About rquinones

I'm a simple girl, living in a complicated world and loving every minute!

Zuppa Toscana


I have a confession. I have no specialty dish that I can claim to master. I’m spoiled rotten when it comes to cooking traditional meals. I’m blessed to have both my parents and my mother law to cook our traditional Latino foods; Pozole, Menudo, Tamales, Carnitas are all made by them on holidays and special events. All I get tasked with is bringing a side dish, dessert or drinks. And even then, it’s just easier for me to buy the item than to make it. Don’t get me wrong I have a family and I cook but because I work full time and attend school full time, we go out to eat most of the week. (Don’t judge me, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

My immediate family consist of my husband, myself and our four kids. Its considered a large family by today’s standards. A night of eating out is not always the healthiest, our usual is Pizza (my picky 4-year-old child’s favorite), hamburgers or tacos. Cheap, fast and easy. Every once in a while, we splurge. One cold winter night we decided to have dinner at Olive Garden. My husband and I had been on plenty of dates to Olive Garden but never with the kids. This was a whole new experience for them. As we arrived the waiter asked how many? Under what name? As we sat for 20 minutes waiting to be called, I looked around at the décor, the grapevines decorating the restaurant, the waiter toting a wine bottle and serving. The colorful words on the chalkboard announcing the lunch and dinner specials. I could tell my 6-year-old daughter thought it was fancy. The server called my husband’s name and and then we were seated.

As we waited on the waiter to take our order, we discussed our visit to the restaurant. Sometime children like to play 21 questions and ours were no exception. We confessed to the kids this was not our first-time visiting Olive Garden. They were a little upset to find out we go to restaurants without them. I’m not sure why they were so shocked. That night we ordered the chicken fettuccine alfredo, the tour of Italy and the lasagna al forno. The entrees included a soup or salad. We all opted for soup. Chicken gnocchi or Toscana. We’re not Italian and I wasn’t sure what gnocchi was so I chose my usual Zuppa Toscana. It translates to “Tuscan Soup”.

I’d describe it like a creamy potato soup loaded with flavorful Italian sausage, kale, and bacon. It is a warm creamy soup consisting of Spicy Italian Sausage, potatoes and kale. It warms your heart and soul. It is so hearty and satisfying. Its served piping hot and every mouthful contains potatoes and Italian sausage with a hint of bacon that melts in your mouth.

As our soup came we all dug in. While we sat with our faces nearly buried in the soup bowls, devouring this soup with an endless supply of breadsticks of course. It was so good in fact, my 6-year-old daughter started choking in the middle of eating her soup. At least 3 people and the waiter ran to help. We could not believe she was choking as I stated earlier the soup melts in your mouth. My husband was about to pick her up to start the Heimlich maneuver when she said she was alright. A piece of Kale had not fully made its way down her throat. Even the waiter remarked, “Wasn’t she having soup?” That night we wrapped up dinner with a new story and a new family favorite comfort food. It’s been 7 years since that incident and we still poke fun at her about it. Who chokes on cooked mushy kale… my daughter Josie that’s who. Would Josie’s experience always come to mind when we visit Olive Garden? But most importantly would we only have our creamy, hearty Zuppa Toscana during rare visits at Olive Garden? Could I duplicate their decadent recipe at home? Everything and anything is on the internet, right? The search was on. It was 2011 and all the information in the world was in the palm of my hand.

I Googled the recipe for Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden and I got hundreds of results. I found the recipe I currently use on Copykat.com however I modified it a tad. It is quick and easy and I save myself a ton of money but most importantly cooking it is a breeze and my family loves it.

Zuppa Toscana

On a cold night, this soup will keep you and yours warm and cozy. It’s a guaranteed hit and best of all clean-up is a breeze because it’s a one pot meal.
Serves 4-6 people
1 lb of Italian Sausage (hot or mild, I prefer “hot” to add a tiny kick)
½ small onion diced
1 small garlic clove finely chopped
1 tbs Knoor chicken Bouillon
1 cup chopped kale
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup bacon bits
8 russet potatoes sliced width wide
Shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
Brown the Italian sausage in a large soup pot.
Mix the sausage with ½ onion and diced garlic clove, Sautee the onion.
Once the onion is transparent, add 4 cups of water.
Then add the potatoes and bacon bits.
Once the potatoes are soft add the heavy whipping cream, kale and the chicken Bouillon.
Bring to boil. Use the parmesan cheese to garnish the soup.

Enjoy, try not to choke on the Kale.

As I was researching the origin of this tasty soup, I was finding it incredibly difficult to find information. I was certain the soup was considered a “peasant” soup. A soup made by Tuscany’s poor people since Medieval Times with inexpensive ingredients. Capatti and Montanari extensively explored the subject and stated “Medieval culture was finely attuned to the differences communicated through behavioral code, among which eating habits were of primary importance. Within this scheme of things vegetables were clearly identified as the food of peasants and the impoverished.” They illustrate this point they cited a story of a monk, whom encountered an elderly pilgrim returning from Rome, travelling with a sack the stinky garlic, onions and leeks. There are countless stories during history that associate vegetables with poor or lower class.

