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DIY Trader Joe’s Cheese Board Guide

In order to properly celebrate National Cheese Day, I wanted to share with you my ultimate Cheese Board Guide so you can celebrate today (& any other day) with a cheese board of your very own!

This guide is strictly a Trader Joe’s shopping guide but in the future I’ll be sharing guides that can be used at other grocery stores.

The purpose of this guide is to give you an idea of what you can buy from Trader Joe’s, in order to make your very own cheese boards. It will help with planning, shopping & most importantly, budgeting. Cheesed boards can get expensive but having this guide as a resource can help you understand how to manage the cost, depending on what you’re wanting on your board. My intention is for you to use this guide as a “build your own cheese board” tool to help you navigate a possibly confusing arena. Ideally you’ll want to choose between 2-5 items from each category, but this is dependent on number of people, size & budget!

While I didn’t catalog every single item at Trader Joe’s that could possibly make its way onto a cheese board, there is a good variety of items ranging in price.

*I have not personally tried every single item on this list, but I wanted to show you what is available to you & I will add notes to the items I have tried! I have also highlighted my personal favorites that I use frequently on my boards for inspiration! At the end of the guide you can find pictures of some of the boards I have made in the past!

I hope this is helpful to your cheese loving soul!

Cheese:

  • Unexpected Cheddar – $3.99 / 7oz
  • Double Cream Brie – $5.99 / lb*
  • Cherve Goat Cheese – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Goat Milk Brie – $2.99 / 4.4oz
  • Goat’s Milk Creamy Cheese – $3.29 /4.5oz
  • Boursin – $3.79 /5.2oz
  • Double Cream Gouda – $7.99/ lb*
  • Cracker Cut Cheddar Cheese – $4.49 / 10oz
  • Dorothy’s Comeback Cow – $6.99 / 7oz
  • Cave Aged Blue Cheese – $6.99 / 7oz
  • Manchego – $9.99 / lb*
  • Chevoo (Marinated Goat Cheese) – $4.99 / 4oz
  • Le Gruyére – $14.99 / lb*

*Cheeses sold using ‘per pound’ prices are usually sold in portions ranging from 5-10oz so pricing will vary depending on location & availability.

My Favorites – Unexpected Cheddar: it’s my favorite cheese sold at Trader Joe’s & it’s great for cheese boards because its familiar enough being a cheddar, but it’s a little elevated in look & flavor! This cheese always makes it onto my boards! Double Cream Brie: it’s simple. People. Love. Brie. & this one is fabulous, great flavor & creamy texture. Cherve Goat Cheese: this goat cheese is mild in flavor but just tangy enough to add interest to your boards! You can also dress it up nicely with garnish since it’s basically a blank canvas. Boursin: it’s a very familiar cheese which makes it great for a crowd that’s new to fancy cheese! It also spreads wonderfully. Cracker Cut Cheddar: when you want something familiar & simple, this is the way to go. Bonus, it’s already cut for you! Cave Aged Blue Cheese: this is a mild blue cheese, it’s similar to gorgonzola which a lot of people love & has amazing flavor & creaminess!

Meats:

  • Prosciutto – $4.99 / 5.29oz
  • Peppered Salame $5.99 / 10oz
  • Chianti Salami – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Turkey Summer Sausage – $3.99 / 8oz
  • Sopressata Salame – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Calabrese Salame – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Italian Dry Salame (Sliced) – $4.49 / 8oz
  • Italian Dry Salame – $4.49/ 8oz
  • Pepperoni – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Salame de Parma – $4.99 / 4oz
  • Salame Secchi – $7.49 / 9oz

My Favorites – Prosciutto: it tears nicely into small pieces great for cheesed board snacking & it’s not too highly flavored so it goes well with stronger cheeses. Chianti Salami: this is a red wine salami with a really deep flavor & good chewy texture. Calabrese Salame: this salame you’ll notice has a more red color because its heavily spiced which is really nice when you want to add a spicy kick to your boards! Italian Dry Salame: it’s a classic! Everyone knows it & loves it. Always a safe choice. Salame de Parma: this salame is thinner & longer in shape which I love using to add interest to the boards. It’s always nice to add ingredients of different sizes & shapes! Salame Secchi: this salame comes with a white casing (totally edible) which gives it a great contrast to the colorful red interior. It slices into nice rounds & has a wonderful meaty flavor with a harder texture.

