Thursday, July 18, 2013

5-Minute Meal: Beans, Salsa, Chips (with optional really quick homemade salsa)

You guys know I occasionally rant about the idea of "fast" food, especially if it is considered "cheap" food. So, lucky you, I'm not going to rant today. But I will tell you this: This meal is every every bit as fast as any line or drive through I've ever waited in. And it's way better. And it's way cheaper. And it fills that need for fresh, yummy, quick, cool foods that I have in the summer. Because, let me tell you, in the summer I definitely get all food lazy. I won't say I don't want to cook because I still do sometimes. But I don't want to cook as often or as hot or as long. And when I eat I don't crave heavy foods (well, not too often).

 This meal is not, admittedly, entirely whole--at least not in its 5-minute form. I bought tortilla chips from the grocery store. Certainly if you wanted to you could whip up some homemade tortillas and go from there. But I didn't (see above about quick and cool). You can use salsa and re-fried beans from a can if you wish as well. They're still quite healthy. However. If you want, you can still make beans and homemade salsa very very quickly (well, with the beans--they're quick, but have to be done that morning). The beans are done in the crock pot, the salsa in the blender. Badabing, badabam.

And it gets even better (by which I mean, more adaptable).

The salsa can be made from fresh ingredients if you've got them lying about Or if you fail to think about dinner until 1/2 hour before and have no fresh veggies lying about, you can still make a very respectable (and better than store-bought) salsa using canned tomatoes.

And as one final smiley (personal) note about this meal. You guys know that my kids (mostly my oldest son) are super picky. So for this I got some ranch chips, which he loves, but I got a generic variety. And I made salsa (which he also loves if it's not chunky--smooth tomatoes are on his very short list of edibles). Only when I opened those generic chips, I'll be darned if they didn't taste EXACTLY like plain tortilla chips. And then I accidentally put in Hot Rotel instead of mild, and--oh boy--it was hot. And then I was sad. I thought that dinner was doomed to inconsolable bouts of whining and belly-aching. And then from the miraculous wells of miracle miracle-y-ness, my child absolutely loved that hot salsa, and liked the chips too. His sisters followed suite and soon everyone was porking out on hot salsa with swigs of milk in between. And then for the next week when we had friends over, my son would say, "You just have to try the salsa. It's awesome." Which I'm not sure has ever happened over a non-sweet item that I have made. And then he asked if we could buy a hot pepper plant for the garden. Moral of the story: We should go to the wells of miracle miracle-y-ness more often. And it was nice.

You'll need:
1 bag tortilla chips of some sort ($2.00)
1 can re-fried beans (or some homemade) ($.50--generic)
cheddar cheese ($.50)--we put this on the beans and then warm them
1 jar salsa (or homemade; see below) $2.00
we also had mangoes, which were cooling and delicious, but hardly essential $1.00 each

Which makes this a $6 meal. Except that we had tons of leftovers and ate them for at least 3 more lunches that week. And we still have some salsa left which I plan to use in some crock pot chicken. So it's probably closer to a $3 or 4 meal. To feed 6 people. Not bad. 

Potentially Pantry Salsa
makes about 26 oz.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $2.65
tomatoes: 1.00, Rotel: 1.00, cilantro: .50, lime: .15

Note: We made this again tonight. My son helped me. Which made me realize how versatile this is--his system of measurement is a little, um, free form. So it got extra vinegar and less garlic and coriander instead of cilantro. And it was just awesome. So experiment away. Or feel free to mess it up a little. It'll be fine.

This can be made with fresh ingredients. I usually use what I have fresh and then hit the pantry for what I don't.

Note: I used Rotel, but if you'd like you can use two cans of diced tomatoes and then add 1-4 jalepenos.

1 14- oz can diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1/2- 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt or 1 clove garlic (wide range here; depends on how garlicky you like it)
1/2 tsp cumin
2 handfuls cilantro (yes, this is best fresh, but if you really really don't have it, try a few dashes of dried coriander--I used about 1/4 tsp)
juice of 1 lime (or a few squirts of the non-fresh stuff)
1/2 tsp salt (optional and you probably want to taste before you add)

Throw all in blender except cilantro. Blend. Add cilantro. Blend. (Note: The reason I don't like to blend the cilantro at first is that if it gets too blended, the salsa can get a brownish hue--tastes fine; looks weird.)



  1. :) How funny! I love the things you write! Sounds like a fun and delicious meal!

    One time we had a bridal shower and we had one of those Food Network type challenges for the Bride and Groom. We gave them each a tomato, an onion, a lime, a can of black beans, I can't remember what else, and had them each create a fresh salsa which we "voted" on to see who made the best salsa. The groom won! It was fun but really made me think about how I really don't need to buy salsa all of the time.

    You just can't predict how kids will react, can you? I would say you just made a powerful memory for your son! His poor future wife's salsa will never live up to that. LOL.

    I love to be reminded that we can eat what we have on hand and still have great meals and an even greater family experience - definitely on the cheap!

    1. That bride/groom idea sounds awesome. It'd be fun for any type of shower party as well. Must remember.



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