Recipe blitz recipe #3: Mexican pizza

13 Jun

My family loves pizza. My family loves Mexican food. So when the two worlds collide and make Mexican pizza, our taste buds don’t know what to do.

Here’s what we had for dinner tonight:

Mexican pizza


  • 4 8″ flour tortillas
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can tomatoes (you can use any flavor you like)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups colby jack cheese
  • Optional: chopped jalapeños, sliced black olives, ground beef


  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. While oven is heating, spray pan with cooking spray. Cook onions and black beans until onions are soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, taco seasoning and approximately ½ cup water. Cook until water is boiling; reduce heat and cook approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Place flour tortillas on baking sheet. Spread approximately 1/2 cup bean and tomato mixture on each tortilla (this acts as the “sauce”). Top with cheese, olives, jalapeños and/or ground beef.
  5. Bake for approximately 13 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned to your liking.

That’s it. Simple, delicious, spicy, quick. What more could you ask for?



Movie tickets for $9! For two tickets!

9 Jun

The recipe blitz will resume tomorrow but I had to share this deal:

I’ve been a bit leery of sites like Groupon and Living Social for a while now but I know too many people who trust them completely. So, when I saw a deal on Money Saving Mom for two movie tickets for $9 as an offer from Living Social, I knew it was time to try it out.

The deal is this:  login or sign up for a Living Social account. You can use this link to access the deal (apparently it’s an online offer only) you buy a voucher for two tickets for $9 from Fandango (before you even sign up, check Fandago first to see if it’s available in your area. I can use it by my house and my parents’ house, but not my in-laws’). I’ve used Fandango in the past and it’s awesome, especially for those must-see movies. After you purchase the deal, you’ll get an email with the promo code number which you can use to buy your movie tickets online only; you can’t use the promo at the theater’s box office. It’s a limit of one purchase per customer, and both tickets must be used for the same movie/time. The voucher expires September 9, 2011.

With so many movies coming out this summer that we want to see, this will definitely come in handy!

Full disclosure: If three of you buy the deal, I get my tickets for free. Please do not feel any pressure to purchase the tickets because of the incentive. I just think that $9 for two tickets is an amazing deal that I bought before I knew about the referral incentive, especially when you consider the $22 we paid for 2 tickets. For a matinee. Absurd.

Recipe blitz recipe #2: Banana blueberry muffins

8 Jun

There are times that I find myself with a whole bunch of overripe bananas. They’re too ripe to eat and too ripe to freeze but I don’t want to throw them out. To deal with this problems, I’ve collected some recipes that use these bananas. One is a chocolate chip banana bread; the other is banana blueberry muffins.

While I love both recipes, the muffins are a little more practical for daily use. Plus, they last longer (the banana breads never lasts more than 48 hours in my house). I’m not really sure where I got this recipe so I apologize to the creator for not being able to give proper credit.

Banana Blueberry Muffins


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 4 mashed bananas, depending on size)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour dry ingredients into banana mixture. Mix thoroughly. There might still be some lumps from the banana. This is OK.
  5. Fill each muffin cup approximately 1/2 way.
  6. Bake for 16 minutes.

These muffins are delicious! They make a quick breakfast or a nice snack, especially when paired with a glass of almond milk. And as far as muffins go, they’re pretty healthy. Most of the ingredients are ones that I have on hand so the cost for the muffins is really just the cost of the blueberries, which varies according to season. In the summer, each muffin would cost around $.40. So not only are they healthier than the muffins from  Dunkin Donuts, they’re way cheaper, too!

What do you do with overripe bananas?

Recipe blitz recipe #1: Breakfast burritos

7 Jun

My mom recently pointed out that I have not been posting many recipes. She’s right. And that’s mainly because, up until recently,  I haven’t really had many recipes to share. But now I do! Beginning today, there will be a recipe blitz. Look for approximately 7 new recipes in the next 10 days. Up first…breakfast burritos.

