Don't Know Beans About Beans?
No Problem! I Do!
Slow Cooker Pinto Beans
2 lb. dry pinto beans
1 small smoked ham hock (optional-see below)
3 tablespoons Bolner's Fiesta Brand® Pinto Bean Seasoning
(OR:1 Tbs. chili powder, 2 teas. ground cumin, and 1 1/2 Tbs garlic powder) 8 cups of water--enough to cover the beans by about 2 inches
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped bell pepper
2 teas. salt
1 teas. pepper
1) Put beans in a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker, cover with water.*
2) Add the ham hock, seasoning, onion and bell pepper, and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours until the beans are tender.
3) Taste and add more salt & pepper, if desired.
Variations: Sometimes, I leave the bell pepper and onions out until just before serving—my husband claims they’re more flavorful that way. OR, add more raw onions and/or peppers when serving.
Vegetarian Beans: Leave out the ham hock.
Borracho Beans: Add one can beer.
*This recipe may be halved if using a 3-Qt. slow cooker
Some helpful tips:
Line your crock pot with those nifty slow cooker liners which you can find in the plastic baggies/aluminum foil section of your grocery store
After beans have cooled, place leftover beans in a sealable container (plastic, glass, or I even use Mason Jars) and put in the fridge. They will keep for about 5 days. How do you know when they’ve gone bad? Believe me, you will know! Beans are high in protein, so when they’re bad, they smell to high heaven! Which brings me to…
Do not leave scraps of beans in your trash overnight—your entire house will stink the next morning.
When I’m in a hurry, I get frustrated when I go to a blog and have to scroll through an entire post before I get to the recipe at the bottom of the page. I may come back and read the blog post later when I have time, or I may not 😊 Therefore, I am going to place the recipe at the top of my post each time. Pictures will be at the bottom of the post.
Now here's the really cool thing about beans: They're cheap, and you can live off them for a several days!
Here are some of the ways I utilize my beans:
Rice and Beans
1) Pour the beans over cooked rice-whatever kind of rice you like. If you’re on a budget, buy a bag of the cheapest rice you can find and follow the directions on the bag. Just be sure that once your rice is boiling, you lower the temp on your stove as low as it can go, and resist the urge to check on the rice until just a couple of minutes before the recommended time is up, so the rice can absorb the water. I usually go the lazy way and buy the Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice packets, but that’s more expensive.
2) Add some toppings, such as:
I got the idea of topping the rice and beans with chicken from Pollo Loco's "Pollo Bowl."
Be creative and add whatever you like! YUM!
Cooked pinto beans
Pot likker from beans
Spray a skillet with cooking spray.
Take a slotted spoon and remove enough beans to cover the bottom of the skillet.
Place skillet on a stove burner set on medium. As the beans heat up, take a fork (I use a large salad fork—you know, the kind for tossing a salad, simply because it covers more area. You can use a regular fork) and start smashing the beans.
Add tablespoons of the pot likker (juice) one at a time from the beans to keep them from drying out. You want your beans creamy, not dry nor runny, so adding one tablespoon at a time will prevent this from happening until you get the feel for how much you need in the future. “Authentic” refried beans have lard added to them at this point, but that’s so unhealthy, I’ve never tried it and never will. When we go to Mexican restaurants, I’m sure they have added lard, butter and/or bacon grease, and I just enjoy it there!
Once they are completely smashed, remove from heat and allow to congeal before serving.
Now you have refried beans!
Depending on where you live, these may be called tostadas, but here in the heart of TexMex country, we call them chalupas. This is my go-to quick meal, and, in fact, now when my kids (currently ages 24 and 25) come home to visit, this is one of the meals they ask for.
Tostada shells (or corn tortillas and vegetable oil)
Shredded cheese (Colby Jack or Mexican Blend)
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
If you have access to them, buy a bag of tostata shells. If not, buy some corn tortillas and see instructions below on how to make your own.
Smear each tostata with warm refried beans. (They heat up very nicely in the microwave. If they’ve been in the fridge, place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a teaspoon of water. Stir. Microwave for a 1-1½ minutes. Stir again. If necessary, add a little more water and microwave again until desired heat and creaminess.)
