Budget Bytes https://www.budgetbytes.com Delicious Recipes Designed for Small Budgets Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:33:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 How to Cook Bacon in the Oven https://www.budgetbytes.com/how-to-cook-bacon-in-the-oven/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/how-to-cook-bacon-in-the-oven/#comments Sun, 19 Jan 2020 23:22:39 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47654 As much as I love bacon, I used to avoid it because the though of sputtering hot bacon grease getting all over me and my kitchen was enough to make me stick to just eggs and toast. But in my early 20’s I worked in a commercial kitchen where I learned how to cook bacon in big […]

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As much as I love bacon, I used to avoid it because the though of sputtering hot bacon grease getting all over me and my kitchen was enough to make me stick to just eggs and toast. But in my early 20’s I worked in a commercial kitchen where I learned how to cook bacon in big batches with next to no effort in the oven. It was one of those 🤯moments. Sometimes the easiest solutions are the ones that escape us, so I want to share this quick tutorial and make sure everyone knows about the easiest and best way to cook bacon.

How to Make Perfect, Crispy Bacon in the Oven

Three strips of cooked bacon on a plate with fried eggs and an English muffin with jam

Why Cook Bacon in the Oven?

The number one reason I suggest cooking bacon in the oven is that it’s totally hands off. You put it in the oven and then you are free to make your eggs, toast, or whatever else you want to serve with your bacon for breakfast. You don’t have to babysit a skillet full of sizzling bacon, or protect yourself from projectile hot grease. Everything is safely contained in the oven. 

The second great thing about cooking bacon in an oven is that you can cook more at one time than what normally fits in a skillet. So, if you’ve got a crowd to feed, or you just really really like a lot of bacon, you can cook it all at once instead of in batches.

The third thing that I love about cooking bacon in the oven is that it self drains as it cooks. In the technique I use below, the bacon is suspended above the baking sheet with a wire cooling rack, which allows the grease to drain away as the bacon cooks instead of swimming in a pool of grease. I mean, I love bacon grease and all, but in moderation.

Do I Need to Use a Wire Rack?

Using a wire cooling rack is not 100% necessary, but I highly suggest it if you have one. The wire rack allows the bacon to heat from both sides, which yields a crispier piece of bacon. You can lay your bacon right on the baking sheet and it will fry in its own fat as it cooks, which yields a slightly chewier piece of bacon.

Do I Have to Use Foil?

No. If you prefer not to cook with aluminum foil, you can skip it. It simply makes cleanup easier, IMHO, but I understand that many people have safety concerns about cooking with aluminum foil. Baked on bacon grease usually cleans off baking sheets with a 10 minute soak with hot soapy water and a little elbow grease. Barkeeper’s Friend is also great for getting baked-on grease off cookware.

What Kind of Bacon Can be Cooked in the Oven?

Any type of bacon can be cooked in the oven, but I prefer thick cut bacon for this method. Thin bacon tends to turn out quite delicate and can sometimes stick to the wire rack and tear. The cooking times listed below are for thick cut bacon.

Several strips of bacon on a paper towel covered plate, viewed from the side

 

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Learn how to cook bacon in the oven with very little effort and no hot splattering bacon grease! Perfect, crispy bacon in the oven every time.

  • 12 oz. thick cut bacon
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and then placing one or two wire racks on top to hold the bacon above the surface of the baking sheet.

  2. Lay the strips of bacon across the wire rack so they are close, but not overlapping.

  3. Bake the bacon in the fully preheated oven, for 20-25 minutes*, or until it has reached your desired level of crispiness. Begin checking the bacon at 15 minutes, as ovens can vary.

  4. After baking, use tongs to remove the strips of bacon from the wire rack to a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately.

  5. Allow the remaining bacon grease to cool for about ten minutes, then pour off into a bowl or jar, and reserve for another use.

*Cooking time can vary depending on the nuances of your oven, and the thickness of your bacon. The times suggested are for thick cut bacon. If using regular bacon, begin checking the bacon at 10 minutes, and add time as needed to reach your desired level of crispiness.

Check your bacon’s packaging for nutritional data, as each brand will vary.

How to Use Leftover Bacon Grease

Leftover bacon grease is pure gold. It adds SO MUCH flavor to whatever you use it with. You can pretty much use it to cook anything in place of butter. Try some of these yummy uses for your bacon grease:

  • To fry potatoes or eggs
  • Use to sauté greens, like kale, spinach, or even green beans
  • Make stove top popcorn
  • Spread on your bread when making grilled cheese
  • Use in place of butter in Fried Cabbage with Noodles

Three strips of bacon on a plate with fried eggs and an English Muffin

How to Bake Bacon in the Oven – Step by Step Photos

Prepared baking sheet with foil and a wire rack

First preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering it with foil and placing one or two wire cooling racks on top.

Bacon arranged on top of wire rack

Lay the slices of bacon out on the wire rack so they are close, but not overlapping.

Baked Bacon strips on the baking sheet

Bake the bacon in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (for thick cut bacon), or until it reaches your desired level of crispiness. Begin checking the bacon at 15 minutes, so you’re aware of its progress (every oven is different). I like mine extra brown and crispy, so I let mine go closer to 25 minutes.

Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate

Although most of the grease drains away as it bakes, some will pool on the top, so I still use tongs to transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate.

Bacon grease on foil

Let the bacon grease cool for about 10 minutes on the foil so that it’s still liquid, but not burning hot. Then pull up the sides of the foil to capture the grease, and pour it off into a bowl or jar.

Saved bacon grease in a mason jar

Cover or close the container with the grease and refrigerate until you decide what food will be graced with its presence. If you strain out the small bits of bacon and debris the bacon grease can last months in the refrigerator. But I know I’ll use it quickly, so I don’t bother to strain!

Strips of hot bacon piled on a plate

Crispy perfection!!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup https://www.budgetbytes.com/slow-cooker-chicken-noodle-soup/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/slow-cooker-chicken-noodle-soup/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2020 15:43:21 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47450 Homemade chicken noodle soup from scratch is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods. Not only is it incredibly easy, but even just the smell of it simmering away is soothing and totally gives me hygge vibes. While I’ve had a stove top version of this Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup for years, I thought […]

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Homemade chicken noodle soup from scratch is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods. Not only is it incredibly easy, but even just the smell of it simmering away is soothing and totally gives me hygge vibes. While I’ve had a stove top version of this Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup for years, I thought it was high time to show just how easy and hands-off it is to make with a slow cooker (or crock pot). This is the perfect winter Sunday recipe to have going while you tend to other chores or just catch up on Netflix. :)

Homemade Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Overhead view of a slow cooker containing freshly cooked homemade chicken noodle soup

What Size Slow Cooker Do I Need?

I would suggest using a 6 quart slow cooker. I used a 5 quart slow cooker and it was filled dangerously close to the top, so 6 quart would be a much better fit. If you have a smaller slow cooker you can cut the recipe in half by changing the number of servings in the box next to servings in the recipe card below. This will adjust the amounts of all the ingredients for you. It will still need to cook for the same amount of time.

What Are “Split” Chicken Breasts?

Split chicken breasts are one whole chicken breast that has been split down the breast bone into two pieces (right and left breast) with the bones, rib meat, and skin still attached. Also known as bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Using this type of chicken breast is key to getting the best flavor in your chicken soup. The bones, connective tissues, and dark rib meat are where all the flavor’s at. Bone-in chicken thighs are also a great option.

Can I Use Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast?

Technically you can, but your soup will have a lot less flavor. You may find that you need to use pre-made chicken broth in place of the water listed in the recipe below to get more flavor in your soup.

Overhead view of a bowl full of slow cooker chicken noodle soup

Can I Use Frozen Chicken?

It’s not recommended to add frozen meat to slow cookers. It takes too much time for the meat to thaw and come up to a safe temperature, leaving it in the temperature “danger zone” where bacteria can flourish for too long. If you have frozen chicken that you’d like to use, make sure to thaw it fully using a safe method before adding it to the slow cooker.

