I’ve realized, despite the stress that it usually creates, that I enjoy the preparations for holidays sometimes as much as I enjoy the holidays themselves. The list-making, bag-stuffing for parties, the food-prepping/ cooking to prepare for an onslaught of friends at the house, and even the cleaning that goes along with hosting holiday events, both before and afterward, are in many ways fun. Ok, maybe not so much the cleaning, but you get my point.
Halloween kicks off the beginning of the holiday season in my mind. It marks the beginning of cooler weather in Austin, and the beginning of fall-like things: cinnamon, pumpkins and gourds, leaves falling, wreaths hung on the door, and soups and stews that simmer on the stove for hours. It’s really an exciting time of the year, especially after the incredibly long, hot summer that we’ve had this year.
In my attempt to really get into the holiday season as quickly as possible this year (and in hopes that it gets cold faster!!), I have been gearing up excitedly for Halloween for the past month. The decorations are out, the goodie bags for the parties are almost ready, the Halloween candy has been purchased and poured into the special Halloween bowl a couple of weeks in advance in preparation for the first of many holidays to come this year. Have I already dipped into the bowl of candy? Of course! I’m pregnant and only human, you know.
One food tradition that has held steady in our household since having kids is eating pizza on Halloween. Typically, in years past, it was always easiest to just order it and have it delivered. After all, time was short as a full-time working mama. Even though it was still a rush on Halloween after getting home from work and getting my son into his costume, much less hosting other families at the house, it was just easier to dial a number and wait for dinner to be delivered to the door. As a mom who now works from home part-time, I have a little more time to spend on homemade items. And so this year, in a true attempt at savoring every opportunity to really get into the holiday spirit, I decided to make the pizzas ahead of time and freeze, hoping that they will taste just as good reheated in the oven on Halloween.
Not being much of a baker as yeast doughs rarely work for me, I decided to try out a few different dough options:
The already prepared kind purchased from Costco that includes sauce.
The Pillsbury dough kind, which turned out to be my favorite.
And the mix-it-with-water kind.
Sadly, the above Jiffy dough did not work out for me. Turns out that you have to do some kneading of the dough, and I was way too tired by the time I got around to this one.
To get the kids involved, we made the pizzas a week in advance. I organized a playdate and allowed the kids to “decorate” their own pizzas. Yes, this created a mess of cheese on the table and floor, but my trusty Hoover dog (you can see him situated really close to the table in the picture below, just waiting for some tasty morsel to fall to the floor) was happy to help clean up! All in all, the kids were excited and had a great time. I encouraged them to make scary Halloween faces, but in the end, they just put on the ingredients that they wanted and sampled handfuls of cheese, pepperoni and olives along the way.
What about the sauce? If you want to go the super simple route, there are a plethora of canned and jarred sauces. I decided to make my own homemade sauce since I had recently stocked up on canned tomatoes from Costco (buy one, get one free this month. And they are organic!). The recipe is quite simple and can simmer away on the stove while you prepare the toppings.
3 cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, diced finely
1/4 cup of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning (mine has basil, oregano, marjoram, and thyme)
salt and pepper to taste
Drain the diced tomatoes. Pour all of the ingredients into a medium-sized pot. Simmer for a half an hour or longer, stirring often. Just before using, mash the diced tomatoes with a potato masher to break up the large pieces. Tip: Let cool for about a half an hour before letting the kids spread on the pizza dough to reduce the risk of them burning themselves.
We made a large variety of pizzas with different toppings to appease even the pickiest of eaters. The end result: delicious! Can’t wait for Halloween.
Are there any food traditions in your house for Halloween?
Written by Catherine Prystup