Budget Bytes https://www.budgetbytes.com/ Delicious Recipes Designed for Small Budgets Fri, 02 Dec 2022 22:22:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0.3 https://www.budgetbytes.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/cropped-cropped-favicon-32x32.png Budget Bytes https://www.budgetbytes.com/ 32 32 Chocolate Chip Cookies https://www.budgetbytes.com/chocolate-chip-cookies/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/chocolate-chip-cookies/#respond Sat, 03 Dec 2022 14:00:00 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=73435 This chocolate chip cookie recipe is so good you'll fall in love at first bite. The chocolate chip cookies are chewy with crispy edges.

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This chocolate chip cookie recipe is so good you’ll fall in love at first bite. The cookies have a hint of salt, so they don’t come off too sweet. They’re chewy with slightly crispy edges. They have deeply developed flavors with nutty notes of brown butter. They truly are exceptional. The best part? You don’t need fancy ingredients, just a few tricks.

Overhead shot of chocolate chip cookies on a sheet pan with one of the cookies torn in half.

How To Make A Better Chocolate Chip Cookie

Here are my Top 5 Tips to slay the chocolate chip cookie game:

  1. Brown your butter. This one step adds a deep, nutty flavor that takes the humble chocolate chip cookie to a whole new level.
  2. Sift your flour. Humidity and packaging affect the volume of flour. If you don’t use a scale, get a correct measurement by sifting it first.
  3. Use granulated sugar and brown sugar. Granulated sugar adds color and crispness, while brown sugar makes the dough moist and chewy.
  4. Rest your dough. Chilling the dough uncovered helps create a dough with concentrated flavors, a firm texture with less spread, and deeper browns.
  5. Use an oven thermometer. Most ovens can be off by up to 50°. A cheap thermometer can be the difference between a cookie win and a big, fat fail.
Overhead shot of a chocolate chip cookie on a black rubber spatula in the foreground with a sheet pan of chocolate chip cookies in the background.

How To Cool Chocolate Chip Cookies

Never remove cookies from a sheet pan right out of the oven. They are still very soft and are likely to break. Instead, leave them on the sheet pan for five or so minutes and then use a spatula to place them on a cooling rack.

How To Store Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies should be cold to the touch before storing. Placing a warm cookie in an air-tight container will make it mushy, and you worked too hard for that. Once cooled, place them in an air-tight container lined with a paper towel. Separate layers with wax paper to prevent them from sticking together. Top the final layer of cookies with plastic wrap to reduce exposure to air. They will last at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Refrigerating baked cookies will dry them out. Instead, for longer storage, freeze them for up to 3 months.

Can You Freeze THIS Cookie Dough?

Absolutely! Portion the dough with a small cookie scoop or in 2 tablespoon-sized cookie dough balls. Freeze them on a sheet pan with a bit of separation so they don’t stick together. Once they are frozen solid, add the dough balls to a freezer-safe bag and remove as much air as possible. If using a container, top each layer of dough balls with plastic wrap to prevent exposure to air.

Overhead shot of chocolate chip cookies on a plate with a glass of milk next to it.
Overhead shot of chocolate chip cookies on a sheet pan with one of the cookies torn in half.
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Chocolate Chip Cookies

This chocolate chip cookie recipe is so good you'll fall in love at first bite. The cookies are chewy with slightly crispy edges. They have deeply developed flavors with nutty notes of salted brown butter.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Total Cost ($4.58 recipe / $0.25 serving)
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 18 cookies
Calories 204kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 Tbsp salted butter* $1.50
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar* $0.22
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar* $0.08
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract $0.57
  • 2 eggs $0.42
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour $0.18
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda $0.03
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips $1.58

Instructions

  • In a light-colored, heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter over medium heat until the solids separate and turn golden brown.
  • Place the brown butter in a large bowl to cool for a few minutes. When it is no longer steaming hot, set the bowl in the fridge or freezer until it hardens.
  • Once the butter has hardened,break it apart and add the brown and white sugar to the bowl.
  • Use a hand mixer (or elbow grease) to cream the butter and the sugars on low speed until incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla extract and one egg to the bowl. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the second egg. Mix on low speed until combined, and scrape down the bowl again.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and baking soda.
  • Pour half of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture and mix on low speed until it barely comes together. Next, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the remaining flour, and mix on low speed until a dough forms.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the chocolate chips. Mix until the chocolate chips are interspersed evenly throughout the dough.
  • Roll 2-tablespoon portions of dough into balls and place them 2 inches apart on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Chill the dough in your refrigerator, uncovered, for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.
  • When ready to bake, place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350°F. Press the chilled cookie dough balls down with two fingers.
  • Bake the cookies for 4 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan, front to back. Bake for an additional 4 minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan for at least 5 minutes before taking them off and cooling them on a rack.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*If using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of finely ground salt (like fine sea salt) or 1 teaspoon of coarsely ground salt (like kosher salt) to the butter.
*Use either light brown or dark brown sugars. Dark brown will give your cookies a touch more spread and chew.
* If you prefer a crispy cookie, omit the brown sugar and use 3/4 cups total of granulated white. The cookies will rise more and spread less.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Sodium: 100mg | Fiber: 1g
Overhead shot of chocolate chip cookies on a sheet pan with one of the cookies torn in half.

How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies – Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of butter browning in a silver pan.

In a light-colored, heavy-bottomed pan, melt the 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) of butter over medium heat. When it starts to foam, the milk solids will separate from the water in little specks. Continue to cook the solids until they have turned golden brown. The air will smell of hazelnuts.

Overhead shot of chilled brown butter in a silver bowl.

Once the butter has been browned, immediately remove it from the heat and place it in a bowl to cool for a few minutes. Once it is no longer steaming hot, set the bowl in the fridge or freezer until the brown butter cools to a softened butter consistency.

Overhead shot of brown and granulated sugar with chilled brown butter in a silver bowl.

Once the butter has cooled and solidified into a mousse-like consistency, add the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and the 1/4 cup of granulated white sugar to the bowl.

Overhead shot of creamed sugar in a silver bowl with hand beaters settled on the rim..

Use a hand mixer (or elbow grease) to cream the butter and the sugars on low speed until incorporated.

Overhead shot of eggs and vanilla in silver bowl with hand beaters settled on the rim..

Add the teaspoon of vanilla extract and one egg to the bowl. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the second egg. Mix on low speed until combined, and scrape down the bowl again.

Overhead shot of dry ingredients in a white bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.

Pour half of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture and mix on low speed until it barely comes together. Next, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the remaining flour. Continue to mix on low speed until the dough barely comes together. Do not over-mix, as this will give you a tough cookie.

Overhead shot of chocolate chips being mixed into cookie dough with a red and white rubber spatula in a silver bowl.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add 1 cup of chocolate chips. Mix until the chocolate chips are interspersed evenly throughout the dough.

Overhead shot of cookie dough balls on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Roll 2-tablespoon portions of dough into balls and place them 2 inches apart on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Chill the dough in your refrigerator, uncovered, for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.

Overhead shot of two fingers pressing down on refrigerated balls of cookie dough on a lined sheet pan.

When ready to bake, place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350°F. Press the chilled cookie dough balls down with two fingers.

Overhead shot of of baked chocolate chip cookies.

Bake the cookies for 4 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan, front to back. Bake for an additional 4 minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan for at least 5 minutes before taking them off and cooling them on a rack.

Overhead shot of chocolate chip cookies on a sheet pan.

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Bruschetta https://www.budgetbytes.com/bruschetta/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/bruschetta/#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2022 14:00:00 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=73339 Bruschetta is an easy and scrumptious Italian appetizer of toasted bread slices topped with garlicky tomatoes and fragrant basil. It's as easy to make as it is economical. Serve it at your next gathering and watch it disappear in minutes!

