I've SO enjoyed reading these thematic posts at my friend's blogs for some time now. I'm finally joining in. The current Works For Me Wednesday topic is easy and delicious recipes- with just five ingredients, or less.
Let me tell you, this is my arena. Some people are musical (like my roommate), or mechanically minded, or really good at getting up early and making lots of money.
Me? I can grocery shop on a dollhouse-sized budget and make simple, healthy meals.
I first developed these skills as a house-wife/stay@home mom (when Harry and I first got together, I knew how to cook one thing, literally), but I honed these skills last year, when I was poorer than ever, newly single, and utterly determined to make things work out.
Arepas Con Queso
-2 cups hot water
-salt, to taste (1/3 teaspoon??)
-a teaspoon of oil
-PAN brand extra fine WHITE cornmeal (I don't know how much exactly, I'm guessing I use 1 1/4 cups) You can find this product in the Spanish section of most grocery stores.
-4 oz mozzarella, in small slices
Mix the first four ingredients together (yes, with your hands) until it feels like you could use it for playdough. If it's too dry, add a drizzle of water. If it's too slippery to make little cakes out of, add a tiny bit more cornmeal.
What you want to do is have the mozzarella ready to go, beside you, before you start messing with the dough. Streamlines the whole thing.
Make a skinny cake about the size of your palm, put some cheese in there, and add more of the dough on top. Smooth the edges, round it out, flatten as you go.
Cook in a pan on medium-low with a little bit of oil in it to keep them from sticking. The outsides will get crispy and change color a bit, when ready. Some of the melted cheese will sneak out. Yum.
makes 3-4 servings, cost per serving 75 cents.
No Additional Effort Lentils and Rice
-1 package of dry, seasoned rice. I like to use the 'wild rice' one, but if it will freak your kids or roommates out, use something less awesome.
-water and oil (I like olive oil), per package instructions plus an extra 1/2 cup water.
-a generous handful of dry lentils.
-crushed garlic. I use the real thing, but after a long day, jarred is fine.
What I do is boil the lentils with the water and oil for 5 or 6 minutes before I add the package of rice and seasonings. Them by the time the rice is done, the lentils will be, too. You might want an additional sprinkle of salt and pepper in there, also. It's up to you.
makes 4-5 servings, cost per serving 75 cents
Variations on a Theme- HealthNut Pancakes
-some kind of healthy pancake mix (whole wheat, buckwheat, whatever)
-the recipe on the box usually calls for 1 egg, some oil, and a little milk*.
1/2 cup of trail mix (use whatever's handy, but I like sunflower seeds, nuts, raisins, and CANDY). Pulse it in a food processor to chop it up, blend it in a blender, or put it in a ziploc bag and crush it with a saucepan. [I know, I'm sort of cheating here, because there's more than one ingred. in trail mix...]
makes 4 servings, cost per serving... you guessed it, right around 75 cents
*Note: instead of milk, I like to substitute WHATEVER I have on hand that will work. Seriously. I have no spouse, so I can't just be all, like, "Honey, the kids are asleep. I'm running to Albertson's for milk!"
Here are some funny things I have used in pancakes for milk, based on what was available;
leftover Wendy's Frosty (found it in the freezer. finders keepers)
plain yogurt and a dab of honey
ricotta cheese mixed with water
soymilk (I know... not that exciting)
and powdered chai mix, mixed with water.