Simple Kale Salad

Kale salad. Those two words may not be that exciting to you, but please give this kale salad a chance. It is one of my very favorite recipes. I make it ALL of the time. It is my go to salad for an easy lunch, to serve with dinner, or to take to a potlu…

Kale salad. Those two words may not be that exciting to you, but please give this kale salad a chance. It is one of my very favorite recipes. I make it ALL of the time. It is my go to salad for an easy lunch, to serve with dinner, or to take to a potluck.…

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Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Let the slow cooker do all the work for you when you make this big batch of freezer-friendly homemade spaghetti sauce.

The post Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’ve made a few variations of pasta sauce over the years, but this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is definitely one of my favorites. The long slow simmer caramelizes the sugars in the tomatoes and creates a depth of flavor that can’t be matched. Plus, what more could you ask for than to just throw some ingredients in a pot, forget about it for 8 hours, and then come back to a rich, delicious homemade sauce? Then you can divide the sauce into portions, freeze, and you’ll have delicious homemade pasta sauce on hand for quick busy weeknight dinners.

Originally posted on 11/4/2011, updated 1/12/2022.

Pasta sauce in a slow cooker with a spoon, garnished with parsley

Why make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce?

Pasta sauce can be bought premade really cheaply, so I think in a lot of cases it does make sense to just buy a jar and go with it. But if you want to have a little more control over the quality and ingredients of your pasta sauce while still keeping costs low, this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is a great option. 

What Size Slow Cooker to Use

This recipe makes about 2 quarts of sauce, so I would suggest using a 3 quart or larger slow cooker. You don’t need anything fancy, just a very basic slow cooker with basic functions like warm, low, and high. I do find that slow cookers made with a thick ceramic insert (or “crock”) cook much more evenly than metal inserts, like you’d have when using the slow cooker function on an Instant Pot.

Why Add Balsamic Vinegar?

The balsamic vinegar in this recipe adds a subtle depth and brightness to the sauce. It can seem strong at first, but it mellows out as the sauce is cooked. If you’re not a fan of balsamic vinegar or just don’t have any on hand, this recipe will still make a really amazing sauce even if you leave it out.

Can I Add Meat?

I’ve tried this sauce before with ground beef and I found the cook time to be far too long for the ground beef, so if you do want to add meat I suggest browning it separately and then just stirring it into the sauce after cooking. You can also check out my quick Weeknight Pasta Sauce for an easy and flavorful meat sauce option.

How to Freeze Pasta Sauce

This recipe makes about 7 cups. I suggest dividing the sauce into two or three cup portions before freezing so you can take out just enough for one recipe at a time to thaw. Let the spaghetti sauce cool completely in the fridge, then transfer to freezer-safe containers to freeze. The sauce will stay good in the freezer for about three months, but this can vary depending on the conditions in your freezer. If you use quart-sized freezer bags and freeze them laying flat they stack nicely in the freezer without taking up much space. 

You can thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight or just cut the bag away from the frozen sauce, place it in a saucepot, and heat over medium-low until it’s heated through (stir occasionally).

This sauce goes great with Homemade Meatballs (also freezer-friendly)!

A plate of pasta covered in sauce with bread on the side

Pasta sauce in a slow cooker garnished with parsley

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Let the slow cooker do all the work for you when you make this big batch of freezer-friendly homemade spaghetti sauce.
Course Dinner, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $4.40 recipe / $0.63 per cup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 7 cups
Calories 77kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 2 28oz. cans crushed tomatoes $2.00
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste $0.69
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil $0.30
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.03
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar $0.14
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.40
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.05

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Place both in a 3 quart or larger slow cooker.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and butter to the slow cooker. Stir everything together well.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.
  • After cooking, give it a good stir, then add salt to taste. Start with just ½ tsp of salt and add more if needed (I added 1 tsp). Use the sauce immediately, refrigerate, or freeze for later.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 393mg | Fiber: 1g

Homemade pasta sauce being spooned over a plate of spaghetti

How to Make Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce – Step By Step Photos

Onion and garlic in slow cooker

Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic. Add both to a 3 quart or larger slow cooker.

Tomatoes added to slow cooker

Add 2 28oz. cans of crushed tomatoes and one 6oz. can of tomato paste to the slow cooker.

Seasonings added to the slow cooker

Also add 1 Tbsp dried basil, 1.5 tsp dried oregano, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 4 Tbsp butter to the slow cooker. 

Sauce ingredients being stirred together before cooking

Give the ingredients a good stir until they’re evenly incorporated.

Simmered pasta sauce in the slow cooker

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours. After cooking, it will look a little like the photo above (the white is just the milk fats from the butter). Give it a good stir.

