Tag: today show

New Year’s Eve Decadence 2017!

New Year’s Eve, that last little bit of recklessness before the new year takes hold and we start to feel all responsible and such. Whether I am sitting around in sweatpants with friends or dressed to the nines, I love the feeling of being carefree and not thinking about what looms (back to work, resolutions) after the first.

The Eve itself is such a weird dichotomy. On one hand, I think it is overrated and amateur night.  On the other hand, I love permission to indulge in the decadence of food, drink and of course getting all glammed up.

Decadence takes many forms and it is up to you to decide what that means for you.  Maybe you want to have a pajama party and have breakfast for dinner. Maybe for you, it means eating all the rich, fatty foods you plan to give up the next morning and getting all dressed up. Or maybe it means, wearing your favorite jeans, not seeing a ton of people and having a good old-fashioned burger and fries and bathing in multiple glasses of La Marca Prosecco. It’s all up to you to decide.

Of all the New Year’s celebrations, I’ve been a part of, the one thing that has been pretty consistent is the menu. It usually includes some kind of steak, cheesy potatoes and lobster. And ALWAYS a lot of champagne. I spent many a year with close friends dining on that exact menu.  It makes me smile each time I think of those nights.

So let’s think about that champagne and lobster and how we can make it extra special for 2017-2018. You do not need me to tell you how to make a steak. Everybody has their own trade secret and potatoes are pretty simple (HINT: these days you can even buy great Scalloped Potatoes at Trader Joe’s). That leaves me with Lobster and Champagne. How should we cook them? How about lobster poached in champagne and served over linguine? Fabulous! This dish is going to be the epitome of simple elegance. Some ingredients do all the work for you.

The first rule is never to cook with champagne or wine that you wouldn’t drink.  Second is it’s ok to use champagne, sparkling wine or prosecco. They all work. And its’s okay to sample as you cook!

Lobster Poached in Champagne
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Servings
2 people
Servings
2 people
Lobster Poached in Champagne
Print Recipe
Servings
2 people
Servings
2 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Combine Champagne, shallot and salt in a deep skillet.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium-low heat and add lobster.
  3. Cover and simmer until lobster is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove lobster to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  5. Stir cream into Champagne reduction and bring back to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat and let cook until sauce is reduced to 1/3 cup, stir occasionally.
  7. Whisking constantly, over low heat, start adding butter, one cube at a time. Make sure that each cube is fully incorporated before adding next. The sauce should be smooth and coat the back of a spoon. See note below.
  8. Remove lobster meat from shells and cut into medallions.
  9. Place medallions over lightly buttered, cooked, linguine. Spoon sauce over lobster and noodles.
  10. Garnish with fresh tarragon or parsley, chopped. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Can use up to 1/2 cup of butter. You want to have a thick smooth consistency, so stop when you have that.

Sorry about the stock photo. I am making this for NYE and will post pictures after.

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Try Something New -Homemade Pasta Edition!

In case you haven’t heard it’s been raining here in California, A LOT! So it was a great weekend to stay home and make all sorts of comfort food. It doesn’t get more comfortable than homemade pasta.

I love that you and I both probably have everything we need to make pasta, already, in our kitchens. Are you ready for the long list; Flour, salt, eggs, water and olive oil. I have a hand cranked pasta roller, but you really don’t need it. Pasta has been made for centuries, certainly long before standing electric mixers were adding attachments and even before my hand-cranked roller. If you have a wooden roller pin and a knife you can make your own pasta.

Keep in mind you can search for basic pasta recipes and find dozens of variations. Start with mine but if it s not a good fit, you can play around. Add more water; use just all-purpose flour, more oil (not too much). I did make mine in a standing mixer, with a dough hook; you can do everything by hand in a large bowl.

I want to say that, even not so great, homemade pasta will taste better than any pasta you will ever buy in a store. Once you get this pasta made, go over to March 1, 2015 and make the Marinara Sauce!

