Homemade, Traditional Refried Beans

Who doesn’t love refried beans?  Especially true, homemade, traditional refried beans.

I grew up in the Southwest so I was surrounded good, traditional Mexican food and my favorites are those that are simple and classic with no frills or fusion flair added.

Traditional refried beans definitely fall into that category.  They are simple, stick to your ribs, comfort food that can be dressed up or down as needed.  So although this recipe is beyond simple, it is a great tool to have in your toolbox to whip out any time you need it.  It is the perfect filling for burritos, the base for a fantastic bean dip or a simple side for fajitas, tacos, or even steak!

IMG_0661

So lets talk beans.

You will want to start with cooked pinto beans.  This can mean that you start your beans from scratch earlier in the day, use leftover pinto beans (which is what I do) or you can also use canned pinto beans, but I’ll be honest, unless they are home canned beans,  they just won’t be as flavorful as home cooked or canned beans.

Now, before we start, let me make this disclaimer: not everyone agrees on the issue of rinsing and draining beans.  Some will tell you, you MUST… others that it isn’t necessary but the truth of the matter is that it depends on your own family.  If someone in your family has… ehem… digestive issues… (my Grandma Hilda would smack me for even referring to such things) due to eating beans, then soaking and rinsing your beans is the best thing you can do.  I never bothered with this step for a long time and my husband would be miserable for 24 hours afterward.  When I finally gave in and started rinsing the beans, it made a big difference!  So for us, we soak & rinse.

If you are not used to cooking your own pinto beans from scratch, here are two easy methods that you can use.

  1. Slow Cooking – Start by pre-soaking your beans overnight.  In the morning, drain off the soaking liquid, rinse the beans and replace the liquid with fresh water.  Add your spices to the pot and cook on low for about 5 hours.
  2. Pressure Cooking (my personal favorite) – Put your beans in the pressure cooker  and fill the pot 2/3 full of water.  Bring up to pressure, then vent your cooker until all the steam is released.  Drain off the cooking liquid, rinse the beans and replace the liquid with fresh water.  Add your spices to the pot and bring back up to pressure.  Pressure the beans for 18 minutes.  *IF you are using the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and if you do not intend to rinse your beans then you can just do a quick soak for 15 minutes or so and then use the Beans/Chili button which will pressure for approximately 30 minutes.

Moving on to the good stuff.

The frying part.  (insert dreamy SIGH here.)

Isn’t everything just tastier when it is fried?  Now before you go judging me with your low fat, low calorie gavel, that trial was thrown out long ago.  Now I’m not talking about deep fried twinkies here people, but incorporating some good ole’ butter or bacon grease in your cooking is, in fact, healthy.  Recent studies have also shown that a high sugar diet is the real culprit for cholesterol and triglyceride issues.

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20100420/high-sugar-diet-linked-lower-good-cholesterol#1

As a matter of fact it has also been proven that our bodies cannot properly absorb the vitamins in our foods unless there is at least some animal fat in our diet.

Okay, I’ll step down from my soap box now.

Start by adding your lard or bacon grease to a non-stick type pan.  (I use well seasoned cast iron.)  Add finely diced onion, garlic and jalapeno or green chiles (all optional but will add great flavor; I suggest at least adding the onion.)  Saute veggies until translucent and very tender.  In the mean time, strain most of the liquid off of the beans and reserve the liquid for later.

Turn heat up to a moderately high heat and add your beans.  Mash well with a potato masher and then let the beans cook down and “fry” on the bottom.  After 5 minutes or so, stir the beans, scraping the bottom of the pan and allow to cook down and fry again.  Repeat this process until your beans have reached the desired consistency.  You can add the reserved bean liquid (or plain water if you don’t have enough) to moisten the beans, you can also do this with red enchilada sauce which will take the flavor over the top.    Keep the beans just a little more wet than you want your final texture to be.  As the beans cool, they will dry up a bit.  Add salt if needed.

IMG_0644

Traditional Refried Beans

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 cups cooked pinto beans

2-4 Tbl lard or bacon grease (you can use olive oil for vegan option)

1 small onion, diced

Garlic & jalapeno or green chiles (optional)

Grated cheese (optional)

  1. Add lard or bacon grease to a non-stick type pan.  (I use well seasoned cast iron.)  Add finely diced onion, garlic and jalapeno (all optional but will add great flavor; I suggest at least adding the onion.)  Saute veggies until translucent and very tender.  In the mean time, strain most of the liquid off of the beans and reserve the liquid for later.
  2. Turn heat up to a moderately high heat and add your beans.  Mash well with a potato masher and then let the beans cook down and “fry” on the bottom.  After 5 minutes or so, stir the beans, scraping the bottom of the pan and allow to cook down and fry again.  Repeat this process until your beans have reached the desired consistency.  You can add the reserved bean liquid (or plain water if you don’t have enough.)
  3. Add salt if needed.

