Making Mexican Abroad: Expat Rice and Bean Burritos


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!


(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



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!



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

Besos, Dianne

Inspired by: Día de los Muertos

It’s almost Halloween, but I have to admit my heart skips a beat for the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos. All those colors, the sweet little sugar skulls, and taking time to remember the ones we love who have passed. Although I never got to celebrate in Mexico, I thought I’d bring some Día de los Muertos to the Halloween celebrations this year!


My favorite costume: Frida. 

These colorful and clever office supply pumpkins from a subtle revelry remind me of papel picado dancing in the warm Mexican wind. 

For dinner, a warm and healthy Pumpkin Pozole is perfect.

And, these beautiful calavera sugar cookies from Etsy or churros with creamy hot chocolate from moewilicious make the perfect sweet ending.

Finally, top if off with a spicy tamarindo tequila cocktail from HonestlyYUM.

If you are in the Chicago area this is a great time to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art where they are celebrating 100 years of Posada y su Catrina. Read more about Mexico’s delicious culture and get some recipes at Saveur.

How will you be celebrating Halloween this year?

Besos, Dianne

Viva Mexico

   It’s independence day in Mexico and although I never had the chance to celebrate el grito first hand, today seems like the perfect chance to wax nostalgic about the months I lived and studied there.
   My memories of Mexico always haunt me. I went to Mexico to finish my studies in Latin American literature. Being there made everything I read so real and haunting. Magic mixing with reality, fading bright colors, tumultuous history, a beautiful language and the joyful and heartbreaking music.
   My first summer in Mexico I read Pedro Páramo and walking through the colonial streets of Querétaro at dusk, the ghosts of the past existed. Talking bus trips through the desert landscapes central Mexico the words of Juan Rulfo marked me and my vision of Mexico. A stop at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, to admire the murals of Rivera and Siquieros, took me to the fantastic museum shop where I was amazed to find a book of photography of Juan Rulfo amidst the muralist and Frida souvenirs. Not only a writer, his images in black and white are the perfect visual translation of his words, haunting, real, beautiful, and difficult. So for today, to celebrate the beauty of Mexico, a few photographs by Juan Rulfo. 

               Besos, Dianne