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Frugal dip tip. January 29, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. If you cook from scratch like I do, you don’t want to waste a drop of the good food it took you an hour or so to prepare. I like to make enough of foods that keep well for our friend Ben and myself to be able to eat them for two meals (stretched several days apart and with varied side dishes). That tends to be easier in cold weather.

Just this week, OFB and I had pasta casserole on Friday and the following Thursday (I made two); we had chili and rice on Monday and chili and hot-from-the-oven cornbread on Wednesday (Ben wanted to have it again on Tuesday—it’s that good—but I made him skip a day). I like this system because it lets me focus on making the main dish one night, with fairly simple sides, and focus on more interesting sides the next time I serve it, since the main dish just needs to be heated.

However, even with the best will in the world, sometimes there’s a little bit left. Even our friend Ben can’t eat more than two big bowls of chili or black bean soup at a sitting. Sure enough, there was 2/3 of a cup of chili left in the pot. Last night, much as both of us love cooked spinach, there was about 3/4 cup left in the pan. We often end up with less than a cup of refried beans or thick black bean soup or dal when I make those, too. It’s less than you could make a meal with, even for lunch. But I hate to throw it out. So I make these leftovers into delicious dips.

Refrigerated, the thick black bean soup, refried beans, chili, and dal become quite thick. They’re the perfect consistency for a luscious dip. Topped with your choice of shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or salsa, those dabs of black bean soup, refried beans, or chili make just enough dip for tortilla chips for two (or for one starving Ben while waiting for supper to get ready). The dal makes a fabulous dip for hot pita wedges or naan all by itself or topped with a dab of chutney.

And the cooked spinach? Reheat, add a couple of minced artichoke hearts, cream cheese, and some shredded Swiss or white Cheddar, stir over low heat until thoroughly blended, sprinkle with salt or Trocamare and paprika, and you have the wildly popular spinach and artichoke dip served in many restaurants. (If you really want to duplicate the restaurant style, run it under the broiler for a few minutes so the top browns before serving.)

Because you’ve spent a lot of time seasoning your various bean dishes or dal, you’ll end up with an out-of-this-world dip that beats any storebought version hands down. And how wonderful to put that spinach into a dip everyone loves rather than throwing it into the compost pile. Waste not, want not, eh? Needless to say, if you have a little leftover diced bell pepper and/or scallion (green onion), you can add them to the bean dips to make them even better. Yum!

That’s it for me. If you have any dip tips to share, I’d love to hear them!

            ‘Til next time,




1. nancybond - January 29, 2009

THAT is an excellent idea! I always save my little bits of leftovers in freezer bags and add them to the next pot of soup, but this is a great idea for a change.

Thanks, Nancy! We’ve realy been enjoying these dips. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me sooner!

2. Cinj - January 29, 2009

Mmm, your ideas sound much more appetizing than the casseroles I have made. It’s funny, I was just thinking about making some tortilla chips.

Go for it, Cinj! This idea’s a winner!

3. Deb - January 30, 2009

Very good ideas. Chili doesn’t last around here. Monkeys eat it like little fiends. My sister-in-law adds a cup or so of chili to cheese dip, yummy.

Yum, great idea! And those Monkeys clearly have good taste!

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