Tag Archives: Miscellaneous thoughts

Happy Bloggiversary!

Three years ago today I began this blog  sitting at my desk at work. I thought and thought on what the name should be, and it seemed that every time I thought of something, it was taken, or I really didn’t like it all that much or really didn’t say what I wanted it to say about the blog I was envisioning. Then all of a sudden, as I kept circling thoughts in my head, the name came to me. After that initial challenge to find a name, the rest kind of came naturally.  There have been some really personal triumphs I’ve gained by way of this blog.  For me, at the beginning, I really didn’t know how long I would keep this up for.  Inconsistency is probably the one character flaw I dislike the most about myself.  To be sitting here typing this post three years after I started it, for me, is a testament to how much I really love to cook and share that love for cooking with others.  I have also met some great people along the way that have inspired me to create, experiment and then tell all about it.  I have also had so much support from family and friends, but the most surprising is hearing from complete strangers who have said so many kind and encouraging words along this journey.

I will also say that there have been a few flops.  Recipes that didn’t make the cut so to speak. There was a batch of cupcakes that tasted like un-sweet doughnuts- stale and heavy as a brick.  There was also the the time I didn’t know that if you were trying to whip egg whites, it wouldn’t work if even the tiniest little speck of the yolk was present in the whites.  I tried to overcompensate by adding cream of tarter and that made Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Passover cookies from delicious little gooey morsels to the most sour and shapeless excuse for a cookie anyone could imagine.  There has also been the occasional recipe that tasted great, but didn’t photograph well.  Then my favorite recipe is the one where you’re just inspired and everything turns out well: the recipe, the lighting for the picture, and even food gawker accepts it (those of you in the food blogging world know what I mean).

These are some of my favorite dishes  I’ve blogged in the past three years…

Salmon Canapes- My favorite blog recipe to date…

Buttermilk Pancakes- after too many failed attempts to count- this is my tried and true pancake recipe.

Stuffed Butternut Squash with Barley, Chicken Meatballs and Sage-  This is one of my signature dishes…

Cupcakes- I was practicing for a friend’s baby shower and used my friend, Gaudy’s recipe.  These rocked. Thanks G!

Sweet and Sour Chicken- Say goodbye to Chinese take-out and try making this at home…

It really is hard to believe that three years have passed.  I never knew how much joy it could bring, how many lovely people I would meet,  and how much I’d learn. My life is richer today because of these experiences.  I really want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way.

I’d like to thank  my husband for putting up with me when he’s ready to eat and I have to take pictures first.  For giving me countless advice and his honest opinions, for encouraging me and helping me clean after the  kitchen looks like a war zone. You are truly my best friend and my life is so much better because you’re in it.

My grandmothers who have been a huge source of inspiration for me, through their recipes and stories.  My Aunt Cristy, who has been so extremely supportive and interested in this endeavor, it really has meant the world to me.  To my mom who has not only tasted, but contributed the Coconut Flan from last spring.  I think we’ll refer to it as “the spring of the coconut flan” from now on. To my two brothers who have never been shy about telling me their thoughts on my cooking, but have also welcomed this crazy blogging idea with open arms.

To Patyence, my husband’s step mom, but more accurately my dear friend.  Who has helped me develop recipes, given me countless advice and who has inspired to grow in the world of baking.  If I can one day even come close to her baking talent, I will consider myself lucky.   To my little sister-in-law and brother-in- law, Caleah and Asante thanks so much for always being so ready to taste my food, and compliment it even if  it didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.

To my friend Gaudy, who believed in me even before I believed in myself- thanks for always encouraging me.  I’d also like to thank my friends, family and readers for their continued support.  I know this sounds like  a cheesy acceptance speech,  but  you can never be too thankful in life.  I want to say thank you;  thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart.  I hope to keep on blogging for a long time to come.



P.S. I have a few yummy recipes lined up for the next several posts ;) stay tuned.

