Saturday, August 30, 2008

Best Deviled Eggs Ever!

I was looking for a yummy snack the other day and came across a wonderful recipe on the All-Recipes website. It is easy enough to modify and make it South Beach friendly. VERY YUMMY! "Try it, you'll like it!", as the old commercial would say...

12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayo (I used low fat & I used less than 1/2 cup - sounded like a LOT!)
4 slices of bacon (I microwaved till crisp and blotted very well; you could use turkey bacon here)
2 Tbsp shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Tbsp mustard (I used Dijon, and probably more than 1 Tbsp)

Crumble well drained and blotted bacon. Set aside. Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut in half. Remove the yolks to a small bowl. Mash yolks with mayo, crumbled bacon & cheese. Stir in mustard. Fill the egg white halves with the yolk mixture; refrigerate until serving. YUMMY!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School is heating up!!!

Well, as always this time of year I'm swamped.  Back to working seven days a week; lots of hours every day; and exhaustion...  My body is craving comfort food, hot baths and sleep!

Larry is so great!  He made a batch of my Favorite Breakfast Muffins so I'd be set for the week, as well as a big pot of homemade turkey soup yesterday!  What a great dinner last night - true comfort food, which is just what I need right now.

So, off to get ready and go in again today.  New teachers come in tomorrow for an orientation, and tomorrow night the school will be flooded with incoming kindergarteners for our Kinder Kick Off!  Woo-hoo...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Favorite Breakfast Muffins

Cottage Cheese & Egg Breakfast Muffins with Bacon & Green Onions
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen  
(makes 9 muffins)

2/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup almond meal (I have only found Bob's Red Mill brand in health food sections - sometimes it takes some searching)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp water
4 eggs, beaten
4 strips bacon (cooked in microwave till crisp; blot with paper towel to get off as much grease as possible; crumble)
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Shredded Cheddar Cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In mixing bowl, mix cottage cheese, parmesan, flour, almond meal, salt, water, and beaten egg.  Mix well.  Mix in bacon and green onions.

Spray silicone muffin tin with nonstick spray.  This works really well - and you won't go back!  Fill cups about 3/4 full, top with a pinch of cheddar cheese.  Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are firm and lightly browned.  

I made a batch of these on the weekend for a quick breakfast during the weekdays of work.  My routine is a to throw a muffin on a plate, stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, and pour a V-8.  I eat this just before I walk out the door.  Great healthy South Beach breakfast!  Yum.  I need to make these up for the very busy week ahead.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cuban Flank Steak

Tonight we are going to grill flank steak for dinner.  I found this recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen (my favorite website).  It sounds quite tasty!

1 large piece of flank steak (2-3 lbs)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile powder (or your favorite hot sauce - I used Chalula's)
2 tsp lime zest (optional)

Marinate meat up to 24 hours.  Take meat out of fridge, and let come to room temp before grilling.  Preheat grill to medium high.  Grill meat to desired doneness, approximately 4-5 minutes per side for rare to medium rare; or 6-7 minutes for medium to medium-well.  Time will depend on the thickness of your steak.  Remove meat from grill and let it rest about 5 minutes covering with foil to keep warm.  Slice across the grain and serve warm with salsa.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TOP 10 Beaches...

Well, I just found the Weather Channel's Top 10 Beaches.  Looking at their list (and the pictures that go with it) I think I need to add these to my list of possible vacation destinations!

1.  Anse Source d'Argent, Seychelles
2.  Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
3.  Ipanema, Brazil
4.  Lanikai Beach, Hawaii
5.  Manly Beach, Australia
6.  Paradise Beach, Greece
7.  Plage Malendure, St. Kitts and Nevis
8.  Plage de Tahiti, France
9.  Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
10. Tulum Beach, Mexico

Well, out of this list (there are many), I have been to two of the beaches.  Looks like we have a number of beautiful beaches on this planet!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Turkey Results...

