A perfect dish .. Basic Cowboy Beans
In these tough economic times everyone is looking at ways to save money. Thankfully with just a little planning, saving money on your food budget is pretty easy. Switching to less meat and more vegetables will not only save you money at the checkout but is good for your health. Beans are high in protein, high in fiber and filling and best of all it is cheap. Bean based meals are also a fantastic alternative to your regular meat and potato meal. I know it sounds like a good idea, but really, how many bean based meals can you make for your meat loving families before they stage an all out riot. Well here is one recipe that will satisfy even the pickiest carnivore. An added bonus is that this is one of those dishes that can be thrown in a crock pot and added to for busy weekends when you don't have time to cook. It also works great for potlucks and goes great with any Bar-b-Que.
Basic Cowboy Beans
This is one of those great old-time recipes that can be adapted to include just about any leftover in the refrigerator so use this recipe alone or as a handy way to use up that half an onion or left over burger.
When my children were little I made it almost weekly simply as a way to clean out the refrigerator and free up my weekends. It is a great recipe for busy families on the go because you can throw it in the crock pot and let everyone eat at will. If the pot starts to get a little low just throw in a few more cans of beans or a handful of meat and your are good to go.
Start with an assortment of beans. Either one or more in any combination will work great of:
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Black Beans
- Black eyed peas
- Kidney Beans
- Chili Beans
Canned or dry work just as well. If you are looking to really save money the dry beans is your best bet but canned beans are much faster. I have even bought regular baked beans or chilets on sale and added it to this recipe to add a little more flavor.
Next add your meats if you so choose. This recipe doesn't need meat but if your family complains about meatless meals a little for taste will go a long way to quell the complaints. Once again choose one cup or more in any combination of:
- chopped ham
- leftover roast beef, pork chops, or whatever else is left in the refrigerator
* For a completely meatless meal you may also choose to use flavored TVP or Tofu
Add a half cup or more in any combination of :
- chopped onion
- chopped green peppers
- chopped red peppers ( a package of stir-fry pepper mix works great for these first three ingredients)
- One or two chopped tomatoes
Now for our seasonings:
- A tsp of liquid smoke
- A tsp of soy sauce
- A tsp of Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Tbsp of flour to thicke
* if you like sweeter beans you may also add some brown sugar
* leftover rice may also be added .
Stir the entire mixture together and either put in a crockpot on high for 2 hours or low for 4 or 5 hours or bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour. This dish can also be made on the stove although it will be much more flavorful in a crock pot or in the oven.
This dish is one of those perfect simple dishes that can be easily adapted to the tastes of your family, simply add to or leave out ingredients at will. It is also a great dish in which to sneak in a cup of blended up vegetables in order to thicken the mix and add more vegetables to your families diet. I used this dish a lot when we were first starting to become vegetarian. It was filling and with just enough meat in it that they did not miss it. It also helped my family of eight make it through some tough economic times. Today it is still a family favorite and staple at summertime family picnics.