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15 Delicious and Affordable Beach Escapes

15 Delicious and Affordable Beach Escapes


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For many, the idea of a beachside getaway is out of the question. Often times, they are particularly stylish, with art and furniture inspired by the local culture, and they feel more like homes than hotels. Here are 15 chic and affordable beach escapes you can book as soon as you please.

15 Delicious and Affordable Beach Escapes (Slideshow)

To find the items on this list, we worked off of and updated our previous list of affordable beach escapes. We expanded the list to include getaways outside the Caribbean, and found excellent hotels and inns in England, Portugal, and Oregon. Many hotels on this list offer different rates for high and low season; we recommend going at non-peak times, not only because it is more wallet-friendly, but because it will be more peaceful. As usual, we only selected hotels with exceptional food or easy access to exceptional food.

One of the best parts about staying in small hotels is the interactions you have with the staff, the owners, and the other residents. You get used to seeing the same few faces over breakfast, and the staff is happy to give you restaurant suggestions for places that locals actually like, as opposed to restaurants they have some sort of partnership with. It’s important to support small, local businesses — and stylish, too. Behemoth all-inclusive resorts? Just say no.

So don’t rule out the possibility of a beach getaway in your near future. There are only a few essential ingredients needed to be satisfied with a sun-soaked retreat, and an overdrafted bank account is not one of them. These 15 hotels know that very well.

Bahari Beach: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Tents and hammocks may not sound like the lap of luxury, but at Bahari Beach, they come with an enviable seaside location, oversized beds, private patios, Jacuzzis, and bathrooms. The hotel also wakes guests up with the smells of locally produced coffee in their rustic restaurant, which serves Costa Rican specialties all day. They'll arrange for horseback riding on the beach, rafting, fishing trips, and beach amenities as well. Prices start at $90 per night for a tent with a bed; rooms in the main house are less.

Bravo Beach Hotel: Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques, a tiny Puerto Rican island, is surrounded by iridescent blue water, and you can see a lot of it from a room at Bravo Beach Hotel, which has two swimming pools and charming tropical gardens. The hotel is a five-minute walk from the largest town on the island, Isabel Segunda, which features restaurants like the Coqui Fire Café. They’re known for their famous hot sauces (try the piña colada mustard sauce), fundido dip, and hot pepper margarita. From $118 per night.

Additional reporting by Nicole Campoy-Leffler


15 Best Family-Friendly Weeknight Dinners

Free yourself from take-out and drive-thru on those super busy nights and try out these 30 min meals instead. With these recipes, you can get dinner on the table so quickly and effortlessly. Some of these recipes even come together in a single pan, which makes clean-up a breeze!

1. Spaghetti Carbonara – All you need is 5 ingredients and 15 minutes. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Parmesan and bacon. [GET THE RECIPE.]

2. Easy Lemon Chicken – You’ll never guess how quickly this crisp, tender chicken comes together with just a handful of ingredients. [GET THE RECIPE.]

3. One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese – Two favorite comfort foods come together in the easiest one-pot meal. [GET THE RECIPE.]

4. Baked Ravioli – Amazingly cheesy, creamy and comforting. All done in less than 30 min. [GET THE RECIPE.]

5. Broccoli Quinoa Casserole – Healthy, cheesy comfort food without any of the guilt. [GET THE RECIPE.]

6. Pesto Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Roasted Asparagus – Quick, easy, and chockfull of veggies. [GET THE RECIPE.]

7. Honey Salmon in Foil – A no-fuss, super easy salmon dish that’s baked in foil for the most tender, most flavorful salmon ever. [GET THE RECIPE.]

8. Korean Beef Bowl – Tastes just like Korean BBQ, except it’s on your dinner table in 15 min. [GET THE RECIPE.]

9. One Pot Pizza Pasta Bake – Who can ever say no to pasta in pizza-form loaded with mini pepperonis? [GET THE RECIPE.]

10. Spinach Tomato Tortellini Soup – The easiest, most comforting and hearty soup ever. All you need is 5 min prep. [GET THE RECIPE.]

11. Chicken Pesto Sandwich – Lightened up with Greek yogurt, this hearty sandwich is one of the quickest, most tastiest meals you’ll ever have. [GET THE RECIPE.]

12. Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo – An incredibly creamy, rich alfredo sauce that takes less than 20 min to make from start to finish. [GET THE RECIPE.]