To Use Chicken Skin or Not to Use Chicken Skin

I remove the chicken skin from the split chicken breasts before adding it to the slow cooker, but you don’t have to. There is a lot of fat and flavor in the skin, so if you want an extra rich soup you can leave it on. You’ll just remove the skin at the same time that you debone the chicken meat.

Can I Freeze Chicken Noodle Soup?

Yes! This recipe makes a huge batch, so you’ll probably want to freeze half of it. Make sure to divide the soup into single portions just after cooking (so it cools quickly), cool it completely in the refrigerator over night, then transfer to the freezer the next day. You can freeze in quart-sized freezer bags or reusable freezer safe food storage containers.

Overhead view of a ladle lifting chicken noodle soup out of the slow cooker

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Slow cooker chicken noodle soup is an incredibly easy and soothing winter recipe that will fill you up and warm you from the inside out!

  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 3 cloves garlic ($0.24)
  • 1/2 lb. carrots (about 4 medium) ($0.30)
  • 4 ribs celery ($0.43)
  • 2 split chicken breasts* (2-2.5 lbs. total) ($6.30)
  • 1 tsp dried basil ($0.10)
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley ($0.30)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
  • 1 bay leaf ($0.15)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 8 cups water ($0.00)
  • 6 oz. wide egg noodles ($0.68)
  • 1 Tbsp salt (or to taste) ($0.10)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional) ($0.20)
  1. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, peel and slice the carrots, and slice the celery. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to a 6 quart slow cooker or crock pot.

  2. Remove the skin from the bone-in split chicken breasts, then place them on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker. Add the basil, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper to the slow cooker.

  3. Pour 8 cups of water over the ingredients in the slow cooker. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

  4. After cooking on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board and discard the bay leaf. Add the egg noodles to the slow cooker, stir to combine, and replace the lid, with the heat turned on to high.

  5. Use two forks to remove the chicken meat from the bones, shredding the meat as you go. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the soup. The noodles should be tender after about 8-10 minutes of being in the soup (this may take a few minutes longer if the slow cooker was previously set to low).

  6. Once the chicken has been returned to the soup and the noodles are tender, begin seasoning the soup with salt. The true flavor of the soup will not be pronounced until it is properly salted. Start with 1 tsp salt, adding more until the soup is bold and flavorful. I use about 1 Tbsp (3 tsp). Finally, stir in a handful of chopped parsley for garnish just before serving.

*Split chicken breasts have bones, rib meat, and skin attached.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up side view of a bowl of slow cooker chicken noodle soup

How to Make Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in a Slow Cooker – Step by Step Photos

Diced onion, carrot, celery, and minced garlic in the slow cooker

Dice one yellow onion, peel and slice 1/2 lb. carrots (about four), slice four ribs of celery, and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Add all four to a 6 quart slow cooker or crock pot.

Chicken and herbs added to the slow cooker

Remove the skin from two split chicken breasts (leave bones and rib meat attached). Place the chicken in the slow cooker along with 1 tsp dried basil, 1 Tbsp dried parsley, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1 bay leaf, and some freshly cracked black pepper.

Chicken noodle soup ready to cook

Add eight cups of water to the slow cooker, place the lid on top, and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.

Remove cooked chicken from slow cooker

After cooking on high for four hours or low for eight hours, remove the cooked chicken to a cutting board and discard the bay leaf (it usually floats on top).

Add egg noodles to slow cooker

Add 6 oz. wide egg noodles to the slow cooker, stir to combine, and replace the lid. Let the noodles continue to cook on high heat while you shred the chicken.

Chicken meat shredded with forks, bones on the side

Use two forks to remove the chicken meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker. The noodles will be tender after being in the pot for about 8-10 minutes (this may take a few minutes longer if your slow cooker had previously been set to low).

Season chicken noodle soup with salt

Once the noodles are tender and the shredded chicken returned to the pot, begin seasoning the soup with salt. Start with 1 tsp and keep adding more until the soup tastes vibrant and delicious. I use about 1 Tbsp (3 tsp). Finally, add 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish just before serving.

Finished Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

As with any soup or large batch recipe, it helps to divide the soup into smaller portions before cooling in the refrigerator. This helps the food cool faster, which is a better food safety practice.

Front view of a ladle lifting some chicken noodle soup out of the slow cooker

Add some crackers on top and enjoy this totally from-scratch homemade chicken noodle soup, just like grandma used to make. :)

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Simple Creamy Coleslaw https://www.budgetbytes.com/simple-creamy-coleslaw/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/simple-creamy-coleslaw/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2020 15:08:08 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47426 I never knew I was a coleslaw person until I made it myself. I had eaten it plenty of times at restaurants, never once having been impressed, and always wondering what the appeal was. But then I decided to make a quick batch of creamy coleslaw to go on a sandwich one day and that […]

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I never knew I was a coleslaw person until I made it myself. I had eaten it plenty of times at restaurants, never once having been impressed, and always wondering what the appeal was. But then I decided to make a quick batch of creamy coleslaw to go on a sandwich one day and that coleslaw totally stole the show. Something about that creamy-crunchy combo made me keep coming back for more, and I’ve been making on the reg ever since.

The super simple dressing for my Creamy Coleslaw is made with a few pantry staples, including a little Dijon mustard for tang and a dab of honey for sweetness. Then the dressing is just tossed with shredded cabbage, carrots, and sliced green onions, and you’re done! Creamy crunchy heaven ready to be piled onto a sandwich or taco, stuffed into a wrap, or enjoyed as is.

Easy Homemade Creamy Coleslaw

Overhead view of a bowl of coleslaw on a blue napkin

There’s something about that combo of sweet-tangy-creamy dressing over super crunchy cabbage that is everything. Like, once I take one bite I just can’t stop. So I made this recipe a “small batch”. Just about two cups total once done, or just enough for about four sandwiches. (Or two sandwiches and four mouthfuls, LOL)

Shredded Cabbage Shortcut

I used pre-shredded bagged “coleslaw mix” (shredded cabbage and carrots) for this recipe because I think it’s one of the few times using pre-chopped vegetables is cost effective. And then you’re not left with half a cabbage in your fridge wondering what to do with it. Because no matter how small a cabbage is, it always seems to be too much.

BUT, if you happen to have that half head of cabbage and want to make this with it, you’ll need about 3 cups finely shredded cabbage and about one medium carrot, shredded.

How to Keep Coleslaw from Getting Watery

Part of what makes cabbage so crunchy is that it contains a lot of water. The salt in the dressing pulls the water out of the cabbage through osmosis, leaving water in the bottom of your bowl, and your cabbage a little less crisp. The only way to prevent this from happening is to store your dressing separate from the shredded vegetables. So, if you don’t plan to eat the whole batch right away, make sure you only add dressing to the portion you plan to eat.

What to Serve with Creamy Coleslaw

Creamy coleslaw is absolutely perfect with anything BBQ, or anything with buffalo sauce. That creamy goodness perfectly balances the sweet tang of BBQ sauce and the fiery heat of buffalo sauce. But it also goes great on tacos, or as an extra topping in bowl meals. Here are a few recipes where I use coleslaw: BBQ Bean Sliders, Blacked Shrimp Tacos, and Buffalo Tempeh Sandwiches. It would also be great with something like: BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls or Loaded Mashed Potato Bowls.

Side view of a bowl of creamy coleslaw with a fork lifting a bite

 

Simple Creamy Coleslaw

This homemeade Creamy Coleslaw with a sweet, tangy and creamy dressing is perfect for piling onto sandwiches, stuffing into wraps, or enjoying as is!

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise ($0.55)
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey ($0.06)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard ($0.03)
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.03)

Vegetables

  • 1/2 14 oz. bag coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)* ($0.75)
  • 3 green onions ($0.17)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing (mayonnaise, honey, Dijon, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper).

  2. Slice the green onions. Add the coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) to a large bowl with the green onions, then pour the dressing over top. Stir until the cabbage is evenly coated in dressing. Serve immediately.

