Edan Goode’s No-Fail, Homemade Pizza Dough

We’ve tried pizza dough from stores and area restaurants and even from tubes you whack open. But my family continues to prefer my homemade dough which adds about twenty minutes onto your timing but it’s still pretty easy as long as you have a food processor.

Thank you, oh food processor, for making this lovely pizza dough ball!

Thank you, oh food processor, for making this lovely pizza dough ball! Photo by E.A.T. Blog.

I happily share with you my No-Fail, Homemade Pizza Dough recipe:

  1. If you are going to grate cheese, do it first, before starting the dough. It’s totally fine to make dough in a processor bowl that has a hint of cheese left in it but it’s so NOT okay to grate cheese in a processor bowl that has a hint of raw dough! Yuck. OR, skip this step by buying shredded cheese. Your call.
  2. Mix the pizza dough in the processor. Here’s the recipe which makes two large pizzas or six individual ones:
  • 4 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 3 1/3 cup flour – half white and half whole wheat
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 tsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water. Stir and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In the processor, use the metal blade and add the two flours, salt and garlic powder. Pulse a couple of times to blend.

Turn on the processor and, using the feed tube, slowly pour in the yeasty water mixture being sure to scrape out any remaining yeast clinging to the sides of the container. You’ll need every little bit.

Keep the processor running while the dough starts to mix and gather up. Drizzle in the olive oil and, at this point, it should form a nice ball that goes round and round the processor. This is the kneading process which is, well, needed! So let it do this for about one minute.

Take out the dough ball and divide it up into as many pizzas as you want to make. At this point, if you want to freeze the dough, put it into individual zipper bags, squeeze out excess air and squish the dough balls down a bit before putting them in the freezer.

Roll out the dough onto a floured (white flour only) cutting board or other flat surface.

Don’t worry about circular perfection. Irregularities make the pizza more charming. Call it a “country pizza” and everyone will be impressed.

Spray cookie sheets or pizza pans with non-stick spray (or use a pizza stone which we love!) and lay the pizza dough on the pans.

At this point, you can let the dough rounds rest a few minutes to rise more before adding sauce, cheese, pizza, herbs – whatever you want. This is the best time to clean out the fridge and add tidbits of everything.

Drizzle some olive oil around the crust and bake the pizza’s approximately 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dough and how loaded down you made it with toppings. Watch the edges to make sure they don’t burn.

It's easy to make your own pizza at home - as long as you have a food processor to speed things along.

It’s easy to make your own pizza at home – as long as you have a food processor to speed things along.

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Jack-O-Lantern Dinner: Fortify the kids before trick-or-treating with this fun Halloween-themed dinner

When Halloween comes around, I’m ashamed to say you won’t find me in a clever, well-thought-out costume. I just don’t have the imagination for it. I usually go for my old standby – wearing all black and pinning socks and little t-shirts to myself going as “Static Cling.”

Where I do get into Halloween is in the kitchen. Every year, I try to come up with a Halloween-y twist on something I routinely make. Here are two of my family’s favorites:

Jack-O-Pizza
Makes 4 individual pizzas depending on size of dough ball and size of the pizzas you make.

Pizza dough you make at home or from the store (Whole Foods makes a good one)
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Pepperoni circles cut in half to make half-moons and in quarters to make triangles

  1. Divide the dough into individual portions and roll out on a cutting board dusted with white flour.
  2. Take a table knife and cut a free-form pumpkin shape, cutting out a little dough at the top to make a slight indentation.
  3. Take the piece you removed and shape it into a rectangle and attach it to the indented area as though it is the stem of the pumpkin, pressing the tip of the stem into the pumpkin lightly to attach it.
  4. Spread pizza sauce on the pumpkin but within about a quarter of an inch of the edges.
  5. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
  6. Let each person use the pepperoni shapes to decorate their own Jack-O-Pizza face.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is looking golden.

