Making Mexican Abroad: Expat Rice and Bean Burritos

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If you’re an American, you know one of the first things you miss when you move abroad is good Mexican food. Something happens when you cross the Atlantic and suddenly restaurants get it all wrong changing the flavors to suit the local appetite; enchiladas end up way to creamy and salsa tastes more like pizza sauce. After living in Querétaro, Mexico for almost a year during college, I learned what real Mexican is all about: soft corn tortillas, creamy avocado, and the fresh flavors of cilantro, lime, and spicy chili pepper. After a year or two pining for a taco, I finally decided to make my own Mexican abroad.

In France, you can easily find a good avocado and some fresh cilantro (coriandre) for a few euros, in fact at the farmer’s market here in Dijon a bunch of cilantro costs only 50 cents! You’ll also find tortillas (flour are much easier to find than corn), and tortilla chips (get the nature bag, the gout mexican is weird combo of spices and paprika) in the international aisle of the supermarket. Black beans or refried beans are hard to find, but canned kidney beans are a cheap and easy replacement. As for the spices, load up on some cumin and chili pepper in the spice aisle, and add a lemon to your basket being easier to find than limes, they do the trick.

Rice and Bean Burritos are a simple way I found to bring all the flavors together for an easy and healthy lunch that will satisfy your craving for Mexican. I adapted this recipe from Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Foods Black Bean Burrito recipe, and it has become one of our favorite meals and a really great way to feel a little closer to home on those days when you just need a quick break from expat life. If you’re not abroad, try the recipe for  a healthy dose of homemade Mexican.

The recipe is simple, so head out to the market, stock up and make these tonight!

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(Expat) Rice and Bean Burritos

  • One can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One cup brown rice (I use a ready in 10 minutes kind, but just in case, click here for how to make brown rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (if you can’t find it, add some chopped fresh chili peppers or extra chili powder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced or mashed (didn’t have one for the pics- they’re delicious even without!)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro, to taste (I like a tablespoon or two)
  • Flour tortillas (Corn if you can get them)
  • Optional: chopped spinach or any other veggie (added vitamins!), shredded cheese, hot sauce, lemon/lime

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Directions:

1. In a medium pot, cook the brown rice. When the rice is cooked, rinse the beans and add the beans and seasonings (but not the cilantro, add that later!) to the to the rice. Adjust salt and peppers to taste, and set aside.

2. In large sauce pan sauté the onion in a little olive oil until it is translucent, add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the peppers (and any other veggies) for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Prepare the tortillas, toasting them directly on your burner or using another pan. When they are soft, starting to fill with air, and a little crispy (about 1 minute, keep your eyes on them, they burn fast), remove them from the heat. Add about half of the chopped cilantro to the rice and bean mix, then spoon about a quarter of the rice and beans onto the middle of a warm tortilla. Add a spoonful of sautéed peppers and top with a few avocado slices. Sprinkle some extra cilantro, a few drops of lemon juice, and cheese over the filling. Gently wrap the burrito, bottom fold first then fold in both sides. Drizzle with some extra hot sauce if you like, and enjoy!

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Do you have any tricks for bringing Mexican home when you’re abroad?

Besos, Dianne

Kir, a taste of Dijon

      The first weeks of my life in France my French was a bit rusty and I could pronounce only two drinks well – bière and cafe au lait- suffice it to say I spent my first week or two drinking one or the other. But, I kept noticing that the people at the tables around me were drinking some pretty little red drink served in a cognac glass- wanting to immerse myself completely in my new French life, I got out the guide book and started researching. The drink was a Kir, easy enough to pronounce, I finally tried one at a little terrace under the trees of lively Place Zola in Dijon. It was lovely-the taste a little like cranberry,tart and sweet, with a subtle kick of dry white wine.

It turns out the Kir is Dijon’s specialty cocktail, made famous by Dijon’s most famous mayor Félix Kir (the local lake is named after him too). The Kir is a blend of Creme de Cassis, black-currant liquor from Dijon, and white wine, usually an Aligote from Burgundy. Fresh, sweet, tart, pretty and so easy, it’s my go to drink for practicing that perfect nonchalant at the local cafe pose.

Be sure to order a Kir for happy hour in Dijon or anywhere else in France…and if you’ve got something to celebrate (Valentine’s day, perhaps?) make it a Kir Royale-Creme de Cassis and Champagne, mais oui!

What’s your favorite French cocktail?

Besos, Dianne

(Image via Hospices-Beaune)

The little things in 2014

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Hey friends! Happiest 2014 to you all, even if it is a little late! I‘ve been a bit under the weather since Christmas. A stomach bug attacked the house and Christmas dinner ended up being chicken soup and sofa time for the whole family. No appetite at Christmas is such a bummer! I’ve been recovering on and off for the past three weeks, and finally I’m feeling back to normal and back to blogging. How were your holidays?

While I’m not much of a January resolution maker, I’m starting 2014 full of optimism and making a few goals to reach this year. It’s going to be a year full of big and exciting changes, lots of planning and ideas, and of course travels. I’m determined to live this new year in every moment despite what exciting plans may be on the horizon. I’m still going to go for clean and healthy eating (so excited to try out my new cookbooks Meatless and It’s all Good now that my appetite is back!) balanced with a healthy dose of gluttonous French fare. I can’t wait to cross a few more French treats off my to do list like the buttery Paris Brest, a Burgundy Cremant tasting, and Pain Perdu – real French toast. Visits to a few more French chateaus, bright markets, and tiny villages are in store, and I’ll be on the hunt for some French antiques to fill my home.  But most of all, this year is going to be all about enjoying the little things. In life (and travel!) thats what really matters, enjoying a calm glass of wine, taking in a big breathe of cool winter air, seeing your own city with new eyes, or buying a bunch of fresh flowers for the house. So, here’s to enjoying the little things, home or abroad, that will make life so big this year!

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What are your goals or resolutions for the new year?

Can’t wait to continue this Beautiful Journey in 2014! Thanks for joining me!

Besos, Dianne