Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet

This beef and cauliflower taco skillet has layers of flavor, color, and texture, and all of your favorite taco flavors in one hearty bowl.

The post Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

A couple of months ago I posted a side dish, Southwest Cauliflower Rice, and ever since I’ve been dying to flesh it out into a main dish. This week I finally got around to it, and OMG, so good! I added some ground beef, black beans, and a bunch of fresh ingredients on top, so you get this wonderful mix of hot and cold flavors and textures, kind of like when you eat a taco, but in bowl form.

Overhead view of beef and cauliflower taco skillet with vegetables on the side and a spatula in the side

Is it Spicy?

The heat level in this recipe depends on the spiciness of two ingredients: the canned diced tomatoes with green chiles (like Ro-tel) and your chili powder. Unfortunately, with both of these ingredients, some brands are spicy and some are not. So you may need to do some experimenting to find the brands that match the heat level that you prefer.

Fresh or Frozen Cauliflower Rice?

You can use either fresh homemade cauliflower rice or frozen store-bought cauliflower rice for this recipe. Both types of riced cauliflower cook very quickly and you shouldn’t need to make any changes to the recipe based on the type of cauliflower rice used.

Take the Taco Seasoning Short Cut

The recipe below includes all the herbs and spices in my homemade taco seasoning. If you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet, you can use a packet of store-bought taco seasoning in place of the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper listed in the recipe below.

Other Topping Ideas

This recipe is so flexible! If you don’t like some of the toppings that I used, here are some other ideas:

Make it Low Carb or Vegetarian

If you want to make this tasty skillet low-carb, you can skip the black beans and use a full pound of ground beef instead.

If you want to make this taco skillet vegetarian, add an extra can of beans in place of the ground beef. You can use an extra can of black beans, or add a can of pinto or kidney beans.

Close up side view of beef and cauliflower taco skillet being scooped out of the skillet
overhead view of beef and cauliflower taco skillet with vegetables on the sides

Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet

This beef and cauliflower taco skillet has layers of flavor, color, and texture, and all of your favorite taco flavors in one hearty bowl.
Total Cost $7.74 recipe . /$1.94 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 467kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 3 cups riced cauliflower $1.25
  • 1 10oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles $0.55
  • 1 15oz. can black beans $0.50
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder $0.30
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded $0.38
  • 1 avocado $0.99
  • 1 tomato $0.46
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion $0.10
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro $0.10

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic. Add the garlic, olive oil, and ground beef to a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the ground beef is browned. If you're using a high fat content beef, you may want to drain off the excess fat before the next step.
  • Drain the can of black beans and add them to the skillet along with the diced tomatoes with green chiles (not drained), chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook until the skillet is simmering.
  • Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet (no need to thaw, if frozen). Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until the cauliflower is tender (about five minutes).
  • While the beef and cauliflower are heating, dice the tomato, avocado, and red onion. Roughly chop the cilantro.
  • Top the beef and cauliflower mixture with the shredded cheddar. Place a lid on the skillet, and let it heat over medium for a few minutes, or until the cheddar has melted.
  • Once the cheese is melted, top the skillet with the tomato, avocado, red onion, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 360mg | Fiber: 14g
beef and cauliflower taco skillet in a bowl with a fork on the side

How to Make Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet – Step by Step Photos

browned ground beef in a skillet

Mince two cloves of garlic. Add the garlic to a large skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil and ½ lb. ground beef. Cook over medium heat until the ground beef is browned.

Tomatoes, beans, and seasoning added to the skillet

Drain one 15oz. can of black beans and add them to the skillet along with one 10oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (not drained), 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp salt, and ⅛ tsp pepper. Continue to cook and stir until the skillet is simmering.

Frozen riced cauliflower added to the skillet.

Add 3 cups riced cauliflower to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the riced cauliflower is tender (about 5 minutes).

Diced tomato, avocado, and onion

While the cauliflower and beef are heating, dice one tomato and one avocado. Finely dice about ¼ cup red onion. Roughly chop one small handful of cilantro.

Shredded cheddar being added to the skillet

Top the skillet with 2 oz. (about ½ cup) shredded cheddar cheese. Place a lid on the skillet and let it heat over medium for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

skillet topped with fresh tomato, avocado, red onion, and cilantro

Once the cheese is melted, top with the fresh tomato, avocado, red onion, and cilantro, then serve!

A fork lifting a bite of beef and cauliflower taco skillet out of a bowl

That’s one FLAVORFUL bowl!!

The post Beef and Cauliflower Taco Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because […]

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Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because when meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store you have to streeeeeeeeetch it any way you can. This  Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet does just that. If you loved Hamburger Helper when you were growing up, you’re going to love this homemade version even more!

Originally posted 4-27-2016, updated 5-29-2021.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta skillet in the pan with a spatula in the side

Hot Dog Relish is the Secret Ingredient

This cheeseburger pasta is super good even without the relish, but adding a couple spoonfuls of hotdog relish at the end really makes it taste like you’re eating a hamburger. What is hot dog relish? It’s basically a dill pickle relish mixed with yellow mustard. If you can’t find hot dog relish at your grocery store, you can buy plain dill relish and mix a little yellow mustard into it (about a teaspoon). 

Tips for Cooking One Pot Pasta

Cooking one pot pasta recipes is a little bit like riding a bike. You have to watch it and adjust to the nuances of the pasta as it cooks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Here are a few tips:

  • Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • Use a burner size close to the size of the bottom of your pot for even heating.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
  • Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.

How to Serve Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta

I’m usually all about stuffing my recipes with as many vegetables as possible, but I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate more vegetables into this recipe without making it less hamburger-like, so I’m just going to suggest you serve it with a simple side salad. Nothing fancy, maybe just some Romaine, tomatoes, and dressing. Keep it easy. :) And maybe Homemade Garlic Bread. Because every meal is better with garlic bread. ;)

Freeze Some For Later

Saucy pasta dishes like this freezer pretty well, IMHO, so if you’re cooking for yourself this would make a good cook-and-freeze-for-later dish. If you’re extra sensitive to texture changes like pasta getting slightly softer, though, you may not be a fan of the leftovers.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta in a bowl with a fork on the side

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
Total Cost $5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 555kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.25
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce $0.29
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.26
  • 1/2 lb. pasta shells, uncooked $0.50
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded $0.75
  • 2 Tbsp hot dog relish $0.16
  • 2 green onions, sliced (optional) $0.20

Instructions

  • Finely dice the onion. Add the onion, olive oil, and ground beef to a large deep skillet and sauté over medium heat until the beef is fully browned and the onion is soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.
  • Add the flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the skillet. Be careful not to let the flour burn.
  • Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet may not fully cover the pasta, but that is okay.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let the liquid come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the pasta simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.
  • Add the shredded cheddar to the skillet and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Stir the hot dog relish into the sauce and then top with sliced green onions. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 26g | Sodium: 1045mg | Fiber: 4g

If you love easy one pot pasta dinners, check out our One Pot Meals category!