Finished pasta sauce in the slow cooker garnished with parsley

Add salt to the sauce to taste. Start with ½ teaspoon and add more until the flavors pop. I ended up using one teaspoon total. 

Side view of pasta sauce in the slow cooker

Use the slow cooker spaghetti sauce immediately or refrigerate then freeze for long-term storage.

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Easy Spinach Salad

Whenever I want a GOOD salad but don’t have a lot of time, I turn to this Easy Spinach Salad recipe. It is a family favorite, I probably make it at least once a week. The salad starts with fresh spinach leaves and then gets lots of goodies: apple…

Whenever I want a GOOD salad but don’t have a lot of time, I turn to this Easy Spinach Salad recipe. It is a family favorite, I probably make it at least once a week. The salad starts with fresh spinach leaves and then gets lots of goodies: apple slices, candied pecans, avocado, red onion,…

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Sweet Potato Lentil Salad

I love a salad that is full of goodies and this Sweet Potato Lentil Salad has all of my favorites in one big bowl! This hearty and healthy salad is made with roasted sweet potatoes, lentils, kale, red onion, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. The sala…

I love a salad that is full of goodies and this Sweet Potato Lentil Salad has all of my favorites in one big bowl! This hearty and healthy salad is made with roasted sweet potatoes, lentils, kale, red onion, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. The salad gets tossed in a simple balsamic maple mustard dressing…

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Easy Caprese Pizza

Creamy mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil, and a light drizzle of tangy balsamic glaze make this easy Caprese pizza phenomenal!

The post Easy Caprese Pizza appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s a little tasty treat that I’ve been making for myself lately, super easy Caprese Pizza! They’re quick, light, and fresh, which is a nice change of pace sometimes in the middle of all of fall and winter. Plus, they just kind of feel extra special on a weeknight or night spent at home. So the next time you have a pizza and movie night, try making these cute little Caprese Pizzas. The night will feel extra special without a ton of extra work!

Balsamic reduction being drizzled over the caprese pizza

What is Caprese Pizza?

Caprese pizza is a pizza based on the flavors of Caprese Salad, fresh tomato, mozzarella, and basil. While balsamic glaze is not usually part of caprese salads, the flavor goes beautifully with these ingredients and just adds a something a little extra special to the pizza’s flavor (not to mention that stunning color contrast!).

Do I Need Fresh Basil?

Yes and no. The fresh basil really changes the entire flavor personality of these pizza, so if you leave it out you’ll be missing a LOT. That being said, I would never turn down melted cheese on bread of any kind, so if I couldn’t get the fresh basil for some reason I would still totally make this pizza. You can sprinkle it with dried basil if you want, but just be aware that the flavor of fresh basil compared to dried basil is completely different.

Can I Make a Whole Caprese Pizza instead of Minis?

Yes, this is super easy to make as a whole pizza instead of mini individual pizzas. Just use your favorite pizza dough or store-bought pre-baked crust. Baking time will be slightly longer, since they’re larger, but just keep an eye on them and bake until the cheese is melted. Since you don’t really want the mozzarella to brown at all on this pizza, I would definitely par-bake any raw pizza crust first and then add the cheese and tomatoes later rather than adding all the toppings to the raw dough like you normally would.

What to Serve with Caprese Pizza

The beauty of this pizza is that it is incredibly simple, so I would stick with a very simple side dish as well, like a Simple Side Salad. Keep it light and fresh with delicate greens, a light vinaigrette dressing, and maybe just one or two extra vegetables, like artichoke hearts or olives. And then maybe some Garlic Bread on the side, too, because garlic bread goes with everything. ;)

four mini caprese pizzas on a baking sheet
Balsamic reduction being drizzled onto a mini caprese pizza

Easy Caprese Pizzas

Creamy mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil, and a light drizzle of tangy balsamic glaze make this easy Caprese pizza phenomenal!
Total Cost $5.47 recipe / $1.37 each
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 235kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Balsamic Glaze

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar $1.08
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.08

Caprese Pizzas

  • 4 mini naan $2.00
  • 2 Roma tomatoes $0.52
  • 4 oz. mozzarella, shredded $0.83
  • 4 fresh basil leaves $0.90
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper $0.05

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. To make the balsamic glaze, add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepot. Place over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Allow the vinegar to come up to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Place the mini naan on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pre-bake the naan for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Slice each Roma tomato into eight slices. Place 1/4 of the shredded mozzarella and four slices of tomato on each piece of naan.
  • Bake the topped pizzas in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubby.
  • While the pizzas are in the oven, thinly slice the basil. Top each pizza with a pinch of salt and pepper, a little fresh basil, and a drizzle of the balsamic glaze just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pizza | Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 410mg | Fiber: 1g
Close up side view of a caprese pizza

