Apple Cider Mimosas

This may be a no-brainer for my cocktail aficionado friends, but for those who aren’t naturally cocktail savvy, allow me to present these Apple Cider Mimosas, which are the perfect simple daytime cocktail for Thanksgiving.

The post Apple Cider Mimosas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This may be a no-brainer for my cocktail aficionado friends, but for those who aren’t naturally cocktail savvy, allow me to present these Apple Cider Mimosas, which are the perfect, simple daytime cocktail for Thanksgiving. Chances are you have some apple cider on hand (especially if you’re making my Cider Roasted Turkey Breast), and maybe some fresh rosemary, so just pick up a bottle of sparkling wine and you’re in business! 🥂

three apple cider mimosas with apples and a bottle of wine in the back

What Kind of Sparkline Wine Should I Use?

While you can use just about any sparkling wine that you have available, I prefer a dry or brut sparkling wine because apple cider is already extremely sweet. Since apple cider also has quite a powerful flavor, it can also help mask subtle flavor differences in your wine. In other words, you don’t have to buy anything super high quality. ;) I just used a $7.49 bottle of Tourner brut sparkling wine from ALDI. And if all the varieties of sparkling wines confuse the heck out of you, this article about Champagne vs. Prosecco is a great place to start.

Sparkling wine being poured into a flute with cider

What Kind of Cider Should I Use?

Again, this drink is extremely flexible. I used an inexpensive cider, but I think it would be really fun to use a fresh local cider if that’s something that is available in your area. You can also experiment with steeping the cider in some mulling spices, then chilling it before making the mimosas.

Make Your Own Mix

I kept the formula simple, with a 50/50 ratio of cider to wine, but as any mimosa drinker knows, you can tweak that to be any ratio that you like. Want a full glass of sparkling wine with just a splash of cider? Go for it! Want mostly cider with just a tickle of bubbles? You got it! This drink requires no expertise, no skill, just pour and drink. ;)

one apple cider mimosa held close to the camera
sparkling wine being poured into a champagne flute in a group of three flutes

Apple Cider Mimosas

Just two simple ingredients and one optional fresh garnish make these Apple Cider Mimosas the easiest holiday cocktail around.
Total Cost $1.46 each
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 145.2kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. apple cider $0.18
  • 4 oz. sparkling wine $1.18
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional garnish) $0.10

Instructions

  • Make sure the cider and sparkling wine are chilled. Pour four ounces (½ cup) cider into a champagne flute, followed by 4 ounces (½ cup) sparkling wine. Top with a sprig of fresh rosemary as a garnish, then serve and enjoy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1drink | Calories: 145.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 17.5g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 5mg | Fiber: 0.3g
sparkling wine being poured into a champagne flute in a group of three flutes

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Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Thanksgiving is probably going to look a little different for a lot of us this year, but we can still celebrate, enjoy good food and each other’s company in new and creative ways. Since a lot of Thanksgiving gatherings will be a bit smaller this year, I’m going to take advantage of cooking less volume by adding a little more flare. Maybe go for that fancy cheese. Add that extra topping. Cook a sauce from scratch. It’s all easier and more affordable when you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. So that’s what I did with this super cheesy, Loaded Cauliflower Casserole. It’s a rich and indulgent side dish with tons of fun toppings and a smaller batch size, fit for a smaller 2020 Thanksgiving feast.

The post Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Thanksgiving is probably going to look a little different for a lot of us this year, but we can still celebrate, enjoy good food and each other’s company in new and creative ways. Since a lot of Thanksgiving gatherings will be a bit smaller this year, I’m going to take advantage of cooking less volume by adding a little more flare. Maybe go for that fancy cheese. Add that extra topping. Cook a sauce from scratch. It’s all easier and more affordable when you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. So that’s what I did with this super cheesy, Loaded Cauliflower Casserole. It’s a rich and indulgent side dish with tons of fun toppings and a smaller batch size, fit for a smaller 2020 Thanksgiving feast.

This post is sponsored by ALDI. Ingredient prices and availability may vary. Visit ALDI on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Instagram.

cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole on a blue background with a striped napkin

Adding that extra flare is also more affordable thanks to the awesome selection at my local ALDI store. They have everything I need for a traditional Thanksgiving feast, plus those fun specialty ingredients that can take your meal to the next level, all for unbeatable prices. And their cheese selection? Ah-maz-ing. So, I had a little fun with the cheese in this dish and used two different varieties of cheddar. #noregrets

What Kind of Cheese is Best?

Cheddar is definitely the best choice for this Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole because it melts smoothly and has a rich and creamy flavor. But you can play around with different flavors of cheddar to give the dish more flare. I used Emporium Selection Vintage Selection White Cheddar from ALDI for the cheese sauce, and their classic Happy Farms Mild Cheddar for the topping. If you want to try something more fun, they have tons of seasonal flavored cheddars like smoked cheddar, hatch pepper cheddar, or Cajun spice cheddar, all of which would all be incredible in this casserole.

Use the ALDI store finder here to find a store near you, then tell me in the comments below what kind of cheese you tried, so I can go try it too. ;)

What Else Can I Add?

If you want to add even more to your already “loaded” cauliflower casserole, I have some ideas. I tend to like things spicy, so a few thinly sliced jalapeños would be awesome, especially if coupled with a few small dollops of cooling sour cream. Slices of avocado might also be nice. Or, if you want to take this a different direction, a light drizzle of sweet and tangy BBQ sauce would be an amazing compliment to the creamy, cheesy sauce.

Want to turn it into a meal casserole? Add some shredded chicken or browned Italian sausage before drenching the cauliflower with sauce.

What is the Serving Size?

While I could probably easily eat half of this myself, I don’t think that would be a reasonable serving size, considering how rich this casserole is. This recipe makes about six smaller Thanksgiving sized servings (serving sizes tend to shrink when you’re trying to fit more items on one plate), or maybe four regular weeknight-dinner-sized side dish servings. It all depends on how many other items you’re serving with your meal.

Can the Recipe be Doubled?

