Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese

Take your grilled cheese sandwich to the next level with this gourmet Spinach Feta Grilled Cheese! An easy and flavorful lunch idea.

The post Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Because I add spinach to everything. I keep frozen spinach on hand so I can toss a handful into whatever I’m cooking and spinach felt like such a natural addition to my usual grilled cheese. I also added a little feta cheese for a tangy punch, a few spicy flakes of red pepper, and toasted it up on some good bread. The result was something truly spectacular. This Spinach Feta Grilled Cheese only takes a few minutes more than regular grilled cheese, and it’s SO worth the extra effort. No joke, you’ll pay about $8 for something like this at your local cafe, but not at home!

Originally posted 8/31/13, updated 1/19/2022.

A stack of spinach and feta grilled cheese sandwich halves

Is This a Melt or a Grilled Cheese?

Okay, so technically this type of sandwich is called a “melt.” A melt is a grilled cheese that has other ingredients added, like vegetables or meat, whereas a grilled cheese is a cheese-only grilled sandwich. While the difference between a melt and a grilled cheese often sparks heated debates, I want people to be able to find this recipe on the internet and the data shows that people are searching for “spinach and feta grilled cheese,” not “spinach and feta melt”. The English language is fluid, and the use of the term “melt” is declining. So here we are! 

What Kind of Bread is Best for Grilled Cheese

I originally used ciabatta bread for this recipe, but it wasn’t available this time around so I chose a nice sourdough bread instead. Homemade focaccia would also be nice. Because the ingredients in this recipe are a little more hearty than your everyday grilled cheese sandwich, I would suggest using any sturdy bread that can hold up to the filling ingredients. Skip the soft white bread for this one. ;)

What Kind of Spinach to Use

I used frozen spinach for this recipe because it’s easy to keep on hand without worrying about it spoiling, but you could absolutely use fresh spinach if you have it. Just sauté it down until most of the moisture is gone, just as I did below with the frozen spinach.

As far as frozen spinach goes, you’ll want to buy the kind that comes loose in a bag rather than the type that is frozen into a block. That will allow you to thaw just enough for this recipe while leaving the rest in the freezer for your next cooking adventure.

What to Serve with Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese

As with any grilled cheese sandwich, this spinach and feta version goes great with a cup of tomato soup. But you could also serve it with a little dish of pasta sauce or pizza sauce for dipping!

What Else Can I Add?

Oh, there are so many delicious possibilities for add-ins here: olives, artichokes, red onion, parmesan cheese… I’d not be against putting an egg on there, too. ;)

Overhead view of spinach and feta grilled cheese on a cutting board with a bowl of sauce


A stack of spinach and feta grilled cheese sandwiches

Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese

Take your grilled cheese sandwich to the next level with this gourmet Spinach Feta Grilled Cheese! An easy and flavorful lunch idea.
Course Lunch, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Total Cost $3.62 recipe / $1.81 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 1 sandwich each
Calories 507kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil $0.08
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1/4 lb. frozen chopped spinach $0.42
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper $0.05
  • 4 slices bread $1.00
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella $1.15
  • 1 oz. feta $0.62
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil and minced garlic to a skillet. Sauté over medium heat for about one minute, then add the frozen spinach (no need to thaw), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to sauté over medium until most of the moisture has evaporated from the skillet.
  • Spread butter over one side of each of the slices of bread. Flip the bread over so the buttered side is facing down as you build the sandwiches.
  • Divide half of the shredded mozzarella between two slices of bread. Top the mozzarella with the crumbled feta.
  • Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches, then top with the remaining shredded mozzarella and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Top each sandwich with the second slice of bread, buttered side facing out.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-low. Once hot, add the sandwiches and cook on each side until golden brown and crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.
  • Cut the sandwiches in half and serve!

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 507kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 33g | Sodium: 962mg | Fiber: 4g
Half of a spinach and feta grilled cheese dipping into pizza sauce

How to Make Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese – Step by Step Photos

cooked spinach in a skillet

Add a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and one minced clove of garlic to a small skillet. Cook the garlic for about a minute, then add ¼ lb. froen spinach (you can just estimate ¼ of a one pound bag, or ⅓ of a 12oz. bag). Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and continue to sauté over medium until most of the moisture has evaporated.

four slices of buttered bread

Spread about ½ Tbsp butter over one side of each slice of bread (four slices).

shredded mozzarella added to the bread

Flip the bread over so the unbuttered sides are facing up. Add about ¼ cup shredded mozzarella to two of the slices. Top each with a little crumbled feta.

cooked spinach added to the sandwiches

Add the cooked spinach on top of the mozzarella and feta.

more mozzarella added to the sandwiches

Add another ¼ cup shredded mozzarella to each along with a pinch of crushedred pepper. Top with the second piece of bread, butter side facing out.

Cooked sandwiches in the skillet

Heat a large skillet over medium-low. Once hot, add the sandwiches. Cook for about five minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy on the outside and melty and hot on the inside.

sliced sandwiches on a cutting board

Slice the sandwiches in half and serve!

A stack of spinach and feta grilled cheese sandwiches

Ooohhhh yesssssss.

