The Cattle Baron’s Ball

So yesterday was the big day…The Cattle Baron’s Ball…no little mice to help get me ready, no fancy dress, no pumpkin carriage….just a 4 Runner and my Prince Charming. And a lot of rain….. :/ I had really looked forward to this. My dream bubble burst as soon as we walked through the dry, perfectly suitable barn to board the second bus of the evening to drop us off at the far edge of the Southfork Ranch pasture. The reason they had to drop us off at the far edge of the pasture is because there was about 6 inches of mud between the “road” and the leaky tent. But I figured once Emerald City started playing my happy bubble would return. But no, that didn’t happen. Instead we made our way to our table. Table #111. We got to the tables…table 94, 104, 47, 24…WTH??? That would have been way to simple to put them in numerical order. When we finally found someone to ask where our table was, she finally found it…it was a row of chairs tucked behind the tables. Apparently when they decided to squeeze everything under the tent half the tables had to be moved. Lucky us!!! So we ate our barbecue in our laps and sat our drinks in the mud cup holders at our feet. After dinner, as I anxiously awaited Emerald City, they started the auction. It lasted until 10:00, then they started the Raffles…and we left! No Emerald City, no Blake Shelton, just a long walk back through the mud and rain. There were a lot of really ticked off people and it was miserable and uncomfortable but it was all for a good cause….the American Cancer Society. Hopefully this didn’t scare away any future donators, like the guy behind us on one bus ride that was beyond mad that he had paid $50k for this again and that this would be the last time. I didn’t get many pictures because there wasn’t much to take pictures of and because my camera was getting wet but here ya go….

The s’mores bar that I never got to visit. It had pink & white marshmallows, white & dark chocolate, sticks for roasting and of course, graham crackers. It was really cute. (and dry, one of the few dry things)

If you look past the s’mores bar you can see the wonderful mud pits. Trust me, they are a lot deeper than they look.

My Luchese boots after we made it to the tent.

Larry Hagman in the white hat (J.R. Ewing) and Josh Henderson (John Ross) from the TV show Dallas. Someone with us got to meet Josh while I had gone to get a drink. That would have been the highlight of my night. Instead the highlight was Deborah Ferguson from NBC news and the lightsaber yielding auctioneer…

He was pretty entertaining though. I wish we could have helped him out by bidding $50k+ on something but Johnny said no. Blake Shelton went for $15k+, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show $75k+, Lunch with the Dallas cast $30k and a Jeep for $65k+ and many, many others.

My Prince Charming (minus his muddy boots). Megan is still upset that I wore the hat. She thought I should have just worn the tiara, so I’m wearing it today.

The Swag Bag….hat, t-shirt, ear buds, koozie, water bottle, sippy cup, bbq sauce, bottle opener, $25 Pappas Bros Steakhouse gift card and a duffle bag.

Hindsight….I should have worn my leopard print rain boots!

Today’s Leopard Print Find: Awesome Rock Star Cowboy Hat with Cross

Carnival Supreme Broiled Chicken

 

Tonight is the Cattle Baron’s Ball. Blake Shelton, Emerald City, lots of auctions and lots of food. I wonder if we could talk Blake Shelton into bringing Adam Levine?? It’s supposed to rain for like 24 hours straight, which doesn’t work well with an outside Ball. So if any of you have been doing any rain dances, please take a break until Sunday morning at 1 a.m. Thanks!

The third course at our Carnival Cruise Cooking Demonstration….Supreme Broiled Chicken.

4 Broiled Chicken Breasts, boneless
4 sprigs Rosemary
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
2 tsp Italian Parsley, chopped
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter, clarified
Port Wine Reduction:
1/4 cup Port Wine
1/4 cup Reduced Beef Bouillon
5 whole Blackberries

Immerse chicken in rosemary and garlic infused olive oil for 2 hours. Heat pan, add clarified butter. Cook chicken on medium heat turning on both sides until the skin gets crisp and golden and cooked through. Remove from pan and place in dish. Reduce port wine, add bouillon and pureed blackberries. Season, strain and set aside. Remove the chicken from oven.

Ours was served with potatoes and macaroni & cheese.