Yes, absolutely! I purposely made this a smaller batch size recipe, but if you do have more mouths to feed this recipe is easily doubled. As long as you use a 9×13″ casserole dish so that everything is still evenly spread out, the cook times should all remain the same.

close up of cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole being scooped out of the dish
Overhead view of cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole on a blue background

Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

This rich and cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole is an indulgent Thanksgiving side dish with plenty of flare.
Total Cost $8.65 recipe / $1.44 serving (prices may vary by location)
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 about ¾ cup each
Calories 418.13kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. Appleton Farms Hickory Bacon $1.63
  • 1 head cauliflower $2.29
  • 3 Tbsp Countryside Creamery Salted Butter 0.42
  • 3 Tbsp Baker's Corner All-Purpose Flour $0.03
  • 2 cups Simply Nature Organic Whole Milk $0.75
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Simply Nature Organic Garlic Powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Stonemill Black Pepper $0.02
  • 6 oz. Emporium Selection Vintage Cheddar, shredded $3.16
  • 2 oz. Happy Farms Mild Cheddar, shredded $0.42
  • 1/4 cup Chef's Cupboard French Fried Onions $0.16
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.11

Instructions

  • Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the grease in the pan and let it drain on a paper towel lined plate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower, then cut it into small florets. Add the cauliflower florets to a pot and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Let the cauliflower boil for about 5 minutes, or until it is fork tender. Drain the cauliflower well in a colander.
  • While the cauliflower is draining, prepare the cheese sauce. Add the butter and flour to a sauce pot. Melt the butter over medium heat, then continue to cook and stir the flour and butter for about two minutes more.
  • Whisk the milk into the flour and butter until it is fully dissolved, and no lumps remain. Continue to heat and stir over medium until the milk reaches a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Season the white sauce with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat, then begin adding the shredded vintage cheddar, one handful at a time, making sure it has fully melted in before adding the next handful. If the sauce becomes too cold to melt the cheese, place it over low heat only until all the cheese has melted into the sauce.
  • Place the boiled and drained cauliflower in a 2-quart casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower, making sure it is fully covered. Top with the remaining 2 oz. shredded mild cheddar and the French Fried onions.
  • Bake the cauliflower for only ten minutes, then switch the oven from bake to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes, or just until the top is slightly browned (broiling is optional). Do not over bake the casserole, or the cheese sauce will split.
  • Remove the casserole from the oven and top with the cooked bacon and sliced green onions. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 418.13kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.67g | Protein: 21.08g | Fat: 30.43g | Sodium: 962.32mg | Fiber: 2.68g
close up side view of cheesy cauliflower casserole

How to Make Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole – Step by Step Photos

Bacon cooking in a skillet

Cook about 4oz. bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the grease in the pan and let it drain on a paper towel lined plate while you prepare the rest of the dish.

cauliflower florets in a pot with water

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the leaves and stem from one head cauliflower, then cut it into florets. Add the florets to a large pot, cover with water, place a lid on top, then bring it up to a boil over high heat. Let the cauliflower boil until fork tender (about 5 minutes). Drain the cauliflower in colander.

flour and butter roux in a pot

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a pot over medium heat (I used the same pot from the cauliflower to avoid dirtying another pot). Add 3 Tbsp flour and continue to cook and stir for about two minutes.

milk being poured into the pot

Whisk two cups of milk into the butter and flour mixture until it is fully dissolved, and no lumps remain. Continue to cook and stir the milk over medium heat until it comes to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to about the same consistency as heavy cream.

Seasoning in white sauce

Season the sauce with ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp pepper, and ¼ tsp salt.

shredded cheddar added to the pot

Remove the sauce from the heat and begin adding the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, making sure it is fully melted in before adding more. If the sauce becomes too cold to continue melting the cheese, place it over low heat only as you melt in the rest of the cheese.

thick cheese sauce in a pot

When all of the cheese has been melted into the sauce it will be thick and cheesy.

cheese sauce being poured over cauliflower in casserole dish

Place the cooked and drained cauliflower in a 2-quart casserole dish, then pour the cheese sauce over top, making sure to fully cover the cauliflower.

shredded cheddar added to top of cauliflower

Add the final 2oz. shredded mild cheddar and ¼ cup French fried onions on top. Bake the casserole for ten minutes, then switch the setting on the oven from bake to broil. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or just until you get some slightly browning on top.

Final toppings added to casserole

After baking, add the final toppings: cooked bacon and sliced green onions. Serve hot and enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness!

Overhead view of cheesy loaded cauliflower casserole on a blue background

The post Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne

This was actually supposed to be a baked ziti, but it turns out ziti is just about impossible to find in grocery stores right now, so I went with a Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne instead. Sometimes you just have to roll with it! This recipe is a very vegetable-forward version of my Classic Baked Ziti, chock […]

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This was actually supposed to be a baked ziti, but it turns out ziti is just about impossible to find in grocery stores right now, so I went with a Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne instead. Sometimes you just have to roll with it! This recipe is a very vegetable-forward version of my Classic Baked Ziti, chock full of colorful vegetables, a quick homemade red sauce, and layers of ooey-gooey cheese. This recipes makes a LOT of pasta but the leftovers are awesome and freezable! 

Overhead view of a casserole dish full of roasted vegetable baked penne

Take a Short Cut

This roasted vegetable baked penne is kind of a labor of love because there are so many moving parts, BUT you can take a short cut by using some jarred pasta sauce instead of making your own. Use about one and a half 24oz. jars of store-bought pasta sauce in place of the homemade sauce listed below.

How to Store Leftovers

As I mentioned in the intro, this makes a LOT of pasta. But the leftovers are super yummy, and it makes a really great item to stash in your freezer for grab-n-go lunches or quick dinners on busy nights. After baking, divide the pasta into single serving containers and transfer to the refrigerator. Once fully cooled, you can transfer some (or all) of the containers to the freezer for longer storage. I usually leave as many as I can eat in one week in the fridge and freeze the left. The leftovers can be reheated quickly in the microwave.

What Vegetables Can You Use?

I used a classic mix of zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, and bell pepper so I could have a really colorful mix. If you want to substitute any of these vegetables, here are some other good options:

  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots

In general you want to opt for softer vegetables for this dish, as opposed to harder root vegetables, but if you do want to include vegetables that are more firm, make sure to cut them into much smaller pieces to help them soften more quickly while they roast.

