And Then She Smiles

06 Dec 2012

By: Linda Vasquez

It’s quiet at 4 p.m. as the office manager of The Spectrum sits at her desk working away and answering emails. The mid-age woman looks around in the office. All the students are gone. She smiles. “What a great day,” she says. Most of the students that work around her would say that this woman is who makes it a great day in the office, and instantly there is no way you can’t smile back at her. This woman is Karla Young.

The Olathe, Colorado native moved to Fargo in August 2006 with her husband Brent Young. Brent is a current associate professor of agriculture and extension education at NDSU. She began her position at The Spectrum on Nov. 27 of that same year. Since then, she has had the opportunity to meet and interact with various students and make an impact on those she closely works with.

The Spectrum Business Manager, Michelle Full sees Karla as a very influential individual when it comes to making decisions for the organization.

“She is willing to give us her opinion, support and back us up in whatever we may want to do and give us ideas on how to improve our organization. She is a great person to have in the office.”

Karla’s knowledge after being at The Spectrum for 6 years has helped students adjust to the new positions and is what she says probably the best thing about her job because there is always something new and its never the same old thing.

“My favorite part about this job is the students,” Karla smiles. “I get a new batch of students with new ideas every year, so it challenges me to learn about the students, their likes, dislikes…and get to know about their lives.”

Her students couldn’t agree more. Troy Raisenen, The Spectrum’s graphic designer, describes Karla as someone who is consistently there for him and whom is a sincere and supportive person who really wants to know what’s going on in student’s lives.

“It’s very nice to have her and when she’s gone there is sort of this empty feeling,” Troy shared. “She has a distinct personality that is distinctly her, which makes it fun to see her, makes her a fun person to talk to and you know, memorable.”

Karla’s experience with new students every year has also given her the ability to help students’ transition every year into their new positions. Victoria Dinampo, co-copy editor at The Spectrum, never had worked in a comfortable office environment, but Karla helped change that.

“She always checks on me and sees how I’m doing. Karla has helped me transition myself in here by asking me stuff about work and also tries to be personal and connect with you. That’s the greatest thing,” Victoria said.

Karla feels very honored when students recognize that she cares because she says each student means a great deal to her: “I don’t want to be their mom, but I care that way, that’s just who I am.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Pollo de Coco

Pollo de Coco is a typical sweet and spicy dish from Cuba.

If you ask my roommate, he’ll tell you that I love coconut. If it were up to me, I’d put coconut in all our dinner dishes, but I don’t think he would like that too much. Just a couple weeks ago, we were at the grocery store and I wanted to buy everything that contained any sign of coconut (oops). However, I ended up only buying a couple of things including coconut milk. I bring the coconut milk up because just yesterday I remembered I had it. My mind started channeling back memories of a Cuban dish I once had at a restaurant back home and I thought myself why not try recreating it. Fortunately, I was able to narrow down the ingredients and get the recipe just the way I remember it.

If you are someone who loves coconut, this is definitely a dish that will make you happy. The best part: you can make it happen in 3 easy steps. So get your cooking shoes on and indulge in Pollo de Coco:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Knorr’s chicken bouillon
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup green peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Pollo de Coco contains red and green peppers, coconut milk, onions, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and chicken bouillon.

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet pan, add oil, onions, garlic and chicken. Let brown and check chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Add chicken bouillon, red pepper flakes, black pepper, green peppers and red peppers. Sauté for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

 

Did you try this recipe? Let me know how it went and comment below! Got pictures? Send those too!

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Arroz con Morro

Arroz con Morro is a simple rice dish that contains white rice, black beans, and spices.

If there is one thing I like about Cuba, it’s their famous Arroz con Morro. This simple rice recipe contains the main staple ingredients used in most Cuban dishes, sofrito casero. Sofrito casero is a mixture that blends onion, cilantro, garlic, and red and green peppers. In many latin american countries, it is typical that each country have its own version of black beans and rice. For the most part, the dishes are very similar to each other, but Cuba’s black beans and rice give the dish a whole new twist. The flavors in the sofrito casero mixture bring out a different taste in the typical dish.

Arroz con Morro is an easy way to make a latin addition to your dinner night. And let me tell you it’s a rice dish that will satisfy the tastebuds of whomever comes to get in contact with it. Here’s how to pull it off in 5 easy steps:

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sofrito casero (blend 1 green bell pepper, 1 red green pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 1 onion and 1/2 cup cilantro)

The main ingredient in Arroz con Morro is sofrito casero, a mixture used in many Cuban dishes.

