Cover Art!

Happy to share the cover art for my young adult historical fiction, coming October 31. I’m pleased that Kirkus gave it an excellent review.

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RECIPE–Protein Rich Ricotta Bake with a Kick

ricotta bake with a kick

I’ve been searching for savory protein-rich, low-carb recipes these past couple of months. This is one I found that looked good but a bit plain for my taste. As I often do in my cooking, I tweaked it for a more flavor-packed version. It could be served for any meal and would be delicious alongside a tossed salad (with slices of avocado!), Mexican charro beans (recipe on this blog), diced fresh pineapple or grilled ham. For extra oomph, fry up some Mexican chorizo, drain well and mix it in!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 15-oz carton ricotta cheese (I use full fat but you can use low or non-fat if you like)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small can (4 oz) mild green chiles, drained of excess liquid
  • 4 green onions, finely diced
  • 1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c shredded pepper jack cheese (divided)
  • 1 c salsa–for this recipe, Pace Picante works well but you can use any brand you like–you pick the level of heat: mild, medium, hot

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat 4, 6 oz. ramekins with cooking spray.

Stir the first 7 ingredients together and 1/4 cup of the pepper jack cheese.

Spoon mixture into prepared ramekins, approximately 2/3 full.

Top with salsa.

Sprinkle remaining pepper jack cheese evenly over each ramekin.

Place on cookie sheet and bake for 20 min or until cheese is bubbly.

Optional–at this point you may turn the broiler on low to brown the tops. CAUTION: watch continuously and remove from oven before the cheese burns.

Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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Chances in Disguise Available for Preorder

Publication date: October 31, 2021

Available: NOW!

You can order your copy on numerous websites including two major booksellers:

Amazon

Barnes&Noble

More booksellers will carry the book when it’s been published.

Wish I could share the cover art with you, but it’s still being finalized. (So hard to wait…)

In the meantime, here are three snippets of the Afterword written by John Morán Gonzáles, PhD (see credentials below). I am incredibly grateful for his participation.

-Co-founder, Refusing to Forget
-J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of American and English
-Director, Center for Mexican American Studies, the University of Texas at Austin

Evangelina de León, the young Mexicana protagonist
of Diana Noble’s novel Chances in Disguise, is a civil
rights champion of her time and ours. Unjustly accused
of a capital crime which she did not commit, Evangelina
endures and ultimately prevails over the racist legal system
with the help of her family, community activists
and organizers, and white allies.

Chances in Disguise offers readers a fictional
portrait that illuminates a crucial, if now mostly
unknown, decade in Texas history: the 1910s as years of
La Matanza, or “the great killing time,” when law
enforcement, particularly the Texas Rangers, willfully
and wantonly violated the civil and human rights of the
ethnic Mexican communities of South Texas. Between
1910 and 1920, over 1,000 Mexicanos (US citizens and
Mexican nationals alike) were murdered under the
color of authority, with no semblance of due process by
the Rangers, county sheriffs and deputies, municipal
police and vigilantes. Misnamed “the bandit wars” in the
English-language press of the times, these executions
were justified as necessary measures to maintain law
and order in the borderlands, as a counter-measure to
what was seen as the violent and senseless chaos of the
Mexican Revolution.

Chances in Disguise operates at two distinct but
related levels. The first is to restore to public knowledge
a critical history of anti-Mexican violence not otherwise
taught in the national educational system. The second
is to urge a strong, collective response from today’s readers
to take up the challenge of ensuring justice for all,
and not just for the privileged few. A role model in this
effort, Evangelina is indeed a strong, feminist hero, as
she, together with her community, transforms the challenge
of racial and gendered injustice by the legal system
into a chance, in disguise, to strive for a better
future.

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Books Are Sometimes Windows…

Books are sometimes windows…

Every now and then I type my novel’s title into a web browser and see what comes up. Today, Evangelina Takes Flight produced the below from the New Mexico Department of Public Education.

Seeing my name on the same list as Hugo, Orwell, Dickens, Urrea, Halse Anderson (a current day favorite of mine) to name a few, makes my heart sing. To have educators appreciate and promote the Mexican-American experience and history portrayed in Evangelina’s story, well, it’s like a dream, a very good dream. Of course I don’t equate my work to Orwell or Hugo or any of the other authors on the list, but this honor feels special nonetheless. Thank you to Arte Público Press for taking a chance on me.

I love the quote by Rudine Sims Bishop that starts with, “Books are sometimes windows…”

Too see the full list, click on this link.

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Past Racial Violence Shaped Today’s Inequities

Texas Rangers

This CNN article describes multiple instances of racial violence in the US resulting in property loss, economic loss and the murder of innocent citizens, including the massacre at Porvenir, Texas, on January 28, 1918, in which Texas Rangers, US Cavalry soldiers and local ranchers killed 15 unarmed Mexican-American boys and men, ages 16-72. The Rangers were sent to the area to stop banditry after the Brite Ranch raid. Despite having no evidence that the Porvenir villagers were involved in thefts or the killings of ranchers, the Rangers separated 15 men and boys from the rest of the village and shot them on a nearby hill. They shot them so many times “they blew them to bits,” said one victim’s granddaughter. Victims were buried in a mass grave because they couldn’t tell which body part belonged to whom.

You can watch a 3-minute video HERE with an overview of that horrific day.

