How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan

Learn how to cook tender, juicy, and flavorful boneless chicken breasts in a pan. Perfect for quick dinners and meal prep!

The post How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The last two times I bought chicken breast at the grocery store, the cashiers asked me how to cook them (I had to wonder if they secretly knew what I did for a living 😅). While it can seem like a simple process, it can definitely go wrong if not done properly. And I’m not about to let you big $$$ dry, tasteless chicken breasts. So here is my full tutorial on how to cook chicken breast in a pan so that it stays juicy, flavorful, and tender.

Two chicken breasts in a skillet garnished with parsley

Why I Love Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

This has become my go-to method for cooking chicken breasts. Not only is it super fast and easy, but you get a lot of delicious browning on the outside of the meat, which is something that doesn’t happen in the gentle heat of an oven. Plus, you can change the seasoning and make it taste like something new every time!

I’ve begun cooking a couple of chicken breasts at the beginning of each week, slicing them up, then storing them in the refrigerator to add to salads, pasta, sandwiches, and bowls over the next few days. It’s only a few minutes of prep and then I’ve got an easy protein ready to add to any meal. Here is a roundup of flexible recipes that are perfect for adding any protein, like pan-seared chicken breasts.

Cooking Boneless vs. Bone-in Chicken Breasts

The cooking technique below is for boneless chicken breasts (with or without skin). Bone-in chicken breasts take much longer to cook through, so you’ll want to utilize the oven to make sure the breast heats through completely without burning on the outside. For bone-in chicken breasts, I suggest using the method outlined in my Herb Roasted Chicken Breast recipe.

How Long to Cook Chicken Breasts in a Skillet

The amount of time needed to cook a chicken breast in a pan will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breast, the amount of heat used, and the type of cookware used. To take the guesswork out of how long to cook the chicken breasts, I suggest using an instant-read meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken breast has reached 165ºF.

Thick Chicken Breasts

Thick chicken breasts take longer to cook through than thin chicken breasts, so I like to use lower heat (medium-low) and a longer cook time, which allows time for the meat to heat through without the outside burning. For a boneless chicken breast that is about one inch thick, I cook for about 8 minutes per side over medium-low heat.

Thin Chicken Breasts

If you buy thin cut breasts, fillet the chicken breasts yourself, or use a mallet to pound the chicken breasts to ½-inch thick, they will cook much faster. You’ll want to increase the heat to medium so you can still achieve some browning on the outside with a shorter cook time. For thinner breasts, I cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.

How to Season Chicken Breasts

I used a very classic smoky seasoning for the chicken breasts in the recipe below, but there are so many other delicious options. Here are some other ways you can season your pan-seared chicken breasts:

side view of chicken breasts in a skillet
close up of cooked chicken breasts in the skillet

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

Learn how to cook tender, juicy, and flavorful boneless chicken breasts in a pan. Perfect for quick dinners and meal prep! 
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $7.27 recipe / $0.91 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 229kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp steak seasoning $0.20
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika $0.05
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1.3 lbs. total) $6.79
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 1 Tbsp butter (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Combine the steak seasoning, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika in a bowl. Coat the chicken breasts liberally with the seasoning on all sides.
  • Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-low (or medium for thin-cut breasts). Once hot, swirl the oil to coat the skillet.
  • Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook for about 8 minutes without flipping (5 minutes for thin-cut breasts). Flip the chicken and then cook on the second side until well browned and cooked through (internal temperature of 165ºF).
  • For extra luscious chicken, add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, allow it to melt, then flip the chicken a couple of times to coat in the melted butter.
  • Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and allow it to rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 10g | Sodium: 197mg | Fiber: 1g
close up side view of sliced chicken breasts

How to Make Cook Chicken Breasts in a Pan – Step by Step Photos

Seasoned chicken breasts on a cutting board

Begin by seasoning the chicken breast liberally on each side. I used a mix of 2 tsp steak seasoning, ½ tsp smoked paprika, and ½ tsp sweet paprika. The steak seasoning contains salt, so no extra salt was needed in my mix.

oil being added to the skillet

Add a tablespoon or so of your favorite cooking oil to a large skillet. Heat the skillet over medium-low (or medium heat for thin cut breasts).

Cooked Chicken breasts in the skillet

Once hot, swirl the oil in the skillet to coat the surface, then add the chicken breasts. Let the chicken breasts cook for 8 minutes without flipping (or 5 minutes for thin cut breasts). Flip once and cook until well browned on the second side and cooked through.

Butter added to the skillet

To make the chicken breasts extra luscious, add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, allow it to melt, then flip the chicken a couple of times to coat. The butter will help dissolve some of the flavor off the bottom of the skillet to further coat the chicken.

Sliced chicken breasts

Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and allow it to rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.

close up of cooked chicken breasts in the skillet

The post How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Ship Cookies with Penguin Dry Ice

How to ship cookies so they stay perfectly fresh? Flash freeze and ship them to friends and family…using dry ice!…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

How to ship cookies so they stay perfectly fresh? Flash freeze and ship them to friends and family…using dry ice!

How to ship cookies

This post was created in partnership with Penguin Dry Ice. All opinions are our own.

There’s nothing we love more at the holidays than baking up goodies for our friends and family! Like many modern families these days, our loved ones are spread across the country (and world!). So this year, we decided to experiment with sending off some of our surplus baked goods. We’ve teamed up with Penguin Dry Ice to show you how to ship cookies: flash freeze and ship them with dry ice! This way, they’re 100% fresh when they get to their destination. Ready to get started?

Related: See tips on How to Pack and Ship with Dry Ice!

Dry ice handling instructions

Why ship cookies with dry ice? Flash freezing cookies with dry ice makes sure they’ll arrive in peak freshness. They’ll stay frozen 24 hours, which is enough time for them to ship overnight and arrive at your destination. This method of shipping cookies does require a few special tools and a little know how about how to handle dry ice. Here are some things to keep in mind when handling dry ice:

  • Buy the dry ice 1 to 2 hours before you plan to use it. Dry ice does not last in the freezer or refrigerator, so you’ll need to use it as quick as possible.
  • Never place dry ice inside airtight containers. When you get it home, place the plastic bag of dry ice in a cooler with the top off. Ventilation is key for dry ice, due to the carbon dioxide gas that is constantly released as it “melts”. Do not store it in a tightly sealed container to minimize risk of explosion.
  • Always use gloves and tongs when handling dry ice. Do not touch dry ice with bare skin. It is extremely cold (-109.3° F or -78.5° C) and touching it can cause frostbite or burns.
  • Keep away from pets and children. Curious kids may try to touch the dry ice, so store it out of sight until you’re ready to use. Parental supervision is required for this task!
How to ship cookies

Where to buy dry ice for shipping cookies

You can buy dry ice at most major grocery stores, which you might not realize until you’re looking for it! It’s sold in blocks and stored in a special cooler. Look towards the front of the store near the regular ice cooler. Here’s a Penguin Dry Ice store finder to help find a store near you.

