“World’s Best” Mac & Cheese

I don’t know about you, but there are a few things I need to get off my chest. One is that I can’t think of any time when I don’t want Mac & Cheese. And two, long before the advent of the internet recipe (and food blogs), words like “world’s best” weren’t considered clickbait. They were a declaration by magazines, newspapers, and cookbooks that whatever…

I don’t know about you, but there are a few things I need to get off my chest. One is that I can’t think of any time when I don’t want Mac & Cheese. And two, long before the advent of the internet recipe (and food blogs), words like “world’s best” weren’t considered clickbait. They were a declaration by magazines, newspapers, and cookbooks that whatever dish that was being presented really was the best version they came up with.

Back in the day, when you said it, you meant it. (Even if, as everybody knows, there isn’t just one “best” way to cook or bake anything. Whatever exists, there’s always something that comes along that’s better, cheaper, faster, slower, etc.) But nowadays recipe headlines scream “Life-Changing Cauliflower,” or “Help! I can’t stop eating these Oreo-stuffed Red Velvet cupcakes,” or my least-favorite, “Top Ten Brownie Recipes…According to Amazon Reviews.” I’ve eaten a few life-changing foods in my life, and I’m not stuffing anything into something else and deep-frying it (unless it’s fried chicken stuffed with more fried chicken), nor do I have a lot of faith in a curated selection of anonymous online reviews.

Continue Reading “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese...

Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or a jumping off point for your own customization.

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I have several flavored macaroni and cheese recipes on Budget Bytes already, but I realized I didn’t have one single plain, classic homemade mac and cheese recipe. Like, nothing fancy or unique, just straight up creamy, comforting, cheesy goodness! So that’s what I have for you today. It’s a classic stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe made with a classic roux-based cheese sauce that will satisfy all of your cheesy pasta cravings. It’s amazingly delicious on its own, but I’ve also included a list of fun add-ins and other ways you can customize your mac and cheese and make it unique.

Overhead view of a bowl of mac and cheese with a fork

What Makes it Extra Cheesy?

For this extra cheesy homemade mac and cheese, I did use slightly more roux and added about 30% more cheese than I generally do to my simple stovetop mac and cheese recipes. And I’m not even sorry about it. The thicker sauce and extra cheese made this mac and cheese so lusciously creamy and cheesy that I couldn’t stop sneaking forkfuls between photographs. AND the best part is that it even stays smooth and creamy when reheated in the microwave. Mac and cheese heaven! 🙌

What is a Roux?

This classic stovetop mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux, which is a cooked mixture of flour and fat (in this case, butter). The roux thickens the sauce and helps the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce instead of clumping up as it melts. While there are ways to make a cheese sauce without a roux, taking this extra step definitely creates the creamiest, dreamiest cheese sauce for your mac and cheese.

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?

Cheddar is probably the most popular cheese for macaroni and cheese and sharp cheddar provides the most pronounced flavor. But if you want to experiment outside of the confines of cheddar, there are a ton of other cheeses that are great in macaroni and cheese! You can use one or a combination of cheeses to make your mac and cheese your own.

Here are some other cheeses that work great with macaroni and cheese:

  • Parmesan
  • Gruyere
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Parmesan
  • Chevre
  • Cream Cheese
  • Brie
  • Monterey jack or pepper jack

Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese

I know it’s convenient, but the anti-caking agents used in pre-shredded cheese will, without a doubt, affect the creaminess of your homemade mac and cheese. Or in a worst-case scenario, it will leave your sauce super grainy and chalky in flavor. Buy cheese in block form and take a few moments to grate it yourself. The cheese will not be as dried out and it will create a truly smooth and creamy sauce.

Side view of mac and cheese in a pot

What Else Can I Add to Mac and Cheese?

Here’s where mac and cheese can get really fun. In addition to changing the cheeses, you can switch up the herbs and spices, add in some veggies, or your favorite protein to make your own homemade mac and cheese creation. Here are some other fun ingredients to add to your mac and cheese:

  • Cooked chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Kimchi
  • Pesto
  • Sausage
  • Taco meat or taco seasoning
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sriracha
  • Peas
  • Tuna
  • Salsa
  • Rotel
  • Jalapeños
  • Sour cream
  • Cauliflower
  • Ham

Need Some Inspiration?

