Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice

This easy one-pot chipotle lime chicken and rice is tangy, smoky, spicy, and incredibly delicious. Makes a great main dish or meal prep!

The post Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m all about cooking as much flavor into rice as possible and this Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice is FLA-VOR-FUL! You’ve got a hefty dose of spices, tangy lime juice, and a bunch of flavor from the chicken that cooks right in the same pot. It turns out smoky, spicy, tangy, and oh so delicious! And don’t worry, I’ve got some suggested sides to round out your meal listed below.

chipotle lime chicken and rice in the skillet, garnished with lime wedges

What is Chipotle Powder?

Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeño peppers. They give a beautifully spicy, smoky flavor to everything. You can buy chipotle peppers dried, canned with adobo sauce, or ground into a powder. This recipe uses the powdered form, which can be found along with other herbs and spices in the spice aisle.

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?

The quick cooking method used in this recipe is not suitable for bone-in chicken breasts, as they require a much longer cooking time. It may work with smaller bone-in chicken thighs, but you’ll want to use a meat thermometer to make sure they reach 165ºF on the inside. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs work just as well as the boneless, skinless chicken breast for this recipe.

Tomato Options

You have a few options for the diced tomatoes in this recipe. I used a can of plain diced tomatoes because that is what was available the day I made this, but I also tried it with fire-roasted diced tomatoes while in the recipe testing phase and they were fantastic. You could also do a petite diced tomatoes if you don’t like such large tomato pieces, or even a diced tomato with green chiles if you want it extra-EXTRA spicy.

What to Serve with Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice

Because this dish is so spicy you’ll probably want to pair it with something that has a cooling effect, so something that is creamy or can be served cold to balance the heat. A little dollop of sour cream on top would be good, or maybe a slice or two of avocado, if you have it. And I highly suggest something green to round out the colors on your plate. Here are some great side dish options:

Side view of chipotle lime chicken and rice in a bowl
Chipotle lime chicken and rice in the skillet garnished with limes

Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice

This easy one-pot chipotle lime chicken and rice is tangy, smoky, spicy, and incredibly delicious. Makes a great main dish or meal prep!
Total Cost $9.16 recipe / $2.29 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 393kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tsp chipotle powder $0.15
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1 lime $0.50
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $5.79
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes* $0.59
  • 1 cup chicken broth $0.13
  • 1 cup long grain white rice $0.62
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.22
  • 1 oz. Cotija cheese (optional) $0.55

Instructions

  • Combine the chipotle powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a bowl. Squeeze 2 Tbsp juice from the lime into a separate bowl (this should be about half a lime, save the other half to cut into wedges for garnish).
  • Use a rolling pin or a mallet to gently pound the chicken breast to an even thickness (about ¾-inch thick). Use half of the prepared spice mix to coat both sides of the chicken pieces (reserve the other half of the spices for later).
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large deep skillet over medium. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until browned. The chicken does not need to be fully cooked, just browned on both sides. It will continue to cook with the rice.
  • While the chicken is cooking, dice the onion. Remove the browned chicken from the skillet to a clean plate. Add the diced onion to the skillet and sauté until softened. Add the remaining spices and sauté for one minute more.
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), rice, chicken broth, and lime juice to the skillet with the onions. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the browned chicken back to the skillet. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium high, and allow the liquid to come up to a boil.
  • Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, and allow the chicken and rice to simmer on low for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the skillet rest, without lifting the lid, for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Finally, remove the lid, transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Fluff the rice to stir the tomato and onion back in. Slice the chicken then place it on top of the rice. Sprinkle with slice green onion and Cotija cheese. Add any remaining lime wedges, and serve!

Notes

*You can use plain diced tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes, fire roasted diced tomatoes, or diced tomatoes with chiles.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 887mg | Fiber: 3g
Side view of chipotle lime chicken and rice in a skillet

How to Make Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice – Step by Step Photos

Spices in a wooden bowl

Combine 1.5 tsp chipotle powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, and ½ tsp salt in a bowl. Squeeze about 2 Tbsp juice from a lime into a separate bowl (that should be about ½ the lime, so you can save the other half to make wedges for garnish).

Seasoned chicken breast on an orange cutting board

Use a rolling pin or a mallet to gently pound 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts out to an even thickness (about ¾-inch thick). Use half of the spice blend to season both sides of the chicken. Save the other half of the spices for later.

Cooked chicken in a skillet

Heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil in a large deep skillet. Once hot, add the seasoned chicken and cook for a few minutes on both sides, or just until browned. It doesn’t have to be cooked through here because it will cook more with the rice.

Cooked onion in the skillet with spices

While the chicken is cooking, dice one yellow onion. Remove the browned chicken to a clean plate, then add the diced onion in its place. Sauté the onion for a few minutes, or until softened, then add the remaining spices and sauté for one minute more.

diced tomatoes, rice, and broth added to the skillet

Add one 15oz. can diced tomatoes, 1 cup long grain white rice, 1 cup chicken broth, and 2 Tbps lime juice to the skillet. Stir briefly to combine and dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.

Chicken added back to the skillet

Add the browned chicken back to the skillet. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the liquid to come up to a boil.

Cooked chicken and rice in the skillet

Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the pot simmer on low for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, with the lid in place, for another 5 minutes.

Sliced chicken on top of stirred rice in the skillet

Finally, remove the lid. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Fluff the rice with a fork to stir the tomatoes and onion back into the rice. Slice the chicken, then place it back on top of the rice.

