Archive | Vacation RSS feed for this section

Bites from Buffalo

4 Jul

Happy Monday! And if you’re American, Happy 4th of July! Hope you guys don’t mind that I took a little blog break yesterday. I was feelin’ the whole “lazy Sunday” thing, and figured, it being a long weekend and such glorious weather, IMG_1946you had better things to do than sit and read my blog.

But, I’m back and, as promised, I’ve got a full recap of all the delicious eats from my mini-vacation shopping trip in Buffalo last Thursday-Friday. 80/20 eats were had for sure, but I’d say overall, I made pretty good choices.

We arrived in Buffalo around dinnertime Thursday night, and opted for the IMG_1947Cheesecake Factory (can you tell I was in the mood to splurge Winking smile?). But it wasn’t all out over-the-top.  Since I knew we were going to have cheesecake (c’mon, how can you go to the Cheesecake Factory and NOT have cheesecake), I opted for the “Weight Management” (under 590 calories) spicy chicken salad, and, since the salad was so healthy, made a nice dent on the bread basket IMG_1948too. It wasn’t an over-the-top-amazing salad (I’m sure I could have recreated it at home if I wanted), but it was a good size, and full of lots of fresh flavours. It did the trick – after all, the main course was not the main event here. My mom also made me a small plate of her tomato/basil/chicken pasta, which was really tasty.

IMG_1949

Now, I gave you a preview of dessert on Saturday, but if you want to know exactly what we ordered, it was the “Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake,” described on the menu as: “Chunks of Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups in our Original Cheesecake with Layers of Delicious Fudge Cake and Caramel.”

Now, I have to note 2 things about our choice of cheesecake. 1. According to this article from SeriousEats, the flavour we chose is named as the most decadent. If you’re gonna get cheesecake, why not go for the top, right? 2. This cheesecake was being featured to help charity. The menu told us that: “25¢ from the sale of each slice will be donated to help feed hungry Americans in our communities.” I mean really, that’s the only reason we even got cheesecake, our strong philanthropic beliefs and desire to help those less fortunate than ourselves! (do you believe that? Yeah, me neither). Nevertheless, this stuff was A-MA-ZING. Seriously, totally worth it. I also had an (unpictured) frozen vanilla latte (skim milk and sugar-free) at Borders later on that night.

IMG_1950

We skipped the provided breakfast at our hotel the next day (memories of the greasiness on my March Buffalo visit) and headed to Starbucks, where I got the perfect oatmeal (actually my first time), enjoyed with added cinnamon, Splenda and the fried fruit topping, water, and a Grande nonfat iced coffee.

IMG_1961

After breakfast, I headed over to Target where I got all the great stuff you see in this photo, plus a couple of cute tops (including a silk one for less than $20…I can’t wait until Target opens in Canada Smile). I just HAD to get a cute summer bowl, since I have bowl envy after a certain fellow blogger (won’t mention any names *cough*Katie) has passed on her bowl addiction to me.July 2 2011

Before returning to the mall, we did the Olive Garden for lunch. This place is packed with bad choices, but also some good ones. We both went with the unlimited soup, salad and breadstick lunch (a steal at only $7.50). I skipped the breadsticks, had two bowls of soup (one minestrone, one pasta e fagioli, both delicious) and went mostly-dressing-less on my salad (I’ve heard the stats on this stuff, and they’re just scary). Since I was sort of on vacation, and made smarter entree choices, I treated myself to a “fancy” drink – berry agua fresca (sparkling water with berry puree). Sadly, it was a little too sweet for my tastes. I liked it, but didn’t finish it all.IMG_1955

We had planned our shopping tradition, afternoon coffee break with a little something from Godiva (ever since we were little, when shopping together, my mom would buy us one little thing from a chocolate store, usually Laura Secord back at home), but discovered that the Godiva at Walden Galleria had closed since our last visit (the horror!). Never fear, we decided to try a Starbucks petite sweet with our afternoon caffeine fix. Alongside my light caramel frappuccino, I had a salted caramel sweet square. Ohmigoodness – out of this world! Although it is petite, it is definitely a splurge and not something I’d enjoy on a typical Starbucks visit. If you’re a sweet and salty fan, are at Starbucks, and wanting to treat yourself for under 200 calories, then this little bite of bliss is a MUST!

After Starbucks, I headed to the grocery store for some fun food finds (expect to see more of them in the coming days). And before continuing with this post, I have to confess to all the “undocumented bites” of Buffalo. I had a few samples stuffed my face at the kitchen store Le Gourmet Chef, ate a mini, delicious soft-baked chocolate chip cookie that was offered to me along with a cute bottle of water as I browsed at Brighton Collectibles, ate a few tasty grocery store samples (hello buffalo chicken dip on fresh bread and birthday cake ice cream) and snacked on a few of my grocery store finds while waiting to cross the border. There, I feel better!