If the list of add-ins was a little too much to choose from, here are some other Macaroni and Cheese Recipes that I’ve already created that might help get you started:

Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot
Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot

Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or as a jumping off point for your own creation.
Total Cost $4.19 recipe / $1.05 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.25 cups each
Calories 610kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. macaroni $0.67
  • 3 Tbsp butter $0.30
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.84
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce* $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.03
  • 8 oz. block sharp cheddar, shredded $2.25

Instructions

  • Cook the macaroni according to the package directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • Place the butter, flour, and onion powder in a medium pot. Whisk and heat over medium until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Once bubbling, continue to whisk and cook for one minute.
  • After cooking the butter and flour roux, whisk in the milk. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk begins to gently simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy.
  • Turn the burner off. Season the white sauce with the salt and hot sauce.
  • Begin to add the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, whisking it in until completely melted before adding more. Continue until all of the cheese has been melted into the sauce. If the sauce becomes too cold to melt the cheese, place it back over low heat only briefly to continue melting the cheese. Overheating the sauce can cause it to break and become grainy.
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Serve the mac and cheese hot and enjoy!

Notes

*This amount of hot sauce does not make the macaroni and cheese spicy. It just  brightens the flavor a bit. You can also accomplish this with Dijon mustard (same amount).

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 610kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 32g | Sodium: 787mg | Fiber: 2g
side view of macaroni and cheese in a bowl with a fork

How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Shredded cheddar in a bowl

Start by shredding an 8oz. block of sharp cheddar. It’s very important to shred the cheese yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese. For more information on that, see the section above the recipe titled “Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese.”

boiled macaroni held above the pot with a pasta spoon

Next, boil 8oz. of macaroni according to the box directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander. (This is the Barilla elbow macaroni, which has a slightly unconventional elbow shape and texture.)

Butter flour and onion powder in the pot

You can start the cheese sauce either while the macaroni is boiling, or wait until it’s draining and just make it in the same pot to save on dishes. Add 3 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, and ½ tsp onion powder to the pot.

Roux being whisked in the pot

Place the pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Whisk the butter, flour, and onion powder together as the mixture begins to get bubbly and frothy. Cook and whisk for about one minute after it becomes bubbly.

Milk being poured into the pot

Whisk 2 cups of milk into the butter and flour roux. Continue whisking as the milk begins to heat (keep the pot over medium heat).

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

Allow the milk to come up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy. Turn the burner off at this point.

salt and hot sauce added to the white sauce

Season the sauce with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp hot sauce, or the seasonings of your choice (other great options are dry mustard, pepper, smoked paprika, pesto, etc.).

shredded cheddar added to the pot

Begin adding 8oz. shredded cheddar to the pot, one handful at a time, whisking until it is completely melted before adding more. If the sauce cools down too much to continue melting the cheese, you can put it over low heat briefly, but avoid allowing the sauce to simmer again. Overheating cheese sauces will cause them to break and become grainy and oily.

Finished cheese sauce dripping off the whisk

When all of the cheese is melted into the sauce, the cheese sauce is complete. You can give it a taste at this point and adjust the seasonings if you’d like. Remember, you want the sauce to be seasoned well because the flavor intensity will be diluted a bit once the macaroni is added.

Cooked macaroni being stirred into the cheese sauce

Add the cooked and drained macaroni back to the pot and stir to combine with the cheese sauce.

Finished mac and cheese in the pot

And that’s it! Your homemade mac and cheese is done. Don’t tell me you don’t want to dive right into that pot of mac and cheese and swim around a bit. 😂

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe

This baked mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and has the creamiest texture! It uses three different cheeses (cheddar, gruyere & parmesan) in the sauce for a delicious flavour and a breadcrumb topping for that crispy crust. Ingredients for mac &…

This baked mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and has the creamiest texture! It uses three different cheeses (cheddar, gruyere & parmesan) in the sauce for a delicious flavour and a breadcrumb topping for that crispy crust. Ingredients for mac & cheese Dry pasta – see below for more info but TLDR is …

The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe Read More »

The post The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe appeared first on Izy Hossack - Top With Cinnamon.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cheddar

Even if you know nothing about cheese, you’ve definitely heard of cheddar. As the most popular cheese in America, cheddar is a staple on cheese plates and sandwiches alike. Cheddar was first crafted in the 12th century, hailing from Cheddar Village in …

Even if you know nothing about cheese, you’ve definitely heard of cheddar. As the most popular cheese in America, cheddar is a staple on cheese plates and sandwiches alike. Cheddar was first crafted in the 12th century, hailing from Cheddar Village in Somerset, England. As a cow’s milk cheese, a young cheddar can be smooth in texture, while an aged cheddar can be a bit crumbly. Unlike Manchego and Parmigiano-Reggiano, two cheeses protected by DOP guidelines, cheddar can be made anywhere in the world.