Scholars note, throughout the centuries vegetables have gained “social success”. In the 16th Century, Italians first encountered Potato’s in the America’s and described them as tasting like “chestnuts.” The Potato would remain suspicious to the Italians. It would be another 200 years before Italians would incorporate them into their diets. This was partly due to necessity. Famine struck Italy in the 18th century and a massive propaganda campaign was launched by Public Officials that finally convinced peasants and farmers to incorporate the Potato to their daily diet and crops. Some even suggested using it as a replacement for wheat flour in baking. Potato were also used to prepare dumplings, a dish favored by many in Middle Ages. By the 19th Century the potato had reach the “high” culture. This import was now an ingredient found in many recipes for the “cultured” class.


Dickie, John. “Tuscany: Don’t Tell the Peasants.” Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food. London: Sceptre, 2007. N. page. Print.

Http://www.facebook.com/copykatrecipes. “Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana.” Restaurant Recipes – Popular Restaurant Recipes You Can Make at Home: Copykat.com. N.p., 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Capatti, Alberto, and Montanari, Massimo. Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History : Italian Cuisine : A Cultural History. New York, US: Columbia University Press, 2003. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 10 December 2016.

Weaver, William Woys, and Solomon H. Katz. Encyclopedia Of Food And Culture. New York: Gale Division of Cengage Learning Inc, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

“Zuppa Toscana.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2016

Birria! It’s time to Party.

Birria is a Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco. The dish is a spicy stew, traditionally made from goat meat or mutton, but occasionally from beef or chicken. It is garnished with finely chopped onions and cilantro, a hint of lime and salsa, and it is usually accompanied by a side of rice and beans. The dish is often served at celebratory occasions, such as weddings and baptisms, and holidays.
Birria is synonymous with Party. It is a food commonly served in many of my family’s major celebrations. This is why I chose it as the subject of my presentation. My parents served it for my Quinceaῆera, my parents Wedding, my brother’s Wedding. My husband and I served it at our daughter’s Quinceaῆera. It is tradition, it is undoubtedly Mexican, it is a food that represents who I am and it also denotes Happiness. It’s a food that connects my past to my present.
It is also touted as a hangover cure. Although that may be the result of having partied all night long with too much liquor and warming the Birria to eat the next day. Warming the Birria is also known as the “recalentado”. But what’s in the Birria that may provide a hangover cure? Our family usually opts for Beef Birria and not goat as the main component of the dish. Beef is a protein. Protein is essential to any diet. The body needs it to build muscle and maintain organs. Beef is also a rich source of many minerals including including Iron and Zinc. Minerals are needed for the proper function of all the body’s sytems. Beef is also rich in several vitamins such as B12, B6, and riboflavin. B12 is essential for normal digestion and absorption of nutrients. It also plays a role in other processes like sleep, mental functioning, and immunity just to name a few. However, Beef is not a food to eat every single day. Studies have shown, eating beef can significantly expand your waistline and cause other health issues such as heart disease, some studies even say cancer. Harvard researchers found that people who consumed three ounces of red meat everyday were about 13 % more likely to die than the people that didn’t. Although this information may appear to put you off on beef, remember Birria is reserved for special occasions. Eat birria, get drunk and enjoy another bowl at the recanlentado the next day.
While we are on the subject of getting drunk, you may need a drink after I provide the following statistics on Beef. According to BeefUSA.org ;
• U.S. commercial slaughter total was 28.74 million head (fed steer and heifer & non-fed cow & bull; 2015)
• U.S. beef production (commercial carcass weight) was 23.69 billion pounds. (2015) The total U.S. beef consumed was 24.807 billion pounds. (2015) Average annual U.S. retail Choice beef price in 2015 was $6.29/lb.
• Value of total U.S. beef exports (including variety meat) equaled $6.302 billion down from $7.135 (billion)
That’s an impressive amount of beef. There are many sources of information that make case for Meatless Monday’s not only for health benefits but also to reduce the greenhouse gases that are affecting our environment. The environment is a different subject from my Birria, but it is related. The number of cattle produced is due to demand. The increased population is requiring more food and resources to supply the demand. In meeting these demands, there is massive deforestation occurring, which also affects our environment. Its cause and effect… Let the drinking begin!

 Birria de res - Fernandez Restaurant and Catering | by mmmyoso https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmm-yoso/12514213393

Hello I’m Rocio


My name is Rocio. This is my second year at CSUDH. I grew up in Compton and in Compton there was always someone selling food or something else on the street. As a kid I could always count on the raspado man. The raspado man would carry every flavor of raspado you can think of. There was bubblegum, lemon,cherry,vanilla etc. My favorite was vanilla with lechera. But if I wasn’t in the mood for a raspado he would also have chicharones with lemon and chile or elotes(corn on the cob) covered with mayo, butter, cotija cheese and chile. It may sound gross but its actually quite good! Instead of chasing the Ice cream truck as a kid, I chased the raspado man.
I moved out from Compton a few years ago and I would be lying if I didn’t say I miss the raspado man. Now I have to go to a nearby shop that sells these treats. I can still buy my vanilla raspado, and chicharones however, now I have to settle for my corn in a cup instead of on the stick.