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon

How to Make Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet – Step by Step Photos

Ground beef and onion cooked in the skillet

Start by finely dicing one onion. Add the onion, 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large deep skillet. Sauté the onion and beef until the beef is fully browned and the onions are soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed (if you’re using 90% lean or higher, there probably isn’t anything to be drained off).

Flour added to the cooked ground beef

Add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute. The flour will bein to coat the bottom of the skillet. This is okay, just be sure to watch it closely and not let it burn. The flour will help thicken the sauce and help the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce.

Tomato sauce in the skillet, beef broth being poured in

Add an 8oz. can of tomato sauce and 2 cups beef broth. Stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.

Uncooked pasta shells added to the skillet

Add ½ lb. uncooked pasta shells to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet does NOT need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook. The steam in the skillet will help cook the pasta that is above the surface and the pasta will be stirred to ensure even cooking.

Cooked pasta in the skillet a spatula pulling the pasta aside to show the sauce

Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.

Shredded cheddar added to the skillet

Add 4oz. shredded cheddar cheese and stir it into the pasta until it is melted and creamy.

hot dog relish added to the skillet

Finally, add 2 Tbsp of hot dog relish (mustard dill relish), and stir it into the sauce. I feel like the relish is what really made this taste like a hamburger, but if you’re not into relish you skip this last step and still have an amazingly cheesy beef pasta. 

cheeseburger pasta skillet topped with sliced green onions

I had some green onions in the fridge, so I sliced a couple up and added them on top. They add just a little extra pop of flavor and nice visual appeal to the otherwise very monochromatic dish.

Close up side view of cheeseburger pasta skillet with a spoon dug in the side

OMG look at that cheesy sauce! 😍

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta is a fast and easy "from scratch" version of the classic hamburger helper. BudgetBytes.com

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One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

Guess what time it is! Comfort-food-o’clock. And what makes better comfort food than a rich creamy pasta dish, like this One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff? This is yet another “better than the box” meal. It cooks in one easy pot, just like hamburger helper stroganoff, but it’s homemade. You’re going to want to tuck […]

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Guess what time it is! Comfort-food-o’clock. And what makes better comfort food than a rich creamy pasta dish, like this One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff? This is yet another “better than the box” meal. It cooks in one easy pot, just like hamburger helper stroganoff, but it’s homemade. You’re going to want to tuck this recipe into your back pocket for those nights when you’re super tired and need an extra comforting meal. :)

Originally posted 2-17-14, updated 5-20-21

overhead view of a skillet full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

Use All Beef, No Beef, or Both!

I used half ground beef and half mushrooms to stretch my pennies a bit further, but you could do all mushrooms or all beef if you prefer. If you’re doing a vegetarian version with all mushrooms, use mushroom or vegetable broth to replace the beef broth.

Tips for “One Pot” Success

One pot recipes can be a bit tricky for some, so here are some pointers:

  • Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the noodles for them to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
  • Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.

Every piece of cookware and every range top is different, so one pot recipes are a bit like riding a bike. You have to feel it out and find the sweet spot for the equipment you’re using.

Use Good Broth

The broth brings a lot of flavor to this beef and mushroom stroganoff, so make sure you’re using a nice and flavorful broth that has adequate salt. I like to use Better than Bouillon to make broth for recipes because it’s super flavorful, I can mix up any amount I need, and the jar stays good in the refrigerator for months, so there are no leftovers to go to waste. If you still find your stroganoff to be on the bland side in the end, an extra pinch of salt can really help the flavors pop.

Side view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

 

Want more One Pot Recipes? Check out our One Pot Recipe Archives!

Overhead view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

This super easy one pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff is a delicious and comforting weeknight dinner that requires just a few ingredients.
Total Cost $5.54 recipe / $1.39 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.5 cups each
Calories 476kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.22
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.49
  • 1/8 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.01
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.26
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard $0.02
  • 8 oz. wide egg noodles $0.60
  • 1/3 cup sour cream $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic. Add the garlic and butter to a large pot or skillet and sauté over medium heat for about one minute, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  • Add the ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.
  • While the beef is browning, slice the mushrooms. Add the sliced mushrooms and some freshly cracked pepper to the pot with the beef. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft (about five minutes).
  • Add the uncooked egg noodles to the pot along with the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Stir to combine. The liquid will not fully cover the noodles, but that's okay.
  • Place a lid on the pot and allow the liquid to come up to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, give the pot a stir, replace the lid, and reduce the heat to low. Allow the pot to simmer on low heat for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid every couple of minutes. After 7-10 minutes the pasta should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed.
  • Once the noodles are tender, add the sour cream and fold it into the noodles until everything is rich and creamy. Give the noodles a taste and add extra salt or pepper, if needed. Roughly chop a handful of parsley leaves and sprinkle over top. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5Cups | Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 614mg | Fiber: 3g

Overhead view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

How to Make Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff – Step by Step Photos

garlic sautéed in butter in the skillet

Begin by sautéing 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 Tbsp of butter until soft (1-2 minutes). You can use a large pot or large skillet, as long as it is big enough to hold all of the pasta AND has a lid (the lid will be used later).

browned ground beef in the skillet

Next, add 1/2 lb. ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.

Sliced mushrooms on a cutting board

While the beef is browning, slice 8oz. mushrooms. White button mushrooms are fine, but if you can get these baby bella mushrooms they are even more awesome (shout out to ALDI for carrying these at an affordable price).

Mushrooms in the skillet with beef

Once the beef is browned, add the mushrooms and some freshly cracked pepper. Continue to sauté until they are soft (about five minutes).

noodles added to the skillet, beef broth being poured in

Add ½ lb. wide egg noodles to the skillet along with 2 cups beef broth, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and ½ tsp Dijon mustard. Stir to combine. The broth will not fully cover the noodles, but that’s okay. The steam in the skillet will help cook them and they’ll be stirred to make sure even cooking.

Cooked noodles with beef in the skillet

Place a lid on the skillet and bring the broth up to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, give it a quick stir to loosen the noodles from the bottom, return the lid quickly, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, for 7-10 minutes or until the noodles are tender and there is only a small amount of thick sauce left in the skillet. 

