Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

I stayed up way too late watching the Democratic National Convention.

The same thing could be said every night last week when I watched the Republican National Convention.

I need to catch up on sleep soon.

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I just get sucked into the speakers and before I know it, it was super late and I make a mental note that I would have to get myself a big coffee on my way into the office.

Thankfully, I’ll get to catch up on some sleep this weekend, post convention watching, as my mom is taking Autumn for the weekend.

We planned on my mom taking Autumn so that Price could do a final cram session for his his first Architectural Registration Exam (ARE’s) on Monday and I had a deadline on Monday. My deadline was bumped so now I have some free time now… crazy!!!! So now I think I will get to sleep, get to spinning, and do some great cooking and baking.

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I think I will need to make another batch of this soup this weekend.

This black bean soup could not be easier! Let the beans soak over night, cook the beans, then blend, and enjoy!

I used vegetable broth in the soup, making it vegan. You can use a chicken broth, but I would not suggest beef broth as I feel it is too robust of a flavor and would overpower the beans.

It’s filling and packed with protein so you will be full after having this black bean soup.

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This healthy, simple black bean soup will have so satisfied. Go, grab yourself a bowl!!

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Black Bean Soup

Makes 6-8 servings


  • 1/2 pound black beans
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 Cups vegetable broth, at room temperature
  • salt and pepper
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • topping: slices of jalepano, cilantro, shredded cheese, etc


  1. Place beans in a very large bowl, cover with 2″ of water. Let sit over night, at least 4-6 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans.
  3. In a large pot, cook the beans, pepper, onion, and 3 Cups of water for about 60 minutes over medium heat. The beans will be simmering and absorb the water. Add more water to prevent the beans from drying out.
  4. Once the beans are tender, pour into a blender or a food processor, slowly add in the vegetable broth and blend until the soup is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with Mexican crema or sour cream and desired toppings.
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Our Tampa Staycation- July 2016

2016 Tampa Staycation

I think that you should occasionally practice being a tourist in you hometown. It’s so much fun to see where you live in a different way and get to enjoy it differently that you normally do. Sometimes you just forget how great where you live is.

In this case, we have only been in Tampa a few months so we decided to take the opportunity to get out into Tampa to really enjoy it. You know, aside from just working there or making up a trip from where we live, about 15 miles South of downtown, to get to Trader Joe’s.

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A few weeks ago we spent the weekend in Tampa getting to explore. It was so perfect!

We first started out by my office to park and to walk along The Riverwalk, a pedestrian urban trail that runs along the seawall for the Hillsborough River. It connects to parks that are filled with beautiful plantings, fountains, and jungle gyms for kids. But really it’s perfect for everyone, at every age. Walking on there is a beautiful way to stretch your legs.

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After a quick walk on The Riverwalk, we focused ourselves on some breakfast… donuts!

We crossed over into the river towards The University of Tampa, which is stunningly beautiful. I just love the amazing history of it going from a hotel to the university. The architecture is incredible.

Anyway, we quickly reached our destination… SOHO Donut Company!

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We all enjoyed our donuts that were loaded up with goodies. Autumn picked out a Cereal Killer, that was topped off with Captain Crunch cereal. She munched on all the cereal and the fluffy frosting topped donut. So cute!

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We then browsed Oxford Exchange, which might just be the coolest shop and restaurant ever. Everything was so beautifully curated and just so cool. They even have a Warby Parker shop in there too. I am looking forward to going back to check out their brunch.

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There is other great shopping in the area but we had decided to walk off our donuts and venture towards the Channelside portion of The Riverwalk to check out the sights and activities. Autumn enjoyed the the playground at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park.

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We had to pry her and her rosy cheeks away from the jungle gym to cool off in the fountains outside the nearby Tampa Bay History Center. They were just big enough for her to run around while still being close by while we sat under the canopies enjoying some shade. Plus, there were bathrooms right there so it was super convenient as well.

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By then it was time for lunch so we debated on our options- stay near Channelside and eat or head back towards our hotel- for a bite to eat.