Love Cheesy Melts? Try These Other Recipes:

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Cajun Sausage and Vegetables

This simple Cajun Sausage and Vegetables meal prep is a fast, easy, flavorful, and delicious way to get your daily dose of vegetables!

The post Cajun Sausage and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s another super easy meal prep for you! This super simple Cajun Sausage and Vegetables meal prep follows the basic protein + veg formula and is super fast to make. I’ve got some additional suggestions for you below, if you’d like to bulk up the meal a bit or just make it a little fancier!

four glass containers full of Cajun sausage and vegetables

Vegetable Options

This recipe is super flexible, so if you don’t like the vegetables I chose, you can swap them out with other vegetables. Here are some options:

  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Green Beans
  • Brussels sprouts

For heartier vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts, you may want to pre-steam them for a few minutes just to make sure they get tender.

Protein Options

The Andouille sausage in this recipe is packed with herbs, spices, and a delicious smoky flavor, which ends up adding flavor to the entire dish. You can swap the sausage out with something like shrimp or chicken thighs, but if you do so, I suggest coating the chicken or shrimp well with plenty of Cajun seasoning since they don’t have seasonings built-in, like the sausage.

Bulk it Up!

If you need some carb action to keep you full and satisfied, you can serve these Cajun Sausage and Vegetables over a bed of rice. You can cook your rice in broth or add some herbs and spices for even more flavor.

Another option is to serve the sausage and vegetables over a bed of pasta. I think penne would be a great choice. If serving over penne, you can add a vinaigrette to help coat everything in flavor. I think the Smoky Vinaigrette that I used in my Smoky Roasted Sausage and Vegetables recipe would go nicely.

How Long Does it Last?

I generally keep meal preps like this for about four days, but the lifespan will vary depending on the conditions in your refrigerator, the freshness of the vegetables, and how long you cook the vegetables. Since I cooked this with the intention of reheating later, I purposely cooked the vegetables very lightly to prevent them from getting super soggy as they wait in the refrigerator. By nature, they will wilt a bit as the days go by, but undercooking them slightly can definitely help.

Close up of Cajun Sausage and Vegetables in the skillet
rectangular glass containers with Cajun Sausage and Vegetables lined up

Cajun Sausage and Vegetables

This simple Cajun Sausage and Vegetables meal prep is a fast, easy, flavorful, and delicious way to get your daily dose of vegetables!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $6.94 recipe / $1.74 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 440kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini (½ lb.) $0.72
  • 1 yellow squash (½ lb.) $0.70
  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 red onion $0.28
  • 14 oz. Andouille sausage* $3.33
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil, divided $0.08
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley $0.20

Instructions

  • Slice the zucchini and yellow squash into half-rounds. Slice the red bell pepper and red onion into strips. Add all of the vegetables to a large bowl.
  • Slice the sausage into rounds. Add the sausage and 1 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet. Cook the sausage over medium heat until well browned. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the sausage to a clean bowl.
  • Drizzle the vegetables with the remaining 1 Tbsp cooking oil, then sprinkle the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper over top. Toss the vegetables to coat them in oil and spices.
  • Place the same skillet back over the heat and turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high. Once very hot, add the vegetables and sauté just until they are slightly tender. The vegetables will pick up the flavor left in the skillet from the sausage, so do not clean the skillet first. Be careful to not overcook the vegetables, as they will cook more when you reheat your meal preps.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cooked sausage and chopped parsley to the vegetables. Toss to combine with the vegetables. Give the sausage and vegetables a taste and adjust the salt or other seasonings to your liking.
  • Serve immediately or divide into four portions and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Notes

*If you can not find Andouille sausage in your area, you can substitute it with any smoked sausage, like kielbasa.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25recipe | Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 36g | Sodium: 1043mg | Fiber: 3g
Close up of a forkful of Cajun sausage and Vegetables

How to Make Cajun Sausage and Vegetables – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables in a bowl

Prep the vegetables first, so they’re ready to go. Slice one zucchini and one yellow squash into half-rounds. Slice one red bell pepper and one red onion into strips. Place the vegetables in a bowl.

sliced sausage on a cutting board

Slice 14oz. Andouille sausage into rounds.

Cooked sausage in a skillet

Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage is well browned. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the sausage to a clean bowl.

seasoning being added to the vegetables

Drizzle 1 Tbsp cooking oil over the vegetables, then sprinkle with ½ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Toss the vegetables until they’re coated in oil and spices.

Sautéed vegetables in the skillet

Turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high. Once very hot, add the vegetables and sauté just until they begin to soften. The vegetables will pick up the flavor and browned bits left behind by the sausage. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Finished Cajun sausage and vegetables in the skillet

Return the cooked sausage back to the skillet along with a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley. Toss to combine. Give it a taste and adjust the salt or other seasonings to your liking.

rectangular glass containers with Cajun Sausage and Vegetables lined up

Serve immediately or divide into four portions and refrigerate until ready to eat.

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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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Chicken Stew

This chicken stew is a rich and hearty mix of tender chicken thighs, vegetables, and a light but flavorful herb-infused gravy.

