Ariba, Ariba!! First Attempt at a Mexican Pizza

Taco night (or as we call it in this house, “Effin’ Taco Night!!”) has always been quite popular in the dinner rotation here. So, for quite some time now I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making a mexican pizza. Well, last week I finally got my ideas together, headed to the grocery store and got everything I needed to do it.

The homemade dough was just your basic pizza dough recipe. The one thing I did decide to add to spice things up though was a bit of some cayenne pepper. See dough ingredients below:

3 cups of flour to start
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbs. of yeast
1 tsp of cayenne pepper

The toppings I decided to put on this pizza were:

Refried beans
Salsa
Black Olives (Lindsay’s brand of course)
Diced tomatoes
Spicy taco meat
Home grown chives from my Mom & Dad’s garden
Cheddar & pepper jack cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes

While the dough was doing it’s thing in the bread maker, I got all my chopping and prepping done ahead of time. First, I cooked up 1 lb. of ground sirloin and then added a packet of hot n’ spicy taco seasoning. I also warmed up the refried beans in a sauce pan so that they would be easier to spread on top of the dough. Once the dough was ready to roll out, the first thing I put down was the refried beans. Next, I spread out the salsa on top of the beans and sprinkled some crushed red pepper on top of that. I purposely bought a salsa that wasn’t too chunky but not too runny/watery either. It had a great consistency similar to what you would get in a mexican restaurant. Then, I added the black olives, chives and diced tomatoes. And finally I shredded the cheddar and pepper jack cheese and covered the pizza.

I cooked the pizza at 385 degrees for 19 minutes. The pizza looked great when it came out of the oven. I have to admit I was very excited yet nervous to try this pizza. I really had no idea if I was going to love it or hate it. To my surprise, it tasted excellent!! Only a few things I would change up to make it even better the next time I make this. This pizza would be a perfect candidate for using the new cast iron pizza pan we have (this time I just used our regular pan). The cast iron really gives the crust a crispy crunch to it which I felt would have helped this pizza. I may have put on a little bit too much salsa because I felt that if I didn’t eat the pizza quickly, it just might get a little too soggy. So I think the extra crunchiness that the cast iron pan provides would have been great.

Mexican Pizza

Another thing I forgot to add that I bought for this little experiment was black beans. Oops! There’s always next time. Also, I wanted to add my favorite taco sauce, Ortega (medium or hot), but was worried with the salsa AND the taco sauce that it might get even MORE soggy. So I skipped the Ortega sauce this time. I think next time, I might mix up a combination of salsa with the Ortega sauce and use that. Another thing I thought might be fun to add on top (maybe after it’s done cooking) would be crushed up tortilla chips. But I haven’t decided how I feel about that topping yet. Would it really help the pizza? Or am I just gettin’ crazy now?

Needless to say, Effin’ Taco Pizza night was a success! And I think warming up a piece of the leftovers on the stovetop in a frying pan would a great idea for this pizza. I think that it would help crisp up the bottom of the crust a little more when going to reheat it. Now all you need is a margarita and you’d be set!

Mexican Pizza

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Homemade White Pizza Experiment

Ok, so over the years I have never been one to purposely order a white pizza. Although I have at least tried white pizzas in the past but only if someone else happens to be eating one and says “Oh come on, just try some.” So just what IS a white pizza you may ask? Well, here is the definition according to the “Google machine.” White Pizza – (pizza bianca) uses no tomato sauce, often substituting pesto or dairy products such as sour cream. Most commonly, the toppings consist only of mozzarella and ricotta cheese. In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped only with olive oil.

So I decided to try making my very own version of a white pizza with lots of ingredients that I love and see how I liked it. I started out just making a very simple pizza dough. The ingredients I included were as follows:

3 cups of flour to start
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. of sugar
3/4 cups water
1 Tbs. of yeast
2 tsp. garlic powder

In to the bread maker the ingredients went and about 40 minutes later it was ready to become a pizza.  First I rolled out the dough and laid down a layer of pesto sauce as my base. I usually just buy a jar of pesto that you can find right in the tomato sauce isle. Next I added the toppings which included sauteed mushrooms and spinach, chopped up kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts out of a jar, roasted red peppers and roasted garlic. Now this was the second time I have tried to roast garlic. It came out better than the first time I roasted garlic which was a complete disaster. But if anyone has a quick and easy way to do it, please let me know. It just seems really tricky to get the garlic from their cloves after it’s roasted. But maybe that’s just me.

