Ensenada

Our final day of the trip was spent on the beautiful streets of Ensenada.

Definitely not beautiful.

We didn’t get into town until noon or so, we were all watching the docking process from the decks above. Eagerly wanting off of the rocking ship.

This guy here was the best. Alvin was the assistant cruise director and he was a hoot!

We hopped on a bus that took us to the main drag of town. We just wanted lunch and drinks, nothing special on our minds.

Clever name huh?

We were heading to Hussong’s, apparently the oldest bar in Ensenada when we took a wrong turn and was coerced into a bar with free shots, blue shots.

It was a little iffy but the guy promised us that we would be ok and why would he lie to tourists? We really need a sarcasm font.

After our drinks we found our way to Hussong’s, imagine that.

I wanted to pop into this place when I learned that it was established in 1892. It’s also apparently where the margarita originated and it’s still standing. Did I order a margarita? No I did not, but Shawna did and it wasn’t great. Just a basic lime margarita.

I went with the timeless favorite….

The place was a tourist trap, it wasn’t as crowded as the other chain, Papa’s and Beer, that place was PACKED.

The bathrooms were interesting. The toilet paper was meant to be grabbed before going into the stall.

Very sanitary.

One drink and we were out. Then I found out that there is a Hussong’s in Vegas, WTF. We could have found a way dingier dive bar had we known that, sigh.

Time for lunch. We chose El Corralito for no particular reason than it was there and some people eating, that’s always a safe bet.

(One time long ago I got really sick after a day in Ensenada and I have some major PTSD).

You guys, the food was INCREDIBLE. Probably the best meal of the trip, aside from my Indian dishes. The sad thing is, we ordered what we normally do at our local Mexican places at home, ha. Cheese enchiladas, crispy chicken tacos, rice and beans. Can’t go wrong with those..Oh and mango margaritas…Why are they so good?

After lunch we hit the 7-11 for M&M’s because one can only try so many bad desserts in a row. Then went back to the ship.

Last dinner, last late night of mediocre entertainment.

I don’t think we ate dinner that night, but I could be wrong. I know that we went back to the martini bar for two last espresso martini’s.

We listened to some music and said goodbye to new friends and the best server in the lounge.

Then we played Roulette and probably ordered room service one last time because we didn’t eat dinner.

And that’s it, that’s the end. Well almost. We kept our luggage in our room so Saturday morning we just woke up, got dressed, grabbed our shit and walked off the ship. Our car was waiting for us and we were home by 9:30.

Reflecting on our trip, I don’t think there is any need to sail with Norwegian again. Next time we want to try Princess or Celebrity, advice welcomed. I would also like to hit the Panama Canal or Western Caribbean.

Until then, the end.

Onto the Next

We woke up Tuesday morning to a Royal Caribbean ship docking right next to us in Puerto Vallarta.

Our plan for the day was to get to Los Muertos beach, eat lunch and lay in the sun.

We walked around until we found a place that had some open chairs on the sand and that place ended up being Burros Bar.

We ordered margaritas, I had a Cadillac and my babe got the mango, and apparently it was two for one.

For food we ordered the shrimp aguachile to share, a shrimp quesadilla and a shrimp burrito. Her burrito was the best and I really wish had ordered the snapper, food regrets are the worst.

After lunch we walked down to the beach and laid out for awhile.

After a couple of hours we found ourselves ready to head back to the ship where we could lay by the pool and the drinks were already paid for.

We stopped for some ice cream at one of the ports shops, dropped our stuff in our cabin and situated ourselves by the pool.

Before heading back to our room we watched the Royal Caribbean ship depart port.

After dinner we decided to watch a show called “Rock you Tonight” It was bad, if we were watching a high school performance then it would have been pretty good, but for cruise ship entertainment it was really not good. The entertainment in general was poor. I ended the night not feeling very hot so we went back to the room and said goodnight to Tuesday.

Wednesday was Mazatlan and sadly we were only there from 7:00 to 2:00. We got off the ship around 9:00, took a cab to a beach somewhere, and then we just walked until we found a man who offered us a couple of lounge chairs for a small fee.

As we were lounging in the sun wishing for a drink, a man with a menu appeared. He claimed that him and his mom were from Cabo and that they are making drinks in the alley. Shawna and I glanced at each other questionably and then said “ok, why not?”. My babe was braver than me and she ordered a very large mango margarita…..I ordered a Tecaté, playing it like a wuss. Her drink was really good and once again I had a drink regret because the nice man never came back, sigh.

