30+ Game Changing Cooking Tips and Tricks from the Budget Bytes Community

30 of the best cooking tips that will “change the game” in your kitchen, according to the Budget Bytes community.

The post 30+ Game Changing Cooking Tips and Tricks from the Budget Bytes Community appeared first on Budget Bytes.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the Budget Bytes Facebook community to share their favorite game-changing cooking tips, and boy did you guys deliver! The thread was so alive with great tips and people swapping ideas with each other that I just had to share the top tips here for everyone to enjoy. The thread is still going strong and more tips and comments are being added every day, so you can check it out here to see the latest!

Overhead view of kitchen equipment with title text in the center

Here were the top tips, as of a week or so ago, according to the number of comments and interactions (in no particular order). I hope you enjoy and feel free to discuss in the comments below or hop on over to Facebook to join the conversation!

Top Cooking Tips

1. Make Measuring a Breeze

Coating a measuring spoon or cup in oil to make ingredients like honey or peanut butter come right out.

Jenn

2. Take Your Grilled Cheese Up a Notch

Mayo on bread versus butter for a grilled cheese.

Shawna Cotton Beidler

3. Most Loved Kitchen Gadget

Less a trick, but splurging for an immersion blender was an amazing investment!

Gina Zaneri

4. Add Flavor to Soups, Stews, and More

A jar of vegetable flavored Better Than Bouillon

Using Better Than Bouillon in soups, sauces and gravy for some extra depth of flavor.

Jennifer Keefer

5. Improve the Texture of Tofu

Freeze and defrost tofu. I learned it from you!

Julia Anker

For context, freezing tofu changes the texture of the tofu, which is perfect for recipes where you want more texture and less softness. :)

6. Perfect Steak Every Time

When cooking steak on a stovetop use two pans. Put one on high and one on low. Use the hot pan to first sear the edges of the steak before cooking it on low/med. Searing the edges locks in the fluids and gives you a juicer steak.

Kyle Hudson

7. Rethink Boiled Eggs

Eggs in a pot with water

Steam eggs rather than boil.

Lois Thurstan

See our guide on how to Steam Eggs Here.

8. Add Extra Umami to Your Recipes

Adding a bit of anchovies (or miso) to tomato sauce and adding butter at the end. Makes it super umami tasty and creamy.

Mandy

9. Quick and Easy Corn on the Cob

Wrapping fresh corn on the cob (in the shucks) with a paper towel, running under water to wet the towel, and steaming in the microwave for 5 minutes. Comes out perfect every time.

Donna Woodliff

10. Make Cleanup Easy

Using parchment paper when baking rolls and cookies so you don’t have to scrape the pan

Anonymous

11. Pressure Cooker Eggs

Hard boiled eggs in the instant pot!

Marianne

12. Swap Your Skillet for the Oven

Several strips of bacon on a paper towel covered plate, viewed from the side

Making bacon in the oven.

Anne

See our tutorial on How to Make Bacon in the Oven for more details!

13. Frozen Vegetables for Convenience

I learned this from you- but using frozen vegetables. I always bought fresh and I would dread washing and cutting and then I would waste a lot because it goes bad so fast. I still use fresh vegetables some but I keep frozen vegetables to roast for easy dinners too!

Paige Wright

14. Easy Grease Cleanup

I just learned this recently from watching the Julia Pacheco cooking show. After frying up meats like ground meat or sausage , take a paper towel and with tongs or spoon or whatever move it around in the pan to remove the grease. Then just toss the paper towel. Saves from having to wash a greasy colander too!

Eileen

15. Perfect Sautéed Mushrooms

Cooking mushrooms in a pan with 1/4 cup water and once the water is evaporated and the mushrooms are soft finishing them with butter for taste and shine. They don’t get nearly so greasy as when you cook just in oil or butter. Tip learned from this video.

Mindy

16. Portion and Freeze

Portioned Tomato Paste
Freeze Tomato Paste

Freezing tomato paste in ice cube sized portions – now I buy a large can when I need tomato paste & freeze what I don’t use. Recipes I used usually called for 1 tablespoon so I always had left over paste.

Anonymous

17. Recipes are Memories

Acceptance- i can’t make certain recipes as well or even close as some family members. So cherish the recipe for safe keeping holds special meaning since I can’t taste it.

Heather Miker

Yesssss! 👏 🙌 Recipes can hold so many lovely recipes. They can be as nostalgic as a photo album.

18. Bulk Cook Beef

I made a bunch of ground beef for a taco night at church last week. Made it in the crock pot. I don’t think I’ll ever make it in a skillet again if I don’t have to! Soooo good! I cooked 5 pounds and it was perfect. So 5 pounds in the crock pot and divided up for future meals. Easy peasy.

Kim Scott

20. Stay On Top of the Mess

CLEAN AS YOU GO so much easier that way.