13. Honey Garlic Chicken – Crisp-tender chicken with a honey garlic sauce that is out of this world. [GET THE RECIPE.]

14. Stovetop Mac and Cheese – Comfort food never tasted so good in this no-fuss mac and cheese. [GET THE RECIPE.]

15. One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta – The easiest and creamiest pasta made in a single pot – even the pasta gets cooked right in the pan. [GET THE RECIPE.]


15 Easy Recipes to Bring to a Picnic or Barbecue or Wherever You Have to Go This Summer

What should you bring to your friend's picnic? Or that barbecue you're going to next weekend? Or Aunt Karen's 64th birthday party? These are the questions we face constantly, because it is officially outdoor eating season.

You want to bring something low-maintenance, a dish that delivers on flavor without stressing you or the people hosting this outdoor function out. It should be able to be prepared in your own kitchen and transport pretty easily. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, sometimes it isn't. But you don't need to sweat this summer, because we put together this list of easy recipes that any and all will be quite pleased to eat on a picnic blanket. Here you go. Enjoy the sunshine.

Slow-Roasted Onion Dip

We firmly believe that a cookout is not really a cookout without some onion dip and a big bag of potato chips. This is an undeniable truth.

Jammy Eggs with Paprika Aioli

These are essentially the deviled eggs you already love, without the annoying step of whipping up those yolks. It's about convenience, folks.

Classic Chickpea Hummus

Your friends don't want the store-bought hummus. They want this hummus. Give it to them.

Easy Vegetarian Calzones

Calzones are pizzas that you can carry! And they're good room temp! Which means you can take them to a picnic! Wonderful!

Marinated Olives and Feta

Good olives deliver a touch of class to any outdoor meal. Garlic and feta? They just make everything taste better. Both are important.

Peanut Butter Blondies

If your friends don't want peanut butter blondies at their picnic, you should probably just find some new friends.

Cold Miso-Sesame Noodles

Cold noodle salads were invented for cookouts. Possibly. Actually, we're not sure, but this cold miso dressing is so tangy, creamy, and refreshing we'll accept that claim as truth.

Winter Crunch Salad

Yes, its called a "winter crunch salad." And no, it doesn't have to be winter to eat it. This is great year-round, and won't get sad and soggy in the heat.

Antipasti Hand Salad

Hand Salad is a salad that you can eat with your hands. And we all know hand foods belong at picnics. Just do what feels right.

Roasted Eggplant and Pickle Dip

An eggplant dip gives all the pita freaks out there something to dip their bread in. This is for the pita freaks in your life.

Make-Ahead Broccoli and Quinoa Salad

You can make this broccoli and quinoa salad ahead of time, which gives you more time to do other things, like figure out which beer you're bringing to the function.

Easy One-Bowl Upside-Down Cake

Summer fruit. Simple cake. And whipped cream. This is the picnic dessert MVP, no contest.

Smoked Trout-Avocado Dip

There needs to be avocado at your cookout. And there might as well be some seafood too. This smoky trout dip is all the right kinds of creamy.

Blackberry-Pistachio Crumble Bars

A blackberry bar is a dessert you can hold while playing badminton. That's just good old-fashioned fun.

Cheesy Slice-and-Bake Crackers

All those dips need a cheesy cracker for dipping. Be the person who brings the crackers. Be the hero.


15 Quick and Easy Crock-Pot Recipes

From appetizers to side dishes to soups and entrees, you can let the slow cooker do all the work for you with these easy peasy recipes!

1. Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip – Simply throw everything in the crockpot for the easiest, most effortless spinach and artichoke dip ever. Easy peasy. [GET THE RECIPE.]

2. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs – A lighter, healthier alternative to buffalo wings. An absolute must for Game Day. [GET THE RECIPE.]

3. Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas – Cooked low and slow for the most amazing fall-apart tender goodness. [GET THE RECIPE.]

4. Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce – A rich and meaty spaghetti sauce made with just 10 min prep. Done and done. [GET THE RECIPE.]

5. Slow Cooker Enchilada Stack – No rolling, no folding, no wrapping here. It doesn’t get easier than that. [GET THE RECIPE.]

6. Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken Wings – So sticky, so sweet, and just so easy to make. [GET THE RECIPE.]

7. Slow Cooker Corn and Jalapeño Dip – No chips needed here. Just grab a spoon and dive right in. [GET THE RECIPE.]

8. Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken – Unbelievably easy to make and so much cheaper (and tastier) than take-out. [GET THE RECIPE.]