Chipotle lime chicken and rice garnished with cotija, green onion, and limes

Sprinkle sliced green onions on top, a little Cotija cheese, and add any remaining lime wedges.

overhead view of a bowl with chipotle lime chicken and rice and a fork

Serve and enjoy! A little sour cream on top wouldn’t be so bad, either. ;)

The post Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Fish Tacos with Cumin Lime Slaw

Earlier this week I made a big batch of sunny and fresh Cumin Lime Coleslaw, but I didn’t intend to just eat coleslaw all week. So, I used the coleslaw as a topping for these super simple fish tacos. I love making tacos for dinner because they’re so easy, fresh, and not too heavy, which […]

The post Fish Tacos with Cumin Lime Slaw appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Earlier this week I made a big batch of sunny and fresh Cumin Lime Coleslaw, but I didn’t intend to just eat coleslaw all week. So, I used the coleslaw as a topping for these super simple fish tacos. I love making tacos for dinner because they’re so easy, fresh, and not too heavy, which is great when it’s 100 degrees outside. I like to keep my tacos pretty simple (in this case just fish, slaw, jalapeño, and avocado), but I’ve got some suggestions for extra toppings below if you want them! ;)

Originally posted 3-27-2015, updated 7-15-2021.

Overhead view of fish tacos on a platter, toppings on the sides

What’s in a Fish Taco?

For these fish tacos, I seasoned some white fish filets with a simple mix of chili powder, cumin, garlic, and salt, then cooked them up quickly in a skillet. I topped them with tangy Cumin Lime Coleslaw, a slice of creamy avocado, and a couple super thin slices of jalapeño. It’s the perfect mix of earthy, spicy, creamy, and tangy. 

What Kind of Fish is Best for Tacos?

I used cod fillets for my fish tacos because they have a mild flavor that can be easily paired with any seasoning or toppings. You could also use something like tilapia, halibut, mahi mahi, snapper, or grouper. I usually get the best prices on frozen fillets, and they usually come individually wrapped, so you can thaw as many as you need and keep the rest in the freezer for later. 

What Else Can I Add?

Tacos are fun because you can get creative with the toppings. If you want to swap out some of the toppings I used for something else, or just want to add to what is listed in the recipe below, here are some ideas:

What Kind of Tortillas?

Corn tortillas are the traditional option for tacos, but go ahead and use whatever you like best. Cooking is about doing what works for you. So if you like flour tortillas or crunchy taco shells better or happen to have those on hand, use them. :) If you’re using corn tortillas, make sure to toast them before making your tacos so they get that deliciously toasty corn flavor (otherwise they kind of taste like nothing). And keep in mind that if you use larger tortillas you’ll get fewer tacos out of the ingredients listed below.

What to Serve with Fish Tacos

Two tacos does not a meal make, so here are some ideas for sides:

Side view of fish tacos on a platter

Fish tacos on a platter with toppings on the sides

Fish Tacos with Cumin Lime Slaw

These super easy Fish Tacos with Cumin Lime Slaw are light, fresh, and the perfect quick dinner for hot summer nights, or any night!
Total Cost $9.17 recipe / $2.29 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 (2 Tacos each)
Calories 437kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Cumin Lime Coleslaw

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise $0.40
  • 1 lime (1 Tbsp juice) $0.50
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne $0.01
  • 1/2 tsp sugar $0.01
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/2 16oz. bag coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) $0.75
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.22

Tacos

  • 8 small corn tortillas $0.80
  • 2 tsp chili powder $0.20
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 lb. cod fillets* $4.96
  • 1 avocado, sliced $0.99
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced $0.15

Instructions

  • Toast the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium heat until browned on each side. Stack the tortillas and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Make the cumin lime coleslaw next. For the dressing, stir together the mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp lime juice, cumin, cayenne, salt, and sugar.
  • Place the coleslaw mix and sliced green onions in a bowl, pour the coleslaw dressing over top and stir to combine. Refrigerate until you're ready to build your tacos.
  • Next, season the fish fillets. Combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Cut each fish fillet into smaller taco-sized pieces. Season both sides of the fish with the spice mix.
  • Add half of the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add half of the fish and cook for a few minutes on each side or until the fish is cooked through (it will feel firm, look opaque, and be easily flaked). Repeat with more oil and the second batch of fish.
  • Top each toasted tortilla with a piece of fish, a slice of avocado, a small scoop of the cumin lime slaw, and a couple slices of jalapeño. Enjoy warm.

Notes

*You can use just about any type of white fish for this, like tilapia, mahi mahi, or halibut.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tacos | Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 424mg | Fiber: 9g

How to Make Fish Tacos – Step by Step Photos

corn tortillas being toasted in a skillet

If you’re using corn tortillas you’ll want to toast them before making your tacos. This gives them more flavor and helps make them a bit more sturdy. I do this in a dry skillet over fairly high heat, but if you have a gas range you can do it right over an open flame (just a second or two on each side). You can keep them warm on a plate covered with foil.

Cumin lime slaw ingredients in a bowl, dressing being poured

Next, prepare the cumin lime coleslaw so it’s ready to go when the fish finishes cooking. To make the dressing, stir together 1 Tbsp lime juice, ¼ cup mayonnaise, ½ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp slat, ⅛ tsp cayenne, and ½ tsp sugar. Place ½ of a bag of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) in a bowl with 2 sliced green onions. Pour the dressing over top. You can also wait to pour the dressing over until just before serving, if preferred.

finished cumin lime coleslaw in bowl

Stir to coat the vegetables in dressing, then refrigerate until ready to build your tacos. 

Seasoned fish fillets

Next, make the seasoning mix for the fish. Combine 2 tsp chili powder (this is a mild blend of chiles and other spices), ½ tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp garlic powder, and ⅛ tsp salt. Cut 1 lb. fish into taco-sized pieces (in this case I had four fillets, so I cut each in half for one piece per taco). Season the fish on both sides with the prepared spice mix.

Fish cooked in the skillet

Heat ½ Tbsp cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add half of the fish and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until cooked through (the fish will be opaque and easily flake when cooked). Repeat with a little more oil and the second batch of fish.

Tacos being built

To build the tacos, place one piece of fish in each tortilla, add one slice of avocado, a small scoop of cumin lime coleslaw, and a couple slices of jalapeño.

Fish tacos on a platter with toppings on the sides

If you have leftover lime from making the slaw, slice it into wedges to serve with the tacos.

close up of a fish taco in a hand

Enjoy that summery goodness!

