Budget Bytes https://www.budgetbytes.com Delicious Recipes Designed for Small Budgets Sun, 19 May 2019 17:37:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 Homemade Ranch Dressing https://www.budgetbytes.com/homemade-ranch-dressing/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/homemade-ranch-dressing/#comments Sun, 19 May 2019 00:27:59 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=44044 I’ve never really been a ranch dressing person. And definitely not one of those “ranch dressing on everything” people. But then, last January while I was doing my Vegetarian Challenge, I got hooked. I was eating vegetable snack plates just about every day and the Ken’s Steakhouse buttermilk ranch dressing that I dipped my veggies […]

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I’ve never really been a ranch dressing person. And definitely not one of those “ranch dressing on everything” people. But then, last January while I was doing my Vegetarian Challenge, I got hooked. I was eating vegetable snack plates just about every day and the Ken’s Steakhouse buttermilk ranch dressing that I dipped my veggies in was my savior. After that I wanted to dip everything in ranch. I got addicted.

…Until I took a peek at the nutrition label, that is. One glance at the label and I just about choked on my carrot stick. How on earth were they packing so many calories and fat into two tiny little tablespoons?? No wonder it was so freaking good.

This stuff was so calorie dense that it was clear that I would either need to cut back or find another option. So I found another option. I made this Homemade Ranch Dressing that I like every bit as much (or dare I say more?) than my cherished Ken’s, and it has much more reasonable nutrition stats.

Homemade ranch dressing being drizzled onto a romaine salad with tomatoes and onions.

While crafting this recipe I kept a spoonful of the Ken’s Steakhouse ranch dressing right next to my mixing bowl so I could taste back and forth between the two, in attempt to make them as close as possible. After a while the Ken’s started to taste too salty and almost cloyingly sweet, and I no longer wanted my dressing to match. My final version of homemade ranch dressing is lighter, fresher, less salty/sweet, and definitely my preferred ranch going forward.

Full Fat, Low Fat, or No Fat?

You have a lot of flexibility with this recipe to make it as rich or as light as you like. You can use regular or light mayo, and with the yogurt you can choose either non-fat, 1%, 2%, or whole milk versions. It probably goes without saying, but the higher fat option the better the dressing will taste. That being said, I made my dressing with some of the lowest fat options (light mayo, non-fat yogurt) and it was still AH-MA-ZING. So I know it’s good, even at it’s “worst.”

Fresh or Dried Herbs?

I used fresh parsley and green onion in my dressing because I almost always have those in my refrigerator and I like to use them up, but they also give spectacular flavor and texture. If you prefer not to use fresh herbs, you can substitute 1/4 tsp dried parsley and 1/4 tsp dried chives for the green onion.

Homemade Ranch Dressing Being Poured onto a salad from a jar, viewed from the side.

Ranch Dressing or Ranch Dip?

This recipe works great as either a salad dressing or a vegetable and chip dip. Make it without milk for a nice thick and rich ranch dip, or add a little milk to thin it out and make a more pourable ranch dressing. 

Small Batch

This is a small batch recipe. It makes approximately 1/2 cup ranch dressing. I purposely made this recipe small, since you don’t want to store it for longer than about 5 days. If you need to make a larger batch, simply adjust the number in the “servings” box below and all of the ingredient quantities will auto-adjust.

Can I Leave Out the Sugar?

Look, I’m not going to make you add the sugar to this recipe, but I will say that it does make the dressing better. The sugar mellows the acidity from the yogurt and lemon just enough to make the dressing really smooth, and it gives a hint of sweetness that is decidedly ranch-like. It is better with the sugar, but if you are opposed to any added sugars you can leave it out and still have a tasty dressing.

 

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Homemade ranch dressing is creamy, tangy, and fully of savory herbs and spices. Drizzle on your favorite salad, or use as a dip for vegetables and chips!

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise ($0.13)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt* ($0.11)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice ($0.04)
  • 3/16 tsp garlic powder** ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder ($0.01)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed ($0.05)
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped ($0.011)
  • freshly cracked pepper ($0.01)
  • 1/8 tsp sugar (optional) ($0.01)
  • 1 Tbsp milk (optional)*** ($0.02)
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

  2. Use the dressing immediately, or for the best flavor refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

  3. Store the ranch dressing in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

*You can use Greek style yogurt if needed, just use more milk to thin out the dressing.

**3/16 is a weird measurement, I know. Just use a 1/8 tsp measuring spoon and fill it 1.5 times.

***Make this recipe without milk for a thicker dip, or add the milk to thin it out to a pourable dressing.

Other Ranch Dressing Variations

Like a lot of my recipes, this homemade ranch dressing recipe can be used as a template for a number of variations. Here are some fun variations to try:

  • Cilantro Lime: sub lime juice for the lemon juice, add chopped cilantro and lime zest
  • Chipotle Ranch: add chipotle powder
  • Avocado Ranch: mash one avocado into the dressing, can also add cilantro and lime.
  • Blue Cheese: add crumbled blue cheese

Love homemade dressings? Try my Honey Mustard Sauce, Lime Crema, Teriyaki Sauce, or Chimichurri.

Close up of a broccoli floret dipped in homemade ranch dressing

A chip sitting in a bowl of homemade ranch dip surrounded by vegetables and chips

Yes please!

Step by Step Photos

Homemade Ranch Dressing ingredients in a bowl, except the fresh herbs

Combine 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3/16 tsp garlic powder (that’s just a little more than 1/8 tsp), 1/8 tsp onion powder, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp sugar, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill). 

Chopped parsley and green onion being stirred into ranch dressing

Finely chop about 1 Tbsp fresh parsley and one green onion. Stir them into the dressing.

Finished Homemade Ranch Dressing in a bowl with a red spatula.

You can use the dressing as-is, but the flavor gets better with at least 30 minutes of refrigeration. In this form it is a really thick ranch dip, but if you prefer a pourable dressing, stir in about 1 Tbsp milk.

A bowl of homemade ranch dip in the middle of broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, and potato chips

Dip away, my friend! Get those veggies in!

Homemade ranch dressing being poured onto a romaine salad with tomatoes and red onion

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Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale https://www.budgetbytes.com/spicy-orecchiette-with-chicken-sausage-and-kale/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/spicy-orecchiette-with-chicken-sausage-and-kale/#comments Tue, 14 May 2019 23:20:01 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=44018 This Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale is a variation on one of my favorite fast weeknight dinners, pasta + parmesan + vegetable. If you’re a Budget Bytes veteran you probably have this formula memorized, but for all my new friends, this one will change your dinner game! I’ll list some variations and link […]

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This Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale is a variation on one of my favorite fast weeknight dinners, pasta + parmesan + vegetable. If you’re a Budget Bytes veteran you probably have this formula memorized, but for all my new friends, this one will change your dinner game! I’ll list some variations and link to some of my favorites in the past, so you can see how this easy formula will help you make weeknight dinner effortless.

Overhead view of a shallow bowl full of Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale

What Kind of Sausage is Best?

