Tag Archives: Mexico

October Foodie Penpal and Aunt Ethel’s Enchiladas

Earlier this month you may have read my post about becoming a foodie penpal. Well today is the day that all the foodie penpals share about their boxes. My box came from a lovely woman named Emily from Midland, Texas and within it was all kinds of Texas delicacies like Texas Trash (a sweet concoction kind of like puppy chow) and Amazing Corn (kind of popcorn but kind of not). I was especially excited for the Hatch Green Chiles in the box because they were perfect for a Mexican-inspired dish that I learned from my Aunt Ethel. Aunt Ethel was my dad’s oldest sister and since she didn’t have any kids of her own, she loved to spoil her nephews and nieces with her amazing cooking. She made the best fried chicken, red velvet cake, and ranger cookies that I’ve ever had.  Another one of her great recipes were her enchiladas. With my Hatch Green Chiles, I had everything I needed to make them for dinner last night.

Aunt Ethel’s Chicken Enchiladas (yields 4)

  • 2 large chicken breast cooled and cubed or shredded
  • 1 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 4 oz. diced green chilies
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 1 pkg. large flour tortillas (I substitute whole wheat tortillas instead)
  • 1.5 cups of shredded cheddar cheese


  1.  Spray 10 x 15 glass baking dish
  2. Mix soup, milk, sour cream, chilies and green onions.  Spread one cup of mixture on bottom of baking dish.  Reserve 1 ½ cups for top.
  3. Add chopped chicken to remaining mixture.  Spread a roll of filling across the center of the tortilla.  Roll and place, seam down, in pan.  Cover with remaining sauce and cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Thanks to Emily for all the great Texas goodies!


Where Are You From?

In the past, if I heard anyone speak with an accent, I would always wonder where they were from but would never ask. I thought it might be rude or make them feel uncomfortable. Well, I’ve thrown that notion out the window. For someone who is trying to be global from home, that just won’t work. Over the past several weeks, I came in contact with three individuals who were clearly not born in the U.S. based on their accents. Rather than just smiling politely and going my own way, I took the risk of asking where they were from.

The first was a Mexican man who was working at a restaurant here in OKC. I noticed he was a little shy telling me where he was from, but when I immediately responded that I had recently been to Mexico and really enjoyed exploring it, his mood visibly changed. He began to tell me about his hometown, how long he had been in the States, and then asked me my opinion on safety in Mexico. He said he had not visited home in years, but based on the news, he questioned how safe it would be to return to Mexico with his family.

My second experience was with a man who had recently come to the United States from Iraq. He told me about having to leave his wife and baby daughter in Baghdad but has hopes that he will be able to bring them over soon. He told me he wants to get his master’s degree in engineering and how his father went to college in the U.S. at the University of Georgia. We ended up spending several minutes talking about taking the TEFL and the quality of the Georgia football team this year.

The third person I met owns a furniture store in Atlanta and moved to the U.S. from Turkey 18 years ago. But before coming across the pond, she also lived in France and the UK. She talked about having her mother still in Turkey and the challenges of going back home to see her three or four times a year. She told me how she speaks four languages and her brother speaks five. We talked about technology and how something that is suppose to help connect us, often disconnects us from the person sitting beside us.

What I’ve been discovering is that behind the accent there is a story. Leaving your home country and moving is never easy – there are language challenges, family left behind, and new customs to learn. And while I certainly hope that I’m not offending the people I meet, I am so curious to hear about their stories. I am entranced as they tell about what they’ve overcome to be where they are, and I’m eager to hear why they left the familiarity of home to come here. In the end, each time I ask the question “Where are you from?” I believe I am taught something new about the world that I never would have learned if I had to decided to be just be polite and mind my own business.


Say Queso!

While in Minnesota with family and friends, I was in charge of bringing a craft for the kids. Ranging between the ages of 2 and 9, I wanted to come up with a fun idea that incorporated culture but that everyone could participate. So after a trip to Michael’s, I decided to do a photo booth but the kids would make their own props. I came prepared with Venetian masks, Mexican sombreros, and word bubbles with international greetings for the kids to decorate. In the end, both the adults and the kids enjoyed our international craft time.

If you want to host your own internationally themed photo both, here’s what you need:

  • Black plastic masks
  • Feathers
  • Pom-poms
  • Glitter glue
  • Decorative duct tape
  • Construction paper
  • Wooden dowels
  • Headbands
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • White sheet for back drop
  • Camera

Abroad Blog of the Week: News from a Broad

I love when I find a blog that makes me think, “Wow, I hope I could do that someday.” This Abroad Blog of the Week definitely falls into that category. News from A Broad is written from the beautiful colonial town of Merida, Mexico by Benne’, an art therapist who picked up her life in Texas and moved abroad. Her blog intertwines art therapy projects, life as an expat, culture experiences, and simple inspiration. Benne’ starts each post with a quote and from there, paints a picture with her words. I was fortunate to connect with Benne’ through the blogosphere and ask her a few questions about life in Mexico as an expat.