We had an alarm set to make sure we allowed time for lunch.

We walked back down the beach until we hit Joe’s Oyster bar and popped in there.

Once again we ordered ceviche and shrimp tacos.

The shrimp in the tacos were fried, and they were SO DELICIOUS!

Our time was up so we went back to the ship and to the pool which was already crowded. We spent the afternoon swimming, drinking and meeting new people.

We took that night off, brought dinner down to our room and just watched a couple of movies. Oh, I forgot to mention the food at the buffet. It was set up by different stations, salad, pizza, entrees, desserts etc. But every day one side of the entree station had four or five Indian dishes, plus condiments such as chutney and raita. You guys, it was the best thing on the ship. Every dish, each day was phenomenal. Anyhow, that is what I had dinner that night.

And just like that it was Thursday which was our last day at sea. When we woke up we were rocking and rolling, we peeked out our window and this is what we saw….

Obviously, we wouldn’t be outside so we looked at the daily schedule of events to try and plan an inside day. Norwegian didn’t have as many fun ‘at sea’ activities as Holland America did. I am not sure if it was the actual games, the cruise staff or the guests, maybe all of the above, but it was all just blah.

We wandered around, popping into the bridge.

Played a little basketball in the arcade.

We watched a dance class from the safety of the back of the lounge while sipping Dirty Shirley’s.

Then we saw the sun really making an effort so we bundled up, grabbed our books and went to the pool deck.


But we couldn’t hang. The wind was ICE. So we took that as a sign to just go read in the room until dinner.
We had reservations at Le Bistro that evening.
I opened last years birthday gift to enjoy while getting ready.

It was DELICIOUS!

We both ordered the Escargot Bourguignonne, I got the Coq au Vin and my babe got the Duck de Canard. I guess I only took one photo and it was of the escargot, so voila!

The dinner was pretty good and after we headed to Bliss lounge to watch Karaoke and that was a lot more entertaining than the rock show, that’s for sure. The next day was our final day and we spent it in Ensenada.

Bon Voyage 2022

We said adios to 2022 while cruising down to Mexico. The cruise deals lately are phenomenal, I highly recommend taking advantage if you can. Most cruise lines are now offering unlimited drink packages which are really hard to beat, if you like that sort of thing. Since flying anywhere lately is not only expensive but also a shit show, we decided to go back down to the Mexican Riviera but on a different cruise line. We were really spoiled with our Holland American cruise last year, very few people, ZERO children and great musical entertainment so there were big shoes to fill. We decided on Norwegian because it was a first for both of us, the dates worked out and the price was really easy on the pocketbook.

The itinerary had us leaving San Diego on New Years eve and hitting Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Ensenada, then back to SD.

We arrived at the port mid day and had a very simple embarkment. Unfortunately, new years eve was a cold and drizzly day, not an ideal way to start the trip. Pool deck activities don’t hit the same when it’s cloudy and cold, but we still gave it our all! Once we found our cabin, we hit the Lido deck for lunch, took a stroll around the ship, grabbed a couple of adult beverages and snagged a couple of pool loungers for people watching.

Norwegian’s selling point seems to focus on freestyle cruising. That means they give you more freedom from the OG of cruises. Instead of fancy dinner attire in the dining room at either the early seating or later seating, they have multiple dining rooms where you can go eat at anytime. While you can’t show up in board shorts and flips, you can wear pants and a t-shirt. However, I feel like most cruise lines offer that now, on Holland we went to dinner when we wanted to not at a certain time each night. Besides the two main dining rooms, there were also a handful of places to eat that were included. A buffet on the pool deck along with a poolside bar and grill. There was also an Asian restaurant and a 24 hour diner type place called O’Sheehans. It looked like a Hennessey’s but the food wasn’t great. The 24 hour part was exciting as we really needed that on our last cruise, but it turns out we didn’t need it on this one.

The view wasn’t bad.

These days the cruise lines have a few extra restaurants that you can dine at but for a price, some may have a fixed price and some are priced by entree. The Jewel, which was the name of our ship, had six to choose from. Italian, French, Sushi, Teppanyaki, a steakhouse and a Churrascaria. When we booked the trip, our package included all beverages $15.00 and under, wifi, one excursion and one alternative dining choice.

