Disney World with toddlers, Day 1

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Not to toot my own horn, but I have one a-DOR-able pirate on my hands.

Well, we did it. We survived a trip to Disney World with a 1.5 and 3.5 year-old. Why Disney, you ask? Well, add together a Captain Hook obsessed little boy and a Minnie/Mickey/Donald, Little Mermaid-obsessed little girl, and two parents who wanted to warm up after a brutal Minnesota January, Disney World was our vacation spot of choice. I wanted to jot down some tips and opinions of things we did in case any one out there is thinking of taking their young toddlers, or in case we want to go again soon and I need to jog my memory.

This was my 9th (or maybe 10th?) time to WDW (Walt Disney World) and I was amazed at the changes since my last visit in 2007. Most remarkably the New Fantasyland area in Magic Kingdom which was great for entertainment of multiple toddlers. Another change is all the pirate-centric activities, which are probably put in place so parent’s have an alternative to spend money on their kids beyond the typical princess fare.

First off, I am a big fan of staying on Disney property, especially since WDW started the new Magical Express bus service that picks travelers up at the airport and delivers them and their luggage right to the hotel. They even pick up your checked baggage from baggage claim and deliver it to the room. However, there is a 3-hour wait on that so make sure must-have items are in your carry on. Yes, it can be cheaper to stay off property, rent a car, drive in to the park every day, etc. BUT, if you believe time is money and don’t particularly enjoy hauling car seats with you when you travel, the convenience of Disney property is well worth the extra money (I’m not even convinced it would be extra money if you stayed at a value resort).

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The 8-story lobby of the Wilderness Lodge complete with totem pole, real (and cement) lodge pole pine beams, enormous fireplace, and miniature bubbling geyser with a stream running outside. (sorry for the bad picture)

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View of the Wilderness Lodge pool area and the lake.

We chose the Wilderness Lodge which is on the high end of the price spectrum but I have found that January is a great time to stay there. Our Woods view (one upgrade above the most basic standard view room) was only $204.10 a night (plus about $25 in taxes) which felt like a steal since the same room carries a $350+ per night price tag in high season. Yes, truth be told, we could have stayed at a value resort for about $100 a night. We discussed hotel choice numerous times because that is one of the places to cut down vacation costs, especially in WDW. In the end, we decided to stay at Wilderness Lodge because 1) We LOVE it there! But beyond that, we tried to justify it by telling ourselves, 2) it is close in proximity to Magic Kingdom, where we planned to spend most of our time. 3) connected by bus and boat (bonus for a pirate-loving boy who thinks every boat in water is a pirate ship) to Magic Kingdom to give is variable transport options. 4) It was close enough we could go back to the hotel for nap time if we wanted without wasting most of the day. 5) We planned to do two events at the Contemporary Hotel which is just a quick boat ride away adding to the convenience, without the even more hefty price tag of being on the monorail like the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. 6) As a guest staying on Disney property you get Extra Magic Hours. Each day one of the parks either opens early or stays open late and only people staying at a Disney hotel can enter so you have a little bit of crowd control.

Grandma with her little Hook.

Grandma with her little Hook.

My parents drove all the way from Minnesota to meet us down there and it was great to see them when we arrived. One side note tip, if you have anyone traveling with you who has trouble walking long distances, Disney hotels themselves are huge and very tiring to navigate. Each park rents electronic scooters for around $40 a day but they are available only on a first come, first serve basis. Disney has a handful of approved vendors for electronic scooters which deliver them straight to the hotel. Each Disney bus can hold two scooters, and the large boat which transports from Wilderness to Magic Kingdom can hold three. It is a WAY better deal to get the scooter delivered to the hotel by one of the vendors, saving the hassle of waiting in line and saves feet from the stress of large hotel walks. They are dropped off at the hotel, come with a charger, can be parked in the hallway overnight to charge so they don’t take up hotel room space, and the company picks them up. If you run out of battery at a Disney park and forgot the charger, the company comes to the park and gives you a new battery. Awesome service!

Searching for Treasure before meeting Captain Hook.

