Easy Refried Beans in a Crock Pot

I spent the weekend holed up in a cabin with friends at a scrapbook-athon.  It was a blast -- even though I didn't scrapbook.   When we go on these weekends, we each take charge of a meal.  This time, we ended up with three straight days of Mexican food --everyone had the same idea.  Maybe because it's super easy to make, and it feeds a lot of people.

This recipe was inspired by my friend Lana who mentioned that she makes her refried beans in a crock pot.   I decided to give it a try.  It works great, and I didn't even have to soak my beans.

Tip:  If you start this recipe before you go to bed, the beans are are ready to go by morning.  Then you can clean out the crock pot and use it to cook shredded beef.   By diner-time, you have the makings for a meal, whether it's tacos, burritos, or nachos.   I freeze the leftovers and reheat them on a day when I'm too busy too cook.

3 cups dried pinto beans (I used 1 small bag of beans.)
10 cups water
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 packets Knorrs Homestyle Concentrated Stock (or 2 chicken bullion cubes)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

Rinse the pinto beans off in a colander by placing them under a faucet of cool running water.
Dump all the beans into a crock pot with the remaining ingredients and set the dial to high.
Cook for about 8 to 9 hours.

Check the beans for doneness.  If they are soft enough to smash, they are ready.   Drain off any liquid and save it.

Mash the beans with a potato masher.  Add some of the drained liquid back into the beans until you get the consistency you like.   {You can use plain water if you don't have enough reserved from the cooked beans.}  If I am making nachos or burritos, I like my beans a little thick.  But if I'm serving them as a side, I make them a little runny.

Taste the beans to correct the seasoning.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.  

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