I found this idea on Money Saving Mom a couple of weeks ago. I really liked the idea of having a grab and go breakfast, especially for my husband who, on most mornings, does not have time to eat breakfast at home. Also, I was starting to get sick of bagels. I wasn’t 100% in love with Crystal’s recipe, so I made my own:

The Empty Kitchen’s Breakfast Burritos (adapted from Money Saving Mom):


  • 1 tbsp olive oil (can substitute with 1 tbsp butter)
  • ½ cup onions, chopped or diced
  • ½ cup peppers, chopped or diced
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2-3 slices hot pepper cheese, or any type of cheese you like
  • 6 flour tortillas, whatever size you like
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: sausage, bacon, ham


  1. Heat oil in nonstick skillet
  2. Sauté onions and peppers until semi-soft
  3. Pour in beaten eggs, letting them set in skillet and then scrambling eggs along with onions and peppers (If using optional breakfast meat, you can add the cooked meat to the pan at this point)
  4. Add in cheese, letting it melt. Remove from heat when cheese is melted
  5. Using ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop mixture into warmed tortillas. Roll up like a burrito.
  6. Wrap burrito in tin foil (Crystal recommends using a paper towel for first roll, then wrapping in tin foil. Either way is fine) and place in freezer. When ready to eat, wrap in paper towel and heat in the microwave for approximately 1 ½ min

The recipe can be doubled, tripled, halved…pretty much however you want. I figured it was a one egg to one burrito ratio; you can use that as a rough guideline.

I spent no money making these as I had every ingredient on hand. If you had to buy the ingredients, I would think that each burrito would cost a total of $.50, depending on what you put in the filling. Not a bad way to start the morning!


Fantastic Product Friday: Something funny

3 Jun

One of my favorite activities is laughing. I love to laugh. I love movies, people, songs…pretty much anything that makes me laugh. While eating my lunch today, which was already pretty perfect given the $.99 iced tea I was drinking, the beautiful weather outside, power ballad Friday on a local radio station and just getting back from cashing some birthday money, I was reading the Huffington Post and came across this slideshow (warning: if you support Sarah Palin in a political capacity at all, don’t read it). The highlight was this:

I nearly spit my salad on my computer screen after I read this. Sarah Palin, you might be a political idiot but you are a comic genuis.

On this day

1 Jun

Today is an important day. It was today, 37 years ago, that my parents got married. To each other. And they’re still married!

Since I can’t provide you with a better anniversary present than me (I was born 3 years and 4 days later) and I’m not quite sure what alabaster is, my gift to you is a walk down memory lane. So now, I present your gift, entitled “Other things that happened on June 1, 1974”:

  • “My Girl Bill” by Jim Stafford hits #12
  • Ray Stevens’ “The Streak” was the #1 song
  •  Bundy victim Brenda Ball disappears from Burien, Wash
  • Chemical plant explodes in Flixborough Lincs kills 29 in UK
  •  The Heimlich maneuver for rescuing choking victims is published in the journal Emergency Medicine
  • Alanis Morisette and Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris) were born
  • The Mets were in 4th place in the NL East. The Yankees were in last place in the AL East

That’s all I could find.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! We all love you so much and we hope you have another 37 years!



Fantastic Product Friday: Coffee Crisp

27 May

For some reason that I can’t explain, I am drawn to things from Canada. My favorite band is from Canada. Some of my favorite actors are from Canada. My most memorable  road trip was to Canada. My grandparents are from Canada. And, the best candy in the world (save for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) are from Canada. Which leads me to today’s fantastic product–Coffee Crisps.

If you have never had one of these delightful chocolates, do it. Now. Either take a trip to Canada or search Google for them and order them or find a friend who lives in Canada and have her send them to you (I have done this. This is the most effective method). And don’t be fooled by the name; there really isn’t that much of a coffee flavor to them (given how much I hate coffee, this is a good thing). They are a crunch, chocolatey bar of goodness–sort of like a slightly coffee flavored giant Kit Kat but 1000 times better than a Kit Kat. Plus, they are peanut free, so even those with severe allergies can partake of this bit of Canadian goodness. To put it another way, they are the Ryan Reynolds of candy.

The tag line for Coffee Crisps is “it makes a nice light snack”. The tag line should be “It make a damn good snack so go out and by one now. You know you want to”.

Fantastic Product Friday: Sabra hummus

20 May

I love hummus. I love how versatile it is and I love all the different flavors. I’ve even written about hummus before. But it bears a second mention, particularly because of today’s fantastic product–Sabra hummus.

My mouth waters just looking at the picture

Sabra hummus is perhaps one of the most delicious and wonderful products available in the supermarket. It has a flavor and taste that no other hummus possesses. It has the perfect texture, the right balance of spices and never lasts more than 3 days in my house. Those gigantic tubs from BJs? Those last about a week.  