For this recipe I used an Italian style chicken sausage from Aldi, but this recipe is so flexible that you can use just about any flavor chicken sausage, regular pork Italian sausage, or even a vegetarian sausage (Aldi makes a great vegetarian sausage, too). If you want your dish extra spicy, choose a sausage that contains red pepper.

Can I Make This Non-Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale?

Yes, absolutely. I love the extra spicy kick, but this recipe is definitely delicious enough to hold its own without any heat. To make this recipe not spicy, make sure your sausage does not contain red pepper, skip the red pepper flakes below, and reduce the amount of freshly cracked black pepper.

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

Definitely. Orecchiette can sometimes be hard to find and is definitely a bit more expensive than some other pasta shapes, so feel free to swap it out with whatever you have available. My second choice would be either thin spaghetti, whole wheat spaghetti (that nutty flavor goes great with Parmesan), or even wide egg noodles. Penne is also an easy and convenient choice.

What Can I Use in Place of Kale?

Fresh spinach is great, as is other green vegetables like broccoli florets or asparagus. I’m not against throwing a few grape tomatoes in there as well!

 

Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale

Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale is a fast, easy, and filling weeknight dinner that will always satisfy. Plus, leftovers reheat beautifully!

  • 8 oz. orecchiette ($1.33)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 12 oz. chicken sausage ($2.99)
  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.27)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 8 oz. chopped kale* ($2.14)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.44)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 pinch salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste ($0.05)
  1. Cook the orecchiette according to the package directions. Before draining the orecchiette in a colander, reserve about 1/3 cup of the starchy pasta water.

  2. While the orecchiette is cooking, begin preparing the rest of the recipe. Slice the chicken sausage into medallions.

  3. Add the olive oil and chicken sausage to a large pot and sauté over medium until the chicken sausage begins to brown (about 5 minutes).

  4. Add the minced garlic and butter to the pot with the sausage and continue to sauté for one more minute.

  5. Next, add the chopped kale and reserved pasta water. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook and stir until the kale has wilted (about 2-3 minutes). Use your spoon to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot as you stir.

  6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cooked and drained orecchiette. If the pasta and kale are still steaming heavily, let the contents of the pot cool for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release steam. You want the Parmesan to coat the pasta, but not melt.

  7. Once the pasta and kale is hot, but not steaming, add the grated Parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt, and about 15-20 cranks of a pepper mill. Stir to combine, then taste and add more salt if needed. Serve warm.

*I use pre-chopped bagged kale because it is extremely convenient and usually still very inexpensive. The brand I used for this recipe was organic and still very affordable.

Make This Recipe Vegetarian

This Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale is actually pretty easy to make vegetarian! As mentioned above, Aldi makes a great vegetarian sausage that is very similar to chicken sausage. I also make this recipe quite often without any sausage at all, and still love it. For the Parmesan you can either use some nutritional yeast flakes straight, or whip up a batch of vegan parmesan. Here are a couple recipes for vegan parm from a couple of bloggers that I trust: How to Make Vegan Parmesan Cheese—Minimalist Baker, Easy Vegan Parmesan Cheese Recipe—Cookie+Kate.

Overhead view of a shallow bowl full of Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale

Want More Recipes with this Quick Dinner Formula? Check out Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan, Bowties and Broccoli, One Pot Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta, or Simple Portobella Pasta.

Step by Step Photos

Starchy pasta water being removed from a pot of cooked orecchiette

First, cook 8 oz. orecchiette according to the package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/3 cup of the starchy pasta water.

Browned chicken sausage in the pot with minced garlic and butter

Slice 12 oz. chicken sausage into medallions. Add the chicken sausage to a large pot along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté the sausage over medium until it begins to brown (about 5 min), then add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 2 Tbsp butter. Continue to sauté for one minute more.

Fresh kale in the pot with pasta water being poured over top.

Add 8 oz, chopped kale to the pot along with the reserved pasta water. 

Wilted kale with chicken sausage in the pot.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to stir and cook until the kale has wilted. Use your spoon to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot as you stir. 

Orecchiette stirred into kale and sausage, Parmesan and pepper added on top.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir the cooked and drained orecchiette into the kale and sausage. If the pasta and kale are still steaming hot, let it cool for about five minutes because you don’t want the Parmesan to melt when added, you just want it to stick to the pasta. Once it has cooled a bit, add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, a pinch of salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 15-20 cranks of a pepper mill). 

Finished Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale in the pot

Stir until everything is combined and coated in Parmesan, then taste and add another pinch of salt if needed. 

Front view of a shallow bowl full of Spicy Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Kale

Serve warm and enjoy!!

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Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos https://www.budgetbytes.com/baked-beef-black-bean-tacos/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/baked-beef-black-bean-tacos/#comments Sat, 11 May 2019 18:06:16 +0000 http://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=26722 If you want to take your Taco Tuesday to the next level, try baking your tacos! Yes, I said baking them. These Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos are one of my favorite fast and easy weeknight meals. Their crunchy, toasty shells, melted cheese, and liberally seasoned beef and black bean filling always have me coming […]

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If you want to take your Taco Tuesday to the next level, try baking your tacos! Yes, I said baking them. These Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos are one of my favorite fast and easy weeknight meals. Their crunchy, toasty shells, melted cheese, and liberally seasoned beef and black bean filling always have me coming back for more. …And more. 😅

Originally posted 6-6-2016, updated 5-11-2019

A glass casserole dish filled with Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos with bowls of toppings on the sides

Why Should I Bake my Tacos?

Baking your tacos toasts the corn shells, makes sure the filling is nice and hot, and the cheese perfectly melted. Toasting hard taco shells is an often overlooked step in the taco making process, but makes a huge difference in the flavor of the taco shell. 

I have to admit, I was well into my 20’s before I realized that you’re supposed to bake hard taco shells for a few minutes to toast the corn before filling and eating them. I guess I just never bothered to read the package before then, but I’m glad I finally did. So don’t feel bad if you’ve never done this before! 

But baking the whole taco really takes these beef and black bean tacos to the next level. 

Do the Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos Stay Crunchy?

Yes, the taco shells stay crunchy! That is, if you use a lean ground beef, or make sure to drain the fat well when using a higher fat content beef. If the beef and bean mixture has too much oil, the oil will saturate the shells and make them soften. Also make sure to drain the beans well.

Can I Use Store Bought Taco Seasoning?

Yes. I used my own homemade taco seasoning for these baked beef and black bean tacos, but if you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet you can just pick up one packet of store bought taco seasoning.

Can I Make These Baked Tacos Vegetarian?

Sure! try using an extra can of black beans in place of the ground beef, or try the filling from my Lentil Tacos or Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos!

 

Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos

Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos are a fast and easy way to take Taco Tuesday to the next level and is the perfect fast and easy weeknight meal.

TACO SEASONING

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
  • 1 tsp cumin ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne ($0.03)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.03)

TACOS

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef (93% lean or higher)* ($3.90)
  • 15 oz can black beans ($0.79)
  • 1 box 10 hard taco shells ($1.00)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar (4oz.) ($1.20)

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS

  • 1 tomato ($0.49)
  • 1 jalapeño ($0.06)
  • Handful fresh cilantro ($0.13)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream ($0.11)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the taco seasoning, then set the seasoning aside (or use one envelope of store-bought taco seasoning). Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

  2. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, and cooking oil to a large skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the ground beef and prepared taco seasoning and continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through (another 5 minutes).

