Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Lately Abigail has been taking hot lunch at school. Despite the cool Laptop Lunchbox and all it contained, she still came to me around Thanksgiving time and asked if she could take hot lunch for awhile. I didn't think that was such a bad idea for many reasons. First of all, it was one less thing I had to worry about during the holiday season. Secondly, I like the idea of her having a hot lunch before going out to play in the winter- I can't successfully pack something hot for her that's convenient for her to eat. And thirdly, especially now that I'm budget conscious, I can't pack her lunch for the cost of her school lunch. The price is very reasonable here- $1.55 per day, and that includes the 25 cent milk that she would be buying anyway. So she's been taking hot lunch, and assures me that she still likes it and tries to clean her tray up. In fact, when I asked her what she didn't like at hot lunch so that we could pack lunch that day, she wisely explained to me that there are two choices for everything, so she always picks what she likes. How could I ignore that logic?

Lucky Andy though, when he goes to accompany Abigail on a field trip, she likes him to stay for hot lunch with her. The last time he went, he told me how excited she was for lunch that day, and then he found out why. She was beyond excited to eat a concoction similar to beenie-weenies! And according to Andy, not only did she assure him that she loved those beans with hot dogs, but she inhaled them. I was shocked! While she does like baked beans and hot dogs, I found myself floored by the idea that she would eat them with such gusto. Further inquiries revealed that these particular beanies were in a somewhat tomato-ey sauce, with hot dogs in it. And so began my mission to find something similar and more healthful to make for dinner.

And the first one out of the cage actually wins the race! Barbequed Kielbasa fit the bill, and was ridiculously easy to make. The ingredient list called for kielbasa, canned white beans, crushed tomatoes, molasses, brown sugar, garlic and onion. Baked for an hour and served up hot. I really waffled back and forth on whether or not to make this for dinner. I mean, my family could hate it, we're not huge bean people. But I forged ahead and started with the beans. On my last shopping trip I opted for the more economical dried beans, so I needed to pre-cook some Great Northern beans. I covered them with water and simmered them for an hour or so to soften. Then I dumped them in a bowl the rest of the ingredients and while still skeptical baked them away. I did use diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes, but other than that, I was true to the recipe.

And the result was really deceiving! These beans and kielbasa were really good! And when I say really good, I mean that Andy spent the entire meal talking about how good they were! They were slightly sweet from the molasses and brown sugar, yet each bite also had a slight tomato and garlic flavor, and the smokiness of the kielbasa really came through. The bites of kielbasa were the best though- that smoky sausage wrapped in a sweet sauce was delicious. Abigail and Zander both enjoyed the sausage, and while we couldn't convince Zander to even try the beans, Abigail had a few bites and said they were okay. I think I undercooked them slightly and she would have preferred them more mushy to be honest. We also had plenty leftover, which I find odd since I halved the recipe. But that will give us opportunity to try them again today, and I suspect they will be better the second day, so that will be something to remember for next time as well. My modified recipe for Barbequed Kielbasa can be found in the Recipe Trove. And the cost for this meal? Without adding in the molasses and brown sugar, I have $3.48 for the entire dish. If I broke out the cost of the molasses and brown sugar, that may bring it up closer to $4.00, but really, another budget friendly winner that gets two thumbs up.

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