Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice

Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 3
This past summer we vacationed in the Dominican Republic and had a blast. The only thing I was disappointed with was the food. We stayed at a resort so it was nice that we didn’t have to figure out and agree on meals but we definitely didn’t get the authenticity that we usually seek out when traveling to new destinations. At the buffet one night they did have a Dominican night and the dish I enjoyed the most was the stewed beans over rice.
Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 2
I knew when we got home I had to try and recreate it for one of our meatless Monday’s. Well, we went on vacation in July and I just now got around to it. I wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long! I love the simplicity of this dish in the fact that it uses ordinary, staple ingredients and they come together to make something that conjures up memories. Nice, warm, relaxing memories of the beach are so nice today when school has been canceled because of extreme temperatures. Seriously people, wind chills near -25 degrees. That’s not supposed to happen in Nebraska. Noah has told me it’s so cold we will need to drink hot chocolate at every meal. Smart man.
Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 1
Anyway, back to the beans. This dish is great for those on a budget too since it doesn’t get much cheaper than rice and beans. Plus, it’s vegan. Need I say more?

Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice
recipe adapted from

8 oz. red kidney beans
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups brown rice, well rinsed

1. Soak beans overnight in a container big enough to generously cover the beans. Drain the water and add the beans to a large stock pot. Cover with 5 cups of fresh cold water. Bring beans to a boil then reduce to medium, cover partially and cook for an hour stirring occasionally. Add a cup of water then cook for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make a sofrito: In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, cilantro, and onion and process to a coarse paste. In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil then add the sofrito. Cook for 1 minute then add to the beans along with the tomato paste, salt, pepper and vinegar. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add in rice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring so that it doesn’t stick. Reduce temperature to low, add 1 cup of water, cover and cook for 55-65 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. You may have to add more water throughout the cooking time (I ended up adding about another cup).


Why Healthy Eating is the Best Way to Lose Weight

Today, I am bringing you an article written by Adrienne of Healthline. They contacted me asking if they could compile an article to share with my readers and with the clean eating I’ve been doing since Lent started, I jumped on the opportunity. I am by no means an expert in health so I always worry about sharing my opinions or eating habits as I don’t have the experience or education to give that kind of advice. If you are on a path towards healthier eating, I hope that you will find this helpful and interesting.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking about her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.

Could it be that the days of crazy diets are over? Probably not, but thankfully we are seeing a lot more interest in healthy eating for weight loss as opposed to highly restrictive diets. Why the change? It likely has a lot to do with all the access we now have to healthy recipes that let us eat better without having to sacrifice taste and we can lose weight doing it.

Diets Still Don’t Work

Just because a person is able to lose weight on a diet doesn’t mean that diets work. Successful weight loss requires being able to keep the weight off and diets that restrict entire food groups or drastically cut down your calorie intake aren’t realistic to maintain. Studies have proven over and over again that not only do most dieters gain back the weight they lost,  but the majority go on to gain even more so that they weigh more than they did even before starting the diet. And, as great as some diets claim to be, this sad truth applies to all kinds of diets. According to researchers at UCLA, dieters typically lose 5-10 percent of their starting body weight in the first 6 months of a diet and more than two-thirds regain even more weight than they lost within the first 4 or 5 years.

Healthy Eating for Weight Loss

Can you lose weight by just deciding to eat healthier food? The answer is yes—an even bigger yes if your current diet has been one filled with fattening, processed foods!

Eating healthy allows you to eat more while consuming less of the stuff that makes you gain weight. Healthy foods contain less fat and calories than processed foods, yet make you feel full faster. This is precisely why eating healthy is a better option for people wanting to get their weight in check: you can eat well and feel satisfied without taking in too many calories or fat.

The reason why healthier foods are able to make you feel full on less is that they contain more water, fiber giving them a low energy density. There are no empty calories that have you eating but getting nothing out of the food. Instead, healthier food choices fill you up and give you energy to put out. They also help boost your immune system thanks to being high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and can help you lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and more.

Eating Healthy and Yummy

The key to weight loss with healthy eating is to do what diets don’t let you: feel satisfied and eat in a way that’s possible to sustain forever, even long after the pounds have been dropped. You do this by following a balanced diet and taking the time to make food that you actually enjoy eating. You don’t often think of weight loss and delicious foods together, but it turns out that you really don’t need to eat a rabbit’s diet or live on rice cakes to lose weight thanks to healthy alternatives to all the foods you crave.

