Family Vacation – Vegas Baby! The Food

By Megan Vick

 

While none of us are big gamblers, we had a ball eating our way through Vegas (I gained 6 pounds!!) and watching enough Cirque du Soleil shows to last a lifetime. After arriving at our hotel, The Desert Rose Resort – just off the strip, around 1:00pm on May 10,  we went right out to find food and ended up at Rainforest Cafe at the MGM Grand. While the experience left a lot to be desired, there were several vegetarian and vegan options available (yay!). I was pretty stoked to know that I would be able to find some good vegan eats while on vacation. Thank you Las Vegas!

 

Las Vegas Vegan

 

Matt and I surprised our moms on Mother’s Day morning with a reservation at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. With its French setting and menu, we knew our foodie moms would love it. We had the amazing luck of being seated just next to the outdoor patio and had a full view of  the Bellagio and its legendary fountain. Mon Ami Gabi had a few vegetarian options, but I called ahead to make sure certain items were vegan (or could be made vegan) so I wouldn’t be stuck with a just a fruit cup. Even though I called ahead to alert the server of my veganism, I still ended up with the most beautiful bowl of fruit ever. Berries, melons, pineapples – oh my! I also got the thick cut oatmeal – just to try it. I have never liked oatmeal (it’s a weird texture!), but this was delicious.  So good, it was gone before I thought to take pictures.

 

Throughout our week in Vegas, we found tons of great restaurants and just about every one of them offered a vegetarian or vegan option. One of my favorites was Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR in Planet Hollywood. It’s exclusively a burger joint, but stepped up a notch because, you know, it’s Gordon Ramsay. I was genuinely impressed to see the Earth Burger on the menu. It had all the veggies on it and instead of meat or a veggie patty, I was able to enjoy one of the biggest, juiciest portobello mushrooms ever. It was absolutely stunning. Once again, it was gone before I thought to take pictures… I have to get better about that.

 

Next time you visit Vegas, you won’t be disappointed with the options for vegetarians and vegans. Since it’s a massive tourist destination, restaurateurs are catching on to the vegan and gluten-free lifestyles of customers. If you are considered, be sure to call ahead and ask questions. It’s Vegas after all – there’s not much that can’t be done in that city.

Family Vacation – Vegas Baby! Criss Angel’s BeLIEve

By Megan Vick

 

BeLIEve is a magic show by the illusionist and escape artist, Criss Angel. He had a show, MindFreak, for many seasons and most recently, he has his show, BeLIEve. Matt, Robin (my mom-in-law), and I have been big Criss Angel fans for years. I even had the pleasure of seeing this show in 2009 when I came with a college trip. Since that ’09 show, I’ve truly believed in Criss Angel’s talents as both an illusionist and as a magician. Yes, magic is real (Hogwarts could be a real place, but us muggles just don’t know!). Robin’s had a crush on Criss for many a year now, so it only made sense that we sit front-row-center for the big show.

It was well worth it. Criss Angel touched our hands, and he even took a selfie with Robin. I’m pretty sure she can die a happy woman now. Whether you BeLIEve or not, Criss Angel is a wicked talented performer who is a genuinely good guy and understands he’d be nothing without his fans. I still believe I saw him disappear off the stage and slice a woman in 2 half. This dude is for realz (intentional use of ‘z’).

 

This had to be its own post for the pictures alone. Priceless.

At Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Robin got a little frisky with Criss Angel just hours before the show.

 

Madame Tussauds Criss Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the show, Criss let us take our phones out for some pictures. I managed to snap this terrible picture of myself.

Vegan Criss Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then this happened:

Criss Angel Selfie with Fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Robin, my awesome mother-in-law taking a selfie with Criss Angel. The only selfie he took with anyone that night. Best. Night. Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Friday: Inspiralized Miso Roasted Tomatoes & Carrot Noodles

By Megan Vick

 

I had the honor of getting a spiralizer for my birthday from my mother-in-law. I’ve been really getting into cooking lately, but we’ve really worked hard to cut back on pastas. While we LOVE LOVE LOVE pasta, it’s getting too heavy for us in our old age (late 20s, that’s old – right?). Robin introduced me to zucchini noodles – zoodles – and I’ve been following a blog, Inspiralized, for a while.