Searching for Treasure before meeting Captain Hook.

Since we didn’t get to the hotel until about 4, we had not planned to go to a park. In hindsight, it probably would have been cheaper to go to a park than do the event we did, since once you get over a 4-day single park ticket pass it is only about $10 a day to add on additional days. However, our little guy is OBSESSED with Captain Hook and the absolute only guarantee to meet him is on the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage which takes place at the Contemporary Resort. DSC_0067

At $59 per adult and $34 per child (under 3 is free) it was actually more pricey than breakfast in Cinderella’s Castle. For our family, it was worth every penny but certainly wouldn’t be for everyone. It starts at 6:45 p.m., but if you show up around 6:15 to sign in there are a few little activities to do like a scavenger hunt, coloring pages, and simply letting your kids play with other pirate-wanna-be’s. Everyone in the group gets a bandana with the logo and a picture of Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, the stars of the night.

All of us Minnesota pirates.

All of us Minnesota pirates.

At 6:45, you are allowed in to one of the ballrooms at the Contemporary and there are lots of snacks available; cheesecake, dessert bars, bags of chips and popcorn, cotton candy (which our little guy had his first ever bag of and was SO excited), ice cream bars, frozen fruit bars, lemonade, tea. It would be a good idea to grab a simple sandwich or share a pizza ahead of time and plan on eating “side dishes” and desserts there. Up until about 7:15, guests can snack on as much as they want and take pictures with Hook and Smee.

Not the greatest picture but I'm still working on night photography skills.

Not the greatest picture but I’m still working on night photography skills.

About 7:20 everyone lines up at the door and is assigned either a Captain Hook or Mr. Smee boat group. Hook and Smee lead their group down to the boat dock and then wave good bye and “helper” pirates take over the entertainment. It is a small boat (not electronic cart friendly but they can be left on the dock right outside the boat) and heavy blankets are provided if it is chilly outside. The boat parks in the lagoon with a great view of Cinderella’s castle and a gorgeous view of the fireworks display, including the music which accompanies the show inside the Magic Kingdom so the complete choreography can be appreciated.

DSC_0111Upon returning to the dock, there is a photo opportunity with Peter Pan and then the night is over. We were last in line for Peter and finished the evening a little before 9 p.m.

Overall, it was a great event for our family due to the Captain Hook obsession, and a great way to start the trip with a little Disney magic without jumping right in to a theme park excursion. If you do not have any pirate lovers in your family, it may be a good thing to skip since the snacks themselves are not worth the price and you can see the water view of the fireworks by timing a boat ride back to the Magic Kingdom parking lot or back to the Wilderness Lodge for right when they start. It is not possible to hear the music which compliments the fireworks but the changing color castle and fireworks are a show on their own.

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Filed under Family, Kids, Travel, Travel outside MN and Mexico, Travel Tips

The cocooning of today’s children

October 22, 1989. If you are from Minnesota, especially central Minnesota, that date may not initially mean anything to you. Until I mention a name. Jacob Wetterling. Today marks the 24th of his disappearance and though his abduction has never been solved, it is far from forgotten.

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Since my son was born, a little over three years ago, I have been going to ECFE classes (Early Childhood and Family Education) with him and now with my one-year-old daughter as well. I’m not sure if ECFE is a “Minnesota thing” or if it is nationwide but for anyone not familiar with the program, it is aimed at parents and their children age birth through five and is run by the school district. Each school district has a variety of classes on different topics and involving different age groups but the core of the program is based on group play time with parents, circle and song time together and then, most importantly for me, separation time where the parents get to meet with a parent educator and speak on a variety of topics.

One of the topics we often discuss is the cocooning of society. How when we were kids we had freedom to play all around the neighborhood as long as we were home before dark. A freedom many of us do not give our own children. My husband and I have lived on our cul de sac for 11 years and I am embarrassed to admit I only can name and recognize 3 of my neighbors. We moved here for the feeling of security, the dead end street and neighbors with houses full of children.

