Loaded Smashed Potatoes

These loaded smashed potatoes are boiled until tender and fluffy, baked until golden and crispy, and piled high with toppings!

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Um, if you’ve never had smashed potatoes before, let this be a sign from the universe that you need to make them immediately. These tasty little taters are boiled until fluffy and tender on the inside, then smashed and baked until crispy on the outside. Then I went one step further (because of course I did) and loaded them up with my favorite baked potato fixins’. These Loaded Smashed Potatoes are everything I’ve ever wanted.

Close up of loaded smashed potatoes on the baking sheet

What Kind of Potatoes Work Best for Smashed Potatoes

I highly suggest splurging a little on small baby potatoes, the kind that are about the size of a golf ball. They cook quickly and have the perfect skin to flesh ratio to make these smashed potatoes just right. Plus, they are always so smooth and creamy on the inside.

Loaded Potato Topping Ideas

I kept my smashed potato toppings fairly simple because I like to work with what I have on hand. I seasoned with some Everything Bagel Seasoning, then topped with cheddar, sour cream, and green onion. Here are some other toppings you can try:

  • Bacon
  • BBQ Sauce
  • French Fried Onions
  • Pepperoni
  • Chili
  • Salsa
  • Jalapeños
  • Chopped Sweet Onion
  • Pesto
  • Blue Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Spinach Dip

Seasoning Substitutions

If you can’t find everything bagel seasoning at a store, here is a recipe for homemade everything bagel seasoning. Or, if you want to use something else, you could use Montreal Steak Seasoning (a similarly chunky seasoning mix), or maybe a little ranch seasoning (mix with the oil before brushing onto potatoes). Another option is to do a simple classic mix of garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

What to Serve with Smashed Potatoes

The classic flavors in these smashed potatoes go with so many different meals and they can add a fun twist to your usual “meat and potatoes” dinner. Try them with my Baked Chicken Drumsticks, Honey Mustard Chicken Wings, Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Easy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, or Homemade Chicken Nuggets. Or just serve them on their own as a snacky-snack for movie night or something. ;)

Side view of loaded smashed potatoes on a baking sheet
overhead view of loaded smashed potatoes on the baking sheet

Loaded Smashed Potatoes

These loaded smashed potatoes are boiled until tender and fluffy, baked until golden and crispy, and piled high with toppings!
Total Cost $4.97 recipe / $0.99 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5 4 potatoes each
Calories 276kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. baby potatoes $2.99
  • 2 tsp salt (for the boiling water) $0.05
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1/2 Tbsp everything bagel seasoning $0.15
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar $0.85
  • 1/3 cup sour cream $0.39
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.22

Instructions

  • Place the baby potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes by one inch. Add 2 tsp salt to the water.
  • Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are very tender. You can test the tenderness by piercing the potatoes with a fork. They need to be very tender so they smash easily.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the olive oil and everything bagel seasoning in a small bowl.
  • Drain the potatoes and let them cool for about few minutes, then transfer them to the baking sheet. Use a heavy-bottomed glass or a potato masher to smash each potato until it's relatively flat.
  • Brush the olive oil and seasoning over the surface of the smashed potatoes
  • Bake the smashed potatoes in the preheated 425ºF oven for about 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove the potatoes from the oven, then top with the shredded cheese. Return them to the oven for a few more minutes, or just until the cheese is melted.
  • Finally, top each potato with a tiny dollop of sour cream and sliced green onions, then serve!

Notes

*the sodium content listed below includes the salt added to the boiling water, most of which is discarded when the potatoes are drained.

Nutrition

Serving: 4potatoes | Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 1171mg | Fiber: 3g

How to Make Loaded Smashed Potatoes – Step by Step Photos

Baby potatoes in a pot with water

Place 1.5 lbs. baby potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover them by one inch. Also add 2 tsp salt to the water to season the potatoes as they cook. Place a lid on the pot and bring the water up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are very tender (test with a fork). Drain the potatoes in a colander.

Olive oil and everything bagel seasoning in a bowl

While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine 2 Tbsp olive oil and ½ Tbsp everything bagel seasoning in a small bowl.

boiled potatoes on the baking sheet being smashed with a glass

Transfer the drained potatoes to the baking sheet and use a heavy-bottomed glass to smash them until they’re sort of flattened.

Seasoned oil being brushed over the smashed potatoes

Brush the oil and seasoning over the surface of the smashed potatoes.

Baked smashed potatoes being topped with cheese

Bake the smashed potatoes in the preheated 425ºF oven for about 30 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and crispy on the edges. Then remove them from the oven and top with shredded cheese (about 1 cup total). Return them to the oven for a few more minutes to melt the cheese.

Final smashed potatoes topped with sour cream and green onion

Once the cheese is melted, remove them from the oven again and top each potato with a tiny dollop of sour cream, then sprinkle sliced green onions over top.

loaded smashed potatoes on a plate with a chicken drumstick

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Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Oven baked chicken drumsticks are the perfect easy dinner idea that can be flavored with any of your favorite seasonings.

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You guys know how I love easy dinner staples, right? Baked chicken drumsticks are exactly that—an easy, no-brainer main dish recipe that you make with barely any planning or effort. Just coat the chicken with your favorite seasoning, toss them in the oven, and then focus on your side dishes or whatever else you have going on in your life while the drumsticks cook themselves. They’re easy, tasty, and the perfect “emergency” meal for when you just don’t want to have to think about, “what’s for dinner?”

Close up side view of oven baked chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet

Use Bone-In, Skin-On Drumsticks (or Thighs)

Dark meat chicken, like drumsticks and thighs, is very forgiving, especially when cooked with the bone-in and skin on. The skin helps hold in the moisture and the higher fat content of the meat helps it stay tender and juicy. You can swap in bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs using the same method in the recipe below.

Chicken breast needs a slightly different technique because it is a leaner cut of meat. For a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast I suggest using the method in my Herb Roasted Chicken Breast recipe. Boneless skinless chicken breast should be cooked using the method in my Garlic Herb Baked Chicken Breast recipe.