 

Now, I don’t know Ali – the wickedly talented chica who is the end-all, be-all for Inspiralized, but I like to think she’s my homegirl. So many dishes of hers are either vegan already or can easily be veganized by either leaving out the meat or subbing something like Beyond Meat in its place. The meals are crazy fast to make and don’t get crazy with ingredients. Her posts are super-fun and the recipes are wonderful and healthy. Check out this Miso Roasted Tomatoes & Carrot Noodles.

 

 

Miso Roasted Tomatoes and Carrot Noodles

Prep Time: 10 minutes/Cook Time: 20 minutes/Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp light yellow miso
  • 1 tbsp peeled and minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp honey (I used agave to keep it vegan)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 3 large carrots, peeled, Blade C, noodles trimmed
  • 4 scallion stalks, thinly sliced (I didn’t have these, so I didn’t use them – still turned out great!)
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the vegetable oil, vinegar, miso, ginger, seasame oil, honey, lime zest and lime juice until smooth. Season with salt.
  3. On a baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the miso dressing and season with salt. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring, until the tomatoes are charred in spots. Scrape into a large bowl.
  4. While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a medium saucepan with water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the carrot noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes or until al dente. Drain into a colander.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add in the carrot noodles, tomatoes, scallions and the dressing and toss well. Divide into bowls and top with sesame seeds.

 

Now you have a delicious meal to share with your friends using your awesome new spiralizer. Thank you to Ali at Inspiralized.com for awesomeness every single day.

Family Vacation: Vegas Baby! Cirque du Soleil

By Megan Vick

 

Las Vegas at Night

 

Las Vegas – there are no words. It has something (lots of things) for just about every person under the sun. When we are not on vacation, we spend a lot of time planning our next Cirque du Soleil show. (True story… Can you be a Cirque groupie? I want to be that when I grow up.) Since my mom and I are dancers by nature (with the training to back it up), we completely geek out over every show. For years, we’ve day dreamed about taking a trip to Vegas just to see Cirque shows. We figured, since we’re going to Vegas – better make it count!

Now, some of you may scoff at the idea of seeing so many Cirque shows due to ticket price – and I will admit that good seats don’t come cheap. However, I know you all know that person who lost $400 at blackjack in 10 minutes. When you consider that you could spend an hour and a half at a Cirque show with some friends for the same price – well… I’ll let you choose your priority.

 

Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos, because, well, they get REALLY mad at you if you take photos during the performance. So in fear of having my phone taken from me by the clowns of Cirque, I sacrificed having pictures.

 

The Cirque Shows:

  • KA – MGM Grand
  • Zumanity – New York, New York
  • O – Bellagio
  • Love – The Mirage

 

KA is an indescribably beautiful show with visuals that make it hard to believe it’s a live show. KA features a moving stage on which the performers dance, battle each other, and spend quite a bit of time flirting with the edge. The story is incredibly strong – the strongest story I’ve seen in a Cirque show – and very easy to follow and enjoy. With wonderful acrobatics, acting, and character development, everyone will love KA for sure.

 

Zumanity was my personal favorite, but I’ve been antsy to see it since it opened 10 years ago. Zumanity claims to be “The Sensual Side of Cirque du Soleil” and they do not disappoint. There are tons of laughs, tons of boobies, and performances for straights, gays, and some fetish people too. While this was my favorite, I don’t recommend for those uncomfortable with swearing, nudity, or anyone who errs on the conservative side. Zumanity was my favorite because at the end – nothing about you matters – it’s all about enjoying life and accepting those around you. A very good message regardless of personal beliefs.

 

O was a curious show for me. It was the most anticipated because it’s the original “water show.” There was a large pool with a floor that moved over it in different ways and patterns for a visual effect that is unparalleled.  The colors and costuming are incredible, but I found it lacked a solid story to keep my interest. If you go to this show, sit mid-way back and think of it as an array of acrobatic acts that are individual instead of thinking there will be a link throughout the performances.

 

Love is the show inspired by Beatles music. My parents being HUGE Beatles fans (Mom saw them in concert twice – that’s right… twice!), were giddy with excitement to see Love. While they thoroughly enjoyed it, they both agreed it was similar to O as it lacked a strong story line. The colors and effects were incredible – including an exploding VW Bug.

 

There is also an entire post dedicate to Criss Angel: BeLIEve. It’s totally worth your time.

 

 

Over all, the Cirque du Soleil shows were phenomenal. Mystere was on a one-week vacation for the exact week we visited, so I guess we’ll just have to go back to Vegas again. Oh shucks…

Fun Fact: Mystere is the show Paul Rudd & Seth Rogen see on psychedelic mushrooms in the move, Knocked Up.