Close up front view of roasted vegetable baked penne being scooped out of the casserole dish

 
Overhead view of roasted vegetable baked penne being scooped out of the casserole dish

Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne

Layers of pasta, flavorful roasted vegetables, a simple homemade red sauce, and melty cheese make this roasted vegetable baked penne to die for!
Total Cost $11.34 recipe / $1.42 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 494.86kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 red onion $0.44
  • 1 zucchini $0.79
  • 1 yellow squash $1.11
  • 1 bell pepper $1.69
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.26
  • tsp salt $0.02
  • tsp pepper $0.02

Simple Red Sauce

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.26
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes $0.79
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste $0.12
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning* $0.30
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • ½ cup water $0.02

Pasta & Cheese

  • 1 lb. penne $1.00
  • 15 oz. ricotta $2.19
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend**, divided $1.86
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) $0.11

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Dice the red onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper into 1-inch pieces. Spread the diced vegetables out over a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss until all the vegetables are coated in oil.
  • Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven, stirring once half way through, for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the edges are brown and caramelized.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, begin the red sauce. Finely dice the yellow onion and add it to a sauce pot with the butter. Sauté for a few minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt, and water.
  • Stir the sauce to combine. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are finished roasting (about 30 minutes).
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the shredded Italian cheese blend, and ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the penne. Once boiling, add the penne and continue to boil until the pasta is tender. Drain the penne in a colander, then return it to the pot with the heat turned off.
  • Stir one cup of the red sauce into the drained pasta to coat the pasta in flavor. Add the roasted vegetables to the remaining red sauce and stir to combine.
  • To layer the casserole, place half of the sauce coated penne in the bottom of a 9x13" or 3 quart casserole dish. Add half of the cheese mixture on top in dollops, followed by half of the roasted vegetable and red sauce mixture. The ingredients do not need to create a solid layer or completely cover the previous layer. Repeat with a second layer of pasta, cheese, and vegetable red sauce. Finally, top the casserole with the second cup of shredded Italian cheese blend.
  • Cover the casserole with foil, making sure it doesn't touch the cheese on top. Place the casserole in the oven (still turned on to 400ºF) and bake for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove the foil and switch the oven from bake to broil. Broil the top of the casserole to brown the cheese for 3-5 minutes (watch closely as broilers can vary quite a bit from oven to oven). Top with chopped parsley if desired and serve!

Notes

*If you do not have Italian seasoning, you can replace this with equal parts dried basil, dried oregano, dried morjoram, and thyme.
*If you do not have shredded Italian cheese blend, use equal amounts shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 494.86kcal | Carbohydrates: 60.24g | Protein: 20.76g | Fat: 19.79g | Sodium: 681.56mg | Fiber: 5.35g

How to Make Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne

Whole vegetables on a cutting board

For the roasted vegetables I used one red onion, one zucchini, one yellow squash, and one red bell pepper. You can choose just about any vegetable you’d like (see notes above the recipe for suggestions).

Diced vegetables on a baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Dice the vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Place the diced vegetables on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables until they are coated in oil.

Roasted vegetables on the baking sheet

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast, stirring once halfway through, for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and caramelized on the edges.

Diced onion and butter in a sauce pot

While the vegetables are roasting, begin the rest of the casserole. Start with the homemade red sauce. Dice one yellow onion and add it to a sauce pot with 2 Tbsp butter. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft.

Red sauce ingredients in the pot

Once the onions are soft, add one 28oz. can crushed tomatoes, 3 Tbsp tomato paste, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp salt, and ½ cup water. Stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come up to the simmer, then turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are done roasting (about 30 minutes). 

Cheese mixture ingredients in a bowl

While the vegetables are roasting and the red sauce is simmering away, prepare the cheese. Stir together 15oz. ricotta, 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, ¼ tsp pepper, and ¼ tsp salt.

Stirring red sauce into cooked pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 1 lb. penne and continue to boil until the penne is tender. Drain the pasta in a colander, then return it to the pot with the heat turned off. Add 1 cup of the red sauce and stir to coat.

Roasted vegetables added to the pot of red sauce.

Stir the roasted vegetables into the rest of the red sauce.

Layer one of baked penne in the casserole dish

Now that the sauce, cheese, and pasta are done, it’s time to start layering! Add half of the sauce coated pasta to the bottom of a 9×13″ (3 quart) casserole dish. Next, add half of the cheese mixture in dollops, followed by half of the vegetable red sauce. Each layer will not fully cover the previous layer. You don’t need to spend time trying to spread it out. It will all melt together as it bakes.

Second layers of baked penne in the casserole dish

Repeat with a second layer of pasta, cheese, and vegetable red sauce. Finally, add the second cup of shredded Italian cheese blend on top.

Baked Penne casserole with foil covering half the dish

Cover the casserole dish with foil, taking care not to let it touch the cheese. Bake the casserole for 35 minutes.

Finished roasted vegetable baked penne in the casserole dish

After 35 minutes, remove the foil and change the oven from bake to broil. Let it broil for a few minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown on top. Top with a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley for garnish, if desired.

Overhead view of roasted vegetable baked penne being scooped out of the casserole dish

Enjoy!

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Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! I’m always looking for ways to use up the odds and ends of my fresh spinach, and  Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta is one of my go-to methods for making sure no spinach goes to waste. It’s fast (like, fast enough to make on a weekday), […]

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Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! I’m always looking for ways to use up the odds and ends of my fresh spinach, and  Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta is one of my go-to methods for making sure no spinach goes to waste. It’s fast (like, fast enough to make on a weekday), super delish, and makes me feel pampered. Plus, I’ll share several different ways you can serve or customize these eggs so you’ll have plenty of options!

Two plates with scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and orange slices

How to Serve Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

You might be thinking, “who doesn’t know how to serve scrambled eggs??” Well, in addition to serving scrambled eggs on a plate with toast, like in the photos in this post, there are actually some other fun things that you can do with these eggs once they’re made. My favorite? Make them into a quesadilla! Pile the scrambled eggs with spinach and feta onto half of a tortilla, top with a little more shredded mozzarella, fold it closed, then toast it in a skillet. BOOM. So delish.

You can also stuff the scrambled eggs into a breakfast wrap with some bacon, or into a pita for a really easy, handheld, on-the-go breakfast. Or how about a bagelwich? Yes please! And lastly, you can use these scrambled eggs as a topper for a breakfast bowl meal. 

What Else Can I Add?

Spinach and feta is really just a starting point. I like to add whatever vegetables I have laying around in the fridge to my scrambled eggs. Diced bell pepper is awesome, as are tomatoes. Got leftover green onions? Slice ’em up and toss them in there! Have half of a leftover avocado? Use it to top your eggs. The sky really is the limit here.

