Wednesday, December 30, 2009

out of this world banana puddin’

I couldn’t really figure out what the heck to title this post since it’s pretty random, but after much contemplation I figured it should be titled after the epitome of all banana puddings I’ve ever had. . .

After breakfast most of my morning was spent doing laundry and catching up on bloggies, so we ended up not getting out of the house till later.  My mom wanted to find a new laptop computer so we ventured out to Best Buy and found a pretty good deal on a Dell.  My mom is not savvy with computers, so Chris helped her out :)

Breakfast was one of my simple staples . . . this one included Nature’s Pride pumpkin granola, TJ’s honey O’s, TJ’s shredded wheat and cinnamon Puffins.  I topped it with 1/2 a sliced naner, frozen blueberries (I love how they turn the milk blue!) and 3 walnut halves. 


I had a pretty simple lunch too . . . An Orowheat sandwich thin (I think I like these!), spread with some cooked sweet tater, sliced TJ’s tofu, avocado and muenster cheese.  Then I pressed it in the foreman grill with some carrots and hummus alongside.  It was yummy and just the right size!  I love adding cooked sweet taters to pretty much anything because it lends a subtle sweetness :)


Among the many food stops that we wanted to try to make on our trip here, one was Gary’s BBQ which is known for their homemade banana puddin’. 


Everything is very reasonably priced and the waitress always calls you ‘hun’.  I just think this is too cute because we don’t get that Southern hospitality in Vegas!  We first found out about Gary’s when it was featured in Southern Living magazine.  Chris had a few bites of their pulled pork sammie just to try it and really liked it. 


Their pudding is rich, ultra thick and to die for!  It’s definitely worth the drive.  I wish my mom and I would have shared one because I forgot how mondo they are.  I could only finish about 1/3 of it and then I was spent.  I ate too much, but this stuff is better than ice cream and just as deadly lol


 It’s so mondo, stuff was falling off the sides of the bowl!IMG_6758


After a successful stop at Best Buy, we wanted to look at a few other nearby boutique shops for fun, but Chris slammed his finger in the door as we were getting out and we had to head back home.  Ouch!  But he is doing fine now :)

For dinner I whipped up some hearty meatloaf, roasted squash, parsnips and spaghetti squash. 



It was my first time making spaghetti squash and I think I’m in love!!  It is so simple to make and is so delish.  This will definitely be a staple in our house from now on, especially because it makes a ton and this one squash was only about $3.  In one cup of plain, cooked spaghetti squash there is only 42 kcals and a fairly good amount of vitamin C and fiber.  Yum!

For this I cut it in 1/2 and roasted it cut side down at 375 F with a bit of water in the sheet pan for about 30 minutes.  Then I turned it over, topped it with about 1/2 tbsp of butter in each half along with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder and continued to bake it until soft.  I also added some parmesan cheese once it was done.  Yum!


Alongside we tried a new Malbec that we found at a local wine store called Total Wine.  It was nice and full with rich, chocolate-y undertones, but it wasn’t out of this world.  I much prefer the Layer Cake Malbec. 


I’m looking forward to New Year’s!  We made reservations at a local wine lounge/restaurant that’s going to have some live entertainment which should be fun.  Hope you all have a safe and happy New Year’s!!

Do you have any New Year’s plans yet?     

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

southern safari

After a lazy morning, and a quick stop at Chik-fil-A for lunch, we all headed to Lazy 5, a local animal drive-thru park with over 750 different exotic animals roaming around.  It was sure an adventure!  I’ve been here once before, but we just drove the grounds in our car.  This time around we made an appointment to join a wagon ride and you can actually feed the animals right from your hand!  It’s so exhilarating and exciting to see them so close and we all had a great time.  I think I managed to take over 200 photos! 

Here are some of the good ones . . . 

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From left to right:  my mom, cousin and aunt.  Sure love these guys!


I think this one is my favorite, look at that giant tongue!


They also have a petting zoo to walk around after the ride.  While many of the animals weren’t out since it’s winter, there were still some roaming around waiting to be fed!


I liked the reflection in this picture . . .

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We had such a blast!  It was sure chilly outside brrrr but the sun was shining!

After we got home, my mom and I took her little doggy Shadow for a quick walk.  My mom recently adopted Shadow after she was hit by a car on the highway.  Her right leg eventually had to be amputated, but she is doing really well now.  She is such a sweetheart!