It is a great place to raise our young family. I have no tangible reason to not trust all of my neighbors. I speak to many of the other moms and dads in classes and they mention living in similar areas and although some of them mention knowing their a larger amount of their neighbors, inevitably, someone states “but how well do you REALLY know your neighbors.” Fair enough. But I have always wondered when did this change in mentality take place? When did this fear creep in?

The instant fierce love that appears at the birth of a child has been around for thousands of years, so the over protection can not be from too much love. The distrust feels deeper, psychological, traumatic, but for me, it was always something I couldn’t exactly put my finger on. Until today. When I saw the news clip about Jacob Wetterling. A little flare of panic lit up in my heart as I looked at my children. And then I realized, there are certain things from your childhood that stay with you, even if you don’t realize it. The case of Jacob Wetterling is one of mine.

There are many reasons I feel connected to the disappearance of Jacob. He was my same age. He was from a small Minnesota town only 30 minutes from home. He was abducted in daylight while riding bike with his friends. All things I could relate to at the time. It was the first time in my young life I realized that someone could take a child or hurt a child… And that it could happen to anyone I know. That it could happen to me. The news was ablaze for weeks, months, and even years with pleas for help, updates, new leads, dead ends, questions and disappointments.

I know this isn’t the only reason I fear the safety of my children. It isn’t the only reason I hover near them at the park, keeping an eye on any strangers, especially those without kids, who seem like they don’t belong. At 2.5 I started talking to my son about strangers and not taking food or treats from them. While there is no way to prepare your children for every possible situation, I feel like I wouldn’t even have thought to start so early speaking of danger if it wasn’t for that day 24 years ago.

Please, keep your porch light on tonight, for Jacob and all the children who have been taken from their parents and never found. Pray for answers and peace to those families and hug your kids extra tight before bed.

Here is a link to more details on the case if you are unfamiliar with it. Jacob Wetterling abduction

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Filed under Family, Kids, Minnesota

Trouble with “spell”ing

My adorable son is currently in a Disney phase. Of course, this is encouraged by his mom and papi’s extreme love of Walt Disney World, where we took our first vacation together and then went two additional times in four years… before we had kids.

Our last trip to Disney World in January 2007.

Our last trip to Disney World in January 2007.

One day at about 2.5 years old, he had the stomach flu, so I put in Peter Pan. Since he started crawling, he’s been pulling DVD’s out of the entertainment center and looking at the pictures on the covers but I had never tried to sit him down for a movie.

After a solid month of Peter Pan obsession, I had a terrible cold and due to one of the endless Minnesota Spring snow storms, my mother was not able to come down and help me with the two little ones. Digging out a pile of Golden Books from my youth, we read Cinderella. He loved the mice and the magic of “Bibbidi Bobiddi Boo.” What does a sick mom do to buy herself at least a few minutes of resting time when home alone with a toddler? Yep, this mom broke out a “new” movie and popped Cinderella in to the DVD player.

Now, I know there is a school of thought out there about Disney “Princess” movies not being for boys. First of all, there are very few Disney full-length animated features without “scary” parts, despite the typical G-rating. Sleeping Beauty has, not only an evil sorceress, but a terrifying, fire-breathing dragon. Beauty and the Beast‘s Beast has some dark, angry outbursts. The queen in Snow White is far from friendly-looking, and the movie is scattered with dark moments. Even The Fox and the Hound has some pretty scary scenes with a bear and the hunter.

Cinderella has actually very few “princess” parts and has virtually no parts that can be construed as scary in my toddler’s mind. When he watched the story, he fell in love with the mice, Gus and Jaq, and laughed hysterically as they

If you look closely you can see the "glass slipper" on Cinderella's slipper. My little man is very resourceful with pantry items during his pretend play.

If you look closely you can see the “glass slipper” on Cinderella’s slipper. My little man is very resourceful with pantry items during his pretend play.

played tricks on “that naughty kitty Lucifer.” In the book, he thought the words “Bibbidi Bobiddi Boo” were silly and giggled when I read them. In the last two months he has watched Cinderella at least 20 times, usually playing the part of the Grand Duke trying glass slippers on his little sister, “Cinderella” and me, “Drizella” or “Anastasia” depending on the day.

