Two New Projects and a Recipe

I have two new projects on the docket, both crocheting. The first is a scarf for Aaron that will hopefully fit regulations so that he can wear it when it gets really cold and he has to go to work. The other is an afghan. I’m excited to get working on them! My plan is to at least start Aaron’s scarf tonight. I found a pattern for the afghan that I like, so hopefully tomorrow I will get some time to work on it. All depends on the little munchkin. 😉

Meanwhile I wanted to share with you my recipe for healthy refried beans (and for the shredded chicken) that I created tonight for our burrito dinner (complete with whole wheat tortillas, and chicken breasts minus the skin).

Refried beans:

1/2 cup of pinto beans, dried
1/2 cup of black beans, dried

Dash each of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder (plus more to taste)

1 clove of garlic, smashed

1/2 of a jalepano (fresh from our garden), without the seeds or the center (to make it  less spicy)

Olive oil
Frozen veggies (optional)

Cheese (I used 2% shredded Mexican cheese)

1. The first step is to rinse the beans. After rinsing the beans place in a saucepan that is big enough to hold them and about twice as much water. Also make sure that the pan has a lid that will fit.
2. Add water. (As stated above, use about twice as much water as beans, so in this case about 2 cups water. I just guesstimate on the actual amount.)
3. Add the seasonings, garlic, and jalepano to the water.
4. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Once it is boiling place the lid over the pot with a small amount open so that the steam can leave the pan and lower the heat to a low-medium.
5. Cook until the beans are soft. Try the “5 bean test” (from Anne Burrell on Food Network). Take 5 beans out of the pot (randomly) and test them to see how soft they are. Beans don’t cook evenly so it is important to test more than just one. With two different kinds of beans, I suggest trying 5 of each type.
6. Now here comes the sneaky part that you can leave out if you want, but that didn’t hurt the taste of the beans at all. Take some frozen veggies from your freezer (I chose one that had broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in it). Microwave it with a little bit of water so that they are no longer frozen. Then pour them into a blender or a food processor and puree until they are a smooth consistency (I used a little bit of chicken broth from the chicken I was boiling, more on that later, to help with liquid and flavor). Pour into a bowl and set aside for the moment.
7. Drain the beans and reserve the liquid. Pour beans into the blender or food processor. With the blender you may need to use the bean “juice” to help blend the beans. Puree.
8. Add the veggie puree to the beans. Blend to a smooth consistency.
9. Heat some olive oil in a large pan. When the oil is hot, pour the beans into the pan. “Fry” the beans adding in cheese and any additional seasonings as desired.

The finished product looks something like this (its less yellowy and more of a brown color in person but the lighting was being tricky.)

It may take awhile to get the right consistency (how many times did I use that word in this recipe?) but it makes delicious, healthy beans. Aaron didn’t have any idea that it had veggies even in it (he still doesn’t know).  Feel free to experiment with the spice level.

*Note (2/2/12): I still make my beans pretty much this way. Check out my post on cooking beans here. I don’t re-fry them anymore to keep out as much oil as possible. And although the veggies were healthy and my husband didn’t notice the difference, I have been really lazy lately and haven’t been adding them. Adding veggies is a great way to sneak some healthy greens into your kid’s (or husbands) diet without anyone knowing. Just make sure that they are really well pureed or use baby food.

Boiled Chicken:

1 chicken breast per person eating (choose small chicken breasts)

Dash of cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder (same as above)
2 jalepanos, use the seeds and the inside, cut into big strips so they can be removed later (same as above)
3 medium cloves of garlic, smashed (same as above)

1. Take the chicken breast, frozen, right out of the freezer and put into a pan big enough to hold the chicken and some water (this could be done in a crock pot as well if time is an issue but I don’t like the mushy-ness that comes from the crock pot).
2. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasonings. You can do both sides if you desire. If you want you can let the seasonings sit on the chicken for a bit to help it soak in. Or you can just go to the next step because the water will be seasoned by the seasonings and that will flavor the chicken.
3. Cover the chicken, just barely, with water. Add the jalepanos, seeds, and garlic.
4. Bring to a roiling boil. After it reaches a roiling boil reduce heat to simmer. Allow to simmer until the chicken can easily be torn apart and most of the liquid is gone (how much liquid the chicken soaks up depends on how much you start out with).
5. Let cool. Shred the chicken in a bowl.
6. If there is a lot of liquid left in the pan, drain the majority of the water leaving just a couple of tablespoons in the pan. This would be the time to remove the garlic and jalepanos as well. (Save the broth. It can be used next time you cook chicken, in the beans, or any other way that you can think of. It is a delicious, spicy, chicken broth.)
7. Return the shredded chicken to the pan with the little bit of liquid left in it. On a low heat reheat and allow the rest of the liquid to soak into the chicken. When the majority of the liquid has soaked in and the chicken is hot again, pour back into the bowl and serve.

Here’s what the shredded chicken looks like. It doesn’t look spicy but I promise it has a kick to it, thanks to the jalepanos and seasonings.

The best way to serve these ingredients is on a whole wheat tortilla with a little bit of salsa (best if homemade) and a small amount of shredded cheese.

It does take me about two hours of cooking time to prepare this dinner but most of the cooking time I don’t have to do anything because the beans and chicken are simply boiling away. Start the beans first because they definitely take the longest amount of time. All in all it is a delicious, homemade, heart friendly meal that is pretty simple to create. Enjoy! 🙂

*Note (2/2/12): Since posting this I have fallen in love with my crock pot and fast ways to make recipes that I love. I have learned that making beans from scratch is so easy in the crock pot! I usually make the beans up the night before, then rinse the crock pot and put defrosted chicken in it with some water and salsa or the ingredients listed above. Then I let the crock pot do its job! This saves me time and I can leave it cooking while running errands or taking care of the boys without worrying about it boiling over or getting over cooked.

I love to hear what you are thinking!

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