How to Make Creamy Coleslaw – Step by Step Photos

Ingredients for creamy coleslaw dressing in a bowl

First, make the dressing. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 5 cranks of a pepper mill).

coleslaw mix and green onion in a bowl

Add 1/2 of a 14 oz. bag of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) to a large bowl. Slice three green onions and add them to the bowl as well.

Add coleslaw dressing to cabbage in the bowl

Pour the prepared dressing over top…

Finished Creamy Coleslaw

And then stir until all the cabbage is coated in dressing.

front view of a bowl of creamy coleslaw on a blue napkin

Then dig in (or put it on your sandwich, taco, stuff it into your wrap, or serve it on the side with your ribs)!

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6 Easy Ways to Use Leftover Vegetables https://www.budgetbytes.com/6-easy-ways-to-use-leftover-vegetables/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/6-easy-ways-to-use-leftover-vegetables/#comments Sun, 12 Jan 2020 17:19:35 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47442 Did your New Year’s resolution include eating more vegetables? It’s a fantastic goal and one I get behind anytime of year, but there’s definitely a learning curve! I’m sure we’ve all had this experience: ambitiously buying a shopping cart full of vegetables at the beginning of the week, only to let half (if not all) […]

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Did your New Year’s resolution include eating more vegetables? It’s a fantastic goal and one I get behind anytime of year, but there’s definitely a learning curve! I’m sure we’ve all had this experience: ambitiously buying a shopping cart full of vegetables at the beginning of the week, only to let half (if not all) of them wilt in the fridge by Friday. Having your vegetables end up in the garbage is practically the same as throwing your money away (except more smelly), so I wanted to round up six easy ways to use leftover vegetables, that anyone can do and with very little planning. Let’s reduce our food waste, save some money, and eat delicious food in the process. Sound good?

Make sure to bookmark this list so the next time you peek in your fridge and see something that is about to be on its way out you can browse these options and whip up something super tasty with those awesome vegetables!

A collage of six recipes that can use any leftover vegetable

 

Easy Ways to Use Leftover Vegetables Before They Go Bad:

1. Stir Fry

Add Stir Fry Sauce to Ground Turkey Stir Fry in the Skillet

Great for: bell peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots, squash, mushrooms, eggplant, cabbage, asparagus, spinach, peas

Stir fries are my go-to easy meal because they’re incredibly fast, you can add just about ANY meat or vegetable to them, and they’re different every time. Not only will you get variety with the vegetables that you add, but you can change up the sauce every time, too. Use a basic soy based stir fry sauce like the one in my Ground Turkey Stir Fry (pictured above), a coconut based sauce like in my Spicy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry, or even take a short cut and use a bottled sauce like in my Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry Bowls. And while you’re at it, top that stir fry with your leftover green onion and cilantro. ;)


2. Pizza

French Bread Pizza is the perfect budget-friendly fast and easy weeknight dinner. Customize the toppings to fit your taste buds or what you have on hand! Budgetbytes.com

Great for: spinach, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini

One of my jobs before I was a blogger was working the pizza station at Whole Foods. When I tell you we made pizzas out of everything, I mean everything. Any unused ingredient we could find in the kitchen made its way onto one of our creative “specialty” pizzas and we made some amazing flavor combination discoveries in the process. So when Friday rolls around, scan your fridge for leftover vegetables, leftover cheese, even your leftover meat from the week and toss it onto a pizza. And if you want pizza night to be even faster and easier, make French Bread Pizzas (pictured above), a “Quick Fix” tortilla pizza, or even a Pizzadilla.


3. Pasta Salad

Add Salad Dressing to Pasta Salad

Great for: zucchini and yellow squash, onions, spinach, kale, mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cucumber, peas, radishes, cauliflower

Cook some pasta, chop your vegetables, add a little cheese, and douse with your favorite dressing. DONE. Pasta salad really is that easy and flexible. Again, you get even more variety with this meal if you change up your dressing. The easiest option is to use your favorite bottled dressing like in my Sweep the Kitchen Pasta Salad (pictured above), you can make your own homemade balsamic vinaigrette like in my Tomato Mozzarella Pasta Salad, a lemony garlic vinaigrette like in my Greek Chicken Pasta Salad, or even something creamy like in my Creamy Lemon Dill Pasta Salad.


4. Frittatas, Omelets, and Scrambles

Ratatouille Frittata combines the rich and complex flavors of ratatouille with the ease of an egg frittata. Great for low carb dieters or using up that summer bumper crop! BudgetBytes.com

Great for: tomatoes, onions, zucchini and yellow squash, spinach, kale, mushrooms, asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, avocado

Eggs and vegetables are total besties. I routinely chop up whatever vegetable I have in my fridge, add it to a skillet with a couple eggs, and make a super fast vegetable scramble. But you can also bake vegetables into your eggs like in the ratatouille frittata pictured above, bake them into little “egg cups“, fold them into an omelet, or even a breakfast egg quesadilla.


5. Soup

Overhead view of a pot full of vegetable barley soup with bread on the side

Great for: potatoes and sweet potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, kale, cabbage, corn, peas, cauliflower

Soup might be the original “catch all” recipe and they’re perfect for vegetables that may be a tad limp already (they’ll be soft after simmering in the soup anyway), and “hard” root vegetables that need longer cooking. It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to soup. Just toss whatever you have in a pot, add some water or broth, a bunch of herbs and spices, and it’s almost guaranteed to taste good. One of my favorite quick ways to use leftover vegetables in soup is to just toss whatever I have into a bowl of instant ramen. But many other soups, like the Vegetable Barley Soup pictured above, my “All You Can Eat” Cabbage Soup, or Beef and Cabbage Soup can really have just about any vegetable added to them without changing the flavor profile too much. Bonus, most soups are freezer friendly so it’s a 1-2 punch on food waste!


Roast Them!

Roasted Summer Vegetables are the easiest side dish of the season and can be served as a simple side, or added to several other dishes to add color, flavor, texture, and nutrients. BudgetBytes.com

Great for: potatoes and sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes, carrots, mushrooms, eggplant, bell pepper, broccoli, winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, etc.), beets, cauliflower

Roasting vegetables is like giving them a second chance at life. It’s a great option for vegetables that may already be a touch soft (and when I say soft, I don’t mean rotten, just not super crisp). Chop them up, toss with oil, salt, pepper, or your favorite seasoning blend, and roast in a 400ºF oven until they’re caramelized. Once roasted vegetables are great on salads, sandwiches, bowl meals, pizzas, pasta, burritos, tacos, omelets, or more. Or you can roast them right on the sheet pan with some meat, like my Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables, and make a whole meal right on the sheet pan.


Got any tips for fellow readers? What are your favorite ways to use leftover vegetables before they go bad? Leave your tip in the comments below!!

 

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Spicy Sweet Potato Fries https://www.budgetbytes.com/spicy-sweet-potato-fries/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/spicy-sweet-potato-fries/#comments Sat, 11 Jan 2020 18:28:55 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47374 I don’t do side dishes often (I’m more of a “bowl meal” type person), but when I do, I make sure to keep them simple. If I’m already going through a lot of trouble to make a main dish, I’m not going to pull out ten more ingredients just for the supporting actor. No, side […]

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I don’t do side dishes often (I’m more of a “bowl meal” type person), but when I do, I make sure to keep them simple. If I’m already going through a lot of trouble to make a main dish, I’m not going to pull out ten more ingredients just for the supporting actor. No, side dishes are to remain as simple as they come! These Spicy Sweet Potato Fries are the perfect example. They transform any sandwich or wrap into a full meal and add a lot of color and flavor to your plate without a lot of extra work. Plus they’re just super tasty. ;)

Baked Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Two dishes lined with newsprint full of spicy sweet potato fries

After living in south Louisiana for 16 years, I ate my fair share of sweet potato fries. They were always deep fried, and always seasoned with tons of Creole or Cajun seasoning. Now that I’ve moved away, I still want that sweet-spicy-salty flavor whenever I have some sort of sandwich or burger, so I make this baked version at home!

