Quickie Red Beans and Rice

When you don’t have time to soak and boil dry beans, these Quickie Red Beans and Rice get you all the flavor in a fraction of the time.

The post Quickie Red Beans and Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Mardi Gras is definitely looking a little (okay, a lot) different this year, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t celebrating! I no longer live in New Orleans, but I still like to celebrate every year with a big pot of red beans and rice. I usually make a traditional pot of my Louisiana Style Red beans using dry beans, but I get so many questions about how to do it with canned beans that I decided to make this Quickie Red Beans and Rice recipe for those who just don’t have time to soak and cook dry beans. It’s not a traditional pot of red beans, but it’s faster, satisfying, and will make you wish you were watching parades and catching beads!

Overhead view of a pot of red beans with sausage, corn muffins on the side

You’ll Still Need a Little Time…

Okay, I’m calling these “quickie” red beans and rice, but they do still need a little time to cook and for all those delicious flavors to blend and develop. But we’re talking more like one hour instead of several hours, like a traditional pot of beans.

What Kind of Red Beans Should I Use?

I used dark red kidney beans for this recipe because that’s the only canned variety that was available when I was shopping. When I make a pot of red beans from dry beans, I prefer small red beans instead of kidney beans because they make a smoother, creamier pot of beans. I usually can’t find small red beans canned, so kidney beans are the next best option. You can use either light or dark kidney beans.

Are Red Beans and Rice Spicy?

You can make these red beans and rice either spicy or mild, according to your preference. If you prefer mild, make sure the sausage you get is not spicy and skip the cayenne pepper in the spices listed below. If you want your red beans to be spicy, use a spicy sausage and increase the cayenne pepper to your liking.

Make Your Red Beans Vegetarian

It’s super easy to make this recipe vegetarian or vegan. Just skip the sausage and use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. To make up for the richness of the pork fat that comes from the sausage, use coconut oil in place of the cooking oil listed below, and consider adding a couple extra tablespoons. This will make your red beans super rich and delicious! Here’s a link to my Vegan Red Beans made from dry beans.

Overhead view of a bowl of quickie red beans and rice with corn muffins on the side
Overhead view of a bowl of quickie red beans and rice with corn muffins on the side

Quickie Red Beans and Rice

When you don't have time to soak and boil dry beans, these Quickie Red Beans and Rice get you all the flavor in a fraction of the time.
Total Cost $8.02 recipe / $1.34 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 1.5 cups beans, 1 cup rice
Calories 603.18kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 14 oz. Andouille sausage* $2.99
  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 1 bell pepper $0.69
  • 3 ribs celery $0.25
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika $0.20
  • 1 tsp dried oregano $0.10
  • 1 tsp dried thyme $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 3 15oz. cans kidney beans $1.50
  • 1 cup chicken broth $0.13
  • 3 green onions, sliced $0.30
  • 1.5 cups long grain white rice $0.93

Instructions

  • Slice the sausage into rounds or half-rounds. Add the sausage and cooking oil to a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned.
  • While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Mince the garlic.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot with the sausage and continue to cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the smoked paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and black pepper to the pot and continue to cook and stir for a minute more.
  • Drain two of the cans of beans. Add the third can to a blender, with the liquid from the can, and purée until smooth. The puréed beans will help thicken the pot and make everything extra creamy. Add the drained beans, puréed beans, and chicken broth to the pot, then stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the pot and allow the beans to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the pot continue to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the red beans are simmering, begin cooking your rice. Add the uncooked rice to a pot with 3 cups water. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high. Once the pot reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice sit, undisturbed, lid in place, for an extra 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
  • After the beans have simmered for 30 minutes, give them a taste and add salt if needed (between the sausage and canned beans I didn't find I needed to add any, but salt content can vary so be sure to give it a taste). Serve the beans in a bowl, topped with a scoop of rice, and a few sliced green onions.

Notes

*If you can’t find Andouille sausage you can use any other type of smoked sausage. The sausage I bought came in a 14oz. package, but you can use anywhere from 12-16oz.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 603.18kcal | Carbohydrates: 74.85g | Protein: 23.73g | Fat: 23.1g | Sodium: 1396.82mg | Fiber: 11.6g
Close up of a spoonful of quickie red beans and rice with the bowl in the background

How to Make Quickie Red Beans and Rice – Step by Step Photos

browned sausage rounds in a pot

Slice 14oz. Andouille sausage (or any smoked sausage, if you can’t find Andouille) into rounds or half-rounds. Add it to a large pot with 1 Tbsp cooking oil and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has browned.

Onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic added to the pot

While the sausage is cooking, dice one yellow onion, one bell pepper, and three ribs of celery. Mince four cloves of garlic. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot with the sausage and continue to stir and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.

Spices being poured into the pot with sausage and vegetables

Next, add 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Continue to stir and cook for about a minute more.

Pureed red beans in a blender

No, this is not a photo of a strawberry smoothie, but this is where the recipe gets a little interesting. Drain two 15oz. cans of kidney beans. Pour the third can, including the liquid from the can, into a blender and purée until smooth.

red beans added to the pot

Add the two cans of drained beans and the one can of puréed beans to the pot. The puréed beans are going to help thicken the pot and make everything nice and creamy.

Chicken broth added to the pot, beans ready to simmer

Finally, add 1 cup chicken broth to the pot and stir everything to combine. Place a lid on the pot and let it come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low, and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. (Photo above is before simmering)

Cooked rice in sauce pot

While the beans are simmering, begin the rice. Add 1.5 cups long grain white rice to a pot with 3 cups water. Place a lid on top and turn the heat on to high. When it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, with the lid in place, for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff just before serving.

Simmered pot of red beans

Once the beans have simmered for 30 minutes, give them a taste and add salt if needed. Between the sausage and canned beans, I didn’t find that I needed to add any salt, but if your beans are tasting bland try adding a little. Salt doesn’t just make things salty, it actually helps our tongue distinguish different flavors, so it can really make a dish pop when used correctly!

Overhead view of a pot of red beans with corn muffins on the side

Serve your red beans in a bowl topped with a scoop of rice and a few sliced green onions. Cornbread or corn muffins are also a nice side with red beans. ;)

The post Quickie Red Beans and Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

This simple, fresh, and filling Mediterranean Tuna Salad makes an easy protein-packed make-ahead lunch for your workweek. Tons of ideas for add-ins and substitutions included!

The post Mediterranean Tuna Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I had a request for more tuna recipes lately but instead of heavy casseroles, I was in the mood for something lighter and more fresh (I’m soooo ready for Spring). So I made this Mediterranean Tuna Salad, which is sort of a hybrid of two of my other favorite recipes. And guess what? It holds up great in the fridge, so it’s another meal prep ready salad! 🙌

Overhead view of a bowl full of Mediterranean Tuna Salad with a fork in the side

What’s in Mediterranean Tuna Salad?

As I mentioned in the intro, this salad is a hybrid of two of my other favorite recipes: Super Fresh Cucumber Salad and Tuna and White Bean Salad. The salad starts with a base of fresh vegetables, like cucumber, tomato, red onion, and parsley, then gets a dose of protein from tuna and white beans, and is finished off with a tangy homemade vinaigrette and just the right amount of crumbled feta. The combo is absolutely perfect!

What Else Can I Add?

What I love about “refrigerator salads” (besides the fact that they hold up for days in the fridge) is that they are always quite flexible. You can add, substitute, or skip ingredients based on your needs. Here are some other ingredients that you can add into this Mediterranean Tuna Salad:

  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Bell peppers
  • Chickpeas
  • Avocado
  • Cooked orzo, penne, or bowtie pasta
  • Spinach or Romaine (keep separate if meal prepping)
  • Roasted red peppers

How to Serve Mediterranean Tuna Salad

This well rounded salad could be served on its own in a larger portion as a stand alone meal, but you could also round it out by adding some pita and hummus on the side, stuffing the salad itself into a pita or wrap, or adding some cooked pasta to make it into a pasta salad. However you eat it, it’s going to be filling, fresh, and flavorful!

What Kind of Tuna Should I Use?

I definitely suggest chunk light tuna for this recipe because I think it’s the happy medium between good texture (large pieces instead of tiny flakes) and price. You can use tuna packed in either water or oil, whichever you prefer. The nutritional stats below are calculated using tuna packed in water.

How Long Does it Last?

My salad stayed fresh for about 3-4 days. The ingredients hold up extremely well in the refrigerator. You do want to give it a good stir before serving, though, to redistribute the dressing and make sure everything is as flavorful as possible.

