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Cute Lunches: Christmas Tree Pizzette

We made some cute Christmas tree pizzette using my super quick cheat’s pizza recipe and they went down a treat. Leftovers would be perfect to add to a lunchbox.

mini cheat's pizzaCut out tree shapes from a tortilla (or even a slice of bread). We spread a little tomato puree then a sprinkle of grated cheese on top, then added torn spinach for leaves, grated carrot ‘tinsel’ and red cabbage ‘baubles’ (squares of cabbage that you can’t really see in the photo unfortunately).

While they were cooking I cut small stars from a slice of cheese. After they’ve cooked, let the pizzette cool down a bit before adding the cheese stars; I added them too soon and they melted so had to add some more!

What other food do you think would work well as decorations?

I’m linking up to Fun Food Friday, a weekly round-up of fun and creative food by the lovely Grace of Eats Amazing.

Eats-Amazing-Fun-Food-Friday

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Cute Lunches: Pizza Minions

‘Despicable Me’ is one of Nicholas’ favourite films (especially the ‘Banana’ short film), and one or more of his beloved toy minions are regular guests at his tea parties. We have yet to see the sequel, but in the meantime I made some pizza minions.

cheat's pizza, Despicable Me

These are really just a variation on my recent pizza bears, using my Super Quick Cheat’s Pizza recipe.

I cut out oval shapes from tortilla wraps (using kitchen scissors is much easier than cookie cutters), drizzled them with olive oil, added homemade tomato pasta sauce with some hidden veg, and a sprinkle of grated cheddar. I cut the minions’ features from a small piece of courgette/zucchini: thin strips, small circles and various mouth shapes. I added small pieces of grated cheddar for the eyes.

While the pizzas were cooking, I used an edible ink pen to draw another couple of minions on to yellow cherry tomatoes (difficult and messy!).

Cute Lunches: pizza bears

I haven’t posted a cute lunch in many months. I try to pack Nicholas a cute lunch when he goes to nursery twice a week, but usually only manage to take a quick photo of them (if I remember!) with my phone.

I’m sure it will get easier, but it stills takes me lots of time (and thought) to come up with a cute meal idea, although investing in some cute cutters and edible ink pens make even the most boring sandwich instantly better. I’m constantly in awe of the cute lunch makers whose blogs I follow.

My inspiration for these pizza bears came from a photo Bento, Monsters posted on Instagram. Finally something I could attempt! Unfortunately when I got our jar of black olives out of the fridge they had to be thrown away so I had to come up with another idea instead of having Bento, Monsters’ lovely shiny black noses, but I think they turned out quite well.

bento pizza bearsI used my Super Quick Cheat’s Pizza recipe as a starting point, cutting out bear shaped-heads from a tortilla wrap (much easier to use kitchen scissors rather than a knife). I then added homemade spinach pesto (recipe coming soon), some cooked ham and grated cheddar and popped them into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese was melting and the bases starting to turn golden.

As they cooked, I cut out circles of cheddar for the bears’ muzzles, and cut out noses and eyes from a slice of tomato. I added them to the pizzas and then cooked them a little more (only about a minute).

Now the only thing we’re missing is Goldilocks!

Any other ideas, apart from olives, as to what to use for the bear’s features?

Super quick cheat’s pizza

I’ve already talked about hubby’s quest to find the perfect pizza dough, and my Anglo-Saxon efforts and cheats. Here is my biggest cheat of all which hubby happily eats – use a bought tortilla as the base!

For those evenings or weekends when you have no desire or energy to cook, these are perfect and yummy. Use what you have in the fridge, get your littlies to help or just get everything out, turn on the oven and go back to the sofa while the rest of the family make their own!

tortilla pizza

I always have a tube of tomato puree in the fridge and this is perfect for spreading on these pizzas. You could also use pasta sauce or leave it out entirely and have a ‘pizza bianca’. Then the other toppings are completely up to you and your fridge/cupboard. For fussy veg eater Nicholas, I often add some finely grated carrot and he loves it. If you have your own fussy eater, cut the ingredients up small, focus on the lovely colours and use some veg to ‘draw’ pictures on the pizzas.

A drizzle of good olive oil over the top of even the most mundane ingredients makes everything taste better. I like to add a drizzle before cooking and also after ;)

Tortillas come in different sizes. The ones I used for the photo were slightly smaller than a dinner plate and usually enough for one adult or two toddlers. It never hurts to make too many though as they’re also tasty the next day in lunchboxes.

Why not try using some other type of flat bread for your base?

SUPER QUICK CHEAT’S PIZZA

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: approx. 5 mins
Makes 2 adult and 2 toddler servings

3 tortilla wraps (plain or wholemeal)
3 tsp tomato puree
Extra virgin olive oil
Your choice of cheese (eg. shredded fresh mozzarella, grated cheddar, crumbled feta, etc.)
Your choice of toppings (eg. sliced cooked ham, diced cooked chicken, sliced tomatoes, grated carrot, sliced mushrooms, fresh basil, etc.)

Line an oven tray (a heavy-based one if possible) with baking paper. Heat oven to 220C and put the prepared tray inside to heat up (this helps crisp up the bottom of the pizzas).

Put your tortillas on a cutting board. Drizzle each with a little olive oil and 1 tsp of the tomato puree. Use the back of a spoon to spread the puree and oil fairly evenly over each tortilla.

Add your other desired toppings and finish with another drizzle of olive oil.

