Extra Thick Homemade Pizza Sauce

No one likes a watery pizza. That’s why our favorite homemade pizza sauce is extra thick, like bordering on tomato paste-thick, not to mention packed with garlic, herbs, and an intense tomato flavor. While you might be tempted to use a pizza sauce straight from the jar, we find most commercial sauces far too thin […]

The post Extra Thick Homemade Pizza Sauce first appeared on Love and Olive Oil.

No one likes a watery pizza. That’s why our favorite homemade pizza sauce is extra thick, like bordering on tomato paste-thick, not to mention packed with garlic, herbs, and an intense tomato flavor.

While you might be tempted to use a pizza sauce straight from the jar, we find most commercial sauces far too thin for our tastes, resulting in sad, soggy pizza centers. If chewy, crispy-bottomed pizza crust is your jam (it sure is ours), we find the extra time to make a batch of this extra-thick homemade sauce is well worth the effort.

White bowl with homemade pizza sauce and spoon, homemade pizza on a plate in the background

The texture of this extra-thick pizza sauce falls somewhere in between tomato sauce and tomato paste, probably leaning more towards the paste end of the spectrum when all is said and done.

The flavor is so intense you really only need a few spoonfuls on your pizza (2-3 tablespoons is just about right for a 9-inch two person pizza); that small quantity packs the same amount of flavor without the extra liquid.

Seasoning-wise it’s deceivingly simple, just a bit of garlic sautéed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried Italian herb seasoning to help enhance the tomato flavor even further.

Paired with our favorite pizza crust recipe and assorted toppings of your choice, you’re in for a truly epic pizza night.

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Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because […]

The post Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because when meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store you have to streeeeeeeeetch it any way you can. This  Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet does just that. If you loved Hamburger Helper when you were growing up, you’re going to love this homemade version even more!

Originally posted 4-27-2016, updated 5-29-2021.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta skillet in the pan with a spatula in the side

Hot Dog Relish is the Secret Ingredient

This cheeseburger pasta is super good even without the relish, but adding a couple spoonfuls of hotdog relish at the end really makes it taste like you’re eating a hamburger. What is hot dog relish? It’s basically a dill pickle relish mixed with yellow mustard. If you can’t find hot dog relish at your grocery store, you can buy plain dill relish and mix a little yellow mustard into it (about a teaspoon). 

Tips for Cooking One Pot Pasta

Cooking one pot pasta recipes is a little bit like riding a bike. You have to watch it and adjust to the nuances of the pasta as it cooks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Here are a few tips:

  • Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • Use a burner size close to the size of the bottom of your pot for even heating.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
  • Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.

How to Serve Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta

I’m usually all about stuffing my recipes with as many vegetables as possible, but I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate more vegetables into this recipe without making it less hamburger-like, so I’m just going to suggest you serve it with a simple side salad. Nothing fancy, maybe just some Romaine, tomatoes, and dressing. Keep it easy. :) And maybe Homemade Garlic Bread. Because every meal is better with garlic bread. ;)

Freeze Some For Later

Saucy pasta dishes like this freezer pretty well, IMHO, so if you’re cooking for yourself this would make a good cook-and-freeze-for-later dish. If you’re extra sensitive to texture changes like pasta getting slightly softer, though, you may not be a fan of the leftovers.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta in a bowl with a fork on the side

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
Total Cost $5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 555kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.25
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce $0.29
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.26
  • 1/2 lb. pasta shells, uncooked $0.50
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded $0.75
  • 2 Tbsp hot dog relish $0.16
  • 2 green onions, sliced (optional) $0.20

Instructions

  • Finely dice the onion. Add the onion, olive oil, and ground beef to a large deep skillet and sauté over medium heat until the beef is fully browned and the onion is soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.
  • Add the flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the skillet. Be careful not to let the flour burn.
  • Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet may not fully cover the pasta, but that is okay.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let the liquid come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the pasta simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.
  • Add the shredded cheddar to the skillet and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Stir the hot dog relish into the sauce and then top with sliced green onions. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 26g | Sodium: 1045mg | Fiber: 4g

If you love easy one pot pasta dinners, check out our One Pot Meals category!

