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Easy Vegetarian Refried Beans

refried beans

Is everyone looking forward to Memorial Day weekend?  It seems like all the schools around here are out and the kids are jumping for joy.  This is kind of weird to me.  Back when I was growing up Memorial Day didn’t mean all that much in terms of summer.  We had to go right back to school the following week.  I remember one year where we didn’t get out until June 6th.  And the summer still felt pretty long to me…in a good way, of course.  I was all about running barefoot, playing Donkey Kong Country, and reading Jane Eyre.  Yep, I was a weird kid.  Am I the only one whose school let out so late?  Tell me it wasn’t only me!

On to the joys of food.  Who is a refried bean lover like me?  I’ve known a lot of people who don’t really like them at all.  I think it’s a texture thing.  But I don’t mind.  More for me!  😎

I’ve made a lot of refried beans over the years, but I think this recipe is probably my favorite.  First of all, it’s incredibly easy.  It takes about twenty minutes to put together.  And then there’s the fact that it’s vegetarian.  Woohoo.  The original recipe called for bacon fat, but I used es olive oil instead.  I still eat a little meat every once in a while, but I’m seriously straining to think when the last time I had bacon was.  (And the Internet suddenly did a collective shudder at that comment). 😉

I also really like these beans because of that hint of spice from the jalapeño.  I do not abide bland beans.  Just like I don’t like bland salsa.  Around here everyone loves their store-bought “mild” salsa.  Not me, I’m a rebel.  A rebel who watched Gilmore Girls.  Yep.  I’m pretty hard core, huh?

Anyway, this is made with canned pinto beans just to keep things easy.  Generally I like to use dried beans, but sometimes you just want some instant gratification, you know?

refried beans

So what do I do with these refried beans?  Well, given that Memorial Day is just around the corner, these beans would be fantastic in a seven layer salad.  Or how about alongside the grilled food with some guacamole, salsa, and chips for dunking?  Seriously, just give me that.  I can make a meal out of it.

But my favorite way to have these refried beans is on a homemade taco pizza.  Just slather it on that crust and I’m a happy camper.  I seriously love taco pizza. 😍

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  Make sure to eat some s’mores or at least toast a marshmallow.  I’m pretty sure it’s the law. 😉

refried beans

(Adapted from a refried beans recipe from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2001-2016).

Easy Vegetarian Refried Beans
  • 2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup minced onion
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  1. Measure out 1 cup of pinto beans and set aside.
  2. Place remaining beans, broth or water, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  3. Add in reserved pinto beans and pulse just slightly, until chunky.
  4. Place olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add in onion, jalapeno, and cumin. Cook until softened and just beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and add in bean mixture. Cook until thick and creamy, 4-6 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, add in cilantro and lime, and serve.



S’mores Bars

s/mores bars

There are so many tempting combinations in the food world.  How about salty and sweet?  Or we can get more specific.  Chocolate and pretzels.  How about cookies and milk?  Or peanut butter and chocolate?  Hungry yet?  😄

But in the world of fabulous food combinations the one that I envision wearing the sparkly crown and singing “I’ve got a golden ticket” is that wonderful combo of chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallow.  All hail s’mores!

I could eat s’mores any dang time of the year.  I mean, I have a small kitchen torch.  This option is open to me.  But having them in the spring and summer just seems correct.  Standard procedure.  Like a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  It’s just what you do, and you don’t mind doing it at all.  Because yum!

Let me be honest.  I’d probably go camping just to get my little paws on some s’mores.  But as time goes by I’ve discovered something odd.  Even though I love traditional campfire s’mores, I love s’more desserts more.

s'mores bars

It all started about six years ago when I made my first batch of s’more bars.  Not this recipe.  A different one, but also good.  That one was from Food Network.  It was a heavenly experience.  Plus with bars you don’t have that Luke from Gilmore Girls “jam hands” issue after you get done having one. (Please someone else know that reference 😀).  I CANNOT abide having sticky hands.  It drives me up the wall. Whenever I have regular s’mores I have to have ten moist paper towels with me to fix the problem when it inevitably occurs.  So the less messy bar option really appealed to me.