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Bruschetta is a scrumptious appetizer that’s as easy to make as it is economical. This OG Italian Budget Byte is a simple combination of toasted bread topped with garlicky chopped tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve it at your next gathering and watch it disappear in minutes! Bonus: if you serve it on baguette slices, like we did, it’s vegan-friendly! (Other traditional choices, like ciabatta or boule, can be made with milk and eggs, and are not vegan.)

Overhead shot of white platter with bruschetta on it.

How Do You Pronounce Bruschetta?

When pronouncing bruschetta, the CH is a hard K sound: brews-KEH-ta. So if you pronounce it brew-CHEH-ta (as I occasionally do, even though I know better), you’re doing it wrong. But who cares? Mispronounciations are a part of life. And you’re making a truly delightful appetizer from scratch! #winning

What is Bruschetta Topping Made Of?

The choices are endless, truly. But traditionally, bruschetta is a slice of crusty or day-old bread that’s brushed with olive oil, toasted, rubbed with raw garlic, topped with chopped tomato and torn basil, and finally, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Simple? Yes. Bigger than the sum of its parts? 100%!

Can I Prep Bruschetta Ahead Of Time?

You can definitely prep the tomatoes in advance. Chop, salt, and then dress them. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three days. Slice and toast the baguette slices until barely golden. Store them in an airtight container lined with a paper towel for up to a day. Toast them for a few minutes to warm them before assembling them.

Overhead shot of a hand holding a slice of bruschetta in the foreground and a platter of bruschetta in the background.

What Kind Of Tomatoes Are Best For Bruschetta?

Since tomatoes are, after all, the star of the show, the best kind for bruschetta are the tastiest. They should be ripe and heavy for their size. When you press a finger against their skin it should leave a dent. Hold them about six inches away from your nose and breathe in deeply. Only buy them if they are floral and perfumed. Try plum (Roma), cherry, grape, heirloom, vine-ripened, or a combination of any of the above.

Can I Use Canned TOmatoes For Bruschetta?

This might be a controversial statement for the Food Police, but canned tomatoes are a much better choice than out-of-season or unripe tomatoes. You will need to doctor them some, of course. Press whole canned tomatoes in a colander to release their juices and seeds. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread the pressed tomatoes in a thin layer on the pan. Bake them at 350° until most of the liquid evaporates, and their texture transforms to a thick jam-like consistency. Taste them and add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of sugar if necessary, to recreate a perfect tomato’s natural sweetness and acidity.

What Can I Substitute Balsamic Vinegar With?

I get it. Balsamic vinegar can be pricy. You can always substitute it with red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Just make sure to add a pinch of sugar to the mix, to make up for the natural sweetness of the balsamic.

Side shot of white platter with bruschetta on it.

What Kind Of Bread Is Best For Bruschetta?

When you’re making bruschetta, day-old bread is best. Traditionally, a crusty ciabatta is used. But use what you have, or better yet, whatever you find on sale in your grocer’s day-old bread section. I love a baguette, but any thick, hearty bread that can withstand a heavy topping will do just fine.

Why Is My Bruschetta Soggy?

You will always get soggy results if your topping is too liquidy or if it’s been sitting on the toasted bread too long. You can definitely toast the bread ahead of time and prepare the filling ahead of time, but for a texturally perfect bruschetta, top when you’re ready to serve.

How To Remove Seeds And Liquid From Tomatoes

  • The easiest move is to chop the tomatoes and add them to a colander.
  • Place the colander in a bowl to catch juices, and gently agitate and press down.
  • Add salt, which will force the tomatoes to release their liquid.
  • Mix everything a few times and then wait twenty or so minutes.
  • Finally, use your hands to press the tomatoes against the sides of the colander to remove even more liquid.

Don’t throw out those juices, PS. Drink them up. They’re SO tasty. (You don’t have to drink them straight out of the bowl, as I do. Kitchen folk aren’t the classiest, but we’re salt of the earth. Promise!)

Overhead shot of white platter with bruschetta on it.
Side shot of bruschetta on a sheet pan.
Print

Bruschetta

Bruschetta is an easy and scrumptious Italian appetizer of toasted bread slices topped with garlicky tomatoes and fragrant basil. It's as easy to make as it is economical. Serve it at your next gathering and watch it disappear in minutes!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Total Cost ($8.40 recipe / $0.84 serving)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 10 2-slice servings
Calories 124kcal

Ingredients

  • 6 plum tomatoes $3.24
  • 1 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1 baguette $2.99
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided $0.52
  • 3 cloves garlic $0.26
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves $1.25
  • 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper* $0.06
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar $0.06

Instructions

  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 450°F. Dice the tomatoes into pencil eraser-sized pieces.
  • Deseed the tomatoes. Place them in a colander and agitate them, gently pressing down, so the seeds slip through the holes.
  • Salt the tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally and mix to incorporate the salt throughout. Wait 20 minutes for the salt to force the juices out of the tomatoes.
  • While the salt is working its magic on the tomatoes, cut your baguette on the diagonal into inch-thick pieces.
  • Brush the olive oil onto both sides of the slices. Place them on the lined sheet pan and toast them for about five minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Agitate the tomatoes once more to release juices. Mince the garlic and chop the basil. Add the garlic, basil, and pepper to the tomatoes.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the tomatoes. Mix to incorporate. Taste the mixture and add more salt, pepper, and balsamic if necessary.
  • Top each toasted baguette slice with a heaping tablespoon of the tomato mixture.
  • Transfer the bruschetta to a serving platter. Serve immediately.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*if you are using finely ground black pepper, only use 1/4 teaspoon.

Nutrition

Serving: 2slices | Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 389mg | Fiber: 1g
Overhead shot of bruschetta on a sheet pan.

How to Make Bruschetta – Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of sliced and diced tomatoes on a white chopping board.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 450°F. Dice 6 plum tomatoes into pencil eraser-sized pieces.
Overhead shot of a hand deseeding tomatoes in a silver colander.
Deseed the tomatoes. Place them in a colander and agitate them, gently pressing down, so the seeds slip through the holes.
Overhead shot of a hand salting tomatoes in a silver colander.
Add a teaspoon of salt to the tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally and mix to incorporate the salt throughout. Wait 20 minutes for the salt to force the juices out of the tomatoes.
Overhead shot of a baguette being sliced by a knife on a white cutting board.
While the salt is working its magic on the tomatoes, cut a foot-and-a-half long baguette on the diagonal into inch-thick pieces. You will have about 20 slices.
Overhead shot of slices of baguette being oiled with a brush on a white cutting board.
Brush 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto both sides of the slices. Place them on the lined sheet pan and toast them in the 450°F oven for about five minutes or until lightly golden.
Overhead shot fo a white bowl with chopped tomatoes, basil, and minced garlic.

Mince 3 cloves of garlic (about 1 tablespoon) and chop 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves. Add the garlic, basil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper to the tomatoes.

Overhead shot of a white bowl with tomato mixture.

Add 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to the tomatoes and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Mix to incorporate. Taste the tomatoes and add an additional teaspoon of balsamic if necessary. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. (You are adding these to taste, so add the amount you prefer.)

Overhead shot of a sheet pan with 13 baguette slices, some topped with chopped tomato mixture and others bare.
Top each toasted baguette slice with a heaping tablespoon of the tomato mixture.
Overhead shot of white platter with bruschetta on it.
Transfer the bruschetta to a serving platter, serve immediately, and enjoy the ooohs and aaahs that will surely follow.

What Can You Serve With Bruschetta?

Try adding these fabulous dishes to the mix when serving bruschetta.