Sour cream added to beef and noodles in the skillet

Finally, add ⅓ cup sour cream and fold it into the noodles until everything is creamy and delicious!

Finished one pot beef and mushroom stroganoff topped with parsley

Top off the beef and mushroom stroganoff with a little chopped parsley for color (because stroganoff is kind of boring to look at) and it’s time to dive into that skillet full of creamy goodness! You might want to give it a taste at this point to see if you want a little extra salt or pepper (again, depending on the salt content of your broth), but other than that it’s time to eat! And only one dish to clean. :)

close up side view of beef and mushroom stroganoff in the skillet

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Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!

The post Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Are you ready for this? Because I wasn’t quite ready for how easy and delicious this meal was. When I sat down to eat my first bowl of these Pesto Chicken and Vegetables I was like, “Oh yes, I’m going to make this every single week.” It’s the perfect light, flavorful, and fast recipe for meal prep. And it’s just SO SIMPLE.

Pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet

Vegetable Options

I used a summery mix of yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, green beans, and red onion for this quick sauté, but there are a lot of options when it comes to the vegetables. Here are some other vegetables you could add:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh corn
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach

The key thing to keep in mind when using different vegetables is when to add them to the skillet. For this recipe you don’t want to fully cook the vegetables. They should be just tender-crisp. So, keeping that in mind, add sturdy vegetables first and tender vegetables later to make sure they don’t get overcooked.

Can I Substitute the Chicken?

Yes, there are options for that, too! I think shrimp would be absolutely awesome in this recipe, as would tofu. If using tofu, I would do a cornstarch coating and fry it separately (see the technique used in this recipe) before tossing it together with the vegetables and pesto at the end.

How to Serve Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

I ate this dish as-is, just a bowl of flavorful chicken and vegetables. But there are more options! You could eat this over a bowl of rice, stir in some cooked orzo or quinoa, or even add them to a bed of greens. Honestly, I would probably even add them to a flat bread and top with mozzarella as a sort of vegetable pizza!

How Long Does it Stay Good?

I got about four days out of my pesto chicken and vegetables, but this can vary depending on the conditions in your refrigerator, freshness of the ingredients, and how long you cook the vegetables. As I mentioned above, you want to barely cook the vegetables for this recipe. Just make them tender-crisp so they don’t get too wilted. Not only does this give them great texture and a fresh, bright flavor, but they last a little longer in the fridge, too.

side view of a bowl full of pesto chicken and vegetables
Easy pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet with a spatula

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!
Total Cost $11.07 recipe / $2.72 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 369.33kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 zucchini $0.60
  • 1 yellow squash $0.50
  • 1/2 red onion $0.19
  • 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast $6.67
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 1 cup frozen green beans $0.67
  • 1/3 cup pesto* $0.73
  • 1/8 tsp salt* $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper* $0.01
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan* $0.11

Instructions

  • Chop the bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini, and slice the red onion. I like to make different shapes for each vegetable, but aim to make the pieces all around the same size.
  • Cube the chicken breasts into ½-inch pieces.
  • Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once the skillet and oil are very hot, add the chicken and sauté until the chicken pieces are opaque (3-5 minutes – the chicken will continue to cook as you add vegetables).
  • Add the green beans to the skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes more, or just until thawed.
  • Add the bell pepper and red onion to the skillet. Sauté for 1-2 minutes more. If water is beginning to pool in the skillet, turn the heat up slightly. It should be hot enough that the water released from the vegetables evaporates quickly.
  • Add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet and continue to sauté 2-3 minutes more, or just until the squash softens slightly.
  • Turn the heat off, add the pesto to the skillet, and stir until everything is coated. Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if desired. Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Notes

*You may need more or less pesto, salt, pepper, or Parmesan depending on the volume of your vegetables and your personal taste. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 369.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.68g | Protein: 36.8g | Fat: 19.2g | Sodium: 423.15mg | Fiber: 3.43g
Pesto chicken and vegetables in glass meal prep containers lined up side by side

How to Make Pesto Chicken and Vegetables – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Chop the vegetables first so they’re ready to go. Chop one red bell pepper, one yellow squash, one zucchini, slice ½ of one red onion and measure 1 cup frozen green beans. I like to do different shapes for the vegetables, but aim to keep them roughly the same size.

Cubed chicken breast on a cutting board

Cut 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch pieces.

Cooked chicken in the skillet, frozen green beans being poured in

Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once very hot, add the cubed chicken and sauté just until the chicken is opaque (3-5 minutes – it will continue to cook as you add more vegetables). Next, add the frozen green beans and sauté for a couple of minutes more, or just until thawed.

Red bell pepper and red onion added to the skillet

Next add the bell pepper and red onion. Continue to sauté a couple of minutes more. If you see water pooling in the skillet, turn the heat up higher. The heat should be high enough that any moisture released by the vegetables evaporates quickly.

zucchini and yellow squash added to the skillet

Finally, add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet. Sauté just a couple of minutes more, or just until the raw edge is taken off the squash.

Pesto being added to the skillet

Turn the heat off. Add about ⅓ cup pesto to the skillet and stir until everything is coated.

Finished pesto chicken and vegetables

Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if needed (I added a pinch of each).

pesto chicken and vegetables in a bowl topped with a pinch of parmesan

Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Three glass meal prep containers full of pesto chicken and vegetables

Perfect for meal prep!!

The post Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce

Talk about addictive! Once you try one of these crispy Coconut Chicken strips dipped in tangy sweet chili sauce you’re going to want to make them on a weekly basis. Because the chicken is sliced nice and thin and then cooked quickly in hot oil, the chicken stays juicy and tender on the inside, while developing […]

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Talk about addictive! Once you try one of these crispy Coconut Chicken strips dipped in tangy sweet chili sauce you’re going to want to make them on a weekly basis. Because the chicken is sliced nice and thin and then cooked quickly in hot oil, the chicken stays juicy and tender on the inside, while developing a perfectly golden brown and crispy exterior. Pair that with a bowl of cool, sweet, and tangy Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping and I’m in absolute heaven. So if you love chicken tenders, chicken strips, boneless wings, or anything along those lines, I think you’re going to love these Coconut Chicken Strips.

Originally posted 1-18-2010, updated 5-10-2021.

Overhead view of a plate full of coconut chicken strips with one being dipped into a bowl of sweet chili sauce

What Kind of Chicken to Use

I’ve tried this recipe with both chicken breast (boneless, skinless) and chicken tenders. Chicken tenders ended up being too large when used whole, so while they are an option you’ll probably still want to slice them into thinner pieces before breading and cooking. 