One evening last week, we were watching the movie as a family while playing. The fairy godmother scene came on and my son paused and listened as she spoke to Cinderella. All of a sudden he asked me, “Mommy, what is a spell?” Surprised, since I had not even noticed the word in the movie before, I explained as best I could. I noticed an odd-look on my husband’s face but brushed it off. Later, as we were going to bed, he turned to me and said “I’m afraid he will ask me a question like that and I can’t answer it.”

Now, honestly, most of the time I no longer even remember that English isn’t my husband’s first language. His fluency is amazing and his accent seems to be diminishing daily. It surprised me to hear his voice filled with worry over not knowing a word. I think there is a deep-rooted fear in all parents that, one day, our children will view us as unintelligent and lose respect for us. The fear appears more frequently in my husband as my son ages, his vocabulary expands, and his curiosity grows.

My little Grand Duke with version two of a "glass slipper." He's a detail man - cushion and slipper cover just like the movie.

My little Grand Duke with version two of a “glass slipper.” He’s a detail man – cushion and slipper cover just like the movie.

We define my son’s small world in to Mommy’s words (English) and Daddy’s words (Spanish) and he can readily recognize each. We have a growing Spanish children’s book collection, but most of our children’s books are in English. When my husband does the night time routine of reading a couple books with our son, he often has to translate from English to Spanish as he reads. He admits this is getting progressively difficult as my son grows and starts being able to sit still through longer, more densely worded books. If his dad pauses too long to think he quickly gets bored and starts fidgeting.

Besides telling our son to “ask mom when she gets home” when faces with an unknown word, I’m not sure how to help my husband with his concern. His own vocabulary is expanding daily also, and I need to be more aware and conscientious of his concerns and the fact that English is his second language. Does that mean I should be more sympathetic and understanding when we have marital miscommunications? I’ll need to think about that a little more.

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Filed under Family, Kids, Minnesota vs. Mexico

Food of Día de los Muertos

Filo making green salsa sopes for breakfast over an open fire. My absolute favorite! Thin and crisp, tangy and creamy at the same time. Mmmmm!

When we go to Mexico to visit family we very well fed. Mex’s sister’s cook for us and everything is always delicious. However, Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a very busy time for them.

Preparing tejocotes for the ofrenda

The focus from October 30th to November 2nd the main focus is preparing food for deceased family members so we were a little out of luck in the “getting spoiled” department.  There are a number of traditional foods Mex’s family prepares for their ofrenda or offering for their deceased relatives. We tried to let our son participate as much as possible.

Our son loved helping his dad and Aunt Sofia peel tejocotes. Tejocotes are a small fruit, about double the size of a cherry. First the are boiled in water until their skins pull loose. Once they are all peeled, the tejocotes are simmered with sugar and cinnamon. After about an hour, the liquid starts to thicken and become syrupy. The finished product has an intense, delightful sweetness but don’t eat too quickly because the fruit has a small pit.

Simple green mole with chicken

Mole (MOH-lay) is often called the national dish of Mexico, with each region claiming their own version of the recipe. Stemming from the Nahuatl word mulli, meaning sauce, mole comes in a rainbow of colors; green, red, yellow, black and all shades in between. My family in Mexico says green mole is the only type made for the deceased spirits. Though mole has a reputation as being complicated, with up to 35 ingredients, this green mole is surprisingly simple.

The balance between tomatillos and pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) is very important according to Filo. For every pound of tomatillos, use a little over one cup of shelled pepitas. First the tomatillos are roasted slightly in a pan with some vegetable oil (you could put them under a broiler for about five minutes as well) then they are pulsed in the blender with the pepitas and a couple serrano chiles until smooth. The sauce is simmered with some epazote and salt. That’s it. No garlic (gasp!).  It is a very well-balanced sauce. The nuttiness of the pepitas takes the tartness out of the tomatillos.

It is amazing to see my sister-in-laws spend hours each day, staying up almost all night preparing food to serve the spirits. Besides tejocotes and green mole, they make tamales wrapped in corn leaves, sweet squash that cooks over an open fire for two days, and rice pudding.