Instructions:

  1. In a medium-large pot, place oil and sofrito casero. Let simmer for 1 minute.
  2. Add cumin and oregano. Mix.
  3. Add beans, tomato sauce and apple cider vinegar. Mix.
  4. Once mixture has boiled for about 3 minutes, proceed to add in the white rice. Mix and cover for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy!

 

Did you try this recipe? Let me know how it went and comment below! Got pictures? Send those too!

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Tortillas a mano

When I was growing up, I remember always having tortillas available at home gatherings, parties and always at home. My grandma always said, “Mija, siempre tiene que aver tortillas con la comida (Honey, there always has to be tortillas with your meal).”  But see she grew up in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and in her hometown they don’t buy tortillas from the market, they make them homemade.

You’d be surprised to know that tortillas are much better when you make them yourself and you probably are thinking, “Make homemade tortillas? No way! That’s way too hard and takes too much time.” Actually, it only takes 5 minutes and they are perfect to show off your latin kitchen skills at your next hosted dinner party. So, I figured why not share this simple recipe with you and get you one step closer to Guatemala. Here it is:

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups corn flour (I used Maseca, found in ‘Mexican’ aisle at Wal-Mart)
  • 1 tbsp. Knorr’s chicken bouillon
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

  Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix in corn flour, chicken bouillon and water.
  2. With your hands blend the mixture until a dough-like substance is formed.
  3. Form small balls of dough and set aside.
  4. Grab one dough-ball and place on palm of your hand. Flatten the ball by using your other hand and rotating the dough to form a thin disc. Repeat this until all dough-balls are complete.
  5. In a small pan on low-medium heat, put olive oil. Begin by placing 1 disc in the oil once hot. Let brown and turn over. Remove from heat when both sides are golden brown. Repeat until all tortillas are complete.
  6. Enjoy your homemade tortillas!

 

Did you try this recipe? Let me know how it went and comment below! Got pictures? Send those too!

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Horchata

Horchata is a latin drink that contains rice water, milk, sugar and cinnamon.

Growing up, horchata was one drink I could not live without. In fact, I remember making my abuela (grandmother) take me to the local taco truck just so I could have some (when she didn’t have to make it herself anyways). Horchata is a traditional beverage from all over Latin America with several variations in different countries. In Mexico and Guatemala the recipe calls for rice, whereas in El Salvador horchata contains morro seeds. This week, I felt it was appropriate to pay homage to one part of my origin, Guatemala. To start off, I’m sharing with you my special horchata recipe that was given to me by my abuela. This recipe is easy to make and a great drink to always have in your fridge. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself and I promise you’ll believe me then.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked white, long-grained rice
  • 10 cups water
  • 2-3 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Horchata is an easy refreshing drink that goes best with spicy foods. The milk contained in the drink helps to cool off the taste buds.

  Instructions:

  1. In a blender, combine 5 cups of water with 1 cup uncooked rice. Blend until rice is broken down and then put liquid mixture into a large pot. Repeat this a second time.
  2. Cover and let mixture sit in pot for about 2 hours. For best results, leave overnight.
  3. Grab a pitcher larger enough to fit 15 cups of liquid. Also grab a strainer. Put the strainer above the opening of the pitcher and begin pouring the rice water into the container. It’s best to do this in small increments so that the rice water does not spill.
  4. Once all rice water is in pitcher, add sugar and cinnamon. Stir.
  5. Add 1 cup of milk into liquid and stir. Repeat a second time.
  6. Pour some in a cup for taste. If you want the liquid to be thicker, add more milk. Serve chilled.

 

Did you try this recipe? Let me know how it went and comment below! Got pictures? Send those too!

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Tostadas de carne

Tostadas de carne are a great alternative to hard shell tacos.

If you’ve read my first blog post, An Introduction, you probably know that my parents come from Guatemala and El Salvador, but what you don’t know is that my great grandmother was actually from Mexico. I normally never mention it unless people ask me about my origin, but I’ve decided it’s something to share with you all. And why not share it with an easy and delicious recipe? In my last post, I gave you the recipe to my very own salsa, Salsa la Linda. I felt the right thing to do was to give you a dish that would go perfect with that recipe, tostadas de carne.