White Pizza Pesto Base

After all the toppings were added I piled on the cheese. I started with grated parmesan cheese. Then I remembered I actually had shredded parmesan cheese in the fridge too so I added that as well. I also picked up some crumbled goat cheese and feta cheese at the grocery store so on to the pizza they went. Finally I covered the rest of the pizza with shredded mozzarella. I put the pizza in to the oven which had been preheated to 385 degrees and I set the timer for 17 minutes.

White Pizza toppings

The results…. I thought it came out pretty darn tasty. Like I have always said, I haven’t always been a huge fan of white pizzas, because I usually tend to like my pizzas with a lot of tomato sauce. But when I started to think about the different types of ingredients I could add to get some really great flavors, it started to sound pretty good. I guess my problem with white pizzas is that whenever I have tried them in restaurants they tend to seem too plain and bland to me. So my solution to that was to make my own that had lots of flavors going on and a lot of fresh ingredients. And this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Oh! The one thing I meant to add to this pizza but I forgot, which I think would have only made this even tastier, was……bacon! Oh well, next time!

White Pizza

Homemade Pizza Sauce With a Zing!

Being National Pizza week this past week, well, what else was I going to make for dinner but homemade pizza of course! This time, I decided to try making a homemade pizza sauce for the first time. I had actually just gone to the grocery store and bought a ton of tomato products for making chili later this weekend. So since I had the ingredients on hand, I went ahead and used some of them for a nice homemade sauce because I had never tried making my own pizza sauce before.

But before we get to the sauce, here’s what I put in my dough:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Coors Light beer
3 Tbs softened butter (Spreadable I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs yeast

So I went to work on my sauce next. The ingredients I used for this were as follows:

6 oz. can of tomato paste
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbs. olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbs. italian seasoning
1 Tbs. oregano
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

I started out by sautéing the garlic in olive oil. Next, I added all the tomato products and then added the seasonings. I stirred everything together and let it come to a boil. Then I just reduced the heat and let it sit and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. It was pretty simple, I must say. Who’d a thought? This recipe made probably enough sauce for 2 pizzas. So I have plenty of leftover sauce for my next pizza.

While the sauce cooked on the stovetop, I began prepping the toppings for the pizza. The toppings that went on this one were:

Mushrooms
Spinach
Pepperoni
Bacon
Fire Roasted Red Peppers
Mozzarella & Feta Cheese

I sauteed the mushrooms and spinach in garlic and olive oil in a frying pan. Once the dough was done in the bread machine and the sauce was finished cooking, I spread the sauce on the dough which was smelling nice and garlicy at this point. I put the rest of the toppings on and finally the cheese and in to the oven it went for 18:25 minutes at 385 degrees.

I have to say I was really impressed with the taste of this one. The sauce had a sweetness to it that I didn’t expect. But the red pepper flakes complimented it nicely and gave it just enough kick. I also liked the buttery taste that the crust had. The bacon and pepperoni went really well with the hint of sweetness I was getting from the homemade sauce because of their salty flavor. I think the garlic really added some great flavor to the sauce as well. I of course love garlic so I went a little on the heavier side when adding it to my sauce. All in all, I was really happy with this one. I was excited my first attempt to make my own homemade pizza sauce was a success!

homemade pizza sauce

Adventures in Cast Iron Pizza Pan Cooking

Have you ever thought about or wanted to try cooking a homemade pizza in a cast iron frying pan? I’ve read online different ways you can do this and one suggestion was to cook your pizza on the bottom side of a cast iron frying pan flipped upside down. Well, little did I know, they actually make cast iron pizza pans specifically for cooking pizzas on! Literally just days after I found out these genius pizza pans were in existence, we then got one as a Christmas present! How perfect is that?!
cast_iron_pan

This was my first attempt at cooking a pizza on a cast iron pan. So I did a bit of research on what to do beforehand. I learned you should preheat the pan for 30-60 min. in the oven at a temperature of at least 450 degrees or higher before you put the pizza in. I also read that you will know your pan is ready when you splash a few drops of water on the pan and the drops “dance.” The pan we received was a 14 inch pre-treated, non-stick pan so it was ready to go right out of the box. Which was great! The nice thing about cast iron is that you can use it in the oven, on an outdoor grill or even on a campfire. Cast iron pans are known for even heating and excellent heat retention when cooking a pizza. So I was really looking forward to the nice golden crust this one was going to have.