Servings: 4
Calories 242
Total Fat 15.1g
Total Carbohydrates 2.4g
Fiber 1.3g
Grade C

Today’s Leopard Find: Nicole Miller Dog Treat Jar

Spinach and Fresh Mushroom Salad

 

Course #2 at our Carnival cooking demonstration was this spinach and mushroom salad. Seeing how Course #1 was Mushroom Cappuccino and Course #3 had mushrooms as well, I felt like someone was doing this to me on purpose. Apparently that chef loved mushrooms. It was pretty good in spite of the mushrooms.

Yesterday we celebrated the life of my crazy Uncle Roger. He was a funny, funny man with a great heart. This picture is the last time that I saw him. He couldn’t walk very well so he did high kicks from the chair as his son and grandson carried him out. The funeral was 2 hours of funny stories about him. The one that keeps me giggling was that he had requested to be buried with one hand on each side of the casket so that it looked like he was about to pop up. R.I.P. Uncle Roger.

Ingredients:
1/4 lb Baby Spinach Leaves
6 Bacon Strips, diced
2 oz Blue Cheese
4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Portobello Mushroom
1/2 Tbs Butter
1/4 cups Mixed Chopped Mushrooms
Salt to taste
Crushed Black Pepper to taste
1/4 Tbs Lemon Juice
2 oz Parmesan Cheese

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain off excess fat. Keep warm until ready to use. Clean, wash and dry spinach leaves in a salad spinner. Remove the stem and gills of the Portabello and peel. Cook in butter with salt and pepper. Cut into rounds. Shred the left over trimmings and mix in with the other mushrooms. Keep warm. Blend extra virgin olive oil, half the blue cheese, lemon juice, salt & pepper with a blender. Toss together spinach, blue cheese dressing and mushrooms. Place on plate and top with remaining blue cheese and fresh bacon bits.

Servings: 4
Calories 412
Total Fat 36.4g
Total Carbohydrates 3.0g
Dietary Fiber 0.7g
Nutrition Grade C

Today’s Leopard Print Find: …Not Rated Women’s Brit Loafer

Mushroom Cappuccino Soup

 

On our cruise aboard the Carnival Magic, we went to a cooking demonstration (1 of us went very reluctantly). The demonstration was done by the chef at the Prime Steakhouse. We got to sample a 4 course meal. They were kind enough to share the recipes with us. First up…Mushroom Cappuccino. I’m not usually a fan of mushrooms but I decided to try this anyway. It was delicious!! The ship was great and the balcony was awesome. What I heard was correct, once you have a balcony you can never go back. That will definitely be a requirement going forward. The ship had 2 large water slides, 2 pools, multiple hot tubs, spa, a beautiful gym (which was always packed so we never got to actually use it), a great new pub – The Red Frog, a piano bar, miniature golf course, basketball court, outdoor gym and of course food everywhere. I’m ready to go back.

The cooking demonstration…

The slides…

The room…

The atrium…

The Red Frog Pub (and the awesome Caribbean Coloda – I’ll have to figure this one out)…

Slot Tournament…

Shuffleboard at the pub…

 

The Hairy Chest Contest….the guy that took off his swimsuit won by a landslide. (he had a long top on)

 

 

 

Dodgeball…

And one of my favorites, the towel animals lounging by the pool…

1 lb Assorted Mushrooms, chopped
5 Tbs Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, chopped
2 oz Unsalted Butter, clarified
2 pints Chicken Stock
1 pint Cream
3 drops Truffle Oil
1 tsp Parsley, chopped
Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
2 sprigs Thyme

Saute onions and garlic in butter. Add mushrooms. Add chicken stock and simmer. Season with salt and pepper.When mushrooms are cooked, blend in a blender and drain through a strainer to remove any lumps. Return the puree to the pan and add cream and truffle oil.Serve warm with a small piece of toasted bread.

Servings: 4
Calories: 208
Fat: 18.2g
Carbs: 8.9g
Fiber: 1.4g
Nutrition Grade: B-

Today’s Leopard Print Find: Two Lumps of Sugar Boat Bag

Stuffed Chicken

 

I still have a couple more cruise posts coming but decided to take a break and post a recipe instead. Just like Thanksgiving! (almost) After spending an hour in the kitchen making this, peas and mashed potatoes, the girls both turned up their noses and wanted to know “what’s that red stuff?”, “what’s that yellow stuff??”, “is that cheese???”….. sigh….. Anyway, I loved it and it was less then 250 calories!

After soaking the stuffing mix in water for 5 minutes, add the egg.

Top each breast with stuffing mix.

Roll tightly.