Tostadas are described as an open-faced taco and contain layers of fresh ingredients. In Mexico, tacos do not contain lettuce, cheese or ground beef. Tacos in Mexico also aren’t served in hard taco shells, only soft corn tortillas. However, they do fry tortillas to make tostadas. I felt it was appropriate to make this recipe with ground beef, instead of a typical meat, such as buche, carne de res, carnitas, or carne de adobada because most of you probably already eat tacos with ground beef already. But don’t panic,  you are still getting the authentic flavors used in Mexican cooking (I promise!). And before I forget, I did something different for you this time. I created a video with photos displaying steps on how to build a tostada, so I hope you like it. Alright enough of my babbling, time to get to the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Knorr chicken flavor Bouillon (found in the ‘Mexican’ section at Wal-Mart)
  • 1/2 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water

          TOPPINGS:

  • 4-6 tostadas (can be found in the ‘Mexican’ aisle at Wal-Mart)
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Monterey & Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4 cup Salsa la Linda

Tired of using taco seasoning packets? These four spices are the best way to get the unique tastes of Mexico in your dishes.

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pan, cook ground beef, onions and garlic on medium heat.
  2. When the ground beef starts to brown, pour all spices over the meat. Mix.
  3. When meat is completely brown, add the can of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of water. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, warm beans as directed and prepare your toppings.
  5. Remove meat from stove and begin building your tostada. Follow my video, Build Your Own Tostada, to see how easy it is!

 

Did you try this recipe? Let me know how it went and comment below! Got pictures? Send those too!

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Salsa la Linda

Salsa la Linda is my personal take on a traditional Mexican salsa, known as pico de gallo.

 

When my family and I first moved to Fargo from California the first item on our list was to find a Mexican restaurant. The moving truck was still in the driveway and my mom already had a list of Mexican restaurants ready to go. That first day in Fargo we went directly to Paradiso. We decided to go there first since we found the name so funny. Originally we thought it was paraiso (paradise), but it wasn’t (I’m still trying to figure out what it means).When we got there the restaurant had Latin tunes of Cumbia and Reggeaton, which made me feel like I was back in LA listening to my favorite local radio station, Latino 96.3. As our food arrived the server also brought us “salsa” and chips. The meal was okay, but I just couldn’t approve the salsa (neither did my family).

After that night, I decided that I would come up with my own recipe. The difference between Salsa la Linda and many others is that mine only works if you use natural, fresh ingredients. Most people prefer liquid salsas, but if you don’t (like me) this recipe will be perfect for you.  In a way, Salsa la Linda can be considered a form of pico de gallo, but Salsa la Linda is better (and sounds so much fancier); just make it for your friends and you’ll see.

Ingredients:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-4 Serrano peppers, minced (go with 2 if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 2 limes, squeezed
  • 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Salsa la Linda is made with the use of fresh, simple ingredients.

Instructions:

  1. Cut Roma tomatoes, yellow onion, Serrano peppers, and cilantro.
  2. Place ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
  3. Sprinkle mixture with salt.
  4. Squeeze lime juice over ingredients and top with black pepper. Mix.

 

Did you try this recipe? Let me know how it went and comment below! Got pictures? Send those too!

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Arroz de Cilantro

Cilantro rice is an easy recipe with minimal ingredients.

As a college student with two majors and two minors, who works, and belongs to four student organizations I don’t have a whole lot of time to cook sometimes. That’s when I take out this recipe because it only takes about 15-20 minutes total. Cilantro is an ingredient that is used in many latin american dishes. And I don’t know about you, but I LOVE cilantro.

Peruvian cuisine uses cilantro in many of their dishes including lomo saltado and sopa de cilantro (cilantro soup). But my favorite dish of all is arroz de cilantro (cilantro rice). You guessed it, this dish contains cilantro but it also contains fresh lime juice, which makes it a great pick me up after a long day (and did I mention your friends will love it?). Here’s the recipe in four easy steps:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Knorr chicken flavor Bouillon (found in the ‘Mexican’ section at Wal-Mart)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups water

Cilantro rice’s main ingredient is cilantro, but it also contains basic flavors of onion, garlic, and lime juice.

Instructions

  1. Cut onions, garlic and cilantro and set aside. Squeeze lime juice and set aside.
  2. In a small pot on medium heat, place oil, onions, garlic and rice and fry until golden brown.
  3. Add water, chicken flavor and lime juice to pot. Let boil for about 10-15 minutes. Cover and reduce heat.
  4. When rice is tender remove from heat. Mix in cilantro. Serve.