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon

How to Make Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet – Step by Step Photos

Ground beef and onion cooked in the skillet

Start by finely dicing one onion. Add the onion, 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large deep skillet. Sauté the onion and beef until the beef is fully browned and the onions are soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed (if you’re using 90% lean or higher, there probably isn’t anything to be drained off).

Flour added to the cooked ground beef

Add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute. The flour will bein to coat the bottom of the skillet. This is okay, just be sure to watch it closely and not let it burn. The flour will help thicken the sauce and help the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce.

Tomato sauce in the skillet, beef broth being poured in

Add an 8oz. can of tomato sauce and 2 cups beef broth. Stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.

Uncooked pasta shells added to the skillet

Add ½ lb. uncooked pasta shells to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet does NOT need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook. The steam in the skillet will help cook the pasta that is above the surface and the pasta will be stirred to ensure even cooking.

Cooked pasta in the skillet a spatula pulling the pasta aside to show the sauce

Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.

Shredded cheddar added to the skillet

Add 4oz. shredded cheddar cheese and stir it into the pasta until it is melted and creamy.

hot dog relish added to the skillet

Finally, add 2 Tbsp of hot dog relish (mustard dill relish), and stir it into the sauce. I feel like the relish is what really made this taste like a hamburger, but if you’re not into relish you skip this last step and still have an amazingly cheesy beef pasta. 

cheeseburger pasta skillet topped with sliced green onions

I had some green onions in the fridge, so I sliced a couple up and added them on top. They add just a little extra pop of flavor and nice visual appeal to the otherwise very monochromatic dish.

Close up side view of cheeseburger pasta skillet with a spoon dug in the side

OMG look at that cheesy sauce! 😍

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta is a fast and easy "from scratch" version of the classic hamburger helper. BudgetBytes.com

The post Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Unstuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are awesome, but I always find them slightly awkward or difficult to eat. Can’t I just throw the ingredients in a bowl and eat it with a fork?! (I feel that way about a lot of food, TBH). So that’s what I ended up doing! These super simple unstuffed bell peppers are […]

The post Unstuffed Bell Peppers appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Stuffed bell peppers are awesome, but I always find them slightly awkward or difficult to eat. Can’t I just throw the ingredients in a bowl and eat it with a fork?! (I feel that way about a lot of food, TBH). So that’s what I ended up doing! These super simple unstuffed bell peppers are cooked in one skillet to make your (my) life super easy and delicious. #yesplease

Originally posted 8-13-2014, updated 2-4-2021.

Overhead view of unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet with a spoon.

Can I Use Cauliflower Rice Instead of White Rice?

Unfortunately, you can not swap out cauliflower rice for the white rice in this recipe. Cauliflower rice releases liquid as it cooks, whereas white rice absorbs it, so you’ll end up with a stuffed bell pepper soup. :) But hey, that actually doesn’t sound so bad! You can also try using cauli rice and skipping the broth, but you’ll be missing a lot of flavor with that option.

Can I Freeze Unstuffed Bell Peppers?

Yes, this recipe freezes great! Make sure to divide the skillet into single serving portions just after cooking, and chill them completely in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer. Once frozen, they’ll keep in the freezer for about three months and can be reheated in the microwave straight from the freezer (use the defrost setting first, then high until heated through).

Tips for Making One-Pot Rice Dishes

Even cooking plain rice on the stovetop can be a bit challenging for some folks, and when you add in other ingredients it can end up a little more tricky. To make sure your rice cooks thoroughly and evenly, keep these things in mind:

  • Cookware: A really good quality (thick and heavy) skillet is really important for making this recipe work correctly. Heavy cookware conducts heat really evenly so the sides of your skillet will cook at the same rate as the part that is right above the flame. If it’s a thin skillet, it might scorch right in the center and leave the outer edges uncooked. If you don’t have a good skillet, a dutch oven or heavy soup pot would also work well.
  • Heat level: Another key to cooking rice is making sure the water in the pot (or skillet) is simmering the whole time, but the heat is not so high that it burns on the bottom. So once you’ve got everything in the pot and have already brought everything up to a boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting that still maintains a light simmer. Since this can vary from stove to stove and the type of cookware you’re using, you’ll need to adjust this based on what you’re hearing and seeing in the pot. Once you get the hang of it, though, it will be easy!
  • Use a burner close in size to the bottom of your pot or skillet. If you’re using a wide bottomed pot or skillet over a very small burner, the outside edges of your pot or skillet may not receive enough heat to simmer and cook the rice through. 