The post Chicken Stew appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Okay guys, this chicken stew is definitely at the top of my list for my favorite recipe of 2021! It’s thicker and heartier than chicken soup, but lighter than a beef stew. The flavor is absolutely on point and it’s just one of those things that I could happily eat for three meals per day and still love it. In other words, you have to try this chicken stew!

Close up overhead view of a bowl of chicken stew

What is Chicken Stew?

Chicken stew is like chicken soup‘s older cousin that is a little rough around the edges. It’s a little more rustic with a rich, thickened broth that has an almost gravy-like consistency. It’s packed full of vegetables and is a true meal in a bowl. Oh, and you’ll definitely want some crusty bread for sopping up all that delicious gravy!

For Best Results, Use Chicken Thighs

Look, I know some people really don’t like dark meat, but that those tender chicken thighs really take this dish to the next level. I strongly advise against using chicken breast, but if you must, opt for a bone-in chicken breast for a little more flavor, then just shred and remove the bones after the stew simmers.

Broth Matters

You really want to use a good quality, flavorful broth for this chicken stew. I used Better Than Bouillon because it’s my favorite and it tends to be very flavorful. I also used a combination of two types of broth, chicken and vegetable, which I really think adds to the complexity of the flavor and helps deepen the color of the broth.

Potato Options

I used small baby potatoes for my chicken stew, but if those aren’t available you can substitute red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes in their place. Just cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes so they cook in about the same amount of time as my baby potatoes.

Close up of a pot full of chicken stew
Close up of a pot full of chicken stew

Chicken Stew

This chicken stew is a rich and hearty mix of tender chicken thighs, vegetables, and a light but flavorful herb-infused gravy.
Total Cost $12.22 recipe / $2.04 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 1.5 cups each
Calories 512kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.28
  • 3 ribs celery $0.64
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 1/2 lb. carrots $0.32
  • 3.75 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs $6.52
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour, divided $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.18
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1.5 lbs. baby potatoes $2.89
  • 1 tsp dried parsley $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.26
  • 2 cups vegetable broth $0.26
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and celery, mince the garlic, slice the carrots, and cut the baby potatoes in half before you begin.
  • Cut the chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of the flour over the chicken and toss until the chicken is evenly coated.
  • Add the butter and olive oil to a large pot. Heat the butter and oil over medium until they are hot and sizzling.
  • Add the flour-coated chicken to the pot with the butter and oil and allow the chicken to brown on all sides (avoid stirring until browned on the bottom). When the chicken is browned and there is a nice brown layer of flour on the bottom of the pot, remove the chicken to a clean bowl with a slotted spoon. The chicken does not need to be cooked through at this point, just browned on the outside.
  • Add the onion, celery, garlic, and carrots to the pot and continue to sauté until the onions are soft. Use the moisture released by the vegetables to dissolve and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
  • Once the vegetables are slightly softened, add the remaining 2 Tbsp flour to the pot and continue to sauté over medium for about two minutes more. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pot again.
  • Return the browned chicken to the pot. Also add the potatoes, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, pepper, chicken broth, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine and dissolve any flour off the bottom of the pot.
  • Place a lid on the pot and allow it to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium-low. Allow the stew to simmer over medium-low, without a lid and stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the broth has thickened.
  • Taste the stew and add salt if needed (I did not add any, but it will depend on the salt content of the broth you used). Add a tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley if desired, and serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 512kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 919mg | Fiber: 4g
A ladle full of chicken stew held over the pot

How to Make Chicken Stew – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Dice one yellow onion, slice ½ lb. carrots (3-4 carrots) and 3 ribs celery, and mince 4 cloves garlic.

cut baby potatoes on a cutting board

Chop about 1.5 lbs. potatoes into 1-inch pieces. I used baby potatoes, so they only needed to be cut in half.

Flour coated chicken thigh pieces on a cutting board

Chop about 3.75 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour over the chicken pieces and toss until they’re coated.

Browned chicken thighs in the pot

Add 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large pot. Heat the butter and oil over medium until they are hot and sizzling. Add the chicken thigh pieces and let them cook until browned on all sides (the chicken does not need to be cooked through, just browned on the outside). Avoid stirring too often, as that will prevent browning. You want the flour to brown a bit on the bottom of the pot. Remove the browned chicken to a clean plate or bowl.

Vegetables added to the pot

Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pot after removing the chicken. Continue to sauté over medium for about 5 minutes, allowing the moisture released by the vegetables to dissolve some of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

More flour being added to the pot

Once the vegetables are slightly softened, add 2 more tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Continue to sauté for about 2 minutes more. The flour will again begin to coat the bottom of the pot.

Chicken, potatoes, herbs, broth added to the pot

Return the browned chicken to the pot along with the potatoes, 1 tsp dried parsley, ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp dried rosemary, ½ tsp dried sage, about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, 2 cups chicken broth, and 2 cups vegetable broth.

Chicken stew before simmering

Stir everything to combine and dissolve any flour off the bottom of the pot.

Simmered chicken stew in the pot

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow it to come up to a boil. Once boiling, remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium-low. Allow the stew to simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the broth has thickened.

Close up side view of chicken stew in the pot

Give the stew a taste and add salt, if needed (I did not add any, but this will largely depend on the salt content of the broth you used). Add some freshly chopped parsley, if desired.

