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29 Jul 04:01

Garlic-Herb & Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes

by Michelle
Garlic-Herb & Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes - The BEST roasted red potato recipe!! |

Garlic-Herb & Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes - The BEST roasted red potato recipe!! |

One of the cornerstones of Sunday dinners at my grandma’s house were her famous roasted potatoes. Famous to us, and anyone else who had the opportunity to taste them, of course. Everyone clamored for them, my uncle would hoard the bowl, and it would never fail that after my grandma pulled a baking sheet out of the oven full of potatoes, she would be sitting in the kitchen peeling another few pounds for a fresh batch. Pretty much every member of my family is a bottomless pit when it comes to roasted potatoes… she ruined us!

I shared my grandma’s roasted potato recipe a couple of years ago, but the problem is that no one else in my family is able to cut the potatoes the way my grandma used to (a very rustic, hap-hazard cutting job!) except for my sister. Roasted potatoes were a MUST for our newly revived Sunday dinners, but I needed a recipe for the weeks when my sister couldn’t get here early enough to cut the potatoes… my grandma’s potatoes are just NOT the same when they’re not cut the way she used to cut them.

Garlic-Herb & Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes - The BEST roasted red potato recipe!! |

I’ve been making this recipe for at least a month and a half now, and everyone absolutely loves them. They still get gobbled up (and my uncle still hoards the bowl), even if they aren’t quite my grandma’s potatoes. There is a ton of flavor from all of the garlic and herbs, and the Parmesan sort of crusts over the potatoes, which tastes amazing. I let them get really brown and crips before I pull them out of the oven… Perfection!

I still want my grandma’s potatoes every single Sunday, but these are an incredibly worthy stand-in!

Garlic-Herb & Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes - The BEST roasted red potato recipe!! |

One year ago: Basic Creamy Coleslaw Dressing
Four years ago: Buttermilk Doughnuts
Five years ago: Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins
Six years ago: Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Garlic-Herb & Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Amazing roasted red potatoes that are full of flavor and bake up golden brown and crisp.


3 pounds petite red potatoes, scrubbed and halved (quartered if extra large)
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, basil and Parmesan cheese until evenly coated. Turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.

3. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning with a spatula two or three times, until golden brown and crisp. Pull the tray out and sprinkle the butter over the potatoes and stir to melt the butter. Remove from the oven and toss with the fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

(Recipe adapted from Ina Garten and Damn Delicious)

27 Jul 04:01

The Whole30: I DID IT! My Experience and Results

by Michelle

My Whole30 Results & Experience |

I promised that I would give you rundown of my experience with the Whole30 program… I’m 10 days out and finally put down my thoughts on how it all went.

The Whole30 has been on my radar for well over a year now, as my sister had previously done a couple, and last spring, my mom did one with her. My mom felt so great after having done it, that afterwards, she went permanently Paleo. She’ll eat anything on Sundays, holidays, if she goes out to eat, etc. but for her everyday eating, she eats Paleo and has lost over 40 pounds!

That sounded great, but I was pretty convinced that I could not totally cut out so many things for an entire month. However, I decided to take the plunge in mid-June and… I DID! Also, I survived! I didn’t take any before and after photos, but below are my thoughts on the experience, along with my results. I wrote more than I intended, but I kept thinking of additional things to include!

Why I Did The Whole30

Weight Loss

Thoughout the entire Whole30 book, the authors reiterate that losing weight should not be your primary goal when completing the Whole30. Well, full disclosure here… that was my main motivating factor. There were other reasons I wanted to tackle it (I’ll talk about those, as well), but getting a jump start on losing the rest of my pregnancy weight was number one on my list of reasons to give the Whole30 a go.

I gained a total of 36 pounds during my pregnancy (Thanksgiving and Christmas falling during my third trimester didn’t help!) and had lost 23 pounds within the first two weeks after Joseph. After that, however, I didn’t lose another ounce. I was not actively trying to lose weight at that point, though, so I assume that’s to be expected. Then, horror of horrors, I gained back five pounds. Ugh! We were eating a lot of take out, I was doing a lot of snacking, and I was eating at least one dessert everyday. I decided I really needed to do something to right the ship.

Improve My Eating Habits

I’ll be the first to admit that for as long as I can remember, I haven’t had the best eating habits. Ever since high school, I would routinely skip breakfast, snack for the majority of the day and make “meals” out of things that were most certainly not meal material (i.e. saltines with peanut butter and jelly). I’d eat some fruit or protein, hardly ever vegetables, but mostly carbs.

Having a baby did nothing but reinforce those old, bad habits. When you’re sleep deprived and starving, the last thing you want to do is spend time cooking. Grabbing some crackers with cheese or PB&J is so much easier. However, I wanted to nip that in the bud and get better about taking the time to make sure that I feed my body good, wholesome foods.

This desire to shift my eating habits goes hand in hand with my next motivating factor…


Joseph Starting Solid Foods

Joseph is just starting his journey on solid foods, but in the blink of an eye he’s going to be a toddler with real food, and I want to set a good eating example for him. I didn’t want to fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” trap and be goading him to eat his vegetables when he never saw me eating them. I want to be a better role model for him and not have him think that crackers with peanut butter is a suitable meal 😉

What I ate During the Whole30


I ate A LOT, which was really surprising. I was absolutely expecting to be hungry pretty much constantly… I mean, how filling could fruits and vegetables and some protein be? As it turns out, VERY filling! More filling than anything I had been eating before I started the Whole30. Here are the basics of what’s in and what’s out on the program:

IN: Protein, Vegetables, Fruit, Healthy Fats

The cornerstone of the eating plan is for each meal to include at least three ounces of protein (or at least two eggs), two cups of vegetables, and one tablespoon of healthy fat (olive oil, clarified butter/ghee, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, almond butter, etc.). In addition, up to two servings of fruit a day.

OUT: Sugar, Flour, Dairy, Legumes, Processed Foods

The Whole30 plan calls for a removal of all gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes (peanut butter!) and processed foods. This was pretty much all I was eating before I tackled the program, so I was a little suspicious of being able to follow the program wholly, and truth be told, I was totally expecting to cheat, which probably wasn’t the best mindset to have going into it.

Did I Cheat?

So, did I break down and dive head-first into the peanut butter jar?

I didn’t! I did intentionally cheat twice during the last week because I made two desserts (the coconut cake and chocolate cake) that were new and everyone loved them so much that I wanted to taste them so that I could share them with you. I won’t post and share a recipe if I haven’t actually eaten it! I took a little slice of each, and that was the extent of my cheating.

Now, as far as following the plan to the letter of the law, I strayed a little bit. They really discourage snacking between meals, and I went into it thinking, “oh yeah right, there’s no way I can go without a snack!” Every other time I had tried to lose weight, while I saw results, I was always hungry. As it turns out, by eating a good serving of protein, veggies and some healthy fat, I was NOT hungry between meals. I was totally stunned… I never felt like I needed to raid the pantry in the middle of the afternoon or in the evening.

However, my days don’t always go according to plan with Joseph. Between missed or super-short naps, teething, and bedtimes, my schedule can’t be too rigid. As a result, sometimes I don’t get to eat lunch until 3:30 in the afternoon or eat dinner until 8:30 at night. I needed something to get me through until the next mealtime, so I would eat a little something, but it was all Whole30-approved foods (grass-fed beef jerky, dried apricots or fresh fruit, almonds, celery with almond butter, etc.).

While I still did some snacking, trying to stick to three meals a day made me realize how many times I would mindlessly wander over to the pantry throughout the day and nibble on something.

How I Felt

Less Bloat

I was surprised that I didn’t have too many withdrawal symptoms, given how much of the “no” foods I was eating before I started the program. Within three days, I immediately felt less bloated around my midsection and when I put on my jeans, there was a significant decrease in the muffin top situation.

The biggest thing I noticed was that even though I would eat a large meal and be pretty full afterwards, I never felt bloated. Such a huge difference compared to how I had been feeling!

More Energy

Within a week of starting the Whole30, I had a surge in energy without having adjusted my sleeping habits at all. In fact, on quite a few nights, I was getting even LESS sleep since at the beginning of the Whole30, Joseph decided to go through a phase where he wanted to be up hanging out from 2am until 5am. Luckily, that lasted less than a week and coincided with some teething and a growth spurt, and he went back to being a great sleeper.

Prior to starting the program, I was really struggling with being exhausted from mid-afternoon until bedtime. I was getting 6 to 7 hours of sleep at night (on a regular night), which isn’t awful, but I literally could not keep my eyes open from about 3pm until I’d go to bed, and usually couldn’t keep my eyes open past 9pm. After starting the Whole30, this is one area where I noticed a significant improvement. I had energy ALL DAY! EVERY DAY! Even when Joseph was up in the middle of the night. I’m not sure if the sleep I was getting was better quality sleep, or if by adjusting my diet, I was no longer experiencing sugar crashes throughout the day. Whatever did it, the quality of my wake time during the day improved a hundred-fold.


If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that I am totally guilty of the hangry phenomenon. You know, you’re so hungry that you’re actually ANGRY. I would be the absolute crankiest person if I got too hungry. I would get a headache, feel a little light-headed, and just be an all-around miserable person.

I never experienced this once during the Whole30. Yes, I got hungry, especially on those days where my lunch or my dinner was delayed by hours. However, I was just hungry. It was totally manageable and I didn’t morph into Oscar the Grouch.

The Results

So, what were the quantifiable results from my month on the Whole30 program? Here is the rundown:

Weight Loss

I lost 7 pounds over the course of the 30 days!

The book really stresses not weighing yourself during those 30 days, and I stuck to it. Usually when I’m trying to lose weight, I weigh myself every day or every other day, which can be a downer if you think you ate well and the scale doesn’t budge or goes up slightly. To negate this and focus on all the other ways your body is responding to your new way of eating, you’re supposed to stay off the scale. I’m really glad I adhered to this rule, because I think if I would have weighed myself halfway through and not seen a high enough loss, I would have been discouraged.

[I should add that I did not exercise during the 30 days. I know, I know. That’s the next thing I need to work on!]


Even though the carpal tunnel I developed my pregnancy went away after delivery, I did also get a related case of tendonitis in my left wrist. It had been awful, and I saw a hand specialist who said that I would need minor surgery to correct it. My husband urged me to reconsider and try something alternative (at the time, we had been talking about acupuncture), so I put off the procedure, but never went to the acupuncturist.

The Whole30 book talks a lot about how the foods that are eliminated on the eating plan are inflammatory and by removing them from your diet, it can allow your body to heal and deal with a large list of potential ailments. Amazingly, the tendonitis is now about 95% gone, which is insane to me! It started a few weeks before Joseph was born and had showed no signs of going away or getting better. Now it has nearly disappeared!

Sugar and Dairy Sensitivity

The biggest thing I’ve noticed after starting to add foods back into my diet? Just a few bites of a sugar-laden treat has given me a headache on more than one occasion. CRAZY!

To a lesser extent, I’ve noticed that dairy is a little bit hard on my stomach.

So far, I haven’t seen any negative effects from gluten.

So, How Hard Was It?

I was totally surprised by the fact that cravings weren’t much of an issue for me. I was expecting them to be a lot worse, but it was definitely the hardest during the first five to seven days. After that, I felt like I was kind of on autopilot.

Even Sunday dinners with our huge spread of food didn’t prove to be too much of a challenge. I just stuck to eating the meats, vegetables and potatoes each week, skipping the pasta, bread and dessert.

The biggest hurdle of all was by far the food preparation time. Since I was actually assembling meals and not snacks I was passing off as meals, it took more time. Here is what I was eating most days:

Breakfast: Almost every morning I had scrambled eggs with onions/mushrooms/random veggies/spinach or fried eggs with avocado and fruit. Not too difficult, especially if you have bags of chopped onion and mushroom in the fridge.

Lunch: I would make 6 pounds of boneless chicken breasts in the slow cooker (based on Gimme Some Oven recipe, but I add smoked paprika to the seasoning!), shred it and portion it out into packets and put in the freezer. Then, I would thaw for a minute in the microwave and make a huge salad with veggies, nuts/seeds and a simple vinaigrette. Depending on if I was still hungry, I would have fruit, as well.

Dinner: For the most part, I tried to stick to either slow cooker meals or easy, quick dinners that I could make in less than 45 minutes. I always made extra so we could eat leftovers and I didn’t need to cook every single night. Some examples of meals that I made: sautéed beef with cauliflower rice, slow cooker carnitas with sweet potatoes, roasted spaghetti squash with meat sauce, Thai zucchini salad with shrimp. I used quite a number of recipes out of the Whole30 book!