Price was interested in trying out Bamboozle Cafe, by my office, as I always boast about how great everything is there. (I previously wrote about it in my Monday Munchies series)

On our way to Bamboozle, we stopped off at Topical Smoothie Cafe so Autumn could get something refreshing (plus a smoothie always is a safe back up for her for a meal). The kiddie sized Strawberry Banana smoothie was perfect for her to enjoy.

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The meal was a hit. I ordered my usual noodle salad, price hd a bon mi and we shared a fresh roll. Everyone was happy and full when we were done.

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And we have created a new Pho lover!

Autumn dug into her pho with wild abandon. She slurped up the noodles, munched on the bean sprouts and shredded chicken, and gulped down the broth. I even had to ask for a bit more broth since she dominated her bowl. Makes us proud!

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By now, it was time to check into our room at Aloft Tampa Downtown, located right along The Riverwalk. It was just a short walk over for us as it was conveniently located near so much downtown.

From the moment you drive up, there is personal attention devoted to you. Valet handles your car before you enter. Then you are greeted at the lobby with great service. You even get great service when you request band-aids! (I swear I ALWAYS need band-aids at hotels. So random…)

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Autumn was super excited about the bench for her and Owl. And we were super excited about a beautiful King Sized bed. Since we currently have a queen, it feels so luxurious to spread out in a king.

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We quickly got set up in the room and headed down to enjoy the pool.

The large infinity pool was beautiful and the water was refreshing. The pool is located right along the Hillsborough so the view of the river is stunning. Plus the energy of the active waterfront is a fun too.

There were a few large groups of people there so the pool experienced a few different waves of busyness, but everyone was polite and gave each other plenty of space.

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We decided to get a few appetizers to enjoy for dinner. It gave us a good way at affordably sampling what they have to offer at the W XYZ bar.

At first, we selected the loaded fries and blue cheese sliders since Autumn requested burgers. In typical toddler fashion, she decided she didn’t want it once she saw them (even the plain ones we requested for her) so Price and I enjoyed the burgers. The loaded fries were just as good.

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Later, Price went through every menu item with her at the bar until they hit the chicken soup, which she really enjoyed. At the point, Price also ordered the Buffalo Cauliflower, which I think I now like more than wings. I have to give it a try at making it myself since I loved the flavor and the texture.

The best part about all of it was that it was during Happy Hour, so several of the menu options were discounted!

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Had I paid attention of the drink part of the Happy Hour menu, I would have noticed that beers were just $3 and wine was $5, but I zero’d in on the cocktails, which were not discounted. Damn!! But I have to say that both our drinks were worth their $10 price tags.

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I didn’t mention that we were bringing Autumn when booking the room, but when we arrived the staff geared up for her and prompt brought a duffel to our room that housed an inflatable bed, pillow, sheets, Disney Princess comforter, playing cards, and a puzzle. It was such a great surprise when we arrived to the room. And Autumn really enjoyed her ‘special bed’ as well.

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Thankfully, there was a microwave in the lobby in the Re: Fuel area so I was able to warm Autumn’s nightly bottle. And while doing that I made a stop at the W XYZ bar to grab a drink from my new favorite bar tender, Alex. Oh man, he was so fun.

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Having a solo moment to walk around the hotel was nice too. It’s a fun, chill space.

The fire pit was going, which would have been fun for us to hang around with some drinks, but all that swimming really wore Autumn out and she crashed early on in the night.

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To finish off the night, I grabbed a Molten Lava Cake for Price and me to split while lounging in bed. I would have done room service, but I didn’t want them knocking on the door to wake Autumn. Plus, it gave me another chance to chat with Alex at the bar.

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The view of the river and blue skies was a great way to start the day!

Since our normal routine in the morning was thrown off because we were staying in the hotel, Autumn was quite adamant on us leaving ASAP. She was quite upset she could not watch her DVR’d Mickey Mouse Clubhouse shows. But the puzzle that was provided in the Camp Aloft bag did help out as it was a fun activity for her to do while was packed up.

