Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Making do with an emptying fridge

Last night, after finishing my last baking order for the week, I peered into the fridge for dinner ideas. A lone cucumber, bag of carrots, and emptying jar of salsa stared back at me, daring me to make my move. As I uttered comments of discontent, Justin yelled in and said, "Let's just order out." I thought about it, but then I thought, No way! We need to save money because we may be moving in a month or two and we've eaten out too much lately (our original goal of one eat out pass per month has fallen by the wayside recently). I mustered up courage, flung the fridge back open, and rolled up my sleeves.

Our pantry is always well stocked with grains, so I pulled out the rice cooker and started a batch of brown rice. Then I heated a skillet with some olive oil and added the rest of an onion - less than a 1/4 cup, but hey, at least it didn't get wasted. After the onion was cooked, chopped up 3 carrots and threw those in. I followed with beans and some spices, and ended up with a really nice Mexican rice and beans dish. Ta-da! My man even went back for seconds. Here's my recipe:

Odds & Ends Mexican Rice & Beans
2 cups brown rice
olive oil
onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2ish veggie stock
1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/3-1/2 cup TVP
Mild - hot salsa
salt & pepper
chili flakes
chili powder
cayenne pepper

Heat the onion in olive oil over medium heat. Once onions are translucent, add carrots and cook until they are tender. Add veggie stock, beans, and TVP and cover. Let the mixture simmer covered for a while, allowing the beans to soften, stirring occasionally. You may need to add more veggie stock or water as it gets soaked up pretty fast by the TVP and beans. After 10 mins or so, add in the tomato (I did it here because I didn't want them soggy, but you could add them earlier) and salsa and mix. Add spices - I didn't measure, so just be mindful of how spicy you want it to be.

Serve the mixture hot over the brown rice, or mix it all together and then serve.
Makes 4-5 servings.

And of course after dinner, there were cookies left over from the 3 orders I had this week, so dessert was a cinch :)

Vegan Linzer Tarts
Photo by Justin Lewis, filmaperture Photography

So I took some leftovers for lunch, and also brought some cucumber salad. Cucumber salad is SO easy to make and so refreshing when it's hot outside. Pick up some fresh dill and cukes at your local farmers market and just chop them up, throw them in a container with some white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and let it sit in the fridge for a day or so. Yum!

Lunch: Mexican beans without the rice, cucumber salad, grapes, and a small salad with radish and hummus.

Today's lesson: Even when you think there's nothing in your kitchen, try to make it work and you might surprise yourself with a new recipe. You just need to think outside the box and let the ingredients you have on-hand inspire you!

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