Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats are the perfect mashup for meat and veggie lovers. An easy and fun way to switch up your weeknight dinner routine!

The post Zucchini Boats appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love recipes that seem fancy but are surprisingly easy to make like these stuffed Zucchini Boats! They’re one of my favorite ways to use up all of the zucchini that I purchase from the store or the local farmers market during the summertime. It’s the perfect weeknight recipe for meat and veggie lovers and it’s very easy to customize. And since zucchini has a fairly neutral flavor, the Italian-inspired flavors of this dish really get to shine. So if you’re looking for something new to add to your dinner rotation this week, these delicious zucchini boats definitely will not disappoint!

Overhead close up view of Zucchini boats on parchment paper.

Ingredients For Zucchini Boats

There are several ways to make zucchini boats, but I decided to stuff my zucchini with Italian-inspired flavors like Italian sausage, a good quality marinara sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Here’s everything that you need:

  • Zucchini: I like to purchase zucchini that are roughly the same size and length. I also try to steer clear of ginormous and extremely large zucchini as those tend to have an even higher water content than the regular sized zucchini.
  • Italian Sausage: Italian sausage is pre-seasoned with herbs and spices which adds lots of flavor to the filling. You can also use ground beef, ground turkey or even Italian turkey sausage instead.
  • Aromatics: Onion and garlic adds another layer of flavor to the sausage filling.
  • Seasoning: A simple mix of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to add more flavor to the jarred marinara sauce and the rest of the sausage mixture.
  • Marinara sauce: I like the convenience of buying a good quality jar of marinara sauce. It’s crushed tomatoes with extra herbs & spices combined all in one jar!
  • Breadcrumbs: Just a few breadcrumbs helps add body and texture to the filling and helps soak up some of the extra moisture from the zucchini flesh.
  • Shredded Mozzarella: Mozzarella is sprinkled on top for a gooey finish to these tasty and delicious zucchini boats!

Recipe Tips and Variations!

  1. Pre-bake the hollowed out zucchini boats prior to adding the filling. This gives the zucchini a few extra minutes to soften and can be done while the sausage mixture is cooking to save on time. Once the filling is added, the zucchini boats only have to bake a few more minutes before they are perfectly tender. 
  2. If you want to help reduce food waste add some of the scooped out zucchini flesh to the sausage filling. I only added half of the zucchini flesh in order to keep the mixture from getting too watery. You can easily freeze the other half and add it to a green smoothie for breakfast! 
  3. Be careful not to scoop too much of the zucchini flesh. You’ll want to leave a 1/4-1/2“ rim around each one so the zucchini is sturdy enough to hold the filling mixture.
  4. Want to change up the flavor profile? Instead of Italian flavors try Mexican-inspired flavors. Season the ground meat with taco seasoning and salsa, add the filling to the zucchini boats, then top with shredded mexican cheese. Once the boats are done you can top them with some diced tomatoes, cilantro, or avocado. So good!!

Serving Suggestions

These zucchini boats are pretty hearty by themselves, but if you want to serve something with them on the side you could easily add a simple side salad, Caesar salad, or some crusty garlic bread. They would also taste great with seasoned rice on the side.

How to Store Zucchini Boats

I’ll be honest, I love eating leftover zucchini boats. Yes they do get a little soggy after being stored in the fridge, but they still have a little bite to them and all those wonderful flavors from the filling are still there. So if you happen to have any zucchini boats leftover, you can definitely store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. They’ll be perfect for lunch the next day! I wouldn’t recommend freezing zucchini boats as they might be too mushy and watery after thawing.

Need to use up the rest of your Zucchini?

If you have a generous supply of zucchini this year, we’ve got lots of great ways for you to use it up! Try making these Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries, these moist and fluffy Zucchini Muffins and this easy and budget-friendly Zucchini Slice recipe. You can also easily add zucchini with your favorite dinner meal like this Blackened Salmon with Zucchini.

Overhead view of Zucchini boats on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Overhead close up view of Zucchini boats on parchment paper.
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Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats are the perfect mashup for meat and veggie lovers. An easy and fun way to switch up your weeknight dinner routine!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $11.65 recipe / $2.91 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 (2 zucchini boats each)
Calories 631kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini (about 2 lbs.) $3.00
  • 1.5 Tbsp cooking oil, divided $0.08
  • 1 lb. Italian ground sausage $5.49
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced $0.42
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced $0.16
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning $0.05
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided $0.04
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, divided $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce $0.97
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs $0.12
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella $1.25

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash the zucchini well, trim off the top stem, then slice each one in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or a melon baller to remove the flesh from the center of the zucchini halves, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch rim around each. Roughly chop the scooped out zucchini flesh into small pieces and set aside.
  • Place the scooped out zucchini halves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the insides of the zucchini with 1/2 tablespoon of oil and season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Pre-bake the zucchini in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 remove the zucchini from the oven and set aside.
  • While the zucchini is baking, make the filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of oil. Brown the Italian sausage.
  • Once the sausage has browned, add the diced onion and minced garlic to the skillet. Continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
  • Next add the Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, garlic powder, marinara sauce, breadcrumbs, and half of the reserved & chopped zucchini flesh. Stir to combine. Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Next stuff the scooped out zucchini boats with the sausage mixture. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Place the zucchini boats back in the oven and back for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sausage mixture is bubbly around the sides. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 2zucchini boats | Calories: 631kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 49g | Sodium: 1735mg | Fiber: 5g
Overhead view of two Zucchini boats on a plate with a fork picking some up.

How to Make Zucchini Boats – Step by Step Photos

The flesh being scooped out of Zucchini on a cutting board.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash 4 large zucchini well, trim off the top stem, then slice each one in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or a melon baller to remove the flesh from the center of the zucchini halves, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch rim around each. Roughly chop the scooped out zucchini flesh into small pieces and set aside.

Zucchini scooped out, cut in half, and seasoned on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place the scooped out zucchini halves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the insides of the zucchini with ½ tablespoon of olive oil and season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Pre-bake the zucchini in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 remove the zucchini from the oven and set aside.

Browned Italian sausage, diced onion, and minced garlic in a pan.

While the zucchini is baking, make the filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of oil. Brown 1 lb. of Italian sausage. Once the sausage has browned, add 1 diced yellow onion and 2 minced garlic cloves to the skillet. Continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Zucchini flesh, marinara sauce, breadcrumbs, and seasoning added to sausage.

Next add 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 3/4 cup marinara sauce, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, and half of the reserved & chopped zucchini flesh. Stir to combine.

Italian sausage mixture for zucchini boats in a saucepan.

Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Adding the sausage mixture to the inside of the zucchini boats.

Next stuff the scooped out zucchini boats with the sausage mixture. I stuffed each one with about 2-3 Tbsp of the sausage mixture.