  3. Arrange the taco shells in a casserole dish so they are all standing upright. If you do not have a dish that fits them snuggly enough to hold them up, use balled up aluminum foil to act as "book ends" to help hold the line of tacos upright.

  4. Drain the can of black beans well, but do not rinse them. A little sauciness helps keep the beef mixture moist.Stir the beans into the seasoned beef and allow them to heat through.

  5. Fill the tacos with the beef and bean mixture. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over top. Bake the tacos in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the taco shells are golden brown on the edges.
  6. While the tacos are baking, dice the tomato, slice the jalapeño, and roughly chop the cilantro leaves. Sprinkle the diced tomato, jalapeño, and cilantro over the tacos, and add a dollop of sour cream just before serving.

*If using a higher fat beef, brown the beef without the taco seasoning first, then drain the excess fat. After draining, add the taco seasoning and sauté for about one minute more before moving onto the next step.

A hand picking up one of the baked beef and black bean tacos out of the casserole dish

“I’ll just take one of those tacos, k thx.”

One Baked Beef and Black Bean Taco being held close to the camera, with the rest of the tacos in the background.

Step by Step Photos

Homemade taco seasoning ingredients in a bowl

Start by mixing up your homemade taco seasoning (or use a store bought blend instead). Stir together 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Set the taco seasoning aside. Begin to preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Sautéed onion and garlic in a skillet with a wooden spatula

Dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add them to a large skillet along with 1 Tbsp cooking oil. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add beef and taco seasoning to the skillet with onions and garlic

Add a 1/2 lb. lean ground beef and the prepared taco seasoning to the skillet. Continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through (about 5 minutes). If you are using a higher fat content beef, add the beef alone first and cook until browned, then drain the excess fat. Add the taco seasoning after draining and cook for one minute more.

Canned black beans being poured into the skillet with the beef mixture

Drain a 15oz. can of black beans well, then stir them into the skillet. I did not rinse the beans because the little bit of starchy coating they had helps keep the beef mixture moist. 

Empty taco shells arranged in a glass casserole dish

Line up the taco shells in a baking dish so that they are all standing upright. My box of taco shells had 10 shells, but I think I had enough filling for 12. I used a smallish 8×12″ glass baking dish, which allowed them to sit in the dish snuggly enough to hold them upright. If you don’t have a dish that this works well with, you can use balls of aluminum foil to act as book ends and help hold the shells up.

Taco shells being filled with beef and black bean mixture and topped with shredded cheese

Divide the beef and bean mixture between the taco shells, then top the tacos with 1 cup (or 4oz.) shredded cheddar cheese.

Baked tacos with melted cheese

Bake the tacos in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the tacos become slightly golden brown. See those browned edges? That’s the FLAVOR. The total cooking time will depend on the type of shell you have, your oven, and other factors, so just keep an eye on them. The important part is that after baking they are all hot and toasty with melted cheese allll over ’em. 

Tacos topped with fresh tomato, cilantro, jalapeños, and sour cream. Side view.

Finally, add your favorite cold toppings to your baked beef and black bean tacos. I used one diced tomato, one sliced jalapeño, a handful of chopped cilantro, and a little sour cream. Avocados, taco sauce, pineapple, and pico de gallo, would also be awesome!

A glass casserole dish filled with baked beef and black bean tacos, with bowls of toppings on the sides

Seriously, though. Tacos should not be confined to just Tuesdays. Tacos EVERY DAY. #teamtaco

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Honey Mustard Sauce https://www.budgetbytes.com/honey-mustard-sauce/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/honey-mustard-sauce/#comments Thu, 09 May 2019 18:02:44 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=43898 While I was rummaging through my fridge for sauces to dunk my homemade baked chicken nuggets in, I realized the one sauce I really wanted was one that I didn’t have—Honey Mustard Sauce. Luckily, honey mustard sauce takes only a few minutes to whip up and only requires simple pantry staples. This quick Honey Mustard […]

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While I was rummaging through my fridge for sauces to dunk my homemade baked chicken nuggets in, I realized the one sauce I really wanted was one that I didn’t have—Honey Mustard Sauce. Luckily, honey mustard sauce takes only a few minutes to whip up and only requires simple pantry staples. This quick Honey Mustard Sauce was so tangy, creamy, sweet, and delicious that I couldn’t stop licking my spoon! Luckily I saved some for my chicken nuggets. :)

Honey Mustard Sauce

Honey Mustard Sauce dripping off a spoon into a white bowl.

What is in Honey Mustard Sauce?

Honey mustard sauce is the most incredible sweet, tangy, and creamy sauce made from simple ingredients like honey, mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, and a couple spices. It takes only a few minutes to make and can be used several ways. Once you make a batch you’ll likely want to smear a little sauce on just about everything!

How to Serve Honey Mustard Sauce

This week I used it as a dip for my Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets, but it also works great as:

  • a dip for fresh vegetables
  • a spread for wraps and sandwiches
  • dressing for chicken salad
  • dressing for green salads
  • a glaze or sauce for grilled or roasted meats

How to Store Honey Mustard Sauce

This tasty sauce should definitely be stored in the refrigerator. I don’t suggest keeping the sauce for more than 4-5 days, so make sure you adjust your batch size to the amount you plan on using. This recipe yields about 3/4 cup honey mustard sauce, but the quantity can be adjusted in the “servings” box in the recipe below. All of the ingredients will auto adjust with the change in servings.

 

Honey Mustard Sauce

This sweet, tangy, and creamy homemade honey mustard sauce only takes a few minutes to make and is great for sandwiches, salads, dipping, and more!

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise ($0.80)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard ($0.09)
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard ($0.09)
  • 3 Tbsp honey ($0.36)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp paprika ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked pepper (about 5 cranks of a pepper mill) ($0.02)
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Love honey mustard? Check out my 20 Minute Honey Mustard Chicken, Honey Mustard Pork Chops, and Honey Mustard Chicken Salad.

Honey mustard sauce in a dish in the middle of a basket of chicken nuggets and vegetables.

Step by Step Photos

Ingredients for honey mustard sauce in a bowl

There is only one step to this honey mustard sauce! Just combine all of the ingredients (1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp yellow mustard, 3 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp paprika, 1/8 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper) in a bowl and whisk or stir until smooth.

Whisked honey mustard sauce in a bowl with the whisk lifting out of the sauce.

Seriously, though. It’s just as delicious and tangy as that looks. Time to start dipping!! …Or drizzling over everything and anything.

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Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets https://www.budgetbytes.com/homemade-baked-chicken-nuggets/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/homemade-baked-chicken-nuggets/#comments Tue, 07 May 2019 23:14:47 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=43851 I didn’t grow up eating fast food, so I’ve never really been a chicken nugget person, but the other day, out of the blue, I got a massive craving for them. So I thought, “Challenge accepted! I’m going to make some homemade chicken nuggets.” Well, let me just say, I might be a chicken nugget […]

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I didn’t grow up eating fast food, so I’ve never really been a chicken nugget person, but the other day, out of the blue, I got a massive craving for them. So I thought, “Challenge accepted! I’m going to make some homemade chicken nuggets.” Well, let me just say, I might be a chicken nugget person now because these Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets are so flavorful and so juicy, that I just couldn’t stop. And the best part is, they’re actually quite easy to make! I made three batches this week and I’m not sick of them yet.

Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets

Two baskets with Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets, vegetables, and dip sitting next to a newspaper.

How Many Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets Does This Recipe Make?

I used one (yes, one) boneless skinless chicken breast for this recipe, which made around 24 nuggets. My chicken breast weighed approximately 2/3 lb., so your yield may vary depending on the size of the breast. I’ve set the serving size at six nuggets per serving, assuming you’ll be eating something on the side (like the fresh vegetables in my photos).

Why is There YOGURT in Your Chicken Nuggets??

Weird, right? But it works. Buttermilk is a common ingredient used in baked and fried chicken, but I didn’t have any buttermilk, nor did I want to buy any just for this recipe (even though you can freeze extra buttermilk for use later). Instead, I chose to use an ingredient that is already in my refrigerator: plain Greek yogurt. Like buttermilk it is a cultured milk product that gives the nuggets extra flavor and helps keep them tender and moist. Trust me!

If you have plain regular-style yogurt (not Greek style), that can be used too. You’ll just need to add less water when thinning it out. 

Can I Make These Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets Gluten Free?

If you can get gluten-free breadcrumbs, those should work fine in this recipe. That being said, I haven’t tested this with gluten-free breadcrumbs, but I don’t think the lack of gluten should affect the texture in this application.

How do Leftovers Hold Up?

I ate my leftover nuggets the day after I made them and enjoyed them quite a bit, but I will say that they are no longer crispy. They are every bit as tender, juicy, and flavorful though!

What is a “Neutral Oil”

A neutral oil is any cooking oil that does not carry a heavy flavor. You have the flexibility here to use the oil that best fits your diet or budget. I used Grapeseed oil today, but you could use canola, light olive oil, safflower, sesame, or any other light oil.

One chicken nugget ripped in half, sitting in a bowl of honey mustard, surrounded by vegetables and nuggets.

Pictured with my homemade Honey Mustard Sauce.

 

Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets

Homemade baked chicken nuggets are crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, easy to make, and make a delicious meal or snack. 

Breading

  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs ($0.25)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil ($0.08)

Yogurt Slurry

  • 1/3 cup Greek Yogurt ($0.29)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)
  • 3 Tbsp water ($0.00)

Chicken

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2/3 lb.) ($2.79)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Place a wire cooling rack, or two, over a baking sheet to hold the nuggets as they bake.

  2. In a wide shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 5 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir these ingredients together until evenly combined. Drizzle the oil over the breadcrumb mixture, then stir until the breadcrumbs are coated in oil. The breadcrumbs should look like damp sand.

  3. In a separate small bowl, stir together the Greek yogurt, salt, and water until smooth. You want the yogurt to be a similar consistency to buttermilk or heavy cream. It should be thick enough to coat the chicken.

  4. Trim any excess fat from the chicken breast, then cut it into small, 3/4 to one-inch pieces. For a 2/3 lb. chicken breast you should get about 22-24 pieces. 

  5. Dip each piece of chicken into the yogurt slurry, then roll it in the seasoned breadcrumb mixture until the chicken piece is fully coated. Place each coated nugget onto the wire cooling rack on the baking sheet.

  6. Once all of the chicken pieces are fully coated, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the breading is browned on the edges. 

  7. Remove the chicken nuggets from the oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes, then serve with your favorite dip.

Make sure to check out the recipe for that totally DELISH honey mustard sauce!!

Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets on a wire cooling rack, close up.

Close up of one Homemade Baked Chicken Nugget dipped in honey mustard with the basket of nuggets and vegetables in the background.

Step by Step Photos

Breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. To make the breading for the chicken nuggets, combine 1 cup plain breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 5 cranks of a pepper mill) in a bowl. Stir these together well.

Finished breading for Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets in a bowl

Then drizzle 2 Tbsp of any neutral oil over the breadcrumb mixture and stir until all the breadcrumbs are coated. It should look like damp sand.

Thinned Plain Yogurt

In a separate bowl, combine 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt with 3 Tbsp water and 1/8 tsp salt. Stir until smooth. It should be about the consistency of buttermilk or heavy cream. You can use plain “regular” yogurt here, you’ll just add less water to thin it out just a tad.

Cut chicken breast on a yellow cutting board.

Trim any excess fat from one boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2/3 lb.). Cut the chicken breast into small 3/4 to one-inch pieces. You should get about 22-24 pieces.

A piece of chicken being dipped into the yogurt slurry.

Dip each piece of chicken into the yogurt slurry until it’s coated…

Dip Chicken in breading mixture then place on wire rack.

Then right after you dip it in the yogurt, roll it in the breading mixture until it’s completely coated. Once each piece is coated, place it onto a wire cooling rack that is sitting on top of a baking sheet.

Chicken Nuggets Ready to Bake on wire cooling rack and baking sheet.

Once they’re all coated and on the wire rack, they’re ready to bake! Throw away any leftover breading and yogurt because they are contaminated with raw chicken.

Baked Chicken Nuggets on the baking sheet

Bake the chicken nuggets in the preheated 425ºF oven for 23-25 minutes, or until the edges have turned golden brown. Let them cool for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Close up of Baked Chicken Nuggets on the wire cooling rack.

Here’s a close up of the baked nuggets so you can see their color. They don’t change a LOT, they just get slightly darker and a little more brown on the edges.

A basket full of Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets with broccoli and carrots, and dishes of ranch and honey mustard dip.

Serve the Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets with your favorite dips! Ranch is always great, but I also made a homemade honey mustard sauce, which I’ll be sharing on the blog either tomorrow or the next day, so stay tuned! Fresh vegetables were also an awesome side because they were just as good dipped into the ranch and honey mustard sauce.

One Homemade Baked Chicken Nugget being dipped into honey mustard, surrounded by more nuggets and vegetables.

I seriously can’t get enough of these Homemade Nuggets!!

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One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice https://www.budgetbytes.com/one-pot-teriyaki-chicken-and-rice/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/one-pot-teriyaki-chicken-and-rice/#comments Sun, 05 May 2019 21:05:46 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=43824 It’s been a while since I’ve posted a “one pot” recipe, but I’m really excited about this one. This One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice is incredibly easy, requires very little chopping, and is one of those super satisfying meals that I look forward to every time I make it. Oh, and did I mention that […]

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a “one pot” recipe, but I’m really excited about this one. This One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice is incredibly easy, requires very little chopping, and is one of those super satisfying meals that I look forward to every time I make it. Oh, and did I mention that it meal preps really well, too? I mean, what doesn’t this Teriyaki Chicken and Rice do? (Answer: the dishes. But since it’s one pot there aren’t many to do anyway!)

One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

Finished skillet full of One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and rice garnished with green onion, the skillet lid resting on the side.

