Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes: Eating on the Cheap.

In the past few months we've been working on clearing out the excess in our pantry. Cooking at home is both cheaper and better for us, but with 2 kids and 2 working parents it's posed a bit of a challenge. Add to that my sheer lack of cooking expertise. It's not that I can't cook, it's that I generally do not enjoy following recipes and meal planning. I want to. I really want to be a domestic goddess who plans her weekly meals when the Wednesday ads come out, but I just don't have it in me. In fact, I tend to cook more from time tested 'recipes' with very few ingredients and instructions (Wash chicken, trim fat, season and roll in egg then flour, bake). Or, alternately, I make it up as I go along, which is exactly what I did tonight.

Before I share the details and pictures I should say two things:
1) I am not Pioneer Woman. She's faabulous. I cannot match her skills in cooking nor her skills in photography. Seriously, check out her blog and you will never be the same. But don't expect my pictures, taken in crappy lighting, to be as divine as hers.
2) Um, I got so distracted by Pioneer Woman's blog I forgot what 2 was.

So, without further ado: eating like you're on the dole even when you're not.

The ingredients and their cost:
- 2 chicken breasts (I used leftovers from BBQ on Sunday, boneless skinless) - $1.99/lb on sale, and I'll estimate it was 1.5 pounds
- 4 hot house (or some LARGE variety) tomatoes - $1.49/lb, est. 2 lb.
- Green peppers - free from inlaws' garden, but I routinely see green bell pepper for as cheap as 3/$1 at the store
- Rice - Bag is about $2, used 1 cup of it, est. 1/8 bag.
- 1 can black beans - $1.49?
- Shredded cheese - big bag was $4.99, but we just used a few small handfuls est. 1/10 of bag
- Salt and/or pepper to taste - I didn't use any, so free for me!

Total estimated cost: $8.46

Get Cookin'!

1. Enlist a helper. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Start by getting the rice going on the stove, since it takes 20 minutes. I made 3 cups (2 c. water, 1 c dry rice).
(I'll spare you the picture of rice simmering....)

3.. While rice is simmering, wash and finely chop the green peppers (I used 1 long one and 1 small one, but if you're doing a bell pepper, do 1 whole). Be sure you let your helper lick the peppers you are not using since she looks so cute doing so.

4. Chop the chicken into small pieces. (I suppose this is where the obvious aside gets added: mine was already cooked. If you need to cook yours please do so before chopping it and adding it to the mix. Because salmonella may help with weight loss, but it's probably expensive to treat.)

5. Drain the beans and rinse. Let them sit in colander in sink while you prep everything else.

6. The time consuming part: wash the tomatoes. Using a sharp knife, cut the top off each tomato (similar to how you cut a pumpkin to carve). Use the knife to cut loose the 'stuff' inside the tomato. Then use a spoon to scoop it out and into a bowl you set to the side. Do this with all 4, then use your hands, a spoon, or a knife to break up the tomato in the bowl.

7. Mix together rice (should be done by now), chicken, beans, peppers, and tomato 'stuff' in a large bowl. Place tomatoes in a baking dish, and fill each one with the ingredients in the bowl. I overfilled mine cuz I'm wild like that. And, thinking back on this I wish I'd had some corn to add to the mix. Next time.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes (your guess on exact time's as good as mine...I didn't watch the clock). Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese, and return to oven. When the tomatoes are soft and the cheese is melted, switch your oven from 'bake' to 'broil' to brown the cheese. Remove when cheese is browned and serve warm.

It should be noted this made more filling than necessary, so Darrick took the excess, added Gunslinger and Green Tabasco and ate it with a spoon. He claimed it was 'like gumbo' which he promises was a compliment. You could probably also make it into a burrito or just make less filling. Your call. It would be great as a side dish or served over a bed of greens, but I made it my main dish and it was perfect!


1 comment:

Tabitha said...

Looks Great, Katie!! I want some now!!


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