How to Make a Simple Side Salad and Why You Should Make One with Dinner Tonight

Use this easy formula to make simple side salads that will add color, texture, and flavor to your dinners.

The post How to Make a Simple Side Salad and Why You Should Make One with Dinner Tonight appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the memes about buying a package of spring mix just so we can throw it away at the end of the week, completely untouched. And I’m sure we’ve all been able to relate. But I hate wasting food, so I wanted to share my formula for making a simple side salad and why you should make one with dinner tonight (and most nights). Because side salads are very underrated and often over complicated. So let’s break it down.

Overhead view of a simple side salad with artichokes in a white bowl

Why Simple Side Salads Are Awesome

Simple side salads have become one of my favorite quick side dishes to make with dinner because…

  • The light texture and zingy flavor of the dressing can really lighten up a heavy meal (like pasta or casseroles)
  • They take five minutes to assemble
  • They’re a great way to use up leftover vegetables in your fridge
  • They add so much color, texture, and flavor to your plate
  • They instantly make your meal feel “put together”
  • It’s an extra dose of vegetables!

My Formula for the Perfect Side Salad

I think the biggest mistake when making side salads is overthinking them. Keep it simple, use as few ingredients as possible, and don’t spend more than five minutes on it. Because if you do, you’ll probably just end up avoiding making the salad altogether, and that’s when your spring mix ends up in the trash without ever making it to your plate.

So, to prevent over thinking your salad, use this formula:

Greens + one vegetable + dressing + topper

That’s it. That’s all you need. Now let’s go into more detail on each of those elements.

A fork taking a piece of Baked Pizza Chicken from the plate with chicken, garlic bread, and salad.

1. The Best Greens for Side Salads

There are a lot of options for salad greens out there, but for simple side salads I like to go with a green that is light, delicate, and that has a lot of color and texture. So that means that my favorite is spring mix or baby greens. Of course you could use anything from kale to spinach, or even finely shredded cabbage.

Just don’t use iceberg because while it does have texture, it’s totally lacking in the flavor and color department. It’s better suited for situations where it is utilized solely for its texture.

Spring mix in a bowl

How Much Salad Greens to Use

Remember, this is a simple side salad that will be served as an accent to your dinner, so you don’t need a lot. You’ll only need one large handful, or about one ounce, of greens for each serving.

How to Keep Leftover Greens

Since you’re only eating a little bit at a time, you’ll want to keep the rest of your greens fresh so you can make side salads for the next few days. But since that’s a subject large enough for its own article, I’m going to just give you a link to someone who’s already done the research. This article from The Kitchn compares three methods for keeping greens fresh, and they got great results!

2. Add A Vegetable (or Two)

This is the part of the formula where it’s easy to get out of control, but I’m here to tell you that you only need ONE vegetable to make the salad really good. Sure, if you have some leftover vegetables in your fridge that need to be used up, add them in there! But plan for one and call it a day. Here are some vegetable ideas for your side salad:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Red Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • Zucchini or Yellow Squash
  • Carrot
  • Sweet Corn
  • Radish
  • Mushrooms
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Olives
tomatoes added to the salad greens

You can also add fruit to your side salad. Here are some fruits that are awesome in salads:

  • Avocado
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Mangoes

3. The Best Dressing for Side Salads

As with the salad greens and vegetables, you can technically use any salad dressing for your side salad, but my dressing of choice is a simple vinaigrette.

You want the dressing to just lightly coat or “kiss” the salad greens in your side salad, so a thicker or heavier dressing like ranch or blue cheese would be too heavy and overpower the salad. The acidic nature of vinaigrettes also provides that “light” element to your plate, which is really important when balancing heavier main dishes.

Bottled vs. Homemade Dressing

Side salads are one of the few occasions where I prefer a bottled dressing to homemade. Bottled dressing lasts longer in the fridge than homemade, so it’s nice to just have a bottle on hand that you can use a tablespoon or two of at a time without having leftovers go to waste. Look for a red wine vinaigrette, champagne vinaigrette, an Italian dressing, or a non-creamy Caesar dressing.

If you do want to use a homemade dressing for your side salad, check out my Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette, Tomato Basil Vinaigrette, or a classic like the Homemade Italian Dressing used in this Pizza Pasta Salad.

Dressing being poured over the side salad

How Much Dressing to Use

The goal for the side salad is to have your greens just kissed with the lightest hint of dressing. This keeps the salad light and fresh, and doesn’t overpower the flavor of the greens, or steal the show from your main dish.

Drizzle only about ½ Tbsp dressing for each serving and toss the salad until everything is lightly coated. Make sure to wait to dress the salad until just before serving so the greens don’t go limp.

Salad Toppers

This is the fun part. I like to add one final topper to the salad that will add just a touch more texture and flavor. You just want to add a little pinch of your topper to each serving after tossing with the dressing. The dressing will help your topper “stick.” Here are some ideas for salad toppers:

  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Flakey salt (like Maldon)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Toasted breadcrumbs
  • French fried onions
  • Nuts or seeds (walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, etc.)

Here are the side salad combos pictured above:

  • Spring mix + tomatoes + vinaigrette + freshly cracked pepper
  • Spring mix + artichoke hearts + vinaigrette + Parmesan
  • Spring mix + cucumber + vinaigrette + flakey salt
  • Spring mix + red onion + vinaigrette + feta

What is Your Favorite Side Salad?

