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Mucho Gusto

Lilly’s Blackened Fish Tacos

This is the fiftieth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

It is difficult not to derive a certain nostalgia from the last dish I made at home. Reminiscent of a fleeting moment, it whispers a reminder of summer’s finality. For me, it is a meal that is characterized not entirely by flavor, but by the company in the kitchen. A recipe rightly prepared in an organized symphony of the sizzling of fish and the mother-daughter banter over the adequate amount of sriracha. 

There is a distinct spirit of summer communicated through this dish. And so, I share this recipe with indescribable urgency as the influx of pumpkin spice begins to overwhelm the aisles of Trader Joe’s. It is in insistence to grasp the vanishing moment by your taste buds, to seize the peaches off of the shelves before it is too late. My recommendation is not to regard the calendar, but rather, to devour the last bite of August—even if it is already October.

Living on Cape Cod requires a tolerance for seafood. Ironically, I am a recent addition to the fish-eating crowd. What I’ve learned from each and every tourist-grab on the corner of this and that beach is the gravity of spices when it comes to preparation. Most of all, I can affirm—from personal experience—that wrapping seafood in a tortilla can persuade even the biggest fish skeptics.  

This fish taco recipe captures robust flavors in an impeccable pairing of textures. Blackened fish, peach salsa, and a drizzle of sriracha aioli compose an effortless unity of sweet, savory, and spicy that insists on your indulgence. 

Ingredients 

For Fish Tacos:

  • 1 1/2 lbs thick-cut fish (options include cod, halibut, mahi-mahi, or grouper)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • Blackened seasoning (can be homemade or store-bought)
    • 3 teaspoons of smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of cumin
    • 1 teaspoon of chili pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage 
  • 1 cup spinach leaves 
  • 1/4 cup scallion, chopped 
  • 1 cup small tomatoes, halved 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For Peach Salsa:

  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño, finely minced
  • Salt to taste

For Sriracha Aioli:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 to 1 fresh squeezed lime
  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha

Instructions:

In order to serve the fish hot off the stove, I recommend preparing the toppings first. To make the salsa, combine the peach, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well and season to taste with salt. Then, cover and chill the salsa until ready to serve. Mango can also function as a substitute for the peach; its sweetness will also add balance to the spice of the jalapeño and sriracha aioli.

Next, place the shredded red cabbage, spinach leaves, scallions, and cherry tomatoes into small serving bowls to be set aside for additional toppings. For the sriracha aioli, mix the mayonnaise, lime juice, and sriracha together in a small bowl. The mayonnaise mellows the heat of the sriracha, and the amount you use can be adjusted to your spice preference. The lime adds flavor while liquifying the consistency of the thick mayonnaise, allowing the aioli to be lightly drizzled onto your taco. 

Cut your choice of fish into large, finger-length chunks to allow for more spice coverage, faster cooking, and an easier fit for the tacos. I prefer grouper, but any thick-cut fish, such as cod, halibut, or mahi-mahi will work. Once cut, generously coat all sides of the fish with the blackened seasoning and set aside. The spice blend can be easily store-bought or quickly-prepared in the combination of paprika, onion powder, sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper, cumin, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and adobo seasoning. 

 In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly swirl the olive oil to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet. As the olive oil starts to sizzle, place the fish in the skillet, and cook each piece for approximately 3 minutes per side or until the fish is completely cooked and significantly charred on the edges. 

While the fish is cooking, heat the tortillas in a non-stick skillet until warm and browning on the edges. Take the tortillas and fish off of the stove and place them on separate serving platters. Allow your guests to create the tacos to their liking, adding the peach salsa, fresh-cut produce, and spicy aioli as toppings and enjoy!

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Mucho Gusto

Maya’s Cacio e Pepe Pasta

This is the forty-sixth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Loved by kids and adults alike, buttered noodles are a timeless, homey classic. From the gooey, melty cheese to the perfectly cooked pasta, this simple dish is the perfect comfort food for all. I mean, who doesn’t love cheesy, buttery pasta?

It is no wonder why there are many versions of this iconic dish in different cultures. Coming from an Italian family, cacio e pepe is what my family likes to call our preferred version of buttered noodles. Whether we are in a rush or sitting down for a Sunday night pasta dinner party with the whole family, cacio e pepe is a tasty, satiating dish that we always welcome. I remember my excitement when my Nonna would whip up this decadent meal for me after a busy day of playing outside and helping my Nonno in his vegetable garden in the backyard. This dish also brings up fond childhood memories for my dad—he recalls coming home from school and seeing his favorite warm meal prepared with love by his mom, waiting on the kitchen table, ready to be enjoyed. This dish is a nostalgic staple for generations in our family, like in most Italian households. It is simple enough for a kid’s pallet but is still rich, savory, and satisfying every time—perhaps some would even say, the culinary equivalent of a warm hug from a loved one. 

Cacio e Pepe is similar to pasta in Bianco or buttered noodles. It is an ancient Italian dish dating all the way back to the Roman Empire. Legend has it that this recipe started as an easy, practical food for the shepherds because it was durable,  easy to carry, did not take long to prepare, and did not spoil quickly. As the name, which translates to “cheese and pepper,” implies, cacio e pepe is a simple dish. With just two main ingredients prepared carefully with the right cooking technique make this dish so delicious. While the recipe can vary from region to region, I’m sharing my dad’s recipe, which he learned from his northern Italian parents. No matter which recipe you follow, high-quality Italian ingredients are a must. Authentic to the style of the Romans, an abundance of freshly ground black pepper and imported grated cheese are critical to achieving the great flavor. Together, with the pepper, cheese, and pasta, the high-quality elements with bold flavors combine to form a harmonious, hearty meal. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta, any of your choosing
  • ½ – ¾ stick of butter
  • 2 cups of pasta water
  • Approximately ½ cup 2% milk
  • Approximately ½ cup cheese, freshly grated, as desired
  • Salt and pepper, to taste, but heavy on the pepper

**It is also important to have a large, heavy saucepan for the best results; it will distribute heat gradually and evenly without burning the ingredients. 

Directions: 

Start by boiling a pot of water over medium heat. The water should be well salted, with at least one teaspoon. Once the water is boiling, add your pasta of choice. A rough-surfaced pasta is more desirable, as it can hold more of the sauce, but any type works for this versatile dish. Traditionally, tonnarelli is used, but long spaghetti works well too. Bow ties and shells can also be good for adhering to the smooth, creamy sauce. Cook the pasta over medium heat for approximately 6 minutes. Be sure to not overcook the pasta—you want it to be al dente, so it is okay to turn the heat off a bit prematurely while it still feels a bit hard. It should have a tender “bite” or snap when you are trying it. Once the pasta is cooked to perfection, set the pasta aside and save at least two cups of the pasta water. 

In your heavy saucepan, prepare the sauce—the star of the dish. Start by cutting the butter into chunks and placing the pieces in the saucepan under low heat. You do not want the butter to burn or brown the butter—just lightly melt it.  Add the pepper to the butter as it melts. Next, add the milk. Finally, add the cheese. Emulsify it slowly with a couple of ladles of pasta water, and mix it all together. Be careful when adding the milk to the sauce as it can easily overheat and curdle, causing the fats to separate from the water. Use this technique when making the sauce so that it becomes silky and smooth and has the proper consistency: Have the heat on a light simmer and gently stir the components together. Then, slowly add some high-quality grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese. 

Once the sauce is light yet rich, it is ready. Turn off the heat, add the pasta to the sauce, and toss.  Make sure to evenly coat the pasta. You can vary the ratios of cheese and pepper to your liking, but be sure to finish off the dish with lots of black pepper for serving; it should be visibly seen in the pasta. Ѐ finito! Buon appetito! 

This recipe feeds about 4-6 people. 

Photo courtesy of people.com

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Mucho Gusto

Allison’s Veggie Quiche

This is the forty-fourth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Vuono Sunday brunches have always been the highlight of my week. My family and I all love to cook, and ever since I started fourth grade, we have kept up with this tradition almost every other weekend. Most of my dad’s side of the family lives nearby, so we all gather at our house for Sunday mornings full of great food and fun. While the rest of the family arrives by 11 a.m., our busy morning begins at 9:30, with Mom preheating the oven, Dad chopping the ingredients, and my brother, Ryan, and I running down after just waking up to help start the feast.

Our menu is pretty consistent; we always have mouth watering turkey sausage, fluffy scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, hot waffles or pancakes, and, of course, my favorite: the incredible veggie quiche. Our tasks are divided between the four of us: Dad sizzles up the sausage and eggs; Ryan whisks away at the batter; Mom cuts the fruit and jumps up to flip the pancakes or waffles. In the last few years, I’ve mastered the quiche.

Our brunch tradition truly encapsulates our family’s shared love for cooking. My brother and I have always loved helping out in the kitchen, but now we are actually capable of cooking by ourselves. I cherish this family time in the kitchen, catching up on our week, as all our busy lives move in so many different directions each day. And to top it off, we get to share an amazing, home-cooked meal with my cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

The veggie quiche, although just one part of our brunch feast, is my favorite aspect and the one I’ve taken over the last few years. Warm out of the oven with a crisp golden crust, every forkful of this veggie quiche is creamy, soft, and delicious!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup of milk 
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup sliced cremini mushrooms 
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ frozen pie shell (I like Wholly Wholesome 9” Organic Pie Shell) 

INSTRUCTIONS

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the pie crust from the freezer. You also can make the pie crust from scratch, but I’ve found that the Wholly Wholesome crust is delish (and a whole lot easier…don’t worry, I won’t tell)! You can also check out an easy pie crust recipe here. Set the pie crust aside and prepare the vegetables. 

A variety of veggies is best, and this is one of my favorite combos. Finely chop the mushrooms, bell pepper, squash, and zucchini. Next, place a medium pan on the stove on medium heat.. Add the olive oil and the vegetables to the pan and sauté until the vegetables are softened and brown. This step typically takes 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

Next, grate approximately 1 cup of Parmesan cheese over a bowl. To prepare the custard filling, use a whisk to thoroughly combine the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. 

Now it’s time to assemble the quiche! Place the pie crust on a pie plate and transfer the vegetables to the crust. Add the cheese, spreading it out evenly across the crust. Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust, until it is filled to the brim. Be careful not to over-pour to prevent overflowing and a big mess!

Carefully transfer the cooking tray to the oven. Bake the quiches for approximately 35-40 minutes. To see if the quiches are cooked, insert a toothpick into the center; when the quiche is ready, the toothpick should come out clean. Let the quiches cool for at least 10 minutes before eating. Slice the quiche into wedges for the whole family, and serve! 

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Mucho Gusto

Maya’s Enchiladas

This is the forty-second installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

That first, irresistible, crunchy bite will make or break it—no, literally, the delicious tostada vessel sometimes cracks, leaving your fingers stained beet-red and your plate a mess of enchilada toppings (which, when nobody is looking, you will probably lick clean.) At its simplest, it is a messy finger-food, but this unique enchilada dish is also exciting, vibrant, and celebratory. It includes the polarizing ingredients of pickled beets, capers, and hard-boiled eggs, yet it remains surprisingly delightful. With a complimentary combination of a crispy fried tortilla, tender meat, a tangy homemade tomato sauce, and piled high with fresh, crunchy vegetables, it is truly a satisfying, well-balanced meal in both taste and texture. Each layer of the dish is crafted and stacked with care, creating what I believe is a culinary masterpiece. These enchiladas are easily my favorite Guatemalan dish yet. 

Enchiladas have an expansive, rich history that dates back to the 18th century, making them a unique staple in many Latin-American households today and a cultural and gastronomical patrimony. Most families are loyal to their own recipes, so there are many different versions. Enchiladas vary from culture to culture as well. However, for traditional Guatemalan enchiladas, a couple key ingredients maintain the integrity of the dish, regardless of the variation. For example, the corn tortilla is essential to the authenticity of the enchilada. It is fried to perfection in order to create a crispy tostada, which is essentially a toasted tortilla. Guatemalan Rudy Giron explains it best: “If tostadas had a kingdom, La Enchilada would be the queen of the tostadas.” In addition, Guatemalan enchiladas are packed with refreshing vegetables, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “jardineras,” or garden planters. Besides a beautiful final product, the colorful vegetables are truly a fun way to eat your veggies! So, these Guatemalan enchiladas are the ultimate use of two native, historic gastronomic staples: corn tortillas and vegetables.

Besides its rich cultural history, this meal has a rich significance in my own life. Enchiladas are a special treat in my family, as both the labor put into them and the flavors that result are grand. I often ask my grandma, Mama Silvia, to make them for me, as not only are they tasty, but it is always such a wonderful experience to sit down at the table and enjoy them with my family. The memories behind the dish are fond—enchiladas were the last dinner I indulged in with my family before leaving for college for the first time. The whole family enjoys them on Christmas in Guatemala, accompanied by traditional celebratory fireworks and a warm, welcoming house booming with hearty laughs and singing. We ate them in quarantine to cheer us all up and to bid me farewell before heading back to college once again. When we make these enchiladas, everyone near and dear is always there, and together we are unified, thankful, happy, and full. No matter how big or small the gathering, this dish makes it a loving celebration. 

Sharing these Guatemalan enchiladas is truly a symbol of love in my family. They are made with heart, and it is a privilege to enjoy them. This recipe is passed down from generation to generation—my grandma learned from her mother in their country home in Guatemala years ago. Today, I feel honored and ecstatic to learn from my mom and grandma, and share my family’s recipe myself!

Ingredients:

Enchilada Toppings

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 10-12 leaves of iceberg lettuce (1 per tortilla)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil per 3 tortillas
  • 1 tbsp cheese per tortilla (queso seco, panela, or parmesan), crumbled
  • ½ bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 3-4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • Sliver of onion, sliced, for garnish (optional)

Curtido (Vegetable Salad Mixture) 

  • 3 large beets, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup lima beans
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • ½ lb green beans, chopped
  • ½ lb carrots, chopped finely
  • 1 cup Spanish onion, chopped finely
  • ½ head of cabbage
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 small jar capers
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Tomato Salsa

  • 3 tomatoes
  • ¼ of an onion
  • 1 pepper Chile Guajillo
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup water or less
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: 

Start by making the pickled beet-salad-vegetable-mixture. In my family, we call this classic mixture “curtido,” but it is also referred to as “escabeche.” It is the key of the dish, as it is the star that gives the dish a unique and tangy flavor. To make the curtido, steam the prepped vegetables (minus the onion) in a pot with boiling water. Be sure to start with the beets, as they will take the most time to soften. Then, add the rest of the vegetables. While the ingredients are steaming, cut the raw onion into slices and let it soak in a bowl with the vinegar and water. The vegetables will take 20-30 minutes to fully steam. Let the vegetables cool down, then dice them.  Combine these with the sliced raw onions resting in the vinegar water and add capers, salt, and pepper to the mix. Mix it up evenly as you would toss a salad. You can modify the ratio of vinegar to water as needed, but it should be about even—a bit tangy and tart but not overpoweringly acidic. This cold, pickled vegetable salad is best set aside and chilled in the fridge until ready for use. It can also be stored for up to a week to enjoy as a side-salad or even as a sauerkraut-like topping for your food. 

For the tomato salsa, simmer all the vegetables in a small amount of water, about a ¼ cup. Once they are cooked to a soft consistency, liquify the stew-like mixture in a blender until it is smooth and thick. Then, add salt and pepper as you wish.

In a separate pan, cook the ground beef over medium heat with salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs as you normally would. Once they are cooked, chill the eggs while you prepare the other elements of the dish and slice them right before use.

In another medium pan with a bit of vegetable oil, fry 3 tortillas at a time. After 3 minutes of frying on one side, flip the tortilla to the other side for 3 minutes, until it is golden-brown on both sides. Then, place the fried tortillas/tostadas onto a plate with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

The final and crucial step is the assembly of the enchiladas. Your set-up should include: a bowl of the cold pickled salad, a plate of iceberg lettuce leaves, a plate of the sliced, chilled hard-boiled eggs, a bowl of cheese, a bowl of parsley, a bowl of room-temperature ground-beef, a bowl of room-temperature salsa, and the platter of tostadas. To assemble, start with a tortilla spread with a thick, even layer of the tomato salsa. Then, add the leaf of lettuce and top with the ground beef. Pile on a mountain of the pickled curtido salad for maximum flavor. Garnish with slices of hard-boiled egg, chopped parsley, and a sliver of onion. The final touch is a generous sprinkling of fresh Guatemalan cheese (queso seco). You can also use Panela cheese or Parmesan, if you prefer. 

This recipe makes 10-12 enchiladas. Enjoy! 

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Mucho Gusto

Phoebe’s Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

This is the fortieth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Recipe by Phoebe Drummond
Introduction and Edits by Allison Vuono

This breakfast recipe is my friend Phoebe’s post workout go-to. Here’s her story behind the pancakes that she was so excited to share with Gusto!

Morning miles, sweaty hill sprints, and core sessions that all made a minute feel like a lifetime; this may not have been the ideal summer morning routine, but it was the undeniable reality of my August sunrises in high school. And, not to be forgotten, a key and final item in the typical cross country practice sequel was looking forward to the breakfast coming after.

The last mile went by much faster when my teammates and I brainstormed what we would make or where we would go for breakfast after practice. Popular options were bagels or Playa Bowls (you can never escape them), but during our underclassmen years, none of us had driver’s licenses yet. 

It was this early logistical obstacle that led to the discovery of one of the most epic creations attributed to Google: oatmeal banana pancakes. 

My teammate and best friend Catherine lived one street over from me, so I often found myself at her house after practice or vice versa. Too many times we would be staring into each other’s kitchen cabinets, our stomachs GROWLING, and our brains begging us for something other than Lucky Charms again (no hate, though). 

We eventually took to the worldwide Web to spice up our post practice feast, and as always, the search bar pulled through. This pancake discovery was so good that just the thought of it got me through some of the tough mile repeats I could have easily pulled a “my shins are hurting”—if you’ve ever run cross country, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about—to get out of.

Even after actually completing an entire workout, Catherine and I would hustle to our houses to make them. And, consider it contradictory, but for two girls who routinely finished long runs before 9 a.m., we could be INCREDIBLY lazy. So, the fact that these pancakes only take 10 minutes to make and have essentially no clean up, is an added bonus. You really just have to combine all the ingredients in a blender and flip each pancake once on the stove. The lack of manual labor after tiring practices was always much appreciated.

This recipe, adapted from Ambitious Kitchen, makes a single serving, approximately 3 small pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium banana, preferably ripe and slightly browned
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Oil or butter for cooking

Instructions:

First, put the oats into the blender and blend until they become powder—it should look like off-white flour. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender, and blend until a thin batter is formed.

Turn on the stove to medium heat. Put your desired choice of oil or butter in a pan on the stove. Scoop out approximately ⅓ cup of batter, and pour it onto the skillet. 

When the top of the pancake starts to bubble, and the bottom is solid enough to flip over, quickly slide a spatula under the pancake to flip it. Remove the pancake from the heat after another minute or two, and set aside on a plate. Repeat until there is no batter left.

Serve in a FAT STACK, add syrup and/or whatever toppings you prefer, and enjoy!

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Mucho Gusto

Emily’s Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is the thirty-eighth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

This recipe is tradition for my good friend Emily, a Massachusetts native and foodie at heart. Whether on campus or miles apart, Emily and I always bond over food; we are constantly sharing different recipes and restaurant recommendations, and this recipe is no exception. This time, we thought we’d include Gusto in our exchange over a Finn family classic.

Emily has decided to share with us a traditional family recipe for buffalo chicken dip, a quintessential American comfort food. It is, of course, as perfect for game day gatherings as it is warm, homey, and comforting. This classic dish will also fit right in at your last few summer barbecues. It is no wonder why it is a fan-favorite, Sunday staple! 

It is easy and so tasty! From the gooey, bubbly cheese to the saucy, spicy, savory chicken with crunchy bites of chips and veggies, this quick, rich dip is delicious. As Emily perfectly explains, it creates that sense of American comfort and game day spirit wherever you are…

“We do not press play on the football game until I have my bowl of buffalo chicken dip on my lap.” 

She describes the setting: It is our favorite day of the week. The house is full of people, yet silent. Only the sounds from the TV fill the air, along with the aromas from the kitchen, where mom is preparing the family favorite. Everyone is cozied up on the couch, sporting navy, red, and white. As soon as the pan comes out, happy hands reach in from all directions, without ever taking an eye off the TV.  It is a dish that has been enjoyed many times, but it never loses its charm. 

Emily explains, “Born and raised a New England fan, I can affirm that football, food, friends, and family make the world go round. If there is a football game to be watched, there is buffalo chicken dip to be eaten. For as long as I can remember, my family, friends, and I all sat on the couch and ate this addicting dip together during every Sunday Patriots game. That is what makes it so special—there is no better mix than food and sports to bring us all together for some quality time.” 

