Thursday, March 5, 2015

Taste of Home Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

This thing was absolutely delicious and so quick to make!

I came home from work and threw the ingredients together, put them in the oven to bake, went up to shower, and came down for a hot meal. 

Doesn't get much better than that!

Original recipe link:

I literally just start chopping everything, bring to a boil, then let simmer for about ten minutes. I used mild Picante salsa but I think you could probably get creative with different types of salsa used for added flavor.

While everything is simmering you can begin dicing up the toppings so that they are ready to go when it cools from the oven.

I chopped up some cilantro and added it with the green onion. For those of us that love cilantro you can never have too much!

When it came time to layer, it took about 5 tortillas for me to cover the base of the pan. (four and then I tore one in half to get the far edge.) I also feel like you can't add enough cheese- the recipe suggests low fat cheese, which is probably ideal for a matter of healthiness, but I used some full cheddar sargento and regret nothing!!

I may have put too much of the mixture as my first layer on the pan because I was definitely running low when it came to garnishing the top. I figured it was more important to have extra in the middle than on the top of the casserole.

Baked for 30 min and voila!
It was really pretty tasty and it made quite a bit- we were surprisingly stuffed after only a couple small servings.

I think a fun improvement for next time would be to add meat- either ground beef or turkey (leaner meat is healthier and higher protein!)
Or possibly some shredded chicken. 

Overall success!

Taste of Home Old Fashioned Baked Beans!

I have made this recipe two times in two different ways and both of them turned out delicious!

They are very simple to do- just make sure you set enough time (about 5-6 hours) in order to do them. These are no instant beans from a can!

Here is the link to the original recipe:

Method 1:
The first time I  made these I changed a few ingredients quite a bit. I let the beans stand for about 3 hours and after draining, let them simmer for about an hour. I was able to get a full two cups of reserve liquid from it. 

I was being calorie conscious so I didn't add any bacon (though you could always add turkey bacon to help bring it down a little bit) and I substituted 2 tbs of prepared mustard for 2 tsp of ground mustard and 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar. I also used 2 tbs of honey instead of molasses and 2 tbs of sugar instead of brown sugar.
(Was I being creative or just lacking ingredients?? haha)

These were all combined and baked for 45 min, though being myself, I accidentally forgot to cover them. It wasn't a huge tragedy but the beans came out a little dry on the top. Overall they were very sweet and still pretty tasty!

Method 2:
The second time I made these we had dinner guests so I went all out with the recipe! (Tony was thrilled. He got to eat REAL bacon)
I stuck closer to the recipe this time. I used 2 tsps of onion powder instead of a chopped onion (I don't really like onion texture) 2 tsps of ground mustard, 2 tbs of brown sugar, and 3/4 lb of bacon. 1 full lb of the bacon that I got just seemed a little like a heart attack and we would have had so much bacon in there... I also used Aunt Jemima's Honey Maple Syrup. (Almost molasses!)

 (a pot of simmering beans!)

My problem this day was that I let my beans simmer for too long while we were out running errands (about an hour and a half) luckily there was enough liquid in there for them to not burn, but I did not have any left in reserve. Instead I added about 1/2 c. almond milk to the beans in the pan and hoped for the best (and I remembered to cover them!)

They came out delicious. The bacon really does make a difference to the beans by counter acting the sweet molasses with a little bit of saltiness.

This makes a delicious side dish! 1/2 c. of beans has 16 g of protein. If you take it easy on the bacon and the other ingredients it is a semi-healthier way to help reach your protein requirement for the day.

(I forgot to take a picture of  them before they got eaten so here's the picture from the website. Delicious!)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Our Trip to Maui!

Last weekend we popped over to Maui to visit some family. What a change it was from Oahu! I couldn't get over how open it was (unlike our island which has skyscrapers and traffic galore...) 