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Our New Aquarium Fish

In February of 2008, our aquarium was plagued with the most awful sickness, killing all but one of our 30 fish.   I blogged about it then, not knowing that cleaning the tank would make things worse, not better.  Come to find out months later that we may have gotten the aquarium “too clean” and removed the beneficial bacteria that was present which would have helped the fish fight off the sickness they got. We were total novices to aquariums and the internet can provide less than perfect information.  Needless to say we were so frustrated that almost all of the fish died, that we just kept the one sole survivor and didn’t bother with the aquarium anymore.

A couple of years passed and now we were ready to buy new fish and try this aquarium business all over again.  We discovered a great pet store not too far from our house that has an amazing selection of African Cichlids (which is what we currently own).   Below are a few pics of the new additions:

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Exciting Times for The Yuca Diaries

I have been meaning to write this post for some time now, but for several reasons I have been pushing it off.  I finally had some down time because I caught a horrible flu and have been laying in bed.  I am all bundled up with my laptop, a box of tissues and some ginger tea.

First off let me start by saying that right after I got back from our trip to Kentucky, I was contacted by a producer from the Univision show, Delicioso, hosted by Ingrid Hoffman and Maggie Jimenez.  Some of you may know Ingrid from her show on the Food Network called Simply Delicioso.  Basically, they’re doing a show about food bloggers, and I will be featured as one of the guests.  They’re planning on hosting a contest, where at the end of the segment, they’ll ask fans to visit the Univision website and vote for their favorite blogger.  The winner will then be flown to the Delicioso set to record a segment with Ingrid.  To say that I am honored is a HUGE understatement.  At this moment, I don’t know the specifics, like when the show will air or when the voting will begin but I will keep you posted- I need all the help I can get.

Please excuse the poor quality of these pictures, I had to create a snapshot from a video.


Secondly, I have been working on re-designing my blog.  It’s been kind of tricky because I am having a few issues with the design aspect.  At the moment, the blog is live, but there are a few changes I am working on.  The margins need to be fixed so that I can add the widget column and so that the pictures don’t cut off.  Also, when I imported the content from this blog into there, the format of the posts was all wonky.  Needless to say, this was going on while I had to prepare for the show, was working on the biggest event my department does, and had to fly home for a family emergency.  It is still a work in progress but I’d like to share it anyway with you.  Just keep in mind that I still have to tweak a few things.

These things aside, I am happy with how it’s coming along.  Brandon created the logo which just adds to the sentimental value for me.

The new blog is simply  www.theyucadiaries.com
The new contact email is rox@theyucadiaries.com


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Last night’s dinner… my attempt at slowing down

It’s been kind of a crazy two weeks, and I realized, I need to slow down and just enjoy the moment. Things at work are crazy since our department is hosting its huge annual event and I’ve been trying to hire someone to do some work on my blog design- to no avail.  Suffice it to say that I’ve been such a spaz, that I left my purse in the child seat of a grocery cart went I went to the Asian market on Thursday.  I didn’t notice my purse was missing until Friday morning when I needed to go to work and couldn’t find it. Thank God that when I went to the Asian market on Friday morning, someone had found the purse and turned it in- untouched.  Not a single thing was stolen.  I was overcome with sentiment and started crying in front of the store manager who kept saying in the funniest Asian accent “you a lucky woman” over and over.

This little incident made me realize that I need to pour myself a nice glass of wine and just enjoy the present without worrying about the future and everything I have to do.  My mind has been going a million miles an hour all day everyday it seems.  In order to quiet my mind, I turned to what I do best.  Cook.   Cooking is therapy.  Certainly eating doesn’t fall short either.  There’s something therapeutic about chopping vegetables, enjoying the smell of food wafting through the house, serving a simple, but delicious meal and enjoying it with the best friend a girl could have.

I will be posting the recipes from last night’s meal throughout the week, but this was the menu:

Caprese Salad

Baked chicken Parmesan with buffalo mozzarella, fresh pasta sauce and cherry tomatoes and grilled zucchini

Rosemary olive oil bread

That was the menu… but to top it off, I sliced up some lemons and served myself a tall glass of Perrier…. only the finest- lol…

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The Cooking Channel launched this weekend: A brief review by yours truly

So this weekend the cooking channel launched (replacing the Fine Living Channel and part of the Food Network parent company).  I was eagerly awaiting this debut and here is my review.

