A tale of two cravings: Mexican-inspired pizza

This is what happens when cravings collide.

It is very easy to determine the cause of my hankering for these two foods.  The first craving, my huge desire for Mexican food, can be attributed to the fact that my dear friend Ariel has been talking about all things Mexican food-related for the past week. Sampling her lunch on Monday (some chilli chicken stew thing) was enough to send me over the edge. A spicy meal had to happen sooner or later.

The second of craving, the one for pizza, can be blamed on the constant reminder I have of the gooey dish, thanks to the two pizza parlours visible from my front porch and the fact that in a mere three weeks I will be eating the real deal in Italy.

A quick brainstorm and Internet search later, I decided that the combination of these two things was a go. Since it’s a little hard to see from the picture, let me describe to you the most wonderful part of this pizza: the refried black bean sauce.

Okay, so it wasn’t really a sauce per se, but rather a huge and delicious pile of mush that formed the foundation layer of my pizza.  I mixed a cup of refried beans (they are incredibly solid when coming from a can. This surprised me) with water (to make it more sauce-like) and salsa.  Finally, I tossed in some Old El Paso chilli mix that I had lying around, and the spicy base was complete. It was awesome, and meant that I was getting a protein fix sans meat (this whole semi-vegetarian thing is going okay, huh?).

Piled on top of this black bean base were the most ingredients I’ve ever put on a pizza: tomato, jalapeno pepper, red onion, corn, cilantro and more cheese than you could shake a stick at. All made this pizza taste exactly like an authentic Mexican meal. If I closed my eyes I could have been eating a taco. Wonderful, wonderful craving queller.

Another awesome thing about this pizza: I have SO many leftovers, which means the next two days worth of lunches will not be as sad and disgusting as today’s makeshift meal (some old mixed greens, leftover macaroni pasta, Parmesan cheese and store-bought Italian dressing. I know, I puked a little bit too).

To end on a positive note: Over the next few days I am planning on making fantastic cupcakes using some wonderful cupcake accessories that I bought in Toronto back in April. Anticipate away! Update as of 12:11 a.m. on Friday morning: the cupcakes have been made. They are delicious and gorgeous. Check for post soon.

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Portobello pesto pizza (and a new start)

Today I am taking a defibrillator to my blog.

As you can see, blogging inactivity has become the norm for the past week or so.  Sure, sure, I have plenty of excuses.  Whether it was my flu/summer cold showdown, visits from my family and boyfriend, or trying out some new Ottawa restaurants, I’ve been rather busy.

I’ve also been uninspired.  The second half of June left me in a slump, and it was only two days ago that I decided to finally start journeying out of my rut.  Now that I have less than a month left in Canada before my big European adventure, I figured I should probably food blog all I can.  Before I know it, this blog will be transformed into a storybook of my travels and lofty international tales.  To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Anyways, what better way to kickstart my July blog posts than with foods that I love?  Pesto, portobello mushrooms and so much cheese.  It was impossible to go wrong.  Oh right, and the crust was also infused with the garlic oil Brittany got me for my birthday.  All in all, this vegetarian, Natalie-friendly pizza is probably one of the best things I have ever made.

And who better to share it with than my future travel companion himself, Gord?

My handsome travel and dinner companion.

We gorged on this pizza, since we’re blissfully naïve and under the impression that we’ll somehow lose weight in Europe.  Hah. Good one, right?

Like I said above, this pizza was amazing.  Even when it was in the oven it smelt delicious.  Seriously, I thought I was going to have to take it out early and eat it in a cavewoman-like manner.  It was painful enough having to take my usual two dozen pictures pre-meal eating.  Gord had already shovelled half a piece into his mouth while I was still plating.  I can’t say that I blame him.

In the end, is there really anything more beautiful than portobello mushrooms?  I think I cried a bit when I was cutting these.  They’re just such a wonderful, meaty vegetable.  Okay, it’s happened – I’m officially romantically involved with a vegetable.

An iPhone picture I took in the midst of making the pizza. Please take a moment appreciate the pesto and portobello mushroom concealed beneath the cheese.

PS: I splurged on REAL Parmesan cheese to make this pizza.  I found a small, fairly inexpensive block and snatched it up before anyone could find it.  There is still half in the fridge.  Happy times will be had in future meals.
PPS: I couldn’t find any actual provolone cheese, so I used the slices that were packaged for sandwiches.  That’s okay, right?

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Pizza l’Amore

First, please listen to the song below when reading this post.  Thank you.

There is currently a heated debate occurring in my kitchen over the name of this pizza.  Natalie and Ariel are yelling out “PIZZA LOVE, PIZZA LOVE” and Conor, Natalie’s boyfriend, is mumbling something about how there is supposed to be an “a” in between the two words to make it French…or Italian…it’s hard to decipher their arguments.  Anyways, this pizza WAS love, and so the post title is accurate.

