The light and crispy qualities of a Mini Mexican Pizza bring a lot of fun and whimsy to a meal, and a lot of pleasure to the one partaking; and those are just the qualities that can open us up and inspire us a little in our everyday lives when our spirit needs some uplift, too.
I so adore and appreciate those wonderful little unexpected moments in life that bring that touch of joy, inspiration, warmth, or inner peace at exactly the moment that they’re most needed.
These little moments aren’t necessarily obvious, or outwardly extraordinary in any way—quite the opposite.
They’re just those simple little divine “blips” that occur that refresh the soul and bring a little extra light in, and remind us that though we toil most of our days, navigating the many challenges (both big and small) that life throws at us, there is indeed a lightness to our being, and always an opportunity to experience pleasure in something simple—something “light” and “crispy”, if you will—that can satisfy and fulfill.
Lately, it seems like it’s been one of those periods of time when the burdens seems like they’ve been laid on a little thick—ever feel that way?
It’s a period that seems to be taken up with lots of “have to do’s”, lots of dealing with unexpected, last-minute issues that come up, lots of keeping track, mentally, of things that need (or will soon enough need) attention.
Certainly, you know how that goes.
And when we hit that type of rocky terrain from time to time in life, the type that seems to go more uphill than down, it’s all too easy to get depleted of that vital, necessary energy and sharpness that’s so needed to experience conscious living; and when that happens, we begin to feel drained and even a little restless and not one’s best.
Ah…but that’s where the light and crispy moments often come in; that’s where the simple, tasty pleasures make themselves available to be experienced, and be reminders that there is always light and mercy there for our refueling.
It just so happened to have been one of those weekends when my hubs and I had planned on doing nothing but replenishing ourselves and taking it easy, because things have been a little bit demanding lately, and we’ve been feeling the need to unplug; but, as happens all too often, best laid plans for recuperation can quickly change.
And so by Sunday evening, we were both pretty drained and a bit uninspired, and feeling short on patience and energy—anything but refreshed going into yet another demanding week. And yet, we somehow felt compelled to step out, if even for a short time with our little dog, Lola, to take her to the park in the evening, so she could enjoy running free.
What’s one more thing to do, right?
But we ended up being so very glad we did go.
Our “light and crispy” moment ended up coming to us as we drove the 6 minutes down the freeway towards Lola’s favorite park in the form of the amazing golden-amber glow of the sunset as it spread over the Pacific, and it was the first thing that caused us to take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and open our eyes a little wider.
Then, once we arrived at the park (an inviting, sprawling, green, and wonderfully empty park), the cool, fresh evening air was tinged with grass, sage, chaparral—Southern California’s own cologne; and that, coupled with the incredible smile on our dog’s face as she ran like there was no tomorrow, ears flopping wildly, and without a care in the world, lifted our hearts and opened them up again to receive an abundance of sustenance in the form of beauty, joy, and serenity, creating instant gratitude and a deep peace that enriched us both in exactly the way we needed to be enriched.
We both inhaled deeply, and looked at each other with a knowing twinkle in our eyes and with little smiles on our face. We were moveable after all, and not bent on staying in our previous state.
Moments that are simple like this happen so effortlessly, and almost always without any planning.
All they require is that we be present and available to receive—willing to receive—a bit of nourishment and lightness from what they offer.
Light and crispy moments are light on the tongue, yet full of flavor; they entice the palette to open up and accept what is to come next, and to search for the subtle nuances and delicious, sustaining qualities that only the little unexpected-yet-amazing moments in life can somehow bring.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Mini Mexican Pizza with Black Beans and Seasoned Beef
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 4 mini pizzas
• 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• Canola oil, plus more for frying
• ½ onion, finely diced
• 1 pound lean ground beef
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon flour
• 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
• ¼ teaspoon lime zest
• 1 teaspoon lime juice
• 8 white corn tortillas (I like to use Mission brand “super soft” variety)
• Taco sauce
• Shredded Mexican blend cheese (about 2 cups)
• Finely diced tomato (about 1 large tomato)
• Finely diced red onion (about ½ small onion)
• Cilantro leaves
• ¼ cup sliced black olives
• Sour cream, if desired
-In a small ramekin, combine the chili powder, ground cumin, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and set this aside as your “spice mixture”.
-Place a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in 1 tablespoon of the oil; once hot, add in the onion and saute for a couple of minutes, until softened and translucent; crumble in the ground beef and break it up very well with a spoon, to create a fine crumble, and cook the meat for a couple of minutes until cooked through.
-Add in the tomato paste, the garlic, and the “spice mixture”, and stir to combine; cook for about 1-2 minutes, then sprinkle in the flour and stir to incorporate; reduce heat to low, and gently simmer the meat mixture for about 3-5 minutes, until slightly thickened; spoon into a bowl to slightly cool.
-Into the same pan/skillet drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of the oil, then add in the black beans; add in a couple of generous pinches of salt and pepper, and cook the beans for about a minute or two, just until warmed through; off the heat, add in the lime zest and the juice, and mash the beans with a masher until chunky-smooth, to create a sort of “refried bean” consistency (you can also add in about 2-3 tablespoons of water if too thick); spoon into a bowl to hold warm.
-To fry your corn tortillas, add enough oil to the bottom of a pan/skillet to completely cover it, and enough to submerge the tortillas in; place the pan over medium-high heat, and once the oil is hot, add in one tortilla at a time and fry for about 10 seconds on the first side, keeping the tortilla submerged with your tongs, and flip (it won’t be golden on that first side, yet, but that’s OK); cook on that second side for about 30-40 seconds (until golden-brown), then flip and fry that first side for another 30 seconds or so; drain on a wire rack, and repeat with remaining tortillas; allow to cool slightly before assembling.
-Preheat oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-To assemble, spoon about ¼ of the mashed black bean mixture onto one tortilla, followed by about ¼ of the seasoned ground beef; cover that with another fried tortilla, and add some taco sauce (about 2-3 tablespoons), plus a generous sprinkle of the cheese; sprinkle over a little of the olives, diced tomatoes, and red onion, and repeat with the remainder of the tortillas, making 4 mini pizzas; place them onto a baking sheet and bake just until the cheese is melted, about 4-5 minutes.
-Garnish with some cilantro leaves, and a touch of sour cream; cut the pizzas in half with a knife (or even in quarters for tiny wedges) and serve on their own, or with a salad.