The good:

To start with, a lot of the programming is new.  Not only new, but so far of the 3 new shows I’ve seen, all are really good.  I like that they’ve expanded their repertoire of internationally themed shows like, Indian made easy, Chinese made easy and the Dolce Vita with David Rocco.  One of the other elements that I find particularly refreshing, if not the one thing that most stands out to me, is the un-pretentious feel these shows have.  The hosts feel like real people cooking out of regular home kitchens, not over-the-top, sales-pitch personalities with studio kitchens, equipped with every gadget available to man and extremely post-edited to perfection processing.  The shows I’ve seen so far on the cooking channel really celebrate food with an “indie” sort of feel to them.   They feel less rehearsed and unpolished, but in a really really good way.  I think part of the reason is that a portion of these shows are filmed by the BBC and I have quite a liking for British TV.  The food also seems really attainable, like if you could watch the show and go re-create the recipes for yourself quite easily.

I was thrilled when I learned that the Dolce Vita was being filmed throughout Italy.  It really adds to the credibility and authenticity of the show.  And for me, seeing that I love Italian food and culture, (I’d pack up and move there tomorrow, if I won the lotto) it gives me a chance to daydream and take in the sights without leaving my bedroom.

The other thing I like is that instead of retiring some old classics like Emeril live, Everyday Italian (which I like a million times more than Giada at home) and Tyler’s Ultimate, they’ve programmed a lot of these shows into their current schedule.  Granted, I know these might just be a place holder of sorts until they get more original programming lined up, but I kind of like the option to watch these older shows that are now replaced on the Food Network by reality-chef shows that steer away from actual cooking.  Kind of like how MTV moved away from music videos and only plays raunchy reality shows.  I don’t think the food network has gotten quite there yet, but it’s kind of on the way if they don’t change its direction- in my humble opinion.

The bad:

As I mentioned before, some of their shows are filmed in Europe so the measurements are given in the metric system…  not a terrible thing, but it adds a step to have to convert the recipes, unless they’re listed on their website, which I haven’t checked.

Some of the names they’ve chosen for their shows are somewhat repetitive- i.e.  Indian made easy and Chinese made easy… but really you can look past this if the show itself is good.

This channel is not available in HD yet which means if you’re used to watching food in HD and have to switch to non-HD, it is definitely a downgrade, but again, it is something you can live with, or at least I can.  Hopefully they’ll change this in the future.

That’s really my take on the Cooking Channel so far.  I’ve only watched 3 shows so my assessments might have been made prematurely, but this is the impression I got after watching these shows and the network sponsored commercials highlighting the other shows.  I added a bunch of shows to my DVR queue and intend on watching them this week, which means I might have to amend this post. All in all I am glad they’ve launched this channel and can’t wait to see what else I become a fan of.

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The Mountain Men’s Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee

It all started with an email from my husband this morning. We both are avid Amazon.com fans and respectively have wish lists set up on the site. I present to you specimen A: For the sake of keeping the integrity of the conversation, I will display it exactly as it happened.


B: The reviews on this wolf t-shirt are funny: “Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women. Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the ‘guns’), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.” LOL.

Me: What the??? What is this??

B: I sent you an email with a wolf t-shirt on Amazon where the reviews are hilarious

Me: OHHHH ok I hadn’t gotten this far down on my email list yet. Ha Ha so funny. This looks like something napoleon dynamite would wear.

B: Here’s another Gem. “Continuing with my work day, I counseled many clients. What a difference a shirt makes. Its powers extended to them and cured many many problems. Depression: go buy a 3 wolf moon shirt, Anxiety: let the wolves protect you and keep you safe, Ego-dystonic Lesbianism: find a man with said shirt, Schizophrenia: Only do what the wolves say, ignore all other voices. I could go on forever.” Hahahahaha, I LOL’d for real on this one.

