Egg Stratta

As promised, I wanted to share the recipe for Egg Stratta.  It’s tradition that we have this dish on Christmas Day.  Of course there are other times of the year that this amazing breakfast casserole sneaks its way into my life but it will always remind me of Christmas :)
Preheat oven to 350°
You will need:
•Cooking spray
•6 slices of bread
•1 package of bacon
•1 TBS of butter
•8 oz. of cheddar cheese
•6 eggs
•1 cup of milk
•1 tsp dry mustard
•Salt and pepper to taste
Set bread out on a baking sheet either overnight or through the day.  You want it to become “stale” so that it is crispy.  If you are in a pinch for time you could always toast it.
Cook bacon.
It’s best to make sure it is very crispy.
Let the bacon cool and drain on paper towels.
Butter bread slices and cut into chunks.
Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
Place half of bread in casserole dish.
Shred cheese.
Spread half of cheese over bread.
Put the other half of bread over cheese, followed by remaining cheese.
Crack and scramble eggs.
Add milk.
Add dry mustard and mix well.
Pour egg mixture over bread and cheese.
Top with pepper.
Crush bacon into small pieces.  I find that it is easiest to do this in a plastic bag but you can use whatever method works best for you!
Egg Stratta before!
And after.
Slice and enjoy :)

 

 

Santa, I know him!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!  I was really in the spirit this year so it made the season that much more fun.
Every year on Christmas Eve my family hosts a party for my family.  We serve hors d’oeuvres and spend time together and everyone has a great time.
We always have an assorted sandwich tray.
My favorite is the Milano, which is mozzarella cheese with roasted red peppers.  Year after year these sandwiches are tasty!
Shrimps.
My Mom did a great job preparing everything :)  She was slicing filet mignon for sliders here.
Assorted cheeses.
Veggies.
Different types of wine.
I shared my wine from the Kunde Family Estate.  I had picked this up when I went on my wine tour in Sonoma.  It was just as tasty as I remembered!
Classic pigs in a blanket.  Ours  were from Trader Joe’s and were nitrate free!
Chicken cutlets.
Jay’s famous homemade pretzels.  I’m thinking a recipe is going to have to come soon!
After  everyone eats we all spend time just being our crazy selves.
And we play a game called, “How many people can we fit in a room?”  Not really.  But sort of.
On Christmas morning Santa came!
And that meant I got lots of fun foodie gifts :)
Some great new cookbooks!
Wine tote from The Little Apple.
Spatula and salt from Willams Sonoma.
I also received some strawberry olive oil from A Taste of Olive, a specialty olive oil shop.  I can’t wait to go check this place out!
And my favorite!
Necklaces from Etsy.
And of course Sandy had to open some gifts!  She actually knows how to do it herself.
Soon after we opened gifts it was time for breakfast.
One of the highlights of breakfast is an egg strata.  I will be posting the recipe sometime soon!
We then spend the day relaxing.  I took Sandy for a nice 4 mile walk to get some exercise.
Later that evening we had our Italian feast.
I was in charge of making the salad!  I used my strawberry vinegar and it came out delicious.
After a few days full of gifts, eating and spending time together everyone was pretty exhausted.
I hope your holiday was filled with great memories and happy moments :)

Homemade Gifts.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not super artsy.  So normally the thought of making a gift would scare me.  I give people thing I make practically every day.  In fact, when  I show up to work without something people ask, “Where is the food?”  But actually giving something as a gift, that scares me.  It means that it can’t taste/look/smell bad.  Normally if someone doesn’t like my food I think, too stinking bad – it’s free food!  But a gift, well a stinky gift is just rude.
My first attempt was salsa.  I didn’t exactly intend to give this as a gift but when I made Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant Salsa I didn’t realize how much it would make!  It turned out so tasty and there was a mass amount of it, so I decided to give  canning a whirl.
I’m no professional canner but I made it work.
First homemade gift, jarred salsa… well I’d call it a success :)
Next up, homemade rosemary rolls.  I actually found the recipe for rolls in The Joy of Cooking and improvised by adding my own touch.
Preheat oven to 400°
You will need:
•2 cups bread flour
•1 TBS sugar
•1 package (2 1/4 tsp) quick rising active dry yeast
•1 1/4 tsp salt
Mix these ingredients in a large mixing bowl or in a heavy duty mixer.
I also mixed in some fresh rosemary for  some added flavor.
Next, add:
•1cup very warm water (115° to 125°)
•1 TBS olive oil
You can knead by hand or use the dough hook on low to medium until dough is smooth and elastic.
Transfer dough to a bowl with enough oil to cover the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.
In the meantime, slice about a half of a vidalia onion into strips and spray in a pan with cooking spray.  Cook at a low heat until they have caramelized and cooked down.
After dough has risen, punch down and allow to rise again for another 30-45 minutes until it has doubled in volume.
Cut dough into 12 even pieces and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 °.  At this time add the caramelized onions on top of each roll. Bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.
I wrapped each roll in a plastic gift bag and tied some straw ribbon around.  I also cut a few holly leaves from a bush  in front of my house for an added touch!
Threw them all in a basket and hoped for the best!  And so?  I’d say another gift success :)
So maybe creating gifts isn’t so hard after all.  It helped that everything wound up tasting good.  And  if it comes from the heart that’s all that matters right?

