October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Cheers to a safe and fun Halloween weekend to all - this year Halloween at our house has been pretty low key. We didn't spend time or money recreating this year's most popular costume. What is this year's most popular costume you may ask, well according to Google the answer is there's a tie - that's right a tie between Lady Gaga and the cast of the Jersey Shore. Now obviously, those two options are for adults and I'm sure there are many other choices for kids that are topping the most popular lists.

What I find interesting about dressing up in costumes for Halloween is how those costume choices change over the years as we age. As infants, parents dress their precious little bundles of joy up as bumble bees or tiny pumpkins. As kids, many want to be super heroes like Superman or Wonder Woman. When we enter our younger teen year's, choices might navigate towards what we want to be when we grow up, like a doctor, or you start to trick or treat in groups with friends and everyone dresses up as the same thing - you've seen this, there will be like 5 or 6 girls all dressed up as disco chicks or something like that. Now, for most older teenagers, they're going to opt for the more scary costume - dress in all black, put on some freaky face paint and a wig and that's all you'll get for their costume. Some teens still pull out the more creative side, which can be fun to see what type of costumes they come up with - most will pull from the celebrity side of things, like impersonating their favorite actor or movie figure. Then as adults, when we're invited to Halloween parties, we come up with all kinds of creative ways to make people laugh when we let go of our in habitations and let our fun side show every now and then to come put with some great get ups.

Now, on to the Trick or Treat part of this post. When are people too old to go around trick or treating? I find this to be an interesting questions as I've recently started flipping on the porch light and passing out candy these last few years. I love seeing all the cute kiddo's come up to the house and open their bags or holding out their plastic pumpkins, saying trick or treat for a piece of candy. Some of them brave and confident on what they are supposed to say, others getting right up to the house, then looking back at their parents at the end of the drive way, looking for encouragement on what to say. These are the years of innocence - when there are no worries in life, when you are protected by parents and just out to have a good time! But all that changes when the next group of "kids" knocking on the door is a bunch of sometimes "obnoxious" teens who hold out their pillow case and don't even speak to you. They expect you to just reach down in the bowl and continue to fill their bags up to the brim with more candy. Those few sentences may make me sound like someone who's bitter about passing out candy - like if I'm going to have the porch light on, then I should just be okay with anyone and everyone who comes around trick or treating. What I've learned over these last few years as a home owner, is to have fun with those older kids. Not too much fun to the point where they'll make note of your house number and return to egg your car, but just to make it fun for all parties involved. Case in point - if you are a teenager who doesn't really put any effort into wearing a costume, then expect to do some "tricks" when you roll up on our house. JJ and I will make you stand far back from the candy bowl and you'll have to catch the candy as we toss it to you - or if you come up to the house and don't say "trick or treat" and just hold open your pillow case, then we'll ask you what is that that you want. So, my point to this post (or rant) is that if you are going to participate in the trick or treat game, then play the part - get a costume, dress up, and say the "trick or treat" phrase - it isn't that hard and it's usually fun too!

I hope everyone has a safe, fun and Happy Halloween tonight. I leave you with a few photos from last year's Trick or Treat night in our neighborhood. Even Miss Ella got into the spirit of dressing up!

October 21, 2010

Bagel Dip

This is one of the easiest appetizer's out there and it's a pretty big crowd-pleaser too! It's simple - one block of cream cheese and one 5 oz jar of Old English chedder cheese. Throw them in a bowl, stick the bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds to soften, then mix together with a mixer until you get a smooth texture. Cut up some bagels - I went with plain, but I bet onion, whole wheat or everything bagels would be great too - and there you go, that's it! Take this to your next gals get together or a tail gate party and be prepared to give out the recipe (if you even want to call it a "recipe"). Enjoy...I bet this would go great with some of those fresh bakery soft pretzels...Mmmm!

October 18, 2010

Dressing up for Dinner...

Located in the Mandalay Bay is a wonderful "progressive American cuisine" restaurant where JJ and I celebrated our one year anniversary. Aureole - pronounced with the "O" emphasis like "Oreol" - has been a fixture in Las Vegas since New York City's Master Chef Charlie Palmer expanded his culinary roots out West to open this location back in 1999. The restaurant eludes a sense of sleek sophistication the minute you walk through the door and see the four story wine tower housing the nearly 10,000 bottles of wine they offer. As you walk down the stair case surrounding the wine tower, you are welcomed to the dining room where crisp white linens and fancy china adorned the tables which are lit by candle light.