The post Fish Tacos with Cumin Lime Slaw appeared first on Budget Bytes.

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

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

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

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

Overhead view of BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken in a baking dish

Tips for Baking Chicken Breast

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

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

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?

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

What Kind of BBQ Sauce is Best?

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

What to Serve with BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

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

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

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

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

Pounded Chicken Breast

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

Seasoned chicken breast

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

BBQ sauce being spread over chicken in a baking dish

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

Prepared toppings: red onion, cilantro, and cheddar

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

Shredded cheese being added to the baked chicken

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

Baked bbq chicken topped with red onion and cilantro

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

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

Serve and enjoy!!

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Country Sausage Gravy

Make this easy Country Sausage Gravy from scratch in under 20 minutes for a hearty southern style breakfast at home.

The post Country Sausage Gravy appeared first on Budget Bytes.

If you don’t live in the south, you might have never tried this classic southern breakfast dish, and believe me when I say you’re missing out. Sausage gravy is rich, comforting, inexpensive, and surprisingly easy to make from scratch. So you don’t have to wait 45 minutes in line at your favorite brunch spot to get some good biscuits and gravy. Let me show you how to do it at home for way less time and way less money.

Biscuits and gravy on a plate with eggs, a fork taking a bite

What Kind of Sausage to Use for Sausage Gravy

The sausage is the most important part of sausage gravy because the herbs and spices in the sausage end up flavoring the gravy, and the fat from the pork makes everything extra rich. Look for a fresh pork sausage (not in links or patties) that is labeled either “pork sausage,” “country sausage,” or “breakfast sausage.” You’ll usually find it packaged in a tube or roll.

Here are some examples of sausage that you can find in most grocery stores in the U.S. that can be used for Country Sausage Gravy: Tennessee Pride Country Sausage, Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage, or Bob Evans Original Sausage Roll. Most major grocery stores also sell their own store brand of country sausage.

What to Serve with Country Sausage Gravy

Traditionally, sausage gravy is spooned over homemade biscuits (or you can use store-bought biscuits as a shortcut), but this rich gravy is pretty good on just about any starchy vehicle. Here are some fun alternatives to biscuits for your sausage gravy:

  • Breakfast Potatoes or hashbrowns
  • Tortilla Chips (make it like breakfast nachos)
  • English Muffins
  • Grits
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Hearty toast

And if you want something on the side? Definitely some fried or scrambled eggs!

Can You Make it Ahead?

While this sausage gravy is definitely best when made fresh (and it only takes a few minutes), you can make it ahead if you need to. Sausage gravy will stay good in the refrigerator for a couple of days. To reheat, simply add it back to a skillet and reheat over medium-low, stirring often until heated through, and adding a splash of milk to loosen it up if needed.

Side view of biscuits and gravy on a plate with eggs

P.S. Don’t forget you can double the recipe below by simply changing the number in the “servings” box to 8 and it will automatically double the ingredient amounts for you! :)

Side view of biscuits and gravy on a plate with eggs

Country Sausage Gravy

Make this easy Country Sausage Gravy from scratch in under 20 minutes for a hearty southern style breakfast at home.
Total Cost $2.53 recipe / $0.63 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 ¾ cup each
Calories 296kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. pork sausage $1.45
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.82
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Add the pork sausage to a skillet and cook over medium heat, breaking it into chunks as you stir, until it is cooked through. Do not drain the fat from the skillet.
  • Add the butter and flour to the skillet with the pork. Continue to stir and cook for about 2 minutes more.
  • Whisk the milk into the skillet, making sure to dissolve all the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet as you whisk. Continue to stir and cook until the milk begins to simmer lightly, at which point it will thicken into a nice gravy (5 minutes).
  • Season the gravy with red pepper, freshly cracked black pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Serve over biscuits or your favorite starchy breakfast item.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 23g | Sodium: 523mg | Fiber: 1g
Close up of country sausage gravy in a skillet with a spoon lifting a bite

How to Make Sausage Gravy From Scratch – Step by Step Photos

browned sausage in a skillet

Add ½ lb. fresh pork sausage to a skillet and stir and cook over medium heat until browned. Break the sausage into pieces as you stir.

butter and flour added to cooked sausage in a skillet

Add 1.5 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir for about two minutes more.

Milk being whisked into the skillet

Whisk 2 cups whole milk into the skillet, dissolving all the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet as you whisk.

Thickened gravy in the skillet

Continue to cook and stir until the milk comes up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken into a nice gravy (5 minutes).

Seasonings added to gravy in the skillet

Season the gravy with ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper, ⅛ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, and ⅛ tsp salt.

Finished sausage gravy in the skillet

Give the gravy a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

A fork taking a bite of biscuits and gravy off a plate with eggs

Serve over biscuits or with your favorite starchy breakfast food!

The post Country Sausage Gravy appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet

This beef and cauliflower taco skillet has layers of flavor, color, and texture, and all of your favorite taco flavors in one hearty bowl.

The post Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

A couple of months ago I posted a side dish, Southwest Cauliflower Rice, and ever since I’ve been dying to flesh it out into a main dish. This week I finally got around to it, and OMG, so good! I added some ground beef, black beans, and a bunch of fresh ingredients on top, so you get this wonderful mix of hot and cold flavors and textures, kind of like when you eat a taco, but in bowl form.

Overhead view of beef and cauliflower taco skillet with vegetables on the side and a spatula in the side

Is it Spicy?

The heat level in this recipe depends on the spiciness of two ingredients: the canned diced tomatoes with green chiles (like Ro-tel) and your chili powder. Unfortunately, with both of these ingredients, some brands are spicy and some are not. So you may need to do some experimenting to find the brands that match the heat level that you prefer.

Fresh or Frozen Cauliflower Rice?

You can use either fresh homemade cauliflower rice or frozen store-bought cauliflower rice for this recipe. Both types of riced cauliflower cook very quickly and you shouldn’t need to make any changes to the recipe based on the type of cauliflower rice used.