Let’s crowdsource some more easy side salad ideas! Leave a comment below with your favorite side salad ingredient or combination so we can all have new side salads to try every night of the week!

The post How to Make a Simple Side Salad and Why You Should Make One with Dinner Tonight appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Make Riced Cauliflower

Homemade riced cauliflower is quick, freezable, and less expensive than buying it pre-made from the freezer aisle. Storage, uses, and more.

The post How to Make Riced Cauliflower appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Riced cauliflower, or “cauliflower rice,” has become so popular over the past five or six years. So popular, in fact, that it’s become a staple in the freezer aisle of most major grocery stores in the U.S. While it is convenient to buy frozen bags of pre-made cauliflower rice, it’s also really easy to make at home from fresh cauliflower, so I want to show you this quick technique. It can help you shave a few dollars off your weekly food budget, especially when cauliflower is on sale!

Overhead view of a bowl of riced cauliflower with a red spatula in the side

What is Riced Cauliflower?

Riced cauliflower, also known as cauliflower rice, is simply cauliflower that has been chopped into tiny rice-sized pieces. Many people use this as a low-carb alternative to rice, but it’s so versatile that it can be used many other ways as well.

How to Use Cauliflower Rice

The most basic preparation of cauliflower rice is to just sauté it in a skillet with oil or butter, then add the seasonings of your choice. It’s really that simple. But riced cauliflower also makes a great bed for bowl meals, you can stir it into rice pilafs to up your vegetable intake, you can add it to stews, stir it into casseroles (it almost disappears!), stir it into your morning oats, or even blend it into a smoothie (recipe for that coming next week).

It’s one of those ingredients that once you start adding it to things you begin to see all the other millions of ways it can be used.

Freeze Some for Later

The best part about making your own riced cauliflower rice is that you can freeze it for later and just use a little here and there as needed. I’ll include instructions for how I freeze cauliflower rice in the step by step photos below. I usually use riced cauliflower straight from the freezer. It thaws and cooks through in a skillet in just a matter of minutes!

Do I Have to Use a Food Processor?

There are several methods for making riced cauliflower (knife, box grater, etc.), but I find using a food processor the fastest, easiest, and least messy. I’m limiting this tutorial to just showing the food processor method because the other methods either require a lot more work or a lot more cleanup, making them not quite worth doing yourself (in my opinion, anyway). If you want to see some of the other methods, check out my friend Jessica’s post about How to Make Cauliflower Rice 4 Ways.

How to Make Riced Cauliflower – Step by Step Photos

Stem and leaves removed from cauliflower head

Step 1 – Clean the Cauliflower

Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower. Make sure to rinse the cauliflower well and then let as much water drain off as possible. The less wet the cauliflower rice is the easier it will be to freeze without it making large clumps.

Cauliflower chopped on a cutting board

Step 2 – Chop Cauliflower

Chop the cauliflower into one to two-inch pieces. This helps the cauliflower move around more easily in the food processor, which will result in a more even texture of your cauliflower rice. If you have a smaller food processor you’ll want your pieces to also be smaller.

Cauliflower in the food processor

Step 3 – Fill the Food Processor

Add the cauliflower chunks to a food processor, only filling it about halfway, working in two batches if needed. Again, you want the cauliflower to be able to move freely within the food processor, or else you’ll end up with finely minced cauliflower on the bottom and large, unprocessed pieces at the top.

close up of minced cauliflower in the food processor

Step 4 – Pulse the Cauliflower

Pulse the cauliflower in the food processor until the cauliflower is minced to your desired size. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides if you need to. When deciding how small you want your riced cauliflower, keep in mind that smaller pieces cook a little faster but also disappear into recipes more. If you plan to use it like rice you may want slightly larger pieces than what is shown in the photo above. I like to use mine in smoothies, so smaller pieces work a little better.

How to Store Riced Cauliflower

cauliflower rice in a freezer bag

You can refrigerate the riced cauliflower for one to two days, but keep in mind that it does let off gas like any cruciferous vegetable, so it can get stinky quick. I prefer to freeze mine. To freeze, simply scoop it into a freezer bag, spread it out flat, and then place it in the freezer. The flatter the better because it’s easier to break it up into pieces if it’s frozen in a thin layer.

Frozen cauliflower rice in a freezer bag

Here is what it looks like after it’s been frozen (and I’ve used some of it). You can see that some of it does freeze in larger chunks, but it’s fairly easy to break up into crumbles. Again, the less water on the cauliflower the easier it is to break apart when frozen.

You can keep the riced cauliflower in the freezer for one to two months.

Cauliflower rice in a skillet with a spatula

And then I just use it straight from the freezer into my recipe (in most cases). It thaws and cooks through in a matter of minutes! (shown here being prepped for Southwest Cauliflower Rice)

Cauliflower Rice in a measuring cup

How Much Rice Cauliflower Does it Make?

The volume yield for making your own cauliflower rice will obviously depend on the size of your head of cauliflower, but I got about six cups out of one medium head of cauliflower. And just to compare prices, one head of cauliflower is $2.49 at Kroger right now (or $0.42 per cup), but frozen riced cauliflower is $3.49 per bag (or $0.93 per cup).

