Taste of Home: Carne Guisada

One of the Mexican dishes that I really like is a Mexican beef stew – Carne Guisada, so yesterday, I gave it a try to cook my own version for lunch. I’ve got spectacular results – just the right amount of spice, the meat was very tender, the flavor was awesome, and it was very easy to make!

Carne guisada

I served the Carne Guisada with steamed Jasmine rice and side dish with fresh carrot tomato and cucumber salad. It made a perfect meal and it’s loved in the house – my family and I enjoyed it with pleasure.

To those of you who wish to give our new favorite a try, here’s a keeper recipe for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of beef, chunk
  • 3 big tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium size onion, sliced
  • 6 gloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cube beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • Kampot black pepper, to taste

Carne guisada

How to cook it?

  1. In a bowl, put the beef, salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano and basil. Toss it thoroughly. Let it marinate for about 30 minutes.
  2. Drizzle and heat up olive oil into a pan.
  3. Put the marinated meat into the pan. Stir. Let it cook until the meat turns brown.
  4. Once the meat is browned, add tomatoes, garlic and onion. Mix well. Let it cook for about 10 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and the tomatoes becomes soft.
  5. Add water and a cube of beef broth. Stir well.
  6. Cover the pan. Lower the heat, and simmer for 2 hours to allow the sauce to thicken.
  7. In a small bowl, put the flour and add some water. Stir it well until the flour dissolves.
  8. Then add the flour mixture into the pan. Stir it regularly so that the meat won’t stick in the pan. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes to thicken the sauce.
  9. Serve, share and enjoy.
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Thailand: Relaxing in Phatong Beach in Phuket

After enjoying our breakfast at our hotel room, we were ready and excited for a relaxing and fun day at Phatong Beach.

Phatong Beach

i love my tan…

Phatong Beach is popularly known by its long, wide, white sandy beaches. It’s busy, but it’s family-friendly. It’s close to all Phuket’s main attractions. The beach has a great atmosphere in the day and has a good fun-vibe as there’s always many things going on to keep the whole squad entertained.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

Since our hotel was located near the beach (5 min by foot), we decided to walk. Unfortunately, we took the long route. We strolled for about 30 minutes from our hotel to the beach, but it was ok because it allowed us to explore the area.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

As soon as we arrived at the beach, our son had immediately plunged himself into the water since it was about a year and 3 months that we hadn’t gone to the beach. Certainly, Pete had a time of his life at the beach – swimming in the sea and playing with the sand the whole day long!

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

We had a real fun day too – I got my hair braided and Alan got an temporary hyena tattoo.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

We enjoyed lying on the beach all day under warm sweet sunshine and a gentle little breeze. It was like a massage from nature – so relaxing and so enjoyable. And woke up beaming with energy.

Phatong Beach

Then grabbed a book that’s perfect beach read while listening to the sound of the waves, savoring the smell of the ocean, and reveling in the mesmerizing beautiful view. In between, we guzzled down a glass of fresh fruit juice and sipped on Singha Beer.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

And at lunch time, we devoured Thai food with pleasure.

Thai Chicken BBQ

Thai chicken noodle

Fresh coconut juice

Phatong Beach

The beach closed at 5PM, before the sun sunk further and further down the horizon. We packed our stuff and went back to the hotel.

Indeed, it was a great relaxing beach getaway! It gave us positive energy! We had a ball!

Thailand: One Day Tour in Phi Phi Isands

While in Phuket, we visited Phi Phi Islands, which is composed of several different islands and one of the most famous group of islands in Asia. The speedboat ride from one island to the other offers stunning and breathtaking views of cliffs that rise like skyscrapers from the ocean. It has warm white sands and gorgeous turquoise blue waters that make you feel like you are in a dream.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

We did a boat tour with Phet Phoom Travel, which the hotel booked for us. Even though we do not really like organized group tours because it’s far too commercial and structured, we thought it was the best way to go since we only had a day to explore the islands. We stopped at 6 different islands, and the tour lasted the whole day from 7:30AM to 5PM. A minivan picked us up at our hotel at 7.30AM and picked up several other guests at a couple different hotels before heading to the pier area (Ko Sirey), where we hopped on our speedboat. After the short orientation about the tour – safety and schedule, we boarded the speedboat and off we went. And after the tour, the same minivan dropped us at the hotel from the pier area.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Our first stop was in Maya Bay, where the movie ‘The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCarpio, was shot. I have learned that Maya Bay is a part of the natural reserve, so you can’t stay there for more than a day unless you pay the entrance fee. Once there, we got off the speedboat and explored the place for about 40 minutes. The place was so crowded – full of boats and tourists, and felt a bit like we were processed like items in a factory.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

From Maya Bay we sailed away to the Monkey. Beach. We saw the monkeys on the rocks, some are hard to spot because they camouflaged in with the rocks. We took some pictures for a few minutes and moved on to PhiLeh Lagoon and Viking Cave. In those places, we didn’t get off the speedboat as the boat just stopped for about 10 minutes, just enough for taking some photos from the outside. It was the exact opposite of what I was expecting.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Before heading for lunch, we took a break in the middle of the sea for a quick swim and snorkeling. The water was really deep, so I put on the gear on when I went into the waters (just wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t drown). From what I saw, it was a magnificent world under the sea – so many different charming and colorful fish swimming around me and it felt like a different world under there. I couldn’t believe how clear the water was, and I wish I could have explored more.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

After 50 minutes of fun snorkeling, we headed to the main island of Phi Phi Don, where we had our catered buffet lunch at the restaurant. We really enjoyed the food with pleasure – it was fresh and very tasty, and you could eat as much as you can. We were so hungry, and we ate a lot. After lunch, we relaxed on the white beach for a few minutes, and luckily it was not as crowded as Maya Bay.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Little did we know that this was not the end yet, we sailed up North towards Khai Nok Island and spent around 40 minutes there before heading back to the mainland. We relaxed on the white sand beach – sipped beers, had some ice cream, lied down on the sand, and read a book. Even though it was a little crowded, at least we found some space for us. At this point our son enjoyed swimming longer, and even took a video on his iPhone under the sea.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Overall, the island itself is naturally beautiful. It is one of the most picturesque beaches we’ve been to, but it’s still far from the best. Although the tour was ok, I prefer islands/beaches with fewer guests and where the vibe is more chill, I don’t think I would go back there again.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Some islands are crowded and spoilt by the influx of tourists.
  • The tour is relatively expensive.
  • The tour group was well organized, and well run with new boards and snorkeling equipment. The pick up and drop off services to and from your accommodation was free. The food was good and the lunch was well catered. They offered many options for all dietary requirements. And the crew were friendly and willing to assist wherever possible.
  • The tour guide gave a safety speech before the boat tour to the islands but we had a strong feeling the speech was mainly delivered in order to sell some equipment like rubber beach shoes, special snorkeling masks etc.
  • If you like organized group tours – like being picked up, fed, told where to go and for how long and then at the end of the day being dropped home again, then it is for you. But, if you do not like being herded from one location to another with large group of travelers then this tour is mostly likely not for you.