I was surprised at how well she does, and the other 3 legs make up for it :)


For dinner we headed out again for some good southern BBQ mmm that is something that I don’t indulge in very often.  It’s fun to immerse yourself in different cuisines when visiting a city.  There is nothing that I enjoy more than trying and visiting local favorites that make a city unique.  I try to avoid national chains as much as possible to support local restaurants when traveling.


We always try to make a stop at a restaurant called Lancasters.  It’s a great place to go to for some lip-smackin’ southern BBQ.  The inside has a ton of knick-knack items and racing memorabilia all over the walls and there’s even a real bus you can sit in!


IMG_6700My mom ordered sweet tea.  Have you heard of this before?  Normally when you order iced tea in the west, it’s always unsweet tea. 

If you order iced tea in the south, it is always sa-weeat tea (with an accent). 

Chris usually orders unsweet tea and he was so surprised the first time he got the sweet stuff and about gagged!  I had a sip of it and this stuff is sweeet!  It has something near 60g of carbs for a large serving!!  Yikes!


Every table gets a basket of hush puppies.  Oh my gosh, these are addicting!  I forced myself to only have two of these little bites of fried doughy goodness.



For dinner I ordered the salt and pepper catfish combo with pulled pork, corn on the cob and baked beans.  I had one catfish filet, 1/2 the pork, 1/2 the corn and all the beans.  I also had one of the ribs.  Everything was delicious! The ribs were so tender and fell right off the bone mmm


IMG_6722To continue the indulgence of local favorites, there is a great ice cream shop called Bruster’s that Chris and I wanted to make a stop at.  gah!  this stuff is so good! 


I had the small cup with peppermint stick and chocolate peanut butter buckeye.  I was so glad I only got the small!  I’ve never heard of a buckeye candy before, but I am a freak when it comes to anything with peanut butter and chocolate.  What’s not to love?  The peppermint had real chunks of peppermint candy and there were swirls of peanut butter all throughout the buckeye flavor.  pure. heaven.


ha, love the marketing on the napkin.  treat yourself.  Yes, that is sure what I’ve been doing lately, but why does food always have to be considered a way to treat  yourself?  Especially with the holiday season it’s easy to get caught up in all the indulgence, or we try to avoid the temptation at all costs and make ourselves feel guilty if we don’t work off that extra bite of pumpkin pie.  Sometimes we don’t want to, and because of personal beliefs cannot eat the food that a host has prepared, but we don’t want to make them feel bad if we don’t eat their food.  I’m sure there are many other situations you have experienced also.  I’ve come to realize for me it’s important to not dwell on all the eating too much, enjoy the moments with family, friends and the food of the holidays for all that it is in the best way for my wellbeing.   

Food is really what brings us together as a family, defines a region and sustains our bodies to keep us going and healthy.  I know that I have indulged in wonderful food and have relaxed probably a bit too much, but you know what, I’m enjoying it in moderation and am not going to worry about it for this moment in time :)

What are your thoughts on the holiday-food conundrum?


a simple breakfast

IMG_6420 Most mornings there isn’t much time to prepare an elaborate breakfast and I’m sure most of you can surely relate.  Because of this we tend to fall into a routine, having the same 2 or 3 breakfast staples that are easy to make and tweak according to our cravings for the day.  I don’t think this is bad thing at all, especially if it’s healthy, filling and wholesome.  Plus different components can be adjusted based on what’s at hand, like different fruits, cereals, etc.  What breakfast should be is a priority every day, even with the limited time we have in the mornings.  I don’t think I’ve ever not gone without breakfast, or at least try to grab something quick out the door.  It gets the metabolism going, the brain functioning and prevents over eating throughout the day. 

Breakfast is one of my favorites.  Hello Morning!


Extending the wonderful breakfast for lunch I had yesterday at Toast, I wanted to utilize the leftover raspberry walnut pancakes somehow because they were so tasty.  For something simple, I warmed up 1/2 the pancake, topped it with a fried egg, a sprinkling of 2% cheese and a small slice of salty bacon.


On the side I used 1/2 a pear as a bowl for some NF Greek yogurt with cinnamon.  mmm . . . breakfast doesn’t have to be something elaborate every day. 

Yep, something simple and to your liking will do just fine . . .