Homemade Pasta Dough
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Homemade Pasta Dough
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine flours and salt. Make a well (indentation) and add eggs. If you are doing this by hand, start to fold your flour over the eggs and mix, adding water and oil, until you have a stiff dough. I used a standing electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. I used a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  2. As you are mixing and adding water & oil, keep pinching the dough. When it starts to stick together easily, its ready. You do not want it too sticky.
  3. I used Durum Semolina, which is traditionally Italian. It has a coarser texture, almost like corn meal, it will need more water and olive oil. The texture smooths out in rolling and cooking. All-purpose flour will NOT need nearly as much liquid.
  4. Once the dough is all mixed. Knead for 3 - 4 minutes on a lightly floured board. Then form a disk and wrap in plastic and let rest, in refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to roll, cut disk into quarters and flatten. If you are using a pasta machine or roller, start on a zero setting and run the dough through once or twice and fold in half and lightly flour each side and run through again. Repeat this process gradually increasing setting to higher numbers and ultimately increasing to desired thinness and length. Or follow the directions provided, with your machine.
  6. If you are hand rolling, lightly flour a board and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to desired thinness and length. I like to roll between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Too much flour can make the pasta too chewy.
  7. At this point you would switch to the cutting shape, you want on the machine. If you are cutting by hand use a knife or pizza cute to cut your dough.
  8. Once your dough is cut, it is IMPORTANT to let it dry/set for a while before storing or cooking. If you don't it might be gummy. If you have something to hang your pasta over, even a towel rack will do, that's ideal. if not just let it lay straight on board or parchment lined pan. Don't let it sit bunched up, like in the picture.
  9. Once it is a little dry you can store it, folded, in an airtight container, with a little semolina or cornmeal, to keep it separated.
  10. To cook, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it, liberally. Add you pasta and cook 5 - 7 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve with your favorite sauce or none at all. It's that good,
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Valentines Day Chocolates!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I know you are still wondering what to do. We all spend a lot of time looking for something new and creative to do. We all want to “keep it fresh”. Well, I’ve been married for almost 20 years and let me tell you it gets hard. I am a devotee of the classics. Let’s do a romantic dinner. That’s not to say we can’t shake things up a little bit. If you or your significant other are certified chocoholics, like me, how about a meal that has chocolate in every single course?

There is so much to love about chocolate but what you need to know here is that it starts out as cacao, which is mouth wincing bitter. Don’t be scared, that gives you control. That bitter cacao nib is a chameleon. Once add sugar, fat and cream, with a little mixing, you can have the sweet Hershey Kiss from your childhood or a complex and award winning delicacy.

In a typical three-course meal, you’ll start with salad. Let’s make milk chocolate vinaigrette. The milk chocolate is an emulsifier that creates a welcome creaminess. Serve the vinaigrette it over greens that included purple radicchio. Radicchio is a little bitter so it cuts the sweetness. Spinach adds necessary balance. To round out the salad add Asian pear for a tart crunch and diced cranberries for their sweet chewy flavor.

The star of the main course is a fennel seed and cacao nib rubbed pork tenderloin. The secret really is the rub. The rub is a blend of cacao nibs, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cayenne with cocoa powder and brown sugar bounces all over your mouth. The recipe calls for grinding the nibs and seeds in a mortar and pestle. The result will be quite coarse. If you’d like a finer texture you can use a coffee grinder or food processor. Remember though, the finer the rub, the less pungent the flavor. Is the rub sweet or spicy? The rub will seal your juices in while cooking so you won’t need any other sauce than the glorious juices as they pour out when sliced.

In keeping with the play on sweet and spicy the pork is served with a charred cauliflower in a picada sauce. Picada is similar to a pesto. This recipe uses; bitter dark chocolate, Marcona almonds, garlic, parsley and a touch of sweet sherry. The cauliflower should be tender, almost creamy, inside and just charred on the outside. There are so many great textures in your mouth.

In moments of humility and mistakes often come our greatest success and sweetness. Dessert comes from one of those moments. I misread a recipe that called for teaspoons of flour and sugar as tablespoons and the result is more like a rich, incredible brownie than cake. It won’t look so pretty when you first turn it out, so decorate with abandon. You can try whatever fresh berries in season. For a more elegant presentation, sift some powdered sugar through a lace doily and add some fresh herbs. I always say if it smells good together it will taste good together so get creative; how about some tarragon or thyme? If you are short on time a dollop of fresh whipped cream will work too.

Here’s the truth, I did not take pictures the last time I made this and don’t want to use stock pictures from the internet. I promise to post pictures as soon as I can. Finally, it appears I can only do one recipe per post so I will send the recipes one after the other.

