Monday, January 31, 2011

Mexico 2011

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome February!

Is it just me or our we beginning to see the light and the end of the tunnel called "old Man Winter"? Perhaps it was a week in Mexico that is brightening my mood!!!

We are back from our vacation and I am ready to get back to cooking in a real kitchen (the condo kitchen in Mexico is teeny tiny). We are easing back into some yummy and healthy treats this week. Click on the banner above to be directed to Laura's site for more menu ideas.


Sunday: Roasted Chicken with Veggies and Creamy Cole Slaw
Monday: Grilled Flank Steak Tacos with Guacamole and Mexican Rice
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie (with leftovers from Sunday)
Wednesday: Pork Chops with Baked Sweet Potatoes and Salad
Thursday: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mexico: Day Five and Six

Thursday was our serene and quiet day. The thick clouds rolled in, but provided us with an amazing sunrise.

We each had a wonderful 50 minute massage followed by lunch in the bistro overlooking the ocean (tortilla soup and fresh salads) then a three hour nap. Did I mention how much hard work vacation is?
We racked our brains for a dinner spot and after consulting Trip Advisor, stumbled upon a recommendation that I remembered from our encounter with Mr. and Mrs. Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Alcaravea Gourmet, is a little neighborhood Italian gem with great food, reasonable prices and awesome ambiance. The chef's are dressed up with tall white hats and their food presentation is out of this world. Our meal included:

Stuffed Mushrooms Provencial: Large button mushrooms stuffed with herbs, tomatoes, capers and artichoke hearts then smothered with cheese and broiled

Catch of the Day: Sea Bass Milan; pan fried with a gorgonzola cream, basil sauce
Chicken with a basil cream sauce with parmesan and pine nuts
Each entree came with a beautiful and fresh garden salad and a basket of toasted garlic bread. With a glass of Chardonnay each, our bill came to $54

Friday was our last full day. Once amazing sunrise, breakfast cooked in our room and heavy clouds!! Instead of a full day at the pool, we got cleaned up and headed into town....walked along the beach and tried some new places to people watch.

Nikki Beach Club (good Chardonnay....bad clouds)

Our send-off dinner was at Maro's Shrimp House. If it's not the food that keeps us coming's our wonderful friends (oh...and the bulldogs).

Saturday our journey home begins....back to reality with wonderful memories.

I'll do a wrap up Smilebox later in the week!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Mexico: Day Four

Meet Pablo, a cute (but very wild) cat that we met up at the sky pool (we just had to give him a name). The cutest thing is, he found his way onto our veranda the other evening while we were having a glass of wine. Missing our own cats very much, we kinda adopted him….leaving scraps of uneaten filet mignon for him to enjoy. Don’t worry…..we are not getting too close to him!

At Ole Ole in the Marina

Wednesday marked our half way day and we spent our morning at the sky pool before getting cleaned up to take the 2PM free shuttle down to the Pueblo Bonito Rose complex and a quick walk into town.

Stacy, Patty and Sandra at Mexico Lindo

We visited with Patty Riveria who Chick met through friends many years ago when she was first introduced to Cabo. She works at Mexico Lindo Jeweler so I could help but buy by a new charm for my bracelet.

I love the marina; however, it’s very touristy, and loud but a great place to people watch and eat some awesome chips, salsa and guacamole at the Baja Cantina.

Stacy, Dennis and Sandra (Dennis and his wife drive down from Canada to Mexico every January)

After the sun set, we headed over to Pueblo Bonito Rose, a sister property of our complex and sat outside near the waters edge and met Canadian Dennis and his wife, who spend a month in Cabo every January. It's unbelievable how many fun and interesting people you can meet here (especially if you've had several margaritas).

Clouds really rolled in today......and are expected to last tomorrow as well. A good day to hit the spa.



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mexico: Day Three

Tuesday, we spent about 6 hours by the pool. Our intent was to head into the Marina, but neither one of us wanted to leave the warmth of the sun so we threw out our “plans” and soaked in the day (and a couple of those drinks with the umbrellas).

