[AD] During half term we had the pleasure of heading along to the Pizza Express test kitchen in West London for a very special pizza making party.
In usual fashion we arrived once the party had started to a room filled with plums of flour and happy little faces; the boys couldn’t wait to get stuck in!
The dough was kneaded and spun like true professionals and they were then given a whole host of toppings to fill their base with.
A smiling face seemed to be a running theme amongst a lot of the children and it was lovely to see their creative minds at work; this leads me on to letting you know about a fab competition that allows the little ones to use their brilliant imaginations to create their own pizza that if selected could end up on Pizza Express’s very own Piccolo menu.
All you need to do is head over to the Pizza Express Site and select four toppings from a choice of 20 for your very own pizza and then give your creation a super special name to make it stand out from the crowd!
I know that my little ones would be over the moon to be able to visit any of their restaurants and order their very own creation.
The competition is open until Monday 17th June 19 and is open to all children up to the age of 13.
Once the children had finished their pizzas they were popped into the oven to cook whilst they took part in a game of pin the moustache on the waiter which proved to be very popular.
With the smell of pizza in their air everyone got scrubbed up and ready to eat. The meal obviously started with their infamous dough balls, followed closely by their very own pizzas.
For me Pizza Express is the only restaurant we visit that Frankie and his allergies are completely catered for. He doesn’t have to put up with a completely separate/bland menu but instead he can indulge in exactly the same food that the rest of his family and friends enjoy without any worry. From the soft and squashy dough balls to pretty much any pizza he fancies and to finish it’s not just a bowl of fruit or a boring lolly; he can have a ice cream…well sorbet that he never notices the difference with and even a gooey chocolate brownie!
It’s has been one of our top restaurants for family dining for a while now and after our pizza making extravaganza it will remain there for a long time to come I’m sure.
We are all back into the swing of things as far as the school run goes here and all the good intentions of wholesome packed lunches and after school snacks have been wavering a little.
The kids are coming home with untouched food in their pack lunches and with the stress of trying to juggle everything after school we have been reaching for the crisps and biscuits a little to often of late.
What I need is something that takes as little time to prepare as possible, is healthy and nutritious but appealing to the kids.
This is a big wish list but luckily enough our favourite baking mixes Sweetpea Pantry have come to our rescue with their scrumptious carrot cupcake mix and their super-duper brownie mix.
We are big fans of their ginger giggles biscuit mix and the playful pizza dough mix already and were eager to try out these new additions.
For me it’s really important to get the children involved in the whole process of preparing their food as I strongly believe this goes a long way to make them more inclined to try new things and gives them a real sense of achievement.
The preparation of both these mixes was so quick and easy – in fact the whole process is complete in less than 30 mins.
There was the addition of few simple store cupboard ingredients such as oil, honey and eggs all mixed together with the packet mix that is then transferred into cake cases or tins, baked for around 15 mins and is then ready to eat.
Each mix is packed full of nutritious ingredients and yummy whole grains whilst leaving all the nasty refined sugars and artificial colours and flavourings out.
The super chocolatey brownies where a great hit after school when the kids are crying out for something sweet really quickly.
The cupcakes were moist and fruity and the perfect size for packed lunch boxes.
These mixes are so easy to tuck away in the cupboard and just grab as and when you need them so what is not to love.
Saturday nights should be about rubbish food and easy watching TV with the family.
With number four’s allergies the biggest no no is pizza so instead of ordering a big greasy takeaway we love to get the kids involved and make our own pizzas so that number four doesn’t get to miss out on the fun.
This allergy friendly pizza crust recipe is fine for the whole family but to be honest the others prefer a normal base.
We let the children chose which topping they like and let them get on and get creative.
Here is my pizza crust recipe if you fancy giving it a go:
Allergy Friendly Pizza Crust
- 450g Wheat Free Flour
- 3/4tsp Xanthan Gum
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2tsp Baking Powder
- 1tsp Sugar
- 1tbsp Yeast
- 360ml Warm Water
- 1tbsp Olive Oil
- Preheat the oven to 180C 160CFan or gas Mark 5.
- Combine half the water with the yeast and leave for about five minutes. Add the sugar after the first few minutes.
- In another bowl add the flour and baking powder and mix well.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture, oil and the rest of the water. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
- Take the dough and place onto a floured surface and form your pizza base. Place into a lightly greased tray and cook for around 30mins.
- Remove from the oven and cover with a tomato sauce base and your favourite ingredients.
- Place back into the oven and cook for another 20 mins.
We had a selection of cheese, ham, pepperoni, sweetcorn, olives and peppers.
The children loved the whole process and cleared their plates.
What is your favourite pizza topping?
In our house homework is one of the biggest causes of arguments!!
Getting them to start it, keeping them on task while they are doing it and explaining things they get stuck on without causing World War Three is no mean feat.
So when number three informed me she had to chose and prepare a dish from India I knew it would take more input from me but would be enjoyed much more than the usual pile of worksheets.
We settled on onion bhaji as they are a favourite here and seemed quite easy for a nine year old to cook by herself. Here how we did it:
- 2 eggs
- 3 thinly sliced onions
- 120g plain flour
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1 clove garlic
- 3tbsp vegetable oil
Firstly beat the eggs in a large bowl.
A bit at a time add the flour, coriander and cumin and mix well.
Add to this the sliced onion and coat well with the mixture.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add tbsp sized blobs of mixture to the pan and fry for a minute on each side.
Once cooked leave to drain on some kitchen paper.
After school my children are always both bored and hungry; so to avoid sticking them in front of the TV with a snack tonight we killed two birds with one stone and prepared our own snacks.
Painting bread is super easy and loads of fun. It also requires very little equipment so I’m sure you will all have the bits indoors to get started.
Firstly get yourself some small pots and mix together some milk with a few drops of food colouring to create the colour that you would like.
We used oat milk so it would be ok for number fours allergies, but any milk would work.
Next grab some white bread and paint brushes and get to creating whatever design you wish.
Once they have created their master piece then allow to dry a little before toasting.
As you can see number four was not to happy with waiting!!
We simply buttered ours but you could add any topping you like. We also saved a few slices to make colourful sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch boxes.