 

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 Lomo Saltado

Linda Vasquez / All Rights Reserved

Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian dish that includes chicken, french fries, green bell peppers, onions and Asian and Latin spices.

I was thinking about home today. And well, thinking about how I visited this last summer I started to remember a popular Peruvian restaurant, “El Pollo Inka”  that is located in my birth city of Torrance. The restaurant specializes in Peruvian cuisine, but their signature is the rotisserie chicken that is used in many of the dishes. As you can imagine my mouth is watering at this point, so I figured the only way to get rid of my antojo (craving) for my favorite dish at “El Pollo Inka” was to make it myself.

I went on a mission in Fargo to find the right ingredients for Lomo Saltado. In english the name of this dish translates to Jumped Chicken. Funny, huh? Really though what Lomo Saltado is is sautéed chicken and vegetables. I hope you weren’t getting excited that you were going to have to jump a chicken for this recipe (maybe some other time).

Peruvian food is known for its combination of asian and latin spices. Lomo Saltado is a perfect example of a mixture of asian flavors and latin spices and is great to get you started on your first exotic meal. Here’s what you’ll need:

These are the most apparent key ingredients in Lomo Saltado. White onion may be replaced with red onion. Green bell peppers may be replaced for red bell peppers.

Ingredients:

  •  1 full chicken breast, diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen fries
  • 3/4 cup white onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers, sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbs. white vinegar
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 tbs. cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Cayenne pepper may be replaced with chili powder for decreased spiciness.

Instructions

  1. Before beginning make sure to prepare all of the vegetables and chicken by cutting them the way listed in the ingredients.
  2. In a medium-large bowl, place in the cubed chicken and pour in the vinegar, honey, soy sauce and lime. Mix.
  3. Add paprika, cayenne and cumin to mixture. Mix, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the chicken marinates, in a medium pan add 1/2 tsp. of olive oil and set on low-medium heat. When oil starts to sizzle, add the frozen fries to the pan. Fry until golden brown. Set aside on a plate and season with salt and black pepper.
  5. In the same pan, add onions, garlic, green peppers and tomatoes. Sauté for about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken from refrigerator and add to pan with vegetables. Sauté for another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add fries and mix.
  7. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with cilantro. (Optional: Serve with white rice.)Enjoy!

Did you try the recipe? Comment below and tell me how it went; I want to know!

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An introduction

31 Aug 2012

For many, cooking is a hobby and for some it’s a way to share a common interest with others. For me, however, cooking is a big part of my Latin culture. But before I go into why I’ve decided to start Sabor a la Latino, let me go ahead and tell you a little bit about myself.

Linda is a senior at NDSU studying Journalism and Public Relations & Advertising.

 My name is Linda and well, you guessed it I’m a Latina (and proud of it). I’m originally from California, born in Torrance, a city very close to Los     Angeles and yes, the beach. My family has lived in California for over 40 years when both sides of my grandparents decided to move there from Central America. My mother is originally from Guatemala and came to the U.S. when she was three. My father was 12 when he came to the U.S. after fleeing from the civil war in El Salvador.My parents then met in high school and 24 years later, here I am. As you can assume, growing up in a Hispanic household food is a major part of our lives. I mean who doesn’t like to eat, right? But that’s not the (only) reason why food and cooking is very influential in Latino culture. See for us, cooking and food is not gender discriminating. In fact, we delight in the fact that both men and women can cook, especially in one single family. Cooking is a way to bring family together, which is another major part of our culture. Not only does it allow us to unite with family, but cooking also gives us the opportunity to share our love for food with our friends, neighbors and all those around us. Which brings me back to why I’ve started Sabor a la Latino. Sabor a la Latino is my opportunity to share with you my knowledge on traditional latin cuisine by exploring various Latin American countries and their recipes. When I moved to Fargo three years ago it was a bit of “food culture shock” because I was so used to being able to find all kinds of latin foods back home. Fargo does have a few Mexican restaurants, but nothing quite like traditional dishes I’ve had. So here’s my chance to help you out by impressing at your next hosted dinner and here’s your chance to learn about authentic Latin recipes (and a little more about me, I hope). My promise to you is that Sabor a la Latino will bring you more than just a delicious meal, in fact it will bring you a whole new perspective on food and open up your culinary tastes to new sabor. I can’t wait! Can you?

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