Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stratta (Vegas) Chopped Salad: Recreated

Not only was Vegas a blast, but I don’t think I ever had a bad meal.  In particular, there were some very delicious salads eaten throughout the weekend and I found myself writing down their ingredients so that I could re-create them when I got home.

Our plane got into Boston around 9:30AM Tuesday morning and later that day I went grocery shopping, then spend a good chuck of my afternoon chopping veggies for this guy:


On Saturday evening, after checking into the Wynn, Jocy and I wanted to eat a not-so-big dinner before getting ready for our big night out at Pure (green dress nightp.s. that dress is from Nordstrom juniors dept.). 

We grabbed two seats at the bar in Stratta and proceeded to split a salad and a pizza.

First up was the Stratta Chopped salad which was described as:

Escarole, Beans, Salami, Crisp Vegetables, Mustard Vinaigrette


The best part about this salad was that all the veggies were diced up so small!!   Even the olives were small!

As we kept “mmm”ing about this salad, I whipped out my phone and jotted down every veggie and bean I could identify. 

Next came our pizza


The crust was SUPER thin…almost like a tortilla, so thin.  I love a good thin crust. 

Toppings were sausage, green peppers, onions, and buffalo mozzarella.

Using some will power we were able to leave 2 slices to pack up.  We then proceeded to fill one of the sinks in our hotel room with ice and leave the leftovers on ice for a late night snack….Best Idea Ever.  Although the bar at Stratta is open until 6am.  The bartender did tempt us with the knowledge that we could get a fresh pizza after our night out, but we resisted. 

Re-creating that chopped salad was fun, although it did involve a LOT of chopping.




However, it made a big batch and I had it for lunch the next 2 days.

Chopped Veggie Salad with Salami
inspired by Stratta, serves 5-6

The key here is to chop all the veggies at a uniform size.  The smaller the better.

  • mixed greens or baby spinach for your salad base
  • 1 can kidney beans or black beans (or both!)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 med. red onion, diced
  • carrot, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 large cucumber, diced
  • kalamata olives, small ones if you can find them
  • 4oz salami, diced from a larger piece, or from slices

Mustard Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

Drain and rinse beans and chickpeas.  In a large bowl combine all diced veggies (onion through cucumber).  Add in beans, olives, and salami. 

Make vinaigrette:  combine ingredients into a bowl or mason jar with lid.  Whisk or shake until combined.

Toss veggie mixture with salad.  Serve over a small layer of greens. 


As long as you keep the greens separated until ready to serve, the leftovers will keep for a day or 2 even with dressing already tossed in.  Just serve over fresh greens.

For lunch I added extra slices of salami and provolone cheese.


Does anyone else have a good mustard vinaigrette recipe?  I really enjoyed how this came out, but it wasn’t quite what we had at the restaurant. 

Do you ever “take notes” at restaurants??

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vegas Part 1: Where it’s Good to be a Girl


Sorry for the dead air over here, but this girl was partying it up Vegas Style all weekend!  The days leading up to my trip were a little crazy getting everything together last minute, and then well I was in Vegas from Friday night until Monday evening…



This will be a very picture-heavy update, and I most definitely need a separate post for the amazing meals we consumed…but there’s so much to share!!

Everything “they” say is true.  There’s no place like it.  You really don’t need much sleep.  And it helps to be a girl haha. 

On the plane to Vegas!

We had a 6pm flight, with 1 layover.  First 4hr leg of the trip was rest, 2nd leg was to caffeinate and rally!!

I think that’s the first time I’ve ever ordered alcohol on a plane…

As someone to very much NEEDS a normal nights sleep (for me that is usually 7 hours, preferably 8), I SHOCKED myself!

Arrived around 11:30pm Vegas time, got to the hotel, changed, and went out to meet our friends!

Dress: Express

Proceeded not to spend a dime all night.  Maybe this is no big deal for you, but I’ve never been really comfortable when a guy buys or offers to buy me a drink…I don't know why, but I do. 

But in Vegas…didn’t mind so much.  Well let me explain.

Arrived at Tao… bouncer let us in right away, no line, directed to the guy who checks ID’s, got stamped, and led right in…no cover (meanwhile we were right by the cash register where other people WERE paying).

Find friends who have found 2 guys with a table…free drinks.


My friend Jocy and I leave a little after the other girls, and proceed back to our room.

Except…not tired.  Have been up OVER 24 hours and some how not tired????

So…the following proceeded to happen:


Photo shoot.



And late night pizza.  We were in line, started to chat with the guys in front of us, proceeded to get our 1 slice and 2 large waters…they offered to pay.  Thanks guys!

Finally, after sitting down to eat our slice, we started to get tired…at 4am.  I’d say Friday night was a success.  We also got several free desserts, and glasses of wine at dinners other times throughout the weekend but I’ll leave that for the food post. 

Bed by 4:30.  Somehow wide awake at 8 AM….and that was just the first night.


