Monday, October 12, 2015

Moving and Savory Turkey Chili

After a year and some change in Brooklyn, Mario and I finally moved in to our very own apartment. No, that doesn't mean we bought it, and yes, the first time someone responded to that with "oh my gosh, you bought a place!?", I literally did. not. understand. A very confused "what...?" was followed by turning around to see if anyone else was in the hallway, because she must have been talking to someone else. Even though it's 7:00 o'clock in the morning and we are the only people in this school building, girl, you are obviously not addressing that statement to me. By the way, do people actually do that? Buy apartments here? Is that a thing?

No, we just moved into a new place without roommates. Just the husband and me. But thank you for thinking that I have my shit together enough to buy an apartment in New York City! I'll take that and run with it all day!

Now don't get me wrong, I loved where we lived last year. A friend that I worked with in the DR had a friend in Brooklyn who was looking for a roommate, and luckily two of them didn't scare her off. Mario was here, and then because of immigration reasons he wasn't, and through everything, my roommate and I became good friends.

The husband and I sold everything from our place in the DR when we left, and I mean everything. I moved here with a backpack and a small suitcase, which were both the size of carry-ons. Leaving the DR meant leaving everything behind, and we were fo real starting over. Jobs? I mean, kind of, for one of us. I don't know. Not really. A place to live? No. Friends? A couple (thank goodness!). Any idea about what living in New York was going to be like after living in the Caribbean? Oh hell no! So, let's just say that it took a wee bit longer than planned to "adjust." And the apartment and my roommate were just what I needed. A bed to sleep in, a kitchen to cook in, and a friend to talk to when I got home. It was good.

But, Mario came back to Brooklyn in August, and it was time to find a place of our own. We found a 1 bedroom apartment that we knew immediately was going to be ours. Last night I said that our apartment feels like our apartment in the DR. It terms of how the apartment is laid out - it's totally different.

But the way I feel when I open the door is the same. Home.

Savory Turkey Chili
(Adapted from NYT. Thanks boo!)

The husband and I can't stop eating this chili. I'm telling you, I've made 3-4 huge pots of it in the last 2 weeks. As the weather cools and everything becomes all fall-like, chili is exactly what I want. I grew up eating so much of it in North Carolina: Mom's white bean chili, canned Hormel chili (shamefully my fave!), Mom's other tomato-based chili (You know, just like normal, delicious "Mom chili"),  chicken chili...the list goes on. The point is that I love chili. I love it. And I love this recipe! 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey meat
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 bottle of Goya's Pico de Gallo (Mild, Medium, or Hot based on your preference, but I like mine spicy!)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chili power
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeños
1/2 jar chunky salsa (heat to your preference)
2 cups turkey broth
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
salt and peppa

lactose-free Cabot cheese (I like the pepper jack.)
lime wedges
corn chips

First, heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Let the garlic sauté for about a minute, and then add the turkey meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, until lightly browned, and make sure to break up any big chunks.

Then, stir in the red pepper, pico de gallo, oregano, bay leaf, chili powder, and cumin. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes.

Next, add in the tomatoes, salsa, and turkey broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in the beans and corn, and cook for 10 minutes longer, making sure to stir. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Finally, serve in bowls with Cabot's lactose-free cheese, lime wedges, and corn chips!

Serves about 6 bowls of chili.

a buen tiempo!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gluten-Free Granola Bars and Big Magic

I've always been a little obsessed with magic.

I distinctly remember being in elementary school and checking out books on ESP from our local library. I just knew I could move shit with my mind if I really tried hard enough and was taught all the tricks. I still devour any and all books that pertain to the magical realm - Harry Potter, The Discovery of Witches Trilogy, and anything by Cassandra Clare, just to name a few. I'll shamelessly read Young Adult Fiction all day long if there are witches and vampires involved. Being taken to another world is my favorite form of escape.

Speaking of magic, a few weeks ago, I started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Podcast, "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear," and her voice hit my soul, hard. In her podcast, she talks to women about issues they have in their creative lives, and her words are so empathetic, without judgment, and so full of life and vitality and goodness. I let myself be absorbed by them - on the train, on a run, on the way to work - to remind myself that I am, innately, a creative being, and that so is everyone else that I encounter in my day. We all are, but we sometimes we let ourselves stop being makers. I did. I do. But I don't have to anymore.

Serendipitously, Elizabeth Gilbert came to Brooklyn this past Thursday for an event for her new book (also named "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear), and duh, I attended! The voice that had been in my headphones for the last three weeks was now in the same room as me, reading a passage of her book that, of course, was exactly what I needed to hear -

"Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?...The hunt to uncover those jewels - that's creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place - that's what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one."
Y'all, these words are magical. Don't you feel it?

For me, hearing one of my favorite authors speak - that's magic. Finding her podcast, then her event, and now reading her new book, at a time in my life when I'm desperately searching for my creativity again - that's magic, too. Cooking again? Magic. Writing, even if it feels slow-going and awkward? Magic. Having a nice night at home with my husband, as I write and he paints? Magic. Going to bed with peace of mind? Really fucking magical.

I might not be able to move objects with my mind, or fly on a witch's broom, but I feel like I am beginning to recognize that every moment of contentedness and bliss in my life is, in itself, an enchanted moment. And that each of these moments comes from the magic within me. For that, I am really, ridiculously, grateful.

Gluten Free Granola Bars

Fall takes me straight to memories that are based around leaves falling, bonfires, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, Halloween (Like everyone else! My fall memories are so not original, but they do make me really happy.) As these granola bars baked, the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger took over my apartment - so I knew they'd be a perfect post for the first week of fall. Enjoy!

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup mixed nuts and seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt (only if the nuts are unsalted)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (or light olive oil)
1/2 cup pitted dates or dried prunes, chopped

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spread out the rolled oats and nuts on a baking sheet, and toast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolled oats have a bit of a golden hue. After you remove them from the oven, let them cool to room temperature. While you're waiting for the rolled oats and nuts to toast, whip together the egg whites, honey, and coconut oil in a small bowl.

Then, mix together the chia seeds, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, and brown sugar. Add it all to your rolled oats and nuts so that it is mixed in evenly.

Add the fall-spice coated oats and nuts to the eggs, honey, and coconut oil. Now, toss in the pitted dates or the dried prunes. Mix well, and then transfer to a parchment-covered baking sheet. You may need to flatten the granola with the back of a spoon for it to be evenly distributed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Finally, let the granola cool for 10-15 minutes, and then slice it into bars!

Makes 8-10 bars.

A buen tiempo!