Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Meatless tacos

This one is very simple, very nutritious, and very cheap. We've served it in taco shells or tortilla rounds, and topped with cheese, salsa, and sour cream (which, okay, will bring the cost of the meal up a bit - but still less than if you were using ground beef to start with!)

Taco Style Lentils & Rice
3/4 cup dry lentils
3/4 cup brown rice
4 cups water
4 beef bouillon cubes*
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*(I just used a few teaspoons of bouillon powder because it's always going on sale at Walgreens. In fact, I bet you could use the seasoning packet from a bag of ramen noodles, too.)

In a 2-quart saucepan bring the water to a boil. As the water is heating, add the lentils, rice, bouillon, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder. Bring the whole thing to a nice fat boil. Reduce the heat to low. Place a lid on the lentils and allow the mixture to simmer for about 45 to 50 minutes. The water should be mostly absorbed.

This recipe also came from Miss Maggie's Hillbilly Housewife.

Homemade chocolate cake mix

This makes one of the moistest, most delicious chocolate cakes I've tasted, doesn't use ingredients too expensive or fancy, and is pretty simple to whip up. Best of all, the dry ingredients can be mixed up apart from the wet and stored (I suppose indefinitely), thus enabling you to stockpile your own convenience cake mix. The recipe makes about 4 cups of dry ingredients, so what I've done is store it in a quart jar in the cupboard. You could also store in ziploc bags or tupperware. You can make up the whole recipe at once (in a 9x13 pan or two layer cakes) or use half the mix (about 2 cups), half the wet ingredients, and bake a small cake in an 8x8 or 9x9.

Dark, Rich Chocolate Cake Mix
1-2/3 cup flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup dry buttermilk powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals

To Prepare
1 package of Dark Rich Chocolate Cake Mix
2 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 medium eggs
Empty the cake mix into a big bowl. Add the water, oil and eggs. Beat with a whisk or electric beaters for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and any lumps are gone. Turn the batter into a well oiled 9" x 13" rectangular pan. Bake at 350° for about 35 to 40 minutes. The sides should be pulled away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Be careful not to overbake. Cool and frost as desired. Makes about 24 pieces.

This recipe I found on Miss Maggie's wonderful site The Hillbilly Housewife. There are SO many recipes and resources there - if you haven't discovered it yet, you must pay it a visit!