Take the Taco Seasoning Short Cut

The recipe below includes all the herbs and spices in my homemade taco seasoning. If you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet, you can use a packet of store-bought taco seasoning in place of the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper listed in the recipe below.

Other Topping Ideas

This recipe is so flexible! If you don’t like some of the toppings that I used, here are some other ideas:

Make it Low Carb or Vegetarian

If you want to make this tasty skillet low-carb, you can skip the black beans and use a full pound of ground beef instead.

If you want to make this taco skillet vegetarian, add an extra can of beans in place of the ground beef. You can use an extra can of black beans, or add a can of pinto or kidney beans.

Close up side view of beef and cauliflower taco skillet being scooped out of the skillet
overhead view of beef and cauliflower taco skillet with vegetables on the sides

Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet

This beef and cauliflower taco skillet has layers of flavor, color, and texture, and all of your favorite taco flavors in one hearty bowl.
Total Cost $7.74 recipe . /$1.94 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 467kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 3 cups riced cauliflower $1.25
  • 1 10oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles $0.55
  • 1 15oz. can black beans $0.50
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder $0.30
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded $0.38
  • 1 avocado $0.99
  • 1 tomato $0.46
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion $0.10
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro $0.10

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic. Add the garlic, olive oil, and ground beef to a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the ground beef is browned. If you're using a high fat content beef, you may want to drain off the excess fat before the next step.
  • Drain the can of black beans and add them to the skillet along with the diced tomatoes with green chiles (not drained), chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook until the skillet is simmering.
  • Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet (no need to thaw, if frozen). Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until the cauliflower is tender (about five minutes).
  • While the beef and cauliflower are heating, dice the tomato, avocado, and red onion. Roughly chop the cilantro.
  • Top the beef and cauliflower mixture with the shredded cheddar. Place a lid on the skillet, and let it heat over medium for a few minutes, or until the cheddar has melted.
  • Once the cheese is melted, top the skillet with the tomato, avocado, red onion, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 360mg | Fiber: 14g
beef and cauliflower taco skillet in a bowl with a fork on the side

How to Make Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet – Step by Step Photos

browned ground beef in a skillet

Mince two cloves of garlic. Add the garlic to a large skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil and ½ lb. ground beef. Cook over medium heat until the ground beef is browned.

Tomatoes, beans, and seasoning added to the skillet

Drain one 15oz. can of black beans and add them to the skillet along with one 10oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (not drained), 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp salt, and ⅛ tsp pepper. Continue to cook and stir until the skillet is simmering.

Frozen riced cauliflower added to the skillet.

Add 3 cups riced cauliflower to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the riced cauliflower is tender (about 5 minutes).

Diced tomato, avocado, and onion

While the cauliflower and beef are heating, dice one tomato and one avocado. Finely dice about ¼ cup red onion. Roughly chop one small handful of cilantro.

Shredded cheddar being added to the skillet

Top the skillet with 2 oz. (about ½ cup) shredded cheddar cheese. Place a lid on the skillet and let it heat over medium for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

skillet topped with fresh tomato, avocado, red onion, and cilantro

Once the cheese is melted, top with the fresh tomato, avocado, red onion, and cilantro, then serve!

A fork lifting a bite of beef and cauliflower taco skillet out of a bowl

That’s one FLAVORFUL bowl!!

The post Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because […]

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Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because when meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store you have to streeeeeeeeetch it any way you can. This  Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet does just that. If you loved Hamburger Helper when you were growing up, you’re going to love this homemade version even more!

Originally posted 4-27-2016, updated 5-29-2021.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta skillet in the pan with a spatula in the side

Hot Dog Relish is the Secret Ingredient

This cheeseburger pasta is super good even without the relish, but adding a couple spoonfuls of hotdog relish at the end really makes it taste like you’re eating a hamburger. What is hot dog relish? It’s basically a dill pickle relish mixed with yellow mustard. If you can’t find hot dog relish at your grocery store, you can buy plain dill relish and mix a little yellow mustard into it (about a teaspoon). 

Tips for Cooking One Pot Pasta

Cooking one pot pasta recipes is a little bit like riding a bike. You have to watch it and adjust to the nuances of the pasta as it cooks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Here are a few tips:

  • Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • Use a burner size close to the size of the bottom of your pot for even heating.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
  • Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.

How to Serve Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta

I’m usually all about stuffing my recipes with as many vegetables as possible, but I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate more vegetables into this recipe without making it less hamburger-like, so I’m just going to suggest you serve it with a simple side salad. Nothing fancy, maybe just some Romaine, tomatoes, and dressing. Keep it easy. :) And maybe Homemade Garlic Bread. Because every meal is better with garlic bread. ;)

Freeze Some For Later

Saucy pasta dishes like this freezer pretty well, IMHO, so if you’re cooking for yourself this would make a good cook-and-freeze-for-later dish. If you’re extra sensitive to texture changes like pasta getting slightly softer, though, you may not be a fan of the leftovers.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta in a bowl with a fork on the side

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
Total Cost $5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 555kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.25
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce $0.29
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.26
  • 1/2 lb. pasta shells, uncooked $0.50
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded $0.75
  • 2 Tbsp hot dog relish $0.16
  • 2 green onions, sliced (optional) $0.20

Instructions

  • Finely dice the onion. Add the onion, olive oil, and ground beef to a large deep skillet and sauté over medium heat until the beef is fully browned and the onion is soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.
  • Add the flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the skillet. Be careful not to let the flour burn.
  • Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet may not fully cover the pasta, but that is okay.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let the liquid come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the pasta simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.
  • Add the shredded cheddar to the skillet and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Stir the hot dog relish into the sauce and then top with sliced green onions. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 26g | Sodium: 1045mg | Fiber: 4g

If you love easy one pot pasta dinners, check out our One Pot Meals category!

