Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

And I still have $14.73 left over…

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Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili

That, quite frankly, surprises me.  It must be the accountability of the internets.  As I said when I started, sometimes I spend more than $60 a week – this leftover $14.73 will go into a separate envelope to provide a cushion for when I do.

Tonight’s recipe was a new one and it’s a keeper – Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.  I got this book for Christmas and I love it – every recipe I’ve made has been a winner.  I’m a fan of slow cooking – it’s easy and the results are much better than you’d think, considering the amount of effort that goes into preparing whatever it is you’re slow cooking.  For this particular dish, I spent about 10 minutes prepping my ingredients this morning and the rest was taken care of by the long cooking time.

Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili

After the chili had been simmering away for about seven hours (making my apartment smell delicious in the meantime) I prepared some brown rice (oh, and a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but we’ll get to that later…) and, easy-peasy, (and vegan, if you’re into that) supper was on the table.

Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili
Recipe courtesy of Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (I used a green pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (I used 1 Tbsp. chili powder and 1 Tbsp. chipotle chili powder to add a little smoky flavor)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 28 oz. can  tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1  cup apple juice


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion, pepper and garlic until soft and the onion is just beginning to turn brown around the edges.  Add the chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer.

Transfer this mixture to your slow cooker and add all of the other ingredients.  Cook on low heat for 8 hours.

It’s easy.  And cheap!  And delicious!  And while the recipe as written says it serves 4-6, that is a lie – it serves double that.  Seriously…

Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili

I ate a big bowl of chili and still have two quart containers left over.  That’s okay – one for the freezer, one for the next couple of days.  Most of the ingredients for this recipe were purchased on Friday but, as things often go, when I got home on Friday and put everything away I realized that I was just about of chili powder, so another trip to the store would be in order.  I hate the grocery store on the weekend and wasn’t looking forward to the trip.  I knew I’d be meeting with the Kimball Knitters this morning so I planned to run into Market Basket either before or after with the hope that the store would be not as hectic as it could be.  I ran in after knitting, and it wasn’t busy so I was able to get right out (with  $2.99 bottle of chili powder) – YAY!

BUT!  Then I got home and did some things and started craving something sweet.  The craving got so bad that I even considered running back out to the store – blech!  Instead I decided to fish around the kitchen and was delighted to find that I had all the ingredients for Pineapple Upside Down Cake – YAY!  So I made it and it was gooooood!

Right Side Up
It just looks so blah when it’s right side up…

Day 8/365 - Sunday, March 15th 2009 - Up Side Down
Mmmmmm, that’s better…

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen – I like her use of rum.



  • 1/2 medium pineapple (I used canned, so what)
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake


Preheat oven to 350F.

Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

Make batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet. Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.

So there you have it – a week’s worth of food for two people for $45.27.  That’s the same price we’d pay for dinner out at a low to moderate priced restaurant – that’s right in the ballpark of our usual bill at Lowell Beer Works, a place we ate at all the time when I was working.

I’ll be back next week with more grocery bills and recipes, but I won’t be posting as much and there’ll be more leftover and from-the-freezer eating.  Why?  I’m heading out to the Pioneer Valley to visit my friend Jeremy.*  I’m leaving early Tuesday morning and coming back on Wednesday evening.  On Wednesdays, I take a yoga class (that I love) and I don’t get home until 8:00pm, so supper is usually super-quick and super-easy.

The plan for the week that I am going to go shopping tomorrow to pick up breakfast things for Gist to eat while I’m gone and ingredients for Wednesday’s supper.  I’ll also prepare the make-ahead part of Wednesday’s supper.  We’ll both be eating leftover chili for supper tomorrow and Gist will have it for lunch on Tuesday  On Tuesday night, she can have some of this past Monday’s tomato sauce from the freezer on pasta or some leftover cauliflower soup (also in the freezer), with the leftovers providing lunch on Wednesday.  Wednesday night, I’ll be cooking and I’ll post the recipe on Thursday (and some pictures of Western Mass, I’m sure.)

* Gist has been at Foxwoods with her mom this weekend and she just let me know that she took my Dream Card (their rewards card) which had 15 free dollars on it to encourage me to gamble.  She gambled with it and doubled my money – that’s $30 courtesy of Foxwoods to be used as walking around money when I visit Jer.  ABC, here I come!


One thought on “And I still have $14.73 left over…

  1. I’ll have to try that chili, for sure. I love my slow cooker so much.

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