Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet potatoes are one of my very favorite vegetables. I love using them to make soup, tacos, salads, rolls, and of course sweet potato fries. I also REALLY love Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges. You only need a few ingredients to make them and they are SO …

Sweet potatoes are one of my very favorite vegetables. I love using them to make soup, tacos, salads, rolls, and of course sweet potato fries. I also REALLY love Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges. You only need a few ingredients to make them and they are SO delicious. They are crispy on the outside, tender on…

The post Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Easy Homemade Meatballs

These easy homemade meatballs are freezer-friendly and versatile. Keep a batch in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners later!

The post Easy Homemade Meatballs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love meatballs and have several recipes for fun meatball recipe variations on the website already, but I wanted to have one good basic and easy homemade meatball recipe that could be used in several different meals. That way you can keep a batch of these tasty meatballs in your freezer and use them in different quick weeknight meals later. I’m all about making things easy and uncomplicated!

A plate full of spaghetti and meatballs with a fork twirling the pasta

This homemade meatball recipe is super simple, pared-down, and basic for when you need something fast, easy, and uncomplicated. The other advantage to keeping these meatballs simple is that it makes them more versatile! Because the flavor profile is simple, you can pair these meatballs with a variety of sauces and meals.

And as always, I’ve got a couple of upgrade options for you below if you do want to take these meatballs up a notch and make something a little fancier.

Why Do Meatballs Have Egg and Breadcrumbs?

Egg and breadcrumbs are added to meatballs to help hold together, and the combination helps give the meatballs a slightly more tender texture. While I have made some meatballs without eggs and breadcrumbs in the past (see my Beef Kofta Meatballs), they don’t hold together quite as well and the meat has a more firm texture, similar to that of a hamburger.

If you need to replace the egg or breadcrumbs for dietary reasons, you can experiment with using a flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp water) for the egg, and using oatmeal, rice, or crushed gluten-free crackers in place of the breadcrumbs.

Can I Use Different Meat?

Yes, meatballs work great with several different types of ground meat. Just keep in mind that different types of ground meat contain different amounts of fat and moisture, so substituting the meat can change the texture and flavor of the meatballs.

The recipe below uses Italian sausage, which has a ton of herbs and spices already in the meat. Because of that, the meatballs only needed a small amount of extra seasoning added. So if you substitute the Italian sausage with a different type of ground meat, make sure to increase the seasoning in the meatballs accordingly.

How to Use Homemade Meatballs

There’s nothing easier or more satisfying than a plate of spaghetti with red sauce and meatballs, but that’s not the only way to eat meatballs! Here are some other things you can do with homemade meatballs:

  • Make meabtall subs (hoagie rolls, red sauce, meatballs, mozzarella)
  • Add the meatballs to a soup (they’d be great in Minestrone)
  • Use them in place of plain beef in Stroganoff
  • Serve on top of mashed potatoes with a brown gravy
  • Toss with pesto and serve on veggie noodles
  • Stuff inside of a calzone or slice and use to top a pizza
  • Add to a bowl meal (rice, veggies, any sauce)
  • Add to baked pasta (like Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti)

What Else Can I Add?

If you want to take your meatballs up a notch and make them a little fancier, there are several things you can add. Try adding some fresh minced onion or garlic for an extra punch of flavor. Or try using some flavor add-ins like crumbled bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, or fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano). You can also try swapping out the milk for a different flavored liquid, like broth or even some of your red sauce. And I’m always a fan of adding a pinch of crushed red pepper to just about anything!

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with a spoon holding two meatballs
Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with a spoon holding two meatballs

Easy Homemade Meatballs

These easy homemade meatballs are freezer-friendly and versatile. Keep a batch in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners later!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $10.92 recipe / $1.37 serving
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 about 5 meatballs each
Calories 418kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.88
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.03
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup whole milk $0.11
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage $3.00
  • 1 lb. ground beef $5.99

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the two eggs.
  • Add the breadcrumb mixture, eggs, milk, Italian sausage, and ground beef to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined. Avoid over mixing the meat.
  • Let the meatball mixture rest for five minutes to allow the breadcrumbs time to soften. Divide and shape the meat into about 40 meatballs, approximately 2 Tbsp in volume each.

Oven Cooking Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet about one inch apart from each other.
  • Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a pot of red sauce and simmer for five more minutes in the sauce. If not using a red sauce, add an additional 3-5 minutes to the bake time, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Stove Top Cooking Instructions

  • Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, swirl the oil to coat the surface of the skillet. Add half of the meatballs to the skillet.
  • Cook the meatballs, turning every couple of minutes, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Repeat with the second batch of meatballs.
  • Transfer the cooked meatballs to a pot of red sauce and simmer for a few minutes more before serving.