Tools and equipment you need

Ready to get started? Here’s what you’ll need for how to ship cookies with dry ice:

  • Festive cookies (like these!)
  • Paper plates
  • Sealable bag or plastic wrap
  • Mallet or hammer
  • Protective gloves
  • Dry ice (find it here)
  • Tongs
  • Styrofoam cooler
  • Two pieces of cardboard or other packing materials
Cookies
How to ship cookies
Cookies in the Styrofoam shipping container, with dry ice and cardboard below (Step 4)

How to ship cookies

Got the above items and have your cookies in hand? Here’s how to ship cookies with dry ice (or go to this video to watch the process):

  1. Place the cookies on a plate: Place your cookies on a paper plate, then inside a sealable bag or wrap them with plastic wrap.
  2. Break the dry ice into large pieces: Put on safety goggles and protective gloves. Keeping the dry ice in the plastic packaging, use a mallet or hammer to gently break the dry ice into 2 to 3 large pieces to fit inside the cooler. (Don’t chip at the dry ice with a knife or other sharp object.)
  3. Add dry ice to the cooler: Place one half of the dry ice in the bottom of your cooler. Place a piece of cardboard or other packing material over the dry ice to avoid direct contact between the cookies and the dry ice.
  4. Add the cookies and more dry ice: Place the sealed bags of cookies on top of the piece of cardboard or packing materials. Place another piece of cardboard or packing materials over the cookies. Place the other half of the dry ice on top of the final piece of cardboard or packing materials.
  5. Close and ship: Close the lid. The cookies should stay frozen in the original cooler for 24 hours. Transport to a freezer after quick freezing if being kept for longer period of time. The packaged cooler is now ready to ship overnight to friends and family near and far.
How to ship cookies

More resources for shipping

See these other resources on the Penguin Dry Ice website for more:

Cookies recipes to ship

What are our top holiday cookie recipes for the season? Here are a few top Christmas cookie recipes we love:

Print
How to ship cookies

How to Ship Cookies


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: n/a
  • Total Time: 12 minute
  • Yield: n/a

Description

How to ship cookies so they stay perfectly fresh? Flash freeze and ship them to friends and family…using dry ice!


Ingredients

  • Festive cookies
  • Paper plates
  • Sealable bag or plastic wrap
  • Mallet or hammer
  • Protective gloves
  • Dry ice (find it here)
  • Tongs
  • Styrofoam cooler
  • Two pieces of cardboard or other packing materials

Instructions

Important: Read the dry ice handling instructions above before starting. Go to this video to watch the entire process!

  1. Place the cookies on a plate: Place your cookies on a paper plate, then inside a sealable bag or wrap them with plastic wrap.
  2. Break the dry ice into large pieces: Put on safety goggles and protective gloves. Keeping the dry ice in the plastic packaging, use a mallet or hammer to gently break the dry ice into 2 to 3 large pieces to fit inside the cooler. (Don’t chip at the dry ice with a knife or other sharp object.)
  3. Add dry ice to the cooler: Place one half of the dry ice in the bottom of your cooler. Place a piece of cardboard or other packing material over the dry ice to avoid direct contact between the cookies and the dry ice.
  4. Add the cookies and more dry ice: Place the sealed bags of cookies on top of the piece of cardboard or packing materials. Place another piece of cardboard or packing materials over the cookies. Place the other half of the dry ice on top of the final piece of cardboard or packing materials.
  5. Close and ship: Close the lid. The cookies should stay frozen in the original cooler for 24 hours. Transport to a freezer after quick freezing if being kept for longer period of time. The packaged cooler is now ready to ship overnight to friends and family near and far.
  • Category: Shipping
  • Method: Dry Ice
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: How to ship cookies

Cookies

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

Make these easy scaled-down recipes for turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and more to make a classic Thanksgiving dinner for two.

The post How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner for Two appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Huge Thanksgiving dinners with tons of family and loved ones are awesome, but not everyone has the option to travel or the family to get together with. If for one reason or another you find yourself alone or celebrating Thanksgiving with just one other person, you can still enjoy a classic Thanksgiving dinner on a smaller scale. I’ve crafted this smaller-sized meal that can be prepared in about two hours, so you can enjoy all those delicious thanksgiving recipes without a huge production. :)

Thanksgiving for two spread as seen from above

What’s Included in This Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

This smaller Thanksgiving dinner menu includes the following scaled-down classic Thanksgiving recipes:

  • Roasted Turkey Breast and Stuffing
  • Candied Sweet Potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Bean “Casserole” (stove top version)
  • Mushroom Herb Gravy

Each recipe makes about 2-4 servings, so you’ll still have a few leftovers, but not as much as if you had cooked regular-sized Thanksgiving dinner (we’re all about reducing food waste here at Budget Bytes).

Three recipes will be prepared in the oven (at the same time and same temperature) and three will be prepared on the stove top while the other recipes are doing their thing in the oven.

In addition to the recipes listed above, here are a couple optional extras you can add, either homemade or store-bought. You can make homemade cranberry sauce or mini pumpkin pies the day before. You might want to prepare a quick Thanksgiving grazing board to snack on earlier in the day, or maybe some cranberry cream cheese dip with crackers. And don’t forget to make a couple of Apple Cider Mimosas!

How Long Does it Take to Prepare?

I was able to make this meal in about two hours. The turkey and stuffing takes approximately 1.5 hours to roast, and I was able to prepare the rest of the sides while they were in the oven. I’m probably a bit faster than the average home cook and very well accustomed to multi-tasking in the kitchen, but I also paused to take all of my photographs in that time, so I think 2-3 hours is reasonable for most people. Beginners may wan to allow for extra time.

NOTE: The most important part of being able to prepare this meal in a decent amount of time is to read through the plan thoroughly before beginning. You need to understand how to execute each recipe and in which order before you begin so you don’t get lost. Making a Thanksgiving dinner, any Thanksgiving dinner, takes coordination and multi-tasking skills.

What You Need

For this entire meal you’ll need the following equipment:

  • 8×8″ casserole dish
  • Large baking sheet (about 16″x13″)
  • Medium saucepot (2.5 qt.)
  • 3 qt. covered sauté pan or pot
  • 10″ skillet
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Colander
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Whisk
  • Parchment paper

In addition to the equipment listed above, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs. bone-in, skin-on turkey breast
  • ½ lb. Brussels sprouts
  • ¾ lb. sweet potato
  • 1 lb. russet potato
  • 8 oz. mushrooms
  • 12 oz. frozen cut green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 6oz. box stuffing mix
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 ½ Tbsps all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup French fried onions (packaged)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 11 Tbsp butter
  • 1 ¼ tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 ⅛ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • Salt, pepper, and olive oil
Thanksgiving dinner for two on a plate with a fork

How to Make Thanksgiving for Two – Step by Step Instructions

Okay, let’s get into it! I have the process divided into steps below. Each recipe is its own step so you can skip recipes you don’t like or even scale up recipes that you may want more of. You’ll be cooking most of these simultaneously, but they are listed in order of execution. Keep in mind that the cooking times will overlap. Make sure to read through the instructions thoroughly before beginning. Understanding the process for each recipe and the sequence is critical to executing a Thanksgiving dinner!

NOTE: Before beginning, adjust the racks in your oven so the top rack is slightly above the middle position and the lower rack is just below the middle position (not on the lowest position). The bottom rack only needs enough vertical room for a sheet pan, while the top rack needs enough height for the casserole dish and turkey breast.

1. Turkey and Stuffing

Sliced roasted turkey and stuffing on a plate

This turkey turns out so incredibly juicy and so so much easier than roasting a whole bird. The stuffing absorbs the juices and fat from the turkey as it roasts, making it even more flavorful!

The turkey and stuffing take the longest to cook (about 1.5 hours), so you’ll want to begin this first. The rest of the sides can be prepared while the turkey and stuffing are in the oven.