*If you really want great flavor, you can season/moisten the beans with red enchilada sauce.

If you would like the recipe for my Pinto Bean Spice you can click HERE.

Refried Beans_1

Healthy, Homemade Velveeta Style Cheese

As I have said before, one of my passions in cooking is Redeeming Comfort Food.  Finding ways to enjoy those foods that are total guilty pleasures and making them GUILT FREE is super fun and completely supportive of a “homestead state of mind.”  Cooking from scratch and reclaiming your health with super nutritious foods is incredibly rewarding

So what is one of the biggest guilty pleasure foods of all time?  Processed Cheese.  We can all pretend to be above such highly processed, preservative ridden junk food but lets be honest here, it’s ooey-gooey, creamy and melty in a way that in many recipes, you just can’t get with good ole’ fashioned cheese.

Or can you?

IMG_4389

With 3 simple ingredients, this recipe uses real food to produce the same cheesy product with no chemicals, no preservatives, no additives, no artificial ANYTHING.

In fact, the addition of a good quality gelatin actually boosts the nutritional value.

So here’s how it’s done:

Healthy, Homemade Velveeta Style Cheese

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz grated cheese
  • 1 heaping, half tablespoon gelatin
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Grate cheese of your choice.  (I used a mixture of Cheddar and Colby Jack cheese this time, whatever you have on hand will do.)
  2. “Bloom” gelatin by sprinkling it over 1 tablespoon of water in a separate bowl.
  3. Bring milk to a boil on the stove.
  4. Add grated cheese to your food processor or blender.
  5. When milk is boiling, (be careful not to scorch it) remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture.
  6. Start blender/food processor and slowly add milk mixture until will blended.
  7. Immediately scrape out your cheese mixture into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hrs or overnight.

DIY Velveeta_1

The possibilities are now endless for you.  The world is your bowl of Queso, or Broccoli Cheese Soup… or Green Chili Chicken Soup…

You get the idea.

Any recipe that uses processed cheese is now free game!  Go crazy!

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatloaf

Could that name BE more irresistible?

I think not.

This meatloaf came from my adventures in Redeeming Comfort Food.  Meatloaf is one of those comfort foods that are just down right satisfying.  I think at times it gets a bad rap as though it were something mundane; but if you’ve ever known a really GOOD meatloaf, you’ll know that it’s much more.

Growing up, my mom’s meatloaf was a standard around our house and loved by all.  It was her mom’s recipe and it was fabulous.  But I have long sought after a meatloaf recipe that was “real food” approved that had the same satisfaction power as Mom’s.  Even Mom herself had tried different recipes but alas, none could compare.  It just couldn’t be beat.

However, a change needed to be made because we have discovered that my 5 year old daughter has an allergy to dairy and I have… not quite an allergy… but a negative response (with my thyroid condition) to wheat.  Because of this, our style of eating (with the exception of special occasions–or when the hubby is craving something) is becoming not quite paleo… but largely dairy and wheat free.  Up this point, any attempt at a Paleo style meatloaf had been seriously disappointing in comparison to the old family recipe.  But after much experimentation and many failed attempts…

TA DA!  This recipe is fantastic.

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatloaf

Note: I typically double this recipe and put half in the freezer for another day, but for the sake of clarity and form, I will give amounts for a single recipe of this meatloaf.  (This recipe feeds our family of two adults and two young children with  plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches.)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Finely dice 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 small onion and 1 Tbl of minced garlic.  (The garlic was late to arrive and missed the photo op here.) 

Meatloaf_1

Saute in a cast iron skillet for 5-7 minutes; to the skillet, add 1 Tbl of dried thyme and 1 tsp of salt, cooking another 30 seconds until fragrant.

Note: if you have fresh thyme, make a well in your vegetable mixture and add your thyme and salt, directly to the pan.  When cooking with dried thyme (powder) I just stir it right in to the veggies.

Meatloaf_2

Meanwhile, back at the counter top, Mix 1 lb of ground red meat (beef, elk, venison etc.–we use elk in this recipe and it is fantastic) with 1 Tbl of Worchestershire sauce & 1/2 cup ground almonds (almond meal or almond flour is fine.)

