Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I was in the mood for easy and cheap this past week, and two soups made the cut!

First, this weekend, I copied Erin and made Quinoa Avocado Soup. This was tasty, though, my not paying attention led to it being a little overcooked and needing to add lots more broth, opps! In the end, it was still tasty, though I think I'd like to add some chicken or something. I suppose that defeats the purpose of the easy and cheapness, but oh well! This has also inspired me to find the recipe for the quinoa soup my host mother made in Ecuador. I don't know if I'll succeed, but I'll keep you posted.

Quinoa Soup

Second, tonight, I was going to make lentil soup, but then, Curry Carrot Soup caught my eye. Alex and I had amazing carrot soup in Guatemala, and I thought maybe this might bring us a back. Although it was a bit different then the soup in Guatemala, it was still delicious. It was also probably one of the cheapest meals I've made, which is key for this unemployed girl. It was also healthy and super easy!

Curry Carrot Soup

My only qualm about the carrot soup was that it's not particularly filling. So, if you have a hungry boy in the house, be sure to have some bread or other fillers on hand. I made some tasty cornbread muffins. But, if you need a soup to have as a course before a meal, this would be great. Also, next time, I would love to add some quinoa to this, I think it would work well and make it more filling.

Curry Carrot Soup

Curry Carrot Soup
Adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, by Martha Stewart

2 TBS Butter (The one non healthy part, which I think is cancelled out by the 2 pounds of carrots!)
1 C chopped onion
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper
2 lbs of carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3.5 C of broth, (I used about 2 C of chicken broth and 1.5 of veggie broth)
A few cloves of pressed garlic
Juice from half a lemon

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, curry powder, 1 tsp salt plus a shake, a few grinds of pepper, and the garlic. Saute about 5 minutes or so.

Add the broth, carrots, and 3 C of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover; and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

Blend the mixture until smooth. I used an immersion blender for this and it worked great! Stir in the lemon juice and serve.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Antigua: Day 2 and 3

On our fist day in Antigua, we decided we were going to take either a bike tour or go horseback riding. We thought it'd be fun to include a little adventure, and get to see the countrysie a bit. After investigating the horsebacking riding and discovering it was $50 per person per hour, we promptly decided to go with the biking.

The bike tour we booked was the Tierra Alta, or something like that. Described as providing beautiful views of the surrounding volcanoes and surrounding villages. Our guidebook even proclaimed it as a "lazy downhill ride". This sounded good to us, sign us up!

We were met the following morning by a cheerful guide in a van with mountain bikes strapped to the top. Off we went. We knew we would be getting a ride uphill, we were not at all worried at this point, thinking we would be breezily coasting downhill. WRONG. So very, very wrong we were! My first tip off was when the guide handed us gloves. Umm, biking gloves? Why ever would I need this on my leisurely ride?

Alex and I got our bikes adjusted for us, were given a brief instruction of how to best use the brakes, and off we went. Except, not on the normal road. Down a dirt road, down into the farmland below. Highly confused, I thought our guide was taking us on a nifty short cut. No such luck. Begin Bike Ride From Hell.

For the next 3 hours Alex and I rode through dirt, tree roots, loose sand, and more dirt. This was not my idea of a pleasurable experience. I fell over multiple times, and basically was walking my bike about 70% of the time because the terrain was so difficult.

A view of the terrain we were riding on. In an "easy" section. Whose idea was this?

On the up side. We saw some coffee plants, and possibly a volcano in the distance. We also cycled through some local villages at the very end. However, I was so exhausted, the only neat thing of note that I saw was a group of women laughing and making tortillas by hand. Or likely laughing at the dirty, bleeding gringa cycling by. Ouch.

Coffee Plants.

We finally made it back, though dirtier and more bruised and battered then I've been in quite some time. After a long shower, luckily a hot shower!, we were feeling a little better and headed out to lunch. We found a lovely little local restaurant that had a rooftop deck that served us up some tasty food for about $2.50 a person! Score!


Afterwards, we did lots of wandering around the city, checked out the local market, the beautiful churches, and randomly ran into a huge church procession, similar to what we had seen a few years earlier during Semana Santa in Sevilla. I never know what to make of these parades, as all the rituals of Catholicism kind of freak me out. However, it was interesting to see, and certainly a greater window into Guatemalan culture.

Guatemalan woman, like those in other developing nations, carry their wares on their head. Something I absolutely love, and am incredibly jealous of.