Other Seasoning Ideas for Baked Chicken Drumsticks

I used a very classic mix of smoked paprika, garlic, onion, and oregano for my baked chicken drumsticks, but you can literally use any seasoning blend you like for this. There is so much flexibility! Here are a few ideas for seasoning your oven-baked chicken drumsticks:

Want some sauce for dipping? Try these delicious sauces with your baked chicken:

What to Serve with Chicken Drumsticks

I made some Easy Cheesy Broccoli Rice to serve on the side of my chicken drumsticks, but it would also go great with classics like: mashed potatoes, Three Bean Salad, Oven Roasted Broccoli, Simple Sautéed Vegetables, Roasted Potatoes, or Classic Coleslaw.

Baked chicken drumsticks on a plate with easy cheesy broccoli and rice
Oven roasted chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet with tongs

Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Oven baked chicken drumsticks are the perfect easy dinner idea that can be flavored with any of your favorite seasonings.
Total Cost $3.94 recipe / $0.66 per piece
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 pieces
Calories 254kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1.75 lbs. chicken drumsticks (6 pieces) $3.42
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil* $0.32

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Place the chicken drumsticks in a bowl and drizzle the cooking oil over top. Sprinkle the prepared seasoning over the drumsticks, then toss until they're evenly coated in oil and spices.
  • Place the seasoned drumsticks on a baking sheet with enough space around each so they're not touching. You can line the baking sheet with foil or parchment for easier cleanup, if desired.
  • Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 175ºF, flipping the drumsticks once half-way through. Serve hot.

Notes

*You can use your favorite high-heat cooking oil. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1drumstick | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 332mg | Fiber: 1g
Oven roasted chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet with tongs

How to Make Baked Chicken Drumsticks – Step by Step Photos

herbs and spices in a small bowl

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Decide what herbs and spices you want to use to season your drumsticks (see the text above the recipe for some ideas). I used a simple mix of 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, and ½ tsp salt.

Seasoning being sprinkled over chicken drumsticks

Place about 1.75 lbs. chicken drumsticks in a large bowl and drizzle 2 Tbsp of your preferred cooking oil over top.

Seasoned chicken drumsticks in a bowl.

Toss the drumsticks in the oil and spices until everything is evenly coated.

Raw seasoned chicken on a baking sheet

Arrange the chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet spaced out enough so they are not touching. You can line the baking sheet in parchment for easier cleanup if desired.

baked drumsticks on a baking sheet

Bake the chicken drumsticks for about 40 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the internal temperature reaches 175ºF.

baked chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet with tongs, garnished with parsley

Serve hot and enjoy! (garnished with parsley for color, not needed for flavor)

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Easy Lemon Cream Pie

This sweet and creamy cloud-like lemon cream pie is an easy summer dessert that can be made completely no-bake, if needed.

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I set out this week to make some no-churn lemon ice cream, but at the last minute, I was like, “I really don’t want to wait for it to freeze…” so I made it into a pie instead. The filling for this super easy Lemon Cream Pie is the same simple combo as no-churn ice cream: sweetened condensed milk + heavy whipping cream + whatever flavors or add-ins you want. It creates a sweet and creamy cloud-like mixture that I could just eat up with a spoon (or in a pie crust 😄).

This simple pie has so many options, so make sure you keep reading to find out a couple of quick ways you can change it up and make it your own.

Overhead view of a lemon cream pie on black tile with lemons on the side

Pie Crust Options

Graham Cracker Crust – I made a simple pie crust out of vanilla wafers to play on the whole vanilla-lemon theme of the pie, but you can easily use the exact same method with graham crackers instead.

No-Bake – I baked my crust for a brief 10 minutes to make it more solid, but baking is not 100% necessary. You can make the pie completely no-bake if needed, the crust will just be a little more crumbly.

Store-Bought – To make this pie faster and easier, you can use any type of store-bought crust that you like. If it’s a traditional pie crust, you’ll want to pre-bake and cool it before adding the lemon-cream filling. For graham cracker crusts, just fill and refrigerate!

What Kind of Dish to Use

This recipe fills a standard 9-inch pie plate. BUT you can also make this into lemon cream squares by using an 8×8 or 9×9-inch square baking dish instead. If using a square dish, I suggest only pressing the crust into the bottom and not up the sides as you would with a pie plate.

Side view of a slice of lemon cream pie being lifted from the pie plate

Freezer-Friendly

As I mentioned in the introduction, the filling for this pie is actually exactly the same as no-churn ice cream. For that reason, this lemon cream pie is very freezer-friendly. You can eat it frozen, like an ice cream pie, or just store your leftover slices in the freezer (for a couple of months). If you do plan to consume your pie frozen, I suggest skipping the baking step for the crust below because it will be easier to cut when frozen if the crust isn’t quite as solid.

Do I Need to Use Fresh Lemons?

I consider fresh lemons to be mandatory for this recipe, not because of the juice but because of the zest. A lot of the lemon flavor in this pie comes from the zest itself. Without the zest the pie will be nice and tart from the juice but without a vibrant lemon flavor.

Can I Use Prepared Whipped Topping?

