Slow Cooker Spicy Black Bean Soup

Wednesday, September 19, 2018



Hey everyone! Now that it's getting closer to colder days, I thought I'd share with you my favorite soup recipe that I like to make at home during fall and winter.  For awhile, I've been trying to make a black bean soup similar to Panera's, but usually fail... Sometimes its too spicy, other times it's way too thin, but this last time I made it, I made it juuuust right and I hope you guys love it too. It's to die for!

Ingredients:

4 15oz black beans (rinsed & drained)
4 cups oz chicken broth (roughly around 6 cups) (can use vegetable broth instead)
1/2 cup of chopped celerey
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped onion (I use Trader Joe's Mirepoix because I'm lazy)
7oz can of chipotle in adobo sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 bay leaf
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp red crushed chili pepper flakes

Directions:
Add all of the ingredients into your slowcooker, make sure the broth covers the beans just slightly. (If you want a thinner soup, add more broth). Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours, depending on your slow cooker.  Once done, I like to separate some of the broth using a cup. Take the chipotle peppers out of the soup. If you like it spicier, you can deseed the peppers, dice them up, and put them back in the soup, I just take them out entirely.  You can eat it the way it is now, or if you want it thicker like how I make it, take an immersion blender* and blend half of the soup until you get a thick consistency. If its too thick, you can add some of the broth you separated earlier back into the soup to thin it out.

*If you don't have an immersion blender, a food processor or regular blender is just fine, just make sure you open the lid to allow the steam to release while blending or you'll regret it later.

Serve it in a bowl and garnish it with some sour cream, cheese, diced avocado, and/or tortilla strips. We also bought a French Baguette from our local grocery store to dip into the soup to truly get that Panera feeling. It's so easy to make and takes almost zero effort.  This recipe can also quickly become vegan as well, just use vegetable broth instead of chicken!

Remembering Drink Company's GoT PUB

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Beautiful photo from Drink Company's Instagram

Last Summer, I had the wonderful opportunity of venturing into the Game of Thrones PUB (popup-bar) by Drink Company in D.C. This was very exciting not only because GoT is one of my favorite shows of all time, but I've been dying to get into Drink Company's PUBs for awhile... the lines are insanely long and you have to get there at just the right time to enjoy it or you miss out entirely! We went on a Sunday when the hours of operation were during the day, and an hour before the bars opened. Let. Me. Tell. You... this line was still too long even though we were one of the first people to get into the bar without waiting for someone to walk out! By the time the bar opened up, the line could have wrapped around the place twice. They took our phone number down and for a second I didn't know why, but apparently it was an optional thing to do if you wanted a picture on their throne. I'm so happy I mindlessly did that because it saved us a place in line for a photo-op while we could enjoy the bars without actually waiting in line (a fast-pass, if you will...) 

There were three or four bars in the building, all sectioned off by rooms. They were all GoT themed of different parts of the world.  This bar room was my most favorite. As packed as it was, it felt so calming hearing the soundtrack as you sipped on your expensive Lady Mormont drink.

Everything was so intricate that it's hard to think the pop-up bar was only a temporary thing. All of the hardwork and creativity gone in a few months. This was one of the most crowded rooms since the bathroom was in the far right corner.


We actually only stood in this room for a little while, only to wait for our turn with the throne photos







The cocktails were horrifically expensive but well worth it to get a little tastes of Westeros.

The Lady Mormont (the bear jar drink!) was my most favorite, my second was the Milk Of The Poppy (the drink with the leaf in it) which tasted like the mormont, but had a very strange yet interesting, milk aftertaste to it. 




 All-in-all, it was a very fun time, with some really pretty photo-ops. Drink Company is just so creative with all of their PUBs and I'm just in so much awe with how they make everything come to 
life. 



I was really looking forward to their Rick & Morty PUB this season, but alas, it was shutdown...  if you like GWAR, however, they have that running until October 6th.  My next goal is to try to get into their Christmas themed PUB.  I've been trying for two years!! x_x

Cozumel Ruins, Chocolate, & Beach Break (CZ80) / / Disney Cruise Line Excursion

Friday, September 7, 2018

I'm finally getting around to making a little post about our excursion from our Disney cruise back in July! I decided on separating the Mexico excursion from the rest of the vacation just because we did so much there, that I wanted to have it's own page dedicated to the beauty of Cozumel. Cozumel is a Mexican island on the Caribbean Sea and a popular cruise ship port! There were so many things to see and do while on the island it was hard to choose just one excursion to do! Did we want a tequila and chocolate tasting or did we want to spend the entire day at a beach park? Or should we go to Tulum to see the beautiful Mayan ruins? We decided on doing an excursion that included a little bit of everything.  It included an archaeological site of a Mayan fertility temple in San Gervasio, a Mayan chocolate company tour, and then a 90 minute beach & pool break at Playa Mia! Everything was so beautiful once you left the tourist part of the island, it was hard say goodbye at the end of the day.  I have to admit... I have never done an excursion before, I've barely even left the states, so I was pretty nervous about leaving the port area...  Most of the research I had done on the excursion activities were a little hard to find or made it sound like it was pretty sketch, so I wanted to share with you how enjoyable, clean, and fun everything was! The excursion package was about $60 per person which wasn't bad considering all you could do there, but make sure you pack your swim suit and lots of cash for souvenirs! We ended up buying a Mayan calendar and some chocolate bars that didn't last very long once we got home. #sorrynotsorry