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Plus dancing in front of the full height mirror helped smooth things over in the change in routine/place.

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We could have stayed and grabbed breakfast at Re:fuel but we decided to enjoy ‘vacation mode’ and go out for breakfast.

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Yelp reviews helped us pick The Daily Eats, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, just a quick drive from Aloft.

We dove into a wonderful brunch with great service. Autumn was happy with her crayons and pancake kids meal, and we were happy with our buckets of coffee and great entrees. Brunch bliss.

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I am so thankful for the time that we took to explore our new home. We have just scratched the surface of all the things that Tampa has to offer too. So much to see and do!!

I am looking forward to getting to continue to explore the Tampa Bay area. Stayed tuned for more of our adventures!


Check out all these great places

The Riverwalk

Multiple entries and parks along Hillsborough River

SoHo Donut Company

117 South Hyde Park Avenue

Tampa, FL 33606

Oxford Exchange

420 West Kennedy Boulevard

Tampa, FL 33606

Topical Smoothie Cafe

200 N Tampa St #120

Tampa, FL 33602

Bamboozle Cafe

516 N Tampa Street

Tampa, FL 33602

Aloft Tampa Downtown

100 West Kennedy Boulevard

Tampa, FL, 33602

The Daily Eats 

901 South Howard Avenue

Tampa, FL 33606


Thanks for Aloft Tampa Downtown for a wonderful stay at your property in exchange for a feature on the blog. All views and options are completely my own.




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Strawberry Margaritas with Homemade Strawberry Syrup

Strawberry Margaritas

Big, huge news!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have the permit for our house!!!!!!!!!

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I can’t freaking wait to get started on building our house. I feel that this moment has taken forever to get to. We decided on the house in January ’15 and we had to wait to get started until we were down here this spring. So, I just can’t wait to move in.

We celebrated the news of getting our permit by enjoying some Strawberry Margaritas!

It was such a great way to celebrate that fantastic news. It was beautiful, tasty, and fun.

I am not normally a fan of fruity margaritas, but this has me hooked on strawberry margaritas now. I like the tartness of the typical margarita, but the rich strawberry flavor is just so incredible. It’s like sipping on a strawberry, without that artificial flavor that you often get when you order strawberry margaritas when you order them out at restaurants. You can’t beat the real deal when it’s made with fresh strawberries.

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When I received the newly released The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving cookbook from the Ball Company, I immediately dove in trying to find something to make. I was first interested in making the Pickled Peppers and Onions (pg 215), but then my interested jumped to the Cherry-Bourbon BBQ Sauce (pg 184), then the Grapefruit Marmalade (pg 99). I then saw the Strawberry Syrup that is used in Strawberry Margaritas (pg 124) and I just knew I had to make that. Plus, I still have the Fiery Peach Salsa (pg 173) on my mind too!

The strawberry syrup was so simple to make. There is very little active cooking time, with most of the time involved with making the syrup just letting the cooked strawberries drain off their liquid to make the syrup. Super chill.

I was intrigued that it called for cinnamon in the syrup recipe since I didn’t think it would be a great addition to the strawberries, but boy was I wrong. The very faint cinnamon flavor is just was the strawberry syrup needs to cut the sweetness. Genius.

Actually, I lied… I couldn’t find cheese cloth so I used my finest mesh strainer for when I drained the strawberries and it worked just fine. But it is very fine mesh strainer. I would not suggest this if you did not have a fine mesh strainer. But, I will be ordering cheesecloth to prepared in the future.

I only changed things up for the Strawberry Syrup in regards to halving the recipe and not actually canning it. I didn’t need as much syrup that the recipe produced so I just halved it. Then I just refrigerated the syrup since I knew I would use it up quickly. Had I made the full batch I would have followed the instructions on how to can it using the water bath method- which is super easy (I know since I used that to make all our of wedding favors!)

Once the syrup was made I made the Strawberry Margaritas. I did change things up from the recipe in the book just a bit. I basically just added in some  Triple Sec (Curaçao liqueur) as I really like what it adds to margaritas. Nice blend of lime, orange, and strawberries.