Overhead view of a bowl of chicken stew

Don’t forget to make some crusty homemade bread to dip in that amazing stew!

Overhead view of finished chicken stew in the pot

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One Pot Veggie Pasta

This one pot veggie pasta is an easy, satisfying, and quick dinner. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and make it your own!

The post One Pot Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s a quick little one pot pasta I’ve been making lately with my leftover veggies. You can literally add in whatever you have on hand and it creates a tasty one pot meal with tons of color, flavor, and texture. It may not be revolutionary, but I think sometimes it helps to see what quick meals other people are making and this One Pot Veggie Pasta is my latest go-to quick fix. :)

Overhead view of one pot veggie pasta in a bowl

Use Your Leftovers

As far as one pot pasta goes, this recipe isn’t that revolutionary, but I love it for one main reason—it’s perfect for using up leftovers. Got two carrots left? Or maybe a half of a bell pepper. A handful of mushrooms? How about that partial bag of broccoli florets hiding the back of your freezer? They can all go in this super quick one pot pasta! The more colors and textures the merrier.

Use Your Favorite Sauce

Convenience is the name of the game with this quick weeknight pasta dish, so I used a jar of pasta sauce instead of making my own this time around. You can literally use any red pasta sauce, as long as it’s one you know you like. …Actually, I bet you could also turn this into a really tasty alfredo! *jots down notes for testing next week*

How Are the Leftovers?

As with any leftover pasta dish, the rotini does get a little softer as it is stored in the refrigerator. Personally, that has never bothered me or stopped me from eating leftover pasta, but if you’re sensitive to textures, you might not enjoy the leftovers of this pasta.

Success with One Pot Pasta Recipes

Learning how to cook a one pot pasta can take a little practice. It’s all about observing and adjusting. The goal is to have the pasta simmer in a small amount of liquid so that by the time the pasta is tender, there is only a small amount of saucy liquid left in the bottom of the pot. You need to simmer with the lid on (to hold in the steam) and stir occasionally. Every time you stir, check the pasta texture and the amount of liquid left in the pot. If the pasta is almost tender and there is still a lot of liquid, let it simmer without a lid. If the liquid is almost gone but the pasta is not tender, add a splash more water. Here are some more tips for cooking one pot pastas:

  • Use a pot with a thick bottom. Thin-bottomed pots will create hot and cold spots that tend to cook the pasta unevenly.
  • Use a burner close in size to the bottom of the pot. If the burner is too small the outer edges will not simmer and the pasta will cook unevenly.
  • Make sure the broth is simmering the whole time. If it stops simmering, the pasta will stop cooking and will become mushy.
One Pot Veggie Pasta in the pot half scooped
One pot veggie pasta in a bowl with a fork

One Pot Veggie Pasta

This one pot veggie pasta is an easy, satisfying, and quick dinner. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and make it your own!
Total Cost $7.99 recipe / $2.00 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 461kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.28
  • 2 carrots $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.49
  • 1 zucchini $0.90
  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1/2 lb. rotini (not cooked) $0.50
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 2 cups vegetable broth $0.26
  • 24 oz. pasta sauce $1.49
  • 4 oz. mozzarella, shredded (optional) $0.83

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic, dice the onion, and slice the carrots. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to a large pot with the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • While the vegetables are sautéing, slice the mushrooms. Once sliced, add them to the pot with the other vegetables and continue sautéing.
  • While the rest of the vegetables are sautéing, dice the zucchini and bell pepper.
  • Once the bell pepper and zucchini are diced, add them to the pot along with the rotini, basil, oregano, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine. It's okay if the broth doesn't fully submerge the pasta.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil.
  • Once the broth reaches a full boil, give the pasta a quick stir, replace the lid, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the pasta simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
  • Once the pasta is tender, add the pasta sauce to the pot and stir to combine. Top with the shredded cheese then place the lid back on the pot. Let the pasta heat for a few minutes, or just until the cheese is melted. Serve hot!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 1573mg | Fiber: 8g
Close up of one pot veggie pasta being lifted on a spoon

How to Make One Pot Veggie Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Onion carrot and garlic in the pot

Mince two cloves of garlic, dice one yellow onion, and slice 2 carrots. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to a large pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium for about five minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Sliced mushrooms added to the pot

While the garlic, onion, and carrots are sautéing, slice 8oz. mushrooms (or you can buy pre-sliced). Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot and continue to sauté while you chop the rest of the vegetables. Chop one zucchini and one red bell pepper.

pasta, vegetables, and broth added to the pot

Add the chopped zucchini and bell pepper to the pot along with 8oz. rotini (not cooked), ½ tsp basil, ½ tsp oregano, and 2 cups vegetable broth.

Stirred but uncooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

Stir everything together. Don’t worry about the pasta not being fully submerged in the broth. I promise it still works. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring the broth to a boil. When it reaches a full boil, give everything a quick stir, put the lid back on top, and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Cooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

Let the pasta and vegetables simmer, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, until the pasta is tender and there is very little liquid left on the bottom of the pot.

Pasta sauce being poured into the pot

Add a 24 oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce and stir to combine.