Green Eggs and Ham

Here’s your chance to fulfill your childhood Dr. Seuss dreams, friends. The juices from the fresh spinach do turn the eggs a little green, especially if they sit on your plate for a little while before you get a chance to eat. But I absolutely love the idea of adding ham to these scrambled eggs to make it a true “green eggs and ham” breakfast. How fun! I would dice the ham and sauté it in the skillet first, then add the spinach and continue on as directed below.

Side view of a plate with scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and oranges

 
A plate full of scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and orange slices

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

These tasty scrambled eggs with spinach and feta are fast and easy enough to prepare on a weekday, and are perfect for using up spinach!
Total Cost $2.31 recipe / $1.16 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 250.75kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. fresh spinach $0.65
  • 4 large eggs $0.92
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.13
  • 1 oz. feta $0.55
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 pinch salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Roughly chop the spinach into smaller pieces (about 1-inch pieces). This step is optional and can be skipped to make breakfast faster, but I prefer the smaller pieces that don't get stringy like whole spinach leaves can tend to be.
  • Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add a pinch of salt, and whisk (I prefer ribbons of white and yellow, but you can whisk until even if preferred).
  • Add the butter to a large skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the chopped spinach and sauté until the spinach has softened (2-3 minutes)
  • Push the sautéed spinach to the outside edges of the skillet and pour the eggs into the center. Gently fold the eggs as the bottom layer solidifies, until the eggs are about 75% solid. Fold the eggs into the sautéed spinach, then turn off the heat. The residual heat in the pan will finish cooking the eggs without overcooking or drying them out.
  • Top the eggs with the crumbled feta, a little freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper, then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 250.75kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.6g | Protein: 16.2g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 589.3mg | Fiber: 1.3g

Scrambled eggs with spinach and feta on a plate with toast, half piled onto a slice of toast

How to Make Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta – Step by Step Photos

Chopped spinach on a cutting board

Chop about 4 oz. of spinach into smaller pieces (about 1-inch pieces). The amount of spinach in this recipe is VERY flexible. So use less if you have less, just use up what you’ve got! You can also skip chopping if you’re in a hurry, but I like to chop because whole leaves can be a little stringy sometimes.

Whisked eggs

Crack four large eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and whisk to your liking. I like to have some ribbons of white and yellow in my scrambled eggs, but you can whisk more if you like a more even color.

Spinach being added to a skillet with melted butter

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the chopped spinach. Sauté the spinach until it has wilted (2-3 minutes).

Whisked eggs being poured into the skillet with spinach

Push the sautéed spinach out to the outer edges of the skillet, then pour the whisked eggs in the center. Gently fold the eggs as the bottom layer solidifies, until the eggs are about 75% solid.

Eggs folded with spinach in the skillet

Fold the spinach into the eggs, then turn the heat off. The residual heat in the skillet will finish cooking the eggs without overcooking them or drying them out.

Finished eggs with feta and pepper

Finish off the eggs with 1 oz. crumbled feta, some freshly cracked black pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper.

A plate full of scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and orange slices

Enjoy!!

The post Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

If ever there was a meal-worthy soup, it would be Broccoli Cheddar! This bowl full of colorful, chunky vegetables and a super thick cheesy “broth” are sure to leave you warm, happy, and satisfied. Unlike some broccoli cheddar soups, my Broccoli Cheddar Soup doesn’t use heavy cream and is ever so slightly lighter on the […]

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If ever there was a meal-worthy soup, it would be Broccoli Cheddar! This bowl full of colorful, chunky vegetables and a super thick cheesy “broth” are sure to leave you warm, happy, and satisfied. Unlike some broccoli cheddar soups, my Broccoli Cheddar Soup doesn’t use heavy cream and is ever so slightly lighter on the cheese, so you still get all that creamy, cheesy goodness without feeling totally weighed down. But, you can always add more cheese if you’d like. #norules This soup is so dang easy I’m sure it’s going to go into my regular rotation!

Three bowls of Broccoli Cheddar Soup with saltine crackers on the side

Smaller Batch for No Leftovers

Most of my soup recipes are big batch so you can freeze the leftovers and stock your freezer with all that goodness, but this Broccoli Cheddar Soup is the exception. Cheese sauces (and in this case broths) thickened with butter and flour roux don’t tend to hold up to freezing and thawing, so I made this a small batch soup so you don’t have to worry about having too many leftovers. This recipe makes four generous servings.

How Long Does Broccoli Cheddar Soup Keep?

As mentioned above, you don’t want to freeze this soup, but it will stay good in your fridge for 4-5 days. And boy are the leftovers ever DELICIOUS. They reheat beautifully in the microwave, or can be reheated on the stove top over medium-low heat, stirring often.

What to Serve with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This super thick, cheesy “broth” is just begging for some crackers or thick crusty bread for scooping up every last drop. I love saltine crackers with mine, but oyster crackers would be awesome, as would my focaccia rolls

Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?

Yes, frozen broccoli works quite well for this recipe. I do suggest letting them thaw completely before adding them to the soup, and you probably will still want to chop them into much smaller pieces (think bite-sized, fits-on-a-spoon small).

Make it Vegetarian

I used chicken broth as the base for my soup because it tends to be a little more on the mild side and the light color doesn’t overshadow the orange color of the cheese, but you can use vegetable broth instead to make this soup vegetarian. Just be aware that it tends to have a stronger flavor and the darker color may darken your soup. 

CLose up of a ladle full of broccoli cheddar soup

 
Overhead view of a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with saltine crackers

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This super easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup is chock full of colorful, chunky vegetables in a rich and cheesy broth for a totally meal-worthy soup.
Total Cost $4.97 recipe / $1.24 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 2 cups each
Calories 426.2kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.52
  • 1 lb. broccoli $1.49
  • 2 carrots $0.23
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.52
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.04
  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.24
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.75
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 6 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded $1.27

Instructions

  • Dice the onion. Chop the broccoli into very small pieces. Peel and slice the carrots.
  • Add the butter and onion to a large soup pot and sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the flour and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes more, or until the flour is coating the bottom of the pot and is a light golden brown color.
  • Add the chicken broth and whisk to dissolve all the flour off the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat up to medium-high and, while stirring often, allow the broth to come up to a simmer. When it reaches a simmer it will thicken to a gravy consistency.
  • Turn the heat back down to medium and whisk in the milk, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Allow the broth to come back up to a simmer.
  • Add the chopped broccoli and carrots, allow the broth to come back up to a simmer, and continue to simmer the vegetables, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  • Finally, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir the shredded cheese into the soup, one handful at a time, until it is fully melted. Taste the soup and add salt if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your broth—I did not add any).