Since them I’ve made s’more cake, s’more fudge, s’more ice cream, s’more pie, and s’more pudding.  I’m just a little s’more cheerleader with graham-colored pom poms.

So if you like s’mores too you with LOVE these bars.  Tender and gooey on the outside, CHEWY on the inside.  You guys.  Seriously.  The chewy, soft interior of this bar will make you recite Willy Wonka lines too.  It is SO incredibly satisfying.  And they are SO easy to make.  Can you say potlock?  And don’t let the kids get them all.  Make sure to hide a few for yourself. 😉  Happy s’moring!

s'mores bars

(Adapted slightly from a s’mores bar recipe on Glorious Treats)

5.0 from 1 reviews
S'mores Bars
  • For crust:
  • ½ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • For bar:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • For topping:
  • 2 Hershey bars broken into small pieces
  • 1 graham cracker broken into small pieces
  • ½ cup mini marshmallows
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter until the crumbs are completely moistened.
  3. Pat into the bottom of your prepared pan and place in the freezer while you make the main part of the bar.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars and butter until well mixed. Add in eggs one at a time and blend until combined, scraping down the bowl if you need to.
  5. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture with the mixer on low. Blend until just combined, then turn the mixer off.
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips and marshmallows with a wooden spoon until combined.
  7. Take the pan out of the freezer and add the batter on top of it, spreading it evenly over the graham cracker crust.
  8. Top the batter with the Hershey bars, graham cracker, and mini marshmallows, pressing them slightly into the batter.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until lightly golden brown.



Homemade Oat Milk

oat milk

You know that I like to make a lot of stuff that a normal, same person would normally buy.  Exhibit A: vanilla extract.  Exhibit B: peanut butter.  And now that the sun is out and the maxi dresses are on I should really make make creme de menthe marshmallows for you guys.  Because creme de menthe s’mores.  Need I say more?

So I’ve thought about making my own milk alternative for a long time now.  Most of the time I don’t actually drink regular milk.  I’m an almond milk or cashew milk kind of gal.  I do, however, like regular milk in my lattes and mochas.  Almond milk has a taste that, for me, competes too much with the espresso.

So finally one day I was listening to the Splendid Table Podcast and they were talking about homemade milks.  I didn’t realize you can make milk out of nearly anything.  Sure, I new about nut milks, oat milk, and rice milk, but lentil milk?!  I might be nerdy, but the idea really excited me.  A whole new world of milk possibilities opened up for me.

oat milk

So I had a bunch of steel cut oats sitting around.  I found a recipe and went wild.  Now, let me just say this milk is THICK and creamy.  I’ve never had store-bought oat milk before because hey, I live in the middle of nowhere.  If they had oat milk around here it would probably cost seven dollars for a half gallon.  And I’m nothing if not cheap. 😀  Anyway, where I’m going with this is I have no idea how this homemade version compares to oat milk at your local grocery store, but I find it wonderfully satisfying. And I will say that the creaminess is similar to Silk Almond milk, but, you know, minus the almond part.

This thick, wonderful milk is my new go-to choice when making oatmeal.  It makes oatmeal super-creamy and indulgent.  Because of its thickness it’s the perfect choice for batters of the pancake and waffle disposition too.   Yum.  And if you don’t want a milk quite this thick remember you can add 3-4 cups of water.  I usually go for about 3 1/2, but maybe go for 4 if you want a texture closer to regular cow’s milk.  You can also add whatever amount of sweeter that your heart desires (or none).  And of course I had to add a few dashes of cinnamon to give it an horchata sort of vibe.  That’s just how I roll.

And remember you can use the leftover oat pulp that you’ve strained.  Put it in smoothies to add a little more protein.  Or add it to your favorite muffin recipe.  So you waste nothing.  Cool, huh?

