Breakfast Strata with Sausage

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I fell in love the first time I had a breakfast strata.  I think the person serving it called it Breakfast Bread Pudding and it was similar but different from other egg dishes, and I found the combination of eggs, cubed bread, sausage and cheese wonderful. Another reason to love this dish is that most of the work is done the night before so in the morning it just has to be baked.  This is perfect if you are serving brunch to guests and would rather be sipping mimosa’s with them than whipping eggs in the kitchen.

This particular recipe is adapted from Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman: Sausage-Kale Breakfast Strata.  I tweaked it just a bit and the results are delicious.  I made it for our family potluck Easter Brunch.  This makes a big 10×13 inch casserole, and could be halved, but it’s so good, and it reheats well so you may as well bake up the whole pan.

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Breakfast Strata with Sausage

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

1 16 oz loaf of French or Italian bread (I used ciabatta)

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves finely minced

olive oil for cooking

about 10 oz. of greens, such as kale, spinach, chard or a combination, any thick stems removed.  (I used a 5 oz. bag of baby kale and a 5 oz. bag of spinach)

12 eggs

2.5 cups milk (I used 2% and whole would be great. I would not recommend all skim milk for this recipe)

6 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated

nonstick spray

salt and pepper

Optional: about 4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese for the top of the strata

Directions:

Cut the bread into cubes and set aside.

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Cook the sausage; squeeze it out of the casings if it is in links, break it apart as it cooks. Drain on paper towel.

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Wipe pan and heat a little olive oil to cook the onions.  Sprinkle in the rosemary when the onions are nearly done.

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If your greens are in bags, you can open the bag, fold it over and microwave-steam the greens right in the bag for 1 to 3 minutes.  If you are using greens sold in bunches or in bulk, chop coarsely and saute until just wilted.

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After allowing the cooked greens to cool, squeeze out excess moisture.

Beat together eggs and milk, and season with salt and pepper.

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Spray 10 x 13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray and put in half the bread cubes, layer with half the greens, half the onions, half the sausage and half the Gruyere cheese.

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Layer the remaining bread cubes, greens, onions, sausage and remaining Gruyere.

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Slowly pour the egg and milk mixture over the casserole, moving around to get the whole casserole covered.  If desired, sprinkle with optional grated Parmesan cheese.

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Cover casserole with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator overnight.

Remove casserole from the fridge 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees,  Remove plastic wrap from the dish and replace it with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking until top is golden brown and becoming crisp around the edges.

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This would make a lovely Sunday night supper. Thank you for stopping  by.

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Morning Walk

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I had a wonderful walk this morning. I’m afraid I didn’t bring my camera along, so all I have to share with you is this picture I took of my muddy boots when I got home.

Parking near the bottom of a small hill adjacent to McInnis Park Golf Course I hiked to top in time to see the sunrise. I also saw dozens of snails all along the trail including a tiny one that would have fit on my pinky fingernail. The sunlight made it look almost translucent.

I started thinking about the sex life of snails (interesting what one thinks about on a solitary walk) and realized how little I know about them. With research I’ve learned they are hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs, and when they mate, they each fertilize the others eggs.

Anyway, back to my walk…coming down the trail from the hill, I took a path along a levee through a salt marsh.  I saw many different kinds of birds and enjoyed their songs as I walked.  I recognized mallards, Canadian geese, egrets with their black leggings and bright yellow boots, red-winged blackbirds, quail, and near the end of the walk a beautiful blue heron.

The marsh had patches of mist hovering over it, rising off the small creeks that laced the landscape. The path I was on overlooked a creek and suddenly I noticed three racoons, frozen in place, almost hidden on the steep, plant-covered bank. They looked like images you would find in a children’s “find the hidden animals” picture. Two were at the water line and when I looked back, I could see one swimming away.

The trail turned so I was parallel with San Pablo Bay though it was way across mudflats to the water. The sunlight illuminated silver-beaded spider webs strung on dry red-brown stalks. Even though I could hear some faint traffic noise in the distance, my own footsteps and the constant chatter and song of birds was louder.

My path circled back towards the golf course.  Mt. Tam was ahead and to the left and I could see the distinctive blue roof and gold spire of the Marin County Civic Center, where I was heading next for the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. When I got back to my car, I checked my Fitbit and saw I’d walked just under 3.5 miles, a good start to the steps for the day.

This walk reminded me of some of the things I really value about getting outdoors early in the morning.  Although I find it convenient to work out at a gym three mornings a week, I like to take a short walk outside before I head home.  This adds steps to my days total but it is also different than walking on the treadmill in front of the TV.