Yes, if you don’t want to whip your own heavy cream (it really only takes three minutes with a hand mixer), you can use 2 cups of store-bought whipped topping. But homemade will always taste better. 😉

a piece of lemon cream pie on a plate with a fork on the plate
Overhead view of a sliced lemon cream pie with lemons on the sides

Easy Lemon Cream Pie

This sweet and creamy cloud-like lemon cream pie is an easy summer dessert that can be made completely no-bake, if needed.
Total Cost $4.26 recipe / $0.53 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Refrigerate Time 2 hours
Servings 8 slices
Calories 462kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Pie Crust*

  • 1.5 cups crushed vanilla wafers $0.83
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted $0.54
  • 2 Tbsp sugar $0.04

Lemon Cream Filling

  • 1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk $1.25
  • 3 lemons $1.54
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract $0.28
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream $0.78

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Use a food processor or rolling pin to crush the vanilla wafers into very fine, even crumbs. Add the melted butter and sugar and stir until everything is very well combined.
  • Press the butter crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use a flat bottomed glass to compress the mixture until solid. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. After baking, transfer the crust to the refrigerator to cool.
  • Zest and juice the lemons. You'll need ½ cup lemon juice and 1 Tbsp zest. Slice any leftover unjuiced portions of the lemon to use as garnishes.
  • Add the sweetened condensed milk to a bowl along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  • Add ¼ of the lemon and sweetened condensed milk mixture to the whipped cream and gently fold until combined. Repeat with ¼ of the lemon mixture at a time until all of it has been folded into the whipped cream.
  • Pour the lemon cream filling into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate until completely chilled (about two hours). Slice into 8 pieces and serve.

Notes

*For a softer crust, just press the filling into the pie plate without baking. You can use either vanilla wafers OR graham crackers for this pie crust. You can use any prepared store-bought crust in place of the crust recipe listed here. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 244mg | Fiber: 1g
Overhead view of a sliced lemon cream pie with lemons on the sides

How to Make Lemon Cream Pie – Step by Step Photos

Vanilla wafer crust ingredients in the food processor

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. You’ll need 1.5 cups of vanilla wafer (or graham cracker) crumbs for the crust. Use either a food processor or a rolling pin to crush the wafers, making sure the crumb is very fine and even. Add 2 Tbsp sugar and 6 Tbsp melted butter.

vanilla wafer crust mixed in the food processor

Stir (or pulse in the food processor) until the butter, sugar, and crumbs are well combined.

Vanilla wafer crust being pressed into the pie plate with a glass

Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use a flat bottomed glass to really compress the mixture. Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes (this helps solidify the crust), then transfer to the refrigerator to cool.

Zested and juiced lemons

Next, zest and juice the lemons. You’ll need ½ cup lemon juice and about 1 Tbsp zest. That’s about 2-3 lemons worth of juice and 1 lemon worth of zest. If you have any leftover lemon that hasn’t been juiced, you can slice it and use it as a garnish for the pie.

sweetened condensed milk with lemon in a bowl with a whisk

Add one 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk to a bowl and whisk in ½ cup lemon juice, 1 Tbsp lemon zest, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Folding condensed milk and whipped cream together

Whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. Add ¼ of the lemon and sweetened condensed milk mixture to the whipped cream and gently fold until combined. Repeat adding ¼ of the lemon mixture at a time, until all of it has been folded into the whipped cream. If you need help with the folding technique, here is a video tutorial on how to fold ingredients together.

finished lemon cream filling

After all of the lemon mixture has been folded into the whipped cream, it should still be very light, fluffy, and creamy.

Filling poured into the pie crust

Pour the lemon cream filling into the pie crust (I had some extra zest so I added that on top, too). Refrigerate until it’s completely chilled (about 2 hours). You can also freeze it if you want it to be more solid.

Side view of a slice of lemon cream pie with a fork

Slice the pie into eight pieces and then serve.

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Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

This Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is rich, moist, and a little spicy. It’s perfect for pairing with your favorite soup or chili.

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As if cornbread wasn’t delicious enough on its own, I went ahead and stirred in a pile of shredded cheddar cheese and chopped jalapeño. Because why not? And since this Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is on the spicy side, I decided to go with a richer cornbread batter that includes sour cream and an extra egg to kind of balance the heat. The result is rich, cheesy, moist, and ✨spicy✨.

Two baskets of jalapeño cornbread pieces with whole jalapeños on the sides

How Spicy Is This Cornbread?

It’s pretty spicy. Despite scraping the seeds out of the jalapeño that is mixed into the batter, the heat still seems to permeate the cornbread pretty well. If you’re not into heat, you can certainly just make this a plain cheddar cornbread or stir in some mild diced green chiles in place of the jalapeño.

What Kind of Baking Dish Should I Usse?

I used a ceramic baking dish, but I’ve also tested the recipe using a glass baking dish, and they both worked great. An 8×8-inch square dish is probably the best size. You could also bake this in a 10-inch cast iron skillet, although you may want to preheat it just a bit before adding the batter.

Can I Make Them Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins?

Yes, just divide the batter equally between about ten wells of a muffin tin and bake at the same temperature. Because the muffins are smaller and have more surface area exposed to the heat, the baking time will be shorter. Just keep an eye on the muffins starting at about 20 minutes, and let them continue to bake until puffed in the center and golden brown around the edges.

How to Store Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Allow the cornbread to cool completely to room temperature and then store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Or, you can wrap it tightly in plastic, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze it for a few months. To thaw, simply let the cornbread sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or microwave for 30 seconds or so.

A piece of jalapeño Cornbread being lifted out of the baking dish
Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread half in the baking dish and half on a cooling rack

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

This Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is rich, moist, and spicy. It's perfect for pairing with your favorite soup or chili. 
Total Cost $3.19 recipe / $0.35 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 9 pieces
Calories 289kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp butter $0.04
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour $0.15
  • 1 cup cornmeal $0.38
  • 2 Tbsp sugar $0.04
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder $0.06
  • 3/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 4 oz. cheddar, shredded $1.00
  • 2 jalapeños $0.14
  • 1/2 cup sour cream $0.58
  • 1/2 cup milk $0.20
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil $0.16

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Use the butter to grease the inside of an 8×8 inch baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Remove the seeds from one of the jalapeños and finely dice it, then slice the second jalapeño into rounds. Add the diced jalapeño to the bowl with the flour, saving the sliced jalapeño to use as a topping.
  • Add about ¾ of the shredded cheddar to the bowl with the flour mixture, saving the remaining to use as a topping. Stir the diced jalapeño and shredded cheddar into the flour mixture until evenly combined.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, and oil.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is moist (it's okay if there are a few lumps).
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly. Top with the sliced jalapeños and the remaining shredded cheddar.
  • Bake the cornbread for about 35 minutes, or until the center has puffed up and the edges are golden brown.
  • Slice the cornbread into nine squares and serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 450mg | Fiber: 2g

Love cornbread? Try these other cornbread flavors: Sweet Potato Cornbread, Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet, Easy Homemade Cornbread (classic cornbread), or Hatch Chile Sweet Potato Cornbread.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread half in the baking dish and half on a cooling rack

How to Make Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread – Step by Step Photos

cornbread dry ingredients in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and use about 1 tsp butter to grease the inside of an 8×8-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, 3 tsp baking powder, and ¾ tsp salt.

