Can we talk about balloons for a minute?
I absolutely despise balloons. I used to love and marvel at them as a child, but now that I have my own children I have come to cringe whenever I attend an event and see a balloon artist busily at work handing out balloons twisted and tied in all kinds of creative ways to resemble a wide variety of animals and objects. My kids are always so excited to have a personalized balloon made for them - Matthew usually requests an alligator or a dinosaur whereas Emma is all about flowers and cats - but I dread the moment when, inevitably, those fragile balloon shapes either pop or deflate and it is up to me to wipe the tears from the faces of my devastated children. Like I said, I hate balloons.
We had a couple encounters with balloon creatures this week and, unfortunately, poor Emma could not catch a break when it came to keeping her balloons inflated for longer than an hour. First, we attended an event at our local library that featured a really creative balloon artist. The guy made some of the most incredible creations out of balloons. They were so complex and detailed - it was mesmerizing to watch him work! He made a special balloon for everyone present, including a light saber for Matthew that actually lights up. When it came time the balloon artist to make a creation for Emma, she shyly requested "a kitty with a bow on it." And he sweetly obliged her and made her the cutest balloon kitty I've ever seen, complete with a long tail and an intricate pink bow. Emma was so thrilled that upon reception she cradled her kitty lovingly in an embrace and named it "Nimbo." (Your guess is as good as mine as to the origin of that name!)
Unfortunately, within minutes of arriving at home, poor Nimbo's head popped and a horrified Emma was left with a headless balloon kitty. She cried and cried but I didn't feel too badly for her since we were heading to Paul's company picnic in just a few hours and they always have clowns making balloons there for the kids. A replacement was in her future! We eventually made our way to the aforementioned picnic and when it came time for Emma's balloon to be made, she requested another kitty - a pink one with big eyelashes. Once again, she cradled it and declared that she would cherish it forever. Afterwards, the kids wanted to go play at the park with their balloon creations, but Paul convinced them to put them in the car for safekeeping. It was a very hot day so maybe the car became to hot for the balloons - whatever the reason, by the time we made it back to our vehicle, Emma's balloon (and not Matthew's) had popped. We hid both balloons and drove home, masterfully evading the question each time the kids asked about their balloons. Of course, our charade could not last forever and Emma eventually gleaned the truth about her balloon. The discovery led to more tears and eventually a small bowl of ice cream as a consolation prize. My mommy heart cannot handle the emotions.
My immediate reaction when someone is feeling sad or blue is to feed them. There is nothing my kids enjoy more than...PIZZA! Super original, I know. They are pretty plain jane when it comes to their pizza tastes. Give them plain ol' pepperoni and they are three happy little kiddos. However, I get a little sick of making pizza the same way and sometimes the traditional pizza shape can be a bit messy with my sloppy little eaters. I hate having to break out the kitchen shears to cut the pizza into more manageable, bite-sized pieces for my messiest eater Miss Emma. How about pizza that is rolled into the dough cinnamon-roll style, making it a more compact, hand-held shape that is perfect for dipping in extra sauce?
Verdict? The kids loved it. I adored the super-quick pizza dough that requires a mere 15 minutes before it is ready to be stuffed and rolled. I also loved the cornmeal that each cut roll is dipped into that lends a bit of crunch and additional flavor. This is such a fun way to spice up pizza night that we have made them several times over the past few weeks. So easy and so good. No complaints when this dinner is served! No lingering memories of popped balloons either.
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
For the Pizza Dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey or white sugar
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
For the Filling:
2 1/2 to 3 cups pizza sauce (we use a jar of Parmesan Romano Spaghetti Sauce)
8 ounces freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
5 ounces pepperoni, chopped
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
For the dough, in an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (you can also do this by hand in a large bowl with a spoon), stir together the water, honey, olive oil, yeast, salt and 1 cup of the flour. With the mixer on low speed, continue adding the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and forms a soft, smooth ball. Knead for 3-4 minutes (add a few minutes if using whole wheat flour). Let the dough rest, covered, in the bowl for 10-15 minutes.
Separate the dough into two pieces. On a lightly greased countertop, press one portion of dough into a thin rectangle, about 14x10-inches.
Spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup pizza sauce evenly across the top. Sprinkle evenly with half the mozzarella cheese and then half the pepperoni. Starting with on long side, roll up cinnamon-roll style, pinching the seam together to seal.
Place the cornmeal in a bowl or shallow dish. Cut the dough into 1-inch sections. One by one, press the bottom of each pizza roll into the cornmeal and then place on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart.
Repeat with the remaining half of dough.
Once all the pizza rolls are placed on the baking sheet, sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Warm the extra pizza sauce, and serve the pizza rolls immediately out of the oven with the pizza sauce for dipping. I have also made them a few hours ahead of time and they reheat beautifully.