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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Sweet potato and black bean burrito bowls

Sadly enough, this is the first time I’ve used a recipe inspired by one of Ottawa’s many fantastic food bloggers.

A few weeks ago Kelly tweeted a picture of the sweet potato and black bean burritos she made on her super fun blog, The Gouda Life.

Her pictures made my mouth water.  I tweeted back at Kelly in excitement of my food discovery, and almost immediately got a reply from my friend Gord over at the Savoury Starving Student.  Apparently he made a dish very similar to this last summer.  Two trusted bloggers endorsing a recipe?  I was sold.

I filed this one away to make for later.  When I found out Matt was coming to visit for the weekend, I decided this was the perfect time to use it.  I always feel bad making such extravagant meals for myself, so I have no choice but to take full advantage of visiting guests.  I don’t think they mind.

Since I have never once succeeded in making a wrap/burrito/taco look photogenic in any of my shots, I decided on an alternative serving method for this meal.

And so, the burrito bowl was born.

After a last-minute, neurotic kitchen breakdown sparked by me trying to bake the small tortillas into bowl form, Matt (my voice of reason, apparently), suggested we broil them.  Of course he was right, and the crisis was averted in mere minutes.

One thing I will say about this meal was that it dirtied a record-breaking amount of bowls (this is an impressive statement coming from a girl who almost always uses every dish in her kitchen to make dinner) and required the carefully timed co-ordination of cooking methods.  With three different meal components: the lime zested black beans, Mexican rice and sweet potato mash, not to mention the creation of the aforementioned tortilla bowls, this was quite the ordeal.

The end result was awesome, though.  Happy porch eating times were achieved.

PS: did you know that cutting jalapeño peppers can burn your fingertips?  Luckily I found this out just as I was about to slice in.  I created tiny thimbles for my fingers using aluminum foil, and thanked google for informing me of such a thing.

"Hmm, I wonder if I could ever make something this awesome?"

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