Simply Refried Beans: How to Make Refried Beans from Scratch

How to make refried beans from scratch - minnesotafromscratch

Around here we enjoy our fair share of quesadillas and nachos so it only makes sense to cook up a large batch of refried beans once in a while.  I love the flavor and versatility that making them from scratch offers.  It doesn’t take up a lot of time, but it does require you to be around the house for at least a couple of hours. A batch can be completed before noon if you get started right away in the morning.



  • 16 oz. Pinto Beans
  • 1 large onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 2-4 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: 1-4 Jalapeno Peppers (diced)
Bean ready for a night in the fridge!

Beans ready for a night in the fridge!

Sort and rinse the beans, discarding weird ones and any rocks.  Soak beans overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Drain & rinse beans, then place in a large pot.  Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and simmer until the beans start to soften, approximately 1 hour.  Check periodically adding water as needed.   Throw in the onion, garlic, oil and any peppers, then continue simmering until the beans become soft, approximately 30 minutes.


Ready to be cooked down.

Remove the lid and cook down until the beans are soft enough to mash with a potato masher.  Keep an eye on the pot, stirring every 5 minutes or so, continue to add in water as needed.

Soft enough to mash!

Soft enough to mash!

Mash to your desired consistency and enjoy!

Mash to desired consistency and enjoy!

Mash to desired consistency and enjoy!

The beans can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week and portions can be frozen and used later.  You can always add water when reheating if they get overcooked (not possible) or start to dry out.


The Easiest Way to Prepare Perfectly Cooked Spaghetti Squash

Last weekend I picked up a spaghetti squash at the Farmer’s Market. I was pleasantly surprised to see them as my garden didn’t produce any this year.

Spaghetti Squash contains many vitamins such as vitamin A, C, B-6, K, thiamin, folate and more. They also contain several healthy minerals, fiber and are low calories and carbohydrates!

I have tried to prepare spaghetti squash several different ways over the years and this is by far my favorite way:

Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

How to prepare a spaghetti squash -

Wash the skin of the squash and dry it off.

Puncture the skin of the squash with a fork or knife all over.

How to prepare a spaghetti squash- -

Cut off the stem and cut the squash in half lengthwise (BE CAREFUL!)

Place the halves face down in a large 9×11 glass pyrex pan and fill the pan with 1/2″ of water.

Cook the squash for 30 mins.

To determine if the squash is cooked fully, pierce the skin with a fork. If the fork breaks through the skin easily, and the squash feels tender then it is done. If not, give it a few more minutes in the oven and check again.

How to prepare a spaghetti squash --

Remove from oven and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

How to prepare a spaghetti squash-- -

Use a fork to gently scrape against the squash to release the spaghetti-like strands.

How to prepare a spaghetti squash ---

Remove the “spaghetti” from the skin or eat right from the skin.

How to perfectly prepare a spaghetti squash -

Dress the “noodles” with whatever you’d like, I prefer plain ol’ spaghetti sauce more than anything else.

How to perfectly prepare a spaghetti squash ---

We like to eat it right out of the natural bowl it comes in at our house, it’s more fun that way!


Take care, StephanieHave you tried Spaghetti Squash before? If so, how do you prefer it?

Basil and Garlic Hummus Recipe – The Perfect Summertime Spread

If you are growing basil this summer, usually by this time of year you have more than you know what to do with. I have been on such a basil kick this season that I just cannot get enough; I am adding basil to almost everything I make! Then it dawned on me that basil hummus would probably taste great, and it definitely did! 

It is SO easy and the flavor is awesome, if you are a fan of fresh basil, you have to try this recipe. 

Ingredients (all organic):

  • 1 Can or 16 oz of garbanzo beans AKA chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 Cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 Garlic cloves, depending on how much of a garlic presence you want
  • 1.5 Tablespoons organic olive oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce if you prefer)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (whichever you prefer/have on hand)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (optional)
  • Lemon juice (optional)

Basil and Garlic Hummus Recipe --

Toss the beans, basil and garlic into a food processor and mix until ground up. Then add olive oil, vinegar and Bragg’s and process until it is to the desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper and serve! 

Basil and Garlic Hummus -

**If the hummus seems a bit dry, add a tad more of each liquid listed above, OR squeeze some fresh lemon juice in and process again. 

This hummus is great with pita bread, carrots, crackers, spread over cucumbers, or eaten by the spoonful 😉 and it only takes about 3 minutes to make. Can’t beat that! 

Take care, Stephanie

WIN a $200 Toys R Us Gift Card or $200 via PayPal #Giveaway!


Welcome to the $200 Toys R Us Gift Card Giveaway!


Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband that employs close to five hundred people. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her many grandchildren.

Roman has two wonderful sons and hit the jackpot in the daughter-in-law department. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. Her first book, Captain No Beard – An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life has been named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012 as well garnered the star of remarkable merit. Captain No Beard has developed into a series of 3 more books.



Her next project is the book series I Want To Do Yoga Too. She is currently working on a new educational series that explores different cultures from a child’s point of view. Carole has included Mexico, France and South Korea in the series. Turkey and Norway are coming soon!

Carole P. Roman would love the opportunity to have one lucky reader pick a country for an upcoming book.

