Friday, November 11, 2011

How To: Make Refried Beans

To say that my family likes refried beans would be the understatement of the year. I think we'd starve without them!  They are my go to meal at least once and often twice a week. They are usually consumed in some form for lunch 4-5 times a week. And, if you're feeling a little under the weather in the Benedict house, we'll offer you a tortilla with beans and cheese. Why you ask? Because Matt thinks they make everything, including upset tummy's, better!

Last year I read some articles that sited research about BPA in the lining of cans contaminating the food inside them. Eating beans, not just refried beans, has become our main source of protein. The easiest way to get beans is in cans. I knew I would never be able to totally eliminate canned foods from our diet, sometimes we just need the connivence of the can, but I knew we could reduce the amount of canned products we were eating and that the best place to start was with the refried beans. So, I began researching how to make my own refried beans. When I learned that I could make a large batch of beans and freeze the leftovers for later, I was sold.  

So, here is my "How to Make Refried Beans Benedict Style!"  Enjoy!

Recipe: Refried Beans
Total Time Needed:  All day...but only about an hour of hands on work!

3 c dried pinto beans
1 onion
1/2 fresh or frozen jalapeno or other hot pepper
2 T minced garlic or garlic cloves
4 t salt
1 1/2 t ground pepper
1 T cumin
1/2 T chili powder
9 cups water

Step 1: Pour dried beans into a colander to rinse.  Before rinsing, sift through the beans and remove any broken, split, and rock like beans.  After all the broken once are gone, rinse the beans with cold water.
Beans ready to be sorted through and rinsed.

The broken beans I removed from my beans.

Step 2: Place the dried beans in a glass bowl and cover with water.  You should use a 1:3 ratio; one cup of beans to 3 cups of water.  I usually rinse and put my beans aside to soak first thing in the morning.  I want them to soak for at least 4 hours before cooking.  Its okay if it goes a little longer.  

Step 3: Usually around 1:00, I prep my soaked beans to cook.  I quarter an onion and chop up a hot pepper.  I've been using a hot pepper I grew in my garden that I've frozen, but you could also us a jalapeno pepper.  The more spice you like, the more hot pepper you should add.

I put the onion, pepper into a large stock pot and add garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.

Then I drain the beans that have been soaking and rinse them again.  I add them to the pot and again add water at the 1:3 ratio.

Step 4:  Now its time to cook the beans.  I usually cook the beans on medium-medium high heat for about 1-2 hours.  Once the water takes on a murky, mushy bean color, I reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for another 2-3 hours.

Step 5:  Once the beans are fully cooked its time to make refried beans!  You will need to drain the beans and reserve some of the liquid.  This is the set-up I use.  I put my colander in one of my mixing bowls.

Then I set the bowls in the sink...bean splatter...and pour the beans into the colander.

Then I pour the beans into a large bowl and use my potato masher to mash the beans!  This is a great arm work out :-)  You want to mash the beans, adding the reserved liquid, until you get the consistency you desire.  Remember the big pieces of onion we cooked with the beans?   You'll notice big chunks of them as you mash, but they should break up easily into the beans.

Step 6:  Enjoy!  Here is what my big bowl of beans looked like when I was finished.  Our favorite way to enjoy fresh refried is with fresh, homemade flour tortillas.  I'll share the recipe for those on here soon.

So there is no way we can eat all of these beans in one sitting.  So after we eat our fill, I divide the leftovers into smaller containers and let cool.  (Forgot to take a picture of this)  After they have cooled, I put the beans in the freezer.  When we're ready for more beans, I set a frozen container of beans on the counter for about 4 hours until it defrosts.

One more thing before I send you off to make your own beans.  Rinse all utensils and bowls used to make beans immediately after using them.  Dried beans turn into cement and it will take you lots of scrubbing and some muttering under the breath to get you dishes bean free again.  :-)

Happy Bean Making!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Loving People

On my way home from work tonight I saw a bumper sticker that made me smile.

Love people.
Cook them yummy food

I've been thinking a lot about life and what's important to me, what I enjoy.  I love to cook for my family and friends.  I love making food and the act of sitting down with family and friends to enjoy a meal together.  It warms my heart to cook for people and see the smile of pure contentment when they take that first bite.   What thrills me even more is when I can make something so wholesome and healthy, but no one has to know because it tastes so good.  When I know Matt is having a hard day, my way of loving him is to make him a yummy treat.  Maybe cooking is my way of loving people?

However, cooking for others also scares me.  What if I make something they don't like?  What if my recipe flops?  I've made many of those...Most recently I opened the wrong side of the salt and dumped over a tablespoon of salt in our soup.  I tried to get a lot of it out, but all you could taste was the salt.  Yuck!...  I always worry when I make something to give to people.  I worry that my gift of food will be more a burden than a joy.  I worry that people will see my gift as prideful and so often I shy away from sharing and in my own way, shy away from loving the people God has placed in my life.  So it is my prayer that God's love and heart for the people in my life would over take my insecurities and shyness and that I would love all the people God has put in my life and cook yummy food to share.  So don't be surprised if you get a dinner invite or some yummy cookies sometime soon :-)  Also, keep checking back as I've been brainstorming, cooking, and taking pics of some yummy recipes I want to share with you on here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

Matt and I celebrated ten years of marriage a week ago today.  Wow!  It seems like yesterday, but yet I have a hard time imagining life without him.  I am truly blessed.  Now, I'm sure you are wondering why I bring this up in a post titled "Pumpkin Muffin."  The answer is quit simple, it was Matt who introduced me to the amazingness of Pumpkin Muffins while we were dating.  Matt had put together a pumpkin muffin recipe that was famous in his family and he made them for me.  One bite and I was in love...with the boy who made them and the muffins themselves. :-)  After we married, I was given permission to make the muffins myself.  I remember the shock I felt when I first saw the recipe.  They have veggies in them, they should be healthy...WRONG!  The original recipe has 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of oil, and 2 cups of sugar for 24 muffins.  So as the years went by, I continued to make them but in limited amounts each fall.

Then after Zane was born I started baking and experimenting with making healthier baked goods for my family.  One of the first recipes that needed tackling was the pumpkin muffins.  The first time I made this new and improved recipe for Matt I didn't tell him that they were his muffins healthified.  He gobbled them up.  I've continued to make them every fall and they are one of our family's favorite fall treats.  The new recipe has no eggs, no oil, and only 1/2 cup of butter and 1 1/3 cup sugar for 24 muffins.  Enjoy :-)

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 24 muffins

1/2 cup butter, soften
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2t baking soda
1 cup applesauce
1 15 oz can pumpkin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts...whatever make you happy!

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or line 24 muffin cups.

2. Cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar.  You want to mix until it gets fluffy.

3. Dissolve the baking soda in the 1 cup of applesauce.  Combine the applesauce and pumpkin with the butter/sugar mixture.
4.  Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.  Mix in the flour one cup at a time.

5.  Fold in white chocolate chips or whatever you are using.

6. Fill grease/lined muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are firm on top.

7. Enjoy as soon as they are cool enough to not burn your mouth.  Zane was so excited to have one.  No sooner had I pulled the muffins out of the tin and turned around to grab my camera had Zane pulled up a stool and was drooling over them.  The smile is so big because I promised he could have one if he gave me a good smile!