Refried Black Beans

I don’t typically love refried beans. They are usually the one (and only) thing left on my plate after a Mexican feast. However, that has all changed. I couldn’t stop eating these refried black beans. It could be the fact that they are loaded with onion, garlic and a ton of spices. Or the fact that they were topped with queso fresco and fresh cilantro…

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Whatever it was, I’ll never buy a can of refried beans again. This was such a quick and easy recipe and the results were amazing.

I ended up adding more cumin to mine (I’m a cumin addict) and the flavor and texture turned out great!

I was never a bean person until after college. I was the kid who ate around the beans in my chili. I recall asking my Mom to omit the beans from her chili at one time…she didn’t do it. Probably because then it wouldn’t be chili it would just be ground beef soup. Less appetizing I guess.

It’s amazing how things have changed! I now love beans and all legumes and always have a couple cans of garbanzo beans, Cannellini and black beans in my pantry.

These beans are a fun addition to any fiesta you throw. We served them with tacos, rice and all the fixin’s. The leftover beans were actually better and I would recommend that, if you can, make these a day in advance and then reheat them in the oven until they are warmed through. Then top them with cheese and cilantro. The flavors meld together over time and they get even better!

We received 5 inches of snow yesterday and I refuse to think about it. Instead, I’m going to think about warm weather while I make some spicy Mexican food, pour a margarita and wait for spring to arrive for good!

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Lately

It is so gloomy out today. I can’t seem to get myself going. A cup of coffee deep and I’m still feeling lazy and blah. I typically live for gloomy, rainy or stormy days. Living in London was the greatest thing for me because it was always a little foggy and It made me feel mysterious. I’m not the type of person who lives for those sunny days. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun and without sunshine I get super sad; however, waking up to gloom is my favorite. Call me crazy but dark, stormy, foggy…it’s what I live for.

My brother is the exact same way. Maybe it stems back to when we were kids and the constant adventures we took in the woods and field behind our house. Rain or shine (rain was more fun) we were sent out to play. We built forts, played in the amazing tree house that our Dad built, made mountain bike trails, climbed trees and fought constantly. My brother, Brad, always made up scary stories about the Indians who used to live in our field and how their ghosts were now haunting the grounds they lived on (I’m still afraid to go outside at night when I’m home thanks to him).

Our Dad is also a weather fanatic and would take us up into our field to watch storms roll in (much to my mother’s chagrin). There was one particular time we went up to watch a storm roll in and it came much faster than my Dad had anticipated. I remember him screaming RUNNNN and we had to sprint back to the house to take shelter. I remember thinking that my feet were floating over the ground because I was running so hard and so fast. We had just made it inside when the storm hit and I remember my Dad threw himself over us as we crashed to the ground. I turned to look out the window and all the trees were bent towards the house and then were completely engulfed into a grey cloud. The storm was so loud and I remember hearing trees snapping and then it was silent. the storm was gone just as fast as it had arrived but it left a trail of damage behind. We lost our beloved tree fort that day and somewhere around 30 trees from our property. I shed many a tear in the weeks after that, knowing our tree house was gone (the kids who couldn’t climb the rope ladder were celebrating, however).  I think that out of my terror that day an obsession began. I have a fear/love for storms. If I’m home alone, I die. If I’m with other people, I’m in heaven. So thanks, Dad! For my weird obsession with storms and gloom!

Enough about storms and gloom! Lets look at some beautiful things that have me swooning this week!

BUCKET BAGS ARE BACK! My Mom rocked the bucket bag back in the day and I kind of hope she still has a couple so I can “borrow” them…The only issue I have with the bucket bag is that it turns into a giant black hole. My purse is always a mess. Like, full blown disaster area. Mikey refuses to enter my purse. Although I super want this bucket bag…I know within a week it would swallow up at least 2 chapsticks and pair of sunglasses. Worth it.

4398ba2d0a569847818f0612f65bb21eWhat’s better than coffee? Coffee that is drowning in ice cream, that’s what. This cold-brew affogato has got me trippin’. 14727271351_905ab51d6d_kWhoever came up with the negative-space nail idea was a genius. It’s like a tattoo for your fingernail. I am definitely going to attempt (won’t look great) this look this weekend! It’s so edgy and fun! Try out the tutorial in the link and let me know how yours turns out! negative-space-nail-artYou Burrata be kidding me! (Ha).

There is not a cheese (maybe Gouda) that I am loving more than Burrata right now. We had a Burrata pizza a couple weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. Plus, this spring pizza has asparagus, mushrooms and balsamic. I want to face-plant into this pizza right now. Spring-Time-Mushroom-+-Asparagus-White-Burrata-Cheese-Pizza-with-Balsamic-Drizzle-1Last but not least. We had some clients from Texas in town this week and they introduced us to a vodka that their friend makes. It’s a grapefruit infused vodka and it may change the way you make cocktails.

We are counting down the days to summer when we can make any and every drink with this amazing vodka. The flavor is absolutely insane. It has a slight sweetness and the flavor is straight up refreshing. We mixed it with soda water and it was perfect. Add it to a glass of champagne, mix it with some ginger beer…I can’t even begin to list the things you should make with this. Trust me. Buy it. You can thank me by sending me a bottle of Deep Eddy Ruby Red :) images1397934287

Pork Carnitas (Slow Cooker)

I was awoken by a crazy person this morning.

Mikey shot out of bed and started dancing and singing about how today is the greatest day out of the whole year. He even went as far as to say that it is better than St. Patrick’s day…March Madness is to Mikey as grand, life-altering events are to most people. Or exciting celebrations like Birthdays, or Christmas, vacations, etc. Those days when you’re so excited you can’t sleep, or you wake up and you’re instantly excited because of the day/days ahead.