Cheese being added on top of the Zucchini Boats.

Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

Cooked Zucchini boats on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place the zucchini boats back in the oven and back for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sausage mixture is bubbly around the sides. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, optional, and enjoy!

Two zucchini boats on a serving plate with parsley garnished on top.

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Stovetop Baked Beans

These Stovetop Baked Beans are super-fast to whip up and taste great. They’re made with pantry staples in just 20 minutes!

The post Stovetop Baked Beans appeared first on Budget Bytes.

No barbecue or cookout is complete without a steaming pot of sweet and tangy baked beans… and the fact that there’s no bacon in these beans means everyone can enjoy them, regardless of dietary restrictions. These Stovetop Baked Beans are super-fast to whip up and taste great. I hope, like us, you already have all of these ingredients on hand, too!

overhead view of a serving of baked beans on a plate with a sandwich and corn on the cob.

We decided this recipe had to go on the blog after seeing it in action… Marsha and I were plating one of our grilled recipes for photos and we realized we didn’t have any canned baked beans on hand—or the time to cook up some bacon and do a more time-consuming oven-baked beans version! (On photography days, we have to move fast!) So, we looked through the pantry and found all of these ingredients right there and threw this together in minutes! We took a bite (because dang! they smelled great!) and knew we had a winner.

Ingredients for Baked Beans

Here’s what you’ll need to make stovetop baked beans:

  • Olive Oil: Helps cook the onions without burning them.
  • Salt: Enhances the natural flavor of the onions.
  • Smoked Paprika: Adds a touch of smokiness.
  • Onion: Add texture and sweetness to the beans.
  • Pinto Beans: While Navy beans are the more traditional choice, we used pinto beans because we always have them on hand. They have a great creamy texture and earthy flavor.
  • Dijon Mustard: Adds a bit of spicy tanginess to the sauce.
  • Ketchup: Adds sweetness, acidity, and umami flavor to the sauce.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Enhances the umami flavor of the sauce. You can sub soy sauce for Worcestershire or omit it altogether if you are vegan.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Enhances the tanginess of the sauce. White vinegar also works well.
  • Brown Sugar: Adds a touch of molasses-y sweetness.
  • Water: Prevents the beans from drying out as they simmer.

What Else Can I Add?

If you’re feeling fancy, you can cook up a few slices of bacon or some diced pancetta for a meatier flavor.

Top Tip

Only use enough water to just cover the beans. The water keeps everything loose and moist, but you don’t want the sauce to turn into a soup broth!

Serving Suggestions

These stovetop baked beans are the perfect easy side for any cookout! I love to serve them alongside slow cooker BBQ chicken and grilled corn on the cob.

overhead view of baked beans in a pot.
overhead view of a serving of baked beans on a plate with a sandwich and corn on the cob.
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Stovetop Baked Beans Recipe

These Stovetop Baked Beans are super-fast to whip up and taste great. They're made with pantry staples in just 20 minutes!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Total Cost ($2.94 recipe / $0.49 serving)
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 (1/2 cup each)
Calories 188kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.19
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.16
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1/2 onion, diced small $0.47
  • 2 15-oz. cans pinto beans, drained $1.72
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.03
  • 1/4 cup ketchup $0.12
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce $0.02
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar $0.01
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar $0.17
  • 1 cup water, plus more if needed $0.00

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil, smoked paprika, salt, and diced onion to a medium pot. Stir and simmer on medium heat until the onions are glossy and soft.
  • To the pot, add the drained beans, Dijon mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar.
  • Stir to combine and cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add water, as needed, until beans are just covered. Simmer on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until completely warmed through.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 12cup | Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 881mg | Fiber: 7g
stirring a pot of stovetop baked beans with a wooden spoon.

how to make Stovetop Baked Beans – step by step photos

seasoned sautéed onion in a pan.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 diced onion to a medium pot. Stir and simmer on medium heat until the onions are glossy and soft.

beans, brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard added to a pot with sautéed onions.

To the pot, add 2 15-oz. cans drained pinto beans, 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 cup brown sugar.

pouring water over stovetop baked beans in a pot.

Stir to combine and cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes.

stovetop baked beans in a pot.

Add 1 cup water, as needed, until beans are just covered. Simmer on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until completely warmed through.

a serving of baked beans on a plate with a pulled pork sandwich and corn on the cob.

These quick and easy stovetop baked beans will be the hero of your next BBQ!

The post Stovetop Baked Beans appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Fried Green Tomatoes

“TOWANDA!” These fried green tomatoes are crispy, crunchy, and so flavorful! Coated in crispy cornmeal and fried to golden perfection!

The post Fried Green Tomatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I absolutely love making my crispy fried green tomatoes with a tangy buttermilk batter. I spent hours testing different versions until I found the perfect recipe. The crispy batter fried onto each slice creates a perfectly crunchy crust. The inside is juicy and the ultimate bite of Summer. These tomatoes are a standout dish that always impresses at any meal!

overhead view of fried green tomatoes on a wire rack.

“TOWANDA!” Have you ever seen the 1991 movie, “Fried Green Tomatoes”? If you’ve never seen it, you need to run to the grocery store (or outside to your own garden), gather up some plump green tomatoes, and put this recipe into action. It’s time to plan a movie night with your best girlfriends! It’s one of my favorites— and so is this recipe.

What Are Fried Green Tomatoes?

Fried green tomatoes are just what they sound like— green (unripe) tomatoes coated in a crispy breading and fried to golden perfection! Green tomatoes have a tart flavor and a firmer texture than fully-ripe tomatoes. I made these for Easter Brunch and have made them quite a few times since.

The fry mix really clings to these tomatoes thanks to the initial flour step and the tangy, rich, sticky, and creamy buttermilk egg dredge. The result is a perfect, crisp crust on each and every slice of green tomato. The batter is thick enough to stand up to the thick cuts of tangy green tomato, making these a true showstopper at Sunday Supper. They. Are. Perfect.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make fried green tomatoes:

  • Green Tomatoes: These underripe tomatoes can be found at farmers’ markets and the grocery store in early springtime and towards the end of tomato season. If you grow your own tomatoes, don’t be afraid to pluck a few before they ripen!
  • All-Purpose Flour: Helps seal in the moisture of each tomato slice and helps bind the egg and buttermilk to the tomatoes.
  • Cornmeal: Adds a delightful crunch and a slightly sweet flavor. This gives the tomatoes a perfect texture!
  • BBQ Rub Powder: If you can’t find BBQ seasoning, you can skip this and save a little money, but it definitely adds great flavor and contributes to the beautiful color once fried!
  • Salt and Pepper: Enhances the natural flavor of the tomatoes.
  • Eggs and Buttermilk: Form a culinary glue to help the seasoned cornmeal stick to the tomatoes.
  • Canola Oil: Helps the tomatoes fry up crispy and golden brown.

