Yesterday was a busy day in the kitchen. I knew I was heading into this week without a dime of grocery money so planning will be key. My Whole30/Paleo experiment ended up scaring the crap out of me. A completely bare refrigerator days before the next payday is scary. As a family with one income, I’ve always been careful about the budget but there has never been a time where the refrigerator was bare and I had to really scramble to keep our bellies full. Until last month.

As a result of last month’s scare, I’ve been restocking my pantry as much as I can. My boys have been angels helping me. One of them has been picking up my co-op orders, one has been picking up paper products (our toilet paper budget is as much as it was when the kids were in diapers!!), and the other has been picking up dairy. My co-op orders have been mainly where I am stocking up. The co-op allows members to order items at cost plus a service fee. So far this month, I’ve added 25# rice (though the reports about the arsenic levels are making me reduce the frequency of rice in the menu), 25# organic black beans, and one son will be picking up 25# organic red beans later this week. The beans work out to be less than $1.40 a pound and will allow us to stick to this insane budget.

I started a pound of black beans, a pound of red beans, and 10 oz garbanzo beans in the morning.

I am having a terrible time getting the pictures into this post and have run out of time to fix them. Sorry!

The black and red beans were used in yesterday’s African Sweet Potato Stew and will also be used for chili later in the week. Some of the garbanzo beans were used for roasted garbanzos but no one here liked them. The rest will be used for hummus.

For the sweet potato stew, I used this recipe as the base but ended up changing it to fit what we had in the pantry as well as adding a whole heckuva lot more spices. The result was an awesome, but slightly too spicy, stew. My sweet potato haters still hated the stew but were given a lecture before dinner to keep their comments to themselves. 😉

Aren’t these colors awesome? The green chunks on top are roasted Hatch peppers (which turned out to be HOT) and a cilantro ice cube.

African Sweet Potato Stew

2 TB olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 can beef broth

1 large bell pepper, diced (I used yellow)

1/2 cup water

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

7 Roma tomatoes, diced (the original recipe called for a can of diced tomatoes)

1 can green chiles (I used roasted Hatch chiles which I pureed and froze in a ziplock bag)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

1 cup black beans, cooked

1 cup red beans, cooked

1/3 cup peanut butter

lime wedges

In a skillet, heat the oil and add the onions, cooking until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or so. Place the onion mixture in the crock pot. Add the broth, sweet potatoes, pepper, water, spices , cilantro, and tomatoes and cook on high for a couple of hours. Then turn the temp down to low to finish cooking (about 3 additional hours). Add the beans an hour or so before you plan to serve and continue cooking. Remove 1 cup of broth from the crock pot and stir it into the peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Add the peanut butter mixture back to the pot and stir until blended. Serve with lime wedges. Serves 8.

My green chiles were really spicy. I liked the spiciness of it but would have preferred it to be just a bit less spicy. Half of a jalapeno or some cayenne will kick the stew up a bit to replicate the spiciness of my green chiles.


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