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Filed under Food, Holidays and Celebrations, Mexico, Morelos State, Recipes, Tetelilla, Morelos

Mexican family ties


Walking back with daddy to see the horse

Helping Tia (aunt) Ely and Tia Filo with the morning chores.

Although the heat during the day is not as oppressive in November as in the spring, our poor little boy was sweat more during each day than in the previous 17 months of his life. The room we sleep in has little ventilation. Due to getting up two hours earlier than normal, the morning nap time was reborn. Excellent! The room was cool enough for him to sleep comfortably in the morning but by his afternoon nap we had to strip him down to his diaper (and he still woke up with soaked hair).

Currently, he is going through a phase where he only wants his mother and that made it difficult in Mexico where he had an army of aunts and cousins who wanted his attention during our brief six day stay. The longest he lasted away from me was about 10 minutes… yes, that is for the entire trip. Despite the fervent distraction of the horse, and riding a little bicycle, he still started crying “mama” loudly across the yard. I felt guilty because I knew how much they wanted to play with him so I would hide out-of-sight for as long as possible, only coming when his crying turned to gasping sobs.

Ayelyn, our almost four-year-old great niece tried desperately to play with him. However, her insistent hand pulling to try to “direct” him towards certain activities typically led to more tears. Apparently, we need to have more play dates with older children so he can get used to being “bossed around” a little bit.

Making some soup with lime's off of the tree with Tia (aunt) Ely and daddy

Our son’s favorite parts of the trip seemed to be seeing the horse and pig, eating oranges off the tree, and making “lime” soup with the toy pots and pans. He also loved all the jars hanging on the kitchen wall, enjoyed eating papaya for breakfast every morning, and watched eagerly out the window every morning to see his Tia’s walking in the yard.

Helping daddy fix the flat bicycle tire was another favorite activity

Luckily, our son is flexible and adapted quickly to his new surroundings, learning all his Tia’s and cousin’s names. It was amazing for us to see how much Spanish he really has picked up from Mex, though Mex doesn’t seem to speak it consistently to him. Our son responded correctly to all the directions his family gave him. They were all charmed by his big smile, and seemed to think he looked more like Mex than me. This surprised me a little, since I figured his pale skin would make them assume he looked more like me. It makes me wish that there were pictures of my husband when he was a baby. His sisters must remember what Mex looked like and see similarities in their features. Our son definitely has his dad’s eyebrows but got stuck with my tiny eyes when he smiles.

Tio (uncle) Alejandro came over for a visit our last day in Tetelilla

Eating oranges fresh from the tree... the neighbor's tree actually. When branches lean over fences the fruit becomes fair game!

Tia Tollis and cousins Edgar and Katy trying desperately to distract our little guy

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Filed under Mexico, Morelos State

A foreigner at home

Coming in to Mexico City

Ten hours after leaving our house, Mex and I paused to eat our Minnesota Haroldson apples while looking down at the swelling custom’s line. Five flights arriving almost simultaneously created a chaotic scene at the Mexico City airport.

I looked at the two lines, one that said Ciudadanos Mexicanos and one that said Extranjeros, Foreigners.

“How does it feel to be entering Mexico as a foreigner?” I asked.

After a pause, he smiled slowly and said, “Strange.” This is the first time visiting Mexico since he became a US Citizen.

Our 17-month-old son fell asleep as the plane descended, and slept thru his first passport stamp. For the first time in our journeys to Mexico, a member of Mex’s family was waiting for us at the airport. In the past, I’ve always been a little jealous of traveler’s who exit customs (aduanas) in to the arms of happy family members. It was nice to see my sister-in-law Sofia, and eleven-year-old niece Arlin waiting eagerly for us.

It has been two years, almost to the day, since we were last in Mexico. My husband’s father passed away in late August 2009, and to help Mex with his grief, we decided to visit eight weeks later for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It was one of the most eerily beautiful, touching experiences of my life. When trying to decide a time to visit before our son’s “dreaded” second birthday when he becomes a paying airline traveler, we settled on Day of the Dead over Christmas.