Close up side view of Mediterranean Tuna Salad in a bowl
Close up side view of Mediterranean Tuna Salad in a bowl

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

This simple, fresh, and filling Mediterranean Tuna Salad makes an easy protein-packed make-ahead lunch for your workweek.
Total Cost $7.89 recipe / $1.32 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 about 1 cup each
Calories 283.55kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.52
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar $0.20
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.06
  • 1 tsp dried oregano $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Salad

  • 1 English cucumber* $1.29
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes* $1.49
  • 1/2 red onion $0.16
  • 1/4 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (about ½ cup) $0.35
  • 1 15oz. can cannellini beans $0.69
  • 1 12oz. can chunk light tuna $1.89
  • 2 oz. feta $1.10

Instructions

  • Make the vinaigrette first, so the flavors have a little time to blend. In a bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients together, or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the vinaigrette aside.
  • If you want to soften the flavor of the red onion a bit, slice it then soak the slices in ice water for about five minutes before dicing. Otherwise, finely dice the red onion, cut the cucumber into quarter rounds, slice the tomatoes in half, and roughly chop the parsley.
  • Combine the cucumber, tomato, onion, and parsley in a bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top, then stir until the vegetables are coated.
  • Rinse and drain the beans, and drain the tuna. Add the beans, tuna, and feta to the salad, then gently stir to combine. These three are added last and only gently stirred to make sure the tuna remains in larger flakes instead of falling apart into tiny pieces.
  • Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to four days. Give it a quick stir after refrigerating and before serving to redistribute the dressing.

Notes

*You can use a conventional cucumber and diced Roma tomatoes in place of English cucumber and grape tomatoes if needed. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 283.55kcal | Carbohydrates: 23.75g | Protein: 22.48g | Fat: 11.98g | Sodium: 691.93mg | Fiber: 5.18g

How to Make Mediterranean Tuna Salad – Step by Step Photos

Homemade vinaigrette in a bowl with a fork

Start with the vinaigrette, so the flavors have a little time to blend. Combine ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

red onion slices soaking in a bowl of water

If you want to soften the flavor of the red onions, soaking them for five minutes or so in ice water really helps! I slice them first to give more surface area to water contact, then finely dice them after soaking. For this recipe I used about ½ of a red onion.

Chopped vegetables in a bowl

You also want to cut one cucumber into quarter rounds, slice a pint of grape tomatoes in half, and roughly chop about ¼ bunch of parsley (about ½ cup chopped). Add them all to a bowl with the finely diced red onion.

Vinaigrette being poured over vegetables in the bowl

Pour the vinaigrette over top, then stir until everything is coated. We’ll add the tuna and feta last so they don’t break apart too much when stirring.

beans, tuna, and feta added to the salad

Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of cannellini beans, and drain one 12oz. can of chunk light tuna. Add the beans, tuna, and 2oz. feta to the salad, then fold to combine.

Finished Mediterranean Tuna Salad in the bowl with a spatula

And that’s a wrap! Your Mediterranean Tuna Salad is ready to go. You can either serve it immediately or refrigerate for up to four days. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Tuna Salad in a white serving dish from above

The post Mediterranean Tuna Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner

One of my favorite simple dinner “formulas” is two roasted vegetables and a meat. It’s just so simple and when I can cook them all on one sheet pan, it’s even better. For this Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner I also added a balsamic cranberry sauce that cooks on the stovetop, but it’s only three ingredients and takes only about 10 minutes, so it really couldn’t be easier.

The post Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner appeared first on Budget Bytes.

One of my favorite simple dinner “formulas” is two roasted vegetables and a meat. It’s just so simple and when I can cook them all on one sheet pan, it’s even better. For this Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner I also added a balsamic cranberry sauce that cooks on the stovetop, but it’s only three ingredients and takes only about 10 minutes, so it really couldn’t be easier. I hope you get plenty of use out of this super easy, fall/winter-inspired sheet pan meal!

Cranberry chicken on a plate with roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes

What’s That Sauce?

As I mentioned above, I made a super simple balsamic cranberry sauce to drench the chicken with flavor. The sauce is simple: whole berry cranberry sauce (canned), balsamic vinegar, and butter. It makes the most deliciously sweet, tangy, and rich sauce that you’ll want to spoon over everything!

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?

The cooking times and temperatures below are for boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been pounded to a ¾ to 1-inch thickness. This allows them to cook quickly and evenly. Bone-in chicken takes much longer to cook and it would be best if they are roasted separately. For example purposes, here is a recipe for roasted bone-in chicken breasts.

Meal Prep It!

Sheet pan meals like this are perfect for meal prep! Just portion everything up into individual containers after baking and keep refrigerated for 3-4 days for quick lunches (reheat in the microwave).