What About Breastfeeding?

When I originally mentioned that I was thinking about trying the Whole30 program, many of you asked how it would affect breastfeeding. Joseph stopped nursing around 4.5 months, so this wasn’t an issue for me, but there are sections of the book specific to pregnancy and breastfeeding and how the program should be modified. Of course, if either of these situations apply to you, I would definitely check with your doctor/pediatrician/lactation consultant before starting!

Final Thoughts

So, here I am, 10 days removed from finishing the Whole30 and I am basically still eating the same way because I feel so great! On Sundays, I have a little bit of everything and a little bit of dessert, but I’m not going crazy, I’m not eating dessert everyday, and I’m eating much more balanced meals. I’m much more cognizant of what I’m putting into my body and how it makes me feel.

I feel like my eating habits have done a complete 180 – I now think of terms of complete meals and fill my plate with vegetables! That alone has been worth its weight in gold in terms of the plan having been beneficial for me. In addition, I think I’ve become much more mindful of my eating – paying attention to when I’m actually hungry, versus thirsty, bored or tired – and then eating good, whole foods that will satisfy my hunger.

I still plan on eating a burger and fries every now and then, and having my desserts (OF COURSE!). I’m just going to be enjoying smaller servings of great quality (homemade) desserts instead of eating store-bought treats every single night, which was a bad habit that I’m glad I was able to kick during those 30 days!

In a nutshell, I’m so glad I did this and would absolutely do it again.

Resources – Books and Websites

If you’re interested in learning more about Whole30, these are some great books, cookbooks and websites to get started:

The Whole30

It Starts With Food

Well Fed

Well Fed 2

21 Jul 19:13

Taco Salad Skillet

by Beth M

Oops, do I make too many taco dishes?


Okay really, I’m sorry if you’re not as into tacos as I am, but I just can’t help it. Today I was craving the classic American style taco with seasoned ground beef, cheese, iceberg lettuce, and a crunchy corn shell. I changed up the presentation by layering all of the ingredients into one skillet. Not only did this cut down on the number of dishes that I had to wash, but it made the presentation a little more fun, which is always nice when you’re tired of your “same-ole, same-ole” weeknight dinners.

I was really lucky and got another “last day” type sale on my ground beef, which made it about half price. The deal with these sales is that the meat is on the last day of its shelf life, so the store needs to offload it fast or risk a 100% loss.  So, they cut prices deep in order to try to reduce their losses. The catch is that it needs to be either cooked or frozen that day (or at least very soon after).

I also cut costs by using half beef and half black beans. You can do all ground beef if you prefer (use a whole pound) or do two cans of black beans for a vegetarian version. It’s quite flexible. Use the same blend of seasonings for either option. And, as with any taco dish, you can customize the toppings to your liking. Want more topping ideas? Try avocado, jalapeño, black olives, or pineapple. They’re all winners in my book.

Taco Salad Skillet -

4.7 from 6 reviews
Taco Salad Skillet
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $7.86
Cost Per Serving: $1.97
Serves: 4
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.04
  • ½ lb. ground beef $1.37
  • ½ Tbsp chili powder blend $0.15
  • ½ tsp cumin $0.05
  • ½ tsp oregano $0.05
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • ⅛ tsp salt $0.02
  • 15oz. can black beans, drained $1.19
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed $0.50
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese $1.30
  • 2 cups broken tortilla chips $0.50
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce $0.75
  • 1 large tomato $0.73
  • 3 green onions $0.17
  • 8oz. tub sour cream $1.00
  1. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and ground beef. Sauté the beef, breaking it into crumbles as you go, until fully browned. Drain the excess fat if needed.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to the skillet. Drain, but do not rinse, the black beans and then add them to the skillet. Stir until the beef and beans are coated in the spices. Continue to sauté until heated through (3-5 minutes).
  3. Spread the corn kernels and shredded cheese over the beef and bean mixture. Place a lid on the skillet and let the mixture warm through until the cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, dice the tomato, slice the green onions, and shred the lettuce.
  5. Once the cheese is melted, turn off the heat. Top the skillet with the broken tortilla chips, lettuce, tomato, and green onion. Scoop the layered salad into each of four bowls, then add a dollop of sour cream to each serving.

Taco Salad Skillet -


Step by Step Photos

Ground Beef SaleI got an incredible deal on a pound of ground beef because it was the last of its shelf life. When you find these sales, the meat needs to be cooked or frozen that day. I used a half pound for this recipe and froze the second half. Brown the beef in a deep skillet over medium heat with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil. Once it’s fully browned, drain off the excess fat if needed.

Browned Beef and SpicesAfter the beef is browned, add 1/2 Tbsp chili powder blend (not ground hot chile pepper), 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, and 1/8 tsp salt.

Seasoned Black Beans and BeefDrain one 15oz. can of black beans, but do not rinse them. You want a little bit of that starchy liquid to help hydrate the spices and create a little bit of sauce. Add the beans to the skillet and stir until everything is coated in spices. Stir and cook the mixture until it’s heated through.

Corn and CheddarAdd one cup of frozen corn kernels (thawed) and one cup of shredded cheddar to the skillet. Place a lid on top and allow everything to heat through until the cheese is melted (about five minutes). While that’s heating, dice a large tomato, slice three green onions, and shred 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce.

Crushed Tortilla ChipsOnce the cheese is melted, turn off the heat. Add about 2 cups of slightly crushed tortilla chips to the top of the skillet.

Lettuce Tomato Green OnionFinally, add the lettuce, tomato, and green onion to the top of the skillet.

Taco Salad Skillet - BudgetBytes.comScoop individual portions (4-6 portions per skillet, depending on how big you want them), then top with a dollop of sour cream.

Taco Salad Skillet - BudgetBytes.comYou can have extra tomato, lettuce, or chips near by incase anyone wants to customize their bowl. :)

Taco Salad Skillet -

The post Taco Salad Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

02 Jul 04:01

No-Bake S’mores Dip

by Michelle

No-Bake S'mores Dip - No campfire needed! |

I have always had a huge love affair with s’mores. From the time I was a kid, I couldn’t resist a freshly toasted marshmallow in all of its ooey, gooey glory. When I was in high school, my dad built a little bonfire pit behind our swimming pool so that anytime we had friends over, we could sit around a fire once the sun went down and we always had a stash of marshmallows in the pantry. My parents’ house was surrounded by woods, so we toasted marshmallows the old-fashioned way – on sharp sticks that we pulled off of trees!

Sometimes, though, you don’t have a fire and you still want a s’more! Last winter when I was pregnant, I would regularly make myself a s’more in the evening using our gas stove. You do what you gotta do, right?! This simple dip delivers all the great flavors of s’mores without needing to stand over a campfire to make one.

No-Bake S'mores Dip - No campfire needed! |

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about chocolate ganache? I might have said that I could eat it with a spoon. Well, we’re going to eat it with graham crackers (and marshmallows, of course!). Using a modified ganache recipe instead of just straight chocolate ensures that the chocolate stays creamy and easily dippable (is that a word?). I’ve found that melted chocolate that’s allowed to sit can kind of clump up and get a weird consistency, so the addition of cream solves that problem.

No-Bake S'mores Dip - No campfire needed! |

I used my kitchen torch to toast the marshmallows on top, but you could always pop this into the oven under the broiler for a couple of minutes to achieve the same effect.

For me, it’s not summer without s’mores and this dip means that I can eat s’mores anytime, with or without a fire for toasting marshmallows!

No-Bake S'mores Dip - No campfire needed! |

One year ago: Ice Cream Truffles
Two years ago: Loaded Baked Potato Salad
Six years ago: Red, White & Blue Stained Glass Jello

No-Bake S'mores Dip

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

An easy dip for summer parties - chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers - no campfire required!


16 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
1½ cups heavy cream
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Graham crackers, for serving


1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Pour over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the mixture, beginning in the center, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

3. Pour into a shallow serving dish and top with the miniature marshmallows. Use a kitchen torch to toast the marshmallows; serve with graham crackers.

Note: If you don't have a kitchen torch, assemble the dessert in a broiler-proof dish and place under the oven's broiler for a minute or two to toast the marshmallows.

30 Jun 20:24

Pineapple Pork Kebabs (no grill required)

by Beth M

I love absolutely love that “licked by the flame” flavor that grilled food has. Unfortunately, I don’t have a grill, so I’m left trying to recreate that flavor with my oven (that’s okay, I don’t really want to stand next to an open flame outside in the middle of a sweltering Louisiana summer anyway).

That’s where a broiler comes in handy. A broiler is just like an upside down grill. It’s an open flame (on gas ovens) that cooks the food from top down at a very close range. The effect on food is nearly identical to a grill and it can all be done from the comfort of your air conditioned kitchen. WIN!

I was lucky enough to catch a “last day” sale on some pork chops, so I cut those up into cubes for the kebabs. If you don’t like pork or can get a better deal on chicken, this recipe would work just as well with chicken breast or thighs. The marinade is simple but flavorful, and gets tastier the longer you let it marinate.

I’ve been using the same pack of 100 bamboo skewers that I bought probably five years ago (ha!) and didn’t think to check the price when I was at the store today. So, the price breakdown doesn’t include the skewers. I imagine the added cost would be very small. If you don’t have skewers or can’t buy them, you can probably just spread the meat and vegetables out on a sheet pan and broil them sans skewers until browned. Skewers are just fun and make this cheap meal seem more fancy. :)

Pineapple Pork Kebabs -

5.0 from 5 reviews
Pineapple Pork Kebabs (no grill required)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $6.80
Cost Per Serving: $0.68 each
Serves: 10 kebabs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated $0.12
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.30
  • 2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil $0.18
  • 1 Tbsp honey $0.12
  • 1.25 lbs. boneless pork chops $1.96*
  • 1 Vidalia onion $0.69
  • 1 green bell pepper $0.79
  • 1 20oz. can pineapple chunks (packed in juice) $1.37
  • 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil $0.05
  • salt and pepper $0.05
Toppings (optional)
  • ½ bunch cilantro $0.50
  • Sriracha (to taste) $0.50
  1. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to help prevent burning under the broiler.
  2. Prepare the marinade by mincing two cloves of garlic and grating about one inch of fresh ginger into a bowl. Add the soy sauce, oil, and honey. Stir to combine.
  3. Cut the pork chops into one inch cubes. Place the cubed pork in a bowl or shallow dish and pour the marinade over top. Stir until the pork is coated in the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Cut the onion and bell pepper into one-inch pieces. Drain the juice from the canned pineapple chunks. Place the onion and bell pepper in a bowl, add one tablespoon of oil, and a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  5. Thread the soaked skewers with alternating pieces of onion, bell pepper, pineapple, and pork until all the pieces are used. Arrange the skewers on a broiler pan or a sheet pan with wire racks set on top.
  6. Adjust the oven rack so that the top of the skewers will be 5-6 inches from the broiler. Preheat the broiler on high for at least five minutes. Place the skewers under the broiler and cook for five minutes, or just until the edges begin to brown. rote the skewers and return to the oven for an additional five minutes. Continue cooking and rotating the skewers until they are evenly browned on all sides.** Top the kebabs with fresh chopped cilantro and a squirt of Sriracha, if desired.
*The pork chops were on sale.

**Cooking time will vary greatly depending on the size of the pieces of meat, your oven, and the distance from the broiler unit. You'll need to watch the kebabs and rotate often until they are fully and evenly cooked.


Pineapple Pork Kebabs - BudgetBytes.comYou can serve the kebabs on the skewer, or remove the pieces into a bowl with rice and beans. I <3 “bowl” meals!


Step by Step Photos

MarinadePrepare the marinade by mincing two cloves of garlic and grating about one inch of fresh ginger on a small holed cheese grater (or you can mince it with a knife). Add the garlic and ginger to a bowl with 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil, and 1 Tbsp honey. Stir until everything is combined. Set the marinade aside.

Also, before you begin, start soaking your wooden skewers. Making sure they are fully soaked helps prevent them from burning under the open flame. They’ll still burn a little, but it’ll take a lot longer. Always soak a few more skewers than you think you’ll need, just in case.

Pork ChopsI got a really great “last day” sale on these pork chops, for only $1.59/lb. What is a “last day” sale? Last day, as in these pork chops need to be used or frozen TODAY. End of shelf life. Get ’em out of here. Anyway, it’s about 1.25 lbs of meat.

Cube PorkCut the pork chops into one inch cubes.