Freezing instructions

  • You can freeze the meatballs either cooked or uncooked. I prefer freezing them already cooked so they can go straight from the freezer into a pot of red sauce and then just simmer until heated through. Cooked meatballs should be completely cooled before placing in a gallon-sized freezer bag and transferred to the freezer.
  • To freeze uncooked meatballs, place the raw meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze on the baking sheet until solid (1-2 hours) before transferring to a gallon-sized freezer bag for longer storage. Thaw completely before cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 5meatballs | Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 33g | Sodium: 691mg | Fiber: 1g
Side view of meatballs on a plate of spaghetti with red sauce

How to Make Homemade Meatballs – Step by Step Photos

egg and breadcrumb mixture

Lightly whisk two large eggs in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated Parmesan, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Pre-mixing these ingredients helps them incorporate more evenly into the meat without having to overmix the meat.

Meatball ingredients in a bowl

Add the whisked egg, breadcrumb mixture, ¼ cup milk, 1 lb. Italian sausage, and 1 lb. ground beef to a bowl.

meatball mixture in a bowl

Let the meatball mixture sit for five minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb some of the moisture.

shaped meatball held in a hand over the bowl

Divide and shape the meatball mixture into about 40 meatballs, 2 Tbsp each. I have small hands, so this may actually look bigger than they were. I used a 2 Tbsp measuring cup to portion the meat.

Meatballs on a baking sheet ready to bake

To bake the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet with about one inch between each.

baked meatballs on the baking sheet

Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, then transfer to a pot of red sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. If not using a red sauce, bake for 3-5 minutes longer, or until cooked through.

Meatballs cooked in a skillet

To cook the meatballs in a skillet, heat one tablespoon cooking oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, swirl to coat the skillet in oil, then add the meatballs. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until browned on all sides and cooked through.

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce

Whether you cook your meatballs in the oven or on the stove top, finishing them off with a brief simmer in red sauce adds an extra dose of flavor and helps keep the meatballs nice and tender.

Meatballs in a freezer bag

To freeze the cooked meatballs, cool them completely in the refrigerator first, then place them in a freezer bag and transfer to the freezer for longer storage (about 3 months). Once frozen they can be dropped straight from the freezer into a pot of red sauce and simmered until heated through.

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with spaghetti and herbs on the sides

Try These Other Meatball Recipes:

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Baked Chicken Wings

These delicious and crispy baked chicken wings are easy enough for even inexperienced cooks, and are the perfect snack for game day.

The post Baked Chicken Wings appeared first on Budget Bytes.

We’re smack dab in the middle of what I like to call “food season.” First, Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and now New Year’s Eve and FOOTBALL! You’ll no doubt need some tasty appetizers to nibble on while you anxiously watch your team play on game day, so I want to offer you some homemade snacks so you’re not tempted to order in. These Baked Chicken Wings are incredibly simple, delightfully crispy, and they can be enjoyed plain or drenched in your favorite sauce.

Close up of a platter of chicken wings with celery and sauces

How to Make Baked Chicken Wings Crispy

Coating chicken wings with cornstarch helps make them extra crispy when baked. The fat from the chicken wing combines with the cornstarch to create extra-crispy skin. But lately, instead of just doing a dry dusting of cornstarch on the chicken wing, I’ve started adding both cornstarch and a small amount of oil. Adding a little bit of oil helps the chicken wings brown and crips up a lot more evenly, which is perfect if you plan to serve the chicken wings plain, without a coating of sauce. …And it’s still way less oil and a lot easier than deep frying. ;)

How to Season Chicken Wings

For the recipe below, I created a very basic seasoning that isn’t too heavy so that it is flexible enough to match with whatever sauce or dip you decided to serve with the wings. If you plan to serve the wings without a sauce or dip and want to punch up the seasoning a bit, you can double the spices listed in the recipe below. If you’d like to try a different seasoning all together, try using 1-2 Tbsp of any of the following seasonings:

Sauces for Chicken Wings

I don’t know about you, but flavorful sauces are probably my favorite part about eating chicken wings. Whether you plan to coat the wings in the sauce or just serve it on the side for dipping, there are so many great options for wing sauce. Here are some sauces you can use for chicken wings:

What to Serve with Chicken Wings

It’s always nice to have some fresh vegetables alongside your chicken wings because their cold, crunchy, fresh texture is such a nice contrast to the crispy wings. Traditionally that would be fresh celery and carrots, but I think fresh broccoli, cauliflower, or grape tomatoes would also be nice. Plus, vegetables usually taste great dipped in the same sauces as your wings (ranch, honey mustard, etc.).

If you want to fill out your appetizer spread, try adding: Spicy Chex Mix, Hot Corn Dip, Chorizo Cheese Dip, Cowboy Caviar, and Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Side view of a platter of baked chicken wings
A platter full of baked chicken wings, celery, and two dipping sauces

Baked Chicken Wings

These delicious and crispy baked chicken wings are easy enough for even inexperienced cooks, and are the perfect snack for game day.
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Total Cost $10.35 recipe / $3.45 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 3 about 4 pieces each
Calories 895kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp paprika $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.03
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 2.5 lbs. chicken wings or drumettes $9.98

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, pepper, and salt.
  • Pat the wings dry, then place them in a bowl. Drizzle the cooking oil over top, then toss until the wings are coated in oil. Add the cornstarch-seasoning mixture, then toss to coat again.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup, then place wire cooling racks on top. Place the seasoned chicken wings on the wire racks with space between each wing.
  • Bake the wings for 30 minutes, then flip and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the wings have achieved the amount of browning desired (this will depend on the size of your wings).
  • Serve hot with your favorite sauce!

Nutrition

Serving: 4wings | Calories: 895kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 70g | Fat: 65g | Sodium: 665mg | Fiber: 1g

How to Make Baked Chicken Wings – Step by Step Photos

Cornstarch and spices in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp cornstarch, ½ tsp paprika, ½ tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and ½ tsp salt.

Seasoning being sprinkled over the chicken wings

Pat dry 2.5 lbs. chicken wings or drumettes. Place the dried chicken in a bowl, drizzle with 1 Tbsp cooking oil, and toss to coat. Add the cornstarch-seasoning mixture and toss to coat again. Add the cornstarch-seasoning mixture and toss to coat again.

Seasoned chicken wings in a bowl

The wings are now coated in a light mixture of oil, cornstarch, and seasoning which will create a flavorful and crispy exterior once baked.

Wings on the prepared baking sheet

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Place two wire cooling racks on top. Add the seasoned chicken on top of the wire racks with some space between each wing (if they’re too close they won’t get as crispy).

Baked chicken wings on the baking sheet

Bake the chicken wings in the preheated 400ºF oven for 30 minutes, then flip each wing over. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until they achieve the amount of browning you like.

A hand dipping a chicken wing into a bowl of ranch on a platter

Serve hot with some fresh vegetables and your favorite sauces for dipping!

Try These Other Chicken Wing Recipes:

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Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese

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

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

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

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

What Makes it Extra Cheesy?

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

What is a Roux?

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

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?

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

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

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

Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese

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

Side view of mac and cheese in a pot

What Else Can I Add to Mac and Cheese?

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

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

Need Some Inspiration?

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

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

Homemade Mac and Cheese

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Nutrition

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

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

Shredded cheddar in a bowl

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

boiled macaroni held above the pot with a pasta spoon

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

Butter flour and onion powder in the pot

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

Roux being whisked in the pot

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

Milk being poured into the pot

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

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

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

salt and hot sauce added to the white sauce

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

shredded cheddar added to the pot

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

Finished cheese sauce dripping off the whisk

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

Cooked macaroni being stirred into the cheese sauce

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

Finished mac and cheese in the pot

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

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

Easy Taco Pizza

If you are looking to shake up your regular taco night or pizza night, make Taco Pizza! You get the best of both worlds in one EASY recipe! Top flatbread with refried beans, salsa, taco meat, and lots of cheese! Add on your favorite taco toppings and e…

If you are looking to shake up your regular taco night or pizza night, make Taco Pizza! You get the best of both worlds in one EASY recipe! Top flatbread with refried beans, salsa, taco meat, and lots of cheese! Add on your favorite taco toppings and eat it up! This is a great recipe…

The post Easy Taco Pizza appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Easy Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin chili is hearty but light and packed with fiber and other nutrients. It’s the perfect warm and cozy bowl of fall flavors.

The post Easy Pumpkin Chili appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love all things pumpkin, and I’m not sorry about it. I also love just about every iteration of chili that is out there (see my Homemade Chili recipe and the long list of variations you can make). So it’s only fitting that I combined my two fall loves. Adding pumpkin is a super easy way to add a dose of nutrients to your pot of chili without changing that classic chili feel. The flavor and texture blend seamlessly into a pot of classic chili and even kind of makes it feel a tad lighter, so I’m totally into it!

A bowl of pumpkin chili with cheese and tortilla chips

What Does Pumpkin Chili Taste Like?