I particularly liked the intricate street designs made of all sorts of plants and flowers. I am also always amazing at the strength of the people who so carefully bear the weight of these parade floats on their shoulders. No trailers here. Just devoted man power.

The parade passed our street and we moved on, but later that night as we left for dinner, we saw that it had made its way through nearly every street in town, culminating in front of the church in the central square. Seeing all the people out and with everything lit up at night was quite an incredible sight.



Throughout our travels in Guatemala, it was interesting to see how great a hold the church had on the people. As we rode the buses through the country, roadside priests would regularly jump on board and belt out a 30 minute sermon, then just as randomly jump off, perhaps to meet the next bus of souls coming along.

Day 3:

On our last day in Antigua, we planned out getting to Lago de Atitlan, our next destination, again going by shuttle rather then regular bus. It ended up being just slightly more expensive, and a direct route. We decided to go for it. We also managed to see a few more ruins, including a spectacular church that had fallen during an earthquake. The ruins were neat to see, especially the front archway that remained full intact, while the rest of the structure had crumbled behind it. Day 3 was also incredibly clear, allowing us to see beautiful views of the surrounding volcanoes!











Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guatemala: Antigua

So, way back in probably January or so, I received one of my weekly emails from Travelzoo, alerting me to their Top 20 Deals of the week. In the email there was an amazing deal to London, though it didn't end up being so amazing after taxes. However, this email got me inspired, and off I went to look for deals to Guatemala; somewhere Alex and I had considered going for they honeymoon. Unbelievably, we found super cheap tickets for the week of Alex's spring break. Perhaps even more unbelievably, Alex agreed to go, despite being in a PhD program! WooHoo! Let the countdown begin.

Now, what some of you may or may not know, is that the day before we were scheduled to leave, I was informed my job was being eliminated. Not only mine, but two other regular staff, all part time staff, and then two weeks later, my boss also lost her position. Boo. Not really what you want to happen the day before you leave on vacation.

However, I think it will be for the best. Alex and I still managed to have a wonderful trip, we just dined a little more frugally then normal. It was also good for me to have a week to think, relax, and not be worried about life in the city. I'm also now looking forward to finding a position I truly enjoy, and having a chance to explore grad school options, getting ready for my race in June, photography, and just plain life. Perhaps I can rid myself of those dark circles under my eyes once and for all!

But for now, Guatemala!

So, it turned out just getting to the airport was an adventure. Our flight left from Newark at about 8:30 in the morning. That doesn't sound too awful, but translated to us leaving our apartment in Bushwick at 4:30am. Ish. However, I have to say, it was all worth it upon seeing 80's man. I WISH I had a picture to show you. This guy had on, neon pink and green zebra printed hammer pant zubbas, high tops, a neon hot pink windbreakers, even had the classic 80's haircut with the shaved lines on the side. It was glorious. Talk about a blast from the past.

Anyway.... our flight to Guatemala was uneventful until the end. We hit some awful turbulence. I HATE, hate, hate turbulence. It scared the crap out of me, and Alex and I always seem to hit the worst of it. Right. So, plane is dropping and rolling all over the place. I'm white knuckle grabbing my seat, when, out of nowhere, I hear the 3 year old sitting across the aisle from me, "Weeeeeeeeeeee!!" I couldn't help but laugh. I, the 27 year old adult, was terrified, the little kid next to me thought this was the most fun ride since Disneyworld. Awesome.

We arrived in Guatemala City after our Disneyland ride subsided, and then found ourselves a shuttle to Antigua. I've read Guatemala City is fairly awful, and we tried to find a public bus to Antigua, but were told the city bus to get to the bus station was too dangerous. Shoot. So, we acted like the other tourists and set off on a shuttle. This was actually pretty nice and quick, and dropped us off at the hostel of our choice in Antigua. We stayed at Posada Juan Ocag.

Our hostel had a cute little garden in the middle.

After getting settled and taking a brief nap, we forged out into the city of Antigua. It was beautiful. Slightly touristy, however, really quaint and laid back. SO much what I was needing after life in New York. There were no sirens, or garbage, or subways. Just cobblestones, colorful little houses, and towering volcanoes everywhere you looked. What more could you ask for?

Tomorrow, more Antigua adventures, including the most awful bike ride EVER! For now, enjoy some photos!


The view from the street outside our hostel.







