Sunday, October 12, 2014

Not your ordinary pasta

Today was the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. What does that have to do with me you ask? 

Well, up until a month a go I planned to run it; up until two months ago, I planned to use it to qualify for Boston. Instead here I am, in Austin, on a two-week (possibly longer) running hiatus. 

Needless to say, I'm a sad blogger today. It's not just the fact that I lost a chunk of money buying my entry, or the fact that my medal collection didn't grow as expected. What really hit me was seeing photos and posts of my running buddies. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty jealous of them. 

I'm jealous of the pre-race jitters they got this past week; of the immense amount of carbs that they had to eat for three days in a row; and of the group run they went on around the windy city on Saturday. I'm jealous of the queasiness some of them felt as they made their way to starting line; or the regret that overcame them as they passed mile 10 and realized they weren't even half way there; or of the annoyance of having to gulp water without trying to splash their faces. But what I'm most jealous about is that feeling of utmost triumph they all (probably) got as they crossed the finish line.

... Anyways. I'll try not to get hung up on it and instead share my dinner from tonight. 

This is the first time I've experimented with spaghetti squash and all I can say is where was this vegetable hiding! Here's a recipe I found online; it's simple and healthy--did you think I'd post otherwise? But it's also delicious and versatile. Sub in marinara sauce for the mushroom add-on or any other addition you would put on pasta and you've got yourself a meal.

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms & Shrimp (adapted from Pickled Plum)
Active time: 15 minutes; total time: 50 minutes
Makes 4 servings
  • 1 small spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 4 cups sliced portobella mushrooms (about 16 oz)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 
  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.
  2. Using a large knife, split the squash down the middle--I found it easiest to strike once and then keep sticking (with the knife still in the squash) until it was almost sliced through; then I removed the knife and split the squash with my hands. Remove and discard seeds. Season squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down on baking tray and cook for 30-40 minutes, until soft and slightly browned on the bottom.
  3. When squash has about 20 minutes left, heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add thyme and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Remove squash from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scrape the inside of the squash into the skillet with the mushrooms. Place over medium-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until squash looks golden. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Turkey Burgers and Kale

Hello October.

Right. I can't believe it either. It feels like just yesterday I was flying into Austin, nervously waiting to get off the plane and make my move official. No, actually, it feels like not so long ago (January) I was complaining to my parents about how I had nothing to do and I was bored all day. Ha! Don't I wish I could turn back time--or at least stop it.

Well, surprise, I can't! And it's just going to keep going faster and faster--or so I've been told. So I think the only way I'm going to be able to deal with it is with food, food and more food.

Before I get into today's recipe. Let me share my most current woe. Every weekend (almost) I head out to the grocery store on my bike. I bring along my backpack, my two Ortliebs (bike bags), and a spare Whole Foods reusable bag (and no unfortunately I don't shop at Whole Foods on a weekly basis); of course I also bring a list, a pen, and my wallet. But that's it.

As I make my way to the store I wonder if today might be the day when I can fit everything without having to pull aside next to the cash register and organize everything neatly. It's tough, and it breaks my heart, but I always have to choose between an extra yogurt container or another pack of sliced turkey.

Just kidding. It's actually just the quirk that my type A personality needs after a long week of studies. Since I can only fit a certain, small, amount of groceries, I really have to think about what I'll be consuming during the week. And you know what? It's actually not that bad: having to think about each and every thing I buy makes me appreciate that last spoonful of yogurt that much more!

That said, today I was really, really craving a burger. And since my trip to the groceries happened right after my craving, I made it happen. Here's a recipe for a lean turkey burger with a kick. It's simple, healthy, and delicious, so really no excuses for it not being on my (and your) regular meal plan. Enjoy!

Also, I decided to try the whole portobello mushroom bun idea, and while I'm not saying I didn't love it (because I did), there's no reason these can't be in-between regular burger buns!

Turkey Burgers (adapted from Real Simple: Easy, Delicious Home Cooking)
Active time: 20 mins; total time: 30 mins.
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (99% lean; or 93% lean)
  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray portobello caps with olive oil spray and season with salt. Place portobellos on a baking dish and cook for 10 minutes; flip over and cook for another 10 minutes or until steamy. Prepare the meat while you wait for the mushrooms to cook.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine turkey, onions, mustard and thyme; using your hands, mix gently until onions and thyme are distributed. 
  3. Form four 3/4-inch patties and season with salt and pepper. 
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook patties until cooked through, and golden, 6-8 minutes on each side. 
  5. Serve burgers over portobello caps and top with favorite burger toppings!
Here is the recipe to the kale chips I prepared on the side. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Que Viva Mexico!

For those of you who don't personally know me, who are visiting my blog for the first time, or who haven't really paid attention to my ever-so-apparent love for Mexico, here's a post to clarify.

I love Mexico; Adoro mi pais. 

Yes. Despite my looks, which often lead people to believe I simply moved to Mexico for a bit and thus call it the "place where I'm from"; despite my lengthy time spent abroad for studies or travels, which can be misunderstood as a flee-tactic; despite my writing in English--including journal entries, thoughts, blog posts and book chapters--which can mislead people into thinking that I purposefully avoid the Spanish language (see note below); I absolutely love my country. And I'll continue to express my love as long as I can.

I won't apologize for instances of crazy excitement following an encounter with fellow Mexicans abroad; I won't apologize for breaking out dance moves whenever the rhythm kicks in; and I won't apologize for making my nationality evident.

In fact, as long as I continue to live abroad--and judging by the career path I've chosen, that is likely to be the case--I'll continue to profess my Mexicanness in any and every way possible. For instance, suggesting that you (my non-Mexican and Mexican-abroad readers) YouTube El Grito de la Independencia (or tune in live tonight at 10:45 central time).

Phew. Enough said? I think so.

And now for food...

I realize this dish is mostly not-Mexican, but it's more about what it represents than the cuisine under which it falls. Quiches are French, wilted spinach is probably multi-national (I couldn't find origins in my quick research), and the diced tomatoes have both a Mexican-lime and an Italian-oregano flair. Still, the mini quiches proved to be a perfect meal for me. They're healthy and filling. And most importantly, one recipe was enough for more than a weeks worth of leftovers!

One thing I'll advise is the use of cupcake liners. I didn't use them--per the recipe I used for this post-- and greatly regretted it when I found myself scrubbing my pans. Cooking spray will only go so far. Enjoy!

Crustless Spinach and Mushroom Mini Quiches (adapted from Will Cook For Friends)
Makes about 16 cupcake-sized.
Active time: 30 mins; total time: 60 mins.

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line cupcake pan (I greased but not so convenient) with cupcake liners. *You will have to reuse the pan or use another one for the remaining 4 quiches (if using a regular 12-cupcake pan)
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and sauté until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Add chopped veggies and stir to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into cupcake tins, filling up to about 1/4-inch from the top. Add a teaspoon of cheese to each mini quiche, slightly pressing to submerge it. 
  5. Bake quiches for 20-25 minutes, or until egg is set and top is shiny. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. *If not using cupcake liners, use a bread knife to carefully remove from pan. Serve warm.

**So why don't I write in Spanish rather than English? I've taken more classes/courses on writing in English, so it comes more naturally to me. Also, within the past six years (during which my blog started), I've lived in an English-speaking country for the majority of the time.