Category: USA

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Taste the USA

Taste the USA

Did you know many of us choose our holiday destination on food.  I wanted to enjoy A taste the USA. When we chose to go to America it was for various reasons mainly its somewhere we had all wanted to go. Once booked I started to take an interest in the cuisines available in San Francisco, it was a variety of taste-bud exploding foods, such as Clam Chowder, food vans, so much so they have a huge area where the vans meet everyday and you can walk round, decide and just chill, sadly we didn’t get to any of them so I have tried to re-create something we didn’t get to try and a few we did.

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I was unable to purchase clams here not even in tins so changed my menu slightly but its still something I wanted to try and never got the chance to.

My taste the USA night Menu

Cioppino Fish Stew (recipe below)
Fry Chicken with ranch dip (ranch recipe below)
Chicken Pot Pie with lumpy mash (as requested by little man)
Pulled Pork sandwich
New York Cheesecake

I will not be going to give you the recipes for all as most can be found on my other blog cakesphotoslife. today is the Cioppino and the homemade ranch dip

Cioppino ingredients

Cioppino Fish Stew
Original recipe from Foodnetwork (I have highlighted alternatives)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup butter
    1 rib celery, chopped
    1 onion, diced
    1 can crushed tomatoes (28-oz)
    2 cups clam juice or fish stock
    2 cups white wine
    4 cloves crushed garlic
    1 lemon, juiced
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 bay leaf
    1 teaspoons dried basil
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 Dungeness crab (about 2-lbs), cracked and cleaned, or 1-lb frozen crabmeat thawed (Tinned crabmeat)
    2 pounds halibut fillet, cut into 1-in slices (cod fillets)
    24 large prawns, peeled and de-veined (Cray fish tails, I don’t like prawns)
    12 mussels (I couldn’t get fresh so bought a prepared with garlic and white wine sauce)
    1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped

cioppino stew


In a large pot, on medium-low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil and saute the celery and onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the seafood and fresh parsley. Simmer on low, uncovered, for one hour.  Add a splash of water if the sauce gets to thick. Furthermore taste for salt and add as mush as needed.
Add the crab, shrimp, and halibut, and simmer covered another five minutes. Add the mussels, cover the pot and simmer for 3 minutes more, or until the mussels open. Finally turn off the heat, and stir in the Italian parsley.

Homemade Ranch Dip Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
    2-3 tablespoons sour cream
    1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    1 teaspoon mixed herbs
    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
    a dash of balsamic vinegar


Finally place all ingredients into a jar and shake well, if you don’t think you have shaken enough, shake some more. (my neighbours probably laughed at me dancing around the kitchen shaking a jar of dip)

This recipe was originally found on Cakesphotoslife and has been replaced on here.

Las Vegas Bug

Las Vegas BugLas Vegas Bug

The Las Vegas Bug, it’s a real thing, it grips to your soul and will not let go. A place that isn’t just bright lights and gambling.

It is more of the unique, the wild, the different, a place full of contrasts, shows and fun.

Fancy flying down Fremont Street on a bed? (not literally but you go down on your stomach). A helicopter flight to see the strip at night?.


Each Hotel is different, hence has something to offer from the others. The only theme that runs through the place is the casinos and the bright again each trying to outdo the other.

A Gondola ride at the Venetian,  the thrill of a roller coaster through the New York New York. The amazing Fountains outside the Bellagio. From the modern to the Old the lights, the diamanté and the sculptures, there is no place on earth like Las Vegas. Walking through the Cosmopolitan with it dazzling curtains of diamante and striking pink colour to the Shopping in the Ceaser’s Palace with it unique escalator.

In the two trips I have taken, I haven’t seen inside each hotel yet due to time.

Depending who was to come with me again depends on which I stay in, (Money allowing).