9. Slow Cooker Maple Brown Sugar Ham – The most tender, juicy ham made with just 5 min prep. And you save on oven space too. [GET THE RECIPE.]

10. Slow Cooker Butter Chicken – Skip the take-out and try this lightened-up creamy butter chicken instead. It’s less calories and tastes just as good as the original. [GET THE RECIPE.]

11. Slow Cooker Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Making mashed potatoes has never been easier. [GET THE RECIPE.]

12. Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo – The easiest, creamiest enchilada pasta ever. [GET THE RECIPE.]

13. Slow Cooker Cocktail Sausages – You may want to double the batch here because these are sure to disappear fast. [GET THE RECIPE.]

14. Slow Cooker Potato and Corn Chowder – Thick, filling and wonderfully cozy, perfect for a cold night. [GET THE RECIPE.]

15. Slow Cooker Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes – Perfectly tender, flavorful, cheesy and chockfull of bacon goodness. [GET THE RECIPE.]


Whether you’re searching for crockpot party food or just some really good family crockpot meals, you’ve come to the right place! These amazing recipes are all tried and true ones we’ve used in our homes for years.

1. Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders

This might be the easiest recipe of all for a crowd. Simply dump raw chicken breasts (that’s right–no pre-cooking!), sauce, a little seasoning into the crock and you’ll have a delicious sandwich-filling in a few hours. Kids love this one, too.

2. Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

I love how easy and budget-friendly this slow cooker meal is for a group. Serve with our Killer Homemade BBQ Sauce and Asian Slaw on the side.

3. Crockpot Breakfast Casserole with Bacon and Gruyere

Everyone loves breakfast for dinner! Guests will oooh and ahhhh over this gourmet casserole at your next brunch or holiday gathering. Its depth of flavor and beautiful color come from the bacon, onions, garlic, kale, roasted red peppers, and Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. Bonus: It’s naturally gluten-free.

4. Slow Cooker Crispy Carnitas

It’s hard not to like Carnitas made in the Slow Cooker. In fact, pork shoulder is one of my favorite cuts of meat to cook this way! Carnitas can be prepped in minutes, they make a great freezer meal, and they feed a large number of people. Be sure to quarter the pork shoulder before freezing in the marinade!

5.Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

This dump-and-go Tortilla Soup is one of the easiest you’ll ever make. Almost every ingredient comes straight from your pantry!

6. Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

With only 6 main ingredients, this Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce couldn’t be easier or tastier! Serve over pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash for a delicious and healthy dinner.

7. Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

A little sweet and a little spicy, this EASY Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken recipe is BIG on flavor and takes just minutes. It’s a fan favorite and, of course, freezer friendly.

8. Slow Cooker French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

This recipe actually comes from our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker. It is a reader favorite! This upgraded grilled cheese is SO easy to throw together. Just toss a simple marinade and the roast in the cooker. You’ll end up with fall-apart beef and an au jus you may just want to drink. Then, either serve as traditional French Dip sandwiches on ciabatta rolls or turn them into melty, ooey-gooey, meaty sandwiches to dip in that luxurious sauce.

9. Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

The great thing about this meal is you can make it in advance and toast them in the oven as people arrive. Kids love these plain. Or, jazz them up for adults by adding some salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo or other toppings. You can also serve with our colorful Fiesta Chopped Salad and some tortilla chips.

10. Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef

This is a reader favorite! Serve this dump-and-go meal over mashed potatoes or polenta for the perfect Sunday dinner.

11. Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup

This scrumptious soup is a total crowd pleaser. Serve it with our Autumn Chopped Salad for an amazing dinner.

12. Chicken and Dumpling Stew

You may never return to making chicken and dumplings on the stove! It’s soooo good made in the crockpot.

13. Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Sandwiches

This well-seasoned, fall-apart shredded BBQ Beef will make your home smell amazing! Serve with our Homemade BBQ Sauce for extra deliciousness!

14. Homemade Tomato Soup

This Tomato Soup is budget-friendly, delicious, and makes a very large portion. Serve with some grilled cheese sandwiches or crusty bakery bread. Use our freezing instructions to make it ahead of time and freeze, too. This recipe is linked to an Instant Pot version but we’ve shared how to make it in the slow cooker in the blog post.

15. Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I have been making my pot roast exclusively like this for years now. Hands down our favorite, especially when guests come over.