Shredded cheese being added on top

Top the pasta with 4 oz. shredded mozzarella. Place the lid back on the pot and let the pasta sit for about 2 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted.

Finished one pot veggie pasta garnished with parsley

And then it’s done! I garnished with a little chopped parsley to make it pretty, but it’s totally unnecessary for flavor.

Close up side view of a bowl of veggie pasta with cheese

Enjoy!

Love One Pot Pastas? Try These Other Flavors:

The post One Pot Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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 Buffalo Chicken

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken is tender, juicy, tangy, and rich all at the same time! Perfect for sandwiches, nachos, salads, pizza, and more.

The post Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken recipe was one of the top things I was looking forward to making once I figured out the formula for my Homemade Ranch Seasoning. The slow-cooked chicken is tender, spicy, tangy, and rich all at the same time and there are a hundred different ways you can use it! Sandwiches, dips, salads, pizza, and more. I’ve got a full list of how to use this insanely easy and delish shredded buffalo chicken below, so don’t miss it! I’m sure this is something you’ll want to make over and over again throughout football season and the holidays.

Shredded buffalo chicken in a slow cooker with tongs

What is Buffalo Sauce?

If you’re unfamiliar with this American classic, Buffalo Sauce is basically a combination of hot sauce (traditionally Frank’s Red Hot Sauce) and butter, which creates a super tangy, spicy, and slightly rich sauce that is used to coat fried chicken, among other things. For this slow cooker buffalo chicken, we’ve gone one step further and added ranch seasoning mix, which is a super tasty combination of buttermilk powder, herbs, and spices. The ranch seasoning adds a huge burst of flavor to the sauce and makes it even a little bit more creamy. It’s just to die for!

What Kind of Hot Sauce to Use

As mentioned above, buffalo sauce is usually made with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, but you can use any similar vinegar-based cayenne flavored hot sauce for this recipe. I used the ALDI version of Frank’s and it was great!

Can I Substitute the Ranch Mix?

The ranch seasoning mix really brings a lot of flavor to this sauce, so I would avoid skipping it if possible. If you don’t have the ingredients to make your own ranch seasoning mix you can definitely use one packet of store-bought ranch seasoning in place of the ingredients listed below. Or, if you want to use your own herbs and spices but just don’t have the buttermilk powder, that will still taste really good, just slightly less rich.

How to Use Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Okay, here’s the fun part. How do you use this delicious shredded buffalo chicken? SO MANY WAYS. Here are some ideas:

  • As a buffalo chicken sandwich or wrap: bun or tortilla, coleslaw, pickles, ranch dressing
  • On nachos: on tortilla chips with lettuce, shredded carrot, and a drizzle of ranch dressing
  • Make a buffalo chicken dip: stir cream cheese into the shredded chicken until melted for a super creamy dip
  • In a quesadilla: fill a tortilla with the chicken and shredded Monterey jack cheese, then toast in a skillet
  • On a salad: pile the chicken onto crisp iceberg, top with chopped celery, shredded carrots, and blue cheese dressing
  • Pizza: add it to a pizza with a white sauce and top with a little mozzarella and maybe a drizzle of ranch after baking

My mouth is totally watering just typing all of that out! This stuff is seriously so good.

Close up side view of shredded buffalo chicken in the slow cooker with tongs
Close up side view of shredded buffalo chicken in the slow cooker with tongs

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken is tender, juicy, tangy, and rich all at the same time! Perfect for sandwiches, nachos, salads, pizza, and more.
Total Cost $12.65 recipe / $1.58 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 ½ cup each
Calories 191kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Ranch Seasoning*

  • 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 $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.01

Buffalo Chicken

  • 12 oz. hot sauce $2.19
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts $9.53
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.40

Instructions

  • Combine the ranch seasoning (buttermilk powder, parsley, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon pepper, sugar, salt, and pepper) and hot sauce in a bowl.
  • Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a 3 quart or larger slow cooker. Cut the butter into chunks and place the butter on top of the chicken. Pour the hot sauce mixture over the chicken and butter.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low heat for four hours. After four hours, use two forks to shred the chicken (if it's not tender enough to shred yet, let it cook a little longer).
  • Serve the shredded chicken and sauce on sandwiches, in quesadillas, on top of nachos or salads, or as a dip for crackers and chips.

Notes

*You can use a store-bought packet of ranch seasoning instead of the homemade mix, if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 1350mg | Fiber: 1g
tongs holding a scoop of buffalo chicken over the slow cooker

How to Make Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken – Step by Step Photos

ranch seasoning being poured into a bowl of hot sauce

Combine the ingredients for the ranch seasoning (2 Tbsp buttermilk powder, ½ tsp dried parsley, ¼ tsp dried dill, ¼ tsp onion powder, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp lemon pepper, ⅛ tsp sugar, ⅛ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper) with one 12 oz. bottle of vinegar-based hot sauce.

Chicken and butter in the slow cooker

Place about 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast in the bottom of a slow cooker. Cut 4 Tbsp butter into chunks and place them on top of the chicken.

Hot sauce mixture being poured over the chicken in the slow cooker

Pour the hot sauce mixture over the chicken and butter in the slow cooker.