Sliced roasted turkey and stuffing on a plate

Roasted Turkey Breast with Stuffing

Herb roasted turkey breast and stuffing cook together for one easy and flavorful main dish in this Thanksgiving for two.
Total Cost $13.85 recipe / $4.62 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 3 to 4
Calories 552kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 6oz. box stuffing mix $0.89
  • 1.5 cups water $0.00
  • 4 Tbsp butter, room temperature $0.40
  • 1 tsp dried sage $0.10
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary $0.10
  • 1 tsp dried thyme $0.10
  • 3/4 tsp salt $0.05
  • 2.5 lb. bone-in, skin on turkey breast $12.21

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the box of stuffing mix to a bowl, then pour in 1.5 cups warm water. Stir and let the stuffing sit to absorb the water as you prepare the turkey.
  • Combine the room temperature butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, and salt in a small bowl.
  • Pat the turkey breast dry, then spread the herb butter mixture all over the surface.
  • Transfer the stuffing to the bottom of an 8×8-inch casserole dish and place the turkey breast on top. The turkey should cover nearly all of the stuffing. If there is a lot of stuffing exposed, use foil to cover the stuffing mix to prevent it from browning too much during the hour and a half in the oven.
  • Transfer the turkey and stuffing to the oven (upper rack) and roast for about 1.5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165ºF.
  • After roasting, let the turkey and stuffing rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. The stuffing under the turkey will have absorbed quite a bit of moisture from the turkey, while the stuffing on the edges will be quite crunchy. Simply stir the stuffing together and let it sit for about five minutes to rehydrate the drier pieces before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 552kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 66g | Fat: 18g | Sodium: 1722mg | Fiber: 1g

Turkey and Stuffing Step by Step Photos

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the contents of one 6oz. box of stuffing mix in a bowl and add 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to combine, then set it aside to soak as you prepare the turkey.
  2. Combine 4 Tbsp room temperature butter with 1 tsp dried sage, 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1 tsp dried thyme, and ¾ tsp salt. Pat a 2.5 lb. bone-in, skin-on turkey breast dry, then smear the herb butter over the surface (if the turkey breast is wet, the butter won’t stick, so dry it well).
  3. Place the hydrated stuffing mix in the bottom of an 8×8-inch casserole dish and place the turkey breast on top. The turkey should cover most of the stuffing. If there are any large portions of stuffing exposed, you may want to cover the exposed portions with foil to prevent them from browning too much as the dish is in the oven. Do not cover the turkey with foil.
  4. Roast the turkey and stuffing in the preheated 350ºF oven for about 1.5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165ºF. Let the turkey rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
  5. The stuffing under the turkey will have absorbed a lot of moisture from the turkey as it roasts while the stuffing on the outer edges will be quite crunchy. Simply stir the stuffing together and let it sit for about five minutes for the moisture levels to equalize.

Once the turkey and stuffing are in the oven, move on to recipe #2, Candied Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

2. Candied Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Candied Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts on a plate

While the turkey and stuffing are roasting, begin the candied sweet potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. These will cook together on one sheet pan in the oven at the same time as the turkey and stuffing. The sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts take about 40 minutes to cook, so you can prepare them on the sheet pan and then wait to put them into the oven until the turkey has about 40 minutes to go.

These candied sweet potatoes were so delicious it was all I could do to keep from eating them ALL myself. :o

Candied Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts on a plate

Candied Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Candied sweet potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts cook together on one sheet pan for a 2-in-1 easy Thanksgiving side dish.
Total Cost $3.19 recipe / $1.60 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 356kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Candied Sweet Potatoes

  • 3/4 lb. sweet potato $0.75
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.04
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts $2.00
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper $0.03

Instructions

  • Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into ½-inch thick rounds. Place the sliced sweet potatoes in a bowl.
  • Melt the butter and then stir in the cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Pour the sweet butter over the sliced sweet potatoes and stir to combine.
  • Cut off any dry ends from the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then toss to coat.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then lay the butter-coated sweet potatoes out over half of the baking sheet. Try to get as much of the butter mixture out of the bowl onto the sweet potatoes as possible. Spread the Brussels sprouts over the other half of the baking sheet.
  • Transfer the baking sheet to the oven, placing it on the rack below the turkey. Roast the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until browned and tender, flipping once halfway through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 490mg | Fiber: 10g

Candied Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts Step by Step Photos

  1. Peel and slice one ¾ lb. sweet potato into ½-inch thick rounds. Melt 1.5 Tbsp butter, then stir in 1 Tbsp brown sugar, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp ground cloves, and ⅛ tsp salt. Pour the butter mixture over the sweet potatoes and stir until they’re coated.
  2. Cut off the dry stem end of ½ lb. Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and ⅛ tsp each of salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Place the Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined sweet pan. Make sure to get as much of that butter mixture from the bowl onto the sweet potatoes.
  3. The vegetables only take about 40 minutes to roast, so you may want to leave them prepped on the sheet pan until the last 40 minutes or so of the turkey’s baking time so they’re not done too early. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven (lower rack) and roast the vegetables for about 40 minutes, or until browned and tender, flipping them once halfway through.

Once the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are on the sheet pan and prepared to go into the oven, you can move on to preparing the next recipe, mashed potatoes. When the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are in the oven you can prepare the last two recipes, green bean “casserole” and mushroom herb gravy.

3. Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes in a bowl with melted butter on top

You can prepare the mashed potatoes while you’re waiting to put the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts in the oven. They’re pretty quick to prepare, then they can sit on the stovetop with a lid on to stay warm while you finish the rest of the side dishes.

This recipe is also pretty flexible, so if there are other ingredients that you like to add to your mashed potatoes, like sour cream, cheese, or herbs, feel free to stir them in at the end!

Small-Batch Mashed Potatoes

This smaller batch of mashed potatoes is perfect for a Thanksgiving for Two or any quick weeknight dinner when you don't want leftovers.
Total Cost $1.25 recipe / $0.42 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 ¾ cup each
Calories 133kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

  • Medium Saucepot

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. russet potato $0.99
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided $0.02
  • 1/4 cup milk $0.11
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp pepper $0.01

Instructions

  • Peel the potato then dice into ½-inch cubes. Rinse the diced potatoes with cool water in a colander to remove excess starch.
  • Place the cubed potatoes in a medium pot and cover with one inch of water. Add ½ tsp salt. Place a lid on top and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes for 8-10 minutes, or until very tender.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander and then give them another brief rinse.
  • Add the butter, milk, garlic powder, and pepper to the pot used to boil the potatoes. Heat over low until the milk is hot and the butter is melted. Return the drained potatoes to the pot and mash. Taste the mashed potatoes and add salt, if needed (I added ¼ tsp).
  • Place a lid on the pot then move it to a back burner (not turned on) to stay warm while you prepare the rest of the sides.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 598mg | Fiber: 2g

Small Batch Mashed Potatoes Step by Step Photos

  1. Peel and dice a one pound russet potato into ½-inch pieces. Rinse the pieces briefly in a colander to remove excess starch. Place the cubed potato in a medium pot and cover with water. Add 1/2 tsp salt to the water. Place a lid on top and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes for 8-10 minutes, or until very tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and give them another brief rinse.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp butter, ¼ cup milk, and ¼ tsp garlic powder, and ⅛ tsp pepper to the pot used to boil the potatoes. Heat the milk and butter mixture over low until the milk is hot and butter is mostly melted. Add the drained potatoes back to the pot.
  3. Mash the potatoes until mostly smooth. Taste and add salt if needed (I added ¼ tsp). Place a lid on the pot and move the pot full of potatoes to an unused burner (heat turned off) to stay warm until the rest of the meal is finished.

4. Green Bean “Casserole”

A bowl of creamy green beans with fried onion topping

Once your potatoes are mashed and are resting on the back of the stove, begin the green bean “casserole”. This is essentially a quick stovetop version of the classic baked casserole. Tender green beans coated in a creamy mushroom sauce and topped with French fried onions. You can bake this in the oven after assembly if you prefer, but I was aiming for speed and simplicity with this recipe, so I skipped the baking step.

