Friday, May 7, 2010

Hot Taco Dip--Vegetarian Style

Another tired night--there's a theme here, huh? My husband's suggestion: Chili's or pizza take out. But eating out with the kids older now (7 & 9 years old) is now running us $60, and that's without alchohol or desserts and at usually disappointing places like Chili's.

I dragged my butt out to the local Aldi's. You should try the store locator to find one near you because it's totally worth it. I filled four huge reusable tote bags with groceries for $66 (wow, I didn't realize what a coincidence that figure is until right now!).  It doesn't have everything I need--I still go to Hannaford too, but it's nice to break it up and not have both trips in one day. I buy things like lunch box snacks, shredded cheese, frozen waffles, ice cream, salsa, etc. The money I save there helps me justify spending more for organic other items at the regular store and the local farmer's market!

The only thing about running out so close to dinner, as I've learned from past misjudgment,  is you can't expect to cook up something involved because by the time you put the groceries away, you don't have enough time to do the prep and cooking for a fancier dish.  My solution tonight was Taco Dip, but made with black beans as a base instead of ground beef. (I also make this with Morningstar Farm Veggie Crumbles, but they don't sell that at Aldi, and I always have black beans in the cupboard. Check out their health benefits! With the beans and everything else bought from Aldi, it's a really inexpensive meal, and always a hit!)

My dip always varies with what's on hand, and sometimes I just bake the tortilla chips with cheese and put the toppings out, but this way is the least amount of dishes to clean up, and what's left over can be stored for another day, whereas nachos don't really keep well as left overs.

I start with organic black beans--they really are worth the 10 cents more or so they cost. Trust me, they are so much tastier and firm! I drain the liquid off the top, but I don't rinse them. A little liquid helps heat them and incorporate the spices into them. I put them in a sautee pan with cumin and chili powder and heat to bubbling. I use a potato masher to smash them down a bit. Then I put a tub of light sour cream on top and mix it a little to spread the sour cream out. Next is salsa, then the shredded cheese.

I like this best when I put it under the broiler to melt the cheese on the top. Just don't go check Facebook while it's under the broiler--I nearly burned it tonight!  Then I sprinkle half with the good stuff Will and I like: jalapeno, avocado, black olives.

I put the pan on the table with an oven mitt over the handle so no one grabs it while it's still hot. It's always a hit!

For a fancier, more formal version, check out Rachel Ray's recipe.  It's a great meatless meal!

Will wanted to be in the blog tonight, so here he is. He wanted this captioned "The Consumer".
A side note:  Kira's suggestion for dinner tonight cracked me up. She said, "Spam, spam, spam, spam. Except without the spam."

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