Can I Make This Teriyaki Chicken and Rice in a Rice Cooker?

This recipe is essentially a chicken version of my Rice Cooker Teriyaki Shrimp and Rice, but cooked in a skillet instead of a rice cooker. Could you cook this recipe in a rice cooker as well? Probably so! But I haven’t tested it yet myself. If cooking this in a rice cooker, I would sauté the chicken, garlic, and ginger first, then add the rice and water, and cook until the rice is finished. Add the frozen vegetables, cook five minutes more, then pour on the sauce and fold until combined. 

Do I Have to Use Jasmine Rice?

No, but jasmine rice does give it a LOT more flavor. Luckily, jasmine rice is becoming more and more common in the U.S. and I’ve been able to find 5lb. bags of jasmine rice for very good prices at most grocery stores. They’re usually hiding on the bottom shelf in the rice aisle. If you can’t find jasmine rice, use long grain white rice instead. I don’t suggest short or medium grained rice for this recipe.

Tips for One Pot Rice Recipes:

One pot recipes can be tricky because every stove top and every piece of cookware transmits heat a little differently. I suggest mastering the skill of cooking rice in a pot on the stove top before attempting a one pot rice recipe. Here are a few other tips that will help you get perfectly cooked rice without burning and scorching:

  • Use heavy or thick bottomed cookware. This will evenly cook the rice instead of scorching the bottom or leaving pockets of rice partially cooked.
  • Make sure the pot/skillet comes up to a FULL boil before turning it down to low. This will help make sure it stays at a simmer when it continues to cook on low.
  • Don’t skip the last step of letting the rice rest with the lid on and heat turned off for at least five minutes. This allows the steam to redistribute throughout and loosen any rice that may be stuck to the bottom.

But other than that, it’s super easy. I swear. ;)

What Kind of Skillet Should I Use?

You want something that is thick, heavy, has a wide bottom, and is about 3 quarts in volume. I am using a 3 quart deep sauté pan made by OXO. A good Dutch oven would also work well. 

Close up of One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice in the skillet.

 

One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

This One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice is an easy and satisfying meal that the whole family will love. It also meal preps well for lunches all week! 

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2/3 lb.) ($2.81)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger ($0.10)
  • 1.5 cups uncooked jasmine rice ($0.99)
  • 2.5 cups water ($0.00)
  • 12 oz. frozen stir fry vegetables ($1.59)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce ($0.24)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.08)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil ($0.10)
  • 2 green onions, sliced ($0.15)
  1. Cut the chicken breast into very small pieces, about 1/2 to 3/4-inch in size.

  2. Add the cooking oil, garlic, and ginger to a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, then add the chicken pieces and continue to sauté just until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink. Do not over cook the chicken here, it will finish cooking with the rice.

  3. Add the uncooked rice to the skillet and continue to sauté for 1-2 minutes more. You should hear the rice popping. Finally, add the water and give everything a brief stir to make sure there is no rice stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

  4. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the water to come to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

  5. While the skillet is simmering over low, prepare the teriyaki sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, and toasted sesame oil. The brown sugar may not fully dissolve, but that’s okay. Set the sauce aside.

  6. After the rice has simmered for 10 minutes, lift the lid briefly to sprinkle the frozen vegetables on top, then replace the lid immediately. Make sure the vegetables are spread evenly over the surface. Let the skillet continue to heat over low for an additional five minute.

  7. After steaming the rice and vegetables together for 5 minutes, turn the heat off and let the skillet rest with the lid in place for an additional five minutes.

  8. Give the teriyaki sauce another brief stir, lift the lid on the skillet, and drizzle the sauce over the vegetables. Make sure to scrape out all the sugar from the bottom of the bowl. Using a spatula or large spoon, gently fold the rice and vegetables together until everything is mostly coated in the sauce. Make sure to scoop all the way to the bottom of the skillet when folding, as the sauce will sink to the bottom.

  9. Place the lid back on top and let the skillet rest for a final 5 minutes to let the flavor soak in (heat turned off). Sprinkle sliced green onions over top just before serving.

Tip: I keep a knob of ginger in my freezer so I always have fresh ginger on hand. Plus it grates super easy when frozen!

Three bowls of One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice, one with sriracha being drizzled on top.

Step by Step Photos

Cubed chicken breast

Start by cutting one boneless, skinless chicken breast into small pieces, about 1/2 to 3/4-inch in size. This one chicken breast weighed about 2/3 lb.

Cook Chicken Breast Garlic and Ginger

Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), and about 1 tsp minced fresh ginger in a large deep skillet. Sauté over medium for about one minute, then add the chicken and continue to sauté just until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Don’t over cook the chicken at this point because it will continue to cook with the rice.

Add Rice and Water to Skillet

Add 1.5 cups jasmine rice to the skillet and continue to sauté for a minute more. You’ll hear the rice popping. Then add 2.5 cups water and stir briefly to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let it come to a full boil. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer over low for 10 minutes (lid on). 

Teriyaki Sauce in a small bowl

While the rice is simmering over low, prepare the teriyaki sauce. Stir together 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, and 1 tsp toasted sesame oil in a small bowl. The brown sugar won’t fully dissolve, but that’s okay. Set the sauce aside. It will be added at the end.

Add Frozen Vegetables to Skillet

After the rice has simmered over low for 10 minutes, lift the lid only long enough to pour on one 12 oz. bag of frozen stir fry vegetables (not thawed). Make sure the vegetables are spread fairly evenly across the rice, and replace the lid immediately. Let them continue to steam with the rice over low heat for another 5 minutes. Then, turn the heat off and let everything rest with the lid on, no heat, for another five minutes.

Add Teriyaki Sauce to Steamed Vegetables and Rice

After the vegetables have been in the skillet with the rice (five minutes over low, five minutes no heat), remove the lid and drizzle the teriyaki sauce over top. Make sure to scrape out any sugar that is left in the bowl.

Fold Sauce into Rice and vegetables

Use a spatula or a large spoon to gently fold the rice and vegetables together until everything is mostly coated in the sauce. Make sure you’re scooping all the way down to the bottom of the skillet because that’s where all the sauce will pool. Don’t vigorously stir or your rice will get gummy. Put the lid back on the skillet and let it rest for about 5 minutes more to let all the flavors soak in.

 

Finished One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice ready for serving

Top it off with sliced green onions just before serving!

A piece of chicken being picked up by chopsticks out of a bowl of Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

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Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet https://www.budgetbytes.com/lemon-blueberry-cornbread-skillet/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/lemon-blueberry-cornbread-skillet/#comments Sat, 04 May 2019 13:44:36 +0000 http://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=20101 I don’t make dessert often, and when I do, I tend to make things that are not too-too sweet. Things that could easily double as a breakfast, like this Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet. Using my Homemade Cornbread recipe as a template, I added some lemon zest and frozen blueberries, then increased the sugar just a […]

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I don’t make dessert often, and when I do, I tend to make things that are not too-too sweet. Things that could easily double as a breakfast, like this Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet. Using my Homemade Cornbread recipe as a template, I added some lemon zest and frozen blueberries, then increased the sugar just a skosh to make it more like a coffee cake. And I must say, the result is absolutely delicious with coffee!!