16. Crowd Pleaser Mexican Soup

This is the only Mexican Soup recipe you’ll ever need. I’ve been making a variation of this soup for my family and guests for years. I love to fully cook this soup and freeze it in small portions to have for lunches down the road.

17. No Peek Stew

This dump-and-go meal takes minutes to put together in the slow cooker and cooks on LOW for about 8 hours. Serve up with some crusty bread and a side salad for a homestyle dinner.

18. Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potato and Black Beans

Look no further for a comforting slow cooker freezer meal. This lean turkey chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients. This crock pot chili is delicious fresh but is also a great make ahead meal.

19. Italian Baked Meatballs in Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

Make our easy, delicious Italian Baked Meatballs ahead of time and then place them in the slow cooker with either your favorite store-bought marinara sauce (we love Newman’s Own) or make our homemade crockpot marinara sauce. Serve over pasta or as Meatball Subs on hoagie rolls with provolone cheese.

20. Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte

This is a fun drink to serve to large groups. Make it ahead and let it sit in the slow cooker. Your guests can ladle it into mugs themselves. They will LOVE it!


This one is perfect for your vegetarian and organic-eating friends, and it's super easy to put together. You can also customize this one with your favorite toppings or follow this simple recipe. We recommend grilling them at your next BBQ. Adults and kiddos will love them!

I don't know about you, but one look at these and I am salivating! This recipe is easy to follow and can also be customized to your liking. Not only do kids love these, but they're individually set so you don't have to worry about anyone overstuffing their plates.


omg these are such good ideas, getting myself in summer beach mode with these recipes

So full disclosure I'm not Keto but trying to cut back on carbs and am IN LOVE with a few of these recipes! Made the Spaghetti squash pasta and the kids actually loved it! Making the bean salad next, yummm.

The brown butter salmon with capers is amazing!

The Bang Bang Cauliflower is something else! Love so many of the recipes!

Thanks Brit + Co for creating these


"Easy, delicious, and good for you? This recipe is a dream come true." -Andi of Longmeadow Farm

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4. Hamburger Steak Bento

Want a meatier option for lunch? Japanese hamburger (hambagu) steak bento with broccoli, tomato, celery, and corn.

Asparagus beef roll bento with edamame, tomatoes, and Onigiri (Japanese rice ball).


17 Comments

LLLL said:

Interesting – I’m going to try the fried Ravioli!

Kathy Maister said:

If you are expecting a crowd, and are making several appetizers, make sure the flavors compliment each other-like a cheese platter with crackers and olives. I like to go heavy on the appetizers and skip a starter!

Sara Gray said:

“Stumbled Upon” your blog. Excellent! And I agree. More appetizers, less starters on the day that everyone eats too much anyway. Great job on the blog, I’ll be checking back often. You can check out my Thanksgiving ideas at Easy Appetizer Recipes too. Have a Thankful Holiday.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Sara! Your appetizer recipes look fantastic! Perfect for the startcooking crowd!

Ella said:

It is amazing how delicious simple things can be! Those tortilla chips are great. I could eat them forever. And the stuffed mushrooms are so easy to prepare and yet so tasty! All my guests love them.

Raffid said:

Anyone from St. Louis, MO, knows they are called TOASTED ravioli – and you can’t eat just 10!

Kathy Maister said:

St Louis sounds like my kind of place!

Jon (Sacker) said:

Sad -( looks like we can’t buy frozen raviloi in the UK!

Lisa Freeman said:

Jon! Don’t fret–as you can use the fresh ravioli for the frying recipe as well!

Christine said:

Stumbled Upon your blog, great post. These appetizers are simple and easy to do and will be loved by all guest. Entertaining should be quick and easy but at the same time the food should be appealing and delicious!

James said:

MARY said:

I gotta try the fried ravioli. Thanks I think I might make some of these for our guest this weekend.

Pars said:

There are tons of easy appetizers. I really like to cook and enjoy eating and collecting appetizer recipes.

Twinkle mukim said:

i am not able to make whipped cream ……iit does not thicken and if it does also after some time it again loosens ups
plz help me

Startcooking said:

Hi TM,
Have a look at my post on How to Make Whipped Cream.
See you there!
Kathy

Liz from Simple Italian Cooking said:

I love using olives for parties or as an appetizer. I make my own simple antipasto dish with lots of olives and I’ve never had complaints. But be careful of too much garlic. I have more easy Italian recipes at my site like the antipasto. I love the fried ravioli idea.


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