Monday, October 27, 2008

Bean Burritos

As I had previously mentioned, I wanted to make bean burritos and did so on Wednesday night. Making your own refried beans is quite easy. Here's how: Heat some vegetable oil (1-2 Tbsp) in a pot and throw in your beans. Stir to heat evenly and then mash to desired consistency. Add seasoning as desired... I added some salt and some garlic salt, some cumin, and some bottled mild taco sauce.
To make the burritos (some to eat then, some for the freezer for later), I heated the tortillas in a warm pan (just don't let them get crispy!), and then spooned on some beans, topped with shredded cheddar, and chopped onion. Fold in the top and bottom, and then the sides. Yum!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chili Beef and Pintos with Dumplings

As the roast and beans were cooking yesterday afternoon, I made one realization and one decision: I forgot to set the crock pot to high instead of low, and, I should make cornmeal dumplings. So, at 4:30, just one hour before dinnertime, I upped the switch to high. It was enough to cook the beans thoroughly. I used a recipe from a cookbook for the cornmeal dumplings:

Stir together 1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup cornmeal, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 tsp. baking powder, and a dash black pepper. In a separate bowl stir together 1 egg, 2 Tbsp. milk and 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Pour the wet into the dry and mix just until moist. I took the roast out first, then dropped the dough in small balls into the beans, and re-covered the pot. While the dumplings cooked (about 10 minutes), I sliced the roast. Everything tasted fine. The meat was lacking in flavor, though. I'll add more seasoning next time. And I doubt I'll make the dumplings again, though I'm glad I tried them. I fed 2 adults and 2 kids and had about half the roast, 2/3 the dumplings, and about 5 cups of beans left. My plan is to make refried beans for some burritos.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chili Beef and Pintos

Last week I had guests for a couple days. They shared in my bean experiment and I will fill you in on details later--even if only by repeating the recipe later because it was very good. But today I have pinto beans (since it was the only dry bean in the house). The savory and spicy smell in my house right now is the result of: one beef chuck roast (2 - 2-1/2 lbs.), 1 pound pinto beans, chopped onion, minced garlic, coarsely chopped jalapeno, salt, chili powder, and cumin. And of course I dumped water on top of it all (6 cups). I actually forgot to rinse the beans before dumping them into the pot on top of the roast. So I spooned most of them out into a colander, rinsed, and returned them to the pot. I don't think it will kill us.
You can judge by the pictures how much of everything I used. It was half a large onion and I would guess one tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, and 1/4 tsp cumin.

I'll let you know how it turns out!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two Dinners


For a quick and easy meal I made Taco Soup... kind of. That makes it sound like there was meat in it and there wasn't. It was essentially the same dinner I made Monday but in soup form. All I did was combine about one cup of the beans + juice, one 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, the rest of the (15 oz) can of corn from Monday, and a some water (about one cup) to get it to soup consistency, and then heated it up. After dishing it up, I topped it with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips. I served it with some warm tortillas. Voila! Dinner is served!


I thought I would make some chili but didn't have ground beef or turkey and I really didn't want to go to the store for one thing. Then I realized I could make some quick chicken chili. I got some cornbread in the oven and then got to work. Here's the rundown:
- Prep: Defrost and cut into small pieces two boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Chop about 1/2 cup onion, one jalapeno, one large clove garlic.
- Cook: In large pan, heat some veg. oil. Add onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds and add chicken. Cook until chicken is done. Add one 15 oz can chicken broth (half a can would have been good), about 2 - 2-1/2 cups beans + juice, cumin (1 tsp), salt (1/4 tsp), oregano (1/4 tsp), about one cup chicken gravy*. Simmer 15 minutes.
- Serve: Spoon into bowls. Top with shredded cheddar. Continually correct family when they call it soup.

It was pretty good and was a nice change of pace from the tomato/corn/chip thing. It was a little thinner than ideal. It was really good with some corn bread crumbled in it.

*I know this probably sounds weird. It does to me anyway. I had been thinking about what should make the chili thick and I was planning on essentially making chicken gravy, when I remembered I had most of a jar of gravy in the fridge. You can never go wrong by adding gravy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Results

The pinto beans turned out great. I did turn them down to low around 3:00. I've tried cooking them on low the entire time and 8-10 hours isn't quite enough. Cooking them on high worked great. I decided to throw together a little layered dish instead of serving the beans with just rice or corn bread, both of which would have been good as well.

The layers:

1) Salsa mixed with a can of diced tomatoes (salsa alone is fine--I just didn't have enough and the kids liked this better anyway)

2) Tortilla chips

3) Beans

4) Canned corn (I used just 1/3 of can)

5) More salsa/tomato mix

6) Shredded cheddar cheese

Heat it up for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees. Top with sour cream. Yum. I fed 2 adults, 2 kids, and have about 1-2 servings left.

I have about 5 cups of beans and liquid (bean juice) left for the week. I'll let you know how I use them!

Pinto Beans

Today's bean is the simple pinto bean. I started with about 1 pound (2 1/2 cups) of dry beans. As always, make sure you rinse them and remove any non-bean items. I added 6-7 cups of water.

As usual in the morning, I didn't have time to chop real onions or garlic, so I tosesd in some dried minced onion and garlic powder. Then some salt (about 3/4 tsp), a heavy sprinkling of cumin, and a few good shakes of ground coriander seed. I added about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, too. Covered and set it on high. I started it around 8:30 this morning and plan to eat about 5:30.

So far, it smells delicious!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bean Night

This fall I decided to make Monday nights "Bean Night." I know. That doesn't sound very exciting. But what does sound exciting is not having to think about what to make for dinner the first night of the week. In fact, it even gives me a base for planning the rest of the week's menu. Plus, beans are cheap, good for you, and (often) tasty. I'm cooking them in the crock pot, so I start them in the morning and they're ready at dinner time.

I am starting this blog to help me keep a record of what worked and what didn't and so that you might be inspired to try a Bean Night of your own! Here's how it will work. (I think.) On Monday, I will give a general recipe (I often don't measure) of what's in the crock pot. Then, throughout the week, I will give updates on how I'm using the beans for meals. I'll try to include pictures. Just a note: I'm experimenting as I go, so you might not want to fill your crock pot with the listed ingredients before I report back to tell you how it turned out!