I try to make a lot of convenience foods myself. I’ve tried to make hummus. It didn’t work. I think this is due to the fact that my taste buds have been spoiled by Sabra and everything else tastes like a sad mockery of Sabra’s deliciousness. And you know what? I’m OK with that.

If you haven’t tried this hummus, do it soon. If you have tried it, what’s your favorite flavor (mine is the supremely spicy)?

$2M and food stamps? Here’s my opinion.

19 May

So, you may have seen the story about the Michigan man who won $2 million and continues to use food stamps. I was going to write a whole long soapboxy rant about it but then decided to just write a carefully edited abbreviated soapboxy rant instead.

Yes, per Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) income requirements, he is still eligible. Yes, this is due to a flaw in the SNAP program. Yes, he followed proper procedure in notifying the state of his winnings. Yes, the state said he could keep his assistance. However, just because there is a flaw in a system doesn’t mean it should be exploited. Especially by someone with $1 million in the bank. It is wrong and it is completely immoral.

Someone like this only fuels the fire for the opponents of SNAP and reaffirms many of the stereotypes that exist about SNAP users. Especially someone who has the good fortune of winning that kind of money and then turns around and says, and I’m paraphrasing, that there’s no way anyone is going to make him feel guilty about continuing to use food stamps. I think that’s the part that gets to me. The lack of remorse at needlessly taking advantage of an already overextended system.

Having spent the majority of my career working with at-risk populations, I have seen my share of system abuse. It infuriates me every time I read or hear of another instance of someone abusing any assistance program because the abusers detract from those who legitimately need the help. What this man is doing is clearly a very egregious instance of abuse and the self-serving, condescending and overt nature with which he is abusing the system makes me want to scream. Please don’t even get me started on his lawyer.

The intent behind SNAP is a noble one—helping those who cannot afford enough food to acquire that food. It is also an amazingly flawed system that is criticized, picked apart, and the source of a great deal of contention. And none of that is without good reason. Open dialogue about these types of programs is necessary. But whatever your opinion of the program requirements and oversight may be, I think we can all agree that this case is a vile display of abuse. And it needs to be stopped.

My iPod makes grilled cheese

18 May

One of my favorite features on my iPod is the shuffle feature. I love hitting that button and seeing what songs come up. Today I turned on shuffle and here are the first 5 songs I got:

  1. Silent All These Years–Tori Amos
  2. Mother Earth is a Vicious Crowd–Live
  3. I Can Love You Better–Dixie Chicks
  4. Glory Days–Bruce Springsteen
  5. Survive–Rise Against

What I love most about shuffle is how 5 seemingly unrelated genres of music all blend together into a delectable auditory smoothie. Which, of course, got me thinking about my cooking.

I am not a good creator of recipes. I typically steal borrow from others and, when necessary, tweak the recipe to fit my preferences. Occasionally, however, I am able to pull together a variety of ingredients and come up with a recipe on my own that is too good not to share. In this case, it was my grilled cheese and avocado sandwich that I made with my friend Steph.

I love grilled cheese. If this lunch truck lived near me, I’d be broke and 400 pounds. I would eat a grilled cheese sandwich every day if I could. The first meal I ever ate with my husband was at a diner and guess what it was? Yup. Grilled cheese.  

Normally, I’m a grilled cheese purist. Bread, American cheese, butter. Nothing else. Maybe a tomato. To me, there’s no point in messing with perfection. Except once and a while, you gotta go bold. Which I did with this version:

The Empty Kitchen’s Fancy Grilled Cheese


  • Sourdough bread
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • White American cheese
  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Butter


  1. Assemble the sandwich, leaving one slice of bread unbuttered.
  2. Place sandwich, buttered side down, in a nonstick pan (butter second slice once sandwich in is pan)
  3. Grill until golden brown on both sides

I am a little strange as I eat my grilled cheese with ketchup (if you haven’t tried it this way, go make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich and do it. It’s totally worth it), and I’ve been doing it that way since I’m about 6 years old. Which is why when I ate this version without ketchup, I was totally shocked. A grilled cheese sandwich that doesn’t need ketchup?! Impossible! But it really didn’t need it. It didn’t need anything except chips and a soda.

I think that child looks a little evil. I imagine I look the same way when near a grilled cheese sandwich.

It was the best lunch I’d had in a long time.

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