Originally posted 6-22-2014, updated 5-4-2019.

Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet

Close up of baked Lemon Blueberry Cornbread in a cast iron skillet with a pat of butter melting on top.

This recipe is also a great example of my Budget Byting Principle #2—using expensive ingredients sparingly and pairing them with inexpensive ingredients to keep the overall cost low. Blueberries and lemons are both expensive, but since I didn’t go overboard with either and the rest of the ingredients are super inexpensive pantry staples, this entire cake was still less than 50 cents per serving! That’s how we do it!

Can I Make Lemon Blueberry Cornbread with Fresh Blueberries?

Yes, absolutely. I only used frozen because they are less expensive than fresh at the moment. If using fresh blueberries, they can be folded right into the batter instead of sprinkled on top and pushed down in because they don’t bleed color like frozen blueberries.

What Kind of Skillet Are You Using?

I am using a Lodge 10″ Cast Iron Skillet (affiliate link). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, this can be baked in a 9″ pie plate, or a 9×9-inch square cake pan.

How Should I Store My Lemon Blueberry Cornbread?

Let the cornbread cool completely, then store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for about four days. Or, once cooled, wrap each piece tightly in plastic and freeze for up to 3 months. The cornbread can be thawed at room temperature, or warmed briefly in the microwave before serving.

A hand taking a piece of Lemon Blueberry Cornbread from a plate.

 

Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet

For a deliciously lazy weekend treat, whip up this super fast and easy Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet. Great for breakfast, dessert, or coffee! 

  • 1 cup cornmeal ($0.24)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour ($0.11)
  • 1/3 cup sugar ($0.10)
  • 4 tsp baking powder ($0.16)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1 fresh lemon ($0.43)
  • 1 cup milk ($0.32)
  • 1 large egg ($0.25)
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil ($0.16)
  • 1 Tbsp butter ($0.18)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries ($0.40)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF with the cast iron skillet inside, so it can preheat with the oven.

  2. Zest the lemon (you’ll need about 1 tsp), then squeeze about 1 Tbsp of juice. 

  3. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and the lemon zest. Use your hands to massage the lemon zest into the dry mixture a bit to help release the flavorful oils.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg, and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Pour the whisked wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir just until the dry mixture is completely moistened. A few lumps are okay.

  5. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add 1 Tbsp butter to the hot skillet and use a brush to spread the melted butter up the sides of the skillet.

  6. Pour the prepared cornbread batter into the hot skillet. Sprinkle the frozen blueberries over top (no need to thaw), then push them down into the batter with your fingers.

  7. Carefully return the skillet to the hot oven. Bake the cornbread for 20-25 minutes, or until the top and sides are deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly, then slice into 8 pieces and serve.

This cornbread cake is great with a drizzle of maple syrup over top.

Tip: Lemons cost less when you buy a whole bag. Save your leftover lemons in the freezer. Frozen lemons are great for zesting and juicing. Read more about How to Freeze Whole Citrus in my tutorial. 

Lemon Blueberry Cornbread served on a plate next to the skillet and two mugs of coffee.

Close up of a pat of butter melting on the surface of Lemon Blueberry Cornbread

That butter, though. 😍

Step by Step Photos

A zested lemon on a cutting board with a zester

Start by zesting one fresh lemon, and squeezing about 1 Tbsp juice. (I cut up the rest of the lemon to add to my water throughout the day). Place a 10″ cast iron skillet in the oven, then begin preheating the oven to 425ºF. Let the skillet preheat with the oven.

Dry ingredients for lemon blueberry cornbread in a bowl.

In a large bowl combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and about 1 tsp of the lemon zest. Stir until everything is very well combined. The zest may ball up, so use your hands to break up the clumps and massage it into the dry ingredients. This will help release the flavorful lemon oil, too.

Lemon Blueberry Cornbread wet ingredients in a bowl with a whisk

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup oil, and 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.

Combine wet and dry ingredients

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients.

Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Batter

Stir just until everything is moistened and no dry flour remains on the bottom of the bowl. It’s okay if it’s a little lumpy.

Melt Butter in Hot Skillet brush up the sides

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and add 1 Tbsp of butter to the skillet. Use a brush to spread the melted butter up the sides of the skillet.

Batter and blueberries in hot skillet ready to bake.

Pour the prepared batter into the hot skillet. Sprinkle 1/2 cup frozen blueberries on top, then push them down into the batter with your finger.

Baked Lemon Blueberry Cornbread in the cast iron skillet

Bake the Lemon Blueberry Cornbread for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, then cut into eight pieces and serve!

Close up of baked Lemon Blueberry Cornbread in the skillet with some butter melting on top.

While you don’t HAVE to, more melted butter on top is absolutely divine. 

A slice of Lemon Blueberry Cornbread on a plate with a fork and cup of coffee in the background.

Goes great with coffee!!

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Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers https://www.budgetbytes.com/marinated-portobello-mushroom-burgers/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/marinated-portobello-mushroom-burgers/#comments Wed, 01 May 2019 22:44:27 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=43782 It’s almost grilling season!! I kind of want to make weekend grilling a thing at my house this year, so I’m testing some recipes. I already have some fun burger recipes on the site, so I figured it was time to make an option for all of my vegetarian friends. Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers are […]

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It’s almost grilling season!! I kind of want to make weekend grilling a thing at my house this year, so I’m testing some recipes. I already have some fun burger recipes on the site, so I figured it was time to make an option for all of my vegetarian friends. Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers are probably the easiest and tastiest vegetarian burger option, ever. And guess what? If you’re a meat eater, these marinated and grilled portobello mushrooms make a great topper to a regular burger, too!

Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers

An open Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burger on a plate with chips, mayo, sliced tomato, and red onion rings on the side.

Tips for Buying Portobello Mushrooms

When buying portobello mushrooms, pay really close attention to the way they are priced. You’ll usually see them sold one or two ways: loose and priced per pound, or packaged in sets of two or three for a set price. Even though they are the exact same product, you might find a drastic price difference between the two options.

The loose mushrooms at my store today were $5.99 per pound. The packs or two mushrooms were sold for a set price of $3.99, but the package listed an approximate weight of 8oz., or 1/2 pound. So, if I had bought the packaged mushrooms I would have paid $2 more per pound. 🤯 I picked up two of the loose portobello caps and went on my way! :)

Do I Have to Grill These Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers?

While testing this recipe I also tested cooking them in a skillet and it worked quite well, although you won’t get those pretty grill marks. When cooking in a skillet, simply cook over medium heat, flipping the mushrooms occasionally, until they release all of their moisture and the liquid in the skillet has evaporated.

In addition to cooking these marinated portobello mushroom burgers on an outdoor grill, you can also use a grill pan, like in the step by step photos below. The cast iron grill pan I used fits right over the gas burners on the stove and has ridges on one side and a flat griddle on the other side. Here is a similar item on Amazon: Lodge Grill/Griddle Pan (affiliate link). A less expensive option would be a grill pan skillet, like this Lodge 10.5″ Square Grill Pan (affiliate link).

Close up side view of a marinated portobello mushroom burger topped with a slice of tomato and two red onion rings.

