Summer Salad Rolls

These Vietnamese style salad rolls are my new obsession! I cannot stop making (and eating!) them, I made the first batch last week and have made two more batches since. They are so tasty, light and relatively easy to make once you get the rolling down. Salad rolls are usually done with shrimp but I’m allergic so it was chicken for these guys. I think adding a little bit of fruit made them really special, it brings a sweetness and tones down the spicy sauce a bit.

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The most tedious part is the prep. You have to do a lot of chopping, once everything is ready and you start rolling things go pretty fast. The best part of these is that you can basically put in whatever you want and substitute or add things the more you make them. This batch I put in plums and cabbage, then took that out next time and used pink lady apples and spring mix instead, I think the apple was better.

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What you’ll need for the wraps:

  • One – two red bell peppers, sliced thin
  • english cucumber cut in half then sliced thin
  • 3 plums, cored and sliced thin
  • red cabbage cut into thin slices
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks (I bought a bag of pre cut matchstick carrots to save myself some time)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, shredded
  • Rice vermicelli noodles (find in the “asian” section of any grocery store – cook as directed)
  • rice paper wrappers (find in the “asian” section of any grocery store)
  • one bunch cilantro, use to your liking

A note on using the rice paper. I fill a pie plate with luke warm water, and the key with these is to get them just the right amount of soft and wet. I soaked two at a time, about two and a half minutes. If you have never used them before, they start out hard and crispy. Lie them in the water, touch them periodically to see how soft they are getting. It might take a few tries, but don’t get discouraged – too soft and they’ll rip, still too crisp and they’ll rip. Once you get a few good wraps you’ll know the right texture to take them out at. I also found wrapping them on a wooden cutting board was the easiest because the wraps will be soaked when you take them out of the pie plate, it will absorb a little bit of that water so they’re easier to work with and they won’t slide around like on a plate.

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What you’ll need for the dipping sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons natural rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of smooth peanut butter
  •  1 tablespoon all natural honey

Whisk it all together! This sauce does definitely have a bite to it, my husband preferred it with a little more peanut butter, I prefer it with a little less – do whatever works for your tastes.

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Now start rolling those babies! Soak your rice paper then transfer to your rolling area. I always build in the middle of the paper then wrap them like a fajita; fold up the bottom, fold up the sides and roll up to the top – you really want to tuck as you’re rolling to the top or they can get messy, the wrappers will get a little sticky as they dry and self adhere. I usually did my rice noodles first, laid peppers on one side of the noddles and cucumbers on the other, topped with plum, chicken, then finished with cabbage and carrot, I added cilantro to all of mine but I love cilantro, I know some people hate it.

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Your final product should be a pretty snug wrap, it might take a few times – I had no clue what I was doing at first.

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Then you can drizzle the wrap with the peanut sauce or dip as you eat.

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These refrigerate really well, just make sure they’re in an air tight container or the wraps will harden and get stale. I made a bunch and ate them for lunch all week. Then when those were gone I made a new batch with a few changes to the filling and made my husband eat them for dinner, I love them!

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This recipe was adapted from buzzfeed.

Enjoy! Have fun making them and mixing up the recipe!

 

 

 

 

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“Man, I really like Vegas.” part 2

As this was such a long trip to sin city, it is no surprise that this trip has to span across two blog posts. And honestly, I could talk about my adventures in Vegas all day.  The third day with our friends, we wanted to try a party pool so we went to Bare at the Mirage. It was just ok, and definitely a different experience when going with husbands than with a group of girls! Really expensive and not really worth it. We soon moved over to the main pool at the Mirage and enjoyed relaxing in the pool and eating a big mid afternoon lunch poolside that we got from California Pizza Kitchen – they have awesome tortilla soup!

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IMG_7847After this hot and sunny pool day we had plans for dinner and a show. We had a really casual dinner and then stopped by the Las Vegas sign for a photo op. After some drinks and gambling (and losing!) at Mandalay Bay we saw the Michael Jackson ONE Cirque du Soleil and it was fab! We had great seats and the dancing is amazing. We finished the night with some late night pizza at Pin Up Pizza!