The ingredients I used for the homemade dough this time were:

2 1/2 cups of flour
2/3 cups of lukewarm water
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
1 Tbs of minced garlic
1 Tbs of yeast
1 Tbs of oregano
2 Tbs of olive oil

The tricky part of making the pizza on the preheated cast iron pan as opposed to a regular pizza pan is that you need to have your dough rolled out before you put it on the pan. This is because once you place the dough on the hot cast iron, it’s gonna be stuck there! So I transferred the dough I hand stretched and rolled out beforehand on to the pre-heated pan and quickly got the sauce and toppings on so I could get it back in the oven.

The toppings I used were as follows: (You’ll notice they are similar to the last homemade pizza I made. It was just so good I had to use a lot of the same toppings)

Pepperoni
Kalamata Olives
Fire Roasted Red Peppers
Salami
Mozzerrella, Pepper Jack and Parmesan Cheese

cast iron

Before placing the pizza back in the oven I turned the oven down to 385 degrees. Then, I cooked the pizza for around 17 minutes. And the verdict was…… success! The crust had a very nice crisp to it on the bottom and was cooked perfectly through. I was very impressed. I’ll probably do some experimenting with the temps and timing for the next one I use the cast iron pan for just to see the different results I get. But for my first attempt, it came out pretty darn good. Another idea we came up to try with was to keep the cast iron pizza pan nice and warm while putting the toppings on by lighting the burner underneath it while it sits on the stove. There are so many different things to try with this pan. It can also be used for warming tortilla shells, baking rolls, cornbread, etc. I’m very happy with the new addition to our pizza pan collection!

cast iron slice

One Spicy Pizza – Cha cha cha!!

OK, it’s a new year. Time for CPG to come out of hibernation and write her first blog of 2011. For my first homemade pizza of the year I decided to go with a spicy theme tonight (probably against my better judgement considering I landed in the emergency room towards the end of 2010 for stomach issues again). But, what can I say, old habits die hard. Mom, I promise I took a Pepcid AC! So let’s get started with what was in the dough.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs Olive Oil
2/3 Cup Lukewarm Water
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 1/4 Cups Flour
1/4 tsp Oregano
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 Jalepeno Pepper, minced (optional, I did not have one unfortunately)

And into the bread maker the ingredients went. This was a little bit smaller dough recipe than I typically make. But it was just what I was looking for, a thinner crust than usual. Once the bread maker timer went off, the dough was ready to come out. It looked perfect. I could see the little flecks of red pepper flakes throughout. Next, it was time to get the dough on the pizza pan and add the sauce and toppings.

Spicy Pizza Toppings

Toppings:

Ragu Pizza Sauce
Spicy Italian Sausage Pieces
Pepperoni
Fire Roasted Red Peppers
Kalamata Olives

For the cheese, I used shredded mozzarella, parmesan, and pepper jack for a bit more of a kick. Three types of cheese are better than one right?! I cooked the pizza at 385 degrees for 18 minutes and 23 seconds. A number I thought sounded good. It came out just perfect with the cheese lightly browned and good crisp to the crust. I have to say, this pizza was probably in my top 3 pizzas I have ever made. The amount of sauce was just perfect. When ever I think I have just enough sauce, I always add just a little bit more. I have always liked a decent amount of sauce on my pizzas. The spicy sausage really added some amazing flavor. And to kick things up yet another notch, I always add crushed red pepper on top of my slice when I eat my pizza. So all the spicy flavors came together quite nicely. If the heat is a little too much for you to handle, you can always dip your crust into ranch dressing to cool your mouth off. The only thing I might have done differently with this pizza is added MORE of the fire roasted red peppers to it. They were so darn good I could not stop eating them right off of the pizza before it even went in to the oven.

Spicy Homemade

CPG found out 2 weeks is too long to go without making a pizza

This weekend I decided to make another pizza, because well, why not? I had the time and I love pizza. Since I’m on my garlic kick right now (really, when am I not) I wanted to add garlic powder to the dough again. Well, I guess going 2 weeks without making a pizza was a little too long for me. Because I made some vital errors in my dough making this time. First I’ll give you the run down of what I put in the dough.

Dough Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups of flour to start
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. of sugar
1 can of Coors Light
1 Tbs. of yeast
and garlic powder (not exactly sure how much)..

Now I say I don’t exactly how much garlic powder I put in because I simply took the shaker and went to town. I’ve noticed in my pizza making experience that if you want to be able to taste a certain flavor in your dough, you kind of have to use a lot of that ingredient. So if I had to guess, I’d say I put in maybe 2-3 Tbs. of garlic powder. Then, I let the breadmaker do its thing. The whole time the dough was being prepared, the scent of garlic filled the whole condo. It was definitely going to be noticed in this one! :)

Now as I checked on the dough in the beginning, I could already tell that I needed to add more  flour. I could tell the flour to liquid ratio was just not right. I’ve made my own dough enough now where I could tell just by looking at the consistency of it that I needed to add more flour. So I went ahead and added probably another cup’s worth right then and there. When the beeping went off to tell me that the breadmaker was finished and my dough was ready I opened the lid and said “Oh no.. ” I could immediately tell that the dough was too sticky. Apparently I needed to add a LOT more flour than I had thought.