 

Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers

With their deep savory flavor, Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers are a fast and easy vegetarian option for summer grilling. 

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.08)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.12)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ($0.03)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp oregano ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder ($0.02)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
  • freshly cracked pepper ($0.03)
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps (about 1/2 lb. total) ($2.94)
  • 2 buns ($0.83)

Optional Toppings

  • 1 cup spring mix ($0.32)
  • 1 tomato ($0.70)
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced into rings ($0.07)
  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise ($0.40)
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and a little freshly cracked pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill).

  2. Remove the stems from the portobello mushrooms.* Place the mushrooms in a shallow dish, gill sides up. Pour some of the marinade into the gills, then flip the mushrooms and pour the rest over the top. Let the mushrooms marinate for 30 minutes, flipping occasionally.

  3. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the marinated portobello mushrooms and cook for about 7 minutes on each side, or until the mushrooms are soft and have released most of their liquid.

  4. Build your marinated portobello mushroom burgers on a bun with your preferred toppings. I love the classic mix of mayonnaise, sliced tomato, onion rings, and lettuce or spring mix.

*You can save the mushroom stems use them later in an omelette (chopped), or save with the rest of your vegetable scraps in the freezer for making vegetable stock later.

While you’ve got the grill going, grill up some vegetables for Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad to serve on the side!

An open portobello mushroom burger on a plate with chips, a small dish of mayo and onion rings on the side.

Step by Step Photos

Portobello mushroom burger marinade ingredients in a bowl

To make the marinade for the portobello mushroom burgers, combine 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, and some freshly cracked pepper (maybe 10 cranks of a pepper mill) in a bowl. 

Marinate Portobello Mushrooms in a shallow dish

If the mushrooms have long stems, pull the stems off. Place the portobello mushrooms in a shallow dish, gill side up, and pour some of the marinade into the gills. Flip the mushrooms over and pour the rest of the marinade over top. 

Marinated Portobello Mushroom Caps

Marinate the mushrooms for 30 minutes, flipping them a few times throughout.

Grilled Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burgers on a grill pan with tongs.

Heat an outdoor grill, grill pan, or skillet over medium. Once very hot, add the marinated portobello mushrooms and cook on each side for about 7 minutes, or until the mushrooms are very soft and have released most of their moisture.

An open marinated portobello mushroom burger on a plate with chips, viewed from the front.

Then just build your burgers with your preferred toppings! I love a classic mix of mayo, lettuce or spring mix, and tomato and onion slices.

Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burger topped with tomato and onion on a plate with chips.

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Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken https://www.budgetbytes.com/easy-cilantro-lime-chicken/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/easy-cilantro-lime-chicken/#comments Sun, 28 Apr 2019 22:27:17 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=43762 The sun is shining, Cinco de Mayo is next week, and I’m over here craving bright fresh flavors, like cilantro and lime. Okay fine, so I’m actually craving margaritas, but my body doesn’t let me drink lots of margaritas anymore so I’m going to get those flavors via chicken instead. This Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken […]

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The sun is shining, Cinco de Mayo is next week, and I’m over here craving bright fresh flavors, like cilantro and lime. Okay fine, so I’m actually craving margaritas, but my body doesn’t let me drink lots of margaritas anymore so I’m going to get those flavors via chicken instead. This Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken is a faster and easier version of an old recipe of mine, Cilantro Lime Chicken Drumsticks, which are baked in the oven. The skillet is so much faster and easier, and the boneless thighs I used are always tender and juicy. There are definitely a few options with this recipe, so make sure you read on to find out more!

Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken

Close up of cilantro lime chicken thighs on a plate with black beans, rice, and lime wedges.

Shown with Quick Seasoned Black Beans and Easy Taco Rice

Can I Make Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken with Chicken Breast?

Yes, you can make this with boneless, skinless chicken breast! Chicken breasts are a little more finicky, though, so you’ll need to do an extra step. Since chicken breasts dry out faster, make sure to pound your chicken breasts out to an even thickness, no more than 3/4″ thick before cooking. This will ensure that the chicken can cook all the way through quickly, without drying out.

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?

I don’t suggest bone-in chicken for this quick skillet method, since bone-in chicken takes longer to cook through. Instead, see my Cilantro Lime Chicken Drumsticks recipe (you can use drumsticks or thighs), which is baked in the oven.

Can I Make Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken on a Grill?

Yes. Marinate the chicken as usual, then cook on the grill, until well browned and cooked through on each side. The open flame will give this chicken even more depth of flavor.

Close up of Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken in the skillet, garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

See This Recipe in Action:

 

Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken

Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken is full of the bright fresh flavors of summer. Cook it quickly in a skillet or throw it on the grill for a fast dinner! 

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.32)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
  • 2 limes, divided ($0.40)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, divided ($0.40)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1.5 to 1.75 lbs. total) ($5.11)
  1. Combine the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill) in a small bowl.

  2. Zest one of the limes and then squeeze the juice. You’ll need 2-3 Tbsp juice, so if needed, juice half of the second lime. Cut the remaining lime into wedges to garnish the chicken once cooked. Roughly chop the cilantro.

  3. Add 1 tsp of the lime zest, 2-3 Tbsp of the lime juice, and half of the chopped cilantro to the marinade. Stir to combine. (The remaining cilantro will be added fresh after cooking the chicken.)

  4. Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish or a large zip top bag. Add the marinade and toss the chicken to coat. Allow the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours (refrigerated), turning it once or twice as it marinates.

  5. When ready to cook the chicken, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until well browned and cooked through. My chicken had enough of an oil coating from the marinade that I did not need to add any extra to the skillet.

  6. Top the cooked chicken with more fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Serve with any extra lime wedges.

Close up of cooked Cilantro Lime Chicken garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

Step by Step Photos

Olive Oil, garlic, cumin, pepper, and salt in a small bowl

Begin the cilantro lime marinade by combining 2 Tbsp olive oil, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill) in a small bowl.

Juiced and Zested Lime and chopped cilantro on a cutting board

Zest and juice one of the limes. You’ll need 2-3 Tbsp of lime juice, so if needed, juice half of the second lime. Cut any remaining lime into wedges to serve with the cooked chicken. Roughly chop 1/2 bunch cilantro. Half of the cilantro will go into the marinade, the other half will be used to top the cooked chicken.

Finished Cilantro Lime Marinade

Add half of the chopped cilantro, 1 tsp lime zest, and 2-3 Tbsp of lime juice (depending on how much your lime yielded) to the marinade. Stir to combine.

Marinate Cilantro Lime Chicken in a shallow dish

Add six boneless, skinless chicken thighs (abotu 1.5 to 1.75 pounds total) to a shallow dish or large zip top bag. Add the marinade and toss the chicken to coat. Let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator), turning the chicken once or twice as it marinates.

Cooked Cilantro Lime Chicken in the Skillet

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a large skillet over medium high. You want the skillet to be nice and hot so they chicken browns and cooks quickly. If the heat is too low or the chicken is too crowded, it will get soupy and will not brown, so if needed, cook in two batches. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes, or until it’s browned and cooked through.