How to Make How to Make Caprese Pizza – Step by Step Photos

mini naan in the package

I used this mini inidividual-sized naan from Aldi as my pizza base, but you could use a regular size naan, or your favorite pizza crust or dough instead. You could even par-bake a tortilla until stiff and use that!

balsamic glaze being stirred

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. While the oven is preheating, make the balsamic glaze. Add ½ cup balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp brown sugar to a small saucepot and stir to dissolve the brown sugar. Heat the mixture over medium, allowing it to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down slightly and allow it to continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced in volume by half (about ten minutes). It will appear slightly thicker, but it will fully thicken upon cooling.

four naan on a parchment lined baking sheet

Once the oven is hot, place four pieces of naan on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then pre-bake for about 5 minutes just to get them heated through. If you want to be *extra special* you can lightly brush your naan with olive oil and sprinkle a little garlic powder over top.

Prepped pizza toppings on a cutting board

While the naan are preheating, you can prepare the toppings. Slice two Roma tomatoes into eight slices each so that you’ll have four slices of tomato per mini-pizza. Shred 4oz. mozzarella, and thinly slice about four basil leaves (you can wait to do the basil while the topped pizzas are in the oven, if you run out of time).

Topped pizzas on the baking sheet

Once the naan is heated, top each pizza with four slices of fresh tomato and ¼ of the shredded mozzarella (I put mozzarella under the tomatoes and then just a pinch on top as well).

baked caprese pizzas

Bake the caprese pizzas again for about 7 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted and beginning to bubble a bit. You don’t really want the cheese to brown for this one as we’re trying to keep things light and fresh.

Balsamic glaze being drizzled over the pizzas

Add a pinch of salt and pepper to each pizza, then drizzle the balsamic reduction over top.

finished caprese pizzas topped with fresh basil

And finally, top the pizzas with the sliced basil and enjoy!

four finished caprese pizzas on a baking sheet

These little homemade pizzas will make you feel ✨so fancy✨!

The post Easy Caprese Pizza appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Homemade Balsamic Glaze

A simple homemade balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction is super easy to make and tastes great drizzled over vegetables, meat, and more!

The post Homemade Balsamic Glaze appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I really try my hardest not to have 50 different bottles of sauces and condiments in my fridge and pantry, so I stock up on the basics and try to make my own sauces whenever possible. A simple balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction is one of those sauces that is SUPER easy to make at home. Yes, you can buy it premade in the store, but it only takes a few ingredients and maybe 15 minutes to make at home. So it makes sense to just whip some up as needed instead of having that extra bottle hanging around!

Balsamic glaze dripping off a spoon into a small bowl

What is a Balsamic Glaze?

A balsamic glaze, sometimes called a balsamic reduction, is balsamic vinegar that has been simmered until a majority of the water content has evaporated away, leaving a thick, syrupy glaze. It’s slightly sweet, tangy, and tastes great drizzled over all sorts of things like roasted vegetables, meat, pasta, pizza, and more.

For this balsamic glaze recipe, I added a little brown sugar to balance the acidity and help it thicken faster, but you can skip the sugar if you prefer a balsamic glaze with more of an acidic punch. You can also add a pinch of salt to your glaze, if you prefer. Depending on how I’m using it, I find that sometimes salt can help make it pop just a bit more. If you want your balsamic glaze to be extra rich, you can melt a tablespoon of butter into the glaze after simmering.

What Kind of Balsamic Vinegar to Use

Since the flavors of the balsamic vinegar are going to be intensified, I would not suggest going with the absolute cheapest vinegar available. A good place to start is to make sure the label says “balsamic vinegar of Modena”. Here’s a great article from the Huffington Post about choosing balsamic vinegar, if you want to dive deeper. Lately, I’ve been loving Colavita brand balsamic vinegar because it seems to have a good flavor and is priced low enough for every dayuse.

How Much Glaze Does it Make?

This recipe makes about a ½ cup of glaze. You can make a half batch if you just need a little bit of glaze for a couple of servings. The method will be the same, but the simmer time may be slightly shorter. You can keep the leftover glaze in a closed container in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

How to Use Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic glaze is great drizzled over roasted vegetables, like Roasted Brussels Sprouts, or roasted meat like Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin. It’s also great over fresh produce like salads, sliced tomatoes, or Bruschetta. This week, I used it on some Caprese pizzas (recipe coming this week!).

