Mushroom and Onion Quesadillas with Cilantro Garlic Oil

It should come as no surprise when I say that Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines. I mean, what’s not to love – chips, salsa, guac, cheese, rice, beans…enough said! I am ALWAYS down for some good Mexican food.

I think one of the other reasons I love it so much is because the dishes are easier to replicate at home. There is an inherent simplicity that is great for the home cook. It’s so easy to swap out ingredients, adjust spices, etc. without totally ruining the dish. Please note that this does not mean that I make authentic Mexican. I make my own version of some of my favorite dishes.

Let’s take the mushroom and onion quesadillas I made the other night. Talk about easy and delicious! The mushrooms added a nice meatiness, while the spices came together to create an almost smoky flavor. And the cheese…the sharp cheddar cheese, while not authentic queso, took it all to another level!

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Also, let’s talk about the cilantro garlic oil I made. For the past 30 years, I have been a cilantro hater. Aside from chutneys and a few other Indian dishes, I could not stand the stuff. I am still not a cilantro lover, but let’s just say that I am slowly coming around to seeing its potential…like in the oil I made last night. But for now, the cilantro paste that Vishnu uses as a sandwich spread has been working fine in my food. I’m not quite ready to graduate to the real stuff.

Anyways, make these quesadillas ASAP. It’s the perfect weeknight meal that comes together in a short period of time. And be sure to make the oil as well. It infuses a lot of flavor into the dish and is honestly finger licking good!

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Mushroom and Onion Quesadillas
Makes 4 quesadillas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped baby Portobello mushrooms
½ large onion, chopped
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
½ cup cooked quinoa/rice (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
4 10 inch tortillas

1. Heat a skillet to medium heat and add oil.
2. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender and just starting to get soft.
3. OPTIONAL STEP – add the quinoa/rice and stir everything together until combined for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add spices (cumin through black pepper) and mix well.
5. Set mixture aside.
6. Heat a separate pan to medium heat.
7. Once the pan is warm, place one tortilla on the pan.
8. When you start to see a few air pockets forming, sprinkle ½ cup of cheese on the entire tortilla.
9. Once the cheese is starting to melt, add ½ cup of the mushroom mixture to one half of the tortilla.
10. Fold the tortilla in half and cook on both sides until light brown and crispy.
11. Repeat for the other 3 tortillas and ENJOY!

Cilantro Garlic Oil

1 ½ teaspoons cilantro paste
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
pinch of salt
Mix everything together in a small bowl, spoon over quesadillas, and enjoy!

Note: We also enjoyed our quesadillas with a bit of salsa because in our house you can’t have Mexican food without salsa. That’s the rule!

What’s your favorite Mexican dish? Any fun recipes to share (links are most welcome)?

Tough Mudder Recap + What’s Next

10.2 miles, 20 obstacles, 4 hours, lots of mud, and numerous cuts and bruises later I AM A TOUGH MUDDER!!!

There are really no words to explain how awesome my first Tough Mudder (TM) experience was. But I’ll try!

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I was really nervous the entire week leading up the event. I kept psyching myself out with stupid thoughts. Finally, when I saw Robin on Saturday, we decided that from that point forward we would only say positive things about the TM. I did my best to adhere to our rule.

I ate a bowl of pasta for dinner on Saturday night and went to bed around 11 pm. I woke up at 6:15, shot out of bed, took a shower, made a protein shake, and headed down to Robin and Andy’s at 7:15. We ended up leaving the apartment around 7:45 and made it to our destination around 9:45.

And by destination, I mean the Everglades. Yes, our TM event was smack dab in the middle of swamp country.

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After checking in, we met up with the rest of our team.  I actually didn’t know anyone else besides Robin and Andy, as they were all friends of Andy’s from PA school.  But can I just say that our team was so kickass.  Not only did every single one of us finish the race and all of the obstacles, we were each other’s support system.  I could not have done this without my seven teammates.  We made each other laugh, we cheered each other on, and we were there to say “you can do it” when things got tough.  Amazing amazing people!