IMG_1956

Supper was Applebee’s where I resisted the call of all their mouthwateringly delicious sounding burgers and chose a steak from their “Under 550 calories menu” (Canadian restaurants take note: Why won’t you follow this trend?!? Healthy eaters like to have some choice when dining out. I mean, it’s not that hard to make healthy choices when dining out, but it would be nice to have some options!!!). Okay, I had a bit of my mom’s quesadilla burger. Now, this wasn’t the best steak I’ve had. But for the price tag (both calorie and money-wise…it was less than $12 I think), it was decent.IMG_1957

On the way home, we stopped to see my sister and brother-in-law, since we wanted to see them before my sister left for her 10 day vacation to a friend’s wedding. They were out for dinner with friends, but we got there just in time for dessert (perfect timing, eh?). I (along with 3 others at the table) opted for the deliciously tart strawberry rhubarb pie, served with ice cream. I hardly ever eat pie, so this was delicious.

After a brief visit to see their new IMG_1958shelves (and eat a caramel and chocolate from their candy jars Embarrassed smile), we headed home, where I unpacked and tried to find space for all my new grocery goodies (and may have nibbled as I did so), and then we sat on the couch and finished the day by watching the highlights of Will and Kate’s visit and trying some of my new Parmesan Tuscan Herb baked Lays (YUM!).

Overall, it was a great trip. Did I eat more than on a typical day? You bet. But, for the most part, I felt like I made wiser choices, and treated myself without going totally over the top. And, I did not once feel stuffed or disgusting. For a “vacation” day, this is an accomplishment for me. So far, the new food purchases I’ve tried have been delicious, can’t wait to try more (and share with you)!

How was your long weekend?

Advertisements

Home safely

25 May

Home sweet home! We arrived home safely in Toronto last night, and after my sister picked us up and we had a late dinner together, we finally got home to our house shortly before midnight. Since I am typing this late Tuesday night (technically Wednesday morning), I’m going to keep this short (that and the fact that I don’t want to blabber on in my tired condition).

I seriously enjoyed myself every minute this vacation….maybe a little too much at times. I’m feeling a little “rounder” (in spots that I would not like) right now. BUT, my mom says I am not allowed to complain about the weight I have gained on this trip, so I guess I can’t go that route! Smile with tongue out

IMG_1546

I had a “last supper” of vacation before getting back on track with my mom and sister. We shared chicken wings, pizza and a salad. Not healthy really by any standards, but it was tasty. I’m ashamed to say I ate half of that pizza, 2 chicken wings, and some salad. The thing that scared me is that while I was eating it, I was having feelings of the “old Hilary” – eating things, enjoying the taste, eating more unhealthy food, but at the same time not wanting to eat it, and feeling powerless to stop, just eating it because it was there. I know I can’t (and don’t want) to go back to that person, so maybe those feelings were a good reality check after a week and a half of less-than-healthy choices.

So today I’m starting fresh. Number one on that game plan is a LONG run, followed by a healthy breakfast (whatever I can scrounge up without groceries first). After work today, grocery trip with LOTS of fresh veggies (and local asparagus…yay)! And I CAN’T WAIT to get back in my kitchen creating healthy, delicious food for myself.

I will keep you posted on my progress….wish me luck!

Grand Canyon: Chews and Views

24 May

IMG_1395

If you’re reading this, it means that it’s Tuesday, and the last day of my vacation….sigh. It’s been a great one – great food, great times, and at the grand canyon – great views! To mark the end of this great adventure, I thought I’d share some snapshots of the Grand Canyon portion of the trip.

We left Las Vegas on SatIMG_1396urday morning to drive to the Grand Canyon (about a 4 and 1/2 hour drive). On the way there, we stopped for lunch in the town of Williams, Arizona, at a restaurant called “Pancho McGillicudy’s” that appeared to be a cross between Mexican and an Irish pub. I’ll admit, my hopes were not high. But it was actually SO good (and way cheaper than our Vegas eats). Of course, Pancho started with chips and salsa. My mom and I each got the lunch special – that MASSIVE burrito for only about $8. The meat was grilled outdoors, right in front of us (I had chicken, she had beef), and it was filled with black beans, rice, cheese, avocado, sour cream, pico de gallo and more. It was really fresh-tasting, with lots of cilantro. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat all of that monster! Winking smile

IMG_1402

IMG_1267

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between lunch and supper, we saw the views above (and more)! Gotta love the Grand Canyon – hard to take a bad photo.

IMG_1418

Supper was at the historic El Tovar hotel inside Grand Canyon National Park. I had some bread with the fancy monogrammed butter, part of my mom’s salad, and BUFFALO STRIP LOIN!