You took some time to explore Mexico before you settled down. What was your criteria for your new home town?

Yes, I explored most of Mexico over 20 years before I discovered the Yucatan Peninsula.  I was looking for a city that had colonial charm, an international airport, contemporary arts & music spaces, as well as deep cultural roots.  Merida is steeped in historical connections between the Maya and Spain.  Having grown-up in New Orleans, Merida captures my love of Spanish and French architecture.

Now that all of your belongings have made it to Merida, what were you most glad to have back?

Two years is a long time to have things in storage.  Even with a detailed manifest, I don’t think I had a solid memory of my own belongings.  When I opened the tote with pictures of my children, spanning their entire lives, I was emotionally flooded.  I had visited with both of them just a two weeks prior.  We are all in our adult lives!  Their images took me to times when their little toes looked like nibblets of corn – precious enough to bite!

How has art therapy helped you adjust to your new life?

I’ve been an artist my entire life, and an art therapies for half.  I find that my creative processes has given me a way of manifesting, through my own creation, the life that I want for myself.  The last six years of my career in the US was spent counseling children in very high risk living situations.  Taking a one-year hiatus to build this life in Mexico has given me an opportunity to recover from the vicarious trauma therapists often experience when working with trauma victims.  Looking at every step required to make this move as creative acts, and particularly the steps over the last year, has helped me allow the process of immigration to unfold without my help!  Art Therapy often pushes us out of our own way.

Do you think it is ever possible for an expat to feel like a local in their adopted city?

I do think that it is possible for expatriates to feel fully integrated.  I had many friends in Austin, Texas that did the reverse of what I am doing.  We crossed the same river, with similar dreams.  I have an increased level of compassion for those friends, and to be honest, my comprehension of how daunting the process can be, has left me in a state of awe.  Those friends made incredible journeys.  They arrived with minimal language, and limited resources.  Under these conditions, they shaped their own experience, and marked the lives of those around them.  I suspect, that an immigrant will always be a bit of an outsider simply because there are cultural was of understanding words, that a language class can never capture.  However, at the root of all people is a core that side steps words, and that is where the deepest connections exist.

What advice would you give someone who is contemplating the life of an expat?

It will lower the stresses of daily living if you have at least a rudimentary understanding of the language of your new country.  You will have more fluid interactions, a wider selection for friendships, and a much easier time adjusting to the cultural differences.  Visit your adopted country as often as possible before you make the final move.  I know a few people who just made that leap of faith and have done fine, but the majority of those that have decided to start over, and by that I mean shedding all connection with their former lives, end up unhappy, never fully adjusting to their new life.  Go beyond expecting change from your move!  Make the efforts to court the dynamics that will alter you.  By this I mean take risk like getting lost on a drive, learn to ask for help, and just revel in the vulnerability!

News from A Broad Quilt

Latin American Breakfast

When Hubby and I were in Mexico last month, I discovered Chilaquiles – a traditional Mexican breakfast made with chips. My favorite version was called the country breakfast and included chicken, a tomato-based sauce, and lots of queso fresco.

Traditional Mexican Chilaquiles courtesy of On the Road

So today when we went to Cafe Kacao, a Guatemalan breakfast place here in OKC, and I saw a similar dish, I had to try it. What they called Migallas, was almost a perfect replica of the breakfast dish I thoroughly enjoyed in Mexico. A combination of chips, eggs, jalapenos, queso fresco, and red and green peppers, Migallas was was well flavored and filling.

Migallas served with fruit in a sweet cream, fresh tortillas, & delicious black beans.

Look good?

Check out this recipe from Simply Recipes for the basic Chilaquiles. Feel free to add eggs, chicken, pork or steak to make it a hearty dish.

A little Guatemalan coffee made breakfast perfect!

What I Learned About Jalisco’s Culture

Since we didn’t leave the region of Jalisco, I decided I could not apply what I learned to all of Mexico. It would be like applying everything you experience in NYC to the rest of the States…and as a Southerner living in San Diego, I know that would be ridiculous. But I did learn a good bit and found a lot of things that were surprising.
  1. Do not play Punch Bug. For some reason the VW Beetle is a very popular automobile in Puerto Vallarta. You’re shoulder will end up pretty sore.

  2. Saying “buenos dias” is just plain old common courtesy. Whether we were entering a store, the elevator, or passing someone on a small street, everyone said “Buenos Dias.”

  3. Locals eat really early. If you want a good local meal for dinner, plan to eat around 5pm because most restaurants close at 6pm.