Tough Mudder Florida 2014

We started with the 10:30 wave.  As we lined up, we were instructed to jump around and loosen up by an announcer guy (who was so hilarious).  He cracked jokes, told us were were crazy, and even made us sing.  We took a TM pledge and sang the National Anthem before starting.

THE RUNNING/COURSE

I was mentally prepared to run, but when the first mile was pretty much all sand running, I found myself panicking a little bit.  But I was relieved to learn that the terrain would just vary throughout (we were in the middle of the Everglades after all).  Sometimes we were running through mud, sometimes through a forest (or what felt like a forest), and sometimes more even road.  I would say 95% of the course was uneven in nature, and I can’t tell you how many times I almost tripped and fell because of that.

And as far as the course setup was concerned, I felt that water and food (bananas, protein bars, and electrolyte gummies) appeared at the perfect time!  And the obstacles were spread out nicely as well.  While nothing about the TM was easy, I think organizers created the best course possible.  Kudos to them!

THE WEATHER

Florida weather is as unpredictable as it comes.  One minute you’re soaking up the sunshine and the next minute your scrambling to find shelter from hurricane type rain (that lasts about 10 minutes max).

And that is exactly what we experienced this weekend.  It was fairly cloudy most of the morning, and then out of no where the rain started falling…and falling hard.  We were trudging through mud in sideways rain.  I am so thankful my contacts didn’t fall out!

Other than that one “I can’t see two feet in front of me” moment, we were ok for the most part.  It rained on and off, but towards the end, the sun was peaking out.  In all honestly, we could not have asked for better weather.  I can’t imagine having to run 10.2 miles and doing 20 obstacles in Florida heat.  The rain actually did us a huge favor!

THE OBSTACLES

Oh boy!  I am not going to go through all of the obstacles here but do want to highlight some of the more memorable ones.

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Funky monkey – This obstacle was essentially money bars that inclined up and then down with water down below.  I made it about three bars before falling straight into the water.  Haha.  The event photographer got two great shots of me as I was falling!  Needless to say, my upper body strength could use some work!

Arctic enema – Imagine a ~9×7 foot box that’s four feet deep and filled with ice cubes.  Now imagine jumping in, making your way to the middle, ducking under a wooden plank, and finding your way out again.  It was pure torture!  This was my least favorite obstacle.  I got to the middle, looked at Andy, and said, “I can’t breathe!!”  He coached me through it and told me I would be fine.  Somehow I made it out ok!

Balls to the wall – With this obstacle, you basically have a long rope with knots in it and a huge (~10-15 foot wall).  The goal is to climb the wall using the rope and then climb down on the other side.  I went into this obstacle thinking it would be hard but doable.

I asked Robin to do this one with me, and about five seconds into it, I looked at her and said, “I’m going to get down and skip this one.”  She tried to convince me to keep going but I was done (or so I thought).  As I was walking around to the other side, Andy found me, told me I was going to do this obstacle, and then proceeded to do it with me.  Robin spotted on one side while the rest of the team cheered me on from the other side.  These people are the BEST!

Everest – I think this obstacle is a permanent fixture in all TM events.  Basically it’s a giant half pipe ramp that participants sprint up with the hopes that their team members up top will grab them and pull them over.

So the first time I sprinted up, I failed.  And instead of being caught by the team, I slid back down and hit my right hip pretty hard on the pipe.  I almost gave up, but Robin’s encouragement to try one more time kept me going.  I went for it again and…success!  Phew!  I don’t know if I could I have tried again!

Electroshock therapy – This was the final obstacle of the event, and it was a b****.  Basically, you had to run through dangling live wires that may or may not shock you as you make your way through.  I was SO nervous about this one.  Our team wanted to run through it together, so we lined up and made a mad dash for the finish line…kind of.  I got shocked and fell to the ground face first, cutting up knees and elbows in the process.  And instead of getting back up and risking all of that again, I crawled out…alas, I was a Tough Mudder!

THE AFTERMATH

Needless to say, my body hates me right now.  Not only am I super sore, but I have bruises and cuts all over my legs and parts of my arms.  I’m guessing it will take quite a few days to recover fully.  Mentally, I’m still so excited and shocked about actually going through with the TM AND completing all of the obstacles.

MY OVERALL THOUGHTS

All of the above was 100% worth the Tough Mudder experience.  I overcame so much self-doubt and fear in the span of four hours.  With that being said, I think this will be my last TM event.  One is enough for me!

Overall, we came to conclusion that the TM is 60% endurance, 30% mental strength, and 10% muscular strength.  I really do believe that anyone can complete this event successfully – there were so many people of all different fitness levels rocking the course!  Truly inspirational!  You just have to know what you’re getting into!

WHAT’S NEXT!

With the Tough Mudder behind me now, I plan to begin Shaun T’s FocusT25 program next Monday!  :)  I’ll share more about what this entails in Friday’s post.

The 5 Love Languages

I randomly came across The 5 Love Languages website last weekend and decided to take the online quiz.  To be honest, I didn’t know much about the book or the languages before last week but thought it would be interesting to learn more (I’m a sucker for any and all quizzes!).  I even got Vishnu to take it (shocking!). 

The 5 languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  And based on what I learned from the site, they go a little bit deeper than what one would initially think.  The quiz itself is a set of 30 questions made up of two statements each.  You just go through and click the one that applies to you more than the other.  Simple!

So I was 110% sure acts of service would be my highest scoring language.  But the results showed otherwise because physical touch was my highest.  And I was pretty sure physical touch would be the highest for Vishnu, but no, quality time was his #1 language.  Goes to show how well I know us and our relationship!  Haha.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of our scores:

Parita
9 physical touch
8 acts of service (I was close!)
7 words of affirmation
6 quality time
0 receiving gifts

Vishnu
9 quality time
8 physical touch
7 acts of service
6 receiving gifts
0 words of affirmation

Quite a bit of difference in our scores, but that didn’t surprise me at all. 

Essentially, your highest score is how you understand your spouse’s expressions of love.  And the lower scoring languages are the ones you seldom use to communicate love, and they don’t really affect you on an emotional level.

I really thought my two highest would be acts of service and quality time, even though I do love physical touch (which goes beyond the bedroom and is about all kinds of touch – hugs, holding hands, etc.).  Personally, it means a lot to me when Vishnu folds laundry, takes out the trash, etc. all without being asked.  I am definitely an “actions speak louder than words” person.  And obviously, I absolutely love spending time with Vishnu – eating out, trying a new activity, watching our favorite TV show/new movie, cooking, etc. 

When I told Vishnu about my results, he gave me a big hug.  :)  Such a goofball!

And as far as my observations of Vishnu’s scores are concerned, they do make sense overall.  He is big on spending uninterrupted time together.  Also, since being married, I’ve noticed that one of the first questions he asks me when we see each other in the evening is how my day was and what I did.  And he really takes the time to listen.  With the physical touch, I know for a fact that he loves it when I shower him with attention! 

With most quizzes, I take them and then forget about about them five minutes later.  This one was a bit different.  It opened my eyes to the fact that Vishnu equates love with quality time, and that it was his highest scoring language.  Something I am vowing to get better at is being more present when I’m around him and not letting myself get distracted by things that need to get done around the apartment, work, or my phone.  Also, I need to be better about giving Vishnu gifts.  As my results show, gifts mean almost nothing to me.  Don’t get me wrong – a thoughtful present is awesome to get, but it’s not my preferred way to give or receive love.  But just because it’s not important to me doesn’t mean he’s the same way.  Ahhh the insights!

When I asked him what he learned from my scores, he said, “They make sense.  Nothing I don’t already know.”  Well then, looks like I have some work to do!

Have you read “The 5 Love Languages” or taken the quiz?  Any thoughts?