Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

PostHeaderIcon Happy Birthday, Buddy!

On Saturday, we celebrated my son’s 11th birthday. I can’t believe how big he’s gotten, and it always makes me a tad bit sad seeing my kids grow up. Can you believe he’s just an inch or two shorter than me now? Where has the time GONE?

We wanted to make his birthday special, so planned a pretty awesome birthday for the kid that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. He was super pleased with the way the day went. Keep in mind he is in the Autism spectrum, so seeing him happy is a huge accomplishment.

Xbox Games
Like most boys, my son is addicted to his Xbox. We probably could have planned an entire party around it, but decided to go out instead. We did, however, lift the time restrictions we normally put on his game time. For his entire day, he was allowed to play as much Xbox as he could handle. He took full advantage of it, believe that!

If he wouldn’t have already had an Xbox, this would have been an excellent time to get him one. Amazon has them for decent prices, and I probably would have got him one for his birthday. Lucky for us though, he got one for Christmas from grandpa. That allowed everyone to basically give him Microsoft points, Xbox games, and cash so he could get the games he wanted.

Incredible Pizza
If you don’t have an Incredible Pizza in your area, this is something to search for when on family vacations. While they do have birthday packages, we opted to just show up with a few family members (grandparents and immediate family, basically). Everyone got fed, and the adults even joined in on quite a few of the games. Read more about our first trip to Incredible Pizza Incredible Pizza.

Other Ideas
To me, birthdays are an excuse to honor that person for just one day. It’s their special day, and they should be able to do just about anything they want to do within reason. For example, on the kids’ birthdays, they pick out what’s for supper. We clear the day of “adult stuff”, and give them the opportunity to plan the family’s activities for that day. In the case of the boy, though, he picked just playing his Xbox for half the day completely uninterrupted. No chores, no sharing the TV, no “get off that game and do something else”. It’s not something we’d allow every day, but was a special offer for his birthday.

Incredible Pizza happened to appeal to him so much he wanted to go for his birthday, but I realize not everyone has this option. Chucky Cheese, we’ve been told, is too “childish” for an 11-year-old, so we are lucky to have the other option in our area. What if you don’t have an Incredible Pizza? How about arcade rooms, go-kart tracks, science centers, or the zoo? Even a day at an indoor pool can be enough for boy who’s too old for traditional birthday parties.

Every area has something that holds interest to boys, so be sure to ask them for ideas when planning a birthday party. Remember if they don’t like it, they aren’t going to enjoy the day like they should!

What ideas have you used for your boys birthday parties?

PostHeaderIcon Our Incredible Night at Incredible Pizza

On a random Tuesday night, the family and I visited Incredible Pizza for the first time. We didn’t even know this awesome kid’s restaurant existed until the other half and I ate at the restaurant next door, and just happened to see it. It looked interesting, so we had to give it a shot.

It’s hard to impress all of us at once, but Incredible Pizza did an awesome job at this near-impossible task. I can’t remember a time we’ve had this much fun as a family for such a low price. Four buffets and $30 worth of game credits costs only $40 (plus tax), and we stayed a good 2 or 3 hours.

The first united delight was the choice of dining areas, along with the overall “50s” theme throughout the entire restaurant. There was “Route 66 Diner”, “High school gym”, “Family diner”, and the “Drive-In Theater”. We decided to dine in the dark at the drive-in, with an almost private showing of iCarly (since there was no movie that night, they had the movie theater sized screen tuned in to Nick). A minor set-back more than made up for with a large screen viewing of one of the kids’ favorite TV shows.

A family-style buffet was available in the “main room” outside of all the dining areas, and everyone was impressed by the food. The quality of the salad, pizza, pasta, potatoes, and desserts were more than you would expect from a buffet, and absolutely delicious.

After our meal, it was play time. This is where fantastic escaladed to incredible, and where we vowed to come back as often as we could.

Just a few of our activities that evening included:

Family go-kart race
Dance-off competition
Skeet ball
Miniature bowling
Old-fashion bumper cars
Shooting gallery

Miniature “glow in the dark” golf and countless other games and activities were also available, but the ones listed above are just some of what we accomplished in the hour or two we spent playing.

The four of us (two kids and two adults) had only $7.25 each our game cards, and a few of us went home with a few dollars left for the next time we visit. These cards were all labeled when we got home, and registered on the Incredible Pizza website, so they can be used and replaced if needed.

Overall, this restaurant comes highly recommended for any family wanting an inexpensive night out together. Big thumbs up!

PostHeaderIcon How to Make Homemade Pizza

Easy Homemade Pizza

Pizza is a popular dish for our family. One day I realized, I have a ton of ways to make pizza, and all of them are delicious. Since my family loves these pizzas so much, I decided to give you a step by step guide on how we make these pizzas, along with all the variations.

Step 1 – Pizza Crust
Depending on my ambition, I will use several different types of crusts. Because of personal preferences, we never use the “just add water” dough in a package. Sometimes we use packaged crust (although after an incident with molded crust, this isn’t used that much anymore), and sometimes we make our own dough.