Can I Fry Red Tomatoes?

In my experience, red tomatoes are usually too juicy for frying. They have a softer texture and are too wet for the breading to really stick properly. Underripe green tomatoes are the best choice for this recipe.

Tips and Suggestions

  • I like to slice off just a sliver from the end of each tomato where the rounded bottom and stem are, so I can use as much of the tomato as possible. Doing this ensures there’s enough of the moist inner part of the tomato surface exposed for all of the yummy ingredients to stick to.
  • Using just cornmeal to coat these tomatoes caused the breading to fall off, so I mixed in flour to help bind everything together. The method in this recipe yields a perfect fried crust that covers the tomatoes completely!
  • You can flip the tomatoes as many times as you need to while frying, but I recommend babysitting them a bit! If you burn one batch, the next batch will have a burnt flavor, too. I like mine a little darker in color, but no one likes them burnt! If you watch the film, you’ll see Ruth would agree. ;) Flipping them too often can sometimes make the breading fall off. Just keep an eye on them!
  • Fried treats are yummy in moderation, but leftover cooking oil is no fun! I found some great tips on using leftover fry oil that I thought you might enjoy.

Serving Suggestions

Fried Green Tomatoes can be served on their own (trust me, they are THAT good) or with our sriracha pimento cheese, crumbled goat’s cheese, homemade ranch dressing or BBQ sauce. (As Sipsey would say, “The secret’s in the sauce!”)

They’re also great to jazz up a classic BLT or can be served in a salad over a bed of mixed greens or arugula.

3 fried green tomatoes on a white plate.
overhead view of fried green tomatoes on a wire rack.
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Fried Green Tomatoes

I absolutely love making my crispy fried green tomatoes with a tangy buttermilk batter. I spent hours testing different versions until I found the perfect recipe. The crispy batter fried onto each slice creates a perfectly crunchy crust.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Total Cost ($6.57 recipe / $1.31 serving)
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5 (3 slices each)
Calories 292kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 large green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices $3.49
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided $0.07
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal $0.38
  • 1 Tbsp BBQ rub powder, optional $0.69
  • 1 tsp salt, divided $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper $0.03
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk $0.32
  • 2 eggs $0.34
  • 1 1/3 cups canola oil* $1.23

Instructions

  • Cut the tomatoes into 1/3-inch slices horizontally, discarding the end with the stem and the very bottom which is smooth.
  • Combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1 Tbsp BBQ seasoning powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in one small bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • In another small bowl, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup flour by itself.
  • In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.
  • In an assembly line fashion, dip your cut tomatoes into the flour, then the buttermilk egg mixture, and finally the cornmeal BBQ seasoning mixture. Place each slice of tomato off to the side and continue this assembly line process until all tomatoes have been dredged in this magical trio!
  • Once your tomatoes are dredged and off to the side, heat up the canola oil in a thick bottom pan on high heat until it is very hot! (Take a droplet of water on your finger and drip it into the pan. Once it lands, if it pops and hisses, it’s ready to fry the tomatoes!)
  • Gently place 3-4 tomatoes (depending on the size of your frying pan) into the hot oil using a spatula. Let the tomatoes fry in the shallow oil for 2-3 minutes. Flip and fry the other side for around the same time, sometimes a minute longer.
  • Remove tomatoes as they are done to a paper towel lined plate or cooling rack so they aren’t sitting in any excess oil.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*You want the oil to cover about half of the tomato’s height when it’s in the pan. These aren’t deep fried (completely submerged) so the other side will get nice and crispy when you flip them.
**If you like a thicker crispy fried coating, you can add ½ cup of panko breadcrumbs. The version I tested with ½ cup cornmeal and ½ cup panko also came out fantastic!

Nutrition

Serving: 3tomato slices | Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 539mg | Fiber: 4g
overhead view of 3 fried green tomatoes on a white plate.

how to make Fried Green Tomatoes – step by step photos

sliced green tomatoes on a cutting board.

Cut 4 large green tomatoes into 1/3-inch slices horizontally, discarding the end with the stem and the very bottom which is smooth.

flour, cornmeal, and bbq seasoning in a white bowl.

Combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1 Tbsp BBQ seasoning powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in one small bowl. Whisk to combine. In another small bowl, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup flour by itself.

pouring buttermilk into a bowl of eggs.

In a third bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 1/2 cup buttermilk.

dipping a green tomato in seasoned flour and cornmeal.

In an assembly line fashion, dip your cut tomatoes into the flour, then the buttermilk egg mixture, and finally the cornmeal BBQ seasoning mixture. Place each slice of tomato off to the side and continue this assembly line process until all tomatoes have been dredged in this magical trio!

breaded green tomatoes on a baking sheet.

Once your tomatoes are dredged and off to the side, heat up 1 1/3 cups canola oil in a thick bottom pan on high heat until it is very hot! (Take a droplet of water on your finger and drip it into the pan. Once it lands, if it pops and hisses, it’s ready to fry the tomatoes!)

3 fried green tomato slices in oil.

Gently place 3-4 tomatoes (depending on the size of your frying pan) into the hot oil using a spatula. Let the tomatoes fry in the shallow oil for 2-3 minutes. Flip and fry the other side for around the same time, sometimes a minute longer.

fried green tomatoes draining on a wire rack set in a baking sheet.

Remove tomatoes as they are done to a paper towel-lined plate or cooling rack so they aren’t sitting in any excess oil.

a fork stabbing a piece of cut fried green tomato on a white plate.

These crispy, crunchy fried green tomatoes are the perfect summer appetizer!

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Homemade Hamburgers

Juicy homemade hamburgers are always a crowd pleaser. A simple recipe with a flavorful seasoning mix makes the best burgers every time!

The post Homemade Hamburgers appeared first on Budget Bytes.

We have now entered grilling season and whether you’re firing up the outdoor grill or using an indoor grill like we did, there is one food that’s always a crowd pleaser and that’s grilled homemade hamburgers! Juicy burgers made with a simple seasoning mix, topped with cheese and crisp veggies are always my go-to at BBQs and cookouts! We recently got a new indoor grill at the Budget Bytes test kitchen and this simple and easy hamburger recipe was the first thing on our menu. So gather your friends and break out the ice cold drinks and let’s grill some burgers!

Front close up view of a homemade hamburger dressed with toppings.

