Tag Archives: dinner

Red Beans and Rice

And now, I want a taco and Enrique Iglesias.

One summer in high school, I went on a mission trip to Belize. And during one of the stupid “get to know you” games we played with the teenagers there, I learned that apparently EVERYONE in the town we were in had the same favorite food: Red Beans and Rice. It was kind of funny hearing about 20 people have the same favorite food for some reason. After that trip, I tried making it a couple time on my own, just winging it. It turned out edible, but really bland. I was disappointed but still really wanted to try and make it because it is a really healthy dish.

Then I was browsing Pinterest for some really cheap recipes because of the “broke college kid” situation. And I found this one! I was really pumped because the solution to my bland problem was just cooking the rice with the beans and a liberal amount of paprika. I felt like an idiot, but it’s ok.

The reason this is such a cheap recipe is because rice and beans are two of the cheapest ingredients to include in a meal, and this one just uses those two (plus paprika) to make an awesome filling dish. Beans are also a great source of protein and are low in fat, so you are making a healthy meal too! Much better than ramen noodles or a can of soup.  Plus, this recipe makes plenty of food to save some and reheat later. It basically encourages laziness.

One of the other selling points that really lured me in? It is one of those one-pot meals. You can even make it in your rice cooker if you want to! I just did it in a pot on the stove because I don’t have a rice cooker and it worked great. This is also originally a vegetarian recipe, but I botched that a little bit because I used a chicken bouillon cube to flavor the rice a little bit. You can always use vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian, I just had bouillon cubes on hand and no vegetable stock. Convenience wins. We killed the vegetarian idea even more because Trusty Sidekick has this weird thing where he thinks nothing is a real meal unless it has meat in it. So I just cooked up some ground beef with taco seasoning and mixed in into the rice and beans once they were done. Totally unnecessary, but I was dealing with a manchild and it couldn’t be helped. I’m not going to include the ground beef in the recipe though.

And without further ado, here is the price breakdown:

  • 2 C. rice: $0.25
  • 1 can red beans: $1.00
  • chicken bouillon cube: $0.05
  • 3 cloves garlic: $0.25
  • The amount of paprika is not even $0.05 so I won’t include it.

Total: $1.55 (I know this seems impossible, but seriously, that is how much I spent! Using vegetable stock shouldn’t change this price that much either.)

Seriously guys, this is it. I don’t know why you wouldn’t make this after a long day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C. rice (either white or brown work)
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 C. water

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the beans at least two times in the can and mince garlic.
  2. Put the beans and dry rice into the pot on your stove (or rice cooker) with 4 C. water, bouillon cube, paprika, and garlic.

    Everything except the water and paprika.
  3. Cover the pot and heat until the water begins boiling. Reduce the heat so the water simmers. For a rice cooker, just press start and leave for 40 mins.

    So it looks like weird soup here, but just have patience young grasshoppers.
  4. Leave for about 40 mins and DO NOT take off the lid. It releases the steam and the rice won’t cook as well.
  5. Once all the water is absorbed, it is ready to serve! Dish it out and enjoy.

    Here it is with the ground beef. Ya, I know it looks odd but Trusty Sidekick was pleased.

Hope you all enjoy!

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Chicken Parmesan Bake

Don’t it look good?

Who loves some good Chicken Parmesan? Good. Everyone. Let’s continue.

Sadly, Chicken Parmesan is one of those dishes that while extremely delicious, is not that great for you. I can’t even weasel my way out here saying “Oh there’s cheese! Calcium!” or “Chicken has protein!”. It is traditionally fried and smothered in fatty cheeses. And it is so, so yummy.

But rejoice Pants! I found this wonderful recipe for a BAKED version of this delicious comfort food. All credit here goes to Chef John over at food wishes . It takes a lot of work to re-vamp a traditional recipe to be more healthy, so hard work much appreciated. My tummy thanks Chef John.

This chicken turned out amazingly well, though I did cut the recipe in half because Trusty Sidekick and I won’t eat 6 chicken breasts worth of food before it goes bad. Trusty Sidekick ate half of it by himself (aka a whole breast and a half) and if that doesn’t tell you how delicious this is then I don’t know what does. The chicken gets really tender from baking in the sauce so you barely need a knife. The cheese is bubbly (duh), and the cracker/breadcrumb/crouton topping gives just a bit thickness to the cheese so it is almost saucy. The original calls for croutons, but I had breadcrumbs and Ritz crackers and figured they would work just as well. Using the croutons in the original recipe may make it more crunchy than the breadcrumb/cracker topping I used. That decision is up to you though, lovely readers.

This definitely is on my permanent recipe list, it is so easy and delicious. Well anything that is a casserole like this tends to be super simple, so that is always a selling point with me! Plus, this recipe ranks pretty high on my cheapness scale.

I did have one of my lovely “facepalm” moments while cooking this. Pro-tip: make sure your chicken breasts are totally defrosted before you put the dish into the oven. Mine were about half-way done and my lazy brain said, “Oh no it’s fine, they will just finish defrosting while in the oven.” Incorrect, brain. Incorrect. This little lapse of judgement didn’t ruin the dish by any means, I just had to leave it in the oven for about 15 more mins. Regardless, it was inconvenient and frustrating so don’t do that.

What I will give you here is the half recipe, just because most of you aren’t feeding enough people to require the amount of food the original makes.