Another option would be to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks, so you’ll have something more along the lines of coconut chicken “bites” than strips. I think that would be awesome! The dark meat of chicken thighs will be extra tender and juicy.

Cooking Options

Frying – I chose to shallow fry my coconut chicken strips in a skillet because I don’t have a deep fryer and I don’t deep fry often enough to warrant using as much oil as deep-frying requires. Shallow frying will still get you that great super crispy exterior without allowing the inside to dry out.

Baking – While you can bake these, the results won’t be as awesome as frying. Baking takes longer and the hot air causes more evaporation, which results in drier chicken. You also won’t get as much browning as you will with frying. To help the browning issue, you can try adding a tablespoon or two of oil into the panko and coconut breading mixture, similar to the technique used in my Homemade Chicken Nuggets. I suggest using the baking temperature and technique used for the chicken nuggets as well, but increasing the bake time by a few minutes.

Air Frying – I do not own an air fryer, so unfortunately I can’t offer suggestions for cooking times and temperature, but I suspect these chicken strips would be a good candidate for air frying. Because this appliance uses hot air, similar to an oven, I would suggest either spritzing the strips with a little spray oil or mixing a tablespoon or two of oil into the panko and coconut mixture to help with browning.

What to Serve with Coconut Chicken Strips

Don’t skip that sweet chili sauce! You can find sweet chili sauce in the international aisle of most major grocery stores, or you can try making your own with my Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce recipe. For side dishes, you can pair this with something like Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Sesame Dressing, Cucumber Mango Salad, or Savory Coconut Rice

What Oil is Good For Frying?

It’s really important to use the right kind of cooking oil for frying. Every type of cooking oil has a different “smoke point,” which is the temperature that the oil begins to smoke and burn. And obviously, we want to avoid that because burned oil does not taste good (and it’s a fire hazard!). So, you’ll want to choose an oil that can withstand the high temperature of frying and an oil that doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own. Some good oils to choose from are canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, refined coconut oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, refined olive oil, or refined avocado oil.

Close up of a coconut chicken strip being dipped into sweet chili sauce

A plate of coconut chicken strips with a bowl of sweet chili sauce in the center, a hand dipping one chicken strip into the sauce

Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce

These tender and crispy homemade Coconut Chicken Strips are perfect for dipping in a tangy and sweet chili sauce.
Total Cost $10.95 recipe / $2.73 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 4 strips each
Calories 873.13kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts $7.70
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.01
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk $0.25
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs $0.22
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut $0.56
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil, divided* $0.32
  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce $1.43

Instructions

  • Slice the chicken breasts into ½-inch wide strips, slicing diagonally to maintain a more even length among the strips.
  • Sprinkle the salt and flour over top of the sliced chicken. Toss the chicken until they're evenly coated.
  • Whisk together the eggs and coconut milk in a bowl. In a separate wide shallow bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and flaked coconut.
  • To bread the chicken, dip each chicken strip into the egg wash, allow the excess to drip off, then dip it into the breadcrumb mixture until it's fully coated. Place the breaded chicken strips on a clean plate or tray until they're all breaded.
  • Once they're all breaded, it's time to fry. Heat ¼ cup cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. To test the heat of the oil, drop a breadcrumb into the oil. It should begin to sizzle immediately. If the oil begins to smoke at anytime, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the chicken strips, several at a time, leaving a little space between each one. Cook the chicken strips for about three minutes on on each side, or until they're deeply golden brown. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain, then repeat with another batch of chicken. Remove any burned pieces of coconut before beginning the next batch, and add more oil as needed, making sure to wait until it is hot before adding more chicken.
  • After frying all of the chicken, it's time to serve! Serve hot with a bowl of sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Notes

*Use a high heat cooking oil. Good options include: canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, refined coconut oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, refined olive oil, or refined avocado oil. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 873.13kcal | Carbohydrates: 82.7g | Protein: 39.45g | Fat: 42.1g | Sodium: 1313.3mg | Fiber: 3.15g

Close up of coconut chicken strips on a plate with a bowl of thai sweet chili sauce

How to Make Coconut Chicken Strips – Step by Step Photos

Sliced chicken breasts

Start with about 1.3 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cut them into ½-inch wide strips. I like to do this sort of on a diagonal to keep them more even in length. If your chicken breasts are very large, you might want to cut the length of the strip in half as well. Cutting the chicken strips thin enough is important because this allows it to cook through quickly. 

Chicken strips coated in flour and salt

Sprinkle ¼ tsp salt and 2 Tbsp flour over the chicken strips, then toss until they’re evenly coated.

Egg and coconut milk mixed in a bowl

Whisk together two large eggs and ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk in a bowl. Make sure to use the type of coconut milk that is in a can, not the type in a carton that is meant to be a dairy milk substitute.

Coconut and panko breadcrumbs mixed together in a bowl

Combine 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes and 1 cup panko breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow bowl.

Breading station with chicken, egg wash, coconut and breadcrumbs

Set up your breading station with the bowl of coconut egg wash, the bowl with coconut and breadcrumbs, and a plate or tray for the breaded chicken. I’m using a parchment lined baking sheet to hold the breaded chicken just for easy cleanup. Dip each chicken strip first into the eggwash (let excess drip off), then into the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure the breadcrumbs and coconut fully coat all sides, then place the chicken strip on your holding tray.

Breaded chicken strips on a baking tray

Once all of the chicken strips are breaded, it’s time to start cooking. Add ¼ cup cooking oil to a skillet and heat over medium. Wait until the oil is very hot, but not smoking. If you drop one of the panko breadcrumbs into the hot oil, it should immediately begin sizzling. If it doesn’t sizzle right away, the oil is not hot enough. If at any point during the cooking process the oil begins to smoke, remove it from the heat immediately and wait for it to cool down. 

Browned chicken strips in the skillet

Once the oil is good and hot, add several of the chicken strips, leaving a little space between each. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they are deeply golden brown on each side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Scoop out any loose pieces of coconut, add a little more oil if needed, wait for it to get hot again, and then cook a second batch of chicken strips. You should be able to cook them all in 2-3 batches. 

Finished Coconut Chicken Strips on a paper towel lined plate

Once they’re all cooked, it’s time to serve! 

Overhead view of a plate full of coconut chicken strips with a bowl of sweet chili sauce in the center

Pour about one cup of sweet chili sauce into a bowl and place that in the center of the coconut chicken strips. I sprinkled the chicken strips with a little cilantro for color, but that’s not needed for flavor. Sliced green onions are another optional garnish idea. Enjoy!

