Thursday, July 11, 2013

rice and beans three ways.

despite the fact that i have owned a crock pot for nearly three years, i literally only use it for beans. i distinctly remember being at bed bath & beyond when we were spending our wedding giftcards, trying to figure out which appliance we were going to put back to make sure we could get a crock pot (i think it was the popcorn maker that got nixed), because it was absolutely essential that we have a crock pot. looking  back i have NO idea what my twenty year old newly married self (that, mind you, could barely make a quesadilla at that point) thought i was going to do with a crock pot that made it so important, because, like i said, i only ever use it for beans. 

but dont think that means that we dont ever use it, because we eat a lot of beans. and by a lot of beans, i mean A LOT OF BEANS. we have some kind of rice-and-beans combination for dinner at least once a week. why? because its a cheap, healthy, easy dinner that freezes well and most of the time alice will eat it. ok, sometimes alice will eat it. but thats more than i can say for most dinners these days. 

anyways, since beans are such a staple in our family, i thought id share my three favorite rice-and-bean combinations. the process for each is the same: 


soak 1 pound of dried beans in a large bowl overnight. in the morning, rinse the beans and put them in the crock pot with any other ingredients listed and cook on low for most of the day (about six hours, unless you live on top of a mountain and then its more like eight), checking every couple hours and adjusting the seasonings as necessary. if you dont have all day or forgot to soak, theres always this method, which is also fantastic. 


honestly i just use a rice cooker, following the factory directions for the rice/water ratios and adding whatever extra ingredients in the beginning. but you could also make it on the stove by combining 2 parts water with 1 part rice and seasonings in a large pot. bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes. 

so here are the recipes:

black beans: for the beans, add 2-3 cloves garlic, salt, oregano, cilantro and bayleaf. for the rice add butter, salt and oregano. top with cheese if desired. i think this one is my favorite because its very similar to the rice and beans at wahoos, so obviously its a great accompaniment to fish tacos as well as a meal on its own. 

pinto beans: for the beans, add 2-3 cloves garlic, salt, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 finely chopped jalapeno, 1/2 an onion, cumin and chili powder. for the rice add butter, salt and cilantro. top with cheese if desired, or make into burritos or nachos or anything really, these pinto beans are by far the best ive ever had. (they also go REALLY great with chipotle mayonnaise, which just like the name implies, is mayonnaise mixed with canned  chipotle peppers). 

kidney beans: for the beans, add 2-3 cloves garlic, 1/2 an onion, 1 chopped green bell pepper, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons creole seasoning. for the rice just add butter and salt. this would also be really good with some spicy sausage, but thats not something we usually have around the house. 

making beans at home is not only easier than it looks, its also WAY cheaper (and less wasteful) than buying canned beans. 1 pound of dried beans generally costs $1-2, and makes the equivalent of FOUR 15 oz cans of beans (which generally run anywhere from .80 to $1.50), so even if you pay the higher price for the beans youre still saving a couple bucks AND ending up with MUCH better tasting beans. 

those are my favorite bean recipes, what do you like to make with beans?

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