Jack-O-Cobbler
Makes 4 mini cobblers

1 Ready-made pie crust
Mini-pie tins or individual-size baking cups
Your favorite apple pie filling recipe (sliced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and lemon juice)
Additions of your choice like chopped walnuts or pecans and raisins

  1. Mix the apple pie filling in a bowl and then portion it out into the individual baking cups or pie tins being sure to fill them to the top.
  2. Using a cup or bowl slightly larger than the size of your baking cup, cut out circles from the pie crust. (see photo below)
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut out Jack-O-Lantern faces or other designs like a sliver of a moon or maybe a leaf shape, making sure the design isn’t too large or else the dough will collapse into the fruit.
  4. Place the pie crust over the baking cup, pressing the edges down so that they stick slightly to the baking cup. As the cobblers bake, the edges will release from the edges of the cups a bit but that’s okay.
  5. Bake in a 325 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and a knife easily pierces the apples when carefully poked through one of the openings in your design.

Note: these also make good breakfast cups served at room temperature.

Put your pie filling in individual oven-safe baking cups.

Cut out circle shapes slightly larger than your baking cups

Cut out Jack-O-Lantern faces or other designs.

The finished product! Cute and yummy.

Take the kids to a beer garden? You bet! By Edan Goode

It’s great to be able to find a restaurant that is as appealing to the kids as the parents. Too often, the place the parents want to go isn’t really family-friendly and you spend the entire time trying to get the kids to behave like little adults. Or the places the kids love leave the parents feeling like they didn’t really have a treat of an evening out at all. The Lowry Beer Garden (yes, Beer Garden) is a great compromise.

The Lowry Beer Garden, 7577 East Academy Blvd., in the Lowry Neighborhood. Photo courtesy Larimer Associates.

Sitting right next to a popular family destination, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, is the Lowry Beer Garden, a new but already very popular hangout for cold brews and good food and a good place to bring the kids – if you come early.

Beer and wine gardens are not a new concept. They have existed in Europe for hundreds of years. But the concept is a fresh one for Colorado. Like its European counterparts, the Lowry Beer Garden is open air, casual and self-service with communal, bench seating. “You come as you are, bring a large group and it’s no big deal,” says Joe Vostrejs, one of the owners of the Lowry Beer Garden, and also COO of Larimer Associates, a successful real estate and restaurant development company.

Being located in the Lowry neighborhood, the varied clientele seem to follow a schedule. Retirees come really early for a bite before the families descend. Then they tend to be gone in time for both early bedtimes and the arrival of the serious beer drinkers. It works out perfectly.

Because of the casual, open-air, communal environment, kids may feel it’s okay to run around. While the Lowry Beer Garden loves kids, they also know that things could get chaotic for other diners if kids were getting a little wild so they offer board and card games to encourage kids to not only have a seat and enjoy dinner but to also enjoy spending time with their families.

The kids’ menu features burgers, a hot dog and chicken nuggets, each $5 although the Super Giant Pretzel, served in a pizza-size box for $13 on the appetizer menu is also hard for kiddos to resist. Same with the Chicken Wings which kids manage to keep snatching from their parents, but who can blame them. With three levels of heat in the sauce to choose from, there are options for all.  Cool things off with soft-serve ice cream.

For adults, the food menu offers lots of options and will be evolving and growing as time passes and seasons change. Currently, it

Two of Lowry Beer Garden’s burgers: Choose your meat (including vegetarian, shown top) and your toppings. Photo courtesy CDM Communications.

focuses on a wide variety of burgers, sandwiches, brats, salads and other beer-friendly foods. Soon, they will start offering healthy appetizers like scratch-made hummus, peel-and-eat shrimp and more salads. As the weather turns colder, they will add heartier fare that pairs well with beer as well as special events such as cooking steaks out in the garden.

When those fall and winter breezes hit (practically unthinkable as I write this on a 98 degree day) it will be no problem for the Lowry Beer Garden. Beyond the outdoor “garden” area at the front, the covered Pavilion sits on a concrete slab that is kept warm by hydronic heat via a solar array on the roof. Clear, plastic walls will come down, making a cozy room for a couple hundred people. Heat lamps will warm up the open air garden area for heartier souls who just have to be out under the open sky.

