Today we pack up for a three-day mini vacation, heading into the mountains for an evening at the casinos, followed by an evening at Red Rocks Amphitheater. With old friends in town, and an adventure packed agenda the next few day should bring about loads of laughs and maybe some surprise (or shenanigans). I have to hurry off to pack up the pets for their sitters and get the jeep loaded up, so before we hit the road here are a few photos that have made the past week so wonderful.
I am by no means a vegitarian…I love bacon too much….however we get most of our protein from non-meat products such as beans or dairy. During one late night dinner scavenge through the pantries and fridge I found myself bored with everything I saw. Un inspired by the idea of preparing just plain black beans (I always a few cans on hand) and rice I decided to turn to our food possessor, which is quickly becoming the most useful Christmas gift, in order to transform my routinely bland beans into something more interesting and fresh. That night in about 10 minutes I whipped up a small batch of black refried beans that where accidentally so good that between the two of us they were gone way too fast. So, when we hosted a Ravens NFL play-off party Sunday, I took the opportunity to give this new recipe another go, testing it out on a house full of hungry football fans. I like to use dried beans whenever possible so for this larger batch I started with a 32oz bag a black beans soaked overnight. I also of course had to increase the ratio of other ingredients in the recipe and it took several rounds in the food processor to get the entire batch finished. This recipe yields a large pot of refried beans (I have been loving leftovers) so tweak it to make more or less if you desire. I love recipes that are simple and I can be specified to my taste or those I’m serving, so remember if you try these beans out, that measurements of ingredients can be increases or decreased. If say you’d like more heat, add more jalapenos, or if you’d like a smoother, thinner texture add more stock as you process. The beans I made were a huge hit and proved to be the perfect healthy and flavorful side dish to our homemade breakfast burritos. Canned refried beans will doubtfully find their way back in our house, as they can not even begin to hold a candle to what I have found I can create quickly in my own kitchen.
- 32oz dried black beans (soaked overnight)
- 3 jalapenos sliced ( I de-seeded half to lessen the heat…the more seeds the more spice)
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 lime
- 5 cloves of peeled garlic
- chicken stock (to make them vegan use veggi stock!)
- hot sauce (optional)
- salt & pepper
In a large pot add black beans, jalapenos, and water (make sure there is enough water to completely cover beans throughout the boiling and cooking process). Bring pot to a full rolling boil and add salt to the mixture. Cover, keeping the heat around medium, and let simmer for an hour and half or so until the beans are tender.
While the beans cook roughly chop onion, pepper, cilantro, and garlic (they are going in a food processor so no need for pretty pieces). Then in a large skillet add onions, garlic, and olive oil ( I use just enough to coat the bottom of the pan lightly). With the heat on medium high sauté the onions and garlic till translucent, adding the bell pepper and cilantro after about 6 minutes. Continue to cook, adding salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Once the peppers are soft (about 10 minutes) remove from the heat.
Once the beans have finished cooking drain the water and return beans to the pot. Add the onion and pepper mixture to the pot. Squeeze the juice of the lime into the pot with everything else and stir in order to evenly distribute flavors and ingredients.
In batches transfer the beans to the food processor. While blending slowly pour chicken stock through the top of the processor as it mixes. I only used enough to keep the beans mixing smoothly. After each batch is completed put the beans into another pot to be reheated slowly on the stove. Once the food processor is no longer needed and all the beans are again in one pot, heat covered on low, stirring frequently.
Serve with your favorite mexican dish or pair with guacamole and chips for a southwest snack, either way they will rock your socks!
This past week I celebrated my 27th birthday by spending an amazing day with my closet friends. During the day my girlfriends and I spoiled ourselves with manicures, shopping, lunch, and margaritas, a perfectly planned itinerary of afternoon activities when you have a full day off with your best friends. The evening transitioned into a casual dinner party at our place with easy decorations, a classic menu, and LOTS of cake and wine. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to celebrate my birthday and getting older, than by doing the things I love, with the people I love, with very little fuss. I don’t feel much older since blowing out 27 candles, but, as I think back on birthdays past, I realize (with a huge sigh of relief) how much I have changed, accomplished, and grown in just the last 10 years, which must mean that I am indeed getting older. It is exciting, though impossible, to predict what the next decade will bring, however, with all the love I have in my life, I imagine future birthdays, and the years to follow, only getting better.
I’ve discovered a new-to-me delicious snack! I have a yogurt thing…I love it. I was a Yoplait girl until I discovered Greek yogurt, and after mixing the thick, more tart yogurt with fruit and cereal, I was hooked. In the past months I have been excited as new brands, flavors, and sizes pop up in all grocery stores, happy to see everyone enjoying this high protein yogurt option. However two weeks ago I spotted Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr (fancy yogurt) amongst the rows of pricey yogurt at Whole Food, and my attention was instantly snagged by the Orange & Ginger. It has the perfect sweetness and tartness and is amazing when topped with cranberry granola or walnuts. Even better it packs 14grams of protein into each eco-friendly container…and…is only a 100 cal. of all natural ingredients. So I have said good-bye (for the mean time) to my greek love affair to make way for Icelandic Skyr.
