Sunday, January 9, 2011

Crockpot Sunday: Turkey Kielbasa Bean Thing

Yea, that's the technical name for it - at least in our house.

Our crockpot has to be my favorite piece of kitchen equipment.  How can you not totally love something that you literally throw a bunch of stuff, it sits for a few hours, and comes out tasting amazing?  And to top it off, its easy to make really tasty, pretty healthy stuff in it.  Folks, does it get any better than that?!

So, here is our Turkey Kielbasa Bean Thing. The official ingredients list from

    1 large onion, chopped 
    1 medium green pepper, chopped 
    1-1/2 pounds reduced-fat turkey kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces 
    1 can (15 1/2 ounces) pinto beans, drained 
    1 can (15 1/2 ounces) great northern beans, drained 
    1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes 
    1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies 
    1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce 
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Few things to notice.  I use frozen peppers and onions.  I used to use fresh, before I realized frozen vegetables existed.  So, go with whatever is best for you.  Second, I use Turkey Kielbasa, but you could use whatever kind you want.  Regular, lite, turkey, chicken sausage, really it will all work (I'm sure there's some kind of vegetarian alternative out there too).  This is the healthiest and tastiest option I've found.

Third, do you have any idea how many kinds of stewed and diced tomatoes there are?  Quite a few.  Mix and match to make it more or less spicy, or to your taste.  I've been using Mexican Style Stewed tomatoes and the diced tomatoes with green chilies lately, but I've used other ones well, just as good!

Last, of the ingredients shown above, 5 out of the 7 are store brand.  For fun, here's the grocery bill breakdown.

Hillshire Farm Turkey Kielbasa: $4.49
Frozen Peppers and Onions: $1.25 (saved $0.09 with my store card)
Store Brand Tomato Sauce: $0.67
Store Brand Diced Tomatoes: $0.93
Store Brand Stewed Tomatoes: $0.93
Store Brand Pinto Beans: $0.80
Goya Great Northern Beans: $1.00  (no, I'd never heard of them before either, so don't feel weird if you haven't.  But they are right there in the beans section. Can't miss them.  No store brand at my grocer though, but still not a bad price.)

And I'm not including the pepper or the garlic powder... because... well, they don't count, I already have them.

So, that's a total of $10.07.

The recipe I copy says its 8 servings (about 243 calories a serving - full nutrition info available on the Spark Recipes page).  8 servings, would be $1.25 a serving.  Now, I'll be honest.  In this house, it makes about 4 servings, because we aren't the best at portion control.  But, that's still about $2.51 for a meal.  And trust me, it's a true meal, fills me right up, we don't even do any sides with it.  B will usually have some bread or something, but otherwise, this is a meal all by itself.

Anyway, you uh, open all the cans and pour them into the crockpot - duh.  Ok... so drain the beans some, you don't want all the bean juice-goop in there. I do this by opening the can halfway and letting it drain out for a bit.  But just pour all the tomatoes in as is.  I usually do the stewed and diced tomatoes and all the beans first.  Then I cut up the kielbasa, I usually cut the circles into half - that way you get more actual bites with kielbasa.  Throw that in, sprinkle on the pepper and garlic powder (confession: I don't measure), and then pour on the tomato sauce.

3 hours on high, or 6 hours on low, and you've got yourself the perfect Sunday dinner, with plenty left for lunch during the week (saving big $$ over the corporate cafeterias at work and fast food options).  I usually sprinkle (ok, pile) on some reduced fat shredded cheese, because there aren't many meals that cheese doesn't make better.

(I take awful pictures of food. Sorry.  It tastes 100 times better than it looks)

I bet if you were creative you could throw some different kinds of beans or other veggies in there, and some different spices, etc and have a bunch of different variations of meals.

If you've never checked out Spark Recipes before, I highly recommend it.  It's a user entered recipe site, with the nutritional information listed with each recipe.  I've found a lot of easy and tasty recipes that I can actually make, that are - dare I say it - pretty good for us! And, because they are user entered, there are always more recipes being added.

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