I wish you and your loved one a very meaningful Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette
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Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Whisk in vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. While whisking continuously, drizzle in oil until thickened and combined.
  2. Divide arugula/spinach among plates. Top with pear, cranberries and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
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Winter’s Colorful Citrus

Winter knows how to hook you. That first nip of cold air gets you excited and all the sweaters come out. When you are sick of rain the snow starts and when you think you can’t handle the grey skies anymore, Peonies show up and the citrus is ripe for the picking.

The Peonies I had to find in NYC while looking at colleges for my daughter. They were a welcome sight on a slushy, grey street in Chelsea. The citrus, in the form Cara Cara oranges greeted me when I came home to Los Angeles. They were bursting with juice and practically leapt off their trees when I went out to pick them.

Cara Cara oranges are wonderfully sweet and have specks of dark red hinting of a relationship to blood oranges. You can juice them and cook with them. This year they were too sweet not to use in everything! First, I peeled, sliced and served them on a beautiful platter on their own. Delicious! Then I tried a variation on lemon curd. It is literally sunshine is a jar. You can use any way you would lemon curd or, like me, just eat with a spoon.


Cara Cara Orange Curd
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Cara Cara Orange Curd
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Bring the orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan, over a medium high heat and reduce to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cooled juice mixture. Once combined, pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken and it reaches a temperature of 180°. This should take 6 - 8 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl and stir in butter, until it is completely melted. Cool completely and place plastic right on surface of curd, to prevent skin forming. Place in refrigerator until well chilled.
  4. Store in airtight in refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator, before use, if frozen.
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Try Something New! Graham Cracker Edition

When I read a post where the first thing the author does is make an excuse, I have to admit it is a huge turn off.  Julia used to say something to the effect of don’t make excuses for your food whether it’s bad or good, everybody already know’s. Well, Julia, true that but sometimes life just rushes by and you get behind.  The ironic thing is I have been writing like crazy, because I have so much to say!  It’s the cooking and picture that seem to set me back.  So here I am to catch up and I think this first one is a good one.

We finally got a little cold snap her in Los Angeles.  I love to think that means we can have a fire in the fire place and snuggle up.  I mean what else can you do when it is 50 degrees out (pause for groan from the east coast)? A fire in the fireplace almost always means S’mores.  So tonight it meant making my own graham crackers.


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I don’t know why I wanted to make my own graham crackers. There was something so intriguing to me. I imagined it would be very complicated so it never occurred to me that I would share it here, under try something new. It was super easy!

I went looking for “Graham” flour. Guess what? Its really just whole-wheat flour that is not sifted during the milling process and is ground coarsely. You can find graham flour in some health food stores. For my purposes I used plain whole-wheat flour. I started with a recipe from King Arthur Flour Company. I made the first batch exactly as directed. One of my daughters is not a big cinnamon fan and I thought it could be a little more “wheaty” so I made some adjustments and the following is my recipe. It really is simple.

My advice is to be patient when rolling out the dough. You do want to get them very thin. You also will want to have a ruler handy, if measuring out as squares, which is the proper graham shape. I admit I got bored of that and made some squares and some circles with a biscuit cutter. Finally don’t forgo the pricking with a fork. This helps them keep their shape, without puffing up.

Homemade Graham Crackers
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Homemade Graham Crackers
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a medium bowl. I used a stand-up mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, honey and milk. Blend into flour mixture, until a ball starts to form. Add an additional tablespoon of milk if necessary.
  3. Wrap and chill the dough for about an hour. Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured board an knead gently for 5 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease or line with parchment, 2 baking sheets.
  5. Roll the dough to 1/16"; make sure the board stays floured so the crackers transfer easily.
  6. Cut the dough into 3X# square and prick them with a fork several times. Place on prepared pans and brush tops with a little milk. You can sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, if you wish.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely, on rack. They will keep well wrapped at room temperature for a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
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La Peetch!

I have returned from Julia’s, La Peetch! It was everything I thought it would be. It was so much more and a little less at the same time.

For anyone that fancies themselves a good cook. For anyone that has ever watched a black & white episode of The French Chef, on PBS; walking into the kitchen at Julia Child’s home in the south of France and seeing the peg board wall still adorned with every kitchen utensil imaginable is awe inspiring. Somewhere in your mind you understand that these can’t all be original pieces but it doesn’t seem to matter. YOUR IN HER KITCHEN!!! As you “tour” her approximately 10X13 kitchen, you can feel her, you can smell the remnants of meals past and your fingers want to graze over every edge.