“The thing that defines cheddar as cheddar is the actual cheesemaking process, not the flavors added to it,” says Anne Saxelby, founder of Saxelby Cheesemongers in Manhattan. “Most people don't know this, but cheddar is actually a noun and a verb—when cheddar cheese is made, the curds are cheddared.” Saxelby explains that this process involves cutting the curds into slabs, stacking them, flipping and restacking them, then milling them down into small pieces. “These small pieces are cheddar curds or ‘squeaky cheese,' which is usually served deep-fried or over poutine,” Saxelby adds.

Read More >>

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits is the perfect cozy meal for for crisp fall evenings, football games, and afternoons spent raking leaves.

The post BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits appeared first on Budget Bytes.

It’s officially cozy comfort food time! These BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits are the perfect mix of tangy BBQ sauce, juicy meatballs, and rich and creamy cheese grits to create all those cozy vibes. And if you’ve never had cheese grits before, definitely go check out my cheese grits blog post because they’re a delicious southern staple that can be topped with all sorts of delicious goodies. And today’s delicious goodies are BBQ meatballs. ;)

Overhead view of a bowl of cheese grits with bbq meatballs and collard greens

What to Serve with BBQ Meatballs and Cheese Grits

This is a pretty rich bowl of deliciousness on its own, so I highly suggest pairing it with something green to balance out the weight of the meal. I paired my BBQ Meatballs and Cheese Grits with Jerk Seasoned Collard Greens. The jerk seasoning pairs perfectly with the tangy BBQ sauce. You could also pair this dish with Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Vegetarian Mustard Greens, or Braised Red Cabbage.

Can I Use a Different Meat?

Yes, if you do not eat pork you can definitely substitute with a different type of ground meat. Ground beef or turkey will both work great for this recipe. I highly suggest using ground meat that has a slightly higher percent fat to keep the meatballs moist and tender.

What Kind of BBQ Sauce Do you Suggest?

I’m an equal opportunity BBQ sauce lover, so I don’t really have a favorite. For this particular dish, I’d probably go for something smoky or honey flavored, both of which will pair well with the cheddar cheese in the grits. I would probably avoid anything pineapple or teriyaki flavored.

If you want to try making your own BBQ sauce, check out my Homemade BBQ Sauce recipe.

A fork cutting into a bbq meatball on a bed of cheese grits
Overhead view of a bowl of cheese grits with bbq meatballs and collard greens

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits is the perfect cozy meal for crisp fall evenings, football games, and afternoons spent raking leaves.
Total Cost $7.74 recipe . /$1.94 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 841kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

BBQ Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground pork $3.49
  • 1 large egg $0.21
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs $0.07
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce, divided $0.54
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02

Cheese Grits

  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.26
  • 2 cups milk $1.25
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits $0.49
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.18
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar $1.15

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add the ground pork, egg, breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce, salt, smoked paprika, and garlic powder to a bowl. Use your hands to mix the seasoning into the pork until everything is well combined.
  • Divide and shape the pork mixture into 16 meatballs about the size of ping pong balls. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
  • While the meatballs are baking, prepare the cheese grits. Combine the chicken broth, milk, and garlic powder in a medium saucepot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching.
  • Once boiling, stir in the quick cooking grits and salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the grits simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and pepper. Next, stir in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the grits.
  • Once the meatballs have finished baking, add them to a clean bowl and pour the remaining BBQ sauce over top. Stir to combine. The heat from the meatballs will warm the BBQ sauce. If your BBQ sauce is cold from refrigeration, you may want to heat the meatballs and sauce in a saucepot over low for a few minutes.
  • To serve, place about one cup of the cheese grits in the bottom of a bowl. Top with four meatballs and some of the BBQ sauce. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 841kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 46g | Sodium: 2010mg | Fiber: 3g
side view of bbq meatballs and cheese grits in a bowl with collard greens

