Travel: Vegas Day 1

A few months ago my family decided to take a quick trip to Vegas for Labor Day weekend. We wanted to take a fun trip together before I start grad school and thought Vegas would be a nice place for a quick visit.

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We had a really easy time getting to Vegas. We used Frontier and our flights averaged to about $240 direct from Madison to Vegas. They would have been closed to $200 but we added on checked bags. Everyone was very happy when the realized we were flying direct rather than traveling to Milwaukee or Chicago.

Not only was our flight convenient, we had a great crew that kept the trip super exciting. They did a couple of different games like a raffle, an age guessing game, and a trivia and gave away assorted prizes. It helped make the last hour of our flight go by quick.

As soon as we got to our hotel (we are staying at The Venetian) we all realized that we were hungry and started looking up options for dinner. We decided to go to The Buffet at Wynn. I was excited because it was very colorful and seemed to have a lot of food options. My family was excited because they were hungry and it was nearby. We were a little disappointed when we arrived to find out that it was $45/person as the website we had used to find it had said $25-35, but we decided to try it out anyway.

I loved the food and was excited to try new things. I tried a couple of things that I didn’t like, but I found out that I love quail. I also really loved the pork belly buns, the duck and the potato latkes with cottage cheese. Who knew that was an amazing thing?

Dessert was on another level. The room was amazing. There were so many options and I ended up getting butterscotch bread pudding, creme brulee, and banana sticky toffee pudding. Twice. Literally my only criticism was that the sticky toffee pudding was banana, I would have preferred traditional.

I was also really impressed with the Wynn. I would definitely consider staying there in the future. The setting was so beautiful. And I won $100 in the casino.

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I’m pretty excited about my winnings. My daily gambling budget is $20, so no matter what I’ll break even at the end of the trip.

After dinner and a brief foray into gambling, we walked back to our hotel but stopped to watch the fountain at the Wynn. It’s very lovely for a few moments but the songs are limited and get repetitive fast.

We ended the night with some pool time at the Venetian and hang-out time in the hotel room.

Have you been to Vegas? What are your favorite things to do? Give me your recommendations!

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Weekly Exercise May 1 – May 7, 2017

I didn’t post a weekly exercise update last week as I was not in the mood.

This last week I was similarly not in the mood to exercise. I was very stressed out with work and other general life issues, and decided not to force myself to go to the gym when I didn’t want to.

I did make it to the gym twice during the week.

Wednesday: I took my dogs to the dog park and had a wonderful afternoon with the two of them. My little dog has gotten significantly more blind since last year and was refusing to get out of the car. I had to fight with him and he is very bitey, so I ended up doing a fancy maneuver. I didn’t take any leashes with me, so I took out my key chain, looped it around his collar, and pulled him out of the car with it. After I got him out of the car he was very excited to park, but I think I might need to stick to the small dog area with him or keep him on a leash.

My big dog was the total opposite. She completely lost interest in running/chasing balls and would just keep walking whenever I tried to get her attention. Then when we got to the end of the park she decided she was a puppy again and went running into the lake. I was pissed because I don’t like soaking wet dogs riding in my expensive car but she was so adorable and happy to be in the water that I let it slide. I ended up throwing the ball for her and she would swim out to catch it. Baby’s still got it!

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It was nice to get out and do some walking with my doggos. After the park I went to spin class. It was not the most difficult class and I only ended up burning 500 calories or so. I didn’t push myself, but I did enjoy the gym session and I felt much better about life afterwards. Anna and I went in the sauna and did some extreme sweating.

On Sunday I was able to take a longer walk than usual while babysitting, and I enjoyed the time outdoors.

After nannying I went to the gym for spin class, but had not realized that the gym had moved to the summer schedule. No more Sunday spin. I was a little heartbroken and decided to do weights instead. I realized when I was doing weights that I have plateaued at my highest lifts for everything but not because I can’t build more muscle. I have plateaued because I do not life consistently. I definitely want to lift more regularly so that I can actually build strength rather than maintain.

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I had dropped a few pounds by Wednesday but was back up to normal weight by Sunday. Mostly not surprising considering that I was not eating well, especially while nannying.

My goals for this week are to plan meals, eat healthy, and track calories AND to make it to the gym three times. My boyfriend is graduating this weekend so healthy eating and gym time will be sparse.

What are you proud of from this past week?

Recipe Review: Unicorn Bars

I received a recipe for unicorn bars in my email last week and figured I should try it out. The internet keeps telling me that unicorns are a thing and who am I to pass up a delicious, colorful treat?

I shared the recipe with a friend and we decided to try it out during our monthly cooking date. We had originally planned to make a sweet chili tofu recipe but ended up going in completely the opposite direction health-wise due to time constraints.

We started making the bars after 9pm and it was probably one of the latest cooking parties I’ve ever attended. We didn’t buy any sprinkles specifically for this project but instead used a pre-mix of colorful sprinkle balls that my friend had on hand.