Candy skulls for Day of the Dead

An added bonus for Mex, was the fact that one of the big festivals in his town was Saturday, the day we arrived. One thing I love the most about him is, even though he’s been to Disney World, the Minnesota State Fair and other large festivals in the US, his whole face brightens when he talks about Tianguis, nicknamed Las Naranjas (The Oranges- a very little festival in comparison) and I can see the happiness small celebrations brought in to his impoverished childhood.

Toddler-size mole paddles- that’s mo-lay, the national dish of Mexico, not mole, the wicked little creatures that destroy our lawn. Though the paddles may be useful for those too…

Unfortunately, our son had a fever, congestion, and four hours less sleep than in his normal day so we went rather quickly though the displays. Everyone walking around was dressed up (which, after traveling a total of 14 hours and sleeping only two hours the night before I was way too exhausted to do) and there are vendors selling clay jars, enormous wooden paddles for mole,  tamarind and nut candies, clothing, fruit, toys… There were people serving up fresh potato chips, tacos on tiny 4-inch corn tortillas (always doubled), pozole in big bowls , large slices of thick-crust pizza (with nine types of hot sauce to drizzle on top), rich vanilla ice cream on miniature cones, and of course, piles of oranges which Mex claims are the sweetest of the entire year.

In the small plaza area by the elementary school were some carnival rides. The two-story Ferris wheel,  mini kids roller coaster, and a rather rickety version of the tilt-a-whirl seemed to be the favorites. It was great people watching and, as always, entertaining to be “watched” ourselves. It was funny to see people look at Mex carrying our son (who is pale like his mom), see the wrinkled eyebrows, glance at me trailing just a little bit behind and almost shake their heads like “oh, that explains it!”

Just after our son was born he had jaundice which gave his skin a yellow brown tone darkening him to Mex’s color. When I would take him to Barnes and Noble so I could have a Frappucino and get out of the house, usually an older-than-me (my definition of “older” seems to change rapidly with each year that goes by) woman tell me how cute he was and then flow right on with “What is his dad?” Now of course I realize they meant what ethnicity but I just always found the phrasing of the question interesting. I have a friend who is married to a Korean man and she has had people assume her children are adopted, since Korea is one of the most popular countries to adopt from in Minnesota. All I can say, is it certainly is… interesting… the observations that come from the mouths of complete strangers.

Anyone can toss up a foodstand at the fiesta

Deciding we had to put our baby boy to bed after his long day and high fever, we left without doing any activities or munching any delicious snacks. An hour-long struggle at bed time, meant the weary little traveler ended up in bed with his mom while dad went to enjoy the fiesta with his sister’s. He came back at 12:15 a.m. with stories of near-death experiences on carnival rides and mini tacos.

“Was it as good as you remember?” I asked, before biting in to my still-warm chicken taco.

“Oh, yes!” he exclaimed instantly, his eyes lighting up as if reliving all the excitement of childhood in one momentous flash.

After 16 years living in the United States, marrying a Minnesotan, becoming a US citizen, and travelling across the US and in Europe, few things bring innocent joy to his face like reliving his youth in the little town of Tetelilla, Morelos, Mexico.

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Filed under Bicultural and biracial marriage, Family, Holidays and Celebrations, Mexican culture, Mexico, Morelos State, Tetelilla, Morelos

Cocina de Ana – Mexican Take-n-Bake

You’ve heard of take-n-bake pizza, right? How about take-n-bake Mexican? Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I received a coupon offer in the mail thru work for half off my order (there was recently a Groupon for here also). Even though it is in Plymouth, about 25 miles from my house, the concept seemed so original that I had to try it. Coupon purchased! Now, clearly I am a procrastinator… Not only did the coupon expire today, but you can only place orders until noon for pick up the same day (pick up between 4 – 7 pm). What time did this chica place her order? 11:48 am! Whew!

