Southwestern Bean & Rice Stew {Recipe}

After a week of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice, today’s 30*F and sunny weather feels warm.  I’m even wearing capri stretchy pants!

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When I was at school in Boston, I learned not only about teaching, but I also learned the importance of owning a good winter coat.  My mom suggested that I invest in one when she drove me up to school in the fall, but I refused.  I was self-conscious as any teenage girl is and the last thing I wanted to do was walk around a college campus looking like a NFL linebacker.  That is, until I experienced my first Boston snowfall.

When it comes to my hair I’m very low-maintenance.  I use shampoo and conditioner, no products, and let it air-dry.  When I was younger I would “play” with my mom’s hair products, but every time I did my hair turned out looking like freshly sharpened pencils.  You didn’t want to get close to me in fear you’d lose an eye.  Obviously, I had no clue how to use hair spray or mouse and not much has changed.

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The morning of my first Boston snowfall I had class at 8AM.  Freshly showered I layered-up, put on my boots, and zipped up my jacket.  Within moments of stepping out the front door my hair froze and I snapped off a chunk.  I’ll never forget it.  I sent a picture to my mom and Ryan because I knew they’d never believe me without proof.  It was the wake-up call that I needed.  Immediately after class I purchased the biggest, fluffiest, and warmest winter coats that I could find.  I still love wearing it.

When I’m not battling the winter weather and looking like a football player, I love cozying up on the couch with a piping hot bowl of soup or stew.  Plus, using the Crock-Pot on a snowy day is magical.  The house smells wonderful and you can spend the day fawning over the winter wonderland outside your window or binge on old TV shows…  Assuming the baby naps.

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Last week, that’s exactly what I did.  On Tuesday we got our first snowfall so I raided our pantry and threw a bunch of things into the Crock-Pot, let it simmer all day, watched the snow cover our backyard with Evie, caught a few episodes of Gilmore Girls while she napped, and enjoyed a hearty dinner once Ryan got home from work.

Southwestern Bean & Rice Stew

Ingredients (4 – 6 servings):

    • 32 oz organic low sodium chicken broth
    • 1 28 oz can organic diced tomatoes
    • 1 15 oz can organic black beans
    • 1 16 oz can refried black beans with jalapeño peppers
    • 1 cup frozen bell pepper strips
    • salt & pepper {to taste}
    • Tabasco {to taste}
    • 1 cup brown basmati rice

*I found all of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s, with the exception of Tabasco.*

Directions:

Pour broth, tomatoes, black beans, and refried beans {liquid included} into the Crock-Pot.  Add the bell pepper strips, salt, pepper, and Tabasco and stir until well combined.

Set the Crock-Pot to low and let it do it’s thing for approximately 6 hours.  After 6 hours, add the rice and let it cook for another 2 – 3 hours.  The longer it cooks {or the longer the leftovers sit in the fridge}, the thicker it gets.

Serve with your favorite toppings.  A dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, or shredded chicken would be tasty!

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I loved this dish and ate the leftovers for lunch the following two days!  Ryan enjoyed the flavor, but asked to include some type of meat next time.  He’s a “must have meat with dinner” kinda guy.

— Allison

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Evie: 3 Months Update

Dear Sweet Baby Girl,

I’m typing this while you sleep on my lap.  For the past week you’ve refused to sleep anywhere other than on me after your middle-of-the-night feeding.  The week of Christmas you gifted your dad and I one of the best presents new parents could ask for – sleep.  But you’ve since rescinded that gift.

Your senses are on point because you wake up every day at 2:30AM on.the.dot.  You let out a short cry to let us know that you’re awake and your dad occasionally has to give me a gentle shove because I hope that I’m just dreaming of a crying baby.

After a quick diaper change, we move downstairs for a feeding before you quickly drift back into dreamland and spend the next few hours sleeping on my chest or lap.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’d love a few more hours of sleep, but I enjoy the quiet time together.  You look so angelic with your hands crossed under your chin.

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We think that you’re in the midst of a growth spurt because you’re a hungry, hungry hippo.  It feels like as soon as we finish one feeding we’re starting another.  We’re still breastfeeding and you love to latch on, whether it’s to eat or just for comfort.  Over the past month your dad and I have learned how to differentiate between your hunger, tired, and boredom cry – something that we never thought would be possible.

