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Blogs : Budet Bytes

Budet Bytes
There are two things that I will readily admit to: I am broke and I love to eat.

I’m not “cheap” because I do appreciate quality; I just like to be able to have my cake, eat it, AND pay my bills on time.

Balancing your budget and meeting all of your wants and needs is tough. If you haven’t already calculated how much you spend on food every month (groceries, eating out and impulse snacks and drinks) you are probably in for an eye-opener. Next to rent or your mortgage, food is probably one of your largest bills. Fortunately, it is also the MOST malleable category in your budget!

We all know that eating out can be expensive, especially if you like good, quality food. Even fast food these days is not exactly cheap (a full fast food meal can cost between $6-$10 dollars… I can eat for almost two days for the amount of money). Cooking for yourself can also be very costly if you don’t know what you are doing. Newbie cookers beware! That’s why you need me.

The recipes in this blog are SIMPLE, QUICK and SATISFYING. This blog will probably be most useful for those who do not normally cook or have been too afraid to try. I serve up the classics and show how easy, satisfying and inexpensive they can be. If you are a chef or have been cooking for years then, yes, this blog may seem elementary. BUT there is a whole generation, no, a COUPLE of generations that have grown up without simple home cooked meals. Lets bring back the lost art of cooking!

In short, I don’t believe that eating for pennies a day has to mean eating Ramen Noodles 100 different ways. In response to a recent financial crisis of my own, I have begun to run cost analysis on all of my favorite recipes. The results have surprised even me. In this blog I will post recipes along with their cost analysis, prep time, pictures and alternate preparations. As a reader I invite you to post comments on the recipes and discuss with others ideas for recipe alterations or anything else.

So, lets do this. Lets all stop wasting our money on mediocre food that someone else just put in the microwave then handed over to us. Make something delicious. Make something that fills you up. Make something that you are proud of. Make something that still leaves you enough cash to buy something else that you REALLY need or want.

Budget Bytes Recipe : Country Breakfast Bowls (freezable)
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, then you know how I love “make ahead” breakfast dishes that I can keep in the fridge or freezer and then microwave really quickly in the morning (hello, baked oatmeal).

Well, I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial for some big brand breakfast bowls that are sold in the freezer aisle, and was all like, “I can totally make that!” So, I did.

My breakfast bowls start with a bed of seasoned, roasted potatoes, and then are topped with a little salsa, scrambled eggs, and cheese. You could add some sautéed breakfast sausage or crumbled bacon, if you want, I just didn’t happen to have any on hand (both bacon and sausage freeze well). I wish I would have thought about green onions, because they would have been fantastic on this.

So, make a batch of these on Sunday night and you’ve got breakfast covered for the week. Keep them in your refrigerator or freezer until you wander into your kitchen all bleary-eyed from sleep, then just pop one in the microwave until it’s hot and you’re golden.

And who says you have to eat this for breakfast? NO ONE. I ate one for lunch today at work. ;D

Total Cost: $7.76 Cost Per Serving: $1.29 Serves: 6

3 lbs. russet potatoes $1.67
1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
½ tsp garlic powder $0.03
½ tsp salt $0.03
Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
9 large eggs $1.49
2 Tbsp butter $0.29
1½ cups salsa $1.49
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese $1.94

Instructions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut the potatoes into one-inch cubes. Place the potato cubes in a large bowl and add the olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Toss the potatoes until they are well coated in oil and seasoning.

Line a baking sheet with foil and give it a light spritz of non-stick spray. Spread the potatoes out over the baking sheet so they are in a single layer. If they don't fit, prepare a second baking sheet and divide the potatoes between the two. Roast the potatoes in the preheated oven for 45min to one hour, or until they are tender and golden brown. Stir the potatoes once, about half way through.

When the potatoes are close to being finished, crack the eggs into a large bowl and gently whisk them. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted, pour in the eggs. Gently move the eggs around the skillet until they are mostly solid, but still moist in appearance. Be careful not to over cook the eggs at this point because they will cook further upon reheating the breakfast bowls.

To prepare the bowls, divide the roasted potatoes between six freezer safe containers. Add ¼ cup of salsa to each container. Divide the scrambled eggs among the six containers and then top with about ¼ cup of shredded cheese.

Chill the bowls in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer. Or, leave them in the refrigerator if you plan to eat them within 5-6 days.

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Sources : Country Breakfast Bowls Photo | About Budget Bytes | Country Breakfast Bowls Recipe
Tips : Control Your Bananas

"The Banana Ripening Process

Bananas are harvested green and begin ripening as soon as the banana stem is cut from the plant.
Chiquita classifies banana ripeness into five peel color stages:
Yellow with Green Tips
Yellow with Brown Flecks
As the banana ripens, its starch converts to sugar. The riper the banana, the creamier and sweeter it tastes.
Find recipe ideas for each stage of banana ripeness."

Chiquita Banana Ripening & Storage Tips

Most people like their bananas when the peel is yellow or yellow with brown flecks.

If the bananas you buy are too green, you can put them in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight to speed up the ripening process.

You can slow down the banana ripening process by storing the fruit in the refrigerator. The skin may darken, but the banana will be just right for several days.