Other breakfast staples of mine during the busy week, that aren’t anything extraordinary but fit the bill include:

  • bowl of whole grain cereals (I have to mix about 4 different kinds!), 1% milk or soymilk, topped with sliced banana and a small handful of nuts.
  • peanut butter naan – toasted whole wheat naan, topped with pb and jam, a scoop of low fat cottage cheese, cereal and fruit.  It’s like a cottage cheese open-faced sandwich. 
  • and if there’s time, I like to of course whip up a batch of good ol’ oats with hundreds of different topping/mix-in combos :)

Today we are going to spend time with my aunt and little cousin that are in town visiting!  We’re going to be romping around with the animals . . . hehe

What’s your favorite simple and quick breakfast staple?

Monday, December 28, 2009

west meets east

Today was another great day, not having anything to do with work or school, and I think I may just as well go into shock when I have to go back : /

It started like most any other day, except I got to sleep in till 7:30am, I ate breakfast when their was actually glorious sunlight pouring through the windows, and I didn’t have to worry about going to work or school . . . so wait, I guess it wasn’t like most any other day! . . . another great thing about today was my first bloggie meet-up with Diana from The Chic Life!  I was so excited and a bit nervous to meet with a fellow blogger, but I don’t consider her a stranger at all.  It’s like we were long lost friends catching up!  Reading all your different blogs, it feels like we are some how connected, and I feel so lucky to be apart of this blogging community where there are so many wonderful people.    

I really enjoy reading her blog and her photography is stellar for someone who doesn’t think they know a lot about photography!  I’ve seen other meet-ups in the blogworld and I’ve been wanting to because it looks like such fun.  There aren’t too many bloggers in the Las Vegas area I don’t think, so it’s fun to meet new friends when you have the opportunity to over the holidays.

After much contemplation, because there are just so many choices out there, we decided to meet at a place called ‘Toast’.  It is absolutely adorable!!!  I go crazy over local places like this, so it was perfect.


Isn’t it cozy?


I already had a small bowl of cereal for breakfast, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to continue with breakfast or lunch.  I am so indecisive when it comes to menu items, especially when there are so many good ones to choose from!  I read many reviews praising them for their breakfast, so I decided I should try breakfast!


One of their specials was raspberry walnut pancakes, but I was also eyeing the cheese quiche.  I always like to order items that I would never really get anywhere else, and these two made it really hard to choose.  Diana helped with my decision and said to try the pancakes since they are quite unique, and I’m glad I did!  They were scrumptious.  Every bite had a tart/sweet zing from the raspberries and a nice toasty crunch from the walnuts.  I also drizzled some real maple syrup on the side and had one strip of crispy bacon.  Yum!  I could only finish half and took the rest to-go. 



Diana went for the chicken gumbo and 1/2 turkey reuben.  She graciously offered me a sample of the sammie and it was sure tasty!

Photo shots courtesy of Diana :)



IMG_6339 Afterwards, we decided to hit up a nearby Starbucks to continue the conversation.  I think we chatted the whole 3 hours or so!  I was feeling like some hot tea since it was chilly outside and we both ordered some Zen, which is green tea with lemongrass and spearmint.  I would highly recommend this one and I think I may have to get a box for myself. 


We also shared a cinnamon chip scone and of course this was awesome, flaky and butterlicious, laced with pockets of cinnamon streusel.

Oh boy I’m on a carbo overload!  Dinner will include something green :)



Thanks Diana for a great meet-up!  It was so nice getting to meet with someone who shares similar beliefs and passions and is such a nice person!  My heart is full and I’m so glad we were able to get together with the short time that I have here.  I still may try to meet up again for some zumba hopefully!


After picking my mom up from work, we didn’t have too much time before the b-ball game and just grabbed something quick for dinner.  I made a big salad with sweet tater casserole on the side.  It was actually good used like a dressing for the salad, and I scooped a little bit of the casserole with each bite :) 


The Charlotte Bobcats basketball game was a lot of fun!  Chris, being the big sports fan that he is, was really looking forward to it :)  GO BOBCATS!



They had a pretty big victory and afterwards we decided to check out the EpiCentre downtown.


It has shops, restaurants and also a movie theater.  We wanted to see if there were any places open for some dessert, but everything was closing!  I guess we weren’t in Vegas anymore :) The movie theater is neat because it has a restaurant attached and you can eat and drink in the theaters!  Diana said they have nice plushy chairs too.  Very posh and chic inside. . .


Oh man, I’m pooped!  Maybe I’ve finally adjusted to east coast time.  Tomorrow will be filled with chasing around my little cousin who is visiting!

Hope you all had a nice Monday :)