So is it worth it to DIY your cauliflower rice? That’s up to you. But at least now you know how and can make the choice!

The post How to Make Riced Cauliflower appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Freeze Kale

Learn how to freeze kale (or spinach) to reduce food waste and always have prepped kale on hand to add to your favorite recipes.

The post How to Freeze Kale appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever let a bag of greens go bad in the back of your fridge. 👋😬 I know I’ve been guilty of that. But guess what? You can freeze kale (and bagged spinach), so you can keep it on hand without it getting all gross and stinky in the back of your refrigerator. It’s incredibly simple to do, but if you’re new to freezing vegetables make sure keep reading to understand how to make the best use of your frozen kale (or spinach).

A freezer bag of kale spilling out onto a marble surface

Why Freeze Kale?

As I mentioned above, freezing kale is a great way to reduce your food waste because it can be hard to eat an entire bunch or bag of kale before it starts to get slimy. A lot of times I’ll freeze half my kale as soon as I get home from the store, just to make sure I don’t forget later and to make sure I freeze it while it’s the most fresh!

And since you’ll need to prep your kale before freezing it, it’s a great way to consolidate your kitchen work and make cooking faster and easier later. Once the kale is prepped and frozen, it’s ready to toss into any number of recipes later without any further work.

How to Use Frozen Kale

The most important part about freezing kale is understanding what recipes you can use it in later. Frozen vegetables generally get a little softer after freezing and thawing, so I don’t suggest using the frozen kale in a salad or any recipe where you want it to have the same texture as fresh kale. Frozen kale also tends to be quite delicate when frozen, so it can break into small pieces easily, which also makes it less ideal for salads. For this reason, I also wouldn’t recommend it for kale chips, where you’d want large pieces.

Frozen kale is great to use in any recipe where the kale will be sautéed or added to a hot liquid, like a soup or stew. And because it thaws so quickly in the hot pan, you don’t need to thaw before adding it to your recipe. Here are some great examples of recipes where you could use frozen kale:

Frozen Kale is also great for adding to smoothies! Just go ahead and toss a handful into your blender with the rest of your fruits and vegetables!

How Long Does Frozen Kale Last?

Frozen kale will slowly dry out in the freezer over time, causing the flavor and texture quality to decline. For best flavor and texture, I suggest trying to use your frozen kale within a few months.

How to Freeze Kale:

Okay, this is kind of a no-brainer, but I’m going to offer a few helpful tid bits with each step…

1. Prep Your Kale

Make sure you fully wash and chop your kale before freezing, so it’s ready to go straight into your recipe from the freezer. I buy bags of pre-chopped kale, but I always give it another wash and pick out any larger pieces of stem. If you’re buying a bunch of kale, remove the stems, chop it to your desired size, then give it a good rinse.

Chopped kale in a colander

2. Pack the Kale

After rinsing, make sure to let the kale drain well, then just place it in any air-tight freezer safe container. I prefer freezer bags because they lay flat and don’t take up a lot of space in the freezer. Avoid packing or squishing the kale too tightly in the container so you can easily grab a handful or two at a time later, instead of having a large solid block of greens that you can’t break apart.

kale in a freezer bag that is labeled and dated

And, as always, make sure to label and date your container! This will help you use frozen goods in a timely manner and will help prevent those mystery containers in the bottom of the freezer.

3. Cook the Kale

When you’re ready to use your frozen kale, it can go straight from the freezer into your recipe. Because the kale is so thin, it thaws almost instantly when added to a hot pan or soup. So easy!

Sautéed Kale in a skillet

And that’s it! So easy, but so easy to overlook. So I hope this simple tutorial inspires you to freeze some of your next batch of kale, and saves you some dollars!

Want More Freezer Tips?

Check out these other ingredients that I like to save in the freezer:

The post How to Freeze Kale appeared first on Budget Bytes.

30 Best Cauliflower Recipes

Last month, I shared three new cauliflower recipes – a Cauliflower Soup, Vegan Alfredo Sauce, and Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. As I developed them, I found myself amazed (once again) at the versatility of this humble veggie. It can blend into crea…

cauliflower recipes pin
Last month, I shared three new cauliflower recipes – a Cauliflower Soup, Vegan Alfredo Sauce, and Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. As I developed them, I found myself amazed (once again) at the versatility of this humble veggie. It can blend into creamy soups and sauces without the help of nuts or dairy, and it can transform into a substitute for noodles or rice. You can boil it, steam it, sauté it, roast it, or even eat it raw. My question is, what can’t cauliflower do? Because cauliflower is one of the vegetables I cook most often throughout the winter and early […]

Classic Omelette

Here’s how to make an omelette! This French technique makes an omelette recipe just the way Julia Child would…and it cooks up in seconds. Here’s a classic egg technique every home cook should master: how to make an omelette! This here is one of the first things Alex and I learned to cook from Julia Child. We started watching her in black and white when we first learned to cook. Julia was the perfect teacher for two new cooks, encouraging us that anyone could cook an omelette if we had the “courage of our convictions.” And this recipe? It makes for the most delicious omelette you’ve ever had: classic French style, with a golden exterior, soft interior, and loads of savory flavor. Here’s our adaptation of Julia’s classic technique, and it really does make the best omelette recipe imaginable. Omelette ingredients & equipment Before you start, you’ll need a few specific ingredients and equipment. Here’s what you’ll need to make the best classic omelette: 8- or 10-inch non-stick skillet: Non-stick is easiest for sliding out the eggs. These pan sizes make just the right size: don’t try any larger. (The best spatula for non-stick? Use a nylon spatula.) Eggs: The recipe […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make an omelette! This French technique makes an omelette recipe just the way Julia Child would…and it cooks up in seconds.