Open the hot oven and pull out the tray enough so you can slide the pizzas on to it.

The time it takes to cook your pizza will depend on how many toppings you added, but they shouldn’t take much longer than 5 minutes (just keep a close eye on them).

Finish with another drizzle of olive oil and some torn fresh basil if you have it.

What ingredients do you normally have in your fridge or cupboard that would be great on this pizza?

Super quick dough-free pizza

Have you ever had a craving for pizza, but couldn’t be bothered making pizza dough? In the time it will take you to pick up the phone and order one, you can make your own, much healthier, dough-free pizza from what you probably already have in your kitchen.

This great idea comes from the lovely Jennifer Cheung over at Kidspot, and I love the fact you’re getting some extra veg in your diet instead of extra carbs. They’re also the perfect size for little fingers to feed themselves.

dough-free pizza

Instead of dough bases, these pizzas use slices of grilled courgette/zucchini. You could also use grilled aubergine/eggplant as the base. Toppings are entirely up to you, but be careful not to put too much on, as the vegetable bases are floppy. Why not get your munchkins to help and decide their own toppings?

The original recipe uses ready-made pasta sauce, and a ready grated and blended mix of pizza cheese, which is super convenient. I used a little tub of concentrated tomato paste and some fresh mozzarella which you just tear into small pieces with your fingers, so not that much more time-consuming.

Allow one courgette/zucchini, cut into 4 slices, per adult. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for the next day and they’d be ideal for popping into lunch boxes for a change from sandwiches.

SUPER QUICK DOUGH-FREE PIZZA

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 8 – 10 mins
Makes 2 toddler servings or 1 adult serving

1 courgette/zucchini
1 tsp olive oil
4 tsp tomato paste (or ready-made pasta sauce or homemade tomato sauce)
approx. 75g fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
3-4 slices cooked ham, diced

Cut the ends off the courgette and then cut lengthways into 4 slices.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over a med heat, and grill the courgette until just soft and golden (about 3 mins each side).

Remove from the pan. Spoon over the tomato paste or sauce, and top with ham and mozzarella. Place under a hot grill for a minute or two until the cheese is golden.

Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

dough-free pizza

Variations:

  • use slices of grilled aubergine/eggplant for the bases
  • leave out the ham for a vegetarian pizza
  • add whatever other toppings you like

What would be your perfect dough-free pizza topping?

Mini pizzas (pizzettas)

Nicholas loves pizza. Does any child not love pizza? So I thought, let’s try making it together for our next cooking adventure. There’s lots of fun to be had rolling and shaping the dough, and then there’s the toppings.

I prepared the dough on my own, then involved Nicholas in making the mini pizza bases. He has a little plastic roller that was absolutely perfect for rolling out the dough, so perfect in fact we kind of fought over who used it! I’d already prepared some toppings in separate little plastic bowls ready for sprinkling over the bases, but the dough was much more interesting and Nicholas left the topping selection up to me. Perhaps he’ll be more interested next time.

mini pizzas

On the subject of pizza dough, hubby is always searching for the perfect recipe. The leftovers of his quest are lurking in the dark corners of our freezer. I’m not convinced he’ll find his pizza ‘grail’, but don’t tell him that otherwise I won’t get to eat his experiments.

Not being Italian, I’m not so fussy with my pizza dough. And I also have this theory that if you make your bases as thin as you can, you can be almost guaranteed your pizza will be yummy (I have to whisper this next bit: even without using the proper Italian flour).

If you’re making these with your munchkin, use toppings they like. And remember that children generally like their food very colourful, much more than us boring adults. We topped our pizzettas with a little tomato puree, grated courgette/zucchini, pieces of buffalo mozzarella and diced fresh tomatoes. Oh, and no matter what you put on top, a final drizzle of olive oil over the top makes them perfect.

MINI PIZZAS

Prep time: 1 hr 40 mins (for dough to rise twice)
Cook time: 5-10 mins
Makes about 30 mini pizzas or 2 medium pizzas
Uncooked dough can be frozen

7 g dried yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups strong white bread flour such as “OO” flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cold water
A handful of semolina (optional)

Put the warm water in a small bowl and add the yeast. Leave for 15 mins for it to froth up.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, olive oil and cold water. Add the yeast mixture and mix until it comes together in a ball.

Knead the dough on a floured work surface for about 5 mins. It should feel elastic and soft, and be a bit sticky.

Put the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to prove for 20 mins.

Divide the dough into two, place the second piece in another bowl, cover both and leave to prove again for an hour (the dough should double in size).

Heat oven to 220C and leave the tray you’ll use (preferably a heavy-based one) inside to heat up (this helps cook the bottom of the pizzas).

Lightly flour your work bench and roll out one piece of the dough as thin as you can. Use a round cookie or scone cutter to cut out your shapes and try to tease each circle a little more with your fingers to make it even thinner.

Lightly cover a cutting board with semolina, place your pizza bases on top and then add your toppings. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Open the oven and bring the hot tray out enough so you can  sprinkle on some more semolina and slide the pizzas from the cutting board on to the tray (the semolina helps the pizzas move more easily).

The time it takes to cook your pizza depends on the thickness of your dough and the amount of toppings you’ve put on. As a guide, check after 5 mins. They’re done when the dough is golden brown on the edges, and the cheese is bubbling and just starting to turn golden.

Finish with some torn pieces of fresh basil.

mini pizzas