Monday, May 25, 2009

Fabulous Fideo

So, I am really missing Cafe Rio. Yes, Jenn, Kathi and Billie Kaye, I know that you are all shocked! :-) Each day of the week Cafe Rio has a special. Fridays are Fideo Friday and I would sometimes get that when we would go out for date night. It is really delicous there and I was hoping to recreate it. While this is not exactly Cafe Rio, I think that your family will enjoy it. It was a hit at our house!

2 Tbsp. oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (12 ounce) package fideo ( I used a 14 ounce package, because that is what they sold!)
5 Roma tomatoes (I used 4 large salad type)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin ( I use a little extra!)
salt and pepper to taste
2 (plus) cups of chicken broth (or water with boullion)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (that is all they have here. At home I would use a 1/2 cheddar 1/2 monterey jack blend)(or colby is good too!)
fresh cilantro
sour cream
tortilla strips ( I don't know how to do these.....any help Heidi?)

Put the oil into a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breasts in the oil until nicely browned on the outside (and cooked through). Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the onion and pepper to the oil and cook until tender, but not brown. Add the fideo noodles. Cook, stirring constantly until the fideo is lightly browned. Drain off any excess oil and add tomatoes and seasonings. Dice the chicken breasts and return to the skillet. Pour in the water, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until pasta is tender and water has been absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro and tortilla strips. Eat it and think loving thoughts about me!

A word about the noodles and the water:
They sell fideo in any supermarket. I always bought mine at Walmart or an IGA store. If you can't find them with the regular noodles, look for them with the Mexican food items. At home I only saw them sold as Fideos Corto, which is Cut Fideo..... so they were in small pieces. Here they sold them as very long pieces, all wound up together (coiled vermicelli). Because of this I used like 4-5 cups of broth when I made this last week. You want the noodles covered while it cooks and the Fideos very moist when served. Mess around with the amount of water, checking every few minutes and adding when necessary. I think it probably uses less water is it is the Fideos Corto. You want it saucy when it is done, but not soup.

You can also make this a beef version by using beef broth and cooking steak strips, in place of the chicken. Personally, I wouldn't cook it with hamburger, but to each his own.

The really interesting thing is that this is called "Mexican Spaghetti" by some. When I told my neighbor, Emma Munives, who is from Mexico City, that I was making fideos for dinner she said that in Mexico fideo is only a soup. She had never had it the way that I prepared it (and had assumed was Mexican!) but she really liked it!

So, give this a try. It is relatively inexpensive and way good!
As they say here in the DR "Buen Provecho!"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Free Chocolate Friday

Today, May 15th, Mars (makers of my favorite, peanut M&M's) is giving out coupons for a free Mars candy to the first 500,000 people who go to their site and simply ask for the coupon!

I filled one out and put in Kierstin's name, as the coupon won't do me much good, and it only took a minute. One per e-mail address and 4 per mailing address. You get it in about 6's that for delayed gratification?

SO, who doesn't love free chocolate? Get one and enjoy it for me!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Do I have sucker stamped across my forehead?......wait, yes, I think I do

Today my new friend Denise came over to help me with my overwhelming house. I am at that point where there are piles of things sitting around because I just don't know where to put them. (Kind of like I have been for the last 20 years!) It is always easier to get something done when you have a friend there to keep you going and motivated and so she came over to kick my bum into gear.

We tidied and I emptied a big box and we got everything off of the floor in the "great room" area. It earned this remark from the kids when they came home from school. "Hey wait, it's clean in here. What happened?" (said in an incredulous voice). Well, after all that work we definitely needed some lunch out and so we hopped in the marvelous mini-van and toodled down the road in search of a place to eat lunch.

There was a place called "Don Pinchos" that we have passed on our frantic trips down the one-way streets of the capital. With all of these one way streets and no left turn signs around here you get to see a lot of areas you never would have traveled on. So we decided to be brave and give it a try. Remember, we are 2 ladies from northern Utah with a very minimal hold of the language going into a lunch spot that is teeming with locals. (Denise got here 1 month after me. She is from Layton, Utah and her husband is the new director of Church Welfare here. They have 6 adult kids and are here being empty-nesters. They are here on a three year assignment. We have a good time laughing at ourselves and our hacking of the language)