The captain pulled anchor at 4:00 and… we were off like a prom dress. Then the wind kicked in, so we bid a farewell to the pool deck and went to see how the casino was doing. Maybe we played some Roulette, and then we went to get ready for dinner and some dancing.

There were two dining rooms to choose from and honestly neither of them were anything grand and sadly, either was the food.

After dinner we chose to go to the Spinnaker lounge where the house band was playing top hits and then a DJ was going to count down the night. This would be the place we went to end each night, sadly it wasn’t anything great either.

We woke up to a new year but the weather was still in 2022.

Knowing that the sun was in our future, we spent the day playing Battle of the Sexes, Majority Rules and Bingo.

We tried the other dining room for dinner and this was a clear look into Norwegian’s “free-style” dining. Some guests did not care about what they wore, ordered or acted at the dining room. Classy is the opposite of what we saw. The night ended the same but we ordered room service and watched whatever we could find on the tv until we fell asleep.

We woke to sunny skies in Cabo San Lucas.

We were excited to head back to Medano beach and just lounge with food and drinks with our toes in the sand. That was all we wanted to do in each port. We walked around the marina, stopping for a couple of margaritas.

Then we walked through town to Medano beach seeking out The Sand Bar.

The beach was packed so we weren’t going to be able to lounge on the beach, the holiday brought ALL of the people. We were lucky enough to find a seat at the Sand Bar but then we proceeded to wait forever to be served. Sadly they were out of the octopus so we ordered a spicy shrimp ceviche, fish and shrimp tacos. Nothing was memorable aside from the view and the weather.

When we were finally able to wrap up our meal, we hit the street and got a cab to take us back to the main drag. We were going to pop into Cabo Wabo (don’t be judgy) for a drink but with three cruise ships in port, that was a HELL NO. So we asked around for a place with a good margarita and we were sent to The Monkey Bar.

This place was literally just an outside bar with about eight bar stools and a handful of tables. We chatted up a couple who just moved to Cabo and met a man who was a tour guide. We got his card for when we head back in June, hopefully he can hook us up with some fun activities.

The margs were pretty good.

When our glasses were empty we hopped on the tender and went back to the boat. We soaked up some sun at the pool, had dinner and then tried our luck at the martini bar.

Two days into the trip we knew that this cruise wasn’t going to live up to our Holland American cruise, sadly.

Christmas

Hello strangers, happy new year! I hope everyone had a great one and isn’t sick or drowning in rain…or both.

I left you with the best snickerdoodle cookie recipe and then ghosted you for the holidays.

Christmas eve had us cookie decorating, baking and prepping for Christmas day feasting.

The kitchen was busy, we made an eggnog cake, the ‘can’t have Christmas without sherry cake’, and creme de menthe brownies.

I also made this farro salad with apple, parmesan and arugula. You guys, this salad really is the best.

The girls had to wait until 7:00 AM on Christmas morning, how terrible of us huh?

Once we were cozied up and had coffee in hand, we started the festivities.

Halfway through the carnage we broke for breaky. and then we continued with the mayhem.

Out of everything Kaili opened, I think this was her favorite, sigh.

Her relationship with spicy chips is on another level.

Later that morning the family came over….. and with a baby black lab in tow.

This is Pluto, isn’t he the cutest?

Casey and Aileen were puppy sitting for a friend, and I can say that Pluto gave us all dog fever, well everyone except Shawna, pfft.

We spent the day opening more gifts, eating, playing games and saying “no” to the girls asking for a dog every other minute.

My dad and Casey put together Averi’s new Rainbow High doll house.

We played Right Left Center and Kaili won.

It was a great Christmas spent with all my people!

Those five days between Christmas and New Years is big question mark. No one knows what day it is or what they are supposed to be doing, it’s like existing in confusion.

I took the girls to Coronado for an afternoon.

We had a delicious lunch, enjoyed a walk along the water, more puppy love and some swimming.

The weather was perfect until the sun went down, and then it was time to head home and warm the bones.

Wake up, It’s December

This year we made reservations instead of recipes for Thanksgiving dinner…in Vegas. The next morning bright and early, we headed to the Las Vegas American Outlaws chapter bar to watch the US play England.

The vibe was phenomenal.

What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas because we both got colds while we were there, the drive home was so much fun (insert sarcasm font).

About a week later we had our yearly visitor.

Everyone this is Tipsytoes Bellshire.

Casey and Aileen took the girls for a day of Coronado fun. They made ornaments and cookies with Santa, explored the Hotel Del and went out to lunch.