How to Make BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits – Step by Step Photos

meatball ingredients in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 1 lb. ground pork, 1 large egg, ¼ cup breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp smoked paprika, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper to a large bowl. Mix the ingredients together until well combined.

raw, shaped meatballs on the baking sheet

Divide and shape the pork mixture into 16 meatballs roughly the size of ping pong balls. Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Milk being poured into a pot with chicken broth

While the meatballs are baking, prepare the cheese grits. Add 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups milk, and ¼ tsp garlic powder to a medium sauce pot. Bring the liquid up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

grits being poured into the pot with the milk and broth

As soon as the liquid reaches a boil, stir in 1 cup quick cooking grits and ¼ tsp salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the grits simmer for about five minutes, or until thickened.

butter and pepper added to the grits

Remove the grits from the heat and stir in 2 Tbsp butter and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

Shredded cheddar being added to grits

Finally, stir in a handful of the shredded cheddar at a time until fully melted, repeating until all of the cheese has been added (1 cup total).

Baked meatballs on the baking sheet

Remove the baked meatballs from the oven and transfer them to a large bowl.

BBQ sauce coated meatballs in a bowl with a spatula

Pour the remaining BBQ sauce (about 1 cup) over the meatballs and stir to combine. The heat from the meatballs will warm the BBQ sauce. If your BBQ sauce was cold from refrigeration, you may want to do this in a sauce pot over low heat to help heat the sauce.

close up side view of bbq meatballs on cheese grits

To serve, place about 1 cup cheese grits in a bowl and top with 4 meatballs plus some of the sauce. Enjoy!

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Loaded Smashed Potatoes

These loaded smashed potatoes are boiled until tender and fluffy, baked until golden and crispy, and piled high with toppings!

The post Loaded Smashed Potatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Um, if you’ve never had smashed potatoes before, let this be a sign from the universe that you need to make them immediately. These tasty little taters are boiled until fluffy and tender on the inside, then smashed and baked until crispy on the outside. Then I went one step further (because of course I did) and loaded them up with my favorite baked potato fixins’. These Loaded Smashed Potatoes are everything I’ve ever wanted.

Close up of loaded smashed potatoes on the baking sheet

What Kind of Potatoes Work Best for Smashed Potatoes

I highly suggest splurging a little on small baby potatoes, the kind that are about the size of a golf ball. They cook quickly and have the perfect skin to flesh ratio to make these smashed potatoes just right. Plus, they are always so smooth and creamy on the inside.

Loaded Potato Topping Ideas

I kept my smashed potato toppings fairly simple because I like to work with what I have on hand. I seasoned with some Everything Bagel Seasoning, then topped with cheddar, sour cream, and green onion. Here are some other toppings you can try:

  • Bacon
  • BBQ Sauce
  • French Fried Onions
  • Pepperoni
  • Chili
  • Salsa
  • Jalapeños
  • Chopped Sweet Onion
  • Pesto
  • Blue Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Spinach Dip

Seasoning Substitutions

If you can’t find everything bagel seasoning at a store, here is a recipe for homemade everything bagel seasoning. Or, if you want to use something else, you could use Montreal Steak Seasoning (a similarly chunky seasoning mix), or maybe a little ranch seasoning (mix with the oil before brushing onto potatoes). Another option is to do a simple classic mix of garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

What to Serve with Smashed Potatoes

The classic flavors in these smashed potatoes go with so many different meals and they can add a fun twist to your usual “meat and potatoes” dinner. Try them with my Baked Chicken Drumsticks, Honey Mustard Chicken Wings, Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Easy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, or Homemade Chicken Nuggets. Or just serve them on their own as a snacky-snack for movie night or something. ;)

Side view of loaded smashed potatoes on a baking sheet
overhead view of loaded smashed potatoes on the baking sheet

Loaded Smashed Potatoes

These loaded smashed potatoes are boiled until tender and fluffy, baked until golden and crispy, and piled high with toppings!
Total Cost $4.97 recipe / $0.99 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5 4 potatoes each
Calories 276kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. baby potatoes $2.99
  • 2 tsp salt (for the boiling water) $0.05
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1/2 Tbsp everything bagel seasoning $0.15
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar $0.85
  • 1/3 cup sour cream $0.39
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.22