Cooked buffalo chicken in the slow cooker

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook the chicken on low heat for four hours.

two forks shredding the chicken in the slow cooker

After four hours the chicken should be tender and easily shreddable using two forks (if it’s not, let it cook another 30 minutes).

shredded chicken in buffalo sauce in the slow cooker

Fully shred the chicken, then enjoy!

A buffalo chicken sandwich with coleslaw
Shown on a bun with Creamy Coleslaw.

The post Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits is the perfect cozy meal for for crisp fall evenings, football games, and afternoons spent raking leaves.

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It’s officially cozy comfort food time! These BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits are the perfect mix of tangy BBQ sauce, juicy meatballs, and rich and creamy cheese grits to create all those cozy vibes. And if you’ve never had cheese grits before, definitely go check out my cheese grits blog post because they’re a delicious southern staple that can be topped with all sorts of delicious goodies. And today’s delicious goodies are BBQ meatballs. ;)

Overhead view of a bowl of cheese grits with bbq meatballs and collard greens

What to Serve with BBQ Meatballs and Cheese Grits

This is a pretty rich bowl of deliciousness on its own, so I highly suggest pairing it with something green to balance out the weight of the meal. I paired my BBQ Meatballs and Cheese Grits with Jerk Seasoned Collard Greens. The jerk seasoning pairs perfectly with the tangy BBQ sauce. You could also pair this dish with Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Vegetarian Mustard Greens, or Braised Red Cabbage.

Can I Use a Different Meat?

Yes, if you do not eat pork you can definitely substitute with a different type of ground meat. Ground beef or turkey will both work great for this recipe. I highly suggest using ground meat that has a slightly higher percent fat to keep the meatballs moist and tender.

What Kind of BBQ Sauce Do you Suggest?

I’m an equal opportunity BBQ sauce lover, so I don’t really have a favorite. For this particular dish, I’d probably go for something smoky or honey flavored, both of which will pair well with the cheddar cheese in the grits. I would probably avoid anything pineapple or teriyaki flavored.

If you want to try making your own BBQ sauce, check out my Homemade BBQ Sauce recipe.

A fork cutting into a bbq meatball on a bed of cheese grits
Overhead view of a bowl of cheese grits with bbq meatballs and collard greens

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits

BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits is the perfect cozy meal for crisp fall evenings, football games, and afternoons spent raking leaves.
Total Cost $7.74 recipe . /$1.94 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 841kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

BBQ Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground pork $3.49
  • 1 large egg $0.21
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs $0.07
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce, divided $0.54
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02

Cheese Grits

  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.26
  • 2 cups milk $1.25
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits $0.49
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.18
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar $1.15

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add the ground pork, egg, breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce, salt, smoked paprika, and garlic powder to a bowl. Use your hands to mix the seasoning into the pork until everything is well combined.
  • Divide and shape the pork mixture into 16 meatballs about the size of ping pong balls. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
  • While the meatballs are baking, prepare the cheese grits. Combine the chicken broth, milk, and garlic powder in a medium saucepot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching.
  • Once boiling, stir in the quick cooking grits and salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the grits simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and pepper. Next, stir in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the grits.
  • Once the meatballs have finished baking, add them to a clean bowl and pour the remaining BBQ sauce over top. Stir to combine. The heat from the meatballs will warm the BBQ sauce. If your BBQ sauce is cold from refrigeration, you may want to heat the meatballs and sauce in a saucepot over low for a few minutes.
  • To serve, place about one cup of the cheese grits in the bottom of a bowl. Top with four meatballs and some of the BBQ sauce. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 841kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 46g | Sodium: 2010mg | Fiber: 3g
side view of bbq meatballs and cheese grits in a bowl with collard greens

How to Make BBQ Meatballs with Cheese Grits – Step by Step Photos

meatball ingredients in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 1 lb. ground pork, 1 large egg, ¼ cup breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp smoked paprika, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper to a large bowl. Mix the ingredients together until well combined.

raw, shaped meatballs on the baking sheet

Divide and shape the pork mixture into 16 meatballs roughly the size of ping pong balls. Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Milk being poured into a pot with chicken broth

While the meatballs are baking, prepare the cheese grits. Add 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups milk, and ¼ tsp garlic powder to a medium sauce pot. Bring the liquid up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

grits being poured into the pot with the milk and broth

As soon as the liquid reaches a boil, stir in 1 cup quick cooking grits and ¼ tsp salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the grits simmer for about five minutes, or until thickened.

butter and pepper added to the grits

Remove the grits from the heat and stir in 2 Tbsp butter and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

Shredded cheddar being added to grits

Finally, stir in a handful of the shredded cheddar at a time until fully melted, repeating until all of the cheese has been added (1 cup total).

Baked meatballs on the baking sheet

Remove the baked meatballs from the oven and transfer them to a large bowl.

BBQ sauce coated meatballs in a bowl with a spatula

Pour the remaining BBQ sauce (about 1 cup) over the meatballs and stir to combine. The heat from the meatballs will warm the BBQ sauce. If your BBQ sauce was cold from refrigeration, you may want to do this in a sauce pot over low heat to help heat the sauce.

close up side view of bbq meatballs on cheese grits

To serve, place about 1 cup cheese grits in a bowl and top with 4 meatballs plus some of the sauce. Enjoy!