Overhead shot of a sheet pan with bruschetta on it.

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Creamy White Chicken Chili https://www.budgetbytes.com/creamy-white-chicken-chili/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/creamy-white-chicken-chili/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2022 14:52:10 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=73284 This creamy White Chicken Chili is fast, easy, and extra cozy for those cold fall and winter nights. The leftovers are great, too!

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I’m all about cozy soups and stews this time of year and our Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili has always been one of my favorites. But this week I changed it up by making a faster stovetop version with no jarred salsa, and a super creamy finish. The result is an extra cozy, creamy, and lush White Chicken Chili that is easy enough for a weeknight. It’s so good, I think you’re going to want to make it all winter long!

close up overhead view of a bowl of white chicken chili with chips and cheese.

What’s in White Chicken Chili?

White chicken chili is a thick and rich chicken and bean stew made with tender chicken thighs, beans, corn, green chiles, jalapeño, onion, garlic, and a medley of southwest-inspired spices. Rather than using a tomato-based broth, like beef chili, white chicken chili uses chicken broth thickened with a little cream cheese and sour cream to make it extra rich and delicious.

Can I use Chicken Breast?

I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe because they’re super forgiving and always stay tender and delicious. Chicken breasts, on the other hand, can be a bit finicky and can dry out if overcooked. You can use chicken breasts for this recipe but you’ll want to be very careful not to cook them over too high of heat. Keep the chili on a gentle simmer so the breast meat cooks slowly without getting tough and dry.

Is White Chicken Chile Spicy?

You can make this white chicken chili either spicy or mild! If you prefer a mild chicken chili, simply skip the fresh jalapeño, make sure to buy mild canned diced green chiles, and skip the cayenne pepper.

If you’d like a spicier white chicken chili, make sure to include some of the seeds from the jalapeño, buy hot diced green chiles, and add more cayenne pepper to your liking. A few dashes of hot sauce would be awesome, as well!

It’s All About the Toppings

My favorite part of chili, be it beef chili or white chicken chili, is the toppings. Sure, you can eat (and enjoy) a bowl of this chili plain, but I love to pile on the toppings to make my bowl my own. Here are some delicious topping ideas for white chicken chili:

  • Sour Cream
  • Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Green Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Hot Sauce
  • Fresh or Pickled Jalapenos
  • Avocado
  • Lime
Overhead view of white chicken chili in the pot with toppings and a spoon.
Overhead view of a bowl of creamy white chicken chili with toppings and a spoon.
Print

Creamy White Chicken Chili

This creamy White Chicken Chili is easy and extra cozy for those cold fall and winter nights. The leftovers are great, too!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American, Southwest
Total Cost $12.81 recipe / $1.60 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 1.25 cups each
Calories 403kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.13
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.34
  • 1 jalapeño $0.22
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.13
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs $4.94
  • 2 15oz. cans cannellini beans (drained) $1.78
  • 1 15oz. can pinto beans (drained) $0.79
  • 1 7oz. can diced green chiles $1.39
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin $0.30
  • 1 tsp dried oregano $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 3 cups chicken broth $0.35
  • 1 cup frozen corn $0.47
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $1.10
  • ½ cup sour cream $0.45

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Deseed then dice the jalapeño. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño to a large pot with the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions have softened.
  • Add the chicken thighs, cannellini beans, pinto beans, diced green chiles, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, pepper, and chicken broth to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the chili to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the chili simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the chicken thighs and shred with two forks. Add the shredded meat back to the pot along with the corn. Stir to combine and heat through.
  • Cut the cream cheese into chunks and stir it into the chili until melted. Stir in the sour cream. To further thicken the chili, smash some of the beans against the side of the pot.
  • Taste the chili and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve hot with your favorite toppings!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cups | Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 14g | Sodium: 701mg | Fiber: 9g
Overhead view of a bowl of white chicken chili with toppings.

How to Make White Chicken Chili – Step by Step Photos

Diced aromatics in the pot with oil.

Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic. Deseed then dice one jalapeño. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño to a large pot with one tablespoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until the onions have softened.

Chicken, beans, spices, and broth added to the pot.

Add 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, one 15oz. can of pinto beans (drained), two 15oz. cans of cannellini beans (drained), one 7oz. can of diced green chiles, 1 Tbsp cumin, 1 tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, and 3 cups chicken broth to the pot.

Chicken chili before simmering.

Stir everything together until combined. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the chili to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Simmered chili in the pot with a spoon.

After simmering for 30 minutes, remove the cooked chicken thighs to a cutting board and shred them with two forks.

Corn being poured into the chili in the pot.

Return the shredded chicken to the pot and add 1 cup of frozen corn kernels. Stir to combine and heat through.

Cream cheese chunks added to the chili.

Add 4 oz. of cream cheese (cut into chunks) to the chili and stir until it has melted in. Stir in ½ cup sour cream.

finished creamy white chicken chili in the pot with a spoon.

To thicken the chili further, smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. The chili will thicken even more as it begins to cool. Taste the chili and adjust the salt or other seasonings to your liking.

White chicken chili in the pot topped with cheese, tortilla chips, and cilantro.

Serve the chili hot with your favorite toppings!

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Turkey and Wild Rice Soup https://www.budgetbytes.com/turkey-and-wild-rice-soup/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/turkey-and-wild-rice-soup/#comments Sat, 26 Nov 2022 16:08:53 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=73258 Turkey and Wild Rice Soup is a great way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers, plus the leftovers are great so it's the perfect meal prep!

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Have you eaten all of your Thanksgiving leftovers yet?? If not, here’s an amazing soup that you can make with that leftover turkey, and any leftover vegetables you may have laying around from all that Thanksgiving prep a few days ago. This Turkey and Wild Rice Soup is rich, flavorful, and just packed with goodies. Plus, it’s one of those soups that tastes even better the next day, so make a pot of this and you’ll be eating GOOD for the next few days!

Overhead view of a bowl of turkey and wild rice soup on a wood surface.

What’s in Turkey and WIld RIce Soup

This recipe is actually based on the filling for my chicken pot pie recipe, but I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey instead and made it a little thinner to be more soup-like.

It starts with a basic medley of vegetables (onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and mushrooms) sautéed until tender, then we add a combination of butter and flour that will help thicken the soup and give it body. Next, we add vegetable broth, herbs, and the wild rice blend, and simmer until the rice is tender. Finally, we add in the cooked chopped turkey, heat through, then add a dose of cream for a rich finish. 👌 Perfect!

Do I Have to Use Turkey?

This recipe is quite flexible, so if you want to make it any other time of the year other than after Thanksgiving, simply swap out the cooked turkey with some chopped rotisserie chicken! Still super delish and hearty!

Overhead view of turkey and wild rice soup in the pot with a ladle.

What Kind of Rice to Use

For this soup, you’ll want to use a wild rice blend. While you can use wild rice by itself, I find that using a blend of different rices adds more texture and color to the bowl and the rice blends tend to be more affordable than wild rice by itself. I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend, but you can sometimes find generic store versions of this, depending on where you shop (last year ALDI had some). And, since rice is shelf stable, you can save the leftovers to use in other recipes, rather than worrying about it going to waste.

How to Store Leftovers

Refrigerate this soup just after cooking so that it cools quickly. Even better yet, divide it into single servings for faster cooling and easier serving and reheating later. Chill completely in the refrigerator overnight, then, if desired, transfer it to the freezer for longer storage. The soup can be reheated in the microwave or in a pot on the stove over medium-low, stirring often, until hot.