Top with soup mixture and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Ingredients:
3 oz Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup Water
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
6 Small Chicken Breast halves (1-1/2 lb.), boneless & skinless – flattened to about 1/4-inch thick
1 (10-3/4 oz.) can Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp Paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine stuffing mix and water in bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in egg. Place chicken, top-sides down, on large cutting board; spread each breast evenly with stuffing mix. Tightly roll up each chicken breast. Place seam-sides down, in a 13×9 inch baking dish. Mix soup and milk; pour over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 30 min. or until chicken is cooked throughly. (If you use larger breasts you will need to cook longer) Servings: 6 Nutrition Facts Serving Size 186 g Amount Per Servings: 6

Calories: 248
Fat: 2.3g
Carbs: 15.8g
Fiber: 1.0g
Nutrition Grade: A-

Today’s Leopard Find: License Plate Frames

The Amazing Secret River Excursion – Cozumel

 

The third stop on our cruise….Cozumel! This was our second time to visit the port at Cozumel. It’s one of the prettier ports. Although we haven’t gotten to spend any time here yet because we are always rushing to and from the “ferry” (which apparently is another word for really, really fast, motion sickness inducing speed boat) to Playa for our excursions. Last time in case you missed it, we went to Xcaret. We enjoyed it so much we started to do it again but decided to do something new instead. This time we did The Amazing Secret River. Apparently that’s just what Carnival calls it, the people there call it Rio Secreto. Carnival is right though, it’s AMAZING! It was discovered in 2006 by the man who owns the property. He was chasing an iguana and the iguana ran down into a pile of rocks. One of the rocks fell and the man heard the sound of splashing water. This is what he found…..

It was breathtakingly beautiful.

After the “ferry” we took a 15 minute van ride to Rio Secreto. Once there we got a “Mayan Massage” (a.k.a. a 20 minute van ride on a very bumpy road) to the site. They got us suited up in wetsuits, water shoes, life vest and a beautiful helmet with a lamp. We spent an hour and a half walking and swimming through the cave. It’s not an easy trip. Lots of bending, walking on rocks, ducking, etc… Several people in our group had trouble. They do offer walking sticks at the beginning. They should probably strongly encourage that you take one if you have any issues.

You aren’t allowed to take a camera into the caves but they had a photographer follow us. You can buy all of the pictures on a CD for $69.99. Afterwards they fed us the most amazing true Mexican meal I’ve ever had. I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures of that. We also had about 45 minutes of free time to shop in Playa. It was a great day!!

This adorable puppy greeted us at the port. I thought he was a drug dog but no, turns out he was looking for food. There are pretty hefty fines for bringing food into Mexico. He walked up and sniffed everyone. When he found food on people he would sit down beside them. Next time I’ll put a sandwich in my pocket so I can pet the cute little guy.

Today’s Leopard Find: Nail Polish Stick-On Strips …

Belize Land Rover and Cave Expedition Excursion

 

The 2nd stop on our Carnival Magic cruise…Belize! This is a Tender Port. Just my luck, as we are on the tender and headed to the port we suddenly notice that the ship seemed to have disappeared. Then we realized that it was behind the rain. Nothing like being out in the middle of the ocean on an open boat and seeing a storm quickly approaching you. We got drenched. The Carnival description for the Land Rover and Cave Expedition excursion must be out of date. We had a great time, it just wasn’t what we were expecting and Belize is not anything like I had pictured. The river was my favorite part of the port.

First we took a boat ride up the river. They said we might see some wildlife. All we got were 2 iguanas and some termite nests. The group before us did get to see a crocodile though.

The boat took us to the farm where we picked up our Land Rover. The Land Rover’s hold 8 people and only 2 people get to drive. They are all manual transmission vehicles and you have to have your driver’s license with you. The Carnival website had this description of the excursion… “You’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you traverse through raw jungle trails in a rugged 4×4 Land Rover and trek through ancient Mayan caves.” I didn’t have an Indiana Jones hat and we drove on roads more than we did jungle.

Part of the roads were really dusty too.

 

We did get a little muddy but that was from just one small part of our drive.

The cave was okay but not real exciting. There were rocks and bats. I might have appreciated it more if it wasn’t for the excursion I’m going to post tomorrow.

This was the river we had to cross to get to and from the cave. You have to cross a long, swaying suspension bridge so if you are scared of heights this might not be the excursion for you.