The first thing I really love in the early morning is bird song.  I walk up the stairs in one of two downtown parking garages to get some uphill flights into my workout. The larger garage has several trees right next to it and every morning the branches are full of birds singing away.  Several times I’ve seen a bird singing in the stairwell and it’s song is amplified so it echoes through the whole building.  Once a bird (the same bird?) was singing next to a pipe that came through a hole in the floor and rose up through the ceiling – the hole for the pipe allowed the birdsong to carry though the garage.  I feel sure the bird or birds chose to sing where his or her song was magnified in this way.

When I reach the top floor of the garage, I see the next thing I enjoy early in the day: the sky.  It is getting a little lighter as the days lengthen.  On Friday it was a rich purple blue color.  Other times I’ve enjoyed beautiful clouds. This picture was taken last summer.

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The last thing?  Oh, the last thing is just that it’s good for me!

Thanks for your visit.

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Haircut

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I’ve worn my hair this way for quite awhile.  I have fine, thin hair and this was a great cut for making the most of it.   But most of the time when I get home from work, I clip it up to get it off my neck when I’m cooking or crafting.  When I work out or go to Jazzercise I also have it in a clip.

Another big reason for keeping it long (I know it isn’t really that long, but long-ish) and one that has been very powerful is that Rem likes it that way.  But lately, it’s been driving me a bit nuts.  I knew Rem wouldn’t be thrilled with a short cut, but I wanted to be happy with my hair.  I also knew he had fallen for me when my hair was short and he wants me to be happy too.

I started looking at pictures and videos and made an appointment with Chaz.  He’s been cutting my hair since high school, even before he’d been trained to do what he’s been doing so well since.  Today was the day and once he’d seen the pictures and we talked about it, he started cutting.  This is what he cut off.

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And here’s the new look!  Now THIS looks like someone who can jump out of a plane!

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a guest blog entry. Today’s guest blogger is Rem. Rem will wash any animal, any size for only $19.95. So if you have a huge pet, let’s say an elephant, you win!

 

I decided to bake cookies this morning and Dianne suggested I do a guest blogger entry. So here is my story about these delicious chocolate chip cookies.

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I decided to make cookies for Dianne’s family Easter brunch. I first made these cookies a couple of weeks ago but I don’t remember why. Then again I’m not bothered as ever since I landed on my head I forget a lot. So it doesn’t matter why I made them but that I made them and people liked them.

I found the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website. I was surprised to see her as one of the guests Roast of Justin Bieber. Did anyone else see it? Man did he get dragged over the coals! I can’t imagine a more deserving person. You could even make cookies while laughing and watching it.

So I was looking for a soft chocolate chip cookie recipe and found this one. I discovered it wasn’t far off from the Nestle’ Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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The chocolate chip cookie ingredients.

The batter goes together quickly. I made sure to add the flour with baking soda mixture gradually into the butter, sugar and eggs mixture. I also added the chocolate chips gradually into the dough.

Gradually add the flour into the dough.

Gradually add the flour and mix into the dough.

Add the chocolate chips. Taste testing is encouraged.

Add the chocolate chips gradually. Taste testing is encouraged.

Ghirardelli chocolate, a San Francisco food!

Ghirardelli chocolate, a San Francisco food!

The recipe directions says to, “drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about two inches apart.” I found that size to make cookies too big for my liking. The 15 large cookies it yielded needed to be baked longer than the directed eight to 10 minutes.

Chocolate chip cookie dough awaiting baking.

Chocolate chip cookie dough awaiting baking.

Allow plenty of space between cookies so they do not touch when done baking.

Allow plenty of space between cookies so they do not touch when done baking.

Tasty cookies but too large for my liking.

Tasty cookies but too large for my liking.

The second tray of cookies were slightly smaller and the third sheet made 25 cookies which I thought was the right size to pop in your mouth and have a drink of milk.

Take the cookies out once the edges are golden brown.

Take the cookies out once the edges are golden brown.

The dough is pretty addictive so the amount of cookies made will depend both on the size of the cookies as well as how much dough you eat.

If you make these cookies, post a note and share how they came out.

Happy cookie dough

Happy face cookie dough. Who says you can’t play with your food?

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Rosemary Gruyere Crackers with Sea Salt

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While Rem and I were on vacation, we enjoyed trying out some new recipes. These tasty little nibbles are from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook and they’re delicious. Deb Perelman calls these crisps but I think cracker is more clear.  They’re really a grown up Cheez-It.