In the afternoon, after a brief siesta, we watched the fishing boats come in with their days catch, the pirate ship cruise out to the sunset…..all while sipping on a wonderful bottle of wine (thanks to a couple of bottles tucked into our suitcases with wine skins).

For dinner, we tried DOC Wine Bar, run by Italian guys transplanted in Cabo.

I must say, Chick and I were a bit skeptical of a Cabo Wine Bar, but the place was really cute with just a few tables inside and a majority of the tables outside (unfortnately on a very busy street). Handwritten, eclectic menu, warm ambiant table lighting all under the stars of Cabo, made the evening perfect.

Wanting just a light meal and a really nice bottle of Chardonnay, we were greeted by Marco, a ethusiastic and exhuberant (very knowledgeable) Italian with a passion for this restaurant. He praised their concept of locally grown produce, fresh ingredients (only locally caught fish) and housemade pastas. He helped us navigate through the menu and assisted us with our selections.

We had a wonderful Italian Chardonnay ($28) and a gorgeous cheese platter with 5 distinct cheeses accented by honey and two kinds of berry jams for added flavor. Marco even introduced us to a new way to eat cheese.....pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Magnificant! To top off our meal, a freshly tossed mixed green salad and a basket of bread were placed on the table to enjoy.

Once again, we felt like we were taking the restauranteurs of Cabo for a RIDE! Our bill was only $53 and we left, not overly stuffed but extremely satisfied with Marco insisting that we come back for smooth jazz and salt crusted sea bass on Thursday. We will many choices, so little time.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mexico: Day Two

Champagne at Sunset in Lobby Bar

We survived our time share presentations and gladly accepted their tokens. Mine was not pleasant, but then again....with no intentions of buying, I probably got what I deserved.

We spent a bit of time by the pool and had a wonderful bottle of Charonnay on our patio while whale watching and gazing out at the ocean waves. I saw at least 4 hummingbirds dancing in the mouths of huge flower blossoms.....this place is so lovely.

We've met some wonderful people here and a couple from New York City, Lou and Andrea gave us the suggestion of going to an Argentinian Steak House called Patagonia for dinner. It was very quaint, clean and simplistic.

Woodfire grill attended to by Argentinian owner (this guy was just the helper)

We were so amazed and had an absolutely wonderful and inexpensive meal. Our dinner included:
Housemade Empanadas filled with beef
Steak Vacio - which is basically a marinated skirt steak
Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon (that was at least 4 inches thick)
Steaks included a tossed salad and a red baked potato with sour cream

With a glass of white wine, our bill came to $62. Amazing! The place was filled with other tourists who heard about the restaurant from word of mouth and several tables of locals...always a good sign.

I got two meals out of this 4 inch thick filet. It was fork tender, melt in your mouth!

We are not staying out too late here....both of us our tired. Spending your days by the pool and your evenings eating rich food is a lot of work!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Mexico: Day One

Sunday was pool day!

We watched the sunrise, cooked scrambled eggs in our room and headed to the Sky Pool by 9:30.

After a few hours in the sun (and a few cold beers), we headed downstairs to a large conference room to watch the AFC and NFC championship games.

Me and my new friend, Mr. Pittsburgh

After the games were over, we caught a cab into downtown and had a wonderful dinner at Maro's Shrimp House....two amazing lobster tails and 8 jumbo butterflied shrimp, all for less than $20. It's one of our favorite places in Cabo to eat.

Oh....and you can't beat a couple of their famous "Bulldogs". Shug.....shug....shug.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mexico: Our Arrival

Greetings from Cabo!

We arrived at Pueblo Bonito Sunset around 3:00 yesterday afternoon and were "welcomed home" by friendly familiar faces, basked in the glow of the Mexican sun.

We had just enough time to drop our luggage off in our room and race down to the lobby bar to watch our first sunset.
A few margaritas and some amazing tortilla soup and early to bed. Vacation is a lot of work!


PS....having lots of internet difficulties. I've got more pictures to hopefully post later.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bon Voyage!! Off to Cabo

At Edith's - Cabo San Lucas
January 2009

Chick and I are probably just taking off about now.....down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a little rest and relaxation.....our annual "girls trip".

I'll try and post next week (if and when I can) so as a result there will be no Recipe of the Week on the 27th or Old Photo Friday on the 28th.

