Lo Mein with Steak and Veggies

Since I was 5 years old my parents had the tradition of eating out EVERY Thursday!  No matter what was happening during the week or the weekend, the three of us knew Thursday meant going to a restaurant (most of the time to a new one or one we have not gone in a while), it could be Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Panamanian, Seafood, or it could be a fancy restaurant or a diner, Thursday was a day in which the three of us will sit down and act like a family who enjoyed eating dinner out.

As I grew older, and my friends started getting together on Thursdays nights, I did not break the rule. I would go out with my parents and THEN meet my friends to study for a test, or to go to a party, or just to hang out. On Thursday’s family came first.  Even today, after 20 years of not living in Panama, I still call my parents on Thursday’s night to ask them where are they eating? Yes, they still go EVERY Thursday.

So usually, as a rule, on Wednesdays I take it easy for dinner. I would usually make one of my Buddha Bowls with whatever veggies or meat I have available, but Thursdays… I try hard to make it special.  We cannot go out to eat, truly the logistics between one kid’s soccer practice and the hectic school schedule of the other one would make it impossible. So I cook on Thursday and make it special by taking my time to make something delicious.

Today, Thursday’s menu was Lo Mein with Steak and Veggies: And this is how it was done: 

First cook the noodles. I have been using this brand ________ and I am in love with it. I will put a link at the bottom of the post.

After the noodles are cooked, we move on to the veggies, for this particular one I am adding carrots, cabbage, snow peas, garlic and shallots

The steak is next and I cooked in high heat for 3 minutes on each side and then I cut them in small pieces

Then I make the sauce by adding: 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp of rice vinegar, 1 tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp Sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes.

Putting all together

Enjoy your at home (but could be a Restaurat) Lo Mein. From my kitchen to yours.

Below is the noodles I use, they are organic and come in many varieties, for this recipe I used the ramen, but the udon is delicious too.

Family Rules Got to love my children Kitchen Confidential Loving Life

Memories from an "all girls" Catholic school

My son, following the public education of where we live, will go through four schools before graduating from high school. He is truly unfazed by the system and is already looking forward to going to his third school, I,  on the other hand, cannot help but feel anxious that he is not creating roots and love for the “alma mater” the way I did. You see, I went to the same Catholic School for 13 years, 13 years in the same building, with the same teaches, with the majority of my classmates year after year, simply growing up together like sisters.  It was an “only girls” school, and it was awesome!.

My school logo

After spending 13 years in the same school, an immense love develops for the building that saw us grow, for the teachers who witnessed year after year our development. We learned to admire the Patron Saint of my school: Santa Rafael Maria, who we knew her entire biography from beginning to end, and to which we prayed and sang during our religion classes. We grew up in an environment of love, servitude, and peace, and above all, of friendship.  It was as if each of my classmates had something special and specific to offer, we all together, all 72 of us, were a unit. A unit of solidarity, of understanding, of acceptance, of complicity, of fun.

me in the circle!

We still in contact, through Facebook, and and we are currently 66 in our Whatsapp group. We congratulate each other when one marries or becomes a mother, and we support each other when illness and pain knock on the door. The school joined us for 13 years and 25 years later we still have the ability to remember our adventures and pranks with love and with the tenderness that great memories of the past can make us feel.

The picture below is in our 20 year anniversary. We were almost the entire group including the ones that live outside of Panama, like me. We did our effort to show up and catch up after 20 years, it was an amazing night!

My hope is that my son will develop the same loyalty to his high school, that his schoolmates will become an intrinsic part of his upbringing and he will have is own wonderful, long-lasting, and honest group of friends with whom he will learn that no matter what life throws your way, you have shoulders to lean on and a strong core of values that the school has also planted in his heart.

Family Rules Got to love my children Loving Life Personal Journal

The Long Haul Flight Essential Checklist

We are three weeks away from our Mediterranean Cruise and Barcelona Trip and we have pretty much all tied down (as much as possible).  We are starting to look into packing our clothes, finishing our excursions selections, and getting to know more about Barcelona. So as I start packing our bags and getting ourselves ready, I wanted to share our packing list for both the airplane flight and our small backpack we will be using when we walk around Barcelona and during the excursions at the port.