Have no fear, I just got out the flour again and went to work on working more in to the ball of dough I had. And soon enough, the dough was much less sticky and ready to roll out on to the pizza pan. I did have to cut the dough in half now though since I added so much more flour, there was just too much of it and I wanted more of a thin crust for this pizza. Good save Linds!! Gave myself a pat on the back for rescuing the pizza dough, because otherwise I would have been very sad. Lindsay without her pizza is not a pretty sight.

Now on to the pizza toppings. I loaded up the base with sauce. Just my usual Ragu pizza sauce this time. (One of these days I will get around to making my own sauce. I promise.) Then I added pepperoni, left over italian sausage from dinner a few nights before, and mushrooms. I shredded mozzarella (seriously, I can never remember how to spell that one and spellcheck always yells at me) and cheddar to top it off. In the oven my garlic-y pizza went at 385 degrees for 19 minutes.

homemade garlic crust

When the pizza came out, it was perfectly cooked. Lightly browned, melted cheese and a slightly crispy crust on the bottom. The first thing I noticed when I took a bite in to this pizza was the consistency of the dough. It definitely had a different texture to it than my dough usually has. Almost like it was more spongey and it wasn’t as light and airy. I am not sure if it was the amount of garlic powder I put in to the dough that changed the consistency or it was the flour I was adding to the dough after the dough was already made. But, I will say that the pizza still tasted quite good. It was just a different kind of crust. So I was happy with the end result. You could certainly taste the hint of garlic in the dough. And the italian sausage was really flavorful. I guess there is something to be said for being more careful about measuring  though :)

garlic powder crust

Nothing like homegrown vegetables on your pizza!

Homemade pizza tonight! Ok, so my decision process on making pizza tonight went something like this. I didn’t want pasta because I had pasta for dinner last night. I had grilled burgers and brats over the weekend so I didn’t feel like grilling. I figured I’d make a nice big salad one day this week but that would require going to the store to buy all the stuff to go in it and I just didn’t feel like making the trip. I wanted something that didn’t require a lot of effort or time either. I started to get the inkling for a pizza (naturally) but knew that by the time I got home, making the dough from scratch would put me at actually eating dinner around 9:00pm tonight. And I was already hungry (this was around 5:00pm that this thought process took place). So, I thought, you know…Whole Foods has really good fresh homemade dough and that would cut down the prep time by a lot. And viola, there you have it! We were making pizza tonight.

Since there was no dough making in this process, I’ll go right in to which toppings were used tonight:

  • Ragu Pizza Sauce
  • Fresh Mozzarella from Whole Foods
  • Chunks of cut up homegrown tomatoes from my parent’s vegetable garden
  • Sliced kalamata olives
  • Pepperoni
  • Sauteed homegrown zucchini from my parent’s vegetable garden
  • Basil…you got it, homegrown from my parent’s vegetable garden

Can you tell I’ve just recently been to my parent’s house? Any time I go there during the summer I get sent home with a bag full of fresh vegetables. I love it! This time I actually picked my own basil leaves too. Anyways, the pizza came out really tasty. I loved the fresh basil the best. The flavor really stood out and it smelled delicious. The kalamata olives really had a great strong flavor as well. Of course I love kalamata olives so I didn’t mind the strong taste. I can eat those things like candy. In fact, I often just sit there and eat them out of the jar as a snack when I’m deciding what to eat. I didn’t really notice the zucchini that much. We cut up round slices and sauteed them in a pan before we put them on the pizza. I wonder if I added more the next time if they would be more noticeable. Or maybe I’ll try doing shredded zucchini. We’ll see.

Whole fresh pizza

I actually felt like this pizza could have had a little more crunch to it. I cooked it for it’s usual time of around 18 minutes at 385 degrees. Maybe it had to do with the type of dough it was, but I actually put the whole pizza (what was left of it) back in to the oven for another 3 minutes after I ate the first slice. It gave it a little more crunch to the bottom. So then I was happy. All in all the pizza was very good. If you’re going to put vegetables on your pizza, you really can’t go wrong with homegrown. It just tastes so unbelievably fresh! Thanks Mom & Dad! I’ll certainly be back for more veggies sometime soon.

Close up fresh veggies