Spinach Stuffed Portobellos – Budget Bytes


$7.23 recipe / $1.81 serving

If you’re looking for a meatless main dish this summer, you’ve got to try these Spinach Stuffed Portobellos. They’re super easy, a little like lasagna without all the noods, and light enough to not weigh you down during the summer heat. I absolutely love recipes like this that are equal parts vegetable and cheesy goodness. It’s like the best of both worlds!

Portobello Caps Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

Marinara being spooned over a spinach stuffed portobello on a plate with salad and garlic bread

Shown with Homemade Garlic Bread and a mixed greens salad.

How to Get The Best Price on Portobellos

Shout out to Aldi for selling portobello mushrooms for $1.99 for a pack of two. If you’re not lucky enough to live near an Aldi, make sure to do a little browsing before you buy your portobello caps. Portobello caps are sometimes sold packaged for a set price, or sold loose and priced per pound. If your store sells them both ways, make sure to compare the price per pound for both. For instance, our Kroger store often has pre-packed caps for $3.99 per package and loose portobello caps for $5.99 per pound. The loose caps sound more expensive until you realize that the pre-packaged mushrooms are an 8oz. package and are actually $7.98 per pound! So look closely. 🙂 

Can I Substitute the Cottage Cheese?

Yes, if you’re not a fan of cottage cheese you can use ricotta instead. Just be aware that ricotta is usually much more expensive than cottage cheese. Since I was already working with two pricey ingredients here (portobellos and feta), I decided to go with the less expensive option, cottage cheese.

How Many Does This Serve?

Portobello mushrooms vary quite a bit in size. This recipe figures about ½ cup of the filling per portobello. If your portobello mushrooms are on the larger side, one mushroom may be enough per serving. If they’re smaller, you may be able to fill more caps and serve two per person. 

What to Serve with Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

I kept my meal simple with some Homemade Garlic Bread and mixed greens lightly coated in Italian dressing. I also think they’d go nicely with a pasta salad side dish, like my Italian Orzo Salad, Tomato Mozzarella Salad, or a Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad.

A spinach stuffed portobello mushroom cut open so you can see the inside

 

Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

These Spinach Stuffed Portobellos combine a flavorful mixture of three cheeses and spinach with hearty portobello mushrooms for an easy meat-free main dish. 

Total Cost: $7.23 recipe / $1.81 serving

Author: Beth – Budget Bytes

Servings: 4

  • 1/2 lb. frozen spinach ($0.65)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese ($0.27)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella ($0.42)
  • 1 large egg ($0.23)
  • 2 oz. feta ($1.09)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
  • 4 portobello mushrooms ($3.98)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce (optional) ($0.35)
  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out as much water as possible.

  • Place the squeezed spinach in a bowl and add the cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, egg, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir until everything is evenly combined.

  • Wipe any dirt or debris from the portobello mushrooms. Remove the stems. Brush a little oil over the mushroom caps and season with a pinch of salt. Place the mushrooms, gill sides up, on a baking sheet. Divide the spinach and cheese filling between the four mushrooms, mounding it inside the caps.

  • Bake the stuffed portobellos in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the cheese mixture on top is lightly browned. Mushrooms contain a lot of water, so don’t be alarmed to see liquid seeping from the mushrooms.

  • Serve each spinach stuffed portobello drizzled with 2 Tbsp marinara sauce, if desired.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Serving: 1stuffed mushroomCalories: 207.78kcalCarbohydrates: 9.68gProtein: 14.03gFat: 12.8gSodium: 761.4mg

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.


The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products we use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Marinara being spooned over a spinach stuffed portobello mushroom

How to Make Spinach Stuffed Portobellos – Step by Step Photos

Thawed and squeezed frozen spinach in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Thaw ½ lb. frozen spinach, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Add the thawed and squeezed spinach to a bowl.

Cheese, egg, and spices added to spinach in the bowl

Also add ½ cup cottage cheese, ½ cup shredded mozzarella, 2 oz. feta, 1 large egg, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ⅛ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper.

Mixed spinach and cheese filling in the bowl

Stir these ingredients together until they’re evenly combined.

Cleaned and oiled portobellos

Wipe and dirt or debris off four portobello mushroom caps. Brush each cap lightly with olive oil and add a pinch of salt.

Portobello mushrooms stuffed but not baked, on a baking sheet

Flip the mushrooms over so the gill sides are facing up. Divide the spinach and cheese mixture between the four mushrooms, mounding the mixture into the caps.

Baked spinach stuffed portobello caps, still on baking sheet

Bake the stuffed portobello mushrooms for 25 minutes, or until the spinach and cheese mixture is a little browned on top. Mushrooms contain a lot of water, so don’t be alarmed to see liquid seeping from the mushrooms.

Marinara being spooned over a spinach stuffed portobello on a plate with salad and garlic bread

Serve each stuffed portobello with a little marinara spooned over top (about 2 Tbsp per mushroom). Enjoy!





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The Best Yellow Cake I’ve Ever Had


Soft and buttery with an extra moist crumb, this is the best yellow cake I’ve ever had. After several rounds of recipe testing, I found the secret to the most delicious yellow birthday cake is a combination of cake flour, extra egg yolks, whipped egg whites, and buttermilk. Cover this cake with my rich and creamy chocolate buttercream for the ultimate celebratory birthday cake!

yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting

If there was one supreme birthday cake to reign over all other birthday cakes, it would be… Piñata Cake. But this yellow cake comes in a close second!


This is the Best Yellow Cake I’ve Ever Had

After marble cake, zebra cake, yellow sheet cake, white cake, vanilla cake, yellow birthday cupcakes, and all of the other recipes in between, I’ve been trying to perfect this quintessential layer cake for years on end. I’ve tasted cake mixes and restaurant-quality yellow cakes, bakery cakes and professional’s homemade variations, and I can honestly say that this is the best yellow cake I’ve ever had.

Using a careful mix of cake flour, fluffy egg whites, extra egg yolks, and buttermilk, as well as starting with an extra creamy base of butter and sugar, this yellow cake is soft and buttery with an extra moist crumb. If cakes could talk, this one would brag.

slice of yellow cake

I spent the better part of this past winter testing today’s yellow cake recipe. We can’t achieve perfection for free, so there’s a few careful steps involved and power ingredients that you don’t want to substitute. If baking could withstand shortcuts, I’d take them, but we don’t want to mess around here. Remember, baking is a science.