Breakfast at Canyon Ranch Grill

First day Pool side at the Venetian…where they come around with orange slices and cool washcloths….yeah.

Later that day Jocy and I move to our own room at the Wynn! IMG_4073
The flowers here were INSANE!

LOOK at those flower balls!




Although we did grab a Chocolate Almond croissant from Bouchon before we left the Venetian



Saturday night was the big night out.  All 8 of us girls had a table at Pure which is at Caesar’s Palace



Champagne with strawberries to start :)



Fun had by all.


Sunday we recuperated by the Wynn pool


IMG_2546  IMG_2547

Poolside salad…for breakfast…at noon.  Well I did have a banana and PB in the room as soon as I woke up.  I was STARVING


That salad was phenomenal and I plan to re-create it this week!

Other sites of the weekend…


Top of the Chandelier Bar in the Cosmopolitan…another gorgeous hotel!




Best arancini I’ve EVER had!  At the Public House…truffle arancini’s in a fondue sauce.  Oh.My.God.  If I wasn’t in public I would have licked that bowl clean.



IMG_4091 IMG_4079

Sorry for the photo overload but it was just such an amazing trip.  Did so much in just 3 days.  Ate some incredible food…seriously never had a bad meal all weekend.  Can’t wait to share my favorite meals with you!!

For a recap:  Jocy and I stayed in a room with friends Friday night at the Venetian, then had our own room at the Wynn for Sat and Sunday night.  We spoiled ourselves.  If/When I return I need to stay at Wynn or Encore again…

Oh and I did gamble…about 20min of Roulette before we left on Monday.  Put in $20 and won $61.  Bonus! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dinners Lately: Grill & Carb-light

I kind of hate the term “low-carb”.  It just reminds me of the Atkins and South Beach crazes, and all the fake and processed foods that you can still eat on those diets. 

So even though I’m shooting for less carbs lately, I’m even more committed to REAL food above all else.  

So with that said, I’ve had some delightful meals recently!

Saturday we had Brian’s mom and sister over!  It was SUCH a gorgeous day that I couldn’t very well not grill out!  I also had a craving for Mexican so we decided to make up some grilled fixin’s for Fajitas!

Chicken Fajita Marinade

  • juice of 2 limes
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • few shakes of crushed red pepper
  • salt

Combine ingredients then add to a large Ziploc bag with your chicken.  We had 4 breasts in the bag, and marinated them for about 2-3 hours.

Grill up your chicken, some sliced bell peppers, and sliced onion.

Serve with your favorite additions:

  • tortillas
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • avocado
  • cilantro
  • cheese
  • mango would also be good here, we didn’t have it though



Best eaten outside :)


IMG_4012I used 1 TJ’s brown rice wrap for my fajitas!  But another idea is to serve over a bed of lettuce.

This was an easy, but fun meal for company!

Sunday was even nicer!

Grilled Steak Salads

  • grilled tri trip steak
  • baby spinach
  • cucumber, chopped
  • tomato, chopped
  • shallots, sliced
  • chives, finely chopped
  • goat cheese, crumbled
  • Dressing: balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper

We also broke out some refreshing white wine!


This was actually a bottle that we brought home from Wine Country in November.  This is a 2010 Viognier from Thumbprint Cellars in Healdsburg. 


Not sure if this is a “proper” pairing, but we liked it.  This wine has a great full flavor, reminiscent of a Chardonnay to me, but without the bite…it’s smooth :)


Last but not least…TONIGHT!

It was a warm warm Marathon Monday, and unfortunately I was at work.  However, I did leave a little early ;) Shhhh. 

We had some ground turkey to work with and we wanted an easy and fast dinner!

Greek Style Turkey Burgers!

  • 1 lb ground turkey, white meat
  • 1 T olive oil
  • canned artichokes: 4 chokes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped olives, canned works fine here
  • crumbed feta, about 1/4 cup or more
  • salt and pepper
  • a few shakes of za’atar if you have it

Mix together with your hands, form into patties, grill.



I also whipped up a quick little yogurt sauce!  Just took 2-3 T of 2% plain Greek yogurt, squeeze from 1/4 lemon, salt & pepper, and whatever dried herbs and spices you like!!  I had some different mixes from Penzey’s (used more Za’atar here, Aleppo pepper, and some Sandwich Sprinkle).  Delish!  Tasted like Ranch dressing :)

As you can see I enjoyed mine on lettuce, with some tomatoes, and a sweet potato on the side.


The burgers were incredibly flavorful!! 

I leave you with an outfit post!!  Long time no outfits around here.

But I have a current obsession…in the form of BRIGHT yellow skinny jeans…


They just make me happy.  I encourage you to go get some fun colored pants!!


Mine are from the Gap.

Just have to get through this week…then on Friday I leave for a fun weekend in VEGAS!!  I’ve never been, SO excited to have a girls weekend by the pool :) 

Any must see or must do or must eat things while I’m in Vegas???