A bowl of creamy green beans with fried onion topping

Stove Top Green Bean “Casserole”

A quick stove top version of the classic baked green bean casserole. Tender green beans with a creamy mushroom sauce and French fried onions.
Total Cost $2.99 recipe / $1.00 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 ¾ cup each
Calories 242kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

  • 3 qt. Covered Sauté Pan

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. frozen cut green beans $1.00
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 4 oz. mushrooms $0.75
  • 1 clove garlic $0.08
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 1 cup milk $0.44
  • 1 cup vegetable broth $0.13
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.03
  • 1/2 cup Fried Onions* $0.32

Instructions

  • Add the frozen green beans to a pot and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot, then bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the green beans for about 5 minutes, or until tender, then drain in a colander.
  • While the green beans are boiling, slice the mushrooms and mince the garlic.
  • Add the mushrooms, garlic, and butter to the pot used to boil the green beans. Sauté over medium heat. Once the mushrooms have released all their water and all of it has evaporated off the bottom of the pot, add the flour and continue to stir and cook for about one minute more.
  • Whisk in the milk, vegetable broth, salt, and pepper. Make sure to whisk until all of the flour has dissolved off the bottom of the pot. Allow the milk mixture to return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a boil, it will thicken into a sauce.
  • Return the drained green beans to the pot with the sauce and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and allow the green beans to remain heating over low, stirring occasionally, as you make the final recipe (mushroom herb gravy). The sauce will continue to thicken as it heats over low.
  • When you're ready to serve the green beans, transfer them to a bowl and top with the fried onions.

Notes

*This is a store bought product, like French’s Crispy Fried Onions

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 695mg | Fiber: 4g

Stove Top Green Bean Casserole Step by Step Photos

  1. Add 12oz. frozen green beans to a pot and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat on to high, and bring the water up to a boil. Boil the green beans until tender (about 5 minutes). Drain the green beans in a colander.
  2. While the beans are boiling, slice 4oz. mushrooms and mince one clove of garlic. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and 2 Tbsp butter to the pot that was used to boil the beans (after draining them). Sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms have released all of their water and it has completely evaporated off the bottom of the pot.
  3. Once there is no more water pooling on the bottom of the pot, add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour and continue to stir and cook over medium heat for about a minute more.
  4. Whisk in one cup milk, one cup vegetable broth, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Make sure to keep whisking until all of the flour has dissolved off the bottom of the pot.
  5. Allow the liquid to return to a boil, stirring occasionally, at which point it will thicken to a sauce.
  6. Stir the drained green beans back into the sauce. Turn the heat down to low and let the green beans heat over low, stirring occasionally, as you make the final recipe (mushroom herb gravy). When ready to serve, top with ½ cup fried onions.

5. Mushroom Herb Gravy

mushroom herb gravy in a bowl with a spoon

This mushroom herb gravy only takes a few minutes to make, so it’s best to make it last just before you serve your Thanksgiving dinner. Gravies tend to gel up even more as they cool, so if you find your gravy becoming too thick after it begins to cool, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of warm water to loosen it back up.

mushroom herb gravy in a bowl with a spoon

Mushroom Herb Gravy

This small batch of mushroom herb gravy takes minutes to prepare and is full of delicious savory flavor!
Total Cost $1.23 recipe / $0.41 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 3 ½ cup each
Calories 78kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

  • 10" skillet

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. mushrooms $0.75
  • 1 clove garlic $0.08
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter $0.15
  • 1.5 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 1 cup vegetable broth $0.13
  • 1/4 tsp rubbed sage $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme (or one sprig fresh) $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Slice the mushrooms and mince the garlic. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and butter to a small skillet and sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms have released all of their water and the water has completely evaporated off the bottom of the skillet.
  • When there is no more water pooling on the bottom of the skillet, add the flour and continue to stir and cook for about one minute more.
  • Add the vegetable broth and whisk well until all of the flour has dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. Also add the sage, thyme, and pepper. Allow the broth to come up to a simmer, stirring occasionally, at which point it will thicken to a gravy.
  • Taste the gravy and add salt if needed. Serve immediately.

Notes

If the gravy becomes too thick as it cools down, simply whisk a tablespoon of water into the gravy until smooth to loosen it up.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 365mg | Fiber: 1g

Mushroom Herb Gravy Step by Step Photos

  1. The gravy starts out the same as the green bean casserole. Slice 4oz. mushrooms and mince one clove of garlic. Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in 1.5 Tbsp butter over medium heat until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and it has evaporated off the bottom of the skillet. Once no more water is left on the bottom of the skillet, add 1.5 Tbsp flour and continue to stir and cook for about a minute more.
  2. Whisk in 1 cup vegetable broth. Make sure to keep whisking until all of the flour has dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. Also add ¼ tsp rubbed sage, ⅛ tsp dried thyme, and ⅛ tsp pepper.
  3. Allow the broth to come up to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to simmer it will thicken into a gravy. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve immediately.
Thanksgiving dinner for two all the dishes spread out in display

And there you have it! By the time you’re finished making the gravy, the rest of the dishes should be done and waiting to be served. This meal should provide two people with generous helpings, plus a little leftover for the next day. ;) If you make this meal make sure to take a photo and tag us on social media! I want to see your masterpiece!

Thanksgiving for two plated with a fork and bowl of gravy on the side

The post How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner for Two appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs

A step by step guide on how to make hard boiled eggs, recipe ideas, tips for peeling, and more.

The post How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

It’s no secret that I’m an egg fanatic (check my logo). They’re inexpensive, easy to cook, and so extremely versatile! My favorite budget meal hack has always been to just “put an egg on it.” And while soft boiled eggs might be my favorite, there are definitely times when a hard boiled egg just works better. So I wanted to do a quick tutorial on how to make hard boiled eggs so you can see just how quick and easy they are to incorporate into your meals!

Several hard boiled eggs cut in half against a yellow background

Let’s just get right to the nitty-gritty of what everyone wants to know…

How Long to Boil Eggs

The easy answer – boil large eggs for about 12 minutes to make hard boiled eggs.

The long answer – The amount of time needed to hard boil an egg can vary depending on several factors including, but not limited to:

  • The size of the egg
  • The type of cookware and stove top used
  • The starting temperature of the egg
  • The boiling method used (cold start, hot start, steaming)
  • Your altitude

I’m going to provide a general guide below, but you’ll need to experiment a little to find the exact time needed to make perfect hard boiled eggs using your equipment, your eggs, and at your altitude.

How to Boil Eggs Step by Step Instructions

As mentioned above, there are actually several ways to make hard boiled eggs. I like the hot water bath method because it doesn’t require a lot of attention and it’s pretty forgiving if you can’t tend to the eggs right when your timer goes off. Here’s how it works:

1. Add cold eggs to a pot and cover with water

Place cold, large eggs straight from the refrigerator into a saucepot in a single layer. Add enough water to cover the eggs by one inch.

2. Bring to a boil

Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil over high heat.

3. Turn off the heat

When the water reaches a full rolling boil, turn off the heat and leave the pot on the burner (lid still on). Let the eggs sit in the hot water for about 12 minutes. The water will slowly cool as they sit, which helps give you some flexibility before the eggs over cook (green-tinged yolk=over cooked egg).

4. Transfer eggs to ice bath

After 12 minutes, transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water for about 5 minutes.

5. Peel and enjoy!

five hard boiled eggs cut in half lined up with numbers over top

The image above shows my results after 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 minutes. Six minutes was a nice jammy yolk, 10 minutes still had a bit of wetness in the center, and around 12 minutes I achieved a completely solid yolk.

Hard Boil Eggs Using Steam

I also like to steam my eggs, as seen in my tutorial for 6-minute soft boiled eggs. This method is super fast because you only use about an inch of water, which comes to a boil very quickly. To make hard boiled eggs using the steaming method, simply let them steam for about 10-12 minutes. I also find that steamed eggs tend to peel very easily. See the steaming tutorial here.

One hard boiled egg cut in half with everything bagel seasoning sprinkled over top

How Long Are Hard Boiled Eggs Good?

A hard boiled egg will stay good for about a week when refrigerated in their shell. A peeled hard boiled egg should be eaten within two days.

