Friday, January 25, 2013

Las Vegas and Waffles

Red Rock Canyon
Last week the hubby and I hopped a plane and spent a few days in Las Vegas for a much needed vacation. I had never been west of Indiana, but he had been before and also has family in Arizona. It was my first time seeing the desert. It was insane. All of that dry land, and desert, and the lack of anything green...I felt like I was on Mars. Even though the temperatures were a high of 57 and low of 33, just looking at the desert I felt I should be hot. But to each their own, right?

I was excited to be in Las Vegas. I'm not a gambler or a drinker, but there are other things to do.....

Like eat, and eat a lot.
Mr. B warned me about the buffets. A lot of food, and good food, for cheap because they want to keep you in their casino. Yeah, we stayed at South Point (on the same road as the famous Strip, but away from the congested areas) and the Garden Buffet was insane. I would have been happy with the salad bar alone. And had I not wanted to see Vegas, I could easily have spent the entire time in the hotel....lots of food choices, a bowling alley, movie theater, souvenir shop, ice cream and coffee shops, a huge BINGO hall, an Equestrian arena (which was closed, by the way), and, of course, clubs and the casino.

And their breakfast buffet (cheap)....everything you ever wanted. I dined on oatmeal, fruit, grits, and biscuits and gravy, while Mr. B sampled a little bit of everything. We went to the Prime Rib restaurant for dinner one night, and to be completely honest, the prime rib at the buffet was better.

The Bellagio
There is also a lot of sight-seeing opportunities in Vegas, and I was really happy we got a rental car. We drove to The Hoover Dam, which was crazy-high, and no (as my brother already asked me) I did not see any Transformers while I was there. They really keep them secret. Lots of security. Then we drove to the Red Rock Canyon (as you can see in the first picture). That was our favorite part of vacation. A 13-mile scenic drive through the desert, canyon, and mountains. It was beautiful and unworldly all at the same time. My best friend, Jessica, (the same one below) would have loved it. The geologist in her was jealous, I know. She appreciated the pictures.

We also walked through a lot of the famous hotels on The Strip. Paris, Las Vegas was the first one we went into, and I was floored by how beautiful it was. It was just like walking the streets of Paris...the ceiling was painted like the sky, brick floors, and trees and cafes...GORGEOUS. No other hotel compared, and while I thought The Bellagio was stunning from the outside (pictured above), I wasn't impressed with the inside. The Luxor was like a tomb (kind of cool), New York, New York was fun (except for the hecklers and homeless guy on the bridge...guess it was really like New York), and we saw others like the MGM Grand, The Cosmopolitan, The Mandalay Bay, and THE Hotel.

After a while it was kind of like you've seen one you've seen them all...

BUT, the best part: Jersey Boys!!!!!! Mr. B bought us tickets to this ever so popular musical and it was at the Paris, Las Vegas (which made it an even more romantic date night). The theater was packed and it was amazing! The guy who played Frankie Valli blew me away. Even Mr. B enjoyed himself. And I brought home a fancy mug :)

Overall, we had a fun and wonderful time, and I'm looking forward to scheduling our next vacation...

This was my reading material during our long flights and airport layovers (and I finished the entire thing). I first read this series a few years ago during one of my teen literature classes while getting my master's. (The 4th installment came out last October, Beautiful Redemption.) And since the movie hits theaters on February 14th, I thought I should refresh my memory. I just want to say this book will devour you, and I'll talk more about it in this weekend's "What I'm Reading" post. Stay tuned. It's ah-mazing.

Okay, but enough with my vacation musings, now onto the good stuff.

That would be my friend's waffles. Jessica's little boy (see the cutie here) is allergic to dairy (and recently, peanuts), which has caused her family to take a different route when it comes to mealtime. And, with being vegetarians, her little man consumes a vegan diet.

I like chicken and steak way too much to ever turn vegetarian, but my everyday diet is mostly vegetarian. There are so many meal options out there besides meat. I also love ice cream, yogurt, and cheese way too much. But giving up dairy has crossed my mind a few times. I read somewhere that the foods you crave most tend to be the ones that don't work well, or agree, with your body. Almost weekly I have strong cravings for ice cream, and when I go without sweets/sugar for a while I must.have.cheesecake.immediately. Maybe that will be my next fast.....

Shhhh....I took this picture from Jessica.
Anyhoo, the first time I saw her little boy eating these mouth-watering waffles, I just had to try one. He politely shared with me. These waffles are soooo darn good! I don't need butter or syrup or for them to be warm. Perfect plain and at room temperature. And, of course, I immediately needed the recipe. A few Sunday mornings later, my waffle craving hit and I pulled out my waffle iron and the ingredients and got to mixing.

(By the way, I love my waffle iron. It was a Black Friday buy. $3. Fabulous. Mainly because the waffles come apart in fourths....allowing me to feel like I'm eating more than one waffle.)

And THE best part, Mr. B loved them too.

However, I frowned when I saw the amount of calories in each waffle. (Over 200!) Good thing I chose to forgo the lemon icing that goes with it (which is in the first waffle picture).

Which just showed me that I stereo-type vegan food. Just because it says "Vegan" we think it's healthier. Definitely not always the case. The calorie count is almost double my favorite, trusted (and only) waffle recipe. (Which used to be on this blog. I can't find it any I guess it's a good thing I wrote it down!)

But I did try one with a little lemon zested on top....delicious!

If you're looking for a new waffle recipe or you want to feed that vegan in your life, give my friend's recipe a try.

Jessica's Vegan Blueberry Waffles
*recipe courtesy of my friend

Makes 8 waffles (varies depending on waffle iron)

2 c whole wheat flour (her recipe called for all-purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 container blueberry soy yogurt, about 2/3 c (or whatever flavor you like)
1 1/3 c unsweetened almond milk (her recipe called for soy)
1/3 c canola oil
5 Tbsp water
1 c fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat your waffle iron. Mix flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and soda together well with a whisk. In another bowl, whisk the together the yogurt, milk, oil, and water. Add the dry into the wet ingredients; don't over mix. Gently fold in berries. (NOTE: If using frozen berries, keep in freezer until needed. Reserve 1-2 Tbsp of the dry mixture. When ready for berries, take out of freezer and mix with dry reserve. Then fold into batter.) Then proceed with your waffle iron.

Nutritional Information
Per waffle: 233 Calories, 33 Carbs, 11 Fat, 5 Protein, 5 Fiber, 8 Sugar

*I'm so happy to be an Ohioan.

With Love and God Bless,

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