Close up side view of a bowl of turkey and wild rice soup.
Overhead view of a bowl of turkey and wild rice soup.
Print

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup is a great way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers, plus the leftovers are great so it's the perfect meal prep!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Total Cost $8.94 recipe / $2.24 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 1.75 cups each
Calories 472kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 2 carrots $0.29
  • 3 ribs celery $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided $0.48
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.79
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.06
  • 1/2 cup wild rice blend $1.20
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 4 cups vegetable broth $0.47
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey $3.11
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream $0.55
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02

Instructions

  • Dice the onion, slice the carrots and celery, and mince the garlic. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to a large soup pot with 1 Tbsp butter and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.
  • While the vegetables are sautéing, slice the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the pot and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft.
  • Add the flour and remaining 4 Tbsp butter to the pot. Continue to stir and cook for about one minute more.
  • Add the wild rice, thyme, sage, pepper, and broth to the pot. Stir until all of the flour and butter mixture has dissolved off the vegetables and the bottom of the pot.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring the soup up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the soup simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the rice is tender.
  • Once the rice is tender, add the chopped turkey. Stir to combine and heat through.
  • Stir in the heavy cream, then taste the soup and season with about ½ tsp salt, or to your liking. Enjoy hot with bread for dipping!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.75cups | Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Sodium: 1451mg | Fiber: 4g
Close up of a ladle full of turkey and wild rice soup over the pot.

How to Make Turkey and wild rice soup – Step by Step Photos

Carrot, onion, celery, and garlic in the soup pot.

Dice one yellow onion, slice 2 carrots, slice 3 ribs of celery, and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to a large soup pot with 1 Tbsp butter. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.

Sliced mushrooms added to the pot.

While the vegetables are sautéing, slice 8 oz. mushrooms. Add them to the pot and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have softened.

Butter and flour added to the pot.

Add 4 Tbsp butter and ¼ cup flour to the pot. Continue to stir and cook for about one minute more. The flour and butter will form a paste that will coat the vegetables, that is okay.

Wild rice blend and herbs added to the pot.

Add ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp rubbed sage, ¼ tsp pepper, and ½ cup wild rice blend to the pot.

Vegetable broth being poured into the pot.

Add 4 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine and dissolve all of the flour and butter off of the vegetables and the bottom of the pot.

Simmered soup in the pot.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the soup to come to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the wild rice is tender.

Chopped turkey being poured into the pot.

Once the rice is tender, add 2 cups of chopped cooked turkey (or chicken) and stir to combine. Allow the turkey to heat through in the soup.

Cream being stirred into the soup.

Finally, to make the soup extra lush, stir in a ⅓ cup heavy cream.

Finished soup in the pot with a spoon.

Taste the soup and add salt to your liking (I added ½ tsp). Keep in mind that adding a little salt really helps the different flavors pop!

Finished pot of turkey and wild rice soup seen from above.

Serve the Turkey and Wild Rice Soup hot with some hearty bread for dipping!

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Dollar Store Dinners – Spam Stir Fry Noodles https://www.budgetbytes.com/dollar-store-dinners-spam-stir-fry-noodles/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/dollar-store-dinners-spam-stir-fry-noodles/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2022 16:06:53 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=73149 This quick Spam stir fry is a dollar store dinner that only requires a few simple ingredients: ramen noodles, frozen vegetables, and luncheon meat.

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I know Spam is a polarizing ingredient, but the whole idea behind this Dollar Store Dinners series is making the most of what’s available, and there isn’t a whole lot to work with, food-wise, in a dollar store. So today I’m taking advantage of one of the few meat products at the dollar store: canned luncheon meat, or a generic version of Spam. This Spam Stir Fry may not be for everyone, but it’s a quick and easy meal that you can make with just a handful of ingredients, and sometimes that’s enough to be thankful for!

Dollar Store Dinners

Welcome to the Dollar Store Dinners series on Budget Bytes. We’re making quick and simple meals using only ingredients found at the dollar store. While the availability of ingredients will vary from store to store, hopefully these easy recipes will give you some inspiration for when money is tight and access to groceries is limited!

Overhead view of a plate full of spam stir fry with a fork.

What’s in This Meal?

This is a super quick and easy stir fry with noodles that is made simply with a can of luncheon meat, a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables, and a pack of ramen noodles. It’s simple, filling, and inexpensive!

Here’s what I bought at the dollar store for this recipe:

  • Luncheon meat $1.25
  • Frozen stir fry vegetables $1.25
  • Instant ramen noodles (pack of 6) $1.25
  • Cooking oil $1.25

Total: $5.00

And there’s plenty of leftover ramen noodles and cooking oil to use in other recipes!

Dollar store stir fry ingredients.
(Ignore the fact that the luncheon meat is open. I almost forgot to take this photo and accidentally opened it first)

What is Luncheon Meat?

Luncheon meat is a term used for processed, cooked, ready to eat meat that is available fresh, like deli meat, or canned, like Spam. Luncheon meat is usually either sliced or chopped and can be served cold or cooked and added to other recipes. Luncheon meat does tend to be high in fat, sodium, and nitrates, which are added to keep costs low and to increase the shelf life of the meat.

Luncheon Meat Vs. Spam

The type of luncheon meat used in this recipe is canned luncheon meat, similar to Spam, but a generic version. After comparing the ingredient list on the luncheon meat I purchased at the dollar store to the ingredient list on a can of Spam, I would definitely recommend the brand name Spam for this recipe if you have it available. But again, this series is all about using what you’ve got! And in this case, it’s generic canned luncheon meat.

Alternate Options

So look, if Spam isn’t your jam (I swear I didn’t plan that rhyme), you’ve got other options! Try using plain ground pork, chicken, or beef instead. Or, cube up some tofu and fry it up in the skillet first. The beauty of a stir fry is that you can put just about anything in them and they still taste great.

Not into ramen noodles? No problem! This stir fry would be great over a bed of rice, too. If you’re not using the ramen you’ll need a little something to season up the dish, in lieu of the seasoning packet from the ramen. You can make a really quick and easy sauce by combining ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup chili garlic sauce (or sriracha), and ¼ cup brown sugar.

Spam stir fry noodles in a skillet, being lifted by tongs.
Overhead view of a bowl of spam stir fry noodles with a fork.
Print

Spam Stir Fry Noodles

This quick Spam stir fry is a dollar store dinner that only requires a few simple ingredients: ramen noodles, frozen vegetables, and luncheon meat.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $5.00 recipe / $2.50 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 669kcal

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. luncheon meat $1.25
  • 12 oz. frozen stir fry vegetables $1.25
  • 3 oz. package instant ramen $1.25
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $1.25

Instructions

  • Slice the luncheon meat into strips.
  • Add about a tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the sliced luncheon meat and fry until brown and crispy.
  • Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil for the ramen noodles. Add the noodles (without the seasoning packet) and boil for about 3 minutes, or just until tender. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
  • Once the luncheon meat is crispy, turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high and add the frozen vegetables. Continue to stir and cook until the vegetables are heated through.
  • Add the drained noodles and about half of the ramen seasoning packet to the skillet. Toss until everything is combined and coated in seasoning. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Serve hot.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

The price calculation for Dollar Store Dinners includes the total package cost of the ingredients, rather than the cost for the portion used. The prices listed above reflect a six-pack of instant ramen and an entire bottle of cooking oil.
The nutrition facts below reflect the entire seasoning packet for the ramen, while we only used about half.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 669kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 41g | Sodium: 2345mg | Fiber: 8g
Side view of a bowl of spam stir fry noodles being lifted by a fork.

How to Make Spam Stir Fry Noodles – Step by Step Photos

Dollar store stir fry ingredients.

You only need a few ingredients for this meal: canned luncheon meat (like Spam), a packet of instant ramen, a bag of frozen vegetables, and a little cooking oil to help the Spam crisp up (you might not even need this if your luncheon meat is high enough fat and you’re using a non-stick skillet).