The CNN piece covers much more than Porvenir, and it’s worth reading, contemplating and discussing.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1937

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, October 2, 1937
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Another Perfect for Summer Recipe–Mexican Beef Skillet with Tomatoes and Zucchini

I’ve had some requests to post more of my recipes and am happy to oblige! Many of my recipes have a Mexican flair to them, because, well, I’m Mexican, and I love the combination of herbs and spices used in Mexican food. This recipe has very few carbs. BONUS!

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Splash olive oil
  • *1/2 -1 lb top cut of beef for tenderness and flavor, e.g. beef tenderloin, New York strip (top loin), chopped into bite-size chunks
    • (You can use a cheaper cut of beef but the result may be meat that’s tougher to chew. Extra lean ground beef would also work.)
  • 1 red onion, sliced in medium-width wedges
  • 2 large red tomatoes, roughly chopped or 1 c cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes or 1/2 jalapeño, de-veined and de-seeded, chopped finely
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground pepper
  • 1 green zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 orange or green pepper, chopped
  • fist-full of thoroughly washed cilantro, chopped (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a large, non-stick skillet, heat on medium-high until oil looks glossy and easily slides around the bottom of the pan.

Add beef and red onion, stir until onion begins to soften and beef begins to brown.

Add tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes (or jalapeño) and spices, stir until mixture is well-coated.

Add zucchini, squash and pepper. Saute until vegetables begin to soften.

Turn off heat.

Cover pan with a lid and let rest for 3-5 minutes (any longer and the veggies will get too soft).

Stir in cilantro and serve.

Top with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

This would be great served with rice cooked in chicken stock, black beans or a green salad with avocado-lime salad dressing.

*The reason I give a range for the amount of beef is so that you can decide how much beef/veggie ratio you want. It’s a personal choice!

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Gazpacho with Fresh Herbs–Perfect for Summer

photo: Culinary Hill

With summer coming, I thought I’d try to make my first-ever gazpacho. When I told my daughter what I was making (cold tomato soup), she wrinkled her nose and shook her head. You know the look. Well, it came out delicious, and it’s made from nothing but fresh, whole ingredients. If you’ve never tried gazpacho before and you like tomatoes, now is the time!

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

4 red-ripe large beefsteak tomatoes, diced (or 7-8 plum tomatoes)

1 whole English cucumber with the skin on, diced (or 1 regular cucumber with half the skin peeled off)

1 yellow pepper, diced

1/4 c. red or white wine vinegar

1/4 c. extra light olive oil or avocado oil

1/2 c. mixed fresh herbs, e.g. basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, chives

1/2 t. ground cumin

2 cloves fresh garlic (or 1 t. of the jarred stuff)

1/8 – 1/4 t. red chili pepper flakes or to taste

1 t salt (I prefer pink Himalayan salt)

fresh ground pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulverize until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. Add additional salt/pepper/vinegar to taste.

Chill.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of fresh herbs.

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Mexican Chocolate Mousse Bars

Like chocolate mousse bars only better.

For these, I started with a recipe for chocolate mousse bars and gave them a Mexican twist by adding cinnamon, Mexican vanilla and a bit of Kahlua. Yum!

Why Mexican vanilla? Because, my friends, it’s WAAAYYY better than regular vanilla. I use it in all my baking, and it has a much more distinctive smell and deeper taste. It’s hard to describe, but, trust me on this–you’ll never go back once you start using it in your baking. You can easily find it on the web, but make sure to read the reviews. There are imitators out there who sell Mexican vanilla but watered down or with added ingredients you don’t want.

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 18 whole graham crackers (about 9 1/2 ounces)
  • 8 tablespoons/113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 pound/4 cups semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (or use good quality chips)
  • 3 cups cold heavy cream (separated), plus more for serving
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • 1 tablespoon pure Mexican vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream

Preparation

  1. Make the crust: Line a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. In a food processor, or in a resealable plastic bag, crush the graham crackers until you have fine crumbs (but stop before you have dust). You should have about 2 1/4 cups. A food processor works best to get a finer, more even crumb. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl. Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir until evenly moistened. Tip the crumbs into the prepared pan and press them down into an even layer on the bottom. Transfer to the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  2. Make the filling: Set the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream, espresso powder and salt until hot but not boiling. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and let it stand for 2 minutes. Add the Mexican vanilla and Kahlua and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 2 cups heavy cream until you have stiff peaks. Add the chocolate mixture and gently fold to combine. Pour the mixture over the prepared crust, and spread it out into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours. To serve, cut the two edges without parchment free with a sharp knife then use the parchment overhang to transfer the bar to a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
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Asian American K-12 Tools & Information

One of the coolest webpages I’ve seen in recent memory, and a much needed one. Click on the image to check out the site with its varied and easy to use resources.

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Chances in Disguise and the Blurb!

My 2nd young adult historical fiction, the sequel to Evangelina Takes Flight, now has an official title: Chances in Disguise (which happens to be the title I gave it early on in the writing process).

And here’s the 1-paragraph blurb:

In the spring of 1915, seventeen-year-old medically trained Evangelina de León is called upon to deliver a baby, but a physician from a neighboring town arrives and throws her out. The next day, she is arrested for the woman’s death and her historic fight for racial justice begins.

Now, onto round 2 of copy editing, and soon, cover art!

Publication date: October 31, 2021

Publisher: Arte Público Press

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