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Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad

If you think a salad can’t fill you up, think again. This awesomely crunchy and flavorful Kale and Chicken Salad is chock full of juicy chicken breast, almonds, celery, and lots of fiberlicious kale to keep your belly full. And flavor? Oh don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the flavor. A tangy, sweet, and creamy […]

The post Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

If you think a salad can’t fill you up, think again. This awesomely crunchy and flavorful Kale and Chicken Salad is chock full of juicy chicken breast, almonds, celery, and lots of fiberlicious kale to keep your belly full. And flavor? Oh don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the flavor. A tangy, sweet, and creamy honey Dijon dressing drenches the salad in tons of flavor. Throw a few sweet golden raisins on top for a pop of sweetness and you’ve got salad magic. And the best part? All of these ingredients hold up well to refrigeration, so this salad is perfect for your weekly meal prep. 🙌

Originally posted 7-28-2014, updated 8-16-2021.

Dressing being poured over a kale and chicken salad

If you love regular chicken salad, I think you’ll love this kale and chicken salad as well. It has all the same flavors as traditional chicken salad, but the ingredients are piled onto a bed of greens and the dressing is made slightly thinner so that it’s pourable instead of acting like a thick binder. And just as with regular chicken salad, there is a lot of room for customization here, so keep reading for some ideas.

Can I Use Different Greens?

Sure! If you’re not into kale, you can swap it out with your favorite greens. I think a crunchy green like Romaine or finely shredded cabbage would probably be best, but you could use any green that you like to use for fresh salads.

What Kind of Chicken to Use

I used plain chicken breast that I cooked quickly in a skillet and then diced, but you can take a shortcut and use store-bought rotisserie chicken instead. You’ll need about 1.5 cups of chopped cooked chicken for this recipe. 

Raisin Substitutes

I love the mildly sweet golden raisins in this recipe, but you could swap them out with dried cranberries, chopped apples for more crunch, or even fresh grapes (sliced). 

Dressing Options

If you don’t want to make your own homemade dressing for this salad, a store-bought honey mustard or poppyseed dressing would be awesome with the flavors in this salad.

How to Meal Prep Kale and Chicken Salad

The sturdy, crunchy nature of the ingredients in this salad means that it holds up extremely well to refrigeration without much effort. I would store the dressing on the side just to maintain maximum crunch-factor, but other than that, all of the ingredients can be stored together in single-serving containers. The prepped salads will stay good in the fridge for about 3-4 days.

Side view of dressing being poured onto kale and chicken salad

dressing being poured over kale and chicken salad

Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad

This Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad is full of flavor, texture, and a tangy-sweet homemade dressing. It's perfect for your weekly meal prep!
Total Cost $8.29 recipe / $2.07 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 446kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1.5 cups chopped cooked chicken $4.33
  • 6 cups chopped kale $1.25
  • 1 cup chopped celery $0.37
  • 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds $0.79
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins $0.47

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise $0.50
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar $0.18
  • 1.5 Tbsp honey $0.27
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.09
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Chop the cooked chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Clean the celery and chop into similar small bite-sized pieces.
  • Remove the kale from the stems, tear it into 1-2 inch pieces, rinse well in a colander, and drain well.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt, and pepper.
  • To build the salad, start with a base of kale, top with the chopped chicken and celery, almonds, and raisins. Drizzle the dressing over top, toss until everything is coated, then enjoy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1salad | Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 444mg | Fiber: 2g
Love kale salads? Try these other awesome kale salads:

Tossed kale and chicken salad in a bowl next to the serving platter full of kale salad

How to Make Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad – Step by Step Photos

Cooked chicken breast in the skillet

You can us any pre-cooked chicken for this recipe and you’ll need about 1.5 cups once chopped. I used one chicken breast (⅔ lb. total) that I filleted into two thinner pieces so that it would cook quickly in a skillet. Once browned on the outside and cooked through, I simply let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then chopped it into small pieces.

Salad dressing ingredients in a bowl

While my chicken was cooling, I made the dressing. This dressing is very similar to a dressing you’d use for chicken salad, but it’s a little bit thinner so it’s pourable and will easily coat all of the kale. In a bowl, whisk together ½ cup mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1.5 Tbsp honey, ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Washed kale in a colander

Next, prep the kale. I used bagged kale that comes pre-chopped because it’s super convenient and just about the same price as bunched kale. If your kale is still on the stem, simply pull it off the stem and tear it into 1-2 inch pieces. Rinse it in a colander and then let it drain well. Watery salad is never good. I used ½ of a one-pound bag, or about 6 cups of chopped leaves.

Chopped celery on a cutting board

Next, dice two ribs of celery, or about 1 cup once chopped.

chopped chicken on a cutting board

Chop the cooked chicken to similar sized pieces (about 1.5 cups chopped).