If your bananas get too ripe before you can eat them, don't throw them away. Store them peeled in the freezer in a baggie to use in banana smoothies, shakes, or make a banana bread recipe. Chiquita sets the standard for banana cultivation, irrigation, fertilization and research. We pioneered refrigerated ships to ensure freshness and invented special shipping cartons to protect Chiquita bananas from bruising.

Q. If my Chiquita bananas were packaged in a plastic bag at the store, should I remove them from the bag when I get home?
A. Yes, taking your Chiquita bananas out of the plastic bag will help them to ripen evenly which will make them most enjoyable to eat.

Q. The grocery store only had ripe bananas, the peels are yellow with brown flecks - is there anything else I can make with them besides banana bread?
A. Ripe to very ripe bananas that have brown peels are excellent for making moist banana bread. You can also make delicious banana smoothies and other banana desserts.

Q. Does the size of a Chiquita banana change the flavor or quality?
A. The size of the Chiquita banana does not affect its quality, so simply choose the size that best meets your needs.

Q. How should I store my Chiquita bananas?
A. Chiquita bananas should be left to ripen at room temperature. Unripe Chiquita bananas should not be placed in the refrigerator. This will interrupt the ripening process. If you place your unripe Chiquita bananas in the refrigerator, they may not be able to resume the ripening process even if they are returned to room temperature.

Q. Should I eat green Chiquita bananas?
A. Most people like to wait until their Chiquita bananas ripen before eating because green Chiquita bananas are still very starchy and can be difficult to digest. As the Chiquita banana ripens, the starch turns to natural sugars making it tasty, delicious and a natural energy superfruit! There are certain recipes that call for green bananas and you can make delicious things like curries and stews.

Sources : Bananas Photo | Bananas Article
News : Kuro Burger Returns To Japanese Burger Kings

We all know that Japan is great at coming up with cute food, but it turns out that they’ve got a talent for strange and exotic dishes as well. They decided that the traditional burger was getting a bit boring, so Burger King Japan decided to make their burgers black.

The Kuro Diamond and Kuro Pearl burgers owe their striking appearances to black cheese, black garlic sauce, and a completely black bun. The bun and the cheese are colored by bamboo charcoal, while the garlic sauce is colored with squid ink. Both are commonly used as food additives in Japan.

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Sources : Kuro Burger Photo | Kuro Burger Article
Drinks : The Monday Mojito

2 limes, cut in half
12 mint leaves
2 ounces simple syrup (recipe below)
4 ounces white rum (or to taste)
2-3 ounces club soda
2 sprigs of mint leaves (for garnish)

Place the mint leaves into a cocktail shaker and squeeze the juice from the limes into the shaker.

Gently smash the mint into the lime juice with a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) for about 3 minutes until the oils from the mint are released.

Add the simple syrup and rum. Fill the shaker 3/4 full with crushed ice. Place the top on the shaker and shake until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted. Set aside.

Fill two tall glasses with crushed ice and pour the mojito mixture into each glass about 3/4 full. Top each glass off with the club soda to taste. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint. Cheers!

for the simple syrup: In a small saucepan heat 1 cup each granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil. When the sugar is completely dissolved remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week.

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Sources : The Monday Mojito Photo | The Monday Mojito Article
Recipe : Wonton Meatball Cups

36 turkey meatballs, thawed (I used Armour brand, fully cooked)
spray olive oil
36 wonton wrappers
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup white cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce (I used Gia Russa brand cherry tomato)
1 green onion, sliced thin on the diagonal

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Spray olive oil in each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan; assemble 12 wonton cups as follows: layer 3 wonton wrappers in each muffin cup; lightly spray wrappers with olive oil

3) Layer each meatball cup as follows, evenly dividing ingredients: sharp cheddar cheese, meatballs (3 to a cup); bake 8-10 minutes until wontons begin to blister and turn golden; remove from oven

4) Evenly dividing spaghetti sauce, spoon over and around meatballs; sprinkle tops with white cheddar cheese and green onions; return to oven and bake 3 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven and serve

Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions or 12 appetizers

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Sources : Wonton Meatball Cups Photo | Wonton Meatball Cups Article
Recipe : M&M Skillet Cookie Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups M&Ms, divided (3/4 cup and 1/2 cup)
1 can of icing

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Brown butter in 12″ skillet. When the butter gets a nutty aroma, you know it is ready to move to the bowl of your stand mixer to cool.

3. Once slightly cooled, add both sugars to bowl of stand mixture and mix until combined.

4. Add in eggs one at time, followed by the vanilla extract.

5. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.

6. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined.

7. Fold in the chocolate chips and half of the M&Ms.

8. Spoon dough back into the skillet (still greased with the brown butter).

9. Press the rest of the M&Ms on the top of the cookie.

10. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden and the edges begin pulling away from the side of the skillet.

11. Let cool completely before decorating with icing.

12. Cut into 16 wedges (they will be nice and thick so a narrow slice is all you need) and serve directly from the skillet.

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Sources : M&M Skillet Cookie Cake Photo | M&M Skillet Cookie Cake Article