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!


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

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 

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!

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