What You Need for Homemade Burgers

A great hamburger recipe only needs a few simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ground Beef – You’ll want to choose beef that has a decent amount of fat in it to keep the burgers juicy. I like to use an 80/20 ground beef chuck which is 80% meat and 20% fat. Avoid using super lean ground beef.
  • Seasoning – We used our Homemade Burger Seasoning to season these burgers. Our simple burger seasoning mix includes paprika (smoked and sweet), onion powder, garlic powder, freshly cracked pepper, salt, and just a tiny pinch of cayenne. You can also try our Homemade Cajun Seasoning or a seasoning salt blend, like Lawry’s.
  • Buns – Of course you’ll need a good burger bun to go with these juicy burgers. Potato buns, brioche buns, sesame buns, or classic white buns are all great choices.
  • Comeback Sauce – Adding a sauce is totally optional, but I couldn’t resist adding a thin layer of our popular comeback sauce!

Topping Suggestions

You can always choose your favorite toppings and customize your hamburgers however you like. I love cheeseburgers so I added a slice of cheddar cheese, but of course American cheese is a classic! I also added lettuce, tomato, thinly sliced red onion and pickles. Here are some more great options:

Tips For Making The Best Hamburgers!

  1. When making hamburgers you want to avoid overworking the meat, which can make your burger dense and tough. So gently shape your burgers then season them with your favorite burger seasoning.
  2. Make sure to season your burgers right before you’re ready to cook them. Salt changes the proteins in ground beef very quickly and can make the hamburgers tough, dry, and rubbery. So wait until right before you’re ready to put the burgers on the grill before adding your seasoning mix.
  3. To ensure your burgers are cooked evenly, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The internal temperature of a cooked burger should be 160°F.

What To Serve With Homemade Hamburgers

Enjoy these burgers with your favorite potato chips or our Air Fryer French Fries. They also taste great with Oven Baked Steak Fries or a simple Pasta Salad on the side!

Overhead view of homemade hamburgers on a plate with toppings and chips on the side.
Front close up view of a homemade hamburger dressed with toppings.
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Homemade Hamburgers

Juicy homemade hamburgers are always a crowd pleaser. A simple recipe with a flavorful seasoning mix makes the best burgers every time!
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost $14.32 recipe / $3.58 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 4 burgers
Calories 539kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Optional Toppings

  • 4 slices cheddar cheese $1.24
  • 4 leaves iceberg lettuce $0.37
  • 1 tomato, sliced into thin rounds $1.15
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced into thin rounds $0.39
  • 12 dill pickle slices $0.93
  • 1/4 cup Comeback Sauce (1 Tbsp per burger or more) $1.12

Instructions

  • Preheat the indoor grill to 325°F*. Spread the softened butter on the cut side of your burger buns. Place the cut sides down on the grill to toast the buns for a few minutes until lightly golden brown. Set the buns to the side.
  • Mix together the spices for the homemade burger seasoning and set aside.
  • Next divide the ground beef into four equal portions. Gently shape the beef into round burger patties about ½ – 1-inch thick, being careful not to overwork the meat.
  • Generously season the burgers with ¼ to ½ tsp of burger seasoning on each side of the burger patty.
  • Add the burgers to the grill (This is the new indoor grill we found that is both easy and budget friendly), lower the lid, and cook for 7-8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. Add the cheddar cheese slices to the burgers during the last 1-2 minutes of the cook time. Remove the burgers from the grill, assemble with your favorite toppings, and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*Heat your indoor grill to 325°F or according to the manufacturer instructions. If using an outdoor grill, heat the grill to medium heat.
**Nutrition calculation does not include burger seasoning or comeback sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1burger | Calories: 539kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 36g | Sodium: 617mg | Fiber: 2g

How to Make HOMEMADE HAMBURGERS – Step by Step Photos

Toasting hamburger buns on a grill.

Preheat the indoor grill to 325°F*. Divide and spread 2 Tbsp of softened butter on the cut side of 4 burger buns. Place the cut sides down on the grill to toast the buns for a few minutes until lightly golden brown. Set the buns to the side.

Hamburger seasoning in a small bowl.

Mix together the spices for the homemade burger seasoning (1 tsp sweet paprika, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp salt) and set aside.

Four ground beef hamburger patties with hamburger seasoning on top.

Next divide 1 lb. ground beef into four equal portions. Gently shape the beef into round burger patties about ½ – 1-inch thick, being careful not to overwork the meat. Generously season the burgers with ¼ to ½ tsp of burger seasoning on each side of the burger patty.

Hamburger patties on a grill.

Add the burgers to the grill. (We chose this indoor grill because it is available many places, budget friendly, and easy to use.)

Hamburgers flipped on a grill.

Lower the lid, and cook for 7-8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Hamburger patties with cheese on top on the grill.

Add 4 cheddar cheese slices to the burgers during the last 1-2 minutes of the cook time.

Hamburgers with melted cheese on top on the grill.

Allow the cheese to melt then remove the burgers from the grill.

Overhead view of homemade hamburgers on a serving platter with toppings on the side.

Assemble with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Front close up view of a homemade hamburger dressed with toppings.

The post Homemade Hamburgers appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Tuscan Orzo

Tuscan orzo is a one-pot meal made in just 30 minutes with simple ingredients. It’s creamy, cozy comfort food at its best.

The post Tuscan Orzo appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Pasta, veggies, and an addictively creamy sauce? Say no more! I’m all about quick one-pot weeknight meals these days; juggling work, a toddler, and a barnyard full of animals to care for (I see you, busy moms!). This Tuscan Orzo recipe gets the job done! Made in just 30 minutes with simple ingredients, this big-batch pasta dish will feed the whole family. Creamy, tomatoey pasta with wilty spinach is cozy comfort food at its best.

overhead view of tuscan orzo in a pan.

What Is Tuscan Orzo?

Tuscan orzo is a dish that is made in the Tuscan tradition of simple, inexpensive meals that can easily be made in large amounts. Orzo pasta is extra delicious in cooked in a creamy tomatoey broth until it is rich, thick, and super flavorful!

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make Tuscan orzo:

  • Olive Oil: Helps the onions and garlic cook without burning.
  • Butter: Adds richness to the dish.
  • Onion: Adds a touch of sweet and earthy flavor.
  • Garlic: Enhances the savory and earthy flavors of the dish.
  • Italian Seasoning: Adds that classic Italian flavor.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice adds a pop of acidity that balances and brightens this creamy dish.
  • Dijon Mustard: Has a spicy, slightly bitter flavor that enhances the savory elements of this dish.
  • Petite Diced Tomatoes: You can choose to strain your canned tomatoes and make up for the ½ cup of liquid (give or take) by adding a little more vegetable broth. I love the tomatoey flavor (and extra vitamin C!), so I left the tomato juice in.
  • Orzo Pasta: Despite its rice-like shape, this is actually a type of pasta. It gives this dish a texture similar to risotto but in much less time.
  • Vegetable Broth: I used vegetable bouillon to keep this budget-friendly.
  • Heavy Cream: Makes this dish super rich and creamy.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Adds savory umami flavor.
  • Baby Spinach: A great way to sneak in some greens and adds a mellow vegetal flavor.
  • Parsley: Adds a pop of freshness and color.
  • Salt and Pepper: Enhance the overall flavor of the dish.