Diced and sliced jalapeño on a cutting board

Remove the seeds from one jalapeño and then finely dice the pepper. Slice the second jalapeño into rounds. The diced jalapeño will go into the batter and the rounds will be used as a topping.

jalapeño and shredded cheddar added to the dry ingredients

Add the diced jalapeño and most of your 4oz. shredded cheddar cheese to the bowl with the dry ingredients (save about ¼ of the cheese to use as a topping). Stir the jalapeño and cheddar into the flour mixture.

Eggs oil and milk in a bowl with a whisk

In a separate bowl, whisk together ½ cup milk, 2 large eggs, and ¼ cup cooking oil.

Wet ingredients being poured into the bowl of dry ingredients

Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients.

stirred cornbread batter

Stir until everything is moist. Avoid over stirring. It’s okay if it’s a little lumpy.

cheddar being sprinkled on top of cornbread batter in the baking dish

Spread the cornbread batter into an 8×8-inch baking dish, then top with the sliced jalapeños. Finish by topping with the remaining shredded cheddar cheese.

baked jalapeño cheddar cornbread in the baking dish

Bake the cornbread in the preheated 400ºF oven for about 35 minutes or until the center is puffed and it’s golden brown around the edges.

Two baskets full of jalapeño Cornbread pieces

Slice the cornbread into nine pieces and serve warm with your favorite soup or chili!!

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Cheese Grits

These cheese grits are extra rich, creamy, and flavorful. They make a hearty and comforting breakfast or a delicious side dish with dinner.

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I don’t know if you’ve experienced the warm fuzzy hug that is a bowl of cheese grits, but if not, allow me to introduce you to one of the most comforting, simple, and indulgent foods on the planet: cheese grits.

A pot full of cheese grits with a pat of butter, other breakfast items on the sides

What are Cheese Grits?

Grits are a simple porridge made with ground corn that can be prepared either sweet or savory and is often served for breakfast in the southern U.S. In addition to breakfast, grits also make a great starchy bed for saucy stewed meats, or a side dish for any meal. And Cheese grits are just grits that have been taken to the next level by stirring in a heap of rich, delicious cheese. They’re simple but so incredibly delightful.

Read more about grits here.

What Kind of Grits to Use

There are a few different types of grits you can buy at the store and you can make cheese grits with all of them. You can use either white or yellow grits without issue, although using yellow grits will give you a more vibrant cheesy color. I used white quick-cooking grits in the recipe below, but if you have regular grits you’ll just need to simmer them slightly longer (just follow the directions on the package).

Can I Use a Different Cheese?

Yes! There are so many delicious cheese options for cheese grits. You can do something like Parmesan, gruyere, chevre, Boursin, or even something like pepper jack. Basically, cheese and grits were made for each other.

How to Serve Cheese Grits

Cheese grits are awesome at breakfast (pictured here with eggs and sausage), but sometimes I’ll top them with a fried egg and some salsa. You can also top them with other savory delights, like saucy shrimp, beef brisket, BBQ beans, or just about any savory saucy dish.

cheese grits in a bowl topped with fried eggs and breakfast sausage
Cheese grits dripping off the serving spoon into the pot

Cheese Grits

These cheese grits are extra rich, creamy, and flavorful. They make a hearty and comforting breakfast or a delicious side dish with dinner.
Total Cost $3.39 recipe / $0.85 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 374kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.26
  • 2 cups milk $1.25
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits $0.49
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.18
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 4 oz. cheddar, shredded $1.15

Instructions

  • Combine the chicken broth, milk, and garlic powder in a medium sauce pot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching.
  • Once boiling, stir in the quick cooking grits and salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the grits simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and pepper.
  • Finally, stir in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the grits. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 20g | Sodium: 855mg | Fiber: 2g

Love savory breakfast foods? Check out our Savory Breakfast Recipes category.

Cheese grits dripping off the serving spoon into the pot

How to Make Cheese Grits – Step by Step Photos

Milk being poured into a pot with chicken broth

Combine 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups milk, and ¼ tsp garlic powder in a medium sauce pot. Place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat (stir occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching).

grits being poured into the pot with the milk and broth

Once boiling, stir in 1 cup quick cooking grits and ¼ tsp salt. Lower the heat to medium-low, and let the grits simmer for about five minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Thickened grits in the pot being stirred

It should be nice and thick like in the photo above. Once thickened, remove it from the heat.

butter and pepper added to the grits

Stir in 2 Tbsp butter and about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Shredded cheddar being added to grits

Stir in 4oz. of shredded cheddar cheese, one handful at a time, until it’s all melted into the grits.

finished cheese grits being stirred in the pot

And it’s done! Dreamy creamy cheese grits!

a pot of cheese grits surrounded by other breakfast items

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Quick Veggie Pasta

Use up your leftover odds and ends in the kitchen because “anything goes” with this Quick Veggie Pasta! Make it vegetarian or vegan!

The post Quick Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s your weekly reminder that not all meals need to be a huge production. Sometimes when you just toss what you have on hand into a pot or a skillet, you get really great results. I usually follow a rough template for these types of meals, but I love to experiment with what ingredients get plugged into the template. This Quick Veggie Pasta is my recent favorite “whatever goes” recipe, and you can easily add meat or make it vegan with one ingredient swap, so it’s very flexible!