Marinate PorkPlace the pork and marinade in a bowl or shallow dish and stir until everything is coated. Cover the dish and refrigerate it for at least a half hour. 

Dice VegetablesWhile the pork is marinating, cut one Vidalia onion and one green bell pepper into one inch pieces. Add the onion and bell pepper to a bowl along with 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables until they are coated. Drain the juice from a 20oz. can of pineapple chunks (make sure to get the kind packed in juice, not syrup). If you can’t get a Vidalia onion, a regular yellow onion or purple onion can be used instead.

Adjust Oven RackIn preparation to broil, adjust the oven rack so that the food will be 5-6 inches from the broiler unit. The broiler unit in my oven is located on the roof of the main compartment. Some ovens have the broiler in the drawer below the main oven compartment. Put your broiler pan (or make shift broiler pan) in the oven to get an idea how far the food will be from the flame. Remember to estimate an added inch or so for the height of the food. If I had adjusted the rack to the top level, the food would have only been 3-4 inches away and it would have cooked a little too quickly for my liking. Positioning it slightly farther away gives you a little more control and wiggle room, but is still close enough to get the flame broiled flavor. Preheat the broiler on high for at least five minutes before starting, to make sure the ambient air in the oven is also hot.

Fill Skewersthread the soaked skewers with pieces of onion, bell pepper, pineapple, and marinated meat. I was able to make ten very full skewers. Line the kebabs on a broiler pan. To make this substitute broiler pan, just set two wire cooling racks on top of a rimmed baking sheet. The racks hold the food off the bottom so air can circulate underneath and fat and juices drip down below. I also like to line the pan with foil for easy cleanup later.

Broiled KebabsBroil the kebabs for about five minutes, or until they start to brown. Remove them from the oven and rotate each kebab. Return them to the broiler for an additional five minutes. Repeat this process until they are evenly browned all around (I cooked mine for a total of 15 minutes). Cooking time will vary a lot depending on the size of your pieces, the type of oven you have, and how far the broiler is from the surface of the food, so make sure to keep an eye on them and rotate often (just like REAL grilling!).

Pineapple Pork Kebabs - BudgetBytes.comFor extra flavor, top the kebabs with chopped fresh cilantro and a drizzle of Sriracha!

The post Pineapple Pork Kebabs (no grill required) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

25 Jun 15:25

chocolate chunk granola bars

by deb

chocolate chunk granola bars

As I shuffle towards the finish line of this family-expansion project we began so long ago that it’s become a running joke* there are days when I honestly do not understand why human beings need to gestate beyond 37 weeks. I mean, pretty much the minute the doctor estimated this kid to be 6 pounds, I concluded “it’s cooked! It can come out now, right?” and imagined our 4th of July, baby snuggled in wrap, beer in one hand, medium-rare burger in the other and, lo, it sounded pretty grand to me. Because, of course, we know from experience that’s exactly what the first weeks of having a newborn look like. Fortunately, there are other days when I wake up and feel almost like a person who does not have feet in her rib cage, when by some miracle, I’m able to swim a mile, find some forgotten dress in my closet that actually fits with dignity, and cook things we can pass off as dinners, present and future, and this is one of those days so let’s frolic in it.

... Read the rest of chocolate chunk granola bars on

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18 Jun 15:56

strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie

by deb

strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie

Sure, there’s nothing glamorous about carrying a watermelon, so to speak, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I rather enjoy many parts of being pregnant. For example, you get to wear elastic-waist pants all the time. Your hair gets really thick and shiny; I mean, sure, it doesn’t last but if this is as close as I’m going to get in my lifetime to my Pantene Moment, you’d better believe I’m going to revel in it. It’s so very wrong, but I even secretly enjoy the soft bigotry of low expectations as literally nothing I admit — that I’ve been only swimming two times a week instead of three recently, that if I cook dinner twice a week, it’s a triumph, etc. — is met with less than “Go you! That’s amazing!” I even delight in watching people’s expressions change to borderline-panic on the street as they realize this rather normal-looking woman approaching them is, in fact, colossal when viewed from the side.

... Read the rest of strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie | 130 comments to date | see more: Ice Cream/Sorbet, Photo, Strawberries, Summer, Tarts/Pies

16 Jun 04:01

Thick-Crust Sicilian Pizza

by Michelle

Thick-Crust Sicilian-Style Pizza |

I am an unapologetic diehard pizza fan. If I had to rank my comfort foods, pizza would absolutely be in the number one spot (followed by macaroni and cheese as a close second). I have such awesome memories of time spent at my grandma’s house when I was a kid, and so many of them revolve around pizza. We’d often order from the local pizza place, which cut its pizza in squares, and phone in the same order every time: “light on the sauce, extra cheese”. When we weren’t ordering pizza, my grandma was making us Boboli pizzas, usually for myself, my sister and cousin on Saturday nights while we’d watch The Golden Girls, and then stay up late and watch Star Search.

I usually prefer a thin and crispy crust, but my husband sometimes likes Sicilian-style pizza (thick crust, squares), so I’ve had it on my list to make for some time. I finally got around to it this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised and how much I enjoyed this thicker, pan-baked version.

Thick-Crust Sicilian-Style Pizza |

One of the things I really love about this recipe is that you can prepare the dough up to two days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the pizza. This is perfect if, perhaps, you are planning to make the pizza on Friday, but after spending the whole day trying to soothe an infant who had two teeth making their way through his gums, you surrender any and all plans and cry uncle. Instead, we had pizza for lunch on Saturday and it was fantastic.

Thick-Crust Sicilian-Style Pizza |

The thick crust has a wonderfully airy, chewy crumb, not at all dense, which is what I’m always fearful of when it comes to Sicilian-style pizza. It’s topped with a sauce very similar to the one used for Chicago-style deep dish pizza; it’s thick and packed with flavor thanks to garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Even though we usually order pepperoni pizza, I went traditional and only topped it with cheese, which was fantastic.

What’s your number one comfort food? I can’t be the only one who would choose pizza!

Thick-Crust Sicilian-Style Pizza |

One year ago: Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Four years ago: Creamy, Lighter Macaroni Salad
Five years ago: Oven-Fried Onion Rings, Take II
Six years ago: Chocolate Espresso Semifreddo

Thick-Crust Sicilian-Style Pizza

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 24 hours

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 day

An amazing thick crust pizza topped with a hearty tomato sauce and lots of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.


For the Dough:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups semolina flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
1⅔ cups ice water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2¼ teaspoons salt

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt

For the Pizza:
¼ cup olive oil
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (1 cup)
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (3 cups)


1. Make the Dough: Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, sugar and yeast on low speed until combined. With the machine running, slowly add the water and oil until a dough forms and no dry flour remains, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 10 minutes.

2. Add the salt to the dough and mix on medium speed until the dough forms a satiny, sticky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead briefly on a lightly floured counter until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape the dough into a tight ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.

3. Make the Sauce: Heat the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce measures 2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool, and refrigerate until needed.

4. Make the Pizza: Place a baking stone on the upper-middle rack and preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, then coat the bottom of the pan with the olive oil.

5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough and gently press into a 12x9-inch rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 18x13-inch rectangle. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, fitting the dough into the corners. Spray the top of the dough with non-stick cooking spray and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough. Place a second baking sheet on the dough and let it stand for 1 hour.

6. Remove the top baking sheet and plastic wrap. Gently stretch and light dough to fill the pan. Spread the sauce in an even layer over the surface of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the entire surface of the dough, then repeat with the mozzarella cheese.

7. Place the pan on the baking stone, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake until the cheese is bubbly and browned, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the pizza. Transfer to a cutting board, cut into squares and serve.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

26 May 20:51

Thai Peanut Chicken

by Beth M

While I was scrolling through Pinterest last week I saw a photo of Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and my mouth started to water. I knew that’s what I had to cook next. But when I got to the grocery store I spotted a sale on chicken drumsticks for a shocking $0.59/lb. You bet I snatched those up. Instead of dipping the cooked chicken in peanut sauce, why not just cook the chicken in the sauce? Taking advantage of sales is all about being flexible!

This also brings up a great point that one of my savvy readers, Craig, reminded me of this week. Whenever grocery stores have excess inventory, they’ll drastically drop the price in order to sell it off before having to spoil it out at 100% loss. It’s tricky to spot these sales, but if you make sure to keep your eyes open, it’s worth the extra browsing. Often times these items are a bit closer to their expiration date, but if it’s something you can freeze or use right away, it’s totally worth it.

Anyway, back to the Thai Peanut Chicken…

I used a slightly modified version of this Thai Peanut Sauce recipe that I made years ago as the marinade. I skipped the coconut milk because it was too expensive this time (I need to stock up to Trader Joe’s!) and I wanted the mixture to be a bit thicker so it would stick to the chicken. Also, because I’m modifying my sugar intake at the moment, I used honey instead of brown sugar and subbed chili garlic sauce instead of Sriracha. Feel free to sub brown sugar and Sriracha if desired.


Thai Peanut Chicken -

You can use this same recipe for other types of chicken pieces as well. Chicken thighs? YES, that would be so good. Chicken breasts will be a bit dryer, but will work. The total cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces, how packed they are in your baking dish, and whether they are bone in or boneless. I suggest starting with 30 minutes for boneless and 45 minutes for bone in chicken. Use a quick read meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the thickest piece of meat and add more time if needed (it should reach 160℉). That’s really the only good way to tell if it’s done. I have a basic model (like this), which is very inexpensive and can be found at most stores that carry kitchen gadgets. I consider it a kitchen “must have” item.

Oops, back to the chicken! (again)

4.8 from 12 reviews
Thai Peanut Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $5.17
Cost Per Serving: $1.29
Serves: 4 (2 pieces each)
  • 1 clove garlic $0.08
  • 1 inch fresh ginger $0.24
  • ½ fresh lime (1.5-2 Tbsp juice) $0.25
  • ½ Tbsp chili garlic sauce (or Sriracha) $0.17
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp honey (or brown sugar) $0.12
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.57
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.04
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter $1.11
  • 3 Tbsp hot water $0.00
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro $0.50
  • 3 lbs. chicken pieces $1.86*
  1. Mince the garlic. Peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler or by scraping the skin with the sharp side of a spoon. Use a small holed cheese grater to grate the ginger. Add the garlic, ginger, the juice from half the lime (1.5-2 Tbsp), chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and vegetable oil to a medium bowl. Whisk together. Add the peanut butter and hot water, then whisk again until fairly smooth. Roughly chop the cilantro. Save a handful of the cilantro to top the dish after baking, and stir the rest into the peanut sauce.
  2. Set aside ½ cup of the peanut sauce for later. Add the remaining peanut sauce to a gallon sized zip top bag along with the chicken pieces. Remove as much air from the bag as possible, close it up tightly, and massage the bag to mix the marinade with the chicken. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  3. When you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken pieces and all the marinade from the bag in a casserole dish so that the pieces are in a single layer. Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then use a brush to add the reserved peanut sauce to the top of the chicken. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, then use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature. If it's not up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, bake 10-15 minutes more and then test again. Repeat until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Top the baked chicken with the reserved cilantro and serve.
*My drumsticks were on sale for $0.59/lb.

Thai Peanut Chicken -

Want to cook these on the grill? Sure, why not! Take advantage of that beautiful summer weather. :)

Thai Peanut Chicken -

Step by Step Photos

Peanut Sauce SeasoningStart making the peanut sauce by mincing one clove of garlic and grating about one inch of fresh ginger. You can peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler or the side of a spoon before grating it on a small holed cheese grater. Add the garlic and ginger to a bowl with the juice of half a lime (1.5-2 Tbsp), 1/2 Tbsp of chili garlic sauce or Sriracha, 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp honey (or brown sugar), 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, and 2 Tbsp regular vegetable oil.

Peanut Butter and WaterThen add 1/2 cup natural peanut butter and a few tablespoons of hot water to help thin it out a bit and loosen up the peanut butter. Stir until it’s fairly smooth (it will have some chunks from the garlic and ginger).

Chop CilantroRemove the leaves from about a 1/2 bunch of cilantro, then roughly chop the leaves.

Finish Peanut SauceStir most of the chopped cilantro into the peanut sauce, but save some to sprinkle over top of the finished dish.

DrumsticksI was lucky enough to find this pack of drumsticks for $0.59/lb., but you could use other types of chicken, if desired. Just keep in mind that cooking time will vary with the size of your chicken pieces and whether or not they are bone in or boneless. I used about 3 lbs. of chicken. 