Sheet pan cranberry chicken dinner on a plate with a fork lifting a bite of chicken
Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner on a plate, viewed from the side

Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner

This Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner is an easy and flavorful weeknight dinner that requires very little prep and cleanup!
Total Cost $13.26 recipe / $3.32 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 552.53kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts $1.99
  • 1.5 lbs. sweet potatoes $1.79
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly crackd black pepper $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.03

Herb Baked Chicken Breasts

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1.33 lbs. total) $7.70*
  • 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature $0.28
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.01
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Cranberry Balsamic Glaze

  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (canned) $0.30
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar $0.55
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.14

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rinse the Brussels sprouts and then cut them in half. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into ½ to ¾-inch pieces.
  • Place the Brussels sprouts on one half of a large baking sheet and the sweet potatoes on the other half. Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over each side. Sprinkle ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper over the vegetables, then add ¼ tsp garlic powder just to the Brussels sprouts. Toss the vegetables, keeping each on its own side, until they're coated in oil and seasoning. Spread the seasoned vegetables out so they are in an even layer. Transfer the baking sheet with the vegetable to the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the herb baked chicken. In a small bowl, combine the room temperature butter, sage, thyme, garlic powder, and salt. Stir together until it forms an herb-butter paste.
  • Place the chicken breast on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Use a mallet or rolling pin to gently pound the chicken breasts out to an even ¾-inch thickeness. Cut each pounded chicken breast in half to make two pieces. Pat the chicken dry, then spread the herb butter over the surface of each piece of chicken.
  • Once the vegetables have been roasting for 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and give the vegetables a stir, keeping each on their own side. Push the vegetables to the side a bit (it's okay if they pile up a little) to make room for the chicken breast. Place the four butter and herb coated pieces of chicken down the center of the baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  • While the chicken and vegetables finish cooking, prepare the cranberry balsamic sauce. Add the cranberry sauce and balsamic vinegar to a sauce pot. Stir and cook the two together over medium heat, allowing the mixture to come up to a simmer. Once simmering, lower the heat slightly and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After ten minutes, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the butter. Set the cranberry balsamic sauce aside.
  • After roasting for 20 minutes, check the internal temperature of the chicken breasts. It should be 165ºF. If it's not, bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. If the vegetables are done before the chicken, simply remove them from the baking sheet before returning the chicken to the oven.
  • To serve, spoon the cranberry balsamic sauce over the chicken. Divide the roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes between four plates and add one piece of chicken to each.

Notes

*This price was for organic chicken breasts.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 552.53kcal | Carbohydrates: 42.33g | Protein: 35.98g | Fat: 26.03g | Sodium: 779.7mg | Fiber: 4.23g

How to Make Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner – Step by Step Photos

Prepped Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on a baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash 1 lb. Brussels sprouts and slice them in half. Peel and dice 1.5 lbs. sweet potatoes into ½ to ¾-inch cubes. Place them on a large baking sheet, keeping each on its own side. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and season with ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper. Add ¼ tsp garlic powder to just the Brussels sprouts. Toss the vegetables, keeping them separate, until they’re coated in oil and seasoning. Transfer to the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Butter and herbs in a bowl

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the herb butter baked chicken. In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp room temperature butter, ½ tsp dried sage, ¼ tsp dried thyme, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir them together until it forms an herb-butter paste.

Chicken breast on a cutting board being pounded with a rolling pin

Place two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs. total) on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Use a mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken into an even ¾-inch thickness. This helps it cook quickly and evenly.

Herb butter being spread over the chicken breasts

Cut each chicken breast into two pieces. Pat them dry, then spread the herb butter over the surface of each piece.

Chicken added to the baking sheet with the roasted vegetables

After the vegetables have roasted for 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet and give them a good stir. Push them to the sides (it’s okay if they pile up now) to make room for the chicken. Place the herb-butter coated chicken in the center of the baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Cranberry sauce and balsamic vinegar in a small sacuepot

While the chicken and vegetables finish cooking, prepare the cranberry balsamic sauce. Add ½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce and ¼ cup balsamic vinegar to a small sauce pot. Cook and stir over medium heat until it comes up to a simmer. Then, reduce the heat slightly and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Butter added to the cranberry balsamic sauce

After the sauce has simmered for about 10 minutes, remove it from the heat and stir in 1 Tbsp butter until melted. Set the sauce aside.

Baked chicken and vegetables on the baking sheet

After bakind 20 minutes, the internal temperature of the chicken breast pieces should be 165ºF. If it’s not, simply bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until it does reach 165ºF. If the vegetables finish roasting before the chicken, just remove it from the baking sheet before returning the chicken to the oven.

Cranberry balsamic sauce being spooned over the chicken on the baking sheet

Finally, spoon the cranberry balsamic sauce over the baked chicken. To serve, divide the Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes between four plates, then add one piece of chicken to each.

