Friday, April 29, 2016

HAWAII: One more item off my bucket list!

I went on a whirlwind trip to Hawaii with my sister, we left Friday and came home Tuesday. We packed a ton of stuff in that time.

Here is the run down followed by some photos:

1. Stayed at Turtle Bay Resort on North Shore Oahu-I highly recommend this place, has everything you possibly need to play and eat and relax!

2. Learned to Kayak, so easy and fun and we saw some turtles swimming with us!

3. Went horseback riding as the sun set over the ocean.

4. Went to a wedding where 2 of the sweetest people I ever met renewed there vows and committed to each other all over again with their adorable daughter Noa watching over.

5. Learned to ride the public bus up and down the main highway, with no car and no taxis, this is how you get around and it was so easy and fun!

6. Walked a 1 1/2 mile trek to see a small waterfall in a very lush and dense garden, Waimea Falls.

7. Ate one of the best meals ever at Lei Lei's, restaurant on the golf course at Turtle Bay, crab stuffed salmon, to die for!

8. Had shave ice at Matsumotos's and ate a shrimp plate of Giovanni's shrimp truck and even signed our names to the truck!

9. Got Tattooed by the sweetest guy at Polynesian Tattoo Factory, thank you Donovan for our cool little sister tattoos!

10. Sat on our balcony every morning to have Kona Coffee and watch the waves roll by in Hawaii!










Mahalo Hawaii, I hope to visit you again someday!



Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Vegas Day - Spring time & Pinballs

A Vegas Day with Tanya
We took off in the morning and headed to the Bellagio to see the spring time display, It was beautiful, with cherry blossoms and tulips and daffodils, plus they built these huge birds from flowers and the bamboo waterfalls made such a tranquil sound, they even had a bamboo temple with a huge nest that had 1000 origami cranes in it! The smell was so sweet and I think this was one of my favorite displays. If ever in Vegas you must visit the Bellagio to see the seasonal display, no matter what time of year, GO!

After the Bellagio we headed to The Pinball Hall of Fame:

The Pinball Hall of Fame is an attempt by the members of the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club to house and display the world's largest pinball collection, open to the public. A not-for-profit corporation was established to further this cause. The games belong to one club member (Tim Arnold), and range from 1950s up to 1990s pinball machines. Since it is a non-profit museum, older games from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are the prevalent, as this was the 'heyday' of pinball.
And since it's a non-profit, excess revenues go to non-denominational charities. 

So grab a bag of quarters because you can actually play the games, 
we spent an hour playing, it was too much fun!!
To see more then just my photos head to: Pinball Museum

After Pinball, we stopped at Olive Garden to have lunch, then we headed to the Zia record store where you can buy discount Vinyl, Cd's, Dvd's and so much more.

Whew! That was a FUN FUN FUN Vegas day for sure!













The Pinball Museum:
UPDATE: Tanya put photos on her blog of the amazing games as well, so please check out  BEADANDNEEDLE

Be sure to play this guy, he is hilarious, he throws more insults at you than Andrew Dice Clay!


This one was a bit scary!
                                       





Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Why am I not famous?

I have this knack for making things famous, all except for myself....
I started reading the Pioneer Woman's blog long before she had a tv show and pots and pans at Walmart. I also started watching Laura Vitales cooking videos long before she had a tv show and cookbook. Now these 2 are famous and making bucket loads of cash....jeepers.

They are still really great to get some tried and true recipes from so when I needed a good dinner idea I check them out on you tube.

I had some shrimp in the freezer and decided I needed a really good shrimp scampi recipe so a quick search on you tube and I found Laura's 10 minute scampi...oh, sounds perfect!

I rinsed the shrimp to thaw them and away we went.

This recipe is so flipping easy and so delicious! I am changing the recipe to make more sauce, you really want more sauce if you are serving with a loaf of french bread, Yum!

Get a pot of salted water boiling to make linguine and turn the oven on to 425*

1. Grab some shrimp (thaw if frozen or use fresh) to fit the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish in a flat layer.
2. Pour in a cup of wine (pinot gregio worked great)
3. Add 1/2 stick of melted unsalted butter
4. Pour in the juice of 2 lemons
5. Add 8 garlic cloves minced
6. Add some salt and pepper and red pepper flakes if you like a little kick.
Mix together and put in a 425* oven for 7 minutes for small shrimp or 10 minutes if using large shrimp. You can put a loaf of french bread in the oven too as it takes 10 minutes to heat as well.

