My friend Bonnie is so impressive. Last year, while her kids were at sleepaway camp, she traveled to Medellin in Colombia to work on an early childhood development program, and came back with a determination to become fluent in Spanish. She’s been taking classes four times a week and told me over coffee last week, “It’s the best thing I ever did — like a whole new world has opened up for me that was right here all along.” I could, of course, completely relate, since I’ve been learning my own world-opening language this past year as well. It’s called Kid Instagramese, and for those of you who are not fluent, it might be wise to know a few crucial phrases should you ever find yourself on Instagram. Such as: “Like for a TBH,” which translates to, “if you ‘like’ my photo, I will then write a ‘to be honest’ comment about you, as in ‘tbh, ur really smart and nice;'” And “yasss” which means “yes” (Oh how my English-major heart aches); And “POS,” code for “Parent Over Shoulder” (hmmmm). There’s a lot of questionable stuff that happens on instagram (don’t get me started on the #20BeautifulGirls “challenge” that was hurtling through feeds last week) but one of the nicer byproducts, I have to say, is that the tween girl world has found all kinds of new ways to say “I Love You.” And while part of me worries that it’s cheapening the emotion a bit, another part of me says How can it be bad to spread the love in whatever form you can? All of the love messages are short and sweet — “ily” and “ilysm” (i love you so much) and “ilysmudek” (i love you so much u don’t even know) and therefore perfect to fit onto their Valentine’s Day pizza. Pan-fried because, TBH, they’re a lot faster that way.
I find it’s best to stick with pepperoni messages that are simple — the pepperoni carving can get laborious. If you’re looking for more ideas, just open a pack of SweetHeart candies for inspiration. A few options: Wink Wink, Te Amo, #love, hug me, BFF.
Watch your pizza under the broiler — the cheese can go from bubbly to burned fast if you’re not watching.
Sweetheart Pan-fried Pizzas
Makes two pizzas; You can also bake one pizza on one baking sheet the old-fashioned way — here’s that recipe to riff on.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 16-ounce ball of storebought pizza dough, split into two, and each rolled out as thinly as possible
1/4 to 1/2 cup homemade pizza sauce (or store-bought, I used Rao’s Marinara here), depending on how saucy you like your pizza
1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella (or about 8 slices fresh mozzarella)
8-10 pepperoni* slices, cut into various sweetheart patterns like hearts, initials, X’s & O’s and messages like “ily” and “ilysm” (chop up remaining pepperoni scraps and mix in to your sauce)
Preheat broiler. Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet set on medium heat. Add one rolled-out pizza dough to pan and cook until dough starts to bubble, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and immediately spoon half the sauce on top. Sprinkle generously with half the cheese, and arrange your pepperoni messages on top. Let bottom cook, about one minute. Transfer pizza to the oven and broil until cheese is bubbly and pepperoni is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
*Note: I used Applegate pepperoni, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this idea came out of an “instagram takeover” I am working on for them today in honor of Valentine’s Day. I partner with Applegate on various campaigns, which you should know, but I would also like to mention that I’m not contractually obligated to write about them in the editorial space of this blog, so I don’t feel the need to call this a “sponsored post.” It’s important to me that you know this, because even though I do giveaways from time to time, I have never run a sponsored post on this blog and I don’t plan to any time soon. All brand endorsements you read about on Dinner: A Love Story are my own.
Note #2: I’d also like to bring up, since a few of you have asked, that my 13-year-old joined instagram six months ago and can only access it through my iPhone, which makes me feel like I have some sense of control over the whole thing. I have her password and she knows I can check her feed at any time. My 11-year-old is not allowed on instagram yet, but she does get to man the dog’s account. I’m curious to hear how you guys handle social media in your house.