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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 5 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.

The post Fudge Brownie Pots (for two) appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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 | 166 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 28 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

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to decadent hot chocolate mix | 267 comments to date | see more: Chocolate, Drinks, Photo, Snack, Winter

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


Great Marriage Quotes is written by Corey from: Simple Marriage

06 Nov 21:53

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples

by Beth M

I just made a dessert the other day, but when I saw fresh apples on sale, I couldn’t resist. I’ve wanted to make slow cooker baked apples for quite some time, so I finally went for it. SO glad I did.

These amazing slow cooker stuffed apples are a great alternative to apple pie because you don’t have to bother making a crust. Plus, their single serving size helps you stop at one instead of reaching for that second slice… We’ve all been there. I used very little sugar and probably could have even lightened up on the butter, making them fairly healthy compared to most desserts. Want to make them vegan? Just substitute the butter with cold coconut oil and you’re good to go!

Bonus: This will make your house smell better than any limited edition holiday air freshener or jar candle.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples -

4.8 from 4 reviews
Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.56
Cost Per Serving: $0.91
Serves: 4-6
  • 4-6 medium apples $2.19
  • 1 cup rolled oats $0.17
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.06
  • 1 tsp cinnamon $0.10
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger $0.05
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves $0.05
  • ⅓ cups chopped walnuts $1.30
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter $0.64
  1. Cut the top half inch or so off the top of the apples. Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the core of each apple, leaving the bottom intact.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and walnuts until well mixed. Cut the butter into chunks, then work it into the oat mixture until crumbly.
  3. Stuff the oat and butter mixture into the cavity of each apple. Nestle the apples into the slow cooker in one layer, place the lid on top, and cook on high for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the apples are soft.
  4. Once the apples are soft, carefully lift them from the slow cooker and serve immediately (as is, topped with ice cream, or whipped cream).
The filling is enough for 4 to 6 apples, but you’ll need to choose how many based on how many will fit in your slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples - BudgetBytes.comSlow Cooker Stuffed Apples -


Step by Step Photos

Whole ApplesStart by choosing your apples. For any dessert, it’s nice to have an apple that has at least a little tartness to contrast with the sweetness of the other ingredients. For this particular dessert, it’s nice to have a red or partially red apple for visual appeal. I chose these cortland apples because they are red and were on sale for $0.99/lb. Luckily, they were also a little tart, so they worked perfectly. The filling for this recipe will be enough for about four to six apples, but you need to decide how many to make based on how many will fit in your slow cooker. I knew four would fit and bought a fifth just in case. The fifth apple fit, but it was a tight squeeze.

Cored ApplesCut a little off the top of each apple (maybe a 1/2 inch?) then scoop out the core with a melon baller or sharp spoon. Leave the bottom of the apples intact to keep the filling inside.

Oat FillingTo make the filling, combine 1 cup rolled oats, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts. Stir them together well.

Oat Filling MixedCut four tablespoons of cold butter into chunks, then add it to the oat mixture. Work the butter into the oats until it forms a crumbly mixture, like this.

Stuffed ApplesStuff the crumbly oat mixture into the cavity of each apple.

Apples in Slow CookerNestle those bad boys into your slow cooker (in a single layer), place the lid on top, and set the cooker on high. Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until your apples are soft.

Cooked Stuffed ApplesAfter about 1.5 hours I peeked through the lid on my slow cooker and saw that my apples had puffed up like popcorn. Very cool! I don’t know if that’s just due to the variety of apple I used, but they were light, fluffy, and soft like apple sauce. Every other recipe I saw for slow cooker baked apples suggested four hours on high, so I was surprised to find mine so soft and thoroughly cooked through at 1.5 hours. But hey, I can’t complain about them being done super fast! Carefully lift the apples out of the slow cooker and into bowls. I found that scooping them out with two spoons worked  best. They’re going to be extremely soft and they can fall apart if you’re not careful.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples - BudgetBytes.comThey’re amazing with a little scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. It’s just like apple pie à la mode!

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples eatenOoops. I couldn’t wait. The skin is delicious also, BTW.

The post Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples appeared first on Budget Bytes.

24 Oct 19:39

Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew

by Beth M

Woah. Just, WOAH. I’ve never smelled anything as lovely and drool inducing as the scent in my house the day I made this stew. It was absolutely incredible. It had me checking the clock every 15 minutes to see if it had been four hours yet. I couldn’t wait to lift the lid and take a quick taste.

Unlike most slow cooker recipes where you just dump in the ingredients and press go, this Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew is a little more involved, but well worth it. Browning the meat before it goes into the slow cooker caramelizes the proteins and adds a depth to the flavor that you simply can’t get just by letting it boil away in the cooker. It also toasts the flour so you don’t get that gluey flour flavor in the final thickened stew.

To flavor the stew, I went with a combination similar to my favorite soy-Dijon combo. I added a little soy and Dijon to the sauce, but kept the ratios low so they didn’t dominate. If you’re not a fan of Dijon, don’t worry. The final product does not taste at all like mustard or Dijon, it simply has a deeper, more complex flavor because of it. Trust me.

Lastly, I’m listing the serving cost per cup so that you can decide your serving size. If you eat the stew solo, your serving will probably be more like a cup and a half, but many people serve stew over rice or egg noodles, which will further stretch your dollar. Considering how expensive the beef was, the overall recipe stayed very affordable. Win!

Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew

Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew -

5.0 from 22 reviews
Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $14.08
Cost Per Serving: $1.41
Serves: 10 cups
  • ½ lb. (4 medium) carrots $0.55
  • ½ sleeve celery $0.65
  • 1 medium onion $0.36
  • 2 lbs. red potatoes $1.00
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced $0.32
  • 1½ lbs. beef stew meat $9.06
  • Salt and pepper $0.05
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour $0.04
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.30
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.24
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.06
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.10
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
  • ½ Tbsp dried rosemary $0.15
  • ½ tsp thyme $0.05
  1. Dice the onion and slice the carrots and celery. Wash the potatoes well and cut them into one inch cubes. Place the onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes into a large slow cooker.
  2. Place the stew meat in a large bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add the flour and toss the meat until it is coated. Set the floured meat aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic in the hot oil for about one minute, or until soft and fragrant. Add the floured meat and all the flour from the bottom of the bowl to the skillet. Let the beef cook without stirring for a few minutes to allow it to brown on one side. Stir and repeat until most or all sides of the beef pieces are browned. Add the browned beef to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the vegetables.
  4. Return the skillet to the burner and turn the heat down to low. Add the beef broth, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rosemary, and thyme to the skillet. Stir to combine the ingredients and dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Once everything is dissolved off the bottom of the skillet, pour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker.
  5. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours. After four hours, remove the lid and stir the stew, breaking the beef into smaller pieces as you stir. Taste the stew and adjust the salt if needed. Serve hot as is, or over a bowl of rice or pasta.

Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew - BudgetBytes.comRosemary Garlic Beef Stew -

 Step by Step Photos

Carrot Onion CeleryStart by chopping your vegetables and getting them into the slow cooker. I used 1/2 of a one pound bag of carrots (about 4 medium), one medium yellow onion, and half of a sleeve (or bunch) of celery. 

Red PotatoesI also used about two pounds of potatoes. Wash the potatoes well, then cut into one-inch cubes (no larger). I like to leave the skin on for more color and texture.

Chopped Vegetables in Slow CookerPlace all of your chopped vegetables in the slow cooker. 

Beef Stew MeatI picked up this package of beef stew meat, which is about 1.5 pounds. This is supposed to be the “dollar stretcher”, but it’s still $5.49/lb.! I stretch my dollars with vegetables, thank you very much. Anyway, this stew meat still had bones in it, so watch out for that.

Season Stew MeatPlace the meat in a large bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Stew Meat and FlourThen add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and stir to coat. The flour will thicken the stew and when it browns in the skillet, it will also create a nice caramelized flavor.

Sauté GarlicMince four cloves of garlic and sauté them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for about one minute, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. A thick heavy skillet that isn’t non-stick will work best for browning the meat. I used cast iron.

Brown MeatAdd the prepared meat and all of the flour from the bottom of the bowl. Let the meat brown in the skillet. Browning won’t happen if you stir a lot, so let it cook for a few minutes before stirring, then stir once and let it cook some more. Once the meat is browned on all sides (it won’t be cooked through), add the meat to the slow cooker and stir it to combine with the vegetables.

Browned Beef DrippingsReturn the skillet to the burner and turn the heat down to low. It should be crusted with flour, garlic, and meat drippings. That’s where the flavor is, so we’re going to dissolve it into a sauce.

Deglaze the PanAdd 2 cups beef broth, 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary, and 1/2 tsp thyme to the skillet. Stir the sauce over low heat until it is well combined and all of the crust has dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. 

Stew Ready to CookPour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker, place the lid on top, and cook on high for four hours.

Cooked StewAfter four hours it will look like this and smell so good that you’ll probably be going out of your mind! The beef is super tender and the juices have melded beautifully with the vegetables and rosemary Dijon sauce.

Stirred Beef StewGive the stew a good stir to mix it up and break up the tender beef pieces as you go. This will distribute the thickened flour and the whole stew will get a bit thicker and lighter in color. Taste the stew and adjust the salt if needed. 

Rosemary Garlic Beef StewServe the stew as is or spooned over a bowl of hot rice or pasta. THIS will keep you warm and full on cold winter or autumn days!

The post Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew appeared first on Budget Bytes.

27 Oct 23:39

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites

by Beth M

So many of you asked about the pretzels pictured in my How To Start a Food Blog post, that I decided to do a spin off for you (the original pretzel tutorial is for a different website and I’ll be sure to post the link just as soon as it’s live). It’s the same dough, but cut into cute little pillows and tossed in butter, parmesan, and garlic. YUM.

These little pretzel bites are a fun appetizer for parties, served with toothpicks and a variety of dipping sauces. You can even customize the flavor coating to suit your tastes (cinnamon and sugar anyone?). If you don’t want to make your own dough, you can use a store bought frozen bread dough instead. The defining step that makes pretzels a pretzel is the baking soda water bath. The alkaline bath gives the pretzel the thick, chewy skin and that slightly bitter “pretzel” flavor.

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites -

4.7 from 6 reviews
Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $1.71
Cost Per Serving: $0.71
Serves: 16 (about 8 pieces each)
  • 1 cup warm water $0.00
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast (or one ¼ oz. envelope) $0.19
  • 2 tsp sugar $0.02
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided $0.45
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • ¼ cups baking soda $0.11
  • 1 large egg $0.21
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan $0.41
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • ⅛ tsp salt $0.01
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
  • 1½ Tbsp butter
  1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in one cup of warm water. Let sit for five minutes, or until it is frothy on top. Meanwhile, stir together two cups of the flour and ½ tsp of salt in a large bowl.
  2. Once the yeast water is frothy, pour it into the bowl with the flour and salt. Stir the ingredients together until they form a shaggy ball of dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, incorporating an additional ½ to 1 cup of flour as you knead.
  3. After the dough has been kneaded for 8 minutes, it should be smooth, elastic, and will spring back when poked with a finger. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover lightly, and let rise for one hour or until double in size.
  4. Once the dough is double in size, punch the dough down, turn it out onto a clean surface, and flatten it into a disc. Cut the disc into 16 equal sized wedges. One by one, roll each wedge into a long rope, about ½ in diameter (about 18 inches long). Cut the rope into one inch sections, and place them on a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment and lightly misted with non-stick spray (you’ll need two sheets to fit all the pretzel bites).
  5. Let the pretzel bites rise for 30 minutes, or until soft and pillowy. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, carefully addd ¼ cup of baking soda (it will fizz and bubble furiously for a moment, so be careful).
  6. Add 15-20 of the pretzel bites at a time to the boiling baking soda water and boil for about 90 seconds, or until puffed and a few begin to crack. Stir lightly as they boil to make sure all sides of the pretzel bites contact the boiling water. Remove the boiled pretzel bites with a slotted spoon and let drain on a wire cooling rack. Repeat in small batches until all of the pretzel bites are boiled.
  7. After the bites have drained for a few minutes, return them to the prepared baking sheets. Whisk together one egg with one tablespoon of water. Use a pastry brush to liberally brush the egg mixture over the boiled pretzel bites. If you want to make plain pretzel bites, sprinkle with coarse sea salt after brushing with the egg wash.
  8. Bake the pretzel bites for 15-17 minutes, or until deeply golden brown and shiny. Allow the pretzel bites to cool for a few minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, stir together the Parmesan, garlic powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. In a separate small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until completely melted).
  10. Place the baked pretzel bites in a large bowl and pour the melted butter over top. Toss to coat. Add the parmesan topping and toss to coat again. Serve immediately.