It was also fun because it was such a short flight (maybe 30 min in the air?) We stayed most of our time with family piled into their condo in Lahaina. I wouldn't mind going back to visit and explore more of the beach town!

Above is the view of the island Lanai from the beach and the one below is of Molokai. I love how close the other islands were! (For some reason I was extremely excited about being able to see the other ones. I guess after sitting in the Pacific Ocean its exciting to see anything close to you...)

Our first very exciting activity was to go whale watching. Between December and April Humpback whales migrate down (from Alaska...quite the swim!) in order to breed and give birth to their babies.
The mother doesn't eat the entire time she is here raising her baby until he is strong enough to swim back. Go momma!

This is me realizing that I'm on this little raft with a bunch of enormous animals swimming under me. Thankfully they avoid the noise in the water so we weren't about to get breached on!

I definitely struggled with the picture taking- for as big as these animals are they are actually very difficult to get pictures of! By the time you see them peaking out of the water, and your phone realizes you want it to take a picture, the whales have already done their thing and gone back under water.

 I did get a clear picture of some tail slapping action in the distance! We had several mothers and babies, though the babies were a lot more visible because they were playing in the water and practicing their new moves.

This tail was from a mother that was demonstrating to her baby. Afterwards the baby didn't want to do anything but tail slap!

We learned that the mothers always have a male escort with them and other males will often try to challenge him and become her new escort. While we were watching another whale decided to follow the mother and challenge her escort- he ended up getting chased away.

He swam underneath our raft and then decided to dive right in front of us (his tail was enormous!) Of course by the time my camera focused his tail was disappearing under the water so you can't see just how big it was.

That odd line at the front of the raft is the last bit of his tail before it disappeared into the water.

How exciting!

Our next adventure was the drive to Hana for camping!
The drive was probably the bigger adventure given that it took three hours to get to the other side of the island, along a super winding road up the mountain. Some places it was only a one way so you had to cautiously round the turn and hope nobody was barreling down it! (and off the cliff you would go....)

We stayed in a little cabin (below) which was only 60 bucks for the night.
It also had a few missing boards in the deck and one of the kids fell through it. 
But other than that it was great!

We visited the black beach which was very interesting because the sand is entirely black. Luckily it was an overcast day so we didn't roast!

Surprise smooch!

This was a really cool cave that you could go through and out very close to the water during low tide. I imagine during high tide this whole place fills!

This whole beach made me think it would have been a great spot for filming Pirates of the Caribbean.

 One of the paths off the side of the beach led up to the top of the cliff and this amazing view!

The big island is out there in the distance somewhere. The weirdest thing about being on an island is that you don't notice how small you are until you stand at the ocean.

Then you just look out and its like "yep. this is all there is."

The rain cleared up the next day and we went to the Venus Pools for some cliff jumping. It was a pull off on the side of the road with a little trail that you follow through this field. (so open and pretty! Hard to believe that there is a cliff diving spot here)

This is what is left of one of the kids.


It was such a beautiful spot! The highest point to jump from was probably 50 feet in the air. (That's why I'm standing here taking pictures ;) )

Our last task before driving back around the island was to hike at Haleakala National Park.

 A beautiful Banyan Tree for shade and climbing!

About a mile up the trail was a bridge that over looked a little water fall. Up stream was a nice shady spot to cool off your feet (and be eaten by mosquitoes)

These stairs led to a bamboo forest and higher view of the water fall. 

We had to cut the 2 mile a trail a little short so that we could begin the long drive back around the other side of Maui.

Here's a shot of the view of our drive back (once again on a one lane road across the other side of the island)

This view made me feel like I was back home again in Colorado!

Overall we had  successful short stay in Maui! 

Skin Care Archives -

These are a few fantastic ideas for natural skin care! I'm definitely going to try the coffee scrub and could stand to take care of my make up brushes....

Skin Care Archives -

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Truth About Pit Bulls

My newest dog training article in response to a blog post that I read.
Information that every dog owner should know!