Jul 092013

Lake Titicaca

From Cusco, we headed to Puno on an overnight bus after half a day of running around and changing our itinerary. I was really nervous that we would never get to see Machu Picchu but I was also really excited for Lake Titicaca! The overnight bus via Cruz del Sur was really nice and comfy–the seats almost reclined all the way too, which was a huge plus.

We got to the Puno bus station at 4:30am and immediately realized how cold it was (the city’s elevation is over 12,000 feet). Only carrying our day packs with clothes originally for the warm Machu Picchu climate, Megan and I pretty much put on everything we brought with us. When we walked into the bus station, were were surrounded by a crowd of people trying to sell us tours. Luckily, we needed a day tour so for 35 soles each (less than $13 USD), we booked an all day boat tour that would take us to Uros (the floating islands) and Taquile on Lake Titicaca. The shuttle picked us up at 6:30am from the bus station and took us to the edge of the lake.

Then we got on the boat and it took us about an hour to arrive at the floating islands. The floating island we visited was very small, only housing about 4 families.


On the island, we got a see a demo of how the island is constructed. Since the island is built from reeds, when you step onto it from a boat, your feet instantly sink a few inches into the ground. The Uros also use the same reeds to build boats and huts for the island. In the demo, we learned that their reed boat is considered the “Mercedes-Benz” of the island.

Floating Island Demo

The textiles are beautiful on these islands. Bright colors and tapestries that tell the story of the floating island. If you buy a textile from a particular family, the money goes directly to that family. But if you take a ride on one of the reed boats for 10 soles, that money goes into a community fund that’s used when families can’t afford something on their own such as medical expenses. The community fund can also be used to help maintain parts of the island.

Uros textiles

There are also a bunch of kids running around, and it’s so adorable. I wanted to play with them all day! One little girl was really into my notebook and pen so when we left the island, I ended up leaving my pen and a few pieces of paper so she could draw some more. It was also really sweet to see her sharing the pen/paper with all of the other kids on the island too. They were soooo cute…

Uros Floating Islands

After playing with the kids a little longer, we left the floating island and cruised the lake for another 45 minutes until we got to the island of Taquile. Home to about 3,000 people, Taquile is a quaint little island that overlooks the Bolivia side of Lake Titicaca.

Lake Titicaca Taquile

We hiked up to the top of the island and had the most amazing panoramic view of the lake. It was such a gorgeous day! Then we meandered through a room filled with beautiful textiles (this island is known for their colorful textiles) and gathered as a group for lunch. UM, LUNCH. We got to eat trucha (trout) from the lake itself! So delicious. We also had a bowl of quinoa vegetable soup which was some of the best soup I’ve ever had.

Taquile Courtyard

Taquile’s Town Square

The people of Taquile still dress in traditional attire. The clothes that each individual wears says a lot about them as well. Leaders wear multi-colored hats, single men wear hats that are half red and half white, married men wear hats that are completely red, single women wear bright garments, and married women wear darker clothing.

Taquile Island

The island community is also based on collectivism. There are no jails, court houses, or police on the island. You simply obey the rules or you must leave the island. One of the rules that stuck out to me the most was that if you see a friend working, you must stop and help them until the job is finished. Another interesting one is that you only take as much land as you and your family need. If your family grows, you either move to a bigger house or the community helps build another room in your existing home. Even the restaurants here adopt the community’s values, all offering the same exact menu for the same prices so they don’t compete against each other.

Taquile Houses

When we finished our tour of the main area of the island, we made our way down the hill’s steep steps back to our boat. Throughout the entire walk down, textiles, bracelets, and other souvenirs are laid out about every 10 feet so you can grab a couple of items before you leave. And how can you say no when someone like this is asking you to buy a bracelet….

Taquile nino

You just can’t. I bought so many bracelets here.

Shortly after we got on the boat, we learned that it would be about 2.5 hours until we got back to Puno. Since Megan and I didn’t sleep much during our overnight bus ride the night before, we passed out on the boat. Yes, we should have stayed awake and admired the lake more…but that nap…was. so. glorious.

Lake Titicaca Taquile

When we got dropped off at the bus station, we had a few hours to hang out until our next over night bus ride at 10pm back to Cusco. Although we only visited Puno and Lake Titicaca for less than 24 hours, the amazing day spent on the lake was definitely worth the trip!

Next stop MACHU PICCHU! :)

[Normal blog posts will resume in 2 weeks but there will be a fun recipe on Thursday!]

May 212013

Easy Spicy Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Wrap

So yeah…I’ve officially decided that I am most definitely going through my quarter life crisis right now. What’s my passion? What do I want to do in the next 10 years? Do I want to stay on this career path or should I choose something totally different?

I don’t have answers to any of those questions. Which is kind of scary but it sort of feels like a blank canvas. And I like that… (…I think???)

It feels like I’ve had too many I’m-almost-25-what-have-I-done-with-my-life-I’m-not-where-I’d-thought-I’d-be-but-that’s-ok-right?-RIGHT? moments lately. But I’ve always found that getting in the kitchen, putting on some music, and cooking/baking helps. There’s something about cooking that soothes me. I don’t know if it’s following a recipe so that I don’t have to decide what to do or if tasting whatever I make is enough at the time.

I have a feeling I’ll be in the kitchen A LOT MORE though so I can enjoy these peaceful moments where all I have to think about is the dish that’s in front of me. And then I can share my creations, such as this tasty wrap, with you!

Buffalo wings are like…one of my all time favorite things to eat. Especially when they’re super spicy! (Unless you’re eating “Death Wings” that that require you to sign a waiver AND give you the worst indigestion of your life!! Lose-lose, guys…but I’ll save that story for another day.)

Anyway, like I mentioned when I made Buffalo Fries a while back, I find wings too much trouble to make. Oil, frying, drying out the wings…too much work! This simple wrap is on the healthy side (see that green stuff in there?!) and SO easy to make. The hardest part is cooking the chicken…which is ridiculously easy. So let’s give it a go!

Spicy Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Wrap

Combined, these simple ingredients create such a tasty meal. I decided to add the quinoa and spinach so I wouldn’t feel as guilty eating all the cheese and I thought it was so good! Think of it as a spinach salad…wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla, and then slathered in buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing. Yesssssss, that’s my kind of salad.

This is perfect for a quick meal and if you roll it up and wrap it in some plastic wrap, it travels reallyyy well so it’s great to bring to work for lunch! Or on a picnic. Or when roadtripping. Or to a friend’s house! What, you don’t bring your own snacks when visiting friends? No? Just me? Lies.

Happy Tuesday!

Spicy Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Wrap
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sorry for the lack of measurement here. This wrap is forgiving though so add more or less of whatever you feel!
Serves: 2
  • 2 Whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 Chicken breast, grilled and sliced into strips
  • 1/2-3/4 Cups cooked quinoa (depending on how much you want in your wrap!)
  • 1/4 Red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Handfuls of spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite buffalo hot sauce, plus a little extra for garnish
  • Blue cheese dressing
  • Crumbled blue cheese for garnish
  1. Toss quinoa and chicken strips in 2 tablespoon of hot sauce until fully coated. Use as much/less hot sauce as you'd like here. Some like it lighter and others like it spicier so it's up to you!
  2. Warm the whole wheat tortillas up in a pan or in the microwave. Then place a handful of spinach down the middle of each tortilla.
  3. Divide the chicken/quinoa mixture in two and spread on top of each spinach layer. Then add the red onions.
  4. When ready to eat, drizzle some blue cheese dressing and extra hot sauce over the chicken/quinoa/onion mixture.
  5. Top off with crumbled blue cheese, and then roll it up!
  6. Roll out, roll out, you're done! Chow down.


Oct 032012

Real talk: Chicken pot pie is one of the best comfort foods ever. Especially during a cold, fall evening. (San Francisco is getting some really nice weather right now but it’ll be gone before we know it!)

That’s where this chicken pot pie comes in. Sometimes it takes up too much time to make though, right? Not to worry because I’ve found a quick way to make a tasty batch even on a week night! Plus it’s healthier than your average pot pie ;-)

P.S. This sounded fantastic after my awesome trek in Big Sur last weekend! More on that to come :)

Back to the pie. We’ll start with the basics…a small amount of ingredients is all you need!

Then instead of making crust, we’re just going to cut up a sheet of puff pastry and bake that while cooking the pot pie ingredients. Flaky goodness.

Oh, and there also isn’t any cream in the recipe making this a lightened up version of the dish. Corn starch plays a role and thickens up the filling without the added calories.

And get this…no baking (sans the puff pastry)! All of the ingredients slowly simmer together on the stove and then get instantly ladled on top of the puff pastry.

Upside down. Inside out. Over under. Your call. Chicken pot pie in a jiffy!

Then store the leftovers in the fridge and you have lunch/dinner for the next few days.


Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie
  • 1/2 large onion (or small onion), diced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, diced
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 4 tb corn starch
  • 1 9 inch sheet puff pastry, thawed
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or add some cooking spray if you don't have parchment paper).
  2. In a large pot, add the broth, onion, carrot, potato, and chicken together and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Boil on medium-high heat for about 10-15 mins or until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Turn heat down to medium and add the peas, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper for about 5 mins.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, water, and milk together until they are well incorporated. Then turn heat back up and add the cornstarch/milk/water mixture into the main pot. Let it boil and thicken for about 10 mins. Then turn the temperature down to a simmer and let it thicken and cool (it will thicken more as it cools).
  6. While the sauce is thickening up, pop the puff pastries in the oven and let them bake for 20 minutes (or until golden brown).
  7. When the puff pastries are ready, place a piece on a plate and spoon the chicken mixture over it.
  8. Repeat for the rest of the servings and serve immediately.
Salt is your friend. I used low sodium chicken broth so you're probably thinking, "Well, that defeats the purpose Steph!" but this way you can add as much or as little as you want without it being TOO salty. See? I've got your back!


Aug 212012

What do San Franciscans love the most? STREET FESTIVALS! (And brunch.) Last weekend was the Street Food Festival in SF where a ton of food trucks and restaurants come and dish out delicious food. It was great because each booth generally had a small item ($3), a larger dish ($8), and and drink ($3) making it pretty easy to try a good amount of food between a small group of people.

The food? Delicious. Weekends like this one make me appreciate San Francisco more than I already do.

Pro Tip: Get there early. The lines get crazy! And bring friends so you can try their food. This festival was also filled with adorable dogs and babies galore. Major bonus.

Happy housemates. Not so happy funnel cake. Oops…

Such an awesome way to spend an afternoon. Stuffing my face. Then Abby (my housemate) and I proceeded to Whole Foods afterwards, bought 4 giant bags of groceries, and went home to cook and eat even more. All night.



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