Cranberry Chicken Dinner on a plate with a black fork

Delish!

The post Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner appeared first on Budget Bytes.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is one of my favorite things to order at a restaurant. I usually reserve this bowl of warm comfort for restaurants because it’s a soup that takes time and patience to make. But I’ve come to realize that although it is a slow process, it’s still ridiculously simple and inexpensive, so it’s totally worth the effort.

The post French Onion Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

French Onion Soup is one of my favorite things to order at a restaurant. I usually reserve this bowl of warm comfort for restaurants because it’s a soup that takes time and patience to make. But I’ve come to realize that although it is a slow process, it’s still ridiculously simple and inexpensive, so it’s totally worth the effort. I encourage you to make a pot of this incredible French Onion Soup on your next day off while you’re relaxing with a movie or folding some laundry. I think you’ll be glad you did!

One bowl of french onion soup garnished with fresh thyme, spoon on the side

What is French Onion Soup?

If you’ve never had the pleasure, French Onion Soup is made with sweet caramelized onions, beef broth, and herbs. The soup is usually topped with a piece of toasted bread and a generous heap of cheese, which are then broiled to perfection. So with every spoonful you get a piece of bread soaked with flavorful broth, melty cheese, and sweet-savory onions. It’s pretty epic.

Don’t Take Shortcuts with Caramelization

It’s so so so so important to properly caramelize the onions when making French Onion Soup (see the step by step photos below for a visual reference). The deep flavor of the caramelized onion is what gives this soup its characteristic flavor. If you take shortcuts with this step it will show in the color and flavor of your soup.

Caramelizing onions, especially this quantity of onions, is a slow process and it takes a lot of time. Like an hour or more. If you stop too soon your soup will be lacking. If you try to go too fast you risk burning the onions not getting that sweet jammy flavor. Just go slow. It’s worth it.

Broth Matters

The other key to making a really good pot of French Onion Soup is using a really flavorful broth. If you know me then you know I love Better Than Bouillon so I used that to make my broth for this soup. But if you have access to a really good beef stock or bone broth that would also be incredible. Just make sure you use a broth that you know has good flavor.

What Else Can I Add?

I made this French Onion Soup as simple as possible while still retaining its rich flavor. But if you want to go above and beyond you can try adding a couple other ingredients.

Wine – Try deglazing the pot (after adding the flour) with about 1/2 cup wine before adding the beef broth. You can use either a dry white wine or a red wine, depending on whether you want your soup to have a lighter touch (white wine) or a richer flavor (red wine).

Sweet Onions – I made my soup with your average everyday yellow onions, but if you want a tad more sweetness you can choose a sweet onion instead.

Brandy or Sherry – A couple tablespoons of brandy or sherry added to your French Onion Soup at the end can brighten the flavors.

Garlic – I didn’t want to muddy the sweet delicate flavor of the onions, but a lot of people do prefer to also add garlic. If adding garlic, mince it up good and sauté it with the caramelized onions for a minute or two just before adding the flour.

Side view of a bowl of French Onion Soup garnished with fresh thyme
Garnished with fresh thyme for visual appeal. Dried thyme is used in the recipe.
Overhead view of one bowl of french onion soup with a spoon and fresh thyme on the side

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup requires time and patience, but the incredible soul-warming flavor and low cost make it a meal that is worth the wait!
Total Cost $5.34 recipe / $1.07 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 5 1.5 cups ech
Calories 621.84kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 3 lbs. yellow onions $1.19
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.28
  • 3 Tbsp flour $0.03
  • 6 cups beef broth* $0.78
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • 1 bay leaf $0.15
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.02
  • 5 slices French bread $1.00
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere $1.00

Instructions

  • Slice the onions into ¼-inch thick slices. Add the sliced onions to a large soup pot with olive oil. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions begin to get a little bit of golden brown color (after about 30-45 minutes), add the butter.
  • Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are deeply caramelized (the color of an old penny). This should take about an hour total. If needed, add a couple tablespoons of water to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom to prevent them from burning while the onions continue to cook.
  • Once the onions are deep brown and jammy in texture, add the flour. Stir and cook the flour with the caramelized onions for about two minutes more. The flour helps thicken the broth slightly, giving it body.
  • Add the beef broth to the pot and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Also add the thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the soup up to a simmer, then allow it to simmer for about a half hour. If using a low sodium broth, make sure to taste the soup after simmering and add salt to taste.
  • Toward the end of the simmer time, preheat the oven's broiler. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and place them in the oven on the middle rack. Broil for a few minutes on each side, or just until they are barely golden brown (they will broil more later).
  • If you do not have oven safe bowls, top each slice of bread with shredded cheese, then return them to the oven and continue to broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Broiling time will vary with each oven, so make sure to watch them closely. This should only take a few minutes. Place one piece of toasted bread with melted cheese on top of each bowl of soup just before serving.
  • If you do have oven safe bowls, portion your soup into the bowls, top each one with a piece of lightly toasted bread, then some of the shredded cheese. Place the bowls back on the baking sheet and place everything back in the oven under the broiler. Broil for just a few minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot!