I made a second batch earlier this week to take to a party and they were a big hit. When I made them at Sea Ranch I only had a plain pizza cutter  to cut the dough but I used a fluted pastry wheel to cut them at home which makes for a prettier, more decorative edge.  Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of those ones.

Rosemary Gruyere and Sea Salt Crackers (or Crisps)

From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perelman

1.5 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (6 oz.)
4 tablespoons (or 1/2 stick) butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour plus more for rolling out
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary (I think I used closer to 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more for sprinkling (I didn’t add any salt to the dough, just sprinkled it on top)
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine ingredients in food processor pulse and until mixtures becomes coarse, craggy crumbs (I thought it looked kind of like cooked cous-cous).

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Dump it onto a big piece of plastic wrap, press it together into a ball, then flatten into loose, thick square.
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Chill for 15 to 20 minutes so it is slightly firmed up.
On floured surface roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  The shape doesn’t matter.
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Cut into about a 1 inch by 1 inch grid using a fluted pastry wheel.  You can also cut with a pizza cutter a knife.
Dock each cracker in the center with a skewer or knife point.
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Dab with water and sprinkle with sea salt. When I baked my second batch I used flaky Maldon sea salt which worked beautifully.
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Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light brown on ends (I put parchment paper on baking sheets)
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Put baking sheets on rack to cool.
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These keep well in a cookie tin.
Thanks for stopping by.

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Zipline Video!

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One month ago, Rem and I went ziplining on our anniversary.  Here is a link to a video of that adventure that Rem put together.

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Check it out!  Thanks for stopping by.

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Birthday Dinner Recipe: Fresh Pasta

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When Rem and I were on vacation, we celebrated my 55th birthday with a delicious home-cooked dinner.  I haven’t made pasta for years and years but love the slightly irregular, slightly chewy fresh noodles and knew it was part of my desired menu.  We also had flat roasted chicken, asparagus, and a yummy chocolate cake for dessert.

This was a fresh spinach and herb pasta which made beautiful, springy, green noodles but the flavor was pretty mild.  I will try it again with more herbs next time.

Here is a little slide show made from pictures of mixing the dough, rolling it out, cutting the pasta, and cooking it (some of the same photos are throughout the recipe as well).

Fresh Spinach & Herb Pasta

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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3 cups fresh spinach and herbs (any combination of spinach, arugula, green onion, chive, basil, green onions or other fresh greens and/or herbs will work fine – we used mostly spinach,  with some very finely minced rosemary, thyme and some dried basil because we didn’t have fresh)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional flour for rolling out pasta

2 large eggs, room temperature

You may need 1 or 2 Tablespoons water

Optional: Cornmeal for rolling out pasta

Directions:

Wash and dry your fresh greens and/or herbs.

Coarsely chop the greens and herbs and place in a sturdy bowl and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Use a pestle, dowel or other implement to grind the salt and herbs together into a wet paste. (I used a metal spoon) and set aside.

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Mound the flour on your work surface.  Make a well in the flour with your fingers and crack eggs into well.  You can start with a fork but I just used my fingers to start mixing the eggs and flour together.

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Add the herb paste to the flour and egg mixture and continue mixing.  You may need to add a tablespoon or two of cold water to form a rough dough with no dry flour left on the counter.  However, I didn’t need any water.  The dough will be fairly stiff.

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Knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy.

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Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Note: you may also choose to do this in a stand mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle. If you use your bread machine, cancel the cycle after about 10 minutes of kneading, and remove the dough.

Divide dough into 4 pieces.  With a rolling pin, roll out 1 portion of dough at a time on a large cutting board lightly sprinkled with flour or cornmeal, rolling dough quite thin, about 1/16th of an inch, although I don’t think mine was that thin.

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Cut into narrow strips, or roll up the whole sheet and then cut.

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In these pictures, when I rolled the whole sheet of pasta before cutting, it should have been in a looser roll.  Be sure to unroll the cut pasta.

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Toss strips lightly with a little flour or cornmeal and allow to dry for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

If you aren’t going to use all the pasta, you should dry it for a few hours before storing.  I tried making nests, but my pasta was on the thick side and ended up sticking to itself.  I should have left it just spread out (or maybe hanging over a broom handle!)

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Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.  Drop the pasta in and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, testing for doneness after 3 minutes.

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Drain the pasta, add a simple sauce or just butter and Parmesan cheese and serve.  We used a splash of heavy cream (left over from another recipe), some butter, Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

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Mangia!

Thanks for your visit.  Still to come: flat roasted (or spatchcocked) chicken and chocolate cake.

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