Monday, March 20, 2017

Beans N Things

                                          Salvadore Dali: Persistence of Memory

Oh. My. Goodness. Has it really been two weeks since my last blog? TWO WEEKS??? Where have I been? What have I been doing? ACK!

Actually, I have been working at my full-time job and hanging out with family some over spring break.  I hate that I've let y'all slide for two whole weeks, though.  It won't happen again. Okay?

It is very easy to let time slip away from us, and before we realize it two weeks, or two months, or even two years have gone by, leaving us wondering what we have been doing during that time.  The same thing happens to me frequently with my menu planning. I plan on making a menu plan on my day off, and before I realize it my day off has disappeared and I have done nothing toward planning my menus or grocery shopping for the week.

For these situations, when it is Monday morning and I am suddenly wondering what I am going to have ready for dinner, I find it helpful to turn to my pantry staples.  With a few staples and very little planning, I am able to assure my family that they will not be missing dinner tonight!

My pantry, including the refrigerator, (almost) always contains:
dry beans
canned beans
canned tomatoes
canned corn
jarred marinara
peanut butter*
soy sauce
maple syrup
potatoes (white and/or sweet)
cheeses (feta, cheddar, goat, mozzarella, parmesan, whatever floats our boat)
and I usually have some kind of meat in the freezer.

Knowing I have a well-stocked pantry gives me the freedom to skip a trip to the grocery store, secure in the knowledge that I have plenty of options for dinner.  Today, I am going with a southern tradition I grew up on: beans and rice. Actually, I grew up on beans and cornbread, but I prefer serving beans with brown rice for the good whole grain.

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans 
2 pounds dry pinto beans
4-5 quarts of water or stock
1 Tablespoon salt
1 onion, quartered
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Sort beans to remove any pieces of gravel. Wash beans thoroughly - I usually put my beans in a large bowl and swish them with water, drain, and repeat until the water runs clear (2-3 times). Once my beans are clean I put them in my slow cooker. I add the onion, salt, and garlic (and if I have it, I also add a fresh jalapeño in halves) then fill my 6-quart slow cooker almost to the top with my liquid. Cook on low for about 8 hours. If you want, throw some smoked sausage in a few minutes prior to serving. Also, don't forget to taste the beans to add more salt as needed prior to serving. My family enjoys sprinkling our bowl of beans with Tony Chachere's seasoning blend.

Brown Rice
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil. Stir, cover pot, turn heat to simmer, and let rice steam for 40-45 minutes. Do not take the lid off until the rice has finished cooking! Also, rice is a simple 1:2 ratio with water, so it is easy to make more or less as needed for your family size.

One cup of beans served with a half cup of rice is only 352 calories and costs a measly .64 per serving.

*I buy either Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter or Laura Scudder's Natural Peanut Butter because the ingredient list is peanuts and salt. No sugar, corn syrup, or other such nonsense.

What is your favorite go-to meal? Add yours to the comments.


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