Marinate ChickenSave about 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce to brush onto the chicken later and add the rest to a large zip top bag. Add the chicken pieces, remove as much air as possible, then massage the bag to coat mix the chicken with the sauce. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to over night. I like to put a baking sheet under the bag in the refrigerator just to be extra careful. You don’t want any of that raw chicken juice dripping in your fridge.

Bake Peanut ChickenWhen you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken and all the sauce from the bag into a casserole dish big enough for the chicken to lay in a single layer. Bake for 30 minutes…

Add Extra SauceAt 30 minutes, brush the remaining peanut sauce over the top of the chicken. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, then use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of one of the largest pieces. The internal temp should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s not, bake for another 10-15 minutes then test again. Mine were pretty packed in there and might have been close to frozen in the center, so they needed another 10 minutes.

Baked Thai Peanut Chicken - BudgetBytes.comWhen they’re cooked through, top with the remaining chopped cilantro and serve.

Thai Peanut Chicken - BudgetBytes.comI served my chicken over jasmine rice, but if you want to get fancy, you could serve it with some Savory Coconut Rice.

Right after I took that photo I was all like…


The post Thai Peanut Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

14 May 04:01

Slow Cooker Beef Tips with Mushrooms and Egg Noodles

by Michelle

Slow Cooker Beef Tips with Mushrooms and Egg Noodles |

Back in January when I had Joseph, my mom took two weeks off of work to be available to help and do whatever we needed in those first bleary-eyed days when we got home from the hospital. It was a huge help, especially since I ended up having a c-section and wasn’t allowed to do stairs and was too sore to do a lot of typical around-the-house stuff… AND she cooked us some fantastic food.

When I was younger, one of my favorite meals that my mom made was beef tips with mushrooms and noodles, so that was one of the things that she made a week or so after Joseph was born. It totally hit the spot and was perfect comfort food. We had my grandparents over for lunch yesterday and when I was trying to think about what to make, I remembered that meal from January. Beef tips, it was!

Slow Cooker Beef Tips with Mushrooms and Egg Noodles |

I asked my mom for the recipe that she used, and she said she based hers off of this one, but added wine, didn’t use a gravy packet and made it in the slow cooker. I took her version one step further and eliminated all of the stovetop prep time, because, well, I didn’t think it was necessary and if I can remove unnecessary prep time, I will absolutely do it. I also added the flour-based roux and kicked up the heat in the last hour to thicken up the sauce a bit.

My modified version turned out fantastic and it got the grandparents’ seal of approval. I made it a meal with egg noodles, a salad and rolls. Easy, simple and almost completely hands-off – my kind of meal nowadays!

Slow Cooker Beef Tips with Mushrooms and Egg Noodles |

One year ago: Almond Joy Cookie Bars
Two years ago: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Slow Cooker Beef Tips with Mushrooms and Egg Noodles

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes

An amazingly flavorful recipe for beef tips served over egg noodles, made in the slow cooker. So easy!


2 yellow onions, finely chopped
16 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
4 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups beef stock, divided
½ cup red wine
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces egg noodles
2 tablespoons salted butter
Parsley to garnish, if desired


1. Place the onions and mushrooms in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker, then top with the cubed beef.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2½ cups of the beef stock, the red wine, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour over the beef, place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

3. Place the flour in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the remaining 1½ cups of beef stock. Stir into the beef mixture, place the lid back on and cook on high for an additional hour.

4. When ready to serve, cook the egg noodles according to the package directions. Drain, return to the pot, and toss with 2 tablespoons of salted butter.

09 Apr 22:03

Smoky Garlic Oven Fries

by Beth M

I really  wanted to call these “OMG! They’re Crunchy!” Fries, but that doesn’t work very well for SEO purposes. My point is, I’m happy to have finally made some oven fries that are crispy and crunchy. Are they like deep fried fries? Well, no. Fries made in the oven will never be like real fries because the science behind the cooking is completely different, but it’s nice to finally have made some that are actually crispy rather than just strips of soft baked potato, ya know?

These little fries are an addictive snack or they can be a delightful side to dinner. You can season them with just about anything you want (think Parmesan, curry powder, ranch seasoning mix… anything), but I went with my favorite go-to combo of garlic and smoked paprika. It’s always a hit.

The secret to making these fries crispy is simple. Cut them THIN. There’s no special 10 step method like soaking in salt water and drying with a towel, just cut them thin. I did my best to show you in the step by step photos the easiest way to make them thin and uniform, because when you’re cooking thin anything, uniformity is key to keeping them all cooking at the same rate. If they’re all different shapes and sizes, you’ll have some shriveled and burned, and other soft and mushy. So, now’s a good time to start practicing those slicing skills!

Anywhooo, I enjoyed these fried a LOT (maybe too much) and can’t wait to try some more flavors. Feel free to share you favorite fry flavors with me in the comments below! :)

Smoky Garlic Oven Fries -

4.6 from 8 reviews
Smoky Garlic Oven Fries
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $2.84
Cost Per Serving: $0.71
Serves: 4
  • 2-2.5 lbs. russet potatoes $2.07
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 tsp (approx.) garlic powder $0.10
  • 1 tsp (approx.) smoked paprika $0.10
  • Generous salt & pepper $0.05
  • Non-stick spray $0.15
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare two baking sheets by covering them with foil and coating the foil with non-stick spray.
  2. Wash the potatoes well to remove any dirt or dust. Cut the potatoes into very thin, ¼ inch matchsticks, then divide them between the two baking sheets.
  3. Drizzle each sheet of potatoes with 1 Tbsp olive oil, then toss the fries to coat. Sprinkle the fries with garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Don't worry, they'll get tossed with the spices when they get stirred during the baking process.
  4. Bake the fries in the fully preheated 400 degree oven, stirring gently with a spatula every 15 minutes. Bake until the fries are brown and crispy, but still slightly moist in the center. The fries will bake at different rates, depending on how thinly they are sliced, so keep a close eye. My batch took approximately 45 minutes to bake.

Smoky Garlic Oven Fries -

Step by Step Photos

Before you begin, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cover two baking sheets with foil. Coat each one in non-stick spray.

Slice PotatoesStart with two large russet potatoes, about 2 to 2.5 pounds total. Wash them well to remove any dust or dirt. Cut the potato in half lengthwise to give yourself a nice flat surface to slice on. Turn the potato onto the flat surface and carefully slice it into thin strips.

Potato Match SticksNext, take a few of the thin slices that you just cut and lay them down on their flat cut side. Cut lengthwise again, this time 90 degrees perpendicular to the original cuts, to make matchsticks. Did that make sense? I hope so.

Season FriesDivide all of your matchsticks between the two prepared baking sheets. Drizzle each one with one tablespoon of olive oil, then toss to coat. Even though you’re using olive oil here, it is getting mixed in with the starchy juices of the potatoes, which is why you want that extra layer of protection from the non-stick spray first. 

Once the potatoes are coated in olive oil, sprinkle garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and freshly cracked pepper over top. You don’t really have to measure the seasonings, just sprinkle them liberally (except the garlic, that can be strong, so go a little lighter with that). The seasonings will get tossed with the potatoes when you stir them during baking.

Baked FriesBake the fries in the preheated 400 degree oven, stirring once every 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown and crispy. The total amount of time needed will depend on your potatoes and how thinly they are cut, but mine took about 45 minutes (stirred twice). Use a spatula to help you gently stir the potatoes because they will be fairly delicate before they crisp up.

Bake Fry CloseupLook pretty good, huh? They were really good dipped in some chipotle ranch dressing that I had. MMmm.

Smoky Garlic Oven Fries - BudgetBytes.comOr you can do ketchup. Ketchup is always good.

The post Smoky Garlic Oven Fries appeared first on Budget Bytes.

02 Apr 22:37

Toasted Coconut Oat Bran

by Beth M

Discovering that you can cook grains in other liquids besides water was one of my favorite “ah-ha” moments in cooking. Using broths, juices, or other flavorful liquids to cook dry grains adds more flavor than you could ever impart with herbs and spices alone. So, when I was cleaning out my cabinets the other day and found an old can of Trader Joe’s light coconut milk, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. (Trader Joe’s has the best price I’ve ever seen on coconut milk, BTW.)

The catalyst to this recipe was a handful of shredded coconut that I had left over from my No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola. I didn’t want to throw it away, but it really wasn’t enough to make anything with. The leftover shredded coconut happened to be sitting next to the oat bran and suddenly everything CLICKED. Cook the oat bran in the coconut milk and use the shredded coconut as garnish. Bingo! 

Luckily it was a can of LIGHT coconut milk that I found, as full fat probably wouldn’t have quite enough moisture to really cook the oat bran. Oat bran usually takes about 3-4 parts water for every one part of oat bran, so I just supplemented the coconut milk with enough water to make up the difference. The result is an ultra creamy oat porridge that has great filling power. I left the oat bran savory and added sweetener to each bowl individually, based on what I was feeling that day. I tried brown sugar (classic), maple syrup (yum), and raspberry jam, which was my favorite. The slightly tangy berry jam made a nice contrast to the warm creamy oats. You gotta try it!

Toasted Coconut Oat Bran -

4.0 from 1 reviews
Toasted Coconut Oat Bran
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $2.00
Cost Per Serving: $0.50 (about 1 cup each)
Serves: 4
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut $0.23
  • 1 (14oz.) can light coconut milk $0.99
  • 1.5 cups water $0.00
  • 1 cup oat bran $0.76
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  1. Add the shredded coconut to a dry skillet. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until the coconut is golden brown. Remove it from the warm skillet immediately to stop the cooking, and set it aside.
  2. Add the can of coconut milk, 1.5 cups of water, oat bran, and ¼ tsp salt to a sauce pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened.
  3. Divide the cooked oat bran between four bowls and top with the toasted coconut. Add the sweetener of your choice, if desired (brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and jam are all nice), or enjoy as is.
**If you don't have shredded coconut to use as a garnish, this still tastes amazing.

Toasted Coconut Oat Bran - BudgetBytes.comToasted Coconut Oat Bran -

Step by Step Photos

Toast CoconutStart by toasting your coconut. This heightens the flavor and makes it very pretty (pretty IS important sometimes). I used about 1/4 cup because that’s what I had, but you can use more or less, it’s up to you. Place the shredded coconut in a dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, while constantly stirring, until it’s golden brown like the photo above. Once it reaches that color, remove it from the skillet immediately to stop the browning (the residual heat in the skillet will keep cooking it otherwise and risk burning).

Oat BranUse one cup of uncooked oat bran. Add that to a sauce pot along with…

Coconut MilkOne 14oz. can of light coconut milk. Oat bran needs about 3 parts liquid to every part oat bran. The coconut milk was 1.75 cups, so I added an additional 1.5 cups of water (that makes 3.25 cups – an extra 1/4 cup liquid for good measure).

Oats Coconut Milk Water SaltSo in the sauce pot you have one 14oz. can of light coconut milk, 1.5 cups of water, and 1/4 tsp salt. The salt helps bring out the flavors just a bit and keep it from being bland. I sometimes like to add an extra pinch of salt and make it more on the savory side.

Thickened Oat BranCook the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reaches a simmer and thickens. It doesn’t take too long.

Top and ServeDivide the oat bran between four bowls, add the toasted coconut, and the sweetener of your choice (if desired). I kept the extra servings in the fridge and they reheated easily in the microwave. You could probably reheat them in a sauce pot on low if you add a smidge more water to help loosen it up.

The post Toasted Coconut Oat Bran appeared first on Budget Bytes.

23 Mar 17:24

Balsamic Chicken Thighs

by Beth M

Chicken thighs are a favorite of mine because they’re inexpensive, easy to prepare, tender, juicy, and quite versatile. So I was really excited when they went on sale last week. I’m always looking for new ways to season them up or infuse flavor (see Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs, Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs, and Soy Dijon Chicken Thighs), but decided to go with something very simple and delicious this time around. So I mixed up a very basic marinade with balsamic vinegar, garlic, a little freshly ground pepper, soy sauce for salt and depth, and a touch of brown sugar to balance the acids. The sweet and tangy marinade absorbed right into the tender meat and gave me more flavor than a girl could ask for.

I served these tasty Balsamic Chicken Thighs with some Skillet Potatoes and Green Beans, but they’d also be great with some rice or pasta to soak up all the delicious juices (just spoon it from the baking dish over top of your plate). Or, just make sure have some crusty bread on hand for sopping.

