Saturday, July 6, 2013

Quinoa Burritos [And How I Survived Navy Pier on the Fourth of July]

One of my favorite restaurants in San Antonio, Green Vegetarian Cuisine (no, I'm not vegetarian, but this place was noms!),  hosts one of the yummiest things of my life, their Quinoa Burrito.  I've had this amazing dish so many times, I've lost count.  Obviously, it'd be especially easy for me to have a hankerin' for one at any time, but even more so since I don't have access to one anymore.  This inspired a little attempt to re-make it.  I didn't even look at the ingredients, which probably would've been the smart way to do it.  I just went for it, based off memory; and if I may say so, I wasn't too far off.

Quinoa Burritos

You will need:

1 cup unprepared quinoa
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 can low-sodium black beans (undrained)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
8-count Burrito size flour tortillas
Olive oil or cooking spray to coat pan and tortillas
Fresh green spinach (you can use thawed frozen spinach if you like, but be sure to squeeze all of the water out of it)
Fresh sprouts
1 plum tomato, diced
Shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
Guacamole (I used Wholly Guacamole, but you're more than welcome to use your own recipe)


Prepare quinoa, using chicken broth for liquid (this adds SO much flavor!).  Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and cook until translucent.  Set aside.  Blend black beans with about half to two-thirds of the liquid from the can in a blender.  Pour into small pot and heat over medium-low heat.  Add cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and cooked onions to pot, and warm.  Set aside.

Spray or and heat large pan over medium heat.  Spray or lightly coat one side of a tortilla with olive oil or cooking spray and place that side down on a plate.  On the other side, spread black bean mix and quinoa over middle, and top with cheese, spinach, sprouts, tomatoes and guacamole.  Tuck ends and fold over to create a "burrito", and cook in pan until golden on both sides.  Enjoy!

And onto the Fourth...
Harry, a born-and-raised Chicagoan, took me to Navy Pier the other night to watch Fourth of July fireworks.  I don't think he was very ecstatic about the idea of it, but he wants to give me as many "firsts" as he can this year.  We knew that there would be a TON of people (there ended up being over 100,000 people at the Pier alone!).  Not only that, but transportation and expenses were a worry, as well.  So just from my experience last night, I've comprised a small list of what we did to ensure a headache-free, relatively cheap good time.

1.)  Pack a meal.
Seriously, we brown-bagged it.  Instead of paying out the wazoo for noms down by the Lake, we opted for a Nutella and 'nanner sandwich and an apple.  This proved to be the best decision of the night.

2.)  Take advantage of public transportation.
The CTA is a must for SO many people here in Chicago.  Harry hasn't owned a car in years (which was bewildering to me at first).  I have never lived anywhere where public transportation was so efficient and so relied upon.  Utilizing it lately has been a treat for me, rather than a chore.  We didn't have to worry about parking, nor did we have to worry about the COST of parking (it's UBER expensive downtown Chi!), NOR did we have to worry about the mass of fustercluck that ensued after the fireworks show (see below).

3.)  Get there early.

Check.  Sure, fireworks go up in the sky, and you can see them from the shores of two other states; but this doesn't do you any good if you're the closest one can be to the show, and you can't see them because you're stuck behind a bazillion people.

We left our crib around 5:15pm, and the fireworks weren't even starting until 9:30pm.  We only live about eight miles away from downtown, but Harry insisted that we get there as early as we could.  There was plenty of entertainment provided, so I wasn't worried about us getting bored.  Plus, we're both pretty entertaining.  :)

We walked around the Pier, went through the museum and shops, and meandered through the mob.  It was only slightly frustrating at times, when people weren't respecting each others space, but it wasn't too horrible for what it was.

We grabbed a beer at some point, found our spot, sat back and waited to...

4.)  Enjoy what we went there to see!

Now, once that was over, all hell broke loose.  I mean it.  Everyone and their dog (and babies, and baby strollers, and children, and aunt, and brother, and...) were heading out; cars were trying to drive through crowds, a huge line of buses were parked just outside of the Pier exit, along with enormous crowds of people all around them.  Police officers lined the intersections, whistling and shouting directions, waving their lights and arms in the air.  People were yelling and screaming, cars and buses were blaring their horns.  Harry knew that we weren't going to get on any of those buses with the crowds around them, so we took off down the street away from the Lake.  His plan was to just get us out of there, to where the crowd would thin out a bit, and try to catch some sort of transportation back home (with which I wasn't about to argue).

Two buses and two later, we arrived home, safe and sound.  Fireworks were still going off around our neighborhood...and by "fireworks", I mean sticks of dynamite and large explosives.  I ain't kidding.  Harry had checked a local newspaper reporter's Twitter feed, which was filled with reports of phones being stolen (by force) by mobs where we had been earlier.  The reporter also included details along the lines of firecrackers being thrown at Police officers.  WOW!

I guess my last bit on the list would have to include:

5.)  Go to an event like this with someone you completely and utterly trust.  I'm extremely lucky that I'm with such an intelligent and informed guy, and while things may have been a tad hectic-scary at times, I felt very taken care of.

I hope that you had a safe and wonderful Independence Day, and a fantastic weekend! 


  1. I need to make burritos more often! Alex really enjoys them, too. Harry looks as if he's perplexed by his burrito.

    I've never been around so many people but I feel like I'd have a mental panic attack before getting over it. The worst is at the end when everyone tries to leave - usually I wait until the herd thins.

    1. Truth! I'm not claustrophobic, but when I'm around that many people, I feel like my space is invaded. I don't really freak out, but I zone out. Luckily, Harry just grabs my hand and leads me to wherever we need to go. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd just be staring at a spot on the ground.

  2. Ahh good old Chicago. I'm from Lincoln, IL and my boyfriend is from Chicago. I was just in Chi Town for a week in June visiting his family and some of my friends and was completely overwhelmed by the amount of people....I'd forgotten how busy downtown gets, especially in the summer! You were very brave to venture out on a holiday!!


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