Spam being cut into pieces.

Slice one 7 oz. can of luncheon meat into pieces.

Fried luncheon meat in a skillet.

Add a little oil to a skillet and heat over medium. Add the sliced luncheon meat to the skillet and fry until browned and crispy (3-5 minutes).

Boiled ramen noodles in a pot, drained.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the ramen noodles, without the seasoning packet, and boil until tender (about 3 minutes). Drain the noodles.

Frozen vegetables added to the skillet.

Turn the heat in the skillet up to medium-high and add one 12oz. bag of frozen stir fry vegetables. Stir and cook until the vegetables are heated through.

Noodles and seasoning added to the skillet.

Add the cooked and drained noodles to the skillet along with about half of the seasoning packet from the ramen noodles.

Finished Spam stir fry noodles in the skillet.

Toss the noodles together with the meat, vegetables, and seasoning. Taste and add more seasoning to your liking. Since the luncheon meat is pretty salty, I only used about half of the seasoning packet total.

Overhead view of a bowl of spam stir fry noodles with a fork.

Serve the easy Spam stir fry and enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Casserole https://www.budgetbytes.com/sweet-potato-casserole/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/sweet-potato-casserole/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2022 23:07:14 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=73148 Greater than the sum of its parts, this buttery sweet potato casserole is a breeze to put together and will be the star of your dinner table!

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If there was ever a dish greater than the sum of its parts, it’s this buttery sweet potato casserole. It’s a total breeze to put together and will be the star of your dinner table! If you’re unfamiliar with sweet potato casserole, it’s traditionally a southern dish served for holidays or special occasions.

Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a silver serving spoon scooping out a bit of it.

How To Pick Sweet Potatoes

When selecting sweet potatoes, go for small to medium-sized ones, which tend to be less starchy, have tender skin, and have more pronounced flavors. Also, make sure they are firm and have smooth skin without any cracks or soft spots, all signs that they aren’t old. (Ugh. That reads like a sentence you’d find in some sexist 50’s handbook for How To Pick A Wife.)

How To Store Sweet Potatoes

To keep your sweet potatoes from sprouting and keep them fresh longer, store them in a cool, dry, dark cabinet. Don’t store them next to onions, which tend to release moisture into the air. Also, keep them out of cabinets that are close to your stove, which creates a hot environment in surrounding spaces while in use.

Overhead shot of a sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a silver serving spoon above it holding a spoonful of casserole.

What’s The Best Topping For Sweet Potato Casserole?

Beth and I are split on the best topping for sweet potato casserole. She is camp pecan streusel (it has superior flavor and texture). I am camp marshmallow (it’s easier and costs less). This recipe is for a marshmallow topping, but I’m not leaving you stranded if you prefer pecans. You can use the following recipe to create a pecan streusel:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of flour. 
  2. Cut in 4 tablespoons of diced butter with a pastry cutter or two butter knives until the mixture transforms into crumbles the size of peas. 
  3. Stir in 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
  4. Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture and bake until golden.

Should I Boil Or Roast Potatoes FOR Sweet Potato Casserole?


I peel, dice, and boil sweet potatoes for my sweet potato casserole. For the Thanksgiving holiday, most ovens will be working overtime, so the more you can do on the stovetop, the better. But if you REALLY want to go all out, wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum and roast them whole at low heat (about 250°F) until they are fork tender, which caramelizes the sugars for ridiculously deep flavors.

Overhead shot of a sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a few scoops taken out of it.

Can I Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead Of Time?

You can absolutely make sweet potato casserole ahead of time. Just leave the toppings for when you are ready to bake, as freezing or refrigerating them for extended periods will change their texture. You can refrigerate the casserole with a sheet of plastic directly on the surface of the sweet potato mash for up to five days. The plastic helps prevent a skin from forming and stops condensation from seeping into the dish.

You can freeze a sweet potato casserole for up to 3 months. Line your casserole dish with enough aluminum foil to extend six inches on each side of the dish. Add the sweet potato filling and cover with the aluminum overhang. Freeze the casserole in the dish. Once it has solidified, unfold the aluminum and use it to lift the frozen casserole out of the dish. Wrap it in the aluminum again and then in a second layer of plastic. Then store in a freezer-safe container. Thaw it in your refrigerator overnight before topping it with marshmallows or pecan streusel and baking it.

How To Store Leftover Casserole

First things first- according to the FDA if the casserole has been out at room temperature for more than two hours, you should throw it out. I’m just the messenger, so please direct all complaints to the FDA. Leftovers are best frozen in single servings in freezer-safe containers. Thaw them out in your fridge overnight. You should only thaw them once.

Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows in a white casserole dish.
Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows in a white casserole dish.
Print

Sweet Potato Casserole

Greater than the sum of its parts, this buttery sweet potato casserole is a breeze to put together and will be the star of your dinner table!
Course Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Total Cost ($5.94 recipe / $0.74 serving)
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 372kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs sweet potatoes $3.96
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar $0.23
  • 4 Tbsp salted butter $0.38
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream $0.55
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract $0.29
  • 1 pinch nutmeg $0.01
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon $0.01
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows* $0.50

Instructions

  • Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350ºF. Grease a three-quart casserole dish with butter. Set a large pot of water over high heat. Peel and dice sweet potatoes. Add them to the water once it begins to boil.
  • When the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, drain them, and add them to a large bowl. Mash them until they are smooth.
  • To a medium-sized heavy bottom pan set over medium heat add brown sugar and salted butter. Whisk until a caramel forms.
  • Add the cream and whisk to incorporate.
  • Add the salt, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the caramel and whisk to incorporate.
  • Mix the caramel into the mash and then add the mash into the greased casserole dish. Smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Top the casserole with 2 cups mini marshmallows, more or less to your liking.*
  • Bake the casserole at 350ºF until the marshmallows are golden, about 20 minutes.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*Opt for vegan if you are making this a vegetarian dish
*If you are opting for pecan streusel, top it with that instead. If you want to use both, start with the pecans and finish with the marshmallows.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 332mg | Fiber: 7g
Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a silver serving spoon scooping out a bit of it.

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole – Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of a pot with boiled sweet potatoes in it with a serving spoon holding a few cubes of sweet potato above it.

Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350ºF. Grease a three-quart casserole dish with butter. Set a large pot of water over high heat. Peel and dice four pounds of sweet potatoes. Add them to the water once it begins to boil.

Overhead shot of sweet potatoes being mashed in a white bowl.

When the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, drain them, and add them to a large bowl. Mash them until they are smooth.

Overhead shot of brown sugar and butter in a silver pan.

To a medium-sized heavy bottom pan set over medium heat add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of salted butter. Whisk until a caramel forms.

Overhead shot of cream v=being poured into a silver pan with caramel and a whisk in it.
When the brown sugar has completely dissolved into the butter and a caramel has formed, add the 1/3 cup of heavy cream. Whisk to incorporate.
Overhead shot of a spoonful of cinnamon being added to caramel in a silver pan with a whisk in it.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the caramel and whisk to incorporate.

Overhead shot of caramel being poured out of a pot into sweet potato mash.

Add the caramel to the sweet potato mash and mix thoroughly.

Overhead shot of a rubber spatula smoothing sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish.

Add the mash to the greased casserole dish and smooth the top with a spatula.

Overhead shot of a silver cup measure pouring a cup of marshmallows into a sweet potato casserole with marshmallows already on top of it.

Top the casserole with 2 cups mini marshmallows, more or less to your liking. If you are opting for pecan streusel, top it with it instead. If you want to use both, start with the pecans and finish with the marshmallows.

Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole in a white casserole dish with a silver serving spoon scooping out a bit of it.