I love baking chicken thighs in the oven because it’s easy and hassle free, but this recipe would also work quite well on the grill. The little bit of brown sugar in the marinade will caramelize on the outside of the chicken for a deep, caramel-y flavor. Oooh, I’m so happy it’s outdoor grilling weather again! I <3 spring!

Balsamic Chicken Thighs -

4.8 from 13 reviews
Balsamic Chicken Thighs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.17
Cost Per Serving: $1.04
Serves: 4
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar $0.80
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.04
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.10
  • Freshly cracked black pepper $0.10
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs $2.40
  • Fresh parsley for garnish (optional) $0.25
  1. Mince the garlic and combine it in a bowl with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill). Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish or heavy duty zip top bag and pour the marinade over top. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 to 8 hours. (You can do this before you leave for work in the morning.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the chicken and marinade into a baking dish. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Use a spoon or baster to bathe the chicken with the juices from the bottom of the dish once or twice during baking.
  3. Remove the chicken from the oven after 45 minutes and sprinkle a handful of freshly chopped parsley over top.
This marinade would be enough to flavor six boneless, skinless chicken thighs, if needed.

Balsamic Chicken Thighs - BudgetBytes.comBalsamic Chicken Thighs -

Step by Step Photos

Balsamic MarinadeTo make this super simple marinade, just mince two cloves of garlic, then combine them in a bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper (I use this McCormick grinder). While fancy balsamic vinegars ARE usually better tasting, I just used a basic, widely available brand (this one) and it tasted quite good. I’ll save my good stuff for sprinkling over salads or dipping some nice bread in.

Marinate MeatPlace four (or six) boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over top. You can also do this in a heavy duty zip top bag (probably a gallon size), but I was out of those. Refrigerate the meat and marinade for one to eight hours so it can soak up all that goodness. I don’t bother trimming the fat off the meat because a lot of it melts off the chicken as it bakes (plus, I like the flavor), but you can before adding the marinade, if you prefer.

Chicken Thighs ready to bakeWhen you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the meat and all the marinade into a baking dish (you can spritz it with non-stick spray to help cleaning later, if you wish). Bake the chicken for 45 minutes, using a spoon or baster to bathe the meat with the juices once or twice during cooking.

Baked Balsamic Chicken Thighs add parsleySprinkle with a handful of chopped fresh parsley for garnish (or fresh basil if you have it growing in your garden!) and serve. NOM.

Balsamic Chicken Thighs - BudgetBytes.comWhat a pretty springtime meal! I just need some bread to get all those yummy juices from the dish into mah mouth!

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19 Mar 04:01

The Best Béchamel Sauce

by Michelle

The BEST Béchamel Sauce |

Let’s talk sauce!

Believe it or not, I was in the dark about white sauce for a long, long time. I’ve talked many times about eating dinner at my grandma’s on Sundays, but I don’t think I ever recall her making a white sauce. She was all about the red sauce – from spaghetti to stuffed shells and lasagna – and her homemade sauce was phenomenal. It wasn’t until I was much older (maybe high school?) that I had my first run-in with a bowl of fettuccine alfredo, and it was love at first bite. I’ve loved incorporating béchamel sauce into my pasta dishes, and finally found one that I adore. This would technically be considered a mornay since it includes cheese, but that just makes it infinitely better in my opinion.

As far as béchamel sauces go, this really cannot be beat. It’s thick, rich, creamy and wonderfully cheesy. I used it in lasagna and my baked tortellini and I think it was definitely the key to making both of those dishes so incredibly fabulous. While I’ll always love red tomato sauce, having a go-to béchamel sauce is now a necessity for me!

Tell me – are you team red sauce or white sauce?

The BEST Béchamel Sauce |

One year ago: White Chicken Chili
Two years ago: Popovers
Four years ago: Chocolate Mint Brownies
Six years ago: Irish Soda Bread
Seven years ago: Brioche Raisin Snails

The Best Béchamel Sauce

Yield: About 3 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

While technically a mornay sauce due to the cheese, this is my go-to béchamel sauce anytime I need a white sauce!


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a medium saucepan placed over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour turns light brown and emits a nutty aroma.

2. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Once all of the milk has been incorporated, whisk in the nutmeg, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Once simmering, cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

3. Remove from the heat, and add the shredded provolone a handful at a time, stirring until it melts. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

(Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest)

17 Mar 22:42

Parmesan & Pepper Kale Pasta

by Beth M

When in doubt, pasta + Parmesan + vegetable = a really good meal. For this version of that quick dinner classic, I added some mushrooms for extra umami, garlic because you gotta have garlic, and a heap of freshly cracked pepper (because I saw some parmesan & black pepper popcorn at the store it made my mouth water). I’ve already eaten half the pot, if that says anything about how well it turned out.

Good. It turned out really good. But, I have yet to fail when using that “pasta + Parmesan + vegetable” formula. Works every time!

Parmesan & Pepper Kale Pasta -

4.8 from 5 reviews
Parmesan & Pepper Kale Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $5.93
Cost Per Serving: $1.48 (about 1.5 cups each)
Serves: 4
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms $1.99
  • 1 bunch kale (curly or lacinato) $1.89
  • ½ cup chicken broth $0.06
  • ½ lb. pasta (any shape) $0.75
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan $0.71
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.15
  1. Mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms. Place the butter, garlic, and mushrooms in a large pot and sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until they are soft and dark (about 5 minutes).
  2. While the mushrooms are sautéing, tear or cut the kale leaves from the stems, then chop them into small pieces. Rinse the kale well.
  3. Add the kale to the pot along with ½ cup chicken broth. Stir the kale as it cooks until it is fully wilted. Let the wilted kale simmer in the broth without a lid over medium heat until most of the broth has evaporated (about 10 minutes).
  4. While the kale is simmering, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente (7-10 minutes). Drain the pasta and let it cool slightly, or until it looks a little dry and tacky in texture.
  5. Remove the pot with the kale and mushrooms from the heat. Add the pasta and stir to combine. The pot should be warm, but not steaming hot. If it’s still steaming, let it cool for about 5 minutes.* Once slightly cooled, add ½ tsp salt, about 20 cranks of a pepper mill (or more if desired), and the grated Parmesan. Stir until all the pasta and vegetables are coated in Parmesan and pepper. Taste the pasta and add more salt or pepper if needed.
*Allowing the contents of the pot to cool slightly helps the Parmesan stick to the pasta instead of melting and sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Parmesan & Pepper Kale Pasta - BudgetBytes.comI can’t help it. I’ll probably put a soft boiled egg on top of a bowl of this tomorrow morning for breakfast. #eggaddict

Parmesan & Pepper Kale Pasta -

Step by Step Photos

Mushrooms and ButterStart by slicing an 8 oz. package of mushrooms and mincing two cloves of garlic. Add the mushrooms and garlic to a large pot along with 2 Tbsp of butter.

Cooked MushroomsSauté the mushrooms and garlic over medium heat until they are soft and dark (about 5 minutes).

Chop KaleWhile the mushrooms are cooking, remove the stems from one bunch of kale. You can either just pull the leafy parts from the woody stems, or take a knife and run it along the side of each stem. Once the stem is removed, chop or tear the kale into smaller pieces.

Rinse KaleRinse the kale really well because a lot of dirt and debris (and maybe bugs??) can hide in those curly leaves. You don’t have to worry about waiting for it to dry.

BrothAdd the cleaned kale leaves to the pot along with a half cup of chicken broth. This is why I love Better Than Bouillon. You can mix up EXACTLY the amount you need, whenever you need it. It comes in low sodium and organic, too, if you were wondering (not a paid product mention!).

Braised KaleCook and stir the kale until it wilts down, then let it simmer in the broth until most of the broth has evaporated away (about 10 minutes). Remove it from the heat and let it cool a little. While the kale is simmering away, cook a 1/2 lb. of pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes). Drain the pasta well and let it cool slightly. Wait until it gets a little tacky and dry in the surface.

Pasta Parm and PepperLetting the pasta and the pot cool just slightly is really important. If it’s still steaming hot when you add the Parmesan, the Parmesan will melt and stick to the bottom of the pot rather than coating the pasta in flavorful little granules. It’s okay for the pasta to still be warm, just make sure it’s not still steaming. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and a good healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper (20 cranks of a mill or more). Stir the pot until everything is coated in Parmesan and pepper. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.

Parmesan & Pepper Kale Pasta - BudgetBytes.comNever fails!

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16 Mar 16:00

potatoes with soft eggs and bacon vinaigrette

by deb

potatoes with soft eggs and bacon vinaigrette

I was going to offer today a kind of loose apology. “Sorry, guys, for all of the potatoes and eggs and utter randomness of recipes this winter,” and then shamelessly go onto blame this approaching third-trimester (ack, too soon) situation with its still-unpredictable food cravings I’m in but then I realized: this is actually nothing new. There isn’t a recipe in the almost 9 years and 975-deep archives on this site that hasn’t been fueled wholly by hankerings, usually arbitrary ones. Some people have lesson plans and editorial calendars, I have whims. It’s just now I have a tiny thing — a future rock star, if the dance party from 2 to 6 a.m. last night is indication — to blame for it.

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to potatoes with soft eggs and bacon vinaigrette | 103 comments to date | see more: Budget, Easter, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Photo, Potatoes, Put An Egg On It, Salad

05 Mar 00:36

Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread

by Beth M

The other day when I was roaming around the internet, I stumbled upon this recipe for Garlic Texas Toast, from, that you keep in your freezer just like the premade kind that you’d buy from the grocery store. It was such a “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?!” moment. I’ve made my own garlic bread in the past and it’s to die for, but when do I ever need a whole loaf at once? I live by myself, so that would be a very dangerous situation. Anyway, this is such a great solution that I had to share it with all of you.

What’s so great about this garlic bread? It’s super fast to prepare and then you have a whole stockpile of single serving slices that are ready to pop into the oven on a moments notice. Make two or make ten, it’s up to you! Plus, since you’re mixing up the garlic butter topping, you know exactly what’s in there (and what isn’t), which always makes me feel good.

It must have been fate that just after I saw the original recipe I went to the store and found French loaves on sale for $1. Although the fluffy French loaf was just like a classic slice of frozen garlic bread, I can’t wait to experiment with other types of bread (maybe a thicker, chewier baguette, for instance) and other garlic herb toppings. Oooh, maybe even Parmesan!

Anyway, here is the incredibly simple way to make garlic bread slices that are ready and waiting in your freezer:

Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread -

5.0 from 5 reviews
Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Author: Adapted from Love to be in the Kitchen
Total Cost: $2.76
Cost Per Serving: $0.17 per slice (16 total)
Serves: 16 slices
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) salted butter $0.80
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley $0.30
  • 1 16-inch loaf French Bread $1.00
  1. Allow the butter to come to room temperature. Mince the garlic, then combine it in a small bowl with the butter, olive oil, salt, and dried parsley. Mix the ingredients together until they form a fairly smooth paste.
  2. Cut the bread loaf into 16 one-inch slices. Scoop ½ Tbsp of the butter mixture onto each slice, then spread it over the surface with a knife. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and then place them in the freezer for about 15 minutes to allow the butter to firm up. Once firm, stack the slices two at a time and place in quart sized freezer bags. Store in the freezer up to three months.
  3. To cook the frozen slices of garlic bread, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven is heated, take as many slices out of the freezer as you'd like, carefully separate the stacked slices, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.*
*If using a different type of bread, the baking time may change.

Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread -

Step by Step Photos

Garlic Butter IngredientsStart by letting one stick (8 Tbsp) of butter come to room temperature. Combine it in a bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes.

Garlic Butter MixtureMix them all up until it forms a fairly smooth paste (a few chunks of butter are a-okay).

Sliced French BreadTake a 16 inch loaf of French bread and slice it into 16 one-inch pieces. The easiest way to do this is to first slice the loaf in half (2), then slice each half in half (4), then each quarter in half (8), and then each piece in half one last time (16). It’s much easier to eye-ball a “half” than to just start slicing one inch pieces from one end to the other. At least for me it is!

Divide Garlic ButterI started with 8 Tbsp of butter, so I estimated I’d have about 1/2 Tbsp of the butter mixture for each of the 16 slices. Scoop the butter on to the slices, then…

Spread Garlic ButterSpread it out smooth with a knife. Place the buttered slices on a baking sheet and pop them into the freezer for about 15 minutes, just to firm up the butter a bit.

Freeze Garlic BreadOnce the garlic butter is a little more firm, you can stack them two by two and place them in a quart sized freezer bag (6 to a bag). Freeze the slices for up to 3 months for best results. To cook the garlic bread, simply preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then take out as many slices as you’d like and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown (you don’t have to wait for them to thaw first).