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon

How to Make Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet – Step by Step Photos

Ground beef and onion cooked in the skillet

Start by finely dicing one onion. Add the onion, 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large deep skillet. Sauté the onion and beef until the beef is fully browned and the onions are soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed (if you’re using 90% lean or higher, there probably isn’t anything to be drained off).

Flour added to the cooked ground beef

Add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute. The flour will bein to coat the bottom of the skillet. This is okay, just be sure to watch it closely and not let it burn. The flour will help thicken the sauce and help the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce.

Tomato sauce in the skillet, beef broth being poured in

Add an 8oz. can of tomato sauce and 2 cups beef broth. Stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.

Uncooked pasta shells added to the skillet

Add ½ lb. uncooked pasta shells to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet does NOT need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook. The steam in the skillet will help cook the pasta that is above the surface and the pasta will be stirred to ensure even cooking.

Cooked pasta in the skillet a spatula pulling the pasta aside to show the sauce

Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.

Shredded cheddar added to the skillet

Add 4oz. shredded cheddar cheese and stir it into the pasta until it is melted and creamy.

hot dog relish added to the skillet

Finally, add 2 Tbsp of hot dog relish (mustard dill relish), and stir it into the sauce. I feel like the relish is what really made this taste like a hamburger, but if you’re not into relish you skip this last step and still have an amazingly cheesy beef pasta. 

cheeseburger pasta skillet topped with sliced green onions

I had some green onions in the fridge, so I sliced a couple up and added them on top. They add just a little extra pop of flavor and nice visual appeal to the otherwise very monochromatic dish.

Close up side view of cheeseburger pasta skillet with a spoon dug in the side

OMG look at that cheesy sauce! 😍

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta is a fast and easy "from scratch" version of the classic hamburger helper. BudgetBytes.com

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One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

Guess what time it is! Comfort-food-o’clock. And what makes better comfort food than a rich creamy pasta dish, like this One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff? This is yet another “better than the box” meal. It cooks in one easy pot, just like hamburger helper stroganoff, but it’s homemade. You’re going to want to tuck […]

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Guess what time it is! Comfort-food-o’clock. And what makes better comfort food than a rich creamy pasta dish, like this One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff? This is yet another “better than the box” meal. It cooks in one easy pot, just like hamburger helper stroganoff, but it’s homemade. You’re going to want to tuck this recipe into your back pocket for those nights when you’re super tired and need an extra comforting meal. :)

Originally posted 2-17-14, updated 5-20-21

overhead view of a skillet full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

Use All Beef, No Beef, or Both!

I used half ground beef and half mushrooms to stretch my pennies a bit further, but you could do all mushrooms or all beef if you prefer. If you’re doing a vegetarian version with all mushrooms, use mushroom or vegetable broth to replace the beef broth.

Tips for “One Pot” Success

One pot recipes can be a bit tricky for some, so here are some pointers:

  • Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the noodles for them to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
  • Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.

Every piece of cookware and every range top is different, so one pot recipes are a bit like riding a bike. You have to feel it out and find the sweet spot for the equipment you’re using.

Use Good Broth

The broth brings a lot of flavor to this beef and mushroom stroganoff, so make sure you’re using a nice and flavorful broth that has adequate salt. I like to use Better than Bouillon to make broth for recipes because it’s super flavorful, I can mix up any amount I need, and the jar stays good in the refrigerator for months, so there are no leftovers to go to waste. If you still find your stroganoff to be on the bland side in the end, an extra pinch of salt can really help the flavors pop.

Side view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

 

Want more One Pot Recipes? Check out our One Pot Recipe Archives!

Overhead view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

This super easy one pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff is a delicious and comforting weeknight dinner that requires just a few ingredients.
Total Cost $5.54 recipe / $1.39 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.5 cups each
Calories 476kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.22
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.49
  • 1/8 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.01
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.26
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard $0.02
  • 8 oz. wide egg noodles $0.60
  • 1/3 cup sour cream $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic. Add the garlic and butter to a large pot or skillet and sauté over medium heat for about one minute, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  • Add the ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.
  • While the beef is browning, slice the mushrooms. Add the sliced mushrooms and some freshly cracked pepper to the pot with the beef. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft (about five minutes).
  • Add the uncooked egg noodles to the pot along with the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Stir to combine. The liquid will not fully cover the noodles, but that's okay.
  • Place a lid on the pot and allow the liquid to come up to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, give the pot a stir, replace the lid, and reduce the heat to low. Allow the pot to simmer on low heat for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid every couple of minutes. After 7-10 minutes the pasta should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed.
  • Once the noodles are tender, add the sour cream and fold it into the noodles until everything is rich and creamy. Give the noodles a taste and add extra salt or pepper, if needed. Roughly chop a handful of parsley leaves and sprinkle over top. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5Cups | Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 614mg | Fiber: 3g

Overhead view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

How to Make Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff – Step by Step Photos

garlic sautéed in butter in the skillet

Begin by sautéing 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 Tbsp of butter until soft (1-2 minutes). You can use a large pot or large skillet, as long as it is big enough to hold all of the pasta AND has a lid (the lid will be used later).

browned ground beef in the skillet

Next, add 1/2 lb. ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.

Sliced mushrooms on a cutting board

While the beef is browning, slice 8oz. mushrooms. White button mushrooms are fine, but if you can get these baby bella mushrooms they are even more awesome (shout out to ALDI for carrying these at an affordable price).

Mushrooms in the skillet with beef

Once the beef is browned, add the mushrooms and some freshly cracked pepper. Continue to sauté until they are soft (about five minutes).

noodles added to the skillet, beef broth being poured in

Add ½ lb. wide egg noodles to the skillet along with 2 cups beef broth, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and ½ tsp Dijon mustard. Stir to combine. The broth will not fully cover the noodles, but that’s okay. The steam in the skillet will help cook them and they’ll be stirred to make sure even cooking.

