Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • I love visiting New Orleans, be it for just an evening or for a weekend getaway close to home. Recently my husband and I decided on a quick romantic trip, where instead of your typical dinner, we opted for our own version of a progressive dinner. We thought it would be fun, and we had no itinerary or agenda to follow. We just walked around the Quarter and stopped for a drink here or shared a dish there.

    The Starter

    We began our meal at Felix’s, which is across the street from ACME. We walked right past the shucker and took two seats at the bar, ordering a dozen raw oysters and two Abita Ambers. As we enjoyed these delicious Louisiana oysters, I would glance across the street at the very long line of tourists waiting to get into ACME. If only they knew that Felix’s was just as cool.

    Line at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans

    Louisiana oysters at Felix's Oyster House New Orleans

    The Entertainment

    We walked around the Quarter, stopping every now and then to be entertained by the bizarre sights that are New Orleans street performers. When we had enough of the strange, we were entertained by silly — the drunk tourists walking down Bourbon Street. If you are easily offended, or have children with you, stay off of Bourbon Street, especially at night.

    Street performer in New Orleans

    Strange street perfomer in the French Quarter New Orleans

    The Libations

    There are any number of places to enjoy a cocktail in New Orleans, but I’m a sucker for the history and atmosphere of Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. It’s not only the oldest bar in the US, but when you think about the pirates that used to hang out there, it makes the place cool, with a K-E-W-L. My favorite spot is the back corner near the piano.

    Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, New Orleans, Louisiana - Oldest Bar in USA

    Candles at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans

    The Munchies

    Walking around after having a few cocktails can bring on a bit of hunger. We decided it was time to be carnivores and stopped in at The Clover Grill for a cheeseburger and fries. You haven’t truly experienced Bourbon Street until you’ve been to the Clover Grill on a Friday night.

    Inside The Clover Grill on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Cheeseburger at Clover Grill in New Orleans


    We continued our walk around the Quarter until we came to a cigar shop. My husband likes a good cigar, so we stopped in before moving along.

    Cigar Shop in the French Quarter New Orleans

    The Secret Menu Item

    Risotto at Besh Steakhouse at Harrah's in New OrleansWe walked a good ways out of the Quarter and over towards The Riverwalk and Harrah’s Casino. We stopped in to put a few dollars in a slot machine before heading to the grand finale — Besh Steakhouse. I took a seat at the bar and ordered my favorite of all favorites, risotto. Besh Steakhouse serves the best risotto I’ve ever eaten in my life. It isn’t on the menu, but the bartender knew what I wanted.

    The one thing we skipped? The Lucky Dog cart.

    Lucky Dog cart in New Orleans

    It was a delightful evening filled with a few of my favorite places in New Orleans. Of course, there are many other places I like to eat, and have a cocktail, but as far as good evenings go, this one was tops.

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  • While cruising on the Carnival Magic while she was in Europe, I caught up with Carnival’s Senior Cruise Director John Heald. John is not just the man who puts together the entertainment and activities on the Carnival Fun Ships, but he’s also a husband and dad with a passion for cruise travel.

    John Heald and Shannon Hurst Lane on the Carnival Magic cruise ship

    In the video, John gives a bit of insight about general cruising and how his outlook of cruise travel has changed since becoming a parent. We also discuss the Carnival Magic and the many offerings for guests on a Carnival Cruise.

    To find out more about John Heald and keep up with his antics with Carnival Cruise Lines, be sure to check out his award winning cruise blog: John Heald Blogs. You  can also check out his page on Facebook for real time updates and behind the scenes fun.

    The Carnival Magic sails out of Galveston, Texas. To book your cruise on this Fun Ship, visit or contact your favorite travel agent.

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  • It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted any travel deals, only because we only like to post AMAZING deals, not just any travel deal that comes along. We’ve been keeping our ears to the ground listening for room rates and special packages. It’s fun to be spontaneous and surprise your loved ones with a quick and affordable getaway. Here are some not-to-miss packages and travel discounts.

    Getaways (Expiring REAL Soon)

    Branson, MissouriGroupon Getaways has a great deal at Grand Country Inn. This soon to expire discount offers two options: 1 night package for $139 or a 2 night package for $199. Packages include indoor waterpark entrance for the length of stay, buffet coupons, show tickets, and more. You can purchase two packages and use them for back to back stays. Blackout dates do apply during the holiday times and can be booked as late as mid May 2012. Get the travel deal!

    San Antonio – Spend a few nights in romantic San Antonio on the Riverwalk with this Groupon Getaway at The St. Anthony Riverwalk Wyndham Hotel. The deal is $80 for one night or $139 for two nights. Both packages include a $30 room credit. Combine two of these for a longer stay. Get the travel deal!

    6 Night European Retreat – Enjoy an unforgettable week in High Tatras and explore the 7 wonders of beautiful mountain landscape in Slovakia. 389€/person for 6 nights in a double room. Get the travel deal!

    Cruise Deals

    Cruise for less than $200 – Carnival Cruise Lines is offering rock bottom prices on a few of their cruises. A four day cruise out of Miami with stops in Key West and Cozumel is only $179 per person (inside stateroom) for the November 26, 2012 sailing on the Carnival Imagination. Get the cruise deal!

    16 Day Cruise $899 – Cruise on the Star Princess from Venice, Italy to Rio de Janero, Brasil on a 16 day cruise for less than $900. That’s less than $60 per day! Cruise leaves December 8, 2011 and includes 8 ports of call. For only a few dollars more per day you can upgrade to an oceanview cabin. Get the cruise deal!

    $139 Bahamas Cruise – If you can cruise this Friday from Miami, you can take advantage of this hot cruise deal from Royal Caribbean. Enjoy a four day weekend on the Majesty of the Seas and get a little beach time at CocoCay and Nassau in the Bahamas. Get the cruise deal!

