Tag Archives: Mexican

Slow Cooker “Refried” Beans

I took my second-ever spinning class last night and I think I’m in love. My first-ever class was last Wednesday, and I really enjoyed it but boy was my butt sore from that hard, plastic seat! A trip to Sports Authority to buy myself a gel bike seat cover ($20 – totally worth it!) fixed that problem and I was back in the saddle last night.

I’m a big fan of my instructor for this class. He’s got such a great positive energy! 🙂 And his music choices are fantastic. Instead of just one song after another, the songs are all remixed together DJ-style. Last night we did intervals to a mix of “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett and “TNT” by AC/DC. I’m not sure if this is a remix he bought already made, or if he’s awesome enough to be mixing it together himself. I feel like I should make friends with him and find out. Like, “Hey, be my friend…a.k.a. please send me your playlist”

I’m feeling a little burnt-out on running lately, so I’m thinking of taking the months of July and August “off” (meaning running only once or twice a week, low mileage) and focusing on some new classes like spinning. I find taking a new fitness class to be so refreshing, and it really motivates me to keep up with fitness. Plus, it’s finally entered that time of summer in Virginia where it’s so hot and humid outside that even the drive home from work leaves you needing a shower. I think some indoor-fitness is just what the doctor ordered.

Sidebar: it was only a week ago I announced I was going to try for a “50 Mile July.” Oh how things change so quickly! The “50 Mile July” idea was supposed to bump me out of my running rut but I think since I start official 10k/half marathon training in September that it might be best to take a break until then so I’m not completely sick of running before I even start training.

Now for the recipe I promised you – “refried” beans in the slow cooker! 🙂

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This is one of my favorite recipes – and it’s so easy! First of all, I love refried beans. They were one of my favorite parts of “taco night” growing up. And while the kind that comes in a can are perfectly tasty and convenient – these are even tastier, cheaper, and so easy to make! Every few months, I make a big batch and then freeze smaller portion sizes. That way, I can just pull them out a day or two ahead of time when I need beans for dinner. And taco/burrito/nacho night is a pretty frequent occurrence at my house, so I always need beans for dinner.

This recipe makes a huge portion size of beans – I would say 18 to 20 portions. I usually split it into five freezer-safe containers that would serve about four people each.

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Slow Cooker “Refried” Beans
Makes 18-20 servings.

    – 1, 32 ounce bag dried pinto beans (approximately 4 cups)
    – 1 onion, halved (leave the root end intact)
    – 2 jalapenos, diced (remove the seeds and ribs if you don’t like your food too spicy)
    – 3 teaspoons cumin
    – 12 cups water

First, dump the beans into the slow cooker. Always make a quick check through the beans for any rocks or other debris that might have snuck through. I actually found a corn kernel in mine once!

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Slice your onion in half and remove the outer skin. Throw the halves into the slow cooker (you’ll remove them when the beans are done). I’m actually thinking of trying a new approach next time where I chop up the onions and leave them in the finished beans – it seems like a waste to throw the onion away! 🙂

Next, slice the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds/ribs (if you want to tone down the spice). You may want to use gloves to handle the peppers, as I learned the hard way this weekend. Spice burns are no fun.

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Yep, those innocent looking peppers did me in

Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on high for 8 hours. No need to soak the beans first! That’s one of my favorite parts of this recipe! 🙂 At first it looks like a lot of water, but over time the beans really soak it up. I took some pictures throughout the afternoon:

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Beans don’t photograph very well, do they? 🙂 Sort of a brown mush…but they are delicious! And nutritious!

At the end of the eight hours, pull out the onion and mash the beans with a potato masher to your desired consistency. Drain off a few spoonfuls of water if it looks like there’s a lot, you can always add it back into the mashed beans until they come to your desired consistency. I get mine pretty smooth with a masher, but I suppose if you like really smooth beans, you could use a blender.

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Then, I package up my beans for the freezer! They freeze really well and are great to pull out for a variety of Mexican dishes, but they are also great as a dip or on top of salads.

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Questions of the Day!
Has anyone else gone through a fitness rut? How did you break out of it?
Is “taco night” a frequent occurrence at your house? What are your favorite taco toppings?

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Mexican-Style Rice, Beans and Spiced Steak

Last night for dinner I whipped up a series of quick and easy Mexican favorites for dinner. I’m making a concerted effort to use up the abundance of food in my freezer, instead of buying more, so two flank steaks came out of the freezer and were defrosted to contribute to my little fiesta. The result – steak and bean burritos!

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The burritos are actually made up of several easy recipes. Each of these recipes is a favorite of mine – and they can be used individually or combined to make lots of Tex-Mex favorites! Up first…

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Quick & Easy Mexican-Style Rice
Serves four.

    – 1 cup uncooked rice (I used brown rice)
    – 1 ¾ cups chicken stock (or water, or a combination of both)
    – ½ cup salsa

Combine the rice, chicken stock and salsa in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 45 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. You can add more liquid to the rice if it looks dry during cooking. Because I use brown rice, it takes 45 minutes which isn’t exactly a “quick” recipe per say, but is it quicker than chopping up all the veggies! If you want to make the switch to white rice, it will reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes.

Quick & Easy Spiced Black Beans

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Serves two to three.

Rinse and drain the black beans (did you know that rinsing canned beans can reduce the sodium levels by up to 40%?!). Combine beans and seasoning in a microwave-safe dish with a tablespoon of water. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, until heated through. Mix to thoroughly combine.

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Fajita-Spiced Steak
Serves two to four (depending on serving size).

    – Two medium steaks (flank steak and flat iron are great for this purpose)
    – 3 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning
    – 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    – 1 tablespoon onion powder
    – Salt and pepper, to taste

Let the steaks come to room temperature, and coat in the seasonings (including salt and pepper). Grill to desired doneness. Let the steaks rest, and then slice against the grain.

Serving suggestions:
– Wrapped in tortillas with peppers and onion for fajitas.
– In tortillas with rice and beans (recipes above) for burritos.
– Pressed with cheese in tortillas for steak quesadillas (see my quesadilla recipe).
– Sliced on top of a salad with salsa.
– Make your own “burrito bowl” with rice, beans, and your other favorite toppings.

These recipes can be mixed and matched to make a ton of different Tex-Mex style dinners. And best of all, these recipes are easy to throw together with ingredients you probably already have on hand – no trip to the store necessary! 🙂