They came home happy and hyper, it was a fun holiDAY!

(Why didn’t anyone brush Averi’s hair that morning?)

I was unsure of how the World Cup would look during the month of December but I gotta say that I dig it. Waking up to soccer every morning has been wonderful.

We are about a week out from Christmas and I am happy to say that I think I’m ready for it.

Cold nights, toasty fires, eggnog espresso martini’s and the WC final match….not a bad December.

Cravings Broccoli Salad with Cashew Dressing

She had me at cashew dressing.

This recipe is out of Chrissy Teigen’s 3rd cookbook, Cravings All Together and it’s a solid five stars. Instead of the traditional mayo dressing with bacon, which is obviously delicious, we make a dressing out of cashews to dress the broccoli. And the dressing is the star of the dish, it’s so good. It’s sort of like a satay peanut sauce but not… actually now that I think about it, I am going to make this dressing to dip chicken in.

It’s a little sweet, a tad spicy, crunchy, nutty and creamy an easy and delicious salad that almost hits all of the five flavor elements.

Plus it’s dairy and gluten free if that’s your thing.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

2 medium heads of broccoli, trimmed and separated into florets (about 6 cups)

Kosher salt

1 cup chopped salted roasted cashews

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 Tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeño pepper (preferably red, with seeds)

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/4 cup thinly sliced

1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

Place 1 1/4 cups of water in a 5 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli, cover with a tight fitting lid, and steam until broccoli turns bright green but is still tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain and then spread the broccoli in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. (Don’t place in an ice bath, that will create soggy broccoli) Season the broccoli with the salt.

While the broccoli is cooling, make the dressing. Combine 2/3 cup of the cashews with the 1/3 cup vinegar, sugar, jalapeńo, soy sauce and fish sauce in a blender until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute; add water by the dressing if it’s too thick.

Arrange the broccoli on a large plate or platter, then scatter the onions and cranberries on top. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the dressing over the broccoli, then scatter the remaining 1/3 cup cashews over the salad. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

A Little of This and That

Is the earth spinning faster than normal? Is that why time is going by at lightening speed? Wasn’t it just Halloween and now it’s Thanksgiving, I don’t understand.

This will be a catch up of whatever has happened in the last month. My memory has been failing me lately..I made a delicious curry paste from scratch and then made an even better chicken curry but I can’t for the life of me, find the recipe I used. It’s like, poof! Gone from my memory and apparently my search history too.

I do know that we took the girls trick or treating, I remember that. It was our first time since Covid and it was a lot more quiet out there than it used to be. Dark houses and the lack of kids could have been because it was a Monday, I don’t know why we can’t just dedicate the last Saturday of October to Halloween.

Like I mentioned, I made a fresh curry paste that was super flavorful and very spicy and then made a chicken curry. If I ever find the recipe, I will make it again surely. I think I served it with coconut rice but who really knows, not me.

We took the girls rollerskating with their friends and I made the most delicious Snickerdoodle sandwich cookies with cream cheese frosting. These, you guys, are ridiculously good.

Oh and we finally made it to Cutwater Spirits tasting room. The drinks were delicious, the food was just ok. Next time, because there will be a next time, there are still so many cocktails to try, we will just sit at the bar.

I also made Chrissy Teigen’s broccoli salad with cashew dressing, and it was SO good. I will post that next time.

And obviously we are watching ALL OF THE SOCCER! The World Cup is such an exciting time, especially since we finally made it back into the tournament! Big match Friday, where will you be watching our USMNT?

Mushroom Pot Pie

You guys this recipe is ridiculously good. That’s all I have to say about it really, it’s just so good. The filling is almost like a thick soup and you could eat it with a loaf of good bread if you wanted. Pie crust was my favorite, puff pastry was good but didn’t hold up like the pie crust did. However, it really doesn’t matter because the mushroom gravy, if you will, is amazing alone.

I made this in individual ramekins but you could make this in a pie plate for a holiday dinner, it will get eaten up, I promise.

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces butter, divided

12 ounces mushrooms (I used cremini)

2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped

3/4 cup celery, finely chopped

1 cup carrots (about 1 small/medium), finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brandy 

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

leaves from 3 springs of thyme

1/4 cup packed Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 package frozen pie crust

1 egg, whisked

DIRECTIONS

Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat, then add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the mushrooms along with a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every so often to release their natural juices and soften. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, set aside, and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Melt the remaining butter and add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté for about for 6 minutes or until soft, stirring periodically.

