Nestie Holiday 2008

Last night we went to visit and meet fellow nesties, Emily of Joy of Cooking and Nikki of Pennies on a Platter. It was such a great time to catch up, hang out and fill our evening with smiles and laughter. Emily made a fabulous spread of heavy appetizers and an amazing dessert table. Sadly I missed out on taking pics but trust me… everything I tried was super delicious! Emily and her mom did a fabulous job! Thank you Emily for your warm hospitality and a great night!

(L-R: Louis, Joelen, Emily, Aaron, Ben, Nikki)

Nikki made some awesome chocolate biscotti too… and they had the perfect richness of chocolate, thanks to the cocoa nibs she used in her recipe. Nikki also played Santa and gave us a wonderful stocking full of goodies of Peanut Butter Fudge, Candy Cane Biscotti and Peppermint Chocolate Cookies. Thank you Nikki for the tasty gift and I look forward to getting together soon!

Friends & Fun

Today was another lazy day where we lounged around soaking up sun on the balcony, watched movies and surfed the web (or work… which I’ll confess I did while on vacation). I spent part of the day with business calls and setting up meetings for the coming days. Besides, I had to save up my energy for our night out!

We headed up to The Villages and Leesburg to meet up with some special girlfriends and their husbands. At The Villages, we had a great Japanese steakhouse dinner at VKI Japanese Steakhouse. It was a lot of fun seeing friends, catching up on things and of course, enjoying the fun show the “grillmaster” put on for us.

The hubby, my sister in law and I all ordered the bento box. Mine included teriyaki chicken over udon noodles, gyoza, shumai, shrimp tempura, rice and fresh fruit:
Here are some more pictures from the dinner:

It was a great night with friends over good food… what more could I want?!

Wisconsin Auto Show 2008

Chicago is an awesome city… but for some things, we prefer travelling up north to Milwaukee. One thing we prefer to experience in Milwaukee is their annual Auto Show. Today we crossed the border and met up with some friends for lunch before checking out the cars at the show. Here are some pics of our day:

I love my small cars!

Adieu, Vegas!

It’s our last day in Vegas so here are some parting pics of us and our gorgeous view from our hotel…

The Sizzling Southwest

Food Network has certainly given chefs and home cooks the celebrity limelight. Bobby Flay is no exception and his personal culinary journey is one to be respected. As an ode to Bobby, we dined at his restaurant, Mesa Grill, located inside Ceasar’s Palace.

From Ceasar’s Palace website:
Award-winning chef, best-selling cookbook author, and popular television personality Bobby Flay brings the vibrant Southwestern cuisine of his acclaimed Mesa Grill to Las Vegas when he opens his first restaurant outside of New York City at Caesars Palace in 2004.

Above is a picture of our bread basket. It included 3 types of bread and all were very good! For dinner I had the Sixteen Spice Chicken, a wonderful blend of spices and seasonings crusted on tender pieces of chicken. I’m looking forward to trying out the recipe at home, along with recreating the cilantro pesto mashed potatoes the chicken was accompanied with. The dinner portions were a lot bigger than I expected and I would definitely dine there again when in Vegas. I have much more respect for Bobby Flay… he knows what he’s doing and he dones it well!

After dinner, Stephanie and I went to see the show, Stomp! It was an great show with some amazing sights and sounds. We ended the evening with a beautiful view of the Bellagio fountain show from our hotel room…

My Love-ly Evening!

We watched the Cirque du Soleil show, Love, this evening at the Mirage. It was an amazing show full of color, lighting and exuded such beautiful musical prose.

After the show, we had a late dinner at Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Bouchon.

From Dining in France:

Bouchon is modeled after the original bistro located in Yountville, California. Mark Hopper, Chef de Cuisine, oversees the kitchen and offers traditional French country fare with an emphasis on using the best fresh and seasonal ingredients. The raw bar serves a wide array of oysters-on-the-half-shell from both the west and east coasts. Bouchon has also been recognized for its innovative carafe program featuring wines made exclusively for the restaurant by top wineries from the Napa Valley.

One thing I was anxious about being here in Vegas was dining at Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Bouchon. When my husband and I went to Napa Valley/Sonoma Valley last summer, we didn’t get the chance to dine at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry restaurant. So being able to check out Bouchon was the next best thing.

The Venetian writes:
“Bouchon offers authentic French bistro fare of a quality not to be found elsewhere in the United States. The restaurant features a magnificent French zinc bar, a vibrant mosaic floor and an outdoor patio for dining. The exquisite décor is the perfect setting for Bouchon’s culinary delights serving award-winning French cuisine. Flawlessly executed in every aspect, Bouchon delights both the palate and the eye, creating a singular dining experience of global proportions.”