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites - BudgetBytes.comParmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites -

 Step by Step Photos

Combine wet and dry dough ingredientsIf you want to make your own dough (instead of using a store bought frozen bread dough), dissolve 2 tsp (or one 1/4 oz. packet) of active dry yeast and 2 tsp sugar in 1 cup of warm water. Let the yeast mixture sit for five minutes, or until it becomes frothy on top. Meanwhile, stir together 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Once the yeast mixture is frothy, pour it into the bowl with the flour and stir to form a shaggy ball of dough.

Risen DoughKnead the dough for eight minutes, incorporating an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of flour as you go. After kneading for 8 minutes, it should be soft, elastic, and should spring back when poked with a finger. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely, and let rise for one hour or until it is double in volume (like the picture).

Cut Dough Into PiecesPunch the dough dough, turn it out onto a clean surface, and cut it into 16 equal sized wedges. You can make each of these wedges into a pretzel, or cut them into pretzel bites…

Cut Pretzel BitesTo make pretzel bites, roll each wedge into a long rope, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the rope into 1 inch sections.

Risen Pretzel BitesAs you cut the pieces, transfer them to a baking sheet covered in parchment and misted with non-stick spray. You’ll likely need two baking sheets to hold all of the pretzel bites. Let the pretzel bites rise for about a 1/2 hour, or until they’re soft and pillowy.

Baking Soda BathBegin to preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, carefully add 1/4 cup of baking soda. Be careful when adding the soda because it will fizz and bubble furiously for a second before settling down into a simmer.

Boil Pretzel BitesAdd about 15-20 pretzel bites to the boiling water at a time and let boil for about 90 seconds. Stir gently with a slotted spoon as they boil to make sure all sides of the pretzels touch the baking soda water. The pretzels will puff up quite a bit in the water and may even crack open (that’s a good thing).

Drain Pretzel BitesAfter 90 seconds, remove the boiled pretzel bites from the water and let drain on a wire cooling rack. They may deflate a little as they drain and cool, but they’ll puff back up again when baked. Repeat this process until all of the bites have been boiled.

Pretzel Bite Egg WashAfter the bites have drained a few minutes, transfer them back to the prepared baking sheets. Whisk together one egg with one tablespoon of water, then brush liberally over the surface of the pretzel bites. If you want plain pretzel bites, sprinkle with coarse sea salt after the egg wash. The egg wash gives the pretzels that classic shiny, deep brown pretzel appearance.

Baked Pretzel BitesBake the pretzel bites in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, or until they are deep golden brown. Let them cool for just a few minutes after baking.

Parmesan ToppingIn a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, melt 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter.

Toss with ButterPlace the baked pretzel bites in a large bowl, pour the melted butter over top, then toss to coat.

Toss with ParmesanAdd the Parmesan mixture and toss to coat again.

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites - BudgetBytes.comServe the  yummy bites immediately. I’ve had these sitting out on my counter all day and they have stayed surprisingly crunchy! 

Got any flavor ideas? Share them in the comments below! :)

The post Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites appeared first on Budget Bytes.

20 Oct 04:01

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

by Michelle

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

Homemade ribs are one of the few things that have truly intimidated me in the kitchen. I have saved countless recipes for barbecue ribs, but all of the hands-on time, plus precise grilling temperatures and placements, left me feeling less than motivated to tackle them at home. I mentioned to you on Friday that I’ve been trying to make more use of my slow cooker, and last week while I was making my grocery list, I asked my Chief Culinary Consultant if there was anything in particular he’d like for dinner. He suggested some type of meat in the slow cooker, so I started poking around for ideas. I threw out some new ideas, and when I mentioned barbecue ribs, he immediately got excited. Ribs it was!

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

I ended up mashing together a number of different recipes before I came up with my game plan. A lot of the recipes I found called for simply throwing the ribs into the slow cooker with a bottle of barbecue sauce; however, many of those reviews stated that the meat lacked flavor. So, I decided a rub was in order. Done.

The next hurdle was figuring out how to eliminate a fatty, soupy sauce if the ribs cooked down, releasing juices and fat into the barbecue sauce. Some recipes recommended par-cooking the ribs in the oven to help with this, but that seemed to defeat the purpose of having an easy, throw-it-together-in-10-minutes type of meal. I opted for cooking the ribs sans sauce for the first seven hours; between the rub and layers of onion, the meat was wonderfully flavored. Then, the accumulated liquids were drained out, the ribs returned to the slow cooker with the barbecue sauce, and cooked for an additional hour. I was positively thrilled with how this method worked out.

The resulting ribs were literally falling off the bones, and were bursting with sweet, smoky and slightly spicy flavors. We enjoyed the ribs exactly how they came out, but if you prefer a stickier, more caramelized coating of barbecue sauce on your ribs, you could place them on a foil-lined baking sheet once they are done in the slow cooker and broil them for a few minutes.

Now that we’ve had these ribs, I don’t feel like I need to master the on-the-grill version anymore. These could not be simpler or have a better texture and flavor! If you’ve been intimidated by making ribs at home, this recipe is your answer. Served with my favorite mashed potatoes and cole slaw, we were definitely going back for seconds!

I have a feeling this is going to be a weekly request at this house ;-)

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

Three years ago: Salted Caramel Popcorn, Pretzel & Peanut Bars
Four years ago: Pumpkin, Cinnamon Chip & Pecan Granola Bars
Five years ago: Potato Rosemary Bread
Six years ago: Wendy’s Copycat Chili
Seven years ago: Soft Pretzels: Part II

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

The absolute easiest way to make ribs!


3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 pounds baby back ribs, back membrane removed, cut into sections to fit the slow cooker
2 large yellow onions, sliced
1 cup water
1 (40-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce (your favorite)


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Rub the spice blend evenly over both sides of the ribs.

2. Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place a layer of sliced onions on the bottom. Alternate layers of ribs and onions. Pour the water over the top of the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours; the meat should be extremely tender and falling off the bone.

3. Using tongs, remove the ribs to a large plate. Pour off all accumulated liquid and the onions. Return the ribs to the empty slow cooker and pour the barbecue sauce over top, turning the ribs so they are evenly coated. Cover and cook on low for an additional 1 hour. Cut and serve!

19 Oct 23:28

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

by Beth M

Ever since I discovered how delicious pasta is when cooked in broth instead of water, I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of different ways to play up this simple trick. By simply changing up the add-ins, you can have an endless number of quick one pot or one skillet dinners for busy week nights. This Bacon Spinach Pasta with Parmesan is my latest quick skillet obsession.