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Vegas has such an unlimited supply of unique picture spots. I’m obsessed with the shoes I was wearing that night, I got them in San Francisco when I was there a few months ago. Although, my feet were pretty sore after a whole night in them.

The next day was Ryan and Lisa’s last full day so we spent the whole day at the pool, sipping on their skinny strawberry splash cocktails  (a few pitchers truth be told) and soaking up the sun.

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Once we had our fill of the sun for the day, we went up for a little nap and got ready for a casual night on the strip. I know this is really embarrassing and kind of tacky but every time I go to Vegas I have to eat at the Cheesecake Factory! It’s soooooo good and we don’t have it in Canada. The menu is basically novel sized and they have this Luau salad that I am obsessed with, I get it every time. We did some shopping at forum shops, ate dinner at cheesecake factory, went on the New York roller coaster (every time I go on that ride I’m sure it’s one away from falling right off the track) and basically just strolled the strip doing the touristy things. We ended up at the Wynn and had some drinks at the Parasol Down patio where they do these bizarre but really entertaining waterfall shows.

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Ryan and Lisa were on an evening flight the next day so we had the whole day of fun! They and my husband Ryan wanted to try Shake Shack which is supposed to have the best burgers in the world or something. Burgers and fries aren’t really my weakness, I could take it or leave it. I’m more of a candy girl, or movie popcorn! They all thought the food was awesome, I had the shack-cago dog with a chicken hot dog instead of beef and it was ok. We also had our first ever experience at PinkBerry that day which I also thought was just alright. I guess Americans have their fast food that they swear by and we have ours.

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They seem to have really tried to revitalize the area around New York New York and Monte Carlo. New restaurants, the facades on both hotels look new and updated, they have removed some of the dated décor. Maybe it’s making a comeback! But Vdara remains my favourite.

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We finished the day off before they had to head to the airport with drinks and snacks at the lounge Vice Versa at Vdara. Ryan and I had reservations at Mandarin Bar at Mandarin Oriental that evening, a hotel neither of us had ever even been in. It’s kind of hidden and I don’t think it has a casino, it’s part of city centre and super luxe. Mandarin Bar is on the 23rd floor and the views are amazing. I drank their champagne cocktails and it was worth the hefty price tag, that’s for sure.

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We spent a little time exploring the hotel and they have so many gorgeous details. We went down a hallway that leads to a restaurant (that was unfortunately under construction when we were there) and the whole walk was lined with silk butterflies hanging from the ceiling.

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We were pretty tired that evening and did a little gambling and got some treats at one of the many chocolate shops available and hit the hay!

Ryan and my last full day consisted of a lot of rest and relaxation, a morning work out (believe it or not!) and more pool time. I would do anything to be back beside that pool, as I type this the leave are literally turning colour before my eyes. We had a reservation to eat at Todd English’s Olives at the Bellagio that night. I had been once before with my girlfriend Erin and the food was great, but we sat inside. My mission was to go and get on the waiting list for the patio because you are basically sitting on the fountain, which you also get to see from the back side instead of from the strip. We got a seat on the patio and it was hot (Vegas in July!) but totally worth it. The food was great, company was perfect and I loved seeing the fountains from that angle.

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I was waiting the whole trip to wear the skirt I wore that night. But you guys, I realized after when I was looking at the pictures that I had it on sideways! You can totally see the seam! Complete moron.

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That’s the wrap up of my fabulous Vegas trip number…. who knows! Can’t wait to head back as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Man, I really like Vegas.” – Elvis Presley

You and me both Elvis, you and me both. I can’t stop going to Vegas, and I won’t! I just love it, there is so much to do and see. I know some people get burnt out or don’t love it like I do but I just feel like there is always new restaurants, shows and experiences to have each time, every trip is unique. This was the longest chunk of time I have ever been, we went for 10 days. That seems really extreme, but the first couple and last couple days were just Ryan and I and it was really relaxed, we went to the pool and went to dinner and just relaxed and walked the strip. It also helped that we stayed at Vdara, which is our favourite hotel. It is all suites, so lots of the time we had breakfast in our hotel room and there is no casino so it is a lot more chill. In the middle part of the trip good friends of ours, Ryan and Lisa, met up with us. He had never been before so we tried to show him some of our favourites and it was very go, go, go. I had such a great time, it was probably one of my favourite trips.

