One of my favorite recipe sites is Budget Bytes. It is a great site that contains tons of recipes that can easily be made on a budget. Whether you’re looking for soups, sandwiches, seafood, poultry, Mediterranean, gluten free, vegetarian – whatever you’re in need of, you can find it at Budget Bytes. I have discovered some favorites and new staples over the past several months such as:
Every time I create my 2 week meal plan, you can bet that there will be at least 3 or 4 recipes from Budget Bytes. The latest recipe I tried was the sausage & kale soup. However, since I am not a fan of cooking with pork (or Italian sausage, in general), I decided to sub a pound of ground turkey which I browned with a little cracked red pepper and kosher salt. Yum!
A side note on prep – on my last grocery trip, I purchased spinach, spring mix, and kale for use in green smoothies. I’d rinsed them and stored them in our freezer for easy use in the mornings (and to prevent it from going to waste!) My kale was already rinsed and ready and frozen. In addition, I’d spent part of my Saturday and part of my Sunday soaking, cooking, and storing beans in 2 cup portions (approximately the size of a can). I’ll post more on that in the near future. In the recipe, Beth at Budget Bytes also suggested chopping and freezing carrots and celery which I did as well!
Now here I must admit – I really enjoy hand chopping my veggies. I don’t always love it, but most times, I do. I just got a new food processor back in December, but sometimes I just want larger, more uniform pieces. I chopped my carrots, celery, onion, and minced my garlic and I was ready to rock.
Now, she does note in the recipe that you can use vegetable or chicken base, and I opted for vegetable since it’s predominantly veggies & there was no chicken in the recipe. I love using Better than Bouillon’s bases and I have their vegetable, chicken, and beef bases.
They are so flavorful and really save me money! Instead of paying for cans of broth, or sodium & MSG laden cubes, I have these organic bases! Good for the wallet and the body!
Now, I didn’t get a picture of the soup when it was done, but it was pretty good. I had to adjust the seasonings by adding kosher salt, white pepper, and some onion powder. I would not put it in my frequent rotation, but I can see myself making it again & would definitely play with the seasonings more! However, I do like that it was very quick & easy to put together, naturally gluten free (watch your broth ingredients always to make sure!), very nutritious and chock full of delicious vegetables. Our bodies appreciated it and our budget did too.
Whenever I go grocery shopping (which is every other week), I start by meal planning. I plan out my meals for the next two weeks and base my grocery list on that, trying not to deviate too much when I actually go to the store! Wanting to try some new recipes, I reviewed my Pinterest page as well as one of my favorite recipe sites, Brown Eyed Baker. I was so excited to find some new recipes that did not require me to buy TOO many ingredients! One of those was beef & broccoli. Now, my beloved and I enjoy Chinese food occasionally so I thought this would be a great addition to our meal rotation. I hit the store, grabbed some oyster sauce along with some rice vinegar, flank steak, sesame oil, and a few other necessities for the meal, and I was set! So yesterday, after Sunday evening service, I got ready to prepare it, excited about trying something new!
I’d never done a recipe with sesame oil or oyster sauce so I got small quantities of each item. I really enjoy shopping on the ethnic / international aisle at our local HEB. I always see so many things that I am unfamiliar with and it always reminds me that there is a whole world of cooking that I am just not familiar with!
I got all my ingredients together (dark brown sugar, vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, corn starch, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, broccoli florets, and flank steak) and started by cutting up my flank steak.
Making the marinade was super quick and easy!
I placed the steak in a bag to marinate, got my florets steamed, & made my sauce. As I opened the oyster sauce, I noticed it had MSG (monosodium glutamate). I thought, It will be okay. How often do I have MSG anyway? Not often! I checked with my husband and he let me know he had no sensitivity to it so I proceeded! I cooked my beef, adding in the fresh garlic and ginger, removed it, then added my sauce to the pan so that it could thicken. Our home smelled like an Asian cuisine restaurant! I added the beef and broccoli to my thickened sauce, stirred it, and served it up over white rice.
The taste was magnificent! It tasted authentic! We loved it! And then an hour later came…
Yes, I got an MSG headache! I couldn’t believe it! I went to bed with a headache and woke up with one. My husband was affected as well. Needless to say, the MSG laden oyster sauce went into the trash and so did the leftovers. As delicious as it was, as great of a recipe as it was, it wasn’t worth the side effects.
This dish is definitely a winner, but next time, an MSG free oyster sauce will be used! I look forward to making this and serving it to friends! It was quick, it was delicious, and it tasted authentic! Win!
I discovered this recipe a few years ago on a show I used to watch on Food Network – 5 Ingredient Fix, a show hosted by Claire Robinson. Her show caught my attention because, as the title states, she makes various recipes (appetizers, drinks, entrees, snacks, etc.) just using 5 ingredients! The bars are so easy to make and have always been a hit every time I have made them. It’s like a pecan pie in bite sized pieces! I usually cut mine afterward with a pizza cutter. It makes it a lot easier versus using a knife to cut the individual bars.
With that said, here is the recipe, no modifications needed! You can view the recipe on the Food Network website as well – Pecan Bars Recipe.
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for dish
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with foil allowing an overhang about 2 inches off the sides. Butter the foil. (Jenn’s notes: very important step!)
In a food processor, blend together flour, sugar, butter and salt until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 2 tablespoons cold water and mix until the dough just holds together. Press dough into bottom of buttered baking dish and bake in oven until golden in color, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the butter, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the corn syrup, flour and pecans and mix until just combined. Spread the filling over the baked crust and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan.
Remove from pan by pulling up the foil sides and putting it on a cutting board. Cut bars in desired size with a sharp knife and arrange them on a serving tray. Can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days.