Crackers:

  • Savory Thins – $1.69 / 3.4oz
  • Pita Bite Crackers – $2.49 / 6oz
  • Water Crackers – $1.39 / 4.4oz
  • Bite Size Everything Crackers – $2.49 / 10oz
  • Brioche Toasts – $1.99 / 5.26oz
  • Golden Rounds – $1.99 / 12oz
  • Organic Salty Squares – $1.99 / 5.5oz
  • Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers – $2.29 / 10oz
  • Fig & Olive Crisps – $3.99 / 5.3oz

My Favorites – Savory Thins: these crackers have a mild sesame flavor that pairs really nicely with Brie & Goat cheeses! The crunch is also amazing! These are usually my go-to for boards. Pita Bite Crackers: these crackers are great because they have a nice pita like flavor & they have layers giving them a good crunch. These pair nicely with Cheddar & Gouda! Fig & Olive Crisps: these crackers always make an appearance on my boards because they’re so different than regular crackers. They have a deep dark brown color with specks of fig & olive which are two things that go amazingly with cheese! These crackers pair nicely with strong cheeses like Goat or Blue!

Dips:

  • Fig Butter – $2.49 / 16oz
  • Multi-Floral & Clover Honey – $3.49 / 12oz
  • Mostly Mesquite Honey – $6.49 / 24oz
  • Pink Grapefruit Marmalade – $3.99 / 13oz
  • Honey with Honeycomb – $6.49 / 16oz
  • Pepper Jelly $2.49 / 11oz

My Favorites – Fig Butter: this stuff is amazing I could just eat it with a spoon, but it’s even better on cheese! This fig butter almost always makes it onto my boards! I bought a jar & it lasted through 4-5 cheese boards! Honey: honey pairs incredibly well with cheese so I always recommend adding any kind of honey to a cheese board!

Crunch:

  • Pistachios – $6.99 / 16oz
  • Walnut Halves – $5.99 / 16oz
  • Pecan Halves – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Almonds, Roasted & Salted – $5.99 /16oz
  • Mixed Nuts, Dry Roasted & Salted – $7.99 /12oz
  • Truffle Marcona Almonds – $5.99 / 6oz

My Favorites – Pistachios: they’re so salty & so crunchy, they add a nice contrast to the really creamy cheeses! Walnuts: they’re my favorite nut so they’re usually on my boards & they pair well with Brie! Truffle Marcona Almonds: they have a great truffle flavor that goes well with the stinkier cheeses & they really elevate any board.

Extras:

  • Dried Persimmons – $3.49 / 5oz
  • Dried Apricots – $3.99 / 16oz
  • Black Mission Figs – $4.99 / 12oz

My Favorites – Dried Apricots: they’re pretty familiar to people so they’ll naturally gravitate towards them & they always add a really pretty colorful contrast to boards! Plus, they’re delicious!

Garnish:

  • Rosemary – $1.79 / .75oz
  • Mint – $1.79 / .75oz
  • Basil (Potted) – $1.99
  • Arugula – $1.99 / 7oz
  • Blackberries – $3.99 / 12oz
  • Raspberries – $2.99 / 6oz
  • Pomegranate Seeds – $4.49 /5.3oz
  • Blueberries – $2.99 / 11oz
  • Granny Smith Apples – $0.69 / each
  • Green Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz
  • Red Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz

My Favorites – Rosemary: it’s pretty much my go to garnish because its so beautiful & fragrant. It’s not consumed so I pretty much only use it for the look & smell, plus its always available! Blackberries: they look really great as a garnish on top of Brie because the color contrast really makes them both stand out, plus they’re delicious & go pretty well with most cheeses! Pomegranate Seeds: these look really beautiful scattered across a finished board to add a pop of color & they’re especially great on a fall or winter board! Granny Smith Apples: apples are usually my go to because they’re pretty much always in season & always taste great. Its another familiar item you can use on your boards & you can’t beat Brie on an apple slice drizzled with honey!

I’ve added some pictures of completed boards I’ve made in the past to show you how all of these ingredients come together! I hope all of this inspires you to make your very own cheese boards! Feel free to tag me (on instagram) so I can see all of your hard work! @millennial_kitchen_

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Bottlerock’s Best Bites 2019

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend Bottlerock Music Festival, which is held every May in Napa Valley. The festival features a plethora of amazing musical artists, a bounty of incredible wines (it is Napa after all!) and most importantly, an abundance of overwhelmingly delicious food, served up by some of Napa’s most talented. There were over 80 restaurants, food trucks, & vendors in attendance, serving up delicious festival eats, elevated to match the Napa Valley crowd. With so many options you were really able to acquire whatever you were craving whether that be a classic burger, some delicious tacos, or even Paella. There was something to please every palate.

I started the weekend like any good foodie & did my research. I looked into the food that was to be at the festival & mapped out all the spots I wanted to hit over the course of the weekend. Some of the places I was most excited for: Bling Bling Dumpling (my go to at any festival is Bling Bling), Gerard’s Paella, Ad Hoc (I can’t pass up a chance to eat Thomas Keller’s famous fried chicken), Johnny Doughnuts, Izzy’s Cheesesteaks & Itani Ramen.

Turns out I wasn’t able to eat ALL the food at the festival so I had to make some tough decisions over the course of three days. Luckily I did pretty well & ate some incredible food. Here are my favorites of the weekend!

Day 1:

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Celadon

Kobe Beef Corn Dog & Fries:

This corn dog was unlike any other corn dog I’ve ever had. It was a classic corn dog with the volume turned way up with the use of Kobe Beef in the hot dog. The beef had such a deep, rich, meaty flavor. The breading had just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect crunch. Paired with crispy, salty French fries, Celadon produced the perfect festival meal!

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The Farmer’s Wife

Tuna Melt

This tuna melt was my first meal of the festival & it really set the standard for the level of quality I was going to expect. It was the perfect tuna melt. The tuna was so moist but not soggy & had great flavor & crunch from red onion & celery. The bread was a really great locally made sourdough that was toasted perfectly which resulted in a great crunch when biting into it, & it also had great stability for such a hefty sandwich. The Farmer’s Wife really knows how to make a solid sandwich!

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Taqueria Rosita

Steak Burrito

This burrito kept it simple. Rice, beans, cheese & perfectly tender steak. It was served with fresh made chips, a bright tomato salsa & everyone’s favorite, guac. This burrito may have been simple but it was done just right, made with great ingredients & it was just what I needed to munch on while watching my idol, Iron Chef Morimoto, at the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage!

Day 2:

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Shawarma Point

Beef & Lamb Gyro

I’m a total sucker for shawarma & gyros. Whenever I see them on a menu I can’t help myself so I was really excited to hear a place called ‘Shawarma Point’ was making an appearance at the festival. I ordered the beef & lamb gyro which came loaded on pita bread & topped with lettuce & tomato. Off to the side were a few DIY sauces you could add to your gyro. I opted for the classic white sauce of course. After my first bite, I knew I made the right choice stopping by Shawarma Point. The pita was warm & fluffy with the perfect amount of chew. The meat was seasoned perfectly & was so juicy. The veggies were crisp & fresh which was the perfect balance to offset all the warm, meaty goodness inside the pita. And the white sauce was refreshing & creamy, the perfect topping for such a great gyro. This was one of the meals I had this weekend that I couldn’t stop thinking about!

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Johnny Doughnuts

Vanilla Old Fashion & Maple Old Fashion

The smell of these doughnuts alone was enough to drive customers into the line. These doughnuts were being served out of an adorable & updated van, alone side some fresh, made to order coffee! I tried the vanilla old fashion & the maple old fashion. These doughnuts were huge! Almost the size of two regular doughnuts, but you won’t see me complaining about that. These doughnuts were unbelievably fresh, they had such great flavor & the glaze was to die for. Doughnuts can be so simple but when they’re made well, with good quality ingredients, by people who love what they do, you get something really special.

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Tres Truck

Beef Birria Taco

This taco was just what I needed to end my day on a great note. It was two small corn tortillas overflowing with tender beef birria, that was so juicy I needed several napkins, topped with pickled red onion, arugula & queso fresco. The meat was so tender & flavorful it tasted like it had been cooking for DAYS. The pickled onion & arugula gave the taco a great fresh bite to cut through all the richness of the meat & the queso gave the taco the perfect salty bite. It was a simple taco executed perfectly! What else could you want out of a taco?

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Ristorante Allegria

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich & Garlic Fries

All weekend I was seeing people walking around with big plates of some kind of sandwich accompanied by a mound of garlic fries. I knew I had to get to the bottom of this. I finally figured out these plates were coming from Ristorante Allegria & the sandwich was a chicken parm. My fiancé is a sucker for chicken parm sandwiches so naturally we had to get ourselves one & see what the hype was about. It was delicious! The bread was soft, the chicken was juicy & there was just the right amount of marinara & pesto to flavor the sandwich, without drowning it & making a mess on the plate. It was executed very well for a grab & go meal. The fries though, the fries were the real kicker. It was a mound of perfectly crispy French fries loaded with fresh garlic, parsley & parmesan. Do I even need to go on?

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Gerard’s Paella

Classic Spanish Paella

I’ll start by saying I will try to not get carried away here. I grew up eating paella & I’ve had some really amazing paella in my life both locally, and when I was fortunate enough to visit Spain a few years back. I know, I’m very blessed to have eaten this much Paella. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish filled with seafood, chicken, meat & veggies. It is a pretty complex dish that even calling it a ‘rice dish’ seems unfair. It’s truly an art, making Paella. Traditionally, it’s made using a very specific process of cooking & arranging the ingredients & it’s made in a large Paella Pan (accurately named) that’s similar to a very large cast iron. The Paella pan is designed to give the food great color & flavor, but its size is because Paella is usually served as quite a show because of the way its arranged. This version, which was served in a take away container, was not short on authenticity or flavor. I’ll admit this now, I had this Paella twice over the course of three days because it was so unbelievable. Behind the pickup window of Gerard’s was a sea of large Paella pans cooking away this delicious chow. That was the first moment I knew this was going to be good. I also had seen people walking around the entire first day of the festival holding these containers overflowing with beautifully colored rice, chicken, seafood & veggies. When my Paella was handed to me it was still steaming from being served fresh off the Paella pan, but that didn’t stop me from digging in immediately. At first glance I noticed the color of the rice. It was a beautifully deep orange color, most likely a result of saffron (classic Paella spice). I also noticed several large pieces of chicken & shrimp. I was excited about this one. I took my first bite & was overwhelmed. The flavor was so deep & so intense. This really was festival food, elevated. This was some of the best Paella I had ever eaten. The rice was cooked perfectly, there were parts of the rice with really crispy browned bits from where the rice sat on the pan, the shrimp was tender & the chicken was juicy. The second I finished the bowl I wanted more. It was so good I passed up trying something new the following day just so I could have this Paella one more time.

Day 3:

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Itani Ramen

Chicken Ramen

On the third day it was raining for a majority of the morning so when I arrived at the festival, dressed in my windbreaker & boots, a hot bowl of ramen sounded incredible. The noodles were so chewy & the broth had so much depth of flavor it was borderline creamy. I don’t know how they make their broth but they’re doing something RIGHT over there! It was such a great bowl of ramen I forgot for a second that I was at a music festival in the pouring rain.

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Itani Ramen

Spicy Katsu Sandwich

I normally wouldn’t order two items from the same restaurant because my goal is to try as many spots as possible. But, when there is a spicy chicken Katsu sandwich on the menu, I literally cannot say no. I’m glad I broke my rule because this sandwich was WORTH IT! I don’t even know where to begin. The bread was so tender & soft, making it very easy to bite into. Some sandwiches come on rolls or buns that are too hard you feel like you’re destroying the roof of your mouth (you allllll know what I’m talking about). This bread was perfectly soft but held up well to all the amazingness inside. The slaw was super crunchy which paired well with the creamy, spicy sauce & soft bread. The best part? The chicken obviously. The chicken was so tender on the inside but perfectly crispy on the outside, it had great balance. There were parts of the chicken that were extra crispy & other parts that were meatier. It was truly a perfect sandwich. One of the best things I ate the entire weekend, I contemplated going back.

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John’s Juice

Watermelon Juice

You really can’t beat fresh watermelon juice served to you inside of a watermelon. This juice was the best refreshment & palate cleanser after a day full of eating. It was really enjoyable to have something so light & refreshing to cut through all the fatty foods I had been eating all weekend!

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Izzy’s Cheesesteaks

Classic Cheesesteak

I am a sucker for cheesesteaks. They’re probably my favorite food & I haven’t even been to Philly yet to have a REAL one. Meat & cheese inside of bread is just the pinnacle of deliciousness & a well-made cheesesteak is one of the best meals out there. When doing my research, I found there were going to be two cheesesteak spots at the festival so I wanted to make my choice wisely. The first day I decided to try a different cheesesteak because their description said they used Amoroso Rolls which is a classic cheesesteak roll. I couldn’t pass up authenticity, right? What I failed to notice was that they were making their cheesesteaks with shaved roast beef rather than a more classic ribeye steak. The sandwich was definitely lacking in flavor. The meat didn’t taste like it had been seasoned well & the cheese sauce was a little flat. There weren’t any veggies to give a nice crunch to the sandwich either. The bread was okay, it wasn’t warmed enough so when I went to eat it, it started to crumble & fall apart. Overall I felt disappointed & knew I chose the wrong cheesesteak spot. The next day I knew I had to fill my cheesesteak craving so I headed to Izzy’s after doing a deep dive into their Instagram & seeing how delicious their sandwiches looked. Let me tell you, this was a good cheesesteak. Izzy’s really knows what they’re doing! The bread was so soft & help up beautifully to all the yummy meaty cheesiness inside. The meat was so flavorful, so tender with just the right amount of crispy bits from direct contact with the flattop. The cheese was sooooo gooey & melty it became one with the sandwich. This baby was also loaded with delicious onions as well as sweet & spicy peppers that gave it a nice kick and bite of acidity to cut through the fattiness of the meat & cheese. Basically, this cheesesteak was the bomb.

Here are some other non-food pictures to really show you why this festival should be your new favorite summer party

If you liked this, check out my reviews from Life is Beautiful 2018

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Life is Beautiful 2018

This past weekend I got the opportunity to visit the city of Las Vegas for a music and arts festival called Life is Beautiful. It’s three days of music, art, food & comedy. Sounds like a dream, right? Well it is! If you ever have the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend it. Leading up to Life is Beautiful, I kept telling myself I was going to research all the food that was going to be at the festival & I would set up a plan of attack, so that when the gates opened on the first day I would be ready. Similar to most of my other overly ambitious plans, this one floundered. But that’s okay, in the words of Tim Gun, I’ll “make it work”. My new plan of attack? Show up early on day one to get a lay of the land. That combined with my foodie intuition seemed like enough to get me where I needed to go. The food scene at Life is Beautiful is a mixture of LA & LV food trucks & restaurants serving up festival favorites to hungry music lovers.

This year the festival took a fun approach to the food. Utilizing all the incredibly talented chefs that occupy Las Vegas, the festival added a new culinary experience to this year’s lineup. The Cookout, curated by Chef Justin Kingsley Hall, was a culinary experience not to be missed. The Cookout featured a revolving list of chefs, cooking over roaring wood fires with new dishes every day. Each dish was offered in limited quantities & was only available until they sold out.  The chefs included in the live fire experience lineup included: Chef Brian Howard, Chef Khai Vu, Chef Mike Minor, Chef Roy Ellamar, Chef Hemant Kishore, Chef Vincent Rotolo, Chef Justin Kingsley Hall & Chef Johnny Church. I was fortunate enough to try dishes by Chef Khai Vu & Chef Vincent Rotolo, but more on that later. The full menu as well as information about each chef can be found here: Live Fire Experience

In addition to The Cookout, food trucks & restaurants, the festival also featured a Cocktail School & exclusive culinary experiences. All the information about the complete culinary lineup can be found here: Full Culinary Lineup

D A Y  O N E:

White Rabbit Food Truck

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White Rabbit is an LA based food truck specializing in Filipino fusion. My boyfriend is a big fan of the White Rabbit truck so I already knew we would be paying them a visit, day one. This is the Chicken Adobo Burrito which comes with garlic rice, cheese and a fried egg. The flavors in this burrito are beyond delicious. The chicken is savory & sweet, with just enough creaminess from the egg & cheese. Truly a fantastic combination.

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District One Kitchen & Bar

District One is the brainchild of Chef Khai Vu, who was also featured on The Cookout lineup. District One was serving up classics with a twist like Oxtail Poutine & Wings with Sriracha Ranch. If there are wings on a menu, I will most likely be ordering them. I will admit it was hard to pass up Oxtail Poutine, but a good crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside wing is really a thing of beauty. And that’s exactly what I was served up by District One.
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The Middle Feast Food Truck

Easily the most surprising and most delicious meal of the day came from the Middle Feast truck, also known as The Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race” Season 5 winners. These LA natives are serving up Mediterranean favorites with the volume turned up. I tried the Loaded Gyro Fries. A pile of crispy fries topped with savory gyro meat, signature sauce, feta cheese & chopped tomato. The fries were filling, very well-seasoned & had a fun spin on a classic Mediterranean dish!

 

D A Y  T W O:

Bling Bling Dumplings

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Bling Bling Dumplings have been a Life is Beautiful staple. I tried bling bling three years ago when I attended the festival for the first time. I was instantly hooked. The dumplings were juicy, flavorful & came with a refreshing & light spinach salad. My second year at the festival I knew I wasn’t leaving without getting an order of these bad boys. This year was no exception. These are a combination of the Ginger Pork Dumplings and the Thai Basil Chicken Dumplings. Their menu also features a delicious vegetarian option that utilizes mushrooms as the main ingredient.

Truk N Yaki Food Truck

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The Truk N Yaki food truck is a Las Vegas based food truck serving up Japanese teppanyaki-hibatchi style street food. I tried the Steak Burrito which was a delicious combination of steak, rice & vegetables. The steak is seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic butter, soy sauce & sake. It’s perfect inside a large flour tortilla accompanied by fried rice and stir fry veggies tosses in a spicy aioli. It was the perfect one handed dish to enjoy while jamming out to Cold War Kids.

Shiraz

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A girl can never have too much Mediterranean food in one weekend so I knew I had to make a trip to Shiraz. Shiraz is dishing up tasty Persian, Indian, Pakistani & Mediterranean cuisine to the people of Las Vegas. I ordered a Beef Kebob Wrap and a Vegetable Samosa. The wrap was perfectly simple. A warm pita, filled with a beef kebob, tzatziki sauce, chopped red onion & sliced tomato. The samosa was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The vegetable filling was strongly flavored with just enough of a spicy kick to remind you of those bold Indian flavors.

 

Waffelato

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The festival inhabits the streets of downtown Las Vegas which encompasses an area called Container Park. Container Park is an open-air shopping center with boutique shops, lively bars, unique restaurants & live music. It’s really a fantastic place to hang out. Inside Container Park lives a cute little bubble waffle & gelato shop called Waffelato. If you’ve never had a bubble waffle, I highly recommend you find yourself one as soon as possible. Gelato is delicious on its own, but when it’s served in a warm and spongy bubble waffle & topped with fresh fruit? Over the top. This is the Tower of Pisa, mango sorbet topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries & pineapple all served up in a freshly made bubble waffle.

D A Y  T H R E E:

Chef Vincent Rotolo’s Good Pie

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I’ve only tried vegan pizza for the first time a few weeks ago, but when I saw it on The Cookout’s menu, I knew I had to try it. There was a large pizza oven included in the Live Fire Experience, pumping out delicious wood fired vegan pizzas. The pizza was topped with vegan cheese, San Marzano tomato sauce, pickled red onions, fresh basil & vegan meatballs. The crust was crispy on the outside & chewy on the inside with a hint of charred flavor from the wood fired oven. The cheese was creamy and the sauce was robust. What more could you want out of a pizza?

Chef Khai Vu’s District One

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One stop at The Cookout was not enough so I went back later on to see what Chef Khai Vu was cooking up. His offering consisted of grilled Cornish Hen marinated with five spices, honey & lemongrass. It was served up with a green field salad topped with a ginger soy dressing making it a complete meal. The Hen was so flavorful and so juicy, it was grilled over an open flame giving it that added smokiness so associated with open flame cooking. The salad was fresh and light, a great compliment to the Hen.

 

Shake Shack

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I closed out my weekend with a favorite of mine. Shake Shack. If you’ve never heard of Shake Shack it’s a burger joint that’s been serving up insanely juicy burgers and impossibly creamy shakes all over the country, since 2004. Fun fact: Shake Shack actually started as a hot dog cart in Manhattan. I ordered a double Shackburger & fries, with extra Shack Sauce (aka fry sauce). The burger was juicy as ever, hot, cheesy & meaty. All the makings of a perfect burger. And it was a perfect was to close out my weekend of culinary adventures!

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Easy Meal Prep for Busy Days

The thought of packing enough food to last a 12 hour school (or work) day can be very daunting. I’m here to give you a few tips & tricks to make the process a little less daunting & even save you some money. 

I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s & their prices are significantly lower than other grocery stores so if you shop elsewhere your prices will vary. I also include some ingredients you may not be able to find at other stores so if you’re following this closely, you’ll want to do your shopping at Trader Joe’s as well. A few ingredients did come from Mother’s Market because they have cheaper bulk items like granola, & they carry non dairy yogurt that I cannot find at TJs. You’ll want to research grocery stores in your area to find the best prices for the items you want to purchase.

Tips:

  • Pick foods high in protein to keep you fuller, longer.
  • Only pack foods you actually want to eat. Don’t pick foods you THINK you should eat, pick foods you WANT to eat or you’ll end up impulse buying food and wasting all the food you prepped for the day.
  • Make sure you have a heavy duty lunchbox to keep your food cool all day. There’s no point prepping all this food for it to spoil before lunch.
  • If you’re prepping food for the whole week, make sure to buy versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes for maximum savings.
    • For example, buying strawberries and chopping them up the first day saves you time & you can use them in salads, parfaits, or smoothies.
    • I like to buy a big bag of arugula that can be used for sandwiches, salads, or pastas.
  • Buy snacks you don’t mind eating a few times throughout the week. I really love TJ’s cheddar puffs because a whole bag is only $1.99 & has about 10 cups worth of puffs inside.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix store bought & homemade ingredients. This saves you time when prepping & if you shop smart this will save you money.
    • This week I bought a pre-made tuna salad that cost $3.99 & got 2 sandwiches out of it. I like my sandwiches pretty packed so if you wanted to stretch your money you could easily get 3 sandwiches out of one container making it only $1.33 for each sandwich.
  • Prep as much as you can the night before. Long days usually mean early starts & no one wants to wake up earlier than they have to to get lunch ready.

*I didn’t use the whole container for most of my ingredients for this so I divided up the price for each ingredient depending on how much I used for this specific menu.


Sample Menu: $12.56 

Breakfast-

  • Cashew Yogurt $1.99
  • Hempseed Granola $0.35
  • Strawberries $1.09

Lunch-

  • Tuna & Arugula Sandwich $1.99 + $0.39
    • Ciabatta $0.65
  • Cherry Tomatoes $0.83
  • Sliced Cucumbers $0.39

Dinner-

  • ABC + K Salad w/ Poppyseed Dressing (apple, beet, carrot, kale) $4.49
  • White Cheddar Puffs $0.39

*Prices for each ingredient are listed depending on how much was used.

If you spend a little time prepping before you shop & prepping the night before a busy day, you ensure you’re saving money & eating fresh, delicious food. On average, bringing your own food to school or work can save you about 1/3 of the money you would normally spend on a day of eating out.

Hope this helps!


 

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