Power Ingredients

  • Cake Flour: Cake flour produces that bakery-style cakey structure. Since it’s so light, the attention remains on the butter. (A stand-out flavor in yellow cake.) All-purpose flour is simply too heavy for this recipe; the cake will be heavy. If needed, use this homemade cake flour substitute.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: My biggest struggle was finding the perfect amount of baking powder and baking soda. This balanced combination provides plenty of lift. It even inspired me to change/improve the leaveners in yellow sheet cake, too.
  • Butter: I tested this recipe with melted butter, just to see if I could enhance the buttery flavor while still maintaining a fluffy crumb, but my efforts were worthless. The cakes were heavy no matter how I played around with the other ingredients. For best results, stick with creamed room temperature butter and sugar. If you’re interested, review Here’s What Room Temperature Butter Really Means.
  • Eggs & Extra Egg Yolks: Eggs play a big role in this cake recipe. You need 4 eggs total– 2 whole eggs plus an additional 2 egg yolks. This equals 4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites. (You will have 2 egg whites leftover. Here are some recipes using only egg whites.) Additional egg yolks add richness, tenderness, and flavor.
  • Whipped Egg Whites: There are 2 egg whites in this recipe. Take them a step further to help fluff up the cake’s structure. Afterall, this is a butter and egg yolk heavy cake. Beat the egg whites separately, just as we do in red velvet cake, then fold them in. There’s no other way to land on a velvety rich cake texture.
  • Cream of Tartar: Whip the egg whites with cream of tartar. Cream of tartar keeps the air in the egg whites suspended so they hold their shape when mixed into the heavy cake batter and again when baked in the oven. You can skip it if needed and whip the egg whites by themselves, but the cake layers will taste denser.
  • Buttermilk: I tried a mix of sour cream and whole milk, but taste testers enjoyed the buttermilk version better. Adding flavor and moisture, buttermilk is used in many baking recipes. See recipe note about a DIY buttermilk substitute.

yellow birthday cake

Video Tutorial: How to Make Perfect Yellow Cake


Step-by-Step Yellow Cake Photos

Watch the video tutorial above and use these pictures to help guide you, too.

Make sure the butter and sugar are extra creamy. I recommend 3 full minutes of creaming:

creamed butter and sugar on a mixer flat beater attachment

Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar together, then fold them into the cake batter. The cake batter will be thick, but the fluffy egg whites lighten it up.

whipped egg whites for cake batter

two photos of yellow cake batter

Level the cakes after they cool. I use a serrated knife:

leveled off yellow cake layers

Other Size Cakes

This cake batter is best for a 2 layer 9-inch cake. This recipe yields about 5 cups of batter, which is helpful if you need it for different Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions. You can bake this yellow cake in a 9×13 inch baking pan, but I found it tasted on the heavier side. Instead, I recommend my Yellow Sheet Cake.

And for cupcakes? Here is my favorite yellow cupcakes recipe, which includes directions for mini cupcakes too. Same unbelievable texture as this cake!


Chocolate Frosting for Yellow Birthday Cake

Like my triple chocolate cake, I use my favorite chocolate buttercream. I slightly increase the amount of each ingredient to produce enough frosting. If you prefer a thinner layer of frosting, use the chocolate buttercream recipe. Because there is no leavening occurring, you can use either dutch-process or natural cocoa powder in the buttercream. Heavy cream provides an extra creamy frosting, but milk can be substituted if needed.

This frosting is a little fluffier than the chocolate fudge frosting on the yellow sheet cake. Feel free to swap frostings or use the the vanilla buttercream in my white cake recipe!

chocolate frosting in a bowl and on a cake

chocolate frosting and sprinkles on a yellow cake

Additional Cake Success Tips

Print


Description

For yellow cake success, follow this recipe closely and don’t make any ingredient substitutions. Review my video tutorial above and recipe notes below before beginning.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (260g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature*
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs + 2 additional egg yolks, room temperature and separated (see note)*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar*

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1.25 cups (2.5 sticks or 290g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 34 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
  • 35 Tablespoons (45-75ml) heavy cream (or half-and-half or milk), at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional for decoration: sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds (see #6 in Cake Baking Tips), then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. I recommend using nonstick spray for greasing.
  2. Start the cake batter with the dry ingredients: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed for 3 full minutes. The creamed butter and sugar will be extra creamy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Turn the mixer down to medium-high speed and beat in the 4 egg yolks one at a time, letting each egg yolk fully mix into the batter before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla extract until combined. Set aside.
  4. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 of the buttermilk and beat on low speed until combined. Add 1/3 more of the dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk and beat on low speed until combined. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. The batter is very thick. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Whip the egg whites: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on high speed until fluffy peaks form, about 3 minutes. See photo and video above for a visual. Slowly and gently fold the egg whites into the thick cake batter. Avoid over-mixing as you don’t want to deflate the egg whites.
  6. Pour/spoon batter evenly into cake pans.
  7. Bake: Bake for around 27-31 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. After about 18 minutes, tent the cakes with aluminum foil to prevent the tops and sides from over-browning. To test the cakes for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. The cakes may look a little spongey on top as a result of the whipped egg whites. (That’s normal!)
  8. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  9. Make the buttercream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 1 full minute. Do not over-whip. Add 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream/milk if frosting is too thick. Taste. Add more salt if needed. (I usually add another pinch.)
  10. Assemble and frost: If cooled cakes are domed on top, use a large serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops to create a flat surface. This is called “leveling” the cakes. Discard or crumble over finished cake (or on ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer. (If desired, if the edges seem extra crumbly, apply a crumb coat which is a thin layer of frosting all over the cake. You can see I did this in the video tutorial above. Refrigerate the crumb coated cake for 15 minutes before adding the rest of the frosting.) Spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides. I always use an icing spatula and/or a bench scraper for the frosting. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.
  11. For extra neat slices, refrigerate cake for 30-60 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
  12. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cake through step 8. Wrap the individual baked and cooled cake layers tightly and keep at room temperature for 1 day or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature (if frozen) then continue with step 9. Frosting can also be made 1 day ahead of time. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Bring frosting to room temperature, then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. Adding a splash of cream/milk will help thin the frosting out, if needed. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or serve cold. See How to Freeze Cakes.
  2. Cake Flour: Cake flour is key in this recipe. If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute.
  3. Butter: If you only have salted butter, you can use that instead. Reduce the added salt in the cake to 1/4 teaspoon. You can use salted butter in the frosting, too. Taste the frosting before adding the 1/8 teaspoon of salt, then add a pinch if desired. It’s imperative the butter is at room temperature in order to properly cream with the sugar and be the proper base for the buttercream. Read: Here’s What Room Temperature Butter Really Means.
  4. Eggs: You need 4 eggs total for this recipe– 2 whole eggs plus an additional 2 egg yolks. This equals 4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites. You will have 2 egg whites leftover. Here are some recipes using only egg whites. It’s easiest to separate eggs when they’re cold. The eggs must be at room temperature to whip properly, so after you separate the 4 yolks and 2 whites, cover them and set aside for at least 20 minutes before starting.
  5. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk by measuring 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring glass. Add enough milk (whole milk is best– lower fat or nondairy milks work in a pinch, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich) in the same measuring glass to reach 1 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The soured milk will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.
  6. Cream of Tartar: This is an imperative ingredient that promises the egg whites will whip into lofty, fluffy peaks and hold their shape when mixed into the heavy cake batter and baked in the oven. You can skip it if needed and whip the egg whites by themselves, but the cakes will taste denser.
  7. Amount of Cake Batter: This recipe yields about 5 cups of batter, which is helpful if you need it for different Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions. This recipe is too large for 2 8-inch cake pans.
  8. 9×13 Inch Pan: You can bake this cake in a 9×13 inch baking pan, but I found it tasted on the heavier side. Instead, I recommend my Yellow Sheet Cake.
  9. 3 Layer Cake: You can also prepare this cake as a 3 layer cake. Divide batter between three 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans and bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The frosting recipe written will be enough for thin layers of frosting, but you can double my chocolate buttercream recipe (simply double each ingredient) if you want a lot of frosting.
  10. Yellow Cupcakes: Here is my favorite yellow cupcakes recipe, which includes directions for mini cupcakes too. Same unbelievable texture as this cake! If you need more than 1 dozen yellow cupcakes, use this yellow cake recipe for between 2-3 dozen and follow the same baking instructions as my yellow cupcakes.