Bake the casserole at 350ºF until the marshmallows are golden, about 20 minutes. Allow the casserole to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows in a white casserole dish.

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Butternut Squash Curry https://www.budgetbytes.com/butternut-squash-curry/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/butternut-squash-curry/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2022 17:46:31 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=73102 This butternut squash curry is easy, inexpensive and so deliciously warm, cozy, and filling. It's the perfect vegetarian comfort meal!

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I snagged a few really big butternut squashes on sale the other day, chopped them up, and stashed most of them in my freezer for later. One of the first things I made with my butternut squash haul was this delicious and super easy butternut squash curry! It’s warm, cozy, filling, and most of all, budget-friendly!

Overhead view of a skillet full of butternut squash curry.

What’s in Butternut Squash Curry

This simple curry starts with a trio of aromatics, including onion, garlic, and ginger. We layer in some curry powder and cumin, and finally build the sauce with some diced tomatoes and water. The butternut squash is then simmered into the flavorful sauce until tender and then creamy coconut milk is added to give the curry body. The curry is then finished off with some fresh spinach for color and texture. So easy, so pretty, and SO delicious!

How to Serve Butternut Squash Curry

The creamy curry sauce is the star of the show in this dish, so you definitely want to serve this curry with some type of bread or rice to make sure all of those delicious flavors get soaked up and enjoyed. You could serve the curry in a bowl with some naan bread for dipping, or spoon it over a bed of rice like we have it pictured here.

How to Store Leftovers

Divide the curry into single portions after cooking, then chill in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. This curry can be frozen, although you may want to give it a good stir after thawing and reheating. You can thaw the curry in the refrigerator overnight, or microwave straight from the freezer on the defrost setting, stirring occasionally, until reheated.

What Else Can I Add?

Curries are great because they’re so flexible. You can toss in just about anything you might have on hand. If you don’t have butternut squash, you can substitute the same amount of sweet potatoes. If you want to bulk up this curry, you can add in a mix of frozen vegetables (broccoli, peas, carrots, cauliflower), or even a drained can of chickpeas.

Overhead view of a bowl of butternut squash curry with rice.
Close up overhead view of butternut squash curry in a bowl with rice.
Print

Butternut Squash Curry

This butternut squash curry is easy, inexpensive and so deliciously warm, cozy, and filling. It's the perfect vegetarian comfort meal!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Total Cost $7.23 recipe / $1.81 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 433kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. butternut squash (about 4 cups diced) $1.78
  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger $0.30
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder $0.30
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.10
  • 1 15oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes $1.09
  • 1/2 cup water $0.00
  • 1 13.5oz can full-fat coconut milk $2.29
  • 2 oz. fresh spinach $0.50
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02

Instructions

  • Peel and dice the butternut squash into ½-inch pieces. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for a few minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the curry powder and cumin and sauté for one minute more.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and water to the skillet. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the diced butternut squash and stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet and let the squash simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes, or just until fork-tender.
  • Add the coconut milk to the skillet, stir to combine, and heat through.
  • Once the sauce is hot again, add the fresh spinach. Stir to combine and allow the spinach to wilt in the hot sauce. Season the curry to taste with salt, then enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 30g | Sodium: 494mg | Fiber: 9g
Overhead view of a skillet full of butternut squash curry with a spatula.

How to Make Butternut squash curry – Step by Step Photos

Butternut squash sliced and cubed on a cutting board.
Peel and dice about 2 pounds of butternut squash into ½-inch pieces (about 4 cups). If you need help figuring out how to dice butternut squash, check out our tutorial on how to peel and cut butternut squash.
Diced onion, minced garlic, and grated ginger on a cutting board.

Prepare the aromatics. Dice one yellow onion, mince two cloves of garlic, and grate about 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger.

Sautéed aromatics in a skillet, spices being added.

Heat a large skillet over medium, then add 2 Tbsp olive oil along with the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté over medium for a few minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add 1 Tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp ground cumin, and continue to sauté for about one minute more.

Diced tomatoes being poured into the skillet.

Add one 15oz. can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes and ½ cup water to the skillet. Stir to combine and dissolve the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet.

Butternut squash added to the skillet.

Add the diced butternut squash and stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet and let the squash simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes, or just until fork-tender. Don’t overcook the squash or it will begin to break down into a mash as you finish the dish.

Coconut milk being poured into the skillet.

Once the squash is tender, add one 13.5 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk. Stir to combine and allow the sauce to heat through.

Fresh spinach added to the curry.

Once the sauce is hot again, add about 2 oz. fresh spinach (two big handfuls) and stir to combine. Allow the spinach to wilt in the hot sauce.

Finished curry in the skillet with a spatula.

Season the curry with salt, starting with ¼ tsp and adding more to your liking. I used ½ tsp total. Keep in mind that salt doesn’t just make things taste salty, it actually helps other flavors pop and allows your tongue to detect and distinguish flavors.

Close up overhead view of butternut squash curry in a bowl with rice.

Serve the curry with bread for dipping or over a bed of rice and enjoy!

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How to Cut Butternut Squash https://www.budgetbytes.com/how-to-cut-butternut-squash/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/how-to-cut-butternut-squash/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2022 14:17:44 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=72816 Use this quick step by step tutorial to learn how to cut butternut squash the easy way! Including storage tips, recipes, and more.

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Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall ingredients, but if you’re new to cooking with it, peeling and chopping this oddly shaped vegetable can be a bit intimidating. But don’t fret! Here’s a quick tutorial so you can see just how easy it is to cut butternut squash. I promise it’s painless! And then you can use that delicious and beautiful butternut squash in soups, salads, casseroles, pasta, and more.

Two whole butter nut squashes on a blue background.

How to Choose A Butternut Squash

When choosing a butternut squash, look for a squash with smooth, light peach-colored skin. The interior of the butternut squash will be much more vibrantly orange colored than its skin. Inspect the squash for soft spots, dings, or other damaged areas. The squash should feel firm to touch and heavy for its size.

Do You Need to Peel Butternut Squash?

If you’re planning to cube or slice your butternut squash, you’ll want to peel it first. If you plan to roast your squash whole or halved, you can leave the skin on during roasting and then just scoop the soft flesh out of the skin after roasting.

What About the Seeds?

You’ll want to scoop the seeds out of the squash before chopping or roasting because they’re much easier to remove when the squash flesh is still raw and firm. But don’t toss those seeds! You can clean them and roast them just like you would roast pumpkin seeds.

How to Use Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is so versatile and can be added to salads, casseroles, pasta, sauces, and more! Butternut squash is also very similar in texture and flavor to sweet potatoes, so it can often be used in place of sweet potatoes in recipes. Here are some of our recipes that use butternut squash (more to come!):

A butternut squash cut in half lengthwise with the insides exposed.

How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash – Step by Step Photos

The end of a butternut squash being sliced off.

Begin by creating a flat, stable surface on the squash so it doesn’t roll around when you try to peel it. Slice off the top and the bottom of the squash to create flat surfaces.

Butternut squash being peeled with a vegetable peeler.

Set the squash on the wide, flat bottom and use a vegetable peeler to peel straight down toward the cutting board. Peel all the way around the squash until all of the peel has been removed and the vibrant squash flesh is visible.

Seeds scooped out of butternut squash with a spoon.

While the squash is still standing up on the base, slice it in half lengthwise from top to bottom. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the center.

Butternut squash sliced and cubed on a cutting board.

To cut the butternut squash into cubes, first cut it into slices horizontally, then cut each slice into cubes. To make this step faster, you can stack two or three slices at a time and then cut them into cubes together.

Butternut squash cubes in a freezer bag.

