Saturday, March 16, 2013

Vamos a ir a Cuba!

We are going to go to Cuba! If it isn't translating well to the interwebs, let me make it clear that I am extremely excited. Not only because I have never been there but also because it has been almost three years since our last international trip (our honeymoon) and we planned this trip almost a year ago. Oh, and it is CUBA! 

Our trip preparation has been primarily focused on getting accustomed to the food and beverages that we will hopefully encounter. 

Practicing our mojito drinking and ceviche and plantains eating.

Alright, we haven't just been drinking and eating. We have also been reading lots of articles and watching programs about Cuba. Which has only increased my excitement. Needless to say, I will be taking LOTS of photos. 

When I tell people about our trip, there are a few questions that come up most often. These include: 

FAQ #1: Is that legal?!?
Answer: Yes. There are some extra steps (for Americans) to go but it is completely legal. You have to fill out paperwork, as part of the "research license" process, but it isn't shared unless asked for when returning to the states. No big deal. We are also going as part of a group through a travel company which makes travel there a lot easier. Our group is only 12 people, all of whom know each other through at least one other person in the group. Once we arrive in Cuba, we have a local guide and an itinerary that is a nice balance of tours and free-time. 

FAQ #2: How are you getting there?!?
Answer: Um...a plane? Isn't that how you would get there? We happen to be flying through Mexico and are spending a few days there on the way. (Side note: I have also never been to Mexico!)

FAQ #3: Are you going to go scuba diving? 
Answer: No. (Seriously, this has been a frequently asked question.)

I will report back, with photos, after our trip!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Recipe: Chorizo & Black Bean Chili (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

This is a healthy and hearty vegan and gluten-free chili. It can be whipped up in under an hour although I recommend letting it simmer longer, because chili only gets better the longer the flavors have to get to know each other.

I considered taking more photos while cooking this dish but I wasn't sure if it would turn out all that good and, at the time, thought to myself, "if it turns out to be delicious I will just make it again and do a better job at documenting the process." Well, it turned out quite tasty and I didn't want to wait to share it. So there you go, that photo above is all you get.

We served this chili for a dinner and game night as part of a baked potato bar. In addition to the baked potatoes and chili, we laid out various toppings for our guests to choose from, including: diced avocado, crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar and pepperjack cheeses, light sour cream, salsa, hot sauces, corn "scoop" chips, and chopped green onions and chives.

Chorizo & Black Bean Chili

Serves: 8 - 10
Vegan and Gluten-free

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces soy chorizo (this one is our favorite) 
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3, 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3, 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • Approximately 1 cup vegetable broth 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toppings of your choice


  1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and the onions are beginning to brown, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until nice and fragrant.
  2. Remove the chorizo from the casing and crumble into pot. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, approximately 5 minutes.  
  3. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, black beans, diced tomatoes, and vegetable broth (amount of broth depends on your desired chili thickness). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. 
  4. Simmer uncovered for at least 20 - 30 minutes to combine flavors. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Serve with your favorite chili toppings. I highly recommend diced avocado and fresh herbs.