Sofia K.

21. Bright Your Food with Acid

1. Clean as you go!

2. Better Than Bouillon is the best broth base.

3. Add lemon juice or vinegar if your food is tasting a bit bland – the acid gives it a kick!

Elise Durand

22. Salt is Everything

Salt is your friend! Samin Nosrat taught me that when food is properly salted it will have a “ZING” when you taste it. My cooking has improved exponentially since I have been following her advice.

Also- taste the water in which you boil pasta, potatoes or vegetables. It should taste pleasantly salty like the ocean. Your mashed potatoes will need much less butter and milk!

Kristin Bergamini

Check out Samin Nosrat’s book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.

23. Mashed Bananas

brown bananas

Squishing a banana before peeling for muffins.

Camille

24. Colanders Are Multipurpose

Super silly but … using the holes in a colander to pull through herbs like rosemary, lavender, cilantro.

Capi Zabala

25. Lump-free Soup and Gravy

My friend showed how she takes a Mason jar, puts flour in it with milk and shakes it to make a slurry for gravy or thickening soups. It never gets lumpy doing it like that. Like a 1/4 flour to 1 cup milk.

Erin Bosco

26. Easy Creamy Sauces

cream cheese chunks added to the skillet

Cream cheese makes just about any sauce creamier, more stable, and more rich. It’s like magic. Cream cheese in spaghetti sauce makes it super rich and creamy and cuts down on the acid content. We always called it “Better Spaghetti”.

Velah

27. Sheet Pans For The Win

Sheet pan pancakes in the oven.

Samantha Johns

28. Parmesan for Umami

Adding some parmesan rind to a soup or sauce adds flavor/umami. Yum!

Laurie Gannon

29. Mise En Place

One Pot Lemon Artichoke Chicken and Rice Ingredients

Not a trick exactly, but the best thing I learned was mise en place, or putting everything in order before you begin, and reading through the full recipe before I start to cook. It makes all the difference in getting a good result, eliminating mistakes, and ease of cooking anything.

Marion M.

Solid advice!! If you want more tips on how to execute a recipe, check out our 10 Tips for Recipe Success.

30. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Let a machine cook the rice for you. Because I certainly can’t.

Lindsay

There’s no shame in getting a little help from technology! :)

31. Perfect Poached Eggs

Poaching eggs in a frying pan instead of a pot. Water is shallow and more room for poaching multiple eggs! (I don’t know why I never thought of it!)

Regan

32. Cook Tomato Paste

Browning your tomato paste first before adding. The flavor is soo much better. Brown in butter or a little olive oil until it turns a dark brick red.

Samantha Kelly

33. No More Tears

Use clear swim googles to cut onions. It looks hilarious, but I don’t cry anymore when I chop onions!

Tori

So what do you think? Did you learn any new cooking tips? Share a cooking tip or trick that was a total game changer for you in the comments below!

The post 30+ Game Changing Cooking Tips and Tricks from the Budget Bytes Community appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Juice a Lemon

Learn how to juice a lemon using five simple tricks to get every last drop of juice. These tips work great on all fresh citrus!

The post How to Juice a Lemon appeared first on Budget Bytes.

There’s no denying how much vibrant flavor fresh lemons and limes bring to a recipe, but they’re not cheap! So here are a few tricks that I use to juice a lemon (or lime) to make sure you get every last drop of juice and leave no penny wasted.

A hand squeezing a lemon into a glass

1. Choose Ripe Lemons

This step might be the most obvious, but it can also be the most difficult depending on the season or your location. Unripe, rock-hard lemons are not likely to give you much juice no matter what, so spend some time checking for ripeness before you buy.

Give the lemons a light squeeze. A ripe, juicy lemon will feel a little heavy and give just slightly when squeezed. If it’s too soft, it’s probably past its prime. A very light lemon is likely to be dry or have a thick pith and less juice. Looks for a bright yellow peel with a nice sheen. The lemon should never look dull or wrinkled.

A hand squeezing a lemon

2. Roll It

I like to think of this step as the “pre-squeeze.” Before cutting into the lemon, roll it on the countertop with pressure. This crushes some of the membranes in the lemon even before you cut, so the juice is loose and ready to go!

A lemon being rolled on a countertop

3. Microwave It

Pop the lemon in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (again, before cutting it open). This has a similar effect to rolling the lemon in that it causes some of the membranes inside to burst and release their juice. Plus, a warm lemon is a lot softer and easier to squeeze than a cold lemon.

A lemon being reamed with a spoon

4. Ream It

After finally cutting the lemon in half and doing an initial squeeze by hand, I like to “ream” the inside of the lemon. While there are special tools made for this purpose, I find that a large spoon works just fine. Simply insert the spoon into the center of the halved lemon and twist. This crushes any remaining membranes and releases every last drop. And then do one last squeeze after reaming.