Grab the kids and claim your spot on a bench, enjoy good food and drink for the family and maybe meet other families too who are relieved to find a place that makes the gang happy.

The Lowry Beer Garden is located at 7577 East Academy Blvd., Denver, in the Lowry Neighborhood, off of Monaco and Quebec.

 

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Pizza in a Stick – An easy schoolnight meal By Edan Goode

Pizza comes in various incarnations: the traditional round, square or rectangular, with stuffed crust, with deep crust, etc. It’s all good, am I right?

Recently, out of boredom though, and with a blob of dough staring at me from my cutting board, I decided to amuse myself and my

Grilled Pizza in a Stick. You can bake them in the oven too if you don’t want grill marks.

kids with another variation – pizza sticks. Just to go all crazy about it, I grilled them!

Because I made this up, I’m not going to give you an exact recipe. I’ll leave it up to you to add your own variations in toppings and sauces.

Step 1:
Roll out pizza dough into a big rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut long strips 3-4 inches wide.

Step 2:
Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, spread pizza sauce* on one half of the dough strip being careful to leave borders clear.

* When sauce and fillings are going to be hidden like this, it’s a great time to smuggle pureed spinach in the sauce or finely-diced veggies.

Step 3:
Add your toppings such as sausage or pepperoni (I took a clean kitchen scissors to cut stacks of pepperoni slices into quarters to fit better along the dough).

Add cheese. Again, be sure to keep boarders clear in preparation for the next step.

Step 4:
Fold the plain half of the dough over the filled part. Seal the edges.

Pizza in a stick, in the works. Not so pretty but really tasty!

Step 5:
Brush a little olive oil over the top of the pizza sticks, keeping some extra around for when you cook them.

Step 6:
Bake the pizza sticks on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for about 7-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Or, you can grill the sticks, as I did to avoid heating up the already-hot house during the summer. If you do this, you get nifty grill marks (see photo). When grilling, turn the sticks over part-way through and brush more olive oil on the other side. Grill 5-8 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Step 7:
Serve them with or without pizza dipping sauce but beware, they are really hot inside.

Not only do these make an easy meal on a busy school night, but since kids love to take cold pizza to school, this is a space-saving way to give them what they want while providing a great conversation topic around the lunchroom table, such as, “Dude, your mom must have been really bored with pizza-making when she came up with those righteous sticks!” – or at least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Plant a garden for dinner By Edan Goode

You’d think it would be easy to get kids involved in gardening. After all, it involves dirt, digging and water – three of the requisites for fun when you’re a kid. Yet gardening takes patience and isn’t immediately gratifying which can be frustrating.

Gardening teaches wonderful things from how plants grow to that all-important skill of learning to be patient. Make the end result more rewarding by having a very specific goal waiting at the end of the growing season: dinner!

It’s one thing to tell a child you’re going to grow healthy veggies. They won’t really care. But if you tell them you are growing pizza or spaghetti sauce, THAT gets their attention.  Here are some ideas for making the gardening experience really come to life for kids:

1.       Plan a space of their own

Section off a small, manageable area of your garden, or even just a collection of large pots you can let your child decorate with paint, that are designated just for them.

2.     Give them the tools of the trade

These days, it’s easy to find child-size gardening gloves and tools.  Give them a tote bag or some other container that will hold their tools and seed packets for easy storage.

3.      Figure out how you can grow the veggie ingredients for one of their favorite meals and then make your gardening plan from there. For example:

Pizza – Plant a tomato plant, basil and garlic which can be placed together in one pot.

Spaghetti sauce – Tomato plant, basil, oregano, garlic and some spinach to add to the sauce.

Salsa for chips and salsa – Tomato, cilantro, peppers and garlic.

Salad (for that rare child who loves their greens) – Various kinds of lettuce, spinach, parsley, tomato, carrots, cucumber and green peppers.

