Senior Center Classes: Fun? Enlightening? Tasty?

No kitchen is needed for hosting Sr. Center Cooking Classes. Table-top appliances are fine.

No kitchen is needed for hosting Sr. Center Cooking Classes. Table-top appliances are fine.

Monday’s “class” at the Senior Center gave us an opportunity to share ideas in a way that was fun, enlightening and ended with a healthy pizza feed. Whole wheat crusts, home-made sauce, veggies  and sharp cheese improve nutritional value. You can do the same with your group  Read more for lesson plans and recipes.

 The gathering started with a discussion of how to make pizza dough. Simply said, it is just flour, yeast, water, salt, and oil. But there are different types of flour and other herbs can be tossed in. We prefer making our own with a combination of unbleached bread  flour and whole wheat flour. But to speed things up, we bought pre-made natural pizza dough from Trader Joe’s Market. They offer 3 varieties, no preservatives, always fresh and reasonably priced.

Then we discussed how to make the sauce in a slow cooker.  (See recipes below). There are many variations to be found online but if you slow cook freshly skinned tomatoes and fresh herbs you will marvel at the flavor. Pizza with salsa, Alfredo, and pesto are other options.

Pulling the dough was easy but Karma, the Center Director, arrived too late to pull one.

Pulling the dough was easy but Karma, the Center Director, arrived too late to pull one.


We pulled the dough into rough circles, spread a small amount of sauce then added finely chopped bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushroom. Their creations were topped off with a small sprinkling of feta and Parmesan cheese.

The table top toaster oven can hold several small pizzas so we baked them for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees. They were placed on cookie sheets but could be cooked on a grill  or on a ceramic stone.

All of our lesson plans will be posted under Senior Center Resources ASAP. Stay Tuned

Basic Pizza Dough
Yields 2
A simple pizza dough recipe. Use a mixer or food processor to make it easier and faster.
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  1. ½ cup warm water (about 100-110°)
  2. 1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast
  3. 1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
  4. 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 3 cups (15 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
  6. 1C (6oz) whole wheat flour
  7. 1 ½ tsp. salt
  8. pinch of cornmeal for bakinh
  9. olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl
  10. (optional sweetener 2T honey)
  1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water (sweetener) and oil stirring to combine.
  2. Place the flour and salt in a bowl . Briefly stir the dry ingredients.
  3. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix just until a ball can be formed.
  4. Knead briefly just until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  6. Press the dough to deflate it.
  7. Form dough into a flat thin sheet or circle
  8. To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.
  9. Heat the oven to 500°. (450 if using a toaster oven
  10. transfer dough to a cutting board dusted with cornmeal.
  11. Top as desired . Slide the dough onto the pizza stone.
  12. Bake until the crust edges and cheese brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.
  1. Pizza dough is easier to handle at room temperature and if not over mixed
Adapted from Cooking LIght and others
Adapted from Cooking LIght and others
Family Meals Project


Basic Pizza Sauce
Yields 3
Slow cooked tomatoes and dry herbs are a simple way to create pizza sauce
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  1. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  2. 1 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  3. 1 8oz can tomato paste
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  5. 2T Italian seasoning mix (or 5 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped with oregano, thyme and Rosemary added to taste)
  1. 1 Place all ingredients in a slow cooker
  2. 2 Cover and cook on high for 2 hours then reduce to low for 2 hours
  3. 3. To thicken the sauce, move lid to create a small opening for water to escape.
  4. 4. Continue simmering until the sauce thickens.
  5. 5. Taste periodically and add herbs and spices as needed.
  1. 1 To use fresh tomatoes, remove hard inner core & score the top of tomato with an x
  2. 2, Dip into boiling water 'till skin starts to peel
  3. 3. Remove, cool in ice water, peel the outer skin off and drop into the slow cooker.
Adapted from From several sources
Adapted from From several sources
Family Meals Project




This entry was posted in 2015, baking, basic cooking, sauce and tagged , , , on by .

About Don R

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Retired teacher. Multiple successful business endeavors including screen printing / sporting goods business, executive director of a Boys & Girls Club, commercial fishing, and co-founding an alternative high school. Interests include family, hiking, cooking, Parkinson's research and developing an educational cooking program.