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Kielbasa Stew (or Bean Stew if you Prefer)

One of my go to recipes is Kielbasa Stew. It was modified from a recipe I found on a can of beans, originally called “Cannellini Florentine,” which is odd in that there are more kidney beans than cannellini beans. I guess cannellini sounds more appetizing? At any rate, my husband suggested adding kielbasa, because, why not. I also took out some ingredients that didn’t add any flavor or texture to the soup, which made it an easier and cheaper meal to make.

This soup is hearty, yummy, and pretty cheap to make. It’s good after 20 minutes, it’s good when it’s simmered in the crockpot, and it’s good as leftovers. It almost makes a lot, so if you’re entertaining, just make (or buy) a nice loaf of crusty bread to go with.

The kielbasa can be omitted, and you can replace the chicken broth with veggie broth and you’ve got yourself some hearty vegan fare. You can also replace the spinach with kale if you’re an absolute monster who hates delicious things.

Kielbasa is pretty cheap, and usually there’s a two for one deal at my grocery store, so I always pick up a couple kielbasa (insert “just like college” joke here). As the saying goes, a kielbasa in hand is worth two in the fridge. I think that’s right.

heavy-breathing

Kielbaaasaaaa

And away we go…

Kielbasa Stew (or Bean Stew for the vegan crowd)

  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package kielbasa (I usually go for the Turkey version, the horseshoe link size that’s always with the bacon), sliced into coins. Omit if you’re doing vegan option
  • 3 cans chicken broth (veggie broth for vegan), this is flexible too
  • 1 can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can cannelinni beans, drained and rinsed
  • brick of frozen spinach, or handfuls of fresh spinach, eyeball it

Brown the kielbasa in a soup pot, 5 quart size should be fine. Set the kielbasa aside and saute the onion and garlic in some oil (whatever kind you want). Once the onion is soft, add back in the kielbasa. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the spinach is soft.

You can adjust the broth and spinach to your liking. I find it easy just to plop one of those frozen bricks in there.

Here’s some I had left night for leftovers. There’s not as much broth because when I made the soup I just used some leftover broth, so it wasn’t as much as normal. Still tasted fantastic!

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Refer to it as “rustic” and people will think you’re really fancy. And yes, I grossly mistreat my butcher block counter top.

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Cooking on a budget…a really tight budget

A couple times a year I find that I need to cut some fat outta the ole budget. Being as our family budget is already pretty lean, the first place I go is our grocery bill. High times for us are marked by good beer, fancy people snacks, and random sh*t I try once, decide I don’t like, then throw in the back of the pantry. I’m looking at you $12 bag of chia seeds. That was not chocolate chia pudding, that was seedy phlegm.

chia_seeds

Chia seeds help control your appetite because they are so f*cking gnarly you don’t want to eat them.

I find that there are a few things that lend themselves well to being thrifty at the grocery store. One is having a taste for all types of wine (any old box will do), a husband who has a taste for all beers (he liked PBR before it was cool) and a few kitchen gadgets.

I’m going to be sharing at least one recipe a day that works on a budget. They may not be the most sophisticated dishes, but they do the job.

One thing I totally advocate for is a bread machine. I got one for my wedding a few years ago and have used it pretty consistently. It’s bulky and takes up some kitchen space, but I find I use it a couple times a week. I buy yeast by the jar (rather than the packets) and keep it in the freezer so it lasts longer. You will also need to buy some dry milk and bread flour. In my “wealthier” times I buy King Arthur flour, but now it’s whatever is on sale. I have never noticed a difference.

Here’s the machine I have. It’s really worth the investment.

A few of my recipes will utilize this machine. It’s really useful, and you can program it so that you just throw in the ingredients at night, and when you wake up in the morning you have fresh bread. That’s literally the best smell to wake up to!

You can always check your local thrift stores and church yard sales as well, there’s usually one or two bread machines floating around, just make sure that the bread pan and paddle aren’t missing, I think those are expensive if you have to replace them (and may as well just buy a whole new machine).

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An easier crust

I work for a very small non-profit with  a personnel policy that is ad hoc at best.  After sitting at my desk alone for an hour and a half I realized that just maybe we recognized today as a holiday (we don’t recognize a lot of holidays, so it’s unusual at best to have the day off).  Once confirmed I headed home to spend this snowy day baking.

I have a bag of mealy apples sitting around, so I decided that an apple pie is in order.  Apple pie is pretty simple to make, aside from the crust.  If you can perfect the art of a good pie crust though, it is super brag worthy and impressive!  I have used the following recipe for a while now, it’s the easiest crust recipe I’ve encountered.  You can use a food processor or a good blender.  I have a Ninja blender, which I love.  If you’re in the market for a blender, I highly recommend it, and it’s less than $100 at Bed, Bath and Beyond if you use your giant blue 20% coupon, so it won’t break the bank.  My Ninja is different than the link above, I couldn’t find the model I have, but I assume they all work great.

This recipe is good for a 9 inch lattice pie.

Food Processor Pie Crust

  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Divide the butter into 6 tablespoons and 3 tablespoons and cut up into cubes.  Freeze the 3 tablespoons and refrigerate the 6 tablespoons for at least 30 minutes.  Combine the flour, salt and baking powder and freeze for 30 minutes.

Place flour mixture in food processor (I use my blender) and pulse to mix.  Add the 6 tablespoons refrigerated butter and pulse about 6 times, until it resembles a course meal.

I like to get all my ingredients ready and set up so I can quickly process the dough.

I like to get all my ingredients ready and set up so I can quickly process the dough.

This is what the dough looks like when I say "coarse meal."  This is before processing the frozen butter.

This is what the dough looks like when I say “coarse meal.” This is before processing the frozen butter.

Add the frozen butter and pulse briefly until frozen butter is the size of peas.

Add vinegar and ice water and pulse 6 times.  It will still be very crumbly but hold together when you pinch it.  Divide dough into 1/3 and 2/3, work into balls and flatten into discs, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.  It’s important not to work the dough too much, you don’t want to melt the butter.  The chunks of butter is what makes the crust flakey.

This is the final dough, with the frozen butter processed.  Note how crumbly it still is.

This is the final dough, with the frozen butter processed. Note how crumbly it still is.

Work that crumbly dough into 1/3 and 2/3 discs and throw in the fridge.

Work that crumbly dough into 1/3 and 2/3 discs and throw in the fridge.

Prepare pie filling (recipe below) and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out the 2/3 dough disc to to fit the bottom of your pie plate and roll out the 1/3 disc and cut into strips. I usually have to smush together leftover bits and pieces, refrigerate and re-roll to get enough dough to make enough strips.  I’m sure there’s a more sophisticated way, but I make do.

If your dough cracks around the sides, just smush together with your fingers.

If your dough cracks around the sides, just smush together with your fingers.

Flour your work surface and rolling pin liberally, this stuff sticks!

Flour your work surface and rolling pin liberally, this stuff sticks!

Add pie mixture and and create your lattice over the top.  If your strips fall apart, wet your fingers a little and smush together.

Almost done!

Almost done!

Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let it cool for a couple of hours.

Apple Pie Filling

  • 6-7 cups thinly sliced apples
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I sometimes leave this out if I find I don’t have nutmeg)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and place in prepared pie crust. Most apple pie recipes call for a mixture of tart and sweet apples.  I use whatever I have lying around, or in my backyard (I have an apple tree, no idea what type of apples, but they are pretty sweet).

Voila!  Maybe not the best looking pie, but man is it tasty!

Voila! Maybe not the best looking pie, but man is it tasty!