Using Up Leftover Kidney Beans

A few recent expenses and a desire to get rid of debt has led me back on the path of increasing my time spent meal-planning and finding cheap (but healthy) meals for the family.  It is not easy to feed 4 hungry boys, let me tell you.  Earlier this week I shopped my pantry and found a big bag of dried kidney beans. I  soaked overnight and threw them in the crockpot the next morning before work, planning a dinner of beans and cilantro rice.  I was a bit skeptical over how it would be received, to be honest. No meat, and just beans. And rice, of coarse.

After the beans cooked on low for a good 9 hours, I finished them for 1 more hour on high, then transferred the majority over to a skillet where I heated them with some canola oil, garlic, pepper and and onion. After they were a bit mashed and bruised-looking, they were ready. We ate them with heaping plates of warm tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro rice. Yum.

However, a few days later I was at a loss over what to do with the remaining beans.  I had already made chili recently, and having more beans and rice probably wouldn’t cut it.  Instead I put the beans (about 4 cups or so worth) into the bottom of my cast iron pot.  I added about 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of water, and a package of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix while heating it  a bit on the stovetop, then added 1 package of beef sausages on top*, lidded it and put it in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours.

We went to pick up the kids at the mall and run a few errands, and by the time we got home the house smelled delicious. The sausages were plump and tasty, the beans were delicious. We had baked potatoes on the side (made earlier in the crockpot). I love it. Tonight, with all the running around we did, could have very easily spent $30-plus a night of pizza, burgers or take-out because of poor planning. But a little bit of thinking had me using up some beans I would have possibly tossed out, and putting a meal on the table for much less than one that was store bought.

*These were Usinger’s beef dogs purchased from Costco. They come 12 to a pack, divided into 2 packs of 6. Because they were large, I cut them in halves to make 12 servings. I do this quite often because, for some reason, eating 2 halves rather than 1 sausage makes it seem like you’re eating more. It’s much easier for me to give some of the boys 1/2 a sausage and then give them seconds, rather than start with the whole thing. This isn’t necessary for all of my children, but there’s a couple that prefer quantity over quality.

iLife Upgrade for Recently Purchased Macs

If you’re like me and had your computer wiped out in a recent power surge… and purchased  Mac between Oct. 1-19, you are eligible for an upgrade to ’11 iLife. Not for free, but almost. $6.99. A far cry from the box price for an upgrade. I had no clue about it, even though I registered my Mac. I just happened to be at Best Buy and the salesguy told me about it. He emailed me the information, but must have written down my email address wrong. Thankfully I found it online. And now, I’m sharing it with YOU, by the chance that it might be useful.

Customers who purchase a qualifying new Mac computer or an Apple Certified Refurbished computer from the Apple Online Store between October 1 and October 19, 2010 that does not include iLife ’11 can upgrade to iLife ’11 for US $6.99 plus tax. Remember your completed order form must be postmarked or faxed by November 19, 2010.

Download the PDF form to mail/fax, and find more info. here: