Mucho Gusto

Dorm Friendly Peanut Butter Truffles

My close friend Elise and I sat on the floor of my cramped double room in Gonzaga Hall. We had spent hours on this floor: doing homework, watching TV, taking naps, and debriefing our days. However, this night we decided to tackle a dessert. 

While some of our other friends went home for Easter Break, Elise and I decided to stay back in Boston. We had four goals for break: explore Boston and go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, catch up on sleep, watch the six hour TV series of Pride and Prejudice, and make peanut butter truffles (a homemade version of the Reese’s peanut butter egg). As an avid lover of anything peanut butter and chocolate, this recipe felt like the perfect sweet treat to enjoy over break. Moreover, it only requires three ingredients and a microwave, making it an accessible recipe for any college student.

We began our endeavor around 11 p.m. on the first night of break. I set out a large jar of peanut butter, a bag of powdered sugar, and a bag of chocolate chips on the floor. Then, I gathered all of the baking-adjacent tools that I could find in my room. I picked out a plastic container to act as a mixing bowl and a cereal bowl to melt the chocolate in, as well as all of the forks and spoons I could find. My array of tools was unlike the baking equipment I normally use in my home kitchen. However, Elise and I were determined to make a delicious dessert, despite the hodge-podge of tools we were working with. 

To start, we scooped some peanut butter into our “mixing bowl” and poured powdered sugar on top. We mixed the two ingredients together, releasing a cloud of powdered sugar dust into the air and spilling sugar all over the carpet. Then, we grabbed small amounts of dough to flatten into egg shapes. They were far from uniform, but we were perfectly happy with the variety of sizes we ended up with. The next step was to melt the chocolate chips in my weak, low-voltage (but dorm safe) microwave. It took what felt like endless 30 second intervals to melt the chocolate, but eventually we were left with a bowl of silky chocolate. Lastly, we dipped each truffle into the bowl so they were left with a smooth coat of dark chocolate.

Elise and I caught up on Pride and Prejudice while impatiently waiting for the chocolate coat to harden. Finally, after a long night of questionable baking, the truffles were ready to enjoy. Despite our lack of a proper kitchen, they were absolutely amazing, consisting of a creamy peanut butter middle covered in a snappy layer of chocolate. After a night filled with laughing, fun, and most importantly sugar, we were left with a carpet covered in powdered sugar and a fridge filled with the most delicious peanut butter truffles.


Creamy peanut butter

Powdered sugar

Chocolate chips


Add peanut butter to a bowl and stir in powdered sugar. Continue adding sugar until the mixture is firm enough to hold its shape. Form the mixture into egg shapes or balls. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Dip the truffles into the melted chocolate until fully coated. Drizzle additional melted chocolate over the truffles if desired. Allow the truffles to set in the fridge.

Cover photo courtesy of Fifteen Spatulas

Mucho Gusto

A Simple and Sophisticated Chicken Parmesan

To me, there is something special about a well-executed chicken parmesan. While it’s pretty good no matter how you make it, putting in a little extra effort and paying attention to the details really takes it to the next level. This recipe may be a little more involved than a normal recipe, but it only uses ingredients and equipment that I expect a normal home cook to possess. If you have an hour or so to prepare dinner, I implore you to make this, as I think it highlights all of what makes this dish amazing: crispy, juicy chicken, melted cheese, and a savory tomato sauce served over pasta. 

Chicken Parmesan and Sauce Recipe (serves 4):


Chicken Parmesan: 

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups  flour

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 4.5 ounces or one can of tomato paste
  • 28 ounce can of tomato sauce, or blended whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 ounces white wine or 4 ounces water with a splash of white balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil (optional)

2 cups vegetable oil or light olive oil

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into slices


Sauce: Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions, and allow them to sweat for five minutes, then add the garlic. After one minute, add the tomato paste and the red pepper flakes. After cooking for two minutes, deglaze the sauce with white wine or water with white balsamic vinegar. After adding the tomato sauce/blended tomatoes and basil, allow everything to simmer until the chicken is ready. The sauce should be thick, otherwise it will spill over the chicken and make it soggy.

Fried Chicken: Begin by cutting the chicken breasts along the long side almost to the end, being sure not to cut it all the way through. Unfold the chicken breast and pound it flat using either a meat mallet or a rolling pin, and use plastic wrap to ensure sanitation. Next, prepare a breading station for the butterflied chicken breasts. Prepare three plates: one with plain flour, one with beaten eggs, and the last with the breadcrumbs, spices, and parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken in the flour and dust off the excess. Then coat it in the egg wash and allow the excess to drip off. Finally coat it with breadcrumbs, ensuring that the chicken is fully covered. Place the chicken on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. I suggest breading all of the chicken before frying it. To fry, heat two cups of oil on medium heat in a wide pan. Then, place one piece of chicken and allow it to fry until golden brown. Place it on a fresh baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Once all the chicken is fried, cover the center of each piece with sauce and two slices of mozzarella cheese. Do not cover the entirety with sauce; by leaving the edges bare, you ensure that some bites remain crispy. Place under a broiler until the mozzarella is melted and begins to brown. Garnish with basil, freshly grated parmesan, and serve over sauced pasta. I like to add sauce on the side, which allows me to add sauce to each bite.

Cover photo courtesy of Salt and Lavender

Mucho Gusto


A few weeks ago, on March 25th to be exact, Våffeldagen, or “Waffle Day” was celebrated all over Scandinavia. In Sweden, Våffeldagen is considered to be quite an important holiday. On this day, one can find Swedish waffles in many households and at almost every cafe across the country. Although it is loved by Swedes of all ages who come from all different walks of life, many do not stop and think about the history of the treasured day. Originally, Våffeldagen did not have anything to do with waffles at all. Våffeldagen actually originated due to a mispronunciation of a different holiday that celebrated Virgin Mary’s conception: Vårfrudagen or “Our Lady Day” in English. Many took it as an excuse to eat waffles on that day, and since then, it has been recognized as Våffeldagen. 

Some Swedes even argue that Våffeldagen marks the first day of spring. Throughout history, the farming community would celebrate that they had successfully made it through yet another cold, bleak Swedish winter on this day. Along with Swedish spring came access to more fresh eggs and milk, so celebrating by making waffles with the ingredients was non-negotiable.

Unlike Belgian and American waffles, Swedish våfflor are very thin. They are not sweet, which is why many tend to pair them with a condiment like jam. Additionally, Swedish waffles are less crispy than the more common Belgian waffles, and a Swedish-style cast iron waffle pan that shapes the waffles into what looks like tiny hearts is typically used. Nevertheless, this recipe works just as well with any other type of waffle maker. 

Even though my family has lived in Texas for almost 10 years now, they still make sure to keep the Swedish traditions alive. We like to eat våfflor with lightly whipped cream and drottningsylt, which translates to “queen jam” in English. It sounds quite fancy, but drottningsylt is actually just a mix of bilberries and raspberries. It might be difficult to find at an American grocery store, however, IKEA typically carries a good version of the jam along with other flavors like cloudberry and blueberry jam. If you do not want to make the trek all the way to IKEA, regular strawberry or raspberry jam works just as well. We usually whip up the heavy cream at home, as we find it tastes more authentic than canned whipped cream. It is relatively easy to do with an electric mixer, but mixing the heavy cream for too long will increase the likelihood of it turning into butter—I have made this mistake one too many times.

A few years ago, my mom found a new Swedish waffle recipe in one of her favorite food magazines, and ever since that day, it has been my family’s go-to recipe for våfflor. Instead of regular bleached flour, the recipe asks for spelt flour. Sometimes also referred to as dinkel wheat, spelt flour is an ancient grain that has been used as a staple food since ancient times. Unlike other types of flour, spelt flour has a unique, nutty taste, serves as a great source of fiber, and contains many key nutrients. Many people find that spelt flour is also easier to digest than regular flour, which is why it has become one of my favorite flour alternatives.


4 ounces unsalted butter

⅘ cup whole milk

1 cup water

½ cup rolled oats or ½ cup finely grated carrots (or add half the amount of both). 

***I find that Trader Joe’s brand of old-fashioned rolled oats works the best as they are thin enough to create the perfect, soft Swedish waffle texture. Adding grated carrots will help moisten the waffles and give them a beautiful, yellow-orange color.

1 and 4/10 cups strained white spelt flour

2 pinches table salt 

2 teaspoons baking powder.

*** It is important to not mistake baking powder for baking soda, which is pure sodium bicarbonate.  Unlike baking soda, baking powder contains acid, so it does not need to react with other acid ingredients to become “activated.”


Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. The butter should be fully melted, but not burned. 

Remove the butter from the head and add the milk, water, and rolled oats or grated carrots.

Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl before adding this mixture to the rest of the ingredients.

Let the mixture rest for about 15 minutes. During this time, preheat a waffle iron.

Add some of the batter to the iron and cook until the waffle is golden brown on both sides. Make sure the middle of the waffle is cooked through. . 

*** You can keep the waffles hot by putting them on a baking sheet on the middle rack of an oven set to 200°F. 

Plate the waffles with some berries, jam, and lightly whipped cream and serve!

Cover Photo Courtesy of Norrtable

Mucho Gusto

Ginger Shots

Over the last couple of years, the “ginger shot” has gained popularity all over the world, and today it can be found in the health aisle at almost every grocery store. Research suggests that ginger shots provide us with a plethora of benefits. It has been shown to aid in digestion and to have both anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties. The only downside is that one shot is often extremely expensive, ranging anywhere from three to five dollars per shot. However, if you have some fresh ginger and a lemon at home, you can make the same concoction yourself for only a fraction of the price. This is why my family always makes sure to keep some fresh ginger at home in Texas. We typically make a batch of ginger shots at the beginning of the week and drink one each morning until we run out.

Aside from being the key ingredient in the beloved ginger shot, ginger serves as a core component in a variety of different cuisines. Additionally, it has been used as a natural remedy to treat illness in some cultures. Ginger is a flowering plant that is rich and bold to the taste, and it often gives off a citrusy aroma. The plant is typically grown in humid climates, which is why it is easy to find in countries such as India, Brazil, and Thailand. Besides its sharp, yet vibrant taste, ginger contains a powerful antioxidant known as gingerol, which is why it has been said to have “immunity boosting” properties. Some even find that it can help soothe an upset stomach. 

I like to take a ginger shot right when I wake up every morning, as I find it sets me up for a productive and healthy day. Whether you’re waking up groggy from a nap or need a little “pick-me-up” in the afternoon, these ginger shots always do the trick. I use the recipe my aunt gave me a few years back, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share it with the rest of my community. It is possibly one of the simplest and most affordable recipes that I’ve come across, which is great, especially for a college student who is always on the go like me.

*** If you’re just making ginger shots for yourself, I would suggest making only one quarter or one half of the recipe to start. You want to consume the batch within a reasonable number of days to prevent it from spoiling. For my family of five, one batch typically lasts about three to four days.


40 ounces water

11 ounces peeled ginger

2 medium lemons (or one large)

Cayenne pepper to taste

¼ cup honey (optional) 


Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, and let the water roll at a boil for five minutes. 

Let the water cool to about 140°F while washing and peeling the ginger (the water should be a little warmer than “hand-hot”). I find that it is easier to peel the ginger with a spoon; it shaves off a thinner layer than a knife or any other tool would. Make sure the peeled ginger doesn’t weigh any less than 11 ounces, as it will prevent the shots from tasting bland. 

Chop the ginger into cubes, and add them to a blender along with half of the water and the zest of the lemons. It is important that the water is not warmer than 140°F, as too much heat can denature the gingerol. 

Blend on high for about two minutes. Add the rest of the water, and mix for three more minutes before straining the contents through a very fine strainer. 

Lastly, add cayenne pepper to taste. I usually add ¼ to ½ teaspoon. You can also add up to ¼ cup honey if you want it to have a sweeter taste. I typically skip this step, however, as I find the zesty taste refreshing. 

Pour the ginger shots into a container and serve!

Cover Photo Courtesy of Downshiftology

Mucho Gusto

The Most Memorable Almond Cookies

My dad is funny, a talented chef, and a cat-lover. But one thing that he is not is a person with a sweet tooth. His ideal dessert consists of graham crackers with a small scoop of bitter chocolate ice cream. He dislikes most sweet desserts, especially the sugary frosting on a slice of cake or cookie. One of the few desserts that my dad never minded the sweetness of was what he described as “chewy almond cookies” from Italian bakeries. He spent his junior year of college studying abroad in Florence, Italy, enjoying espresso with these almond cookies on a daily basis. 

Almost forty years later, my dad continued to rave about these almond cookies. For one of his recent birthdays, I was stumped with what dessert to bake for him. As an avid baker, it feels instinctual to make a dessert for a family member’s birthday. For example, my mom loves chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, while my sister prefers a red velvet layer cake. However, my dad is always a tough case with his aversions to overly-sweet desserts. This birthday, though, it finally hit me to try and make the memorable almond cookies from Italy. I began my research on Google. I searched “Italian chewy almond cookies,” hoping that at least one of these keywords could connect me to my dad’s beloved recipe. I found just what I was looking for: recipes to make Italian almond cookies called amaretti.

I printed out a recipe and gathered the ingredients in preparation. My dad always preaches about creating a “staging area” before beginning any project. This could mean laying down old newspapers before beginning a messy art project or moving shoes and bags off the floor before vacuuming. In my case, I washed the dirty dishes in the sink and sponged down the counter before attempting to master amaretti cookies. As the cookies came together, a sweet almond aroma filled the kitchen from the almond extract and almond flour. My dad is a fan of anything almond, from marzipan to almond croissants, so I began to understand why he adored these cookies so much. I rolled out the cookies and topped them with sliced almonds, carefully placing one almond atop every cookie to create an army of uniform cookie soldiers with almond hats. 

After I baked and cooled the cookies, I arranged them on a tray to present to my dad. I closely watched as he took a bite, hoping that my cookies would live up to his memories of the authentic ones from Florence. He smiled and told me that they were just as almondy and chewy as he had remembered, managing to strike the perfect balance of sweetness and stir up feelings of nostalgia for him. As a second part of his birthday gift, my dad requested amaretti cookie lessons so he could enjoy them whenever his cravings struck. I happily obliged, and now the amaretti cookies are his specialty dessert that he brings to any dinner party or special occasion. I successfully reunited my dad with his favorite chewy almond cookies, transporting him from our kitchen to a bakery in Florence. 


2 ¼ cups almond flour

1 cup granulated sugar

⅛ teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites

¼ teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon almond extract

Powdered sugar to dust cookies

Sliced almonds (options)


Preheat oven to 300°F. Stack two cookie sheets on top of each other to prevent the bottoms of the cookies from browning too much while baking. Line the top tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, sugar, and salt. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice together until the egg whites hold soft beaks. Fold the beaten egg whites and almond extract into the dry ingredients until the fixture forms a soft, sticky dough.

Use a tablespoon to portion the dough into one-inch balls. Roll the balls in powdered sugar. Place a sliced almond on the top of each cookie if desired. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheet with one inch of space between each cookie.

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the tops are cracked and the bottoms are a pale golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 

Recipe adapted from

Cover Image Courtesy of The Clever Meal

Mucho Gusto

30 Minute Sausage Pasta

Pasta was the first dish I ever made all on my own, sometime in late elementary school. I’ve been making it ever since, and the biggest revelation I’ve made in that time is that you don’t need to use a pre-made, jarred sauce if you want a quick and easy dinner. This recipe in particular exemplifies all of the reasons why I love pasta: From start to finish, it takes no more than a half hour to make, it only requires easy to find and cheap ingredients, and most of all it’s simply delicious. 

Fresh rosemary in a tomato sauce is a highly underrated flavor combination and this recipe allows it to shine in concert with a vibrant sauce with bursts of sausage and garlic. While I love a sauce that simmers for hours, this sauce really allows the simple, fresh ingredients that it possesses to shine. The sausage packs a massive flavor punch, while the combination of tomato paste and white wine makes this sauce taste infinitely more complex than its half-hour cook time would suggest. While the white wine may seem like an odd addition, it adds sweetness and acidity, while the alcohol allows the other flavors to become enhanced – it’s the same reason that vodka sauce is so delicious even though vodka has no flavor. If you can’t get it or don’t drink alcohol, no worries: a combination of water and white balsamic vinegar achieves a similar purpose of deglazing the pan and offering some sweetness and acidity. Of the hundreds of pastas I have made in my lifetime, this is definitely the most delicious relative to how quick and easy it is. While this recipe may seem basic, it allows each ingredient to shine while combining to make a harmonious dish.


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lb italian sausage, casing removed (sub for vegan sausage if you’re vegetarian)

1 yellow onion, small diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

4.5 oz or one can of tomato paste

28 oz can of tomato sauce, or blended whole peeled tomatoes

4 oz white wine or 4 oz water with a splash of white balsamic vinegar

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced fine

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tsp of salt, rest to taste

Fresh ground black pepper

1 lb pasta of choice, I would recommend bucatini or orecchiette 

Grated parmesan (to garnish)


Pre-heat a 12-inch pan over medium heat and add olive oil. You can do this in a pot, but it will take longer to get the level of evaporation and caramelization than compared to what you can get in a pan. Remove the sausage from the casing and press into an even layer in the pan. If you don’t hear it sizzling immediately, increase the heat slightly. After the first side is browned, begin to break up the sausage with a spatula and brown the other side. Add the onions and salt immediately, then stir to combine. Salting the onions immediately draws the water out, which allows them to caramelize more quickly. After 5 minutes, the onions should be starting to caramelize and the sausage should be cooked through. Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Adding the rosemary, now as opposed to closer to the end, allows the flavor of the rosemary to perfume the oil and ensure that the floral, herbaceous flavor permeates every bite of the pasta. After one minute, add the tomato paste and spread into an even layer on the pan. After it begins to caramelize – 2 minutes or so – add the wine (or water and vinegar) and stir to deglaze the pan. Make sure that the fond (the brown part stuck to the pan) is removed, as it will flavor the sauce and has the potential to burn if it isn’t stirred into the sauce. Add the tomato sauce and stir. Lower the heat slightly until it lightly bubbles and add a lid or loosely tent with tin foil. Stir intermittently, keeping a close eye to ensure that the sauce doesn’t. Cook the pasta, making sure to add sufficient salt to the pasta cooking water. Stir intermittently. After 15 minutes or so, taste the sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the pasta and garnish with parmesan, fresh cracked black pepper, and a light drizzle of olive oil. 


Another way I like to serve pasta sometimes is by finishing the pasta in the sauce and tossing it with butter, parmesan, and pasta cooking water to coat the pasta in the sauce ahead of time. Simply drain the pasta when it is slightly underdone and reserve a half cup or so of the pasta cooking water. Turn the heat off of the sauce and let it cool slightly. Add the pasta to the sauce along with 2 tbsp or so of butter, a half cup of parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously to ensure that an emulsion is formed. If it looks too thick add pasta water and if it looks too thin add parmesan to hone in on your ideal texture.

Mucho Gusto

Harissa Pasta

Sometimes described as “North Africa’s favorite hot sauce,” the popular harissa pepper paste originates from the Mahgreb region– namely Tunisia. Its name hails from the Arabic verb “harasa,” meaning “to pound” or “to break into pieces.” In its pure essence, the beloved condiment is a pounded paste of various chilies, salt, spices, garlic, and olive oil. It can be used as a flavor base for curries and stews, and is a staple spicy condiment (perhaps reminiscent of its “cousin” Sriracha), traditionally enjoyed alongside most meals in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. 

Ever since tasting the fiery, tangy chili paste, harissa has become a staple in my daily cooking. As lover of all things spicy, I have tried adding it to just about everything– eggs, sauces, dips, vegetables– and can confirm it makes for the ultimate hot sauce, with a nuanced flavor profile– a tingling spice, but still packed with a smokey, peppery flavor. Boston’s authentic Middle Eastern and North African restaurants introduced me to the rich red chili paste, alongside decadent labneh and creamy yogurt dips to subtly offset the bite of the spice. Simply put, it was a heavenly harmony like none other– and I have enjoyed my fair share of hot sauces over the years! 

This prompted me to buy my own harissa paste, first from the BC neighborhood-favorite Café Landwer. This, in combination with my pasta-stocked pantry and my love for Instagram reel recipes, led me to the uncharted territory of “harissa pasta.” At first, I was skeptical– pasta with harissa paste? I thought of how my dad and Nonni taught me to make pasta– the Italian pasta purists who would undoubtedly question the seemingly unorthodox addition. But, true to the passion for food they instilled in me, and my own adventurous nature, I decided to coat my noodles in the romantically-red sauce anyway. Besides, how wrong could mixing two of my favorite foods go? It was by no means a recipe for disaster, but it was perhaps a recipe for the ambitious.

The innovative recipe proved to be a pleasant surprise, balancing the heat with flavors of thyme, olives, capers, red wine, and balsamic vinegar, as well as the creaminess of tangy Greek yogurt. Thanks to this recipe, I’m convinced that harissa is the creative complement to any tasty meal. Its garlicky profile is effortlessly brightened by the acidity of ingredients like tomatoes and citrus, so it is quite versatile, and its flavors can be mellowed or intensified as desired. It adds depth and complexity to any dish; mixed with flirty heat, it becomes an addictive dance for the taste buds (not to mention a great way to clear out the sinuses!) All jokes aside, harissa is “worth the hype.” Whether you are a proud participant in the hot sauce craze or working on building your spice tolerance, add harissa to your list and be prepared for an exciting experience– it’s as if you could taste the bright, bold sun.


  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine
  • 3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp thyme, fresh or dried
  • 2-3 tsp harissa paste
  • 1 tsp agave
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 box pasta, preferably long, wide noodles like fettuccine
  • 2 tbsp olives, chopped
  • 2 tsp capers, chopped
  • Parsley and Greek yogurt for topping


Begin by frying the onion in oil until soft and translucent. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and balsamic vinegar and let it simmer for five minutes. Add the tomatoes, thyme, harissa paste, and agave for a hint of sweetness. Stir well and add salt to taste. You can also add more harissa depending on your spice preference, but be careful to preserve the balance of the flavors. Let the sauce simmer on low heat while you boil water to prepare the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente. Right before adding the pasta to the sauce, add the olives and capers. Then, incorporate the pasta with a bit of pasta water and parsley. Mix it all together and top with a touch of Greek yogurt. Enjoy a plate piled high with spicy, garlicky, aromatic pasta! This recipe makes about four servings.

Recipe copied from “Sophia’s Harissa Pasta” on @fitgreenmind (Maya)’s Instagram page

Cover photo courtesy of Hint of Healthy

Mucho Gusto

Sunday Soup for the Studious Soul

College often demands earnest attention to lectures, readings, and all other lengthy requirements of a syllabus, even as colds cultivate in cramped classrooms. The Boston College sickness season is a perennial event, problematically produced by the petri dish of peers. The weekend then becomes the relief for recovery as coursework never else delivers an allowance for momentary cessation of responsibilities.
Yet, the days between the elation of Friday and dimness of Monday, always remind us of time’s brevity. Ever so quickly, seasonal depression stirs into the strains of Sunday, and we regret the skip of Saturday’s self care. The evening then necessitates immediate assistance to soften the frenzies forged from flus and freezing temperatures before the week begins once again.
It requires a remedy — cure to ameliorate the perpetual feeling of remaining under the weather and below the blankets. As I self-diagnose with such sickness, I run to fill my prescription: some Sunday soup for the studious soul.
This chicken and orzo soup is truly just a take on the traditional, and classic chicken-noodle. However, I love the way the orzo absorbs the flavor of the broth and spices, and am eager to share a few of my chosen additions of ingredients that pledge to brighten the flavor and reinvigorate your taste buds, either intact or dulled by the winter wear on your sinuses. Yet, most importantly, this recipe extends my sincere suggestion to share with friends and family who need to find a similar sanctuary in a serving of soup.

Rx: Chicken & Orzo Soup


2 chicken breasts

Extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Garlic powder 

1 cup diced celery

1 cup peeled and diced carrots

1 cup diced yellow onion

6 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon nutmeg 

1 teaspoon curry

2 quarts chicken stock

20 sprigs fresh parsley

15 sprigs fresh thyme

16 oz orzo pasta


Preheat the oven to 350℉. Generously coat the chicken breasts with olive oil and place on a sheet pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Bake the chicken breasts for 25 to 30 minutes, until cooked through. The time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

As the chicken is roasting, add two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot over medium heat. As the olive oil begins to sizzle, add the diced celery, carrots and onion. Immediately stir to coat the vegetables in the olive oil and then add the minced garlic. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to add the spices, including the nutmeg, curry, salt and pepper to taste, as well as two cups of the chicken stock. As the ingredients become fully incorporated into the small portion of broth, continue to add the rest of the chicken stock and stir with the additions of the fresh parsley and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil and then add the orzo pasta. The orzo will take roughly ten minutes to cook. Be sure to mix occasionally.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the chicken from the sheet pan and place on a cutting board. With a fork, scrape the chicken to pull it apart, making it easier to incorporate into the soup. When the chicken is fully pulled apart, gently add it to the broth with the orzo and stir to incorporate into the soup. Test the soup to see if you need to add any more salt to your taste, or add another cup of water if you prefer more broth/want to reduce the density of the soup. Serve and enjoy!

Cover photo courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Mucho Gusto

Sopaipillas: The Famous Chilean Winter Treat

Having lived the first few years of my life in Chile, there are a couple of memories that come to mind. One of the most prominent being all the snowy (or rainy) winter evenings spent eating sopaipillas as a family. It was our favorite thing as kids, whenever the weather was gloomy or the streets were covered in snow, because we knew that meant a trip to “Los Saldes”, our favorite bakery. As soon as we heard our dad’s car pull up to the driveway we would rush to the door and jump up and down in anticipation. He would walk into the house, greet us with a bear hug, put his work bag on the counter, and off to “Los Saldes” we went. 

The bakery was always packed: as if getting sopaipillas on a cold winter day was a nation-wide family tradition – which it was in a way. Sopaipillas, a fried squash pastry dusted with powdered sugar, is a common Chilean comfort food during the winter. After school or work chileans everywhere rush home or to a bakery to eat the famous winter treat. When we lived in Chile, “Los Saldes” was our tradition, but once we moved to Perú and couldn’t find our country’s treat in any of the bakeries, a new tradition was born where I would make sopaipillas for our family at home. And let me tell you, the winter pick-me-up is a pretty simple recipe to make. 


500 g squash

500 g wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp melted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit 
  2. Wash the squash thoroughly and remove the seeds. 
  3. Chop the squash into big chunks and place it in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through
  4. Remove the squash from the oven and blend it until you obtain a puree
  5. Place the puree in a bowl and set aside to cool
  6. In another bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder and mix to combine
  7. Incorporate the squash puree and the melted butter into the flour mixture
  8. With your hands, unify all the ingredients until a smooth dough forms
  9. Form a ball and place in a covered bowl to rise
  10. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes
  11. Once the dough has risen, knead it on a clean and floured surface 
  12. Stretch the dough with a rolling pin until it is about half a centimeter thick
  13. With a glass or a circular mold, cut out circular shapes
  14. Add vegetable oil to a pan and put it on medium heat
  15. Fry the sopaipillas until golden or about two minutes per side
  16. Place the fried sopaipillas on a sheet of paper to absorb excess oil
  17. Dust the sopaipillas with powered sugar and enjoy!
Mucho Gusto

An Ode to Yuca: Garlic Mashed Yuca

A small, white mountain of creamy, smooth, garlicky goodness sits atop my mother’s blue floral plate. Heaping spoonfuls of the sustenance are passed around the dining table—the meal cannot begin without the stellar accompaniment. It’s simple, comforting, and well-loved, like a grandmother’s handmade quilt. Looking down at our plates, the soulful food is a tribute to remind us of other homes, lands away, of customs and cultures we embrace, despite being out of reach. Sometimes, a white fluffy mound of savory, starchy, stick-to-your-ribs food is the best thing to reach the heart. We enjoy our beloved yucca dish in solidarity, grinning as we taste the flavors of a warm welcome home. 

You may have heard of this dish at your favorite local Cuban restaurant. I, too, have marveled at the magic of mashed garlic yucca with my dad at our favorite spot. Beautifully complementary, aromatic garlic and hints of salt zing my taste buds as the warm mashed consistency caresses them. Whatever excited debate or chatter we had going on before the unassuming dish came out has ceased as we savor in silence. Our wide eyes and full mouths hint that we can’t help but agree—this dish is superior to any mashed potato recipe we’ve encountered. 

Yucca is a root vegetable that my grandmother prepares often. As mentioned, this dish, in particular, is well-known in Cuban cuisine, but cooking with yucca has been a staple in Mama Silvia’s Guatemalan cooking for years, as it’s popular throughout Latin America. It’s a great substitute for potatoes, with a mild taste and starchy texture. Thus, it’s highly versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways; at home, we frequently eat it boiled for a quick and easy side, but it’s also commonly roasted or fried. So, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, why not swap out the traditional bowl of mashed potatoes for something a little more interesting yet just as flavorful and comforting? With powerful punches of garlic sure to awaken the senses amidst buttery, savory yucca, this silky side just might become the star of the show.


  • 1 large yucca root, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 cups bone broth
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, roasted and smashed
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)


Start by trimming the ends of the yucca root on a cutting board with a sharp knife. Then, cut it into quarters. It will require a bit of pressure, as it’s a similar experience to cutting a squash. The cross-section should show firm, white flesh. Stand the sections on their cut faces, trim off the skin, and cut off both layers. Once peeled, dice the yucca into small pieces and boil it in bone broth with garlic and salt. Meanwhile, roast the garlic in olive oil for the best flavor results. Once the yucca is boiled, it should be soft and tender for mashing. Mash the yucca as you would a potato. You can do this with a mashing tool, a fork, or a hand mixer for a creamy, whipped texture. Add the butter, garlic, and seasoning to taste as you mash it. Once mashed, add salt and pepper as needed, and top with a garnish of parsley, if desired.

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