What Else Can I Add?

This is a pretty hefty dish all by itself and makes a great vegetarian main, but you can add protein to it if you like. Garlic Herb Baked Chicken Breast would make an excellent addition if you have meat-eaters in the fam. Personally, I love adding chopped kalamata olives, balsamic roasted mushrooms, and extra veggies. Substituting the dairy in this recipe is so easy these days, too. So, if you’re vegan, you can easily tweak it to your liking using plant-based milks and cheeses!

Tips and Notes

  • Make sure the orzo simmers and doesn’t boil. The liquid will evaporate too quickly if it’s left to boil, leading to undercooked orzo.
  • A lot of Tuscan orzo recipes call for more expensive sundried tomatoes, but I substituted with canned petite diced tomatoes and I think it came out even better. Sometimes, I find sundried tomatoes to be extra salty, so this version really highlights all of the ingredients without being overly salty.
  • Bring the cream to room temperature before using to ensure it doesn’t curdle from the temperature shock when you add it to the hot orzo.
  • Half-and-half would work in place of the cream, but I do not recommend using milk, as the orzo won’t be as rich or creamy. You can make this recipe vegan by substituting plant-based cream and vegan cheese… it’s so easy to find easy substitutions these days.
  • If the orzo seems watery at the end of cooking, you can simmer it for a bit longer. It will continue to absorb the liquid and thicken.
side view of tuscan orzo on a white plate.
overhead view of tuscan orzo in a pan.
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Tuscan Orzo

Tuscan orzo is a one-pot meal made in just 30 minutes with simple ingredients. It's creamy, cozy comfort food at its best.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Total Cost ($7.54 recipe / $1.88 serving)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 (1.5 cups per serving)
Calories 390kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.40
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.27
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped $0.30
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced $0.20
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning $0.10
  • 1 14.5oz. can roasted petite diced tomatoes $0.89
  • 1 tsp lemon juice $0.02
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard $0.02
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta $1.65
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth $0.12
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature $0.84
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan $1.48
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed $1.10
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley $0.10
  • Salt & pepper to taste $0.05

Instructions

  • Add the oil, butter, and onion to a pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, canned tomatoes, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and orzo. Stir often, cooking for 3 minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth and room temperature cream. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking for 10 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally so the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. It should steadily simmer but not boil. You don’t want all of the liquid to evaporate.
  • Take the pot off the heat and stir in the parmesan, spinach, and parsley. Stir again and cover the pot for a few minutes until it has thickened up to your liking.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 630mg | Fiber: 2g
stirring tuscan orzo in a pan with a wooden spoon.

how to make Tuscan Orzo – step by step photos

sauteed onions in a pan.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 of a medium chopped onion to a pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes.

tomatoes and orzo added to sauteed onions in a pan.

Add 4 minced cloves garlic, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, a 14.5-oz. can of roasted petite diced tomatoes, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and 1 cup of orzo. Stir often, cooking for 3 minutes.

cream poured over tomatoey orzo in a pan.

Add 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth and 1/2 cup room temperature heavy cream. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking for 10 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally so the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. It should steadily simmer but not boil. You don’t want all of the liquid to evaporate.

parsley, spinach , and cheese added to creamy tuscan orzo in a pan.

Take the pot off the heat, and stir in 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, 1 cup baby spinach, and 2 Tbsp minced parsley. Stir again and cover the pot for a few minutes until it has thickened up to your liking.

creamy tuscan orzo in a pan.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

overhead view of a serving of tuscan orzo on a white plate.

This one-pot Tuscan orzo is so simple and delicious!

The post Tuscan Orzo appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Falafel Burgers

These falafel burgers are a delicious vegetarian dinner! Vegan-adaptable, made with chickpeas, onion, garlic, herbs & Middle Eastern spices.

A falafel burger with tahini yogurt, pickled onions, tomatoes, cucumber on a toasty bun.
These falafel burgers are a delicious vegetarian dinner! Vegan-adaptable, made with chickpeas, onion, garlic, herbs & Middle Eastern spices.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and perfect for a quick & easy lunch or dinner meal.

The post Air Fryer Chicken Tenders appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m on a roll with these air fryer recipes y’all! And since I loved how well my air fryer chicken nuggets turned out, I wanted to try some air fryer chicken tenders next. This time I combined panko and regular breadcrumbs for the perfect texture and I used chicken breast tenderloins to make things super easy. They’re perfectly golden and crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and a lot fresher than frozen chicken tenders! So get your favorite dipping sauce ready, because these air fryer chicken tenders are perfect for a quick & easy lunch or dinner meal.

Overhead view of Air Fryer Chicken Tenders on a white serving plate with two dipping sauces on the side.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here’s everything you need to make these crispy air fryer chicken tenders:

  • Chicken Breast Tenders: I like purchasing the chicken that is already cut into tenders or tenderloins. But you can also make your own tenders by cutting a boneless, skinless chicken breast lengthwise into strips.
  • All Purpose Flour: A light coating of flour helps the egg coating adhere to the chicken. 
  • Eggs: Eggs help the breadcrumb mixture adhere to the chicken tenders. You can also use buttermilk instead of eggs like we did for these air fryer chicken nuggets.
  • Panko and regular breadcrumbs: I used a combination of panko breadcrumbs and regular breadcrumbs. The regular breadcrumbs are finer in texture and provide a more even coating. The panko breadcrumbs give the tenders that crispy crunch that I love. Combined they provide the perfect balance.
  • Seasoning: A mix of salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, garlic & onion powder, flavors the chicken and the breadcrumbs.

Homemade Dipping Sauces

Wanna make your own dipping sauce for these chicken tenders? Well here are some of our favorites:

Recipe Tips For Success!

  1. When adding the breading, roll and press the chicken tenders into the breadcrumb mixture making sure it’s completely coated evenly all the way around.  
  2. Don’t crowd the basket. Making sure there is enough space around each chicken tender allows the hot air to circulate evenly and helps the tenders get nice and crispy. So cook the chicken tenders in two separate batches if you need to.
  3. Don’t forget to preheat the air fryer. Similar to preheating your oven, it’s a good idea to preheat your air fryer so the chicken tenders can cook evenly and get crispy on the outside.
  4. Spray the tops of the chicken tenders with cooking spray and repeat when it’s time to flip the tenders. This also helps the tenders to get crispy on both sides!

What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Enjoy these easy chicken tenders with a side of roasted broccoli, air fryer french fries, or a simple Caesar salad. These tenders would also taste great with a side of oven baked steak fries or a simple pasta salad. And of course you can never go wrong with classic homemade mashed potatoes or homemade applesauce.

