Grand opening for Habana at The Irvine Spectrum is here! Monday, November 13th!  We love the Orange County staple for Cuban food in Costa Mesa.  But for those of us in south OC, the highly anticipated opening at The Spectrum has arrived.  We were treated to the soft opening in mid-October, and then returned to a hosted “Friends and Family” night; and wow, wow, people:  we have a feeling that we will be having many boozy “work meetings,” girls’ nights, and date nights at this location.  This is going to be one of our regular haunts for drinks and food.  It is tucked away in its own little oasis, away from the other expected chain restaurants in the mall.  Habana has transformed this mall space into a beautiful and romantic breath of fresh air by erecting a 1950’s style mansion.  This elegant cafe is reminiscent of old world Cuban glamour.  The interior feels airy with its high ceilings, and the cafe-styled tables are generously spaced apart, while the outdoor seating is romantic.  Habana is striving to provide a unique dining experience in Orange County – reasonable and delicious food with a fine dining flair.  Let us also sing the praises of the staff:  the service is friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. 

habana hostesses

Habana’s friendly hostesses

habana waiting lounge

Waiting lounge

habana main dining room

Main dining room

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Chips and Salsa - Semi Homemade Quick and Easy Recipe
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
For the chips
  1. At least 1 cup oil (vegetable, canola, or preferably avocado); enough to cover at least 1 inch bottom of pan
  2. At least 1 dozen corn tortillas
  3. Salt
For the salsa
  1. Several ripe tomatoes
  2. A small bunch of cilantro
  3. 1/2-whole jalapeño
  4. 1 whole lime
  5. Salt
For the chips
  1. Stack and cut corn tortillas into triangles.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Carefully slide cut tortillas into hot oil, avoid splattering. Do not overcrowd your pan.
  4. Push around and flip tortillas until golden brown.
  5. Remove with tongs or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  6. Salt generously while hot.
For salsa
  1. Chop several ripe tomatoes and the cilantro.
  2. Depending on desired level of hotness, finely dice between 1/2 to a whole jalapeño.
  3. Remove the seeds and inner membrane to reduce heat level, include if you like it hot!
  4. Combine in a large bowl.
  5. Roll the lime on a flat surface or cutting board with the palm of your hands to release the juices.
  6. Cut the lime and squeeze over tomato mixture.
  7. Add store bought salsa.
  8. Mix together and salt according to taste.
  9. Serve with the fresh chips.
  10. Enjoy!
Purple Ways

Great gift ideas for the cooks in your life:

Did you know that many Asian markets have awesome food courts? Take the kids and visit Mitsuwa Marketplace and eat at the Asian food court. There are two Mitsuwa Japanese markets in Orange County, the larger one is in Costa Mesa and the smaller one is in Irvine. We often go to the mini food court that is at the Irvine Mitsuwa location simply because it is closer to home, but the Costa Mesa location has a much wider variety. First, let’s start with the market.  So many options with snacks and already prepared items. This is one of our favorite places to stop to grab a quick picnic lunch; or you can grab something and bring it into the food court to eat. Asian Food Court Mitsuwa Marketplace View Post

Halloween at Great Wolf Lodge

We just spent an awesome Southern California staycation, at Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove.  You can read about it in our recent blog post “Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove CA Review: Sip and Slide Means fun for Everyone.” Visit Great Wolf Lodge in October for the Howl-O-Ween celebration between October 1 and October 31.  In addition to having a wonderful time with family and friends sipping and sliding, we enjoyed all their Halloween festivities!  For more info check out Great Wolf Lodge California’s website

Here’s a brief slideshow (under 2 minutes) of all our photos. Enjoy and we hope you have a very Happy Halloween! 

Thank you, Grace Chen for these amazing photos and video clips! XO

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Great Wolf Lodge has come to Southern California!  Located near Anaheim in Garden Grove, CA, Great Wolf Lodge has a booming business here in the OC. We realize that Great Wolf Lodge has been extensively covered by every mommy blogger out there with excellent reviews, tips, and recommendations. (Try Sandy Toes and Popsicles or Trekaroo for great info and tips.) But our focus is fun for kids and adults.  Our latest trip was our third trip with our kiddos, and we discovered that it is a fantastic place to meet up with other families and friends, especially if you are locals like us!

great wolf lodge family fun

Great Wolf Lodge is fun for kids and adults! 

Sip & Slide Means Fun for Everyone

Did you know that Great Wolf Lodge has awesome bartenders?  The bar staff has been consistent and stable since the opening of the Garden Grove location in February of 2016.  We chatted with our favorite bartender, Ricardo.  Ricardo has been with Great Wolf since its opening.  He is a seasoned bartender in the business for over 10 years.  What we love most about Ricardo is the pride he takes in his work and his attention to customers.  He shares his tips and recipes with his fellow bartenders, so you will get consistently good drinks.  And this was our pleasant surprise:  the drinks are delicious!  Look, we were pleased with the premixed, frozen margaritas from machines that you can buy at Buckets Incredible Craveables, conveniently located right inside the park.  Sometimes a sweet and tangy slushy that packs a nice punch is just what you need for the 84 degree temperature and for the humidity.  

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