Keywords: cake, yellow cake, birthday cake, chocolate frosting

For the sheet cake version, here is my yellow sheet cake recipe.

9x13 inch yellow sheet cake in pan



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How To Calculate Recipe Cost – Step by Step Tutorial


The recipe cost breakdowns are a big part of Budget Bytes. And while you’re not likely to have the exact same food costs as me (prices vary quite a bit from location to location, day to day, and even store to store), I think it’s helpful to see how each ingredient can impact the overall cost of a recipe. So now I’d like to dive a little deeper to show you how I make these calculations, and teach you how to calculate recipe costs yourself. Because even if you do it once, I promise you’ll learn a lot!

Originally posted 6-30-2013, updated 5-21-2020.

 

A notebook with a recipe cost calculation surrounded by various ingredients

Why Calculate Recipe Costs?

My big “Ah-ha!” moment came when I calculated the cost of my first few recipes. I was always very mindful of the total amount I spent at the grocery store every week, but seeing the breakdown of each ingredient and the total recipe cost that truly revolutionized my way of cooking.

Seeing this breakdown helped me learn how to tweak recipes to make them more filling for less money, while maintaining maximum flavor. I learned that scaling back just a little on the most expensive ingredients (nuts, cheese, meat, etc.) dramatically reduced recipe costs, but didn’t have a huge impact on flavor. Likewise, I learned which inexpensive ingredients helped give my food a big flavor kick for pennies (green onions, cilantro, freshly cracked pepper, dried herbs, etc.), and which ingredients I could use to bulk up a recipe without greatly increasing the total cost (rice, pasta, beans, lentils, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, etc.).

What Method Do You Use?

Here on Budget Bytes I use the same method of calculating recipe costs used by commercial food service operations—adding the costs of each ingredient used, in the amount used, rather than adding the full price of items purchased. Some argue that you can’t just buy 2 Tbsp of olive oil, so the recipe actually costs more to make. The counter argument to that is that you don’t buy an entire bottle of olive oil every time you make a recipe, nor do I consider an ingredient “free” if I already have it in my kitchen and didn’t need to buy it for that recipe. Both methods have their caveats, but I find the method used here to be the most representative of the recipe’s true cost.

What Do I Need to Calculate the Cost of a Recipe?

The process is simple and doesn’t require a lot of time or “equipment.” It’s so simple, in fact, that I do this, by hand, for every single recipe on this website (well over 1000 recipe at this point). To calculate recipe costs you’ll need:

  • Your receipts
  • Original ingredient packages
  • Pen and paper
  • Calculator
  • Grocery store website (as a backup for sourcing prices)

How To Calculate Recipe Costs – Step by Step Tutorial

Okay, so let’s walk through, step by step, what I do to calculate the cost of a recipe on Budget Bytes. For this tutorial, we’ll be using the Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta recipe as an example.

Step 1: Write down the recipe ingredients and quantities

Notebook with ingredients listed

If you like to print your recipes, you can do the calculations right on the printed version of the recipe. I always do my calculations in my recipe development notebook. You’ll fill out the prices in the right hand column as you do the calculations.

Step 2: Fill in prices for ingredients that were used “whole”.

Two Grocery Receipts

Gather your receipts and record the prices for any ingredient that you used in the “whole” form. This could be ingredients like a can of tomatoes, a cucumber, maybe a jar of pasta sauce, a single bell pepper, etc. In this Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta there was only one ingredient that I used in the full volume purchased—diced tomatoes. You can see this item listed as “kro tomatoes $0.59” on the Kroger receipt. Record the price next to this item on your recipe ingredient list.

Note: If you don’t have your receipts, check your grocery store’s website. Some larger stores, like Kroger, allow you to look up items online and the price will be displayed.

Step 3: Calculate Bulk Produce Items

Bag of Onions

For bulk produce items, take the total price listed on the receipt and divide by the number of items purchase. The total price for this bag of yellow onions listed on the receipt was $1.69 and there are six onions in the bag, so each onion is approximately $0.28. Record this price on your recipe ingredient list.

This method works good for other bagged produce, like apples, carrots, oranges, lemons, potatoes, etc. and also things like packages of chicken thighs or breasts.

Garlic Cloves in a bowl

For garlic, each head is usually around $0.60-$0.65 and I get on average about 8 good sized cloves from each head, so I just estimate about $0.08 per clove.

Step 4: Use Package Labels to Calculate Partial Ingredient Costs

For most ingredients you’ll need to use the information listed on the ingredient packages to determine the cost of the amount used in the recipe. Here are some examples:

Penne pasta box

This recipe used 1/2 lb. of penne pasta. The whole box (1 lb.) cost $1.49. Since I used half the box, the cost of the amount used is $1.49 ÷ 2 = $0.75.

Bag of Spinach

The same method was used for this bag of spinach. The full 8 oz. bag cost $1.29, so the cost of the 4 oz. used is $1.29 ÷ 2 = $0.65.
Cream Cheese Package

Sometimes the manufacturers are nice and provide helpful guides for measuring. This full 8 oz. package of cream cheese cost $0.79, so the cost of the 2 oz. used in the recipe is $0.79 ÷ 4 = $0.20.

Can of tomato paste nutrition label

Sometimes the calculations can get a little more involved. The cost of this 6 oz. can of tomato paste was $0.39. We can see on the nutrition label that there are 5 servings of 2 Tbsp in the can, or a total of 10 Tbsp per can. We used 2 Tbsp for the recipe, so the cost of what we used is $0.39 ÷ 5 = $0.08.

Bottle of Olive Oil

I bought this bottle of olive oil a while back, so I had to refer to Kroger.com to get the price. The total price for this bottle was $5.95. We can see on the nutrition label that there are 66 servings of 1 Tbsp in the whole bottle. We used 1 Tbsp for the recipe, so the cost of what we used is $5.95 ÷ 66 = $0.09.

Parmesan bottle nutrition label

This Parmesan cheese is about as complicated as the calculations usually get because we’re converting between unit types. We see on the label that there are 45 servings of 2 tsp in the whole bottle. We used 1/4 cup in the recipe. So first I calculated the cost per tsp: $2.29 (total bottle price) ÷ 45 ÷ 2 = $0.025 per tsp. I know there are 3 tsp per tablespoon, and 4 tablespoons per 1/4 cup, so I calculated a little further: $0.025 x 3 x 4 = $0.31 per ¼ cup.