Side view of air fryer chicken tenders on a serving plate with one being dipped in honey mustard sauce.
Overhead view of Air Fryer Chicken Tenders on a white serving plate with two dipping sauces on the side.
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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and perfect for a quick & easy lunch or dinner meal.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost $8.56 recipe / $2.14 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 4 (2 tenders each)
Calories 254kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders (about 1.25lb) $6.99
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided $0.08
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, divided $0.05
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.04
  • 2 large eggs $0.33
  • 1/2 cup plain regular breadcrumbs $0.40
  • 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning $0.10
  • 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.10
  • 1 tsp onion powder $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  • Place the chicken tenders on a cutting board. Season them on both sides with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Next sprinkle the flour over the chicken tenders and toss to coat evenly.
  • In a shallow bowl, add the eggs and whisk them together. In another shallow bowl, add the regular breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Mix the seasoning into the breadcrumbs.
  • Now line up the chicken tenders, beaten eggs, and breadcrumb mixture. Using tongs or your hands, begin to coat the chicken tenders by first dipping them on both sides in the egg mixture, then transfer them to the breadcrumbs. Pat the breadcrumbs into the tenders and coat them evenly on both sides. Set the coated chicken pieces to the side on a clean plate or cutting board.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Place the chicken tenders in the basket in a single layer, making sure no pieces overlap. About 4 tenders at a time. Spray the tops of the chicken tenders with cooking spray. Air fry for 7 minutes then flip the chicken tenders over. Spray the tops of the chicken again with cooking spray and air fry for another 6 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove the chicken tenders from the air fryer basket and repeat with the second batch of tenders. Let the tenders cool for 3-5 minutes, then serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tenders | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 1179mg | Fiber: 2g
Overhead view of air fryer chicken tenders in an air fryer basket.

How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – Step by Step Photos

Overhead view of seasoned chicken tenders on a cutting board.

Place 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders on a cutting board. Season them on both sides with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

Overhead view of chicken tenders tossed in flour on a cutting board.

Next sprinkle 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour over the chicken tenders and toss to coat evenly.

Overhead view of breadcrumbs and seasoning in a bowl.

In a shallow bowl, add 2 large eggs and whisk them together. In another shallow bowl, add 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika. Mix the seasoning into the breadcrumbs.

Overhead view of chicken tenders breading station.

Now line up the chicken tenders, beaten eggs, and breadcrumb mixture. Using tongs or your hands, begin to coat the chicken tenders by first dipping them on both sides in the egg mixture, then transfer them to the breadcrumbs. Pat the breadcrumbs into the tenders and coat them evenly on both sides. Set the coated chicken pieces to the side on a clean plate or cutting board.

Overhead view of breaded chicken tenders added to air fryer basket.

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Place the chicken tenders in the basket in a single layer, making sure no pieces overlap. About 4 tenders at a time. Spray the tops of the chicken tenders with cooking spray.

Overhead view of chicken tenders being flipped in air fryer basket.

Air fry for 7 minutes then flip the chicken tenders over. Spray the tops of the chicken again with cooking spray and air fry for another 6 minutes until golden brown.

Overhead view of cooked air fryer chicken tenders in an air fryer basket.

Remove the chicken tenders from the air fryer basket and repeat with the second batch of tenders.

Overhead view of 8 cooked air fryer chicken tenders in an air fryer basket.

Let the chicken tenders cool for 3-5 minutes, then serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

Overhead view of air fryer chicken tenders and steamed broccoli on a plate.

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Buffalo Beans and Greens

These Buffalo beans and greens are a little bowl of luxury on a shoestring budget. We just can’t get enough!

The post Buffalo Beans and Greens appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love any dish where I can sneak in some kale without complaints from the haters; there’s just something so fun about sneaking them in and hearing the good ol’, “I usually hate kale, but this is SO good!” These Buffalo beans and greens pack in a whole lot of nutrition and flavor on a shoestring budget. Creamy white beans, rich kale, and wholesome diced veggies all tossed in spicy buffalo sauce. Drizzle it with some blue cheese dressing, and I just can’t get enough! One of my favorite Nashville institutions recently closed (I sob) and they had a killer Buffalo beans and greens dish on their menu, so this tip of the hat goes out to my friends at The Wild Cow.

overhead view of buffalo beans and greens over white rice on a white plate with white sauce drizzled over top.

What Are Buffalo Beans and Greens?

If you’ve made our Saucy White Beans with Spinach, then you know how good stewed beans can be. These buffalo beans and greens are a fun riff on the classic “Buffalo chicken” that all Americans know and love, but we’ve turned it into a veg-friendly complete meal. It’s a balanced, comforting, and wholesome meal with just the right amount of spice.

Ingredients for Buffalo Beans and Greens

Here’s what you’ll need to make buffalo beans and greens:

  • Unsalted Butter: Helps sauté the veggies without burning and adds richness to the dish. Dairy free? No problem, olive oil is a suitable substitute.
  • Vegetables: Yellow onion, celery, and carrots create a sweet, earthy, and crunchy base of flavor for this dish.
  • Garlic: Adds an earthy and savory element to the dish.
  • Cannellini Beans: These creamy white beans are a great meat replacement and are packed full of fiber and protein.
  • Buffalo Sauce: Adds a touch of spice to the dish.
  • Blue Cheese Dressing: You can use as much or as little as you like. It’s just for a drizzle on top at the end. Blue cheese can be polarizing, so if you’re not a fan, you can leave it off or try a drizzle of Homemade Ranch Dressing instead!
  • Fresh Kale: Wilts into this dish to create a delightfully earthy flavor and texture.
  • White Rice: Serve these beans and greens over rice for a complete, filling meal.

What Else Can I Put In Buffalo Beans and Greens?

