Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Make Your Own Pizza Party!

The last several parties I have thrown included a large budget for food. At Baby Boo's first party we even served steak kabobs! They were delicious, but I wanted to do something a little less expensive this time around that would still be a crowd pleaser. A friend of mine suggested we do a make-your-own-pizza party. I have been to one of these before for adults, but I hadn't even considered it for a kiddy party. I instantly loved the idea for several reasons:
  • Pizza is pretty universally liked (and vegetarian friendly)
  • It is totally customizable
  • It is relatively inexpensive
  • It is a fun activity for the kids in lieu of official party games
I used the same method for the party that I almost always use for homemade pizza, Chef Boyardee pizza kits:
The kit comes with a dough mix, pizza sauce, and powdered Parmesan cheese. 1 box is supposed to be enough for 2 pizzas, but I find that there is way too much pizza sauce and parmesan cheese relative to the dough. When making the crusts, I throw both dough mix packs into a bowl and combine them with 2 cups of whole wheat flour, as well as a 1/2 cup of ground flax seed. This way, there is a better ratio of sauce/cheese to dough, and I healthify the dough with the additions. I use roughly 2 cups of water with the new dough mixture and add more flour if it is too sticky. I found that 1 pizza kit yielded about 8 personal sized pizza crusts.

The crusts varied in size to account for different appetites. Most people at the party had 1 piece, though a few went for seconds. . . my brother that never stops eating went for 3! Either way, with about 20 adults and 13 kids that stuck around for the food, 7 pizza kits covered them. The kits themselves cost less than $30 for everyone. A 5lb bag of mozzarella cheese, and a 5lb bag of pepperoni from Sam's Club brought the total up to roughly $50 - still pretty good for feeding so many people!

The price definitely climbed once I added a bunch of other ingredients:
  • I splurged & bought 3lbs of fresh mozzarella which was VERY popular. 
  • To go with the fresh mozz, I bought some tomatoes. . .
  • & spinach leaves for Margherita pizzas. 
  • I didn't splurge for basil, but there was some dried stuff around in case someone wanted that. 
  • I bought a large can of diced pineapples. . .
  • & a pack of ham for Hawaiian pizzas.
  • Veggie wise, we had red onion,
  • fresh mushrooms,
  • yellow and orange bell pepper,
  • pickled jalapenos,
  • & olives.
  • For condiments we had dried oregano (& basil),
  • sea salt,
  • a pepper mill for fresh cracked pepper,
  • shredded parmesan
  • olive oil with a brush for the crusts,
  • balsamic vinegar for dipping,
  • & olive oil for brushing onto the crusts.
It was quite the spread. I borrowed a long plank of wood from my mom that was about 5' long and 2' wide. The plank sat on 2 chairs so that it would be child height in our kitchen. I was worried that the 'child height' part would come back to bite me in the butt, but since the majority of the action was outside, it worked rather nicely. I wish I had gotten a photo of the whole setup, but unfortunately I was too busy to snap anything. My sister did get a partial shot at least:
The crusts were all pre-mixed, and baked the day before. On party day, I assembled the table starting with the crusts on one end, followed by the sauce/olive oil, then the cheeses, and then the toppings. All that needed to be done come party time, was to throw the individually built pizzas on the grill or in the oven for 5 minutes to melt everything together. We were going to have just the grill going, but with a few dozen hungry people, we decided to fire up the oven also. 
Freshly assembled pepperoni pizzas.

After 5 minutes on the grill; Yum!

All in all it was a huge success! Everyone enjoyed the concept, and the food was delicious!. Many of the pizza toppings doubled as snacks (peppers, pepperonis, pineapples, etc.) or salads (spinach, tomato, fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, etc.). Other than that, we had some minimal snacks like a bowl of popcorn, and some chips with salsa. Really, the pizza was plenty!
The hubs grilling pizzas

The birthday boy patiently waiting for his pizza to be thrown on the grill.

Next time you are in search of a crowd pleasing party idea, I highly recommend having a make-your-own pizza party!

Previous posts about this party (in case you missed them):

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