Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tin Can Chef: Recessionista in the Kitchen

Cooking at home is a MUST during these difficult economic times, where lavish dinners out should be less than frequent (save the extra $$$ for that Recessionista spring break!) We are lucky to have our guest blogger, the Tin Can Chef, bring us a delicious intimate dinner party recipe that will run you, get this, a total of $42* for 4 ($32 without the sparkling bottle of Prosecco, but I do know my cooking improves with a little liquor).

*This represents the purchase of ingredients from NYC, an expensive city with the tiniest grocery store aisles in the county. Anywhere else in the US can be assumed to cost equal to or less than $42 for this meal, and the grocery store aisles can be assumed to be much more spacious.

Spinach En-cheap-ladas(serves about four)


  • Two bunches fresh spinach (Recessionista Tip: Buying unwashed spinach will save you a couple of bucks. However, spinach is grown in sandy soil, you have triple wash if you want to avoid the unpleasant sensation of chewing on grit)

  • 2 cups crimini (aka brown) mushrooms (Recessionista Tip: Crimini are usually cheaper than their more flavorful cousins, the baby bellas. Fear not, though, the difference in flavor will not be noticeable enchiladas, a dish with lots of other competing strong flavors)

  • 1 White Onion

  • 1 large tomato or 2-3 Roma tomatoes

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 lb Monterrey Jack Cheese

  • Sour cream

  • 1 can enchilada sauce

  • 1 package corn or flour tortillas

  • 1 can prepared jalapenos

  • 1 can black olives

  • 1-2 cans Refried Beans

  • 1 box Rice


A. Prep work

Pre-heat oven to 325. Dice or cube white onion. Dice 2 cloves of garlic .Wash and slice mushrooms (Recessionista Tip: There is no reason to remove the mushroom stems. These add flavor and make the mushrooms go further). Slice black black olives. Open can of Jalapenos and pour juice into cup. You will use this later!! Dice Jalapenos. Shred Monterrey Jack Cheese. Open can of enchilada sauce and pour into bowl big enough to allow you to dip a tortilla into the sauce Cube tomato(es) If you didn’t buy pre-washed bagged spinach, triple wash spinach.

B. Cooking the spinach mix.

In a large frying pan heat 1 tablespoon oil (preferably a light olive oil). Add diced garlic and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until onion begins to turn transparent. Add mushrooms and allow Mushrooms to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach a few handfuls at time. As spinach cooks down, add more. Transfer into large bowl.

C. Rolling the enchiladas.

Pour a little sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish.Take the tortillas out of bag and warm a few in the microwave for a few seconds (you can also place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for a few minutes). The tortillas should be soft and pliable.Make sure your hands are clean because you are going to be working directly with the food. Dip a tortilla in the sauce both sides should be covered. Add spinach mixture and shredded cheese. Roll Tortilla and place in casserole. Remember to save some of the cheese for the top layer. Once all of the tortillas are in the pan, cover them evenly with the remaining enchilada sauce. Now add diced tomatoes and black olives. Sprinkle last of shredded cheese over top.Put enchilada in the oven to bake while you prepare beans and finish rice. The enchiladas will take 30-35 minutes.

D. Rice and Beans

Start the rice first. Most box rice mixtures take about take about 35 minutes to prepare, and follow the instructions on the box to prepare. Open can of refried beans and mash with fork. Pour jalapeno juice into beans a little at a time to add extra flavor. The beans take only 3-5 minutes to heat up in the microwave (be sure to cover them first!). When the enchiladas are done, put the beans in the microwave. This will give the enchiladas a few minutes to cool down and set. Serve enchiladas with dollop of fresh sour cream and rice and beans.

Recessionista Tip of the Day: Lately, I have had numerous friends approach me about clever ways to make money. The catch? They already have full-time jobs! However, there are many opportunities out there that allow freelance opportunities outside your 9 to 5. The first step for Recessionistas is to identify skills that might exist outside their resumes. For instance, many dissertation candidates and reporters seek typists/transcriptions to type up notes, papers, etc. on a freelance basis. These positions pay $15-25 per/hour or $1/minute and can be completed in your downtime. I will continue to post such opportunities, so start your self-assessment and get ready to start making the moolah! In the meantime, check out .

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