A great meal for pennies!

Beans and Rice

by Leanne Ely

Are you looking to stretch those grocery dollars? Let me show you how to spice up and season that lowly beans and rice dish so you can enjoy several different ethnic (styled) dishes. And FYI, these are representations of this type of cooking, not the actual authentic versions, so don't be hatin'!

First off, cook up a batch o' beans. Use something like white beans, pintos, red beans or even black beans. Doesn't matter; we're going to use them up a bunch of ways. Secondly, make your rice. Needs to be whole brown rice. I prefer long grain brown rice, but some people like a short grain rice. Just make sure it's brown rice so you get the nutrition! How do you cook beans and rice? Look on the back of the packages on each of them; you'll get all the information you need. The important part is getting them cooked.

Okay, you've got a big batch o' beans and a big batch o' rice cooked, right? Now let's look at all the possibilities:

  • Mexican-Style Beans and Rice
  • Jamaican-Style Beans and Rice
  • New Orleans-Style Beans and Rice
  • Southern-Style Greens, Beans and Rice
  • Indian-Style Beans and Rice

For ease of accomplishment, these "recipes" are servings for one. Multiply as needed. One serving equals one cup of rice and one cup of beans. You can bag these beans up in freezer quality bags and freeze in serving sizes (either individually or enough to serve your family) if you want. You can do the same thing with the rice. Once you have all those beans and rice packages, here's what you can do when you thaw them out. Remember that these are servings for one, so multiply them out as needed to serve your family.

For the Mexican-Style Beans and Rice: Serve the rice and beans plain with salsa, sour cream, grated cheese over the top, and a quesadilla on the side.

For the Jamaican-Style Beans and Rice: In a saucepan over a medium heat, place beans and add two tablespoons of coconut milk, a pinch of thyme, and a clove of crushed garlic and heat through until warm and bubbly. Serve over rice with chopped green onions on top.

New Orleans-Style Beans and Rice: In a skillet, add one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and saute 1/4 cup each of onion, green bell pepper and celery. Add one clove crushed garlic and 1/8 teaspoon thyme. Mix this into the beans and serve with a bottle of Tabasco or other hot sauce.

Southern-Style Beans and Rice: In a skillet, add one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion and then add one cup chopped frozen greens. Add one clove crushed garlic, a pinch of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Add one cup chicken or vegetable broth. Add 1/2 cup beans and simmer until greens are tender. Serve over rice.

Indian-Style Beans and Rice: In a skillet, add one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/4 cup chopped tomato and cook until tender. Add one clove crushed garlic, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon curry powder. Add the beans and simmer for five minutes. Serve over rice with chopped cilantro on top.

There you go. How's that for Easy Button easy! Enjoy!

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular, FlyLady.net, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. SavingDinner.com. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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