Cooked noodles with beef in the skillet

Place a lid on the skillet and bring the broth up to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, give it a quick stir to loosen the noodles from the bottom, return the lid quickly, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, for 7-10 minutes or until the noodles are tender and there is only a small amount of thick sauce left in the skillet. 

Sour cream added to beef and noodles in the skillet

Finally, add ⅓ cup sour cream and fold it into the noodles until everything is creamy and delicious!

Finished one pot beef and mushroom stroganoff topped with parsley

Top off the beef and mushroom stroganoff with a little chopped parsley for color (because stroganoff is kind of boring to look at) and it’s time to dive into that skillet full of creamy goodness! You might want to give it a taste at this point to see if you want a little extra salt or pepper (again, depending on the salt content of your broth), but other than that it’s time to eat! And only one dish to clean. :)

close up side view of beef and mushroom stroganoff in the skillet

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Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!

The post Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Are you ready for this? Because I wasn’t quite ready for how easy and delicious this meal was. When I sat down to eat my first bowl of these Pesto Chicken and Vegetables I was like, “Oh yes, I’m going to make this every single week.” It’s the perfect light, flavorful, and fast recipe for meal prep. And it’s just SO SIMPLE.

Pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet

Vegetable Options

I used a summery mix of yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, green beans, and red onion for this quick sauté, but there are a lot of options when it comes to the vegetables. Here are some other vegetables you could add:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh corn
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach

The key thing to keep in mind when using different vegetables is when to add them to the skillet. For this recipe you don’t want to fully cook the vegetables. They should be just tender-crisp. So, keeping that in mind, add sturdy vegetables first and tender vegetables later to make sure they don’t get overcooked.

Can I Substitute the Chicken?

Yes, there are options for that, too! I think shrimp would be absolutely awesome in this recipe, as would tofu. If using tofu, I would do a cornstarch coating and fry it separately (see the technique used in this recipe) before tossing it together with the vegetables and pesto at the end.

How to Serve Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

I ate this dish as-is, just a bowl of flavorful chicken and vegetables. But there are more options! You could eat this over a bowl of rice, stir in some cooked orzo or quinoa, or even add them to a bed of greens. Honestly, I would probably even add them to a flat bread and top with mozzarella as a sort of vegetable pizza!

How Long Does it Stay Good?

I got about four days out of my pesto chicken and vegetables, but this can vary depending on the conditions in your refrigerator, freshness of the ingredients, and how long you cook the vegetables. As I mentioned above, you want to barely cook the vegetables for this recipe. Just make them tender-crisp so they don’t get too wilted. Not only does this give them great texture and a fresh, bright flavor, but they last a little longer in the fridge, too.

side view of a bowl full of pesto chicken and vegetables
Easy pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet with a spatula

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!
Total Cost $11.07 recipe / $2.72 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 369.33kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 zucchini $0.60
  • 1 yellow squash $0.50
  • 1/2 red onion $0.19
  • 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast $6.67
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 1 cup frozen green beans $0.67
  • 1/3 cup pesto* $0.73
  • 1/8 tsp salt* $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper* $0.01
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan* $0.11

Instructions

  • Chop the bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini, and slice the red onion. I like to make different shapes for each vegetable, but aim to make the pieces all around the same size.
  • Cube the chicken breasts into ½-inch pieces.
  • Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once the skillet and oil are very hot, add the chicken and sauté until the chicken pieces are opaque (3-5 minutes – the chicken will continue to cook as you add vegetables).
  • Add the green beans to the skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes more, or just until thawed.
  • Add the bell pepper and red onion to the skillet. Sauté for 1-2 minutes more. If water is beginning to pool in the skillet, turn the heat up slightly. It should be hot enough that the water released from the vegetables evaporates quickly.
  • Add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet and continue to sauté 2-3 minutes more, or just until the squash softens slightly.
  • Turn the heat off, add the pesto to the skillet, and stir until everything is coated. Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if desired. Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Notes

*You may need more or less pesto, salt, pepper, or Parmesan depending on the volume of your vegetables and your personal taste. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 369.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.68g | Protein: 36.8g | Fat: 19.2g | Sodium: 423.15mg | Fiber: 3.43g
Pesto chicken and vegetables in glass meal prep containers lined up side by side

How to Make Pesto Chicken and Vegetables – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Chop the vegetables first so they’re ready to go. Chop one red bell pepper, one yellow squash, one zucchini, slice ½ of one red onion and measure 1 cup frozen green beans. I like to do different shapes for the vegetables, but aim to keep them roughly the same size.

Cubed chicken breast on a cutting board

Cut 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch pieces.

Cooked chicken in the skillet, frozen green beans being poured in

Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once very hot, add the cubed chicken and sauté just until the chicken is opaque (3-5 minutes – it will continue to cook as you add more vegetables). Next, add the frozen green beans and sauté for a couple of minutes more, or just until thawed.

Red bell pepper and red onion added to the skillet

Next add the bell pepper and red onion. Continue to sauté a couple of minutes more. If you see water pooling in the skillet, turn the heat up higher. The heat should be high enough that any moisture released by the vegetables evaporates quickly.

zucchini and yellow squash added to the skillet

Finally, add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet. Sauté just a couple of minutes more, or just until the raw edge is taken off the squash.

Pesto being added to the skillet

Turn the heat off. Add about ⅓ cup pesto to the skillet and stir until everything is coated.

Finished pesto chicken and vegetables

Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if needed (I added a pinch of each).

pesto chicken and vegetables in a bowl topped with a pinch of parmesan

Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Three glass meal prep containers full of pesto chicken and vegetables

Perfect for meal prep!!