If you have too much butternut squash to use in your recipe, you can freeze the rest of the cubes for later! Simply place the cubed butternut squash in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer for up to three months. The frozen cubes can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight before use, dropped right into boiling water from the freezer, or popped right into a hot oven for roasting! Super easy peasy!

Two butternut squashes on a blue background.

What is your favorite way to use butternut squash? Let us know in the comments!!

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Mashed Potatoes https://www.budgetbytes.com/mashed-potatoes/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/mashed-potatoes/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2022 13:29:13 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=72827 Follow these easy steps to make the smoothest, fluffiest, cloud-like mashed potatoes you've ever had! Plus ideas for more flavor add-ins.

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Is there anything better on earth than a big bowl of buttery mashed potatoes? Wait, don’t answer that. Let’s just appreciate how amazing mashed potatoes are in their own right. And if you want to know how to make the creamiest, fluffliest, cloud-like mashed potatoes that you’ve ever had, stick with me. I’m going to show you how it’s done.

Overhead view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter.

Why Do Mashed Potatoes Get Gluey?

Two things lead to heavy, sticky, gluey mashed potatoes: too much starch and over-whipping or over-stirring. To keep these mashed potatoes light, fluffy, and cloud-like, we rinse the excess starch not once but TWICE during the process, then briefly whip the potatoes after mashing to get them extra smooth and aerated. The result is heavenly.

What Type of Potatoes to Use for Mashed Potatoes

I find that russet potatoes make the lightest and fluffiest mashed potatoes, but if you prefer something a little more dense and stick-to-your-ribs, you can go with something like a red potato or Yukon gold.

Close up side view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter.

Do I need to Peel the Potatoes?

To peel or not to peel potatoes is totally up to your personal preference. If you’re going for a super smooth and silky mashed potato, you’ll probably want to peel them first. If you want a mashed potato that is a little more rustic, feel free to leave the peels on! The peels do add a nice bit of flavor and texture, which can be fun.

How to Flavor Mashed Potatoes

The recipe below is for a really classic mashed potato, flavored only with milk, butter, salt, and pepper. But there are SO many different ingredients that you can add to mashed potatoes to give them more flavor. Here are some ideas for mashed potato add-ins:

Close up view of a scoop of mashed potatoes on a spoon.
Close up side view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter.
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Mashed Potatoes

Follow these easy steps to make the smoothest, fluffiest, cloud-like mashed potatoes you've ever had! Plus ideas for more flavor add-ins.
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Total Cost $2.83 recipe / $0.57 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 5 1 cup each
Calories 274kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs. russet potatoes $2.00
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to salt the boiling water) $0.02
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.60
  • 1/2 cup whole milk $0.17
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Peel and dice the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place the diced potatoes in a colander and rinse well with cool water to remove the excess starch.
  • Place the rinsed potatoes in a pot and add fresh water until the potatoes are covered by one inch. Add ½ tsp salt to the water in the pot.
  • Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 6-7 minutes, or until they are very tender (a fork can pierce the potato effortlessly).
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse again briefly with warm water.
  • While the potatoes are draining, add the butter and milk to the pot used to boil the potatoes. Heat them over medium until the butter has melted.
  • Add the drained potatoes back to the pot and mash with a potato masher.
  • Season the potatoes with salt and pepper (I used ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper, but if you use unsalted butter you'll probably want more salt).
  • For extra smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes, use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes until there are no lumps and they are light and cloud-like. Serve and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 10g | Sodium: 441mg | Fiber: 3g
Mashed potatoes being scooped out of a bowl.

How to Make Mashed Potatoes – Step by Step Photos

Diced potatoes in a colander.

Peel and dice 2.5 lbs. of russet potatoes (roughly half of a 5 lb. bag) into 1-inch cubes. Place them in a colander and rinse with cool water to remove the excess starch.

Salt being added to a pot full of potatoes and water.

Add the potatoes to a pot and add fresh water until the potatoes are covered by one inch. Add ½ tsp salt to the water.

A fork piercing a potato from the pot.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring the pot up to a boil. Continue to boil the potatoes for 6-7 minutes, or until they are very tender. If there is any firmness left in the potatoes, your mashed potatoes will not be smooth. You can test the doneness by piercing the potatoes with a fork.

Boiled potatoes in a colander after rinsing again.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse briefly with warm water.

Butter and milk in the pot, butter melting.

While the potatoes are in the colander, add 4 Tbsp butter and ½ cup whole milk to the pot that was used to boil the potatoes. Heat the butter and milk until the butter is melted.

Salt and pepper added to mashed potatoes in the pot.

Add the rinsed potatoes back to the pot and mash with a potato masher. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. I used ½ tsp salt and about ¼ tsp pepper, but if you’re using unsalted butter you may want more salt.

Potatoes being whipped in the pot with a hand mixer.

To make the potatoes extra light and fluffy, beat them with a hand mixer until no lumps remain.

Finished mashed potatoes in the pot being smoothed with a spoon.

Serve the potatoes with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Close up side view of a bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter and a spoon.

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Pumpkin Pie https://www.budgetbytes.com/pumpkin-pie/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/pumpkin-pie/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2022 16:30:55 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=72945 This pumpkin pie recipe is simple but decadent. With a few of my favorite tricks, you can produce the silkiest pie with the most profound flavors.

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If you’re thinking about making pumpkin pie this year, I have a recipe for you that’s simple but decadent. With a few of my favorite tricks, you can produce the silkiest pie ever with ridiculously profound flavors. It’s so much better than store-bought! PS I even convinced Beth that the extra steps I take are worth it, and you know how no-nonsense she is!

The Trick To Silky Pumpkin Pie 

Yes, you can buy the cheapest pumpkin puree you can find, mix it with a few ingredients, throw it in a pie shell, and call it a day. But with a little extra work and about a dollar more, you can take your pumpkin pie to the next level. I even convinced Beth, who was totally against taking additional steps and spending extra money UNTIL she tasted my pie. If changing the mind of the Queen of Budgets and Practicality isn’t a mic-drop moment, I don’t know what is. What are the tricks for silky pumpkin pie?

  1. Use high-quality pumpkin puree instead of generic (we used Libby’s).
  2. Cook the filling to bloom the spices and intensify the flavor.
  3. Blend the filling to make it extra silky smooth.

The Best Puree For Pumpkin Pie

The type of puree you use matters. Many pumpkin purees are watery because filling a can with watered-down pumpkin is cheaper than filling it with 100% pumpkin. Many purees blend field pumpkins and squashes that are bitter and bland because they also cost less to produce. The best puree for your money’s worth will always be Libby’s. This is not an ad; it’s just the truth. Libby’s has low water content and is made with a pumpkin variety bred for deep flavor. It’s the only thing they put in the can. If you can’t spring for Libby’s, that’s OK. The following two steps will help make even the cheapest pumpkin puree taste amazing.

Cook Your Pumpkin Pie Filling

Pumpkins are watery beasts. Cooking down their puree eliminates excess liquid and deepens the pumpkin flavor. When you add spices to the pot, the spices bloom. To understand the importance of blooming, think of the moment you add garlic to a hot pan, and the smell goes from sharp to amazing. It’s the same thing with spices. If you add the spices to the puree, you might as well add the sugar. Heat develops deep caramel notes and dissolves the granules, so you don’t end up with a grainy, one-note filling. As you heat it, the puree will start to bubble and burp, and then it will transform into a glossy, fragrant mixture.

Blend Your Pumpkin Pie Filling

To get incredibly velvety pumpkin pie filling, you need to blend it. I know. I know. Nowhere on the back of the can does it mention cooking puree, much less blending it. Just trust me. Pumpkin puree isn’t silky; all you have to do is look at it. Even after cooking it down, it looks coarse. Let it cool for a few minutes, then blend until it lightens. Add the rest of your ingredients, and blend again. One taste, and I promise you’ll never go back to the traditional mix-and-dump method.

