Homemade Granola

Homemade granola is easy, inexpensive, and endlessly customizable. Use your favorite mix of nuts, seeds, and spices to make it your own.

The post Homemade Granola appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Making food at home versus buying premade is always a question of time versus money. But if there’s one thing that is definitely way cheaper to make at home without taking a lot of extra time or energy to make, it’s granola! This homemade granola recipe is SO fast and easy, you can customize it a hundred different ways, and it’s pennies on the dollar compared to store-bought granola.

Overhead view of homemade granola in a glass storage container.

What is Granola Made Of?

Granola, at its most basic, is simply a combination of oats, nuts, seeds, and fruit coated in a mixture of sugar and oil, then baked until deliciously crispy and toasty in flavor. My basic granola formula is:

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1 cup nuts & seeds
  • ½ cup dried fruit
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Spices or extracts for extra flavor

To make different varieties of granola, I simply substitute different nuts, seeds, fruit, oils, sugars, and flavorings.

The recipe I have below is a very classic homemade granola recipe that will go with just about anything. I’ll list some other options for add-ins and flavors so you can experiment with making it your own!

What Makes Granola Crunchy?

The combination of oil and sugar gives granola that classic crunchy and clumpy texture. The oil helps the oats, nuts, and seeds toast without developing an overly dry texture, while the melted sugars help bind the ingredients into clumps and gives an extra crunchy finish. While it may be tempting to reduce the oil or sugar, keep in mind that doing so will drastically change the texture of the finished granola.

Overhead view of a bowl of yogurt topped with granola and strawberries.

Can I Use Quick Oats?

Old-fashioned or plain rolled oats are best for granola because they have more texture than quick oats. While it is possible to use quick oats, quick oats tend to be very delicate and thin, which doesn’t provide as much texture to the final granola.

How Long Does Homemade Granola Last?

After baking the granola, make sure to allow the granola to cool to room temperature so any residual moisture will evaporate before placing it in an air-tight food storage container. Granola will stay good in an air-tight container at room temperature for about a month. It will stay edible longer, but the granola will slowly absorb moisture from the air and become stale over time.

What Else Can I Add?

Here’s the fun part. You can add all sorts of ingredients to your granola. You can plug any nut, seed, or dried fruit into the recipe below. Here are some ideas:

  • Nuts: walnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts
  • Seeds: flaxseed, chia seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • Fruit: dried cherries, raisins, banana chips, dried apples, dried pineapple, chopped dried dates, dried blueberries
  • Other add-ins: wheat germ, wheat bran, chocolate chips, citrus zest, crystalized ginger, nut butters, mashed bananas
  • Spices and Flavors: ground ginger, almond extract, cocoa powder, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric
  • Other sugars: maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar
  • Other oils: coconut oil, ghee or clarified butter
Close up of homemade granola on a baking sheet with a spatula.
Overhead view of homemade granola in a glass storage container.

Homemade Granola

Homemade granola is easy, inexpensive, and endlessly customizable. Use your favorite mix of nuts, seeds, and spices to make it your own.
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Total Cost $5.87 recipe / $0.49 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cool time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 12 ½ cup each
Calories 295kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats $0.93
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans $1.18
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut $0.84
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil $0.80
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar $0.16
  • 1/4 cup honey $1.08
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract $0.25
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries $0.53

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, pecans, and coconut.
  • Add the oil, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a small saucepot. Stir and cook over medium heat until the brown sugar is melted (about 3-5 minutes).
  • Pour the sugar and oil mixture over the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir until everything is very well coated in the oil and sugar.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment, then spread the granola out over the parchment in an even layer.
  • Bake the granola for 20 minutes, or until it is deeply golden brown.
  • Remove the granola from the oven and stir in the dried cranberries while the granola is still warm and soft. Spread it out into an even layer again and let it cool completely. The granola will harden as it cools.
  • Once cool, break the granola into chunks and transfer it to an air-tight container for storage.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 102mg | Fiber: 4g

How to Make Granola – Step by Step Photos

Granola dry ingredients in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Combine the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, and seeds) in a large bowl. I used 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, ½ cup chopped pecans, and ½ cup unsweetened coconut. Do not add the dried fruit yet. Stir these ingredients together well.

Sugar, oil, and spices in a saucepot.

Add ½ cup cooking oil (or oil of choice), ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup honey, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp vanilla extract into a small sauce pot. Stir and cook over medium heat until the brown sugar is melted (3-5 minutes).

Oil and sugar mixture being poured over the dry granola.

Pour the sugar and oil mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl.

Granola coated in oil and sugar.

Stir the two mixtures together until everything is very, VERY well coated in the oil and sugar. Make sure no dry spots remain.

Uncooked granola being spread out onto a baking sheet.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the granola out onto the parchment in an even layer.

granola ready to bake.

Transfer the unbaked granola to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until it turns a deep golden brown (photo below is after baking).

Dried cranberries being added to the granola after baking.

Once the granola has baked and turned a deep golden brown color, remove it from the oven. Stir in the dried cranberries while it’s still warm and soft. Spread the granola out into an even layer again to cool.

Finished crispy granola on the baking sheet.

Allow the granola to cool completely to room temperature. It will harden and crisp up as the sugars cool.

Overhead view of homemade granola in a glass storage container.

Once the granola is completely cool, break it into clumps and transfer it to an air-tight food container for storage. Enjoy with yogurt, milk, ice cream, smoothie bowls, and more!

Try These Other Granola Recipes:

The post Homemade Granola appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Tomato Rice

Tomato rice is an easy yet flavorful side dish that uses only a few simple ingredients, and it’s sure to liven up any dinner plate!

The post Tomato Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love a big ol’ bowl of hot rice. Rice is filling, cozy, and CHEAP. 🙌 Plus, it’s super easy to add different flavors to rice, so it never gets boring. This easy and flavorful tomato rice uses really simple ingredients that I often have on hand, and it has the most delicious bright yet savory flavor. Plus you can use it as a base for bowl meals, or you can serve it as a side to liven up your dinner plate.

Tomato rice in a bowl with limes and green onion.

What’s in Tomato Rice?

This tomato rice is similar to what a lot of people call Spanish rice or Mexican rice, although I can’t say that my technique is authentic to either culture. It’s simply rice that has been cooked with onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, a couple of spices (cumin and chili powder), and a flavorful broth. So simple, yet SO good! I couldn’t stop taking forkfuls right out of the pot. 😅

What Else Can I Add?

