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Easy Refried Beans

This Mexican side dish is easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time and reheated

Refried beans (frijoles refritos) can be made from scratch by soaking the dried pinto or black beans. However, if you're in a hurry, you can either use the canned versions of these beans or purchase the already refried product and spice it up.

Easy Refried Beans
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 15.5 oz can pinto beans (or black beans), reserved liquid
½ medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup half and half
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
½ teaspoon cumin
Oil (enough for saute)

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid
Combine the chili powder, cilantro, and cumin. Add liquid to form a paste and set aside.
In skillet, saute onion - in oil - until transparent. Add beans and start mashing as they begin to heat through. Continue cooking and mashing. Add the paste and half-and-half and stir in thoroughly. You should have a good mix of mashed and partially whole beans.

Make these ahead of time and refrigerate. Just reheat in the microwave and top with a shredded cheese of your choice. The perfect companion to this dish is a green or red rice and homemade tortillas. In fact, tortilla bites slathered with refried beans make a terrific combo for snacking.

Mash the beans or place all ingredients in the processor after cooking and you'll have a wonderful party dip.

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