The green table is moving! I'll begin posting again after we're all set up in our new home!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pete's a Pizza Party

How is it possible that my little boy is a whole year old already?  I don't know how it happened so quickly, but my baby is a walking, talking, playing, exploring, crashing, toddler! And, he LOVES to eat!  He reached for foods I never dreamed of feeding my daughter until she was quite grown up, and without fail he ate everything sampled, from peppers to pizza. We are keeping Pete's big day pretty simple, just a dinner at home with GG and Papa.  Still, we had to have a theme, and Adelae and I couldn't think of anything better than "Pete's a Pizza", based on the children's book by William Steig.
First the decorations! Both children worked together with me to make a pizza garland.  Here's how we did it.
For the "sauce" you'll need:
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup corn starch
2 packets Jello (for "pizza sauce" use one red, one orange)
3/4 cup boiling water

While bringing water to a boil, stir the cold water into the cornstarch until smooth.  Dissolve the Jello into the boiling water, then add the cold water/cornstarch mixture. Stir regularly while cooling in the fridge, then paint.  It's messy.  It stains your skin for a few days, but at least it's edible, sorta.
We painted our red "pizza sauce" on large circles of brown grocery bag, our "crust"
Once dry, add "cheese" to the pizza in the form of shredded light yellow paper.
To make the pepperoni we used bright redish-orange dot stickers and doodled on top of them a bit more realistic. 

Once the sauce is dry, stick on the "pepperoni", and add some green stickers for  green peppers. Slice your pizzas into six slices each.
Clip each slice onto a piece of cording to assemble the garland.  I used my favorite fancy paperclips, but any type of clip works. Also, I added P-E-T-E--I-S--1 on seven slices, in red punch out letters.  Remember when you had to go to the teacher supply store to get them?  I got this set of letters from the dollar store!
Next, we planned our table setting. I was pining for a red checkered table cloth, but having none I settled for classic white.  Instead of plates, disposable tin pizza pans. No forks or knives needed tonight!

For the napkins, we used yellow paper napkins and folded them into thirds from the folded center point. With a clip of the scissors we rounded off the top to resemble a slice of pizza. 
For the final touch, more red circle stickers for pepperoni and more green paper reinforcements, halved to resemble peppers or olives!
For the centerpiece, we used an old photo holder and filled it with black and white pictures of Pete throughout his first year, some backed with red placards declaring him "1"!
Table set, it was time to think food! The menu - pizza!  I thought about just running to pick it up somewhere.  Nope.  That would be too simple.  Sometimes I make things far too difficult - but I enjoy it! Plus, buying the ball of pizza dough from the bakery makes it pretty cinchy.  I made three different pizzas and cut them into sampling size slices.

First, I had to make a the standard men-love-meat pizza topped with cheese, sausage, ham and pepperoni. Nothing fancy here.  I did use those cute little tiny pepperoni - perfect for a little pizza to be consumed by my little man.

Next, Andy's favorite, our take on white pizza.  Essentially it's just my garlicky, herby ricotta concoction - that is 16oz ricotta with two cloves minced garlic salt, pepper and herbs, fresh basil if I have it. Pat the ricotta onto the crust and top with lots of cheese and some olive oil.  We like to dip it in marinara. 


We love Naples Flatbread, the inspiration for the last pizza.

Pizza three is topped with cheese, pulled pork, crisp fried ham (they use bacon but I didn't have any, and I didn't feel like frying it up anyway), toasted coconut, pineapple, caramelized onions and peppers, and yes, a loving drizzle of balsamic reduction a la Naples Flatbread. Melt in your own tears, sugar - yes, it's SO good!
Do I love balsamic - reduced or otherwise?  Yes, emphatically! I get a thrill up my leg just thinking about it!  It's so easy to make, too.  Measure about a cup of balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pot along with two teaspoons of sugar.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to med-low and allow the mixture to reduce.  I'm inpatient, so I never let it get too syrupy, just until it's nice and glossy, clings to the spatula a bit and is reduced to about a third of a cup.  I love it on fresh berries!

I was going to make a salad - but who am I kidding, that's just adding a lot more unnecessary work, as no one but my mom and I will touch it with these beautiful pizzas calling to them! Instead, pop and bottle of wine, pour some leche for the children and dinner is served!
Next gifts, games - making a Pete's a Pizza of course, and an Adelae Pizza too!  (If you don't know what I'm talking about you'll just have to read the book!)
Being too young to choose his own cake, Daddy make the selection for little Pete - Texas Sheet Cake. A fine choice indeed!  They're delish, but generally pretty ugly when served from the pan.  Fortunately my cake popped right out for me, so I transferred it to a platter before pouring on the warm icing.  With a stencil I added a 1 in 10x.  Simple and sweet.

Pete's a Pizza Party!  Happy Birthday, Peter!

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