There are a lot of ways you can modify this rice to make it your own. You can swap the vegetable broth for chicken broth for a slightly different flavor, or replace the diced tomatoes with salsa or Rotel. You can also experiment with adding some extra spices, like cayenne or smoked paprika, or even squeeze a little lime juice in with the broth before cooking. Want more vegetables? Try stirring in some frozen peas or diced bell pepper.

I like to garnish the tomato rice with some sliced green onions and lime wedges, but they are not required to make the rice taste great.

Can I Use Brown Rice?

Brown rice requires more liquid and a longer simmer time (2-3 times longer) than white rice. So while I’d need to test this with brown rice before offering exact recommendations, it is definitely possible to make this tomato rice with long grain brown rice.

How to Store the Leftovers

If you plan to use your rice for meal prep or if you want to freeze the leftovers, make sure to divide the rice into single portions before refrigerating to make sure it cools down quickly once in the refrigerator. Once completely cooled, it can be transferred to the freezer for longer storage (make sure it’s in an air-tight container).

The tomato rice can be reheated quickly in the microwave. Add a sprinkle of water or an ice cube before reheating to prevent the rice from drying out.

Close up side view of a bowl of tomato rice.

Tomato Rice

Tomato rice is an easy yet flavorful side dish that uses only a few simple ingredients, and it's sure to liven up any dinner plate!
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine Southwest
Total Cost $2.40 recipe / $0.30 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 1 cup each
Calories 186kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 1.5 cups long grain white rice $0.56
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin $0.02
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes $0.79
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste $0.08
  • 2 cups vegetable broth $0.26
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.03

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and finely dice the onion. Add the onion, garlic, and cooking oil to a saucepot and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the rice, chili powder, and cumin to the pot. Continue to stir and cook for a couple of minutes more to toast the rice and spices.
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato paste, and broth to the pot. Stir to combine and dissolve and spices that are stuck to the bottom.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and let the broth come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low (or just above low) to bring the broth down to a gentle simmer.
  • Let the rice gently simmer for 20 minutes without lifting the lid or stirring. After 20 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, and let the rice rest for five minutes without lifting the lid.
  • After resting, fluff the rice with a fork to redistribute the tomatoes throughout. Serve hot!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Sodium: 471mg | Fiber: 2g
Overhead view of a pot full of tomato rice with limes and green onion.

How to Make Tomato Rice – Step by Step Photos

Chopped onion and garlic on a cutting board.

Start by mincing two cloves of garlic and finely dicing one onion.

sautéed onion and garlic in the pot.

Add the onion and garlic to a sauce pot with 2 Tbsp cooking oil. Sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent.

Rice and spices added to the pot.

Add 1.5 cups long grain white rice, ½ tsp chili powder, and ¼ tsp cumin to the pot.

Rice and spices cooked in the pot.

Cook and stir the rice and spices for a couple of minutes more to slightly toast the rice and spices.

Tomatoes and broth added to the pot.

Add one 15oz. can of petite diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 cups vegetable broth, and ½ tsp salt to the pot. Stir to combine and dissolve any spices stuck to the bottom of the pot. I like to keep frozen tomato paste on hand in one tablespoon portions, just for recipes like this!

Tomato rice before simmering.

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low (or lightly above low) to bring the broth down to a gentle simmer.

Simmered rice in the pot with tomatoes on top.

Let the rice gently simmer for 20 minutes without stirring or lifting the lid. After 20 minutes, remove the pot from the heat (lid still on) and let the rice rest for 5 minutes. This is what it looks like after simmering.

Fluffed tomato rice in the pot.

Fluff the rice with a fork to redistribute the diced tomatoes, which float to the top as the rice simmers.

Lime being squeezed over the rice in a bowl.

Serve hot! I like to garnish with a little lime and green onion, but it’s not necessary! The rice tastes great on its own, too. :)

Try These Other Flavored Rice Recipes:

The post Tomato Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Bún Chả (Vietnamese Meatballs)

Bún chả (Vietnamese Meatballs) are simple, light, fresh, and perfect for a hot summer day or as a make-ahead meal.

The post Bún Chả (Vietnamese Meatballs) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This light and fresh Bún Chả recipe features flavorful and juicy pork meatballs paired with vermicelli noodles and plenty of herbs and vegetables. Bún chả is light yet filling and it comes together effortlessly in a few straightforward steps. Served with a homemade dipping sauce, this refreshing recipe is perfect for a hot summer day or as a make-ahead meal.

Close up of Bún chả in a bowl with rice noodles and vegetables.

What is Bún Chả?

Growing up, I didn’t realize there was a name for these delicious juicy pork meatballs. They were just something my mom made for me because it was one of the five things that I was willing to eat without question. It’s a recipe that you can easily make, you can scale it up or down, and most importantly, it’s super flavorful. 

Bún chả, also known as Vietnamese pork meatballs with vermicelli noodles, is a popular Vietnamese dish that is thought to have originated in Hanoi. You can find them served anywhere from street food stalls to restaurants in Hanoi. While a popular lunchtime recipe, you can enjoy this recipe any time of the day. I love how refreshing the noodles, vegetables, and herbs are on a hot summer day. You can even find Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama enjoying it on an episode of Parts Unknown!

What is fish sauce? 

Fish sauce is the secret ingredient of this entire recipe. It goes into the meatballs as well as the dipping sauce (nước chấm) and is an absolute umami bomb. It is a liquid condiment that is made from fermenting fish over time. It adds major savory, salty, and general deliciousness to the overall dish. You can find fish sauce in the international aisle in most grocery stores, or at an Asian grocer.

Bún chả being dipped in a bowl of sauce with ingredients on the sides.

What is lemongrass? 

Lemongrass is an aromatic herb that has a fragrant complex flavor that is bright and citrusy. You can purchase lemongrass fresh or frozen. I usually find frozen lemongrass at Asian grocers and like to stock up my freezer with them. If you can’t find lemongrass, lemon zest and some ginger could work in a pinch, but I highly recommend not substituting the lemongrass because it is key to achieving the authentic Vietnamese flavor profile.

When using fresh lemongrass, keep in mind that the bottom woody section should be discarded. I’ve been noticing more chain grocery stores carrying fresh lemongrass so you should be able to find it relatively easily. If not, check where the ginger paste is kept and you might find lemongrass paste instead for an easy swap!