In addition, the winner will get signed copies of all the books in the series and will receive the new book as soon as it is released. A second winner will win a $200 (USD) Toys R Us gift card or paypal cash.

Enter to win a $200 Toys R Us Gift Card or the chance to pick a country for Carole P. Roman’s “If you were me and lived in…” series

Complete the tasks below to earn entries into this giveaway.

Refer your friends using your unique link at the top of the Rafflecopter for even more chances to win.

One winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.

Open Worldwide.
Ends at 11:59pm EST on August 25th, 2013.

——>a Rafflecopter giveaway<——

This giveaway was coordinated by Giveaway Promote.

If you’re a blogger and would like to participate in a future giveaway event like this one, sign up for Giveaway Promote’s weekly giveaway events newsletter.

EvaOlivia Organics: Review and Giveaway! Luxury Skincare Products


Over the last five years or so, I have transitioned from conventional foods and drugstore beauty products to a mostly organic lifestyle. The first change I made was in my diet. Once my daughter was born and especially when she began eating, it was easy to commit to an organic diet. Sorry, GMO’s and pesticides are not meant for my child! But once I got eating organic down pat, I realized that many other parts of my daily life were also harmful to myself and my family. Over time I moved from my drugstore lotion (which I found out is not actually safe for me) and found other organic lotions that did not include harmful chemicals. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times on the blog, my daughter has eczema and my husband has psoriasis and I’m always eager to find natural remedies that help soothe their skin issues. Since I started using all-natural alternatives on my daughter’s skin, her symptoms have completely gone away.

I’m always on the lookout for safe and organic skin care products so when I tried EvaOlivia Organics first hand, I knew it was something I needed to share on the blog.  But first I will tell you a bit of background about EvaOlivia Organics… it is a family owned company, devoted to creating organic, high-quality bath products, while causing as little of a negative impact on the planet as possible. Inspiration for soap making first came with the birth of their daughter who was born prematurely whom had very sensitive skin. All soaps are made completely from scratch with raw ingredients and recipes that have been passed down through the generations. These luxurious products are made in small batches, with love and care and ingredients that you can trust are safe for the entire family.

No animal testing
No detergents
No sulfates
No petroleum
No synthetic preservatives
No parabens
No artificial colors
No synthetic fragrances
No harsh chemicals
No animal fats

EvaOliviaOrganics -

I was sent a basket full of beautiful bath products and here is what I found inside: Skinfully Sweet Body Butter, Bath Salts, Body Polishing Cubes, Sweet Shea Bath and Shower Gel and Lemongrass Bath and Shower Gel.

EvaOliviaOrganics Review and Giveaway --

The Body Polishing Cubes are so great! I tried the peppermint scent which was perfect for perking me up in the mornings, they have a very refreshing smell. They were gentle, yet exfoliating and left my skin feeling very smooth. I used the polishing cubes every other shower and one cube was more than enough for my entire body and my hands were extra soft after using them.

EvaOlivia Organic Bath Prodcuts -

I alternated between the two shower gels, the scents I received were Sweet Shea and Lemongrass.  Sweet Shea smells of honey and citrus and Lemongrass smells as you’d imagine, but also has hints of rosemary and lime to make it a uniquely pleasurable scent. The gel was thin and a little went a long way which I really liked. Both shower gels lathered up great and rinsed off the skin, leaving it feeling revitalized and healthy.

EvaOliviaOrganics Review and Giveaway-

The Bath Salts were a nice treat for when I wanted a relaxing bath instead of a shower.

EvaOliviaOrganics Review and Giveaway -


The Body Butter is hands down, ahhhh-maz-ing. I can’t exactly pin point the essential oils used to make the scent, but the smell is very calming and I’m pretty certain there are hints of citrus in there. It looks so good that I literally felt an urge to lick it; it looks just like whipped cream or the frosting on a cinnamon roll. It is a treat to cover my body in such a nourishing concoction after the shower. It moisturized my skin throughout the day and left me smelling great.  I like that it doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy or wet, just hydrated. My feet are pretty dry in the summertime because I live in my flip-flops, so I found that smothering my feet with this body butter before bed resulted soft feet by morning! I love, love, love it!

My daughter and husband both really enjoyed using these soaps and lotions as well. I would say that all of bath products had a nice gender-neutral scent to them. The scents were not over powering either, just a nice faint reminder of my luxurious shower. If you are looking for high-quality, organic bath products, I would definitely recommend trying EvaOlivia Organics!

EvaOlivia Organics is generously giving away one gift basket to ONE lucky MinnesotaFromScratch reader! Due to the warm temperature during the summertime, the body butter would melt if shipped so the winner’s basket will include the following: Sweet  Shea and Lemongrass shower gels and Peppermint & Eucalyptus, Shea & Honey, and Ruby Red handcrafted soaps. Prize scents are subject to change depending on stock availability at the time the winner’s name is drawn. 

————->a Rafflecopter giveaway<————–

Thank you to all that entered!

This giveaway has ended and the winner is…

EvaOlivia Winner

CONGRATULATIONS, MARLA! Your acceptance e-mail has been sent. Please respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

EvaOliviaOrganics Prize

Good luck!

Take care, Stephanie

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