Reminiscing on the dish, Emily tells me, “My family’s ultimate game-day snack is a warm, super cheesy pan full of thick buffalo chicken, ready to be dipped into with whatever crunchy, snack-vessel you like! Did I mention that it was cheesy?

This is not your typical chips and dip. This legendary combination of tangy, tempting flavors will have you hooked; and it has no better pair than a football game to watch, in between mouthfuls of course!”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded, boneless chicken breast
  • ½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or the hot sauce of your choice)
  • ½ cup ranch dressing
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 cup of blended cheese mix 

Emily’s Instructions

Total cook time: approximately 30 minutes 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating, prepare the chicken in whatever way you prefer. This part is entirely personal preference, and it’s what makes every batch of buffalo chicken dip taste a little different. In my family’s recipe, we season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then sauté it in olive oil for 7 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Once cooled, shred the chicken to measure approximately 2 cups. 

Spray a 1-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. The pan will be used as a mixing bowl to simplify the process and save time on the dishes, which means more time for eating! Spread softened cream cheese across the bottom of the pan. Next, add hot sauce and ranch dressing to pan and stir the mixture around, lifting the cream cheese to combine all ingredients. Add in the shredded chicken and the cheese mix. Once the chicken is coated with the cream cheese mixture, spread it across the dish using a spatula to form an even layer. 

The dip requires a couple rounds of oven time to get the right consistency. Start by placing the dip in the oven for ten minutes. After taking it out of the oven, add blue cheese crumbles on top. Then, put the dish back in the oven. If you, like me, believe “the cheesier, the better,” then I suggest taking the dish out of the oven five minutes after the blue cheese has been added. Then, sprinkle a bit more blended cheese mix on top. Turn the oven to broil, and let it cook through for five more minutes. The mixture should be melty and creamy at this point. 

The dip should have a total cooking time of about 20 minutes. However, this is flexible and up to personal preference. 

Once all the elements are baked to your liking, your delectable game-day dip is done! Fresh out of the oven, garnish with yet another sprinkle of cheese (I will confess I always do), and you are ready to experience a flavorful victory! You can serve a scoop of the dip with your favorite crunchy tortilla chips, refreshing veggies, or whatever your buffalo chicken dip is calling you to do! I love dipping carrots, celery, and cucumber. 

Nothing feels homier than sitting in my spot on the couch with a warm bowl of buffalo chicken dip watching football, but regardless, enjoy! It still tastes good without the football!

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Mucho Gusto

Maya’s Guatemalan Tacos

This is the thirty-fourth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Odds are you’ve probably indulged in a classic taco from a Mexican restaurant. With a perfect balance of crunch, spice, salt, and a hint of gooey, melted cheese, tacos are an incredibly popular dish that many enjoy—how could you not? Tacos are iconic pockets of bold, authentic flavor that are undeniably loved by all. 

But, what about a rolled taco? One that is even crispier and crunchier, fried to golden perfection? I’m not talking about the taquitos in your freezer (although those are a guilty pleasure!), but rather my family’s favorite recipe—Guatemalan tacos. Yes, Guatemala has its own version of tacos, and they are actually quite different from the Mexican ones that you know and love. Simple but always satisfying, these tacos require just a few staple ingredients from Guatemalan culture. Tasty corn tortillas are filled with savory meat and rolled into a flavorful food vessel. The experience is comforting and familiar, yet captivating; each crunchy bite becomes more and more irresistible. It is no wonder that this favorite is both a great appetizer and a rich, satiating meal. 

Traditional Guatemalan cuisine is derived from the Mayans, with influence from the Spanish. The diverse gastronomy usually involves some of Guatemala’s most famous native crops: corn, chiles, beans, and avocados. In name, the dishes are similar to those of Mexico, but the resemblance stops there; the recipes are unique to each region and vary from town to town. 

Guatemalan tacos are typically eaten at the refacción time, which is a short break in the day for workers to enjoy a snack, or refaccionar. This meal in particular was practically my introduction to my Guatemalan heritage, as it is one of the first traditional plates I had and loved as a child. It was a way to connect me with my family’s home country from miles away in our own kitchen. So, though this dish may sound a little unfamiliar, I promise you it will still be a crowd-pleaser. 