Airplane Back Pack: We will travel with three backpacks (one for my husband and two to be shared between me and my two sons). I will focus on the one that I will be sharing with my sons since the flight will be a long one (Houston to Frankfurt and then a two-hour flight to  Barcelona). I like to make sure that we will be able to be comfortable in the airplane and therefore I will be packing:

  • Passport and Flight Tickets Holder
  • Tablets (yes we each get one)
  • 3 headphones
  • Chargers
  • Portable Chargers (just in case)
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Wipes
  • Small hand cream
  • 3 small books (one for each of us)
  • 2 neck pillows (I am skipping on this one)
  • My notebook (journal)
  • 2 pens (yes, I always travel with two)
  • Passport holder 
  • Wallet
  • Very small make-up bag: stick foundation, lip balm, lipstick, blush stick, sample size perfume)
  • Gum
  • (3 underwears and 3 lightweight shirts)
  • Headache and allergies medicines

We will be wearing comfortable light sweatpants (for me it will be leggins) and comfortable cotton shirts with light jackets, socks, and tennis shoes.

For our days in Barcelona and our excursion days we will be carrying:

  • Small backpack – We are getting one for the four of us.  Big enough to carry at least 2 bottles of water, but small enough that my 9-year old can easily carry it too.  
  • Portable Battery Charger
  • Passport Copies – We do not walk around with our passports, but a copy of the passports and we leave the originals in the hotel’s safety box.
  • Anti-bacterial Gel 
  • Pre-paid tickets receipt (hop off hop on the bus, or museums)
  • Camera (yes we still travel with one)
  • Phones
  • Small wipes
  • Wallets
  • 2 bottles of waters (at all time)

If it is going to be a rainy day we will be wearing our rain jackets.

Hopefully, these two lists help you when doing your own checklist and help you make sure that you and your family are comfortable during the flight and when doing tourism in an unknown location.  It is important to keep it short as we will be doing the same packing every day we get out of the hotel or cruise ship so it should be easy to put all together in a matter of minutes. Please take note that when doing the excursions on the Cruise we will NOT be going to beaches, but cities where we will mostly walk around or be in bus tours.

Just wondering… what am I missing???

Family Rules Got to love my children Happy Go Travel Loving Life

Photos from the past… time to remember

The other day my cousin sent me a photo unexpectedly. I kept looking at the picture for a while, trying hard to recognize the place. I was so surprised when I finally recognized it! It was the beach house we use to go when we were younger when we were kids, it was our vacation spot, it was our Adventureland. What I could have remembered as a beautiful place, with very comfortable beach chalets, and a gigantic pool was nothing more than small cabins with a grill and plastic chairs in the front porch, and a small pool that certainly had to be overcrowded when we would swim and play in it. 

In those little cabins, I had created memories that are surrounded by happiness and pure joy,  encapsulating that moment in time when fun was the main driving force of my days. I could clearly remember the happiness of my parents. The happiness of my cousins ​​and friends. The happiness of freedom. The happiness of not knowing that life hits hard and takes away your loved ones. The happiness that only the innocence of youth can make us feel.

Now, seeing that picture, trying to piece together the puzzle  of my broken memory I realize that it is impossible. That beautiful beach, with its very comfortable chalets and its gigantic swimming pool, will be forever engraved on me, and cannot be reconciled with the photos of reality. 

Speaking with my cousin of those times, almost 27 years ago, we felt nostalgic for the innocence we lost over the years, we felt sad when we remember the people we lost since then.  It was painful to realize that so much time has passed. That we grew old.

I have always believed that the purpose of remembering is to relive again. And when talking to my cousin about those years, we felt the urgency to recognize that our children now have the opportunity to experience the happiness of innocence. That it is not the beauty of the place, nor the spectacular hotel, nor the giant pool what will remain in their memories … but our company, our laughter, the moments with their friends, the talks in the sand next to a campfire … those will be their memories and no picture will match it and the time will not corrupt it either.

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Barcelona Day 1… airplane trip, arrival, and walking Las Ramblas

Vacation planning… airplane trip, arrival in Barcelona and walking Las Ramblas!

Every time I travel I  like to visualize the voyage, the process of “getting there” and for me, this is even more important when you are traveling with family and friends.   We are traveling to Barcelona to take a 8-day Mediterranean Cruise with my kids and my parents (I know God Bless my husband). We are flying to Barcelona via Frankfurt and it will be FUN!.  Having been in long flights throughout my traveling time I am looking forward to “cross the pond” with my kids for the first time 😉)

TIP#1:  Book a transatlantic flight that flights through the night so you force yourself to sleep during the flight and helps you handle the jet lag a bit better

We are departing from Houston at 4:30 pm.  The kids will go to school as usual and we will go from their school to the airport.  I will give them a light snack at the airport and wait until dinner on the plane. The intention is for them to sleep as much as possible and “wake up” in Frankfurt. From Frankfurt, we take a 2-hour flight to Barcelona and arrive in Barcelona at 1:30 pm.