This week I dedicated a few of my free hours to thrift shopping, allowing myself to roam the isles of bazaar and “well loved” clothing that fill warehouse sized shopping floors, in search of any treasures that remain hidden within the sea of polyester, rayon nylon, itchy wool, and ill fitted garments. Some days I leave empty-handed, and usually slightly disgruntled about spending way too much time looking for something that was never there. Or….I hit jackpot, finding a perfect fitting Anthropologie sweater with the tags still on for 6$ and a pair J. Crew Chinos in my size and un-worn for 4$… like I did this week! I love the satisfaction of scoring quality pieces, that have been well taken care of, and giving them a new home. With the finicky January weather I find myself in much more warm and layered outfits, so both pieces I found will ease perfectly into my winter wardrobe.
And while experiencing Colorado’s weather mood swings the last few weeks, (we have seen sun filled days that reach the high 60’s and snowy evenings with gusting winds blowing freezing temperatures) I have kept my get-ups relaxed, easy, and ready to go with the flow.
Yesterday we woke up after an overnight snow to sunny blues skies and a sparkling, dusting of snow. Dressed in my new finds, as well as a few other recent thrift purchases, we headed out into the deceiving cold day for an afternoon walk with the pup. Though Rocky had a better time than us (our feet got cold), days and moments like these still remind me why I love it here.
And I love the details on the pants!
Two nights ago we had a few close friends over for an easy and healthy Mediterranean style dinner. My friend Alexis and I shared duties in the kitchen, dicing, slicing, and chopping all the fresh and fragrant ingredients and with four hands working busily dinner was a cinch. Foods with Greek or Mediterranean flavors have always been high on my list of favorites, so load me up on hummus, feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olive oil and I’m happy as a clam. These side dishes have become common place in our house, and their simple and fresh flavors leave me feeling happy, satisfied, full, and healthy!
Tzatiki has become my new go to snack for dipping veggies or eating with whole wheat pita, and has replaced over-processed store-bought dressings on many occasions.
Here’s how I make mine:
Combine in a blender:
2 cups plain greek yogurt, 1 cup low-fat sour cream, 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 diced and peeled cucumber, juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon, lots of fresh dill, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Blend together, drizzling about 1/3 cup olive oil through the top as it mixes. Blend till smooth.
Also! I’ve been playing with turning leftover tzatziki into interesting, new dressings for salads. Last night we blended the tzatziki with red wine vinegar, avocado, and a little honey to make a delicious dressing!
We have kept our week relaxed and comfy while remaining productive around the house. It has been nice to feel the pace of things slow down around us. This week we’ve relished our free hours, creating in our newly organized art room, cooking homemade meals, and spending time doing the smaller, slower activities in life that seem to slip to the way side when life gets cramped such as crosswords, dominos, reading (sad but true), doodling, or just laundry (oops haha). My focus right now is getting an Etsy shop up and going sometime in the near future, till then here are a few small cards I’ve been working on. The new year has me feeling bright, colorful, and cheerful so to get my creative juices flowin’ I drew up this little guy and tried out a few different looks on him. What do you think? I’m particularly fond of “It’s a Boy”.
…and two more… a thank-you card for holiday gifts, and a birthday card I re-made after designing and giving a similar one to a friend.
It’s a new year which means new resolutions, a little list of ways we want to improve ourselves. They are a tradition in welcoming new beginnings as we transition from one date to another. New Year’s Eve also abruplty marks the official end of the holiday season which conveniently finalizes two months of indulging in large holiday meals, decadent desserts, costly spending sprees for gifts (and in my case holiday decorations), and parties. During the holidays we give ourselves permission to enjoy all guilt laiden goodies that accoumpany seasonal traditions, so as we toast our friends or kiss our loves as the clock strikes 12, we accept that after this night, the last night of the year, we will no longer be greeted with daily sugar cookies or an over abundance of chocolate Santas. While it only seems natural to direct resolutions towards slimmer diets, more frequent excersize, or saving dough, I feel these resolutions often are merely the result of a culture trying to recover from a holiday hangover. And please don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of the holidays… I am very seasonally spirited. And I think that a new year is a great time to put healthy and new habits into action, but so is every morning when you wake up to a new day. Instead of using a new year to put the last few months farther the past, I would like to reflect on the year, and all the good and self-improvement that has taken place in the last 365 days. For myself I feel that resolutions are much stronger and much more focused if they are extensions of good we are already doing for ourselves or for others. Resolutions made with hollow intent often fall flat and are forgotten about before we turn our calendar pages to Febuary, so this year I resolve to start small and let the genuine intent of my personal resolutions grow each day, even if that means that they have to be altered to fit with my life and the surprises that get thrown our way daily.
That being said; in the blogging world things move quickly and the key is staying current, so to dedicate my post to the last two months seems behind the times. However, I have been sans computer since my last post. Now equipped with a new computer (an amazing and surprising gift from Bill’s mom) I am dusting the cobwebs off my out-of-practice typing fingers, and jumping back on the horse. And because I missed out in sharing so many wonderful things that I so baddly wanted to…I am going share a quick photo recap. And despite the fact I may be a bit bummed about missing out on a few months of blogging, life has not slowed down so there will be many, many, many more things to share through this space. Until then, here are some things I can’t help but finally share.
It is great to back and hope everyone has had a great start to their new year! Looking forward to much more!
p.s. this post took me a little longer than planned…it’s gonna take me a while to make the transition from Mac to PC