Anywho, here are the photos documenting our trip!
Getting off the ship


A stand in the mall right off the port.
San Gervasio Archealogical Site: The site where Mayan women would travel to to pay their respects to the Goddess of love & fertility, Ixchel

a well the Mayans made

They believe this was once a road the Mayans had built to get to their cities

Mayan road


Now I had to take most of the site photos on my phone, as it was an extra fee to use my digital camera. So anyone who is interested in bringing their Nikon or Cannon, just be aware of that. I believe it was an extra 5 pesos? I may be wrong, but it wasn't terrible. It was a humid 80 degrees but the tour was about 30 minutes or less. It wasn't long and our lovely tour guide, Margarita, ensured us we were lucky as it tends to get up to 100% humidity in their summer months. Her and the bus driver were very nice and had cold water and cocoa-cola waiting for us back on the bus if we needed anything to drink.  I had brought my own water bottle with me but had to leave it on the bus as it was a sign of "disrespect" if we brought it to the site. The bus was an old rickety charter bus with AC and curtains to keep it cool when the sun beamed down and had lots of leg room. Once we got back on the bus they took the long way to get to the Mayan Cacao Company to show us the beauty of the Cozumel Island.  The beauty ocean waves crashed around the sandy beaches alongside the road. It was a 45 minute calming drive around. 


The Mayan Cacao Company was my absolute favorite, probably because of all the delicious food you could try when visiting.  Seriously, if nothing else interests you getting off a cruise ship, going to the Mayan Cacao Company is still a must. It's beautiful, educational, and just downright delicious!!







A sample of their raw cacao they make right in front of you, it was absolutely delish!

They then show us how to make the Mayan unsweetened hot cacao, something the Mayans drank for medicinal purposes





 After leaving the demo, they had clay cups filled with the hot chocolate waiting for us. They use clay cups as a way to reduce waste.  If you didn't like the unsweetened version, they had sugar you could add to it. I thought it was good without :)


Margarita told us that they used chocolate as a sauce as well. A chocolate mole sauce? A woman made the corn tortiallas right in front of us and then they dabbed some UNSWEETENED chocolate sauce on top.  It was actually very delicious!

Right outside the demo room, after we drank the hot chocolate, our tour guide gave us 15 minutes to shop around and try out the bar if we were of age.  My husband and I both got Chocolate Margaritas and they were so amazing... I never thought chocolate and margaritas would be such a good combo, but lo and behold. I am drinking one as I try to find WiFi at the Starbucks next door. We had about three of these by the end of the excursion.

We also spent $16 on two chocolate bars. My favorite had to have been the Chipotle Chile flavor.. I wish we had bought more. You can sample all of their flavors in their gift shop!

Outside the company, our tour guide handed us each a drink ticket for a free margarita or piƱa colada and then reminded us that we had 90 minutes to chill at the Playa Mia beach park. **Note to self: Bring bathing suit next time T__T** 


They had some "cabanas" available to relax on, I'm not sure if you need to reserve these, but I didn't see anyone claim these the whole time we were there.

the beautiful view we had of the ocean as we went to grab our free Pina Colada and Margarita


they also had this really cool pool area if you didn't want to go in the ocean!

many beautiful palm trees


And that's that! Our 90 minutes were over and we all got back onto the charter bus to head over to the port again.  We had about an hour or two to shop around the port side once we got back.  I found a Starbucks (which is great if you're looking for some free WiFi to make a facetime call back home!) outside of the mall area.  I love going to Starbucks in different countries, because they all sell something America doesn't have.  In Cozumel, they had a lot of neat pastries that I've never seen before... I didn't notice any drinks that were different from the U.S., though.  I may have just missed them.






I highly recommend doing this excursion if you're into history, chocolate, and beaching it up! It was an amazing memory made!

