Lunch Detention With The Breakfast Club (#69)
Our 69th movie night fell upon the classic film, "The Breakfast Club." I had never actually seen this movie before, so my first thought was to do breakfast foods. After looking into it though, I discovered that the film had nothing to do with breakfast and was actually about a group of students being held in detention.
One scene in the film involves the students having lunch together. They each unpack and compare their very different packed lunches. This reminded me of my own experiences with packed lunches at schools, unpacking what your parents made you, never quite sure what it would be. This became the inspiration for our evening meal. I packed a bunch of brown paper bag lunches, similar to the kinds that parents might make their children in the late 80s and early 90s. Each bag would be different and guest would choose one at random. Once every had their lunch bag, we would unpack it and would then have the option to barter and trade items with each other.
To do this, it was important that every lunch bag be different, but also that the each have comparable items for easier trading. I decided that they should each include an entree, a drink, a side, fruit, and a dessert. To make sure each bag was different, I needed a lot of variety for each item. For entrees, I had everything from Lunchables, to multiple types of different sandwiches. For drinks, some had sodas, while others had CapriSun, milk, or juice boxes. For the sides, there where different types of chips and crackers to pick from. The fruit varied from real to artificial. I had apples, bananas, cups of fruit, and raisins but I also had fruit snacks and fruit yogurt. Desserts could be Little Debbie snacks, cookies, or pudding. I intentionally packed each bag with items that I assumed would be wanted and other things that might not be. This would encourage the trading of food items when we ate.
As a bit of extra fun, I also hand wrote some "notes from mom" and put one in each bag. My friends and I have a dark sense of humor, so the notes reflected that and were dark humorous twists of the kind of notes a mother might normally write.
Everything worked marvelously well. Guests enjoyed the nostalgic nature of the childhood food and snacks, and they also really enjoyed make deals and swaps with each other.
Of course, the nature of this setup creates a big risk. What if a guest gets something they don't like and don't want, but are unable to get anyone to trade with them? The last thing I want as host is for a guest to be unhappy with their meal, so in addition to the bagged lunches, I decided to offer a cafeteria lunch option. What better nostalgic cafeteria food to offer than the classic school pizza.
Unfortunately, the night of the party, I had problems with my oven, so I wasn't able to cook my school pizza on time, but I made it the next day for myself and enjoyed it. Here's the recipe:
Classic School Pizza
School pizza was designed with a few things in mind. It needs to be cheap, balanced, and as nutritious as possible. These criteria are met through the ingredients used. In addition, it's pretty easy to make, which makes considering how much of this a school would have to bake on "pizza day."
- Half sheet baking pan (18 in x 13 in)
- Kitchen Timer
- Electric mixer with whisk attachment
- Frying Pan
- Approximately 1 tbsp of Crisco vegetable shortening
- Approximately 1.5 tbsp cornmeal
- 1 pack of Fast-Acting instant yeast
- 1 and 2/3 cup of warm water
- 2 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup of instant non-fat dry milk powder
- 2 tbsp of sugar
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1 and 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil
- Approximately 1 and 1/3 cups of pizza sauce. Use your own or make it with:
- 1 can of tomato paste (6 oz)
- 1 and 1/2 cups of water
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1/2 tbsp basil
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 2 cups of shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 lb lean ground chuck or ground beef
Instructions: (If you are making your own sauce, you may want to do that first.)
- Set oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit so that it can begin to preheat.
- Pour your yeast and warm water into your mixing bowl and gently stir them together with a spoon.
- Set a timer for 4 minutes and start prepping for the next step.
- After the 4 minutes is up, add the rest of the dough ingredients to your yeast water. This is the flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, and oil. With the whisk attachment, set you mixer to a low setting. Setting 2 is what I use on a KitchenAid mixer.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes, step away, and use this time to prep you baking pan. Use the shortening to grease the entire bottom of the pan. Then lightly sprinkle with the cornmeal. You may need to use more than the amount stated in the ingredients list in order to get an even coating.
- After the 10 minutes have passed, turn off your mixer and use a spatula to scrap the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed. Your batter will be very liquidy and may have lumps in it. That is absolutely fine and expected.
- Pour your batter into the center of your pan. Use your spatula to scrape the bowl and get every drop in the pan.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes and walk away. You will still need your spatula, but now would be a good time to start cleaning up everything else and putting your baking ingredients away.
- As it rests, the batter will begin to thicken. After that 5 minutes is up, it should be thick enough that you can begin to spread it. Use your spatula to gently guide the dough so that it reaches all the edges and gets into all four corners of the pan. It should be thin but pretty evenly spread across the pan.
- Now, set your timer for 15 minutes. Don't touch your dough or baking pan during this time, but now would be a good time to prep your sauce and/or meat topping.
- For the sauce, you can use your own pizza sauce or make one by mixing the ingredients listed in a warm pot. When done, you should refrigerate it. We will want the sauce to be cool or at least room temperature when it is time to use. Some people find it best to make the sauce the day before. You will probably have made more sauce than what you actually need.
- For the meat, you just need to brown it in a frying pan on medium heat. You want to make it into small crumbles as it cooks. Lightly season the meat as it cooks. I recommend about 1/4 tsp of both salt and pepper. That may be less than you would normally season meat, but remember that one of the goals of this recipe is to make the pizza as nutritious as possible. That means limiting how much sodium we are using. There will be a lot of flavor in the crust and in the sauce, so seasoning the meat is less important.
- Once the meat is browned, use a strainer to remove any grease.
- After your dough has finished resting those 15 minutes, it is time to put it in the oven for 10 minutes. This will hopefully give you enough time to finish prepping your meat and sauce if that last break wasn't enough time for you.
- After 10 minutes, take the baking pan out and add about 1 and 1/3 cups of your pizza sauce. Spread it thin and evenly. Try to get close to all the edges. Crust is not as important to sheet pizza as it is regular pizza.
- Once the sauce is spread out, top your pizza with the meat and cheese. When I made this, I put my meat on top of the cheese, but I would recommend you put your meat on first so that the cheese helps hold the meat in place and makes the crumbles less likely to roll away.
- Once topped, put your pizza in the oven and let it bake until the cheese is beginning to brown. This should take between 10 to 15 minutes.
- When done, remove the pizza and wait 5 minutes before slicing and serving.