This is a great recipe for fridge cleanout day since it’s easy to add any number of leftover veggies, meats, or cheeses to it. Try:

  • Broccoli or cauliflower florets
  • Diced zucchini or summer squash
  • Cut green beans or asparagus
  • Frozen peas or corn
  • Cooked bacon, Italian sausage, or pancetta
  • Leftover shredded chicken
  • Crumbled blue cheese

What to Serve with Buffalo Beans and Greens

We love the simplicity of this dish served over white rice, but of course, brown rice is a great healthy alternative. You could also serve it over some Mashed Potatoes, Deruny, Oven Roasted Potatoes, Creamy Polenta, or Cheese Grits. And if you hate blue cheese, try serving these buffalo beans and greens drizzled with Homemade Ranch Dressing.

overhead view of buffalo beans and greens in a pan.
overhead view of buffalo beans and greens over white rice on a white plate with white sauce drizzled over top.
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Buffalo Beans and Greens

These Buffalo beans and greens pack in a whole lot of nutrition and flavor on a shoestring budget. I just can't get enough!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $6.61 recipe / $1.65 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 (about 1.5 cups each)
Calories 569kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter $0.75
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced small $0.39
  • 3 celery stalks, diced small $0.26
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small $0.26
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced $0.42
  • 2 15oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed $2.56
  • 1/4 cup Buffalo-style hot sauce $0.52
  • 2 tbsp water $0.00
  • 2 cups fresh kale, chopped $0.50
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese dressing $0.31
  • 1 cup white rice, cooked $0.64

Instructions

  • Cook rice according to package directions. (1 dry cup will yield about 3 cooked cups of rice.) Drain and rinse the cannellini beans.
  • Dice celery, yellow onion, and carrots to make a mirepoix.
  • Add the butter, salt, celery, onions, and carrots to a large skillet. Sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or just until the veggies begin to soften. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the white beans, Buffalo-style hot sauce and water to the skillet. Stir and cook over medium heat until the beans are heated through.
  • Add the kale to the pan and stir until bright green and wilted. No need to cook for too long. Serve a heaping spoonful on top of rice, drizzling blue cheese dressing over the top. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 569kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 14g | Sodium: 682mg | Fiber: 14g
overhead view of buffalo beans and greens over white rice with white sauce on a white plate with a fork.

how to make Buffalo Beans and Greens – step by step photos

finely diced onion, carrot, and celery on a bamboo cutting board.

Cook rice according to package directions. (1 dry cup will yield about 3 cooked cups of rice.) Drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Dice 3 stalks celery, 1/2 of a yellow onion, and 2 medium carrots to make a mirepoix.

onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in a pan.

Add 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, celery, onion, and carrots to a large skillet. Sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or just until the veggies begin to soften. Add 6 cloves of minced garlic and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes.

cannellini beans and buffalo sauce added to sauteed veggies in a pan.

Add 1 can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans, 1/4 cup Buffalo-style hot sauce, and 2 Tbsp water to the skillet. Stir and cook over medium heat until the beans are heated through.

kale added to buffalo beans in a pan.

Add 2 cups chopped fresh kale to the pan and stir until bright green and wilted. No need to cook for too long. Serve a heaping spoonful on top of rice, drizzling blue cheese dressing over the top. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

overhead view of buffalo beans and greens in a pan.

This rich and filling buffalo beans and greens is sure to become a weeknight staple!

The post Buffalo Beans and Greens appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Porcupine Meatballs

These easy and flavorful Porcupine Meatballs are made with ground beef and rice, then simmered in a savory tomato sauce.

The post Porcupine Meatballs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I don’t know how I let Beth talk me into making these porcupine meatballs, but I’m glad she did!😄 They’re incredibly tender, super flavorful, very filling, and so delicious! They were a hit in my house and my husband and kids absolutely loved them! And don’t let the name scare you, these meatballs are simply made with ground beef, rice, seasoning and a savory homemade tomato sauce. Adding in inexpensive rice is also a great way to stretch a pound of beef into more servings. And did I mention this meatball recipe is also perfect for meal prep!

Overhead view of porcupine meatballs on a serving plate with white rice and a fork cutting a meatball in half.

What Are Porcupine Meatballs?

Porcupine meatballs are an American comfort food dish that was popular during the Great Depression. During that time supply was limited and these porcupine meatballs only required a few basic ingredients like ground beef, rice, and tomato soup. Their funny name comes from their unique appearance. As the meatballs cook the rice begins to poke out of the side, resembling the look of a porcupine! Does anyone else remember these tasty little meatballs growing up?

Ingredients For Porcupine Meatballs

Here’s everything you need to make these easy porcupine meatballs:

  • Lean Ground Beef: I used 93% lean ground beef to reduce the amount of grease that collects inside the pot while the meatballs are cooking. But 85% lean should also work pretty well.
  • Long Grain White Rice: Rice is a key ingredient! Not only does it help bulk up the meatballs and makes them more filling, but it’s also how you get the classic porcupine look! You’ll want to use long-grain white rice for this recipe. 
  • Onion and Garlic: Onion and garlic creates a wonderful flavor base for the meatballs. 
  • Seasoning:  The meatballs are seasoned with Italian seasoning for lots of herbal flavor along with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Egg: The egg is used as a binder to help keep the meatballs from falling apart.
  • Tomato Sauce: Another key part of this meatball recipe is the delicious tomato sauce. Instead of just using a can of plain tomato sauce, I added Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and black pepper to add more depth of flavor. I also added a can of crushed tomatoes to thicken the sauce, a little bit of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, and water to help the rice cook. All together this sauce adds wonderful flavor to these porcupine meatballs!

Should You Cook The Rice First?

You may be wondering if you have to cook the rice first before adding it to the meatballs. The answer is no. Cooking the rice first just adds an extra step to the process, and I didn’t find it necessary. Using uncooked rice allows the rice to cook at the same time as the meatballs and soak up all the seasoning and flavors from the dish.

How To Store & Freeze Porcupine Meatballs

You can store any leftover cooked meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, simply microwave for about 2 minutes, or until heated through.

If you want to freeze the meatballs, I suggest freezing them uncooked, then make the tomato sauce fresh when you need a quick weeknight dinner meal. 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 to store for up to three months. When you’re ready to cook them, thaw the meatballs in the fridge overnight, then simmer them in the sauce as directed.

Serving Suggestions

You can easily serve these porcupine meatballs with a simple side salad or caesar salad. We served them over a bed of rice, but mashed potatoes or pasta would also be good.

Overhead view of porcupine meatballs in a dutch oven covered in tomato sauce.
Overhead view of porcupine meatballs on a serving plate with white rice and a fork cutting a meatball in half.
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Porcupine Meatballs

These easy and flavorful Porcupine Meatballs are made with ground beef and rice, then simmered in a savory tomato sauce.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $11.34 recipe / $1.89 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 (4 meatballs each)
Calories 191kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Meatballs

Tomato Sauce

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir together the Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
  • Rinse the rice in cool water and drain well. Add the lean ground beef to a large bowl along with the rice, finely diced onion, minced garlic, egg, and the seasoning mixture.
  • Use your hands to mix everything together until evenly combined. Try not to overmix as this can make the meatballs tough.
  • Divide and shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs, about two tablespoons each. Place the shaped meatballs into a large pot or dutch oven. It’s ok if the meatballs are touching each other. I also stacked a few on top of each other.
  • Now make the sauce. In a medium bowl combine the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, and water. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the meatballs.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and bring the pot to a low boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the meatballs simmer for 35-40 minutes.
  • Serve over rice or mashed potatoes with fresh chopped parsley on top and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 4meatballs | Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 685mg | Fiber: 1g
Overhead view of porcupine meatballs on a serving plate with white rice.