Step 5: Estimate Costs for Herbs and Spices

A measuring spoon in a bottle of dried basil

Herbs and spices don’t have nutrition labels with serving sizes to work with, and often the entire container only weighs less than 2 oz. Unfortunately I don’t have a kitchen scale that is sensitive enough to weigh something as light as a 1/2 tsp of a dry herb. So, for my purposes I use a generic (and generous) allotment of $0.10 per tsp for most dried herbs and spices. For salt and pepper I estimate a little less and for any rare herbs or spices I double the generic estimation. So, for this recipe: 1/2 tsp dried basil = $0.05, 1/2 tsp dried oregano = $0.05, 1 pinch crushed red pepper = $0.02, 1/2 tsp salt = $0.02, freshly cracked pepper = $0.03

Step 4: Add it all together!

So finally, we have all of the prices of the ingredients filled in on the recipe ingredient list. Now just simply add them all together and then divide by the number of servings and you’ve got the price per serving. So for this recipe, the total cost was $3.28 and with four servings that’s $3.28 ÷ 4 = $0.82 per serving.

A notebook with a recipe written down and prices listed for each ingredient

As you can see, it’s not an exact science, but it will definitely shed some light on where your money is really going. I hope you try it out at least once just to see how it goes. If you want to do it on a regular basis, you can start a spreadsheet with price per unit information for your pantry staples. This way you’ll have a record of the price for items that you may only buy a few times per year (and probably won’t have the receipt handy). Luckily, my blog acts as a “record” of these prices, so I can quickly refer back to my last purchase price.

What About Electricity, Gas, and Water?

Every now and then I get a question about how utilities add to my recipe costs. Unfortunately I don’t have a way to measure the amount and cost of the most of the utilities used in the recipes, but I’m confident that it would be a very small amount. For instance, in this recipe I used 1/2 cup water in the sauce. After checking my last water bill, I paid $0.003 per gallon of water. I round to the nearest cent for these calculations, so the cost of the 1/2 cup water in this recipe is negligible. Water is easy to measure, but I don’t think I could measure the amount of gas or electricity used to heat the oven.

Handy Conversions for Calculating:

  • 3 tsp = 1 Tbsp
  • 4 Tbsp = 1/4 cup
  • 2 Tbsp = 1 fluid ounce
  • 16 Tbsp = 1 cup
  • 2 fluid ounces = 1/4 cup
  • 8 fluid ounces = 1 cup
  • 16 weight ounces = 1 pound

NOTE: “fluid ounces” are a volume unit, weight ounces are a measurement of mass. Solid ingredients are usually listed as weight ounces, liquid ingredients are usually listed in fluid ounces. 8 fluid ounces of one ingredient may not equal 8 weight ounces of that same ingredient. That will depend on the individual density of the ingredient. Cheese is a great example. 4 oz. (weight) of cheese is equal to about one cup (volume) of shredded cheese. One cup is 8 fluid ounces in volume, but only 4 weight ounces of shredded cheese.

Try It Yourself!

I hope I didn’t scare you off with all these calculations! It really is quite simple, especially after you do it a few times. If you’re interested in giving it a shot, start with a simple recipe that only has 3-5 ingredients and see how you do! Then, let me know how it worked out in the comments below. 🙂

P.S. Did you know you can browse our recipes by Cost per Recipe and Cost per Serving





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any-kind-of-fruit galette – smitten kitchen


    Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups (165 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces or 115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) cold water
  • Filling

    Filling

  • 3 1/2 cups berries, stone fruit, or other fruit, chopped or thinly sliced, or any combination thereof
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of half a lemon or lime (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch (see Note, below)
  • To finish
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water (optional)
  • Turbinado or coarse sugar for sprinkling
  • Softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
Make the pastry: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle butter over dough and using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle sour cream and 3 tablespoons water over mixture and stir/mash it together to combine; it should form large clumps; add last tablespoon water if it does not. Use your hands to bring it together into a single mass. Transfer dough to a large square of parchment paper, patting it into a flatter packet, and wrap it tightly. Chilling it in the fridge until firm, 1 to 2 hours or up to 4 days. You can hasten the firming process along in the freezer, for about 20 minutes.

Make filling: Combine fruit, salt, citrus juice (if using), sugar, and starch in a medium bowl and set aside.

Assemble galette: Heat oven to 400°F and flatten the parchment paper that you wrapped your dough in on a large baking sheet. On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a large round-ish shape, about 14 inches across. Gently transfer it to the parchment paper in the pan. Spoon fruit filling and any juices that have collected into center, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border uncovered. Fold this border over fruit, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

For a darker, glossier crust, beat egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush it over the crust. Sprinkle it all over with turbinado or coarse sugar.

Bake galette: For 30 to 35 minutes, or golden all over and the fruit is bubbling and juicy. Cool for at least 20 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Fruit galettes keep at room temperature for a few days and up to a week in the fridge.

Note: This recipe is abundantly flexible.
* Fruit: Use whatever fruit you like to bake with (shown here with about 2 cups sliced rhubarb and 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries).
* Flavors: Use another kind of citrus or none at all; you could add zest or vanilla to the crust. You could slick the bottom of the crust with jam or marzipan.
* Flour: Replace 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat or rye flour.
* Sweetness: The filling is lightly sweetened; you can add up to 3 more tablespoons sugar without putting it over-the-top. For an even less-sweet galette, you could replace the sugar on the crust with poppy or sesame seeds.
* Thickeners: Tapioca flour or starch is my favorite for a clear, unchalky set. If you don’t have it, use an equal amount of cornstarch. Different kinds of fruit have different pectin levels, and might need more or less thickener. For apples or blueberries, use 1/2 tablespoon level. For peaches or fresh cherries, use 1 tablespoon. For strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and rhubarb, use 1 1/2 tablespoons.



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Cookies & Cream Cookies | Sally’s Baking Addiction


Using a combination of butter and cream cheese, these cookies & cream cookies are extra soft and uniquely creamy-tasting. Fill the dough with white chocolate chips and big chunks of Oreo cookies. Brown sugar and a touch of cornstarch adds extra softness, while the big chunks of Oreos add a little crunch. You definitely won’t regret making a double batch.

Oreo cookies and cream cookies on pink plate

Two cookies in one. Literally! If you love cookies & cream ice cream and Oreos are your weakness, you’re going to be REALLY happy about this.

Do you have a paperback copy of Sally’s Baking Addiction cookbook? If so, you’ll see Cream Cheese Cookies ‘n Cream Cookies on page 125. We’re using the same exact ingredients here, but I add even more cream cheese and more butter. I also skip 1 egg and add white chocolate chips. The cookies are just as soft, but they have more flavor, a creamier texture, and chewier edges. You’ll love the sweet white chips in each bite, too. You can’t go wrong with either variation!

