I am always trying to come up with new ideas that will make my life just a little bit easier but this one I have to give the credit to my husband. It was something that he had started doing even before we got married and I have continued with it because I think it is a great idea. So we do packed lunches during the week because if we didn’t just the cost of a small sandwich and a bag of chips every day would probably double our budget. But the challenge for us was to find good quality meat that wasn’t expensive. We don’t care for packaged sliced meat, as my husband says, ‘It tastes salty water with the texture of tofu’. And to be honest after looking at the list of ingredients on the packaging, most of which are things I have no idea how to pronounce, I would just rather not know what is exactly in it. So we instead opt for the in house smoked meats from the meat counter. But after a while it can get a bit expensive.
Ahh it is fall, the wonderful time when the air starts to get crisp and the days start to grow colder. It is also that time of the year that funny things begin to show up at your grocery store. You know what I mean, that huge display of those odd looking gourds and squashes. You know for years I only knew them as decoration, I never really thought about people eating them. One day at the farmers market I came upon these very odd flower looking squashes that I discovered were called Patty Pan. Feeling adventurous I decided to buy them and come up with how I was going to prepare them later. I found out that my mother-in-law was stuffing the squashes with a mince meat filling and was very happy with how that was turning out so i decided to try it myself. Although keeping with my desire to keep things in my budget I decided to figure out what I had on hand in the pantry.
One of my new favorite beans are small navy beans. They so flavorful and meaty that I often use them as a meat substitute. So I decided for them to be my main ingredient in my stuffing recipe. So with that knowledge I began to scour the internet for help. Being that this was my first attempt at a stuffed squash I knew that I would need help. I found that help from a wonderful newly discovered blog Fat Free Vegan. While I am not a vegan I have found this blog to be filled with wonderful ideas that even a meat lover would enjoy. I altered her recipe slightly to fit our taste and it turned out gorgeous. Definitely a keeper.
In response to my first request from my reader Kate Jones, I challenged myself to come up with a new crockpot recipe that was healthy and cheap. And while this one might tote the line slightly on the healthy part I am so excited to share it with you. This truly is one of those dishes that will have people going back for more.
When Kate gave me my new challenge my first thought was to look in my pantry and freezer and see what I had on hand, to give me some inspiration. I saw that I had some chicken and some frozen spinach in my freezer and it got me thinking about one of my favorite appetizers ‘Spinach and Artichoke dip’. So I thought ‘what if I could create a version of that dip that was slightly healthier and also make it a meal instead of just a dip’.
So I set off exploring the web for inspiration. There were a few people that had similar ideas but either the ingredients they used were too fattening or it required more work then I wanted to put into a crockpot recipe so I decided to do what every good cook does, experiment. Not all experiments work well, you can ask my husband about that one. I have had some dishes that had us going out for a takeaway instead. But you never know until you try. So I bought a few ingredients that I thought would be nice in the dish and threw everything in and waited to discover what I had created and whether or not it would be a disaster or something worth writing about.
I can truthfully say not only was it a success but it was one of the simplest crockpot dishes I have made in a very long time.