Just until recently we cradled you whenever we walked with you in our arms, but now you prefer to be carried upright.  You’re intrigued by everything, especially mirrors and lights.  You’ve made tremendous progress of holding up your head and pushing up on your arms.  Your dad and I joke that you’re going to walk before you crawl because you like to put pressure on your legs and they never stop kicking.  He calls you “kickin’ chicken.”

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We received our first snowfall this past week and it was magical.  Your eyes were open as wide as your delicate eyelids would allow and you couldn’t take your focus off of the glistening white blanket.  You were in awe.

You’ve become what your dad and I like to call a “faker.”  Throughout the day you’ll occasionally let out a short whine, regardless of whether you’re in our arms or you’re laying in one of your rockers.  At first we thought it was the beginning of a cry, but we caught on quickly.  After you let out the short whine you look around to see if anyone heard it and then will then coo or smile.

Over the past month you’ve met more of your dad and my friends, spent time with your grandmomma when I went to the gym, were a great shopping companion amid the holiday chaos at the mall, sat on Santa’s lap, celebrated your first Christmas, starred longingly into your aunts and uncles eyes, and slept through your first New Year’s celebration {so did I}.  You love bath time, but hate when it ends and when you have to get dressed.

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Your dad and I say it daily, we’re amazed by how quickly you’ve changed.  It seems like just yesterday we brought you home and were worried if we were doing anything right.  We still worry, but I think we’re starting to feel a bit more comfortable.  Charlie too.

You are so loved.

XO, Momma & Dad

Read past updates…

Evie: 1 Month Update

Evie: 2 Months Update

— Allison

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Touring the National Harbor

Hello Monday, we meet again.  The holidays passed by quickly, but don’t they always?  It was nice spending time with family and friends, plus having Ryan home was a treat.  If only we could have a 4-day weekend every weekend…

Last night I didn’t get much sleep, but I did make a batch of what I call my “Everyday Pancakes” before our chiropractor appointment this morning.  They were vegan-ized using a flax egg because we were out of traditional eggs and I added a little brown sugar to the batter so there were pockets of melty sugar.  Delicious!

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Friday night friends came over for a game night.  We ordered take-out from Cafesano which is a local Mediterranean restaurant.  The menu had a great selection of soups, salads, paninis, wraps, kabob platters, pizzas, and pastas so no one had trouble finding something appealing.  A few people got pizza {myself included, I love brick oven pizza crust!}, salads, kebabs, and one person tried the lasagna.

Once our bellies were full, we played Cards Against Humanity and Catch Phrase!  Everyone laughed hysterically late into the night.  I don’t remember the last time I was awake until midnight…  It definitely was before Evie’s arrival.

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Saturday morning we took our time and did a few things around the house before heading to the National Harbor.  I signed up for a race at the National Harbor a couple of years ago, but nothing was open that early in the morning and I haven’t been back since.

For the past few years and this year included, the Gaylord National Resort puts up beautiful holiday decorations and hosts ICE!  ICE! is essentially a large ice house that contains more than two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, four ice slides, and numerous rooms depicting the chosen story.  The story this year was Frosty the Snowman.

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We didn’t see ICE! since it would have been a bit too cold for Evie {it’s a chilly 9*F}, but maybe next year.  It would be a fun tradition to start!  After touring the resort we walked around the shops and sat down for a drink before heading home.

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Sunday started similarly to Saturday, relaxing and slow.  Evie has been having trouble falling back asleep after her middle of the night feeding for the past week, so I’ve been taking her downstairs to lay on the couch and hope there’s something other than infomercials on TV.  She eventually falls back asleep on my chest/lap and will wake up once for a feeding but then will sleep until anywhere between 9 and 11AM.

After lunch we went to my momma’s house to help her set up her new digital picture frame.  We thought it was the perfect Christmas gift for a new grandmomma {we gave one to Ryan’s mom, too} and since we can email pictures directly to the frame, we hopefully won’t be getting too many “How do I…” calls.

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On the way home Ryan dropped me off at the gym for a quick workout.  I walked a mile, ran a mile, walked a mile, and ran another mile.  The last mile I sprinted which felt amazing for the first few minutes, but then my knee started aching.  I tweaked it when I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon last March.  Hopefully some strengthening exercises is all it needs.

P.S.  I just signed up for Bloglovin.  Anyone else use it?  Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

— Allison

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