The post Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce

Talk about addictive! Once you try one of these crispy Coconut Chicken strips dipped in tangy sweet chili sauce you’re going to want to make them on a weekly basis. Because the chicken is sliced nice and thin and then cooked quickly in hot oil, the chicken stays juicy and tender on the inside, while developing […]

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Talk about addictive! Once you try one of these crispy Coconut Chicken strips dipped in tangy sweet chili sauce you’re going to want to make them on a weekly basis. Because the chicken is sliced nice and thin and then cooked quickly in hot oil, the chicken stays juicy and tender on the inside, while developing a perfectly golden brown and crispy exterior. Pair that with a bowl of cool, sweet, and tangy Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping and I’m in absolute heaven. So if you love chicken tenders, chicken strips, boneless wings, or anything along those lines, I think you’re going to love these Coconut Chicken Strips.

Originally posted 1-18-2010, updated 5-10-2021.

Overhead view of a plate full of coconut chicken strips with one being dipped into a bowl of sweet chili sauce

What Kind of Chicken to Use

I’ve tried this recipe with both chicken breast (boneless, skinless) and chicken tenders. Chicken tenders ended up being too large when used whole, so while they are an option you’ll probably still want to slice them into thinner pieces before breading and cooking. 

Another option would be to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks, so you’ll have something more along the lines of coconut chicken “bites” than strips. I think that would be awesome! The dark meat of chicken thighs will be extra tender and juicy.

Cooking Options

Frying – I chose to shallow fry my coconut chicken strips in a skillet because I don’t have a deep fryer and I don’t deep fry often enough to warrant using as much oil as deep-frying requires. Shallow frying will still get you that great super crispy exterior without allowing the inside to dry out.

Baking – While you can bake these, the results won’t be as awesome as frying. Baking takes longer and the hot air causes more evaporation, which results in drier chicken. You also won’t get as much browning as you will with frying. To help the browning issue, you can try adding a tablespoon or two of oil into the panko and coconut breading mixture, similar to the technique used in my Homemade Chicken Nuggets. I suggest using the baking temperature and technique used for the chicken nuggets as well, but increasing the bake time by a few minutes.

Air Frying – I do not own an air fryer, so unfortunately I can’t offer suggestions for cooking times and temperature, but I suspect these chicken strips would be a good candidate for air frying. Because this appliance uses hot air, similar to an oven, I would suggest either spritzing the strips with a little spray oil or mixing a tablespoon or two of oil into the panko and coconut mixture to help with browning.

What to Serve with Coconut Chicken Strips

Don’t skip that sweet chili sauce! You can find sweet chili sauce in the international aisle of most major grocery stores, or you can try making your own with my Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce recipe. For side dishes, you can pair this with something like Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Sesame Dressing, Cucumber Mango Salad, or Savory Coconut Rice

What Oil is Good For Frying?

It’s really important to use the right kind of cooking oil for frying. Every type of cooking oil has a different “smoke point,” which is the temperature that the oil begins to smoke and burn. And obviously, we want to avoid that because burned oil does not taste good (and it’s a fire hazard!). So, you’ll want to choose an oil that can withstand the high temperature of frying and an oil that doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own. Some good oils to choose from are canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, refined coconut oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, refined olive oil, or refined avocado oil.

Close up of a coconut chicken strip being dipped into sweet chili sauce

A plate of coconut chicken strips with a bowl of sweet chili sauce in the center, a hand dipping one chicken strip into the sauce

Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce

These tender and crispy homemade Coconut Chicken Strips are perfect for dipping in a tangy and sweet chili sauce.
Total Cost $10.95 recipe / $2.73 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 4 strips each
Calories 873.13kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts $7.70
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.01
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk $0.25
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs $0.22
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut $0.56
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil, divided* $0.32
  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce $1.43

Instructions

  • Slice the chicken breasts into ½-inch wide strips, slicing diagonally to maintain a more even length among the strips.
  • Sprinkle the salt and flour over top of the sliced chicken. Toss the chicken until they're evenly coated.
  • Whisk together the eggs and coconut milk in a bowl. In a separate wide shallow bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and flaked coconut.
  • To bread the chicken, dip each chicken strip into the egg wash, allow the excess to drip off, then dip it into the breadcrumb mixture until it's fully coated. Place the breaded chicken strips on a clean plate or tray until they're all breaded.
  • Once they're all breaded, it's time to fry. Heat ¼ cup cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. To test the heat of the oil, drop a breadcrumb into the oil. It should begin to sizzle immediately. If the oil begins to smoke at anytime, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the chicken strips, several at a time, leaving a little space between each one. Cook the chicken strips for about three minutes on on each side, or until they're deeply golden brown. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain, then repeat with another batch of chicken. Remove any burned pieces of coconut before beginning the next batch, and add more oil as needed, making sure to wait until it is hot before adding more chicken.
  • After frying all of the chicken, it's time to serve! Serve hot with a bowl of sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Notes

*Use a high heat cooking oil. Good options include: canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, refined coconut oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, refined olive oil, or refined avocado oil. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 873.13kcal | Carbohydrates: 82.7g | Protein: 39.45g | Fat: 42.1g | Sodium: 1313.3mg | Fiber: 3.15g

Close up of coconut chicken strips on a plate with a bowl of thai sweet chili sauce

How to Make Coconut Chicken Strips – Step by Step Photos

Sliced chicken breasts

Start with about 1.3 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cut them into ½-inch wide strips. I like to do this sort of on a diagonal to keep them more even in length. If your chicken breasts are very large, you might want to cut the length of the strip in half as well. Cutting the chicken strips thin enough is important because this allows it to cook through quickly. 

Chicken strips coated in flour and salt

Sprinkle ¼ tsp salt and 2 Tbsp flour over the chicken strips, then toss until they’re evenly coated.

Egg and coconut milk mixed in a bowl

Whisk together two large eggs and ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk in a bowl. Make sure to use the type of coconut milk that is in a can, not the type in a carton that is meant to be a dairy milk substitute.

Coconut and panko breadcrumbs mixed together in a bowl

Combine 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes and 1 cup panko breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow bowl.

Breading station with chicken, egg wash, coconut and breadcrumbs

Set up your breading station with the bowl of coconut egg wash, the bowl with coconut and breadcrumbs, and a plate or tray for the breaded chicken. I’m using a parchment lined baking sheet to hold the breaded chicken just for easy cleanup. Dip each chicken strip first into the eggwash (let excess drip off), then into the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure the breadcrumbs and coconut fully coat all sides, then place the chicken strip on your holding tray.

Breaded chicken strips on a baking tray

Once all of the chicken strips are breaded, it’s time to start cooking. Add ¼ cup cooking oil to a skillet and heat over medium. Wait until the oil is very hot, but not smoking. If you drop one of the panko breadcrumbs into the hot oil, it should immediately begin sizzling. If it doesn’t sizzle right away, the oil is not hot enough. If at any point during the cooking process the oil begins to smoke, remove it from the heat immediately and wait for it to cool down. 

Browned chicken strips in the skillet

Once the oil is good and hot, add several of the chicken strips, leaving a little space between each. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they are deeply golden brown on each side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Scoop out any loose pieces of coconut, add a little more oil if needed, wait for it to get hot again, and then cook a second batch of chicken strips. You should be able to cook them all in 2-3 batches. 

Finished Coconut Chicken Strips on a paper towel lined plate

Once they’re all cooked, it’s time to serve! 

Overhead view of a plate full of coconut chicken strips with a bowl of sweet chili sauce in the center

Pour about one cup of sweet chili sauce into a bowl and place that in the center of the coconut chicken strips. I sprinkled the chicken strips with a little cilantro for color, but that’s not needed for flavor. Sliced green onions are another optional garnish idea. Enjoy!

The post Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

This week I had a killer craving for some classic spaghetti and meat sauce. But, as you may know, I like to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can to recipes. So I shredded a couple of handfuls of vegetables, tossed them into the sauce, and added some extra herbs and spices to make this […]

The post Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This week I had a killer craving for some classic spaghetti and meat sauce. But, as you may know, I like to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can to recipes. So I shredded a couple of handfuls of vegetables, tossed them into the sauce, and added some extra herbs and spices to make this absolutely incredible “hidden vegetable” pasta sauce. It has more flavor, more color, and more texture (read: fiber). It’s a win-win-win!

 Originally posted 11-21-2015, updated 4-17-2021.

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce and garlic bread on the side

Shown with Homemade Garlic Bread

Balance Your Costs with Vegetables

My favorite trick for stretching ground meat in recipes is to use vegetables or beans to replace half of the ground meat. This time I shredded vegetables, which mimicked the texture of the ground meat, but added a subtle sweetness and a whole lot of extra flavor, texture, and nutrition to the sauce. This sauce is so delicious that I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls while I took photos!

Can I Make This Sauce Vegetarian?

If you want to make a vegetarian version of this hidden vegetable pasta sauce, I suggest mincing an 8oz. container of mushrooms and sautéing them with the onions and garlic. The minced texture will mimic the ground meat and mushrooms have that umami flavor that is similar to ground meat.

Is Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce Freezer Friendly?

This sauce freezes great if you want to make a double batch and have it on hand in your freezer for busy nights. Just make sure to cool the sauce completely in the refrigerator first, then transfer to the freezer. The sauce will stay good in the freezer for months. To reheat, empty the freezer container into a sauce pot and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Side view of hidden vegetable pasta sauce in a skillet with a spatula

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Give your spaghetti an upgrade with this hidden vegetable pasta sauce that contains a medley of vegetables plus extra herbs and spices for maximum flavor.
Total Cost $6.21 recipe / $1.55 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 366.78kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 small zucchini $0.57
  • 2 carrots $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.25
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.03
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) $0.02
  • 1 24oz. jar pasta sauce* $1.49
  • 12 oz. spaghetti $0.75

Instructions

  • Use a cheese grater to grate the zucchini and carrots. You'll want about 1.5 cups of each, but the amount is flexible. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to a large, deep skillet. Cook the ground beef over medium heat until it is fully browned. Add the diced onion and garlic and continue to sauté a few minutes more, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with the basil, oregano, salt, freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are wilted (about five minutes).
  • Add the pasta sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Allow the contents of the skillet to come up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and simmer the sauce as you prepare the spaghetti. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the drained spaghetti to the pot with the heat turned off. Add one cup of the prepared sauce to the pasta and stir to coat. Divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with additional sauce.

Notes

*Use your favorite brand or flavor of red pasta sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 366.78kcal | Carbohydrates: 46.73g | Protein: 25.98g | Fat: 13.53g | Sodium: 979.83mg | Fiber: 7.78g

Close up of a fork twirling spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

How to Make Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce – Step by Step Photos

Shredded zucchini and carrot on a cutting board

Start by preparing your vegetables. Use a cheese grater to grate one small zucchini and two carrots. You’ll want about 1.5 cups each, but this is flexible so don’t sweat it if you have a little more or less. Also dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic.

Browned ground beef with onions and garlic

Add 1/2 lb. ground beef in a large deep skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook over medium heat until the beef has browned. Once browned, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté for a few minutes more, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Shredded vegetables added to the skillet with the meat

Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional). Continue to sauté the vegetables until they soften, or about five minutes. 

Pasta sauce being poured into the skillet with the meat and vegetables

Finally, add one 24oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce and stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come back up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and continue to let the contents of the skillet simmer as you begin to prepare your spaghetti.

Simmered hidden vegetable pasta sauce in the skillet

Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers. The vegetables will continue to soften as the sauce simmers, further “hiding” them in the sauce.

Spaghetti and sauce in the stock pot

Cook 12oz. of spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the cooking pot with the heat turned off and add about 1 cup of the sauce. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Divide the pasta into serving bowls, then top each bowl with additional sauce. This stuff is seriously so good, my mouth is watering just looking at that bowl!

Pasta sauce in a freezer bag

And don’t forget, this sauce is freezer-friendly! Just make sure to cool it completely in the refrigerator first, then place in a freezer-safe container (I used freezer bags), label, date, and freeze for later! It can be thawed in a saucepot over low, stirring occasionally.

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