Sunday, December 20, 2009

Two Budget-Friendly Meals

I have so much to catch up on! For one, I spent all last week dog sitting this cutie pie. She looks so sad that her parents were out of town:


I planned to blog all week and even snapped a few photos of the meals I made while at my parents, but realized I couldn't upload them or edit them because I shot them all in raw format and the software to convert them to jpegs is on my home computer. Oops.

But I do have good news. I found out Thursday that I do have a job and I get to continue doing pretty much what I do now. Plus, it happened to be a promotion! It is such a relief to go into the holidays knowing 100% that I have a job. I was pretty sure I would end up with something, but nothing is ever certain. In fact, I was nearly certain I wouldn't even have to reapply for my job to begin with, but I was wrong about that.

Either way, I'm still gainfully employed and with more money to boot. I feel so rich. I think I'll enjoy the feeling while it lasts because soon enough I'll probably be thinking.. darn I could use a little more money. Not that I would spend it. Ever since my sister and my brother-in-law moved into their house this summer, I have house envy! For me to buy a home responsibly that would mean 20 percent down and an 8 month emergency fund.. and um, that's a lot of money to come up with! I'm saving like crazy.. so someday!

I should actually talk about some food. Speaking of frugality.. I made two budget-friendly meals this weekend that I actually liked. The first was an actual recipe: Winter Lentil Soup. This is super cheap for several reasons: There's not a whole lot cheaper that dried lentils and canned diced tomatoes. Plus, seasonal veggies — like the sweet potatoes — are a great bargain right now. The only potentially pricey ingredients are the fresh herbs. But it's a soup that simmers a while, so dried is fine. That's what I used.

Plus, look at how pretty it is.

Winter Lentil Soup

The downside is that I ended up with a ton of leftover kale. So I made Annie's Mac and Cheese and stirred in sauteed kale with garlic.

Mac and Cheese with Kale

I put in a baking dish, covered it with the bread crumbs I made with the leftover bread from Saturday and leftover grated parm.. and baked it at 350 until the bread crumbs toasted up.. about 20 minutes. It was a little dry, so I might make the cheese sauce with more milk than it actually calls for knowing that it's going in the oven. Otherwise it came out great and not bad for a) repurposing the ingredients I had on hand and b) dressing up a boxed mac and cheese dinner. I usually just go with stirring broccoli in, but the kale and bread crumbs was a welcome change of pace.

I know there's lots of Annie's mac and cheese eaters out there.. how do you like yours?


lk (Healthy Delicious) said...

love the way you doctored up the Annies!! I love it, but usually just have it plain as a treat. Yay on jobs and promotions, and cute doggie!

Beatrice said...

The lentil soup look beautiful (and delicious). I also like the idea of adding kale to mac and cheese.

Siri said...

Oh! the soup looks so colorful and delicious..:)..and adding greens to our mac n cheese make it so much better and healthier too.

Happy Holidays,

Cassandra said...

I love adding cheddar and parmesan cheese to the sauce of Annie's White Cheddar Mac---it makes it much more decadent. Broccoli is good, too!

Anonymous said...

Amazing as always