So, I know it’s not Tuesday anymore, but a perfect storm of circumstances prevented me from writing this up yesterday. Actually, I can’t believe it’s been a month since I beat the pants off everyone in my first ever Tight-Ass Tuesday Challenge. Michelle at Thursday Night Smackdown hosts this monthly challenge in which we all try to cook the cheapest meal possible–a maximum of $5 for two people (or $10 for 4). Official rules are here. Last month, I stole the smugness prize, and am out for blood this month!
Since I won (sorry, did I mention that I won?) the July picnic challenge, I got to pick the theme for August. I figured that the hottest month of the year deserved a little competition, and challenged everyone to bring on the spice. A little out of season, perhaps, but I’ve read somewhere that the reason people who live in tropical climates tend to have spicier foods is because eating hot things actually helps cool your body off. Anyway, I digress, so without further ado, I give you my submission for this month’s Hobo Tuesday: Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread.
I would just like to say for the record that, technically, this meal was 100% free. Not just because everything I used came straight from the pantry, but because I didn’t pay to get them there in the first place. I helped a friend move last week, and in exchange she let me take home most of her food–including all the fixin’s necessary for this meal. In the interests of fair play, though, I made a special trip to the grocery store to price the things I didn’t consider actual pantry items, so, you know, other people had a shot at beating me.
First things first–everything I used:
In case you can’t make out the spices, it’s cumin, red pepper flakes, chili powder, hot chili powder, and sage. I also threw in a shitload of black pepper and quite a bit of salt, too. I started by chopping and browning the onion and two cloves of garlic in some olive oil, and then threw the spices in the hot pan towards the end, just to toast them a bit. I would estimate about a tablespoon each of the cumin and chili powders, a pinch of sage, and a whole palmful of the red pepper flakes.
Meanwhile, drain and rinse the black beans and kidney beans, and toss them in the pot with the large can of tomatoes. At this point I also usually add a can of beer (which, in my house, can most definitely be considered a pantry staple!), but we were out so I settled for about a cup of water. I also threw in a bit of extra salt and a couple of tablespoons of black pepper to compensate for the lack of flavor. Add in the onion/spice mixture and de-seeded green chile (we’re going for the hot factor here). Finally, I added about half a bag of frozen corn, and let it simmer on the stove while I baked the corn bread.
I cheated on the cornbread, and my granny would just die if I found out. But the boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix are super cheap (3/$1!), very fast, and I actually prefer the cornbread they make to many homemade versions.
Et viola! You have yourself a bowl of chili! Extra cheap, extra easy, and extra spicy, complete with a corn muffin to wash it down.
On to the nitty gritty details:
5-alarm Vegetarian Chili: (makes 4 servings)
1 med. Onion–pantry staple
2 cloves garlic–pantry staple
1 Tbsp. ground cumin–pantry staple
2 Tbsp. chili powder (mixture of regular and hot)–pantry staple
1/4 cup (or to taste) red pepper flakes–pantry staple
1 can Black Beans–$0.69
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans–$0.69
1 large can diced tomatoes–$1.19
1 green chile, de-seeded and diced–from garden
1/2 bag of Frozen Corn–$1.29/2 = $0.65
1 c. water
Salt and Black Pepper to taste.
Brown onions and garlic over med-high heat; add in spices and stir briefly. Add to large pot with drained beans and undrained tomatoes. Add water (or beer, if you have it) and salt and pepper. Add chile and frozen corn; let simmer 10-15 minutes or until corn is cooked (or cornbread comes out of the oven).
1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix–$0.33
1 egg–pantry staple
1/3 c. milk–pantry staple
follow directions on back of box.
And the grand total comes to… $3.55! That breaks down to $0.89/person. We’ll see how that measures up to my competition…good luck everyone!