Notes

*I used Better Than Bouillon to make my beef broth.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 621.84kcal | Carbohydrates: 91.04g | Protein: 22.28g | Fat: 19.62g | Sodium: 2670.74mg | Fiber: 7.44g

Love cozy soups? Check out all of our Budget-Friendly Soup Recipes!

A pot of French Onion Soup with a ladle full held close to the camera

How to Make French Onion Soup – Step by Step Photos

Sliced onions in a soup pot

Begin by slicing 3 lbs. yellow onions into ¼-inch thick slices. Add the sliced onions to a large soup pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Add butter to golden onions in the soup pot

When the onions begin to get a little golden color (after about 30-45 minutes) add 2 Tbsp butter. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Pot being deglazed with water

The goal is to keep cooking until the onions become deep brown in color and have a jammy texture. If the bottom of the pot begins to brown faster than the onions, just add a couple tablespoons of water to dissolve the browned bits off the bottom and continue to cook. Do not stop when the onions are the color in the photo above. There is still a ways to go!

Caramelized onions in the pot, flour being added

When the onions are the color of an old penny (see photo above), add 3 Tbsp flour and continue to cook and stir for about two minutes. The flour helps thicken the soup very slightly, just giving it a little extra body.

Beef broth being added to the pot

Finally, add six cups of beef broth to the pot. Stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom.

Herbs added to the soup

Also add ½ tsp dried thyme, one bay leaf, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce. Bring the soup up to a simmer and let it continue to simmer for about 30 minutes. If you’re using a lower sodium broth, you’ll want to taste the soup and add salt to taste after it simmers.

Toasted bread on a baking sheet

Toward the end of the simmer time, begin to prepare the cheese toast. Preheat the oven’s broiler. Place slices of French bread on a baking sheet (I only had four soup bowls, so I’m only toasting four pieces right now, but the soup makes about 5 servings). Broil the bread for a few minutes on each side or just until it’s lightly golden brown. It will broil more later with the cheese.

Soup being portioned into oven safe bowls

If you have oven safe bowls, portion the soup into the bowls. If you do not have oven safe bowls, pile the shredded cheese right onto the toasted bread on the baking sheet, then broil for a few minutes more to melt the cheese. Top each bowl of soup with a cheesy bread slice.

Toasted bread and cheese added to the soup bowls

If you do have oven safe bowls, place the bowls on the baking sheet and add a piece of toasted bread to each bowl, then top with shredded cheese.

Boiled bowls of french onion soup with bread and cheese

Return the baking sheet with the bowls of soup to the oven and broil for a few minutes more, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasty. Every broiler is a little different, and they cook quickly, so keep an eye on them!

Overhead view of one bowl of french onion soup with a spoon and fresh thyme on the side

Dig in!

The post French Onion Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Quick Tofu Stir Fry

Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! This super simple tofu stir fry is a riff off of my favorite Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry. It’s super fast, super easy, and endlessly customizable. Keep reading to see all the possibilities for making this tofu stir fry your own!

The post Quick Tofu Stir Fry appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! This super simple tofu stir fry is a riff off of my favorite Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry. It’s super fast, easy, filling, inexpensive, and endlessly customizable. Keep reading to see all the possibilities for making this tofu stir fry your own!

Quick Tofu Stir Fry in a skillet with sriracha and a bowl of peanuts on the side

Use any Stir Fry Sauce

This recipe is so flexible that you can literally use any type of stir fry sauce, so go with whatever you like best. The stir fry sauce for the Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry, which this recipe is based upon, is a spicy and super simple 4-ingredient sauce, but I switched it up this time and used a non-spicy sauce, then just added sriracha on top for heat as needed. Feel free to use that original sauce, something a little less sweet like the sauce used in my Ground Turkey Stir Fry, a richer oyster based sauce like in my Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli, or even something a little sweeter like a bottled sweet chili sauce. It’s so flexible!

