Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Leek and Potato Soup

While reading some blogs today, I was inspired to make some Leek and Potato soup! It has been a while since I blogged a new recipe. I wasn't sure how this one was going to turn out, but I took some pictures anyway. Lucky for all of us, it is a winner!! Low in calories and very filling. Try this for dinner tomorrow night.

Leek and Potato Soup


1/2 large onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts chopped and rinsed
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 c. skim milk
Season to your taste: I used salt, pepper, celery salt, 
cayenne pepper, and some Zehnders all purpose seasoning

In a large soup pot, take onions and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add diced and rinsed leeks and saute for another 5 minutes. Once all of these veggies are soft, add in the potatoes and broth. Make sure that there is enough broth in the pot to cover all of the vegetables. 3 cups should do it!

Add any additional seasonings that you desire. Bring the pot to a boil and cook until the potatoes are done - 15-ish minutes? I forgot to time it...

Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from the heat and blend with the immersion blender right in the pot! Or transfer to a blender or food processor and blend it up that way. I left some 'texture' in the soup by not blending all the way. 

This recipe makes 5 hearty portions (about 2 cups each) and is a really good fall/winter comfort food recipe. Enjoy!!

Serves 5
Calories - 123, Carbs - 26, Fat - 0, Protein - 5, Fiber - 2, Sodium - 380 

Viva Las Vegas - Part IV

November 24th, 2011. Thanksgiving Day. My 24th birthday. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. Based on how much I like eating, this should not come as a surprise to you. However, when Thanksgiving falls on my birthday, birthday wins. This was the least Thanksgiving-y Thanksgiving that we have had as a family. But hey, it was pretty great. Ate lots of good food, took at least one good nap, drank plenty of good drinks, and saw one good show. That is the brief summary - here are a few more details...

I woke up and promptly immediately put on the 'It's my birthday' necklace. You know, in case my family forgot.

Then I got dressed in my sparkly birthday dress and we went exploring (to the Mirage, in case anyone was wondering). 


By this time we were all hungry, and the birthday girl was getting cranky. So we stopped at the first breakfast place we could find. This place was an NY deli sort of place - I had pierogi's for breakfast. It was a toss up between that and the stuffed cabbage. A polish girl's dream!! 

Then Dad wanted to watch the Lions game (they lost) and I proceeded to take a nap in the middle of the Mirage sports book bar area. Ehh. Whatever. It's my birthday and I do what I want!! Then I woke up and ordered a dirty martini.

Phew, time flies when you are in Las Vegas! By this time, we decided to head over towards the Venetian where we had Thanksgiving dinner reservations.

I wanted to go into the (tacky but awesome) Imperial Palace to purchase tickets for Divas Las Vegas. This is a drag show/concert starring Frank Marino (as featured on Millionaire Matchmaker). I had to drag (pun-intended) Mom to go with me... Oh look, I got Divas tickets AND a frozen drink at Imperial Palace!

We finally made our way to the Venetian and wandered around the Canal shoppes for a while before going to dinner.

The Thanksgiving dinner looked really good, and that is why we chose Canaletto for dinner; however, the regular menu looked particularly good. I ended up ordering off the Thanksgiving menu anyway. I am not a big turkey lover, so I was fine with skipping it on Thanksgiving.

Bread served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar - so good

 My Thanksgiving dinner - butternut squash ravioli with walnuts and fried sage. I had taken a bite and realized I needed to take a picture! Oops.

Me and mom with my birthday dessert

Oh yeah! We watched the pirate show at Treasure Isle. I liked that one!!! Now it was time to wander back to the hotel to get ready for Divas! Look how excited she is to go.

Too bad. Deal. With. It. We went over to yet another completely classy trashy Las Vegas casino. I really just like the trashy bars... I can't help it. It's who I am. O'Shea's was maybe my favorite casino. It even has a Burger King. Oh yeah, it had been like a full 4 hours since I last ate. Gimme that Whopper Junior!

Time for the show! Please note: no mothers were harmed during the dragging to the drag show. Turns out, she loved it!!!! You can see pictures of the entire show and all of my other Las Vegas pictures here. My favorite drag queen was Britney Spears! And Frank. He's so nice.

Because I hadn't eaten enough burgers that day, after we got back to the Flamingo and I played birthday slots (I think I won like 2 dollars)... we went to Johnny Rockets and I got a mushroom and onion with cheddar cheese burger. It was really good. I went to bed full and happy! Birthday successful.

Viva Las Vegas - Part III

After sleeping 4 hours, we decided it was time to really see Las Vegas. In the daylight. With other people around. I was in awe as soon as we left our hotel room, snapping pictures left and right. First order of business was to head to the Bellagio for the breakfast buffet. We had to hit the buffets on Wednesday, because for the rest of the week, the prices were basically doubling for the holiday. Crazy!

