Looking for a quick, simple meal? The above took a half hour to put together, and, other than the fire roasted tomatoes, I had almost all of it in my pantry already. The remaining ingredients you would need to pick up are mostly cheap. (I don’t know where OP shops that fire roasted tomatoes are so cheap, but the only ones I’ve found out here are an organic brand, and they run about $2.50 a can out here.)

Plus, I used a neat trick I just learned about. Have leftover tomato paste from something else? Take it out of the can, either freeze it in an ice cube tray or in a glass jar (I went with the latter), and when you need to use it again, just take it out of the freezer, let it warm up a bit, and boom, you’re good to go. I froze what remained of my last jar of tomato paste a while ago, so I just let the jar warm up for this, scooped out what I needed, and then tossed the rest back in the freezer. Works like a charm.

Smoky Tomato Soup
Lasts 3.5 meals as a main

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • .5 T smoked paprika
  • .5 t cumin
  • 2 15 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • .5 t dark brown sugar
  • pepper to taste (if you can get freshly ground pepper, great, but if not, your standard pepper works just fine)

Heat your olive oil in a pot over medium heat, and add your garlic and onion, cooking about five minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Then, add your paprika, cumin, and tomato paste, and stir together and cook for about two minutes, to let the tomato paste caramelize a bit.

Then, add your remaining ingredients (fire roasted tomatoes, vegetable stock, dark brown sugar, pepper), stir to combine, and simmer for ten minutes to heat through. 

And then, no more than fifteen to twenty minutes after you started, you have your soup ready to go! Have some bread on the side to dip in it, or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich too.

Butter chicken is one of my favorite things to make. Cheese is also another favorite thing of mine. So, when I originally found this recipe, I thought it would be neat to try a variation. However, when it finally came time to make it, I realized that I hadn’t gotten everything like I thought I had, and a few things were missing in my pantry, and I was kind of hilariously broke, so going and getting the proper ingredients wasn’t an option. My solution was to try and meld elements of the first recipe with the recipe I already use for butter chicken, and see what I got.

The result is probably going to be my default recipe for butter anything now. It’s a perfect blend of spice and creaminess, and perfectly filling, too. And, if you have a well stocked pantry, all you should need to pick up is the cheese, the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, and maybe the whipping cream and greek yogurt, for a ridiculously cheap dish. I’m also kind of ridiculously proud of how this turned out, as this is my first real attempt at cobbling together a recipe to make my own.

Butter Paneer
Lasts four meals

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil (ghee if you can find it)
  • 1 14 oz block paneer cheese, cubed
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 t curry powder 
  • 2 t Thai red curry paste
  • 2 T garam masala
  • .5 t tumeric
  • pinch cayenne
  • pinch sea salt
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • .25 c greek yogurt

Heat your olive oil in a pot over medium. Take your paneer cubes, and fry in the pot until they turn a nice golden brown on each side (see picture 2). Remove the paneer from heat once it’s done, and put it in a nice bowl to sit while the rest cooks.

Add a bit more olive oil and your garlic and ginger to the pot, cooking until fragrant (a few minutes tops), and then add your curry powder and paste, garam masala, tumeric, cayenne, and sea salt, and stir into the garlic and ginger, cooking a few minutes until it starts to smell really good. Then, add your butter, and melt it in the pot. As soon as the butter melts, add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and honey, and stir until combined. Simmer for twenty minutes, until the color becomes a nice, deep red (see picture 5), and stir occasionally. Then, add your heavy whipping cream and greek yogurt, and stir until combined, simmering another twenty minutes and stirring occasionally.  Then, add in your paneer, and stir for about five minutes, so that it warms through. 

Pick up some naan for dipping, and enjoy your ridiculously awesome dish. 

Basically, the moment this recipe went up on Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try these ASAP.  Made these right before tonight’s episode of Hannibal, and snacked a bit on them throughout; fast tracking these was definitely an excellent decision.  

I got to use the herbs at the least fresh from the garden (which’ll get its own post on here eventually), so the amounts used were changed slightly there.  I also didn’t have the patience to zest a lemon, so lemon juice was used instead. Otherwise, this recipe was followed pretty closely to the original.

Lamb Meatballs with Feta, Olives, and Lemon
Lasts 5 to 6 meals, depending on # of meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1.25 c panko
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 T water
  • .5 c crumbled feta cheese
  • .75 t salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • appx 4 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil

Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 glugs red wine (I used part of the large bottle of Yellowtail Sweet Red Roo I had in the fridge)
  • 28 oz crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 T fresh oregano, torn
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 c kalamata olives, pitted, drained, and chopped
  • 1 T fresh peppermint, torn
  • lemon juice
  • feta cheese crumbles (I used what I had leftover in the cup after using the rest)

Take all of your meatball ingredients and combine them using a fork in a large bowl, until you have one big coherent ball of meat.  Once the Allmeat is combined, break off small chunks and roll until you have the size of meatballs you want (I went with about medium sized). While you start to make the balls, heat up your olive oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add the balls once rolled ot the pan, and roll them around with a chopstick in the hot oil to brown completely.  This may take more than one batch of browning.  Once the balls are browned (lol), remove them to a small dish.

Take the remaining fat and add your garlic and onion from the sauce ingredients, cooking until soft (about five minutes). Then, add your red wine, scrape up anything that might’ve stuck to the pan, and cook it down until it’s almost gone.  Then, add your remaining sauce ingredients (except for the feta and lemon juice) to the pan, and bring to a low simmer.  Once simmering, add the meatballs back in, and simmer for another twenty minutes.

Sprinkle the lemon juice and feta over the meatballs, and then nom!

This is another one of the first dishes I learned to make living on my own, and it’s always been a staple for when I’m looking for something relatively simple, cheap, and spicy.  Realistically, the most expensive part of this will be the chicken, but if you can find chicken for relatively cheap and freeze it until you need it, I highly recommend going that route.  I will give you the given amount of spices for this recipe, but know that the version I cook now is a lot more approximate in its amounts, but the proportions are relatively the same.  🙂 

Butter Chicken
Lasts 5 to 6 lunches as a main

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small (1 inchish) cubes)
  • 8 oz greek yogurt (you will realistically not find an 8 oz container, get 2 5.5 oz containers, and if you can’t find plain yogurt, look for honey or vanilla)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1 t coriander
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 T honey
  • appx 2 t cardamom (original recipe recommends 4 cardamom pods, I’ve only ever had the ground stuff on hand)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream

Combine your yogurt, garlic and spices that start with c (except for cardamom) so that you have a uniform spiced yogurt, and then stir in your chopped chicken until it’s coated.  Put in a container and let sit in the fridge as little as 30 minutes (up to overnight; I will typically go overnight, for maximum flavor). 

In a pot, melt your butter over medium heat, and as soon as it’s melted, add your honey, cardamom, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes, stirring until combined and bringing to a light boil before simmering for 20 mins, until thickened and dark red (see pic 3).  Then, stir in your whipping cream and yogurt marinated chicken, until combined into an orangeish sort of sauce  (see pic 4). Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, until your chicken is cooked all the way through, and then season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy with some naan, or, if you’re like me, after assembling a night stand with a friend and while watching Hannibal!