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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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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?

 

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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):

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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!

 

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  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.

Mexican stuffed shells

16 May

It’s been a while since I posted some recipes. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that I hadn’t made any recipes worth posting. But over the last few weeks, I’ve tried some new ones out and I feel obligated to share. The first one up is Mexican Stuffed Shells.

Stuffed shells are my signature dish. So when I saw my dear friend Mrs. C’s recipe for Mexican Stuffed Shells, my curiosity was piqued (also, check out her blog, Another Housewife. The cooking that this woman can do on a very strict budget is incredible).  I love Mexican food and I love stuffed shells. How could anything go wrong with that combination?

Nothing did go wrong. This recipe was amazing! I made some changes but the changes weren’t so severe that they altered the quality or taste of the recipe at all. Here’s what I did:

Mexican Stuffed Shells (adapted from Mrs. C at Another Housewife)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box jumbo shells
  • 2 c shredded hot pepper cheese
  • 1 package Morningstar Farms soy burger crumbles
  • 1 4 oz can diced chiles
  • 1 bottle Pace picante sauce (medium hotness)
  • 1 c jarred tomato sauce (traditional flavor) or 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ c water

Directions:

  1. Cook shells according to package directions.
  2. While shells are boiling, cook soy burger crumbles and chiles. When heated through, add 1 c shredded cheese. Mix thoroughly until cheese is melted.
  3. Combine picante sauce, tomato sauce and water in large bowl. Set ¼ c of the sauce aside. When faux meat mixture is fully cooked, add to remaining sauce.
  4. Pour the ¼ c reserved sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Stuff the fully cooked, rinsed and drained shells with the faux meat mixture, putting each stuffed shell in the 9 x 13 pan.
  6. Top shells with remaining 1 c shredded cheese.
  7. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

This makes approximately 5 servings of 5 shells. For those following Weight Watchers, the above recipe (based on my calculations) is 13 points per serving.

This is what it looked like, served with a side of black bean, corn, tomato and mango salad (this is my own creation. I’ll post the recipe later in the week). I apologize for the poor photo quality; I took the picture with my cell phone:

My whole family loved this recipe. My daughter devoured 4 of the shells. My husband and I each brought the leftovers for lunch today. This version of Mexican Stuffed Shells has officially made it into my recipe binder. Kudos to you, Mrs. C! Another reason you absolutely rock!

Fettuccine alfredo–light style

23 Mar

I found this recipe a long, long time ago. I finally got around to trying it recently and it was dee-licious! I normally stay away from fettuccine alfredo because the cream/butter combination wreaks havoc on my digestive system but this version did not have any of the awful side effects. And, unlike most recipes that I come across, I changed nothing:

Alfredo Light (from www.allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 ounces dry fettuccine pasta
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli florets

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden brown.
  2. In a small saucepan, stir together milk, chicken broth, flour, salt and pepper over low heat until smooth and thick. Stir into onion mixture. Continue to cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water. Add broccoli to the pasta for the last several minutes of cooking. Continue cooking until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Drain the pasta and vegetables, and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with sauce. Serve.  

Here’s the printable version of the recipe (I’m still working out the kinks on doing this properly): Light Alfredo

Tortellini soup

16 Mar

When I got married almost 7 years ago, my sisters put together a cookbook for me as a wishing well gift for my bridal shower. The cookbook was a collection of recipes from friends and family and contained a wide array of recipes: sweet potato pie, potato latkes, banana bread, broccoli casserole, sausage bread, 3 recipes for chicken marsala (the one food I’m never allowed to make) and fudge, just to name a few. Admittedly, I’ve never tried most of the recipes. There’s no particular reason why I haven’t because they all sound excellent; I just haven’t.

Last week, though, I was looking for something to do with a package of cheese tortellini I had bought from Aldi. I wanted to do something more creative than just heat it up with sauce when I remembered that my cousin had put a recipe for tortellini soup in my cookbook! I grabbed the cookbook and started looking at the recipe. I thought, “If Lindsay can do this, then so can I!” and I went about my kitchen, grabbing the ingredients. Unfortunately, I didn’t have some of the required ingredients like fresh basil and I don’t use chicken stock, so I had to make some modifications. What came out was a wonderful tasting, filling soup that made enough food for dinner and 2 lunches.