Freezer Bag Full of Fresh Lemons

5. Freeze It

Another option, if you do happen to get some lemons that are really dry, is to freeze them. Freezing breaks almost all of the internal membranes and will leave the lemon very soft and juicy after thawing. Freezing lemons is a great way to save extra lemons that you plan to use for zesting and juicing. You can read my full tutorial on how to freeze citrus here.

Recipes for Fresh Lemons

Now that you’re a pro at squeezing lemons, here are a few awesome recipes to make with all that fresh juice!

The post How to Juice a Lemon appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Make the Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

Use what you have on hand to build an ultimate veggie sandwich packed with color, flavor, and texture. Eat the rainbow!

The post How to Make the Ultimate Veggie Sandwich appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love a good veggie sandwich. There are so many colors, textures, and flavors in every bite that it’s just beyond satisfying. And, because they’re super flexible, you can build an ultimate veggie sandwich using odds and ends of things you may already have in your fridge. And that is one of the most valuable characteristics of a recipe or meal when it comes to eating on a budget.

An ultimate veggie sandwich cut in half and stacked, cut sides facing the camera

This is going to be more of a how-to than a recipe because it’s so extremely flexible and it’s unlikely that you’ll end up using the exact same mix of ingredients as I did. For that reason, and because some of these ingredients are nearly impossible to accurately measure let alone calculate the cost of, I didn’t do a cost breakdown this time. But I’m willing to bet that it cost me less than shelling out $8 for a veggie sandwich at a deli!

I will put a recipe card with my exact sandwich ingredients below for anyone who is interested in trying to duplicate the exact sandwich pictured.

Step 1: Choose Your Bread

I suggest a good, hearty bread for veggie sandwiches, like wheat bread, sourdough, focaccia, or ciabatta. You need something that can hold up to the hefty texture of the vegetables without ripping and something that will provide a little weight in your stomach next to all those lightweight veggies. If you want to make your own bread, no-knead bread or focaccia would be awesome.

You could also make your veggie sandwich into a wrap using an extra-large tortilla. A pita pocket might work too, but it might be difficult to squeeze all those veggies in without it ripping.

The sandwich in the photos was made using Dave’s Killer Bread, Good Seed flavor. It was my first time trying this bread and while it was strong enough for the sandwich, it was a little softer than I’d prefer and the flavor was a bit too sweet for my liking.

Step 3: Choose Your Spread

Using some sort of sandwich spread adds moisture, flavor, and a little fat, which gives the sandwich a more satisfying mouthfeel.

I whipped up a quick scallion cream cheese that was basically a scaled-back version of my Scallion Herb Cream Cheese Spread. I just mixed together 2oz. cream cheese with one sliced green onion, ½ tsp lemon juice, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, ⅛ tsp dried dill, and a pinch of salt.

Other good sandwich spread options include:

  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Pesto
  • Mayo (or a pesto-mayo mix)
  • Thick salad dressings, like ranch or green goddess
  • Boursin
  • Marinara
A veggie sandwich being built, ingredients all around.

Step 4: Add Cheese (Optional)

Since my spread was technically a cheese, I didn’t add any extra cheese. A little cheese can go a long way toward making a veggie sandwich very filling. Here are some good cheese options for veggie sandwiches:

  • White cheddar
  • Feta
  • Goat cheese (chevre)
  • Havarti
  • Swiss
  • Fresh mozzarella

Step 5: Pile On the Veggies!

And here’s where you can start to get really creative! I pulled a lonely carrot out of my produce drawer, grabbed a handful of leftover fresh spinach, sliced up a cucumber and tomato, and used the leftover half of a red bell pepper that I had from the day before. Oh, and I added some alfalfa sprouts because I love the texture they bring to the sandwich! Here are some other vegetables you can add:

  • Sliced button mushrooms or grilled portobello
  • Avocado
  • Coleslaw (this would act like a veggie-spread combo ingredient)
  • Pickles
  • Red onion
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Fresh or grilled zucchini
  • Roasted beets (sliced thin)
  • Sauer kraut
  • Jalapeño
  • Fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro
  • Broccoli (chopped fine)

You’ll want to slice most of your vegetables thinly, which helps keep everything packed together tightly. For hard vegetables, like the carrot I used, it’s helpful to chop or shred them into very small pieces. I used a cheese grater to grate my carrot, but something like broccoli I would just chop finely.

Step 6: Top with Extras

With so many veggies piled onto one sandwich, a little extra ✨spice✨ is never a bad idea. I always like to add some salt and freshly cracked pepper to my tomato layer, but you can also add things like Italian herbs, sunflower seeds, everything bagel seasoning, crushed red pepper, furikake, or nutritional yeast.