Our first evening there we were served appetizers on her cottage table. They were simple, as I thought they should be. We had a little cheese and both green and black olive tapenade on crostini. Each of us explored the home and compared it to pictures on our phones. We sat on the green velvet couch and walked the grounds imagining Julia and Paul walking every step with us.

The next morning, we met again at that cottage table for coffee and “morning pages”. We were given a prompt and our writing began. For me, this is where I think my separation from Julia began. I had a crazy expectation that she would work through me and I would suddenly have words flowing from my fingertips. Not so much. As the week went on and this exercise got more frustrating for me, the bloom fell of the rose, as they say. But, in a good way. I became less focused on Julia and more focused on the women I was with. I started listening to their words. I paid more attention the food and beverage I was consuming, in the moment, instead of what Julia would have been eating and drinking. As I did that the words started to come for me. The drink started to taste sweeter and I had a keener sense of how our food tasted. I was able to enjoy even the simplest meal of pasta with Roquefort sauce.

It was last day and I had yet to find my perfect magazine pitch or outline for my breakout cookbook. Some had already began their journey home and others were taking in a sunny day at the pool. Some had gone exploring in St. Paul de Vence. I decided to take my camera and journal and explore the property practicing my new camera skills. I was composing some artsy photo of an olive or a leaf when the piano started. It was so beautiful and magical. It stopped me mid-shot and I started to write. In that moment I found the soul of Julia I had been looking for. It wasn’t her words but her inspiration that came through me.

On the very last day, I found my words and started my project. So while I continue to walk with you on your journey to good cooking I will share some peeks into my project along the way. Here is my version of the Roquefort Pasta we had a La Peetch. Bon Appetit!

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Pasta with Roquefort Sauce
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A creamy, not overpowering sauce of Roquefort cheese & butter tossed generously with fettuccine pasta. Serve with baguette and a fresh green salad.
Pasta with Roquefort Sauce
Print Recipe
A creamy, not overpowering sauce of Roquefort cheese & butter tossed generously with fettuccine pasta. Serve with baguette and a fresh green salad.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Note: I cook my pasta in a well salted boiling water. As the saying goes the water should taste like the sea. Reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water for the recipe. Right before putting everything together, while the water is still boiling hot, swirl it in your serving bowl, to warm it, then toss out.
  2. In a small bowl combine Roquefort and butter with a fork until well blended and soft.
  3. Put pasta in warm bowl with butter mixture and toss slowly so pasta can absorb flavors of cheese and butter. Slowly add cup of cooking water until "sauce" forms and pasta is coated (you may not need whole cup). Season with nutmeg. I use a good amount. There's something about cheese and nutmeg.
  4. Toss with lemon zest and rosemary. Taste and adjust seasoning with fresh ground pepper.
  5. Serve with fresh greens dressed with a simple vinaigrette and fresh bread with butter. Don't forget the wine ENJOY!
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Baked Kale and Rice

Baked Kale and Rice
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This is a great Vegetarian main course. You can add chicken if you are not a vegetarian or use it as a side dish.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Baked Kale and Rice
Print Recipe
This is a great Vegetarian main course. You can add chicken if you are not a vegetarian or use it as a side dish.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Cook the kale in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Then immediately drop in ice water.
  2. Squeeze dry and chop. Make sure all moisture is removed before you bake.
  3. Using the same cooking water, for flavor, boil the rice for 10 minutes. Drain and spread out to let cool. I use a baking sheet lined with paper towels. When cool, transfer to large a bowl.
  4. Preheat over to 375° and butter a baking dish. Dust baking dish with 2 Tbs. of parmesan.
  5. Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a small sauce pan and add almonds. stir until golden and add to rice bowl. Season with Salt and pepper lightly.
  6. Add remaining parmesan, ricotta, jarlsberg, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme an sage to rice. Add chopped kale and toss well. I use my hands to get every thing mixed in well.
  7. Transfer to baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until browned.
  8. Serve immediately.
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A Grown Up Pajama Party!!!

On February 17th, the Today Show did a piece on hosting a sleepover as a way to keep kids occupied during the Siberian Express. It made me think, even though 2015 is already filled with some great occasions; weddings, graduations and births; why not do our own pajama party for grown ups?!