Are These Sweet Potato Fries Crispy?

No. Sorry if I got your hopes up, but they’re not crispy like deep fried sweet potato fries. I’m a firm believer that sweet potatoes can not be made crispy in the oven. I’ve tried every technique from soaking to cornstarch coating, and more, and none have produced a crispy sweet potato fry in the oven. Honestly, even deep fried sweet potatoes are quite a bit softer than deep fried white potatoes. So as long as you go into this not expecting a crispy fry, I think you’ll be able to enjoy them for what they are.

What do Sweet Potato Fries Go With?

This awesome combo of sweet, salty, and spicy goes really well with anything BBQ. So, BBQ Bean Sliders, BBQ Beef and Beans (you can serve the beef and beans over the fries instead of over rice), or BBQ Chicken Quesadillas are all great mains for this side. But they also go great with all sorts of other sandwiches, like Green Chile Turkey Burgers, Sloppy Joes Plus, or Baked Chicken Sandwiches.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries next to a BBQ Bean Slider in a dish lined with newsprint, viewed from above

Pictured above with a BBQ Bean Slider.

Just How Spicy are these Spicy Fries?

I would call them “medium” spicy. I used Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning to season the fries, and they do make a “more spicy” version of their seasoning, if you want something hotter. If you want something mild, you can switch it out for your favorite seasoning salt, like Lawrys.

What if I Can’t Find Creole Seasoning?

You can add just about any seasoning salt to sweet potato fries. Other brands of Creole or Cajun seasonings (Slap Ya Mama is really good) will work fine, or as I mentioned above, a basic seasoning salt like Lawrys will also work. If you’re using a different seasoning, make sure to check the salt content. If it does not contain salt, you’ll want to add salt to the fries in addition to your seasoning. 

Close up side view of one bowl full of spicy sweet potato fries

 

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

These Spicy Sweet Potato Fries are an easy side dish with a sassy sweet and salty flavor combination, plus a spicy Creole seasoning kick!

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs. total) ($1.38)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil of choice ($0.26)
  • 1 tsp Creole seasoning or spicy seasoning salt* ($0.10)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/4-1/2 inch wide fries. Place the cut fries on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with cooking oil. Toss the fries until they are well coated in oil. Spread the sweet potatoes back out over the baking sheet so they're in a single layer.

  3. Transfer the baking sheet to the fully preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so, or until the the sweet potatoes are browned and blistered.

  4. After the sweet potato fries have baked, season to your liking with Creole seasoning or spicy seasoning salt. Serve immediately.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Overhead view of two dishes lined with newsprint containing spicy sweet potato fries

 

How to Make Spicy Sweet Potato Fries – Step by Step Photos

Sliced sweet potatoes into fries on cutting board

Begin by preheating the oven to 400ºF and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and slice two sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs. total) into “fries” about ¼-½ inch wide.

Cut sweet potatoes arranged on the baking sheet

Place the cut “fries” onto the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of your preferred cooking oil and toss until the sweet potatoes are well coated in oil. Spread them out so they are in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Baked sweet potato fries on the baking sheet

Bake the sweet potatoes for about 45 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until they are browned and blistered.

Creole seasoning bottle held above the baking sheet

Season the fries to your liking with a spicy Creole or Cajun seasoning salt (or your preferred seasoning salt).

Finished seasoned sweet potato fries

Enjoy the sweet potato fries while still warm!

A pile of sweet potato fries in a newsprint lined dish, viewed from above

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Swamp Soup https://www.budgetbytes.com/swamp-soup/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/swamp-soup/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2020 15:19:00 +0000 http://www.budgetbytes.com/2010/12/31/swamp-soup-7-93-recipe-0-99-serving/ Despite its “swampy” appearance, this soup is simply one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. If you like tomato soup, you’ll adore Swamp Soup. It’s like tomato soup on steroids and with a grilled cheese built right in. The broth is incredibly thick and hearty, it’s full of tons of vegetables that add texture […]

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Despite its “swampy” appearance, this soup is simply one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. If you like tomato soup, you’ll adore Swamp Soup. It’s like tomato soup on steroids and with a grilled cheese built right in. The broth is incredibly thick and hearty, it’s full of tons of vegetables that add texture and flavor, and let’s not forget those creamy, gooey bits of swiss cheese in every other bite. It’s TO DIE FOR.

Originally posted 12-21-10, updated 1-9-20.

Swamp Soup – Tomato Soup’s Flashier Cousin

Two bowls of swamp soup from above with oyster crackers and a bowl of swiss cheese cubes on the side

Soup-er Fast, Soup-er Good.

My favorite thing about this soup is that it’s incredibly fast and easy. It’s ready to eat as soon as it’s heated through, although you can always let it simmer a bit longer, if you want. And if you have some chopped carrots and celery stashed in your freezer (scroll down to the step by step photos if you’re wondering why you’d ever have that in your freezer), it goes even faster!

How to Serve Swamp Soup

As mentioned above, this soup has melty chunks of Swiss cheese floating around in every bowl. While you can add the Swiss cheese to the whole pot, if you don’t plan to serve it all in one sitting, I suggest adding the cheese to each bowl just before serving (after reheating). You’ll probably also want some sort of cracker or crusty bread for dipping!

Can I freeze it?

Yes indeed! This soup is great for stocking your freezer. After cooking, divide your soup into single servings, cool it completely in the refrigerator over night, then transfer to the freezer the next day. You can freeze in quart-sized freezer bags or any freezer-safe meal prep container.

Substitutes for Swiss Cheese

I love the subtle flavor of Swiss with this soup, but if Swiss isn’t your jam you can use mozzarella instead. Mozzarella melts in a similar way to Swiss, so you’ll get the same effect in the soup. Plus, mozzarella also goes great with tomato. If you don’t care about the melty aspect, a little crumbled feta would also be amazing sprinkled onto every bowl.

A red soup pot full of Swamp Soup with a bowl of Swiss cheese cubes on the side

Love tomato soup? Check out my Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup, too!

 

Swamp Soup

A thick, tomatoey vegetable soup with "swampy" bits of spinach and gooey swiss cheese make this unconventional Swamp Soup unforgettable!

  • 3 cloves garlic ($0.24)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 1/2 lb. carrots (about 4 medium) ($0.30)
  • 3 ribs celery ($0.46)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil ($0.30)
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano ($0.30)
  • 3 8oz. cans tomato sauce ($0.75)
  • 3 15oz. cans diced tomatoes ($1.35)
  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth ($0.20)
  • 1 10oz. pkg frozen chopped spinach ($0.99)
  • 8 oz. Swiss cheese ($1.69)
  1. Mince the garlic, dice the onion, peel and slice the carrots, and slice the celery. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to a large soup pot with the olive oil and sauté over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the onions are soft.

  2. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (with juices), vegetable broth, basil, and oregano to the pot. Stir to combine, then allow the soup to come to a simmer.

  3. Once the soup is simmering, add the frozen spinach (no need to thaw). Stir the spinach into the hot soup until it has melted and heated through.

  4. Once the spinach is thoroughly mixed into the soup, give the soup a taste and add salt if needed. I did not add any, but this will ultimately depend on the sodium content of your canned goods and vegetable broth.

  5. Dice the swiss cheese into small cubes. Add a small handful of cubes to each bowl, then ladle the hot soup over top. Serve and enjoy!

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up of a bowl of Swamp Soup with a spoon lifting a bit and melted Swiss cheese pulling from the bowl

 

How to Make Swamp Soup – Step By Step Photos

Chopped onion, celery, carrots, and minced garlic in the soup pot

Dice one yellow onion, peel and slice 1/2 lb. carrots (about four carrots), slice three ribs celery, and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to a large soup pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil.

Pre-chopped carrot and celery in a freezer bag

Since most of my soups begin with 1/2 lb. chopped carrot and 3-4 ribs of celery, I just go ahead and chop up the rest of my carrots and the bunch of celery, and freeze it for the next time I make a soup. That way I don’t have to do as much chopping later. I just dump the bag of frozen veggies into my soup pot and go!

