Vegas Recovery

A couple weeks ago, I went to Vegas. Which, if you’ve never been, is a really fun town. I actually really enjoy gambling and laying by the pool so its an ideal situation for me.  So my trip involved a little bit of these:

Laying by the pool Mai Tais

and a lot of this:

Slot Machines

But more importantly (because I didn’t win a ton of money) it did involve good food. I’m a big proponent of eating whatever you want on vacation – I mean really! You only live once! Why not enjoy yourself when you’re taking the time to visit a new place. My family has always had a loose rule of  ‘don’t eat in restaurants you can eat at when you at home’, so I do my best to seek out new restaurants. While my travel companions were a little more budget conscious, we did get to eat at a few realllly good places. One of them was Hash House A Go Go, which we realized after we got there had been on Man Vs Food. I love that show – I would never eat that amount of food, but I really love burgers and that show always tells you were some awesome ones are. I got this dish:


which is Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken Benedict w/ maple reduction, 2 eggs, bacon mashed potatoes & biscuit. It was delicious. I cannot recommend this place enough. They had some awesome looking drinks on the menu but I wasn’t in the mood to try them. Plus we were heading to get the tiki classes up-post right after breakfast 🙂

Also this happened on the 109th story of the Stratosphere:

I am not a fan of heights.

After returning, I needed to eat something a little lighter for lunch than my normal meatloaves. I just wasn’t feeling red meat.  So when my friend made orzo pasta salad for a party, I knew I had a good lunch planned for the next week. I can’t seem to find the original recipe online anymore, but it was like a combination of this one and this one. Her salad contained feta and cranberries, which I enjoy but I prefer goat cheese. Plus, I felt like I needed a little bit of salt in mine as well. So I adapted it to my needs:


  • For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 table spoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the salad:
  • 1 bag of uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cups crumbled goat cheese – I actually just bought an 5oz container and dumped it in
  • 1 cup sliced salami
  • bag of spinach (If serving right away, I would shred and combine immediately. Since I was using this for lunch, I stored the spinich seperately in baggies and combined it during lunch)

Step one: Cook orzo


Step 2: Whisk together dressing

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Step 3: Combine cooled pasta with dressing. Then combine additional ingredients.

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Step 4: Serve and enjoy 🙂


It lasted me a week – if I had done smaller servings it probably would have lasted another few days. Kept really well – delicious!

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Irish Inspiration

Ireland 017

A couple of years ago, my parents took me and my two brothers to Ireland for our unofficial ‘last’ family vacation. I say ‘last’ as its probably the last one fully financed by my parents, but I’m sure at some point in the future we’ll all go somewhere together again. I’m pretty close to my family – my brothers more than any one else.  We like travelling with each other for the most part, but we all know our limitations. At like day five, we’re sick of each other and need a break. Its almost like clockwork.

Our trip to Ireland was inspired by my parents’ past. They were actually married there, and our trip was their 25th wedding anniversary dream-come-true. They basically eloped, no family or friends were present except for a distantly related aunt that lived near Galway. She was their connection to the church. Our parents have always wanted to show us the location, to take the family there. They had saved for years and surprised us Christmas of the year before. Fortunately, my brother Pete and I had already traveled abroad and had passports. My brother Jack had been tricked into getting one a few months before. (I used the words tricked, because he didn’t connect the trip with the passport at all. He’s very smart but easily glosses over motives or details to actions). We were set.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Our trip was ten days long – we flew into Dublin and then drove to Galway, on the opposite side of the country. We spent a few days there, then drove to Cork, then back to Dublin. By the time we reached Dublin, my brothers and I were ready to kill each other. We had been sharing a room for six days at this point, and that’s a long time to put three people in a room. Plus, five people in a car driving all around the country. I’m not trying to complain at all – it was a great trip, a fantastic adventure and something I will never forget in my life. But seriously, day six was it. We had tickets to one of those hop-on-hop-off city tours, so at the first stop, I hopped off by myself. With the agreement that we’d meet back at the hotel at five, I walked around for hours visitng the Joyce Museum, the Dublin Writers Museum,  finding the Oscar Wilde statue…basically just drinking it all in.

Oscar Wilde statue in Dublin

Oscar Wilde statue in Dublin

I got back to the hotel at the designated time and was the first one there. I stopped into the hotel pub for an appetizer since I had skipped lunch and got a red onion and goat cheese tart. Now, at this time, I wasn’t a huge red onion fan, but I was a goat cheese fanatic. It was delicious, and I ate it a few more times while we were at this hotel.

Note, I arrived that the designated time. The rest of my family had thought we were meeting at seven! They had all separated too, I don’t know how they had mutually decided to all be late. While I was waiting, I went back to my room and discovered the show  The IT Crowd, which I found on Netflix as soon as I got home. Hilarious.


I found my travel journal recently, and read about that day. Since then, I’ve wanted to recreate the tart and finally got time to do it today.

Red Onion and Goat Cheese Tart (adapted from AllRecipes)

1 9-inch pie crust

2.5 red onions thinly sliced

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

3 Egg yolks

2/3 cup half-and-half

5 oz of Goat cheese (can use more if desired)

salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a 9 inch fluted, loose-bottom flat tart pan with pastry. Chill for 15 minutes. Cover with foil, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and weights, and bake for a further 5 minutes. ( I used a premade crust and cooked it according to the directions on the box)
  3. Put onions in a roasting tin, turn up to 450 degrees and drizzle over the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to make sure all onions are coated. Roast for 35 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees
  5. Beat together egg yolks and cream, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the red onions over the base of the baked pastry. Pour cream mixture over onions. Slice the goat cheese thinly, and dot over the top of the tart.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until custard has just set.

Now here’s what happened to me in pictures:

First, I chopped up all the onions. I meant to use 3 full red onions, but one half looked like this:


That ended up being for the best. 2.5 onions filled up my pan pretty well. The original recipe calls for five, which is ridiculous.


Also I went to bake my pie crust, and realized I didn’t have weight. I used my dutch oven instead. Worked well enough:


As you can see, 2.5 of roasted onions filled up the pan considerably.


Add your custard!


Also, read ahead. I had taken out my goat cheese because I assumed it was mixed in with the custard. Not true. Its sliced and layered on top. Because mine was room temp it was too soft – I clumped it. I think you can probably just used crumbled goat cheese as well if you want.




If you’re not a onion fan, its probably not the dish for you. But it doesn’t taste like you’re eating a pile of onions. Mine turned out great, but I’ll have to go back to that hotel pub to know for sure whether its better or worse. Damn. Better book my trip!

So pour a little Jameson or Guinness, turn on an episode of The IT Crowd and eat up! Its just like Ireland 🙂


Ok…one more Ireland picture.

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

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