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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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