The post Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach

I bought a little jar of pesto recently and have been having fun finding ways to add it to everyday recipes. Yesterday I noticed a half bag of macaroni that had been sitting in my pantry for a few months and I just knew it was begging for the pesto treatment. So, I whipped up a quick […]

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I bought a little jar of pesto recently and have been having fun finding ways to add it to everyday recipes. Yesterday I noticed a half bag of macaroni that had been sitting in my pantry for a few months and I just knew it was begging for the pesto treatment. So, I whipped up a quick béchamel sauce, stirred in some grated Parmesan, and a good dollop of pesto. I poured the luxurious sauce over my cooked macaroni then aded couple handfuls of thawed frozen spinach (because I’m all about balance), and had myself the most delicious and creamy pesto mac and cheese.

Originally posted 3-8-2016, updated 4-26-2021.

Close up overhead view of a bowl of creamy pesto mac with spinach, fork in the center

What Kind of Pesto is Best?

I used a simple basil pesto, but the wonderful thing about this recipe is that it is very flexible. You could do a homemade Kale Pesto, you could do a sun-dried tomato pesto, or practically any flavor pesto that you’d like. 

How to Use Leftover Pesto

Pesto is definitely an expensive ingredient, but it’s so potent that you really don’t need a lot to add big flavor to your recipes. The little jar I bought contains about 3/4 cup pesto and costs $3.99. I usually only use about ¼ cup at a time in a recipe, so there is always some leftover. Here are some other recipes that use pesto:

If you can’t find uses for your leftovers immediately, pesto can be frozen. A lot of people like to spoon it into ice cube trays so they can grab a couple tablespoons at a time to toss into recipes like pasta, salad dressings, and other sauces.

What Else Can I Add to Pesto Mac and Cheese?

You can really take this recipe so many different directions! Try adding a handful of sun dried tomatoes, or maybe some chopped up rotisserie chicken. Or try topping it with some crumbled feta, bacon bits, or some buttered breadcrumbs!

Close up of a spoonful of creamy pesto mac with the pot in the background

Close up side view of a bowl of creamy pesto mac with spinach

Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with Spinach

A simple creamy sauce infused with basil pesto makes this Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with spinach the ultimate comfort food WITH a dose of vegetables!
Total Cost $4.05 reicpe / $0.68 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 (1 cup each)
Calories 333.58kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni $0.50
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.22
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.60
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.53
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $1.33
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
  • 1/2 lb. frozen spinach $0.80

Instructions

  • Thaw the spinach at room temperature or in the microwave. Squeeze out the excess water. Set the spinach aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the macaroni. Boil for 7-10 minutes, or until tender. Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • While the pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce. Add the butter and flour to a small sauce pot. Heat and stir the butter and flour over medium heat until it forms a creamy paste and begins to bubble. Continue to stir and cook for about one minute more.
  • Whisk the milk into the butter and flour, then allow it to come up to a simmer, while whisking. When it reaches a simmer, the sauce will thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  • Whisk the Parmesan and pesto into the sauce until smooth. This will further thicken the sauce. Season the sauce with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Make sure the sauce is well seasoned as the flavors will be less concentrated once the pasta and spinach are stirred in.
  • Return the cooked and drained pasta to the large pot (heat turned off) and add the thawed spinach. Pour the sauce over top, then stir until everything is combined and coated in sauce. Serve immediately.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 333.58kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.75g | Protein: 12.33g | Fat: 14.08g | Sodium: 665.92mg | Fiber: 2.75g

Close up side view of a bowl of creamy pesto mac with spinach

How to Make Pesto Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Macaroni being poured into a pot of boiling water

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add two cups of macaroni and continue to boil until tender but not mushy. Drain the pasta in a colander.

Thawed spinach in a bowl

While the macaroni is boiling, thaw 1/2 lb. spinach and then squeeze out some of the excess water. It doesn’t have to be bone-dry, just make sure it’s not sopping wet.

Butter and flour being whisked in a sauce pot

Place 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp flour into a small sauce pot. Heat them over a medium flame while whisking. Once bubbling, continue to stir and cook for about a minute. This mixture is called a roux (this is a blonde roux, in particular) and is used to thicken the sauce. Cooking it for a minute or so slightly toasts the flour so that you don’t have that raw paste-like flavor to your sauce.

Milk being poured into the sauce pot with the roux

Whisk in two cups of whole milk. Let the mixture come to a simmer, whisking occasionally to make sure the milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom.

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

Once the milk starts simmering, that’s when the roux magic happens. The milk will thicken slightly. It won’t be as thick as a cheese sauce at this point, but it should have noticeably more body. Turn the heat off.

Grated Parmesan being added to the sauce pot

Whisk in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. The cheese will help thicken the sauce even more. 

A measuring cup full of basil pesto held over the sauce pot

Then whisk in 1/4 cup basil pesto.

Salt and pepper added to the creamy pesto sauce

Finally, season the sauce with salt and freshly cracked pepper. You want the sauce to be pretty heavily seasoned because it will taste less concentrated once the pasta and spinach are stirred in. I used 1/2 tsp salt and about 5-10 cranks of a pepper mill.

Creamy pesto sauce and spinach added to the pot with the cooked macaroni

Return the cooked and drained pasta to the large pot it was cooked in, add the thawed and squeezed spinach, then pour the creamy sauce over top.

Finished creamy pesto mac in a pot with a large spoon

Then stir all that creamy pesto goodness together. Oh my.

Overhead view of a bowl full of creamy pesto mac with spinach, a fork in the center

I’ll just say it one more time, then leave it there… Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with Spinach–OH MY.

Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach - BudgetBytes.com

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Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

This week I had a killer craving for some classic spaghetti and meat sauce. But, as you may know, I like to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can to recipes. So I shredded a couple of handfuls of vegetables, tossed them into the sauce, and added some extra herbs and spices to make this […]

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This week I had a killer craving for some classic spaghetti and meat sauce. But, as you may know, I like to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can to recipes. So I shredded a couple of handfuls of vegetables, tossed them into the sauce, and added some extra herbs and spices to make this absolutely incredible “hidden vegetable” pasta sauce. It has more flavor, more color, and more texture (read: fiber). It’s a win-win-win!

 Originally posted 11-21-2015, updated 4-17-2021.

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce and garlic bread on the side

Shown with Homemade Garlic Bread

Balance Your Costs with Vegetables

My favorite trick for stretching ground meat in recipes is to use vegetables or beans to replace half of the ground meat. This time I shredded vegetables, which mimicked the texture of the ground meat, but added a subtle sweetness and a whole lot of extra flavor, texture, and nutrition to the sauce. This sauce is so delicious that I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls while I took photos!

