Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mini Vacation

The family and I took a little vacation a few weeks ago. Our original plans of cruising the California coast, blew up in a cloud of smoke alongside the air-conditioning motor in our van. Not knowing how much it was going to cost to fix, or how long it would take to get it fixed (and it still isn't fixed...), we decided that sticking close to home was probably the best idea for this years family vacation.
So we crammed ourselves into our little Mitsubishi, who, although cramped as she is, has a beautifully working air conditioning system, and headed from the sweltering 110 degree heat of our hometown, to the blistering 115 degree heat of Las Vegas.

It certainly wasn't the best time of year for walking the strip, so we were sure to get some massive pool time in, and we ate as many cold treats as we could find.

Whenever we go away on vacation, I always try to bring back something new. Some new piece of information, be it a lesson on the history of a new place we visited, or seeing or tasting something for the first time. I wasn't sure this could be done while being in a place I thought I already knew so well. But I did learn quite a few things along the way.

I learned some interesting history on the Titanic via the exhibit at the Luxor. We were able to view actual artifacts and even a piece of the ship itself, as well as learn the story behind the building of Titanic, and what happened on that tragic night when 1,517 people lost their lives to the sea. Seeing the names of both the deceased and the survivors really hit me harder than I thought it would. I was choking back tears by the end of the tour, and feeling much closer to the story than I ever felt from the articles I've read and the movies I've seen on the subject.
It was a truly humbling experience.

I also learned that beautiful things can grow in the desert in the dead of July. (Or is it the $$$ in gardeners and water?)

I learned that Cesar's Palace & The Bellagio have some wonderful gelato vendors! Here's the girls before we headed over to CP to get some.

I've been thinking about it ever since and have been trying to satisfy my craving with a homemade mango sorbet. The sorbet is good, but not near as good as the gelato! I'll be posting the sorbet recipe soon.

I learned (the hard way) to inquire about prices if you don't see a sign indicating one. The "fill your bag" option at M&M world ended up costing us a little over $70! They were $12.99 per pound! YIKES! My poor husband about had a heart attack!

And I learned from my children that it doesn't really matter where they spend their vacation. As long as we are together, and they have a comfy place to sleep-

and a big pool to swim in-

any place away will surely suffice!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cookin' Up a Storm

*click on pictures to enlarge*

Since my Mr. has been home for the summer I've really gotten to enjoy our time together in the kitchen. I love having a partner who gets (almost) as excited about food as I do, and who is always willing to try new things.
We work pretty well together in the kitchen, alternating between Head Chef and Sous.

Last week we got an Asian pack with our co-op basket. This is what we made with it:

Egg foo young is my Mr.'s favorite Chinese dish. He's been wanting to try to make it for some time. I can't find the recipe he used, but it was absolutely delish!

We made crab Rangoon twice because they're just that good! We just use a mixture of cream cheese, imitation crab, green onions, soy sauce and a dash of garlic powder and seal them up into little square won tons before frying.
The Shrimp Fritters recipe came from here, and although I wished I would have made a sauce to go with them, they were still really good on their own.
The Chicken with Bok Choy was just stir-fried together with some mushrooms and a bottle of teriyaki sauce.

A few weeks ago I made some homemade sauce from the abundance of grape tomatoes in our garden.

The sauce sat in our fridge for a week and needed to be used, so I threw together this tortellini one day for the kids. There was only a small serving left when they were through!

I have a bunch more tomatoes that need to be used, so I believe I will be making this again!

This was so rich but really, really good! The Mr. has a new found love for stinky cheeses. He's made several batches of homemade blue cheese dressing, and this is just one of a couple feta recipes he's tried. I'm so proud! (sheds tear)

I'm not sure what this sauce is. But it is by far the best stuff I've tasted in a long while. It has green tomatoes and avocado. That's all I know. If the Mr. decides to share his "secret recipe" with me, then I'll let you know ; )

We've been wanting to try these for some time. I can't believe how "meaty" and filling these are! And the pesto mayo sauce complimented them nicely! I got the recipe from here.

Alright, I saved the best discovery for last! For those of you who can't eat dairy, or are trying to cut down on your sugars, this recipe if for you! It is super easy and delicious with or with out the additions to it. This is Banana "Ice cream", except, it's not ice cream at all! It's just frozen bananas! I got the idea from here. We made the version from the recipe which called for nutella. It was our favorite. But we also made plain banana and a batch where we added strawberries, which were wonderful too! Who knew that bananas could get creamy like ice cream?!

What about you? Have you discovered any new recipes this summer? What's in season where you live? Did you know this secret banana trick already? Or have I been under a rock all my life?!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby headbands

*click on photo to enlarge*

Threw together this quickie headband for my niece the other day. I decided to take some last minute photos and needed something to match her little pettiskirt.

I gathered up some dyed guinea feathers and made a quick rosette out of some scrap yellow gingham, then glued on a big pearl bead I had in my tin of odds and ends.

Pretty cute huh?

Or were you able to see past those pretty blue eyes long enough to notice?!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekend Food Faves

Happy 4th of July!

We don't have any real big or concrete plans for the 4th. But we did do a little BBQ with some friends today! And being a three-dayer, we've had the chance to make some pretty yummy dishes.
Here's our faves so far:

This was so dang good! The Mr. made this using two different recipes. This one for the blue cheese dressing, and this one for the chicken. We had lots of lettuce that needed to be used, so he made a salad out them!

The Mac & Cheese in this meal was the favorite. It's another PW recipe. I highly recommend it!

We've been getting an over-abundance of grape tomatoes from our garden.

So of coarse we had to make a bunch of this-

I know apple pie is supposed to be the all American dessert, but isn't carrot cake a close second?

This recipe has been a favorite for several years now. If you haven't discovered it, you should definitely try it out. I always get good feedback when I take them to potlucks! The only thing different, is I used up the last of some vanilla bean frosting I made a couple weeks ago. The cream cheese based frosting can last a little while, but this stuff was so delicious from all that vanilla bean caviar, I didn't want to chance it going to waste!

Tell me, what do you have cookin' this Holiday weekend? Are you firing up the grill? Or are you cooking inside in an attempt to beat the heat?!