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The beautiful mixture was a nice prequel of the cuteness to come.

After everything was mixed, we put it in the pan. It was very difficult to spread, so we had a nice shake shake shake dance party and there were some heavy pounding noises.

We cut the bars into pieces that would be big enough for the frosting – they turned out super adorable.

We used the frosting recipe that was included and added in blue food coloring. We only needed one tablespoon of milk, and the frosting turned out perfect and delicious.

After we were done decorating our goodies, we took a few selfies before diving into the required taste tests.

If you’re looking for a delicious treat that is 100% a wonderful addition to a selfie or your Instagram account, unicorn bars are a definite option. I personally did not love the sugar load, but they were super tasty and would definitely cure any sweet tooth needs. However, keep them safe if you have any men around. 2/3 of our unicorn bars were devoured by the men in our lives. Without permission.

Ready for the recipe? Here it is (from dearchrissy.com)

INGREDIENTS:

For the bars

  • 1 Box vanilla cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (just pour the powdered mix in your bowl)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons sprinkles

For the frosting

  • ⅓ cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • assorted sprinkles of your choosing!

DIRECTIONS:

For the bars

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine cake mix, pudding, water, vegetable oil, eggs, chips and sprinkles in large bowl. I used a wooden spoon to stir.
  3. Pour the batter (it’s going to be thick) into a 9×13 pan lined with foil and sprayed with non- stick cooking spray.
  4. Bake your bars for 20-30 minutes (I took mine out at 25.) Bake just until the middle isn’t wobbly and edges are golden brown.
  5. Cool completely then lift out of the pan using the foil.

For the frosting

  1. Using an electric mixer beat together the butter and powdered sugar until well blended and smooth. Beat in the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk. If necessary beat in  the remaining milk a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Add several drops of gel food coloring to frosting and stir.
  3. I piped some frosting on the middle of each bar, but, you could alternatively spread onto the cooled bars and decorate with additional sprinkles.

Interested in trying this out yourself? Let me know how it goes! I want to see your color combinations and decorating skills.

 

Recipe Review: Cabbage Fat Burning Soup

One of my all-time favorite recipes has a ridiculous name: “Cabbage fat burning soup.” Fortunately, this name makes the recipe really easy to find when I haven’t thought about it in ages. I don’t remember how I first came across this recipe – probably during some search for a healthy meal in the early ages of interneting, but it has been a favorite ever since.

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The recipe is mainly veggies, but added tomato juice and beef broth elevate the flavor and make it quite hearty. Since the recipe is so gigantic, one batch lasts for ages. You can switch it up by adding extra pepper, chili flakes, or hot sauce depending on your mood. I like to cook a batch, put it in the fridge, and enjoy it for lunches/dinners throughout the week. If I get tired of it or am feeling extra hungry, I will add quick protein to the side – usually rotisserie chicken. I don’t remember whether or not this recipe had the desired “fat burning” impact that the title claims, but you really can’t go wrong given the amount of veggies that are in each serving.

The recipe is rather straight forward, so I am copying/pasting directly from allrecipes.

Ingredients
5 carrots, chopped
3 onions, chopped
2 (16 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid
1 large head cabbage, chopped
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (15 ounce) can cut green beans, drained
2 quarts tomato juice
2 green bell peppers, diced
10 stalks celery, chopped
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth

Directions
Place carrots, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, peppers, and celery in a large pot. Add onion soup mix, tomato juice, beef broth, and enough water to cover vegetables. Simmer until vegetables are tender. May be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

While the recipe is quite simple, I did make a couple of small improvements.

  • Since I hate cutting carrots, I bought pre-cut carrot “coins” and added in three cups worth.
  • I bought chopped peeled tomatoes with liquid rather than the whole version. There is no point to buying the whole version because there is no circumstance where it is pleasant sticking an entire mushy tomato into your mouth.
  • Buy low-sodium canned ingredients. I am the biggest salt lover of them all but I am currently working on reducing my sodium intake. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done because I genuinely enjoy the taste of ocean water, but you do not need the extra salt in the green beans, tomato juice, or beef broth. If you are really missing the extra sodium when the soup is completed, you can always add a bit of salt in.

In addition to making a few ingredient changes, I also cooked this in the crock pot rather than in a pot on the stove. This is mainly because I did not have a pot that was large enough at home and also because I was hoping to throw everything in, run errands and come home to completed soup. Unfortunately the soup took much longer to cook than I was expecting (I blame the cabbage) and after five hours of cooking on high, I turned the temperature to low and left it on all night. It is possible to cook it in the crock-pot, just don’t expect it to be done as anywhere near as quickly as it would be on the stove.

That’s about it! I’m super excited to enjoy my soup for lunch and dinner today.. And tomorrow.. And everyday this week. And to share some with my family!

Please let me know if you end up making this recipe – and pass along any recipe variations or tasty additions!

Want to read more of my recipe reviews, tips and tricks? Visit my “diet” section.