B: While not as funny as the others, I wrote my own review:

“Recently bought this shirt and while I have not yet experienced its full power, strange things have already started happening. A few weeks after ordering I noticed the payment never cleared my bank account. I contacted the local branch and explained my situation. They researched my transaction on their system and asked to put me on hold for the branch manager. After several minutes on hold, the branch manager answered the phone, asked a few questions and then whispered “Welcome to the Three-Wolf-Moon Wolf Pack, this one is on us. Spread the word.” I immediately got goosebumps and as I hung up the phone I could hear in the distance the gentle cries of the three wolves. I feel good things are on the horizon for me!”

Me: Hey I just noticed that you don’t have this on your wishlist. I added it to mine. Lol

B: Nice, you want to get some for when we go see New Moon? We can both wear them!

Me: LOL… I actually thought of that. This whole conversation is thoroughly amusing.

B: I WANT IT, his and hers. And very appropriate “New Moon” with werewolves, the Three Wolf Moon shirt, it will be sweet. When is the movie out? I know its tacky but …

Me: I just checked your wishlist- Why do you want a Velcro rubber tourniquet?

B: It’s a part of my survival gear, in case a bear bites off my leg, BOOM, tourniquet.

That was the end of our email discussion, but really you should check out some of the reviews on this piece- cheap entertainment for hours!

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I am Thankful

I know it’s a bit overdue since Thanksgiving is over- but it should be Thanksgiving everyday in my book. This Thanksgiving as I was cooking I really thought a lot about the things I am thankful for. There are so many blessings to be thankful for and I just wanted to list a few of them.

  1. I am thankful for our beliefs and for our Loving God who is the giver of the many blessings in our lives.
  2. I am thankful for my extraordinary husband- for the laughter, friendship and unyielding love he has always given me.
  3. I am thankful for our health.
  4. I am thankful for my family and friends.
  5. I am thankful that Brandon and I both have jobs, a beautiful home, and cars that get us to and fro.
  6. I am thankful for a fridge full of food and a stocked pantry.
  7. I am thankful to live in a country where we can exercise religious freedom.
  8. I am thankful that Brandon and I have health insurance (I know it sounds silly but millions go with out this).
  9. I am thankful that I have such an amazing mom to which I am very close to.
  10. I am thankful for the beautiful planet we live in, for its gorgeous landscapes, plants, and animals.
  11. I am thankful to be Cuban-American.
  12. I am thankful for my brother Eric, who takes care of my 93 year old grandmother and is the sweetest guy in the world.
  13. I am thankful for the great relationship I have with my brother, Ozzy.
  14. I am thankful that I still have 3 living grandparents whom I share great memories with.
  15. I am thankful for my life.
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One year ago today and the awesomest discovery I’ve made this month

I have been feeling quite uninspired. I really hadn’t put my finger on it, but I think today it dawned on me, two of my favorite things have been missing from my life. Music and food. Let me explain. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but most people that are close to me know that I had the lapband surgery last year- actually it was a year ago today, now that I think about it. Since my surgery I haven’t lost all that much weight because it turned out, that aside from my love of food, I also have a thyroid problem which was undetected until about a month and a half ago. I only found out because I couldn’t explain why I wasn’t losing weight despite the drastic slashing of my daily caloric intake. So after a little prodding by my doc, she discovred this problem. So to make a long story short, i;ve been on meds for the thyroid and I also had the lapband adjusted recently to see if I could kick start my weight loss. I am thrilled to say it worked, however they made the band too tight so now I really can’t eat hardly anything. For the last month and a half, perhaps a bit more, I have not really eaten anything solid with the exception of a good day I had and ate half a chicken finger. To say that I have been grumpy is a huge understatement. I watch food network and just gawk. The last month of my life has been pretty miserable. Going to bed hungry blows. But the good news is that I have lost a total of 47 lbs to date.

The second thing that is missing from my life was music. Usually I would listen to my ipod on the way to work and on the way back home, but ever since i’ve been carpooling with Brandon, we really don’t listen to too much beacuase we end up talking about our day, and before we know it we’re getting home. Then its time for me to make a dinner I won’t be able to eat and shower, hang out, do stuff around the house. Before I know it, it’s time to go to bed and start all over again the next day.

