Bloody Mary Brunch

If you’re looking for a fun entertaining idea, consider throwing a Bloody Mary brunch party. People can have Bloody Marys with or without vodka, you can provide different flavors of vodka, and let them garnish their own Bloody Mary. The actual origin of the Bloody Mary drink is uncertain with claims that it was invented in the 1920’s in Paris while other people claim that it originated in New York, and others say it was invented in Chicago. Wherever it came from, it is certainly a staple on many drink menus around the world. Brunch items can be simple and you can certainly offer for people to bring their own favorite items. We decided to throw one over the weekend and for our brunch items, we chose to make deviled eggs, mini-frittatas, bacon wrapped sesame bread sticks, and French toast sticks with syrup. We made our own Bloody Mary mix and had shrimp, pepperoncini, celery, pickles, cherry tomatoes, and olives (some stuffed with pimentos and some stuffed with jalapeno peppers) as garnish. Letting guests poor their own Bloody Mary and garnish it themselves allows them to control the amount of alcohol that they want as well as be creative with the way that they garnish their own drink. We have provided our recipe for the Bloody Mary mix, but if you’d like information on any of the brunch items, just let us know.

Mini Frittatas
Mini- Frittatas
Garnishes
Garnishes

INGREDIENTS

  • 48 oz Tomato Juice
  • 12 oz Clamato Juice
  • 1/4 cup Beef Broth
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 tbsp Prepared Horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Celery Salt
  • 2 to 3 dashes of Tabasco Sauce
Bloody Mary Mix
Bloody Mary Mix
Bacon Wrapped Bread Sticks
Bacon Wrapped Sesame Bread Sticks
Bloody Mary
Bloody Mary

INSTRUCTIONS

Add all of the ingredients in a large picture, stirring to incorporate all of the horseradish. If you can’t find Clamato brand tomato juice, you can add the 10 ounces of tomato juice and 2 ounces of clam juice. If you would like a more or less spicy Bloody Mary mix, simply increase or decrease the amount of horseradish and tabasco sauce that you add.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs
French Toast Sticks
French Toast Sticks
Bloody Mary 2
A Different Garnish

 

Beef Empanadas

One of the things that we were told that we had to try during our recent trip to Ecuador were empanadas. We got a sampler platter of them, which was a great way to try several varieties. Empanadas are dough stuffed with chicken, beef, cheese, or other fillings, usually they have some spices like cumin and chili powder that can be baked or fried. They can also be sweet and made with fruit for a dessert. We decided to make ours using ground beef and peppers, which made for a nice flavor profile. Although you can make your own dough, you can also choose a pre-made dough or even phyllo dough. You can make the stuffing as spicy as you like, but we found the ones in Ecuador to have spice, but not be spicy. They are usually served with some sort of dipping sauce like guacamole, salsa, or we made an adobo aioli. They might not be the prettiest, but they were very tasty. We made a small batch, but you can certainly can increase it to feed a larger crowd.

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Empanadas in Ecuador
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Our Version of Empanadas with Aioli Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 lb Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/4 tbsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
  • 1 Clove Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Green Pepper – chopped
  • 1/4 Red Pepper – chopped
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion – chopped
  • Vegetable Oil
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Peppers and Onion
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Stuffed Empanadas

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a medium frying pan to medium-high heat with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Brown the ground beef with the garlic salt and drain off the grease and set it aside. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil and then add the tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, oregano, seasoned salt, minced garlic, bell peppers, and onion. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the beef back to the pan and heat for another 5 minutes. Put the mixture aside and let it cool to room temperature. Roll out the dough on a cutting board with flour to keep it from sticking. Cut the dough into 4 to 6 inch rounds. Spoon filling onto each round making sure not to overfill them. Wet the edges with either water or egg so that it will stick when pressed together. Carefully fold the dough over and press the edges together with a fork or with your fingers. At this point, you can deep fry the empanadas until golden brown or bake them in the oven. We did a combination of the two where we fried them in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until the sides were golden brown and then finished them in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees.

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Sautéing Filling
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Frying the Empanadas
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Ready to Eat

A Taste of Las Vegas

As we mentioned before, our latest trip to Las Vegas was really about getting some down time and relaxing. When traveling to Las Vegas, food is always a highlight of any trip and this trip was no different. We went to a few of our favorite places to eat, but also purposely chose to go to some places that we hadn’t eaten before. Obviously, there are a plethora of celebrity chef owned restaurants, each one having multiple restaurants in several casinos, but there are other choices that are not as expensive.

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Jardin Restaurant
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Festive Fajitas at El Segundo
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Omelet at Morels

One of the places that we returned to was The Yardbird at the Venetian, a restaurant specializing in eggs and chicken. We had fried chicken with hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, and a fresh baked biscuit. Another place that we returned was Jardin in the Encore, which has an open-air feel overlooking the pool area as well as some creative meal choices. We also went back to Gordan Ramsey’s Pub in Caesars, which offers traditional British fare and a nice variety of beers and ales.

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Fried Chicken and Watermelon
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Gordon Ramsey’s
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Shrimp and Pasta at Jardin

One of the new places that we ate at was a Mexican restaurant called El Segundo, which is at the Fashion Show Mall and features wonderful food at reasonable prices as well as happy hour margaritas. Another new restaurant for us to eat at was Morels in the Palazzo where we had quiche and a very large omelet as well as two for one drink specials.

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Margaritas at El Segundo
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Quiche Lorraine
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Raw Oysters

We always love a good deal on Oysters, so we even had a dozen oysters at the Oyster Bar in Harrah’s, which was nicer than restaurants in Harrah’s used to be. All in all, we enjoyed a wonderful variety of food and even found a few bargains along the way. The buffet seems to be making a comeback as several casinos offered them as well, but since we aren’t heavy eaters, it doesn’t make sense for us to sit down at an all you can eat buffet. Las Vegas has so many food options that you could spend a month on the strip and never eat at the same place twice, although you might go broke in the process.

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Patio at Jardin
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Inside of the Yardbird
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Gordon Ramsey’