Cheesy Bean Dip

These beans are seriously addictive. I was tasting them to adjust the salt, and I couldn’t stop eating them. Don’t eat canned refried beans. They are the worst. You can make these with just 10 minutes of hands-on time! Even better, they are freezer friendly, so you can have amazingly delicious refried beans whenever you want!

Cheesy Bean Dip


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 16

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dried pinto beans
  • 12 cups water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 4-5 cups diced onion 4 medium onions
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar optional

Instructions

  1. Sort through beans removing any rocks. Rinse beans if desired and add to a large pot with the water. Soaking beans is not necessary! Bring to a boil and set your stove at a temperature that barely maintains a boil when pot is covered. Boil 2 hours or until beans are very tender.
  2. Reserve 3 cups of bean broth. Drain remaining liquid and set drained beans aside.
  3. Add oil to pot and turn heat to medium. When oil is hot add onions and turn heat to high. (I don't heat the oil on high to avoid potential kitchen fires.) Cook onions until lightly browned and translucent.

  4. Add beans, salt, and 2 cups of broth to the pot. Simmer at least 10 minutes to allow the flavor of the onion and salt to incorporate into the beans.
  5. Add cream cheese and mozzarella. Puree using an immersion blender until the beans are your desired consistency. Add more bean broth if desired to reach a smoother texture. I like to have some whole beans in the mix so 2 cups was perfect for me. 

  6. Top with shredded cheddar if desired. To be more fancy, transfer to a baking dish, top with cheddar, and keep warm at 250 degrees until you are ready to serve.

Canned refried beans are fine, sorry I said they are the worst, but homemade are so much better that they don’t even fall in the same food category. My mom spoiled us and always made homemade refried beans. I didn’t know there was any other way to eat refried beans for years. I still make homemade refried beans all the time, and the key to their amazing flavor is onions cooked in oil and the right amount of salt. This recipe was born because I had an extra block of cream cheese I needed to use up. Homemade refried beans are amazing, adding some cheese makes them irresistible.

I’ve already tried this dip out on dinner guests, and that’s going to happen a lot in the future. It’s the perfect dish to serve a crowd.

The health benefits of subbing this bean dip for your typical nacho cheese are ridiculous! Pinto beans are high in protein, fiber, vitamins B1 and B6, iron, magnesium, and potassium among other things. They can lower cholesterol, lower your risk of a heart attack, and increase your digestive health! Yay for beans! When I say lean protein you probably picture oven-roasted chicken. Well, no more! Pinto beans for president!

It’s easy to top this bean dip with other powerhouse health foods like salsa, onions, avocado, hot sauce, and tomatoes! Although I wouldn’t say no to a nice dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy!

Cheesy Bean Dip – Get Hooked on Cooking – These beans are seriously addictive. I was tasting them to adjust the salt, and I couldn't stop eating them. Don't eat canned refried beans. They are the worst. You can make these with just 10 minutes of hands-on time! Even better, they are freezer friendly, so you can have amazingly delicious refried beans whenever you want!

Tortilla Soup

This soup is so easy, healthy, and delicious! The base is fresh and flavorful, and there are so many amazing toppings mixed in that each spoonful is a treat. There’s nothing like the combination of creamy queso fresco, rich avocado, crunchy tortilla strips, and lean chicken. If you are looking to eat healthier this year, why not start with this yummy hot soup? It is packed with tomatoes, avocado, onions, garlic, and chicken. How can you say no to superfoods and lean protein?

Tortilla Soup


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

Soup

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1-2 cups yellow onion, diced (1 medium-large onion)
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 lbs roma tomatoes
  • salt to taste

Toppings

  • 2 avocados
  • 10 oz queso fresco
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced
  • 6 corn tortillas cut into strips
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat until hot, 3-5 minutes. Add oil and heat until hot, 30-60 seconds. Add onion, cook 1 minute stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute stirring occasionally.
  2. Add whole tomatoes. You do not need to cut the stems off the tomatoes! You do not need to dice them! But go ahead and do those things if you want. This is a low effort soup but I’m not going to fight you about how much effort you want to put in. That would make it high effort for me.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes are very tender.
  4. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or traditional blender until it is very smooth. Return soup to pot and season to taste with salt. I measured how much salt I put in so I could tell you guys, but then I promptly forgot how much I used. ½ a teaspoon sounds like a good starting place though.

  5. While the tomatoes are cooking, dice or crumble the queso fresco, prep your cooked chicken, and dice your avocado.

  6. Add 1 inch of oil to a separate small pot. Heat the oil over medium heat until it crackles when a drop of water is added. Slice the tortillas thinly and fry them 1-2 minutes until crisp.
  7. Serve soup hot with generous amounts of the toppings.

Recipe Notes

Tip: Queso fresco is easy to find at your local grocery store. Look for it in the cheese section.