These Cookies & Cream Cookies Are:

  • Exceptionally soft from the cream cheese
  • A texture lover’s dream (crunchy Oreos, soft cookie base)
  • As chewy as my chewy chocolate chip cookies
  • Thick with big chunks of Oreos
  • Perfectly sweet with white chocolate chips

stack of cookies and cream cookies on pink cake stand

Cookies & Cream Cookies – Power Ingredients

A few ingredients add to their signature flavor and texture. Here’s how:

  • Cornstarch: I love adding a touch of cornstarch to chocolate chip cookies because it helps create a softer, thicker cookie. Same story here.
  • Cream Cheese: Like I mention above, I use more cream cheese in this recipe than the cookbook version. I wanted a more noticeable cream cheese flavor and a creamier texture, too– one that exceeds the texture of my cream cheese sugar cookies.
  • Butter: Room temperature butter, along with cream cheese, is the base of this cookie recipe. You can soften butter quickly with this trick. (This trick also works for softening the cream cheese, too!)
  • Granulated & Brown Sugar: Sugar is not only used for sweetness, but for providing structure and tenderness too. Granulated sugar helps cookies spread and brown sugar keeps cookies soft.
  • White Chocolate Chips: White chocolate chips add a similar “cream” flavor that’s found in the Oreo cookies. If you don’t have white chocolate chips or don’t want to use them, semi-sweet, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or even peanut butter chips work instead. Or skip them altogether and add more Oreos.
  • Oreo Cookies: To prevent the cookie dough from turning gray as a result of all the Oreos, keep the chunks of Oreo cookies on the larger side. And I actually broke them up by hand instead of using a knife– less crumbles, more chunks!

Can I use other flavor Oreos? Yes, of course! Try peanut butter, birthday cake, golden, mint, or any other Oreo cookie flavor you love.

butter, cream cheese and Oreo cookies

side by side photos showing creamed butter and cream cheese and cookie dough

Cream the Butter & Cream Cheese Together

Creamed butter and sugar is the base of many cookie recipes. But before we add the sugar, it’s imperative to properly cream the cream cheese and butter together. The two are different textures– cream cheese is much softer than butter. My tip is to beat the cream cheese in your mixer until very soft and smooth– no lumps. Then add the softened butter and beat together until combined and thick. See photo above (left).

This is your creamy base for the cookies. And it tastes much better in these baked cookies than using ONLY butter. (Trust me!)


The cookie dough is soft and creamy, so make sure you take the time to chill it in the refrigerator. The cookies will spread into puddles otherwise.

After chilling, roll the cookie dough into balls and bake:

cookies and cream cookie dough balls on lined baking sheet

cookies and cream cookies on cooling rack

The bites with excessive Oreo cream are clearly the best…!!

3 Cookie Tips to Improve Your Next Batch

  1. Spoon & Level the Flour: The amount of flour makes or breaks a cookie recipe– literally. Spoon and level that flour or, better yet, weigh your flour.
  2. Chill the Cookie Dough: Chilling the cookie dough, especially since we’re using melted butter, is an imperative step in this recipe. The colder the dough, the less the cookies will over-spread into greasy puddles. You’ll have thicker, sturdier, and more solid cookies.
  3. Bake 1 Batch at a Time: You get the best possible results when the oven only concentrates on 1 batch at a time. If you need to bake more than one batch at a time, rotate the baking sheets from the top rack to bottom rack a couple times through the baking process to encourage even browning. And turn the sheets around as well. Ovens have hot spots!

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Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (112g) block full-fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks or 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (180g) white chocolate chips
  • 1 and 1/4 cups roughly chopped Oreos (regular or Double Stuf)

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the butter and beat until combined (see photo for a visual), scraping down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, beat in the white chocolate chips. Add the Oreos and beat on low speed or gently fold in with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon (dough is heavy) until combined. Cover and chill the dough for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator (and up to 4 days). If chilling for longer than a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking because the dough will be quite hard.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  5. Roll cookie dough, a heaping 1.5 Tablespoons of dough per cookie, and place 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look very soft.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cookies are still warm, I like to press a few more white chips or Oreo pieces into the tops– this is only for looks!
  7. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 4. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Here’s how to freeze cookie dough.
  2. Cornstarch: I love adding a little cornstarch to some cookie recipes because it helps keep the cookies extra soft. You can leave it out if you don’t have any with no other changes to the recipe needed. (The cookies are still pretty soft without it!)
  3. Cream Cheese: Use half of an 8 ounce block of full-fat cream cheese. Do not use cream cheese spread or whipped cream cheese. If using low fat or fat free, keep in mind that the texture of the cookies will be different. They won’t be as rich or chewy and could spread more. I recommend full-fat.
  4. Oreos: You need 12-16 Oreos. Use any flavor you love, including Golden Oreos. I like to use Double Stuf, but regular work too. Give the Oreos a very rough chop into bite-sized pieces as pictured above. Or break them up by hand. Chopping into finer pieces creates a lot of dark sandy crumbs. Obviously the taste of the cookies won’t change, but your cookies will look different and darker than pictured.
  5. White Chocolate Chips: Feel free to skip the white chocolate chips and add 5-6 more chopped Oreos or replace with the same amount of your favorite cookie add-in such as peanut butter chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.

cookies and cream cookies with Oreo pieces



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Honey Vanilla Cottage Cheese Fruit Dip


$0.94 recipe / $0.24 serving

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’ve fallen in love with a new budget ingredient: cottage cheese. A lot of people are turned off by the texture of cottage cheese, but when you whip it up in a blender it becomes as smooth and creamy as yogurt, and is just as versatile! I made a savory Garlic Herb Cottage Cheese Dip a couple months ago, so I thought I’d also make a sweet version for dipping fruit. This rich, tangy, and sweet Honey Vanilla Cottage Cheese Fruit Dip is a deliciously sensible option for dessert.

Cottage Cheese Fruit Dip with Honey and Vanilla

A hand dipping a slice of apple into the fruit dip on a tray of fruit

Why Cottage Cheese?

Cottage cheese provides a similar creamy-tangy flavor and high protein content as Greek yogurt, but at a fraction of the price. The 24oz. tub of cottage cheese that I bought was only $1.59, compared to about $3.99 for Greek yogurt. Once the cottage cheese is puréed in a blender, the texture is thick and smooth, and like Greek yogurt, the flavor is versatile enough to pair with both sweet and savory ingredients.

What Type of Cottage Cheese is Best?

The brand and type of cottage cheese matters here. For the creamiest dip, avoid low-fat cottage cheese. I used Aldi’s “full fat” cottage cheese, which is only 4% milk fat, or slightly more than whole milk, and the dip was deliciously rich and creamy. I also tested this recipe with Breakstone’s low-fat cottage cheese (2% milk fat) and the result was a little on the chalky side. So make sure you’re using a cottage cheese that you enjoy the flavor of plain, and then it will surely taste good in the dip.

How to Use the Fruit Dip

Besides the obvious use to dip your fresh cut fruit, you can also use this fruit dip for other things! You can add it to your fruit smoothie, just like you’d add yogurt, for a creamy shot of protein. You can use it to make a parfait with fresh fruit and granola, or you can make some “fruit nachos” with cinnamon pita chips, finely diced fresh fruit, and a drizzle of this fruit dip. 

A fork dipping a piece of pineapple into the cottage cheese fruit dip, surrounded by fruit.

 

Honey Vanilla Cottage Cheese Fruit Dip

Cottage cheese is whipped up into a silky smooth texture, sweetened with honey, and flavored with vanilla in this deliciously sensible dessert fruit dip. 

Total Cost: $0.94 recipe / $0.24 serving

Author: Beth – Budget Bytes

Servings: 4 about ¼ cup each

  • 1 cup cottage cheese (4% fat) ($0.53)
  • 2 Tbsp honey ($0.25)
  • ½ tsp vanilla ($0.15)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)* ($0.01)
  • 1 Tbsp water ($0.00)
  • Add all the ingredients to a blender and purée until smooth.