Omelette

Here’s a classic egg technique every home cook should master: how to make an omelette! This here is one of the first things Alex and I learned to cook from Julia Child. We started watching her in black and white when we first learned to cook. Julia was the perfect teacher for two new cooks, encouraging us that anyone could cook an omelette if we had the “courage of our convictions.” And this recipe? It makes for the most delicious omelette you’ve ever had: classic French style, with a golden exterior, soft interior, and loads of savory flavor. Here’s our adaptation of Julia’s classic technique, and it really does make the best omelette recipe imaginable.

Omelette ingredients & equipment

Before you start, you’ll need a few specific ingredients and equipment. Here’s what you’ll need to make the best classic omelette:

  • 8- or 10-inch non-stick skillet: Non-stick is easiest for sliding out the eggs. These pan sizes make just the right size: don’t try any larger. (The best spatula for non-stick? Use a nylon spatula.)
  • Eggs: The recipe below is for one serving. It cooks in just 30 seconds, so you can make them to order.
  • Water: Water helps to give a lighter and more tender texture to the eggs.
  • Butter: We prefer cooking eggs in butter: it adds a nutty, savory flavor and turns it a lovely golden brown color.
  • Shredded cheese (optional): Cheese adds even more flavor: we like it with a mix of cheddar and Parmesan for the best nuance in flavor.
  • Other filling ingredients: There are lots more filling ideas! See below.
Omelette recipe

How to make an omelette: basic concept!

Let’s talk about the basic concept for how to make an omelette before you scroll down to the recipe below. Here are a few things to note:

  • The omelette cooks in 30 seconds! This recipe is so quick to cook, so you’ll want to make sure to do one thing first.
  • Read the ENTIRE recipe before starting. We admit: sometimes we get impatient and start cooking a recipe before reading the entire thing. With this technique, it’s very, very important to read the instructions first!
  • The basic concept is as follows: You’ll melt butter over medium high heat. Add the eggs and cook just until a skin forms, about 10 to 15 seconds. Add the fillings, then start to shake the pan to roll the eggs up and over the cheese. Cook another 10 to 15 seconds where the outside is pale golden and the interior is soft and creamy. Roll it out onto a plate and you’re done!

Maybe this is a little different from what you’re used to? Let’s talk about the two main types of omelettes…

French omelette vs American omelette

There are two main styles of omelette: French and American. We prefer French, because the eggs are a little softer and more flavorful. What are the differences?

  • French omelette: A French omelette is pale yellow on the outside, with a slightly runny center. The eggs are cooked a shorter amount of time by shaking the pan, and then the omelette is rolled up into a cylinder.
  • American omelette: An American omelette is golden brown and a little crispy on the outside, and the eggs are cooked longer than the French style. It’s served folded in half over the toppings that are on the inside.

Can you turn this French omelette recipe into an American one? Yes! Pour the eggs into the pan and let them for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes without touching them. Then turn the heat to low, add cheese, and fold it in half over itself. The top should be golden brown.

How to make an omelette

Omelette filling ideas

This basic omelette recipe is pure perfection, in our minds. Take a bite and it’s instantly savory, with a creamy interior and the perfect salty zing of cheese. Really, we couldn’t stop eating it when we made this one. We promise: it will absolutely wow anyone you make it for! Want to step it up even more? There are so many different types of omelette fillings. Just make sure to cook the ingredients in advance. Here are some ideas to play with:

Make it a meal

The best part about an omelette? As Julia Child would say: you can serve it for any meal! That’s right: the omelette recipe works for breakfast, brunch, an elegant lunch, or a simple dinner. In fact, there’s a whole Julia Child episode about making them for a dinner party with different toppings for everyone! To round out the meal, here are some ideas for side dishes:

What else would you serve with it? Let us know your recipe ideas!

Omelette

More ways to cook eggs

Want to cook eggs all the ways? Here are a few more basic methods for how to cook eggs:

This omelette recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Print
Omelette

Classic Omelette


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 minute
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s how to make an omelette! This French technique makes an omelette recipe just the way Julia Child would…and it cooks up in seconds.


Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 grinds fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese, ideally 2 tablespoons each shredded cheddar and Parmesan
  • Additional filling ingredients, if desired (see above)

Instructions

  1. *Read all instructions before you start! Whisk the eggs: In a small bowl, crack the eggs. With a fork, whisk vigorously together with the kosher salt, pepper and water.
  2. Melt the butter: Heat a small 8-inch or 10-inch nonstick skillet over just below high heat, with the pan handle facing towards you. Add the butter and swirl the pan to fully coat. Wait until the butter starts to become foamy with large bubbles but not yet browned, then pour in eggs.
  3. Cook the omelette (0 to 15 seconds): When a skin just starts to form after 10 to 15 seconds, add the cheese (and other filling ingredients) in a line from left to right. Working quickly, run a small spatula under the far edge of the omelette to release it from the pan. Start to pull the eggs up and shake and tilt the pan to spread out any uncooked egg and allow it to cook. Using the spatula, roll the eggs up and over the cheese; this will be intentionally messy!
  4. Cook the omelette (15 to 30 seconds): Cook another 10 to 15 seconds until just barely set; the outside should be a pale golden and the inside soft and creamy. For a harder cooked omelette, cook several seconds longer. Turn off the heat.
  5. Flip the omelette onto a plate: To remove the omelette, hold a plate in one hand. Then pick up the pan with your right hand, thumb up, and quickly turn the pan upside down over the plate so that the omelette rolls off onto the middle of the plate, folding over itself into a rolled shape. Serve immediately.