Freezer Garlic Bread - BudgetBytes.comYaaaassssss. Garlic butter goodness!

The post Homemade Freezer Garlic Bread appeared first on Budget Bytes.

25 Feb 18:34

Fudge Brownie Pots (for two)

by Beth M

I made some awesome Black Bean Chili the other day and what goes great with chili? Chocolate! In the spirit of not wanting to “accidentally” eat an entire pan of brownies, I decided to make two little single serving brownies instead. Sure, I could have made a Chocolate Mug Cake and killed the craving in about 60 seconds, but I wanted an extra rich, oven baked brownie this time. You know, the kind that has your whole house smelling like a chocolate heaven?

This brownie is kind of smack dab in the middle of being fudgy and cakey. It’s a little more cakey on the outer edges and a little more gooey and fudge-like in the center. The cakey part is not dry, but compresses into a nice rich fudge texture. Okay, wow, I’m going to need to stop talking about this before things get too serious over here…

Oh, and be prepared. This dessert has a lot of butter and a lot of sugar, as all good brownies do. It’s the nature of the beast, my friends.

Fudge Brownie Pots -

5.0 from 10 reviews
Fudge Brownie Pots (for two)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $1.04
Cost Per Serving: $0.52
Serves: 2
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.40
  • ½ cup granulated sugar $0.08
  • ¼ tsp vanilla $0.07
  • 1 large egg $0.19
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour $0.05
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder $0.21
  • ¼ tsp baking powder $0.02
  • ⅛ tsp salt $0.02
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Cut the butter into chunks and place it in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then stir until the butter is fully melted. Add the sugar and microwave for 15 seconds. Stir again, then repeat the 15 second intervals until the sugar and butter no longer separate from each other after being stirred (about 30-45 seconds total).
  2. Add the vanilla extract and egg to the melted butter and sugar, then stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  4. Pour the bowl of dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and stir just until a smooth, chocolatey batter has formed. Pour the batter into two 8oz. ramekins.
  5. Bake the brownies in the preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the center of each brownie has risen up into a dome and the surface looks glossy and cracked. Let the brownies cool slightly before eating.

Chocolate Brownie Pots -


Step by Step Photos

Melted ButterStart by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a microwave safe bowl. I usually microwave on high, then stir until the butter finishes melting. This and the next step can be done on the stove over low heat, if desired.

Melted Sugar and ButterAdd 1/2 cup sugar to the melted butter, microwave for 15 seconds, then stir again. Repeat the 15 second intervals until the sugar no longer separates out from the melted butter after stirring. This should only require 30-45 seconds total. (When you first add it, the sugar will look very granulated and the oil from the butter will seep out. After heating it a bit more, the sugar melts a bit and the two incorporate into a mostly smooth mixture. It may still looks every so slightly granular.)

Egg and VanillaAdd 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and one large egg.

Wet IngredientsStir those in until the mixture is smooth.

Dry IngredientsTo a separate bowl, add 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt. Stir until they are very well combined and no clumps remain.

Wet and Dry Ingredients CombinedPour the bowl of dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and stir until everything is combined and a smooth, chocolatey batter has formed.

Fill RamekinsPour the batter into two 8oz. ramekins.

Baked BrowniesBake the brownies for 25-30 minutes, or until the centers have risen up into a dome and the surface looks glossy and cracked. Mine could have gone for a minute or two longer because the center deflated a bit upon cooling, but I was okay with that because it just meant that the center was extra fudgey. Yessssss.

Fudge Brownie Pots - BudgetBytes.comLet the brownies cool for a minute so you don’t burn your tongue off, then DIG IN.

Fudge Brownie Pots - BudgetBytes.comA little fudgey, a little cakey, a LOT of delicious.

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24 Feb 05:01

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

by Michelle

Cheesy Baked Tortellini |

It seems unfathomable that Christmas was less than two months ago at this point; life has been jam packed since the calendar turned to January! Over the holidays, we had dinner with some members of my husband’s family and cheese tortellini in a pink sauce was on the menu. My husband and brother-in-law had talked about this pink sauce for years, and I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to try it. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe it! I asked my father-in-law’s cousin how she made it, and she said it was a simple combination of her marinara sauce and a béchamel. I tucked that information away for a rainy day, and less than a few weeks later I decided to recreate her meal, except I baked it as a casserole and added even more cheese because… why not?!

Cheesy Baked Tortellini |

I used packages of refrigerated tortellini for this dish, but you could easily use fresh or even frozen (I would par-boil the frozen ones before baking). Feel free to play around with the different variations of tortellini as well – I love cheese, but you could use meat or spinach as well, whatever you prefer. I have such a soft spot for baked pasta dishes; they’re absolutely one of my ultimate comfort foods. I can’t think of a better way to wait out these last few frigid days of winter before spring arrives than to bake up a dish like this!

I served this along with some homemade garlic bread, which may have just been the most amazing garlic bread I’ve ever had. Stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow!

Cheesy Baked Tortellini |

One year ago: Fluffernutter Milkshake
Three years ago: Date-Nut Snack Cake
Four years ago: Chocolate & Peanut Butter Popcorn [Poppy Chow]
Five years ago: Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A wonderfully cheesy baked tortellini dish made with a mixture of béchamel and red sauce.


For the Béchamel Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

3 pounds refrigerated cheese tortellini
3 cups your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Make the Béchamel Sauce: In a medium saucepan placed over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour turns light brown and emits a nutty aroma. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Once all of the milk has been incorporated, whisk in the nutmeg, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Once simmering, cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat, and add the shredded provolone a handful at a time, stirring until it melts. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper, then set aside and let cool to warm room temperature.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the béchamel sauce and the spaghetti sauce.

4. In a very large bowl, combine the tortellini and three-quarters of the sauce mixture. Turn into a 9x13-inch casserole dish and spread into an even layer.

5. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the top of the tortellini. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses evenly over the top.

6. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is browned and bubbling on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

09 Feb 16:59

oven-braised beef with tomatoes and garlic

by deb

oven-braised beef with tomato and garlic

I realize that if you’re scouring the internet this week looking for something romantic to cook for that little Hallmark holiday this weekend, the words “pot roast” probably didn’t cross your search threshold. It’s not sexy food; nobody is writing aphrodisiac cookbooks about bottom rounds and boneless chucks. But if you ask me, it’s something better, something cozy, warm, and classic, which neither steals the show nor keeps you from enjoying it. It’s for people who long ago stopped aspiring to entertain in multi-course and completely exhausting meals (for host and guest) and turned instead to comfort foods that surprise and delight on sleety winter nights. Sure, those individual gratins, galettes, microgreens and shooters of soup look elegant, but none of them have ever gotten the reaction that a massive batch of spaghetti and meatballs, from-scratch lasagne or great big short rib braise with a green salad did. No dessert, frosted, layered or crimped has ever had the delighted reception of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (dough prepared days before, shh), still on their baking sheet. Why are we pretending we have a team of line cooks at our disposal, anyway?

a quick chop of tomatoes
a head of garlic

My favorite meals can be prepped in advance, often taste even better the second day, require no trips to specialty stores and are hard to mess up. And I’m never, ever able to resist the siren call of a recipe that promises transcendence in less than five ingredients.

ready to braise

... Read the rest of oven-braised beef with tomatoes and garlic on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to oven-braised beef with tomatoes and garlic | 182 comments to date | see more: Budget, Date Night, Gluten-Free, Meat, Photo, Winter

31 Jan 21:55

Zuppa Toscana

by Beth M

Zuppa Toscana… it’s one of those recipes that EVERY food blogger has made. I see it on Pinterest at least once per day. At least. I try to avoid over-hyped recipes like this but…

I had a friend staying at my house last week and he so graciously offered to cook dinner one night. He chose Zuppa Toscana. “Sure, why not?” I thought, “Let’s see what all the hubbub is about.” He is a former Olive Garden employee and if he could eat it every day for months on end and still want to cook it by choice, then there’s gotta be something to it, right? Well, to my surprise, the soup actually lived up to its enormous hype. We each ate two bowls for dinner, then ate it again for breakfast and lunch the next two days. Yep. It’s that good.

If you’ve never been to Olive Garden or had Zuppa Toscana anywhere else, I’d describe it like a creamy potato soup loaded with flavorful Italian sausage, kale, and bacon. The original version uses heavy cream, bacon, and a whole pound of sausage, but I decided to try to lighten it up a bit. I used half and half instead of heavy cream (according to it has one third the fat), subbed half the sausage for white beans, used smoked paprika for smokiness instead of bacon, and then loaded up on potatoes and kale. The result? Still totally creamy and chock full flavor, plus a hefty dose of vegetables. I’m probably going to eat nothing but this soup for the next four days straight (it has kale, so it’s okay, right?).

Are you ready for this?

Zuppa Toscana -

5.0 from 31 reviews
Zuppa Toscana
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $8.28
Cost Per Serving: $1.04 (1.5 cups each)
Serves: 8
  • ½ lb. Italian Sausage (hot or mild) $1.46
  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Great Northern beans $1.00
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 3 cups chicken broth* $0.36
  • 1 cup water $0.00
  • 2 cups half and half $1.69
  • 3 medium red potatoes (1.5-1.75 lbs.) $1.67
  • 1 bunch (8 oz.) kale, chopped $1.50
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional) $0.02
  • freshly cracked black pepper (optional) $0.05
  1. Squeeze the sausage out of its casing into a large pot. Sauté over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. The sausage should contain enough fat to keep it from sticking, if not add a touch of olive oil. It's okay if a small amount browns on the bottom of the pot.
  2. While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add them to the pot and sauté until the onions are softened. The moisture from the onions should help dissolve any browned bits of sausage off the bottom of the pot.
  3. Drain and rinse the can of beans. Add the beans, smoked paprika, chicken broth, one cup water, and half and half to the pot. Place a lid on the pot and let it come up to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. While the pot is heating, cut each potato into quarters lengthwise, then slice across into thin slices. Add the potatoes to the pot along with the pre-chopped kale. The kale will fill the pot when it's first added, but the heat from the liquid will wilt it within a few minutes. Stir it occasionally to help the wilting process.
  5. Let the pot simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Season with red pepper flakes and freshly cracked black pepper if desired.
*I use Better Than Bouillon brand soup base to make my broth.

Zuppa Toscana -

Step by Step Photos

Italian SausageI use Italian sausage a lot to flavor dishes, so I took advantage of a sale on this value pack. I only used 1/2 lb. for this soup, but packaged the rest up for the freezer (in two link portions, since that’s usually how much I use per recipe). 

Brown SausageSqueeze two links (1/2 lb.) of Italian sausage out of its casing and into a large pot. Sauté the sausage over medium heat, breaking it into chunks as it cooks. I didn’t use any extra oil because sausage tends to be pretty fatty. It’s okay if a little sticks to the bottom of the pot because it will dissolve off in the next step. If you’re having a lot of trouble with it sticking to the bottom of the pot, add a splash of olive oil.

Onion and Garlic softWhile the sausage is browning, dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add them to the pot and continue to sauté until the onions are soft. The moisture from the onion should help dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

Beans and PaprikaDrain and rinse one 15oz. can of Great Northern beans, then add them to the pot with 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika. The smoked paprika will give that smoky hint that the bacon would have supplied. Tricky, right?

Broth and Half and HalfNext add 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup water, and 2 cups (one pint) of half and half. If you’re not from the U.S., “half and half” is like a lighter version of light cream. Read about it here. Put a lid on the pot and let it come to a simmer over medium heat.

PotatoesWhile the pot is heating up, wash and slice three red potatoes (about 1.5 to 1.75 lbs.). I first cut the potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then sliced them thinly across. Slicing them thinly helps them cook faster, plus makes a great texture in the soup. Add the potatoes to the pot.

KaleInstead of buying a regular bunch of kale, I bought this bag of pre-chopped kale (it’s actually less expensive than regular bunches at my local store). This one pound bag is roughly equivalent to two bunches and I used half of it (or about one bunch). If you buy a regular bunch of kale, you’ll need to wash it, remove the stems, and chop the leaves.

Kale Pre-WiltAdd the kale to the pot and it will likely fill it up to the top. Let the heat from the liquid begin to wilt the kale. Give it a stir occasionally to help it contact the hot soup and wilt.