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 426.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.43g | Protein: 16.65g | Fat: 30g | Sodium: 949.73mg | Fiber: 2.55g

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Overhead view of a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with saltine crackers

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Soup – Step by Step Photos

Chopped broccoli

Dice one yellow onion, finely chop one pound of broccoli, and peel and slice two carrots. I’m showing a photo of the broccoli so you can see how fine you want the pieces. I might even go a smidge smaller on the broccoli next time. You want the pieces small enough to easily fit on a spoon!

Sautéed onion and butter, flour being added to the pot

Add the onion and 4 Tbsp butter to a large soup pot and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes more, or until the flour is coating the bottom of the pot and has turned a light golden brown color.

Chicken broth being whisked into the pot

Whisk 2 cups chicken broth into the pot, making sure to dissolve all the flour off the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat up to medium-high and while stirring often, allow the broth to come up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken into a gravy consistency.

Whisk in milk and spices

Turn the heat back down to medium. Whisk 2 cups milk, ½ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp black pepper, and ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper into the thickened broth. Allow the broth to come back up to a simmer.

Chopped vegetables added to the pot

Add the chopped broccoli and sliced carrots to the pot. Allow it to come back up to a simmer, then continue to simmer the vegetables, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Simmered vegetables in the soup

You can test a piece of carrot or broccoli to make sure it’s to your desired tenderness. If not, simmer a bit longer. The soup doesn’t even have any cheese in it yet, but it already looks so good!

Shredded Cheese added to the soup

Finally, add 6 oz. of shredded sharp cheddar, one handful at a time, until it is fully melted into the soup. I stopped at 6oz. (¾ of an 8oz. block), but you could always add the remaining 2oz. if you prefer.

Finished broccoli cheddar soup being stirred

And that’s a wrap! Taste your soup and see if you want to add any additional salt. This will mostly depend on the salt content of your chicken broth. I did not add any, but if your soup is tasting a little bland, a little salt can go a long way toward making the flavors pop!

Side view of broccoli cheddar soup in the pot with the ladle

Soooo thick and cheesy!! 😍

Three bowls of broccoli cheddar soup with saltines on the side

The post Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Mediterranean White Bean Salad

You can never have enough easy side dish recipes, am I right?? I like to keep my side dishes simple so they don’t steal the show from my main dish, and they don’t add a lot of extra work to the overall preparation of the meal. Simple salads like this Mediterranean White Bean Salad only […]

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You can never have enough easy side dish recipes, am I right?? I like to keep my side dishes simple so they don’t steal the show from my main dish, and they don’t add a lot of extra work to the overall preparation of the meal. Simple salads like this Mediterranean White Bean Salad only take minutes to prepare, they bring flavor, color, and texture to your plate, and they hold up really well as leftovers (hello, tomorrow’s lunch). Bookmark this one, because I know you’ll use this recipe a lot!

Originally posted 2-19-2010, updated 8-22-2020.

A big bowl full of Mediterranean White Bean Salad with tomatoes and parsley on the side

This Mediterranean style bean salad was inspired by one of my all-time favorite salads, tabbouleh, but it uses white beans instead of bulgar. It has all that tangy lemon-garlic flavor that I love about tabbouleh, but without needing to spend time cooking and cooling bulgur.

What Kind of Beans Can I Use?

I used large butter beans for this recipe, but if you don’t have butter beans available try cannellini beans or chickpeas. I would avoid softer beans that tend to mash easily, like navy beans or great northern beans. Cannellini beans and chickpeas are large enough and firm enough to hold up to the stirring of this salad.

What to Serve with Mediterranean White Bean Salad

The flavors in this white bean salad (lemon and garlic) are so versatile that it makes a great side dish for a wide variety of mains. Try it with Garlic Butter Baked Cod, Baked Pizza Chicken, Greek Turkey Burgers, Creamy Spinach Artichoke Chicken, Oven Baked Fish with Tomatoes, or Chicken Piccata. Or, this could be one part of a vegetarian spread with some homemade hummus, pita, and falafel

How Long Does This Salad Stay Good?

This is another great example of a “refrigerator salad” or a salad that holds up really well in the refrigerator. This salad will stay enjoyable when stored in the refrigerator for a good four days or so. The flavors will blend and the beans will marinate in the dressing as it refrigerates, making it even better the next day! Make sure to give it a stir just before serving to redistribute the flavors.

Front view of a bow full of mediterranean white bean salad

 
Overhead view of a bowl full of Mediterranean White Bean Salad with parsley, tomatoes, and garlic on the side

Mediterranean White Bean Salad

This Mediterranean White Bean Salad is a fast, easy, and fresh side dish that pairs nicely with any grilled or roasted meat.
Total Cost $4.87 recipe / $1.22 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 843.2kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.24
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice $0.06
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 2 15oz. cans butter beans* $1.38
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley $0.40
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes $1.49
  • 2 oz. feta cheese $1.10

Instructions

  • Prepare the dressing first. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Set the dressing aside.
  • Rinse and drain the canned beans. Allow them to drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Finely chop about 1 cup of fresh parsley (about ½ bunch). Cut the grape tomatoes in half.
  • Add the drained beans, chopped parsley, tomatoes, and 2 oz. feta cheese to a bowl. Pour the prepared dressing over top, then stir to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to four days.

Notes

*You can use cannellini beans or chickpeas in place of butter beans.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 843.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 90.3g | Protein: 33.9g | Fat: 36.3g | Sodium: 2209.6mg | Fiber: 29.1g

How to Make Mediterranean White Bean Salad – Step by Step Photos

lemon garlic dressing in a small bowl

Make the dressing first. Combine 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic (minced), ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper in a small bowl. Set the dressing aside.

Rinsed white beans in a colander

Rinse and drain two 15oz. cans of butter beans (or cannellini or chickpeas). Let them drain well.

Chopped parsley on a cutting board

Finely chop about one cup of fresh parsley (about ½ bunch). Slice one pint grape tomatoes in half.

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl

Add the beans, tomatoes, chopped parsley, 2 oz. crumbled feta, and the prepared dressing in a bowl.