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Besides making margaritas, you can make Italian sodas with the strawberry syrup. I’ve been adding it to seltzer to jazz up plain seltzer. Add a bit of lime and it’s perfection.

Besides tasting good, my margaritas looked good in my new Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jar in Blue. I love the retro look! I have been a fan of drinking out of mason jars for years and year so I think these blue ones will be in constant use at our house now. In our new house!!!!

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Homemade Strawberry Syrup

Makes 2 1/2 pints of syrup


  • 1 2/3 pounds of halved strawberries, with tops cut off
  • 1/2 Cups water
  • 1/2 of a cinnamon stick (1 1/2″ in length)
  • Cheesecloth
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon bottle lemon juice


  1. In a stainless steel pot, combine the strawberries, water, and cinnamon stick. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally, do not let the mixture boil.
  2. Pour into a large mesh strainer that is liked with 2 layers of cheesecloth that has been placed over a large bowl/4 Cup measuring cup. Let sit for at least 2 hours to allow the liquid drain to yield 3 Cups. Discard the strawberries
  3. Add the strawberry liquid, sugar, and corn syrup back into the pot. Head over medium heat, stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a low boil and boil for 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice.
  4. Using the water bath method, process the syrup in half pint or pint jars.

Strawberry Margaritas

Makes 2 mega margaritas


  • 3/4 Cup homemade Strawberry Syrup
  • 3/4 Cup silver tequila
  • 1/4 Cup Triple Sec
  • 1/4 Cup lime juice
  • Garnish with a strawberry and a wedge of lime


  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the ice, and mix well.
  2. Fill 2 Pint mason jars with ice up to the 10 ounce line. Evenly divide the margarita mixture between the 2 jars. Garnish with a strawberry and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!

Strawberry Syrup sourced from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving


Thank you for The Ball Company for sponsoring this post. 

Post contains affiliate links


Don’t miss out on Ball’s 6th Annual International Can-It Forward Day!!!!

You’ll want to join in all the canning fun this Friday the 22nd from 10:00AM – 3:30PM when Ball is hosting their 6th Annual International Can-It Forward Day. You can check out LIVE videos of Ball’s Facebook Page featuring their expect chefs and blogging team, the Ball Fresh Preservers. Each hour, viewers will have the chance to win a giveaway prize!

This can will help inspire you to create wonderful canned and preserved creations. Plus, it will give you great tips and tricks to help you try things you have never done before (I gotta get going on pressure canning!)

Besides helping you out with canning, when you engage with any of the Facebook Live recipe videos, a donation will be made to charity! How wonderful is that?!?!

Be sure to check out Facebook and Twitter so you can ask Jarden Home Brands canning experts any preserving or home canning questions via the hashtag #canitforward from 10AM – 5PM ET on July 22nd. You can also share their own #canitforward creations with the brand on Pinterest and Instagram.

Hope you’re join me and others for International Can-It Forward Day!



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15 minute Fish Tacos with Chimichurri Sauce

15 minute fish tacos w chimichurri sauce

I don’t know if I rocked or utterly failed at being a parent this morning.

I am going with the ROCKED IT approach.

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So it’s Summer Session Picture Day!

I picked out Autumn’s outfit last night- super cute floral capris with a patterned yellow top and clear glitter jelly sandals. The outfit was nice and the shoes were pretty nuetral, compared to sneakers or her new favorite minnie sandals that are covered in polka dots and are topped off with a bow. Good, great, we had a plan!

This morning went well. She woke up in a good mood and I quickly got her I even managed to do her hair this morning without an argument. Yes! She watched some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse this morning and then we were on our way to daycare. On the way out the door she grabbed one of my chubby lip tints, like usual to play with in the car. No big.

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I let her take this lip tint for the car rides since it’s pretty pale and she doesn’t do too much damage to it or herself. She mainly likes to just hold it.

Well, during the 5 minute ride to daycare, she decided her shoes were acceptable. How dare they not be the Minnie sandals?!?! And covering herself with lip tint would be a great idea.