Tips for Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs

The internet is full of tips for making hard boiled eggs easy to peel. But I will be honest, I’ve tried them all and I haven’t found consistent results with any method. Sometimes even eggs within the same batch of hard boiled eggs will vary from impossible to peel to peeling effortlessly. That being said, I’m going to list all of the tips and tricks I’ve heard, if case you want to try them to see if any of them bring you success.

  • Old eggs peel easier than fresh eggs
  • Add cold eggs to boiling water instead of bringing them to a boil together (this tracks with my steamed eggs being easy to peel more often than not)
  • Tap the egg on a solid surface, then gently roll to crack the shell on all sides before peeling
  • Peel eggs under running water (the flow helps separate the white from the peel)
  • After removing part of the shell, slide a spoon between the shell and egg white to separate them
  • Place the eggs in a covered container and gently shake to crack the shells until they fall off
  • Add baking soda to the water (about ½ tsp per pot)

Have you had success with any of these methods? Share which one works best for you in the comments below.

Hard boiled eggs lined up on a yellow background

Recipes Using Hard Boiled Eggs

I add hard boiled eggs to just about everything. If you need a little inspiration for how to use your hard boiled eggs, here are a few hard boiled egg recipe ideas:

several halved hard boiled eggs against a yellow background

How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs

A step by step guide on how to make hard boiled eggs, recipe ideas, tips for easy peeling, and more.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 72kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs

Instructions

  • Add cold eggs to a saucepot. Add enough water to the pot to cover the eggs by one inch.
  • Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat on to high. Allow the water to come up to a boil.
  • Once the water reaches a full rolling boil, turn the heat off and leave the pot on the burner (with the lid on) for about 12 minutes.*
  • After 12 minutes, transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water. Chill the eggs in the ice water for about five minutes. Peel and enjoy.

Notes

*Cooking time may vary slightly based on your altitude, cookware, stovetop, size, and temperature of the eggs.

Nutrition

Serving: 1egg | Calories: 72kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 71mg

The post How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

30+ Game Changing Cooking Tips and Tricks from the Budget Bytes Community

30 of the best cooking tips that will “change the game” in your kitchen, according to the Budget Bytes community.

The post 30+ Game Changing Cooking Tips and Tricks from the Budget Bytes Community appeared first on Budget Bytes.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the Budget Bytes Facebook community to share their favorite game-changing cooking tips, and boy did you guys deliver! The thread was so alive with great tips and people swapping ideas with each other that I just had to share the top tips here for everyone to enjoy. The thread is still going strong and more tips and comments are being added every day, so you can check it out here to see the latest!

Overhead view of kitchen equipment with title text in the center

Here were the top tips, as of a week or so ago, according to the number of comments and interactions (in no particular order). I hope you enjoy and feel free to discuss in the comments below or hop on over to Facebook to join the conversation!

Top Cooking Tips

1. Make Measuring a Breeze

Coating a measuring spoon or cup in oil to make ingredients like honey or peanut butter come right out.

Jenn

2. Take Your Grilled Cheese Up a Notch

Mayo on bread versus butter for a grilled cheese.

Shawna Cotton Beidler

3. Most Loved Kitchen Gadget

Less a trick, but splurging for an immersion blender was an amazing investment!

Gina Zaneri

4. Add Flavor to Soups, Stews, and More

A jar of vegetable flavored Better Than Bouillon

Using Better Than Bouillon in soups, sauces and gravy for some extra depth of flavor.

Jennifer Keefer

5. Improve the Texture of Tofu

Freeze and defrost tofu. I learned it from you!

Julia Anker

For context, freezing tofu changes the texture of the tofu, which is perfect for recipes where you want more texture and less softness. :)

6. Perfect Steak Every Time

When cooking steak on a stovetop use two pans. Put one on high and one on low. Use the hot pan to first sear the edges of the steak before cooking it on low/med. Searing the edges locks in the fluids and gives you a juicer steak.

Kyle Hudson

7. Rethink Boiled Eggs

Eggs in a pot with water

Steam eggs rather than boil.

Lois Thurstan

See our guide on how to Steam Eggs Here.

8. Add Extra Umami to Your Recipes

Adding a bit of anchovies (or miso) to tomato sauce and adding butter at the end. Makes it super umami tasty and creamy.

Mandy

9. Quick and Easy Corn on the Cob

Wrapping fresh corn on the cob (in the shucks) with a paper towel, running under water to wet the towel, and steaming in the microwave for 5 minutes. Comes out perfect every time.

Donna Woodliff

10. Make Cleanup Easy

Using parchment paper when baking rolls and cookies so you don’t have to scrape the pan

Anonymous

11. Pressure Cooker Eggs

Hard boiled eggs in the instant pot!

Marianne

12. Swap Your Skillet for the Oven

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

Making bacon in the oven.

Anne

See our tutorial on How to Make Bacon in the Oven for more details!

13. Frozen Vegetables for Convenience

I learned this from you- but using frozen vegetables. I always bought fresh and I would dread washing and cutting and then I would waste a lot because it goes bad so fast. I still use fresh vegetables some but I keep frozen vegetables to roast for easy dinners too!

Paige Wright

14. Easy Grease Cleanup

I just learned this recently from watching the Julia Pacheco cooking show. After frying up meats like ground meat or sausage , take a paper towel and with tongs or spoon or whatever move it around in the pan to remove the grease. Then just toss the paper towel. Saves from having to wash a greasy colander too!

Eileen

15. Perfect Sautéed Mushrooms

Cooking mushrooms in a pan with 1/4 cup water and once the water is evaporated and the mushrooms are soft finishing them with butter for taste and shine. They don’t get nearly so greasy as when you cook just in oil or butter. Tip learned from this video.

Mindy

16. Portion and Freeze

Portioned Tomato Paste
Freeze Tomato Paste

Freezing tomato paste in ice cube sized portions – now I buy a large can when I need tomato paste & freeze what I don’t use. Recipes I used usually called for 1 tablespoon so I always had left over paste.

Anonymous

17. Recipes are Memories

Acceptance- i can’t make certain recipes as well or even close as some family members. So cherish the recipe for safe keeping holds special meaning since I can’t taste it.

Heather Miker

Yesssss! 👏 🙌 Recipes can hold so many lovely recipes. They can be as nostalgic as a photo album.

18. Bulk Cook Beef

I made a bunch of ground beef for a taco night at church last week. Made it in the crock pot. I don’t think I’ll ever make it in a skillet again if I don’t have to! Soooo good! I cooked 5 pounds and it was perfect. So 5 pounds in the crock pot and divided up for future meals. Easy peasy.

Kim Scott

20. Stay On Top of the Mess

CLEAN AS YOU GO so much easier that way.

Sofia K.

21. Bright Your Food with Acid

1. Clean as you go!

2. Better Than Bouillon is the best broth base.

3. Add lemon juice or vinegar if your food is tasting a bit bland – the acid gives it a kick!

Elise Durand

22. Salt is Everything

Salt is your friend! Samin Nosrat taught me that when food is properly salted it will have a “ZING” when you taste it. My cooking has improved exponentially since I have been following her advice.

Also- taste the water in which you boil pasta, potatoes or vegetables. It should taste pleasantly salty like the ocean. Your mashed potatoes will need much less butter and milk!

Kristin Bergamini

Check out Samin Nosrat’s book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.

23. Mashed Bananas

brown bananas

Squishing a banana before peeling for muffins.

Camille

24. Colanders Are Multipurpose

Super silly but … using the holes in a colander to pull through herbs like rosemary, lavender, cilantro.

Capi Zabala

25. Lump-free Soup and Gravy

My friend showed how she takes a Mason jar, puts flour in it with milk and shakes it to make a slurry for gravy or thickening soups. It never gets lumpy doing it like that. Like a 1/4 flour to 1 cup milk.

Erin Bosco

26. Easy Creamy Sauces

cream cheese chunks added to the skillet

Cream cheese makes just about any sauce creamier, more stable, and more rich. It’s like magic. Cream cheese in spaghetti sauce makes it super rich and creamy and cuts down on the acid content. We always called it “Better Spaghetti”.

Velah

27. Sheet Pans For The Win

Sheet pan pancakes in the oven.

Samantha Johns

28. Parmesan for Umami

Adding some parmesan rind to a soup or sauce adds flavor/umami. Yum!

Laurie Gannon

29. Mise En Place

One Pot Lemon Artichoke Chicken and Rice Ingredients

Not a trick exactly, but the best thing I learned was mise en place, or putting everything in order before you begin, and reading through the full recipe before I start to cook. It makes all the difference in getting a good result, eliminating mistakes, and ease of cooking anything.

Marion M.

Solid advice!! If you want more tips on how to execute a recipe, check out our 10 Tips for Recipe Success.

30. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Let a machine cook the rice for you. Because I certainly can’t.

Lindsay

There’s no shame in getting a little help from technology! :)

31. Perfect Poached Eggs

Poaching eggs in a frying pan instead of a pot. Water is shallow and more room for poaching multiple eggs! (I don’t know why I never thought of it!)

Regan

32. Cook Tomato Paste

Browning your tomato paste first before adding. The flavor is soo much better. Brown in butter or a little olive oil until it turns a dark brick red.

Samantha Kelly

33. No More Tears

Use clear swim googles to cut onions. It looks hilarious, but I don’t cry anymore when I chop onions!

Tori

So what do you think? Did you learn any new cooking tips? Share a cooking tip or trick that was a total game changer for you in the comments below!

The post 30+ Game Changing Cooking Tips and Tricks from the Budget Bytes Community appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Juice a Lemon

Learn how to juice a lemon using five simple tricks to get every last drop of juice. These tips work great on all fresh citrus!

The post How to Juice a Lemon appeared first on Budget Bytes.

There’s no denying how much vibrant flavor fresh lemons and limes bring to a recipe, but they’re not cheap! So here are a few tricks that I use to juice a lemon (or lime) to make sure you get every last drop of juice and leave no penny wasted.

A hand squeezing a lemon into a glass

1. Choose Ripe Lemons

This step might be the most obvious, but it can also be the most difficult depending on the season or your location. Unripe, rock-hard lemons are not likely to give you much juice no matter what, so spend some time checking for ripeness before you buy.

Give the lemons a light squeeze. A ripe, juicy lemon will feel a little heavy and give just slightly when squeezed. If it’s too soft, it’s probably past its prime. A very light lemon is likely to be dry or have a thick pith and less juice. Looks for a bright yellow peel with a nice sheen. The lemon should never look dull or wrinkled.

A hand squeezing a lemon

2. Roll It

I like to think of this step as the “pre-squeeze.” Before cutting into the lemon, roll it on the countertop with pressure. This crushes some of the membranes in the lemon even before you cut, so the juice is loose and ready to go!

A lemon being rolled on a countertop

3. Microwave It

Pop the lemon in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (again, before cutting it open). This has a similar effect to rolling the lemon in that it causes some of the membranes inside to burst and release their juice. Plus, a warm lemon is a lot softer and easier to squeeze than a cold lemon.

A lemon being reamed with a spoon

4. Ream It

After finally cutting the lemon in half and doing an initial squeeze by hand, I like to “ream” the inside of the lemon. While there are special tools made for this purpose, I find that a large spoon works just fine. Simply insert the spoon into the center of the halved lemon and twist. This crushes any remaining membranes and releases every last drop. And then do one last squeeze after reaming.

Freezer Bag Full of Fresh Lemons

5. Freeze It

Another option, if you do happen to get some lemons that are really dry, is to freeze them. Freezing breaks almost all of the internal membranes and will leave the lemon very soft and juicy after thawing. Freezing lemons is a great way to save extra lemons that you plan to use for zesting and juicing. You can read my full tutorial on how to freeze citrus here.

Recipes for Fresh Lemons

Now that you’re a pro at squeezing lemons, here are a few awesome recipes to make with all that fresh juice!

The post How to Juice a Lemon appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Make the Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

Use what you have on hand to build an ultimate veggie sandwich packed with color, flavor, and texture. Eat the rainbow!

The post How to Make the Ultimate Veggie Sandwich appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love a good veggie sandwich. There are so many colors, textures, and flavors in every bite that it’s just beyond satisfying. And, because they’re super flexible, you can build an ultimate veggie sandwich using odds and ends of things you may already have in your fridge. And that is one of the most valuable characteristics of a recipe or meal when it comes to eating on a budget.

An ultimate veggie sandwich cut in half and stacked, cut sides facing the camera

This is going to be more of a how-to than a recipe because it’s so extremely flexible and it’s unlikely that you’ll end up using the exact same mix of ingredients as I did. For that reason, and because some of these ingredients are nearly impossible to accurately measure let alone calculate the cost of, I didn’t do a cost breakdown this time. But I’m willing to bet that it cost me less than shelling out $8 for a veggie sandwich at a deli!

I will put a recipe card with my exact sandwich ingredients below for anyone who is interested in trying to duplicate the exact sandwich pictured.

Step 1: Choose Your Bread

I suggest a good, hearty bread for veggie sandwiches, like wheat bread, sourdough, focaccia, or ciabatta. You need something that can hold up to the hefty texture of the vegetables without ripping and something that will provide a little weight in your stomach next to all those lightweight veggies. If you want to make your own bread, no-knead bread or focaccia would be awesome.

You could also make your veggie sandwich into a wrap using an extra-large tortilla. A pita pocket might work too, but it might be difficult to squeeze all those veggies in without it ripping.

The sandwich in the photos was made using Dave’s Killer Bread, Good Seed flavor. It was my first time trying this bread and while it was strong enough for the sandwich, it was a little softer than I’d prefer and the flavor was a bit too sweet for my liking.

Step 3: Choose Your Spread

Using some sort of sandwich spread adds moisture, flavor, and a little fat, which gives the sandwich a more satisfying mouthfeel.

I whipped up a quick scallion cream cheese that was basically a scaled-back version of my Scallion Herb Cream Cheese Spread. I just mixed together 2oz. cream cheese with one sliced green onion, ½ tsp lemon juice, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, ⅛ tsp dried dill, and a pinch of salt.

Other good sandwich spread options include:

  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Pesto
  • Mayo (or a pesto-mayo mix)
  • Thick salad dressings, like ranch or green goddess
  • Boursin
  • Marinara
A veggie sandwich being built, ingredients all around.

Step 4: Add Cheese (Optional)

Since my spread was technically a cheese, I didn’t add any extra cheese. A little cheese can go a long way toward making a veggie sandwich very filling. Here are some good cheese options for veggie sandwiches:

  • White cheddar
  • Feta
  • Goat cheese (chevre)
  • Havarti
  • Swiss
  • Fresh mozzarella

Step 5: Pile On the Veggies!

And here’s where you can start to get really creative! I pulled a lonely carrot out of my produce drawer, grabbed a handful of leftover fresh spinach, sliced up a cucumber and tomato, and used the leftover half of a red bell pepper that I had from the day before. Oh, and I added some alfalfa sprouts because I love the texture they bring to the sandwich! Here are some other vegetables you can add:

  • Sliced button mushrooms or grilled portobello
  • Avocado
  • Coleslaw (this would act like a veggie-spread combo ingredient)
  • Pickles
  • Red onion
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Fresh or grilled zucchini
  • Roasted beets (sliced thin)
  • Sauer kraut
  • Jalapeño
  • Fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro
  • Broccoli (chopped fine)

You’ll want to slice most of your vegetables thinly, which helps keep everything packed together tightly. For hard vegetables, like the carrot I used, it’s helpful to chop or shred them into very small pieces. I used a cheese grater to grate my carrot, but something like broccoli I would just chop finely.