Monday, March 23, 2009


After seeing Erin's post on Black Bean Enchiladas, I was inspired to make some of my own. I also followed Annie's Eats Recipe for the most part, however, I also grilled up some leftover chicken breast, about a breast and a half, to add to the mix as well. I really liked what the chicken added to texture and flavor of the enchiladas. I also used about half cheddar cheese and half pepper jack cheese instead of Monterey Jack.


Also, due to my current addiction of making things from scratch, I decided I should whip up some enchilada sauce of my own, rather then grabbing a can from the store. This ended up being cheaper and super delicious! I used this Recipezaar recipe to start but tweaked it just a bit.

My sauce was as follows:

3 tablespoons chili powder
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (I never in a million years would have thought to add cocoa powder to enchiladas, but it works!)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups water
3/4 or so cup chicken broth
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

I kind of screwed up the directions on accident, but it still worked out. Basically, mix all the dry ingredients. Slowly add the water while stirring. Add the tomato sauce. (I think you're supposed to add this later, but I didn't, so oh well). Simmer over medium heat stirring as needed until the sauce thickens. Pour over the enchiladas! Enjoy!

This sauce was delicious. It was almost like a mole sauce. It had a rich, smoky, slightly spicy flavor and worked wonderfully on these enchiladas. We served them with a dollop of sour cream. Perfect. Alex said this was one of his favorite dishes yet! (Aside from fake-out take-out, of course.)


(PS. Yes, I know this picture is focused backwards, or really should have been taken the other way around, it annoys me too. Opps. Hunger will do that to you!)

Also, I super promise Guatemala pictures and trip update will be posted soon!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Bride Chicken Curry

This is another recipe from my Indian cookbook, as Alex had requested something Indian a few weeks ago. This recipe comes with a very cute story about a new young bride who had to make dinner for her new husband and his boss on short notice and had to butcher her very first chicken. She called an aunt in tears and this recipe was dictated to her over the phone. Apparently during the meal she was so upset, she couldn't even eat a bite!

Although I'm not technically still a "new" bride, and I certainly didn't butcher my own chicken, Alex and I both loved this dish! It was spicy and flavorful, and tasted delicious. The leftovers were almost even tastier the next day! I will for sure be making this again.

New Bride Chicken Curry

Adapted from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, by Ruta Kahate

4 TBS Canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated garlic
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cumin
1 C plus 1 TBS hot water
3 medium tomatoes (I had one Roma tomato, plus a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, this worked fine)
3 pounds chicken (We used boneless, skinless breasts)
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat and saute the onions until softened. Mix the garlic, cayenne, turmeric, and cumin with 1 TBS of water to make a thick paste. (I just added this to the pan right away). Add to the onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir constantly over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break up, about 2 minutes.

New Bride Chicken Curry Cooking

Add the chicken and mix to coat with spice paste. Stir over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 C of water and a bit of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar, simmer for 1 minute, and then taste. Adjust the vinegar, sugar, or salt if needed.

New Bride Chicken Curry

Monday, March 9, 2009

My New Addiction


So, this cooking thing started out innocently enough. I have time in the evening. I enjoy it. I have all these cookbooks and recipes. I should make things. However, it's started to become an addiction. Not cooking, but making things from scratch. Though cooking too I suppose. Now I find myself scoffing at boxed cake mix. Why would I do that, when I can make it twice as good and know what's in it on my own??

I see things on cooking blogs and actually make them. Hence, my unexplainable craving to make these chocolate chip muffins I had seen a few days earlier. I used to make muffins form a bag from Betty Crocker. Now, I make them from a bag of flour. It's kind of fun. And, these were awesome. The batter was a bit sticky, I was worried they would be weird. But they were great, heavy and filling for sure, but fantastic!

I am going to have to start bringing boxes of baked goods to work, otherwise Alex and I are going to have to start upping the working out regimen by quite a bit!



Saturday, March 7, 2009


Our last photography class outing was to a little place called the 14th St Playhouse. We got to sit in on a dress rehearsal of the play "Figaro, Figaro".

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

Photo Class Theater

My class is now finished. We had our critique last Wednesday night. All in all I was really pleased with how my work turned out and with the class in general. I learned quite a bit and it was a great excuse to shoot some original stuff at fun places in Manhattan. I would definitely recommend an event class to anyone, it was a great experience. Anyhow, now, at least until my bank account allows me to take another class, my challenge it get out and just shoot in the city. So, hopefully more fun photo posts to come!