Stirred salad in a bowl with two forks

Toss the ingredients to combine and serve!

Overhead view of a bowl full of Mediterranean White Bean Salad with parsley, tomatoes, and garlic on the side

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Classic Tuna Salad

With so many people going back to work but without the luxury of being able to use their break room microwaves or refrigerators, classic cold lunches like tuna salad are making a comeback! So let’s talk about tuna salad a bit, shall we? Tuna salad doesn’t have to be the gloppy mess you find in […]

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With so many people going back to work but without the luxury of being able to use their break room microwaves or refrigerators, classic cold lunches like tuna salad are making a comeback! So let’s talk about tuna salad a bit, shall we? Tuna salad doesn’t have to be the gloppy mess you find in a cafeteria. I’ve got a classic tuna salad recipe below, a few tips for making a good tuna salad with plenty of flavor and texture, plus a few modifications to make it your own. So let’s go get it!

Tuna salad on a piece of bread with baby greens, a second piece of bread on the side.

What Makes a Good Tuna Salad?

I think tuna salad gets a bad rap for being gloopy, bland, and smelly. But it doesn’t have to be (well, I’m not sure I can do much about the smell). To make a good tuna salad you want to use good tuna, make a dressing that has flavor dynamic, and add in some crunchies to give the salad some texture, something to chew on. No more bland mush.

What Type of Tuna to Use:

There are several canned tuna varieties to choose from, depending on your needs. “Chunk light tuna” is probably the most common and one of the less expensive options. Chunk light is smaller pieces and may appear a little shredded. “Solid albicore” is more expensive, but you’ll get nice big solid chunks of fish that will give your tuna salad more texture, and it can be a little less smelly. For more canned tuna language defined, check out Tuna Terms You Need to Know from Cooks Illustrated (they have great photos, too).

As for whether you should get your tuna packed in oil or water, that is a personal choice. Oil pack will give you a richer tuna salad, while water pack will give you a less caloric tuna salad. I find oil pack to be messy and difficult to drain, so I choose water pack for that reason alone.

Tuna Salad Dressing:

To give my tuna salad dressing flavor, I make sure to add in a little lemon juice to brighten it up and cut through the heaviness of the mayonnaise. I add a couple sliced green onions to add a little savory layer of flavor, and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper for a pop of flavor. They’re small additions that add up to a big difference in flavor.

Add Texture:

There are several things you can add to your tuna salad to add texture (and flavor). I like to add celery and walnuts. They each have their own “brand” of crunch that really adds to the interest of the tuna salad as you chew (mushy is boring). Here are some other ingredients you can add in to your tuna salad for texture:

  • sunflower seeds
  • shredded carrots
  • pickle relish
  • shredded radish 
  • olives
  • capers
  • dried cranberries
  • white beans
  • hard boiled eggs

How to Serve Tuna Salad

The recipe below is for the tuna salad only (not the sandwich fixings) because there are several ways you can serve tuna salad. We’re all familiar with the classic tuna salad sandwich, which is often built on toast with lettuce. You could also serve your tuna salad sans-bread, over a bed of greens, as an actual salad. Sometimes I eat it with just some crackers or celery for dipping, or you can stuff it into a pita or tortilla as a wrap. Lots of options, all delicious!

Classic tuna salad in a bowl with bread and lettuce on the sides

 
Classic tuna salad in a bowl with bread and lettuce on the sides

Classic Tuna Salad

Say goodbye to gloopy, bland tuna salad and hello to a delicious tuna salad packed with flavor and texture! Perfect for brown bag lunches.
Total Cost $5.20 recipe / $1.30 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 462.38kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 12oz. cans chunk light tuna in water $3.98
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 2 ribs) $0.35
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts $0.30
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.12
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise* $0.40
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.04
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Drain the canned tuna well. Finely dice the celery, chop the walnuts, and slice the green onions.
  • Combine the tuna, celery, walnuts, green onions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Serve as a sandwich, salad over a bed of greens, or with crackers and vegetables for dipping. Refrigerate up to four days.

Notes

*I like my tuna salad a little on the "dry" side. Add more mayonnaise if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 462.38kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.85g | Protein: 41.98g | Fat: 31g | Sodium: 1215.78mg | Fiber: 4.55g

A classic tuna salad sandwich front view with sandwich fixings in the background

How to Make Classic Tuna Salad – Step by Step Photos

Classic Tuna Salad ingredients in a bowl

Drain two 12oz. cans of chunk light tuna in water. Finely dice about one cup of celery, chop 1/4 cup walnuts, and slice two green onions. Add the tuna, celery, walnuts, green onions to a bowl with ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

Stirred tuna salad in the bowl

Stir the ingredients to combine, then serve, or refrigerate up to four days. I do like my tuna salad a little bit dry, so if you prefer you can always add an extra tablespoon or two of mayonnaise to make it a little “softer.”

Tuna salad sandwich next to a tray with sandwich fixings

Serve your tuna salad as a sandwich, a salad (over a bed of greens), with crackers and vegetables for dipping, or stuffed into a pita or tortilla/wrap!

The post Classic Tuna Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously […]

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I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously rich sauce to smother the pasta, chicken, and broccoli. The pesto provides all the garlic and herbal flavor needed, so there’s no need to even dice an onion, mince garlic, or measure any herbs and spices—it’s already in the sauce! The whole dish cooks very quickly so you can have this one on the dinner table in about 30 minutes.

Originally posted 11-24-2013, updated 8-9-2020.

Creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet, viewed from above

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

Yep! Any short shaped pasta, like penne, rotini, or even macaroni will work fine for this recipe. You can use a longer type pasta, like fettuccine or linguine, but it’s a little harder to stir chunky ingredients, like the chicken and broccoli, into long pasta. Sometimes breaking it in half before cooking can help.

What Kind of Pesto Do You Use?

I used basil pesto from ALDI for this recipe because it’s super affordable. If you don’t have an ALDI store near you, Classico brand pesto and Barilla brand pesto also tend to be very affordable. 

Can I Substitute the Cream Cheese?

If you’re not into cream cheese, you can make a similar creamy sauce by substituting the cream cheese with about a ½ cup heavy cream, or replace both the chicken broth and cream cheese with 1 cup half and half. The sauce will be nice and creamy, but it won’t have that tangy cream cheese flavor that some people are not a fan of. You may need to add a pinch or two of salt at the end if you’re skipping the chicken broth.