Can I Make This Sauce Vegetarian?

If you want to make a vegetarian version of this hidden vegetable pasta sauce, I suggest mincing an 8oz. container of mushrooms and sautéing them with the onions and garlic. The minced texture will mimic the ground meat and mushrooms have that umami flavor that is similar to ground meat.

Is Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce Freezer Friendly?

This sauce freezes great if you want to make a double batch and have it on hand in your freezer for busy nights. Just make sure to cool the sauce completely in the refrigerator first, then transfer to the freezer. The sauce will stay good in the freezer for months. To reheat, empty the freezer container into a sauce pot and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Side view of hidden vegetable pasta sauce in a skillet with a spatula

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Give your spaghetti an upgrade with this hidden vegetable pasta sauce that contains a medley of vegetables plus extra herbs and spices for maximum flavor.
Total Cost $6.21 recipe / $1.55 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 366.78kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 small zucchini $0.57
  • 2 carrots $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.25
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.03
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) $0.02
  • 1 24oz. jar pasta sauce* $1.49
  • 12 oz. spaghetti $0.75

Instructions

  • Use a cheese grater to grate the zucchini and carrots. You'll want about 1.5 cups of each, but the amount is flexible. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to a large, deep skillet. Cook the ground beef over medium heat until it is fully browned. Add the diced onion and garlic and continue to sauté a few minutes more, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with the basil, oregano, salt, freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are wilted (about five minutes).
  • Add the pasta sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Allow the contents of the skillet to come up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and simmer the sauce as you prepare the spaghetti. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the drained spaghetti to the pot with the heat turned off. Add one cup of the prepared sauce to the pasta and stir to coat. Divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with additional sauce.

Notes

*Use your favorite brand or flavor of red pasta sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 366.78kcal | Carbohydrates: 46.73g | Protein: 25.98g | Fat: 13.53g | Sodium: 979.83mg | Fiber: 7.78g

Close up of a fork twirling spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

How to Make Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce – Step by Step Photos

Shredded zucchini and carrot on a cutting board

Start by preparing your vegetables. Use a cheese grater to grate one small zucchini and two carrots. You’ll want about 1.5 cups each, but this is flexible so don’t sweat it if you have a little more or less. Also dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic.

Browned ground beef with onions and garlic

Add 1/2 lb. ground beef in a large deep skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook over medium heat until the beef has browned. Once browned, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté for a few minutes more, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Shredded vegetables added to the skillet with the meat

Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional). Continue to sauté the vegetables until they soften, or about five minutes. 

Pasta sauce being poured into the skillet with the meat and vegetables

Finally, add one 24oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce and stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come back up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and continue to let the contents of the skillet simmer as you begin to prepare your spaghetti.

Simmered hidden vegetable pasta sauce in the skillet

Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers. The vegetables will continue to soften as the sauce simmers, further “hiding” them in the sauce.

Spaghetti and sauce in the stock pot

Cook 12oz. of spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the cooking pot with the heat turned off and add about 1 cup of the sauce. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Divide the pasta into serving bowls, then top each bowl with additional sauce. This stuff is seriously so good, my mouth is watering just looking at that bowl!

Pasta sauce in a freezer bag

And don’t forget, this sauce is freezer-friendly! Just make sure to cool it completely in the refrigerator first, then place in a freezer-safe container (I used freezer bags), label, date, and freeze for later! It can be thawed in a saucepot over low, stirring occasionally.

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Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Ground turkey can be kind of, well, boring if you don’t dress it up right. That’s why for these Mediterranean Turkey Burgers I added fun add-ins to the burger patty for maximum flavor and color. And instead of the ketchup and mustard treatment, these juicy burgers get a homemade lemon dill yogurt sauce, crunchy slices […]

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Ground turkey can be kind of, well, boring if you don’t dress it up right. That’s why for these Mediterranean Turkey Burgers I added fun add-ins to the burger patty for maximum flavor and color. And instead of the ketchup and mustard treatment, these juicy burgers get a homemade lemon dill yogurt sauce, crunchy slices of cucumber, and a few slivers of red onion. If you’re looking to change up your burger game, these Mediterranean Turkey Burgers are it!

Originally posted 3-26-2011, updated 4-9-2021.

Overhead view of a mediterranean turkey burger, top bun off, on a paper lined plate next to cucumber salad

Can the Turkey Burgers be Grilled?

Yes, you can definitely grill these burgers instead of cooking them in a skillet. An outdoor grill or even an indoor countertop grill, like a George Foreman grill, will work great.

Why 19 oz. of Ground Turkey?

I’ll never understand why, but some brands sell ground turkey in 19 oz. packages instead of one-pound packages (if you work in that industry and know why, please let me know). If you can only find a one-pound package of ground turkey, you can still make this recipe. I wouldn’t adjust any other ingredients, just make four patties instead of five and they’ll be a little extra flavorful. 

What to Serve with Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Since I had a half cucumber and red onion leftover from the recipe, I used them to make a small batch of my Super Fresh Cucumber Salad. It’s the perfect light side to these burgers. You could also serve them with something like Steak Fries, Mediterranean White Bean Salad, Quinoa Tabbouleh, or a simple green salad (mixed greens, tomatoes, and a vinaigrette). 

Can I Use Fresh Spinach?

Yes, you can use fresh spinach in this recipe instead of frozen, if you prefer. I suggest chopping the spinach until it’s in small pieces so it’s easier to mix into the meat. You may also want to sauté it briefly in a skillet to get some of the water out. You’ll want about ¼ cup once sautéed.

Side view of a closed Mediterranean Turkey Burger on a paper lined plate

 

Overhead view of an open faced Mediterranean Turkey Burger on a paper lined plate with cucumber salad on the side

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Spinach, sun dried tomatoes, feta, and a dilly yogurt sauce make these Mediterranean Turkey Burgers full of flavor and color.
Total Cost $10.18 recipe / $2.04 serving
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 396.62kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt $0.50
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02

Turkey Burgers

  • 19 oz. ground turkey* $3.89
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes $0.83
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion $0.08
  • 2 oz. frozen spinach (1 cup when frozen) $0.25
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta $0.57
  • 1 tsp dried oregano $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04

For Serving

  • 5 hamburger buns $3.04
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced $0.75

Instructions

  • Make the lemon dill yogurt sauce first. Stir together the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic powder, dried dill, and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Prepare the add-ins for the turkey burgers. Finely chop the sun dried tomatoes, mince or finely dice the red onion, crumble the feta, and then thaw and squeeze all the moisture out of the frozen spinach (2 oz. will be about 1 cup when frozen, ¼ cup when thawed and squeezed dry).
  • Add the ground turkey, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta, spinach, dried oregano, garlic powder, and salt to a bowl. Mix the ingredients together until evenly combined.
  • Divide and shape the turkey mixture into five burger patties. Make them flatter and wider than usual because they will shrink up and in as they cook.
  • Heat ½ Tbsp cooking oil in a skillet over medium. Once hot, add three of the turkey burgers and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining cooking oil and the rest of the burger patties.
  • To serve, smear some of the lemon dill yogurt sauce on a bun. Add a turkey burger, some sliced cucumber, and sliced red onion, then enjoy.