Bacon, spinach, and Parmesan are not exactly the least expensive ingredients on the planet, so you do have to be a bit careful with this one. I used a half package of bacon and froze the rest for later use. To save on spinach, I skipped the salad sized bags and got a jumbo bag of “cooking spinach”. The big one pound bag was only 20 cents more expensive than the smaller salad sized (9oz.) bags and almost twice as big. I’ll enjoy the extra spinach as salads and freeze some in smoothie packs. Frozen spinach can be used in a pinch, but make sure not to get “chopped” frozen spinach because it will be in a million tiny little pieces. You can use other greens, like collards, mustard, or kale, but because they’re quite a bit more sturdy, they’ll need to be sautéed down with the onion in the beginning. Parmesan really does top off this dish and make it grand, but you can lighten up on it if you’re strapped for cash. Parmesan is very flavorful, so a little goes a long way.

If you want to beef up this dish a bit, you can add a rinsed and drained can of white beans, or sauté some mushrooms with the onions. A few red pepper flakes would be nice in here, too, although I like red pepper flakes on just about anything!

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan -

4.8 from 18 reviews
Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.65
Cost Per Serving: $1.16
Serves: 4
  • 6 oz. bacon (1/2 12oz. pkg) $1.84
  • 1 small onion $0.36
  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.30
  • ½ lb. pasta $0.64
  • ¼ lb. (3-4 cups) fresh spinach $0.96
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan $0.55
  1. Cut the bacon across the strips into one-inch sections. Sauté the bacon in a large skillet until it is brown and crispy (no extra fat needed). Carefully pour the fat off into a bowl, leaving about one tablespoon in the skillet.
  2. While the bacon cooks, dice the onion. Once the bacon fat is drained from the skillet, add the diced onions and sauté until they are soft and transparent. Allow the moisture from the onions to dissolve some of the browned bits off of the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Add two cups of chicken broth to the skillet and dissolve off any remaining browned bits of bacon drippings from the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Finally, add the pasta to the skillet, place a lid on top, and let the skillet come to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Give the skillet a quick stir to loosen the pasta from the bottom every five minutes or so, replacing the lid quickly each time. After 15 minutes the pasta should be tender and most of the broth absorbed. There should be a little bit of thick, saucy broth remaining in the bottom of the skillet.
  5. Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and stir until it has wilted into the pasta. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the Parmesan over top, stir to combine, and then serve.

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan -

 Step by Step Photos

Cut BaconCut 6 oz. (1/2 of a 12oz. package) of bacon into one-inch strips. The second half will be frozen and used later. I love adding a little bacon to soups and other dishes because it adds a LOT of flavor. Or who knows, maybe I’ll just use the leftovers for an impromptu weekend brunch.

Fry BaconSauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s brown and crispy. I didn’t add any extra oil to the skillet because the bacon is fatty enough that it releases quite a bit of grease and does not stick. Once the bacon is crispy, pour off the fat into a separate container, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet (for flavor, of course!). When the poured off fat is cool, save it in the refrigerator to add flavor to other dishes, or if you’re not the bacon grease type of person, scoop it into the garbage. Just DO NOT rinse it down your drain.

Dice OnionWhile the bacon is cooking, dice one small onion.

Sauté OnionAdd the onion to the skillet and sauté until it is soft and transparent. The juices from the onion will begin to dissolve the browned bacon bits from the bottom of the skillet. If you want to keep your bacon extra crispy, remove it from the skillet before adding the onion, then stir it back into the pasta at the very end. The grease and browned bits on the bottom of the skillet will still add a lot of flavor to the pasta as it cooks.

Chicken BrothAdd two cups of chicken broth to the skillet. Stir well to dissolve the last of the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

CampanelleThis has to be my favorite pasta shape. It has a lot of texture, but isn’t too heavy. You could really use just about any pasta, though. I used 1/2 pound, or half of this box.

Uncooked PastaAdd the dry pasta to the skillet and place a lid on top (it’s okay if the broth doesn’t completely cover the pasta). Turn the heat up to high and let the skillet come to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Every five minutes, give the skillet a quick stir to loosen the pasta from the bottom. Replace the lid quickly each time so that it continues to simmer.

Cooked pastaAfter about 15 minutes, the pasta should be tender and most of the broth absorbed. There should be a bit of saucy broth left in the bottom of the skillet.

Baby SpinachOnce the pasta is cooked, add about 1/4 pound (or 3-4 cups) of fresh spinach to the skillet. Stir the spinach into the pasta until it wilts. Finally, sprinkle the Parmesan over top, give it a quick stir, and then serve! (sorry, there was a knock at the door at this point in the recipe and apparently I forgot to take photos of the last two steps!)

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan - BudgetBytes.comAnd then it will look like this! Like I said, I probably should have sprinkled a little red pepper or even freshly cracked black pepper over the top just to take it up a notch, but honestly, it’s bacon… I was already dazzled!

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan -


The post Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan appeared first on Budget Bytes.

02 Oct 04:01

Chocolate Lover’s Cheesecake

by Michelle

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

I have been borderline obsessed with cheesecake for a very long time. I was in high school when I started requesting a cheesecake when my mom would ask what kind of birthday cake I’d like. I could always take or leave regular cake, but I swooned over cheesecake. My love for it has only grown since then, and I’ve enjoyed sampling and baking a wide variety of cheesecake recipes over the years. For as many as I’ve made, I had yet to find a fabulous, go-to chocolate cheesecake recipe. I was surprised at how many of my staple baking cookbooks didn’t have a recipe for one. I finally came across one, and if you love chocolate, you are going to looooove this!

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

This is the first cheesecake I’ve ever made that is mixed completely in a food processor; it was nice and quick, but if you don’t have one, you could absolutely use an electric mixer instead.

It probably goes without saying, but this baby is rich. Like, whoa rich. If you’re sensitive to dark chocolate or rather rich desserts, I would recommend substituting semisweet chocolate for the bittersweet chocolate, and possibly skip the ganache topping to tame it down a bit.

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

I chose to eat a small sliver of this topped with whipped cream, but you could also use this as a base for all sorts of toppings and add-ins. I used a similar version to make the black forest cheesecake last year, and I think the possibilities of a fantastic chocolate cheesecake base are absolutely endless.

If you’re a fellow cheesecake fanatic, you absolutely need a chocolate cheesecake in your arsenal, and I can’t think of a better version!

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

One year ago: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Crumb Bars
Two years ago: Maple-Walnut Ice Cream
Three years ago: Noodle Kugel
Four years ago: Russian Pound Cake
Six years ago: Homemade Pierogi

Chocolate Lover's Cheesecake

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours

An Oreo crust is topped with a chocolate cheesecake filling and chocolate ganache.