How to store leftovers

This recipe is perfect for meal prepping! Store the rice noodles, veggies, and herbs in one container and the pork meatballs in another container. This makes reheating the meatballs much easier, especially at work. Everything should keep and stay fresh for up to 4 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Tips for Making Bún Chả

  • Do not overpack the meatballs while shaping the meatballs as you do not want them to be dense. 
  • For uniformed meatballs, use a cookie scoop. This helps them cook evenly as well. You do not want to go any larger than around a golf ball’s size.
  • For the nước chấm, feel free to adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes. 
  • While I use a non-stick skillet, you can use a grilling pan or cast-iron skillet as well. 
  • When buying rice vermicelli noodles, make sure to double-check the ingredients. At first glance, they look similar to cellophane noodles but they are not the same.
Close up side view of Bún chả in a bowl with rice noodles and vegetables.
Close up side view of Bún chả in a bowl with rice noodles and vegetables.

Bún chả

Bún chả (Vietnamese Meatballs) are simple, light, fresh, and perfect for a hot summer day or as a make-ahead meal.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Vietnames
Total Cost $16.22 recipe / $4.06 serving
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 469kcal
Author Carmy Do

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground pork $4.49
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped $0.24
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot $0.68
  • 4 Tbsp minced lemongrass $0.60
  • 2 Tbsp honey $0.24
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce $0.23
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02

Dipping Sauce (​​Nuoc Cham)

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes) $1.20
  • 3/4 cup water $0.00
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce $0.68
  • 1 Thai red chili pepper $0.10
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 2 Tbsp sugar $0.02
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced $0.16

Bowls

  • 8 oz. rice vermicelli noodles $2.99
  • 1 head butter lettuce $1.59
  • 1 handful fresh mint $2.19
  • 1 carrot, sliced $0.16
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced $0.50

Instructions

For the Meatballs:

  • CHop the garlic and shallots, and mince the lemongrass.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pork, fish sauce, salt, pepper, honey, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic. Set the mixture aside for 1 to 2 hours in the fridge.
  • Shape the mixture into small meatballs (about 20 meatballs), and then gently flatten them a bit.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and add the meatballs in a single layer. Cook the meatballs until they are golden and caramelized, around 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set the cooked meatballs aside.

For the Sauce:

  • Whisk the sauce ingredients together and adjust to your tastes. Optional: heat the water and whisk the sugar in to dissolve before adding the rest of the ingredients.

For the Bowls:

  • Prepare the vermicelli noodles according to package instructions (usually cook 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling water).
  • Serve the noodles with the meatballs along with a handful of lettuce, mint, carrots, and cucumbers with the nuoc cham on the side.

Notes

Editor’s note: The prices listed above are from U.S. chain grocery stores. If you have an Asian market in your area you’ll be able to source ingredients like fish sauce, lemongrass, limes, Thai chilis, mint, and rice noodles for much cheaper and often with much higher quality.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 469kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 2098mg | Fiber: 3g
Overhead view of Bún chả in a bowl with rice noodles and vegetables.

How to Make Bún chả – Step by Step Photos

Prepared aromatics for the meatballs on a cutting board.

First, prepare the aromatics for the meatballs. Mince three cloves of garlic, ¼ cup shallots, and 4 tablespoons lemongrass.

Meatball ingredients in a bowl.

Add the garlic, shallots, and lemongrass to a bowl with about one pound of ground pork, 2 Tablespoons of honey, 1 Tablespoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Mix the ingredients together then set the mixture aside for 1 to 2 hours in the fridge so the flavors can blend.

Shaped meatballs in a casserole dish.

Shape the mixture into small meatballs, and then gently flatten them a bit. To help divide the mixture evenly, first, dive the meat into four equal pieces, then divide each quarter into five pieces to yield 20 meatballs.

Cooked meatballs in a skillet.

Heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add a tablespoon or two of cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the meatballs to the hot skillet in a single layer. Cook the meatballs until they are golden and caramelized, around 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set the cooked meatballs aside.

Prepared dipping sauce in a small container with a whisk.

For the sauce, whisk together ¼ cup lime juice, ¾ cup water, 3 Tablespoons fish sauce, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 finely chopped red chili, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and some thinly sliced carrots (optional garnish). Taste the sauce and adjust the ingredients to your taste buds.

Cooked rice noodles draining in a sieve over a bowl.

Prepare the vermicelli noodles according to package instructions (they usually require cooking for 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling water). Drain the noodles and set them aside.

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board.

Prepare the rest of the vegetables for your bowls. Slice a cucumber, slice a carrot into matchsticks, pull a handful of mint leaves from the stems, and wash some tender lettuce.

Finished Bún chả bowl from above.

Build the Bún chả bowls by adding the rice vermicelli noodles to a bowl along with some lettuce, cucumber, carrot, and Bún chả. Dip the Bún chả into the sauce, or drizzle a little over the bowl.

Bún chả in a bowl of dipping sauce.

SO fresh and so GOOD!

Overhead view of Bún chả in a bowl with noodles and vegetables, dipping sauce on the side.

The post Bún Chả (Vietnamese Meatballs) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Arroz Con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice)

Arroz con Pollo is a mouth-watering, budget-friendly, one-pot chicken and rice dish that’s perfect for a weeknight meal.

The post Arroz Con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Arroz con Pollo (Spanish for chicken and rice) is a mouth-watering, budget-friendly, one-pot dish, that only has about ten minutes of hands-on cooking time, and is ready to go in a little over a half hour. Win, win, win, win, win!! It’s a staple on many Latin American tables, though the ingredients and techniques used to make the dish vary depending on what country you’re in. This arroz con pollo recipe is the Puerto Rican version, and the one I grew up eating at my Abuela’s (grandmother’s) table.

Arroz con pollo on a white dish with a black fork in it.

What is arroz con pollo?

At its most basic, arroz con pollo is a one-pot chicken and rice dish. In the Puerto Rican version, the rice is rendered a bright yellow by annatto, the same spice that gives cheddar cheese its signature golden hue. It gets earthy herbal notes from the recaito (aka sofrito), a fragrant puree of cilantro, yellow onions, green bell peppers, and garlic. And there are delightful pops of acidity from the Spanish olives. Traditionally, pigeon peas are used, but they can be hard to find on the mainland, so frozen peas make for an easy substitute.

What cuts of chicken should I use?

You can use any cut of chicken, though you should be mindful that darker meat, like thighs and drumsticks, are more forgiving of a longer cooking time because of their higher fat content. Chicken breasts can dry out fairly quickly, so keep an eye on them. You can also keep the chicken pieces whole or on the bone. For pickier eaters, feel free to slice the chicken into bite-size pieces before cooking. If you use cuts with skin on, try removing the skin after cooking and placing it on a cookie sheet or sheet pan. Bake the skin in a 350ºF oven until crispy and then use as a garnish.