Notes

*I used 93% lean ground turkey

Nutrition

Serving: 1burger | Calories: 396.62kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.58g | Protein: 30.8g | Fat: 16.16g | Sodium: 602.96mg | Fiber: 2.32g

Close up side view of a mediterranean turkey burger, open-faced

How to Make Mediterranean Turkey Burgers – Step By Step Photos

lemon, garlic powder, and dried dill being stirred into yogurt

Make the lemon dill yogurt sauce first, so the flavors have a little time to blend. Stir together ½ cup Greek yogurt, ½ Tbsp lemon juice, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, ⅛ tsp dried dill, and ⅛ tsp salt. Refrigerate the sauce until ready to use. And yes, you can use plain non-Greek yogurt if needed, it just makes a less thick sauce. :)

Chopped burger add-ins on a cutting board

Prepare the burger add-ins. Chop about ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes (I use the dry pack, not the kind packed in oil), mince or finely dice ¼ cup red onion (save the rest to slice and place on the burgers), crumble 1 oz. feta (about ¼ cup), and thaw then squeeze all the moisture out of 2 oz. frozen spinach. The spinach is about 1 cup when frozen, ¼ cup after it has been thawed and squezed dry.

Ground turkey and burger add-ins in a bowl

Place 19 oz. ground turkey, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta, spinach, 1 tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp garlic powder, and ¼ tsp salt in a bowl (sorry, I forgot the oregano, garlic powder, and salt until after the photo was taken).

Turkey burger mixture in the bowl

Mix the ingredients into the ground turkey until it’s all evenly mixed.

Shaped Turkey Burgers on an orange cutting board

Divide and shape the meat mixture into five burger patties. Make the patties thinner and wider than you’d expect because they do shrink up and inward as you cook them.

Three cooked turkey burgers in a skillet

To cook the burgers in a skillet, add ½ Tbsp cooking oil to a skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add a few of the burger patties and cook on each side for 5-7 minutes, or until well browned and cooked through. Repeat with the second half of the oil and the remaining burger patties.

Overhead view of an open faced Mediterranean Turkey Burger on a paper lined plate with cucumber salad on the side

To serve, spread some of the lemon dill yogurt sauce on a bun, add a cooked burger patty and a few slices of cucumber and red onion. Enjoy!

Greek Turkey Burgers are a healthy mix of ground turkey and Mediterranean flavors. BudgetBytes.com

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Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

These Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts are so tender, juicy, and flavorful, you’ll want to spoon that delicious pan sauce over EVERYTHING.

The post Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Are you in a chicken rut? Cooking the same ol’ boring chicken breast week after week? Yeah, then you need to try this Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken ASAP. It’s savory, tart, and peppery, and has a delicious pan sauce that you’ll want to spoon over your entire plate! This one is so quick and flavorful, I know it’s going to go into your regular rotation. ;)

Overhead view of lemon pepper chicken in the skillet, garnished with lemon slices

What Kind of Chicken Should I Use?

This quick skillet cooking method requires thin chicken pieces that cook quickly, like boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into thinner pieces), chicken tenders, thin-cut chicken breast, or chicken thighs. This method is not suitable for bone-in chicken.

Do I Need Fresh Lemon?

Nope! While I did garnish this dish with some fresh lemon slices (I had those leftover from another dish), you actually don’t need fresh lemon to make this lemon pepper chicken! Most of the lemon flavor comes from the potent lemon pepper seasoning. The small amount of lemon juice added to the pan sauce can be bottled.

What Is Lemon Pepper Seasoning?

The lemon pepper seasoning I used to flavor this recipe is a mix of lemon zest, pepper, citric acid, and salt. Most major spice brands in the U.S. as well as many major generic store brands make their own lemon pepper seasoning, so it should be easy to find in just about any grocery store in the U.S. If you can’t find lemon pepper at your local store, there are plenty of recipes online for homemade lemon pepper seasoning.

Make sure to check if the lemon pepper seasoning you have contains salt. If it does not, you may need to add more salt to the recipe below.

What to Serve with Lemon Pepper Chicken

I went full-on lemon and served my Lemon Pepper Chicken with Lemon Parsley Pasta, but it would also go great with some Sautéed Vegetables, Roasted Broccoli, Spinach Rice with Feta, or Spanish Chickpeas and Rice.

A sliced piece of lemon pepper chicken on a plate with pasta.
Overhead view of lemon pepper chicken in the skillet with lemon slices

Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

These Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts are so tender and juicy, and you'll want to spoon that delicious pan sauce over EVERYTHING. 
Total Cost $7.58 recipe / $1.90 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 253.4kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs. total) $6.79
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning $0.30
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.14
  • 1 tsp lemon juice $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional) $0.10
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Use a sharp knife to carefully fillet the chicken breasts into two thinner peices (or use thin-cut chicken breasts).
  • Combine the flour and lemon pepper seasoning in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the chicken breast pieces and then rub it in until the chicken is fully coated.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium. When the skillet and oil are very hot, add the chicken and cook on each side until golden brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the cooked chicken to a clean plate and cover to keep warm.
  • Add the butter and minced garlic to the skillet and sauté for about one minute.
  • Add the chicken broth to the skillet and whisk to dissolve all the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the lemon juice and allow the sauce to simmer in the skillet for 3-5 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed (I did not add any).
  • Finally, return the chicken to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Allow the chicken to heat through. Season with a little freshly cracked pepper and fresh chopped parsley (optional), then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 253.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.53g | Protein: 34.45g | Fat: 10.43g | Sodium: 656.68mg | Fiber: 0.15g
Pan sauce being spooned over a piece of lemon pepper chicken in the skillet

How to Make Lemon Pepper Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Two chicken breasts cut into thinner fillets

Use a sharp knife to carefully fillet two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into thinner pieces (or use thin-cut chicken breasts).

lemon pepper flour being sprinkled over the chicken pieces

Combine 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour and 1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the chicken pieces.