For the Crust:
24 Oreo cookies
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs, at room temperature
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm

For the Topping:
¾ cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar


1. Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Blend the cookies and sugar together in a food processor until the cookies are finely ground. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

3. Make the Filling: Blend the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder in the food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, blending for 10 seconds each. Add the melted chocolate and blend to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top.

4. Bake the cheesecake until the center is just set and the top looks dry, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan. Place the cake in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

5. Make the Topping: Stir the cream, chocolate and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool until slightly warm and pour over the center of the cheesecake, spreading to within ½-inch of the edge. Chill for at least 1 hour.

6. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan and remove the pan sides. Transfer the cheesecake to a serving platter. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature before serving. The cheesecake can be prepared up to 3 days in advance; cover with foil and store in the refrigerator.

(Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit Desserts)

11 Oct 13:39

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken

by Beth M

Ooooh wow, my house smells like a spice market!

While working on a freelance project this week, I came across this Five Spice Chicken cooked in a rice cooker, and it looked so good that I decided that I had to try it out myself, except in a slow cooker because I don’t yet own a rice cooker.

I fell in love with five spice powder last year when I was writing my cookbook, where I used it to make a quick spice rub for pork chops. It’s a heady combination of anise, cloves, cinnamon, and other spices that have both sweet and savory appeal. You can add it to just about anything for an instant boost of intoxicating flavor. I bought my five spice powder at my regular grocery store in the ethnic food aisle, but I’ve also seen it among more expensive spices in the spice aisle.

I changed up Daily Cooking Quest’s original recipe a bit by adding a little soy sauce and brown sugar to the five spice blend and cooked it for our hours in the slow cooker, which left the meat fall off the bone tender. After the meat spent four hours stewing in the spices, I finished it off with a few minutes under the broiler to get that nice brown crispy skin.

I paired the chicken with my favorite Yellow Jasmine Rice and had a meal fit for a queen! I’m going to be experimenting with a salad to go along with the two this weekend, so stay tuned!

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken -

5.0 from 5 reviews
Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Author: Adapted from
Total Cost: $9.39
Cost Per Serving: $0.94 per piece
Serves: 10 pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated $0.22
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.04
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil $0.26
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.20
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.06
  • 2 Tbsp 5 spice powder $0.60
  • 4 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces $7.22
  • 1 medium onion $0.36
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine** $0.27
  1. To make the spice rub, combine the garlic, ginger, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and 5 spice powder in a small bowl. Stir until combined. (Grate the ginger using a small holed cheese grater, or mince with a knife.)
  2. Rube the spice mixture all over the chicken pieces, getting between the skin and meat whenever possible.
  3. Dice the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the rice wine over the onion, then layer in the chicken pieces. Make sure the chicken pieces are closely packed in the cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours.
  4. After four hours, the chicken will be very soft and tender. Use tongs to carefully remove the chicken from the liquid in the slow cooker and place them on a baking sheet. Adjust your oven rack so that the top of the chicken will be 5 inches from the broiler (the broiler’s heat element is usually on the roof of your oven). Broil the chicken on high for 5 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crispy. Keep a close eye on the chicken while it’s under the broiler because every broiler is slightly different and it can burn quickly.
**If you don’t have rice wine or can’t find it, you can use a dry white cooking wine or chicken broth in its place.

 Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken -

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken - Budgetbytes.comPictured with Yellow Jasmine Rice.

Step by Step Photos

Five Spice Rub

First make the five spice rub by combining 2 cloves of minced garlic, about 2 inches of fresh ginger (grated on a cheese grater or minced with a knife), 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp of Chinese five spice powder.

Five Spice and Sesame OilFor reference, here is the five spice powder that I used and the toasted sesame oil. This really isn’t the best five spice powder, but it works. I found it in the ethnic foods aisle at my local grocery store, but you can sometimes find it among the fancier spices in the spice aisle. Toasted sesame oil has a deep brown color and a VERY strong, toasty aroma. If it’s clear, it’s not toasted.

Chicken PiecesI used four pounds of chicken pieces, which was 6 drumsticks and four thighs. I could have bought a split chicken and had two breasts, two thighs, two wings, and two drumsticks for the same price, but I preferred the thighs and drumsticks.

Seasoned ChickenCoat the chicken really well in the spice rub. If the skin is lifting in some parts, try to smear it between the skin and meat.

Onions and WineDice one yellow onion and add it to the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour two tablespoons of rice wine over the onions. If you don’t have rice wine, you can use a dry white wine or even a little chicken broth. The liquid helps make a flavorful steam to infuse the chicken.

5 spice chicken in slow cookerLayer the seasoned chicken in the slow cooker, making sure the pieces are tightly packed. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours.

Cooked 5 Spice ChickenAs they cook, the chicken pieces will give off quite a bit of moisture. The chicken stews in the liquid and becomes super tender and juicy. YUM.

5 Spice Chicken ready to broilBut, you don’t want the skin to be soggy, so carefully lift the chicken pieces out of the slow cooker using tongs. Place the chicken pieces on a baking sheet (I used cooling racks on top of the sheet, but it wasn’t really necessary). Adjust your oven rack so that the top of the chicken will be about 5 inches away from the broiler.

Broiling 5 spice chickenSet the broiler to high and broil the chicken for about 5 minutes, or until it’s deep brown and a little crispy. Watch the chicken closely, because it’s easy to burn things under the broiler (plus, every broiler is just a bit different).

Broiled 5 Spice ChickenAnd then you have gorgeous brown, flavorful, and tender chicken! I ate one right out of the oven… couldn’t wait!

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken - Budgetbytes.comAs mentioned earlier, I served this with my Yellow Jasmine Rice. A perfect pair!

The post Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

19 Aug 04:01

Zingerman’s Black Magic Brownies

by Michelle

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

A couple of weeks ago, a reader, Wendy, asked me on Facebook if I had ever made Zingerman’s Black Magic Brownies. I had to admit that I’d never heard of them! They are apparently one of the most raved about recipes to come out of Zingerman’s, a conglomerate of food stores in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Midwest Living magazine has declared this recipe one of the top 20 recipes of all time. High praise, indeed. So far as I can tell, there are two versions of this brownie – Magic Brownies, which include toasted walnuts and Black Magic Brownies, which omit the nuts. While I love walnuts in baked goods like banana bread and date nut spice bread, I don’t really appreciate them in things like brownies or fudge. The Black Magic version was it! Wendy was sweet enough to email me the recipe, and gave me the a-okay to share it with all of you. Thank you, Wendy!

