Weekly Recipes: Refried Bean Burritos and Spaghetti

My family knows I absolutely love rice and beans; truly, it’s pretty much my favorite meal (stay tuned for my birthday meal!). My family tolerates this love, and even participates to a certain degree, though with varying degrees of enthusiasm based on person or bean-type. Baked beans are an adult-only delicacy (which I don’t understand because baked beans are amazing), black beans are tolerated as long as they come with plain, steamed white basmati rice. Refried beans, which for years had been side-lined as “utterly gross,” and “inedible” by my children, have been allowed back into the mix. Chloe really likes them mixed into a burrito. Liam tolerates a very small amount of them in his mainly rice and cheese burrito. Brian and I feast on the leftovers for easy lunches the rest of the week, so I call that a win.

Refried Bean Burritos
Yield: about 6 burritos

1 C dried pinto beans
1/2 large sweet onion
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 t smoked paprika
1 t cumin
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
3 1/2 – 4 C water
olive oil

olive oil
1 C basmati rice
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 ounces tomato paste
1/2 t sugar
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground oregano
sea salt and pepper
2 C water

burrito-sized flour tortillas, warmed in a foil packet
cheese of choice
salsa (optional)
sour cream (optional)
guacamole (optional)


In the Instant Pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and soften for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and spices and saute for 30 seconds. Turn off the saute function. Add the beans and water. Cook on Manual using medium pressure for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally, or carefully release it, and use the slow-cooker function to keep beans going as long as you’d like. I like to do this in the morning and then circle back to them in the evening, but you don’t have to do this step. The beans should be cooked fully.

Using an immersion blender, blend the beans until they’re pasty. If it’s too liquidy for your taste, you can turn the saute function back on again and cock the lid askew and cook them down a little for 10-15 minutes.

In a wide-bottomed skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and green bell peppers for 5 minutes. Add the jalapenos and garlic and rice and saute another 5 minutes, turning with a wooden spoon or spatula to keep the rice to brown and to keep the garlic from burning. Add the seasonings and turn to combine. Then add the tomato paste and water, stirring to dissipate the tomato paste. Cover and let simmer 20 minutes over medium-low heat, until rice is cooked through. If desired, you can stir some frozen corn in when rice is done and let set, covered, off the heat for a few minutes to thaw.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make a foil packet large enough to hold your flour tortillas. Sprinkle a little water onto the tortillas and seal in the packet. Heat in the oven 5 minutes. This will steam them up and make them pliable and delicious. Remove the steaming tortillas and fill: first rice, then beans, then toppings of choice. Seal-up by folding the tortilla up and over the fillings, tucking it a little with your fingertips under the toppings, then folding in the sides as you roll over and up. You may eat it now, or for added deliciousness, place the burrito back in the foil and heat 2 minutes, until cheese is extra melted.

Ah spaghetti. It’s a classic, and one I’ve made and tweaked a lot over the years as nutritional needs and tastes have evolved. For a few years I relished in making a “hidden veggie” version, where I would jam as many vegetables–carrots, celery, bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach–into the pot as I could, simmer it all down with the sauce, and then puree it all with an immersion blender. This was very handy when the kids were young and going through that phase where they’re suspicious of all vegetables except cucumbers. Now that they’re older, they love vegetables and eat a lot of them, so I find I’m able to focus my efforts on a more traditional red sauce. I like this one because it’s made rich by the addition of plenty of wine (you can add even more than the recipe calls for if you’ve got a bottle on its last legs that needs using). I no longer puree the sauce smooth, either, preferring the chunks for more texture, but you can certainly still do that if you have picky eaters hoping for a more commercial-style sauce.

I recommend Cento brand tomatoes because they’re the best-tasting store-bought canned variety I’ve found, but they are expensive. Sometimes this is alright (say for a special occasion meal), but other times spaghetti should be a cheap and accessible meal. Get whatever canned tomatoes you like. Often, when there’s been a good garden year, these are my own home-canned tomatoes. I can’t wait to get canning for this year!

Yield: 8-10 servings

olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced small
3 stalks celery, diced small
2 carrots, diced small
1/2 green bell pepper, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes (recommend Cento brand)
1 14 ounce can tomato sauce (recommend Cento brand)
1 6 ounce can tomato paste (recommend Cento brand)
1 C red wine
1/2 T dried parsley
1/2 T dried oregano
1/2 T dried basil
1 t dried marjoram
1/2 t ground fennel
1/2 t ground rosemary
2 bay leaves
a pinch of crushed red pepper
1/4 C sugar
sea salt and pepper

pasta of your choice, just remember to lightly salt the water
grated cheese of your choice for topping

Garlic Bread

Heat a few turns of the pan of olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute all of the vegetables up to the garlic 3-5 minutes, until soft, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and all of the seasonings except sugar, and saute for 1 minute. Add everything else. Cover. Bring it all to a low boil and immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer on low heat. Simmer covered for at least 1 hour (though I often let this go all day in the slow-cooker). Remove cover and, using the back of a wooden spoon, break-up the whole tomatoes by scooting them to the side of the pan and pressing gently until they “pop.” Keep cover removed and simmer another 30 minutes, letting it thicken slightly. Remove bay leaves and stir.

Cook pasta until al dente in salted water, about 6 minutes (usually a minute or so less than the package states). Drain and, if waiting to serve, drizzle a little olive oil over the noddles and toss with tongs to coat to keep them from sticking together. Ladle the sauce over the noodles, top with grated parmesan cheese (if desired) and garlic bread (optional).

Published by kelinmchull

Wife, mother, teacher, dreamer/doer, adventurer, wannabe farmer, writer, and all around curious gal.

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