  • Serve immediately with fresh cut fruit for dipping, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

*Lemon juice is optional. With lemon juice the dip has a slightly tangier flavor, like cheesecake. 


Serving: 0.25cupCalories: 76.2kcalCarbohydrates: 11.33gProtein: 5.5gFat: 1.2gSodium: 162.25mgFiber: 0.03g

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products we use and love!

A bowl of cottage cheese fruit dip in the middle of a fruit platter

How to Make Cottage Cheese Fruit Dip – Step by Step Photos

Cottage cheese, honey, vanilla, lemon juice, and water in the blender

Add 1 cup cottage cheese (4% fat), 2 Tbsp honey, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 tsp lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp water to a blender.

A spoon lifting the blended fruit dip from the blender

Purée the mixture until smooth and creamy. You may need to stop and stir a couple times to really get it going, but once it starts smoothing out, it should blend easily.

A piece of melon being dipped into the cottage cheese fruit dip with a fork

Serve with your favorite fresh fruit and enjoy!





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Soften Butter Quickly with this Trick


Soften butter quickly with this trick. If you forget to let your butter come to room temperature ahead of time, use this quick and easy method.

softened butter cut into 10 pieces

If you find yourself baking more these days, take the time to review this helpful post. I’m so excited to republish it because understanding this crucial concept is key in your baking’s success.

Butter is the starting point for an immense amount of baked goods, so it’s important to have it prepped as the recipe suggests. But guess what? We’re all human and we forget to bring butter to room temperature first or we just don’t have the time. We make up for it by trying to heat it in the microwave, but it always ends up slightly melted. At this point, butter and sugar can’t cream properly leading to cookies over-spreading, dense cakes, overflowing cupcakes, and flat muffins.

Let me help.

Soften Butter Quickly with This Trick

Let’s dive into this a little further.

Why Softened Butter?

First, let’s discuss why you actually need softened butter for your recipe. I actually have an in-depth post about room temperature butter if you’d like to read further.

Most recipes calling for butter call for room temperature/softened butter. And there’s legitimate science involved for this particular consistency. Butter, a solid fat, is capable of holding air and the creaming process is when butter traps that air. While baking, that trapped air expands from the heat and produces a fluffy baked good. Not only this, room temperature ingredients bond together very easily since they’re warmer, creating a seamless and evenly textured batter. A smooth batter with trapped air = a uniformly textured and proper tasting baked good. Cold ingredients do not emulsify together. Period. This results in clumpy frosting, chunky cheesecake, dense cake, flat breads, and oily muffins.

  • It’s literally #1 in my top 10 baking tips: if a recipe calls for room temperature butter, use room temperature butter. It can’t properly cream with sugar otherwise.

creamed butter and powdered sugar

Room Temperature Butter is Colder than You Think

Room temperature butter is cool to the touch and about 65°F (18°C). This might be colder than your kitchen. When you press it, your finger will make an indent. Your finger won’t sink down into the butter, nor will your finger slide all around. To get that perfect consistency and temperature, leave butter out on the counter for around 1 hour prior to beginning your recipe.

a stick of softened butter

If your cakes are dense, you’re probably softening the butter too much. And butter that’s too warm causes cookies to overspread. But guess what? You have complete control to prevent these problems.

How to Soften Butter Quickly

The best way to soften butter for a recipe is to set it out on the counter for about 1-2 hours. The amount of time depends on the weather and how cool you keep your kitchen. But we forget and/or we just don’t have time.

There’s a billion tricks to softening butter quickly, but the following is what works best for me. Here’s what you need:

  • water
  • butter, sliced into small pieces
  • microwave

Step 1: Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave-safe cup or bowl. I always use a liquid measuring cup.

glass measuring cup filled with water

Step 2: Microwave it for 2 minutes until extremely hot. Meanwhile, place butter in a heatproof bowl or on a plate.

glass liquid measuring cup filled with hot water

Step 3: Remove water from the microwave. Place butter inside. Quickly close microwave. (Our microwave is one of those models in the kitchen island. I love it!) Remove water from the microwave.

Step 4: The radiant heat will soften the butter in about 10 minutes.

glass bowl with butter inside on an opened drawer microwave

Keep This in Mind

The more butter your recipe calls for, the larger the bowl or plate (holding the butter) should be. In other words, you don’t want a huge pile of butter in a small bowl. Spread it out so the pieces of butter can warm up quickly and evenly.

More Tips to Make YOU a Better Baker

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Description

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • butter (sliced into pieces)*

Instructions

  1. Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave-safe cup or bowl. I always use a liquid measuring cup.
  2. Microwave it for 2 minutes until very hot. Meanwhile, place pieces of butter into a heatproof bowl or on a plate.
  3. Very carefully remove water from microwave. Place butter in the microwave. Immediately close the microwave door to trap hot air inside.
  4. The radiant heat will soften the butter in about 10 minutes.

Notes

  1. The more butter your recipe calls for, the larger the bowl or plate (holding the butter) should be. Spread the pieces of butter out so they can warm up quickly and evenly. Thinner pieces will soften faster.

And Always Remember

If a recipe calls for room temperature butter, make sure all other ingredients are room temperature as well. This includes eggs, milk, and sour cream. When cold ingredients touch creamed butter, the butter will cool down and solidify again. And, as you now know, this sabotages your recipe. Place eggs in warm water for 10 minutes and/or microwave dairy ingredients (not butter!) for about 10 seconds prior to using. Now go make perfect sugar cookies!

decorated sugar cookies



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One Pot Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta


$4.22 recipe / $1.06 serving

Y’all know I love one pot pasta meals, and I know a lot of you do too. They’re quick, easy, and pack a lot of flavor into only one little dish that needs to be cleaned at the end. Creamy one pot pastas, in particular, have become my go-to comfort food. This time I paired the tangy flavor of sun dried tomatoes with garlic and Parmesan for a simple but indulgent One Pot Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta.

Originally posted 11-1-2015, updated 5-17-2020.

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Garlic and Parmesan

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta in a deep skillet with tongs, a bowl with garlic and dry pasta on the side

Changes to the Original Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Recipe:

Many readers were having trouble with the original recipe, so I reformulated it a bit based on my experience creating one pot pastas since this recipe was originally posted (it’s now based on my One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta). In particular, many people were having trouble with their milk curdling or the sauce not coming out smooth. Here is what I changed to create better and more consistent results:

  • The milk is now added after the pasta simmers so the high heat and acidity from the tomatoes will not cause curdling.
  • A small amount of cream cheese is added to the sauce to help stabilize and emulsify the Parmesan into the sauce. 
  • I also added a healthy dose of dried basil for a little more flavor!

If you preferred the original version of this recipe, you can download it here.

Can I Substitute the Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese is great and keeping milk based sauces smooth and to help cheese melt smoothly without clumpig. If you just can’t stand cream cheese, you can replace half of the milk with heavy cream. This reduces the water content in the sauce, which will help the Parmesan emulsify properly.

Can I Add Meat?