A hand holding both halves of a cut open ultimate veggie sandwich

Veggie Sandwich Ideas

Before we get into exactly what was on the sandwich pictured above, here are a few other fun veggie sandwich combo ideas:

  • The Green Goddess: Green goddess dressing, spinach, sprouts, cucumber, avocado, feta on any bread.
  • The Roasted Veggie: Hummus, roasted red peppers, roasted portobellos, roasted zucchini, feta, everything bagel seasoning, on any bread.
  • The “Pizza”: Marinara, grilled or roasted eggplant or portobello, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, black olives, red onion, fresh mozzarella, on ciabatta bread.
  • Coleslaw Sandwich: Creamy coleslaw, tomato, Swiss or havarti, salt and pepper, on sourdough.
A hand holding both halves of a cut open ultimate veggie sandwich

The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

Use what you have on hand to build an ultimate veggie sandwich packed with color, flavor, and texture. Eat the rainbow!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 411kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Scallion Cream Cheese

  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill
  • 1 pinch salt

Sandwich

  • 2 slices hearty bread
  • 6 slices cucumber
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 handful alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper

Instructions

  • Whip the ingredients for the scallion cream cheese together in a small bowl (I used a fork).
  • Lightly toast the bread. Spread the cream cheese over one side of each pieces of bread.
  • Pile the vegetables onto the bread, then close. Slice in half and enjoy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 22g | Sodium: 560mg | Fiber: 9g
Side view of a closed veggie sandwich, uncut

Got Leftover Ingredients?

If you did happen to buy ingredients specifically for making a veggie sandwich, here are some really flexible recipes that you can make to use up any leftovers:

The post How to Make the Ultimate Veggie Sandwich appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

This super simple homemade ranch seasoning makes great ranch dressing and can also be used to season, meat, vegetables, pasta, and more.

The post Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Those little packets of ranch seasoning mix that you can get at the store are pretty versatile. You can do so much more with them than just mixing up a quick batch of ranch dressing. That flavorful mix of buttermilk and herbs can be used to coat just anything in a tangy, herby, creamy goodness. But I wanted to make my own homemade ranch seasoning so I could whip up any amount needed and so I’d know every last ingredient in the mix.

Ranch seasoning mix ingredients in a small wooden bowl with lemon, garlic, and parsley on the sides

Buttermilk Powder is a Must

Most of the ingredients in this homemade ranch seasoning mix are pantry staples, but there is one special ingredient that can not be substituted, buttermilk powder, which is basically dehydrated buttermilk. Buttermilk powder provides tangy and creamy flavors without having to add a liquid to the mix. This allows you to get that classic ranch flavor in dry form, which is perfect for things like seasoning popcorn or making a dry rub for meat.

It usually comes in a small round container and can be found in the baking aisle, usually near canned evaporated milk or dry milk. I used Saco brand Buttermilk blend (the brand that I see most often in grocery stores here in the U.S.). It looks like this:

A container of buttermilk powder

How to Use Homemade Ranch Seasoning

I’m super excited to have finally made my own ranch seasoning because there are just so many ways to use it. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Season roasted potatoes
  • Stir into mashed potatoes
  • Sprinkle over popcorn
  • Season roasted chicken
  • Mix with butter to brush onto biscuits
  • Make chip dip
  • Season homemade croutons
  • Sprinkle over buttered pasta
  • Season roasted vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower

How to Store Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

The recipe below is a small batch about the same as one ranch seasoning packet you’d buy in the store. If you want to scale the recipe up and save some pre-made mix you can do that. Store the ranch seasoning mix in an air-tight container away from heat and sunlight, just as you would with any dry herbs or spices. It should stay good for several months, but as with any dried herb, the flavor will slowly diminish over time.

mixed homemade ranch seasoning surrounded by other ingredients
ranch seasoning mix ingredients in a wooden bowl with ingredients on the sides

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix

This super simple homemade ranch seasoning makes great ranch dressing and can also be used to season, meat, vegetables, pasta, and more.
Total Cost $0.53 per batch
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 batch (about 3 Tbsp)
Calories 54kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk powder $0.15
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp sugar $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.01

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use immediately or store in an air-tight container until ready to use.

To Make Ranch Dressing

  • Combine the ranch seasoning mix with ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup sour cream, and ¼ cup milk. Whisk until smooth.

To Make Chip Dip

  • Combine the ranch seasoning mix with 1 cup sour cream and stir until smooth. Let the dip sit for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Nutrition

Serving: 1batch | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 354mg | Fiber: 1g
close up of mixed ranch seasoning in the bowl with a measuring spoon

Use your homemade ranch seasoning mix as a dry powder to season meat, vegetables, pasta, and more. Or, use it to whip up a batch of ranch dressing or chip dip…

Ranch dressing in a bowl surrounded by carrots and celery

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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


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  • 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

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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.