  4. Salsa is not just for dipping chips. We had some incredible local breakfast foods all served with salsa.

  5. Jaliscienes value their salsa variety. Even at the tiniest taco shop, three types of salsa were served.

  6. Horses are still a common mode of transportation in the country.

  7. They people of PV have so much more patience than the average American. They patiently wait until the customer is done to bring them their bill. They patiently assist foreigners as they linguistically stumble with their 8th grade Spanish. And when it comes to the arts, their patience is absolutely astounding.

Molcajete Recipes

When Hubby and I got married two years ago my cousin got us a molcajete from Williams Sonoma. We had recently discovered that we loved guacamole and were so excited to make it “the real” way. That is all I’ve ever used my molcajete for. As far as we were concerned, molcajete = guacamole maker. But now that we’re in Mexico, we’ve discovered it has a lot more uses than to just make awesome guac. In addition to having guacamole made at our table, we’ve also enjoyed freshly-made salsa and stew made and served in a molcajete. Newly aware of its additional uses, I thought I would do some recipe research to share.  Here’s what I’ve found:

Rudy’s Molcajete Mixto Recipe – a mixed grill of carne asada, nopales, chicken, shrimp, jalapenos, and chorizo sausage served with queso fresco, avocado, and lime

Mexican Style Meat and Vegetable Stew – a chicken, flank steak, and bacon in a tomato based broth

Seafood Molcajete Recipe – shrimp, scallops, and chicken sausage  served hot and spicy in the molcajete

Currently our molcajete is in a storage unit in Augusta, Georgia but once it’s out, I promise to try these and share how they go.

Have any molcajete recipes to share?

Courtesy of davedworkin.com. My own pics are still to come!

Friday’s Olympian to Watch: Guillermo Pérez Sandoval

On our last full day in Mexico, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight one of their star athletes for this week’s Olympian to Watch. After asking around and doing some research, I was surprised to find out that Mexico excels in Taekwondo. In fact, in the 2008 Olympics they took home two gold medals in the sport. One of those medalists was Guillermo Pérez Sandoval, who will be returning to Olympic Games this year in London.

Guillermo started his career in Taekwondo at the young age of 5, inspired by Bruce Lee movies. His successes came early with his first big win at age 10 which threw him into the international competition circuit. With his win in the 2008 Olympics, Guillermo became a national hero. With only 55 medals in the country’s history, he has become one of the elite athletes and has gained a great deal of notoriety. Upon his Olympic win, Guillermo told interviewers that the Mexican president called him and said he was the pride of their country. The president of Mexico’s World Taekwondo Federation also credits Guillermo and Maria Espinoza’s Olympic wins for the growing popularity of the sport in Mexico. There are now over 1.5 million people who practice the sport.

Olympic Sport: Taekwondo

Hometown: Uruapan, Mexico

Birthdate: October 14, 1979 (age 32)

Height: 5’7″ (8 inches taller than me)

Weight: 127 lbs.

Read more about Guillermo Pérez Sandoval at:

Mexican Crafts to Make at Home

Although I am actually in Mexico right now, it is super easy to explore Mexico from home too. For all you crafters, I’ve found some fun projects to recreate Mexican crafts. Check out these bloggers’ how-tos:

Sugar Skull Heat n Bond Applique by Diary of a Mad Crafter

DIY Festive Mexican Paper Flowers by 100 Layer Cake

Luchador Mask Necklace by Den of a Thoughtful Rabbit

Mexican Blanket Jacket from Sprinkles in Springs

Mexican Hot Chocolate from Prairiesummers

DIY Mexican Talavera Pottery from Juan of Words

Mini Piñatas by Oh Happy Day

Have fun crafting Mexican style!

Travel Buddy Compatibility

As Hubby and I prepare for our first international trip together, I’ve been contemplating the desirable qualities of a travel buddy. How important is travel companion compatibility? Do you need one to be the leader and the other the follower? One a planner and the other spontaneous? Or do both need to take the same approach for a successful trip?

According to the Myers-Briggs there are 16 personality types that are determined by the following four different preferences.

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters.

I am an ENFJ – extraversion, intuition, feeling, judging. While Hubby has never taken the MBTI, I’m pretty sure he is an ESTP…almost my exact opposite.  You know the saying! In general, I would say this adds spice and depth to our marriage. We each see things from different angles and help each other make the best decision. But other than our honeymoon to Puerto Rico and weekend trips here in the States, we just don’t have much travel experience together.

In all my previous international adventures, I’ve noticed that I tend to pick travel buddies who are like me: organized, planned, and decisive. My friend who I visited in Argentina is a super planner. When I went to Paris with a sorority sister, we had the entire trip mapped out and saw every hot spot in the city in 4 short days. When I traveled with study abroad programs in Japan and Peru, we were extremely planned out. This will be my first time traveling abroad with someone who is not a decisive planner like me.

Fortunately, I’m pretty crazy about Hubby so in the end, just spending time with him will be wonderful. But I’m curious to hear from anyone who has gone overseas with their travel opposite. Please share your tips for a successful vacation!