Notes

*The cooking process goes fast, so make sure to read everything before you start. 

  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: Omelette, how to cook an omelette, omelette recipe

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

How to Make Fruit Leather

I’ve posted fruit leather recipes before, but if I haven’t convinced you yet, let me try again – Making your own fruit leather is super easy. Super easy. And when you make it yourself, you’re making it without food coloring,…

Strawberry Banana Fruit Leather
I’ve posted fruit leather recipes before, but if I haven’t convinced you yet, let me try again – Making your own fruit leather is super easy. Super easy. And when you make it yourself, you’re making it without food coloring, without sugar, and without artificial flavors.

How to Make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board

Whether you feel like you want to skip the Thanksgiving dinner all together, or you need something to keep the hungry mouths busy while you’re preparing the big meal, a Thanksgiving grazing board is a great option.

The post How to Make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I have to come clean about something. I’ve spent more years than not actively avoiding cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. Pandemic or not, my boyfriend and I often eat some version of this Thanksgiving Grazing Board below instead of a full Thanksgiving dinner. This grazing board is festive, it’s easy, it’s all of my most favorite foods on one tray, and it pairs perfectly with wine and a day of relaxing. And OMG, so much easier than a full meal. 😅

So whether you feel like you just want to skip the big meal all together, or you need something to keep the hungry mouths busy while you’re preparing the big meal, a Thanksgiving grazing board is a great option.

P.S. If you’re like me and would be just as happy with a grazing board of goodies instead of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, give me a shout in the comments so I don’t feel like I’m a weirdo. 😅

Overhead view of a Thanksgiving grazing board

What Goes on a Grazing Board?

When building a grazing board, I like to have items from the following categories: meat, cheese, fruit, bread, dips or spreads, nuts, and pickled vegetables. That way you have an excellent mix of sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy, acidic, and maybe even spicy, that can all be mixed and matched into an endless combination of delicious bites. I think I just described my heaven.

Oh, and garnishes are always a nice touch, if you want it to look pretty. And food that looks pretty is always more fun.

Thanksgiving Grazing Board Options

For each of the categories I listed above, I’ll list what I used as well as some alternate ideas that stay in that Thanksgiving/fall theme, so you can easily build your own custom board.

Meat: I used salami medallions and slices of roasted turkey. Other ideas include: peppered salami, prosciutto, honey ham, genoa salami, or soppressata.

Cheese: I included brie, smoked cheddar, and aged gouda in my Thanksgiving Grazing Board. You want to try to have a variety of textures and flavors. Here are some other cheese options (try not to choose two from any category):

  • Creamy: Chevre, Camembert, Burrata
  • Hard: Parmesan, Manchego, Pecorino, aged cheddar or gouda
  • Slicing cheeses: Cheddar, Provolone, Havarti, Swiss
  • Blue: Roquefort, Stilton, Blue

Fruit: I included grapes and pears on my grazing board, as well as a few dried apricots and dried cranberries to fill in the nooks and crannies. Other fall-inspired fruits could include: apples, pomegranates, figs, or satsumas.

Bread: I used a variety of crackers (from a variety pack) to provide multiple shapes and textures on the board. I also sliced up a baguette and offered that on the side, since there wasn’t much more room on the board for bulky pieces of bread. You can use virtually any type of cracker or sliced bread for your grazing board.

Dips and Spreads: I included whole-berry cranberry sauce, honey, and Dijon mustard. Other fall-inspired spreads include: fig jam, pumpkin or apple butter, whole grain mustard or spicy honey.

Nuts: I used a few pecan halves that I had in my pantry to fill in the gaps on the board, but candied walnuts, almonds, or pecans would also be a nice festive touch.

Pickled Vegetables: I ran out of room to include any pickled vegetables on my tray, but they really do offer a nice flavor contrast to the rest of the items and I usually try to include at least one. Sweet mini gherkins would be my preference for the flavor profile of this Thanksgiving Grazing Board, but a classic olive is always nice, too.

Garnishes: I went with a couple of mini pumpkins and rosemary sprigs for my garnish, since I already had both on hand. Another fun option would be to get some fake or fresh sunflowers, fake leaves, or fake pinecones.