Hallo! Wie geht's? Ich ziehe nach Deutschland!?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I don't know if I've even said the title of this post correctly, but we're moving to Germany! Ahh! This is such an insane new chapter in our lives, I can't even believe it!  I took German for three semesters in college, retained some, but not nearly enough as I'd like since I'm now going to be living there very soon. We won't be able to get a home until we're actually over there, so that's a little scary, but on top of that I think we move our stuff out of our current home at least 2 months in advanced? I'll also have to get a German drivers license? Crazy! I really have no clue what to expect or even where to start. I don't know how our Internet will be, I'm not sure about blogging, I'm even nervous about how we'll be able to stream our favorite shows, but I'm so excited to be able to say that we've been to Europe and get to experience a new culture. It's been a dream of mine since I was really little and for it to actually come alive is beyond amazing! I'll keep everyone posted, and hopefully I can keep up with blogging as we get our stuff packed up and out of here! I'll keep everyone as updated as I can when we're over there <3 Brace yourselves, this chica is going International! 




Brb, searching out German podcasts,videos,  textbooks, and workbooks! Any recommendations? I'm currently listening to Coffee Break German and also really enjoying this YouTube Channel at the moment!

What's Cooking Wednesday

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Italian Subs and Shakes
(Like a pro)

Today, I'm going to share with you a meal recipe I learned when I used to work at a Sandwich Shop.  I know what you're thinking, 'They're just sandwiches and shakes? I make that already?'... Yes, BUT, these are special sandwiches and shakes.... restaurant-style-sandwiches and shakes. Out-of-this-world sandwiches and shakes. 

This will wow any guests or family members you have over for lunch. There are about 4 different types of meat that go into this Italian sub, you can alter it to your taste preferences. 

You'll Need:
-Genoa Salami
-Pepperoni
-Hot Capicola 
(or regular if you don't like spicy, though you can hardly taste the spiciness.)
-4th meat of your choice

-Sub Rolls
-Sub toppings of choice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lettuce (I use spinach) tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, italian seasoning, whatever you want!

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F, while the oven is preheating, cut the rolls lengthwise and open up. Add about 3-5 Genoa Salami slices lengthwise depending on the length of your sub. Basically just enough to cover the sub. 6-8 Pepperonis, 1.5-3 slices of Capicola, and for the fourth meat, I usually add a peppered salami or 1.5-2 slices of mortadella, prosciutto. You can use whatever, or opt out for none.  Once it's all layered, top off with 2-3 slices of provolone, again, all to just cover the sub, neatly. Place the sub face-open on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until edges are golden and cheese is melted. When the sub is ready, top with your favorite toppings.. In order, I use diced white/yellow onions, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, drizzle of red wine vinegar, drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of Italian seasoning, then then I close the sub, using a knife and pressing into the toppings while closing so everything stays in tact still, and cut in half.



Making a good milkshake is easy. You just need to follow this ratio 2:1.  That's 2 parts ice cream to 1 part milk. 1-2 ounces of what ever flavor you want. You can use flavored ice cream to cut out the middle man. I love getting creative with mine. To fancify the shake up for guests, you can add a drizzle of caramel or chocolate to the sides of the glass.
Lets say you have vanilla ice cream and you want a Coffee Brownie Shake:
2 parts vanilla ice cream (we'll say 10 ounces), 1 brownie square, coffee syrup, and 1 part milk(5 ounces). 
Blend away. Et voila! You've made yourself a damn fine shake, Diane! You could always crumble up the brownie and stir it into the shake for bigger chunks if you wanted too. Drizzle some chocolate around the inside of a glass cup and pour in the shake when you're ready to serve :)

Cheesecake Shake:
2 parts vanilla ice cream, 1 part milk, a slice of cheesecake, a splash of vanilla extract, & graham cracker crumbs for garnish (optional). Blend everything except cheesecake and graham cracker crumbs. Chop up cheesecake into chunks and add to shake, pulse for a few seconds until its just incorporated into the shake. Serve in a Fountain Shoppe Glass, top with whipped cream & graham cracker crumbs, and there you go! Simple! 

*You can do this recipe with a pumpkin pie slice too for the holidays ;), instead of vanilla ice cream, there are a ton of pumpkin pie ice cream flavors to use and just top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice <3

Seriously, I love getting creative with these! 

If you want to make any of these into a malt, just add a spoonful or two of malted milk powder, before blending.

Enjoy! I'd love to hear how yours all turned out!

What's Cooking Wednesday

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Welcome to a new weekly blog post of mine that will allow me to share some of my recipes with you! Every Wednesday I will share a new recipe of mine that I love to cook, or maybe just some neat cooking tips and tricks you might not have heard before! Today, I wanted to kick off the "series" with one of my favorites that I, personally, love to make whenever I'm too lazy to actually cook, and lets be real here.. I make this entirely way too much. Seriously, it's so easy that I've debated even posting this, but who knows, maybe it'll remind you to make it this week when meal planning! Today I'm sharing 3 pizza toppings with you using Trader Joe's Garlic & Herb Pizza Dough!