I'll try and bring some sunshine back in my suitcase!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Old Photo Friday: Dance Hall Days

WHO: Wilamalane Parks and Recreation Dance Class (that's me in the front row to the right)
WHAT: A bunch of 4 and 5 year olds who learn tap and ballet
WHERE: Springfield, OR
WHEN: 1973-74

While I enjoyed dancing (singing too) as a young girl, I was not the performer that my mother was. All I remember about these classes was being scared to death of the performances that our group would put on a couple of times a year for friends and family.

I think I took dance classes at Wilamalane for quite a few years (my mother was an assistant instructor). I remember all the faces in this photo including Kristen and Lori (back row) who I went to elementary, middle and high school with.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Oroweat Sandwich Thins Pizza

Have you tried these sandwich thins yet?

I can't say that I enjoy them for a sandwich (I think they are too thin and messy to eat with) but when I saw this commercial last night for sandwich thins pizza, I think I found a wonderful alternative (the possibilities are endless).


Mushroom and Spinach Mini Pizzas
Slightly adapted from Oroweat

4 Oroweat 100% whole wheat sandwich thins, sliced in half
6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, minced (plus two tablespoons of the oil, divided)
8 oz. assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup, divided shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast Sandwich Thins halves to a light golden brown.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil from the marinated sun-dried tomatoes over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until soft and moisture is released, about 5 to 7 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, add ricotta and minced sun-dried tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of their oil in food processor and mix until smooth (you could also do this by hand). Pulse to incorporate and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread approximately 2 tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato and ricotta mixture on top of each toasted Sandwich Thins half. Top each pizza with a few baby spinach leaves and divide mushrooms between each pizza. Top with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

Place pizzas on a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes to heat to infuse all the flavors and melt the cheese.

Recipe courtesy of Oroweat; who would make a pizza and NOT add cheese....shame on you Oroweat, but add cheese or don't call it pizza.
Image courtesy of Google Images

Monday, January 17, 2011

Random photos from December/January

For Christmas, Brian got me this awesome camera. I've been trying to take as many pictures as possible so that I can improve on my photography skills (so far, so good).

Here are some out takes from December and January (some on my old camera). Not enough to post about, but nice enough to share.

Christmas Eve Morning!
Brian making his awesome Christmas quiches - Lorraine and Broccoli Cheddar. They came out fabulous, babe!

Leaving Tacoma the day after Christmas on the Amtrak Cascades. It was so hard to leave my guys. The only bright spot was this awesome shot of the Narrows Bridge

New Years Eve, 2010-11
Brian and I enjoying the last bits of the holidays together. A nice bottle of wine and some cool tunes

Our first celebration of the New Year, Chick's 50th Birthday. We celebrate the entire month of January....dinner on the 5th, a party in Eugene on the 8th and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at the end of the month

Sandra's party at the Broadway Wine Bar in Eugene. Don't you just love my fur-like vest. Thank you KMart! Cheap and Chic!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: January 17-20

Wow! January sure is flying by and next week, we will be sunning ourselves in the warmth of Mexico. WHOO HOO! Still plenty of good meals to be planned. Don't forget to click on the banner above to visit Laura's amazing site and get some menu planning ideas for yourself.


Monday: Turkey Ziti with a Big Garden Salad
Tuesday: Cashew Chicken with Jasmine Rice
Wednesday: Taco Casserole
Thursday: Fend for Yourself....packing and last minute errands before we leave for vacation

Friday, January 14, 2011

Old Photo Friday: All dressed up, with someplace (unfortunately) to go

WHO: Kerry, Ken and Brian
WHAT: Brothers forced to dress up, then pose
WHERE: Backyard @ 109 Tamara in Newark, DE
WHEN: Brian looks to be about 5 or 6, so I'll say about 1965-67
WHY: All dressed up, probably for Easter

Brian tells me that as a child, they typically only went to church for Easter and I can't think of any reason why or how, three young boys would put suits on if only for an Easter Sunday service. Have you ever seen three more sour faces? Too funny!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I know.....garlic mashed potatoes, boring!

You are probably thinking to yourself that you've had garlic mashed potatoes dozens of times and you love them.....but, have you had these garlic mashed potatoes before?

People....please make them! After I ate them for Christmas dinner, I fantacized about them for days, then made a double batch and ate them for breakfast! Some people like to have something sweet after dinner....I was chowing down on seconds (okay...thirds) of these mashed spuds. No joke. You'll never eat any other garlic mashed potatoes again...swear!


Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Slightly Adapted from America's Test Kitchen 2009

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, halved then cut into 1 inch pieces
1 stick butter, plus 1-2 tablespoons
10 garlic cloves, minced (if your cloves are large, use half or about 5-6)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly. This is a very important step to eliminate excess starch, which produces gluey mashed potatoes.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Cook garlic and sugar, stirring often, until sticky and straw colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Add rinsed potatoes, 1 1/4 cups half-and-half, water and 1 teaspoon salt to pot and stir to combine. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes (the last 10 minutes, I cooked without the lid on to reduce liquid).

Remove from heat, add remaining butter to pot and mash with potato masher until smooth. If needed, fold in remaining half-and-half until liquid is absorbed and potatoes are creamy (some people like thicker mashed potatoes than others; we found we didn't need additional liquid).

Season with additional salt and pepper.!!

Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen, slightly adapted by Brian on Christmas Day
Image courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sandra's Birthday in Eugene

We spend last weekend in Eugene for Sandra's 50th Birthday.....

Catching up with friends and family.

Our first stop was to Oregon Rehab to visit brother/uncle Steve who is recovering from his accident in October. He's doing really well and will be leaving the rehab facility this coming week.

Vicki, Terry Sandra, Rosemary and Stacy

Saturday evening we had an early "girls" dinner at Osteria Sfizio located in the Oakway Mall. The modern Italian menu uses seasonal incredients and the best regional meats and seafood Oregon has to offer, including housemade pastas.

We ate family style and our meal included:
chicken liver mousse, apple juniper marmellata & crostini - $8
crispy fried calamari & spicy tomato sauce - $10
roasted beet salad with gorgonzola, apples, hazelnuts & vinaigrette - $8
local salad mix with house vinaigrette - $6
rigitoni with fennel sausage, fresh chili, swiss chard, rosa sauce & pecorino - $12
squid ink linguini with dungeness crab, cream, prosecco & lemon - $23
ravioli della casa (mushroom & ricotta), brown butter, sage and grana padano - $21

A wonderful meal!

The party then moved over to the Broadway Wine Bar where a small group gathered to celebrate. We drank some yummy wine.....

Divine Cupcakes are Organic, hydrogenated oil FREE, and 100% Vegan.

We ate some wonderful mini cupcakes from Divine Cupcakes and enjoyed a fabulous evening with good friends. Happy 50th, Chick!

Terry and Sandra - A Pandora charm from Susan

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: January 9-13

Well....the holidays are officially over, but it will be like New Years Day, Christmas Day, My Birthday and Halloween all rolled into one if my Oregon Ducks win the BCS National Championship Monday night. GO DUCKS!

Enjoy this week's menu, and others HERE!


Sunday: Guiness Braised Beef Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables and Creamy Cole Slaw
Monday: PIZZA NIGHT! Who wants to cook when football is on!!!!
Tuesday: Beef Pot Pie with leftovers from Pot Roast
Wednesday: Chicken Fajitas
Thursday: Fresh Steelhead (caught by my boss over Christmas) with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Jasmine Rice Pilaf

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rest In Peace, Basha Noel

"Waiting at the Gate"

I explained to Saint Peter
I'd rather wait here,
Just outside the Pearly Gate.
I won't be a nuisance, I won't even bark,
I'll be very patient and wait.

I'll be right here chewing
A celestial bone,
No matter how long you may be,
'Cos I'd miss you too much
If I went in alone...
It wouldn't be heaven for me.


Basha and Stacy - sippin' on margaritas

Basha and Mom

Friends in heaven - Basha and Cleo

Rest in peace, sweet Basha Noel. Mom and Kenny's dog passed away earlier in the week. I know your hearts are heavy.

Enjoy these precious memories of your girl.