Close up view of a Thanksgiving Grazing Board

How to Save Money on Your Grazing Board

It’s so easy to go overboard when buying meats, cheeses, and other specialty ingredients, so here are my tips for keeping your costs in check:

  • Stick to one or two items from each category. You’ll run out of room on your board faster than you think!
  • Check your fridge and pantry for shelf-stable items you may already have on hand: nuts, dried fruit, mustard, jam, honey, etc.
  • Buy a variety pack of crackers rather than multiple boxes of single crackers. Crackers are always strangely expensive, IMHO.
  • Check for a discount bin at your grocer’s deli section. A lot of deli department will place pre-sliced meats and cheese, or even specialty cheeses on discount when they get close to their sell-by date! If you don’t see a discount section, ask! You can save big using this method, just make sure to buy the discounted items no more than 1-2 days before you plan on serving your grazing board.
  • Use a baking sheet as your “board” (this white enameled baking sheet is linked in my shop). No one is going to see it through all of those beautiful cheeses anyway! Haha! If your baking sheets are looking a little worse for wear, lay down a piece of parchment paper first.
Side view of Thanksgiving Grazing Board

How Much Does a Thanksgiving Grazing Board Cost?

This board cost me about $27.54, with leftovers of most of the ingredients that I could refill as the board gets eaten down (almost two boards-worth of ingredients). I literally “grazed” on this board and the leftovers all week long. Here is a breakdown of what I purchased and what I already had on hand:

Purchased:

  • Salami $3.99
  • Turkey slices $2.99
  • Brie $2.99
  • Smoked cheddar $3.49
  • Aged gouda $3.69
  • Grapes $3.53
  • Pears $1.59
  • Cranberry sauce $0.89
  • Crackers $2.89
  • Baguette $1.49

On hand (I didn’t measure these ingredients so I can’t calculate estimate costs):

  • Honey
  • Mustard
  • Pecans
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Apricots
  • Mini-pumpkins
  • Fresh rosemary

How to Make A Thanksgiving Grazing Board – Step by Step Photos and Styling Tips

pumpkins and sauces on the grazing board

I like to start my board with any larger items and dips and spreads. I find that the little bowls or dishes of spreads make great central pieces to “wrap” other food around. So here I have a bowl of cranberry sauce, two small cups with mustard and honey, and two mini-pumpkins. I also like to avoid having the board look too symmetrical, so I just sort of scattered these pieces around the board.

grapes and pears added to the board

Next I added the grapes and pears because again, these are larger items that will be difficult to place once more ingredients are added. I left half of the pear whole for visual appeal. More pear can be sliced as the the board gets eaten (I actually purchased two pears, so I had an extra waiting to be sliced).

Cheeses added to the board

Next I went in with the cheeses. In addition to having a variety and flavors of cheeses, you want to present them in a variety of ways. Hard aged cheeses look beautiful when crumbled. Slicing cheeses, like cheddar, are great as slices or cubes, and softer cheeses are good to present whole or in larger pieces that people can slice off or scoop up as needed.

Meats added to the grazing board

Now it’s time for the meat. Again, you want to present the meat in a variety of ways to really maximize the visual texture of the board. There isn’t a lot you can do with these little salami medallions, so I just piled them on to make the board look “abundant.” For the turkey slices, I rolled them into cigars. If you have thin slices of salami or cured meat, it’s fun to fold them in half, then in half again to create a sort of ruffled appearance.

Crackers added to the board

Next came the crackers. I like to fan the crackers out and snake them around other items.

Nuts and dried fruit added to empty spots

Now the board should be very full, save a few very small blank spots. I used small items like nuts and dried fruit to fill in the blanks.

Garnishes added to the grazing board

And finally, I added a few rosemary sprigs as a garnish. The board looks abundant, full of color, texture, and flavor, while still having a distinct fall theme.

Side view of a Thanksgiving grazing board

What Else Might I Need?

If you do decide to make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board this year, don’t forget some plates, napkins, and toothpicks! Oh, and bring your appetite, too. ;)

The post How to Make a Thanksgiving Grazing Board appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Make Buttermilk (4 Easy Substitutes)

Did you forget to pick up buttermilk at the store? Once you know 4 easy methods for how to make buttermilk, you’ll be able to whip up a quick and easy substitute in just a few minutes. Do you ever just get a dessert craving and have to make something right then? Obviously I’m a …

The post How to Make Buttermilk (4 Easy Substitutes) appeared first on My Baking Addiction.

        

Did you forget to pick up buttermilk at the store? Once you know 4 easy methods for how to make buttermilk, you’ll be able to whip up a quick and easy substitute in just a few minutes.

homemade buttermilk substitute comes together in 5 minutes and requires only 2 ingredients. Skip the grocery store and make your own!

Do you ever just get a dessert craving and have to make something right then?

Obviously I’m a little baking obsessed, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I will often decide to make something randomly. 

Whether it’s Fresh Strawberry Bread, Moist Banana Cake, or The Best Chocolate Cake, there’s nothing more disappointing than getting halfway into making a recipe and realizing that I’m out of buttermilk.

It’s even worse when it happens after I have put on my comfy clothes for the evening and do NOT want to go to the store.

Luckily, I’ve got a few quick and easy buttermilk substitute tricks in my back pocket just for times like this. Once you know how to make this tangy baking staple, you’ll be able to whip up any number of baked goods on the fly no matter what you have in your fridge!

(more…)

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How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I’m a little late on this tutorial this year, but we finally got around to carving our pumpkins this past weekend! Carving pumpkins is fun, but roasting the pumpkin seeds is by far my favorite part. Roasted pumpkin seeds are so crunchy, delicious, and addictive, and I look forward to them every year!