We meet my parents at the Hotel which is located by Plaza Catalunya and the Rambla.  We take some time to rest and we go for walk by the Ramblas. My intention is to walk hitting the following places:

Casa Batllo – 3-minute walk

Plaza Catalunya – 9-minute walk

Rambla del Raval – 15-minute walk

Palau Guell – 7-minute walk

Colon Monument – 7-minute walk

We will have dinner when hungry and I have spotted three different “Tapas” places along the way.  

We will walk back to the hotel while expressing our gratitude for been in Barcelona altogether and I hope we can spot a good place to have a dessert with coffee on our way back to the hotel.

TIP#2: When you are jet lag and its time to sleep take melatonin. It helps to regulate your new time zones.  Also if you can sleep with the curtains open so that the sunlight can help to wake you up and will be easier for your internal clock to self-regulate.

I will take note of the first day and see how close we are to the above itinerary. I am always curious to see how much of the planning becomes a reality and even more important how much it helps when we deviate from the plan itself.

And now lets get to Day#2

Family Rules Got to love my children Happy Go Travel Loving Life

When a simple Thank You will do

Last Friday night we went to bed a bit late since we had friends over for dinner.  I cooked the appetizers, side dishes, and dessert, while our friends did the most tastefully, tender, and juicy Brisket ever.  We laughed, and talked, and laughed some more. As I and my husband went to bed, although we were tired, we both acknowledged how lucky and thankful we feel for having great friends in our lives.

Sunday was the Super Bowl and my family has been anticipated the big game and I knew it was a special moment for them, so although I had a gazillion things to cook and prep for the week, I made the effort to cook them Chicken Wings and Nachos which they devoured while watching the game. After we put the kids to bed and as I am in the kitchen finishing cleaning up, my younger son calls me in to tell me that he really appreciates all I do for them and that the wings were amazing and the Nachos were the best he ever had and that he is so thankful for having me as a mom… I smiled, kissed him and told him the lucky one was me.

When we give the best to our families, and to our loved ones, and to ourselves, we do reach a level of satisfaction in our lives. At the end of the day, comes the amazing feeling that you are doing your best to stir your family in a happy direction, and when that gets recognized, and you are thanked for it… well, we are closer to the destination.

Family Rules Got to love my children Loving Life Personal Journal Writer's drawer

Beef Stew (Instant Pot) version

recipe follows….

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Yesterday was one of those days in which we walk through the door we want to keep walking until we hit the cough (or bed). Yes, we all know those days in which last-minute errands, last-minute emergencies, school functions, and late work meetings can take a toll on us and yes, we do have a family to feed.  So what we do? We dust off the Instant Pot!. I am very particular towards what to cook in the Instant Pot and I stick to stews and soups most of the time (with very happy results). Below is our last-minute-thank-God-we-own-a-Instant-Pot beef stew.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs of stew meat (cut in equal cubes)
  • 2 tbsp of flour (to coat the meet)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 1 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1/4 cup of parsley and cilantro
  • 4 basil leaves (fresh)
  • 1 1.2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 5 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp of rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • salt and pepper

Put the Instant Pot in the sautee setting and add the olive oil.  Coat the meat with the flour and once the pot is hot add the meat and brown it on all sides.  Once it is browned (5 minutes), remove the meat and add ¼ cup of wine and about 1 tbsp of water in order to get the flavor of the drippings of the meat.  Add the onions and let them cook for 3 minutes, add the garlic and let it cook for 1 minute, add the carrots and let it cook for 3 minutes.

We now assemble the pot by adding the meat back into the pot, with the green beans, and all the spices and the herbs (parsley, basil, and cilantro).  Close the vent and let it cook in the stew/meat setting or pressure cooking setting for 25 minutes. After it is done, let the pressure self-relieve for 10 minutes and complete the process manually.

Serve over rice and enjoy.  The turmeric gives it that beautiful bright color and it is delicious! You are very much welcome.

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Got to love my children Kitchen Confidential Loving Life