Overhead view of quick veggie pasta in a skillet with tongs

Why I Love This Vegetable Pasta

This is my favorite type of fast, easy, satisfying meal. It’s so flexible that you really don’t even need to measure. You can use any type of pasta, any type of vegetable, and you can even play around with the seasonings. It’s simple, it’s good, and it doesn’t take a lot of mental energy to make. :)

Pasta Options

You can literally use any type of pasta for this recipe and in any amount. Long pasta, short pasta, even tiny pasta like couscous or orzo. This is great because I rarely use a full box of pasta at once, so I always have small amounts of random pasta hanging out in my pantry that needs to be used.

And while this next tip will make purists clutch their pearls, I suggest breaking long pasta in half before cooking. This makes it easier to stir chunky objects (like vegetables) into the pasta. You’ll actually be able to mix them together in instead of the vegetables getting all pushed to the outside of the skillet with a clump of pasta in the center.

Side view of quick veggie pasta in a bowl twirled around a fork

Vegatble Options

Just as with the type of pasta, you can use virtually any vegetable here! I’ve even made this with frozen mixed vegetables and enjoyed it quite a bit. And not only is the type of vegetable flexible, but the amount is as well. Use more, less, or however much you want. The vegetables I used today are grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach, but here are some other great options:

  • kale
  • peas
  • corn
  • avocado (will give the pasta a nice creamy effect)
  • edamame
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • bell pepper
  • green beans
  • onion (red, yellow, green)

The trick to swapping out the vegetables is to add them to the skillet in order of hardest to softest. A hard vegetable, like carrot, that will take longer to soften should go in the skillet first so it has time to cook, whereas a soft vegetable, like spinach, should be added last so it doesn’t overcook.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is commonly used as a nutrient-dense seasoning for food. It has a yellow color has a light, flakey texture that mixes well into sauces, and a savory almost cheesy flavor. The nutritional yeast is the star of the show for this pasta dish because it really adds depth to the flavor and tons of umami.

You can usually find nutritional yeast in the grocery store near other non-refrigerated health foods. Some common brands that you’re likely to find in major grocery stores are Bragg’s and Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ve seen several stores selling it under their own name brand as well, like Trader Joes’ and Kroger.

Want to see some other ways to use nutritional yeast? Check out our nutritional yeast archives.

Overhead view of a bowl full of quick veggie pasta

Love fast pasta dishes? Check out the rest of our Quick Pasta Recipes!

Side view of quick veggie pasta in a bowl twirled around a fork

Quick Veggie Pasta

Use up your leftover odds and ends in the kitchen because "anything goes" with this Quick Veggie Pasta! Make it vegetarian or vegan!
Total Cost $3.61 rcipe / $0.90 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 301kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. linguine $0.50
  • 4 oz. mushrooms $0.75
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes $1.25
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 4 oz. fresh spinach $0.50
  • 1 Tbsp butter* $0.09
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast $0.42
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve a 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
  • While waiting for the water to boil, slice the mushrooms and cut the tomatoes in half.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt to the skillet and sauté until they have released all of their moisture and water is no longer pooling on the bottom of the skillet (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Add the tomatoes and sauté for about two minutes more, or just until they're heated through (they'll continue to cook more after other ingredients are added). Add the spinach and sauté just until wilted.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet along with the butter. Toss until everything is coated in melted butter. Turn the heat off.
  • Season with garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, then toss to coat. Give the pasta a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. If the pasta gets too dry as you're tossing with the seasoning, just add a splash of the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Notes

*Swap with a vegan butter to make this recipe vegan.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 200mg | Fiber: 4g
Side view of pasta in the skillet being picked up by tongs

How to Make Quick Veggie Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Uncooked linguine in a pot

Start with your pasta first because the rest of the dish will probably be done cooking by the time the pasta boils and drains. I used a ½ lb. linguine for this recipe, but you can use whatever type you’d like. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta, and continue to boil until tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain in a colander.

Sliced mushrooms and tomatoes on a cutting board

While waiting for the pasta water to boil, slice or dice up any vegetables you may be using. I’m using up my leftover mushrooms and tomatoes, so I had 4oz. mushrooms to slice and about one cup of grape tomatoes to slice in half.

Sautéed mushrooms in a skillet

Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and water is no longer pooling on the bottom of the skillet (5-7 minutes).

Tomatoes added to the skillet with mushrooms

Add the tomatoes and sauté just for a couple of minutes more. They’ll continue cooking as you add more ingredients, so they don’t need to be cooked down too far here.

spinach added to the skillet with tomatoes and mushrooms

Finally, add the fresh spinach and sauté for a minute or so more, or just until it wilts.

pasta and butter added to the skillet

Add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet along with 1 Tbsp butter. Toss until the butter melts and everything is coated in butter.

nutritional yeast and seasoning added to the noodles

Turn the heat off, then season the veggie pasta with 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, ¼ tsp garlic powder, about ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Toss until the seasoning is evenly coating everything. If the pasta gets dry, just add a splash of the reserved pasta water.

finished quick veggie pasta in the skillet

Make sure to give the veggie pasta one final taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. You can even try adding other herbs and spices! Crushed red pepper is another favorite add-in of mine.

Overhead view of a plate full of quick veggie pasta

The post Quick Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Summer Gazpacho

When the summer heat is at full blast and the last thing you want to do is cook, it’s time to make Gazpacho. It’s cold, refreshing, it only takes a few minutes to make, and you never have to turn on the stove. Plus, the leftovers are *chef’s kiss* delicious, so you can eat for […]

The post Summer Gazpacho appeared first on Budget Bytes.

When the summer heat is at full blast and the last thing you want to do is cook, it’s time to make Gazpacho. It’s cold, refreshing, it only takes a few minutes to make, and you never have to turn on the stove. Plus, the leftovers are *chef’s kiss* delicious, so you can eat for the next few days with no extra work! So hit up those summer farmers’ markets, grab some fresh produce, and let’s make some gazpacho!