When the veggies are done cooking, add them to your ground meat mixture and roll up your sleeves.

Meatloaf MUST be mixed by hand, if you are squeamish… (as my mother would say) “Oh well!” (translation, get over it, you will live.)  🙂

At this point, if I have doubled the batch, I separate my meat mixture in half and put half in a gallon sized zip top bag (with as much air expressed as possible) and press it flat (for easy stacking in the freezer.)

Meatloaf_3

Form the other half of your meat into a loaf, and put it into your choice of pan.

Criss-cross (lattice style) your bacon strips across the top of your meatloaf, and it’s ready to pop into the oven.

After baking for 45 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven.

Meatloaf_4

Now is the time for the crowning glory (as if bacon alone wasn’t enough.)  Baste with your choice of BBQ sauce.  For this meatloaf recipe I prefer my own Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce (something smoky, sweet & slightly fruity.)

Bake for approximately 15 minutes longer and it should look something like this.

Meatloaf_5

Serve with additional BBQ Sauce on the side if needed.

Meatloaf_6

 

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatloaf

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

  • 1 lb ground beef, elk or venison
  • 1 each, carrot, celery stalk & small onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbl Oil (for vegetable saute)
  • 2 Tbl minced garlic
  • 1 Tbl fresh Thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbl Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

Top with:

  • 6-8 strips of nitrate free bacon
    • Home cured bacon puts this recipe OVER THE TOP!
  • 1/2 cup (or so) BBQ Sauce (if you are going for a healthy version please use homemade or find a brand with NO High Fructose Corn Syrup.)
    • If you cannot, or choose not to use BBQ Sauce in this recipe you can brush the bacon with real maple syrup before baking instead.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Saute diced vegetables in oil for 5-7 minutes, add in thyme and salt and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove vegetable mixture from heat and cool slightly.  Mix vegetables, Worchestershire sauce and almond meal with ground meat (by hand) until well mixed.

Form meat into a loaf and criss-cross the bacon in a lattice pattern across the top of your meatloaf.

Bake for 45 minutes, remove from oven and baste with BBQ sauce.

Bake an additional 15 minutes.

My family LOVES this recipe and I hope yours does to!

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

 

 

Redeeming Comfort Food

I love food.

There, I said it.  I have a passion for food that goes beyond all reason.

Honestly, who couldn’t with a background like mine?  I come from a line of good cooks.  REALLY good cooks.

I was blessed to grow up with two Grandmothers who were fantastic cooks with dramatically differing styles.

Grandma & Poco3
My hilarious Grandma Jeanne

My Grandma Jeanne would put Martha Stewart to shame in a time when Pinterest wasn’t around.  She could lay the most elegant holiday table, complete with linen table cloths, goldware and stand out recipes that were to die for.

IMG_5165
My sweet Grandma Hilda

My Grandma Hilda was also a most accomplished home cook.  Her food was “down home” comfort food that would stick to your ribs and make everything right in the world.  She was the Macgyver of the food world.  She could create a feast with what seemed like nothing in the cupboards.  Her methods were miraculous and genius.

And then there’s my amazing mom.

Mom3

My incredible mom took her mother’s classy cooking and melded it with her mother-in-law’s down home country cooking with perfect balance.  It made for a heart-warming childhood.  🙂

So ya see, it’s not my fault… I am just a product of my environment.

I fell in love with cooking at the age of 15 with my first attempt to create my own “from scratch” version of BBQ sauce.  I picked up a bottle of store bought BBQ sauce, read the ingredients in an attempt to recreate it and made some BBQ grilled chicken that really wasn’t too shabby. It was my first attempt to cook without a recipe and the rest is History.  Years of working in restaurants only drove my passion further; I couldn’t help my constant need to improve on the recipes, and after my introduction to Food Network, well, I became a lost cause.

Over time, I have become what I call a “real food” foodie.  In an attempt to use my food obsession for good rather than evil, I have adopted a “clean eating” mind set.  Now, for the sake of transparency I will admit that I do not (nor do I intend) to eat 100% clean 100% of the time; but I strive to reduce our reliance on processed food as much as possible.

One of my favorite “real food” foodie past times is what I call “redeeming comfort food.”  Taking recipes and ingredients that I have (or really should have by now) forsaken, and find a way to enjoy them once again–guilt free, by rewriting the script with real food ingredients.

And when most of those ingredients come from forest or farm?

Sigh…

pure nirvana.