Coated chicken breasts on the cutting board

Smear the flour mixture over both sides of the chicken until they’re evenly coated.

Browned chicken breasts in the skillet

Heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil in a skillet over medium. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and cook on both sides until golden brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the cooked chicken to a clean plate and cover to keep warm.

Butter and garlic added to the skillet

Add 1 Tbsp butter and one minced clove of garlic to the skillet. Sauté the garlic for about one minute.

Chicken broth being poured into the skillet

Pour ½ cup chicken broth into the skillet and whisk to dissolve all the browned bits off the bottom. Add 1 tsp lemon juice to the broth, then let the broth simmer in the skillet for 3-5 minutes, or until it has reduced just slightly. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed (I did not add any, but this will depend on the salt content of your lemon peppers seasoning and broth).

Chicken returned to the skillet, pan sauce being spooned over top

Return the chicken to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Allow the chicken to heat through (a few minutes).

Finished lemon pepper chicken in the skillet topped with parsley

Top the chicken off with some freshly cracked pepper and chopped parsley (optional), then serve!

A fork lifting a slice of lemon pepper chicken from the plate

The lemon helps keep the chicken extra tender, juicy, and flavorful! Enjoy!

The post Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Easy Vegetarian Minestrone

This easy Vegetarian Minestrone Soup is hearty, chock full of vegetables, budget friendly, meal prep ready, and super flexible!

The post Easy Vegetarian Minestrone appeared first on Budget Bytes.

As we move from colder weather to warmer days, a good soup like Minestrone is a must. This hearty, vegetable-filled soup is warm and soothing, but light enough to not make you feel weighed down as you’re out enjoying these beautiful days. Plus, this Vegetarian Minestrone ticks all of my Budget Bytes boxes: easy, inexpensive, flexible, and meal prep friendly!

Close up overhead shot of vegetarian minestrone in the pot with a ladle

Isn’t All Minestrone Soup Vegetarian?

There are a LOT of interpretations of Minestrone out there, but they often include a Parmesan rind to infuse more umami flavor into the broth. Parmesan is one of the few cheeses that is not considered vegetarian because it contains animal rennet. And since I didn’t have a Parmesan rind on hand, this particular recipe is a vegetarian minestrone. But by all means, if you have a Parmesan rind on hand and aren’t concerned about keeping the soup vegetarian, add it to the soup before it simmers! You won’t be disappointed.

Some people also add a little bit of meat to their Minestrone. Pancetta or bacon are great options (brown in the pot before adding the vegetables) for adding a touch more flavor.

Where’s the Pasta??

Minestrone soup often has some sort of pasta or grain to make the soup extra hearty. Since pasta can get mushy when it swims around in soup for too long, I decided to avoid that issue and just sub some extra beans (chickpeas) to add that extra heartiness without having to deal with soggy pasta.

If you want to add some pasta to your minestrone, just choose any small shaped pasta like ditalini, small shells, or orzo. Add about 1 cup of the uncooked pasta and an extra 2 cups of water to the soup, then boil until the pasta is tender.

What Other Vegetables Can I Add to Minestrone?

My favorite thing about Minestrone is that it is SUPER flexible. If you don’t like one or more of the vegetables in my recipe below, feel free to use one of these instead:

  • Celery
  • Sweet Potato
  • Russet Potato
  • Fennel
  • Turnips
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Butternut Squash
  • Peas
Overhead view of a bowl of vegetarian minestrone with a spoon in the middle
Overhead view of a bowl of vegetarian minestrone with a spoon in the middle

Vegetarian Minestrone

This easy Vegetarian Minestrone Soup is hearty, chock full of vegetables, budget friendly, meal prep ready, and super flexible! 
Total Cost $5.96 recipe / $0.99 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 about 1.5 cups each
Calories 313.55kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 4 carrots $0.32
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste $0.10
  • 1 28oz. can diced tomatoes $1.00
  • 1 15oz. can kidney beans $0.75
  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas $1.00
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning $0.30
  • 4 cups vegetable broth $0.52
  • 1 zucchini (about 1/2 lb.) $0.71
  • 1 cup frozen green beans $0.30
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.06
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and slice the carrots. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and carrots to a large soup pot. Sauté over medium heat until the onions become soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the tomato paste to the pot and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes more, or until the tomato paste begins to coat the bottom of the pot (do not let it burn).
  • Rinse and drain the kidney beans and chickpeas, and then add them to the pot along with the diced tomatoes (with juices), Italian Seasoning, and vegetable broth. Give everything a good stir, place a lid on top, and allow it to come up to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the soup is simmering, slice the zucchini into quarter-rounds. After the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add the sliced zucchini and frozen green beans (no need to thaw first). Stir and simmer the soup for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the zucchini just begin to soften.
  • Finish the soup by adding lemon juice and chopped parsley. Give it a taste and add extra salt if needed (my soup did not need any extra salt, but it may depending on the type of broth used). Serve hot with crusty bread for dipping!

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 313.55kcal | Carbohydrates: 48.08g | Protein: 14.1g | Fat: 8.55g | Sodium: 1008.55mg | Fiber: 11.32g
Overhead view of a pot full of vegetarian minestrone

How to Make Vegetarian Minestrone – Step by Step Photos

Chopped onion, carrots, and garlic in a soup pot with olive oil

Dice one yellow onion, mince two cloves of garlic, and slice four carrots. Add the onion, garlic, and carrots to a large soup pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).

Tomato paste in the pot with vegetables

Add 2 Tbsp tomato paste to the pot and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes more, or just until the tomato paste begins to coat the bottom of the pot.

Beans, herbs, tomatoes, and broth added to the soup pot

Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of kidney beans and one 15oz. can of chickpeas. Add the beans to the pot along with one 28oz. can diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, and 4 cups vegetable broth. Give everything a stir, place a lid on top, and allow it to come up to a simmer. Simmer the soup for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sliced zucchini on a cutting board

While the soup is simmering, slice one zucchini (about ½ lb.) into quarter-rounds.

Zucchini and green beans added to the soup

Once the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add the sliced zucchini and 1 cup frozen green beans (no need to thaw first). Stir everything together and let it continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes more, or until the zucchini just begins to soften.

Chopped parsley and lemon juice added to the soup

Finish the soup off with 1 Tbsp lemon juice and about a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Give the soup a taste and add salt if needed. I did not add any extra salt to my soup, but you may need some depending on the salt content of your broth.

Front view of a bowl full of vegetarian minestrone with a spoon lifting a bite

So much vegetable goodness!!

The post Easy Vegetarian Minestrone appeared first on Budget Bytes.