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

I measure pretty much all brownies against my beloved Baked brownies, and these might be the first to really stack up. They’re very dense, but just a smidge less fudge-like, and just a bit more cake-like (due to the long beating of the eggs and baking powder), although not cakey, if that makes sense. I actually think that these are the perfect compromise between completely fudge-like brownies and cakey brownies. I hate cakey brownies, and while I’ll always eat a fudgy brownie, sometimes it can be too much. The black magic brownies are fantastic middle ground.

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

The recipe calls for cutting these into 15 squares (which are described as “wallet-size”), and that’s pretty huge. I did this for the photos so you could see the true size, but next time I would probably cut them into my usual 24, which I think makes for a little more reasonably sized brownie.

So, to recap, love, love, love these brownies! They rank a close second, near tie, with the Baked brownies as far as I’m concerned. I think you’re going to love them!

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

One year ago: Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Two years ago: Shrimp Nacho Bites
Three years ago: Zucchini-Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting
Four years ago: Chewy, Chunky Blondies
Five years ago: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares
Seven years ago: American Apple Pie

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies

Yield: 15 enormous brownies or 24 regular-size brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

The famous brownies from the Ann Arbor, Michigan food shop. The original recipe calls for 1½ cups of all-purpose or cake
flour. I used equal parts of both, but feel free to experiment with what you have on hand.


13 tablespoons (184 grams) unsalted butter
6½ ounces (184 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup (90 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
¾ cup (85 grams) sifted cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups (397 grams) granulated sugar
4 eggs
1¼ teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring constantly, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.

4. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes, until lemon-colored and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, then give it a final stir by hand with a rubber spatula. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

5. Bake until brownies appear set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Cut the brownies into squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. The brownies can also be frozen (wrapped individually and placed in a resealable freezer bag) for up to 2 months.

14 Aug 15:59

raspberry swirl cheesecake

by deb

raspberry swirl cheesecake

It’s been a little quiet around here this week and I bet you already know why: moving out is the easy part! Moving in, hoo boy. You walk into an empty new home with freshly painted walls and there’s nothing but possibility. You run from room to room, whee! Then your stuff arrives and the pristine landscape is forever compromised. The first boxes aren’t so bad: you prioritize bedding, toilet paper, toothbrushes and whiskey (um, just play along here.) The next few boxes are pretty doable too: glasses go where they always have, books go in bookcases and lamps go on tables. But then, eventually, you get down to the last six boxes and you look around and you realize that the closets, cabinets, dressers and shelves are all full so where does this go? Then, if you’re us, the great unraveling begins: how did we get to a place where we had so much stuff? I thought we were going to resist the siren call of consumption (says she who just purchased what can only be considered a luxury ice cube tray). How did I get to a place in my life where I had 125 cookie cutters, 9 shades of sanding sugar and cupcake wrappers in at least 7 patterns that I can neither bring myself to throw away or justify the space they will take up? The last 6 boxes take forever to unpack; you’ll be glad you prioritized the whiskey.

trying a new chocolate wafer
chocolate crumbs

So, right on top of all of this, something else happened: my husband — who has the audacity to look younger and more handsome every year — turned 40. If you heard me freaking out (just a little) over our move being delayed a week, it was because the one thing we were trying to avoid was having people over for drinks and then going out to engage in vodka encased in ice blocks and tableside-prepped chopped liver but 24 hours after moving, which is exactly what happened, and of course, it was no big deal and, if anything, forced us to make quick work of the first half of the boxes. Happy birthday, baby: don’t you feel young after a few days of moving furniture around and schlepping boxes?

new york state raspberries

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to raspberry swirl cheesecake | 132 comments to date | see more: Celebration Cakes, Photo, Raspberries

07 Jul 15:39

sticky sesame chicken wings

by deb

sticky sesame wings

On the very long list of things that I am convinced that other people do effortlessly while I typical flail and fail in the face of — dancing, running, walking from one room to another without forgetting what they were looking for — making dinner on a regular basis with a minimum of brow sweat and complaining is near the top.

roasty, roasty

It likely doesn’t help that I often spend my cooking hours chasing some very specific idea (a star! a pretzel-y pretzel!) of what I want to cook next, and that this item may or may not amount to dinner, leading to countless days when I realize at 5 p.m. that I have an incoming hangry preschooler and very little plan for what to feed us. A domestic goddess, I hope you never mistake me for.

i reduced the run-off, because, why not

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to sticky sesame chicken wings | 130 comments to date | see more: Photo, Poultry, Quick, Weeknight Favorite

26 Jun 04:01

Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream

by Michelle

Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream | #recipe

I can’t believe that it’s already the end of June and this the very first batch of homemade ice cream I’ve churned up so far this year! I’m way, way behind on my ice cream game. I’ve been eating fresh fruit by the boatload for the last month, and wanted to make an ice cream that took advantage of the awesome produce we have right now. I have had the Jeni’s ice cream book on my shelf for well over a year now, and had yet to make a recipe from it, so I turned there first. As soon as I stumbled upon the roasted strawberry and buttermilk version, I knew I was in business.

Get the Recipe:Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream

© Brown Eyed Baker

25 Jun 04:01

Cheesy Portabello-Tomato Appetizer

by Michelle

Marinated and Baked Portobello-Tomato Appetizer |

Quite a few years ago (maybe 10!), we had a family cookout for 4th of July at my mom’s house and my aunt showed up with this appetizer. Even though it was gorgeous outside, we all huddled around my mom’s kitchen island and shoveled in baguette slice after baguette slice until the entire pan was empty. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was not at all sorry for eating too much, or missing out on sunshine outside. I’ve thought about that appetizer ever since, and recently have been wanting to make it again, but was so bummed that I didn’t have the recipe. When I asked my aunt about it, she only vaguely remembered. Then, fate stepped in. I was going through old papers and organizing and there, from one of my very old recipe files that I kept, was the recipe.

Get the Recipe:Cheesy Portabello-Tomato Appetizer

© Brown Eyed Baker

12 Jun 14:00

The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons

by zenhabits
By Leo Babauta

I’ve been a father for more than 21 years, and have 6 kids altogether, and have loved every messy minute of it.

And now I have a young brother who’s becoming a father this month, and is deeply scared by the prospect of fatherhood. He’s not sure if he’ll do a good job, worried he’ll fail.

I can tell him this: being a father is the scariest thing I’ve known in my life. All of a sudden, I was 19 and in charge of a fragile human life, so precious and dear but so flickering and easily put out. And I was completely unprepared — no class in school taught me what to do, and I had very few life lessons by that time.