Change Up the Vegetables

I love using bagged coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) in stir fry because there’s no prep involved, it’s filling, and it’s still super inexpensive. I used about ½ of a 1 lb. bag of mix here, but you could probably even add more if you want it more vegetable heavy. You can shred your own cabbage and carrots (you’ll want about 5 cups), or even use a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables in place of or in addition to the shredded cabbage.

If using frozen vegetables, I suggest adding them to the skillet before the cabbage because they’ll need a little longer to cook. If you are increasing the amount of vegetables, you may wan to also increase the sauce and add half to the tofu and half after adding the vegetables.

Substitute the Peanuts

If you don’t like or can’t have peanuts, don’t worry! They’re totally optional. I love the crunchy texture they add to the dish, but you can either leave them out, substitute with another nut (maybe cashews or almonds), or add a few sesame seeds to the stir fry at the end. It’s up to you!

How are the Leftovers?

I’m going to call the leftovers of this one “subjective.” Haha! Dishes like this will seep water as they sit in the refrigerator and the cabbage (or other vegetables) will soften further, but that wouldn’t stop me from reheating and enjoying the leftovers. If you’re a bit more sensitive to texture and flavor changes, you may not enjoy the leftovers.

front view of three bowls full of quick tofu stir fry
three bowls of quick tofu stir fry

Quick Tofu Stir Fry

This super fast and inexpensive tofu stir fry is super filling, easy enough for busy weeknights, and endlessly customizable!
Total Cost $3.82 recipe / $0.96 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 272.43kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce $0.18
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.08
  • 2 Tbsp water $0.00
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.10
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger $0.10

Stir Fry

  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 14 oz. extra firm tofu $1.79
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts $0.12
  • ½ lb. coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) $0.90

Toppings

  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.20
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha (optional) $0.11

Instructions

  • Prepare the stir fry sauce first. In a bowl combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, toasted sesame oil, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Set the sauce aside.
  • Slice the green onion and chop the peanuts.
  • Take the tofu out of the package, draining away any liquid from the package (no need to press the tofu as the water will be cooked out). Crumble the tofu into a bowl.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Once the skillet and oil are very hot, add the crumbled tofu and stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until there is no longer any water pooling on the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the prepared stir fry sauce to the skillet and continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes more. Finally, add the slaw mix and chopped peanuts and stir fry for 1-2 minutes more, or just until the cabbage begins to wilt. Top with sliced green onions and a drizzle of sriracha, then serve!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 272.43kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.98g | Protein: 14.53g | Fat: 17.73g | Sodium: 815.75mg | Fiber: 3.33g
close up of quick tofu stir fry in the skillet

How to Make Quick Tofu Stir Fry – Step by Step Photos

stir fry sauce in a white bowl with a fork

Make the stir fry sauce first. In a bowl, combine 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 Tbsp water, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and about 1 tsp grated fresh ginger. Set the sauce aside.

chopped peanuts and sliced green onion

Chop ¼ cup peanuts and slice two green onions.

tofu and coleslaw mix

These are the two main ingredients in this super simple stir fry–tofu and shredded cabbage and carrots (coleslaw mix). You can switch up the vegetables or add more if you’d like. See the notes above the recipe for ideas.

crumbled tofu in a bowl

Take the tofu out of the package, draining away any liquid (there is no need to press the tofu for this recipe because the excess water will be cooked out). Crumble the tofu into a bowl.

sauce being added to cooked tofu in the skillet

Heat 2 Tbsp cooking oil (your favorite kind) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil and skillet are hot, add the crumbled tofu and stir fry until there is no longer any liquid pooling in the skillet. Pour the prepared sauce over top and continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes more.

shredded cabbage and carrots added to the skillet

Finally, add the shredded cabbage and carrots, and the chopped peanuts to the skillet. I used half the bag, or about ½ lb., but you could probably add more if you’d like. Continue to cook and stir for only 1-2 minutes more, or just until the cabbage begins to wilt.

Sriracha being drizzled over the skillet

Top the stir fry with sliced green onions and a drizzle of sriracha, then serve!

three bowls of quick tofu stir fry

The post Quick Tofu Stir Fry appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Chocolate Banana Muffins

What to do with browning bananas? It’s the question that never stops needing to be answered. The other day I was about to make a batch of my Yogurt Banana Bread with some over ripe bananas, but I decided to change it up last minute. I added little cocoa powder and a handful of chocolate […]

The post Chocolate Banana Muffins appeared first on Budget Bytes.

What to do with browning bananas? It’s the question that never stops needing to be answered. The other day I was about to make a batch of my Yogurt Banana Bread with some over ripe bananas, but I decided to change it up last minute. I added little cocoa powder and a handful of chocolate chips to the batter, then scooped it into a muffin tin instead of a bread pan for easy portioning, and I got these tasty little Chocolate Banana Muffins. They’re the perfect not-too-sweet treat that I can keep in my freezer for days that I want a little something special to go with my morning coffee.