Balsamic glaze being drizzled onto a Caprese pizza
Balsamic glaze dripping off a spoon into a small dish, basil leaves all around

Homemade Balsamic Glaze

A simple homemade balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction is super easy to make and tastes great drizzled over vegetables, meat, and more!
Total Cost $2.32 recipe / $0.58 serving
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 2 Tbsp each
Calories 108kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar $2.16
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar $0.16

Instructions

  • Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepot. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • Bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced in volume by about half. This should take around ten minutes, but the total time can vary depending on your cookware and burner. You'll know it's done when the simmering bubbles linger on the surface of the vinegar instead of immediately popping.
  • Remove the glaze from the heat and allow it to cool. It will thicken considerably more as it cools. If it isn't to your desired thickness, you can simmer the glaze again to further reduce.
  • Once cool, drizzle the glaze over your favorite foods and enjoy! Refrigerate leftovers until ready to use.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 108kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 19mg

How to Make Balsamic Glaze – Step by Step Photos

Balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepot

Add ¼ cup brown sugar and 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a small saucepot.

balsamic glaze being stirred

Stir the vinegar to dissolve the brown sugar. Heat the mixture over medium, allowing it to come up to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by half. You’ll notice that as the vinegar gets thicker the bubbles from simmering take a little longer to pop on the surface.

Finished balsamic glaze on a spoon over the pot

When the volume has reduced by half, remove the balsamic reduction from the heat. It will continue to thicken quite a bit as it gets closer to room temperature. If it doesn’t get as thick as you’d like, you can just simmer the glaze again.

Balsamic glaze being drizzled over a Caprese pizza close up

Drizzle the balsamic glaze over your favorite vegetables, pastas, salads, meat, and more!

The post Homemade Balsamic Glaze appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

This recipe was originally inspired by caprese salad! We wanted the classic tomato, basil, cheese trio married together with balsamic vinegar. However, we also wanted croutons in the mix (because bread!), so we ended up with an EPIC summer panzanella! …

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

This recipe was originally inspired by caprese salad! We wanted the classic tomato, basil, cheese trio married together with balsamic vinegar. However, we also wanted croutons in the mix (because bread!), so we ended up with an EPIC summer panzanella! The results were pretty stellar and we kept going back for seconds (and thirds). Even tomato haters are likely to fall for the classic flavors in this dish! Plus, just 10 ingredients and 30 minutes required.

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad from Minimalist Baker →

Crunchy Jicama Slaw (1 Bowl!)

We have big plans for summer, friends. Plans that include tacos (which are coming very soon and are totally swoon-worthy). And a taco isn’t a taco without delicious toppings, so we dreamt up a slaw using an often-underutilized vegetable that deserves s…

Crunchy Jicama Slaw (1 Bowl!)

We have big plans for summer, friends. Plans that include tacos (which are coming very soon and are totally swoon-worthy). And a taco isn’t a taco without delicious toppings, so we dreamt up a slaw using an often-underutilized vegetable that deserves some more love: jicama!

This slaw caught us off guard with how delicious, fresh, and versatile it is! It includes a unique pairing of lime and balsamic vinegar for an equal balance of brightness, acidity, and subtle sweetness (trust us — sounds weird, but it totally works).

Crunchy Jicama Slaw (1 Bowl!) from Minimalist Baker →

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Strawberry Dressing

Strawberry season is my favorite season. I love red, juicy, sweet strawberries. They are one of my very favorite fruits. During strawberry season, I make as many strawberry recipes as I can: strawberry shortcake, strawberry scones, strawberry smoothies…

Strawberry season is my favorite season. I love red, juicy, sweet strawberries. They are one of my very favorite fruits. During strawberry season, I make as many strawberry recipes as I can: strawberry shortcake, strawberry scones, strawberry smoothies , and this Strawberry Spinach Salad. This is one of those salads that you will fall in…

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Caprese Sandwich

Picnic season is here! There’s never been a better time to picnic. We’ve enjoyed a lovely extended spring here in Kansas City. Our homegrown tomatoes won’t be…

The post Caprese Sandwich appeared first on Cookie and Kate.

vegetarian baguette sandwich recipe

Picnic season is here! There’s never been a better time to picnic. We’ve enjoyed a lovely extended spring here in Kansas City. Our homegrown tomatoes won’t be ready for a while, but I wanted to share my favorite picnic sandwich with you since I’m able to find great tomatoes at the store now.

This Caprese sandwich recipe is inspired by the classic Caprese salad. It features ripe red tomatoes and sliced fresh mozzarella with the most irresistible creamy basil sauce. For extra flavor, I also added a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a small handful of arugula.

Caprese sandwich ingredients

Sandwich all of that inside a crusty loaf of French baguette, and you will have a perfectly portable sandwich for picnics or road trips. Or, enjoy it at home for a quick meal from now through the end of tomato season this fall.

Just remember—the better the bread and the tomatoes, the better the sandwich!

Continue to the recipe...

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