We were greeted by a gentlemen who offered us the choice of the Chef's fixed menu or a wide selection of a la carte menu options for our dining experience. We were also given Aureole's wine list. This was a bit overwhelming actually because their wine list is not presented on the traditional paper menu, there are so many choices offered to patrons that the wine list is stored on an e-tablet type computer. According to their website, they use the world's first electronic wine list to track their extensive collection. Luckily for us, once we narrowed our choice down to an Italian red wine, the restaurant's sommelier came to our table to help make a wonderful selection of a blended wine to compliment our dinner selections.
Watching the servers and house staff glide through the restaurant was like watching a tightly choreographed dance routine. Each table has several dedicated staff members attending to the table, always making sure items are removed as soon as they are used, while not being too over bearing. This finely crafted service allows guests to sit back and enjoy a wonderfully romantic evening.

My entree selection was the grilled New York strip steak served with a Mediterranean ratatouille and rosemary garlic pesto, which only has two words to describe the way this dish tasted - simply delicious. JJ went with the seared sea scallop minestrone prosciutto tortellini, which was beautifully plated and tasted wonderful. In addition to our entrees, we shared the truffle mashed potatoes and the buttered asparagus, both offering a great compliment to our entree selections. We splurged for the dessert sampler too, where we enjoyed small bites of meyer lemon creme brulee, mocha chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake - all amazing. We were also treated to the variety sampler of sorbets, including pineapple, watermelon and orange flavors - again, each one was amazing.

As we enjoyed our evening at this fine restaurant, it was a real treat to watch the wine tower in action. You see this four story tower not only houses the wine bottles, it includes a complex pulley system where "wine angels" glide up and down pulling out bottles of wine as they are selected by guests. For more details on this unique feature check out the wine angels who were featured on Oprah's dream job segment - click here for the video.

If your travel plans ever take you to Las Vegas and you're looking for a place to splurge on a wonderful evening out, do your self a favor by making a reservation at Aureole. It's the perfect place to dress up, sip wonderful wine, indulge in delicious food and enjoy a night out on the town.

October 10, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Celebrating our 1st anniversary at our pool side cabana...

Watching the NFL games all day and soaking up the sun...

Cheers to my love - thank you for making me the happiest girl in the world!

Viva Las Vegas, baby!

October 05, 2010

Walking for a Cure

A few weekends ago, I participated as the team captain for the Wendy's Warriors team in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure walk in Cincinnati. We had an awesome time doing the walk and raising money for the fight against breast cancer. Enjoy some of these photos from the event!
A big thanks to everyone who traveled to Cincinnati for the walk. Together the Wendy's Warriors team raised over $3,500 for the Susan G. Komen foundation. If you'd like to continue to help us raise money and awareness for all the great things the Komen society does, please click here to visit our team page.

One last photo I'd like to share with you - below is a picture of me and my college roommates. We all share the wonderful bond of true friendship, a bond that runs deep into our hearts. We've supported each other through getting married, having babies, getting new jobs, and now we are supporting each other as our best friend Wendy battles against breast cancer. True friendship calls on each other to be there for one another during the good times and the bad, much like a marriage. I am proud to call these ladies some of my best friends. In the first few days of our friends diagnosis, we yearned for answers to questions like how could this happen and why did it happen to her? How can we help her or what can we do for her and her family? That's how "Wendy's Warriors" was formed - friends coming together to help one of their own during an unspeakably difficult time. None of us pretend to know what it's like to be in Wendy's shoes, but all of us plan to continue to walk right next to her in her journey to beat breast cancer. Thanks for listening as I've shared with you the reason why I was involved in this year's Greater Cincinnati Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure!

October 03, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf

1/2 small onion, chopped
small amount of minced garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup ketchup + 2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onions and garlic in the olive oil on low heat.

*In a medium bowl, mix together ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, salt & pepper and sauteed onions & garlic. Once everything is mixed together, form meatloaf and place on a foil lined baking sheet.

*In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tbsp of ketchup with 2 tsp worcestershire sauce and brush this mixture on top of the meatloaf for a tangy glaze.

*Bake uncovered for about 35 minutes. Slice, serve and enjoy - I served this with some roasted potatoes and peppers. Of course, it would go great with mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable too!

This was my first time making a turkey meatloaf and both JJ and I really liked this recipe. Using the ground turkey is a great option when trying to cut back on red meat and because the turkey is so lean, there was absolutely no grease like there is when I've made a meatloaf with a ground beef/ground pork mix. I would recommend checking on the loaf as it nears the end of the cooking time to make sure it's not getting too dry. Let me know if you try this recipe and if you & your dinner guests enjoy it. I think it will be replacing the beef/pork meatloaf we usually make in our house!

PS - the above picture doesn't do this meatloaf justice. I tried several times to get a "good" picture of this dinner and I've decided that there is just something about meatloaf that doesn't offer the most appealing photos. But I assure you, it tasted very good!