 

Stay tuned for more fun-filled vacation posts, Food Fridays, and other Shorganics Shenanigans.

 

 

Family Vacation – Desert Southwest

By Megan Vick

 

I must warn you – this is just Part 1… Part 1 of many.

 

Not too long ago, we came back from a whirlwind trip in the Southwest. Our original plan was to spend a week in Tucson, Arizona for the annual Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild conference. Knowing my parents love for travel and adventure, we invited them. Shortly after inviting my parents, we realized that Matt’s mom would be officially retired, so we invited Matt’s parents, Ron & Robin, along. They decided they didn’t want to go to Tucson and hang out while we were at a conference, but suggested hanging out in Las Vegas the week before the conference!

 

And oh, while we’re at it… we might as well go to the Grand Canyon… it’s, like, right there!

 

What was supposed to be a quick conference trip for Matt and me ended up being a 2 week family vacation in the desert southwest. It was AWESOME. We’re very lucky we like our respective in-laws so much and even luckier they like each other! The four “grown-ups” (and I use that term very loosely) even went to see Jersey Boys together while in Las Vegas!

 

We’ll be sharing a post about each destination with recommendations/reviews – just in case you decide to head that way. Put us on your reader app, because we’ve got nothing but goodness for you here!

 

A Vegan in Vegas!

Food Friday: Vegan, No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

By Megan Vick

 

Holy vegan dessert, Batman! This vegan peanut butter chocolate cheesecake will KNOCK your socks off. It’s easy to make and can be eaten right away – that’s correct! No line, no waiting! The original recipe can be found here and let me tell you – this is just as mouth-watering as it sounds!

 

VEGAN PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

 

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 1 ¼ cup gluten-free pretzels
  • 6-8 tbsp. vegan butter, melted
  • ¼ cup raw turbinado sugar

For the pie

  • ½ cup vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • ¼ cup raw sugar
  • ½ cup vegan whipped cream
  • 2 cup vegan chocolate whipped cream

PREPARATION

For the crust

  1. Put the pretzels in a food processor and grind them into crumbs.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pretzel crumbs, the raw sugar and the melted vegan butter.
  3. Mix with your hands until it is all combined and sticking together. If it doesn’t feel sticky, add more melted butter. Press the mixture into a 9 inch pie plate including the sides.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the pie

  1. In a bowl, combine the vegan cream cheese, the peanut butter and the raw sugar. Beat with the electric hand mixer until it is smooth. Fold in the whipped cream gently. Spoon the filling into the pie shell, cover and return to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  2. When the pie and filling have chilled, cover the pie with the chocolate whipped cream. Garnish with chocolate shavings, pretzels or your favorite topping. You can refrigerate the pie longer to let it set more or you can serve it right away.

 

Enjoy!!

Food Friday: Creamy Chocolate Torte

By Megan Vick

 

While it may sound “normal,” this lovely little torte is anything but! It’s smooth, creamy, delicious, and perfect for any chocolate lover in your life. It’s also super easy to make! The original recipe hails from OneGreenPlanet here.

 

INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp nondairy milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Mousse

  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk
  • 1 tbsp agar flakes
  • 1 cup coconut cream*
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped (or 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp natural smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

PREPARATION

Cake

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk and vanilla and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the coconut oil melts.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir just to combine. It will be a very thin batter.
  4. Pour the batter into a lightly oiled 6-inch springform pan and tap the bottom of the pan on your counter to loosen any air bubbles.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the crust comes out clean.
  6. Allow to completely cool in the pan.

Mousse

  1. Pour the nondairy milk in a medium saucepan, sprinkle the agar flakes on top and swirl the pan lightly. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the agar flakes to soften.
  2. Add the coconut cream and chocolate to the pan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cream and chocolate are melted.
  3. Pour the mixture into a blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend for 2 or 3 minutes until smooth and bubbly.
  4. Pour the mixture onto the top of the crust in the springform pan and tap the pan on your counter to loosen any air bubbles.
  5. Put the pan in the freezer to set, about 2 hours. Garnish with peanut butter and chopped peanuts, if desired.

NOTES

  • If storing overnight, wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap and tin foil. To serve, remove from the freezer, unwrap and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
  • Coconut cream is merely the cream from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk (look for brands with at least 20% fat content). You should get about 1 cup of cream from one can. The remaining water at the bottom can be reserved for other uses.

 

Enjoy!