Friday, January 8, 2010

Frugal Food Friday: Never-Fried Refried Beans

My husband served his mission to Mexico, so he LOVES Mexican food.  We got pretty hooked on tacos earlier in our marriage because they're quick, easy, and healthy...if you do them right.
One of the keys to having them be quick, easy, and healthy (not to mention cheap!) is to leave out the meat and replace it with beans...preferably beans and rice because then you get a more complete protein.  No meat means you don't have to buy the meat, make sure to cook it before it goes bad, or have the added fat that taco meat (for most people that's hamburger) adds.  Adding a lot of veggies, like tomatoes, lettuce, onions, bell peppers or whatever else you can think of also adds a lot of nutrition, and of course you'll want to go light on the cheese and sour cream or leave them out entirely.

When we first started eating these, we bought canned refried beans.  Then our ward (church congregation) came out with a ward cookbook, and one of our friends submitted her recipe for homemade refried beans.  When we saw it, we were excited!...until we saw that it called for something like a pound of bacon and about as much cheese.  {One of our biggest tips for eating healthy is to bypass unhealthy looking recipes before we try them.  That way we're don't get hooked.} 

We decided to adapt the recipe though and this is how it came out.  We try to always have beans on hand in the fridge for a quick meal when we don't have time to cook much else.  Since our two-year-old has a hard time with the whole holding/eating stuff in a tortillia, we mix the filling up in a bowl and he loves it!  Sorry that the pictures die off about halfway through and the amounts aren't exact.  I forgot to take pictures when Hubby was doing the second half of the prep.  This is a pretty forgiving recipe.  You really can't mess it up!  The pictures show us using black beans, but pinto beans work great too!

Put a pound of beans in a crockpot.  {Do you like my new, sleek, black crockpot?  The one we got for our wedding gave up the ghost last week...that's what happens when you've been married for almost 10 years...some of your gifts start to die off.}
Rinse the beans. 
Fill up the crockpot with quite a bit of water

Generously sprinkle with garlic powder

Generously sprinkle with dried onion

Turn the crockpot on high for about 8 hours or low for about 24 hours until the beans are very soft.  Add water as needed during cooking to keep the beans covered.

Scoop the beans out and put them in a bowl.  (We like to use our spaghetti scooper.)  Mash them up with the masher of your choice.  (We have at various times used an electric mixer or potato masher, but my husband prefers the pastry blender.) 

Add a little of the cooking liquid to bring to desired consistency. 

Add about a cup of salsa, some hot sauce (if you want them spicy) and several generous squirts of lemon or lime juice.  (The lemon juice gives it some flavor, but more importantly acts as a preservative.  The beans last at least twice as long in the fridge with the lemon juice.) 

Mix well and serve on tacos with lots of veggies. 

They're not much to look at, but they are delicious!  Refridgerate leftovers. They will keep in the fridge for a week or more.

Did you enjoy the fajitas from last week? You want to try a NO CALORIE version? Join me on my craft blog for a Felt Food Cook-Along starting Monday for all kinds of NO-CALORIE-looks-good-enough-to-eat-yummies...including fajitas!  (This is the perfect way to get your kids excited about new healthy foods.)


Dorothy said...

Good timing, Polly! (Or maybe I have good timing?) I set a pot of dried beans out to soak before going to bed last night and was wondering this morning what I wanted to make with them today. Your meal idea is perfect, especially since we are currently eating vegetarian-style. Thanks!

Kathy Haynie said...

I hadn't realized how easy it would be to cook a pot of dried beans. I thought it involved hours of simmering on the stove, with things boiling over and making a mess. Thanks Polly!

Katie said...

These look really good... and remind me of staying at your house. :)

Lindsay said...

Second to the "good timing." We have TONS of's a food storage thing, but I don't have any idea what to do with them, except for chili once in awhile. Thanks for the recipe!!!!

emmalou said...

I have had dried beans in my cupboard for too long without even attempting to cook them. Thanks for the recipe!

Dorothy said...

Dinner report: I cooked a bag of 15 bean soup in the crockpot, then used a portion of them to make soft tacos tonight. After mashing the beans I stirred in a very chunky salsa, some extra fresh lime juice, garlic, and taco seasoning. We layered this onto a tortilla then added some quick stir fried red and green peppers, and topped it with avacado slices. YUM! Thanks for the inspiration!

my name is lauren. said...

this is great! i've never even attempted to cook dried beans. you make it seem like less of an undertaking :).

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