Originally posted 5-3-2010, updated 7-3-2021.

side view of three bowls of summer gazpacho topped with avocado

What is Gazpacho?

Gazpacho is a cold, tomato-based soup made with puréed vegetables and other ingredients like bread, herbs, or even fruit. It kind of reminds me of salsa, but with a different flavor profile (so if you’ve ever been tempted to eat salsa straight, gazpacho might be for you). This recipe originated in the Iberian peninsula, namely Portugal and Spain, and has since spread around the world. And like many recipes that have been around for hundreds of years, there are many interpretations of this classic summer soup. 

My interpretation of gazpacho is definitely a little non-traditional. For one, I used canned crushed tomatoes and vegetable juice (like V8) in place of fresh tomatoes. Yes, this will make some people clutch their pearls, but I like the full-bodied flavor that the crushed tomatoes bring to the party. Second, I don’t use bread in my gazpacho, which is a common ingredient in traditional gazpacho recipes. Blending a soft bread into the soup gives it an almost creamy flavor and is another way of adding body, so the soup isn’t too watery.

How Do You Serve Gazpacho?

CHILLED. While this soup is pretty tasty even at room temperature, it’s ultra-refreshing when chilled and can really take the edge off that intense summer heat. I like to serve it with some crusty bread on the side for dipping, because every meal is better with a little crusty bread on the side, IMHO. It would also be great with some garlic bread, a grilled cheese sandwich, or even some cold pasta salad on the side. And if you want to add a little protein, a few cooled cooked shrimp would be marvelous in this soup!

What Else Can I Add?

Gazpacho is wonderful because it’s very flexible, and that’s another reason there are so many interpretations of this delicious soup. Here are some other ingredients you can toss in, if you have them on hand:

  • Fresh herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, chives)
  • Soft bread (as mentioned above, this makes the soup almost creamy and gives it body)
  • Red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar in place of the lemon juice
  • Red bell pepper
  • Jalapeño
  • Avocado (try blending it into the soup for a creamy texture, instead of using it as a topping)
  • Watermelon
  • Tomatillos

In addition to adding ingredients into your gazpacho, you can have a lot of fun with the toppings. Here are some ideas for topping your gazpacho:

  • Steamed shrimp (cooled)
  • Croutons 
  • A drizzle of pesto
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • A drizzle of chile oil
  • A drizzle of balsamic glaze
  • A spoonful of corn salsa
  • Fresh chopped herbs
  • Flakey sea salt
  • A pinch of crumbled feta

Overhead view of three bowls of summer gazpacho

Overhead view of three bowls of summer gazpacho

Summer Gazpacho

This cold, refreshing Summer Gazpacho is the easiest no-cook recipe for when the weather is hot and summer produce is at its best!
Total Cost $3.83 recipe / $0.96 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Chill 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 184kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz. can crushed tomatoes $0.69
  • 1 cup vegetable juice (like V8) $0.35
  • 1/2 sweet onion (about 1 cup chopped) $0.40
  • 1/2 cucumber (about 2 cups chopped) $0.50
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley $0.35
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro $0.20
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 2 tsp lemon juice $0.04
  • 1 avocado $0.99

Instructions

  • Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable juice to a food processor or blender.
  • Peel the cucumber, if desired. Cut the onion and cucumber into chunks. Wash the parsley and cilantro well. Mince the garlic. Add the cucumber, onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to the food processor or blender.
  • Purée the ingredients, or leave them slightly chunky, if preferred. Taste the gazpacho and adjust the salt, pepper, or lemon to your liking. Chill the soup for 30 minutes before serving. Give it one last taste after chilling, in case the flavors need to be adjusted.
  • Dice the avocado just befor serving and add a few chunks on top of each bowl. Add extra pepper and olive oil to each bowl, if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Sodium: 839mg | Fiber: 7g

three bowls of gazpacho from the side, a spoon in one

How to Make Easy Summer Gazpacho – Step by Step Photos

Crushed tomatoes and vegetable juice in food processor

Add one 15oz. can crushed tomatoes and 1 cup vegetable juice (like V8 juice) to a food processor or blender.

onion, cucumber, and herbs added to food processor

Cut ½ sweet onion (about 1 cup) and 1/2 cucumber (about 2 cups) into chunks. You can peel the cucumber or leave it unpeeled. Peeling the cucumber will allow your gazpacho to have a more vibrant red color. Wash the parsley and cilantro well. Mince the garlic. Add the onion, cucumber, ½ cup fresh parsley, ½ cup fresh cilantro, one garlic clove (minced), 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and 2 tsp lemon juice to the food processor or blender. 

Finished gazpacho in the food processor

Purée the ingredients, or leave them slightly chunky, if you prefer. Taste the gazpacho and adjust the salt, pepper, or lemon to your liking. Chill the soup for about 30 minutes before serving. It’s not a bad idea to give it one final taste after refrigeration, as the flavors will begin to melt and shift as the soup refrigerates.

Four bowls of gazpacho topped with avocado and cilantro

Dice the avocado and add chunks to each bowl. I also like to drizzle just a bit more olive oil and sprinkle a little extra pepper over each bowl, but that’s optional. The avocado really takes it to the next level, though, so I wouldn’t skip that!

a spoonful of summer gazpacho being lifted from the bowl

Enjoy that cool, refreshing tomato-cucumber flavor!

The post Summer Gazpacho appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Creamy Monterey Jack cheese, tangy diced green chiles, and a little earthy cumin make this green chile mac and cheese anything but ordinary!

The post Green Chile Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Green Chile Mac and Cheese is one of those dishes that if a restaurant has it on the menu, I’m 100% going to order it. There’s just something about that green chile flavor paired with creamy cheese that I can’t get enough of. So why, in green chile heaven, had I not made it myself at home yet?? It was time to fix that. ;)

overhead view of green chile mac and cheese in a bowl with a fork on the side

Green Chile Mac: The Long Way and The Short Way

There are a few ways you can go about making green chile mac, but they all fall into two categories: the long way or the short way. The long way means buying fresh hatch chile peppers and roasting them yourself before adding them to your mac and cheese. This will definitely get you the most delicious and smokey green chile flavor, but in most of the U.S. fresh hatch chiles aren’t readily available year-round.