By the time we reached daycare, I could just mange to get the shoes back on her and I gave up on the lip tint since prying it out of her hands was just not worth it. I did get a brief moment to talk to her teacher about not letting her look like a drag queen for the preschool pictures. Drag queens are awesome, but I don’t need my 2 year old looking like one for a class picture:-)

Sometimes a 5 minute ride with your kid is just not so simple. But these fish tacos are. Promise!

They allow you to get a healthy, delicious meal on the table in 15 minutes. I’m not even kidding with that. The fish takes almost no time to cook and while they are cooking you can be charring the tortillas. and you just need to cut up the cabbage and the radishes. The chimichurri can be made in advance and stored in an air tight container for when you need it. Otherwise, that too is super quick.

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We stuffed our faces with just these tacos (and margaritas!) but you can simply serve them with a side of rice or beans.

Enjoy Taco Tuesday with these quick fish tacos!

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15 minute Fish Tacos with Chimichurri Sauce

Makes 4 tacos


  • 2 flounder fillets (12-16 ounces total)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 of a small red cabbage
  • 4 radishes
  • 1 lime cut in wedges
  • 1/3 Cup Chimichurri Sauce


  1. Lightly salt and pepper the fish fillets.
  2. In a lightly oiled skillet, over medium heat. Saute the fish. Gently flip after 3 minutes. Continue cooking, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest.
  3. While the fish is cooking, char the tortillas over an open flame. (alternatively, warm in a dry very hot tortilla.) I suggest you use tongs for this.
  4. While the fish is cooling, finely chop the red cabbage and thinly slice the radishes.
  5. Break up the fish into 1″ pieces.
  6. Assemble the tacos by laying 2 tortilla down, adding some cabbage, 1/4 of the fish, a few slices of radishes, top with some chimichurri. Serve immediately with the lime wedges.




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2 minute Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

There was the most amazing lightning storm all around us last night.

Tampa is known as “The Lightning Capital of the World”. In reality it gets the most thunderstorms for North America. If the season was longer maybe it truly would be the most for the world but at least it can hold the title for North America.

It rains a lot in Florida in the summer, which isn’t such a big deal since it helps cool off the afternoons. Plus, it just puts on a good show since it’s not just a drizzle, but it’s typically a big storm that passes through for a bit. You always have to remember to leave your windows up!

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I did a FB live video of the lightning storm to show off all of Mother Nature’s glory. I had been trying to capture the lightning on Snapchat but it was just too tough to get it at the right moment.

Beside the thunderstorms this summer, I have been enjoying the herbs we have in various containers on the lanai and ones planted outside of it. My dad planted some parsley and it just exploded. We have so much of it so I couldn’t resist the urge to grab a massive handful and make a chimichurri with it.

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I also needed to grab some stuff at the grocery store, but the garden fresh parsley was so great to have in there.

A traditional chimichurri is hand chopped, but this version is for us lazy/in a rush folks. I think a hand chopped sauce is stunningly beautiful, but I don’t often have time for that. This blender sauce makes the ingredients just as fine and smooth, but the appearance is different. This makes it look more like a pesto, than a sauce that includes chopped ingredients that are then mixed into an oil.

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I love that this is Paleo and Whole30 complaint too! It adds so much flavor without all the typical no no’s that you have to avoid- soy, sugar, dairy, gluten, etc.

I have even used it as a zesty salad dressing one night. Not the intended use for it, but it was still dang good. I like things with a bit of zip, especially when doing Whole30. I think that the lack of sugar makes me crave the spice and heat from salsas, hot sauces, and things like this.

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You’ll be adding this vibrant green sauce to everything you eat now. It’s time to fire up the grill, slap a steak on it, and then drizzle this all over that sucker.

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2 minute Chimichurri Sauce 

Makes about 2 cups of sauce


  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 Cup fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 Fresno chile or (red) jalapeño, de-stemmed and de-seeded
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until all the ingredients are finely chopped and incorporated. Store in an air-tight container.
Posted in Cooking, Food and Drink, Whole 30 | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments