10 Things You Must Do in Las Vegas (Travel Review)

10 Things you must do in Las Vegas

Here’s a list of 10 things you must do when traveling to Las Vegas.

We have absolutely loved living in Las Vegas for the past year. Although we are a little tired of the Strip now (may have more to do with being pregnant) we loved taking guests there throughout the year. We are not club people, so I do not have any reviews on clubs, but we have gambled, seen shows and ate at lots of good restaurants.  Here are my must-do’s when you visit Las Vegas.

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1)   Go See Vegas! The Show.  This is one of the first things we did here and I enjoyed it more than any other show we’ve seen.  The show takes you through a little bit of Vegas history and features the famous singers that have come through this iconic city.  It takes you through the Rat Pack, Elvis and up to Elton John.  It’s just fabulous.  By the way, shows at Planet Hollywood have a military discount.

2)   Eat with view of the Bellagio Fountains. Our favorite restaurants with a fountain view are Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris and Olives at the Bellagio. Both are great and reasonable for the strip. The outdoor fountain view is first come first serve, so be prepared to wait. If you have a reservation, or if you go early, you’re more likely to cut down your wait time. At Mon Ami, if you have a reservation you can request a window seat, which is just as good.  If you go to Olives, make a stop inside the Bellagio’s lobby.  They have an over-the-top garden display that changes seasonally.

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Outdoor Seating at Olives with view of the Bellagio Fountains

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View of Bellagio Fountains from Olives

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Mon Ami Gabi window table with view of Bellagio Fountains

3)   Get drinks at the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan.  So, it’s a three-story bar…inside a chandelier!  Oh, how I love the Cosmopolitan.  I will miss it.  Just being there makes you feel fancy. Sure, the drinks are expensive, but they are everywhere (unless you’re gambling, then they’re free, just tip!).  When we’ve gone to the Chandelier on the weekends, they’ve also had live music.  Sip and stay a while, it’s worth it.

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Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel

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Chandelier Bar at Cosmopolitan Hotel

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4)   Gamble at Paris.  Paris is by far our favorite place to gamble on the strip.  We’re not huge gamblers, and that’s why we love it.  The dealers are super nice and laid back.  And they actually have some lower table limits compared to the other places on the strip.

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5)   Have Drinks at The Wynn’s Lake of Dreams.  This place is so neat.  It’s an outdoor bar with a cooky light show.  You feel like you are in another land, far away from the strip.  If you go to Vegas any time other than Summer, it’s SO nice to sit outside.

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The Lake of Dreams at the Wynn

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Inside the Wynn Hotel

6)  Go see a Cirque show.  There are so many to choose from.  We loved “O” at the Bellagio. I’ve also heard that the Michael Jackson one at Mandalay Bay and Love (Beatles) at the Mirage are great.  I’ve been told to avoid Ka.

7)  Fremont Street (downtown) area.  Okay, Fremont is a freak show.  Literally.  But it’s a fun change from the strip.  Some things to do in the area: gamble (of course) the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum and eat at Park…great restaurant with out-door seating!

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Fremont Street Light Show

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The Mob Museum in Downtown Las Vegas

8)  Walk Around the Venetian.  The Venetian is probably my favorite overall hotel/casino on the Strip.  It’s so impressive.  It’s a great place to gamble, the mall area is so cute and they have a very impressive square in the mall where you can sometimes listen to live music and get gelato.

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Inside the Venetian mall area with Gondola

9)  Eat at the Aria. We haven’t been disappointed by any of the restaurants we’ve been to in the Aria hotel.  If you’re looking for something upscale, Sage, is probably the best meal we had on the strip.  Lemongrass and Javier’s were also great non-expensive restaurants.

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Inside the Aria Hotel

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Inside the Aria Hotel

10)  Go experience Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire. Both of these parks are wonderful.  If you just want to see some cool stuff but don’t want to hike, I’d suggest Red Rock. It has a 13 mile loop you can drive around on. Red Rock also has restaurants and shops near by.  Valley of Fire is more remote, but I think the views are more spectacular. Mouse Tank is a very easy hike (more like a stroll). Out of all of the hiking we’ve done this year (read about it here, and here ) I think the White Domes trail has been our favorite.

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Red Rock Canyon

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Red Rock Canyon

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Red Rock Canyon

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Valley of Fire, Mouse Tank Trail

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Valley of Fire, White Domes Trail

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White Domes Trail, Valley of Fire

There are so many things to do in Vegas. I didn’t include any excursions, but this Trip Advisor list is a great resource for that. My brother took his family to do the dune buggy tour, they absolutely loved it.  Something we haven’t been able to do, is go to a buffet. The locals have told us that Ceasars’ and the Cosmopolitan have the best buffets on the strip. I’m happy to say that I was so wrong about Vegas (read about it here) there really is something for every one here!

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What’s your favorite thing to do in Vegas?  Let me know in the comment section!

Ba-By-Q Shower {Co-Ed Barbecue Themed Baby Shower}

Ba-By-Q Shower on www.newsanchortohomemaker.com {bbq baby shower}

Baby-Q Shower, a BBQ Themed Co-Ed Baby Shower

I recently through a baby shower for our good friends Ruth and Austin.  Once again, I decided to throw a co-ed shower (read about “Ahoy It’s a Boy!” shower here)  because it’s just what fits our group of friends.  I love how relaxed a co-ed shower is.  Since it was summer (and really, really hot out here in the desert) why not have a good ole’ fashion barbecue?  Since I was at the height of my morning sickness (read about my pregnancy here) this shower was perfect because it was so simple…and it didn’t hurt to have some help from my friends!

Here’s how I decorated the kitchen island.

Baby-Q Shower. Card Board Letters on www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

My amazing friend Val bought pre-made cardboard letters of the baby’s initials from Joann’s Fabrics, spray painted them and added ribbon. I thought they were the perfect center piece.   I also love using decorations that the couple can use in the baby’s room!

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In between the letters, Val also bought mason jars, spray painted them and filled them with flowers.  I should have known she was the perfect gal for the job.  She is fashion designer and so creative, just check out her Etsy Shop!

Also on the island, I bought a monogrammed layette and hung them up with watermelon clothespins (From Michaels) on a piece of twine.

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My friend Rachelle made the cupcakes, topped with watermelon toppers from Michaels.

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And for the favor, I made mini-pound cakes and put them in these watermelon favor bags from Michaels.

For the Buffet: 

 

Burger Bar for a Baby-Q Shower on NewsAnchorToHomemaker

I dressed it up burgers and dogs with a bit of cuteness by making it a “Burger Bar”. There was a Mexican Station, (To top your burger with guacamole, sour cream and salsa) A BBQ station and an American Station. The cards are Scrapbook Paper from Michaels with Martha Stewart Sunflower Scrap Book Stickers.

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For the Drink Station:

Beverage Bar for Baby-Q Shower with Paper Straws on NewsAnchorToHomemaker

I kept it simple…it was a bbq after all.  Just Blue Moon and Coke (Austin and Ruth’s Favorites.)  I already had the strawberry margarita glasses and filled them with cute paper straws from Michaels and Target.  Of Course we had to have Red Solo cups to top it off.

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For the Table:

Val made more of these gorgeous mason jar center pieces. I used another picnic table cloth from Michaels. The napkins are also from Michaels.  I would have preferred to have this party outside, but it was 104 degrees!

Spray Painted Mason Jars with Flowers, perfect Baby Shower decoration www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

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I hope this inspires your next BBQ bash or baby shower.  Want more posts like this? Follow me on Pinterest and Facebook or check me out on Twitter!

Bryce Canyon National Park {Travel Review}

Bryce Canyon Travel Review on www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

Bryce Canyon National Park Travel Review.

Andy and I went to Bryce Canyon National Park for the 4th of July.  We wanted to go on one last road trip before we leave Las Vegas (read about it here) and we decided this was the perfect 24 hour vacation destination.  The hoodoos (those tall, thin rock formations) are not like anything we’ve seen.  And we’ve seen a lot of rocks since moving to Las Vegas (Read my Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Red Rock Canyon Review.)

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Bryce is just under a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas, it’s a little closer than the Grand Canyon National Park and about an hour and a half further from Zion National Park.  You actually have to drive through Zion to get to Bryce, which was a really cool experience (I’ll have a separate travel review on Zion later.)

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Here’s how we spent our 24 hours there:

-We got in before noon. We ate lunch at the pizza shop next to the lodge.  I would NOT recommend this.  Bring food or eat before you hit Zion because there’s not much in between Zion and Bryce.

-We checked into the Lodge inside Bryce.  We had a cabin and it was great!  The cabin was updated, clean and well decorated.  The bathroom could have used some updating, but that’s just being picky.  It was a short walk to the lodge and to the canyon’s rim.

-We did part of the rim trail.  The full rim trail is 11 miles….we just stayed on the paved part so that we could use the stroller.  Here are some pictures from the rim trail: IMG_2922 IMG_2919

(we got the stroller out after walking around a bit!)

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After going back to our cabin (again a very short walk from the rim) we rested up a bit so that we could hike down into the canyon.

- We did Queen’s Garden Hike.  It’s the easiest hike down into the canyons.  Pretty easy to get down…not so easy to get back up when you are already tired and in your first trimester of pregnancy! (Read about the pregnancy here.)  But, it was worth it.  What makes Bryce so different from the other parks we’ve been to, is that you can very easily hike down into the canyon.  It was amazing being up close to the hoodoos.

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I was trying to show off what little of a bump that I have!

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-After our hike we had dinner inside the lodge’s main dining room.  I have mixed feelings on this.  The atmosphere was nice.  Our waiter was great.  But the food was overpriced and not very good.

-We got dessert to go, got a game from the front desk, put the baby down and shortly called it a night after that.  Unfortunately something disagreed with Violet and we stayed up most of the night cleaning up vomit.  It was a “welcome to parenthood” kind of night.  She woke up feeling fine though, thank goodness!

-The next morning we went back to the lodge for breakfast, again, it was just okay.  I would recommend going to the coffee shop located right next to the lodge instead.

-We walked around the rim again before heading home.

Overall thoughts:  I really, really enjoyed Bryce.  It was great being at a National Park on the 4th, too.  The scenery was very unique and maybe my favorite out of all of the places we’ve seen.  The lodge should get a new cooking staff.  The restaurant couldn’t hold a candle to El Tovar’s dining room at the Grand Canyon.  But what it lacked in food, it make up for in scenery!

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We’re moving to_____ AND We’re ______!

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We have two big announcements to share with you…

Moving Announcement 3pregnancy announcement 3

Let me tell you about the most emotional day of my life. It was May 8th and I was a nervous wreck. We knew we were going to find out where we were getting stationed. Although I was nervous, I also felt confident that we were getting something on our list of 20 (I wrote about it here.) I was confident because another resident in Andy’s group, who did not get anything on his list, got a heads up from the commander. So, we were good, right?

The commander wanted to tell the remaining residents where they were getting PCS’d over a pizza party…that also sounded good, right?  So, my girlfriend and I decided to have a pizza party of our own and wait for our husbands to call.  She got the call first, they got something on their list!  And then I waited.  And I waited.  And he finally called and said, “It’s not good…we’re going to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.”  I hung up the phone, I sat down, and I felt shell-shocked.  I apologized to Rachelle and told her I had to go home.

The first thing I did of course was I called my mom and I cried…a lot  How could this happen?  I know I said there were “no worst case scenarios” (read about it here) but this caught me really off guard.  What was worse, was that I could tell Andy was so upset he couldn’t talk about it.

That afternoon, I don’t know how to explain it, but I had an old pregnancy test laying around and for some reason I took it. I wasn’t that late.  We weren’t trying to get pregnant, in fact we were taking measures to not get pregnant, but I had this weird feeling.  I did the test and as I waited for the results I said this prayer, “God, if I am pregnant, please let this be a positive test,” and right then and there, it was.

After calling my mom, again, and crying a lot, again, I realized 2 very specific prayers I had been praying for months had been answered. 1) I asked God to show me if I was supposed to go back to work or not. This cleared that up. For starters, there are no news stations in Alamogordo, New Mexico. And with two under the age of two, I don’t think I’ll have much time to devote my energy to anything else. 2) We asked God to put us in the best place for Andy’s career.  He wants to be an orthodontist and the Air Force only takes two candidates a year.

See, Andy and I took a bit of a gamble with our list.  We either wanted to be closer to family, or we wanted a big adventure, like Europe.  We started realizing that Europe could potentially hurt his career because if he got into Ortho, he would have to get a waiver to come back.  They fill the European bases first and we ranked them really high and it was likely that we could get one of those slots.

Two weeks before finding out where we were stationed I sent Andy this text message. Cannon is another base in New Mexico, by the way.

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I truly believe that God answered this prayer.  According to a lot of the higher-ups we’ve talked to, a small base like Holloman could really help his chances of getting into ortho.

On our orders it states the day we were assigned to Holloman. The other residents in Andy’s group were assigned back in March or April. Andy was assigned May 7th, the day the assignments were sent out to the commanders. I believe it was a last minute switch.

It was a God moment.

Fast- forward to now, we are really excited about having this baby!  So far this pregnancy has been tougher than my last, but what a miracle! I’m 12 weeks along and I’m due in mid-January.