It was the most terrifying experience ever. And it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

More rewarding than getting married, than running an ultramarathon, than starting a successful business, than helping thousands of people change their lives through my example.

But to be honest, I sucked at it at first.

My biggest problem, apart from a dreadful lack of knowing what the hell I was doing, was a sense of entitlement. My child should do what I say, behave a certain way, grow into the person I want her to be. That’s ridiculous, I now know, but it caused me all kinds of conflict in the beginning.

I now see a father not as a shaper of clay, but a herder of cats. A father isn’t molding a child into the perfect ideal of a human being he’d like her to be … he’s trying to keep her alive, and feel loved, as she grows into whatever she already is.

So for young men who are becoming fathers, and young women becoming mothers as well (because there’s not much difference other than anatomy) … here are my thoughts on herding cats. Just know that I’ve violated all of these ideas repeatedly, and learned these lessons the hard way.

Your first job is to love them. And to be there for them. This is above all other duties. Of course, we need to keep them safe and fed and clothed and change their diapers — keep them alive — and that’s important. But let’s consider that the baseline — it’s not hard to keep a child alive into adulthood. Anyone can do it with a smidgen of effort.

What’s important is whether the child grows into an adult who is loved. This is trickier, because in our entitlement to having the child behave the way we want her to behave, become who we want her to become, we tend to push, to judge, to expect, to scold, to drive wedges between our heart and hers. But in the end, all of those things just get in the way of the main duty: to have her be loved.

If at the end of your life you can say that you were there for your child, and she or he felt loved, then you’ve succeeded.

Your example is more important than your words. We often tell the child to be considerate as we yell at him, and so he doesn’t learn to be considerate but to yell (only if he’s the more powerful in the relationship). When we punish, they learn how to punish and not whatever other lesson we think we’re teaching. When we put them on restriction, they aren’t learning to share like we think they are.

If you want the kid to grow up healthy, you should exercise and eat healthy foods. If you want the kid to find work that he’s passionate about, do that yourself. If you want the kid to read, then turn off the TV and read. If you don’t want the kid to play video games all day, shut off your computer.

A hug is more powerful than punishment. A hug accomplishes your main duty (to love), while punishment is the example we’re setting for the kid (to punish when someone makes a mistake). When a child behaves badly, this is a mistake. Are we adults free from mistakes? Have we never been upset, never behaved badly, never given into temptation, never told a lie? If we have done any of these things, why are we judging our child for doing them, and punishing her for them?

What’s more important than judging and punishing, when a child makes a mistake and behaves badly, is understanding. Empathy. Put yourself in her shoes. What would help you in that situation? Have compassion. Give a hug. Show how a good person behaves, though the example of a hug. And yes, talk about the problem, get them to understand why the behavior wasn’t so great, get them to empathize with the person they’ve hurt, but learning to empathize must start with your example.

Trust them. Let them take risks and fail, and show them that it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to take risks. Don’t give them the neuroses of being afraid of every little risk, of worrying constantly about safety, of making a mistake and getting punished for it. They will fail, and your reaction to that failure is more important than the failure itself. You must show them that the failure is just a successful experiment, where you learned something valuable.

If you trust them, they will learn to trust themselves. They will grow up knowing that things can go badly but trust that all will turn out OK in the end. That’s a trust in life that’s incredibly valuable.

Let them be who they’re going to be. You aren’t in control of that. You might care deeply about something but she doesn’t. You might think what she cares about is trivial, but that’s who you are, not who she is. Let her express herself in her way. Let her figure out things for herself. Let her make choices, mistakes, take care of her own emotional needs, become self-sufficient as early as she can.

Read with them. Play ball with them. Take walks and have talks with them. Gaze up at the stars with them and wonder about the universe. Make cookies with them. Listen to their music and dance with them. Greet them in the morning with a huge smile and a warm, tight embrace. Do puzzles together, build a robot together, get into their blanket forts, pretend to be a prince or a Jedi with them, tell them stories you made up, run around outside, draw together, make music videos together, make a family newspaper, help them start a business, sing badly together, go swimming and running and biking and play in the monkeybars and sand and jungle.

Each moment you have with your child is a miracle, and then they grow up and move away and become their own person and figure out who they are and get hurt and need your shoulder to cry on but then don’t need you anymore.

And so in the end, fatherhood is being there until they don’t need you to be there, until they do again. And it’s not a thankless task, because they will thank you every day with their love, their presence, their smiles. What a joyful thing, to be a dad.

10 Jun 18:15

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes

by Beth M

I used to really dislike corn, but I think that’s because I never had it prepared in a decent way. Ever since learning to roast corn in my oven, I’ve kind of fallen in love. I don’t always have time to roast it, but frozen corn makes a great quick fix alternative. It still has all the sweetness and juicy snap of fresh corn, but with only a fraction of the prep needed.

These Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes are fast and full of flavor. The acidic tomatoes, rich butter, savory garlic, and sweet corn all balance perfectly to create a side dish that is has summer written all over it. You can eat it plain as a side, or scoop it over grilled chicken, or baked fish. This recipe makes four small side dish sized servings, but can easily be doubled or tripled, if needed.

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $2.27
Cost Per Serving: $0.57
Serves: 4
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.15
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes $0.89
  • ½ tsp dried basil $0.05
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper (15-20 cranks of a pepper mill) $0.05
  • ¼ tsp sugar $0.02
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels $0.93
  • handful fresh parsley (optional) $0.10
  1. Mince the garlic and sauté it with butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat for one to two minutes, or just until softened.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices) to the skillet, along with the basil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir to combine and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the skillet to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until most of the juices have evaporated and the mixture has thickened.
  3. Add the frozen corn to the skillet (no thawing needed). Stir to combine and heat through (3-5 minutes). Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Sprinkle with a handful of fresh chopped parsley if desired.

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes


Step by Step Photos

Sauté GarlicMince two cloves of garlic and then sauté with 1 Tbsp butter over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic has softened.

Diced TomatoesAdd one 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes. I used plain diced tomatoes, but you could use fire roasted, or tomatoes that are already seasoned with garlic and basil for more flavor.

Herbs and SpicesAlso add 1/2 tsp dried basil, some freshly cracked pepper (about 15-20 cranks of a pepper mill), 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp sugar. Stir the ingredients to combine, turn the heat up to medium, and let it simmer for about ten minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Simmered TomatoesYou want it to simmer long enough so that the juices are no longer watery. There is still some sauciness that will coat the corn with flavor, but it’s not really “juicy”. As you can see, when I drag the spoon through the mixture, it doesn’t run back into the empty space. It has reduced and thickened.