Drop your linguine in the boiling water  to cook for 7 to 10 minutes.
I made my own fresh pasta earlier in the day, that was so much fun. I love to make pasta now and the take the time to make it from scratch, having the kitchen aid mixer with the pasta attachments helps, but I have heard by hand is fats and easy too!

Now that 10 minutes has gone by, take the bread and shrimp out of the oven, drain your pasta, add it to the shrimp dish, sprinkle on some fresh cut parsley, and give a good stir to coat pasta with the sauce, transfer to a deep serving platter so you don't keep cooking the shrimp in the hot baking dish,

Serve with the crusty french bread and butter, some Parmesan cheese and some more of that Pinot Gregio! Wow, fast and fabulous for sure!

I was so hungry that I forgot to grab my camera to take a picture of my dish, it was amazing we ate the whole plate, using the bread to mop up all the sauce! I will add a photo next week, I will be making this at least once a month!

Have a great week, be back soon with more from Viva Las Vegas!





Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fun and Games and Soup!

That is the Las Vegas Strip as seen through the dust and wind!
It is spring here in the desert, the wind is blowing and my allergies and horrific. I may have to go get a shot to help me out. You can only blow your nose so many times before it falls off!

I am still trying to have fun though. My friend of 33 years, Debbie, came to town, we played bingo, I took a cooking class. We sat home and I cooked some fabulous meals. We played dominoes, yahtzee and scrabble, and drank bloody marys and margaritas, played more bingo and shopped at walmart, she loves the big walmart out here (she lives in a small town in California) so we go and she finds all kinds of cool stuff.
They gave out free chocolate bunnies that had prizes attached at bingo,
my little bunny gave me 10.00!!
I made us a ham dinner for Easter Sunday, I love ham and I really miss it, Hubby does not enjoy it so I don't cook it, but he actually liked the one I got, it was a spiral from walmart. Deb left the next morning so I dropped her at the airport and came home and made a nice pot of soup with the leftover ham, it was yummy! The wind was really blowing outside and it was so nice to have homemade soup to warm us up, and the hubby loved it too!
My pot of soup! It was so good!
The recipe comes from mygluten-freekitchen.com
I changed the recipe slightly, I added 1 cup of chopped celery and omitted the corn. if you like you can add both or none...

Ham, Potato, Cheddar Soup

2 cups water
4 cups chopped potato, I used the yukon gold, they are so soft and buttery and you can leave the soft skin on. (yay, no peeling!)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon garlic salt/powder
2 cups chopped ham
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

  1. In a large pot, bring water, potatoes, carrots, and garlic to a boil. Stir in salt, garlic salt, and pepper.
  2. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add the ham. Reduce heat to lowest setting.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then whisk in the cornstarch.
  4. Add the milk to the butter/cornstarch mixture and whisk together.
  5. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.
  6. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
  7. Pour creamy contents of medium saucepan into the large pot of ham and vegetables. add some salt and pepper and some crushed red pepper if you like a little kick, bring back to a boil, then put on a simmer until ready to eat, I let it simmer for about an hour until dinner time. I then served with hot loaf of french bread from the oven and a salad.

I hope you try it and enjoy it, and I hope your spring is sunny and warm!
See you soon with more fun in the Las Vegas Sun!







Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pizza Pizza!


Who knew making your own pizza at home was so easy and delicious! You need to start 2 hours ahead to let the dough rise but if you know it is pizza night just set a timer for 2 hours before time to eat!

I have been practicing and made 3 pizzas so far.
It is so much cheaper then delivery!
I made 3 - 14 inch pizzas with the 20 dollars we spend on one. We have a good italian place on the corner that we were getting our pizzas from, but the quality and taste has been declining lately, left me dreading getting a pizza from there, so I went on a search to make my own.

Here are the 4 things you need for good pizza at home:
15 inch pizza stone-I found one at albertsons for 12.99!
Dough-croutoncrackerjacks on you tube
Sauce-erikeats.com
Toppings-what ever you like on your pizza!

