Sunday, March 24, 2013

Making it up as you go....

You know those days when you desperately need to go grocery shopping, but you also need to eat before you go? Quick and easy meals aren't nearly as abundant in the gluten-free world. Gone are the days when you swing through the McDonalds drive-thru on your way to the grocery store. There are fast food restaurants that supposedly have gluten-free options, but I'd rather be safe with my food consumption, and there is no way I'm going to trust a 16-year-old to care enough to prepare my food carefully. Popping a frozen pizza into the oven isn't an easy option either because there aren't any cheap frozen gluten-free pizzas (gluten-free pizza exists, it's just expensive).

Today was one of those days when the cupboards were incredibly bare. I've been meaning to do actual meal planning to ensure we are staying within our budget, and because I prefer to eat good tasting meals. I also have a strong dislike for the "what's for dinner" game.

Today, I was forced to throw together a couple random things and hope it would turn out. I first spotted a can of crushed tomatoes. We also had some gluten-free pasta in the cupboard, but I would prefer to eat pasta with actual tomato sauce, so that was out. I then spotted some beans that were about to expire. Cannellini, Dark Red Kidney, and Black beans to be specific. I originally figured I'd make something similar to chili even though I much prefer chili with meat, and I also prefer it to be made in the slow-cooker. After I drained the beans, and had everything in the pan, I decided it needed something more.

Without measuring, I just sort of dumped some rice in there, and figured I would heat it on medium until it was boiling, and then cover it and cook it on simmer for 20 minutes, which is how you would cook rice. As it was heating up to a boil, I noticed it kept sticking to the bottom of the pan as I stirred, but I was sort of stuck with it at that point. There wasn't anything I could do to change it, so I figured I might as well continue and hope it turned out.

When the 20 minutes were up, I took the cover off, and as I stirred, it seemed it might just have turned out ok. I grabbed some random spices (oregano, celery salt, and onion salt), and added them for flavor.

Once it was in bowls, I decided it would go better as sort of a dip for chips, so I grabbed some tortilla chips and stuck them in the side of the bowl.

This is what I ended up with:

Altogether, I think it took about 30 minutes to make, which isn't too bad considering I was able to do some laundry and other miscellaneous tasks while it sat covered and simmering for 20 minutes.

My fiance told me it could have used some salt, and I agreed. I had planned on adding salt after the other spices, but for some reason I got the salt out of the spice cabinet but failed to actually pour some into the pot.  

The best thing about this meal is that it is naturally gluten-free. There are brands of beans, tortilla chips, rice, and tomatoes that are not gluten-free, but the majority of them are gluten-free. (My point is that this is a meal that didn't require specialty gluten-free items like pasta or bread.)

I also figured out that the ingredients probably cost us about $5, and there is approximately enough for 8 servings--talk about cheap! It worked so well, that I plan to always keep a can of crushed tomatoes in the house. We already keep the house stocked with rice and beans because they are cheap ingredients, and they can be added to or made as a side for multiple meals. I definitely need to experiment with different spice combinations, but I'm very satisfied with what we got the first time around.

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