Moreover, this recipe is dynamic and easy to adapt. I followed the traditional route, a recipe that is tried-and-true in my family, using beef and a spicy tomato salsa. Other variations can be made using different dipping sauces, such as guacamole and tomato or chile sauce, and different fillings can be used as well, such as chicken or potato. The possibilities are endless and delicious!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 20-25 corn tortillas
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup Spanish onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • About 1 cup Canola oil (approximately ½ cup per 10 tortillas)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional Salsa Picante:

  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup Spanish onions, chopped finely
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ Chile Guajillo
  • ½ Chile de Árbol
  • ¼ cup of water

Instructions: 

Start by cooking the ground beef in a pan. In a separate pan, sauté the garlic, onions, green bell pepper, and tomatoes in butter until all the water is absorbed, forming a paste. Then, add this paste to the beef. Mix the ingredients all together and cook over medium heat until the meat is fully cooked. This step should take approximately 15 minutes. 

In another pan, begin heating the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, warm up your tortillas over low heat, 2 at a time, with one on top of the other. Traditionally in Guatemalan culture, a comal is used, but a pan works as well. Flip the tortillas so that both sides are evenly cooked. Add 1-1 ½ heaping spoonfuls of the meat mixture to the edge of the tortilla. This is the key to the rolling process. Once you put the meat at this one edge, tightly roll the tortilla around the meat, going to the other end, like a wrap. It usually helps to use toothpicks to keep it tight. The folded side of the tortilla then goes into the hot oil to prevent unraveling and keep the roll intact. Fry each taco for about 4-5 minutes in medium heat. Be sure to evenly coat and fry every side of the tortilla by carefully rotating it during the frying process, making sure the roll is held together. It will become easier as the tortilla crisps up.

Traditionally, the tacos are served with steamed cabbage, tomato salsa, chile sauce, guacamole, onions, Guatemalan cheese, and chopped parsley. However, in my family, we garnish them with cilantro, fresh cheese, and most importantly, the salsa picante. Salsa picante is made with tomatoes, garlic, onions, green pepper, and two kinds of chile peppers: Chile Guajillo and Chile de Árbol. Simmer the ingredients over medium heat for 30 minutes until very little water remains. After cooling, blend everything to a smooth, liquid consistency, thus forming the classic red sauce. 

This recipe makes about 20-25 rolled Guatemalan tacos. Enjoy!

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Allison’s Pesto Bruschetta

This is the thirty-second installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

In my big, Italian family, we crave our pesto, olive oil, and bread. Pronounced broo-skeh-tah, this Italian appetizer is extremely popular around the world. Bruschetta is actually just a name for toasted bread, but the classic version usually includes tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil. 

There is no clear origin, but bruschetta is centuries old, possibly dating back to the Ancient Romans. For years, it was a simple snack, just stale bread and tomatoes, that was eaten by farmers and workers doing intense manual labor. It’s served far and wide across the Italian peninsula today, but the toppings vary in the different regions. For example, in Tuscany, bruschetta is usually topped with chicken liver or kale. In Abruzzo, they use salami. 

My family prefers this pesto version, which has been with us for as long as I can remember. Plenty of cooking and tasting has led us to conclude that these measurements and combinations work best! Regardless of the recipe you choose, the most important part of a good bruschetta is having the right ingredients. The key is using fresh mozzarella, high-quality olive oil, and good bread.

Over the past few years, my cousins, brother, and I have taken over the bruschetta making and mastered it. Whether it’s over holidays, family dinners, or our annual family beach trip, we make this recipe. I truly believe that cooking and working in the kitchen together is one of the best ways to bring a family closer to each other. There are many ways to make bruschetta, but I promise this Vuono classic will not disappoint. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette, long
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese 
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes 
  • ½ cup walnuts 
  • ⅔ cup olive oil (extra-virgin)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan-reggiano cheese 
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ tsp pepper 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped 

Instructions:  

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the baguette into ½ inch thick pieces. On a baking tray, toast the baguette slices in the oven for approximately 2 minutes, or until slightly crisp and golden. Flip the slices over, and toast for another minute. Turn off the oven, remove the slices, and set them aside while preparing the pesto. 