Close up side view of unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet

Love skillet meals? Check out my Chorizo Sweet Potato Skillet, Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet, or One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice.

Close up side view of unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet

Unstuffed Bell Peppers

All the ingredients and flavor of stuffed bell peppers cooked in one skillet for an easy, free-form bowl meal. It's UNstuffed Bell Peppers!
Total Cost $8.02 recipe / $1.34 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 1 ⅓ cups each
Calories 320.53kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic $0.08
  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 2 bell peppers $1.53
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.85
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes $1.00
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (uncooked) $0.62
  • 1 tsp dried basil $0.10
  • 1 tsp dried oregano $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1.5 cups beef broth $0.07
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce $0.26
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce $0.01
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella $0.85
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional garnish) $0.05

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and dice the onion and bell pepper.
  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to a deep skillet. Cook the beef over medium heat until it is fully browned.
  • Add the diced onion, bell pepper, minced garlic, basil, oregano, and pepper to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the onions are soft.
  • Next, add the diced tomatoes (with juices), uncooked rice, and beef broth. Give everything a brief stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, lid still in place, for another five minutes.
  • While the pot is simmering, combine the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Once the rice has rested for 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork, gently folding the ingredients back together (peppers and tomatoes may float to the top while it simmers).
  • Pour the prepared tomato sauce over top, then sprinkled the shredded mozzarella over the sauce. Place the lid back on top and let the heat from the skillet melt the mozzarella. Once melted, sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.33cups | Calories: 320.53kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.55g | Protein: 15.75g | Fat: 12.78g | Sodium: 646.32mg | Fiber: 3.88g

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A fork lifting some rice and cheese from a bowl of unstuffed bell peppers

How to Make Unstuffed Bell Peppers – Step by Step Photos

browned ground beef with diced onion, bell pepper, and herbs

Mince one clove of garlic and dice a yellow onion and bell pepper. Add ½ lb. ground beef to a deep skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cook the ground beef over medium heat until it has fully browned. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, garlic, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, and about ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the onions are soft.

Tomatoes, rice, and broth added to the skillet.

Next, add one 15oz. can of diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice, and 1.5 cups beef broth to the skillet. 

Combined ingredients in the skillet

Give everything a brief stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, lid still in place, for an additional 5 minutes.

Worcestershire sauce being added to tomato sauce

While the rice is simmering, prepare the tomato sauce. Combine one 8oz. can of tomato sauce with 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Set the sauce aside.

Rice being fluffed with a fork in the skillet

After the rice has rested for five minutes, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork, gently folding the tomatoes and peppers back into the rice.

Cheese being added to the skillet

Pour the prepared tomato sauce over the rice in the skillet, then top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Place the lid back on the skillet and let the residual heat melt the cheese.

finished unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet topped with parsley

Top with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve!

Unstuffed Bell Peppers skillet with lid on the side

The post Unstuffed Bell Peppers appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Crockpot Turkey Chili One of Josh’s favorite post-ski meals is his Slow Cooker Turkey Chili. He throws all of the ingredients into the slow cooker before he heads up the mountain and when he comes home he has a hot bowl of chili waiting for him.&…

Crockpot Turkey Chili One of Josh’s favorite post-ski meals is his Slow Cooker Turkey Chili. He throws all of the ingredients into the slow cooker before he heads up the mountain and when he comes home he has a hot bowl of chili waiting for him.  It’s the perfect meal for a cold day or…

The post Slow Cooker Turkey Chili appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Turkey Tacos