View on the way to brunch
I managed to fill up four plates of food. Go ahead, judge me. I really only ate about half of what was on each plate - so I guess I ate two plates of food. And every bite was worth it.


Post plate #3, my mom thought I had gone up to go to the bathroom. I came back with a fourth plate of food. We decided  to leave before they kicked me out. I was all hopped up on Diet Coke and sugar and ready for some more Las Vegas action.

We explored the Bellagio casino and lobby (where I was harrassed by a creepy talking tree, totally not cool), went in to Paris (where I was attacked by a gorilla, confession: this may have been a self-selected attack), and went back to the hotel for naps.

Bellagio Lobby

Evil talking tree

Me and the fam - Thanksgiving-themed lobby at the Bellagio

View from the Bellagio - looking at Paris and Bally's

Self-inflicted gorilla attack.

After our wanderings came more wanderings. I woke up, showered and attempted to look presentable. Then we decided to make our way down the strip! I wanted to see as many hotels and casinos as possible. Although, they sort of all look alike - they really do have their differences too! Great people watching in Las Vegas. Like, really great.

 Check it out. Mario is totally hammered!

 Me in a giant high heel at The Cosmopolitan - Christmas gift idea?

 The New York Skyline in Las Vegas - really cool hotel and casino

I turned in to a ginormous crab after dinner. I was so tired! I had a little time out in our room, then we ended the night by watching the fountains at the Bellagio and then getting lost in exploring Caesar's Palace. Before I knew it, it was real late and time to go to bed so I wouldn't be a Thanksgiving crab slash birthday bia.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Viva Las Vegas - Part II

Time to recap the Las Vegas trip... One word: amazing. Ok... I'm done now! Just kidding.

Let's back things up. The day I departed for Vegas, I took my last final exam.

In all reality, I have no idea what I got. But I am pretty sure I passed, meaning I AM DONE WITH GRAD SCHOOL!!!! This did not happen without any issues though. Of course, I couldn't log in to my exam. I had a mental breakdown in the middle of a public library. Then my professor reset my exam, and all was well. So instead of crying tears of joy after my final, I cried tears of panic during my exam. I don't think it was until I was complete with all of the essay questions that I finally calmed down. Don't worry though, I reviewed my exam with a completely sane mind (ok, I'm only 75% sane all of the time...) Whoopsies. Sorry librarian proctor!!!!

Anyway, I then went on a mad dash to Party City to find things to decorate myself for my birthday. I settled on an 'It's my birthday' light-up necklace that was unfortunately broken. Got the delicious truffle mushroom mac and cheese from noodles and co. Enjoyed some celebratory champagne, finished packing up my stuff and hopped in a cab for the CLT airport!


Airport = excuse to drink wine and people watch. I hung out at Chili's before I hopped on my flight to ATL. More wine in ATL and some really good soft pretzels with dipping sauces. Nom nom. I met my family there and finally got on our very delayed flight to Las Vegas.

 Mom and Jonathan

Me and Dad

We sat on the runway for like an hour - there were storms and had to clear debris before any planes could take off.  When the pilot announced we were 15th in line for departure, I knew we were in for the long haul. Don't you just love the Atlanta airport? After midnight, we were finally in the air. Some magazine reading and a 2 hour nap later, we were starting our descent in to Las Vegas. Holla!!!

Dad arranged for a limo to pick us up from the airport. Our limo driver was crazy but hillarious. See below evidence. At this point in time, it was 4 AM EST so I think we were all a little loopy. He drove us around to see the sights and we even had a photo shoot at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign! There weren't many people out - surprisingly since it was only around 1 AM PST. Jonathan did sight a hobo outside of our limo though - he alerted everyone to roll up the windows, yo.

After all of that, we finally arrived at the hotel! The Flamingo. It smells like tropical coconuts inside and I love it.  Jonathan passed out.

The rest of us went to get some late night (or early morning?) food which seemed to take forever to arrive. It was good though, or maybe we were just that hungry... Anywho, after being up for 24 hours (minus one 2-hour plane quality nap), we were ready for bed!!!

Part III coming soon!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Viva Las Vegas - Part I

Hi Everyone! I am finally back from the most amazing trip ever in Las Vegas. Celebrating Thanksgiving and my birthday was particularly special in this sparkly city.

More detailed posts to follow... but here are a few of my favorite shots of the trip!

The family and I just after our arrival!

A great view of the strip at night

Me and the star of Divas - Frank Marino

We did a lot in Las Vegas. I can't wait to tell you more about it! I also can't wait to go back!!! There is just so much to do there. It was an exhausting trip, but so much fun. There are so many more things that I want to do! When is the next trip?!

More recap posts:
Viva Las Vegas Part II
Viva Las Vegas Part III
Viva Las Vegas Part IV
Viva Las Vegas Part V
Leaving Las Vegas
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