The dough recipe I found is so easy and makes a perfect 14 inch pizza:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tblsp olive oil
3/4 cup 100* water
2 tblsp sugar

Put the sugar and warm water in your mixer bowl, stir, add yeast and leave it for 5 minutes. then add flour, salt, and oil, mix on low with dough hook for about 8 minutes, fold dough over on its self to make a nice round ball, place in a bowl with some olive oil smeared in it, roll the ball around to coat, cover with plastic wrap and place in oven (off) for 2 hours.

For the sauce:
1 can 28 oz good quality tomato sauce
1 can 6 oz tomato paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp italian seasoning blend
Mix until smooth, no cooking required, set aside to get the flavors to meld while your dough rises for 2 hours.

When ready to make your pizza, get your dough out of oven, place a pizza stone in your oven and turn to 450*
Shake some corn meal or semolina on your counter, start stretching the dough out to make a pizza crust, I watched many you tube videos on how to do this. Erikeats.com has a great video on this technique.

Get the hot stone out of oven and place your dough on top carefully, and start topping your pizza!

Make sure to buy good quality ingredients, get your cheese slices (more flavor then shredded) at the deli counter, same with the pepperoni, and 1/2 pound of thinly sliced mozzarella and provolone cost me 3.50 each and lasted for 3 pizzas! You can also top with bell pepper, mushroom, jalapenos, once you have your toppings on sprinkle parmesan all over the top and place in oven for about 10-15 minutes, keep an eye on it! Take out when you are happy with the color and let sit for 5-10 minutes, slice and enjoy the best pizza ever!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

#51 and Blackened Fish Tacos

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HOW IS THAT FOR A BIRTHDAY CAKE!
(found on pinterest)
A little birthday advice:
I have learned that fish does not have to be fishy, and if you open your mind and try new things, you will find a whole new world out there to be discovered.

It took me a long time to get to this point, I did not start to cook like a real cook/chef until my forties, and now in my fifties, I am getting pretty good!

I also did not start to really travel until my 40's and now I have been to many countries and found I really enjoy travelling!

Never limit yourself. Keep learning and trying new things. Age is a number not a place. I keep taking classes to learn new things and I will continue until my 100's!

So on my 51st birthday I just wanted to give a little advice....Get out there and enjoy life! Do something you never done, try a new food, you may discover you really like it, like these:

Blackened fish tacos:

Tilapia about 5 fillets
1 teaspoon of each smoked paprika, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, cumin, salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper.
Place fish in a plastic bag and dump in the spices, mix and shake all around to coat the fish, put in fridge for an hour or 2.

12 corn tortillas (I now make my own and it is so fast and easy now)

Some veggie oil to fry up the fish, just enough to coat the grill pan or skillet, which ever you have.

For the taco lettuce:
1/2 head of lettuce or cabbage, we like lettuce in this family. slice into thins strips add 1/2 diced onion, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, juice of 1 lime, mix all in a bowl and let marinate in fridge for an hour.

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream or mexican crema
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno chopped and seeded
Put all in a blender or food processor and blend to make a sauce.

When ready to eat, fry up your fish on a nery hot pan, I use a grill pan, let them get nice and blackened, about 4 minutes per side, they cook fast!
Then chop into bite size portions, heat tortillas on a grill or flat top.

To serve the tacos, place some fish in a tortilla add the lettuce mix, and some sauce on top, and some queso fresco shredded cheese (or jack cheese) amazing flavors and so delicious, my hubby devoured these! Sour cream, onion, cilantro, fish, and all!! We all know how picky he is and he loved these!!!

Great summer dish and great new addition to taco tuesday!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mini Vacation!

My hubby said he wanted to go somewhere with me before racing season starts March 18, plus it is my birthday March 13. He said maybe to Arizona for spring training, We love baseball. I started thinking about it and I came up with this plan:

Hubby has never seen the Grand Canyon, we only live 3 hours from it, plus he loves trains, he watches any show with trains.
I jumped on the internet and put the plan in motion.
We would drive to Williams, AZ (3 hours from Las Vegas) have dinner and stay the night. Get up in the morning and hop on the Grand Canyon Railway Train for a 2 hour ride that takes you to The Grand Canyon. From there we hop on a bus that drives the South Rim with stops for photos. We get back to the Depot, have lunch, back on the train 2 hours to Williams, hop in our car and be home that night! Whew!