Keep The Pie Crust From Getting Soggy

Loads of folks will tell you that you must blind-bake or pre-bake your pie crust so it stays crispy when filling it with pumpkin puree. Feel free to do that if you wish, but I never do, and as you can see from the picture of the crispy, golden, flaky bottom crust above, I get great results.

My trick is to place a rack on the lowest part of the oven. Then I put a sheet pan on the rack and place a cast iron pan in it, bottom side up. (If your cast iron pan does not lay flat, just bake the pie in the pan.) I preheat for an hour. The bottom heating element supercharges the cast iron pan, which holds on to heat like you did your first hundred-dollar bill. Then I bake the pie on top of the over-turned cast iron. That heat focuses on the bottom of the pie, creating the crispiest of crusts. In addition, the sheet pan will collect any run-off juices so the oven doesn’t start to smoke.

Keep A Pumpkin Pie From Burning

The most important step you can take is to use an oven thermometer. Most ovens (I don’t care how fancy they are) aren’t calibrated. A cheap $5 oven thermometer will tell you exactly what temperature it is. If you notice that the crust or the top of the pie is browning early on, tent it with aluminum to prevent it from burning. Tenting is when you loosely place a sheet of aluminum that’s folded in half over the pie like a tent.

Overhead shot of a pumpkin pie.

Keep Pumpkin Pie From Cracking

You need to eliminate sudden temperature changes to prevent your pie from cracking. Leave the oven door closed as much as possible. Opening an oven door even for 15 seconds can change the temperature in your oven by up to 50°.

You also want to pull your pie out of the oven before it looks done. The magic of carry-over cooking will take it to the finish line. Just because the pie isn’t in direct heat doesn’t mean it stops cooking. That heat takes time to dissipate; while it dissipates, it keeps cooking your pie.

Pull the pie when the crust looks golden, and the outer ring of the pie has dulled and looks solid. The middle should still be jiggly. Not wet, but it should move like jello. Allow the pie to cool in a warm place so there’s no sudden temperature change. If your kitchen runs cold, turn the oven off and crack your oven door about 6 inches. Let the pie cool in the oven.

What To Do If Your Pumpkin Pie Cracks

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the pie gods deliver a cracked pumpkin pie. You have three choices at this point. First, you can use leftover pie dough and bake a few ornamental leaves to top the pie with. You can also top it with a few dollops of whipped cream. Or you can leave it as is. like we did. If someone dares to complain about a crack in homemade pumpkin pie, they don’t get a slice. 😉

Here’s an easy recipe for pie crust cookies: 

  • Preheat your oven to 350° and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • Dust your work surface lightly with flour and roll out the leftover pie dough (or the store-bought pie dough) to about 1/4-inch thickness. 
  • Use a cookie cutter or a knife to cut out pieces shaped like leaves. Place the cookie on the sheet pan. 
  • Whisk an egg with a tablespoon of milk and brush the cookies lightly with the egg wash. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with sugar.
  • Bake until they are light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Allow them to cool before topping your pie with them.
Side shot of a slice of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top of it.
Print

Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie recipe is simple but decadent. With a few of my favorite tricks, you can produce the silkiest pie with the most profound flavors.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Total Cost ($7.49 recipe / $0.62 serving)
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Resting Time 2 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 12 slices
Calories 152kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe 3-Ingredient Pie Crust* $1.17
  • 1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (15 oz can) $2.79
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar $0.22
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon $0.12
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg $0.04
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.04
  • 1 cup sour cream $1.25
  • 1/2 cup whole milk $0.25
  • 1 tsp vanilla $0.58
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature $0.87
  • 1/4 tsp butter, for greasing $0.04
  • 1/4 tsp flour for dusting $0.06
  • 1 tsp heavy cream $0.03

Instructions

  • Place a rack on the lowest part of your oven. Top it with a sheet pan. Place a cast iron pan, bottom side up, in the sheet pan. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a pie dish with butter, dust it with flour, and place it in your freezer. Dust your work surface and roll your pie dough into a 9 x 3-inch rectangle about 1 1/2 inches thick. 
  • Place the long side of the rectangle vertically on your work surface. Fold the top short side towards the center of the rectangle so that the short edge touches the center point. Fold the bottom short side over the center so that it touches the outer edge of the top short side. Roll the dough into a 9×3 rectangle and repeat the folding process a second and a third time. Then chill your pie dough.
  • Set a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, and salt to the pot. 
  • Stir the puree constantly until it begins to thicken and sputter and becomes glossy. Remove from the heat and cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Once the filling has cooled, add it to a blender with the sour cream and milk. Process until it has lightened.
  • Add the vanilla and the eggs to the blender. Mix until the puree is velvety.
  • Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the pie dough into a circle that is 16 inches in diameter. Press the crust into the pie plate. Fold the overhanging edges of the dough under to create a thick lip. Dock the pie crust with a fork by puncturing it about 9 to 10 times. Chill the dough for 10 minutes in the freezer.
  • Crimp the edges of the pie. Add the pumpkin pie filling. Lightly brush the edges of the crust with cream.
  • Place the pie in the preheated 400° oven on top of the overturned cast iron pan—lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake until the outer edges have solidified, but the middle of the pie still has some jiggle, about 50 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool in a warm spot for at least two hours before serving, so it has time to set.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*Make your pie crust the day before you plan on making your pie. You can also use a store-bought pie crust.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 164mg | Fiber: 1g

How to Make Pumpkin Pie – Step by Step Photos

Place a rack on the lowest part of your oven. Top it with a sheet pan. Place a cast iron pan, bottom side up, in the sheet pan. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a pie dish with 1/4 tsp butter, dust it with 1/4 tsp flour, and place it in your freezer. Dust your work surface and roll your 1/2 portion of 3-Ingredient Pie Crust into a 9 x 3-inch rectangle about 1 1/2 inches thick. If you are using a store-bought crust, use a single crust, and mash it into a 9×3-inch rectangle.

Place the long side of the rectangle vertically on your work surface. Fold the top short side towards the center of the rectangle so that the short edge touches the center point. Fold the bottom short side over the center so that it touches the outer edge of the top short side. Roll the dough into a 9×3 rectangle and repeat the folding process a second and a third time. Then chill your pie dough.

Set a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt to the pot. 

Stir the puree constantly until it begins to thicken and sputter and becomes glossy. Remove from the heat and cool for about 10 minutes.

Once the filling has cooled, add it to a blender with the 1 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup milk. Process until it has lightened.

Add the 1 tsp vanilla and the 3 large eggs to the blender. Mix until the puree is velvety.

Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the pie dough into a circle that is 16 inches in diameter. Roll the dough circle onto your rolling pin and unfurl it into the greased and floured pie plate. Press the dough into the pie plate. Fold the overhanging edges of the dough under to create a thick lip. Dock the pie crust with a fork by puncturing it about 9 to 10 times. Chill the dough for 10 minutes in the freezer.

Pour the filling into the pie crust. To ensure there are no bubbles in the puree, allow it to settle for a minute, and then gently pick the pie plate about an inch off the counter and drop it. Continue picking it up and dropping it gently until no more air bubbles come to the surface of the puree.
Crimp the edges of the pie. Add the pumpkin pie filling. Lightly brush the edges of the crust with 1 tsp cream.

Place the pie in the preheated 400° oven on top of the overturned cast iron pan—lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake until the outer edges have solidified, but the middle of the pie still has some jiggle, about 50 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool in a warm spot for at least two hours before serving, so it has time to set. Slice it up, and enjoy!

More Easy Dessert Pies

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