Yes, this recipe is extremely flexible and can be made with or without meat. If you’d like to add chicken, you can dice up the chicken and sauté it in the skillet with the garlic in the beginning, or simply add sliced grilled chicken to the finished pasta. Italian sausage might also be great with this sun dried tomato pasta. Simply brown it in the skillet in the beginning with the garlic. Bacon would also be quite tasty. Brown the bacon in the skillet before the garlic, and drain off the excess fat before continuing with the recipe.

Tips for Cooking One Pot Pastas:

Getting one pot pastas just right can take some practice, so if you find you’re having trouble, here are a few tips:

  • Stir every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot, or to itself.
  • After the pot has been brought to a boil, turn the heat down to low, or just above low, so the liquid is still simmering. If the liquid is not simmering, the pasta will not cook. The temperature setting can vary depending on your stove top and cookware.
  • Use heavy cookware. Skillets and pots that are thin on the bottom don’t heat evenly and do not yield good results with the one pot cooking method because some areas of the pot will be simmering, while other areas are not.
  • Keep the lid in place at all times when not stirring. This holds in the steam and helps the pasta cook more evenly.
  • Watch the pasta. One pot pastas are a little like riding a bike. You have to observe and adjust as you go. If the liquid is almost all absorbed before the pasta is tender, add a little more water. If the pasta is almost tender, but there is still a lot of liquid, allow it to simmer without a lid for the last couple of minutes.

Close up of tongs picking up a clump of creamy pasta from the skillet

 

One Pot Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

This incredibly fast and easy Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta cooks in 30 minutes and uses just one pot. The perfect quick and satisfying weeknight dinner! 

Total Cost: $4.22 recipe / $1.06 serving

Author: Beth – Budget Bytes

Servings: 4

  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes ($1.66)
  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 8 oz. fettuccine ($0.67)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.05)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
  • 2 cups chicken broth* ($0.26)
  • 2 oz. cream cheese ($0.30)
  • 1 cups whole milk ($0.37)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.44)
  • Chop the sun dried tomatoes into small bite-sized pieces.

  • Add the butter and garlic to a deep skillet or Dutch oven. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about one minute, or until it is very fragrant.

  • Add the fettuccine, dried basil, some freshly cracked pepper, and the chicken broth to the skillet. If needed, break the fettuccine in half to make sure it lays flat in the skillet and is submerged in broth.

  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to high, and bring the broth to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, give the pasta a good stir, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low or the lowest setting that maintains a simmer.

  • Let the pasta simmer in the broth for 7-10 minutes, or until most of the broth is absorbed and the pasta is tender, stirring every couple of minutes and always replacing the lid.

  • Keeping the heat on low, cut the cream cheese into chunks and stir it into the pasta. Once the cream cheese has melted, add the milk and stir until a smooth sauce forms. Finally, add the grated Parmesan over top and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Serve with extra freshly cracked pepper, if desired.

*I use Better Than Bouillon soup base to make my broth.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 387.6kcalCarbohydrates: 51.9gProtein: 13.5gFat: 14.68gSodium: 651.33mgFiber: 2.75g

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products we use and love!

Scroll down for the step by step Photos!

Overhead view of creamy pasta twirled around the tongs in the skillet.

Try These Other Creamy One Pot Pasta Recipes:

How to Make Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta – Step by Step Photos

chopped sun dried tomatoes on a cutting board

Chop about ½ cup sun dried tomatoes into small bite-sized pieces. You want a little bit in every bite, instead of a few larger pieces throughout. I used dried, non-oil packed sun dried tomatoes for this recipe because I find them easier to work with and the leftovers easier to store (no refrigeration needed).

Butter and Garlic in a skillet

Add 2 Tbsp butter and two minced cloves of garlic to a deep skillet or Dutch oven. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, or just until the garlic is a little softened and becomes really fragrant.

tomatoes, basil, pasta, and broth added to the skillet

Add the chopped sun dried tomatoes, ½ tsp dried basil, some freshly cracked pepper, 8oz. fettuccine, and 2 cups chicken broth to the skillet. If your skillet or Dutch oven is not wide enough for the pasta to lay flat and submerged in the broth, you’ll want to break the pasta in half so it fits (I ended up breaking mine in half just after this photo).

Cooked pasta in the skillet, tongs pulling the pasta aside to show the sauce in the bottom of the skillet

Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to high, and bring the broth up to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, give the pasta a good stir, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low, or the lowest temperature that maintains a simmer. Continue to simmer the pasta for 7-10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes (always replacing the lid), or until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. If the pasta dries out while it cooks, add a little more water. There should be a little bit of thick saucy liquid left in the skillet once the pasta is cooked.

Cream cheese added to the pasta in the skillet

Cut 2 oz. cream cheese into chunks, then stir it into the pasta until it has melted (still over low heat). Adding the cream cheese before the milk helps stabilize the sauce and prevent curdling.

Milk being poured into the skillet full of pasta

Once the cream cheese has melted into the pasta, add 1 cup milk and stir to combine.

Grated Parmesan being sprinkled over the skillet

Finally, sprinkle ¼ cup grated Parmesan over the pasta, and stir until it has melted into the sauce (the pasta is still over low heat).

Finished creamy sun dried tomato pasta in the skillet

And now you have a deliciously creamy and slightly tangy sun dried tomato pasta in cream sauce!

Overhead view of the finished sun dried tomato pasta, dry pasta, sun dried tomatoes, and garlic on the side of the skillet

Season the pasta with more freshly cracked pepper, if desired, and serve!





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simple, essential bolognese – smitten kitchen


The very first thing I cooked in our Inside Days was ragú bolognese. Previous to having all of the time in the world, I didn’t make it very often; we were too busy during the week and on the weekend, I preferred to be away from the stove. But that weekend! Our apartment smelled phenomenal as it gently bubbled on the back burner all afternoon, and I realized it had been way too long since we’d had the luxury of a multi-hour buildup to an anticipated meal.

I also remembered I’d been cheating on this site’s bolognese recipe for many years, and it was time to come clean. Previously, my go-to recipe was embedded in the lasagna bolognese, and to echo that recipe’s caveat: I think there are as many interpretations of Bologna’s famous braise there are people who make it — if you’ve found yours, I see no reason to veer from it. Marcella Hazan’s in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking has long been what you could call an industry leader, but I loved Anne Burrell’s, a milk-free, red wine-forward version that put the utmost care into building base layers of flavors.

what you'll needcube-free bolognesea well-cooked mirepoixa little milkwhen it's donedrained, al dente


But tastes shift. These days, the SK house bolognese is a little bit Hazan, a little bit Burrell, and bunch of things I’ve found I prefer: a moderately tomato-forward flavor (which is less traditional), white wine instead of red (which can give off too much of a bourguignon vibe), and enough milk to give the bolognese some body but not so much that it’s pale. If I have pancetta, I might add it first; if I don’t, I’ll start with olive oil. I look out for less lean beef (80/20 or 85 works well here), which holds up better to long cooking times. And apparently — and my family finds this funny but we all have our Things — I cannot abide cubes of anything in my bolognese. All of my bad ragú memories come from versions where the canned dice of tomatoes,* carrots, and/or celery were still intact in the final sauce, confettied throughout. I prefer a more harmonious ragú, and so I use tomato paste instead of whole or chopped tomatoes, and I roughly mince my vegetables. Neither garlic nor pepper flakes are accepted on the Italian Academy of Cuisine ingredient list for ragù alla bolognese, but I like to live on (er, timidly approaching) the edge.

