Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mexican Bean Bake with Cheesy Corn Souffle (Vegetarian)

This recipe has a lot of steps, but it’s a tasty, vegetarian, protein-packed meal that costs almost nothing to make.


For the beans:

  • 1 lbs dry pinto beans (or some such bean) or 4 cans
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups (16oz) of tomato salsa (whatever’s on sale)
  • 3 tbs cumin
  • 2 tbs cayenne pepper (I used chipotle powder though)
  • 1 tbs. oregano (Mexican if you have it)
  • 2 tbs. garlic powder
  • Salt and additional seasoning to taste.
  • Some sliced green olives if you want them. I did, but they work better with meat.


  • 1 cup frozen corn, pulverized in food processor
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp flour (Wondra works best)
  • 8 oz shredded cheese (colby, muenster or jack)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. If you are using dried beans, cook them. I just put them right in the slow cooker, cover with water (plus 1”-2”and heat on high for several hours.
  2. Cook the rice
  3. Add all the bean ingredients together. You could sauté the onions first, or don’t. See if care.
  4. Put it all in 2 9x13 baking dishes (or one really big one like I did).
  5. Melt butter in saucepan
  6. Stir in flour to make a paste
  7. Whisk in milk and keep under medium heat until thickened.
  8. Add cheese, corn and egg yolks and turn off heat
  9. Whip egg yolks until soft peaks form
  10. Fold yolks into cheese sauce slowly and carefully
  11. Pour over beans and bake at 400 for 1 hour or so (until topping is set)

Frugal Factor: $2.50 for the cheese, $1.50 for the beans, $1.50 for the beans, $2 for the salsa, $2 for everything else. Serves 12. That’s $0.75/serving.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Vegetarian Lima Bean and Cabbage Cassoulet

I love the French dish cassoulet, but it requires finding just the right sausages, cooking a duck or goose (and reserving the rendered fat) and roasting some lamb. I made mine vegetarian out of laziness, especially because there we got two feet of snow and I didn’t feel like going out for any food not already in my house. Cooking the beans is probably a weekend thing unless you have a timer on your slow cooker and have tested it before. However, you can make the rest any time.

Looks-wise, this rather monochromatic dish, especially because I was out of carrots. You could probably use kale instead of cabbage and get a nicer color, but cabbage is what I had, so that's what I used. (I also overcooked the beans because I was out at the pub drinking beer.) No matter how it looks, it's a super-frugal winter meal.


  • 1 lbs (aprox. 2 cups) dried lima beans (or any other white bean)
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Salt to taste


  1. Rinse dried beans and place in slow cooker with 4 cups water and the dried herbs and one diced onion
  2. Cook on high for about six hours (really depends on your make, model, age of beans, etc), until beans are soft but still firm to the tooth (al dente). Add water if needed. Drain and reserve cooking liquid
  3. Dice up a head of cabbage and carrots; steam until al dente, set aside
  4. Dice remaining onion into half-inch pieces, toss with some herbs and olive oil, and roast at 400 for 20 minutes or so
  5. Melt butter in saucepan and add bread crumbs, garlic powder and salt to taste. Mix until all crumbs are coated
  6. Toss cabbage, roasted onions and beans. Add cooking liquid until mixture is very loose (like a thick stew)
  7. Salt/pepper/season to taste
  8. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with half the bread crumbs.
  9. Add the bean mixture
  10. Top with remaining bread crumbs, spreading evenly and as flat as possible
  11. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

Frugal factor: Off the charts. Dry beans and cabbage are two of the cheapest forms of nutrition. This made eight portions. Figure $1.50 for the beans, $2 for the cabbage, $1 for the bread crumbs, $0.50 for the butter, and $1.50 for everything else. That's about $0.82/portion.