Kale salad topped with chicken and celery

Then just build your salad(s)! You can either build one large salad or build it as four smaller single-serving portions. Start with your bed of chopped kale, then add the chopped chicken and celery…

raisins and almonds added to the salad

Then add ⅓ cup almonds (sliced or slivered) and ⅓ cup golden raisins.

dressing being poured over kale and chicken salad

Pour your dressing over top just before serving.

tossed kale salad in a bowl next to the serving platter

Toss to coat everything in dressing and enjoy! (I added a little extra cracked black pepper on top because I love pepper!)

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Antipasto Salad

This super hearty antipasto salad is full of cured meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables for an extra flavorful and filling salad.

The post Antipasto Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

You know how we’re all kind of obsessed with charcuterie boards right now? Who doesn’t love a selection of savory snacky meats, cheeses, and pickled items, ammiright? Well, the Italian version of that is antipasto and it also happens to make for a really delicious and filling salad. So, if you’re like me and don’t want to eat anything but salads for the remainder of summer, I think you’re going to love this Antipasto Salad.

dressing be poured over a serving dish full of antipasto salad

What is Antipasto?

Antipasto is an Italian appetizer course offering a snacky selection of cured meats, pickled vegetables, cheeses, olives, anchovies and more. The word “antipasto” means “before the meal” so it’s basically an appetizer platter. This gorgeous spread is usually served as part of a formal meal, rather than an everyday spread. You can read more about antipasto here.

So to make an antipasto salad I simply piled all those tasty little bits on top of a bed of greens and added a cheesy Italian dressing. And that’s all I really want in a summer meal. Okay, well, maybe some crusty bread to go along with it. ;)

Antipasto is Flexible, So Get Creative!

The best part about this salad is that it’s so flexible, so you can mix and match the toppings depending on your budget or availability of ingredients. You can use just about any type of salad green that you like, any meat (or no meat), any cheese, and any vegetable. Need some inspo? Here are a few other ingredients that you can swap in or add:

Antipasto on a Budget

This salad can get expensive quick if you’re not careful! If you’re lucky to live near an ALDI store, they have a great selection of meats and cheeses for antipasto or charcuterie boards (and I was lucky enough to grab my mozzarella on clearance!). Watch for sales on those shelf-stable jarred items (olives, pickled peppers, artichoke hearts) and save them up for making antipasto later. And get to know your deli because a lot of delis will mark down sliced meats and cheeses when they get near the sell-by date.

A lot of these ingredients also make great pizza toppings, so whenever you have leftovers from pizza night, those items can be used to make antipasto the next night!

Make a Half Antipasto Salad, If Needed

The recipe below is for a pretty large salad with 8 servings because it uses whole containers of each ingredient. But it’s easy enough to scale the recipe down as needed. All of the toppings stay pretty fresh when stored separately, so you can make half batches, ¼ batches, or even one salad at a time instead of making the entire batch at once and risking things getting soggy.

And remember, you can change the number of servings in the “servings” box below and the ingredient amounts will auto-adjust for you.

Salad tongs in a half stirred antipasto salad with bread and dressing on the side
dressing being poured over the antipasto salad

Antipasto Salad

This super hearty antipasto salad is full of cured meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables for an extra flavorful and filling salad.
Total Cost $16.92 recipe / $2.12 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 535kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 oz. salad greens of choice $0.99
  • 1 12oz. jar artichoke hearts $2.45
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes $1.79
  • 8 oz. mozzarella $0.99
  • 8 oz. salami $3.00
  • 1 6oz. jar kalamata olives $1.99
  • 1 8oz. jar banana peppers $1.69
  • 1/2 red onion $0.40
  • 8 oz. provolone $1.79

Italian Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil $0.84
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar $0.30
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.04
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard $0.12
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning $0.30
  • 1/2 tsp sugar $0.01
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan $0.22

Instructions

  • Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl or jar (olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, sugar, grated Parmesan). Close the jar tightly and shake or whisk in a bowl until the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Cut or slice any meat or cheeses into bite-sized pieces. Drain the olives and any brined vegetables. Thinly slice the red onion and slice the grape tomatoes in half.
  • Lay your greens in the bottom of a bowl, then top with your antipasto items. Give the dressing one last whisk or shake, then drizzle over the salad (start with half the dressing and add more as needed). Toss the salad until everything is coated in dressing, then enjoy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1salad | Calories: 535kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 45g | Sodium: 2130mg | Fiber: 4g
Close up of antipasto salad in a bowl with a fork

How to Make Antipasto Salad – Step by Step Photos

Italian dressing ingredients in a jar

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl or jar: ½ cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, ½ tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan. Shake or whisk the ingredients until they are incorporated.

Chopped spinach in a serving bowl

Add your salad greens to the bottom of a bowl. I’m using spinach and I chopped it slightly first to make bite-sized pieces.

salami, onions, mozzarella, and tomatoes added to the salad bowl

Cut your meats and cheeses into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the red onion and slice the grape tomatoes in half.

provolone, olives, peppers, and artichokes added to the salad bowl

Drain all of your jarred items (olives, banana peppers, artichoke hearts) and add them to the salad. Slightly chop anything that has larger pieces.

dressing being poured over the antipasto salad

Give the dressing one last shake or whisk, then drizzle it over the salad. Start with half the dressing, then add more as needed.

Antipasto salad being tossed with metal salad tongs

Toss the salad until everything is coated in dressing, then enjoy!

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