So I decided to make my green chile mac and cheese the short way, using canned green chiles. It’s fast, easy, and still gets you a good amount of that green chile flavor! And that’s more my style (most nights of the week, anyway).

Is it Spicy?

Green chiles can be spicy or mild. If you can’t handle the heat, make sure to look for a canned green chile that specifically says “mild” on the label. The recipe below also includes a pinch of crushed red pepper and while that ingredient can be spicy, it’s in such a small quantity in the recipe that it will not add a significant amount of heat to your green chile mac and cheese.

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Green Chile Mac and Cheese?

For macaroni and cheese in general, you want something that melts smoothly instead of stringy. Cheeses in the cheddar family melt smoothly, while mozzarella is a good example of a stringy cheese. To go with the green chile and cumin flavors in this dish, I recommend going with either a white cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a pepper jack if you want your mac to be a little spicier.

How Are the Leftovers?

Cheese sauces are usually a lot better when fresh compared to after refrigeration and reheating, but I still enjoyed the leftovers of this green chile mac and cheese quite a bit! While the cheese sauce wasn’t quite as smooth and saucy, the green chile flavor does intensify as it refrigerates, which added to the enjoyment.

What to Serve with Green Chile Mac

I wouldn’t be opposed to sitting down to a large bowl of this as my whole meal, but it’s probably best used as a side dish. I’d serve this macaroni and cheese as a side to something like Turkey Taco Skillet, Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken, Chipotle Portobello Oven Fajitas, or Smoky Black Bean Soup.

Overhead view of a pot full of green chile mac and cheese
Overhead view of a bowl full of green chile mac and cheese

Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Creamy Monterey Jack cheese, tangy diced green chiles, and a little earthy cumin make this green chile mac and cheese anything but ordinary!
Total Cost $5.00 recipe / $1.25 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 571kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. macaroni $0.50
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.10
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.82
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded $1.69
  • 2 4oz. cans diced green chiles $1.78
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add the macaroni and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the green chile cheese sauce. Add the butter and flour to a saucepot and cook over medium heat while stirring for about 2 minutes.
  • Whisk the milk into the cooked butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk and cook over medium heat until the milk begins to simmer, at which point it will thicken to a cream-like consistency.
  • Turn the heat off. Begin stirring in the shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the sauce.
  • Drain the canned green chiles and stir them into the cheese sauce along with the cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Make sure it is heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute slightly when mixed with the pasta.
  • Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 779mg | Fiber: 3g
side view of a fork lifting green chile mac and cheese from the bowl

How to Make Green Chile Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Cooked macaroni in a colander

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add 1/2 lb. macaroni and continue to boil until the macaroni is tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.

butter and flour being whisked in a saucepot

While the macaroni is cooking, begin the cheese sauce. Add 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to a sauce pot. Cook over medium while stirring for about 2 minutes.

milk being poured into the pot with butter and flour

Whisk 2 cups whole milk into the saucepot with the butter and flour. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk comes up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken. It should thicken to the consistency of cream.

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese added to the saucepot

Turn off the heat and begin stirring in the 8oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until it is all melted into the sauce.

green chiles and spices added to the cheese sauce

Drain two 4oz. cans of diced green chiles, then add them to the cheese sauce along with ½ tsp cumin, ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir to combine, then taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your liking if needed. The sauce should taste heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute a bit when mixed with the pasta.

Cheese sauce being poured over the drained pasta

Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce.

finished green chile mac in a pot with a spatula

Serve and enjoy while it’s hot and creamy!

The post Green Chile Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

This Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad is the perfect mix of salty, sweet, and spicy, making it an addictive summer treat.

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I’ve been totally obsessed with the salty-sweet-spicy flavor combo lately. Ever since I fell victim to a Facebook ad selling some chili-coated sour patch kids (yes, they were awesome). So I was totally delighted when I decided to throw together the gochujang in the back of my fridge with some pineapple from my freezer, and a fresh cucumber, and it tasted exactly like the chili gummies! But like, with actual fruit and vegetables instead of candy. Haha! Needless to say, this Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad is a HIT.

Close up overhead view of a bowl of spicy pineapple cucumber salad

What is Gochujang?

Gochujang is a centuries-old Korean chili paste made with chili peppers, rice, soybeans, and salt (check this article for a really extensive history and detail of this awesome sauce). It has a salty-spicy-umami flavor that kind of reminds me of a spicy version of miso. The flavor profile is so unique and so delicious, and I couldn’t be happier about the fact that it’s really trending in the U.S. right now because that means it’s fairly easy to find in major grocery stores. My local Kroger store has about five or six different brands on the shelf!

P.S. Gochujang stays good in the fridge for a really long time, so don’t worry about needing to use up the whole container right away. Here are some other recipes I’ve made using gochujang, if you need some inspiration.

Fresh or Frozen Pineapple?

I used frozen pineapple this time around because I had it on hand, but fresh would work just as well. Canned pineapple (in juice, NOT syrup) might work in a pinch, but it tends to be a lot sweeter and not quite as bright in flavor as fresh or frozen, so it’s definitely not my first choice for this recipe.

Substitutions

This particular flavor combination has a lot of flexibility, so I think there is a lot of room for substitution. Here are some ideas:

  • Pineapple: You can use mango, cantaloupe, or even watermelon in place of the pineapple.
  • Cilantro: If you can’t do cilantro, you can either leave it out or try adding some green onion for a little fresh kick.
  • Gochujang: If you can’t find gochujang, Tajín seasoning actually makes a really good substitute. It has a really similar salty-spicy flavor profile. It is a powder instead of a paste, but will mix into the dressing all the same. Use about 1 tsp Tajín and add more to your liking.