Add Fresh Cilantro to Cooked Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken

Add the remaining chopped cilantro to the cooked chicken.

Finished Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken in the skillet with lime wedges

Squeeze fresh lime over the finished chicken or serve with lime wedges so each person can squeeze their own.

Close up of lime being squeeze over a piece of Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken

That fresh pop of lime is 👌.

Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken on a plate with black beans and taco rice

This meal with Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken, Quick Seasoned Black Beans, and Easy Taco Rice meal preps very well, too!

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6 Ways to Upgrade Instant Ramen https://www.budgetbytes.com/6-ways-to-upgrade-instant-ramen/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/6-ways-to-upgrade-instant-ramen/#comments Thu, 25 Apr 2019 13:18:37 +0000 http://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=24652 Confession time: sometimes I actually like instant ramen. You know, those cheap little packets of salty noodles that only cost 30¢? I don’t eat them often, maybe once per year, but when I get the craving I’m totally not above grabbing a packet of instant noodles and going to town. Over the years I’ve found […]

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Confession time: sometimes I actually like instant ramen. You know, those cheap little packets of salty noodles that only cost 30¢? I don’t eat them often, maybe once per year, but when I get the craving I’m totally not above grabbing a packet of instant noodles and going to town. Over the years I’ve found 6 easy ways to upgrade instant ramen, like to the point where it might actually qualify as a legit meal, AND use up the leftovers in my kitchen at the same time. So I’m going to share them with you today because it’s a total win-win.

Originally published 12-16-2015, updated 4-25-2019.

A big bowl of ramen with a soft boiled egg, tofu cubes, spinach, bell pepper, and sliced green onion on the side.

Yeah, that’s instant ramen in that bowl in the photo above. And those upgrades were pretty inexpensive.

Now it’s obvious that the best way to upgrade instant ramen is to just get real ramen (from a restaurant or good quality noodles from an Asian grocery store), but that’s not what we’re talking about today.

We’re talking about when your only option, or your preferred option, is the inexpensive little ramen packets that you can find in just about any grocery or convenience store in America. So, when that’s what you’ve got, here’s what you can do!

6 Ways to Upgrade Instant Ramen

A clump of noodles being lifted out of the bowl of upgraded ramen with chopsticks.

1. Use Your Own Broth

A jar of vegetable flavored Better Than Bouillon

Ditch the salty packet of MSG and use your own broth, whatever kind you prefer. I like to use either vegetable or chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon (I do half broth, half water to keep the salt down), but you could also use a homemade bone broth, dashi, or even just some miso mixed with water. Not only does this give you more control over the salt and other ingredients, but it offers you a lot of flavor options!

2. Add Aromatics

Garlic, sliced green onion, and ginger on a cutting board.

Adding fresh aromatics to your broth really gives the flavor some oomph. I like to add fresh garlic, ginger, and green onion. I usually have all three of these on hand (I keep my ginger in the freezer), so it’s a no-brainer. Plus, fresh ginger gives the soup a pleasant medicinal quality that is great when you’re under the weather.

TIP: Mince the garlic and grate the ginger. Sauté both in a little oil for a minute or so before adding your broth to the pot. The green onion can either be sprinkled over top at the end, sautéed with the ginger and garlic, or both!

3. Sauce it Up

Add Sambal to Garlic and Ginger in the sauce pot

If you’re like me, you have no less than 20 half-used bottles of sauces in your fridge. Well, Instant ramen is a great way to use up some of those sauces. You can stir sambal, chili garlic sauce, sriracha, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, gochujang, soy suace, or any number of other sauces into your broth for more flavor. Or add them to the finished bowl as a sort of table seasoning.

TIP: Adding sauces usually comes with added salt, so keep this in mind when choosing your broth. That is one reason I like to do half broth and half water—it gives me more wiggle room to add sauces later.

4. Add Vegetables

Salad Bar Vegetables in a take-out container with tofu.

I looooove my bowl of ramen packed full of vegetables. This is where it gets really fun and useful. Browse your fridge for any vegetable that might need to be used up, like carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, cabbage, and more. You can also toss in frozen vegetables, like broccoli florets, peas, or corn.

TIP: If you don’t have any vegetables in your fridge, stop by the salad bar at your local grocery and grab a small handful or two of your favorite vegetables. That way you don’t have to buy a whole package of each one. You can also score protiens like tofu (see photo above) or rotisserie chicken to toss in there.

Spinach being added to cooked ramen in the sauce pot.

5. Add a Protein

Close up of Chopsticks lifting noodles out of an upgraded bowl of instant ramen, with a soft boiled egg.

My favorite protein to add to my ramen is an egg because it’s just so easy and I always have them. But there are so many more options! Tofu cubes, sliced tempeh, rotisserie chicken, ground pork (browned), shelled edamame, pulled pork, shrimp, you name it! 

TIP: You can crack a raw egg straight into your simmering broth and let it cook for about 6 minutes. Make sure the broth is not vigorously boiling or the egg will break apart into a million pieces and just make the broth cloudy. For the egg in the photo above, I cooked it separately, using my easy 6-minute Soft Boiled Egg method, and then added it to the finished bowl.

6. Top it Off

Sriracha being drizzled on a bowl of upgraded Instant Ramen.

Time to go wild! Top off your ramen with lots of fun goodies to give your bowl flavor, color, and texture. Here are some fun ideas: sriracha, kimchi, sesame seeds, crumbled bacon, nori (dried seaweed), fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai basil, chives), a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, crushed chiles, furikake, or a wedge of lime. 

An upgraded bowl of instant ramen, viewed from above, being eaten with chopsticks

And that’s it! That’s all it takes to turn a sad little packet of instant noodles to a truly epic bowl that I’m sure I’d probably pay at least $8 for in a restaurant. 

An opened package of instant ramen with other ingredients around it, including green onions, chile paste, and garlic.

My Favorite Quick Fix Upgrade Combo

The bowl shown in the photos in this post is sort of the ultimate version of how to upgrade instant ramen, but on a regular run-of-the-mill day I kind of go half way between plain and the ultimate version. Here is how I usually upgrade my instant ramen:

 

Upgraded Instant Ramen

When all you have (or want) is one of those little cheap packets of noodles, here are 6 easy ways to upgrade instant ramen and make it a legit meal.  

  • 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 handful sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package instant ramen (seasoning discarded)
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • sriracha to taste
  1. Add the oil, garlic, and ginger to a small sauce pot and sauté over medium for about one minute.

  2. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for about a minute more.

  3. Add the broth and water, and bring to a boil.

  4. Once boiling, add the uncooked ramen noodles. Boil for about 3 minutes, or just until they are tender. Do not overcook the noodles.

  5. Stir in the spinach until wilted. Turn the heat down to low, crack the egg into the broth, and let sit for about six minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked and the yolk is still runny.

  6. Transfer the soup to one or two bowls, then top with sriracha and sliced green onion.

And then depending on whatever else I have in my kitchen, I might add some other fun stuff in, like in the photos. :)

What About You?

Share your favorite ways to upgrade instant ramen in the comments below! I love reading all the unique and creative combos people come up with for their ramen!

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