  • If I went with a bunch of friends – The MGM. The place to go for Irish trash cans (cocktails).
  • If I were to go with husband again – The Cosmopolitan. Its simplicity is yet stunning and as the name suggests very Cosmopolitan, A view of the fountains please.
  • If daughter came with me – New York New York. It would feel like we had visited 2 cities in one trip. Unless she could sleep in Victoria’s Secrets, then she would be happier.
  • Finally with little man – Excalibur. What Child doesn’t like dragons? the whole place is designed for children or young at heart, it even has a place for kids to enjoy a ‘gamble’.

These are my recommendations from what I have seen from going in to the hotels. I have only stayed in the Circus Circus and Luxor but as previously mentioned all are unique and if I could I would stay in each and every one for different reasons.

Booking travel

Our First trip, I visited our local Virgin Travel Shop. I didn’t care where we went, just had a date in mind. The lady went through lots of choices, prices, dates and flight duration. We eventually chose Las Vegas and for less than £1100 my daughter and were booked to go 21 days later. Flying with United airlines. Whilst there the east were having extreme weather conditions and in light of that and our flights schedule, we visited Virgin. The staff were busy on the phones, not only did they help us but went out the way to ensure we were reassured about the journey home.

Second was different, I was Lucky enough to win the trip so all bookings were done via Endless UK and Ireland therefore it wasn’t in my hands but what a trip. Direct flights with Virgin Atlantic, 3 nights at the Luxor Hotel. In addition to that show tickets  to see JLo Live at the Axis Theatre.

Ultimately there are many choices of agents you can use, from big companies who sort it all for you, to sorting out flights and accommodation separate. Its easy in Vegas to get from the airport, book a limo in advance with sites such as Viator or jump a taxi (between $20 and $40 depending where you go). Daughter and I shared a cab with another couple as a result that helped the cost.

As a result I intend to go back, with daughter who will be 21 by then and can celebrate and enjoy it differently and with the boys to see it via a child’s eye.

Finally don’t forget to sign up to any loyalty card schemes.






Photo Scavenger Hunt in Las Vegas

Photo Scavenger Hunt in Las Vegas

My husband and I are off to the bright lights of Vegas very soon, thanks to Endless UK and Ireland. I recently won (yes some competitions on Facebook are real) a 3 night break. Included in it are  tickets to see JLo’s ‘All I Have’ concert and a VIP dinner. As it is my husbands first time visiting and our first time out of the country together with no children in tow I thought it would be fun to have a little game, A Photo Scavenger hunt. I googled and asked friends for ideas but most google searches were for bachelorette/bachelor parties and didn’t seem appropriate. So for all those couples who want some fun on their next trip to Vegas have a look and enjoy.

Rules are simple

  • the first to get all images wins.
  • no repeats from either party. (ie the first to spot the showgirl gets the photo)
  • The winner gets a gift. (we are having a $20 limit on the prize)

I’m printing these off, putting one behind the other and laminating it to make it easier, they don’t get all ripped or screwed up.

Scavenger hunt clues

Scavenger hunt clues

So who will come out the winner? follow the hashtag #AnAEndlessLV to see. When we return there will be a follow up post to show you the winner and the prize they got, if you are going somewhere different why not set yourself a photo scavenger hunt, even the husband is showing signs of enthusiasm now 😉

Tomales Bay Oyster Farm, California images #7

Tomales Bay Oyster Farm

Tomales Bay Oyster Farm

After cycling all morning from Rohnert Park in the heat hitting the Pacific Highway 1 along the way, this is an unusual place to stop but beautiful also, we were shown how to Shuck our own oysters, watch the men bring them in from the beds and sort them out, we ate raw ones with a chilli hit and also barbecued them, a great lunchtime stop.

Coulteville, California Images #5


Coulterville, California

Coulteville, a small town just outside of Yosemite heading East to San Francisco, it has a great little cafe to allow you to cool down after a very hot morning. If your looking for typical old style communites this is one place to visit, look for another on the blog soon.

Alcatraz everyone must Visit

Alcatraz everyone must Visit

Alcatraz everyone must Visit. Everyone has heard of Alcatraz, you may have even seen the films and whatever documentary’s have been on about it, well I can tell you it is

  • Awesome
  • Eerie
  • Mysterious
  • Dark

DSC09752Alcatraz 1Alcatraz 4















Such a lot of emotions running through the body and mind, whist walking round the grounds, inside the Penitentiary itself then thought provoking on the boat home.