Place the walnuts and garlic inside a food processor and process for approximately 15 seconds or until finely chopped. Next, add in the salt, pepper, and basil. Process for 1 minute or until the mixture forms a creamy paste. Add the parmesan-reggiano cheese and olive oil to the mixture, and blend for another 30 seconds or until smooth. If the pesto is too thick, add olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the preferred consistency is reached.

Once the pesto is ready for plating, slice the mozzarella cheese into ¼ inch slices and the sun dried tomatoes into halves. To assemble, spread the pesto on a toasted bread slice, add a piece of mozzarella, and top with a sun dried tomato. Repeat for each slice, serve, and enjoy!

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Valeria’s Tuna Tartare

This is the thirty-first installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

If you’re looking to achieve Michelin star chef status at your next small gathering, it’s time to stop shying away from preparing raw fish. Try out this straightforward tuna tartare recipe, and you’ll surely leave your guests in pure amazement.

I recently made this tangy recipe for my family after coming home from the beach on a scorching hot day, and I can assure you it’s the perfect summer dish to soothe burnt skin and excite tired taste buds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 4-6 oz frozen yellowfin tuna steak 
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • ½ mango
  • 1 tsp thinly chopped scallions (green onions)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos for a low sodium alternative) 
  • 2 tsp citrus ponzu sauce
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: a pinch of black sesame seeds
  • Optional: a few plantain chips for decoration and crunch

Instructions:

Begin by using a sharp knife to slice the whole tuna steak into pieces about the size of your nail. I recommend freezing the tuna steak prior to making the dish, as it allows the fish to stay compact and tender while you cut it into small cubes. Once you finish slicing, place the tuna cubes into a medium-sized bowl. 

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Leaving the flesh inside the skin, use the knife to cut even lines both horizontally and vertically, making little squares. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of each avocado half and add it to the bowl containing the sliced tuna. Then, dice the mango into small pieces about the same size as both the tuna and avocado. Thinly chop the scallions. Add both ingredients into the bowl. 

Add the coconut aminos or soy sauce, the citrus ponzu sauce, and salt to the bowl. Use a spoon to mix everything together thoroughly. 

Viola! Now you’re ready to plate.

The key to excellence in this recipe is creativity in your plating. I recommend using a mold or cookie cutter to firmly pack the tuna tartare in the center of the plate. I used a pinch of black sesame seeds to decorate and served the dish with a few plantain chips for some extra crunchiness that paired perfectly with the tenderness of the fish.

This recipe makes about 2 servings.

Categories
Mucho Gusto

Prashanti’s Homemade Ice Cream

This is the thirtieth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

It’s a hot summer day, and the school year has just ended. My friends and I are walking towards the local ice cream shop, celebrating our first official day of freedom as all our responsibilities from the school year wash away. For a split second, it feels as if we are all little kids again. The first bite is heavenly, taking us back to our youth and innocence. 

Many of my best childhood memories involved eating ice cream, whether at parties or just with friends. When I was in elementary school, I often begged my parents to buy an ice cream cake for my birthday. I believe that no matter where you’re from in the world, you’re bound to love ice cream, so today, I am sharing a simple recipe for a homemade version of the treat. This is a cookies and cream flavored ice cream that can easily be modified to your liking. 

Time: 4 hours & 10 minutes total 

Ingredients & Supplies: 

1 medium mixing bowl 

1 hand blender or mixer

1 rubber spatula

1 rolling pin 

1 Ziplock bag 

1 cup heavy cream  

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅓ can of sweetened condensed milk (approximately 5 oz.)

Optional: 4-5 Biscoff cookies, or any type of cookie (Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, etc.)

Instructions:

Add the heavy cream to a medium mixing bowl. Use a mixer or hand blender to mix the heavy cream until it forms whipped cream. Be careful not to blend the heavy cream too much as it will form butter instead. 

Add the vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk. Use the mixer or hand blender to mix the ingredients together until they are well combined. If the mixture is not sweet enough, add more sweetened condensed milk to taste. 

Place 4-5 Biscoff cookies in a Ziplock bag, and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies. Add the crumbled cookies to the whipped cream mixture. Use a rubber spatula to incorporate the bite-sized cookie pieces into the mixture. If you prefer, you can skip this step and make plain vanilla ice cream instead. 

Freeze the whipped cream mixture for a minimum of 4 hours before eating. Freezing overnight produces the best result. 

Adapted from Eitan Bernath’s  “Four Ingredients Oreo Ice Cream”