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I have been preaching at you a lot about using everything you’ve got.  Well, that is what this post is all about.  I’ve had a couple people ask me how I cook beans. But, that would be a boring post, so I want to also share with you what I do with all those beans and cornbread once they are cooked.  I think you’ll be surprised that one humble meal can make a couple really awesome meals when it is all said and done!

First, how I cook beans:

I cook my beans in the crockpot.  I make all sorts of varieties; northern, pinto, black, black-eyed peas, and garbanzo.  My favorite go to beans are the white great northern beans.  I rinse them and throw them into the crockpot in the morning.   Then, I add twice as much water and a good amount of salt.  So, if I cook 2 cups of beans I add 4 cups of water.  I turn my Crockpot on high and then leave it until dinner time.

Before dinner I cook a big iron skillet of cornbread using the following recipe:

Southern Cornbread

2 eggs
2 c. self rising cornmeal
1 c. milk
1/3 c. oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients except oil. Heat the oil in your iron skillet. Pour the hot oil into the cornbread batter and stir. Pour the batter back into the iron skillet that you heated the oil in. Bake for about 30 minutes.

When dinner is all finished I wrap the remaining cornbread up and throw it in the freezer.  The leftover cornbread is an important ingredient in my family’s favorite chicken dressing.  This is a little bit of Thanksgiving that can be enjoyed anytime!  My husband would be happy to have it once a week!

Chicken Dressing

2 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 large onion (grated)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 cups corn bread (crumbled)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 T salt
2 chicken breasts cooked and chopped
4 cups of chicken stock
A few grinds of fresh black pepper

Mix together all ingredients and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
This is a great way to use up old, stale bread too! Just thrown it into your food processor before it goes bad (mold) and grind! Then, use it in this dish or store them in a container in the freezer for later use.

As for the leftover beans, if we don’t eat them all as is, I use them in Pasta & Fagioli soup – one of our favorites and just like the kind they serve at Olive Garden.  If  I have leftover pintos, I mash them and then freeze them for refried beans on a Mexican dinner night.  Or, we use them right away in homemade burritos or topping for nachos.