Okay, if you’re looking at me with a side-eye over the idea of putting pumpkin into your chili, just hear me out. The flavor difference is subtle. It makes the chili a little more saucy and rich, without being overly heavy. The pumpkin adds a little earthiness and a super subtle sweetness, which is nice because I usually add a little bit of brown sugar to my chili, but I was able to skip that with the pumpkin. And since I like to load up my chili with a lot of spices (see my homemade chili seasoning), the flavor of the pumpkin is not super noticeable.

And I think this is a good time to mention that you don’t want to taste your chili until it has simmered on the stove a while. You might be tempted to give it a taste right after you add everything to the pot, but at that point, it does not taste good. The chili needs time to do its thing. The spices need to bloom, the flavors need to cook down and combine. Give it time, and then taste. Be patient!

Make it Vegetarian or Vegan

It’s super easy to make your pumpkin chili vegetarian or vegan. Just swap out the ground beef for an extra can of beans, cooked lentils, some crumbled tempeh, or your favorite ground beef substitute. Most of the flavor in this chili comes from the chili seasoning, tomatoes, and other vegetables, so you can safely substitute the beef without too much of an effect.

Use a Different Meat

You can also swap the ground beef out for a different kind of ground meat. Ground turkey is very popular for pumpkin turkey because it has a lighter flavor to match the lighter flavor of the pumpkin, but I also think that some Mexican chorizo would be awesome. Those smoky spices would pair perfectly with the flavor of the pumpkin.

Is Pumpkin Chili Spicy?

The recipe, as written below, is only as spicy as the chili powder you use. Many grocery store chili powders tend to be quite mild, but some brands can be spicy. So, if you’re sensitive to heat, make sure you use a chili powder that is mild. I find that McCormick brand chili powder is pretty mild.

If you want to add more heat to your pumpkin chili, feel free to dice up a jalapeño and sautéing that with the onion and garlic in the beginning. You can also add some chipotle powder to the chili seasoning, or dice up a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and stir that into the chili. There are a lot of options!

Overhead view of a pot of pumpkin chili
Overhead view of a bowl of pumpkin chili with cheese and tortilla chips

Easy Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin chili is hearty but light and packed with fiber and other nutrients. It's the perfect warm and cozy bowl of fall flavors.
Total Cost $9.73 recipe / $1.62 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 1.25 cups each
Calories 431kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Chili

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.28
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 lb. ground beef $5.35
  • 1 15oz. can kidney beans, drained $0.59
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained $0.55
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes $0.69
  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin purée $1.05
  • 1/2 6oz. can tomato paste (5 Tbsp) $0.25
  • 2 cups water $0.00

Chili Seasoning*

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder $0.30
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Add the garlic, onion, and olive oil to a large pot. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onions are tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the ground beef and continue to cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.
  • Add the kidney beans (drained), black beans (drained), diced tomatoes (with juices), puréed pumpkin, tomato paste, water, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on top of the pot and allow the chili to come up to a simmer, stirring occastionally. Allow the chili to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • After simmering for 30 minutes, give the chili a taste and add salt if needed. Serve hot with your favorite toppings (sour cream, cheese, green onion, corn chips, etc.)

Notes

*You can use your own store-bought chili seasoning or your favorite mix of chili herbs and spices.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cup | Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 21g | Sodium: 1131mg | Fiber: 14g
A spoon lifting a bite of pumpkin chili with melted cheese stretching from the bowl

How to Make Pumpkin Chili – Step by Step Photos

diced onion and minced garlic in a pot with olive oil

Dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a large pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes).

browned ground beef in the pot with onion and garlic

Add one pound ground beef and continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through.

remaining chili ingredients added to the pot, unstirred.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot: 1 15oz. can black beans (drained), 1 15oz. can kidney beans (drained), 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 15oz. can pumpkin purée, ½ of a 6oz. can tomato paste, 2 cups water, ½ tsp smoked paprika, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Stir until everything is well combined.

simmered chili in a pot with a spoon

Place a lid on the pot and allow the chili to come up to a simmer. Let the chili simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After simmering 30 minutes, give the chili a taste and add salt if needed (I did not add any extra).