The post How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds appeared first on Budget Bytes.

We finally got around to carving our pumpkins last weekend, so I got to make my favorite fall treat! Carving pumpkins is fun, but the roasted pumpkin seeds are by far my favorite part. Roasted pumpkin seeds are so crunchy, delicious, and addictive, and I look forward to them every year!

And if you’ve already discarded your pumpkin seeds from this year, don’t worry! You can use this same technique for the seeds from other winter squash, like acorn, delicata, butternut, and spaghetti squash. So as you enjoy your seasonal squash over the next few months, make sure to enjoy the seeds as well!

roasted pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet with pumpkins on the side

Can You Eat the Shell?

You may be familiar with pepitas, which are the tender green inner portion of the pumpkin seed. When you remove the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin, they still have their outer white shell (or hull). While this outer shell is very tough and fibrous, it is edible. It takes a bit of chewing, so if you have difficulty chewing or a delicate stomach, you may want to pass on roasted pumpkin seeds.

What Do Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Taste Like?

Roasted pumpkin seeds have a deliciously nutty flavor and aroma that is kind of similar to fresh popcorn. The flavor is fairly neutral and pairs well with both sweet and savory spices.

How to Flavor Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The fun thing about roasted pumpkin seeds is that you can flavor them with just about anything you like! I used some Cajun seasoning salt in the recipe below because it’s an easy one-stop-shop for salting and seasoning, but you have so many options. Here are some other great ideas for seasoning your roasted pumpkin seeds:

  • Curry powder
  • Garlic Herb Seasoning
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Ranch seasoning (if this contains buttermilk powder, toss the seeds in melted butter and the seasoning after roasting)
  • Cinnamon and sugar (toss seeds in melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar after roasting)
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Italian seasoning

Make sure to check to see if your seasoning blend contains salt. If it does not contain salt, you will want to add salt in addition to the spice blend.

How to Store Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After roasting the pumpkin seeds, allow them to cool completely to room temperature. Keep the cooled pumpkin seeds in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2-3 weeks. No need to refrigerate, unless they’ve been tossed in butter after roasting.

Roasted pumpkin seeds in a small black ceramic bowl with pumpkins and leaves on the sides
Roasted pumpkin seeds in a small black ceramic bowl with pumpkins and leaves on the sides

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds are an easy and deliciously crunchy byproduct of pumpkin carving. A fast, easy, and tasty fall treat!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 10 ¼ cup each
Calories 78kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Rinse the pumpkin seeds in a colander and remove any remaining pumpkin flesh that may be attached to the seeds. Place the washed pumpkin seeds in a lint-free dishcloth and pat dry (the seeds have a slippery coating and may not feel totally dry).
  • Place the washed and dried pumpkin seeds in a bowl and add the cooking oil and seasoning. Stir until the seeds are well coated. Pour the seasoned pumpkin seeds out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and spread them into a single layer.
  • Roast the pumpkin seeds in the preheated oven, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until they are golden brown and have a nutty aroma. Total roasting time will vary depending on the size of the seeds and their moisture level. Allow the pumpkin seeds to cool, then enjoy!

Notes

*Use your favorite high heat cooking oil and your favorite seasoning blend (see notes above recipe for seasoning ideas).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.69g | Protein: 3.43g | Fat: 7.05g | Sodium: 138.07mg | Fiber: 0.75g

How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – Step by Step Photos

Pumpkin seeds straight out of the pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. This is what your pumpkin seeds will probably look like right after they’re scraped out of your pumpkin. The extra bits of pumpkin are a lot easier to separate from the seeds while they’re in water, so let’s give them a rinse first.

Rinsed pumpkin seeds

Place the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse with cool water. Remove the extra bits of pumpkin flesh as you rinse the seeds. Let them drain well then place them in a lint-free towel and pat dry. This helps them get really crispy. The seeds do have a sort of slippery coating, so they may not feel 100% dry.

Season pumpkin seeds

After cleaning and drying, I had about 2.5 cups of pumpkin seeds (from two pumpkins). Place the seeds in a bowl and add your seasoning. I’m using a Cajun seasoning that contains a lot of salt, so I only needed to add the one ingredient (1 tsp). Use your favorite seasoning and don’t forget to make sure it has some salt, or add some separately.

Raw pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet

Spread the seasoned pumpkin seeds out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Transfer to the preheated 350ºF oven.

Roasted pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet

Roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes (I stirred at 10 minutes, and 20 minutes, then roasted for a final 5 minutes). The total roasting time will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin seeds and their moisture content. You’ll know they’re done when they are golden brown and smell nutty, kind of like popcorn.

Roasted pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet

Allow the pumpkin seeds to cool, then enjoy! Or store in an air-tight container for 2-3 weeks.

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How to Steam Fresh Green Beans

One of my go-to side dishes is steamed green beans. Why? Because they’re so fast, they’re uncomplicated, delicious, and you can make them several different flavors to match your main dish. They’re just the perfect no-brainer side dish. If you’ve only ever had canned green beans, please promise me that you’ll try steaming fresh green beans […]

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One of my go-to side dishes is steamed green beans. Why? Because they’re so fast, they’re uncomplicated, delicious, and you can make them several different flavors to match your main dish. They’re just the perfect no-brainer side dish. If you’ve only ever had canned green beans, please promise me that you’ll try steaming fresh green beans at least once. They’re a whole different beast. A deliciously fresh beast. So, without further ado, let me show you how to steam fresh green beans, so you can have another simple, delicious side dish under your belt!