Moving on to your price breakdown, remember all these are simply approximations:

  • 1 T. olive oil: $0.15
  • 1 clove garlic: $0.05
  • 3 chicken breasts: $4.00
  • 1 C. marinara sauce: $0.75
  • 1/8 C. basil: $0.50 (this will especially vary depending on whether you use fresh or dried basil)
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese: $1.00
  • 4 oz. parmesan cheese: $0.75 (I just use the can of grated stuff)
  • 1/8 C. breadcrumbs: $0.25
  • about 10 Ritz crackers: $0.25

Total: $7.70

Your shopping list.

Ingredients:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • hot red pepper flakes to taste
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 if you have small ones)
  • 1 C. marinara sauce
  • 1/8 C. chopped basil (or half that amount in dried)
  • 4 oz. mozzarella, shredded
  • 4 oz. parmesan, grated
  • 1/8 C. breadcrumbs
  • about 10 Ritz crackers, crumbled (more or less to cover the top of the dish)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Drizzle about 1 T. olive oil onto the bottom of an 8×8 casserole dish. Put the garlic and red pepper flakes on top.

    No exact measurements necessary, just eyeball it.
  3. Lay the chicken breasts on top, as close together as they need to be.

    They look so cozy.
  4. Coat with the marinara sauce and sprinkle the basil on top. Be as liberal as you want with the sauce, no need to be afraid of going over a cup. Get saucy people. Pun intended.

    Gah, it looks so fresh and yummy! Love it.
  5. Layer half of your cheese on top.

    Cheesy. My favorite.
  6. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on and then add the crackers to make an even coat on top of the cheese.

    Once again, approximations are your friend in this recipe.
  7. Add the rest of the cheese. If you feel so inclined, don’t shy away from adding an extra sprinkle or two of parmesan. It is chicken parmesan after all!
  8. Put the dish in the oven for 35 minutes until the sauce is nice and bubbly.

    We were so hungry that I forgot to take a “right out of the oven” picture. So here is one of the chicken on a plate.

Hope you all enjoy! Do you prefer the crouton or cracker topping? Comment back with your topping of choice!

Lazy Chicken Taco Chili

Yum. That’s it. Yum.

I almost feel bad about this post. First of all, the amount of actual cooking you do consists of shredding chicken that the crock pot has cooked for you, so the work is kept ridiculously low. Second of all, it is another one of those shady pins from Pinterest like from the meatballs last week. I feel like I cheated this week and I’m not completely sure why. Maybe it’s that I barely did any work for this post and took my recipe from the dark alley again instead of a good and proper blog.

Oh well. I don’t feel too bad because this chili is the bee’s knees and is by far one of the easiest and cheapest recipes I have given you lovely people yet. Not only that, but chili is one of the greatest comfort foods. Nice and hearty without making you feel sluggish, steamy and slightly spicy for a chilly night in. Mmmmmm…chili.

Plus, this is a GREAT recipe to mess with. Want more beans? Go buck wild, add another can. Oh, you like your chili with lots of tomato chunks? Well we aren’t friends anymore because tomato chunks are about as appetizing as finding a hair in your cookie, but I guess you can add a can of those. Is taco chili just not right without corn? Well by golly add some corn you crazy kids! Really, as long as it looks right to you, it will probably taste just fine.

Me? I’m kind of a weirdo and like my chili very basic so what I will be giving you is just that. I’m not one for a bunch of add-ons and I have a particular hatred of tomatoes, although the sauce is fine because it is seasoned wonderfully. So basically, feel free to spruce this up to your taste without fear of screwing up horribly. My only caution is to make sure your crock pot or pot isn’t too full. You definitely want about 1 or 2 inches of the top available for bubbling and gurgling.

Also, the original shady pin called for a packet of taco seasoning. I like to use my own because that way I don’t get any of the extra salt or additives. I found a great recipe over at 5 Dollar Dinners, and have a little container of it made up so I can just grab it when I need it. I’m so handy.

Another bonus with this super easy recipe? It is really healthy! Seriously, it is basically chicken, beans, and tomato sauce. And most of the things you would add in like diced tomatoes or corn are healthy. So go ahead, eat two bowls! You’ll want to, trust me.

And on to the price breakdown!

  • 1 can black beans and 1 can kidney beans: $1 each
  • 28oz. can tomato sauce: $1.50
  • 3 chicken breasts: $4.00 (a super generic approximation)
  • I don’t count the taco seasoning into this because it is such a small portion of what you buy.

Total: $6.50

Sorry about the mirrored labels. I forgot my camera and had to take the photos for this post with my computer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 T. Taco seasoning (or 1 packet)
  • 1 T. chili powder

The intensive instructions:

  1. Put all the ingredients in your crock pot. If you don’t own a crock pot (get one) just use a pot on your stove with the heat turned down low.

    Make sure the chicken is covered so it cooks everywhere.
  2. Put the crock pot on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours. For a pot, a little hotter for 6 hours or a little cooler for 10 hours. You get the idea.
  3. About 3 hours in (no need to be super punctual) take two forks and shred the chicken in the crock pot. I do this so that the flavor of the chili gets into all of the chicken.
  4. Put that goodness in a bowl and go to town. Cheese and chips make a great addition to serving.
Trusty Sidekick likes his chili with noodles.

Hope this turns out great for all of you! Try new variations for yourself and comment what you did and how it turned out 🙂