Kale After WiltAfter a few minutes it will have wilted down into the soup nicely. Let the soup simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Simmered SoupI like my soup spicy (and had used mild Italian sausage), so I seasoned with a pinch of red pepper flakes. A little freshly cracked black pepper is also nice. Depending on what type of broth you use, you may need to add a little salt (I did not add any).

Zuppa Toscana - BudgetBytes.comThe potatoes and beans help thicken the broth up nicely, without having to use heavy cream.

Zuppa Toscana - BudgetBytes.comAbsolutely deserving of all the internet hype. SO. GOOD.

Big thanks to Brandon for opening my eyes to the Zuppa! YUM!

The post Zuppa Toscana appeared first on Budget Bytes.

29 Jan 17:13

A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating

by zenhabits
By Leo Babauta

A lot of us have tried various diets over the years, with little success. I remember trying about half a dozen different diets when I was trying to lose weight, and none of them stuck for more than a few weeks.

Why is that? A few reasons:

  1. You’re trying to change a lot of things at once — from learning new recipes to strategies for social situations to what to eat when you go out to what you should do when you’re craving a snack and much more. Making that many changes at once is a sure recipe for failure.
  2. You’re making huge changes all of a sudden. If you shift from unhealthy eating to healthy eating in one day, it will seem like a drastic change, and you won’t be used to it at all. This is very difficult, and if you’re struggling with something difficult, you’re probably not going to last more than a few weeks.
  3. You don’t really like your life with this new diet. You like the idea of being leaner, but you don’t like the diet, and you miss your old food. So it feels like a sacrifice, and you can only sacrifice for so long.

That’s a lot of powerful forces working against you, and that’s just the start. Having a spouse or friends who eat differently is difficult, and so is being surrounded by unhealthy food at home and work. What can we do?

What worked for me is gradual change. Let’s look at the why, then the how.

Why Gradual Change Works

If you understand the reasons that people fail at trying to create a healthy lifestyle, then you can see why gradual is better:

  1. It’s not overwhelming to start if you start small and only do one small change at a time.
  2. With gradual change, you’re not putting too much on your plate, as you are with a huge change, and so you’re less likely to drop it as the weeks progress because you’re too busy and have other things to focus on.
  3. It’s not an abrupt change, so it doesn’t seem so difficult, and it quickly starts to feel normal. You’re pushing out of your comfort zone, but not too much.
  4. You never really feel like you’re sacrificing.

Those are some good reasons. Let’s do this.

How to Transition to Amazingly Healthy

Before we start the gradual process, it’s a good idea to know where we’re going, generally. This won’t be the exact place we end up, because things will change along the way — including your taste buds — but let’s take a big picture look at what we’re doing first.

A less helpful approach is to think of the perfectly healthy diet, and say that’s what you need to do. For example, if for some reason we said you should only eat protein and vegetables, all day every day, then any deviation would feel like failure. And you might think that’s not a very fun life, so you wouldn’t be likely to stick to it.

Instead, try to imagine a life that includes healthy food that you’d really enjoy — but allows for other indulgences too. For some, that might mean you want a bagel and fruit for breakfast, then some healthier stuff for lunch and dinner (protein, veggies, quinoa or brown rice), maybe carrots and hummus for a snack, some green tea later in the afternoon, and finally a martini after dinner. That’s not 100 percent healthy, but it’s pretty great, and it’s a picture you’d enjoy perhaps.

For others, you might want a sweet in the afternoon, or your tall latte in the morning, or French fries at dinner with friends a few times a week. Those are all allowable in a healthy lifestyle, if most of the other things you eat are healthy. You want a picture of a healthy life that seems enjoyable to you.

Next, pick one small healthy change and stick with it for a week. Get some accountability, put a reminder on your fridge, plan ahead of time, do whatever it takes to make that small healthy change happen. If you are successful, pick another small change the next week, and repeat that every week you were successful.

What kind of small healthy changes can you pick each week? The list can be endless, but here are some examples:

  • Eat a vegetable at dinner every day.
  • Eat a vegetable at lunch every day.
  • Eat a fruit for an afternoon snack.
  • Have a fruit with breakfast.
  • Cut back one alcoholic drink at night.
  • Don’t eat after 8 p.m.
  • Cut back on the sugar you add to your coffee to a minimal amount.
  • Have a whole grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc.) with dinner instead of a white starch.
  • Have hummus or raw nuts instead of those chips you eat for a snack.
  • Have berries instead of the sweets you eat for a snack.
  • Learn three new recipes this week (cook one night, then eat the leftovers the next, repeat).
  • Eat at home most nights this week.
  • Have yogurt with fruit or a tofu scramble with veggies for breakfast.

You get the picture. If you don’t like these changes, come up with some of your own. If these seem too hard, make them easier.

One small change at a time means a dozen over a few months. That adds up to some amazing change over time, and it’s change that’s likely to last much longer.

Help with the Habit

If you’d like help with the healthy eating habit, join us in my Sea Change Program as we work on this habit in February.

Sea Change is free to try for a week, then $10 a month after that, and includes:

  • One new habit module each month
  • Articles and videos to help with each month’s habit
  • A live webinar with me about that habit
  • A forum for asking questions and getting help
  • Accountability groups you can join to help you stick to the habit

Join Sea Change now to form the healthy eating habit.

15 Jan 05:01

DIY: Homemade Flour Tortillas

by Michelle

DIY: Homemade Flour Tortillas - These could not be easier to make! No more store bought! |

One of my favorite things to order when I go out to eat is a crispy chicken and bacon wrap… with fries, of course. There are a few different local restaurants that have great versions, and it’s always my go-to menu selection when I’m at any of those places.

Last summer, after I found out I was pregnant I was trying to eat more vegetables, so I decided to make veggie wraps for lunch. However, when I went to the grocery store and checked out the labels on tortillas, I was seriously aghast. Most of the ingredient lists were a mile long and contained a ton of suspicious-sounding additives. I never ended up buying tortillas for the wraps, but vowed to start making my own. How hard could it be? As it turns out, not hard at all… downright easy, in fact.

DIY: Homemade Flour Tortillas - These could not be easier to make! No more store bought! |

I was admittedly stunned the first time I made these – I couldn’t believe how easy they were to make and how absolutely authentic the flavor and texture were – a million times better than anything I could buy in a store!

The ingredient list for making these is super short and provides a bit of wiggle room for adapting these to suit your preferences. All-purpose flour is of course the standard for flour tortillas, but you’ll see that mine are tinged a bit brown because I used white whole wheat flour in an attempt to give them a healthy boost. I also used refined coconut oil for the fat in the recipe, but a number of other things can be substituted successfully – vegetable oil, olive oil, even melted butter. You can use a food processor or stand mixer for easy mixing or do it by hand. This recipe is incredibly forgiving and a cinch to throw together.

DIY: Homemade Flour Tortillas - These could not be easier to make! No more store bought! |

These homemade flour tortillas have so much more flavor and an infinitely better texture than anything store-bought. They keep wonderfully in the refrigerator and freezer, and are perfect for everything from wraps and burritos to thin pizzas and homemade tortilla chips.

I’m thrilled that I no longer need to worry about that scary ingredient list on store-bought tortillas!

DIY: Homemade Flour Tortillas - These could not be easier to make! No more store bought! |

One year ago: Doggie Cupcakes with Yogurt-Peanut Butter Frosting {Happy 7th Birthday, Einstein!}
Two years ago: Snickers Rice Krispies Treats
Five years ago: Dog Birthday Cake
Seven years ago: Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Yield: 12 tortillas

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

You won't believe how easy it is to make your own tortilla wraps!


3 cups all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup refined coconut oil, melted (or vegetable oil or olive oil)
1 cup warm water


1. In a food processor with a dough blade, pulse together the flour, baking powder and salt to combine, 2 to 3 pulses. (Alternatively, you can use a large bowl and whisk together, or a stand mixer with a dough hook.)

2. With the machine running, slowly add the coconut oil and water until a cohesive ball of dough forms. Once the ball of dough forms, process (or knead) for 30 additional seconds. (If making by hand, use a rubber spatula to mix in the water, then knead by hand until soft and only slightly tacky.)

4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls, then cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

5. Heat a large non-stick saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, working with one ball of dough at a time on a clean work surface, sprinkle a small amount of flour on top of the dough, then roll into a very thin circle, 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Place the round into the dry skillet and cook for about 30 seconds per side. Since temperature can range from burner to burner, look for multiple small bubbles to form and the edges of the dough beginning to look dry, then turn over and repeat. Place the cooked tortilla on a plate and cover with a clean dish cloth to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.

6. The tortillas can be kept in a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or individually wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months. To warm, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 10 seconds.

12 Jan 17:03

mushroom marsala pasta bake

by deb

mushroom marsala pasta bake

Over the last couple years — a dark time in which I’ve slowly had to accept that my once-tiny baby with fairly simple needs now required real square meals at very specific times of the day, such as dinner, far earlier than we ever do and that he’d likely be looking to me (me!) to provide them or face the hangry consequences — I’ve attempted to increase my repertoire of two things: 1. Dinners that can be made easily in under an hour that I actually want to eat, and 2. Casseroles. No, no, I don’t mean the canned cream of soupiness things. I mean, the idea of taking disparate meal parts and baking them in a big dish until they’re much more than the sum of their ingredients. Plus, they’re dinnertime magic: they reheat well; they make excellent leftovers for as long as you can stretch them; and they rarely require anything more on the side than a green salad (for grownups) or steamed broccoli (for people who haven’t yet come around to salad). Long Live The Casserole Rethought With Minimally Processed Ingredients! is hardly a sexy catchphrase, but there you have it: my new battle cry.

what you'll need

In the first category, Alex’s Chicken and Mushroom Marsala from 2008 in the archives became a favorite again in 2013 when I began making it much more quickly with thigh cutlets. Within the second, I’ve been trying as best as I can to reimagine baked pastas into dishes that are less of a cheese-valanche and more of an insanely good flavor assault with a sizable portion of vegetables within. (See also: Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella and our previous house favorite, Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage).

brown the mushroomsadd the onionsadd butter, then floursimmering until thickened

... Read the rest of mushroom marsala pasta bake on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to mushroom marsala pasta bake | 276 comments to date | see more: Casserole, Date Night, Freezer Friendly, Mushrooms, Pasta, Photo, Quick, Vegetarian, Weeknight Favorite, Winter

10 Jan 23:23

Honey Mustard Pork Chops

by Beth M

I was craving some pork chops hard yesterday, so I decided to give in. I’ve been pretty good with my vegetables lately, so I don’t feel bad about these slightly rich and indulgent pork chops. It’s all about balance and moderation, my friends…

Anyway, I decided to make some super simple pork chops smothered in a creamy honey mustard sauce. Sauces are the easiest way to turn a boring piece of meat into something really mouthwatering and amazing. This particularly awesome sauce (ha ha, I just said “awesome sauce”) is a mix of honey, Dijon mustard, a little mayo for creaminess, and a few spices. Smear that awesome sauce on a some pan seared pork chops, pop them in the oven, and then finish them off with a few minutes under the broiler. The end result is creamy, caramelized, honey mustard madness. Madness in a good way, of course.

I hope you enjoy!

Honey Mustard Pork Chops -

5.0 from 10 reviews
Honey Mustard Pork Chops
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $7.66
Cost Per Serving: $1.92
Serves: 4
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise $0.51
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.23
  • 2 Tbsp honey $0.24
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika $0.03
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.02
  • 2 lbs. pork chops (one-inch thick) $6.57
  1. Prepare the honey mustard sauce by stirring together the mayonnaise, Dijon, honey, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 15 cranks of a pepper mill). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use a paper towel to dry off the surface of the pork chops, then season each side with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot add two pork chops at a time and cook until golden brown on each side (3-5 minutes). Place the browned pork chops in a casserole dish coated with non-stick spray.
  3. Smear the honey mustard sauce over the surface of the pork chops in the casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the chops from the oven, then set the oven to broil. Move the oven rack so that the surface of the chops will be about 6 inches from the broiler. Broil the chops for 3-5 minutes or until the surface is golden brown and bubbly. Serve hot.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops - BudgetBytes.comHoney Mustard Pork Chops -


Step by Step Photos

Honey Mustard Sauce IngredientsStart by mixing up the honey mustard sauce. Stir together 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 Tbsp honey, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 15 cranks of a pepper mill).

Honey Mustard SauceThen you have a really delicious honey mustard sauce that you will have to restrain yourself from licking off the spoon. Set it aside and try to forget about it for a minute.

Pork ChopsI used these rib center cut chops because they were the best price at the store that day. You can do bone-in or boneless, just as long as they are about one inch thick. 