Instructions

  • Place the baby potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes by one inch. Add 2 tsp salt to the water.
  • Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are very tender. You can test the tenderness by piercing the potatoes with a fork. They need to be very tender so they smash easily.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the olive oil and everything bagel seasoning in a small bowl.
  • Drain the potatoes and let them cool for about few minutes, then transfer them to the baking sheet. Use a heavy-bottomed glass or a potato masher to smash each potato until it's relatively flat.
  • Brush the olive oil and seasoning over the surface of the smashed potatoes
  • Bake the smashed potatoes in the preheated 425ºF oven for about 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove the potatoes from the oven, then top with the shredded cheese. Return them to the oven for a few more minutes, or just until the cheese is melted.
  • Finally, top each potato with a tiny dollop of sour cream and sliced green onions, then serve!

Notes

*the sodium content listed below includes the salt added to the boiling water, most of which is discarded when the potatoes are drained.

Nutrition

Serving: 4potatoes | Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 1171mg | Fiber: 3g

How to Make Loaded Smashed Potatoes – Step by Step Photos

Baby potatoes in a pot with water

Place 1.5 lbs. baby potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover them by one inch. Also add 2 tsp salt to the water to season the potatoes as they cook. Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are very tender (test with a fork). Drain the potatoes in a colander.

Olive oil and everything bagel seasoning in a bowl

While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine 2 Tbsp olive oil and ½ Tbsp everything bagel seasoning in a small bowl.

boiled potatoes on the baking sheet being smashed with a glass

Transfer the drained potatoes to the baking sheet and use a heavy-bottomed glass to smash them until they’re sort of flattened.

Seasoned oil being brushed over the smashed potatoes

Brush the oil and seasoning over the surface of the smashed potatoes.

Baked smashed potatoes being topped with cheese

Bake the smashed potatoes in the preheated 425ºF oven for about 30 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and crispy on the edges. Then remove them from the oven and top with shredded cheese (about 1 cup total). Return them to the oven for a few more minutes to melt the cheese.

Final smashed potatoes topped with sour cream and green onion

Once the cheese is melted, remove them from the oven again and top each potato with a tiny dollop of sour cream, then sprinkle sliced green onions over top.

loaded smashed potatoes on a plate with a chicken drumstick

The post Loaded Smashed Potatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

This Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is rich, moist, and a little spicy. It’s perfect for pairing with your favorite soup or chili.

The post Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread appeared first on Budget Bytes.

As if cornbread wasn’t delicious enough on its own, I went ahead and stirred in a pile of shredded cheddar cheese and chopped jalapeño. Because why not? And since this Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is on the spicy side, I decided to go with a richer cornbread batter that includes sour cream and an extra egg to kind of balance the heat. The result is rich, cheesy, moist, and ✨spicy✨.

Two baskets of jalapeño cornbread pieces with whole jalapeños on the sides

How Spicy Is This Cornbread?

It’s pretty spicy. Despite scraping the seeds out of the jalapeño that is mixed into the batter, the heat still seems to permeate the cornbread pretty well. If you’re not into heat, you can certainly just make this a plain cheddar cornbread or stir in some mild diced green chiles in place of the jalapeño.

What Kind of Baking Dish Should I Usse?

I used a ceramic baking dish, but I’ve also tested the recipe using a glass baking dish, and they both worked great. An 8×8-inch square dish is probably the best size. You could also bake this in a 10-inch cast iron skillet, although you may want to preheat it just a bit before adding the batter.

Can I Make Them Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins?

Yes, just divide the batter equally between about ten wells of a muffin tin and bake at the same temperature. Because the muffins are smaller and have more surface area exposed to the heat, the baking time will be shorter. Just keep an eye on the muffins starting at about 20 minutes, and let them continue to bake until puffed in the center and golden brown around the edges.

How to Store Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Allow the cornbread to cool completely to room temperature and then store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Or, you can wrap it tightly in plastic, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze it for a few months. To thaw, simply let the cornbread sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or microwave for 30 seconds or so.