In the beautiful grounds, where flowers blossom, a garden grows and the old stone work eroding, it was hard to imagine that nothing but good was in the area.



Alcatraz 5Alcatraz 2 B&W















Enter the Penitentiary and all those feelings change, its cold, eerie and when listening to the tour in your personal headsets, hearing the reality of what happened, when I say reality I mean that, screams and the prison guards from days gone by recounting their time served there. You see the outside world from a tiny window, a bustling city within arms reach yet it cant be reached, you cant just get up and walk, even the guards and their families couldn’t do that, they had to wait for a ferry to collect them and take them the 1 1/2miles across the bay.

Alcatraz 2Alcatraz 1 B&W

Alcatraz 5 B&W















On the ferry back you think back, discuss with the family what you saw and heard. The crimes they committed did they really need to be in a place like that?. In England things happen that are a lot worse yet they have the right to freedom, a TV, they don’t have the right to escape but if they try, they don’t have the water between them, the risk of drowning if they try to escape, in addition to the risk of being shot. Little man Loved this, he loves history and it certainly entertained him.



Alcatraz 4 B&W















If you ever get to San Fransisco I suggest you pre-book this tour before leaving especially if time is limited for you and your family, it is worth every penny.

For further information check out Alcatraz Tours (prices correct as of published date)

Duration Day Tours

  • Approximately 2 ½ Hours


  • Daily Available up to 90 days ahead.

Adult Price: $41.00
Children: $28.50
Seniors: $39.25

Duration Evening Tours

Adult Price:$48.00
Children: $32.00
Seniors: $45.25


Disclaimer: we paid for all flights, hotels, excursions and food during our holiday. I am sharing our experience because I wish to.

This post was first seen on Cakesphotoslife

Calacademy a place to visit


Calacademy, is the California Academy of Sciences based in the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, it is easily accessible and an amazing day out for young and Old.

We got our tickets within our City Pass booklet but if you were to pay the cost is. Ordering a City Pass is a wonderful way to get around.

Pricing (correct at time of publishing)

  • Adult $34.95
  • Senior (ages 65 and over) $29.95
  • Student $29.95
  • Youth (ages 12-17) $29.95
  • Child (ages 4-11) $24.95
  • Ages 3 and under FREE

What can you do?

  • Enter the Earthquake (Husbands favourite)
  • Planetarium
  • Aquarium
  • Rain forests of the world (my personal favourite)
  • Science in Action (little mans favourite)
  • plus so much more

We arrived for opening, there was a small queue but once inside it seemed spacious enough to not realise how many were actually in the building, until lunch. The queue for a meal or drink was rather large. Our advice is do not plan for anything that day as there is so much to see and do inside. Afterwards take a walk around the park, hire a bike and cycle it, we hired what we thought was a distant memory from our childhood, a 4 wheeled 2 steering bike…it was so much fun (but hard work even on the smallest of hills).


To Enter the Morrisons Planetarium you need to get a ticket and they will inform you of the time to arrive. As it is such a popular event. Little mans ultimate Favourite was the hands on chance to do some science, making a meteorite.

Hope you enjoy the photos of the day


Calacademy 1

Calacademy 2

Calacademy 3

Calacademy 4


























Finally we would give this venue a massive 9.5/10 the loss of .5 was due to the queues for drinks and food hall only.

Disclaimer: All activities done during our time in San Francisco were paid for by us including flights, hotel and insurance

This post was originally found on Cakesphotoslife, it has been updated accordingly by the TNC Team


Bolinas Lagoon CA Images #2

Bolinas Lagoon CA Images #2

bolinas lagoon

Bolinas Lagoon, Marin County, California, a beautiful tranquil place in the early hours of the morning with the rolling fog from the Bay just being seen.


All opinions are personal unless otherwise stated.

All Images are taken by the TNC Team unless stated