When we entered the restaurant we came in a door right next to the bathrooms. I thought that we must have gone in the back door, but that was the front! There was a buffet type area where everyone was walking down the line and giving a lady their order (kind of like a line in the school cafeteria when you grew up) and then paying at the end of the line. The food looked good, but as we were struggling to try to ask the server some questions a waiter came up to us, shook his head, and directed us to a table with some menus. Well, this looked promising. Denise and I commenced trying to guess what the items were. We knew it was some kind of beef or some kind of pork, or some kind of chicken or a mixture of something, but exactly what it was we were ordering was still a small mystery. I went for the easy way out and got a chicken sandwich while Denise was brave and went for Pinchos Mixtos which ended up being a delectable shish-kabob made of beef, chicken breast and pork. The meal was yummy, but no one else seemed to be eating what we were. When the bill came around, my sandwich (insert sandwich only, no pickle, chips or fries accompanied that lonely plate) was $150 pesos and Denise's kabobs with salad and rice were $315 pesos. Add on to that a 26% tax and a tip and you've got the idea. We paid up and while Denise used the restroom I asked the serving lady at the line, in my broken Spanish, how we would do the line, if we came again. She informed me that the cafeteria style line came with your choice of several rice dishes, a meat choice and a salad for $90 tax and no gratuity added on top.......... and then she smiled and sadly shook her head at me. Yep, that waiter saw me coming..........

That is one thing that makes me crazy here. I feel like I constantly have to be on the defensive against being ripped off. They expect a tip for everything and there is someone at every corner asking for money or selling something and they will not leave you alone. I just say no, shake my head and wave my pointer finger back and forth (that's the way you say no here) and then pretend they are not there. Which, by the way, is against all the courtesy and charity lessons I ever received in the US in Relief Society!!!! The prices are always higher for me, because of my white skin, unless it is at a store where they scan things in. Several times my friend Emily Munives, from Mexico, has taken me to the farmer's market. When I come with, the prices are higher than when she goes alone. The last time the guy actually gave her one price for a pineapple and then told her my price would be higher. Now I have to sit in the car when they shop. :-) Her mom went and got the plants that I wanted for the house for me. When I was there they were 1,200 pesos for one. When she went back without me, she got 3 for $1,200 pesos. Now we have a system where I show them or tell them what I want and then they go buy it for me..... making sure that the seller doesn't see us together!

Isn't discrimination illegal?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away....Come Again Tomorrow About 2:00

I can't find my camera!!! Darn it all. I hope that it is just misplaced and hasn't "walked away", like some things like to do here. Unfortunately, with all of the different people who come into my home to work on the constant leaks, outages, etc. things can sometimes dissappear! I have things that I want to post, but I always think "How boring!" without a picture, but I will forge on and hope that the camera shows up.

We have just begun the rainy season. Tonight I went to Domino's for pizza (yes, Kevin is gone and I just couldn't cook tonight!). Kambrielle and I drove in to get the pizza and while we were waiting the downpour began. It is hard to describe without seeing it. The rain pours down in sheets and when the wind blows you can see the rain moving...... it looks just like in one of those really bad 1960's movies with the terrible special effects. We waited an extra 5 minutes and decided we would have to run for it. By the time that we got to the car(it was parked close to the door) we were soaked. Kami was laughing her head off. It is really refreshing!

By the time it had been coming down 10-15 minutes the streets were flooding. Imagine that much rain at home and then try to imagine it trying to drain with inadequate or even non-existant storm drains. The streets became swimming pools at certain places, but were just fine in others. Everyone was just mainly driving down the middle of the 2 lane road, so that the puddles were to the side of your car. These rains can come and then be gone in a matter of a minute or two, or can last for 20-30 minutes, or you can have them for a long time during a storm. I can't imagine what it will be like during a tropical storm. My friend says that is why so many people have 4 wheel drive. I am not sure that my mini-van will be able to handle it. Maybe I can get it jacked up and have some mondo tires installed...... Something to think about!

I am glad for the rains as it cleans up the dirty air. It poured on us once when we were trying to put a mattress in our car at PriceSmart (Latin America's poor version of Costco) and in 2 minutes we were drenched to the skin. Kayli was with us and she had on a white shirt. It was just filthy from the rain when she made it into the car. Our car was also dirtier after the rain than before!

The interesting thing about this rainy season, according to the Dominicans that I have talked to, is that it generally only rains in the afternoon! Weird, huh? It will generally be clear in the morning and then there will be an afternoon shower which will only last a little while and then it may rain during the night (generally while you are asleep). I bet everyone in Oregon wishes that they could have scheduled rain like that!