Thursday, May 29, 2008

3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days - Day 29

With the end of the month fast approaching, I find myself focusing more and more on beginning the menu plan for next month. Fortunately, I have this month's menu plan and freezer meals to fall back on as we finish out these last few days.

This morning started with pancakes, and I made a double batch to compensate for my lack of creativity during the next few days. At least everyone loves pancakes, so there is certainly no complaining. We were still running a little low in the lunch offerings, so Eric stopped at the store for me this morning. He chose his favorite splurge: bologna sandwiches and oranges. So, that is what we had for lunch today, and it is what we will have for lunch tomorrow. I am sure we will have some leftovers for Saturday's lunch. He spent $6.09 at the store, and we'll need to use another $2.50 either tomorrow or Saturday for some more milk. (I am shocked that Kroger has their gallon milk on sale for $2.50 again, but I'm definitely not going to complain.)

For dinner tonight I FINALLY made the lentil and brown rice chili. As I was making it, I decided that chili probably isn't the most fitting term, but I can't think of a better one, especially since I use so many similar spices. If you have any suggestions for a more proper name, please let me know. Here is the recipe:

Lentil and Brown Rice "Chili"
1/2 lb. dry green lentils
4 c. beef or vegetable stock
2 c. brown rice (optional: soak overnight in water and 1 T. apple cider vinegar)
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 carrots, shredded
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce
1 bag frozen spinach
2 T. cumin
1 1/2 T. chili powder
coriander, cayenne pepper, cocoa, crushed red pepper flakes, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper (all to taste)

1. Cook rice and set aside. Cook lentils in 4 cups boiling beef or vegetable stock for 15 minutes. Remove from heat (do not drain), add rice to the pot.
2. While the rice and lentils are going, make the tomato sauce. (Although I just use 2 bags of frozen veggie-tomato sauce and then add seasonings.) Cook pepper, onion and garlic in 1 T. olive oil. Add zucchini and carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and both cans of tomato sauce. Add frozen spinach. Season with all the listed seasonings/spices. You can make it as hot or as mild as you like.
3. Stir the tomato sauce into the lentils and rice. Let simmer on very low heat for as long as you want. I find the flavors intensify the more it simmers, but they blend together better if I refrigerate it instead of simmering for hours. It's really just a matter of personal preference. Also, the longer it simmers the thicker it will get. We tend to like ours pretty thick.
4. Spoon into bowls and enjoy. This dish is a great vehicle for dipping too, especially cornbread sticks or tortilla chips.
This is one of those meals that I just love to play around with. It tastes a little bit different every time we eat it. I substitute veggies or spices frequently. I think a meal this frugal just begs to be tinkered with. Even if the end result isn't that great, you really don't have much invested in it, so that's okay. And for some reason, maybe because of the chili-like flavor, our kids just love this, especially when it is really spicy. Isabelle had two full bowls tonight.

Make sure you stop by Toni and Joy's blogs to see what adventures they have been up to in their kitchens today.


Jennifer 9:30 PM  

I have been following along this month on your journey and am wondering what you do about fresh produce if you only shop once a month. Even on the little trips I didn't see much in the way of fruits and veggies. How do you handle this when only shopping once a month?

Nancy 9:14 AM  

Looks awfully good. I'm going to hang on to the recipe and try it this next fall.

Anonymous,  3:31 PM  

no way would I get my kids to eat this the way it looks no matter how good it might taste.

Anonymous,  2:06 PM  

Very nice blog, I have enjoyed reading it.

Small Tip: My son is a milk delivery driver and I get my milk free because many times he must pull the milk as it is CLOSE to the pull date and he wont be back in time to deliver more before they run out. He is ordered to throw it out, not to send back to warehouse. Waste not, want not I say. lol. When you find milk on sale purchase-- more than you need and Freeze. By removing one cup from gallon jug,it allows room to expand. I am able to have fresh milk anytime by freezing. Let the milk thaw, then shake before pouring. Tastes the same and is still good to consume. I use fat free and 1% and it works well. Cheese can be frozen also. I purchase my cheeses from Grocery Outlet store,(reduced price) for the best bargains.

A Grammatical Disclaimer

I freely admit to consistently using improper grammar in the following areas:
1. I like run-on sentences.
2. I have a tendency to end sentences with a pronoun. (I really do. I can't help it.)
3. I always seem to use passive voice in my sentences. (See?)

I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

Hence, I invoke Blogger Artistic License for this blog!

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