Ryan and I always try to travel on the 5:30 to 7:30 pm flight from Edmonton to Vegas and then we have the rest of the night in Vegas but you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch your flight, and truth be told I’m pretty unpleasant when I am over tired! Once we arrived and checked in we went to dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi at the Cosmopolitan. It was delicious and we sat at the sushi bar which was really fun, sushi is one of my favourite foods ever! We then walked the strip for a bit and checked out the Bellagio gardens, which I always like to do, it’s just so gorgeous. This was an under the sea theme and it was one the best I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been a lot!

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The colours!

  • Dress: splendid, similar (and way cuter!) here
  • Shoes: Spring (on sale!)
  • Bag: Louis Vuitton (old) other top handles here

We spent the next day at the pool, we rented a day bed which we love to do because it is kind of away from the crowd, still close to the pool and way more comfortable and roomy. We also did a little shopping at the outlets and that night we had plans for dinner and a show, neither of us had seen a magic show in all the times we have been to Vegas so we went to David Copperfield. It was cool, and the things he does are definitely mind boggling and amazing, but I don’t know if I would spend that kind of money on a show like that again. We tried dinner at Julian Serrano at Aria, it is Spanish tapas and we would definitely recommend it. You order a variety to try and we got the Mediterranean chicken skewers, the beet salad, the Spanish charcuterie platter and the coco espinacas which is a goat cheese and spinach flatbread. We had fun walking the strip that night, grabbing drinks and joining a big group dance party on the bridge at New York New York.

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I was really feeling my husband’s look this night!

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On Her

On Him

The next morning our friends Ryan and Lisa arrived and we greeted them at the airport with open beer! Ryan could not get over the drinking out in public and in the street the whole time he was there. I hope we showed them a good time and they want to go back with us asap! After checking them into the hotel we went for a walk on the strip and went to lunch at Hexx, which is at Paris. The location is so great, we sat on the patio which has a great view of the Bellagio fountains. It’s a really casual vibe with a large menu and some really fun drinks; Lisa and I split the “Springtime Spritzer,” super refreshing and filled with dry ice so it was steaming the whole time.

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Bunch of old marrieds!

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We spent the rest of the day grabbing drinks (or brinks as we now fondly call them – drinks you can bring with you!) and showing Ryan some of the sights.

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I was really giving off some Britney Spears circa 2002 vibes on this trip with all my crop tops!

That night we went to Holstein’s at the Cosmopolitan, our friends are crazy for burgers. It’s pretty fun there, our server was great and they have an insane menu of boozy milkshakes. We all shared the Fat Boy which is candy bar vodka, reese’s pretzels, sprinkles, cap’n crunch, oreo cookies, and butterfinger all in a shake! After some serious digesting we got ready to go out and went to Omnia where Afrojack was the DJ for the night. Ryan and I had both been there when it was Pure nightclub and they did a huge renovation, it is awesome in there now, so  much different. I brought out my second crop top of the day to go out!

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braid

My long, grown out and heavy bangs are a constant struggle, I’m always looking for new and cute ways to pin them, twist them and braid them. This dutch braid was so easy, lasted all night and was perfect for the heat.

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Boozy times with these little gems!

The next morning after slowly making out way out of bed we headed to the pool where we had a cabana reserved for the day. I personally love having a cabana because the heat is so outrageous, it was about 38-42 degrees the whole time we were there. We spent the day lounging, floating in the pool and sipping poolside cocktails, it was a really fun and relaxing.

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That evening we went to Rhumbar at the Mirage, we originally wanted to go there because they have a cigar menu and my husband loves them. But the also have a big menu of hooka, which I had never tried before and we settled on the grape flavour.

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We went out off the strip, had numerous libations and ended the night with pizza from Pin Up Pizza at Planet Hollywood. I’ve never been so off the diet wagon! I love the fuscia colour of the romper I wore that night, I think next time I might add a belt to break it up. The view from our suite was incredible, we were on the 51st floor.

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Romper: express, no longer available but other options here

This was just the first half of the trip, so much more to come!