Traditional birthday meal

It is tradition in our family that the kids get their favorite thing for dinner on their birthday. Typically. I ask them what they want. They sometimes surprise me. Maybe the surprise stems from the expectation that I might have for change. I guess I should not be surprised as it is usually the same.

Andrew was turning 16 so I thought maybe his choice would be different this year when I asked him a couple of days ago. No. “Isn’t it kind of a tradition to do pizza for dinner?” What? Tradition, sure if you want to call it that, but not because it always happens. Everyone just wants me to slave all day making pizza for them on their birthday. That is why it is a tradition.

So pizza it is for the 16 year old birthday boy.

I had to run to the store and purchase a few supplies because I had recently been wiped out with the splurge supplies by a recent pizza making exercise for family movie night. I needed pepperoni, Italian Sausage, and more cheese. I also needed to get the requested ice cream flavor – cookies and cream. I would grab a couple of save my sanity things as well for the sake of time. I did not anticipate spending the entire morning at the doctor’s office and then the imaging center with Lance dealing with his illness (or lack their of) and his wrist injury (yet to be fully diagnosed). So I also grabbed so defrosted, precooked chicken breast strips. For the sake of food storage preservation, I grabbed a couple more strips of my favorite yeast for pizza dough and another bag of flour. What I did not think about while I was at the store were other essential things like powdered sugar and birthday candles for the cake. How does one forget about these things? Clearly my head was somewhere else. I also forgot to grab a couple of gallons of milk while I was there and that is not something that usually goes overlooked. At least I remembered to grab the cases of bottled water for the boys’ lunches, right? It was all good. I had a busy morning with Lance. I was not on my game and I was doing a quick trip into Walmart (a complete oxymoron by itself) to grab the items for the pizza between taking the cake out of the oven before I had to go pick up Lance from school. I was in a hurry. That is my excuse at least and I am sticking to it.

At any rate, I am grateful for a true friend. Linn Macie offered to come help me make pizza this afternoon. That did not happen. She had something come up as well. She did offer to go pick up Andrew from school (he stayed after) when she picked up her daughter from school (also stayed after) even they are at two different high schools. I submitted to the offer. I was staring at a cake that was still in two layers and without icing. I had not even made the icing yet. I was lucky I had cake layers to ice in all actuality. The layers stuck in the pans. It has been a while since I have cakes stick in the pan. Fortunately, I did manage to get the cakes to come out of the pans with minimal damage. It was a rough few minutes with high levels of stress and me banging on the bottoms of the pans but the cakes gave up their hold and the pans let go. The cakes came out mostly in tact. Thank goodness. I did not have time to remake cakes. Of course, just a minute after Linn was on her way to Andrew’s school to go fetch him to bring him home, Andrew called to say that his Orchestra Rehearsal got out early. I told him that Sister Macie was on her way to come get him. He then responded that he had a ride home with one of his friends and would just take that if I was okay with that. That would certainly save Linn a trip out of the way. I called Linn back and let her know that she did not need to go get Andrew.

I continued working on the pizzas and birthday cake that was ahead of me. It was already 4:15pm at this point. I still had a lot of work ahead of me. I still had to get pizzas made and the cake iced and Kyle out the door to karate for his off-campus PE class before 6:00PM. Could I make it? It was looking questionable at that point. I was going to try my hardest.

Enough with the story, however, lets get to the pictures…

Here is the first batch of pizzas being constructed. Usually I make the red sauced pizzas first because I always have more of them to bake. I am waiting for the oven to heat up. You can see one of my cake layers in the background. I have the yeast for the next batch of pizza dough activating in the mixer bowl while I am constructing these pizzas and getting them in the oven.

There really is no secret to a good pizza. It is a basic pizza dough recipe. I have just tweaked it a little bit to get it to where I like it and get consistent results. Oh and the kids like it. I have found that I really like the Pizza Crust Yeast. It is worth the splurge. Worth it! It makes it so that I can whip up the dough in a double batch (because that is what my oven handles nicely), split it between my two pizza stones, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then press it out. It takes all the work out of it. I used to have to roll it out. It was a lot of work. I do not have to roll this out. I love this stuff. It also does reduce the amount of rising. Sometimes I would get pizza crusts that would just rise an insane amount if they were sitting on the counter waiting for the oven when mass producing pizzas (hence why I also only typically do double batches now). If you wanted a thin crust pizza, you could probably get more than a single pizza out of a single batch. This dough helps keep the rise to a pizza appropriate amount.

The white and the red sauces collide. This was the second batch of pizzas. I actually did not make as many as I would normally. I only made two batches of pizzas tonight. I sprinkled the Alfredo sauce with the wonderfully flavorful Penzys Pasta Sprinkle to give it some pep. Love that. Like I said, there really is no secret to a perfect pizza. Just getting the stuff you like on it. Getting the crust cooked helps too. Not burning it helps.

Two of the four finished pizzas – Pepperoni and Italian Sausage on the left and Chicken Alfredo on the right. No we did not eat all that pizzas. I purposely made more so we would have left-overs. The kids love the pizza for left-overs. It also helps save my sanity when we have crazy late nights with running around.

In all the craziness, I did not use the Italian Sausage I bought earlier at Walmart. I had enough left from the last time I made pizza to make two pizzas. The third pizza just got pepperoni. Now I have a package of Italian Sausage in my fridge to do something else with. It will likely end up in spaghetti.

Of course, in all that I did not get Kyle to the karate dojo by 6:00PM. Instead we had cake and ice cream. He was going to be 20-30 minutes late by the time I got him there so I decided I would just take him to second class and Black Belt Class that night and not stress. So we had cake and ice cream before we left.

Andrew did not seem to mind that his cake did not have candles on it. In all honesty, I did have a few candles in the cupboard. I probably had enough to spell out 16 on the top of his cake, but I did not have 16 candles. The catch? They were all pink candles. Not going to do that to my 16 year old son. So we went for the no candle route. I did of course make him act like he was blowing them out. I got some strange looks for that. Oh well. I am the mom, I get to make him do strange things from time to time.

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