Go for plants and seeds that have a reputation for growing well in Colorado so as not to disappoint your junior gardener. Garden shops can give you recommendations on which ones to choose.

4.    Don’t forget side dishes

You can also grow things that your child can measure themselves by like corn (Who grows faster? You or the corn?) or watermelon (Can you carry that big watermelon all by yourself?)

5.     Make sure they tend their garden

Once the excitement of planning and planting wears off, it can be excruciating waiting for things to start growing.  Make sure your child doesn’t lose interest in caring for their garden. It’s a good lesson to teach that things need nurturing every day. Child-size tools and watering can will help. Once things start to shoot up, it will be easier to hold their interest.

6.    Incorporate the science of it all

Explain what seeds are and why they need dirt, water and sun to grow. Point out that the pretty yellow flowers on their tomato plant are soon going to become tomatoes.  Show how some foods grow down into the ground like carrots while others grow above ground like lettuce. There are many good books and websites out there that explain it all.

7.    Show what you grow

  • Using paper, laminating sheets and popsicle sticks, let your child make signs for their garden to let others (and remind themselves during the growing season) what they are growing, such as “I’m going to be spaghetti sauce”.
  •  Encourage the kids to show visitors the progress of their garden.
  • Take pictures every week and make a scrap book of your child’s garden, whether homemade or with the help of a computer program.      

8.     Reap what ye sow (i.e. Eat it up!)

  • When everything is finally ready to harvest, let your child do the harvesting (with some guidance) and help prepare the meal they have waited so long for. Let them taste a nibble of their harvest raw before it is cooked to taste the difference.

Sit down to a delicious meal and let your child revel in their gardening skills. You can pat yourself on the back, too for providing a wonderful way to learn about nature, science, eating about as locally as humanly possible and eating really, really well!

Bon appetite!

The Rock rolls into town by Edan Goode

There aren’t that many places where the sound of a child having a fit blend in with the overall din of a place… except perhaps at a

There's nothing like watching your future dinner being flung high into the air!

football game, by the side of the road at rush hour or at The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits, which made its Colorado debut at Belmar in Lakewood.  Now this is nothing against The Rock. It’s just to say that it’s a noisy place, what with the fairly loud rock ‘n roll playing, the raucous conversations going on and the kids well, being kids.  It’s all turned into magnified surround-sound by the floor-to-ceiling hard surfaces, cool though they may be!

The Rock already has locations in Washington State, Oregon and Canada. They hope to open three locations in Colorado in the next year or so.  Seems like an odd collection of locations but what do I know. The premise behind The Rock is to blend a love of rock ‘n roll with good food and drink.  That explains the gritty, heavy, brick and iron atmosphere with rock ‘n roll artwork everywhere.  It was all I could do not to break out into an air guitar solo as soon as I walked in.

The menu is varied and creative both in names and combinations.  You can eat as heavy or as light as you want from salads to meat-laden pizza.  We dined there within days of the opening and witnessed both eager-to-please service and a few mishaps like a forgotten entrée.  Overall though, The Rock is a welcome option for family dining as well as a place to meet friends for a beer and a bite.

Here are the highlights and lowlights from our visit:

Appetizer– Being wing freaks, we had to try Rocks Wings. Plump and meaty, they had an odd doughy-ness and sweetness that were disappointing.

Salad – Both the Garden Salad with its variety of veggies and the Caesar with oven-baked croutons were fresh, crispy and had dressings that didn’t overwhelm their greens.

Pizza – The pepperoni-lovers at our table were perfectly happy with the “Classic Rock” with plenty of pepperoni and mozzarella. We also loved “Flirtin’ with Disaster” with hot Italian sausage, Andouille sausage and caramelized onions. Whatever the toppings, The Rock’s pizza crust is delicious, crispy and chewy with the right amount of tug.