I told him the plan and he was all in! So here is our Mini Vacation:

I chose the Best Western Inn, it is on route 66 at the start of Williams. Nice Hotel 90.00 for the night, had a restaurant, lounge and live music. We checked in then I jumped on Yelp to find a good restaurant:
We chose South Rim wine and beer garage, it had great reviews. We drove down the road and walked in. The first thing you notice is a 1967 Pontiac GTO in the middle of the place, it was beautiful!



The fun thing about this place, choosing your own beer and wine flights. You circle the 4 choices you want and for 11.66 you get to try them. Hubby tried a Big Blue Van beer, which he loved, I liked all 4 of my choices, a riesling, a pinot gregio, white blend, and a sweet red.


The food was very good quality, limited menu so they make sure things are well crafted. I had the Pretzel burger, it comes on a soft pretzel bun which was outstanding. Hubby had a pizza and caeser salad.
We left very happy, got back to the hotel and went to the lounge to sit and listen to a man play the guitar and sing, I forgot to get his card so I don't know his name, but he sang cool songs, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison. We called it a night and went to bed, we had a big day ahead for us!

In the morning we got up early to be at the train depot by 8:00 am to get our tickets for the train ride. The hotel has complimentary breakfast so we filled up and drove 1 mile to the station.
Once you pick up your tickets they direct you to a little western show they put on, then we boarded the train:


The cowboys put on a little gunfight which was a funny little show, they had a good time, but we were so happy to get on our train!
 I chose the Luxury car tickets, I wanted hubby to be comfy and enjoy his ride, it was worth it! We got plush seating, free coffee, soda, water, juice, pastries, fruit platter. On the trip back we got the same but they switched to a cheese and cracker platter. Beer and wine were 6.00, near the end they poured us champagne and thanked us for riding the rails with them.

 Our comfy car with our own bar! We only shared the car with 2 or 3 other people!
You could get up and sit anywhere and you could walk out onto the back of the train since we were in the last car!
Off the back platform

We liked going up here in the observatory deck and watching the world go by.

This is his favorite thing to do, go between the cars, open the half door and stick his head out!

Grand Canyon:




It was breathtaking! You have to see it in real life to really know just how massive it is! Hubby was impressed!
Our bus ride lasted and hour and a half, our tour guide was full of amazing facts and information about the canyon. We had 30 people on our bus and at one stop, one of the men took his girlfriend out on the rim and asked her to marry him!!! When they got back on the bus we all cheered and congratulated them! How exciting!!

Once we got back to the depot, they had lots of lodges, shops and restaurants to choose from. We picked the Arizona room in the Bright Angel Lodge. Chicken and rice soup with a blue corn muffin was fabulous!
I have to tell you this funny story:
At the depot, the shops and food places are all set along the rim of the canyon, and you can sit out there and eat hot dogs and ice cream and your lunches if you packed any. BUT they tell you do not feed any squirrels or chipmunks that beg. The most injuries that occur at the canyon are squirrel bites! We were standing by the wall where everyone sits to eat and there was this one squirrel running from person to person trying to get a snack, no one was giving in to him, so he ran along the wall until one man set his hot dog down to open his mustard packet and BAM, the squirrel ran up and took a chunk out of his hot dog!! Everyone was laughing at the speed that squirrel had once he got a shot at food! Someone offered to buy the man a new hot dog and everyone learned not to set their food down, not even for a second!
Super fast squirrel enjoying his hot dog!

At 3:30 we had to be back on the train for our ride back to Williams. We enjoyed our comfy seats back to town. I enjoyed the wine and champagne, They even staged a little train robbery and everyone laughed and had a great time!
Our robbers ambushing the train!

We had a wonderful time, hubby got to see a natural wonder, and he got to ride on a train. He really loved that train ride, he was so relaxed and comfortable.

I would highly recommend Grand Canyon Railway Tours, they even turn the train into the Polar Express during November and December for the kids to enjoy!

You can make your Grand Canyon trip by going here: www.TheTrain.com

Get out and enjoy the world!