IMG_1422

 

 

It was good, nice and tender with a fig sauce. Really, it just tasted like a good steak. If I didn’t know any better, that’s what I’d think it was. Didn’t eat much of the mashed potatoes. If they’re just plain, mashed potatoes don’t really do it for me.

After supper, we saw this:

IMG_1432

IMG_1434

IMG_1435

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continental breakfast at our hotel was surprisingly awesome. I had all of the above (I never would have imagined such a great fruit selection at a continental breakfast). Made a nice mix of cereals – raisin bran, fruit loops and granola – 3 things I enjoy, but never have. There was also a ton of other hot stuff – boiled and scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, oatmeal, toast, pastries…it was great!

IMG_1327

….Grand Canyon hike.

IMG_1443

 

 

 

 

…up close and personal with a squirrel.

IMG_1442

Canyon hike snack break.

 

 

 

 

 

For a vacation lunch, how can you get better than an ice cream cone (butter finger and cookie dough…YUM!) and then a pretzel, enjoyed outside, in front of the grand canyon?!?!

IMG_1453

IMG_1454

 

 

 

After lunch, how about a Grand Canyon Helicopter ride? Okay!

 

IMG_1470

IMG_1478

 

 

 

 

 

Supper at the hotel restaurant was surprisingly good. I enjoyed some of the bread and started with soup (vegetable with meatballs). Soup was good, not anything too special, but tasty nonetheless. IMG_1483

IMG_1481

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my main course, I ordered something I enjoy but rarely get to eat – duck! I like duck ‘cause it’s all dark meat (best part of a bird). You just have to scrape off the thick skin/fat. It came with a IMG_1484delicious fruity sauce, a great selection of fresh, still crisp veggies, and mashed potatoes with smoked gouda and chiles – all delicious! I ate all the veggies, but left some of the potatoes and duck behind (it was hard though – they were tasty)!

IMG_1485

We shared a piece of chocolate/banana/Bailey’s cake for dessert. Wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but it was GOOD!

 

 

So, all in all, it’s been a great vacation, full of lots of food and fun. I’ve enjoyed all my splurging, and tried not to stress to much. I won’t lie though, I’m looking forward to getting back to my usual, healthy eating….my body has been craving fresh fruits and veggies in a serious way!

What do you do to get back on track after vacation?

IMG_1351

P.S. While I have been posting all during vacation, what you’ve seen on here is NOT all that I’ve eaten (although it would probably be better if it was). Depending on what’s going on this week, I may post more bits and bites from my photos…we’ll see how it goes!

Wynn-ing Big

22 May

Our hotel in Las Vegas, the Wynn, was awesome. So awesome, and so much to eat, drink and do, that I just couldn’t fit it all in to all of the posts I wrote. To that end, here’s a post of some of my (mostly food, but some other) highlights from the Wynn that I haven’t previously mentioned.

IMG_1111

Mini desserts. The Lakeside Grill, where we went on our first night, has a selection of mini desserts – you can pick just one, or get 3 for a set price….so delicious and so much fun! See those truffles in the back? Champagne truffles covered in chocolate-coated popping candy! Isn’t that so much fun?!

IMG_1087

This is how you control everything in your room. That’s right: lights, curtains, temperature, room service…all in one spot, beside your bed. I’m going to miss being able to open and close curtains with the touch of a button….sigh!

 

 

IMG_1293

IMG_1294

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1295This is what they feed you on a conference lunch buffet (and that’s only the stuff I took)! Amazing salads, toasted crostini with ricotta cheese and other spreads, meats, cheeses and bread for sandwiches, tomato basil soup, fruit salad, panna cotta and biscotti (plus a bunch of other stuff, which I resisted) for dessert….YUM!

IMG_1203

IMG_1367

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1391

They have amazing (if expensive) mocktails. As someone who doesn’t really enjoy or drink alcohol on a regular basis, I still like to indulge in a “special,” “fancy” drink. While at the Wynn, I had an exotic sparkling lemonade, a tropical dreams smoothie, and a Wynn signature fruit punch – all delicious! Funny story: I had to show id to get in to the outside cocktail area where I ordered my fruit punch!

IMG_1290Beautiful flowers are everywhere! Seriously, they do an amazing job at this one! I can’t even begin to imagine what their flower budget must be, but they really do make the hotel look lovely. Not only are there arrangements everywhere, but there are also flowers growing in the lobby!

Now do you see why I enjoyed it there so much?My mom and I both agreed it’s the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed at. We probably never would have stayed there had it not been for her conference – so thanks, CI, for introducing us to the Wynn.

I’m not sure when this will be posted due to internet issues. I’m typing this on Saturday night from the Grand Canyon – we saw a great sunset tonight. How has everyone’s long weekend been?

