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make you better

a can of black beans and a jar of spaghetti sauce.

so boring, right?


the boy and i have been trying to save a little money lately.

and i've found one of the easiest ways to cut back is to make cheap meals at home. and with these two guys, it's super easy to dress em up and make em just a little better.

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let's start with the black beans. 

i got this idea from rachel at heart of light. now i've always liked poached eggs, but until recently, i was too chicken (ha) to try it. but using this method, it's actually not as daunting as you might think.

for this meal--a weekend lunch for us--i chopped up some onion and garlic and sauteed them for a little bit in some olive oil (adding salt and pepper as always). once the onions had softened a bit, i drained and rinsed the can of beans added them into the pan. i also spiced up the beans with a little cumin and tabasco. the beans don't really need to cook, they just need to be warmed up and heated through. so, i left them on low heat while i finished poaching the eggs.

when everything was ready, i served it on some tortillas with an avocado, some chopped tomato, a couple dashes of my trusty sriracha, and some cotija cheese.

i gotta say: this is one of our new faves. 

it's so cheap and super filling. and because you're not using a billion ingredients and it's meat free, splurging on an avocado doesn't feel like a big expense. 

(just remember to drizzle it with lemon after you cut it. it'll enhance the flavor and prevent it from browning.)
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now, onto part two.

everyone has their favorite jarred sauce from the store. or at least one you tend to buy all the time. and i can't think of an easier/cheaper meal than spaghetti. 

but jarred sauce and pasta gets a little...bland. 

the picture up there shows a can of crushed tomatoes. you could use those instead of a jar of sauce*, but i used this guy.

so, to pump up the jarred sauce, i started the same way as i did with the beans: sauteeing garlic and seasoned onions in olive oil. but for this recipe, i also added carrots. gives the sauce a little bite and gives you some extra vitamin goodness.

(if you're making spaghetti, now would also be a good time to start cooking the pasta in salted boiling water. i also add olive oil to my water so the noodles don't get all clumpy.)

once those have cooked down a bit, pour in the whole jar of sauce and just let it mellow a little bit on low heat. you can add fresh herbs or some dried oregano here but i didn't this time.

once the sauce has had time to simmer a bit, that's it. 

you're done.

now just drain your noodles and add them to the saucepan. i'd also recommend this fancy little trick:

before draining the noodles, save about a cup of the starchy pasta water and add it slowly, just a little at a time to the cooked noodles and sauce. this helps everything get all mixed together real nice and it helps the sauce stick to the noodles.


and there you have it! 

two ways to take sad old jars and cans and really make a special, hearty meal out of it.


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*if you're going to use a can of crushed tomatoes instead of a jar of sauce, i'd add a little more garlic and definitely incorporate some fresh herbs (basil, parsley) and/or a splash of good red wine.

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