La Cocina de Ana - Ana's Kitchen - is a unique twist on the pizza-dominated Take-N-Bake scene

La Cocina de Ana (Ana’s Kitchen), which opened in December 2010,  is located in a small strip mall on Hwy 101, just south if Hwy 6 in Plymouth. It is tiny inside, but it doesn’t need to be any bigger. There are a row of refrigerators where the day’s orders are kept, a check out counter, small office area, and a little kitchen with a window so you can see Ana and Luis preparing the food. There are tortilla chips for sale, and bags of Mexican Almond cookies, but otherwise it is strictly pre-ordered food.

Small, simple interior. Door in the back leads to small kitchen with a window, allowing people to see food being prepared.

I wanted to stick as close to $20 as possible, since that is the amount I pre-paid with my coupon. There are a number of soups, appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts available, though not everything is available every day. The food comes packaged in containers with directions on how to reheat or prepare at home, either in the oven or microwave.

Prepackaged and ready to either heat in the microwave or oven.

My husband and I decided on pozole blanco (soup) because it was the only pozole version listed on the website as only chicken (rojo and verde listed pork which Mex doesn’t eat). When I stopped to pick up the food, Ana asked if I knew that was very mild and considered her “kid” dish. When I told her I chose that version because it was the only one listed as chicken, she told me I could request chicken only with the other versions as well (there IS a spot on the online order form where you can put in special requests). She offered to “fix” it for me and magically turned it in to green pozole. It was FABULOUS!

Our white "kid's menu" pozole transformed in to rich, flavorful green in a matter of minutes

The core ingredients of pozole are hominy and chicken (or pork) and the soup was loaded with both. The broth was rich, and full of flavor, just the right amount of lime, finely ground oregano… It was just as good as the version my sister-in-law in Mexico makes for us, which I guess is our definition of “authentic.” The difference in Mexico would be little dishes of chopped onion, oregano, and lime wedges that are set out to “customize

The best tostadas are made by frying fresh corn tortillas - but the store bought crisps are simple and no mess

your soup. When ordering posole, she suggests tostadas. I would definitely agree the soup needs an accompaniment. We had tostadas on hand so we just sprinkled them with cheese, melted it in the oven for about three minutes and spread a little Mexican sour cream (slightly thinner than regular MN version). She has them available in store but it would be cheaper to make your own.

My least favorite of the three dishes - Chiles Anchos

For the main course we tried Chiles Anchos en Salsa Verde and Chilaquiles Verdes. The Chiles Anchos were not my favorite. Anchos are dried poblano peppers (confusing since anchos are red and poblanos are green) so can be spicy or mild. This Minnesotan thought ours were spicy, while my Mexican thought they were mild. I was skeptical about the texture of Anchos since they start out dried, however, stuffed with cheese and drenched in smooth, creamy green salsa (it did not have the tartness of typical tomatillo salsa) they rehydrated perfectly. The skins were too bitter for my liking, but Mex found the dish ok. Not one we would order again.

Green Chilaquiles - my 15-month-old son LOVED these!

As easy as a Papa Murphy's pizza!

Chilaquiles are a Mexican version of a casserole (and, yes, I should say Hot Dish since I’m a Minnesotan, but you can see from the pictures that it really leans towards casserole). These were not exactly what I was expecting, since I’ve only had chilaquiles on their own. Basically fried pieces or tortilla, soaked in some kind of salsa until they get soft again. Sounds simple but they are amazingly good. Ana’s version of chilaquiles layers corn tortillas (not fried), shredded chicken breast, tangy tomatillo salsa and sprinkled creamy white cheese. Put in oven to bake for 25 minutes and it is all melded together and delicious.

Total spent on the three dishes (all small versions) was a little less than $22. Although, the small size is listed as 1-2 on website, ordering three dishes, it could easily feed three people. Add a tossed salad of your own if you want to bulk up the meal. Overall, a great option, flavorful and more economical than eating in a restaurant.

Rating: Repeat Eat  (if only I lived closer!)

http://www.cocinadeana.com
1400 County Rd 101 N (same strip mall as Caribou), Plymouth
763-951-3377
info@cocinadeana.com
 
 
 

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Filed under Food, Restaurant reviews