Can I substitute the rice?

If you want to substitute the white rice for brown, you’ll need to add more chicken stock. For 2 cups of brown rice use 4 cups of chicken stock. You will also need to increase the cooking time by ten to fifteen minutes. You can also use cauliflower rice, but you won’t need to cook it as long, as it will turn to mush. Decrease the amount of chicken stock to 1 cup and cook the chicken in the liquid until it has reached 160 to 165ºFs. Remove the chicken from the pan and then stir in the cauliflower rice and the peas. Cook for just a few minutes until tender, add the chicken back to the pot, and garnish.

Over head view of arroz con pollo in a red Dutch oven.

Do I have to use chicken stock?

While chicken stock is traditional, you can substitute it with veggie stock or even salted water if you prefer. If you’re trying to waste less food, you can also use bean water. For creamier results with heavy tropical vibes, use a mixture of half chicken stock and half coconut milk.

What can I serve it with?

Arroz con Pollo is a full meal, but it is traditionally served with a few slices of ripe avocado. You can make a vibrant and simple side salad as well. I also love it with a few hearty slices of garlic bread.

Does arroz con pollo freeze well??

Arroz con Pollo is perfect for meal prep and freezer meals. It will last up to three days in your refrigerator. Sprinkle it with a little water before reheating to loosen it up. If freezing, make sure that everything has cooled before portioning into a freezer-safe container. You can prevent frost from forming on your rice by filling the container to the tippy top or by placing a piece of wax paper on top of the rice, so it isn’t exposed to air.

close up side view of Arroz con Pollo in the pot.
Over head view of arroz con pollo in a red Dutch oven.

Arroz Con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice)

This scrumptious Puerto Rican chicken and rice dish is a weekly staple at my house. Arroz con Pollo is an easy one-pot meal, that's ready in no time and is perfect for meal prep and freezer meals.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Latin
Total Cost $12.30 recipe / $2.46 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 591kcal
Author Monti – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp adobo seasoning $0.20
  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs $6.49
  • 2 2/3 Tbsp cooking oil, divided $0.11
  • 1/4 cup sofrito $0.36
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice, divided $0.98
  • 1/2 yellow onion, small dice $0.19
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced $0.24
  • 2 Tbsp tomato sauce $0.06
  • 1/2 cup pimiento stuffed Spanish olives $1.16
  • 2 cups rice $0.74
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock $1.12
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1 1/2 tsp sazón seasoning $0.19
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas $0.33
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional garnish) $0.11

Instructions

  • Place chicken thighs in a shallow bowl and rub down with 2 teaspoons of cooking oil and adobo seasoning. Place uncovered in your refrigerator and allow to marinate for thirty minutes.
  • Set a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pot. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs to the pot, arranged in an even layer. Sear each side of the thighs until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the thighs from the pot and set them aside.
  • Add the sofrito, diced onion, and half of the diced red pepper to the chicken fat in the pot. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato sauce, and olives. Sauté the mixture until it's fragrant and most of the liquid has cooked out. A spoon run down the middle of the pan should leave a dry trail.
  • Add the rice and sazón and gently mix them into all of the ingredients, so that every grain is covered in the sauce. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil undisturbed until the stock has evaporated and the rice is visible on the surface of the pot. There should be multiple round steam vents on the surface of the rice.
  • Place the reserved chicken thighs on top of the rice. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting heavy lid. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until all of the stock has evaporated and rice has cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside. Stir in frozen peas and fluff the rice. Add the chicken thighs back to the pot. Garnish with the remainder of the diced red pepper and cilantro leaves.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 591kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 763mg | Fiber: 3g

How to Make Arroz con Pollo – Step by Step Photos

Raw chicken marinating in a white dish.

Place chicken thighs in a shallow bowl and rub down with 2 teaspoons of cooking oil and 2 teaspoons of adobo seasoning. Place uncovered in your refrigerator and allow to marinate for thirty minutes.

Raw chicken browning in a Dutch oven.

Set a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pot. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs to the pot, arranged in an even layer. Sear each side of the thighs until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the thighs from the pot and set them aside.

Sofrito, onions, and red peppers browning in a red Dutch oven.

Add the sofrito, diced onion, and half of the diced red pepper to the chicken fat in the pot. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.

Olives, tomato sauce, and other ingredients browning in a Dutch oven.

Add the garlic, tomato sauce, and olives.

Spatula cutting through ingredients in a red Dutch oven.

Sauté the mixture until it’s fragrant and most of the liquid has cooked out. A spoon run down the middle of the pan should leave a dry trail.

Adding sazon to ingredients in a Dutch oven.

Add the rice and sazón and gently mix it into all of the ingredients, so that every grain is covered in the sauce.

Adding chicken stock to ingredients in a red Dutch oven.

Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Rice in a red Dutch oven that has had chicken stock cooked out of it.

Allow mixture to boil without a lid, undisturbed, until the stock has evaporated and the rice is visible on the surface of the pot. There should be multiple round steam vents on the surface of the rice.

Rice topped with chicken in a red Dutch oven.

Place the reserved chicken thighs on top of the rice. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting heavy lid. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until all of the stock has evaporated and rice has cooked through.

Green peas being stirred into rice in a red Dutch oven.

Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside. Stir in frozen peas and fluff the rice.

Finished arroz con pollo in a red Dutch oven.

Add the chicken thighs back to the pot. Garnish with the remainder of the diced red pepper and cilantro leaves.

Arroz con Pollo on a plate with a fork.

Try These Other One Pot Chicken Recipes:

The post Arroz Con Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How To Make Sofrito

Sofrito is the aromatic flavor base of many Caribbean dishes. It’s budget-friendly, easy to make, and pure magic in almost any savory recipe.

The post How To Make Sofrito appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sofrito is the heart and soul of Caribbean cuisine and the knock-out flavor base of many of its dishes. It’s budget-friendly, easy to make, and pure magic in almost any savory recipe. If you want to kick up your cooking prowess a hundred notches with just one technique, THIS IS IT.

Overhead shot of green sofrito in a white bowl with a wooden spoon in it.

What is sofrito?

Sofrito originated in Spain, and the word refers to a technique where you fry aromatics to release flavor compounds. The sauce took on different forms as the Spanish colonized the Caribbean, and islanders recreated sofrito with available ingredients. In Puerto Rico, where I was born and raised, sofrito is called recaito, after recao, an herb that grows wild throughout the island and gives the puree its distinctive bright green color.