Overhead view of a bowl of pumpkin chili with cheese and tortilla chips

Serve hot with your favorite toppings! I especially like something creamy on my bowl, whether that is cheese, avocado, or sour cream. :)

Overhead view of a pot of pumpkin chili with toppings on the sides

The post Easy Pumpkin Chili appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

Slow cooker recipes are always nice to have in your back pocket. I love a good set it and forget it recipe. Josh and the boys absolutely love these Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches. They request them often and I don’t mind because they are eas…

Slow cooker recipes are always nice to have in your back pocket. I love a good set it and forget it recipe. Josh and the boys absolutely love these Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches. They request them often and I don’t mind because they are easy to make. There is only a little prep involved…

The post Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Baked Chicken Tenders

Do you have a few easy dinner recipes that you make over and over again? We sure do! A few of our favorites include: chicken penne pasta, taco salad, chickpea curry, taquitos and these Baked Chicken Tenders. Our boys request chicken tenders almost ever…

Do you have a few easy dinner recipes that you make over and over again? We sure do! A few of our favorites include: chicken penne pasta, taco salad, chickpea curry, taquitos and these Baked Chicken Tenders. Our boys request chicken tenders almost every single week. They are a staple in our house and I…

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Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Oven baked chicken drumsticks are the perfect easy dinner idea that can be flavored with any of your favorite seasonings.

The post Baked Chicken Drumsticks appeared first on Budget Bytes.

You guys know how I love easy dinner staples, right? Baked chicken drumsticks are exactly that—an easy, no-brainer main dish recipe that you make with barely any planning or effort. Just coat the chicken with your favorite seasoning, toss them in the oven, and then focus on your side dishes or whatever else you have going on in your life while the drumsticks cook themselves. They’re easy, tasty, and the perfect “emergency” meal for when you just don’t want to have to think about, “what’s for dinner?”

Close up side view of oven baked chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet

Use Bone-In, Skin-On Drumsticks (or Thighs)

Dark meat chicken, like drumsticks and thighs, is very forgiving, especially when cooked with the bone-in and skin on. The skin helps hold in the moisture and the higher fat content of the meat helps it stay tender and juicy. You can swap in bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs using the same method in the recipe below.

Chicken breast needs a slightly different technique because it is a leaner cut of meat. For a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast I suggest using the method in my Herb Roasted Chicken Breast recipe. Boneless skinless chicken breast should be cooked using the method in my Garlic Herb Baked Chicken Breast recipe.

Other Seasoning Ideas for Baked Chicken Drumsticks

I used a very classic mix of smoked paprika, garlic, onion, and oregano for my baked chicken drumsticks, but you can literally use any seasoning blend you like for this. There is so much flexibility! Here are a few ideas for seasoning your oven-baked chicken drumsticks:

Want some sauce for dipping? Try these delicious sauces with your baked chicken:

What to Serve with Chicken Drumsticks

I made some Easy Cheesy Broccoli Rice to serve on the side of my chicken drumsticks, but it would also go great with classics like: mashed potatoes, Three Bean Salad, Oven Roasted Broccoli, Simple Sautéed Vegetables, Roasted Potatoes, or Classic Coleslaw.

Baked chicken drumsticks on a plate with easy cheesy broccoli and rice
Oven roasted chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet with tongs

Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Oven baked chicken drumsticks are the perfect easy dinner idea that can be flavored with any of your favorite seasonings.
Total Cost $3.94 recipe / $0.66 per piece
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 pieces
Calories 254kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1.75 lbs. chicken drumsticks (6 pieces) $3.42
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil* $0.32

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Place the chicken drumsticks in a bowl and drizzle the cooking oil over top. Sprinkle the prepared seasoning over the drumsticks, then toss until they're evenly coated in oil and spices.
  • Place the seasoned drumsticks on a baking sheet with enough space around each so they're not touching. You can line the baking sheet with foil or parchment for easier cleanup, if desired.
  • Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 175ºF, flipping the drumsticks once half-way through. Serve hot.

Notes

*You can use your favorite high-heat cooking oil. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1drumstick | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 332mg | Fiber: 1g
Oven roasted chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet with tongs

How to Make Baked Chicken Drumsticks – Step by Step Photos

herbs and spices in a small bowl

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Decide what herbs and spices you want to use to season your drumsticks (see the text above the recipe for some ideas). I used a simple mix of 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, and ½ tsp salt.

Seasoning being sprinkled over chicken drumsticks

Place about 1.75 lbs. chicken drumsticks in a large bowl and drizzle 2 Tbsp of your preferred cooking oil over top.

Seasoned chicken drumsticks in a bowl.

Toss the drumsticks in the oil and spices until everything is evenly coated.

Raw seasoned chicken on a baking sheet

Arrange the chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet spaced out enough so they are not touching. You can line the baking sheet in parchment for easier cleanup if desired.

baked drumsticks on a baking sheet

Bake the chicken drumsticks for about 40 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the internal temperature reaches 175ºF.

baked chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet with tongs, garnished with parsley

Serve hot and enjoy! (garnished with parsley for color, not needed for flavor)

The post Baked Chicken Drumsticks 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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