Sautéed vegetables in soup pot

Sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic over medium for about five minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Add tomatoes, herbs, and vegetable broth to soup pot

Next, add three 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce, three 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 Tbsp dried basil, 1 Tbsp dried oregano, and 1.5 cups vegetable broth to the pot. Stir to combine, then allow the soup to come up to a simmer.

Simmered soup with frozen spinach added

Once the soup comes up to a simmer, add a 10 oz. block of frozen chopped spinach (no need to thaw). You can use frozen bagged spinach, too, just estimate about 10 oz. Stir the spinach into the soup until it thaws and heats through.

Taste finished soup

Once the soup is heated through, give it a taste and add salt if needed. Mine did not need any additional salt, but that will depend on your taste buds and the salt content of your canned goods and vegetable broth.

Adding Swiss cheese to soup pot

Chop an 8 oz. block of Swiss cheese into small cubes. If you’re going to serve the entire pot of soup at one sitting, go ahead and stir the cubes of cheese into the soup pot (with the heat turned off). The residual heat will melt the cubes. If you’re going to be eating one or two bowls at a time, add the cheese cubes to each bowl, then ladle the hot soup over top.

A ladle full of Swamp Soup being lifted from the soup pot, viewed from the side

Sooooo gooey and good!

Two bowls of Swamp Soup with a bowl of Swiss cheese on the side, plus a few oyster crackers

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Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables https://www.budgetbytes.com/smoky-roasted-sausage-and-vegetables/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/smoky-roasted-sausage-and-vegetables/#comments Sat, 04 Jan 2020 20:17:23 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47202 Sheet pan meals are my savior. There’s really nothing easier than roasting vegetables in the oven, and it happens to make them taste really good, too. Add a little meat to the vegetables and you have a meal! For this Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables sheet pan meal, I also added a homemade smoky vinaigrette […]

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Sheet pan meals are my savior. There’s really nothing easier than roasting vegetables in the oven, and it happens to make them taste really good, too. Add a little meat to the vegetables and you have a meal! For this Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables sheet pan meal, I also added a homemade smoky vinaigrette for an extra blast of flavor. And as always, this recipe meal preps well! So cook now and enjoy later. ;)

Sheet Pan Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables

A hand drizzling smoky vinaigrette over a sheet pan full of roasted sausage and vegetables

What Kind of Smoked Sausage Should I Use?

You can literally use any type of smoked sausage for this recipe. I used beef sausage today, but you can use pork, turkey, kielbasa, or any other type of smoked sausage. The key here is to make sure it’s smoked sausage. You want that smoky flavor and a sausage that is firm enough to slice.

Can I Use Different Vegetables?

Absolutely! I would try to include some sort of onion in there, but other than that you can switch them up for anything else, like potatoes, zucchini, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, or even potatoes. Just try to cut your vegetables in similar sized pieces so everything cooks are a fairly similar rate.

How Long Does This Keep?

As with most meal preps, I suggest keeping your meal for a maximum of about four days. This recipe probably isn’t the best candidate for freezing, but if you’re not too picky you might find it perfectly acceptable after freezing and reheating.

Overhead view of a plate with rice and roasted sausage and vegetables. Mason jar with vinaigrette on the side

 

Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables

These Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables are an easy sheet pan meal with a smoky homemade vinaigrette that gives an extra blast of flavor.

Smoky Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.64)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.20)
  • 1 tsp coarse deli mustard (or Dijon) ($0.08)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar ($0.02)

Sausage and Vegetables

  • 12 oz. smoked sausage ($2.75)
  • 1 lb. broccoli crown ($1.69)
  • 1 bell pepper (any color) ($1.00)
  • 1 red onion ($0.44)

For Serving

  • 1 cup long grain white rice (uncooked) ($0.20)
  • 1 handful chopped parsley ($0.20)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a small bowl or jar combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette (olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar). Whisk the ingredients together or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the vinaigrette aside.

  3. Slice the smoked sausage into 1/2-inch medallions. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Dice the bell pepper and onion into 1-inch pieces. Place the sausage, broccoli, bell pepper, and onion onto the baking sheet.

  4. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of the vinaigrette over the sausage and vegetables and toss to coat.

  5. Roast the vegetables in the fully preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until they're browned on the edges, stirring once half way through.

  6. While the sausage and vegetables are roasting, cook the rice. Add the rice and 2 cups water to a sauce pot. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, undisturbed, lid in place, for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork just before serving.

  7. After the sausage and vegetables have finished roasting, add half of the remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season with an extra pinch of salt and pepper if needed.

  8. To serving, add about 3/4 cup rice to each bowl or container along with 1/4 of the roasted sausage and vegetables. Drizzle another spoonful of the vinaigrette over top, then finish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Three glass meal prep containers with rice and Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables

These are Pyrex 3-cup glass food storage containers. You can find them in my Amazon Shop.

How to Make Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables – Step by Step Photos

Smoky vinaigrette in a mason jar with spoon

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a bowl or jar combine ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tsp coarse deli mustard (or Dijon), ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp salt, some freshly cracked pepper, and ¼ tsp sugar. Whisk the ingredients together, or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the dressing aside.

Smoked beef sausage, broccoli, onion, and bell pepper

This time around I used smoked beef sausage, broccoli, red onion, and a yellow bell pepper, but you can modify this to meet your budget or what you have on hand. For some ideas of what else might work, read my suggestions in the paragraphs above the recipe.

Chopped vegetables and sliced sausage on the baking sheet

Slice the smoked sausage into ½-inch thick pieces, cut the broccoli into small florets, and dice the onion and bell pepper into 1-inch pieces. Spread the sausage and vegetables over a parchment lined baking sheet (I don’t have parchment in the photo, because I like to fight stuck on food. J/K, it’s just better for photos). 

Seasoned sausage and vegetables on the baking sheet

Drizzle 2 Tbsp of the smoky vinaigrette over the sausage and vegetables, then toss until they’re well coated.

Roasted sausage and vegetables on the baking sheet

Roast the sausage and vegetables in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until they’re well browned, stirring once half way through.

Cooked Rice

While the sausage and vegetables are roasting, cook the rice. Add 1 cup white rice to a sauce pot with 2 cups water. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn it down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it sit with the lid in place for another 5 minutes. Finally, fluff it with a fork.

vinaigrette being drizzled over sausage and vegetables

After the sausage and vegetables have finished roasting, drizzle about ½ of the remaining smoky vinaigrette over top, and toss to coat. Season with an extra pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.

A bowl of rice with smoky roasted sausage and vegetables, vinaigrette being drizzled on top with a spoon.

To serve, place about ¾ cup rice in a bowl or container, add ¼ of the roasted sausage and vegetables, and drizzle one last spoonful of the vinaigrette over top. Sprinkle a little fresh parsley over the bowl and serve.

meal prepped roasted sausage and vegetables in rectangular glass containers

You can refrigerate the Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables for about four days. Hello lunch!

Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables on the sheet pan with a spatula scooping some in the bottom corner

Love sheet pan meals? Check out my Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken Dinner, Sheet Pan BBQ Meatloaf Dinner, or Sheet Pan Greek Chicken and Vegetables.

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Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls 6 Ways https://www.budgetbytes.com/cottage-cheese-breakfast-bowls-6-ways/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/cottage-cheese-breakfast-bowls-6-ways/#comments Wed, 01 Jan 2020 20:44:48 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47141 Food trends are one factor that can have a big impact on ingredient costs. It’s all about the laws of supply and demand. If the demand is low but supply is relatively stable, the cost will come down. And do you know what food isn’t exactly trendy right now? Cottage cheese. It may not be […]

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Food trends are one factor that can have a big impact on ingredient costs. It’s all about the laws of supply and demand. If the demand is low but supply is relatively stable, the cost will come down. And do you know what food isn’t exactly trendy right now? Cottage cheese. It may not be a popular food, but it is extremely versatile and an excellent source of inexpensive protein. So I’m going to try to make it popular again. 😂 Starting with these meal prep friendly Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls.