I have been hearing only about college basketball for about a week now and all Mikey can talk about is how he is so excited to watch TV for 1,000 hours over the weekend.

That’s where these AMAZING Pork Carnitas come in to play. They are a perfect food for a weekend where you are going to sit in front of the TV and be a complete couch potato. They are also great for all those random guests that will be popping in and out on a weekend like this.

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These carnitas are super simple to make and the best part is that the crock pot does all the work for you. All you have to do is pickle some cabbage, chop some cilantro and onion and sprinkle on a layer of cheese. The flavor from the spices give these a deep flavor that is sure to please everyone! You can make more or less depending on the crowd, just buy a smaller piece of pork (or bigger). We made this for a crowd and it disappeared fast! You just can’t stop eating these little carnitas tacos!

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Squeeze on a little lime juice and hot sauce and boom, best taco ever.

I hope you have an excuse to make these as soon as possible (this weekend seems like a great time). They will make your house smell like heaven for hours and hours and your stomach will be growling in anticipation. The wait is worth it!

I know that our plan is to make some delicious food this weekend and watch a ton of basketball. Thankfully I am 3/4 as excited as Mikey, which means I’m actually pretty excited to watch my team DOMINATE.  My brackets are ready and so am I.

GO BADGERS!!!!!!! And go make some carnitas too.

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Lately

It’s FINALLY Friday.

Sorry for the super delay in posting. This week has been crazy and today was even crazier. Mikey and I were both down for the count with some sickness that lead to a cold. But, We had a super amazing time in Denver (minus the sickness Mikey brought with) and we are currently having beer withdrawals.

It’s late and I’m ready to turn on a movie and pour myself a large glass of vino. Therefore, I’m keeping it simple. I am looking forward to the weekend and this AMAZING weather that has graced us with its presence. Check out some things I’m loving this week and have a great weekend!!!

These pretty Ginger and Current Scones look like a perfect recipe to tackle this weekend!

3fd40f4e07383b81b6166de617861827I almost can’t get over how delicious and smooth and perfect this coffee looks. That milk. That espresso. I can’t wait to go to bed so I can wake up and shuffle my feet over to La Colombe and get my mitts on some java! FullSizeRenderI absolutely love these delicately stacked necklaces. Kei Jewelry has some stunning jewelry and it’s very affordable. Go ahead, treat yo self.  503b83d5d347828318033ebc6eaff3deIs it a cowboy boot? Is it a sandal? Whatever it is I’m intrigued. Spring fashion is here and apparently these boots are included. I’m obsessed with them. My feet would be so happy if they could nest inside these shoes!!!!!!Western-InfluenceI cleaned our house today with the windows open! It was glorious. No one was happier than Norman, though. He was basking in the sun and meowing at the birds. He was also shedding like a mad man and I was inspired to find the perfect spring cleaning checklist. Popsugar hooked me up and I am actually looking forward to checking these items off this list. Also, it will probably take me longer than 30 days. More like until the end of the summer. Just in time to start it all over again! f39f46a1e03a83b3f9672c8f496b3c1c

Crème Brûlée

I love when I can use a torch to make dessert. I think it makes it taste at least 50% better, plus you look like a boss when you have a giant flame in your hands.

This vanilla bean creme brulee was sooooooooooooooooo good and actually super easy to make!

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I was never a big creme brulee fan until a couple years ago. Mikey loveeeeeeeeeeeeees it and so we started ordering it for dessert and now I am obsessed. I actually made this brulee back in February and have waited until this moment to share the sweet, vanilla beany, creamy amazingness that is this creme brulee. It’s so good I just made up a bunch of adjectives for it.

Just look at those specks of vanilla beans and that crunchy sugar crust.

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One thing I’ve discovered about creme brulee too is that it tastes great no matter what season it is. You can amp it up depending on the season and make it refreshing or decadent. You can add fruit to it in the summer and you can add spices to it in the fall and winter. It’s such a delicious and light dessert that will always impress your guests (or your cat and husband).

Norman was almost as big of a fan as Mikey. He got is paw into one of the ramekins at one point and spent the next hour in heaven as he thoroughly cleaned his paw.

I am so glad that we have finally started to warm up here in Chicago! Mikey and I came home to no snow in the city (aside from a couple snowbank piles here and there) and it was the greatest sight! I am looking forward to the weekend and celebrating St. Patrick’s day with some friends! You could absolutely make this creme brulee green with a couple drops of food coloring! Whatever festivities you are looking forward to this weekend, I hope you have a great time and enjoy the warmer weather!

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Creme Brulee

  • Time: Prep 15 Minutes, Bake 1 Hour, Settle 2 Hours
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients:

1 Quart Heavy Cream

1 Vanilla Bean, Split and Scraped

1 Cup Sugar, Divided

6 Large Egg Yolks

2 Quarts Hot Water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 Degrees.

Put cream, vanilla bean and scraped seeds into a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes.

Remove the vanilla bean and save for a later use or discard.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and egg yolks. Whisk very well until they are completely blended and color begins to lighten to a light yellow color.

Add the cream, a little at a time making sure to whisk constantly so you don’t curdle the eggs.

Pour the egg mixture into your 6 (7-8oz) ramekins.

Take a large roasting or cake pan and place a tea towel or hand towel on the bottom.

Place your ramekins evenly into the roasting pan and pour water into the pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for about 40-45 minute or until the brulee is set. It should still tremble a bit in the center.

Let the ramekins cool and then refrigerate them for at least 2 hours (up to 3 days) before serving.

Once ready to serve. Remove from refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before browning with sugar.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of sugar over the 6 ramekins.

Using a torch, melt the sugar until it bubbles and becomes crispy on top. Let sit for about 5 more minutes and then serve with a spoon and enjoy!