What to Serve with Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

This tasty salad would make a great side dish to something like Coconut Chicken Strips, Baked Ginger Salmon, Soy Marinated Tofu Bowls, or Easy Orange Chicken.

Side view of spicy pineapple cucumber salad in a bowl
Overhead view of Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad in a bowl

Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

This Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad is the perfect mix of salty, sweet, and spicy, making it an addictive summer treat.
Total Cost $4.41 recipe / $1.10 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 1.25 cups each
Calories 75kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber (3 cups chopped) $1.25
  • 1/2 lb. frozen pineapple chunks (2 cups) $2.46
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro $0.20
  • 1.5 tsp gochujang $0.12
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar $0.37
  • 1 Tbsp sugar $0.01

Instructions

  • Thaw the pineapple chunks and chop the cucumber into pieces roughly the same size as the pineapple chunks. Roughly chop the cilantro.
  • Prepare the dressing by whisking together the gochujang, rice vinegar, and sugar until dissolved.
  • Combine the cucumber, pineapple, cilantro, and dressing in a bowl. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. Stir the salad just before eating to redistribute the dressing.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 104mg | Fiber: 2g

How to Make Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad – Step by Step Photos

Cucumber, pineapple and cilantro in a bowl

Thaw ½ lb. (about 2 cups) pineapple chunks. Chop one cucumber (about 3 cups) into pieces roughly the same size as the pineapple. Roughly chop about ½ cup cilantro. Place the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in a bowl.

Gochujang dressing in a bowl

In a bowl, stir together 1.5 tsp gochujang, 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, and 1 Tbsp sugar until everything is dissolved.

Dressing being poured over cucumbers and pineapple

Pour that “awesome sauce” over the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in the bowl, then give it a good stir.

Finished spicy pineapple cucumber salad in a bowl

You can either eat your salad immediately or let it marinate for a while. The salad will stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days, but the fruit and vegetables will get softer the longer they marinate. Make sure to give it a good stir each time just before serving to redistribute the dressing!

front view of a bowl full of spicy pineapple cucumber salad

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Pesto Chickpea Salad

I love quick fixes because I am busy and if something takes me more than 15-30 minutes to prepare, chances are I’m not going to do it, especially if it’s not my day off. So this Pesto Chickpea Salad was the perfect answer to lunch this week. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, […]

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I love quick fixes because I am busy and if something takes me more than 15-30 minutes to prepare, chances are I’m not going to do it, especially if it’s not my day off. So this Pesto Chickpea Salad was the perfect answer to lunch this week. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, it’s so creamy and delicious, and you can eat it a number of ways. Everything about this chickpea salad is my style! 

Originally posted 12-5-2012, updated 6-3-2021.

Pesto Chickpea Salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

How to Serve Pesto Chickpea Salad

This super simple chickpea salad can be enjoyed several ways. You can serve it as an appetizer with crackers for dipping, like in the photo above, it can be a side dish with dinner, or you can use it as a filling for a sandwich (toasted whole grain bread, a hearty bun, or in a wrap). …Or, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself just digging into the bowl with a fork. ;)

What Kind of Pesto is Best?

There are a lot of different types of pesto on the market, offering a little something for everyone. If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly, ALDI makes a super affordable basil pesto that I use in a lot of recipes. Today I happened to be shopping at a different store, so I went with Filippo Berio Classic Pesto, which was still pretty affordable and it had a really incredible flavor. Barilla also makes a very affordable pesto. And since pesto is the main flavor in this recipe, you definitely want to go with a pesto that you know you like. 

How Long Does the Salad Keep?

This Pesto Chickpea Salad will stay good in the refrigerator for about four days, making it great for meal prep! 

Soak Your Onions for a Softer Flavor

If you’re sensitive to red onions, here’s a trick that will make life so much more enjoyable. Soak your sliced onions in cold water for about five minutes before adding them to your recipe. The water pulls out that super sharp flavor, leaving a nice mild hint of red onion that will flavor your dish without hurting your stomach. :)

side view of pesto chickpea salad in a bowl, surrounded by crackers

Pesto chickpea salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

Pesto Chickpea Salad

This creamy and tangy Pesto Chickpea Salad is a quick and easy lunch. Enjoy with crackers, on a sandwich, or on top of a bed of greens.
Total Cost $3.14 recipe / $0.79 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 ¾ cup each
Calories 363kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise $0.40
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $1.30
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.06
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.01
  • 2 15oz. cans chickpeas $1.10
  • 1/4 cup red onion $0.10
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley $0.17

Instructions

  • Stir together the mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Roughly chop the parsley. Finely dice the red onions (soak the red onions in cold water for 5 minutes for a milder onion flavor). Add the chickpeas, parsley, and onion to a large bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over the chickpeas, parsley, and onion. Stir to combine. Serve as is or slightly mash the chickpeas for a thicker consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 245mg | Fiber: 10g

Love chickpea salads? Check out my Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad

Pesto chickpea salad on a bun with greens

How to Make Pesto Chickpea Salad – Step By Step Photos

Creamy pesto dressing in a bowl being stirred
Start by making the creamy pesto dressing. In a bowl, stir together ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup basil pesto, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and ⅛ tsp freshly cracked pepper. 

Chickpeas, parsley, and red onion in a bowl

Rinse and drain two 15oz. cans of chickpeas, then place them in a bowl. Roughly chop about 1/4 cup fresh parsley. Finely dice about ¼ cup red onion (soak for 5 minutes in cold water if you want a milder onion flavor). 

Dressing added to chickpeas in the bowl

Add the dressing and stir to combine. You can either serve the salad just like this, or…

Slightly mashed chickpea salad in the bowl

Or you can slightly mash the chickpeas in the bowl to make it hold together a little more like a potato salad. You can use a potato masher to do this, or just mash some of the beans with a fork against the side of the bowl.

Pesto chickpea salad in a bowl with a cracker dipped into the side

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat!

close up of pesto chickpea salad on a cracker

So much flavor, so little effort. ;)

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