Six Ways to Eat Cottage Cheese for Breakfast

Six flavors of Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls in glass meal prep containers

How to Meal Prep Your Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls

I made one each of the six different flavors for the photos in this post, but you’ll probably get the most out of your time and money if you prepare four of one flavor at a time. That way you don’t have to buy several different ingredients for each one, or have partial leftover ingredients like a ½ banana, cucumber, or apple. Use the whole piece of fruit and make more than one bowl at a time.

If you’re concerned about the apple and banana getting brown, you can opt to chop those fresh daily. Personally, I’d rather do it all at once and just not worry about the appearance later. Brown does not mean it’s spoiled, only that it has been exposed to oxygen.

Prepared cottage cheese breakfast bowls will be good in the refrigerator for about four days.

What Meal Prep Containers Do You Use?

I’m slowly transitioning from plastic Ziploc containers to glass. The Ziploc containers are inexpensive, convenient (lightweight), dishwasher and freezer safe, and a great option if you’re on a budget. Glass containers are great because they are extremely durable, are also dishwasher and freezer safe (oven safe, too!), they last a lifetime, and therefore reduce waste. The glass containers in the photos are part of a 26 piece set made by Anchor Hocking, and can be found in my Amazon Shop. I also love Pyrex glass meal prep containers.

Customize the Cost and Nutritional Content of Your Breakfast Bowls

I wanted to show you a variety of ways to use cottage cheese in a breakfast bowl so you could see that not only does it pair with many different flavors, but you can also make the bowls to match your price point and nutritional needs. This happens to be the first post on Budget Bytes to include nutritional content (we’ll be adding to the rest of the site starting this week!), so you can see how the different bowls compare. All of the stats below were calculated using 2% fat cottage cheese.

Are you ready to see all these awesome flavors? Yes, I’m calling cottage cheese awesome.

How to Make Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls

Apple Cinnamon:

Close up overhead view of an Apple Cinnamon Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl in a glass meal prep container

This Apple Cinnamon flavored Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl is probably the best flavor for cottage cheese newbies to try. It’s not scary at all. It’s a lot like a yogurt parfait, but with a slightly different texture! And honestly, with all the texture from the apples and walnuts, you’re not going to notice the texture of the cottage cheese at all.

If you’re concerned about your apples browning, either chop them fresh each day, or sprinkle a little lemon juice on them just after chopping.

 

Apple Cinnamon Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

Protein packed creamy cottage cheese, sweet and juicy apples, warm cinnamon, and crunchy walnuts make a delightful and healthy no-cook breakfast.

  • 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese ($0.27)
  • 1/2 apple, chopped ($0.25)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts ($0.08)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup ($0.30)
  • 1 pinch cinnamon ($0.02)
  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl or container. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate in an air-tight container up to four days.


Peanut Butter and Jelly:

A spoon digging into a glass container full of a Peanut Butter and Jelly Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

This flavor may be a little more experimental for some. If you think of cottage cheese as being a lot like yogurt, that might help you imagine how this combo tastes. Cottage cheese is like yogurt, minus the acidity, so it actually tastes creamier. It goes great with both sweet (jam) and savory (PB) flavors. The oats in this bowl will soak up the moisture as it’s stored, just like overnight oats, but you can also eat it immediately with the oats still dry. Banana would also be a great addition to this bowl!

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

Hearty oats, creamy cottage cheese, sweet jam, and rich peanut butter make a filling and delicious no-cook breakfast.

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese ($0.27)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats ($0.04)
  • 1 Tbsp jam (any flavor) ($0.05)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter ($0.08)
  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl or container. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container up to four days.


The Savory Bowl:

A glass bowl with cottage cheese, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper.

If you’re a savory breakfast lover, like me, you’ll LOVE this one. Tons of fresh crunchy vegetables, an extra dose of protein with the hard boiled egg, and a little cracked black pepper for good measure. It’s simple, delicious, and honestly, good any time of the day!

 

Savory Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

Creamy cottage cheese, fresh crunchy vegetables, an extra shot of protein from a hard boiled egg, and a little black pepper to kick things up make this easy, protein-filled breakfast!

  • 1 large egg ($0.23)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese ($0.27)
  • 6 grape tomatoes ($0.47)
  • 6 slices cucumber ($0.22)
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  1. Add one inch of water in a small sauce pot, place a lid on top, and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, carefully add the egg using either tongs or a slotted spoon. Replace the lid and let the egg steam for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and use the tongs or slotted spoon to transfer the egg to a bowl of ice water. Peal the egg once it is cool enough to handle. (If meal prepping these bowls, peel the eggs daily.)

  2. Add the cottage cheese, tomatoes (sliced or whole), sliced cucumber, peeled egg, and some black pepper to a bowl. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container up to four days.


Blueberry Almond:

Cottage cheese, blueberries, sliced almonds, and honey in a glass meal prep container

This simple bowl is sure to be a hit with its familiar breakfast flavors. Again, this cottage cheese breakfast bowl is a lot like a yogurt parfait, but with cottage cheese swapped out for the yogurt. The little bit of honey drizzled on top makes the bowl so 👌👌👌. It almost tastes a little like blueberry cheesecake!

 

Blueberry Almond Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

Creamy cottage cheese, juicy blueberries, crunchy almonds, and a little drizzle of honey make a breakfast bowl that tastes surprisingly like blueberry cheesecake!

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese ($0.27)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (optional) ($0.03)
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries ($0.37)
  • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds ($0.25)
  • 1 tsp honey ($0.04)
  1. Add the vanilla extract to the cottage cheese and stir to combine. Top the cottage cheese with the blueberries, almonds, and honey. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container up to four days.


The Tropical Bowl:

Cottage cheese, pineapple, banana, and coconut in a glass meal prep container

This one is a little like ambrosia salad, minus the icky stuff like marshmallows and maraschino cherries. Haha! The creamy cottage cheese pairs so nicely with the sweet tropical fruit, it’s like they were made for each other! I suggest using frozen pineapple tidbits for this bowl, since you can save the leftovers without them going bad, and they tend to have a better texture than canned. Canned pineapple can be used, if needed. Just make sure to get pineapple canned in juice, not syrup.

 

Tropical Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

Creamy cottage cheese, sweet banana and coconut, plus tangy pineapple make a delicious and easy no-cook breakfast.

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese ($0.27)
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple tidbits ($0.10)
  • 1 Tbsp shredded coconut ($0.02)
  • 1/4 banana, sliced ($0.05)
  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl. If you plan to enjoy immediately, allow the pineapple to thaw before adding to the bowl. If you plan to store the breakfast bowl for later, the pineapple can be added frozen. Refrigerate the bowl in an air-tight container for up to four days.


Chocolate Peanut Butter

Chocolate flavored cottage cheese with peanut butter and granola in a glass bowl

Yes, you can make chocolate flavored cottage cheese! And I promise, it’s delish!! I added cinnamon granola to my chocolate peanut butter cottage cheese bowl, but you could do any flavor granola, or even plain rolled oats. Sliced banana would also go awesome with this one!

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls

A slightly sweetened chocolate flavored cottage cheese makes the base for this decadent high protein no-cook breakfast.

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese ($0.27)
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder ($0.02)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract ($0.03)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter ($0.08)
  • 1/4 cup granola ($0.18)
  1. Add the cocoa powder, brown sugar, and vanilla to the cottage cheese and stir to combine. The cocoa may not blend in completely immediately, but it will after it sits a few moments and the powder hydrates.

  2. Add the flavored cottage cheese to a bowl and top with granola and a drizzle of peanut butter. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to four days.


So how about you? Do you like this slightly unpopular ingredient? If so, share your favorite way to eat cottage cheese in the comments below!

Six glass bowls with different flavors of cottage cheese breakfast bowls inside.

Want more breakfast meal prep? Check out our Breakfast Meal Prep Category!