IMG_1292

Lunch with Bobby

20 May

The Food Network theme continues in Vegas. IMG_1216If you know Food Network, then you know Bobby Flay, right? You know, Iron Chef, cookbook author, star of several Food Network shows…that Bobby Flay. We ate at his restaurant in Vegas today, Mesa at Caesar’s Palace. It was pretty amazing. Because it was so amazing, and because I’m tired, I’m just going to (mostly) let the food speak for itself. It was all delicious. I would go back there in a heart beat. I Red heart U Bobby!

 IMG_1341IMG_1342

 

 

 

 

 

Even the bread was AMAZING. Seriously. The corn muffin? It had yellow and blue corn meal, chile peppers and corn kernels. Yeah, it was good.

IMG_1340

IMG_1339

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobby’s such a grill master, so burgers were the obvious choice. Plus, for my mom and me, it’s not vacation until you’ve had a burger and fries.

IMG_1345

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green chile burger for me.

IMG_1346

Mom went for the Mesa burger. And those Southwestern fries? Genius Bobby. They had all kinds of delicious spices, salt, and a touch of fresh cilantro. I had ketchup with some of them, but honestly, you didn’t need it.

 

IMG_1347

 

Dessert was coconut cake, featured on an episode of Throwdown (the recipe was published in Food Network Magazine and I actually made it at Christmas). I would have preferred to get something I couldn’t make at home, but my mom wanted to get it and compare it to the one I had made – it tasted pretty much the same, so I guess that means I did a good job!

SUCH a great meal, and, for Vegas, actually pretty reasonably priced too.

IMG_1338

 

 

We also both bought snazzy new watches yesterday.

 

 

IMG_1351

 

 

….and walked A LOT!

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow we leave Vegas and head to the Grand Canyon for a few days. Don’t know what the food is like there, but I know the views will be great!

A Tuesday in the Life of Vegas

18 May

IMG_1224

Approximately 5:45 AM: Wake up early, because you are an early riser, still maybe affected the the 3 hour time change, and your mom set her alarm clock early. Go for a 50 minute run along “the strip.” Get dressed for breakfast.

IMG_12267:30 AM: Go down to the conference breakfast buffet. Enjoy the luxury of cherry jam on your pb and toast. Eat a couple of bites of the pain au chocolate (puffed pastry wrapped around chocolate) because it IS vacation, after all, but leave the rest. Load up on fruit.

8 AM: Swim for 1/2 hour, dry off, get dressed and ready for your cooking class inspired by the movie Julie and Julia at 10 AM.

10 AM: Go to the cooking class (which was really more than a demonstration, since it wasn’t hands-on at all), and although it was very French, did not mention the movie at all.

May 17 2011

Watch the chef prepare French onion soup, Boeuf Bourignon and Chocolate mousse, eat all of the above. Give yourself a pat on the back because although it was delicious, you did not eat all of the boeuf bourignon. Feel slightly less proud at eating the entire portion of that incredibly delicious mousse.

IMG_126012:30 PM: Walk the strip for 4 hours, wandering in and out of stores, hotels/casinos, in an effort to work off your lunch and work up an appetite for supper.IMG_1271

3:30 PM Because your feet are tired from walking, stop to have something to drink and sit down for a few minutes. Because you’re on vacation, you decide to totally splurge and treat yourself to a double chocolate ffffrozen hot chocolate outside of Caesar’s Palace. *Another note: I made myself stop and I did not drink the whole thing! It was really good, but not over-the-top amazing….still a yummy and delicious treat though!

4:30 PM: Crash at the hotel and then get ready for the evening’s “dine around” event, hosted by different fund managers at your mom’s conference.

7:00 PM: Arrive at Julian Serrano restaurant for a DELICIOUS SpaniIMG_1279sh tapas dinner. Look at menu with excitement. Proceed to sample everything brought to the table. Potatoes are best (hello, garlic…YUM!). I even sampled the seafood, even though I am not a fan. Scallop was ok, did not finish the salmon though. This event was really fun, and the people we sat with were really interesting and we had a lot of great conversation (not the boring financial types I was worried about)! I loved the tapas meal and the format – we got to try a little of a lot of different things. The pacing of everything was perfect too- eat and talk, eat and talk, eat and talk…a GREAT way to spend an evening! The funniest thing about this restaurant? When you went to the bathroom, they had recordings of a woman teaching you how to say basic words in Spanish!…hilarious!

May 17 20111

I really am having a great time! So much delicious food, so little time! Seriously, there are so many places I want to eat. And it’s hard to pick what to blog aIMG_1289bout too…believe me, what makes it on HHH is NOT all I’m eating! Special thanks to Katie and Donna for giving me a (loving) kick in the pants for my food-guilt on earlier posts this week and encouraging me to just enjoy…I am on vacation! Hope you are all having a great week!IMG_1264

 

 

 

 

PS: It’s not ALL food here…we have seen a Cirque de Soleil show, went to the Hoover Dam, and got in some shopping….just thought I’d let you know! Winking smile