Just a warning, this is going to be the first of many Valentine’s Day posts.  As you know, I take advantage of any holiday that comes my way, and use that day/season as an excuse to bake and cook a ridiculous amount of themed foods.  If you are somehow a bitter, love-hating cynic I understand that you might not want to see my cutesy, pink and red foods.  However, here is a plug for all you singletons: I’m exactly like you.  Hell if I’m making all this stuff for some boyfriend who won’t appreciate it (like my boyfriend last year who did not appreciate my charming heart-shaped cakes).  Nope, this Valentine’s Day I’m loving myself and my roommates, and thereby declare that you do not need some person to spoil with these treats – you are good enough to eat them yourself.

Now, sometimes when I make food, I deliberately choose ingredients that will make a dish look better.  It was through this decision-making process that I decided to put pepperoni, red pepper and mushrooms on my pizza.  I don’t even know if I like mushrooms, but they were white, and needed to be included in my V-Day colour scheme.  Since I bought a set of six heart cookie cutters at the Bulk Barn, I decided to use the smallest one for my pizza, carefully cutting out miniature heart-shaped mushroom and pepperoni pieces.  Yeah…I’m kind of cute.

Anyways, this pizza turned out great and I’m still eating the leftovers today.  Not only was the pizza seasonally-appropriate, but also delicious.  Now if you DO have a special Valentine and have procrastinated to the point that you don’t know what to cook for them, I suggest this.  Easy and romantic FTW.

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Pizza Awesome

NAME CREDIT: Ariel Hartman.

I couldn’t think of a title for this post, and I tried googling all the ingredients and the interweb gave me no ideas.  In a moment of panic, Ariel forced me to call it this.  Apologies.  (she is now saying the title like a valley girl)

Before we start, an admittance of guilt: I feel absolutely horrible that I haven’t blogged for nearly a week.  I’ve had so much school work to do, and I shouldn’t even be blogging right now…  Lets be honest, I really just needed to stop doing work for two seconds.  Last night I made a cake (which will be my next post) and tonight, a pizza.  Sometimes a girl just needs to eat.

Alright, on to the actual post…

Guess what everyone?  WE GOT A BREAD MAKER!!!  Ariel had been telling us for months that she was going to get her mom to send us the one they never used and we finally got it delivered all the way from B.C. earlier this week.  It just so happens that this is the same bread maker that we have at home, so whenever the little thing churns, I get super nostalgic for the times when my mom would make fresh bread when I was young (I would always pick away at the bread before we were supposed to eat it, that’s why there were always holes in the crust, sorry mom).

Anyways, since I have been dying to use this miracle machine for a while now, I decided making pizza dough in it was the best way to begin my bread maker adventures.  Britt found a great recipe online and we decided to go splitsies on the dough and make two different delicious kinds of pizza.

I was originally planning on making a margarita pizza, but considering I’m not a huge fan of basil (the main ingredient in this kind of pizza) I decided to sort of improvise on this recipe.  I splurged on a delicious $8 mozzarella ball which melted into the most smooth yet chewy perfect cheese I have ever eaten in my life.  When I arranging the ingredients on this pizza I was being slightly ridiculous, perfectly aligning the spinach and peppers in a circular flower pattern.  Ariel gave me a few weird looks, but in the end I think it worked out for the best!  If you can’t tell from the picture, there is mozza cheese, baby spinach, red peppers, grilled chicken and red onion on the pizza.  Also, I added the red onion just so this pizza didn’t have a Christmas colour theme, but in the end it actually multiplied the tastiness by 10!

Special thanks goes out to Mer-Face (Ariel) for helping hold my pizza while I took pictures of it!  Balancing this baby on the patio wall would not have been easy, so I was mucho grateful!  Also, she got a new profile picture, bonus!

Red onion, grated zucchini and shaved ham pizza

Alright, so this recipe is of my own little creation (which is probably why it looks and sounds so amateur), and mostly came about for three of the following reasons:

1. I had zucchini leftover from last night’s dinner and have always wondered what it would be like to grate it (it’s really quite fun, if you’ve never tried it, I recommend it!);
2. I accidentally ended up with three red onions in my cooking arsenal, and had nothing to do with them;
3. I was REALLY craving pizza

With the above reasons in mind, I made this “red onion, grated zucchini and shaved ham pizza.”  Yes, it’s a mouthful, but it is difficult to think of appetizing food names at 12:30 in the morning!  Give me a break.  Must stop blogging into the wee hours of the night.

Also important to note: this is the first time EVER I have eaten pizza with any sort of vegetable on it.  I know what you’re thinking… “that Hilary is such a daring rule-breaker!”  Try to refrain from the praise, please.  Okay, so if the pictures look kind of lame, as in it looks like there are very few vegetables – please just take a step back and remember that I am new with the whole veggie loving thing.  I promise to include more next time.

In the meantime, I’m upgrading from my usual ham and cheese sandwiches and taking leftovers for work.  Yes, all 3/4 of the remaining pizza.  Co-workers, you will be fed.