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We are also really excited about moving to New Mexico.  Being from the southeast, I’ve never really heard much of anything about the state (which was probably the reason for my initial fear)  but after doing some research, I know we will get to see so much beauty in the “Land of Enchantment”.  It was my favorite state in last year’s cross-country road trip (read about it here) and we’ve talked to several people who have been stationed there and we feel that it’s where we are supposed to be.

This past year in Las Vegas has been the best year of my life and I know 27 (today is my birthday) will be full of adventure, challenges and more love than ever I’ve ever known.

You know what would be an amazing birthday gift? Hop over to my Facebook page and give me a “like” or follow me on Pinterest or Twitter!

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This was how I told Andy I was pregnant, by the way!

Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell Travel Review (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area)

Antelope Canyon Travel www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell Arizona Travel Reviews…How we did it all in 24 hours with a baby

I have never had more people ask my about one of our adventures this year than I did after I posted Antelope Canyon Pictures on Facebook.  It’s clear as to why people were so curious…the pictures (even shot on my point and shoot camera and my iPhone) are amazing.  It is without a doubt the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. We were really surprised when we were some of the only Americans both at the resort we stayed at and on the Antelope Canyon tour…so I figured the word needs to get out!  It is a 4.5 hour drive from Las Vegas, about the same from Phoenix, 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Sedona and less than 2 hours from the Grand Canyon.  My point is, if you are doing an Arizona vacation, make time to go see this.   I’m going to break down everything we did in 24 hours.

Lake Powell Travel Review www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

1) Stay at the Lake Powell Resort.  I would suggest doing this instead of staying in the town of Page, Arizona.  Here’s why: it’s beautiful, very peaceful and you can have time to explore the lake.  Antelope Canyon is tour based, so it makes more sense to stay at the lake and enjoy the views and then go on your Antelope Canyon tour the following day.  If you have more time than we did…look into renting a house boat with friends.  They looked amazing!  This is in the Glen Canyon National Recreation area, so you do have to pay a fee to enter the resort area.

2) Eat lunch at the Driftwood Lounge.  The food was great here.  Andy had a short rib sandwich that was definitely drool worthy.  They also had a full bar, complete with some local beers on tap.

3) Go on the Nature Walk.  There’s a long paved path outside the Resort, go for a short stroll.

3) Take a Boat Tour.  We did the shortest tour since we had our 1-year-old with us.  You meet for the tour in Lake Powell Resort’s Lobby…just another reason to stay there.  The tour was $45 dollars each and we got a slight discount with Triple A.  The boat was crowded and therefore not my favorite part of the trip, but it is pretty much the only way to see the lake.  If you have your heart set on going at a specific time, I would suggest calling before you get to resort to make a reservation.

4) Pack some wine and snacks.  We had a fridge in our room so we made sure to pack some appetizers for us and food for our 1-year-old.  It was lovely having a glass of wine on our lake front balcony before dinner.

5) Eat at the Rainbow Room.  We brought the stroller and the iPad to entertain Vi and were able to enjoy dinner here.  Both of our meals were lovely.

6) Balcony. End the day with a glass of wine on the balcony while the little one sleeps OR if you don’t have any kids with you, go down to one of the pools and enjoy the fire pits!

7) Coffee.  Alright, here is my only complaint about the resort, they had one barista working the coffee shop.  We probably waited in line for 30 minutes to get a breakfast pastry and coffee. Here’s what I would do instead: bring breakfast items to put in your fridge.  The room has a Keurig, which was great, but we didn’t think about packing breakfast food. Disclaimer to this: There is nothing near the resort.  Unless you drive into Page, you are in the middle of no where.  We were able to bring food because it was a 4.5 hour drive and we brought a cooler.

Here are some pictures from Lake Powell:

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Antelope Canyon 

1) Drive to Antelope Canyon.  After you’ve had your morning coffee, make the 20 minute drive to Antelope Canyon.  MAKE SURE YOU BRING CASH!  Antelope Canyon is on a Navajo land and they do not take credit cards.  I don’t remember how much it cost, I think it was in the 30 dollar range per person, but they only take cash.  If you forget you have to drive 2 miles to a gas station for an ATM…which we did.