A piece of jalapeño Cornbread being lifted out of the baking dish
Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread half in the baking dish and half on a cooling rack

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

This Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is rich, moist, and spicy. It's perfect for pairing with your favorite soup or chili. 
Total Cost $3.19 recipe / $0.35 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 9 pieces
Calories 289kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp butter $0.04
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour $0.15
  • 1 cup cornmeal $0.38
  • 2 Tbsp sugar $0.04
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder $0.06
  • 3/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 4 oz. cheddar, shredded $1.00
  • 2 jalapeños $0.14
  • 1/2 cup sour cream $0.58
  • 1/2 cup milk $0.20
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil $0.16

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Use the butter to grease the inside of an 8×8 inch baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Remove the seeds from one of the jalapeños and finely dice it, then slice the second jalapeño into rounds. Add the diced jalapeño to the bowl with the flour, saving the sliced jalapeño to use as a topping.
  • Add about ¾ of the shredded cheddar to the bowl with the flour mixture, saving the remaining to use as a topping. Stir the diced jalapeño and shredded cheddar into the flour mixture until evenly combined.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, and oil.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is moist (it's okay if there are a few lumps).
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly. Top with the sliced jalapeños and the remaining shredded cheddar.
  • Bake the cornbread for about 35 minutes, or until the center has puffed up and the edges are golden brown.
  • Slice the cornbread into nine squares and serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 450mg | Fiber: 2g

Love cornbread? Try these other cornbread flavors: Sweet Potato Cornbread, Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet, Easy Homemade Cornbread (classic cornbread), or Hatch Chile Sweet Potato Cornbread.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread half in the baking dish and half on a cooling rack

How to Make Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread – Step by Step Photos

cornbread dry ingredients in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and use about 1 tsp butter to grease the inside of an 8×8-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, 3 tsp baking powder, and ¾ tsp salt.

Diced and sliced jalapeño on a cutting board

Remove the seeds from one jalapeño and then finely dice the pepper. Slice the second jalapeño into rounds. The diced jalapeño will go into the batter and the rounds will be used as a topping.

jalapeño and shredded cheddar added to the dry ingredients

Add the diced jalapeño and most of your 4oz. shredded cheddar cheese to the bowl with the dry ingredients (save about ¼ of the cheese to use as a topping). Stir the jalapeño and cheddar into the flour mixture.

Eggs oil and milk in a bowl with a whisk

In a separate bowl, whisk together ½ cup milk, 2 large eggs, and ¼ cup cooking oil.

Wet ingredients being poured into the bowl of dry ingredients

Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients.

stirred cornbread batter

Stir until everything is moist. Avoid over stirring. It’s okay if it’s a little lumpy.

cheddar being sprinkled on top of cornbread batter in the baking dish

Spread the cornbread batter into an 8×8-inch baking dish, then top with the sliced jalapeños. Finish by topping with the remaining shredded cheddar cheese.

baked jalapeño cheddar cornbread in the baking dish

Bake the cornbread in the preheated 400ºF oven for about 35 minutes or until the center is puffed and it’s golden brown around the edges.

Two baskets full of jalapeño Cornbread pieces

Slice the cornbread into nine pieces and serve warm with your favorite soup or chili!!

The post Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Cheese Grits

These cheese grits are extra rich, creamy, and flavorful. They make a hearty and comforting breakfast or a delicious side dish with dinner.

The post Cheese Grits appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I don’t know if you’ve experienced the warm fuzzy hug that is a bowl of cheese grits, but if not, allow me to introduce you to one of the most comforting, simple, and indulgent foods on the planet: cheese grits.

A pot full of cheese grits with a pat of butter, other breakfast items on the sides

What are Cheese Grits?

Grits are a simple porridge made with ground corn that can be prepared either sweet or savory and is often served for breakfast in the southern U.S. In addition to breakfast, grits also make a great starchy bed for saucy stewed meats, or a side dish for any meal. And Cheese grits are just grits that have been taken to the next level by stirring in a heap of rich, delicious cheese. They’re simple but so incredibly delightful.

Read more about grits here.

What Kind of Grits to Use

There are a few different types of grits you can buy at the store and you can make cheese grits with all of them. You can use either white or yellow grits without issue, although using yellow grits will give you a more vibrant cheesy color. I used white quick-cooking grits in the recipe below, but if you have regular grits you’ll just need to simmer them slightly longer (just follow the directions on the package).