More often than not, though, we use taco shells. Why? Because they make a perfect thin crust, a large pizza when spread out, and cook perfectly with the rest of the pizza. We lay them out like so:

2. Pizza Sauce

Again, what type of sauce we use depends on our ambition. If I’ve snagged a bottle/can of pizza sauce, I’ll use it. We’ve also used spaghetti sauce on occassion too, since it gives it a very unique flavor. Lately, we’ve been using our own special “recipe”; a can of Italian diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. If you want it not so chunky, just mash up the tomatoes with a meat masher or something similar. It should look like this:

3. Toppings

This is where it starts getting tricky, because everyone’s tastes are different. In the past, we’ve used the following combinations:

– 1/2 lb Italian sausage, 1/2 lb hamburger, and pepperoni
– 1 lb hamburger and pepperoni
– Pepperoni and mushrooms
– “Everything” pizza: 1/2 lb Italian sausage, 1/2 hamburger, package of pepperoni, mild pepper rings, sliced olives, jar of sliced mushrooms.
– “Thin crust Italian” pizza: 1/2 lb sausage, pepperoni, roasted red bell peppers, and Italian seasoning

The other night, we made a simple hamburger and pepperoni pizza. Do remember to use cooked meat, because when you cook the pizza, your main goal is only to melt the cheese.

Hamburger goes on after the pepperoni:

4. Cheese

We’ve used all kinds of different combinations of cheeses on our pizzas, just to play around with the flavor. By far the best is the Mozzarella or Pizza blend cheese. We use 2 regular sized bags.

You can also use yellow and white cheese blends, but I suggest only using one bag on the lower layers of your pizza. Using only white cheese on the top makes it easier to tell when the pizza is done.

5. Cooking Times & Temps

This is where it gets extremely difficult to give you a straight answer, since it’s going to depend on how many toppings you have on your pizza, and how large it is. For the pizza we made the other night, the toppings were spread out over just two layers. In the past, we have made “mountain pizzas” with 3 or 4 layers of lots of toppings. Thick pizzas with lots of toppings should be baked at 325-375* for 20 minutes or more, while thin pizzas with less toppings should be at 400-450* for 10 minutes or more.

Our finished pizza from the other night was cooked at 425* for 15 minutes.

Before cooking:

After cooking:

You can see we like our pizza “well done” to the point it’s almost burnt. You may want to cut back on the time just a bit, and check it every 5 minutes or so until it’s done to your liking.

That’s it! The only thing left is to eat and enjoy!

Yum.

PostHeaderIcon Pizza Without Red Sauce

Our local Pizza Ranch has a new pizza on their buffet that my mom and I have fallen in love with. So of course, I had to try to duplicate it, since I tend to do that with a lot of yummy dishes I find at restaurants. Over the weekend we tried,and it was a huge success.

What I love about this pizza is it’s so simple. All you need is 4 ingredients plus a thin pizza crust. It’s not as impressive as our “Mountain pizzas” we usually make, but it’s yummy regardless. Those 4 ingredients are:

– Alfredo sauce
– Spinach (we used baby spinach)
– Roma tomatoes
– Mozzarella shredded cheese

Yup. That’s it! Baked for about 20mins on 400*, it was fantastic and oh so easy.

Enjoy!

PostHeaderIcon Thin Crust Meat Pizza Experiment

I can be quite the lazy cook sometimes. While it’s true I love my bread machine and the pizza crust we make with it often, sometimes I just want something a little faster.

Years ago before we even thought of having a bread machine, I made my pizza with the most unlikely crust. Flour tortillas. Yup, those things you usually make tacos and quesedillas with. I used them for pizza crust.

The other day I got to thinking about it, and decided I wanted to use them again. Why not? It made an EXCELLENT thin crust, and was really tasty too. I use several too, spreading them out in the shape of a full size round pizza, so they overlap a bit.

I used another old favorite substitution for pizza sauce – plain old tomato sauce. Since we added spices to the rest of the pizza, adding anything to the sauce really wasn’t necessary (I did it anyway though, and ended up with WAY too much garlic salt on it. Lesson learned).

Instead of our normal “mountain pizza”, we did just one layer of toppings and cheese. Well, a little on the heavy side, but still just one layer of each item. Pepperoni, regular sausage that I added a few Italian spices too while cooking, and pizza cheese. We also added roasted red bell pepper slices (from a jar), and a blend of Parmesan cheese and some other spices (I had gotten a big container of different kinds of blended spices, and really wanted to play with it!).

Unlike the “mountain pizza” which has to be cooked at lower temps for a longer period of time, this pizza I threw in the oven at 400* for about 15minutes. We like crispy crust and golden brown cheese (about 2 minutes away from being burnt, really, so I keep an eye on it), so you can cut the time down a bit. All ingredients are cooked, so basically we’re just heating it up here.

All I have to say is YUM. This was some tasty pizza to say the least, and we’ll be making it again that’s for sure. Plus it didn’t call for a variety of specific ingredients just for pizza, and are things we have on a regular basis. As with any pizza, it’s easy to tweek to your liking to.

Enjoy!