Chocolate banana muffins in the muffin tin, on a cooling rack, and a wooden cutting board

Use Ripe Bananas for the Best Flavor

I know chocolate banana muffins sound delicious, but have patience and wait until you have some brown, over ripe bananas to make this recipe. Over ripe bananas are sweeter and their banana flavor is more intense, which is what you want for the banana flavor to really come through in the muffins. Plus, they’re easier to mash when they’re soft and super ripe. ;)

How to Freeze Chocolate Banana Muffins

I love the fact that these banana muffins are already in single-serving portions, which makes them really great for freezing and thawing as-needed (or “as-wanted”?). To freeze the muffins, make sure they cool completely to room temperature, then place them in a gallon-sized zip top freezer bag and transfer to the freezer. To thaw, you can either let them sit for 15-30 minutes at room temperature, or microwave for about 30 seconds until they’re warm and the chocolate chips are melted. They’re sooooo good with a cup of coffee!

Other Muffin Add-in Ideas

Muffins like this are kind of fun because you can really play around with the add-ins (in addition to, or in place of the chocolate chips). Peanut butter chips would be really good in these muffins, as would something like shredded coconut. Walnuts are a classic with banana bread, but almonds would probably taste really nice with this banana-chocolate combo, too.

Chocolate Banana Muffins in a muffin tin, some turned on their side

 
Chocolate Banana Muffins in a muffin tin, some turned on their side

Chocolate Banana Muffins

Chocolate Banana Muffins are a delicious freezer-friendly sweet treat, and a great way to use up brown bananas so they don't go to waste!
Total Cost $3.97 recipe / $0.33 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 232.86kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2-3 bananas) $0.42
  • 1 cup plain yogurt $0.67
  • 2 large eggs $0.46
  • 1/2 cup sugar $0.40
  • 4 Tbsp metled butter $0.52
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract $0.30
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour $0.23
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder $0.21
  • 1 tsp baking powder $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips $0.70

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  • Mash the bananas well. You'll need one cup mashed bananas. If you have slightly less than one cup, you can use slightly more yogurt to make up for the banana. If you have slightly more than one cup, you can reduce the yogurt slightly to compensate for the extra banana.
  • Add the mashed banana to a large mixing bowl along with the yogurt, eggs, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk the ingredients together well.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir just until they are combined. It's okay if the mixture is a little lumpy. Do not over stir. Finally, fold the chocolate chips into the batter.
  • Divide the batter between the 12 wells of the muffin tin (it will fill each well up to the top). Transfer the muffin tin to the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  • After baking, remove the muffins from the tin and allow them to cool on a wire rack before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffin | Calories: 232.86kcal | Carbohydrates: 38.8g | Protein: 4.37g | Fat: 8.02g | Sodium: 233.58mg | Fiber: 2.22g

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up front view of the chocolate banana muffins in the tin

How to Make Chocolate Banana Muffins – Step by Step Photos

Mashed banana in a measuring cup with a fork

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Mash 2-3 bananas well with a fork. You’ll need 1 cup mashed bananas. If you have slightly less banana, you can add a little extra yogurt to make up for it. If you have a little more than 1 cup banana, you can reduce the yogurt a little to compensate for the extra banana.

Wet ingredients for the banana muffins in a bowl

Add the mashed banana to a large mixing bowl along with 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 large eggs, ½ cup sugar, 4 Tbsp melted butter, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk these ingredients together well.

Dry ingredients for muffins in a bowl

In a separate bowl, stir together 1.5 cups all-purpose flour, ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp salt. Stir until the dry ingredients are very well combined.

wet and dry ingredients being stirred together with a spatula

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until everything is moistened. The mixture will be lumpy, but try not to over stir (the photo shows the mixture half stirred, check the next photo for the appearance of the fully stirred batter).

Chocolate chips being added to the batter

Finally, fold a ½ cup chocolate chips into the batter, again taking care not to over stir.

Muffin batter in the muffin tin, unbaked.

Divide the batter between 12 wells of a muffin tin. The batter will fill each well all the way up to the top. Transfer the muffin tin to the preheated 350ºF oven.

Baked chocolate banana muffins in the muffin tin

Bake the muffins in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Remove the baked muffins from the tin to cool before serving.

Chocolate banana muffins in the muffin tin, on a cooling rack, and on a cutting board

Enjoy!

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