13 March 2010

Crock pots

Today I am grateful for my slow cooker/crock pot. I love that I can throw everything in it and then forget about it for several hours, often right up until serving time. Recently, I made homemade fat-free refried beans in it. My husband is Mexican and shuddered when I told him they would be fat-free. He did not believe it was possible to make them without lard. I asked him to just try them and then if he doesn't like them, I would not make them again. Fortunately, he loved them and ate a bunch of them almost as soon as they were done. Here is how I made them:
1 pound dry pinto beans
9 cups of water
1 large onion, peeled and halved
1/2 a jalapeno pepper, seeded, and diced (use caution when preparing as the juice will sting other body parts if you touch them after cutting the pepper)
1/4 tsp white pepper (black would probably work just as well)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste

I pre-soaked my beans, but it may not be necessary. Then I combined everything except the salt in the crock pot and set it on high for 10 hours. When they were done, I drained the water, reserving some of it, and used a potato masher to mash it all together. A hand blender would also work, but I wanted them to be a little more chunky. Add salt to taste (we liked about 1/2 tsp) and water from cooking as needed. The onion will mash right down as well so don't let the large pieces scare you. Also, the jalapeno does not really add any spice, just some flavor, so do not be afraid of putting it in. My 1 and 3 year olds were able to eat these without a problem.

Anyway, that is just one of many foods I have been able to make in my crock pot. I also love that I can put foods in it to keep warm, especially when attending a pot luck or something similar. So tell me, what do you use your crock pot for? Do you have any yummy recipes to share?

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