Thursday, April 24, 2008

Veggie Pizza

This morning we had a little breakfast potluck to celebrate the birthday of one of my coworkers in my new group at work. I brought some veggie pizza, and a number of people asked me for the recipe, so here it is (welcome to anyone from SP/CS who is reading this!). My friend Kate gave me the recipe, and I had been wanting an excuse to make it since I tried it at her house a few months ago.

If I made it again I probably would have gone a little easier on the amount of spread and veggies I layered on. The slices ended up being a little overloaded and stuff was falling off as I took bites. There was also a lot of spread left over, despite how much I had slathered on. I am thinking you could probably use three tubes of crescent rolls, divided between two cookie sheets, and the same amount of spread and veggies. It would make for lighter slices, but then you could just eat more of them. :-)

Here's the recipe:
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (1 ounce) package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Roll out the crescent roll dough onto a 9x13 inch baking sheet, and pinch together edges to form the pizza crust.
  3. Bake crust for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Once finished cooking, remove crust from oven and let cool 15 minutes without removing it from the baking sheet.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, and dry Ranch dressing. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust. Arrange broccoli, tomato, green bell pepper, cauliflower, shredded carrots, and Cheddar cheese over the cream cheese layer. Chill for one hour, slice and serve.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

heatherinthekitchen, travel edition

A few weeks ago I traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to attend a national conference of teachers of mathematics. I was asked by our marketing manager to go and work in our booth in the exhibition hall. I've never done that before and found it interesting, somewhat disheartening (to talk to teachers who were solely interested in FREE STUFF), and tiring!

I didn't have any time to explore Salt Lake City and all of my meals were either in the hotel or nothing worth mentioning. The conference ran from Wednesday through Saturday, but due to a prior commitment I had to leave the conference on Friday. My prior commitment was that I was meeting some of my high school girlfriends in Las Vegas for one of their weddings!

I had been to Vegas previously with Jason, on our honeymoon. Prior to that trip I spent a lot of time researching the different hotels, places to go, sights to see, etc. (I should have spent a little more time learning and practicing card games, because I ended up only playing slots. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it wouldn't hurt to branch out.) I primarily did my research at, which I found to be a great resource. In the weeks leading up to my wedding and the honeymoon, everything was pretty much in order as far as wedding plans went, so I spent a LOT of time daydreaming about what Vegas would be like and how fantastic it would be. I just had a great impression from what I had read and what I had seen on TV and in movies (my favorite Vegas-related movie would have to be Ocean's Eleven (the remake, not the original). In fact, the ending of that movie is what inspired my love of the Bellagio fountains). And I have to say that our trip really lived up to my expectations: Vegas was as fantastic and just as much fun as I hoped it would be. But Vegas is huge and we just didn't have enough time to see or do everything we wanted to. So I was really looking forward to this return trip with my girlfriends to get a different taste of Vegas.

This time I stayed with my friends downtown at the Golden Nugget. It was a beautiful hotel and my favorite part had to be the swimming pool with the aquarium in the middle: you can literally swim next to sharks! But overall I feel I prefer being on the Strip to being downtown. All of downtown just seemed so ridiculously smoky that most of the time I felt sick to my stomach. (There is smoking on the Strip too, but maybe the newer hotels have better ventilation systems?)

I didn't have any meals that were too notable downtown, but I did have some interesting dining experiences! The first night I was there my friends and I ate at the Chinese restaurant that was inside our hotel. We had a table for 6, and as the waiter was taking drink orders I asked if we could please have separate checks. In response he started making these faces and whining noises, like it was paining him that he had to answer that question. It was a simple question really, and if he had just said, "no, I'm sorry but we don't do separate checks here" we would have understood and just worked it out. But he didn't say no... he continued to make these faces and whine like he was hoping I would see the agony he was in and retract my question. But I didn't... I just sat there and watched him because I couldn't believe he was acting like that. Eventually he said something like "six separate checks is really a lot of work... would it be okay if I just did two or three separate checks instead?" Then my friends and I had to try to figure out how best to pair up. It really took a ridiculous amount of time to resolve what should have been a really simple question. And after the waiter left we gossiped about how doing six separate checks could possibly be that much worse than doing three separate checks. I used to wait tables and I can tell you that it really is not that big of a deal, especially if you are asked to do it before you take the orders.