Unfortunately I did not take pictures of our meal, as I didn’t think it would be appropriate. However I did find the following pictures online… along with a recipe!

I ordered Soupe a l’Oignon… which offered a great balance of rich beef broth, sweet onions topped wonderful cheese.

Next up was the Croque Madame… a toasted ham & cheese sandwich on brioche with a fried egg and mornay sauce; served with french fries. I know, you may be wondering why I ordered a ham & cheese sandwich of all things. Initially our plan was to dine at Bouchon for brunch where I would have ordered the Croque Madame. But since we were dining for dinner, I was surprised that the Croque Madame was also offered. So I ordered it based on the many raves I’ve heard of the dish. And just as I expected, it did not disappoint. It truly was the epitome of all ham & cheese sandwiches. The richness of the buttery brioche with the egg and mornay made this quite a special dish.

Ending on a sweet note, I had the vanilla filled beignets served with a decadent chocolate sauce and chocolate sorbet. Perfect. The lightness of the beignets paired with the creamy centers of vanilla cream were heavenly with cool smoothness of the sorbet.

Isn’t it Grand?

This morning, we started out day with an amazing Sunday Brunch Buffet at the MGM Grand. Our special guests joining us today include Lindsay & and husband. It was a fabulous time over some wonderful eats and bubbly champagne & mimosas.

Vegas is a Foodie Oasis

I’m in Vegas this weekend for a “Girls Getaway!” We stayed at Planet Hollywood – a centrally located hotel on the Vegas Strip. Here are pics of the hotel and our “Harrison Ford” room. We had an amazing view of the Paris Hotel next door too!I’m joined with my friend Stephanie and for dinner tonight, we went to Todai. There is a Todai restaurant here in the Chicago suburbs, however Stephanie hasn’t been. We’ve both avid sushi lovers so we decided to start our foodie trip here.
Todai Japanese Sushi & Seafood Buffet is a Japanese style all-you-can-eat buffet to suit any appetite. It is the most impressive buffet with locations in California, Oregon, Hawaii, Texas, Washington and Florida. Todai Japanese Seafood Buffet offers an endless display of more than 40 kinds of sushi, a hand roll corner, an Udon corner, 15 kinds of salads, a fruit bar and 20 kinds of dessert. The dinner menu also features lobster, snow crab legs, cocktail shrimp and half shell scallops.

What’s Cooking Nesties Blogroll!

After giving my blog a facelift for the 2008 New Year, I’m happy to have all my fave links to other blogs, recipes and resources nicely organized. One thing I did create was the What’s Cooking (WC) Nesties Blogroll.

The Nest is a site with a What’s Cooking forum that I frequent daily. It is one that serves as a great place of commraderie & a friendly cooking/baking resource with married/engaged women. The WC Nesties Blogroll was especially made to highlight all the wonderful blogs the What’s Cooking “Nesties” on the Nest have linked in their signature lines. It also encourages others on the board to create a blog to highlight their love of cooking/baking, regardless of their skill level. Currently, those WC Nesties who have their blog reflected on the “Now That’s What’s Cooking” blog have been added to the blogroll.

The WC Nesties Blogroll is also very similar to another popular food related one, the Foodie Blogroll created by The Leftover Queen. Her idea was also an inspiration for creating the WC Nesties Blogroll.

If you are a WC Nestie who has a blog about food, whether you cook/bake or just like to talk about it and would like to be added and/or would like the code for your blog, read on! The WC Nesties Blogroll is one way to create a community of WC Foodies on our blogs.

How do I participate in the WC Nesties Blogroll?
There are only 2 requirements to participate in the blogroll:

1) You must be registered with and have a food related blog (at least 80 % of posts are food related). Whether you are a frequent poster of the What’s Cooking board or prefer to “lurk,” I’d love to have your blog listed.

2) You must display the blogroll some place on your blog where it can be easily viewed. The blogroll definitely helps keep your blog looking neater by housing the blog links in a simple drop down box.

To join: Contact Me and fill in the fields, making sure you provide the following:
Nestie name to reference your blog
Email address to send you the WC Nestie Blogroll code
Blog URL which you can enter in the subject line

Thanks for joining!

Pampered Calzones

Today my husband and I took a road trip to visit a special friend and help her with a Calzone Party. It was a great to leave the city’s hustle and bustle to take in the beautiful scenery along the way… and more importantly, to see the smile of my friend Amber once we arrived. She hosted a great party where we made some wonderful calzones with her friends and family. In addition to these savory pockets, she also made a great cannoli dip and profiteroles! Here are a few pics of me from the event… and do check out her blog for recipes!