Step 6: Top with Extras

With so many veggies piled onto one sandwich, a little extra ✨spice✨ is never a bad idea. I always like to add some salt and freshly cracked pepper to my tomato layer, but you can also add things like Italian herbs, sunflower seeds, everything bagel seasoning, crushed red pepper, furikake, or nutritional yeast.

A hand holding both halves of a cut open ultimate veggie sandwich

Veggie Sandwich Ideas

Before we get into exactly what was on the sandwich pictured above, here are a few other fun veggie sandwich combo ideas:

  • The Green Goddess: Green goddess dressing, spinach, sprouts, cucumber, avocado, feta on any bread.
  • The Roasted Veggie: Hummus, roasted red peppers, roasted portobellos, roasted zucchini, feta, everything bagel seasoning, on any bread.
  • The “Pizza”: Marinara, grilled or roasted eggplant or portobello, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, black olives, red onion, fresh mozzarella, on ciabatta bread.
  • Coleslaw Sandwich: Creamy coleslaw, tomato, Swiss or havarti, salt and pepper, on sourdough.
A hand holding both halves of a cut open ultimate veggie sandwich

The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

Use what you have on hand to build an ultimate veggie sandwich packed with color, flavor, and texture. Eat the rainbow!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 411kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Scallion Cream Cheese

  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill
  • 1 pinch salt

Sandwich

  • 2 slices hearty bread
  • 6 slices cucumber
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 handful alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper

Instructions

  • Whip the ingredients for the scallion cream cheese together in a small bowl (I used a fork).
  • Lightly toast the bread. Spread the cream cheese over one side of each pieces of bread.
  • Pile the vegetables onto the bread, then close. Slice in half and enjoy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 22g | Sodium: 560mg | Fiber: 9g
Side view of a closed veggie sandwich, uncut

Got Leftover Ingredients?

If you did happen to buy ingredients specifically for making a veggie sandwich, here are some really flexible recipes that you can make to use up any leftovers:

The post How to Make the Ultimate Veggie Sandwich appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

This super simple homemade ranch seasoning makes great ranch dressing and can also be used to season, meat, vegetables, pasta, and more.

The post Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Those little packets of ranch seasoning mix that you can get at the store are pretty versatile. You can do so much more with them than just mixing up a quick batch of ranch dressing. That flavorful mix of buttermilk and herbs can be used to coat just anything in a tangy, herby, creamy goodness. But I wanted to make my own homemade ranch seasoning so I could whip up any amount needed and so I’d know every last ingredient in the mix.

Ranch seasoning mix ingredients in a small wooden bowl with lemon, garlic, and parsley on the sides

Buttermilk Powder is a Must

Most of the ingredients in this homemade ranch seasoning mix are pantry staples, but there is one special ingredient that can not be substituted, buttermilk powder, which is basically dehydrated buttermilk. Buttermilk powder provides tangy and creamy flavors without having to add a liquid to the mix. This allows you to get that classic ranch flavor in dry form, which is perfect for things like seasoning popcorn or making a dry rub for meat.

It usually comes in a small round container and can be found in the baking aisle, usually near canned evaporated milk or dry milk. I used Saco brand Buttermilk blend (the brand that I see most often in grocery stores here in the U.S.). It looks like this:

A container of buttermilk powder

How to Use Homemade Ranch Seasoning

I’m super excited to have finally made my own ranch seasoning because there are just so many ways to use it. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Season roasted potatoes
  • Stir into mashed potatoes
  • Sprinkle over popcorn
  • Season roasted chicken
  • Mix with butter to brush onto biscuits
  • Make chip dip
  • Season homemade croutons
  • Sprinkle over buttered pasta
  • Season roasted vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower

How to Store Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

The recipe below is a small batch about the same as one ranch seasoning packet you’d buy in the store. If you want to scale the recipe up and save some pre-made mix you can do that. Store the ranch seasoning mix in an air-tight container away from heat and sunlight, just as you would with any dry herbs or spices. It should stay good for several months, but as with any dried herb, the flavor will slowly diminish over time.

mixed homemade ranch seasoning surrounded by other ingredients
ranch seasoning mix ingredients in a wooden bowl with ingredients on the sides

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

This super simple homemade ranch seasoning makes great ranch dressing and can also be used to season, meat, vegetables, pasta, and more.
Total Cost $0.53 per batch
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 batch (about 3 Tbsp)
Calories 54kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk powder $0.15
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp sugar $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.01

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use immediately or store in an air-tight container until ready to use.

To Make Ranch Dressing

  • Combine the ranch seasoning mix with ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup sour cream, and ¼ cup milk. Whisk until smooth.

To Make Chip Dip

  • Combine the ranch seasoning mix with 1 cup sour cream and stir until smooth. Let the dip sit for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Nutrition

Serving: 1batch | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 354mg | Fiber: 1g
close up of mixed ranch seasoning in the bowl with a measuring spoon

Use your homemade ranch seasoning mix as a dry powder to season meat, vegetables, pasta, and more. Or, use it to whip up a batch of ranch dressing or chip dip…

Ranch dressing in a bowl surrounded by carrots and celery

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How to Make a Simple Side Salad and Why You Should Make One with Dinner Tonight

Use this easy formula to make simple side salads that will add color, texture, and flavor to your dinners.

The post How to Make a Simple Side Salad and Why You Should Make One with Dinner Tonight appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the memes about buying a package of spring mix just so we can throw it away at the end of the week, completely untouched. And I’m sure we’ve all been able to relate. But I hate wasting food, so I wanted to share my formula for making a simple side salad and why you should make one with dinner tonight (and most nights). Because side salads are very underrated and often over complicated. So let’s break it down.

Overhead view of a simple side salad with artichokes in a white bowl

Why Simple Side Salads Are Awesome

Simple side salads have become one of my favorite quick side dishes to make with dinner because…

  • The light texture and zingy flavor of the dressing can really lighten up a heavy meal (like pasta or casseroles)
  • They take five minutes to assemble
  • They’re a great way to use up leftover vegetables in your fridge
  • They add so much color, texture, and flavor to your plate
  • They instantly make your meal feel “put together”
  • It’s an extra dose of vegetables!

My Formula for the Perfect Side Salad

I think the biggest mistake when making side salads is overthinking them. Keep it simple, use as few ingredients as possible, and don’t spend more than five minutes on it. Because if you do, you’ll probably just end up avoiding making the salad altogether, and that’s when your spring mix ends up in the trash without ever making it to your plate.

So, to prevent over thinking your salad, use this formula:

Greens + one vegetable + dressing + topper

That’s it. That’s all you need. Now let’s go into more detail on each of those elements.

A fork taking a piece of Baked Pizza Chicken from the plate with chicken, garlic bread, and salad.

1. The Best Greens for Side Salads

There are a lot of options for salad greens out there, but for simple side salads I like to go with a green that is light, delicate, and that has a lot of color and texture. So that means that my favorite is spring mix or baby greens. Of course you could use anything from kale to spinach, or even finely shredded cabbage.

Just don’t use iceberg because while it does have texture, it’s totally lacking in the flavor and color department. It’s better suited for situations where it is utilized solely for its texture.

Spring mix in a bowl

How Much Salad Greens to Use

Remember, this is a simple side salad that will be served as an accent to your dinner, so you don’t need a lot. You’ll only need one large handful, or about one ounce, of greens for each serving.

How to Keep Leftover Greens

Since you’re only eating a little bit at a time, you’ll want to keep the rest of your greens fresh so you can make side salads for the next few days. But since that’s a subject large enough for its own article, I’m going to just give you a link to someone who’s already done the research. This article from The Kitchn compares three methods for keeping greens fresh, and they got great results!