But anyway, the weirdness continues! A dish I like to order a lot at Chinese restaurants is Beef with Broccoli, but I usually request that it be made spicy because I like spicy foods and I think it's too bland otherwise. So that's what I ordered at this restaurant (I literally said, "I'd like the Beef with Broccoli, and can you make it spicy?), and then the waiter says, "I bring you a cup of spicy sauce on the side?" Again, I was totally thrown for a loop here... this was not a complicated request. Chinese restaurants have some dishes that are spicy, some that aren't, and they can easily make any non-spicy dish a spicy one just by adding a little pepper sauce or whatever it is they use in the spicy dishes (or vice versa, by leaving that ingredient out if someone wants a spicy dish non-spicy). So I may have seemed a little b*tchy in my response, but I felt like I had stepped into some parallel universe where the most common restaurant requests had suddenly
become the most difficult ones! I said, "Umm... I'd prefer it if they can just make it spicy in the kitchen, when they're cooking it?" The waiter said, "oh, okay" and wrote some stuff down on his order pad. The rest of the meal wasn't too unusual, but the food wasn't that great (I didn't really expect it to be).

The rest of the weekend I didn't really eat very much... like I said, the smokiness of the hotel made me feel really sick to my stomach most of the time. The first meal I had where I really felt like I was hungry and could eat a real meal is the one pictured above! That was from my dinner on Sunday evening, when I ate at Trader Vic's. We had to check out of the hotel on Sunday morning, and my other girlfriends had early morning or afternoon flights. I had scheduled a red-eye flight back Sunday night, because I wanted to be able to spend the whole day Sunday at the Strip. It was a fantastic day... I took a cab from the Golden Nugget to the Venetian, checked my luggage there, and then spent some time gambling, shopping, and checking out the hotels within walking distance (the Palazzo, Treasure Island, and the Mirage). Then I retrieved my luggage, took a cab from the Venetian to Planet Hollywood, checked my luggage again, and visited PH, Paris, the Bellagio, and Casear's Palace. I did so much walking that day but it was fantastic to be able to see as many places as I could on my own schedule. And I was thrilled to be able to take in about 4 fountain shows, including one that I viewed from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Anyway, back to my meal. I had heard about Trader Vic's on the Las Vegas forum. Somebody had mentioned and at first I thought they must have meant Trader Joe's, the grocery chain. But I looked into it and discovered it was a Polynesian restaurant in the Miracle Mile shops, which are attached to Planet Hollywood. I always enjoyed eating at the Kahiki, which was a Polynesian restaurant in Columbus, so I thought I would check this out in hopes that it was similar. It wasn't really, but it was still a nice meal. (Sadly, the Kahiki was torn down after it closed, but you can check out some old photos of it here.)

I started my meal with a Bahia, which is what you see in the Aloha glass in the first picture. There were about a million different fruity cocktails on the menu, and I didn't know what to choose. I told the waiter I liked drinks with pineapple juice in them and asked if he had any suggestions. He suggested the Bahia, which according to the menu is "a snowy concoction of white rum with coconut and pineapple." I went with it, and it was pretty good, but I realize now that "snowy" must mean that it "has a lot of ice."

In the second photo you can see what they bring out as their bread basket. There is some kind of multi-grain rolls and a crispy cheese cracker, and they are served with four sauces: a homemade peanut butter, which was my favorite, wasabi mayo, barbecue sauce, and a hot Chinese mustard, which has twice in my life been the most offensive thing I have ever put in my mouth. I like mustard, and I like hot foods, so I tried this once on an egg roll at the cafeteria at my office. As soon as I took a bite, this caustic fire burned through my mouth, throat and lungs. It tasted like I had swallowed gasoline. It was awful, awful, awful. I don't know why on earth I decided to try to hot Chinese mustard at Trader Vic's, but I did (I guess maybe I assumed the mustard I had tried at work was just bad?), and I had the same experience. What's that classic George W. Bush quote? "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... won't get fooled again." Well, hot Chinese mustard, you won't fool me again!

For my meal, I decided to order two small plates and a side. I got the lobster potstickers, crispy duck tacos, and the Szechuan broccolini. The potstickers and the veggies were pretty good. I didn't like the texture of the duck... it was a little too tough and a little too sticky. Overall, the meal wasn't bad, but it was nothing to write home about.

Now that I'm done traveling for the immediate future, hopefully I can start cooking/baking/posting more regularly! Stay tuned.

Friday, April 4, 2008


I apologize for how quiet it's been on the blogging front lately. I got a new job at work about a month ago (it's a lateral move within my company, not a promotion, but I get to work in a new group that's doing some innovative stuff) so I've been feeling busy in my work-life. At home I've been busy too... we did a little travel for Jason's spring break/Easter and I'm preparing for some travel (both work and personal) next week. So it will continue to be quiet for a little while longer.

I did want to mention that I finally found a store that carries the Rocks and Gravel wine I blogged about from my birthday dinner. I found it yesterday at Whole Foods. It was around $19 a bottle and I opted not to buy one because the checkout lines were ridiculous and I had a lot of other errands to run. But it's nice to know it's there for whenever I'm ready to purchase in the future!