Tuesday, August 30

Scraping the Bottom

    I don't know about everyone else, but my family lives on a budget. When the limit is hit on groceries, gas, etc, that's it until next paycheck. Well, I've been countin' down the days until the next payday. Since I haven't been able to go to the grocery to supplement my pantry, it has forced me to get creative. Just opening the door come dinner-time and looking at the shelves, there is not much that meets the eye. It's left me feeling as if I'm scraping the bottom for those last few tasty morsels. 

    The result? I think I've gotten more heartfelt comments from the hubby than usual. Yay! :)

Monday was a soup & grilled cheese. This may not sound like much, but it was hearty and stick-to-your-ribs good.  Just take a look:

    Into a large pot, over medium heat, went a can of cream of potato and a can of cream of mushroom soups. Then whisked in was a can of vegetable broth. While that started coming to a simmer, I diced up half of the white-turned-red bell pepper and half of the purple bell pepper. I also minced up a few cloves of garlic. I heated some olive oil in a pan and when it was ready, the garlic got tossed in. Tossed it around a bit until it started turning golden then the bell peppers joined in. After a few minutes of tossing it all together, I scraped the pan into the soup pot. I also stirred in about a cup or so of pureed sweet potato. I almost forgot to mention the spices! I believe (I didn't write it down so I don't remember exactly) that I stirred in ground nutmeg, ground allspice, onion powder, and white pepper. For the sandwiches, I didn't want to use the usual Velveeta. I sliced up some block mozzarella and block sharp cheddar. We each had a sandwich with mustard, mozzarella slices, and cheddar slices. Abby and I had sliced tomatoes in ours. Then the sammies went into the pan. Then I plated it all up. Surprisingly DE-lish!
Purple bell pepper
Sliced fresh tomato
Two Potato Soup with Grilled Cheese & Tomato Sammies

Tuesday was a little different--a little more involved. But definitely well worth the effort! 

    So I finally finished the cooking process for my chickpeas today. By the way, shelling those suckers is a major pain! It takes forever and it seems impossible to get them all. Anyway, these were finished cooking and so were sitting off to the side. 
    Using my rice cooker, I cooked a half & half mixture of brown rice and medium-grained white rice. This is a double purpose tool that allows me to steam a veggie at the same time. So while the rice was cooking, I had an acorn squash (previously peeled and chopped) steaming up. While those were cooking, I diced up the last of both bell peppers from Monday along with a few cloves of fresh garlic. 
    I sauteed the garlic in a pot with olive oil until golden brown before adding the diced peppers. These sauteed up for a few more minutes, then was taken off the heat. By now, the rice and squash had finished cooking. So now, with the main players sitting around, I took out my food processor. 
    I added a few handfuls of the cooked & cooling chickpeas, along with a healthy dose of olive oil. 
    Then pulsed for a bit. 
    Then added more olive oil and some cilantro. 
    Then continued to process. It seemed pasty so I added probably about 1/2 a cup total of vegetable broth, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and black pepper. After processing some more, taste to make sure you are happy with it. 
    Then I added about half of the acorn squash and a couple tablespoons of the sauteed garlic & bell pepper mixture. 
    Then processed some more. Nice and smooth. 
    I added about 3/4 of the rice to the pot holding the garlic and bell pepper mixture and stirred it all together. 
    Then added in the chickpea "sauce" followed by the remaining acorn squash. Stir it all up. 
    Then when plating, top with a small dollop of sour cream (yes, a deviation from my usual Greek yogurt) and a small shred of my remaining sharp cheddar and mozzarella block cheeses. 
    Oh my goodness! If you having nothing else on hand but this, your family will never know you didn't plan it! I promise! ;) 
    The peppers add a nice crisp sweetness to it that radiates throughout the whole dish, with the rice creating the basis for it all. When you get a chunk of the acorn squash, you taste a subtle sweetness that pairs really well with the peppers. 

It's definitely a happy dance going on in your mouth. :)

White-turned-red bell pepper
Purple bell pepper

Squashed Chickpea Rice

    I realized that I told you that I added only 3/4 of the rice, so what happens to the rest? My plan is to use it in a soup that  I'm planning on making later this week. It's going to use some homemade baked beans I whipped up last week--from scratch, using dried beans. Oh yeaaaaaa. 

So if there's one thing I hope to have imparted to you is that even though the pantry may seem bare (or really really bare), you can always pull something delicious together for the family!


  1. Necessity is the mother of invention. You work with what you have and what you created is fantastic. Come work your magin in my pantry PLEASE!!! :)

  2. I love the purple bell pepper! So pretty!

    I know all about living on a budget. It started when I was in college and now that I am working full time it still hasn’t worn off. There is nothing wrong with it since it forces me to be creative with what I have. You came up with some darn tasty creations. Well done!

  3. You are so right Rachel! It's crazy what you can come up with in a pinch. I bet ya have some great stuff hiding in your pantry too. :)

    Thanks everyone for reading and commenting!


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