Finally, once you’ve built the foundation of flavor you must — there is no negotiating here — braise your bolognese for three to four hours. Beef takes three hours to cook to that wonderfully mellow, collapsed texture (it’s why you see similar cooking times for stew, short ribs, and brisket). Some recipes call for up to six hours, and although I don’t find I need it to get the ragú of my dreams, given that time is an abstract concept these days, you’re welcome to let it glurp longer on the stove. While the cooking is mostly hands off, you’ll want to visit the pot every 30 minutes and check the water level. Water is added gradually during the cooking time because we are braising, not boiling (shudder), the meat. Go ahead and taste it too, adjusting the seasoning as you need to, so by the time you’re ready to serve it, it’s absolutely perfect. You deserve nothing less.

* many are, in fact, treated so that they hold their shape

bolognese + pasta water + pasta

Previously

Six months ago: Roasted Cabbage with Walnuts and Parmesan
One year ago: Austrian Torn, Fluffy Pancake
Two years ago: Chilaquiles Brunch Casserole
Three years ago: Rhubarb Upside-Down Spice Cake
Four years ago: Perfect Garlic Bread, Shaved Asparagus Frittata and Palm Springs Date Shake
Five years ago: Potato Scallion and Kale Cakes, Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies, and Crispy Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic
Six years ago: Blue Sky Bran Muffins and Fresh Spinach Pasta
Seven years ago: Spring Vegetable Potstickers and Essential Raised Waffles
Eight years ago: Bacon, Egg and Leek Risotto
Nine years ago: Sour Cream Cornbread with Aleppo and Ribboned Asparagus Salad with Lemon
Ten years ago: Radicchio, Apple, and Pear Salad, New York Cheesecake and Shakshuka
Eleven years ago: Black Bread and Ranch Rugelach
Twelve years ago: Chocolate Walnut Cookies + More Flourless Dessert, Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Thirteen years ago: Corniest Corn Muffins and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake



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How to Make Baked Potatoes – Topping Ideas Included!


$1.26 recipe / $0.31 each

Let’s talk about baked potatoes for a second. This simple food is waaaaay overlooked. They’re inexpensive, simple to make, and can be turned into so many different meals. But there’s a little more to making a good baked potato than just tossing a potato into a hot oven. So today I’m going to share my simple method for how to make baked potatoes, plus some fun topping ideas so you can turn your baked potatoes from a simple side dish into a decked out main dish.

Overhead view of baked potatoes lined up, opened and fluffed, with pats of butter inside

How to Make a GOOD Baked Potato in Three Steps:

There are a million different ways to bake a potato, but here is my simple, tried and true method:

  1. Prep the Potatoes: Wash and dry the potatoes, then prick them all over with a fork. Drying the skin helps it crisp up in the oven instead of staying leathery. Pricking the skins allows steam to escape while they bake, preventing the potato from exploding in the oven.
  2. Season the Potatoes: Rub the outside of each potato with oil, then season with salt. Rubbing the skins with oil prevent the skins from becoming dry and papery. Seasoning with salt keeps the skins flavorful, and helps them crisp up a bit.
  3. Bake the Potatoes: Bake the potatoes in a preheated 400ºF oven until tender. Total baking time will depend on the size of your potatoes.

How Long Do You Bake Potatoes?

The total baking time depends on the size of your potatoes and the temperature of your oven. When baked at my recommended 400ºF oven, a ½ pound potato will take about 45 minutes, and a ¾ potato will take about 60 minutes. Always make sure to test your potato by piercing the potato in the center with a fork to make sure the potato has cooked through. The fork should slide into the potato easily without resistance.

What Temperature Should You Bake Potatoes At?

There are many different opinions on this, but my preferred temperature is 400ºF. I find this temperature to be a happy medium between long baking times and even cooking. Lower temperatures can make the potato take forever to cook through, while higher temperatures can sometimes overcook the outside before the inside of the potato has a chance to become tender.

Should I Wrap My Potato in Foil?

I don’t like the foil method. I like the way the potato skin has a nice “snap” to it when the skins are coated in oil and seasoned with salt, but are baked uncovered. Potatoes wrapped in foil have a much more delicate skin and I prefer my potatoes to have plenty of texture.

What is the Best Potato for Baking?

I’m team russet for baked potatoes. The flesh of russet potatoes gets nice and fluffy when baked, compared to waxier varieties, like Yukon Gold or red potatoes, that tend to be more dense. I also like the russet potato skins quite a bit (when cooked correctly–see tips above). Plus, russet potatoes come in a great size for single portions!

Side view of baked potatoes lined up, seasoned with pepper and butter

 

How to Make Baked Potatoes

How to make baked potatoes with flavorful, crispy skin and fluffy insides in three easy steps. Plus baked potato topping ideas to make it a meal! 

Total Cost: $1.26 recipe / $0.31 each

Author: Beth – Budget Bytes

Servings: 4 1 potato each

  • 4 russet potatoes (½ lb. each) ($1.20)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 1 pinch salt ($0.02)
  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash the potatoes well, then dry them with a towel. Use a fork to prick each potato several times.

  • Drizzle the cooking oil over the potatoes, then use your hands to smear the oil over each potato until it is fully coated. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet (you can line the baking sheet in parchment or foil for easy cleanup, if desired). Season the potatoes with a pinch of salt.

  • Bake the potatoes in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. Total baking time will depend on the size of your potatoes.

  • Carefully cut the potatoes open, fluff the inside with a fork, and add your favorite toppings!


Serving: 1servingCalories: 207.75kcalCarbohydrates: 40.65gProtein: 4.83gFat: 3.68gSodium: 109.58mgFiber: 2.93g

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products we use and love!

Scroll down for topping ideas!

Four baked potatoes lined up on a baking sheet, each topped with different ingredients

Baked Potato Topping Ideas:

My favorite part about baked potatoes are that they are a total blank slate and can be turned into so many different meals! They’re a great way to use up leftover odds and ends in your fridge, so get creative! Here are some of my favorite combos, starting with those pictured in the photo above, top to bottom:

How to Make Baked Potatoes – Step by Step Photos

Four prepped russet potatoes on a small white baking sheet

Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Wash the potatoes well, since they grown under ground and even the factory washing can still leave some remaining dirt. Dry the potatoes well so the skins crisp up nicely in the oven. Prick the potatoes several times with a fork to allow steam to evaporate while they bake. Rub oil all over each potato, then season each potato with a pinch of salt. The salt helps give the skins flavor and helps them crisp up a little.

Note: I like to place the potatoes on a baking sheet for easy transfer in and out of the oven. You may want to line the baking sheet with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.

A fork piercing into a baked potato

Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes, or until they’re tender all the way through. Test the potatoes for doneness by piercing with a fork. The fork should slide easily into the center of the potato with no resistance.

Baked potatoes lined up, seasoned with pepper and butter

 

Slice open the potatoes, fluff the insides with a fork, and add your favorite seasonings or toppings! Pictured with butter and pepper.

Four baked potatoes on a baking sheet, each with different toppings

Have fun with it! What are your favorite potato toppings? Share with the rest of us in the comments below!

 





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