 

Good Old Tradition

Merry Christmas Eve Eve :)  I’m pretty corny like that and get like a little kid at Christmas time.  I’ve been pretty busy doing all kinds of traditional things.
Cooking is obviously high on the priority list at my house.  My sister and Mom made an abundance of eggplant parmesan and stuffed shells for Christmas day. (And probably months afterward.)
Jay and I gave candy making a whirl.
Nothing says Christmas like chocolate covered pretzels :)
We also gave Jessica’s Cake batter Chocolate Bark a whirl.
With a Christmas twist of course.  And my bark didn’t come out as pretty as Jessica’s.  We tried to follow the recipe as best as we could but the regular chocolate started melting when we added the white chocolate.  It  came out kinda swirly and fun though!
My family also decorated our tree!  We always get a real tree although there was talk of getting a fake one for next year.  Not sure how I feel about that.
Sand thought decorating the tree was hard work.
We also decorate gingerbread houses!
Some got a little funky.
While others got a little silly.
We just stayed traditional.
I will admit that we had a little help making our gingerbread house.  This year it came already assembled!  I think that’s a brilliant idea.  The sugar was already made for decorating too.  It lets you just worry about the decorating and the ideas of sugar just float from your mind onto the house.
Traditions are really fun and I always look forward to doing these things with my family.  It makes the holidays feel homey :)

Good eats and the city that never sleeps.

Hello friends and bloggies!  I’m back from NYC.  I had a great time, walked a lot, ate great food  and saw a lot of great sights.
Jay and I stayed at the Millenium Hilton, located in the Financial District.
Our hotel was gorgeous!
This was the second time that I used Priceline.com and bid for a hotel.  I was really happy with the results and was able to get another great deal. I would recommend bidding on for your hotel on your next trip!
Along with our room came this awesome view.  Not much to complain about :)
I made sure to take Jay to Baked by Melissa, a little cupcake window in NoHo.
These little morsels are so easy to devour!
We also HAD to check out Eataly, a concept that Mario Batali brought back from Italy.
If I even tried to explain this place to you, it wouldn’t do it justice.  Let’s just say that it is now my new heaven.  Prior to Eataly, my favorite place was Trader Joes, coming in first and Wegmans, coming in second.
I  had a tasty panini that had melted fontina cheese and mushrooms!
While walking around the city I took some pretty photos.
We tried out a place that I read about and have wanted to try for awhile now!
Pommes Frites is a french fry restaurant where they make the fries fresh on the spot.  And that isn’t even the best part.
There are 26 different flavored dipping sauces that you get purchase to accompany your fries!
Oh, and the fries are served in cones and the tables have holes where you put the cone!
I tried rosemary garlic dipping sauce and the sweet mango chutney sauce.
Not only is this place delicious but also really fun and different!
Later we went to dinner.  It was quite an adventure because we wanted to have Mexican food and that just wasn’t working out.  So we ate at Heartland Brewery.
Jay had a beer and I sipped on a mojito.
I had steamed shrimp dumplings for an appetizer which were actually really tasty!  This was the best part of my meal which was surprising.
For my meal I had a salad topped with famous roasted chicken, Gorgonzola cheese, pecans and cranberries.
We thought this place was good at best.  Definitely not all that memorable or worth returning to.
The next day we ventured out to find a restaurant that we had visited a year ago.  We’ve been trying to remember the name ever since but couldn’t! So we went out in search of…
Sidewalk!
It’s a cute little restaurant with a great menu.
We started off with some  beers because hey, it was 5 o’clock somewhere!
I had a grilled veggie sandwich that was amazing.  They put cilantro on the sandwich which really gave it a great flavor.
Jay couldn’t help but to order some truffled parmesan fries.
He also had french toast.
Sorry for writing such a long post!  I hope you’ve enjoyed checking out what we did in New York and decided that you’re visiting Eataly soon!
I also wanted to announce that Margaux was the winner of my giveaway, congrats Maragux!
Until next time :)

Everybody gets a car!