Can I Use a Different Cheese?

Yes! There are so many delicious cheese options for cheese grits. You can do something like Parmesan, gruyere, chevre, Boursin, or even something like pepper jack. Basically, cheese and grits were made for each other.

How to Serve Cheese Grits

Cheese grits are awesome at breakfast (pictured here with eggs and sausage), but sometimes I’ll top them with a fried egg and some salsa. You can also top them with other savory delights, like saucy shrimp, beef brisket, BBQ beans, or just about any savory saucy dish.

cheese grits in a bowl topped with fried eggs and breakfast sausage
Cheese grits dripping off the serving spoon into the pot

Cheese Grits

These cheese grits are extra rich, creamy, and flavorful. They make a hearty and comforting breakfast or a delicious side dish with dinner.
Total Cost $3.39 recipe / $0.85 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 374kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.26
  • 2 cups milk $1.25
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits $0.49
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.18
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 4 oz. cheddar, shredded $1.15

Instructions

  • Combine the chicken broth, milk, and garlic powder in a medium sauce pot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching.
  • Once boiling, stir in the quick cooking grits and salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the grits simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and pepper.
  • Finally, stir in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the grits. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 20g | Sodium: 855mg | Fiber: 2g

Love savory breakfast foods? Check out our Savory Breakfast Recipes category.

Cheese grits dripping off the serving spoon into the pot

How to Make Cheese Grits – Step by Step Photos

Milk being poured into a pot with chicken broth

Combine 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups milk, and ¼ tsp garlic powder in a medium sauce pot. Place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat (stir occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching).

grits being poured into the pot with the milk and broth

Once boiling, stir in 1 cup quick cooking grits and ¼ tsp salt. Lower the heat to medium-low, and let the grits simmer for about five minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Thickened grits in the pot being stirred

It should be nice and thick like in the photo above. Once thickened, remove it from the heat.

butter and pepper added to the grits

Stir in 2 Tbsp butter and about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Shredded cheddar being added to grits

Stir in 4oz. of shredded cheddar cheese, one handful at a time, until it’s all melted into the grits.

finished cheese grits being stirred in the pot

And it’s done! Dreamy creamy cheese grits!

a pot of cheese grits surrounded by other breakfast items

The post Cheese Grits appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The Best Cheese for Cheeseburgers, Period

That Cheese Plate is a column by Marissa Mullen—cookbook author, photographer, and Food52’s Resident Cheese Plater. With Marissa’s expertise all things cheddar, comté, and crudité—plus tips for how to make it all look extra special, using stuff you pro…

That Cheese Plate is a column by Marissa Mullen—cookbook author, photographer, and Food52's Resident Cheese Plater. With Marissa's expertise all things cheddar, comté, and crudité—plus tips for how to make it all look extra special, using stuff you probably have on hand—we'll be crafting our own cheesy masterpieces without a hitch. This month, Marissa is sharing her thoughts on the best possible cheese to melt on a burger, inspired by the Absolute Best Tests column.


It was in 1934 that the term “cheeseburger” was first coined, on the menu at Kaelin’s restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. They topped a patty with American cheese in the hopes of adding a “new tang to the hamburger,” and this now-classic staple would soon appear everywhere from diners to backyards, all across the U.S. Over the years, the cheeseburger has morphed from its humble origins—sometimes so much that the folks at Kaelin’s probably wouldn’t recognize it as the same dish. Restaurants love to experiment with various toppings and condiments, from sautéed mushrooms and crispy onions to aioli and pickle relish, to transform the traditional cheeseburger into something new. At the core, however, the cheeseburger always relies on a ground beef base and gooey cheese topping.

Read More >>

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

Forget boring or bland baked chicken breasts, this BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken is going to be the star of your dinner plate.

The post BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I used to think chicken breasts were bland and boring, but then I changed how I approached them. Instead of seeing chicken breast as the main feature of a recipe, now I see them simply as the vehicle for the flavor in a recipe. In this BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken, the chicken breast is a filling base that carries the tangy BBQ sauce, creamy cheddar, zesty red onion, and fresh cilantro straight to your taste buds. When chicken breast is used like this, I’m ALL ABOUT IT.