Make it a Vegetarian Creamy Pesto Pasta

This Creamy Pesto Pasta can easily be made vegetarian. Just use a little extra broccoli, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and you’re good to go!

Front view of a bowl of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a fork lifting one bite

 
A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

A super fast creamy pesto sauce drenches tender pasta, chicken breast, and broccoli for an easy weeknight dinner.
Total Cost $5.48 recipe / $1.37 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 606.33kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. bow tie pasta $0.67
  • 8 oz. frozen broccoli florets $1.00
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.12
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $2.49
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto $0.73
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.40

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and continue to boil just until the pasta is tender, but still slightly firm in the center (7-8 minutes). Once the pasta is tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the water with the pasta and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken breast into ½-inch pieces. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and continue to cook until the outside of the chicken pieces are white, but they're still tender in the center (they will continue to cook as more ingredients are added).
  • Add the chicken broth to the skillet with the chicken and allow it to heat through. Once hot, add the cream cheese (cut into small pieces) and pesto. Continue to stir and cook until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth, creamy sauce with the pesto and chicken broth.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat it in the cream sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 606.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 53.58g | Protein: 37.18g | Fat: 28.33g | Sodium: 725.78mg | Fiber: 7.15g

How to Use Your Leftover Pesto

Not sure what to do with the rest of the jar of pesto? Try these recipes:

How to Make Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli – Step by Step Photos

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 8oz. bowtie pasta and continue to boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until it’s tender with a little firmness in the center. Add ½ lb. frozen broccoli florets and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more or just until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

Diced chicken breast on an orange cutting board

While the pasta and broccoli are cooking, cut one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch chunks.

Broth being poured into a skillet with cooked chicken pieces.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add the diced chicken and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is white on the outside, but still slightly tender inside (it will continue to cook as more ingredients are added). Add ½ cup chicken broth to the skillet and allow it to heat through.

pesto and cream cheese added to the skillet with the chicken and broth

Add 4oz. cream cheese (cut into small chunks) and ⅓ cup basil pesto to the skillet. 

Smooth and creamy pesto sauce in the skillet

Stir and cook over medium heat until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth sauce with the pesto and broth. The cream cheese might look a little chunky as it’s melting, but keep stirring and cooking, it will smooth out once fully melted.

Finished creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet with a spatula

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir until it is all coated in the creamy pesto sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or too thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up.

A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

And that’s that! So easy! If you like ranch flavored foods, I think this tangy, garlicky sauce almost tastes ranch-like. So yum!

The post Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

I love good quality food, but I also have a small place in my heart reserved for convenience foods like instant ramen or frozen pizzas. I don’t indulge in them often, and when I do I often spruce them up with something special to make them a little more interesting. I’ve posted before about the […]

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I love good quality food, but I also have a small place in my heart reserved for convenience foods like instant ramen or frozen pizzas. I don’t indulge in them often, and when I do I often spruce them up with something special to make them a little more interesting. I’ve posted before about the things I like to add to my instant ramen to give it an upgrade, and now I have a new favorite ingredient—gochujang! This sweet-salty-spicy paste creates a rich broth with plenty of umami that I balanced with some fresh spinach and chunks of mild tofu. This Gochujang Ramen with Tofu is a quick and easy way to indulge that noodle craving!

Two bowls of gochujang ramen with tofu, a bowl of gochujang on the side

What is Gochujang?

If you’ve never heard of gochujang, it’s a Korean chile paste made with chile peppers, rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It kind of reminds me of a spicy version of miso. Gochujang is really starting to trend in the U.S. because of its uniquely sweet-salty-spicy and UMAMI flavor. And because we’re all kind of over our infatuation with sriracha and looking for the next best thing. It’s those fermented soy beans that really set gochujang apart and give whatever you’re adding it to that extra “WOW” factor. So if you haven’t tried it yet, put it on your list!

Where to Buy Gochujang

Because gochujang is really becoming quite popular, you’ll probably be able to find some at most major grocery stores. My local kroger actually carries about 4-5 different kinds! I’m using this Sempio Gochujang. If you have an Asian grocery store near you, you’re sure to find a really good selection there, and probably much better prices. Want to try to make your own? Try this traditional gochujang recipe, or this quickie 5-minute gochujang.

To Use the Ramen Packet or Not to Use the Ramen Packet

Personally, I like to use my own broth when making ramen instead of using the little seasoning packet that comes with the noodles. I like the freedom of tweaking the flavors and salt content, but you can use the seasoning packet if you prefer. Gochujang has quite a bit of salt, so if you do want to use the flavor packet that comes with the instant ramen I suggest adding the gochujang to the water first (3 cups water), then adding a little of the flavor packet at a time until the broth reaches a reasonable salt level for you.

How Spicy is It?

Decently spicy, IMHO. You can reduce the amount of gochujang to make it slightly less spicy, if you prefer. Or, if you’re looking for non-spicy ways to spruce up your ramen, check out my post about 6 Ways to Upgrade Ramen, or my Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen.

What Should I Do With my Leftover Tofu?

This recipe uses half of a traditional 14oz. block of tofu. My first choice for using up the other half of the block would be to make a half batch of my Curried Tofu Salad. That stuff is to die for. You could also toss it into a stir fry, or chop it up, add some BBQ sauce and make yourself a BBQ Tofu Slider.

Gochujang ramen with tofu in the sauce pot on a yellow background with a black and white zig-zag napkin.

 
One bowl of gochujang ramen with tofu, chopsticks on the side

Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

Spicy gochujang gives this instant ramen extra oomph! Gochujang Ramen with Tofu is a quick and easy way to satisfy that noodle craving.
Total Cost $2.26 recipe / $1.13 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 322.15kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. extra firm tofu $0.90
  • 1 cup water $0.00
  • 2 cups vegetable broth* $0.26
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang $0.46
  • 1 package instant ramen* $0.19
  • 2 cups fresh spinach $0.25
  • 2 green onions $0.20

Instructions

  • Drain the tofu and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Add the water, vegetable broth, and gochujang to a small sauce pot. Whisk until the gochujang is dissolved.
  • Add the cubed tofu to the pot, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat.
  • Once boiling, add the instant ramen noodles (without seasoning). Boil for one to two minutes, or just until the noodles begin to soften and pull loose from each other.
  • Add two handfuls (about 2 cups) fresh spinach and stir it into the hot broth until wilted. The noodles will finish cooking as the spinach wilts.
  • Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top of the ramen just before serving.