Hey everyone! So Christmas is quickly approaching.  Are you in the holiday spirit?!  I know I sure am :)
I’m headed to New York City for the weekend to do some Christmasy things and shop of coure.  I thought it was only fair that if I’m shopping, you should get something too!
At the Foodbuzz festival one of our goodies was a gift card from CHEFS and as much as I’d love to buy myself something…I decided to get something for you instead!  Yes, my Christmas present to you :)
I picked out two fun items!
The first item is a garlic press and slicer.  If you don’t have one of these bad boys you don’t know what you’re missing out on!  It makes using garlic in recipes really easy and gives you a perfect mince or slice.  And there is very minimal touching of the actual garlic.
The second item is an Orka DEOS Stainless-Steel Soap.  I actually do not own one of these bad boys but I would love to!  If you aren’t aware, stainless-steel gets rid of the garlic smell from your hands.  I normally just run my hands under cold water while holding a stainless-steel knife, a trick that my Mom taught me, but with this “soap” you just rub your hands on it under water and voila! the smell is gone :)
I thought these products were fun and went hand in hand.  And I’m Italian and love garlic, what can I say?
All you have to do is leave a comment about what your favorite Christmas or holiday memory is.  Or tell me something fun that you like to do during this time of the year.  You can enter starting Friday at 12:00 PM to Sunday at 11:59 EST.  I will pick a winner on Monday and have it shipped on Monday as well!
Have a great weekend and good luck :)

You take one down, pass it around…

If you’re anything like me, you’ve always got your eye on all of the websites with great deals and offers.  I’m always trying to find the steal and try my best to pinch pennies where I can while still having fun.
So when I saw that one of our favorite restaurants was having a  complimentary beer tasting, I knew we just had to try it out!
We also made reservations at 7:30 and happy hour is until 7:00 with $3 drink specials so we made sure to time that perfectly ;)
I was so in love with the decorating.  Everything was Christmasy but still elegant at the same time.
When we arrived we were educated a little bit about the beers we were sipping.
After some sipping we headed over to the bar to have a drink before dinner.  Iron Hill Brewery actually makes their own beer on site!
The walls to the brewing area are glass so you can peek at all the machinery.
We each ordered a raspberry wheat beer and I switched to a glass of wine midway.
Before long it was time to dine!
I started off with a cup of mushroom soup, a local favorite because the mushroom capital is very close to this area!
It was served with rosemary bread. Oh yumm! I love rosemary so I  was so dunking this in my soup.
For my entree I was between scallops and mahi mahi.  I asked the server for some help and she convinced me to go with the mahi mahi  because it was a special and wouldn’t be there  next time I came back.
And a delicious choice it was.  It was served over pistachio cous cous and arugula.
Jay  had a chicken sandwich and ventured out and tried it with an aioli.
Normally, I don’t have any problems polishing off my food, but I had to put my fork down and take some home.
“Why?” you may ask.
Because my friends, we knew.  We knew that dessert was in the cards for us that night.
The double chocolate hill.
I try not to get dessert when I’m  out to eat and Jay  isn’t really a fan of dessert to begin with (I know, crazy), but this dessert we cannot pass down.  It is a big mountain of chocolate cake, swimming in a pool of dark chocolate, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Oh, and there’s melted peanut butter inside.  Uhhh yeah.  And Jay doesn’t like peanut butter (I know, crazy) so I take one for the team and eat the lava flowing peanut butter all by myself.
My mouth is watering!
Did mention that a portion of the money goes towards a charity for children?  I’m helping the children people!
So let’s just say that after dinner we needed to go for a little stroll to walk off some beer and some of that double chocolate hill.
It didn’t hurt that our walk made us feel festive.
Festive and full (of double chocolate hill!)?  Now that’s what I’m all about :)