Season Pork ChopsStart preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Also, prep a casserole dish by coating it with some non-stick spray. Use a paper towel to dry off the surface of the chops (this helps them sear better), then season each side with a pinch of salt and some freshly cracked pepper.

Sear ChopsHeat one Tbsp vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Use cast iron or stainless steel. Try to avoid non-stick skillets for this because they don’t sear meat very well. Once the oil is hot, add two chops at a time and cook until golden brown on each side. If the meat sticks to the skillet when you try to flip it, that means that it is not browned yet. It will release from the pan when it achieves a good sear.

Coat Chops in Honey Mustard SauceAfter browning the chops, place them in the prepared casserole dish. Smear the honey mustard sauce over the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes to finish cooking through.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops - BudgetBytes.comAfter baking they weren’t very pretty, so I decided to finish them off under the broiler. This last step definitely made the chops a winner. I used the back of a spoon to slightly redistribute the honey mustard sauce first. Adjust your oven rack so that the top of the chops will be about 6 inches from the broiler, turn the broiler on to high and cook them for 3-5 minutes, or until they’re nice and browned around the edges and the sauce is bubbly. SO GOOD. 

Honey Mustard Pork Chops - BudgetBytes.comSo yummy! I served the chops with some Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes and rice. Rice is really good to kind of soak up the extra sauce. Mmmm.

The post Honey Mustard Pork Chops appeared first on Budget Bytes.

08 Jan 05:01

Slow Cooker Whole Roasted Chicken

by Michelle

Crock-Pot Whole Roasted Chicken - You'll never need to use your oven to roast a chicken again! |

A few months ago, one of my oldest and best friends offered to take a day off of work to help me navigate the aisles of Babies ‘R Us prior to registering for my baby shower. She has three little girls, so her advice was a huge help, especially for someone who had never stepped inside of a baby store before and had absolutely, positively no idea what 99% of the items were used for, and if they were actually necessary.

After our crash course in baby paraphernalia, we went out to lunch to catch up on life and she mentioned that she had just made a whole chicken in her slow cooker and that it was absolutely amazing. My mind was officially blown. I’ve roasted a few chickens in the oven, but they’re always hit or miss for me, so I was totally intrigued by the idea and asked her to send me the recipe. I ended up trying out a handful of recipes before I found the one that my husband and I loved the most, and it comes out perfectly every single time!

Crock-Pot Whole Roasted Chicken - You'll never need to use your oven to roast a chicken again! |

This takes very little prep time; you can get the chicken into the slow cooker in less than a half hour, and it’s totally hands-off from that point forward. The result is a totally juicy chicken that literally falls apart as soon as you touch it. The meat slides right off the bone (I’ve lost the drumsticks each time I’ve made it!) and is perfect for keeping on hand for quick and easy meals. Some nights I’ll make a batch of mashed potatoes to serve alongside the chicken, then we use leftovers for sandwiches and salads. You could also use the leftover meat for things like soup, quesadillas, burritos… even freeze it!

I’ve loved stocking up on slow cooker recipes over the last few months; I don’t think I’ll ever need the oven again for making a whole chicken! Thank goodness for old friends and great recipes :)

Crock-Pot Whole Roasted Chicken - You'll never need to use your oven to roast a chicken again! |

One year ago: The Basics of Weighing Ingredients
Two years ago: Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Five years ago: Cannoli
Seven years ago: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

Slow Cooker Whole Roasted Chicken

Yield: About 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 4 to 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

An easy recipe for a wonderfully moist, flavorful chicken roasted in the slow cooker.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken broth
5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 (4½ to 5-pound) whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
Salt and pepper


1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic and tomato paste, and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the wine and broth, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker.

2. Add the thyme sprigs and bay leave to the slow cooker. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place, breast-side-down, in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender and registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 4 to 6 hours.

3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20 minutes. Let the liquid in the slow cooker settle for 5 minutes, then skim the fat off of the surface using a large spoon. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.

(Recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution)

07 Jan 05:01

Chewy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

by Michelle

Chewy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Granola Bars  - Super easy and so much better than store-bought! |

When I worked in an office, store-bought granola bars were one of my very favorite snacks. I kept a stash in my desk drawer and they quickly became an every-afternoon habit. While I tried different flavors, the one I always went back to again and again was the chewy peanut butter-chocolate chip variety. Shocking, right?!

Since I began making a lot more of my favorite packaged foods at home, I haven’t bought granola bars in ages. A few years ago, I made a copycat version of one of those amazing chewy store-bought granola bars with chocolate chips. They were a pretty spot-on recreation, but I wanted to include peanut butter, and I also wanted to eliminate the butter and sugar for a healthier option. This version accomplishes both, and they are absolutely fantastic!

These granola bars steal a page from two of my favorite store-bought “healthy” bars – Clif Bars and Larabars – they use pureed dates as a binder. Sneaky! While I chose to use peanut butter and chopped peanuts, you could absolutely omit the chopped nuts and use a different type of nut butter (or Sunbutter) if you are making them for someone with allergies.

You can keep these at room temperature or in the refrigerator, and I also had great luck freezing these. Once they were cool, I cut the bars, wrapped them in plastic wrap and then placed in a freezer bag – they were perfect! They stayed soft enough that you could actually eat them straight from the freezer.

If only I hadn’t wasted years of eating too-small and too-artificial-tasting granola bars before I realized that homemade granola bars were far superior!

Chewy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Granola Bars  - Super easy and so much better than store-bought! |

One year ago: My Grandma’s Biscotti Recipe
Two years ago: Soft Pretzels
Four years ago: Apple Cinnamon Bread

Chewy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Yield: 12 bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Easy and healthy granola bars loaded with peanut butter, peanuts and miniature chocolate chips.


2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped peanuts
½ cup miniature chocolate chips
½ cup puffed rice cereal
8 ounces dates, pureed (about ½ cup)
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9x9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, chopped peanuts, chocolate chips and puffed rice cereal.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the date puree, peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth and thoroughly combined. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the oat mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until evenly mixed.

4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and, using the back of a wooden spoon, press firmly into an even layer, making it as compact as possible. Bake until the bars are set and beginning to brown around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before slicing. The granola bars can be kept at room temperature, in an airtight container or individually wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.

22 Dec 23:00

Parmesan Portobello Orzo

by Beth M

I’ve been making so many “one pot” recipes lately that I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve made a good ol’ side dish. Well, I had a bag of orzo sitting in my pantry and baby portobellos were on sale this week, so I whipped up this winner.

The flavors of this dish are simple. Mushrooms, garlic, chicken broth, and parmesan. Oh, and a little salt and pepper, of course. The beauty of keeping flavors simple is that this side dish can be paired with a great number of things. I planned to eat this with some chicken, but it could just as easily go with a beef roast or pork chops. Or, as I’ve mostly been eating it, just by itself!

This is definitely going to be one of my no-brainer go-to side dishes from now on! I can’t wait to see how many variations I can make of this one simple dish.

Parmesan Portobello Pasta -

4.6 from 10 reviews
Parmesan Portobello Orzo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $5.22
Cost Per Serving: $0.87
Serves: 6 (1 cup each)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms $2.19
  • Pinch of salt and pepper $0.05
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo $1.50
  • 3 cups chicken broth $0.45*
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan $0.55
  1. Rinse the mushrooms and cut them into thick slices. Mince the garlic. Heat the garlic and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for one to two minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper, and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have softened and released all of their moisture (5-7 minutes).
  2. Add the uncooked orzo and chicken broth to the skillet. Give it a quick stir, place a lid on top, and let the mixture come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it quick stir again to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet. Replace the lid, turn the heat down to low, and let the pasta simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Stir once half way through to prevent the pasta from sticking.
  3. After ten minutes, test the orzo to make sure it's tender (if not, replace the lid and let simmer a few minutes more). Stir the contents of the skillet to redistribute any leftover broth (it will continue to absorb into the pasta). Once the broth has absorbed, turn off the heat.
  4. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the pasta, stir, and then serve.
*I use Better Than Bouillon brand chicken base to make my broth.

Parmesan Portobello Orzo - BudgetBytes.comI added parsley to add color to the photo, but it’s not necessary for the flavor in this dish.

Parmesan Portobello Orzo -


Step by Step Photos

PortobellosI was lucky enough to get these portobellos on sale, but you can sub a regular white button mushroom if portobellos are out of your price range. You’ll need one 8oz. carton.

Sliced PortobellosRinse the mushrooms and then cut them into thick slices. Now, you may have heard the “rule” that you’re never supposed to rinse mushroom, but in a dish like this where they will literally be simmering in liquid, it doesn’t really make a difference. Something like a fresh salad, on the other hand, you’ll want to just wipe them off.

Garlic and OilMince two cloves of garlic and sauté them in a large skillet with 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat for one to two minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant.

Sauté MushroomsAdd the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté for another five minutes or so, or until the mushrooms have wilted and released all of their moisture. The mushrooms will absorb the oil at first, but once they start heating, they will start giving off moisture, which will collect in the bottom of the skillet. Once that liquid starts evaporating (becoming LESS), you’ll know the mushrooms have given off everything they’re going to give. Ha.

Orzo and BrothAdd two cups of uncooked orzo (about 1 lb.) and 3 cups of chicken broth. Stir the skillet, then place a lid on top. Let the skillet come up to a boil over medium heat. Give it a quick stir to loosen the pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer on low for about ten minutes, stirring once half way through.

Cooked OrzoAfter ten minutes, test the orzo to see if it’s tender. There may be a little broth still pooling in a couple areas, but if you stir the pasta, it will continue to absorb the leftover broth. Once the broth is absorbed, turn off the heat.

ParmesanSprinkle 1/3 cup grated Parmesan over the orzo, give it a stir, then serve! Super easy.

Parmesan Portobello Orzo - BudgetBytes.comParmesan Portobello Orzo - BudgetBytes.comYummmmmm. Makes about 6 loosely packed cups.

The post Parmesan Portobello Orzo appeared first on Budget Bytes.

04 Dec 14:38

decadent hot chocolate mix

by deb

decadent hot chocolate mix

Here is how I’ve made hot chocolate for most of my life: heat some milk in a saucepan, add a bit of unsweetened cocoa and sugar and whisk. Form lumps. Be unable to break up lumps. Get frustrated, try again, this time slowly slowly slowly whisking milk into cocoa and sugar, hoping to form something of a cocoa roux. Heat mixture until steamy and drink merrily, trying to ignore faint background of chalkiness. Hooray for cocoa?

what you'll need, except maybe not marshmallows
grind it up and you're done

Until this week, that is. This week, I saw a recipe for a homemade hot chocolate mix in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated that had my undivided attention because it wasn’t just cocoa and sugar but ground chocolate and vanilla and salt and and and… I mean, how bad could it be? What was the worst that could happen — we’d have to warm up with several cups of hot cocoa in a single week in the name of recipe testing? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: sometimes, this job is the worst.

homemade hot chocolate

... Read the rest of decadent hot chocolate mix on

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13 Nov 12:04

Great Marriage Quotes

by Corey

“To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage.”
— Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu

“You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”
— Sam Keen

“Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.”
— Joanne Woodward

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet to see who they really are.”
— Will Ferrell

“I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them – it was that promise.”
— Thornton Wilder

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
— Robert Quillen

“Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.”
— Joseph Barth

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”
— Martin Luther

“Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”
— Mark Twain

“Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”
— Zig Ziglar

“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
— Jennifer Smith

“Nowadays it’s hip not to be married. I’m not interested in being hip.”
— John Lennon

“A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time.”
— Anne Taylor Fleming

“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.”
— Doug Larson

“One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall back in love again.”
— Judith Viorst

“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.”
— Oscar Wilde

“As for his secret to staying married: ‘My wife tells me that if I ever decide to leave, she is coming with me.’”
— Jon BonJovi

“You come to love not by finding the right person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”
— Sam Keen

“Love is not something you feel. It is something you do.”
— David Wilkerson

“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”
— Robert C Dodds

“When a wife has a good husband it is easily seen in her face.”
— Goethe

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
— Thoreau

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”
— Leo Tolstoy

“The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters.”
— Sir Harold George Nicolson

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ come together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
— Dave Meure

“Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.”
— Sam Levenson

“Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.”
— Tom Mullen

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
— Theodore Hesburgh

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
— Mignon McLoughlin

“I first learned the concept of non-violence in my marriage.”
— Gandhi


The post Great Marriage Quotes appeared first on Simple Marriage.