Two days ago my life changed. I finally dowloaded Pandora. For those of you who are unfamiliar with pandora, it’s an online radio station that chooses music for you based on what you enter. So for example, say you are a fan of Feist, well you would add her to your list, and Pandora will find music that sounds like that. It shuffles it for you and it allows you customize your stations based on genres if you like. Its really cool- I have it playing in the background at work and listen to music all day. I was really bored with my ipod, and really hated having to update it all the time. This has solved this problem and allowed music back into my life again. Now if only I could eat a stinkin’ baked potato life would be grand.

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Cool "tag your’re it post" I found…

5 things i was doing 10 years ago:
one. Singing songs in the St. Brendan Choir
two. Driving my first car
three. Hanging out with my friends
four. Looking forward to graduation
five. Working out at the gym
5 things i was doing 5 years ago:
one. Fighting the snow in Ohio
two. Adjusting to married life
three. Exploring a new city
four. Entertaining for friends
five. Growing a huge veggie and herb garden
5 snacks i enjoy:
one. Humus and pita chips
two. Popcorn
three. Cheese and crackers
four. Olives yum!
five. String cheese
5 things i did yesterday:
one. Lounged around in our pool
two. Made dinner (baked chicken and roasted veggies)
three. Went to target
four. Did laundry
five. Watched tv with papo
5 jobs i’ve had:
one. Assistant at the Cuban American National Foundation
two. Camp Counselor
three. Makeup artist at Clinique
four. Marketing assistant at Bacardi
five. Recruiting Coordinator at UTA
5 things i would do if i had a million dollars:
one. Travel
two. Share the wealth with the family
three. Go on a shopping spree
four. Pay off bills
five. Have a second wedding and honeymoon
5 tv shows i like right now:
one. Avatar the last Airbender
two. Project Runway
three. Hidden Potential
four. The big bang theory
five. Top Chef
5 things i hate doing:
one. Having blood work done
two. Going swimsuit shopping ;(
three. Having to work
four. Pumping gas
five. The dishes

5 biggest joys of the moment:
one. Spending time with papo
two. That I am going to Miami next week!
three. Swimming in our pool
four. Having clean clothes that is hung up and put away
five. My nails are finally growing.
ok now its your turn!!

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A mirage in my mind- the tropical island vacation

Mentally, I had been counting on taking a trip somewhere romantic with Brandon this year. Since last summer I have been thinking of places I would like to go to. I have asked several people, some, avid travelers, their opinions on what places would be worth visiting. It seems that this ain’t happening anytime soon. I am so bummed. I have often said, If I won the lotto I’d spend my time, (and money) traveling. Yet it seems that I can never quite fill that insatiable void that can only be kept at bay from time to time by packing our bags and hitting the road. If I had it my way, we’d be packing our bags right this very minute and heading to the airport. Unfortunately, all I can do is stare at the map in our study and dream. So many places I’d like to see, yet so little vacation time or funds to actually make it happen. I stare at this map and dream, ponder, wonder what it would be like. I just imagine sitting on a tropical island, feeling the warm baby powder sand between my toes, as I sip from the straw lazily bobbing around in the coconut I am holding. Enjoying the sip as it cools my throat wetting my whistle until it makes its way to my content stomach- filled with previously eaten sweet and juicy mango. The breeze sings me a lullaby and the crashing waves accompany the melody, lulling me to sleep. The warmth of the sun feels so relaxing. The thought of lifting my finger seems too great a task. I breathe in the salty ocean air and listen to the birds fly over head. The palms sway as if dancing the hula and the ocean is a vision too glorious to behold. Then I realize it was only a dream. Tomorrow I will wake up to my annoying alarm clock. I’ll rise in a rush and speed off to work. Then I’ll earn my wages and count the minutes before going home. I’ll do this for what seems like an eternity, until the the weekend comes again, only to pass as in the twinkling of an eye. All I can do is stare at the wretched map. Far away my island awaits, calling my name, beckoning me, and gracing me only in dreams.

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