We are blessed to live in a world where we can get our hands on anything with just a few clicks. Fortunately for those of us who want to eat better and lose weight without feeling like we’re sacrificing all the stuff we love; recipes to make healthy versions of our favorite treats are also just a click away. The Mayo Clinic offers great advice by telling you to stick to low-energy-density foods that let you feel full on fewer calories, like fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains. Lean proteins will also help you feel full. They give a great example to show you the difference between high-energy-density foods, like those filled with fat and sugars, and low-energy-density foods that are healthier and cleaner options:

Raisins have a high energy density, with 1 cup of raisins containing about 434 calories, while grapes have a low energy density with only 104 calories per cup.

Imagine having to eat over 4 cups of raisins to get the same amount of calories as 1 cup! You wouldn’t because you would feel full long before getting to 4 cups. It’s a perfect example of how better choices leave you feeling full on less and why it’s better to eat healthy to lose weight.

Use these things to make lower-fat versions of your favorites using recipes easily found online and you still get to enjoy food without the weight or the inevitable guilt. Making the change to healthier eating will help you keep your weight in check while also lowering your risk of disease and keeping your immune system strong. Restrictive diets on the other hand, will make you fatter, weaken your immune system, and increase your risk of disease. The right choice is simple, no?

Get your fill on everything health and diet by clicking here.


Holiday Baking Must Haves

I have several gadgets and instruments that are absolutely required whenever I am in the kitchen baking. With holiday baking in full swing, I thought it would be fun to share my favorites and must haves when it comes to Christmas goodies. Plus, these would be great gifts for any foodies in your life.
1. Stainless Steel Measuring Cups – I have several sets of measuring cups but my stainless steel ones are what I always reach for when baking. I can’t say they are any better than any other kind but I just prefer them and they seem fancy.

2. Small Wet Measuring Cup – This measures 1/2 Tbsp. to 1/4 cup of wet ingredients. I wasn’t sure how often I would use it when I bought it but it’s something I use all the time. It’s perfect when a recipe calls for a few tablespoons of wet ingredients. Love it.

3. Baker’s Rolling Pin – This is perfect for rolling out cookie dough and pie crusts. I especially like it for smaller batch items since it’s smaller than the average rolling pin. Plus, it doesn’t stick as badly as my French rolling pin so less flour has to be used when rolling out.

4. Cookie Scoops – These are an absolute must for baking. Like, I think I would have a little breakdown if something happened to them and I had to portion cookies in a different way. Not.Gonna.Happen. I love to use a big one for muffins or cupcakes too. Perfect! And what a fun stocking stuffer, just saying.

5. All Silicone Spatulas – Perfect for mixing and scraping. I love the all silicone ones because they don’t get any batter stuck in between the handle.

6. Cookie Spatula – I use this constantly for getting cookies off of the cookie sheets. It’s just the right size.

7. Microplane – So many recipes call for citrus zest, chocolate shavings and such so you can imagine this gets a lot of use in my house. Plus, it’s great for cooking dinner too.

8. Pretty Measuring Spoons – Ok, so these aren’t absolutely required but they just make baking lots more fun and a little prettier. I got mine at a little shop downtown but I have seen them at different kitchen stores and specialty shops. Another great idea for Christmas. They even have some cute ones on Jane today on the cheap.

9. Flexible Cutting Boards – I totally forgot to number this above in the photo but all the gadgets are sitting on my very favorite cutting boards. My mom and a friend raved about flexible cutting boards so I finally went out and bought some and I love them too! They don’t move around, take up little space when not being used and are just more fun. I bought mine at Ikea but have seen them at Home Goods, Target and TJ Maxx.

10. KitchenAid Mixer – This isn’t pictured but is a must when baking. I received mine as an engagement present and have loyally used it since. I can’t imagine baking, especially at Christmastime, without it.

11. Silicone Mat – These are great for rolling out dough as well as baking.


On October 14 at 12:50 am, we welcomed our sweet Hannah Jane to the world! She weighed 9lbs. 5oz. and measured 21 inches long. Look at that chunk!
It’s hard to believe she is already a week old. She looks so much like her brother and already has a little personality developing. She likes to party all night and sleep all day….we’re working on that. Oh, and she doesn’t like to sleep unless she is in someone’s arms. Otherwise, she has been a very easy going little gal. I still can’t believe I have a little girl. I’m pretty sure we are going to go broke buying outfits and hairbows.
Sweet Feet
Noah is so excited to be a big brother and has been so sweet with her. He is always asking me if he can hold her and gets very concerned when she cries. We had to bring him to the hospital with us when I went into labor while we waited for my parents to arrive and when the nurse came in and said “looks like we’re having a baby today,” he screamed with excitement at the top of his lungs. It was the most heartwarming thing ever! And when he came the next day to meet her, we told him he had a baby sister and he looked at me, then at the baby and back at me and said “peanut came out of mommy’s tummy? yaaay!” It was pretty awesome. He’s going to be the best brother ever.
Kisses for Hannah
We are trying to figure out our new normal around here so I may be a bit MIA around here for a couple weeks. I will try to pop in once or twice a week with a recipe to share but won’t be following my regular schedule for a little while. Ok, I’m off to snuggle that sweet face.
Hannah - The Champ

And I’ll leave you with some angry eyebrows….she’s really good at them.
Angry Eyebrows

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus 3
Sorry I missed you guys on Monday. I have had a major case of writer’s block and I’ve been kind of lame and haven’t tried a whole lot of new recipes lately.