Well, the Best Ever Turkey was great.  However, for some reason it did not taste like the first one we made, but I'm beginning to think it is all in my head!  I believe I have probably exaggerated that first smoked turkey to the point that nothing will be like it - ever!  This turkey was delicious, moist and had lots of flavor.  I do highly recommend giving it a try.  As for our next turkey experiment, I think we will be trying to brine our turkey and see what that does.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our Best Turkey Ever!

Today, in the midst of our foggy dreary day, we are planning to smoke a turkey.  The second time we smoked a turkey, we stumbled upon this combination of ingredients.  It was truly THE best turkey either of us have ever had (and I'm not usually a huge fan of turkey).  So, today we are going to attempt to recreate this delicious meal!

Injection Ingredients:
1 can chicken broth
1 Tbsp salt
Garlic Powder (LOTS)
3 Tbsp Worcestershire

Turkey (we have an 10 pounder)
1 stick butter
Seasoning salt
Herbed pepper
Emeril's Essence Seasoning
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
Chicken broth
Apple wood for smoker

Start by injecting the turkey.  Do the night before if possible.

Put turkey in the water pan from the smoker.  Ours fit perfectly.  Melt one stick butter, rub it all over turkey.  Use it all.  (OK, not South Beach here!)  Sprinkle with seasoning salt and herbed/seasoned pepper.  Sprinkle Emeril's Essence over the bird.  Be generous.  Cut up 2 medium onions, add 3 cloves of garlic, and place inside the turkey cavity.  Add a little chicken broth to the inside of the cavity, and pour about 1/2 cup into the pan that the turkey is sitting.

Baste using the juices from the bird about once an hour.  Add more chicken broth if it becomes dry.

We used apple wood in the smoker.  Make sure you keep the smoker above 220 degrees.  Cook until turkey reaches 180 degrees.

I'm making twice baked cauliflower, and a recipe I found for whole wheat double mushroom stuffing that sounds quite tasty (and is South Beach legal).  I'm hoping that this turkey turns out just as well the second time around...  

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blackened Tuna Steaks

Want to make a delicious dinner that is super easy?  Well, here is a simple recipe that you will love...  Enjoy.

Blackened Tuna Steaks

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tuna steaks

1 Jar of Mango Salsa (or make your own)

Rub for tuna
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper (we only used 1 1/2 tsp and it was quite spicy)
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
1 Tsp thyme
1 Tsp basil
1 Tsp oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder
4 Tbsp olive oil

1.  Whisk together the marinade ingredients.  Rub the tuna steaks with the mixture.  Marinate for 3 hours.
2.  Stir together the rub ingredients.  Remove tuna from fridge; gently rinse with water, then dip each side of each steak in the spice mixture to coat.
3.  Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Gently lay the tuna in the hot oil.  Cook for 3 minutes on one side; remove to plate.  Pour the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in the pan, heat till oil is hot.  Lay the tuna uncooked side down into the skillet and cook another 3 minutes; remove from heat immediately.  Do not overcook.
4.  Spoon about 1/2 cup mango salsa onto each of 4 plates.  Lay the tuna steak on top of salsa.  Serve immediately.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

Our trip ended with a stay at the Le Meredian Resort in Sunny Isles Beach.  We arrived from the ship early, and our room was not ready (sound familiar?).  Well, we had quite a different experience waiting for our room this time.  They suggested we change into our swimsuits and enjoy the beach - which we gladly did.  The beach attendants set up chaise lounges and a nice large umbrella for us.  We immediately got in the water - it was warm and clear, hard to believe that this was the Atlantic Ocean!  We had a lovely day at the resort.

