Thursday, January 12, 2012

Slow Cooker Pinto Bean Bonanza

So I was looking for a recipe that would branch me out of my box. This one turned out pretty good! This was my first pinto bean experience, plus, I just love any recipe that I can use the crockpot for! :D


  • 2 slices bacon
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 1/2 pound kielbasa sausage, cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can ranch-style beans
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion


  1. Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; crumble bacon when cool.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in pinto beans. Simmer over medium-low heat until the beans soften, about 30 minutes; pour beans and water into a slow cooker. Stir in the bacon and bacon drippings, kielbasa, ranch-style beans, tomato paste, dried onion, apple cider vinegar, pickled jalapeno, sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Set the cooker to Low, and cook until pinto beans are very tender, 9 to 10 hours.
  3. About 5 minutes before serving, stir in chopped green pepper. Serve topped with chopped green onion.

As per usual, no jalapenos or green peppers were harmed in the making of this dish. I ended up adding the full package of Kielbasa (about a pound total), partly because I didn't know what do with the rest, and when I added the half pound, it really didn't look like enough. I followed the directions with the beans, and by 10 hours of crock-potting on low, they were still a bit hard for my taste, so I may increase the pre-crockpot boiling time by 5 minutes or so. And I used one medium white onion instead of the the dried onion. Seemed to work out fine. The whole dish had a really good smoky flavor, and was great served over rice with some cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

    Brean and I had "the kid talk" today. This topic has come up many times in our almost 7 years of marriage. Everyone and their brother asked about us having kids about year 3 or marriage. That continued for about a year, and after repeated "we are not planning on having kids" it died down. Then everyone started having kids, and I thought to myself "I want a kid!" (I know, you probably didn't know that I had ever crossed the "never wanting kids" line, did ya? :P) So for several months, I was planning on how that would work, and what in our lives would change, and how would daycare work, etc. Then I realized - I still didn't actually WANT kids. I wanted it because everyone else had it and it seemed like the thing to do. We had been married for the "appropriate" amount of time, we had a house - it just seemed like the "right" time. So now I'm back on the "no kids" plan.
    Brean said today "we need to make a firm decision in the next year or so about whether we are going to have kids or not". I kinda freaked out. After much talking, we decided we are still at the decision of no kids for now, with open hands that the decision could change in the future. I'm scared to fully commit to saying 100% that I will not ever have children, because I don't know if I would ever honestly be able to say that. I know that if we don't, I will have "what ifs", and I don't want to live a life followed by regrets. Brean would make a FANTASTIC dad, and I don't know if saying no to kids is fair to him, or to the fabulous grandparents that my in-laws would make.
     I love our life right now. And I love that we were able to talk about our fears and our hopes, and still come together in the end to say that, for now, the plan is not to have kids. But if that plan changes in the future, it will be ok.

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