How to Make Porcupine Meatballs – Step by Step Photos

Overhead view of spice ingredients for porcupine meatballs.

In a small bowl, stir together 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

Meat and ingredients for porcupine meatballs added to a large bowl.

Rinse 1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice in cool water and drain well. Add 1 lb. lean ground beef to a large bowl along with the rice, 1/2 finely diced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 egg, and the seasoning mixture. Use your hands to mix everything together until evenly combined. Try not to overmix as this can make the meatballs tough.

Overhead view of meatballs being rolled and shaped.

Divide and shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs, about two tablespoons each.

Porcupine meatballs added to a dutch oven.

Place the shaped meatballs into a large pot or dutch oven. It’s ok if the meatballs are touching each other. I also stacked a few on top of each other.

Overhead view of homemade tomato sauce ingredients in a medium bowl.

Now make the sauce. In a medium bowl combine one 15oz. can tomato sauce, one 15oz. can crushed tomatoes, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 cup water. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.

Tomato sauce being poured over meatballs in the dutch oven.

Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the meatballs.

Cooked porcupine meatballs inside dutch oven.

Cover the pot with a lid and bring the pot to a low boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the meatballs simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Overhead view of porcupine meatballs on a serving plate with white rice and a fork cutting a meatball in half.

Enjoy by themselves or serve over extra rice or mashed potatoes and top with fresh chopped parsley. I’m a believer now Beth, you were right about this one!😄

Overhead view of porcupine meatballs in a dutch oven covered in tomato sauce.

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Mediterranean Lentil Soup

This vegan Mediterranean Lentil Soup is bright and refreshing. Finished with a squeeze of lemon, it’s the perfect meal for rainy spring days.

The post Mediterranean Lentil Soup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

In my opinion, a bright and refreshing soup is the perfect way to welcome spring, and this vegan Mediterranean Lentil Soup is the perfect comforting meal for the rainy days to come. A rich and flavorful broth loaded with veggies, lentils, and kale will fill you up for pennies and is a great recipe for fridge clean out day. Finish it off with a squeeze of lemon juice for a delicious and easy weeknight meal.

overhead view of a bowl of mediterranean lentil soup with lemon slices.

Why Make Mediterranean Lentil Soup?

The first time I experienced cinnamon in a savory dish was while cooking at a Lebanese restaurant and it was life changing! This Mediterranean Lentil Soup is the perfect introduction to the savory use of cinnamon. This clean and flavorful lentil soup is a vegan flavor explosion. It’s loaded with protein and fiber, naturally gluten-free, and super versatile. You can toss in just about any veggie or green, so raid the fridge and get cooking!

Ingredients for Mediterranean Lentil Soup

Here’s what you’ll need to make Mediterranean lentil soup:

  • Oil: Olive oil is our preferred choice in this recipe for its Mediterranean flavor profile, but vegetable or canola oil will work in a pinch.
  • Mirepoix: A combination of small diced yellow onion, carrots, and celery creates an earthy and sweet base of flavor for this soup.
  • Garlic: The large pieces of crushed garlic versus mincing it fine is intentional to bring out the natural sweetness and flavor of cooked garlic instead of the sometimes-overwhelming bite it has when minced.
  • Cumin: Adds a savory and nutty Mediterranean flavor to this soup.
  • Cinnamon: A great savory application of the spice! It will warm you up from the inside out and make your house smell fantastic.
  • Lentils: We used brown lentils for their firm texture.
  • Vegetable Broth: We used Vegetable flavored Better Than Bouillon in this recipe. If using another brand, make sure salt is not the first ingredient or it’s a waste of money!
  • Lemon Juice: Gives the soup a brightness that is seriously addictive. You can use fresh-squeezed lemon juice and save half of your lemon for garnishing each bowl, or you can use a bottled lemon juice. I always have lemons in the kitchen, so we had some to garnish with, too!
  • Kale: Swiss chard, rainbow chard, spinach, escarole, and all varieties of kale work great, too.
  • Salt and Pepper: Enhance the natural flavors of the soup.

Which color lentils are best for soup?

Brown or green lentils work best for this soup, as they will keep their shape after cooking, which is what we’re looking for texture-wise. Red lentils are not recommended because they cook quicker and will dissolve into the soup as they cook, creating a thick and mushy texture.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftover Mediterranean lentil soup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This soup also freezes super well for up to 3 months when stored properly in an air-tight container. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in a pot set over medium-low heat until warmed through.

overhead view of mediterranean lentil soup in a red dutch oven.
overhead view of 2 bowls of mediterranean lentil soup with lemon slices.
Print

Mediterranean Lentil Soup

This vegan Mediterranean Lentil Soup is bright and refreshing. Finished with a squeeze of lemon, it's the perfect meal for rainy spring days.
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Mediterranean
Total Cost $7.59 recipe / $1.08 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 7 (about 1.5 cups each)
Calories 185kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small $0.78
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small $0.24
  • 3 stalks celery, diced small $0.36
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed $0.30
  • 2 tsp ground cumin $0.20
  • 1 tsp cinnamon $0.16
  • 1 cup uncooked brown or green lentils $0.68
  • 8 cups vegetable broth $1.44
  • 4 oz. lemon juice $0.48
  • 3 cups kale, chopped and lightly packed $2.48
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.10

Instructions

  • Rinse the lentils in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear.
  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Add in the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until they become tender, about 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the garlic, cumin, and cinnamon. Heat until fragrant, about 60 seconds. Add the lentils to the pan and heat for 1-2 minutes to slightly toast.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth, water, and lemon juice, then bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes.
  • Stir in the greens, season with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste before serving.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 1452mg | Fiber: 11g
three-quarters view of mediterranean lentil soup in a white bowl with a lemon slice.

how to make Mediterranean Lentil Soup – step by step photos

mirepoix in a red dutch oven.

Rinse 1 cup brown or green lentils in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Add in 1 diced yellow onion, 2 diced medium carrots, and 3 diced stalks celery and cook until they become tender, about 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp pepper.

mirepoix, spices, and lentils in a red dutch oven.

Stir in 5 crushed cloves garlic, 2 tsp ground cumin, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Heat until fragrant, about 60 seconds. Add the lentils to the pan and heat for 1-2 minutes to slightly toast.

broth added to lentil soup in a red dutch oven.

Pour in 8 cups vegetable broth and 4 oz. lemon juice, then bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes.

kale added to lentil soup in a red dutch oven.

Stir in 3 cups chopped kale, season with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste before serving.

overhead view of a spoon lifting a scoop of mediterranean lentil soup from a red dutch oven.

This Mediterranean lentil soup is going to be your new favorite!

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