Top with shredded cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, avocados and salsa. If avocados are too expensive or you don’t like any of these ingredients, feel free to leave them off. My son ate them with only the beans and cheese for years until he finally grew to where he’d eat the lettuce and tomatoes. He still won't eat avocados. Honestly, that kid doesn't know what he's missing.
Homemade Tostada Shells
Corn Tortillas (usually 3 per person)
3 Tbs. vegetable oil (more if you're feeding a crowd-you can always add more if your skillet starts getting dry)
1) Place cooking oil (vegetable, not olive) in a frying pan. Heat until bubbles surround a wooden spoon inserted in the oil.
2) Very carefully, place a corn tortilla in the pan until tortilla begins to go rigid. This only takes about 5 seconds. Carefully flip over for a couple of seconds more. Remove from oil. Drain on paper towel. Now you have tostada shells!
Bean and Cheese Nachos Supreme
Pico de Gallo OR chopped tomatoes, onions and hot pepper of your choice (jalepeno or serano) OR salsa
*The type of cheese you use is entirely up to your taste. You can use a jarred cheese such as Cheese Whiz or Tostitos. Or you can use the shredded--bagged Mexican or Colby Jack or if you don't mind taking the time, shred your own. Some people claim the bagged doesn't melt as well, or taste as good. Me, I'm too old and lazy now to bother with shredding my own cheese.
Jarred Cheese Method:
1) Line a dinner plate with tortilla chips.
2) Scoop out the cheese into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until the cheese is warm and smooth. Pour half slowly over tortilla chips, trying to get some on each chip.
3) Heat up refried beans in microwave for one minute. Check to see if warm. If not, continue in 30 second intervals until desired temperature.
4) Add another layer of chips. Pour remainder of cheese on top. Drop refried beans onto chips.
5) Top with Pico de Gallo and avocados or whatever salsa your little heart desires.
Shredded Cheese Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Place desired amount of tortillas onto a baking sheet.
3) Sprinkle shredded cheese over tortilla chips. Drop warm refried beans on top.
4) Bake in oven until cheese is melted, keeping a close eye on it so it doesn't burn.
5) Top with desired toppings.
Bean and Cheese Soft Tacos
Salsa or Pico de Gallo
1) Place refried beans in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 1 min. Stir. If not heated through, continue in 30 sec. intervals until hot.
2) Place a paper towel on a plate. Put the tortillas on top of the plate and cover with another paper towel. Put in microwave for 30 seconds-1 minute, depending on the number of tortillas. The more tortillas, the longer the time, naturally. Check to see if warm. If not, add another 20-30 seconds. They should be warm and pliable. You don't want stiff tortillas.
3) Spread by spoonful over tortilla until tortilla is covered. Sprinkle cheese on top. Add salsa or Pico de Gallo.
Here's my slow cooker with the beans in it ready to go.
These are the tostadas that come in a bag. There are several different brands, and are usually found in the grocery store aisle where the bread is.
This is what they look like out of the bag.
Here's my big fork for a smashing great time.
While my beans were congealing, I cut up my veggies. You'd probably
want to do a lot more if you're making more than the three chalupas I
was making here.
Full disclosure: I use the bagged shredded cheese, and usually just grab
it out of the bag, but I thought it would look pretty here for y'all.
OR. . .you can take the easy way out, and if your grocery store has Pico de Gallo ready-made, top your chalupas with
that. Probably a bit more expensive, tho.
TADA! The finished product. Now, most
restaurants serve chalupas with the cheese
on top. But I put my cheese right on top of
the beans to get that nice beany-cheesey
blend. You can serve the salsa on the side as I have shown here for my husband's plate, or just pour it on
top, which is what I do to mine.
This is a plate of nachos I made for myself, using the shredded cheese. I was in a hurry, so I just put one layer
of chips. I also cheated and used the microwave to melt the cheese, since I live in South Texas, it's July and I refuse to turn on my oven. The chips aren't as crisp, but I enjoyed them anyway!
Nothing goes to waste in my house! As you can see, I had a little dab of beans left over. I saved them for my breakfast taco.