Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Best 8 Days of My Life!

Over the last two and a half years Michael and I have been to 25 states. Our 26th state... Alaska!  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law are both celebrating pretty monumental birthdays this year (neither of them look anywhere close to their age so I'll be keeping that a secret) and she decided to have a girls-only vacation to celebrate.
  The six of us (mother-in-law, her mother, my 2 sisters-in-law, and the only granddaughter)  We had the time of our lives on an 8 day Alaskan cruise! (My father-in-law was a saint and foot the bill.  Without him, we wouldn't have these AMAZING memories!)  Is cruising really all that great?  Um, yes.  We didn't have to worry about a single thing, aside from what kind of fudge to buy for our fudge party and whether to have breakfast ordered in or go to the buffet.  It. Was. Awesome.  The best part, without question, was the company.  I had a blast getting to know my in-laws a little better!  It was nice to be able to leave the men and kids and just be women! This ecard pretty much sums up the kind of fun we had.

To sum up the trip:
We visited...
-Mendenhall Glacier
-Part of Yukon train trails
-Tracy Arm Fjord (SO BEAUTIFUL!)
-Victoria (from afar...we didn't dock because there may have been issues with the ship)
My firsts...
-Leaving little Mikey for more than a few hours
-Flying in an airplane with propellers that look like they need to be wound up in order to get started
-Whales! (just one baby whale but still...a whale!)
-Being a ninja
-Almost doing Karaoke
-Being hit-on (post-wedding)
-Four desserts
-"Virgin" Shirley Temples
-Nearly peeing my pants multiple times in one hour from laughing so hard
-Glaciers and Icebergs
-Actually gaining my sea legs!
-Being mistaken for a lesbian couple

These 3 men were the best!  They were almost like a more refined set of the 3 stooges.  Constantine (far left) was our waiter that hit on Sarah (my sister-in-law), Menandro (middle man) was the junior waiter who had a crush on my niece (Holly...age 13), and Yogi (far right) waited on the table next to us but simply couldn't resist our charm.  We also caught him saying some funny things lost in translation (i.e. "Yogi make love tonight" which probably meant "Yogi is bringing love into the air tonight" because he was observing a flirtatious couple).

Another cool thing was that there were SO many Filipino workers on the ship and I was able to carry on a conversation that wasn't in my dreams (yes I still dream in Tagalog from time to time).  I absolutely LOVED it!  It reminded me of how much I love and miss the Philippines and especially the people.

Pretty much, the best, most relaxing 8 days of my life!

p.s. I really couldn't have handpicked better in-laws.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Taking on Cafe Rio (my light version)

My husband can vouch for me, I crave Cafe Rio on at least a weekly basis.  But if any of you have ever looked up the caloric values of Cafe Rio dishes you know that the good taste comes at a hefty price (yes, even the salad!).  So in an effort to save some calories, and some cash, I've tried and personalized some of the copycat recipes I've found on Pinterest.  Here's where I got the recipe for the cilantro lime ranch dressing, and here's where I got the recipe for the beans and rice (totally worth the extra effort).

I started out making just the dressing and putting it over some spring mix salad with Jack Daniel's pulled pork (from Sam's Club) and some fresh Parmesan grated on top, sprinkled with sliced almonds.  This worked out to be just under 200 calories!  Awesome lunch!
Last night I made the beans and rice to accompany the dressing and pulled pork in a burrito.  Not exactly like Cafe Rio but still really good.  Just some things I did differently...
Rice: instead of using lime I used about 2-3 tablespoons of the cilantro lime dressing (we didn't have any more limes).
Black Beans: I doubled the cumin and used tomato sauce instead of tomato juice (again, we didn't have juice and I really don't mind improvising a little, plus it made the burrito not as runny).
With the tortilla, beans, rice, meat, dressing, cheese, and about a tablespoon of diced green chilis (yum!) it came out to roughly 350 calories.  Gimme a 'what what!'  Does it taste exactly  like Cafe  Is it a low calorie substitute that captures the complex sweet and savory depths of Cafe Rio!?  YES!  Don't take my word for it, try it for yourself.  Let me know how it turns out!