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Top 20 Recipes of 2019 https://www.budgetbytes.com/top-20-recipes-of-2019/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/top-20-recipes-of-2019/#comments Sun, 29 Dec 2019 16:46:47 +0000 https://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=47009 It’s that time of year again! Time to look back and reflect on everything that happened. I like to do an end of the year round up my favorite recipes so you can browse the best of the best in one place and make sure that you don’t miss out on anything delicious! This list […]

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It’s that time of year again! Time to look back and reflect on everything that happened. I like to do an end of the year round up my favorite recipes so you can browse the best of the best in one place and make sure that you don’t miss out on anything delicious! This list of top 20 recipes of 2019 are my absolute favorites from this year, recipes that made me say, “WOW.” Recipes that I think you should put on your list ASAP!

And feel free to share your favorites in the comments below. I know we all have different tastes, so if there is a recipe that you think is an absolute must have, we want to know!

Best Budget Bytes Recipes of 2019

Close up of Cilantro lime chicken with title text overlay

(in chronological order)

1. Easy Cauliflower and Chickpea MasalaThis runaway hit is loved by meat eaters and vegetarians alike! The super flavorful and creamy sauce is absolutely to die for, and it’s easy to make vegan with one simple ingredient swap.

A bowl of creamy Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala being eaten with a spoon and two pieces of naan on the side.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala

This super easy, ultra creamy, and heavily spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala will be your new favorite weeknight dinner! So much flavor, so little effort. 
Go to the recipe >>>

2. Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Herby Kale Mashed PotatoesAnother hit from last January’s Vegetarian Challenge, this super hearty vegetarian dinner meal preps well and will not leave your taste buds disappointed!

Close up of a bowl of Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Herby Kale Mashed Potatoes

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Herby Kale Mashed Potatoes

These Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Herby Kale Mashed Potatoes are a vegetarian meal that will please any "meat and potatoes" style meal lover. 
Go to the recipe >>>


3. Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad – I absolutely LOVE this salad because you can actually freeze it! How many other salads can you freeze?? Not to mention it makes a great base for bowl meals and is also great stuffed into a tortilla as a wrap (with a little ranch dressing). Super versatile!

A bowl of Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad on a teal napkin.

Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

This Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad holds up well in the refrigerator for days, making it perfect for meal prep or brown bagging your lunch. 
Go to the recipe >>>


4. Creamy White Bean and Spinach Quesadillas – I love an easy quesadilla. This one is super creamy, cheesy, and flavorful, plus there is minimal chopping and cooking. P.S. there is a version with chicken, too (Creamy Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas)!

Close up of a plate full of creamy white bean and spinach quesadillas with a dish of red salsa

Creamy White Bean and Spinach Quesadillas

Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, these insanely delicious Creamy White Bean and Spinach Quesadillas make an awesomely fast weeknight dinner. 
Go to the recipe >>>


5. Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad – Ever wonder what you should do with your leftover green onions, parsley, and cilantro? THIS IS IT. This super yummy salad is a great filling vegetarian dish that can be scooped up with crackers or stuffed into a pita or wrap for lunch. So fresh, so good.

A hand grabbing a stack of two halves of a Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad sandwich on wheat bread.

Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad

Light, bright, and full of spring flavors, this Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad will keep you full all afternoon. Serve as a sandwich, wrap, or salad! 
Go to the recipe >>>


6. Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken – If you’re as crazy about cilantro and lime as I am, you’ll love this super fast skillet chicken. The flavors are vibrant, fresh, and bold. Pair it with a couple of simple sides like beans and rice and your dinner is DONE.

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

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! 
Go to the recipe >>>


7. Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets – This one actually surprised me. I’ve never been a huge chicken nugget fan, but I pretty much crave these daily! Add a couple dipping sauces, some fresh vegetables, and you’ve got an awesome little meal.

A basket full of Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and a small dish of ranch.

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. 
Go to the recipe >>>


8. Honey Mustard Sauce – Speaking of dipping sauces for the chicken nuggets, this homemade Honey Mustard Sauce is TO DIE FOR. Like, I wanted to just eat it with a spoon. But broccoli florets work well, too. ;)

Honey Mustard Sauce dripping off a spoon into a bowl

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!
Go to the recipe >>>


9. Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Peanut Lime Dressing – I never expected sweet potatoes to taste so good with peanut lime dressing, but the combo is absolutely magical! This is one of those side dish appetizer type recipes that will accidentally become your whole meal because you won’t be able to stop.

A wooden plate full of baked sweet potato fries drizzled with peanut lime dressing and topped with cilantro, peanuts, and red pepper.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Peanut Lime Dressing

Oven baked sweet potato fries drizzled with homemade peanut lime dressing, piled high with fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, and a pinch of spicy red pepper.
Go to the recipe >>>


10. Cold Peanut Noodle Salad – I was really crushing on the peanut lime dressing this year! This amazing veggie-filled pasta salad is definitely one of my top 3 recipes of the year. It makes an amazing meal prep and is just soooo delish. Basically, it’s everything I want in a recipe.

Peanut Lime Dressing being poured onto a bowl of Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

This Cold Peanut Noodle Salad with homemade peanut lime dressing is the perfect meal prep for summer! No reheating necessary.
Go to the recipe >>>


11. Luscious Homemade Lemon Curd – Ohhh-emmmm-geeee. This stuff tastes like velvet sunshine. Need I say more? Well yes, let me also say that it’s awesome on strawberry or blueberry shortcakes (and yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, waffles, English muffins, cakes, etc.). 

Overhead view of homemade lemon curd in a jar with a small silver butter knife stuck inside, lemon slices on the side.

Luscious Homemade Lemon Curd

This luscious homemade lemon curd only takes four simple ingredients, about 10 minutes, and tastes like velvet sunshine in a jar.
Go to the recipe >>>


12. Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils – Easy dinners are always appreciated in my house. And the fact that this one is vegan and still super filling makes it an instant favorite of mine. Plus, so much fiber. And we can all use more fiber, right??

A hand dipping a piece of naan into the Creamy Coconut Curried Lentils with Spinach on a plate with curry roasted carrots

Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils with Spinach

These rich, creamy, and earthy Coconut Curry Lentils are an easy and delicious vegan option for dinner or weekly meal prep!
Go to the recipe >>>


13. Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad – It’s that magic honey mustard sauce at it again… That sweet-salty-creamy-tangy dressing pairs perfectly with the slight bitterness of raw broccoli, plus crunchy almonds, tart dried cranberries, and savory red onions. If you think you don’t like broccoli, I challenge you to try this salad.

Front view of a bowl of Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad with a black fork and spoon in the side of the bowl.

Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad

This crunchy, sweet, tangy, and creamy Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad only takes minutes to makes the perfect summer side dish.
Go to the recipe >>>


14. Balsamic Vinaigrette – After several people commented that the dressing from this Tomato Mozzarella Pasta Salad was the best dressing they’ve ever eaten, I decided to post the dressing on its own because you really will want to just pour it on everything. 

A spoon lifting some homemade balsamic vinaigrette out of a small bowl

Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

This super simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette is perfect for all your green salads and pasta salads and has several options for customizing!
Go to the recipe >>>


15. Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen – Who knew that adding coconut milk to ramen could be so magical?? This is by far the best ramen hack I’ve ever come across. It’s creamy, savory, and absolutely divine. (Check out my other ways to upgrade instant ramen here.)

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of vegan creamy mushroom ramen with chopsticks lifting some noodles

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen

This incredibly simple Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen is a rich and flavorful 15 minute meal that only requires a handful of ingredients! 
Go to the recipe >>>


16. Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup – Soups have always been a favorite food of mine because they’re always just so easy, but this soup takes the cake. It’s ridiculously simple, yet so creamy and delicious. Just a few simple ingredients and a quick 30 minutes to a hearty and comforting winter meal.

A bowl of Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup with two pieces of toasted bread and a black spoon in the middle.

Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup

This incredibly easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup takes only eight simple ingredients to deliver a bowl full of rich, bold flavor.
Go to the recipe >>>


17. Maple Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie – I have to admit, this one kind of surprised me, too. Just two simple ingredient swaps on a traditional pumpkin pie recipe really takes it to the next level. Make sure to bookmark this one for next year’s Thanksgiving!