I had an amazing roommate in college who shared my love of cooking. I still have some meals I make that she taught me and this is one of them. I had never heard of queso fresco before but, once I tried it, I was hooked. Don’t be intimidated by queso fresco; it is easy to find at your local grocery store in the refrigerated cheese section.

I love memories of eating this in our run-down college apartment. Cooking with someone else who loves to cook is a real treat for me. It’s so fun to share ideas and food.

It’s hard to find words to describe this soup because it’s so good and at the same time so unique. The ingredients are simple and they don’t hide behind a large list of seasonings. I don’t want to say “delicious” too many times but it’s hard not to. Stupendous! Fabulous! Fantastic! Too much?

The queso fresco is definitely one of the stars of this dish. It melts slightly when you add it to the hot soup, but doesn’t disappear into the soup like many cheeses would. The fried tortilla strips are the perfect complement to the other flavors and textures.

This soup is so easy there’s no reason to not try it! Bring some healthy deliciousness to your New Year!

Enjoy!

Tortilla Soup – Get Hooked on Cooking – This soup is so easy, healthy, and delicious! The base is fresh and flavorful, and there are so many amazing toppings mixed in that each spoonful is a treat. There's nothing like the combination of creamy queso fresco, rich avocado, crunchy tortilla strips, and lean chicken. If you are looking to eat healthier this year why not start with this yummy hot soup? It is packed with tomatoes, avocado, onions, garlic, and chicken. How can you say no to superfoods and lean protein?

Cheesy Beef & Black Bean Casserole

This casserole is loaded with veggies and flavor! Roasted fajitas make a delicious topping and up your vegetable count even more! Although, I wouldn’t say no to some sour cream if I had it on hand. This is a great make-ahead meal, and who doesn’t love a night off from cooking?

Cheesy Beef & Black Bean Casserole

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8

Ingredients

Cheesy rice layer:

  • 4 cups cooked rice, quinoa, or riced cauliflower (find it pre-riced in the frozen vegetable aisle)
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ¼ cup milk, I used 2%
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1 7 oz can fire roasted green chilies
  • 8 oz American cheese

Beef and black bean layer:

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ¼ cup taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 7 oz can fire roasted green chilies

For assembling casserole:

  • 8 oz Taco Bell mild border sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

Cheesy rice layer

  1. If using riced cauliflower, add it to a pot and cook until there is no excess water. Remove cauliflower from pot and turn heat to low. 

  2. Add remaining ingredients in cheesy rice layer to pot (leaving rice, quinoa, or cauliflower to the side).

  3.  Cook on low, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and stir in your rice, quinoa, or cauliflower.

Beef & black bean layer

  1. Add oil to a separate pan or pot. Heat over medium-high heat. 

  2. Brown ground beef in the oil. It does not need to be cooked through, just browned. 

  3. Add remaining beef and bean layer ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally 3-5 minutes until the peppers and onions are cooked and the mixture has thickened.

Assembling casserole

  1. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Pour the cheesy rice in the pan and spread it in an even layer. Top with half of the taco bell sauce. Add the beef and bean layer and spread it evenly. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.

I love Mexican food! This casserole is a quick and delicious way to get your Mexican food fix. You can pair it with your favorite bean, rice, or veggie recipe. Or just load it up with toppings. I chose to top this casserole with roasted fajitas and I don’t regret it.

Mexican casseroles are such an awesome way to food prep! You can put this casserole in the freezer or fridge to bake later. But my favorite way to food prep is to cook up the casserole and divide it into ready-to-go lunches. Convenient pre-made lunches? Yes, please!

This has a yummy cheesy-rice layer which you can make with rice, quinoa, or riced cauliflower. I happened to make this one with a mixture of brown rice and quinoa but I’ve made it with cauliflower and it was delicious! For a short-cut, you can find pre-riced cauliflower in the frozen vegetable section of your grocery store! If you do use cauliflower make sure you cook it until you don’t see any liquid in the bottom of the pan. You don’t want your cheesy-rice layer to be runny.

To achieve cheesy perfection you need to use American cheese. Public service announcement: American cheese and Kraft Singles are not the same thing! (Thank you for listening.) You can find American cheese at (almost) any grocery store deli. It is a lot firmer than Kraft Singles, but still has a delightful melty quality.

My 3-year-old reminded us over and over not to put any peppers or onions on hers. “Mom, don’t forget I don’t like peppers. I don’t like those. I don’t like those onions or peppers.” Yes, I didn’t forget. Fortunately she’s in a phase where she’ll eat most Mexican food if you put sour cream all over it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any sour cream on hand, definitely a rarity in our house. Still delicious.

Enjoy!

Cheesy Beef & Black Bean Casserole – Get Hooked on Cooking – This casserole is loaded with veggies and flavor! Roasted fajitas make a delicious topping and up your vegetable count even more! Although, I wouldn’t say no to some sour cream if I had it on hand. This is a great make-ahead meal, and who doesn’t love a night off from cooking?