Overhead view of BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken in a baking dish

Tips for Baking Chicken Breast

Successfully baking chicken breast can take a little know-how. If you want to avoid overcooked or dry chicken breast, here are a few tips:

  • Adjust baking time for the size of your chicken breast. Larger or thicker chicken breasts will take longer to cook (20-25 minutes), while thinner or smaller chicken breasts will take less time (15-18 minutes).
  • Use a mallet or rolling pin to gently pound the thick end of your chicken breasts to make the breast a more even thickness. This helps them cook quickly and evenly.
  • Use a meat thermometer for best results. Chicken breasts should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. The more it cooks beyond that point the more it will begin to dry out and become tough.
  • Let the chicken breast rest after baking. Make sure to let the chicken breast sit for 5-10 minutes after baking to reduce the steam pressure within the meat. This helps the juices stay in the meat once it’s cut, rather than escaping and leaving behind dry, tough meat.

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?

This recipe is best suited to boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Bone-in chicken takes much longer to cook through and you may find that the BBQ sauce begins to burn with those longer cook times.

What Kind of BBQ Sauce is Best?

For an inexpensive yet flavorful BBQ sauce, I usually go with Sweet Baby Ray’s, but I highly suggest using whatever brand BBQ sauce you like the best. And while just about any flavor BBQ sauce would work for this dish, I would lean toward something more on the savory or smoky side rather than a sweeter BBQ sauce.

What to Serve with BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

I served my BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken with some potato salad and a colorful bean salad (recipes coming next week), but I think it would also go great with Cowboy Caviar, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Cornbread, Summer Sweet Corn Salad, Spicy Sweet Potato Fries, or Green Chile Mac and Cheese.

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken on a plate with potato salad and bean salad, a fork grabbing a slice of chicken
close up of a fork taking a piece of bbq cheddar baked chicken off a plate

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

Forget boring or bland baked chicken breasts, this BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken is going to be the star of your dinner plate.
Total Cost $8.89 recipe / $2.22 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 320kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 pounds total) $7.58
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce $0.13
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar $0.85
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion $0.05
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro $0.09

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. If your chicken breasts are very thick or uneven in thickness, use a mallet or rolling pin to first pound them out to a more even thickness. Slice the chicken breasts in half, so you have four pieces.
  • Combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel, then sprinkle the seasoning mix over both sides of each piece of chicken.
  • Place the seasoned chicken pieces in a baking dish, then spoon 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce over top of each piece, spreading it from edge to edge to cover the chicken.
  • Bake the chicken in the preheated 400ºF oven for about 18 minutes (less for smaller or thinner pieces).
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and top each piece with shredded cheddar. Return the chicken to the oven and continue baking for five minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  • After baking the chicken, let the chicken rest for five minutes, then top with diced red onion and chopped cilantro just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 677mg | Fiber: 1g
bbq cheddar baked chicken being lifted out of the baking dish, viewed from the side

How to Make BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Pounded Chicken Breast

You’ll need two boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe, about 1.3 lbs. total. If your chicken breasts are very thick or a very uneven thickness, use a mallet or rolling pin to gently pound them to a more even thickness. This helps them cook more quickly and evenly. (Covering them with plastic helps keep everything clean as you pound.

Seasoned chicken breast

Pat the chicken breast dry, then cut each one in half so that you have four pieces. Combine 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Sprinkle the seasoning over all sides of the chicken pieces.

BBQ sauce being spread over chicken in a baking dish

Place 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce over each piece of chicken and spread it to cover the surface. Transfer the chicken to the preheated 400ºF oven and bake for about 18 minutes (a few minutes less for smaller or thinner chicken pieces).

Prepared toppings: red onion, cilantro, and cheddar

While the chicken is baking, prepare the toppings. Shred about 1 cup cheddar cheese, finely dice about ¼ cup red onion, and roughly chop ¼ cup cilantro.

Shredded cheese being added to the baked chicken

After baking for about 18 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and top the chicken with about 1 cup shredded cheese (about ¼ cup per piece of chicken). Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF.

Baked bbq chicken topped with red onion and cilantro

After baking, let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, then top with the diced red onion and chopped cilantro.

close up of a fork taking a piece of bbq cheddar baked chicken off a plate

Serve and enjoy!!

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