All right.  Time to catch my breath.  I’m getting way too excited about milk. 😉

(Adapted from an oat milk recipe on Food52)

oat milk

Homemade Oat Milk
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3-4 cups water
  • a dash of kosher salt.
  • sweetener (optional)
  • a dash of cinnamon (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl, place steel cut oats and enough water to cover over the top of them.
  2. Let the oats soak overnight.
  3. The next day, drain the oats and add them to a blender with 3-4 cups of water, depending on thickness preference.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pass the oat milk through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
  6. Add the salt, and the sweetener and cinnamon if desired.



Challah Sticky Buns

challah sticky buns

Two posts ago I had to bread out on you yet again when I made challah.  Ahh, remember that?  Soft and buttery.  Yum.  Now, I love bread as much, if not more, than the next person.  But I have to admit that whenever I make challah dough I’m tempted to use it to make these sticky rolls instead.  So here we go, people.  The diets are going out the window!  🎉

Sticky rolls or caramel rolls?  Sticky buns?  Or maybe cinnamon buns?  What do you call this wonderful bakery staple filled with pecans?  Up here in Minnesota I’ve noticed most people go for caramel rolls. After all, you make some delicious caramel goo.  Then when you have the kind smeared with cream cheese frosting the lines kind of blur.  These are more likely called cinnamon buns here.  I guess we never really use the term sticky bun.  That always conjures in my mind something like a hot cross bun or some monkey bread.  But I’ve definitely found that I’m in the minority with my use of caramel rolls.  In a lot of places when I say caramel roll people say “You mean sticky rolls?”  So Minnesota is just weird. 😀  Whatever you call these, you’ll be asking for seconds.

challah sticky buns

I have no problem kneading dough and putting some time and tlc into making sticky rolls.  I find it relaxing.  But these are sticky rolls for when you want things to go just a tad faster.  The dough rises like a dream.  And don’t forget that the challah is made with a generous amount of butter, eggs, and honey.  You know what that’s going to do to the sticky rolls.  It’s going to make them do a happy jig!  💃

These sticky rolls are soft, delicious, and definitely the perfect way to start the day.  I don’t know about you, but there is something about the combination of coffee and a sticky roll that makes me as content as a cat with a bowl of cream.

Sticky rolls have got to be one of my favorite things to make (along with pie.)  I just love making the dough and the whole darn process.  I really feel like I’m creating something from nothing. Of course all baking and cooking involves that, but I guess those two just put me in my happy place.  What are your favorites?

Happy snacking!

challah sticky buns

(From a pecan sticky roll recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff, Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois.)

Challah Sticky Rolls
  • 1½ lbs (or a cantaloupe-sized portion) of challah dough
  • For caramel topping:
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 30 pecan halves
  • For filling:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup chopped and toasted pecans
  1. For the caramel topping: Cream together the butter, salt, and brown sugar.
  2. Spread evenly on the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Scatter the pecans over this and set aside.
  3. Dust the refrigerated challah with flour and cut off your cantaloupe-sized piece. Dust with a little more flour and shape into a ball.
  4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Careful not to add too much flour to the dough or it can dry out. Aim for a ⅛ inch thick rectangle.
  5. Make the filling by creaming together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  6. Spread the butter mixture evenly all over the surface of the rolled-out dough. Scatter the pecan pieces over it.
  7. Starting with the long end, roll the dough up into a tight log. (If your dough seems too soft and hard to work with, chill for twenty minutes, then try again.
  8. Once you've formed the log, cut it into 8 equal pieces with a serrated knife.
  9. Place each piece on top of the butter/pecan mixture in your prepared pan, with swirl side facing up.
  10. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour if your using chilled dough or 40 minutes if it's fresh.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  12. Bake the buns for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the center.
  13. While hot, run a knife around the edge to loosen the rolls from the pan. Invert the pan onto a serving dish and serve while warm.