    Tours and Activities

    NYC – Shop Gotham has 5 regularly scheduled tours each week, starting at $38pp.  Each tour has a suggested mininum age and a maximum of 12 guests for a personalized experience.  One teen may come complimentary with each paying adult. Get the travel deal! (Use Booking Code: freeteen)

    Contests and Giveaways

    $500 for the Holidays – In the spirit of giving, Enrout wants to make everyone’s holiday plans a little more special so they’re giving away $500 to one lucky winner!  Whether it be a ski trip to Lake Tahoe or a sunny excursion to Maui.  Entries will be accepted until 12/09/2011, 11:59pm PST. Enter the giveaway!

    #OnlyOneKentucky – From now until November 23, 2011, fans can enter the contest by tweeting their opinions about what they love about 26 of Kentucky’s unique attractions. Each day, winners will be selected for prizes ranging from an official Kentucky Unbridled t-shirt to an amazing Nook Color E-reader and more! Enter the contest!

    Tourism Vancouver Trip Contest – Enter the Dine, Ski and Tea sweepstakes with Tourism Vancouver for a trip for two to Vancouver, Whistler & Victoria in February 2012. Entries must be submitted by November 30, 2011. Enter the travel contest!

    $5000 Cheeze-It American Road Trip Contest – Enter for a chance to win $5000 towards your next road trip.  Entries must be submitted by November 15th. Enter the road trip contest!

    That’s all the deals we have to share this time around. We’re thankful for all of our readers and subscribers. If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, you might want to go ahead and fill out the form (link below). You would’ve gotten these deals a day earlier than they were posted on

    Sign up for the Newsletter.

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  • Eating heart healthy during the holiday season can be a challenge, whether you are at home or traveling. Restaurateur-winemaker Joe Bastianich has teamed up with a new program called Heart in the Kitchen, to develop low cholesterol recipes that taste fantastic and still fit into his healthy lifestyle. I was able to catch up with Joe and cardiovascular specialist Dr. Dan Wilson to get a few of their tips for eating healthy during the holidays and healthy snacks when on the road. Check out the video below:

    Direct link:

    About Joe Bastianich: Restaurateur-winemaker Joe Bastianich, along with partners Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, operates three wineries in Italy, as well as twenty two successful restaurants across the country, including Babbo and Del Posto in NYC, and Carnevino in Las Vegas. December of 2010 marked their first overseas venture with the opening of Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza in Singapore. Joe has co-authored two award winning books on Italian wine, and his third book, Grandi Vini, an opinionated tour of Italy’s 89 finest wines, was released in the fall of 2010 to much critical acclaim. He has received numerous accolades for his groundbreaking work in the field and in 2008 the James Beard Foundation honored him once again by presenting he and Mario with the much revered Outstanding Restaurateur Award. Joe is currently a judge on FOX’s reality TV hit, MasterChef, with Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot, where he shares his expertise in deciphering culinary talent from amongst thousands of amateur home cooks.  In the summer of 2010, Joe again partnered with Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, as well Italian retail pioneer Oscar Farinetti to bring Eataly, the largest artisanal food and wine market in the world, to New York. In addition to Joe’s passion for all things food and wine, he is an avid runner and triathlete, and is set to compete in the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championships.

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  • Like a good pot of gumbo, Louisiana is filled with all kinds of good things. Each part of the state offers a unique culture all its own, but the underlying theme of good food and family values is always there. During a visit to Southwest Louisiana, the group I was touring with was treated to a beautiful afternoon in an historic Lake Charles neighborhood, Margaret Place.

    Rose in Courtyard of home in Southwest Louisiana

    Our guide, Adley Cormier, led us through a lush courtyard on the side of a stately brick home, around a rose bushes, to a pool house in the rear of the home. Waiting with a sweet treat was Mr. Cormier’s wife and Senator Willie Mount. Senator Mount and Mrs. Cormier wanted to share a tradition children’s afternoon snack: Fried Sweet Dough Sweet Potato Pie served with ice cold milk.

    Southwest Louisiana Sweet Dough Sweet Potato Pies

    My family has been in Louisiana for many generations, with roots in the Baton Rouge area and across the river from the capital city. I’d never tried this treat that is a tradition in the Southwest part of the state. It was a delicious surprise. The Cormiers and Senator Mount shared stories of the area and their love of where they live. It was a delightful afternoon learning about another area of my home state.

    The Lake Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau was kind enough to hunt down the recipe so that I could share it with you.

    Fried Sweet Dough Sweet Potato Pie Recipe:


    2 eggs
    ¼ pound butter
    1 Cup sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
    2 Cups flour

    Combine eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla in a food processor. Pulse together until the ingredients are well-mixed. Sift the baking powder and the flour together and add this to the processor. Process the combined ingredients until they form a ball. Wrap dough in plastic and allow to rest, refrigerated for an hour. Roll into a circle, approximately 12 inches in diameter with a thickness of 1/8th-inch.


    3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
    2 cups sugar
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Oil for deep-fat frying
    Confectioners’ sugar, optional

    In a large bowl, combine the seven filling ingredients; stir until smooth. Divide the dough into 25 portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a 5-in. circle. Spoon 2 tablespoons of filling on half of each circle. Moisten edges with water; fold dough over filling and press edges with a fork to seal. Prick tops with a fork 4-5 times.

    In a skillet, heat 1/2 in. of oil to 375°. Fry pies, a few at a time, for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Change oil during process as necessary. Store in the refrigerator.

    Special thanks to the Lake Charles CVB, the Cormiers, and Senator Mount for their part in this experience. To plan your visit to the area go online at

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