The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Friday, March 06, 2009

Nourishing Frugal Recipes -- Soup Beans

Once again I am participating in Nourishing Gourmet's recipe carnival, this time focusing on frugal recipes. In my mind, nourishing frugal delicious foods start with a mindset. For me, the frugal part is almost automatic. I first made the decision that I was going to find the time to prepare nutritious meals for myself and my family. I enjoy cooking, so it was really about the time and not the cooking/food prep. Once I decided to cook using real food, the nutritious and frugal parts really just happened! I am also committed to being physically fit, and I know that I have to provide my body with good fuel. Eating crappy food and going to the gym is like banging your head against the wall.

I am not a creative cook, I don't just open the frig and start throwing things into a pot. I am very much a recipe girl. My husband teases me because I read cookbooks. The only time I get a bit more creative is when I make soup (which is often). That is the time when I will open the frig and start throwing whatever I have into the soup pot. The most recent change I have made to my cooking habits is to use homemade stock for my soups.

I also try to keep a positive attitude about doing as much as I can. I work 4 days a week, commute into NYC, and often go to the gym after work. Sometimes we order pizza and it becomes special because it doesn't happen often.

So here's a couple of recipes-- first up is Good Ol' Southern Soup Beans, not to be confused with bean soup. Soup beans are usually served as a main dish with cornbread, but you can serve them as a side dish. You could certainly serve them over your favorite grain, too. I like to freeze portions and eat them for lunch with a small salad and a chunk of sourdough bread. Yummm! These are made in the pressure cooker, but you could do it on the stove or even a crockpot. The pressure cooker does add to the frugal quality of this recipe. The second recipe is for Fajita Seasoning Mix. Making your own seasoning mixes is fun and frugal. I use it for steak fajitas but its also my secret ingredient in chicken soup. Add some corn and throw in some cilantro to complete the Mexican flavors.

Good Ol' Southern Soup Beans (Pressure Cooker)
1 lb. dried beans (pinto preferred, but almost anything will work)
1 ham hock or other meaty soups bones
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
1 Tb butter
6 cups hot water

1. Presoak the beans,rinse and drain.
2. Melt butter in the pressure cooker. Add onion and garlic, cook until soft.
3. Add beans, ham hock or other soup bones, and water. Put lid on pressure cooker and seal it. Bring heat up to high.
4. Once pressure cooker comes up to pressure, reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes.
5. Remove pressure cooker from heat and quick release the pressure. Remove the lid and test the beans. If necessary, cover and return the pressure cooker to pressure and cook another 5 minutes.
6. Remove the ham hock/soup bones from the pot. Discard the skin and bones, chop the meat and return it to the pot.
7. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot with corn bread.

Fajita Seasoning Mix
3 Tb cornstarch
2 Tb chili powder
1 Tb salt
1 Tb paprika
1 Tb sugar
2 1/2 tsp crushed chicken buillon cubes or powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mix and store in a glass bottle. Makes the equivalent of 3 packets of store-bought fajita seasoning mix.

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