I did make these delicious little bundles last week and they were a huge hit. When Joel saw me pull the asparagus out of the fridge, he immediately went into panic mode and got all wild eyed. He’s not a fan if you couldn’t tell. I quickly told him it would be smeared with cream cheese and wrapped in meat and that eased his mind a little. He tried it and actually really liked it. He even rated it as a “make again” item.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus 2
The asparagus was tender, the cream cheese was smooth and creamy and the prosciutto was salty and cripsy. A perfect combination of flavors and textures for a yummy side dish.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
recipe from

1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced
12 asparagus spears
4 oz. low fat cream cheese, softened

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

2. Spread prosciutto slices with Neufchatel cheese. Wrap slices around 2 or 3 asparagus spears. Arrange wrapped spears in a single layer on a foil lined medium baking sheet.

3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until asparagus is tender.

Happy Mardi Gras!

I don’t have any new Cajun recipes to share with you all for Mardi Gras but remember this King Cake I made last year? It’s super simple and delicious. You should totally make it!

Oh, and check out the delicious food here and here that you could scarf down if you are in the Big Easy. Mmm, just looking at those posts makes me drool.

Joel and I visited New Orleans last year for the Final Four Tournament (go KU!) and had quite the time. It was a first for both of us and we were lucky enough to see the sights as well as go to the the final three games of March Madness.  The architecture of the city was amazing along with the culture. And the smell of Bourbon Street is something I will unfortunelty not soon forget. It was great to visit and mark off the bucket list but it’s one of those places that I don’t feel like I ever need to go to again. Don’t get me wrong, it was lots of fun but the drinking, stripping, party all night scene is not for me.

To celebrate Mardi Gras, here are some of my favorite pictures and moments from our trip to NOLA.

Swamp tour. Gators. Turtles. Wanna know how to tempt out the gators? Hot dogs and marshmallows.
Gator Jumping
Mmmmm, rum tour.
Rum Tour
Random NOLA jam session that broke in the rain. Awesome.
Bourbon Street 2
Bourbon Street craziness.
Bourbon Street 1
Beautiful doors of the French Quarter.
Yellow and Blue Door
Teal Door
Rustic Door 1
Street performers.
Street Performer
Street Performer 1
Jackson Square.
Jackson Square 1

My Food Photography

I came to the conclusion recently that my photography has been lacking to say the least. I’m not going to say it’s awful but it definitely could be a lot better. Usually when it comes down to getting the photos taken, it’s about 15 minutes past starving and the boys are both hanging on me wondering when dinner is going to be done. So I end up plopping the food on the table, turning on my external flash which is attached to an umbrella, taking a few quick shots and hoping that a little photoshop editing can help. Not the best plan for a food blogger, eh?

I will say that my photography has improved as my blog has grown. Just look back at the early days and you will see what I am talking about. But it’s still not what I aspire and hope it to be.

So this year, I have made a promise to myself to only shoot in manual mode. I had been using aperture mode on my camera but I just fell into a routine and nothing was looking all that great. It’s amazing how much perspective and creativity can happen when one little switch is flipped on my beloved camera. I have had this darn thing for years and have just been terrified to use it in its intended form. But I’m taking the leap now!

You know what else? I am going to attempt to “style” my food too. Shocking, I know. I should have been doing this all along but I haven’t really attempted it because I usually just can’t find the time and Noah is always putting his little fingers into everything so it’s kind of hard to have things set up perfectly. So, I decided to plan out my shots and props while my little man is napping. I’ve been cruising blogs and pinterest for inspiration and now I am obsessed with expanding my “prop closet.”

I’m still struggling a bit with natural lighting. I would love to use it all the time but I am often taking pictures of our meal right before we eat it and it’s usually dark or getting there at dinner this time of year. I know full time food bloggers make their meals and photograph them at lunch time then reheat for dinner but that doesn’t fit the lifestyle of a toddler. Sooo, I’m working on it.

I can’t promise that everything will be gorgeous and wonderfully styled but I hope that you will see a marked improvement!