Add Frozen CornAdd 2 cups of frozen corn kernels (no thawing necessary), stir to combine, and heat through (3-5 minutes). Taste the mixture and adjust the salt if needed.

Sautéed Corn and TomatoesI added a small sprinkle of fresh parsley on top, but that’s optional.

Sautéed Corn and TomatoesSweet, savory, and Oh So Good!

Sautéed Corn and TomatoesIt’s great on its own, but it’s also fabulous spooned over some grilled chicken or fish! I put mine on top of my Blackened Tilapia. SO GOOD.

The post Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

09 Jun 04:01

Vidalia Onion Dip

by Michelle

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

I have been sitting on this recipe for nearly 10 years now, yowza! A good friend of mine gifted me with this recipe back when recipe swaps (on actual written recipe cards) were all the rage. It’s been sitting in my binder of “appetizer recipes” ever since, and while organizing and purging this weekend, I realized that I’ve never shared it with you. Doh! If you’re a dip person (and, really, who isn’t?), then this is definitely going to make your day.

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

As far as recipes go, this one couldn’t be much simpler. Only four ingredients, and the same exact quantity of each – 2 cups each of chopped Vidalia onions, mayonnaise, shredded Swiss cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Mix, bake, eat. I love the sweet bite of the Vidalia onions paired with the cheeses; it’s totally and completely addicting. Once you try it, you won’t be at all surprised by the fact that my Chief Culinary Consultant and I ate it for lunch yesterday. Yes, just dip and pita chips. Nothing else. Lunch. Done.

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

The recipe as given to me says to serve with pita chips or breadsticks (I feel like the pita chips recommendation was so ahead of its time 10 years ago!), but this would also be fabulous with pretzels, tortilla chips or baguette slices. Basically, any and all carbs are welcome at this party.

Do you have a favorite simple staple recipe from ages ago? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

Two years ago: Sausage, Mozzarella & Basil Stuffed Peppers and Hot Fudge Sauce
Three years ago: Grilled Corn
Four years ago: Blueberry Boy Bait
Five years ago: Pizzelles
Six years ago: New York-Style Crumb Cake

Get the Recipe:Vidalia Onion Dip

© Brown Eyed Baker

03 Jun 04:01

Grandma’s Roasted Potatoes

by Michelle

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about my grandma’s Sunday dinners. It was a tradition for our family growing up, and one that provided my sister and I, and our cousins, with so many wonderful memories. I have such vivid memories of many of the staple items she would make on Sundays, and potatoes is high on that list. Along with at least one type of pasta, meat, and salad, my grandma made roasted potatoes. They have since come to be known simply as “Grandma’s potatoes”. Most Sundays she would have to make two batches because they’d disappear so quickly.

There was nothing inherently fancy about these potatoes – my grandma would hold a potato in one hand and cut off pieces with a paring knife, throw some olive oil in the pan, a little bit of seasoning, and then put them in the oven until they were nice and crispy. I can’t tell you how many fights were had over that bowl of potatoes. Everyone seemed to pick through to get to the super crunchy, slightly burnt ones. More than a few hands were slapped in the name of finding the best potatoes.

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

Those potatoes were one of the things that everyone missed the most once my grandma couldn’t cook anymore and eventually passed away. Since then, my sister has resurrected them and she does the best job of replicating them. Hers look just like my grandma’s – irregular shaped and all. She has made them on Christmas Eve for everyone to munch on while we wait for dinner to be ready, and for some random family dinners as well.

I was well past due to work on perfecting my grandma’s potatoes, and a couple of weeks ago I found myself craving them, so I got to work. My sister said that my grandma used gold potatoes and that they work the best, so I started there and used olive oil and the seasonings my grandma added, put it all under high heat and hoped for the best.

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

I don’t think mine looked like hers (I have an aversion to holding and cutting in the air since my knife incident last summer), but oh boy, did they taste like hers! The baking time could vary depending on how thick or thin your pieces are and if your oven runs hot or cold. As you can see, my pieces are no uniform, so I just check them periodically until they get nice and crisp on the bottom and are golden on top.

I absolutely love recreating my grandma’s recipes, but I really do wish she were still here to make them. I’m sure she’s happy that her food traditions are still alive and well :)

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

One year ago: Better Than “Anything” Cake
Two years ago: Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream
Three years ago: Creamy Cucumber Salad
Four years ago: First Birthday Party Smash Cake
Six years ago: French Chocolate Brownies

Get the Recipe:Grandma’s Roasted Potatoes

© Brown Eyed Baker

02 Jun 04:01

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

by Michelle

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

There are few desserts I cherish more than a fabulous cheesecake. I fell in love with those dense, creamy desserts as a teenager and have been enamored with them ever since. I don’t really discriminate as far as flavors go – plain with fresh strawberries, pumpkin, or loaded up with things like Oreo cookies, Snickers bars, or peanut butter. I love them all and will devour each with abandon.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

Last year, I found my favorite basic cheesecake recipe, and I have been wanting to replicate an easy version of a cheesecake bar for those times when it’s easier to cut them up and serve them for a more casual get-together. When I think of bar desserts, I always think of summer. Picnics and cookouts are the perfect reason to forgo the fancy plate and fork desserts for the simpler, handheld bar desserts.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

As we usher in summer (I can’t believe it’s June!), I thought a basic cheesecake bar with a swirl of seasonal flavor like strawberries would be fabulous. For these, I used a very basic cheesecake bar recipe and swirled in seedless strawberry jam. The perfect combination of flavors and a super simple bar for picking up and nibbling!

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

Two years ago: Black Bean Salsa and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars
Three years ago: Fruit Dip
Four years ago: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Five years ago: Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 16 bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 47 to 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Rich and delicious cheesecake bars with a swirl of strawberry jam.


For the Crust:
7 whole graham crackers, crushed (about 1 cup of fine crumbs)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam


1. Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing excess to hang over the edges of the pan; lightly grease the foil.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, flour and salt to combine. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and use a fork to mix it until the entire mixture is moistened. Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake until the crust to starts to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until it is completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until well combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter over the baked crust.

4. Using a spoon, drop dollops of the strawberry jam all over the surface of the cheesecake batter, then use a toothpick or skewer to gently swirl the jam into the batter. Bake until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours. Lift the cheesecake out of the pan and slice into bars. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

(Base cheesecake recipe modified from America's Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2010)

© Brown Eyed Baker