Taco night is a weekly occasion at our house. We don’t always do Taco Tuesday, but I promise Taco Thursday or Taco Saturday is just as fun and just as delicious. Tacos are good any day of the week. We love mixing up the tacos we have: steak, swee…

Taco night is a weekly occasion at our house. We don’t always do Taco Tuesday, but I promise Taco Thursday or Taco Saturday is just as fun and just as delicious. Tacos are good any day of the week. We love mixing up the tacos we have: steak, sweet potato, shrimp, chicken, cauliflower, and more.…

The post Turkey Tacos appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati Chili is an easy midwestern classic and total comfort food. Slow simmered for hours and served one of five ways, it’s perfect cold weather food!
READ: Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili is an easy midwestern classic and total comfort food. Slow simmered for hours and served one of five ways, it's perfect cold weather food!

READ: Cincinnati Chili

No Bean Chili

No Bean Chili-this chili recipe has no beans, but don’t worry, it’s super satisfying and full of flavor. It’s made with beef, sausage, tomatoes, and traditional chili spices. It’s perfect for game day, potlucks, or any meal. It …

No Bean Chili-this chili recipe has no beans, but don’t worry, it’s super satisfying and full of flavor. It’s made with beef, sausage, tomatoes, and traditional chili spices. It’s perfect for game day, potlucks, or any meal. It also freezes well! A chili with no beans? Is that even possible? Yep! This is a meat…

The post No Bean Chili appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Tomato and Chickpea Shakshuka

I usually keep a few canned things on hand. Sardines, tuna, and tomatoes, are constants you’ll find in my cupboards. I also have oddities that I’m not sure what I’ll use them for, but keep them around anyways, like smoked sugar, butterscotch chips, coffee-flavored salt, Vietnamese coconut syrup, and a kit someone gave me for making queso blanco which does, indeed, work. I’ve discovered the…

I usually keep a few canned things on hand. Sardines, tuna, and tomatoes, are constants you’ll find in my cupboards. I also have oddities that I’m not sure what I’ll use them for, but keep them around anyways, like smoked sugar, butterscotch chips, coffee-flavored salt, Vietnamese coconut syrup, and a kit someone gave me for making queso blanco which does, indeed, work.

I’ve discovered the joy and deliciousness of fresh dried chickpeas, which sounds like an oxymoron. But most dried chickpeas are old and not as delicious as when you buy dried chickpeas from a local source, which are fresher and better-tasting. However canned chickpeas will certainly do in a pinch, or if you’re in a hurry, and I have a few tins in my larder for “just in case” moments, like this one, when I wanted to make a hearty version of Shakshuka.

Continue Reading Tomato and Chickpea Shakshuka...

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

This Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe is lightened up a bit with baked (instead of fried) panko-crusted roasted eggplant, and layered up with a zesty combination of marinara, cheeses and fresh herbs. I will be the first to admit that I’m still on the fence about how much I really love eggplant. But when it comes […]

This Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe is lightened up a bit with baked (instead of fried) panko-crusted roasted eggplant, and layered up with a zesty combination of marinara, cheeses and fresh herbs.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

I will be the first to admit that I’m still on the fence about how much I really love eggplant.

But when it comes to eggplant Parmesan, count me in anytime. ♡

Yes, all of those layers of cozy marinara sauce, gooey melted Mozzarella, sweet fresh basil, and of course, lots and lots of freshly-grated Parmesan probably have something to with my love of this eggplant Parm.  But I’m also especially partial to the zesty toasted breading used to coat the roasted eggplant rounds in this particular recipe.  It’s not authentically Italian (melanzane alla parmigiana in Italy actually doesn’t include any breading for the eggplant), but it’s the delicious American-style version of eggplant Parmesan that I grew up loving.  And — bonus — this crispy breading in this recipe is baked instead of deep-fried.  And most importantly, super delicious.

Over the years, thousands of our readers have made and loved this baked eggplant Parmesan recipe.  So now that eggplant season has begun again here in Barcelona, I thought I would snap some fresh pics and bump this recipe back to the top of the blog for any of you who have yet to give it a try.  Trust me, it’s a winner!

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