After we finished exploring the cave, they took us back to “camp”. They had fruit, rum punch and sodas. There were also a couple of vendors there that you could buy things from. Hindsight, I wish I would have gotten something from one of them because the shopping at this port was awful! One of the vendors was selling food. It looked delicious but we didn’t get any. When we got on the bus to return back to the port, one of the workers asked if any of us had gotten the food and asked what we had. When they told him that they had chicken, beans & rice and banana bread he said “are you sure that’s what you had?” They all said yes and he said “are you sure that was chicken?” Which is why I prefer to not eat when I’m not in Texas. He told us the story of the Queen of England coming to Belize and wanting to eat one of their traditional meals. They fed her and then afterwards she asked what it was. They told her it was “Paca” which is apparently another word for big, hairy rat. So the Paca is now referred to as the Royal Rat in Belize. Apparently she wasn’t happy about being fed rat. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be seeing any Paca recipes on my blog.

Today’s Leopard Find: Sperry Top-Sider Hiking Boot

Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan Canopy Tour and Tabyana Beach Excursion

 

We just got back from our 20 year Anniversary cruise. Sad for it to be over and even sadder that I have Mal de Debarquement Syndrome again! I had never heard of this until I started researching it after my cruise last year. It is a specific type of vertigo that occurs after departing a cruise. Upon returning to land, a person with MDD develops a swaying sensation and dizziness that can last for many days to many years. Luckily last time mine only lasted 3 weeks. Today mine hit when we were halfway home in the Dairy Queen bathroom. Everything started swaying and it hasn’t stopped since. As they say on the Carnival ship…fun, fun, fun!!

The cruise and the ship were both wonderful. We were on the Carnival Magic. First stop…Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan…. The port was really nice. Lots of shopping spots and the usual port bar.

We did the Canopy Tour and Tabyana Beach excursion. It was $89.99 a person. This excursion had a 4.8 star rating. I would totally agree with that. The zip-lining at Gumbalimba Park was awesome! The people were very friendly and helpful. There were a total of 10 zip lines that we got to zip down. There was a photographer there that took 10 pictures of you coming down the final zip line. You were able to purchase them on a disc for just $10. Not a bad deal. Although zip-lining isn’t the most flattering position and the helmet doesn’t help either….

Afterwards, they drove us to Tabyana Beach. The beach was beautiful. There was a gift shop, restaurant, bar, showers, beach chairs and lots and lots of vendors. They had security guards there to help keep the vendors away. The only complaint I have about the excursion is that the vendors wouldn’t leave you alone. The security did the best they could but they were outnumbered. Some of them even came out into the ocean to offer you a massage or braid your hair. They also like to tell you that they don’t have change for anything so come prepared with ones and fives. They did have good deals on jewelry, dresses, shells, hammocks, etc…

The people at the bar took great care of everyone. They would even come out to the water to deliver your drinks. The food was great too. We got a huge plate of beans and rice for $3. It was delicious. I need to work on recreating that one soon.

My favorite vendor….Cookie the Monkey. Only $5 for unlimited pictures. I could have played with him all day. Taylor and Megan aren’t real happy with me though. They didn’t want us to do any excursions that involved animals since they weren’t with us. But since Cookie wasn’t really part of the excursion he doesn’t count.

Coming soon….Belize and Cozumel.
Today’s Leopard Find: Toiletry Travel Bag

Clementine Smoothie

1 cup Orange Juice
6 oz Milk
1 Clementine
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Crushed Ice
1 packet Truvia

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Servings: 2
Calories 150
Fat 2.0g
Carbohydrates 29.1g
Fiber 1.1g
Nutrition Grade B

Today’s Leopard Find: Hanging Jewelry Organizer …

The Perfect Boiled Egg

Due to book fair taking up all my time for the last 2 weeks, there hasn’t been a lot of time for actual cooking. That’s why there will be a few more smoothies coming in the next few days. Last nights fancy dinner was egg salad sandwiches. It took me a few years to figure out that there was a secret to boiling eggs.

Place eggs in a pot with cold water that completely covers the egg by about an inch. Add one teaspoon of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once it is to a strong boil, let it boil for a minute. Remove the pot from the heat and cover it with a lid. Let it sit for 12 minutes. Remove the egg from the hot water with a slotted spoon. Let the eggs cool for about 10 minutes. Place in pot with cold ice water. Crack the egg and then peel in the water.

Today’s Leopard Print Find: Wastebasket …