Notes

*If using vegetable broth, discard the seasoning packet that comes with the ramen noodles. If using the seasoning packet, use 3 cups of water instead of 1 cup water and 2 cups vegetable broth. Add the gochujang to the water first, then add a small amount of the seasoning packet at a time until you reach the desired level of saltiness for the broth.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 322.15kcal | Carbohydrates: 37.55g | Protein: 15.9g | Fat: 12.6g | Sodium: 1347.35mg | Fiber: 3.1g

side view of a bowl of gochujang ramen with chopsticks picking up a piece of tofu

How to Make Gochujang Ramen with Tofu – Step by Step Photos

cubed tofu on a cutting board

Drain a 14oz. block of tofu and cut half of it into ½-inch cubes. See the notes above the recipe for ideas for using the remaining tofu.

Gochujang broth in a small sauce pot with a whisk, tub of gochujang on the side

Add 1 cup water, 2 cups vegetable broth, and 2 Tbsp gochujang to a small sauce pot. Whisk until the gochujang has dissolved.

Cubed tofu being dropped into the pot

Add the cubed tofu to the pot. Adding the tofu before we start boiling the broth gives it a few minutes to start absorbing some of the flavor from the broth, as opposed to adding it at the end. Place a lid on the pot and bring the broth up to a boil over high heat.

Ramen noodles added to the pot, empty package on the side

Once boiling, add the block of instant ramen noodles (without seasoning packet). Let the noodles boil for about a minute, or just until they being to soften up and loosen up from the block.

Spinach added to the pot

Add a couple handfuls of spinach to the pot and stir it in until wilted. This should give the noodles just enough time to finish cooking as well.

Finished gochujang ramen in the pot

Slice two green onions and sprinkle them over the ramen just before serving.

One bowl of gochujang ramen with tofu, chopsticks on the side

Enjoy that spicy goodness!!

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The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box

The heat is getting to me, y’all! So last week I sat down and brainstormed some no-cook lunch boxes, or meal preps that I can keep in the fridge for quick meals over the next couple of months. I’ll be posting these lunch box ideas over the next few weeks, the first being this Pizza […]

The post The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The heat is getting to me, y’all! So last week I sat down and brainstormed some no-cook lunch boxes, or meal preps that I can keep in the fridge for quick meals over the next couple of months. I’ll be posting these lunch box ideas over the next few weeks, the first being this Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box. These easy no-cook lunch boxes make great “brown bag” lunches for the work week, especially for those of you who don’t have access to a refrigerator or microwave during your work day. Just pop one of these in an insulated lunch pack and you’re good to go!

This one goes out to everyone who grew up eating those pizza lunchables. ;)

Four rectangular glass containers with pizza roll ups, green bell pepper, and a dipping cup of pizza sauce.

There is no “one size fits all” lunch box

We all need different amounts of food, so make sure you flex your lunch box up or down to fit your appetite. Here are some other things you can add to this pizza roll up lunch box to beef it up, if you need more!

  • Add an apple, orange, or yogurt cup on the side for dessert
  • Add an extra layer of turkey, ham, or salami sliced deli meat to the roll up
  • Add a layer of caramelized onions to the wrap
  • Spread ricotta cheese on the tortilla in place of pesto (option drizzle pesto on the ricotta and have both!)
  • Add a few banana pepper rings inside the roll up
  • Pack a simple green salad on the side

There are an endless number of toppings you could add to your roll up, but just be careful with “chunky” ingredients that may make it hard to keep the roll up closed.

How long do the lunch boxes last?

You can keep these lunch boxes in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Longevity may vary depending on the conditions inside your refrigerator and freshness of your ingredients.

What containers do you use?

These are Pyrex glass containers, and small metal dipping cups (both are linked in the bottom of the recipe card below). I have the dipping cups in the glass containers in the photos, but they are actually taller than the container and would need to be packed outside the glass container for it to be closed properly.

Three pizza roll up lunch boxes lined up in a row

 
Three pizza roll up lunch boxes lined up in a row

The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box

These easy pizza roll up lunch boxes are a great no-cook lunch idea for your work week. No reheating required for this lunch meal prep!
Total Cost $5.64 recipe / $1.41 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 598.05kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 large tortillas (burrito size) $0.65
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $0.55
  • 8 slices provolone cheese $1.19
  • 36 slices pepperoni $0.97
  • 4 cups fresh spinach $0.32
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce $0.43
  • 2 green bell peppers $1.53

Instructions

  • Spread 1 Tbsp pesto over the surface of each tortilla (it does not need to cover the entire surface. Lay two slices of provolone over one half of each tortilla, followed by about 9 pepperoni. Lastly, add one handful of fresh spinach to each tortilla.
  • Roll each tortilla up, trying to keep the roll as tight as possible. With the seams facing down, slice the rolls into one-inch sections. Place the sliced roll-ups in your meal prep container. Pack them closely together to keep them from coming unrolled.
  • Slice the green bell peppers into strips. Divide the bell pepper strips between the four containers.
  • Fill four small containers with 2 Tbsp pizza sauce each. Refrigerate your roll ups, bell peppers, and pizza sauce for up to five days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1box | Calories: 598.05kcal | Carbohydrates: 44.18g | Protein: 26.3g | Fat: 35.15g | Sodium: 1509.63mg | Fiber: 5.08g

Want more cold lunch ideas? Check out our No-Reheat Meal Prep category!

A pizza roll up being dipped into a small cup full of pizza sauce

How to Make Pizza Roll Up Lunch Boxes – Step by Step Photos

pesto, provolone, and pepperoni on a tortilla

Spread 1 Tbsp of pesto over each tortilla. Lay two pieces of provolone and about 9 pepperoni on one half of the tortilla.

spinach added to the tortilla

Sprinkle one handful of spinach over each tortilla.

Rolled up and sliced tortilla on a cutting board with a knife

Roll up the tortilla, making sure to roll as tightly as possible. Slice the roll into one-inch sections. The two end pieces might not stay rolled, but as long as the roll is seam-side down, the rest should stay rolled.

Finished pizza roll up lunch boxes

Place the sliced roll-ups in your containers. Cut two green bell peppers into strips and divide them among the four containers. Place 2 Tbsp pizza sauce into four small containers. Pack up your boxes and refrigerate up to 5 days!

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