I was reminded that we have been stuck in the house for almost two weeks when my child asked me to go to the grocery store this morning. You know your kid is desperate when he wants to go grocery shopping. The weather is still pretty yucky, and we just went shopping Friday, so I decided to try some fun projects to keep us busy. We have already eaten the bread we made last week, so that was on the list, but I wanted to add another fun project as well. I decided play-doh was a good option , and since Oliver loves pizza I thought we could make some for lunch.
The goal of this project was to get him involved in the cooking process of each recipe. I wanted him to see the differences in each one. He learned how they look, smell, feel, and even taste different. This was a really good exercise for both of us and we had a great time cooking all day long. We made the play-doh and pizza dough in the morning, and the bread after nap time.
Our first project: Play dough
Oliver loves play-doh and we play with it every day. The problem is that it dries out so quickly and buying new doh all the time just isn’t worth it. I have been wanting to make homemade play-doh for months because we play with it so often, so I began to look for recipes. I came across some great recipes and most seemed fairly simple, but the one I chose turned out to be just what I was looking for. Play dough recipe
1 c flour
1/2 c salt
1 cup water
1 tbs oil (I used vegetable)
2 tsp cream of tartar
Liquid food coloringThis is a great recipe to include your toddlers. Oliver basically made this himself, I took over when it needed to be cooked. Start by pouring all your ingredients into a large saucepan or stock pot.When you have added all the ingredients, let your little ones stir them up. This isn’t a necessary step, but it made Oliver feel like he was helping and he was excited to be part of the process. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. When you see the mixture beginning to thicken, add a few drops of food coloring and continue stirring until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pot. Let the dough cool on a sheet of tin foil, or you can work it with your hands to help it cool down. I didn’t find it be very hot, so I worked with it so we could play sooner. Oliver chose yellow food coloring and I added it too late in the cooking process to achieve a deep color. This stuff cooks quickly, so keep that in mind when adding your colors.The dough is very soft, but holds its shape perfectly when you make something. We played for about an hour before he decided to take a break. Peppa Pig is our favorite show right now, I have to make a play-doh figure of one of her family members daily. This is my attempt at Peppa. At least he has a good imagination and thinks they look cool. I highly recommend this recipe if you need some entertainment on gloomy days. We will definitely be making this one a lot.
Project 2: Pizza dough
I wanted to make a cauliflower crust, but this recipe has been my go to pizza dough recipe for years so I decided to stick with the familiar. I also needed to stick with the dough theme of our projects for the day. This is the easiest pizza dough recipe and it yields a soft, airy crust, and some big pizzas. We made individual sized rounds today so Oliver could get some practice topping his own pizzas and choosing what he wanted on his personal pizza.
2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c olive oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
water as neededPreheat the oven to 425F. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and add water little by little until you have reached the desired consistency. The dough should be soft, but not tacky or sticky. If you have a dough that is too wet, add more flour until you can roll it into a ball and it holds together. Of course, you should probably eat as much dough as possible before you make anything. Dust the table with flour and with a bench scraper, cut the dough into equal pieces. Prepare two large sheet pans. I like to use our stoneware when I bake pizza, I just think it makes a better crust. Shape the individual pieces of dough and arrange them on the sheet pan. You will need to add flour so they won’t stick. I made each pizza 4-5 inches, with the exception of mine. Toppings:
I wanted to encourage Oliver to try some new vegetables, so I thought pizza was an excellent way to do that. I chose mushrooms, grape tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, black olives, and spinach. I chopped them into 1/4″pieces and put them in separate containers so he could top the pizzas easily. Using a tablespoon. spread some tomato sauce on each pizza. This was a little messy with a toddler helping, but it’s pizza so it’s ok. Add your cheese and you are ready to bake. Some of our pizza combinations included: mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and olives; peppers and spinach, olives and mushrooms; and tomatoes and mushrooms. Bake the pizzas for 30 minutes and let them cool on a cooling rack. If you use stoneware it will continue to cook them and they will burn. Serve it up! This is Mama lunch and baby lunch. Oliver also had yogurt covered raisins and a tangerine with his lunch. This kid loves the crust, and who can blame him. He ate the crust off most of the pizzas we made, but he was so happy to have his mini pizzas. These will freeze well if you want a quick meal when you have play dates, sleep overs, or a hectic day when you don’t want to cook.
To freeze: Wrap them in tin foil to freeze and reheat them in the oven at 350F until warm.
Our last project of the day was baking bread.
You can check out how we made our bread in this post. I love this bread recipe and Oliver has asked for toast with jam every morning since we made our first batch.
These three projects were a great distraction today and they helped Oliver learn about different types of doughs. He learned about how they smell, taste, feel, and even the difference in how they are prepared. We had a day full of baking and enjoyed eating delicious food while we learned new things. I would say that today, being stuck inside wasn’t so bad.
Tip: Try to teach your child about one new ingredient each time you make a recipe. They will begin to recognize that ingredient the more you use it, and this will encourage curiosity about new foods.