**If you don't have a Trader Joes near you, fear not! Just use your favorite pizza dough recipe :)
I don't have exact measurements for any of these recipes, I usually just eye it all out. Do the amounts you feel like you'd personally enjoy better. There's no harm in altering a recipe <3

1.) BBQ Chicken Pizza



This just happened to pop into my head when I realized, one day, as I was rolling out the pizza dough, I didn't buy any marinara sauce for this said pizza... As I was frantically looking for anything tomato I could possibly use in replacement, I came across an unopened bottle of BBQ Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray is the only way!) and thought, 'Hey! That's normal!' and thus, BBQ Chicken pizza became the new fave. Now, I didn't have any red onions which I highly recommend you use if you have them on hand- but if not, regular yellow/white onions work too, just keep in mind white/yellow onions are a bit stronger than red!

You'll Need:
-1 bag of Trader Joe's Garlic & Herb Pizza dough
-1 cup bbq sauce 
-1/2 a red onion thinly sliced
-1 bag of mozzarella cheese
-1 package of cooked chicken strips (or if you make your own go ahead and use that! I used Trader Joe's Balsamic & Rosemary cooked chicken for mine)

Directions:
1.) Follow the pizza dough instructions- set at room temp for 20 minutes, preheat oven, roll out into desired length, etc., etc..

2.) Eye the amount of BBQ sauce you want.  I just a think layer coating the top of the pizza so you get the bbq flavor but not the heavy amount of sauce. If you want more, just add two more minutes to the pizza cooking time, but watch closely so it doesn't burn the pizza.

3.) Add some onions, a little bit of chicken strips on top of the sauce, then cover with cheese.  Then top the cheese with more onions and chicken for a nice "garnished" look. 

4.) Cook for 6-8 minutes, then let rest for 3 before cutting up.


2.) Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese (pictures to come)

This one is my absolute favorite. I've never been a fan of goat cheese but once its cooked and paired with sundried tomatoes...ugh, so good!  I tried it once on a Disney Cruiseline at this restaurant called 'Palo', if you ever have the opportunity to go, try it out! It's amazing!

You'll Need:
-1 bag of mozarella
-small bag of sundried tomatoes (a jar is okay, but just make sure to pat the excess oil off so it doesnt make the pizza greasy!)
-1 container of marinara sauce
-crumbled goat cheese
-italian seasoning

Directions:
1.) Follow the pizza dough instructions- set at room temp for 20 minutes, preheat oven, roll out into desired length, etc., etc..

2.) Layer the pizza with a coating of marinara sauce- not too much but enough to cover the dough.

3.) Cover sauce layer with mozzarella cheese, then top with crumbled goat cheese. If you're unsure about goat cheese, just sprinkle a little to try, but if you love goat cheese, I won't judge! Cover that bad boy in goat goodness! Then add a dash of Italian seasoning.

4.) Bake 6-8 minutes- around 3 minutes or four minutes in, top the pizza with sundried tomatoes.  If you put the tomatoes in too early you risk them burning once the pizza is done, so just keep an eye on them while baking.

3.) Pesto, Spinach, Mushroom (pictures to come)

Now, halfway through writing this, I changed my mind on making all three pizzas with pizza dough.  I wanted to share one of my other favorite ways to make a delicious pizza without using any dough! Instead, this recipe will call for Naan bread.  Trust me, you're going to love this one.

You'll Need:
-A bag of Naan bread (my favorite is the Garlic Naan bread Trader Joes carries, but its completely up to you which kind you want to use!)
- A container of your favorite basil pesto sauce
-A bag of Spinach, washed and pat dry
-Mozarella Cheese
-Sliced Baby Bella mushrooms, washed and pat dry
-Italian seasoning

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

2.) using a baking sheet, cover with tin foil and spray a non stick spray on top

3.) Place Naan bread on baking sheet, coat with a layer of pesto sauce, add spinach, then top with mozzarella cheese, then finish with mushrooms on top of the cheese. Sprinkle a dash of Italian seasoing. Repeat steps for each Naan bread you use. 

4.) Bake 5-10 minutes, just until the cheese has melted and the mushrooms shrink. 

 *Placing the spinach under the cheese will allow the cheese to hold it down when cooking.
* You could also use pizza dough instead of Naan bread! Just follow the dough instructions when making.  I've just not tried it that way, but I have a feeling I will be in the near future ;)

A look

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with an old friend from high school whom I hadn't seen in quite sometime (possibly 5 years?).  We walked from Union Station to the United States Botanic Gardens-- in the Summer heat, during the Caps' Stanley Cup parade, AND pride week, -- so it was a nightmare since we were expecting it to be LESS crowded than what it actually was, but after finding it, we were in love with the scenery and were able to get some cute shots of us.  I've linked the items of MY outfit that I could find but the ones not linked might be either sold out or discontinued. Hope you enjoy!! This is my attempt at a lookbook? :)

Romper: Target
Jacket: Target
Hat: Anthropologie
Sandals: Target
Glasses: Zenni Optical
















 









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