Overhead view of a bowl full of steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper

The One Secret to Good Green Beans

There is only one thing you need to know about making good green beans: DON’T OVER COOK THEM. Most people I come across who say they don’t like green beans have only ever had overcooked, drab, olive green, too-soft green beans (like the kind you get in a can). The trick is to cook them until they are bright green, tender, but still with a good bite. They’ll still taste fresh, vibrant, and green. Deeeelish. 

What Equipment Do I Need?

Steaming green beans is so incredibly easy. All you need is a colander, pot or a deep skillet with a lid, and a steam basket. The steam basket holds the green beans just above the boiling water so they cook evenly and makes it really easy to lift the green beans out of the pot once cooked.

Do I Really Need the Steam Basket?

While the steam basket does help produce the best results, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t steam green beans without one. For years, before I had the few dollars to spend on a steam basket, I simply steamed my green beans directly in the one-inch of water. The bottom layer of green beans cooked slightly more than the rest, but guess what? It was barely noticeable. If you’re short on cash, follow the directions below minus the steam basket and you’ll do just fine.

Why Steam Instead of Boil Green Beans?

Because it’s faster. One inch of water takes a fraction of the time to come up to a boil compared to a full pot of water. Also, less nutrients are leached out of the green beans when they steam compared to when they’re fully submerged in boiling water. That’s two good reasons, if you ask me!

How to Flavor Green Beans

I’m a happy camper with the simple combo of melted butter, salt, and freshly cracked pepper on my steamed green beans, but there are so many different things you can add. Try these flavors:

  • Sautéed garlic
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Sesame oil and sesame seeds
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Crumbled feta
  • Bacon
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Or any combination of the above!

Can I Use Frozen Green Beans?

Frozen green beans are blanched, or partially cooked, before freezing. So, while you can steam them using this method, they may need a different amount of time to cook. Check the package for recommended cooking times.

 
Overhead of a bowl of steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper.

How to Steam Green Beans

Learn how to steam fresh green beans for an easy, delicious, fresh, and versatile side dish that will go with just about any dinner.
Total Cost $1.86 recipe / $0.47 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 60.38kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans $1.69
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.13
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Rinse the green beans in a colander. Snap the end off of any beans that still have an attached stem (see photos below). Snap each bean in half, or leave the beans whole for a more dramatic presentation.
  • Place one inch of water in a pot or deep skillet. Place the steam basket inside the pot. The water should not be so deep that it comes up through the holes in the steam basket. Fill the steam basket with the washed green beans. Place a lid on the pot or skillet, turn the heat onto high, and allow the water to come to a boil (about 3 minutes).
  • Allow the green beans to steam for about 5 minutes from the time the water begins to boil, or until they have reached your desired level of tenderness. Aim for green beans that are vibrant in color and tender but not mushy. You can test the tenderness of the green beans with a fork.
  • Once cooked to your liking, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the steam basket with the green beans and discard the water from the bottom of the pot. Place the beans back in the pot without the steam basket and add some butter. Stir the butter into the green beans, allowing the residual heat to melt the butter. Season the beans with salt and pepper, then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25lb. | Calories: 60.38kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.85g | Protein: 2.08g | Fat: 3.13g | Sodium: 237.08mg | Fiber: 3.05g

How to Steam Green Beans – Step by Step Photos

Close up of a green bean with stem, more green beans in a colander in the background

Rinse your green beans in a colander. Snap off any ends that still have a stem attached. You can see what the stem looks like in the photo above. The other end of the green bean will be pointy, but those are fine to eat. In fact, that’s my favorite part. You can snap your green beans in half or leave them long and whole for a more dramatic presentation.

metal steam basket

This is the metal steam basket that I use. It has a loop in the center for lifting the basket out of the pot and the outer edges can close in or expand to fit the diameter of your pot. You can also buy bamboo or silicone steam baskets, but I find these old-school metal baskets to be inexpensive and pretty indestructible.

Steam basket in a pot with water

Place about an inch of water in a pot or deep skillet and place the steam basket on top. The water should not be so deep that it comes up through the holes. 

Fresh green beans in the steam basket in the pot, uncooked

Fill the steam basket with the washed green beans and place a lid on the pot. Turn the heat on to high and allow the water to come up to a boil (about 3 minutes).

Steamed green beans in the pot

Once the water begins to boil, allow the beans to steam for about 5 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of tenderness. Aim for green beans that are a vibrant green color and are tender, but still have a bit of bite. They shouldn’t be a drab green or mushy.

Steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper in the pot

Remove the pot from the heat, lift the steam basket and beans out of the pot, then discard the water. Place the beans back into the pot without the steam basket, add some butter, and stir to melt the butter (heat is off). Season with a little salt and pepper, then serve!

Overhead of a bowl of steamed green beans with butter, salt, and pepper.

The fresh green bean flavor on its own is so delicious that I usually only add a little butter, salt, and pepper, but you can have fun and get wild with the seasonings! Let me know what your favorite flavors are in the comments below. :)

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