The next day was my shopping day!  The Aventura Mall is a large two story mall with wonderful major department stores, and many upscale smaller stores.  We enjoyed the cool indoors (as outdoors was quite hot, humid and complete with thunderstorms).  We shopped and had lunch, I bought a baby gift (the cutest little girl outfit) and a new first day of school outfit, all on sale I might add.  After lunch, we headed back to the resort with the plan of enjoying the beach again.  Thunderstorms started up again however,  so much for another beach day.  We found a wonderful Italian restaurant within walking distance for dinner - which was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

Our flight was at 7am the next day, so lots of flying and our Miami trip seems a world away.  We wanted to turn around and go back to the warmth, the pampering, the sightseeing and that beautiful, warm clear ocean!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work I Go!

Well, after a wonderful summer of travels, relaxation and fun, it is time to go back to work.  Yesterday was my first day.  I'm excited for the new school year, anxious to see all the staff and students again.  It is always fun to see the new kindergartners as they experience school for the first time.  They are so much fun.  I know this year will be a busy, fun, productive and positive year!  Wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back to the U.S. - Key West

Thursday was a day completely packed with activities.  After a very brief interaction with customs, Larry and I were one of the first to get off the ship in the morning.  It was already incredibly hot and humid, little to no wind at all.  We had an afternoon excursion planned, so only two hours to explore this colorful town.  We took the advice of various frequent visitors and decided to take the Conch Train Tour - 90 minutes of seeing all the major sights in Key West.  Those 90 minutes gave us a taste of Key West, enough of one that we want to return and spend some time exploring the Florida Keys.  What a great area!

Our afternoon sail and snorkel was the perfect activity for a hot day - sail to a reef (well, not enough wind to sail, so motor to a reef) and snorkel (unfortunately it was with 100 other people - too crowded).  However, most of the snorkelers stayed around the boat, so Larry and I swam away from the crowds and enjoyed seeing the beautiful, colorful fish!

Once we returned to the Majesty of the Seas, we spent a couple of hours sitting in the pool - drink in hand.  How very relaxing!  This was our last day on board the Majesty... just when we were getting into the swing of "cruising" it was already time to go.  Proof that vacations are never long enough!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Own Private Island - Coco Cay

Wednesday was a great day! We started out with our own private tour of the galley by the Executive Chef. It is quite amazing how they can prepare 15,000 meals a day in such a small area. There was a small group of chefs on duty, prepping items for the dinner menu. The chef said the key to making all these meals is "organization". You could see that was true just from spending one hour in the galley. Size is also important - they have HUGE soup pots, HUGE mixing bowls and mixers; HUGE ovens... So, when it comes to serving 4,000 passengers and crew three meals a day - size does matter!

After our galley tour, we went ashore to spend the day in the water floating. What a gorgeous beach. Once we arrived on the island, the first and only thing you could see were a massive amount of people! We actually thought about going back to the ship - it was that crowded. But, we followed a path to the right (as an internet source suggested) and the crowd started to thin out. We got our floating mats, and spent the afternoon in the beautiful warm water. Before we left for the day, we continued on this path to the right, and came upon THE most gorgeous uncrowded beach! We just had not gone far enough... next time we will know. This beach was pristine and everything you imagine when you think of the perfect Caribbean beach!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Majesty Of The Seas... Nassau

We were able to slip onto the ship with ease thanks to the organization of Royal Caribbean's check-in process.  This trip (since our trip was free) we decided to upgrade to a junior suite - a room with a balcony.  Oh my - how nice was that!  It will be difficult to go back now that we have had the luxury of an outdoor space to call our own.

Our first day was spent in Nassau.  It was an extremely busy day in town with three big ships and a smaller ship in port.  We took the ferry to the Atlantis Resort to meet our dolphin friends.  What a gorgeous place!  It is truly like another Disneyland (for adults and kids alike).  We experienced two of the dolphins in a shallow water setting.  They are amazing creatures and we enjoyed our time in the water with them.

Tip #1:  If I were to do it again, I would sign up directly through the Atlantis Resort ahead of time (not through the cruise line) for their actual "Swim with the Dolphins" experience or their "Trainer for the Day" six hour program.  Both of those give you many more interactions with these magical dolphins and would be amazingly fun!  The cruise line does not offer either of these experiences as an option.

Tip #2:  The resort is HUGE with many different ways to spend your time.  However, the day was SO busy and crowded!  I understand that there are days in Nassau with only one ship in port.  I believe this would be the best day to actually experience all that Atlantis has to offer.  So, before I do a cruise like this again, I will be doing a bit of research to find the least crowded ship day when I'm selecting my cruise date.  It was very fun, but we spent much of our day trying to find a place to hang out that wasn't mobbed with people (which we finally did do at the very end of our day).  It was a little overwhelming to say the least!  You couldn't find a chair to put your things (all saved), you couldn't find a spot to relax that was not overly crowded.  I bet by 4pm, the resort was a totally different experience as all the cruise shippers would have gone back to their various ships and the resort would have only had guests...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Art Deco in South Beach

Well, we made it back to Juneau on time and are at home trying to stay awake.  Our body clocks are still on east coast time + we got up very early to leave our warm weather beach getaway for Miami International Airport to catch our 7am flight.

Our first experience was the "interesting" South Beach.  Wow - what a great place to people watch!  We had to wander for about six hours, as taking a red eye flight and getting into Miami at 5:45am, our room was not ready at our hotel.  So, we got in our fill of major heat, humidity and thunderstorms and showers.  We also had time to look at all the beautiful art deco buildings in the area.  Once we finally were able to check in to our hotel, I had three new blisters...  That was wearing my comfortable shoes!

The best part of our SOBE stay was having a fabulous dinner at Emeril's Restaurant in South Beach.  Wow!  We decided to go all out and order from his "tasting menu", complete with wine pairings with each of the six courses.  It was wonderful, and I wish I had kept notes of what we had.  There was so much food I have already forgotten!  You definitely want to go on an empty stomach...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Off to the Bahamas we go!!!

Well, this will be my last post as we leave for our "free" trip this afternoon at 2pm. We are on the "red eye" to Miami out of Seattle, arriving in Miami at 6am. 

I'm hoping our hotel has a room for us at that very early hour, but they may not and we may end up taking a very early morning walk.  It would be good to stretch our legs I guess, but I think after our long overnight we would prefer to be in our air conditioned room!

1. Packing - done
2. Reading Material - got it
3. Passports - check
4. Camera & charger - got them
5. Cruise Packet - got it
6. Bahamas weather report - High 90's; Low 74ish; Thunderstorms daily (doesn't sound like any big storms are coming)
7. Boarding Passes - printed and have them
8. How to care for Abby notes - printed and on counter
9. House - clean
10.Beds & Towels - switched & clean
11.Fridge - cleaned out

So, I'll post when we return on August 10th. And, to my Juneau friends - I'll try to bring some of that sunshine and heat back to town with me! We need it...

Friday, August 1, 2008

And there she goes... Mandalay's transit through the Canal!

As I have learned through Mandalay's adventure, the transit of the Panama Canal takes about 11 hours to complete. Wednesday night she went through the first set of lockes - the Gatun Lockes. The slower (smaller) vessels usually have to sit on a ball overnight about 27 miles past the first set of lockes. Mandalay went through the last set of lockes late last night - the Miraflores Lockes. We captured a picture of her as you can see!

Mandalay will continue her journey (with our beloved Captain Neil at the helm) all the way to Ecuador for her refit. She will be hauled, her complete hull repaired, the engine room will be totally redone with new machinery, the deck cabins will be replaced with an enclosed saloon. She will be converted into a 32 passenger luxury vessel and spend her days cruising the Galapagos.

I have looked at the Angermeyer Cruises website, and they look like a "class act".  I think S/S Lady Mandalay will have a good life (and I will be saving my pennies to go on her Galapagos adventure).

Here she is sitting on the ball, waiting to go through the second set of lockes...