Tortellini Soup (an Empty Kitchen original)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped or diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced (or 1/2 tsp jarred minced garlic)
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, Italian flavored (or any variety that you prefer)
  • 3 14 oz cans vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 7 or 8 oz package cheese tortellini (frozen or refrigerated)
  • Grated parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Sauté onions, garlic and peppers in oil until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to boil.
  3. Add tortellini. Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired, right before serving.

That’s it. That’s the whole recipe. There are modifications you could make such as adding cooked meatballs, using varying flavors of tortellini or tomatoes, adjusting the level of garlic, or even adding some spinach!

I’m over the moon that I tried this recipe. It’s become a fast favorite. I think I’ll have to give some more recipes from my cookbook at try. Apparently my friends and family know what they’re doing!

It’s Pi(e) Day!

14 Mar

Well, here it is. It’s Pi day. I try not to focus on the math aspect of the day because I really don’t like math. So for me, it’s Pie Day!

Admittedly, I’m not a huge pie fan. I think it’s because you typically don’t see buttercream frosting on pie. Don’t get me wrong. Pie is acceptable…as long as it’s filled with chocolate or peanut butter or pudding or a cookie. Actually, that last one is my favorite. And fortunately for me, the chefs at Nestlé have created a Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie.

This is perhaps not only the best pie I have ever eaten, it’s also the easiest pie I’ve ever made. A simple combination of butter, chocolate chips, sugar, eggs and flour makes it simple for even the most challenged baker. When I bring this to a pot luck, I never come home with any (I should learn to make two).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (from the package of Nestlé Tollhouse chocolate chips)

Ingredients:

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell (if using frozen pie shell, use deep-dish style thawed completely. Bake on baking sheet; increase baking time slightly)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Spoon into pie shell.
  3. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between outside edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm.

When it’s finished, it should look something like this:

I usually cook it for 55 minutes. It keeps the pie a little softer rather than crispy, which is how I like my cookies as well.  Here’s the printable version: Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

What’s your favorite pie recipe?

Recipe contest!

7 Mar

I have recently started writing a budget food column on www.examiner.com. One of the features I plan to launch is a bi-monthly series dedicated to frugal recipes. Unfortunately, as some of the long time readers know, creating my own recipes is not exactly one of my strengths. That’s where you come in.

For the next week, I’m running a frugal recipe contest. Post or post a link to your most frugal recipe in the comments section in any of the listed categories. The winning recipes will be featured in my column and will be posted on The Empty Kitchen  (with appropriate credit, of course). I know it’s not a monetary or tangible giveaway but it’s a chance to have your signature frugal recipe have its 15 minutes of fame.  

Here are the categories:

  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Meat
  • Breakfast
  • Snack
  • Breads/rolls
  • Dessert

Please make sure that you indicate which category you are entering in your post. Enter as many times as you like in as many categories as you’d like.

Good luck!

Your recipe here

Chili seasoning straight from the pantry

9 Feb

There is one night per week that is exempt from categorical menu planning. Why is this night different from all others? It is the night that my husband works until 10:30 pm and this is the night I let my daughter pick out what we’re going to eat. What does her sophisticated palate normally pick out? Chili.

She loves chili. I think it has something to do with the fact that she once helped make it and she gets to eat bread or chips along with it, but I’m not 100% sure about that. in an effort to stave off chili boredom, I never make it the same way twice. I alternate the vegetables and/or bean content each time and the toppings are usually different as well. The one thing that never changes, however, is the spice content. I use the same seasoning each and every time.

After realizing how expensive (and sodium laden) seasoning packets are, I found a recipe for chili seasoning made with just the spices in my pantry. I have found that this seasoning recipe is better than any of the packets (spicier, too!), and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a seasoning packet every week. I just wish I could remember where I found it!

                                  Chili Seasoning

  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
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