking to everything. Be sure to use plenty of flour. Roll the beignet dough flat and cut into 2-inch squares using a pizza cutter. From around the edges, you will have scraps of dough left over. Do not try to remix these scraps and cut them into squares. If you do this, you will get tough beignets. Just fry these pieces just the way they are. Your cooking oil should be at 370 degrees Fahrenheit. We use cottonseed oil at the Cafe Du Monde, and we recommend you use cottonseed oil. However you may use any vegetable oil you wish. Remember that the temperature of the oil will drop when you add the beignet dough to the oil. Do not add too many pieces to the oil or else the oil temperature will drop and your beignets will be fry up flat. They will not puff up. The only other reason the dough does not puff up would be if you rolled the beignet dough too flat. Try rolling the dough a little thicker. When you remove your beignets, allow them to dry on a plate covered in paper towel to drain any excess oil. Then coat heavily in powdered sugar. You can even serve them in individual paper bags and allow your guests to add their own sugar and shake!