Saturday, September 26, 2015

A couple of months I came across THIS recipe, and after some adjustment to the portions (portions below serve 3-4 people instead of 6) and ingredients (original recipe contains pancetta and real sausage) I decided to surprise Sean with it. He is usually the chef of the household so I decided it was my turn to treat him to a home-cooked lunch.  After watching him get up for seconds (and thirds) I made sure to add this one to our "must cook/bake again" book.  It takes quite a bit to make but I personally think it was absolutely worth it.


1 can of red kidney beans (if using dried beans refer to original recipe tagged above)
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 green pepper, deseeded and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne 
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 pound Tofurky Italian Sausage cut into 1-inch pieces
about 5 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 cups cooked white rice
chopped green onions, garnish

  1.  In a large soup pot over medium heat, cook the onions, celery, and
    bell peppers until vegetables are very well done, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne stir to combine.
  3. Stir in the garlic, parsley, thyme. Increase heat to medium-high and cook
    until the sausage is well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
  4. Add the softened beans to the pot, the stock, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to low and
    allow to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours 2, uncovered, until the beans are well softened.
  5. Taste and season with more salt or pepper.
  6. For a slightly smoother consistency, blend about 1/3 of bean and sausage mixture in a
    blender or food processor and return to the pot. This way, some of the beans will be
    ground smooth and some will be kept whole, creating a really lovely consistency. 


-Check out #OurTableChronicles series on Instagram- 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Last week Melissa and I headed to the West Coast to get a taste of the city by the bay and to enjoy some much-needed sister time.  Unfortunately, Adriana wasn't able to join us on this one but hopefully next year will include all three Torres girls.  Some of these pictures will be familiar to those of you who follow me on Instagram, but I liked them so much I decided to share them on here as well. Just a warning, this is a very picture-heavy post, hope you guys don't mind. Here is a summary of our five-day adventure in San Francisco:

After flying into SFO at around 8:30am we headed downtown, checked in at the Chancellor Hotel, freshened up, and headed back out. There was no time to loose. Because of the location of our hotel (right on Union Square), we were within walking distance to many of our must-see locations on our list. Our first stop? Chinatown. From there we roamed the whole city, with map in hand, finding sight after sight... Little Italy (where I had the BEST gelato to date... Blackberry Cabarnet), Lombard Street, Coit Tower, Grace Cathedral, and back to Union Square. By the end of it all we were too tired to even dress up for dinner. We ended up just walking a couple doors over to Lori's Diner for a hearty meal in our most comfortable clothes. To say we were spent after our first day would be a complete understatement. 
If we thought Thursday was exhausting we were definitely in for a treat.  We ate a quick breakfast at the cafe next to the hotel and to Fisherman's Wharf we went. Once there, we rented bikes and embarked on my favorite biking adventure to date. Our first stop was Pier 39 where we checked out the fruit market, all the cool little shops, and the famous sea lions. Afterwards, we followed the downtown coast all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Riding our bikes over the bridge was quite the experience. The wind gusts were so strong that we were propelled forward for most it thus making the ride definitely less strenuous but all the more terrifying (for me anyways, since heights are my absolute worst enemy).  The view was so beautiful, and our destination even more so. Definitely worth it. We rode into Sausalito just in time for dinner and some more exploring.  Instead of biking back to the city we followed the advice of the locals and took the ferry back to Fisherman's Wharf. Best decisions of our lives... I don't think our legs would've survived the journey back. 
My favorite day in San Francisco. 
One of our closest friends from college and her husband drove all the way from Santa Cruz to meet up and to explore the other side of the bay with us. We drove across the bridge and through very winding roads to Muir Woods where we walked along the magnificent redwoods.  From there we drove up to the very foggy Mount Tamalpais, down to Stinson Beach, and all along the cliffs of Shoreline Highway. Truly a breathtaking experience and the perfect way to spend the Sabbath... surrounded by nature in all its splendor and absolutely amazing company.  After sunset we headed back to the city for dinner at Belga and more gelato at Cafe Greco where we stayed until they closed for the night.  
This was probably the first day we actually slept in. We only had a couple places left on our "Must See" list so we just relaxed for a bit.  From our Laurel Heights Airbnb room we walked to a small Brazilian cafe for breakfast and then we made our way to the Palace of Fine Arts. We concluded our day with a visit to the Painted Ladies in  Alamo Square and the Mosaic Steps. 
Our last day.
We woke up fairly early because we had two things left on our list... to ride a famous San Francisco cable car and to pay Ghirardelli Square a visit.  We were pretty excited about it but unfortunately a million other people had the same idea.  After trying to jump on the Powell-Hyde cart for a ride and being told it was too full time and time again, we gave up and went to get some brunch a nearby cafe. We were a little disappointed about not being able to cross off all the locations on our list but here is to next time.  Back at the airport we said goodbye to the beautiful city of San Francisco and to each other (Melissa continued her adventure to LA and I came back home to the Midwest)
With Sausalito (our destination) in the distance...
The view from the "other side".

Thank you San Francisco for the amazing memories and your beautiful sights! 
You have become my favorite city to date.

Check our our trip's hashtag #MnMTakeSanFran on Instagram for more pictures!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Last week my family decided to embark on a road trip through the Great Plains.  It was somewhat spontaneous but we all managed to get a couple of days off of work and pack enough things for the "survival" of all six of us (which, might I add, it's no easy task hehehe).  My parents rented a van and picked us up Wednesday afternoon. We drove from Wisconsin, through Minnesota, and into South Dakota all in less than eight hours.  We checked into the hotel way past midnight and enjoyed some much needed rest before continuing on our adventure.  From there we drove to the Badlands where we hiked all day and then set camp in the valley for the night. The rest of our road trip consisted of paying Mt. Rushmore a visit (a FIRST for all of us), driving through dirt roads looking for buffalo, surviving Needles Highway, camping in the Black Hills, and hiking around the Devil's Tower. On Saturday afternoon we drove out of Wyoming to begin our journey back home. We were originally planning on finding a hotel along the way once the sun set but we didn't realize that because of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally EVERY hotel along I-90 would be completely booked.  We were forced to drive straight through the night for seventeen hours. Absolutely exhausting, specially for Sean and my dad who took care of all the driving.  Three days later and I'm still dragging, sleeping in a bit too late, and bags are still unpacked but despite all that I am eternally grateful for the memories created along those I love most. 

The Badlands

Mt. Rushmore

Sylvan Lake

Custer State Park

The Devil's Tower

Home sweet home.

(more pictures on INSTAGRAM)
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