How do you make sofrito?

In its most basic form, sofrito is a mix of aromatics like peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. Think of it like the Latin version of a mirepoix or the holy trinity. Except making it is as simple as busting out your blender or food processor. Of course, if you don’t have these kitchen tools, you’ll have to rely on old-fashioned elbow grease and mince the ingredients. Either way, the results will always be fantastic.

What’s in Sofrito?

The ingredient list for sofrito changes depending on the region. In Spain, the sauce includes tomatoes; in the Dominican Republic, it contains vinegar; in Puerto Rico, neither of those ingredients made the cut. Traditionally, Boricuas (i.e., Puerto Ricans) make sofrito with a sweet pepper known as ají dulce, garlic, onion, and, as I mentioned earlier, recao. This pungent herb is a distant relative of cilantro and is also known as Chinese parsley or sawtooth coriander. You can usually find ají dulce and recao at an Asian or Latino supermarket. When I can’t find these traditional ingredients, I sub them with green bell pepper and cilantro.

No matter what the ingredients, sofrito is usually the first thing to hit the pan, where it is lightly fried until your kitchen smells like heaven. (Am I the only one that thinks heaven will smell like something amazing’s cooking?) No matter your religious musings, I’ve seen many islanders get choked up at the first whiff of sofrito. TRUST ME. This sauce is powerful stuff.

How do you store sofrito?

A little sofrito goes a long way, so you’ll always have leftovers when you make a batch. Store it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a month. Or do like every abuela (Spanish for grandma) does on the island: freeze any leftovers in an ice cube tray. Then transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe container, where they will stay fresh for up to three months.

How is Sofrito Used?

Honestly, many savory recipes would benefit from a few tablespoons of sofrito. Of course, it’s imperative that you use it in Caribbean dishes, like my recipe for Arroz con Pollo (Puerto Rican chicken and rice). But you should also try it in your favorite stews, soups, beans, and sauces. For example, a few tablespoons would be spectacular in this easy chili, this hearty vegetable barley soup, or this dreamy Spanish chickpeas and rice.

Side view of sofrito in a white bowl with a wood spoon in it and a black and white linen napkin next to it.
Close up of sofrito on a wooden spoon with the bowl in the background.

Puerto Rican Sofrito

Sofrito is the aromatic flavor base of many Caribbean dishes. It's budget-friendly, easy to make, and pure magic in almost any savory recipe.
Cuisine Latin
Total Cost $2.53 recipe / $0.36 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 7 ¼ cup each
Calories 14kcal
Author Monti – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 1 green bell pepper $0.79
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro $0.89
  • 6 cloves garlic $0.48

Instructions

  • Peel the onion and deseed bell pepper, then quarter them. Rinse the cilantro and chop the bunch roughly.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a smooth, thick puree forms.
  • Use the sofrito in a recipe immediately, store in an air-tight container for up to a month in the fridge, or portion into ice cube trays and store in the freezer for up to three months.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 14kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2mg | Fiber: 1g
Close up of sofrito on a wooden spoon with the bowl in the background.

How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito- Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of cilantro, green bell pepper, yellow onion, and garlic in a food processor.

Prep and quarter the onion and bell pepper. Rinse and chop the cilantro. Add the onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor or blender.

Overhead shot of blended sofrito in the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse until the ingredients transform into a smooth, thick puree. If the blades get stuck cutting through the ingredients, add a little olive oil to move things along.

Sofrito being portioned into an ice cube tray.

You can use the sofrito immediately, store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a month, or portion into an ice cube tray and freeze. Place the cubes into a freezer-safe container and store for up to three months.

Overhead view of a bowl of sofrito with a wooden spoon.

The post How To Make Sofrito appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sloppy Joes

Ground beef in a tangy sauce piled onto a soft bun, homemade Sloppy Joes are an easy, classic American weeknight dinner.

The post Sloppy Joes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sloppy Joes were a mainstay weeknight dinner in our house when I was growing up in the 80s, but we always made it with a canned sauce (Manwich, or the generic equivalent). Once I started cooking for myself, I realized how easy it was to quickly whip up sauces like that from ingredients I already had in my pantry, and I never looked back. These Homemade Sloppy Joes are quick, easy, full of flavor, AND freezer friendly. 🙌 Plus, I’ve got some tips for you below to make them even more budget-friendly, since the price of ground beef isn’t getting lower anytime soon.

Side view of a sloppy joe on a plate with potato chips.

What is Sloppy Joe Sauce?

Sloppy Joes are a loose meat sandwich made with ground beef, peppers, and onions in a special red sauce, and the sauce is totally what makes a sloppy joe sandwich. It’s a savory, tangy, and slightly sweet tomato-based sauce. While some recipes simply use heavily seasoned ketchup for the sauce, our recipe is a bit more rich in flavor with tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire, vinegar, sugar, Dijon, and chili powder.

How to Serve Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are traditionally served on a hamburger bun, sometimes with cheese, sometimes without. But you can totally get creative. Pile it into a tortilla and turn it into a sloppy joe taco, spoon it over a baked potato, eat it as a bowl meal over rice, or go for the ultimate budget option and just eat it on white bread (if you know, you know).

And don’t forget some chips or steak fries to serve on the side! …Or maybe some roasted broccoli. ;)

Budget Options

Ground beef is pretty expensive these days, so there are a few things you can do to make your sloppy joes a little lighter on the wallet. Here are some ideas:

  • Buy your ground beef in bulk, then divide and freeze the other portions (or make a double-batch of sloppy joes and freeze half).
  • Replace half of the ground beef with lentils or black beans.
  • Shred and sauté any extra vegetables you have before browning the beef to help bulk up and extend the ground beef.
  • Don’t forget to freeze your leftover tomato paste for the next time you make sloppy joes (or any other recipe that uses tomato paste)!
Sloppy joe meat in a skillet.
A sloppy joe on a plate with potato chips.

Sloppy Joes

Ground beef in a tangy sauce piled onto a soft bun, homemade Sloppy Joes are an easy, classic American weeknight dinner.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost $10.20 recipe / $2.04 each
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 5 ¾ cup meat sauce each
Calories 440kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 1 green bell pepper $0.79
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 lb. ground beef* $5.49
  • 1 15oz. can tomato sauce $0.79
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste $0.21
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar $0.12
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.08
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard $0.06
  • 1 tsp chili powder $0.10
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce $0.02
  • 3/4 tsp salt $0.03
  • 5 hamburger buns $1.87

Instructions

  • Finely dice the onion and bell pepper, and mince the garlic.
  • Add the olive oil and beef to a skillet and cook over medium heat until the beef is cooked through. Drain off any excess fat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the skillet with the beef. Continue to sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Finally, add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar Dijon, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce,and salt to the skillet. Stir to combine.
  • Allow the meat and sauce to simmer over medium-low for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve over toasted buns.

Notes

*You can use any fat percentage ground beef. If using a higher fat content beef, like 80/20, you’ll want to drain the excess fat after browning. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 23g | Sodium: 1138mg | Fiber: 3g
An open-faced sloppy joe on a plate with potato chips.

How to Make Sloppy Joes – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board.

Chop the vegetables first, so they’re ready to go. Finely dice one yellow onion and one green bell pepper, and mince 2 cloves of garlic.

Browned ground beef in a skillet.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 lb. ground beef to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until the ground beef has browned. If you’re using a higher fat content ground beef, you’ll want to drain off the excess fat after it has browned.

Vegetables added to ground beef in the skillet.

Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the skillet and continue to sauté until the vegetables have softened.

Sauce ingredients added to the ground beef.

Finally, add the ingredients for the sauce: one 15oz. can tomato sauce, 3 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, and ¾ tsp salt.

Finished sloppy joes mix in the skillet.

Stir everything to combine and heat through. Let the meat and sauce simmer over medium-low for 5-10 minutes, or until it has thickened to your liking.

Sloppy joe meat being spooned onto a toasted bun.

Toast your buns in a skillet or in the oven, then pile the saucy meat mixture on top.

Open-faced sloppy joe on a plate with potato chips.

Enjoy your sloppy joes with some chips and plenty of napkins because they’re as messy as they are delicious!

The post Sloppy Joes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Air Fryer Chickpeas

Air fryer chickpeas are extra crispy, take only minutes to make, are a deliciously crunchy, high-fiber snack!

The post Air Fryer Chickpeas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

In case you haven’t heard, I finally bought an air fryer! After hearing so many wonderful things about them, I just had to try one out for myself. And what’s the first thing I cooked in my air fryer? Crispy air fryer chickpeas! …Because I already had a can of chickpeas on hand, they’re super easy, and I’ll never say no to a delicious crunchy snack. ;)

Overhead view of a bowl of air fryer chickpeas.

What are Air Fried Chickpeas Like?

Air-fried chickpeas are crunchy little snacks with a slightly dense and chewy center. You can season them with just about any seasoning blend you like and, quite honestly, they’re ADDICTIVE. And not only are they high in fiber and protein, these crunchy little chickpeas are also inexpensive, making them a fantastic budget-friendly snack.

Do I Have to Dry the Chickpeas?

If you’re used to roasting chickpeas in the oven, then you probably know that drying the chickpeas really well first is key to getting crispy chickpeas. But with an air fryer, the quickly circulating dry air acts to quickly dry the chickpeas so they can get nice and crispy without taking the extra step ahead of time. That being said, if you do want to take the time to dry them first, your chickpeas will be extra-SUPER crispy.

How to Season Air Fried Chickpeas

We used Everything Bagel Seasoning for these chickpeas because it’s such a tasty all-purpose seasoning, but there are so many different options. Here are some ideas for flavoring your air fryer chickpeas:

Do They Stay Crispy?

Air-fried chickpeas will slowly absorb ambient moisture from the air and get a little soft as they’re left out (similar to a cracker getting stale), so they’re best to eat right away. But if you don’t, you can crisp them back up again by popping them back into the air fryer for 2-3 minutes.

close up side view of air fryer chickpeas.
Close up overhead view of a bowl full of air fryer chickpeas with a spoon.

Air Fryer Chickpeas

Air fryer chickpeas are extra crispy, take only minutes to make, are a deliciously crunchy, high-fiber snack!
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Total Cost $1.07 recipe / $0.27 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 ¼ cup each
Calories 124kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas $0.88
  • 3 tsp cooking oil, divided $0.04
  • 1/2 Tbsp seasoning of choice* $0.15

Instructions

  • Rinse and drain one can of chickpeas well. For extra crispy chickpeas, press the chickpeas between some paper towels or a lint-free kitchen towel to dry.
  • Add the drained chickpeas to a bowl and drizzle with 2 teaspoons cooking oil. Stir to coat.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400ºF (if your air fryer does not have a pre-heat function, let it run empty for 2-3 minutes on 400ºF).
  • Add the chickpeas to the air fryer basket and spread them into a single layer. Air fry the chickpeas for 5 minutes, then shake to stir. Air fry for an additional 5 minutes and shake again. Check the chickpeas for doneness and add 2-3 more minutes or until they reach your desired level of doneness (we do 13 minutes total).
  • Transfer the air fried chickpeas to a bowl, drizzle with the second 1 teaspoon oil to help the seasoning stick, and stir to coat. Add your favorite seasoning and salt, if needed, then stir to coat again. Enjoy while warm and crispy!

Notes

*We used everything bagel seasoning. See the blog text for other seasoning ideas.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 394mg | Fiber: 5g

How to Make Air Fryer Chickpeas – Step by Step Photos

Rinsed Chickpeas in a red colander.

Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of chickpeas. If you want, you can take the extra step to towel-dry the chickpeas for maximum crispiness.

Oil being drizzled over chickpeas.

Place the chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle 2 teaspoons of cooking oil over the chickpeas. Stir the chickpeas well until they are evenly coated in oil.

Uncooked chickpeas in air fryer basket.

Preheat the air fryer to 400ºF (if your air fryer does not have a pre-heat function, simply let it run with an empty basket for about 3 minutes at 400ºF). Add the chickpeas to the basket and spread them into a single layer.

Half-cooked chickpeas in the air fryer basket.

Cook the chickpeas in the air fryer for 10 minutes, shaking the basket after 5 minutes. (Photo above is after 5 minutes of cooking)

Crispy air-fried chickpeas in the air fryer basket.

At ten minutes, shake the basket again and test the chickpeas for doneness. Add 2-3 minutes of cooking time or until they reach your desired level of crispness. We liked our chickpeas at 13 minutes when they were deliciously crispy and slightly cracked open like a kernel of popcorn.

Seasoning being sprinkled over air fried chickpeas.

Add the air-fried chickpeas to a bowl, add the remaining teaspoon of oil and stir to coat. Add seasoning and or salt to your liking and stir to coat again. Enjoy!

Overhead view of a bowl of air fryer chickpeas.

The post Air Fryer Chickpeas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is an easy and inexpensive classic for potlucks, summer BBQs, or an easy side dish for dinner.

The post Macaroni Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

You can’t have a summer potluck or BBQ without a big ol’ bowl of macaroni salad. It’s a classic summer comfort food. Cold, creamy, carby, and delicious. And cheap! Which is great because we all need that right now. But macaroni salad isn’t just good for gatherings, it’s also a great side to meal prep for your lunches for the week.

Overhead view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

What’s In Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni salad starts with a base of one of our favorite budget-friendly ingredient, macaroni. We add a little celery, bell pepper, and red onion for color and crunch, and a couple of hard-boiled eggs to give the salad more heft. All of this gets finished off with a super creamy dressing made with mayo, Dijon, sweet pickle relish, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Classicly creamy, sweet, tangy, crunchy, and delicious.

Adjust the Sweetness

There are two main camps when it comes to macaroni salad, sweet and not so sweet. I like my macaroni salad with just a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity and creaminess of the dressing, so that’s what you’ll get with the recipe below. If you like a sweet macaroni salad, you can simply add more sugar to taste (up to about ¼ cup sugar).

What Else Can I Add to Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni Salad is another one of those great catch-all recipes. You can add all sorts of ingredients for color, texture, and flavor. Here are some ideas for other ingredients to add to your macaroni salad:

  • Cheddar cheese cubes
  • Broccoli florets
  • Peas
  • Black olives
  • Shredded carrots
  • Diced ham
  • Chopped parsley

How Long Does Macaroni Salad Stay Good?

Macaroni salad can be kept in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. The macaroni will continue to absorb moisture as it sits in the refrigerator, so you may find it gets a little drier each day. If taking your macaroni salad to a potluck or BBQ, make sure to not let it sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.
close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is an easy and inexpensive classic for potlucks, summer BBQs, or an easy side dish for dinner.
Course Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Total Cost $4.89 recipe / $0.61 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 ¾ cup each
Calories 332kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs $0.48
  • 1/2 red bell pepper $0.75
  • 1/2 red onion $0.20
  • 2 ribs celery $0.47
  • 8 oz. macaroni $0.67

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise $1.16
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.18
  • 1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish $0.08
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar $0.10
  • 1 Tbsp sugar $0.01
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Chop the salad ingredients first, so they're ready to go. Dice the hard-boiled eggs, bell pepper, onion, and celery.
  • Boil the macaroni until tender, then drain it in a colander. Briefly rinse the pasta with cool water to cool it off.
  • While the macaroni is boiling, prepare the dressing. Stir together the mayonnaise, Dijon, relish, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Combine the cooled and drained macaroni, egg, bell pepper, celery, and onion in a bowl. Pour the dressing over top, then stir until everything is well combined and coated in dressing.
  • Serve the macaroni salad immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Sodium: 385mg | Fiber: 2g

How to Make Macaroni Salad – Step by Step Photos

Chopped salad ingredients on a cutting board.

Chop the macaroni salad add-ins first. Dice two hard-boiled eggs (here’s a tutorial on how to make hard-boiled eggs, if needed), ½ of a red bell pepper, 2 ribs of celery, and ½ of a red onion.

Cooked macaroni in a colander.

Next, boil 8oz. elbow macaroni until tender. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water to cool down the pasta.

Dressing ingredients in a bowl.

While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp sweet relish, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Macaroni and salad ingredients in a bowl.

Add the cooked and cooled macaroni to a large bowl along with the chopped egg, bell pepper, celery, and red onion.

Dressing poured over the salad ingredients.

Pour the prepared dressing over the salad in the bowl.

Finished macaroni salad in a bowl.

And now your macaroni salad is ready to eat! Make sure to keep it in the refrigerator if you don’t plan to serve it right away, and give it a good stir again just before serving.

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

Need more recipe ideas for your summer gatherings? Check out our round-up of Recipes for Summer BBQs and Potlucks.

The post Macaroni Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Tuna Patties

Tuna Cakes are a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal option for hot summer days. Delicious, filling, and endlessly versatile!

The post Tuna Patties appeared first on Budget Bytes.

We’ve already reached oppressive heat levels here in Tennessee, so I’m looking for all the quick low-heat meals I can get! These super simple Tuna Patties (a.k.a. Tuna Cakes) hit the spot this week. They’re quick to pull together, delicious over a bed of greens, and the perfect excuse to make my favorite Comeback Sauce. ;)

Side view of two tuna cakes on a plate of greens.

What is a Tuna Patty?

Tuna patties are just like a burger, but made with canned tuna. In addition to the tuna, they usually also contain egg and breadcrumbs to hold them together, and some seasoning for extra flavor. The mixture is then flattened into a patty and fried until deliciously golden brown. The best part about tuna patties is that you can season them in so many different ways, so it’s one of those quick and easy meals that you can make over and over without getting tired of them!

How to Season Tuna Cakes

I used one of my favorite go-to seasonings for my tuna cakes, Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, which is basically Creole-flavored seasoning salt. So if you can’t find Tony’s or you just want to go a different route, you could use a different seasoning salt, like Lawry’s, or choose a different seasoning blend like Old Bay Seasoning, lemon pepper, or even curry powder. Just keep in mind that if your seasoning blend does not contain salt you’ll want to add a little extra to your patty mixture.

How to Serve Tuna Patties

My favorite way to serve tuna patties is on a bed of greens, like a salad, with a little of my Comeback Sauce. But you could also stuff them into a pita with some tomatoes and greens, and a little sauce. Or, you could make mini cakes and serve them with toothpicks and a sauce for dipping as a party appetizer!

Sauce Options

I’ve already mentioned that I served my tuna patties with Comeback Sauce, but if you don’t like that sauce or just want to try a different option, there are several other sauces that would be great with these tuna patties. If you’re looking for something light and simple, even just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice would be awesome. Other sauces to try include sriracha mayo, ranch dressing, tartar sauce, yogurt dill sauce, or creamy Caesar dressing.

Two tuna cakes drizzled with comeback sauce.
Two tuna cakes drizzled with comeback sauce.

Tuna Patties

Tuna Patties are a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal option for hot summer days. Delicious, filling, and endlessly versatile!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $3.08 recipe / $0.77 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 patties
Calories 260kcal
Author Beth

Ingredients

  • 2 green onions, chopped $0.22
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional) $0.10
  • 1 12oz. can chunk light tuna in water, drained $1.79
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1 large egg $0.24
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise $0.15
  • 1.5 tsp lemon juice $0.02
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt* $0.10
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08

Instructions

  • Roughly chop the parsley and green onions. Drain the canned tuna well.
  • Place the tuna, green onion, parsley, breadcrumbs, eggs, mayonnaise, seasoning salt, and lemon juice in a bowl. Mix the ingredients together just until evenly combined. Avoid over mixing.
  • Divide the mixture into four equal portions, then shape each portion into a patty.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add the cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface of the skillet. Add the tuna patties and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and slightly crisp.
  • Serve warm over a bed of greens or stuffed into a pita!

Notes

*I used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, but you can use any seasoning salt or seasoning blend. See the remarks about seasoning options above the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1patty | Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 931mg | Fiber: 1g
Overhead view of two tuna patties on a plate with greens.

How to Make Tuna Patties – Step by Step Photos

Chopped parsley and sliced green onion on a cutting board.

Roughly chop about 2 tablespoons of parsley and two green onions. I like to chop the green onions for this rather than just slice them, so they mix in a little better. Drain one 12oz. can of chunk light tuna in water, well.

Tuna patty ingredients in a bowl.

Add the drained tuna, parsley, and green onion to a bowl along with ½ cup plain breadcrumbs, one large egg, 2 Tbsp mayonnaise, 1.5 tsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp seasoning salt.

tuna patty mixture combined in the bowl.

Mix the ingredients together just until evenly combined (don’t overmix). I use my hands for this job!

A container of tony's seasoning held close to the camera.

This is the seasoning I use, but you can use any seasoning salt, or any other seasoning blend you like. Just make sure to add extra salt if your seasoning blend does not contain any.

Raw tuna cakes shaped and in the skillet.

Divide the patty mixture into four equal portions then shape each one into a patty. Heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the tuna patties to the hot skillet.

Browned tuna patties in the skillet.

Cook the tuna patties for about five minutes on each side, or until deliciously golden brown.

Two tuna patties on a plate with greens, a hand holding the side of the plate.

Serve warm in a pita or over a green salad. And don’t forget to make a little Comeback Sauce to drizzle over top!

Try These Other Tuna Recipes

The post Tuna Patties appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Strawberry Syrup

Homemade strawberry syrup is so easy to make and it tastes great in and on everything from yogurt and ice cream to waffles and pancakes!

The post Strawberry Syrup appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Strawberry season is so fleeting and I’m always tempted to buy a ton of strawberries when they’re on sale at the height of the season. So I like to make a quick batch of this strawberry syrup to enjoy that fresh strawberry flavor a little longer. You can use it in all sorts of things from strawberry lemonade, to homemade ice cream (recipe coming soon), or just as a topper for your yogurt, ice cream, waffles, and pancakes. Bonus: if you cook it down a little longer it will thicken up even more and make a delicious homemade strawberry jam!

Side view of a jar of strawberry syrup with a spoon.

What’s in Strawberry Syrup?

Strawberry syrup, at its most basic, is just fresh strawberries and sugar cooked down until they form a delicious and vibrant syrup. I’ve added a little bit of vanilla extract and salt for depth, which really gives the strawberry syrup more dimension. It’s so good that you’ll want to just eat it by the spoonful!

Make it Chunky or Smooth

I like my strawberry syrup to be a little bit chunky with bits of strawberry still in the syrup, but if you prefer a smooth and clear syrup, simply strain the mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer to remove the remaining strawberry flesh. The total volume of the syrup will be slightly reduced after straining.

How to Use Strawberry Syrup

I love spooning strawberry syrup over pancakes, waffles, French toast, ice cream sundaes, or yogurt parfaits. But you can also use it to make lemonade, mix it into cocktails and homemade popsicles, drizzle it over cakes, or blend it into smoothies.

A bowl of ice cream with strawberry syrup on top.

Make Strawberry Syrup or Strawberry Jam

With this one simple recipe you can make either strawberry syrup or strawberry jam! The only difference is how long you simmer the strawberries. A shorter simmer time will have less evaporation and a more syrupy consistency. Simmer longer to evaporate more water and create a thicker, jam-like consistency. And if you accidentally simmer too long and make the syrup thicker than you’d like, you can simply stir in a bit of water to thin it out again.

How Long Does Strawberry Syrup Last?

You can keep this homemade strawberry syrup in the refrigerator for about three weeks, or freeze it for longer storage.

Overhead view of strawberry syrup in a jar with a spoon.
Side view of a jar of strawberry syrup with a spoon.

Strawberry Syrup

Homemade strawberry syrup is so easy to make and it tastes great in and on everything from yogurt and ice cream to waffles and pancakes.
Course Dessert, Sauce
Cuisine American
Total Cost $2.37 recipe / $0.40 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 ¼ cup each
Calories 121kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries $1.99
  • 3/4 cup sugar $0.12
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract $0.25
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01

Instructions

  • Wash and chop the strawberries into ¼-inch pieces.
  • Add the chopped strawberries and sugar to a saucepot. Stir and cook over medium heat until the strawberries release their liquid and form a syrup in the saucepot.
  • Let the strawberries simmer in the syrup, stirring occasionally, until they break down and lose their shape and the syrup has thickened to your desired consistency (5-10 minutes). Keep in mind the syrup will thicken more after cooling.
  • Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Let the syrup cool. Use the syrup as-is, or strain through a wire mesh strainer for a clear, smooth syrup.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 49mg | Fiber: 2g
Strawberry syrup being spooned over waffles with whipped cream.

How to Make Strawberry Syrup – Step by Step Photos

Strawberries being chopped on a cutting board.

Begin by washing and chopping one pound of fresh strawberries into ¼-inch pieces.

Chopped strawberries and sugar in a saucepot.

Add the chopped strawberries to a medium saucepot along with ¾ cup of sugar.

Strawberries and sugar being stirred in the pot.

Begin to stir and cook the strawberries over medium heat. The sugar will immediately start to draw the water out of the strawberries, creating a syrup.

Simmering strawberries in the saucepot.

Let the strawberries simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the strawberries have broken down and lost their shape, and the syrup has thickened to your desired consistency. Keep in mind that the syrup will thicken further as it cools.

Thickened strawberries in the pot being stirred with a spoon.

Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp salt. You can either use your syrup as-is with the strawberry chunks in it or strain it through a fine wire mesh strainer to make a clear, smooth syrup. I like the bits of strawberry in mine. ;)

Finished strawberry syrup dripping off a spoon into a jar.

Keep your strawberry syrup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Spoon it over all of your favorite summer foods!

The post Strawberry Syrup appeared first on Budget Bytes.