2. Add A Vegetable (or Two)

This is the part of the formula where it’s easy to get out of control, but I’m here to tell you that you only need ONE vegetable to make the salad really good. Sure, if you have some leftover vegetables in your fridge that need to be used up, add them in there! But plan for one and call it a day. Here are some vegetable ideas for your side salad:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Red Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • Zucchini or Yellow Squash
  • Carrot
  • Sweet Corn
  • Radish
  • Mushrooms
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Olives
tomatoes added to the salad greens

You can also add fruit to your side salad. Here are some fruits that are awesome in salads:

  • Avocado
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Mangoes

3. The Best Dressing for Side Salads

As with the salad greens and vegetables, you can technically use any salad dressing for your side salad, but my dressing of choice is a simple vinaigrette.

You want the dressing to just lightly coat or “kiss” the salad greens in your side salad, so a thicker or heavier dressing like ranch or blue cheese would be too heavy and overpower the salad. The acidic nature of vinaigrettes also provides that “light” element to your plate, which is really important when balancing heavier main dishes.

Bottled vs. Homemade Dressing

Side salads are one of the few occasions where I prefer a bottled dressing to homemade. Bottled dressing lasts longer in the fridge than homemade, so it’s nice to just have a bottle on hand that you can use a tablespoon or two of at a time without having leftovers go to waste. Look for a red wine vinaigrette, champagne vinaigrette, an Italian dressing, or a non-creamy Caesar dressing.

If you do want to use a homemade dressing for your side salad, check out my Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette, Tomato Basil Vinaigrette, or a classic like the Homemade Italian Dressing used in this Pizza Pasta Salad.

Dressing being poured over the side salad

How Much Dressing to Use

The goal for the side salad is to have your greens just kissed with the lightest hint of dressing. This keeps the salad light and fresh, and doesn’t overpower the flavor of the greens, or steal the show from your main dish.

Drizzle only about ½ Tbsp dressing for each serving and toss the salad until everything is lightly coated. Make sure to wait to dress the salad until just before serving so the greens don’t go limp.

Salad Toppers

This is the fun part. I like to add one final topper to the salad that will add just a touch more texture and flavor. You just want to add a little pinch of your topper to each serving after tossing with the dressing. The dressing will help your topper “stick.” Here are some ideas for salad toppers:

  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Flakey salt (like Maldon)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Toasted breadcrumbs
  • French fried onions
  • Nuts or seeds (walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, etc.)

Here are the side salad combos pictured above:

  • Spring mix + tomatoes + vinaigrette + freshly cracked pepper
  • Spring mix + artichoke hearts + vinaigrette + Parmesan
  • Spring mix + cucumber + vinaigrette + flakey salt
  • Spring mix + red onion + vinaigrette + feta

What is Your Favorite Side Salad?

Let’s crowdsource some more easy side salad ideas! Leave a comment below with your favorite side salad ingredient or combination so we can all have new side salads to try every night of the week!

The post How to Make a Simple Side Salad and Why You Should Make One with Dinner Tonight appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Make Riced Cauliflower

Homemade riced cauliflower is quick, freezable, and less expensive than buying it pre-made from the freezer aisle. Storage, uses, and more.

The post How to Make Riced Cauliflower appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Riced cauliflower, or “cauliflower rice,” has become so popular over the past five or six years. So popular, in fact, that it’s become a staple in the freezer aisle of most major grocery stores in the U.S. While it is convenient to buy frozen bags of pre-made cauliflower rice, it’s also really easy to make at home from fresh cauliflower, so I want to show you this quick technique. It can help you shave a few dollars off your weekly food budget, especially when cauliflower is on sale!

Overhead view of a bowl of riced cauliflower with a red spatula in the side

What is Riced Cauliflower?

Riced cauliflower, also known as cauliflower rice, is simply cauliflower that has been chopped into tiny rice-sized pieces. Many people use this as a low-carb alternative to rice, but it’s so versatile that it can be used many other ways as well.

How to Use Cauliflower Rice

The most basic preparation of cauliflower rice is to just sauté it in a skillet with oil or butter, then add the seasonings of your choice. It’s really that simple. But riced cauliflower also makes a great bed for bowl meals, you can stir it into rice pilafs to up your vegetable intake, you can add it to stews, stir it into casseroles (it almost disappears!), stir it into your morning oats, or even blend it into a smoothie (recipe for that coming next week).

It’s one of those ingredients that once you start adding it to things you begin to see all the other millions of ways it can be used.

Freeze Some for Later

The best part about making your own riced cauliflower rice is that you can freeze it for later and just use a little here and there as needed. I’ll include instructions for how I freeze cauliflower rice in the step by step photos below. I usually use riced cauliflower straight from the freezer. It thaws and cooks through in a skillet in just a matter of minutes!

Do I Have to Use a Food Processor?

There are several methods for making riced cauliflower (knife, box grater, etc.), but I find using a food processor the fastest, easiest, and least messy. I’m limiting this tutorial to just showing the food processor method because the other methods either require a lot more work or a lot more cleanup, making them not quite worth doing yourself (in my opinion, anyway). If you want to see some of the other methods, check out my friend Jessica’s post about How to Make Cauliflower Rice 4 Ways.

How to Make Riced Cauliflower – Step by Step Photos

Stem and leaves removed from cauliflower head

Step 1 – Clean the Cauliflower

Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower. Make sure to rinse the cauliflower well and then let as much water drain off as possible. The less wet the cauliflower rice is the easier it will be to freeze without it making large clumps.

Cauliflower chopped on a cutting board

Step 2 – Chop Cauliflower

Chop the cauliflower into one to two-inch pieces. This helps the cauliflower move around more easily in the food processor, which will result in a more even texture of your cauliflower rice. If you have a smaller food processor you’ll want your pieces to also be smaller.

Cauliflower in the food processor

Step 3 – Fill the Food Processor

Add the cauliflower chunks to a food processor, only filling it about halfway, working in two batches if needed. Again, you want the cauliflower to be able to move freely within the food processor, or else you’ll end up with finely minced cauliflower on the bottom and large, unprocessed pieces at the top.

close up of minced cauliflower in the food processor

Step 4 – Pulse the Cauliflower

Pulse the cauliflower in the food processor until the cauliflower is minced to your desired size. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides if you need to. When deciding how small you want your riced cauliflower, keep in mind that smaller pieces cook a little faster but also disappear into recipes more. If you plan to use it like rice you may want slightly larger pieces than what is shown in the photo above. I like to use mine in smoothies, so smaller pieces work a little better.

How to Store Riced Cauliflower

cauliflower rice in a freezer bag

You can refrigerate the riced cauliflower for one to two days, but keep in mind that it does let off gas like any cruciferous vegetable, so it can get stinky quick. I prefer to freeze mine. To freeze, simply scoop it into a freezer bag, spread it out flat, and then place it in the freezer. The flatter the better because it’s easier to break it up into pieces if it’s frozen in a thin layer.

Frozen cauliflower rice in a freezer bag

Here is what it looks like after it’s been frozen (and I’ve used some of it). You can see that some of it does freeze in larger chunks, but it’s fairly easy to break up into crumbles. Again, the less water on the cauliflower the easier it is to break apart when frozen.

You can keep the riced cauliflower in the freezer for one to two months.

Cauliflower rice in a skillet with a spatula

And then I just use it straight from the freezer into my recipe (in most cases). It thaws and cooks through in a matter of minutes! (shown here being prepped for Southwest Cauliflower Rice)

Cauliflower Rice in a measuring cup

How Much Rice Cauliflower Does it Make?

The volume yield for making your own cauliflower rice will obviously depend on the size of your head of cauliflower, but I got about six cups out of one medium head of cauliflower. And just to compare prices, one head of cauliflower is $2.49 at Kroger right now (or $0.42 per cup), but frozen riced cauliflower is $3.49 per bag (or $0.93 per cup).

So is it worth it to DIY your cauliflower rice? That’s up to you. But at least now you know how and can make the choice!

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