Pasta – Although a work of art, the colorful ravioli in a pesto cream sauce in “Elvis Sighting” was lackluster.  Our resident alfredo fan proclaimed the “White Room” typical-tasting yet really creamy.  We couldn’t get enough of the “Can’t Get Enough”. We kept passing it around the table again and again, snatching another forkful, much to the dismay of the daughter who ordered it. Deceptively simple, it was a creamy red sauce with chili flakes, ground hot sausage and meatballs on fat fettuccine noodles.  Although those ingredients sound simple enough, somehow the combination became something fantastic – seriously one of the most delicious dishes I’ve had in a long time!

The imperfectly-shaped pizza crust is delicious.

Prices hover between $9 and $12 for most entrees.  Kids’ meals are a good deal ranging from $2.49-$4.49 including a drink. There’s a good variety for them including salad which I’m so glad to see a restaurant offer. There are several variations of pasta, a peanut butter and jelly pizza, chicken and burger.  You can also get a kid-size smoothy for just a little more.

Give The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits a try for the food, the atmosphere, the conversations it will start about which Rolling Stones album was best and because your child can pitch a fit and they’ll just blend right in.  Rock on!

The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits, 7399 W. Alaska Drive, Lakewood, CO. Open daily from 11:30am – midnight.  303-454-3282. http://therockwfp.com/.

Personalized Pizza By Edan Goode

We’re pizza freaks in my family. If my children had their way, they would have pizza at least five nights a week. I compromise at one day a week, usually Fridays, when I can make homemade pizza and use leftover tidbits from the week’s meals to make something interesting, tasty and to clean out the fridge in the process.

Most weeks, I make pizza dough from scratch which is actually really easy if you have a food processor. I’m also partial to the dough Whole Foods makes, both in white and whole wheat versions, packaged and ready to go for around $3. It’s easy, tastes great and has a lovely crusty-chewy texture for any toppings I put on them. If you want to make dough from scratch, there are many good recipes out there. I am partial to the one from Cuisinart which I only change to use half white flour and half whole wheat.

Start with good dough

Pizza
If you are making pizza, roll out the dough into something resembling a circle (if it’s irregularly shaped, call it “rustic”!)  Slather on some pizza sauce (there are many good store-bought ones) or some pesto for a change. Then add your toppings and cheese and voila – pizza in about 30 minutes.

Calzones

Calzones under construction

If you want to try something new in the pizza family, try a calzone. To make a calzone, use your favorite pizza dough. Divide the dough (you can get a couple calzones out of one pizza dough) and roll each piece into an oblong shape. To save space on the baking sheet, I place half of the oblong onto the sheet and hang the other half over the edge. Add sauce and toppings to the half resting on the baking sheet and then fold the other half over and pinch the edges together to seal everything in. Since my kids only like pepperoni and sausage, I have been known to cut up broccoli, zucchini or yellow squash very small and mix it in with the meat. In a closed-up calzone, they won’t see any tidbits of healthy stuff. Use a fork to poke a couple holes in the top for venting.

Calzone of love
Recently, because my husband and I were going to have the same calzone fillings, I tried something new and made a giant calzone which was basically a piled-high pizza with another pizza crust laid on top and the edges pressed together. Then I brushed olive oil around the edges of the crust of my pizzas or on top of the calzones.

Go ahead and pile your toppings high in this giant calzone.

Make it personal
What started as an attempt to differentiate whose calzone was whose, has become a special little way to personalize everyone’s calzone. I create each family member’s initial or some other design by pricking the dough with a toothpick. Not only does this leave the design but it allows steam to vent during baking. Click on the pictures below to see the “N” I put on one child’s calzone and the heart I put on the one my husband and I shared. Let me hear you say, “awwwwww”.

Bake your pizza or calzone according to recipe recommendations but keep in mind that calzones have to bake longer than pizzas since they are so thick.

Seal the giant calzone and "label" it with a toothpick. I pricked a heart in this one for my honey and me.

Our favorite way to enjoy homemade pizza or calzones is to have a Family-Room Picnic with a big blanket on the floor and a movie on TV.  Good pizza. Good times.

I wrote the kids' initials to mark whose calzone was whose.