Stir in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the brandy, stock, cayenne, and your cooked mushrooms.

Bring to a simmer and stirring often, allow the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and remove from the heat. Add in thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Taste for salt.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Divide the filling into four 8-ounce ramekins and place on a baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pie crust thin and cut 4 rounds approximately 1/2 – 1 inch larger than the width of the ramekins. Spray the rim of each ramekin with cooking or spray (or you can use your egg wash) and 1/2 inch down the sides. Top each ramekin with the pie crust rounds, folding the excess over and gently pressing it against the ramekins using a fork to help seal it to the dish. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and use a small knife to poke 3 small holes in the top of each pot pie.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving.

*Recipe adapted from Savory Simple

Spooky

We kicked off the spooky season with my first visit to Knott’s Scary Farm.

We went straight to an amazing looking roller coaster. The lights were all lit up and it looked like a boardwalk. The ride was so fun we did it multiple times. The downside, the exit took us into clown alley. Yes, I know that I am an adult, but I have an irrational fear of clowns…sigh, I am not proud. It took all that I had to not look them, even when they came running at me head on…Otherwise I would have cried.

We had a such good time, rides at night are just better. Parts of the park were very dark and creatures of all sorts would follow us around breathing down our necks and jump out at us. A lot of them had on shoes with metal taps so when they ran and slid at you, it made an awful sound..basically scaring the shit out of us at every corner we turned.

We were walking through a very dark area with fog machines clouding our path when we realized why so many people run in the wrong direction in horror films. You know how we scream at those idiots? Well, we were them…We had a hard time figuring out where we were and where we were headed. If was legit in danger, I would have just fell to the ground and succumbed to my death.

However, it was fun and definitely something to do again.

The girls had fun at the store trying on masks.

We hit the pumpkin patch and we made it easy on ourselves this year. We went to one in Temecula, gave the girls some money, grabbed a glass of wine, and hung out while they did all of the things. Petting zoo, panning for gems, snow cones and all of the other shit that is a waste of money.

We no longer buy our pumpkins at the actual patch which saves a lot of money. We just grab them at a local store on our way home, the girls don’t care.

Then we carve them and then they die. {the pumpkins, not the girls.}

Luckily we got a few photos of our artistry before they wilted 20 minutes later.

The next day we made Oreo bats and I realized that the girls are almost too old for these food crafts. They just want to eat the ingredients rather than create. However, I MADE THEM HAVE FUN!

These are super simple using only 3 ingredients.

Oreos, bite size Reese’s and candy eye balls. We used the oreo filling as the glue for the wings and the eyes. Pop them into the fridge for 10 minutes to set or don’t and just eat them right away.

I think they turned out cute!

The girls have their costumes and we are excited to take them out Monday night, and then go right home to inspect their candy! {aka take all the good stuff}

Just kidding, we will wait until they are in bed.

Korean-Style Beef Tacos

This isn’t a new recipe. I think this cookbook is a handful of years old but it’s full of great recipes.

I made this for our weekly Taco Tuesday for us moms, however Averi was caught eating leftover steak off the cutting board.

*This recipe wants you to skewer the meat, I didn’t do that, it was just an extra unnecessary step for this occasion.

Ingredients

⅓ cup sugar

5 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce 

1 ½ tablespoons gochujang paste

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

12 ounces flank steak, sliced against the grain into thin strips

⅛ teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Quick Pickled Cabbage (recipe to follow)

3 tablespoons sliced green onions

1 fresh jalapeno, sliced for serving

Directions

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Add steak to bowl or combine all in a gallon size freezer bag; . Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning after 30 minutes. (Can hang out in the fridge for longer).

While the meat is marinating, make the pickled cabbage.

Pickled cabbage

3 cups chopped/shredded napa cabbage

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Teaspoons gochujang paste

Combine 3 cups of shredded napa cabbage in a bowl with the garlic. Bring vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and gochujang to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cabbage; toss. Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving.

Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Remove steak from marinade, and discard marinade. Grill the slices of meat, 2 minutes per side.

(Thread steak onto 8 (8-inch) skewers; sprinkle with salt. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness).

Grill tortillas 30 seconds on each side or until lightly charred; keep warm.

Place tortillas on plate, and divide steak evenly among tortillas. Divide the Quick Pickled Cabbage evenly among tacos; sprinkle with onions and jalapenos.