Overhead view of a Maple Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie with a slice cut out, on a plate on the side with whipped cream.

Maple Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie

This Maple Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie is the perfect special touch for your Thanksgiving dinner, without adding a lot of extra work or unusual ingredients.
Go to the recipe >>>


18. Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup – There’s not one, but two secret ingredients that make this tomato soup ultra rich and flavorful. All without any butter or cream, I might add! 100% vegan. 

Overhead view of secret ingredient tomato soup in a white bowl with black rim, and a black spoon.

Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup

This super thick, warm, and comforting tomato soup has two secret ingredients that make it rich and delicious without any dairy. 100% vegan!
Go to the recipe >>>


19. One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta – Who doesn’t love a rich and creamy pasta dish? And it’s even better when everything cooks in one pot. I think I would call this one the #1 weeknight dinner recipe of the year. 👌

Close up of one pot creamy pesto chicken pasta in a shallow bowl with a black fork.

One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta

This super lush and Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta is perfect for busy weeknights. Everything cooks in one pot and is done in under 30 minutes! 
Go to the recipe >>>


20. Classic Baked Ziti – And last but not least, the ultimate comfort food, Baked Ziti. This casserole is super rich, cheesy deliciousness. And so much easier than layering lasagna! 😅

Close up of a wooden spoon in the casserole dish full of baked ziti

Classic Baked Ziti

Like a freeform lasagna, this Baked Ziti has layers of pasta, homemade red sauce with Italian sausage, and three types of melty cheese!
Go to the recipe >>>


And it would be just silly if I didn’t mention one of the best things to happen this year: Budget Bytes Meal Plans! If your goal for 2020 is to get organized and efficient, check out our 4-week dinner plans, complete with 6 dinner recipes per week, grocery lists, and suggestions for using up leftover ingredients! 

Yellow banner ad for Budget Bytes Meal Plans

 

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Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot https://www.budgetbytes.com/spinach-artichoke-wonderpot/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/spinach-artichoke-wonderpot/#comments Sun, 22 Dec 2019 15:37:19 +0000 http://www.budgetbytes.com/?p=18600 What is a Wonderpot? It’s a pasta dish that cooks all in one pot (a.k.a. One Pot Pasta) with vegetables, aromatics (garlic, onion), and broth so that every bite is packed with flavor. The broth and pasta create a rich saucy gravy in the pot that coats everything in wonderful flavor. This Spinach and Artichoke […]

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What is a Wonderpot? It’s a pasta dish that cooks all in one pot (a.k.a. One Pot Pasta) with vegetables, aromatics (garlic, onion), and broth so that every bite is packed with flavor. The broth and pasta create a rich saucy gravy in the pot that coats everything in wonderful flavor. This Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot is like, the easiest, tastiest “dinner in 30 minutes” meal! 

Originally posted 10-17-2013, updated 12-22-2019

Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot (One Pot Pasta)

A red Dutch oven full of Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot, with feta and spinach leaves on the sides

Use Fresh or Frozen Spinach

The original version of this recipe used frozen spinach, but the price of fresh spinach has come down tremendously in the past six years, so I was able to remake this with fresh spinach for about the same price as frozen. Fresh spinach has a much better texture, but frozen is still an option if you have that on hand or can’t get fresh spinach for a decent price.

Whether using fresh or frozen spinach, it can be added to the recipe at the same point—after the pasta has cooked. Frozen spinach is added to the pasta without thawing, and the heat of the pasta quickly thaws the spinach as it’s stirred in.

What Kind of Artichokes Should I use?

You can use artichoke hearts packed in a brine or marinated in oil. Either will work just fine. I usually find the kind packed in a brine in a can to be a little more affordable.

A shallow bowl full of Spinach and Artichoke One Pot Pasta with spinach and feta on the sides.

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

Yes, you can use a different type of pasta, just be aware that different shapes may need different amounts of broth to cook properly, so you’ll have to adjust the recipe slightly. You can do this as the pasta cooks, adding more broth if it becomes dry before the pasta is tender, or allowing the pasta to boil without a lid if it’s too brothy when the pasta is nearly cooked through.

Can I Freeze the Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot?

Yes, you can freeze this dish, just be aware that the pasta may soften further through the freeze and reheat cycles. The best option for reheating would be in the microwave, first on the defrost setting, then high once it has loosened enough to stir.

Love One Pot Pastas? Check out my entire category of One Pot Meals for more!

 

Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot (One Pot Pasta)

This delicious and simple Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot is a One Pot Pasta that takes less than 30 minutes to make and is packed with vegetables.

  • 8 oz. mushrooms ($1.69)
  • 1 13 oz. can artichoke hearts ($2.59)
  • 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
  • 1 small yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth ($0.65)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 12 oz. fettuccine ($0.82)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 4 oz. fresh or frozen spinach ($0.65)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.05)
  • 3 oz. feta (optional) ($2.19)
  1. Rinse the mushrooms to remove any dirt or debris, then slice them thinly. Drain the can of artichoke hearts and roughly chop them into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the onion and garlic (you can mince the garlic and dice the onion if you don't like large pieces).

  2. Place the vegetable broth, olive oil, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, onions, and garlic in a large pot. Break the fettuccine in half and add it to the pot along with the oregano, thyme, and some freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Push the ingredients down under the broth as much as possible. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a rolling boil over high heat.

  3. As soon as it reaches a boil, stir the pot to evenly distribute the ingredients and prevent the pasta from sticking. Turn the heat down to low so that the pot is simmering. Allow the pot to simmer, with the lid on, stirring every couple of minutes, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Make sure the broth is simmering the entire time, turning the heat up slightly, if needed, to maintain a simmer.

  4. Once the pasta is cooked through, add the spinach and stir it into the pasta, allowing the heat to wilt the spinach (if using frozen, stir until the heat has thawed the spinach).

  5. Serve the pasta hot with a pinch of crushed red pepper and some crumbled feta on top, if desired).

If you use low sodium vegetable broth, you may want to season with a little salt at the end. Sometimes just a pinch of salt will help pronounce the flavors and prevent a bland finish.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up of Spinach and Artichoke One Pot Pasta on the plate being twirled around a fork

 

How to Make Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot – Step by Step Photos

Sliced onion mushrooms garlic and artichoke hearts

Start by prepping the veggies. Rinse and slice 8 oz. mushrooms. Drain a 13 oz. can of artichoke hearts and then just chop them up roughly so that they are in smaller, bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice one small onion and 4 cloves garlic. If you don’t want big garlic pieces, you can mince the garlic and dice the onion. 

Vegetable broth being poured into the pot with all the other inredients

Place the sliced onion, mushrooms, garlic, artichoke hearts, 12 oz. fettuccine, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, some freshly cracked black pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill), and 5 cups vegetable broth. If your pot is not big enough for the fettuccine to lay flat across the pot, I suggest breaking it in half first. My pot is quite wide, so I left it whole.

Ingredients pushed down in the pot below the broth

Push all of the ingredients down under the liquid as much as possible. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, give it a good stir, and reduce the heat to low. 

Cooked one pot pasta

Let it simmer on low, with the lid in place, stirring every couple of minutes, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Make sure the broth is simmering well the entire time, turning the heat up slightly if needed to maintain a simmer.

Fresh spinach added to the one pot pasta

Once the pasta is cooked, add 4 oz. fresh spinach and stir it into the pasta until the spinach has wilted. If using frozen spinach, stir it in until the heat from the pasta has thawed the spinach.

Finished spinach and artichoke one pot pasta

And then you suddenly have this! Amazing! Easy! Yum! It’s a WONDERPOT!

Sauciness in the bottom of the wonderpot

Take a closer look… see that yummy sauciness in the bottom of the pot? 👌

A pasta fork lifting pasta from the pot of Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot

Serve the Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot as is, or add a pinch of crushed red pepper and some crumbled feta. It’s also pretty good with Parmesan!

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