2) Lower Antelope Canyon.  We read and heard from people at the Resort that Lower Antelope Canyon was less crowded, so we chose to do the lower canyon tour.  We loved it.  We did the 9:15 tour and the lighting inside the canyon was great.  Our tour guide was amazing, too.  He knew all of the spots to take pictures and we really appreciated his help.  The tour lasts a little over a hour.  Bring a baby carrier if you have little ones.  Disclaimer:  You have to go up and down tiny little stairs inside the canyon, so you do have to be extra careful if you have kids with you.  Enough Talking, here’s the pictures you want to see.IMG_2785IMG_4214 IMG_4211 IMG_4203IMG_2787 IMG_2783  IMG_2776 IMG_2773 IMG_2771 IMG_2770 IMG_2769 IMG_2763 IMG_2762IMG_2760 IMG_2759IMG_4181IMG_4182IMG_4183IMG_4184IMG_4190IMG_4191IMG_4196IMG_4197IMG_4198IMG_4199IMG_4201IMG_4203IMG_4205IMG_4206IMG_4207IMG_4208IMG_4209

Want more Travel Reviews?   Read how we did the Grand Canyon in 24 hours with a Baby

Sabbath Sunday: Pepper Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce Recipe

Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

This week’s Sabbath Sunday meal is Flank Steak seasoned with Garlic Salt and Cracked Peppercorns topped with a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce…As always this recipe is “Easy Enough for a Week Night, Fancy Enough for a Date Night”

I love sauces, they always make things taste fancy!  Flank steak is so easy to make, just season it, throw it under the broiler for a few minutes on each side and you’re done.  With a meal this simple, you definitely have time to make a sauce to dress it up a bit.

Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

1.5 Pound Flank Steak

Olive Oil

Garlic Salt

Peppercorns, Smashed with a Rolling Pin or Meat Mallet

Gorgonzola Sauce: 

1 Tablespoon of Butter

1/4 Cup Onion, Chopped or Minced with a Grater

1 Cup of Half and Half (or Whipping Cream if you want it to be even richer)

4 Ounces of Gorgonzola Cheese

Salt

Pepper

Directions:

1) Pre Heat the Broiler.  Rub Flank Steak with Olive Oil on both sides.  Season with Garlic Salt and Smashed Peppercorns.  Place steak in a broiler pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Let the Steak cool before cutting.

2) While Steak is cooking, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the Onions for several minutes until soft and fragrant.  Turn to low, add in the half and half, stir in gorgonzola and cook for until cheese melts.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

3) Once the steak has cooled for for several minutes, cut it against the grain.  Drizzle Sauce on top and you are donezo! Serve with Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus.

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Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce on www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

White Honey Walnut Shrimp {Asian Dinner Recipe}

White Honey Walnut Shrimp, Asian Dinner Recipe www.newsanchortohomemaker.com

White Honey Walnut Shrimp with Strawberries: an Asian Dinner Recipe that’s EASY enough for a week night, FANCY enough for a date night!

We recently went our for another night on the Las Vegas Strip…and it was the best dinner I’ve had yet.  For as many times as we’ve been out (we have a lot of guests we have to entertain) that’s saying a lot!  We went to Red 8 at the Wynn.  The restaurant itself was not the best restaurant I’ve been to, more on the casual side, but man… did I order right!  I got the honey walnut shrimp and I was really surprised when I saw it served with strawberries.  I recreated it at home and we both loved the results. This is a perfect meal to spoil your honey with.

White Honey Walnut Shrimp with Strawberries

Prep: 20

Total: 30

Ingredients:

1 Cup Water

2/3 Cups of Sugar

1/2 Cup of Walnuts

1 Tablespoon of Sesame Seeds (optional)

1/4 Cup Mayo

2 Tablespoons of Honey

1-2 Tablespoons of Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 Teaspoon of Lemon Juice (Optional)

1 Pound of Medium to Large Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined

2 Eggs, Beaten

1 Small Plate of Corn Starch

1 Cup of Vegetable Oil

Directions:

1) In a small pot, stir together: water and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Add walnuts and sesame seeds.  Boil 2 minutes.  Scoop out walnuts and set aside.

2) Rinse Shrimp, pat Dry. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together eggs. Dip each shrimp in egg mixture then in corn starch.  When the shrimp are coated, pour vegetable oil in a large frying pan and turn the heat to medium.  When the oil is hot, fry the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side. Shrimp should be golden. Dry on a paper towel.

3) While shrimp are frying, stir: mayo, honey, sweetened condensed milk and lemon together in a large bowl.  Add the shrimp and mix well.  Scoop shrimp onto plates and top with walnuts and chopped strawberries.

Serve this dish with rice and soy sauce, Yum! Keep up to date with recipes by liking my Facebook page or by following me on Pinterest…I’ll love you forever if you do!

Want more restaurant inspired recipes? Try Fried Gnocchi with Goat Cheese, Philly Mac-n Cheese Sliders or Crispy Sausage Stuffed Olives

 

Honey Walnut Shrimp-Asian Dinner Recipe www.newsanchortohomemaker.com