I’m already excited! Lets start by inviting everyone in their coolest pjs. I love www.punchbowl.com They have such great and unique selections for invitations and once you customize your invite, they email them for you. If you like an old-fashioned touch, and want to send printed invites, I like www.paperculture.com

My favorite part, of course, is putting together the menu. Let’s do breakfast foods and trick them out for an evening party! No breakfast party menu would be complete without a Mimosa or Bloody Mary so break out your finest recipe and make a couple of pitchers. A Bloody Mary Bar is always a fun way to get your guest’s creative juices flowing. You could even have a contest for the best, worst and most creative Bloody Mary. Make your own Bloody Mary Mix, I’ve added one for you to try, if you don’t already have a favorite, and leave all the ingredients out for your guests to personalize their drink and for the contest. Be sure to have a couple of flavored salts to rim the glass. If you need more inspiration go to www.foodiecrush.com Heidi has some awesome ideas!

There’s a restaurant near me that makes an amazing Brunch Carbonara. Instead of long pasta, they use orzo (a rice shaped pasta) and they put a poached egg on top instead of mixing it into the sauce. This is a really sophisticated way to incorporate breakfast into a dinner menu.

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A sleep over staple is pizza. So for fun let’s do a Pizza Frittata. It is so yummy!

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I feel like we have to have something sweet to finish it off and of course what’s more breakfasty than Rice Krispy treats. I’m sure you have a favorite recipe you love. An old friend of mine told me the real secret is a freshly opened box of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.

Great! We have invitations, food, and drinks. Let’s have some fun! If you have a friend that is handy with a movie-editing program, have them cut together scenes from classic movies with sleepover scenes. There are movies such as Pillow Talk and Pajama Game but even Grease has a great sleepover scene. You can project the movie loop on the walls.

For our party I had everyone send over their top five party songs and hired a DJ to play them in the mix with other fun dance music. If you have a group that will get up and dance on their own, you’re set. If you feel like your friends might need a little motivation first, ask your DJ if he has party dancers. You can even call a local dance school and see if any of their students would like to help to get your guests moving. You only need them for an hour or so. Once the party gets going your guest will be on their own.

I think it is fun to give your guests a little gift at the end of the night. Krispy Kreme will do a two pack of donuts and you can add a package of instant cocoa mix or a small carton of milk. Another cute idea is to do hangover prevention kit. Be sure to include a packet of Tylenol, small bottle of water and a cookie.

Be sure to send me pics of your party using the hash tag  #pajamaparty.

Good Night!

 Brunch Carbonara

6 ounces pancetta, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound orzo

5 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-salt broth)

1/2 cup cream

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 Tablespoon thyme

salt & pepper

6-8 eggs, poached* or fried


In a large pan cook pancetta over a medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Leave one tablespoon of the fat, in the pan.

Add the butter to the pan and cook gently until it just starts to brown. Pour in the orzo, and stir until toasted and coated well. Pour in 4 1/2 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender but al dente and the stock has been absorbed, about 8 minutes. 
Stir in the cream and add the frozen peas, bring back to a simmer. Toss the pancetta into pan, and add half of the Parmesan cheese and all of the thyme. Stir well, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining stock so you have a nice creamy texture. Turn off the heat. Toss with half the remaining cheese. Top with eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with remaining cheese.

 *If you haven’t yet mastered the poached egg, you can use fried eggs. I l am really enjoying the trend of crispy eggs, fried in olive oil.

 

Pizza Frittata

4 Italian sausages

½ red bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 scallions, sliced, include some green

½ cup sliced mushrooms

6 eggs

2 Tablespoons water or milk

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried basil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 Roma tomato, sliced thin

Pepperoni slices

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat broiler

Cook together sausage and bell pepper, for about 5 minutes. Break up sausage with a wooden spoon.

Add garlic scallions and mushrooms. Cook until sausage is cooked through and veggies are tender. You can add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, if needed.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, water and seasonings. Pour over sausage mixture in skillet and cook until eggs are set and top is almost dry. This should take 10-12 minutes.

Arrange tomato and pepperoni slices on top, like a pizza. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Broil until frittata is puffy and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

You can slice wedges, like a pizza or serve whole on a warmed plate.

Bloody Mary Mix

1 good size lemon

1 good size lime

16 ounces Tomato Juice

8 dashes Tabasco Sauce

2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish

16 dashes Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

Squeeze the lemon and lime wedges in a shaker and then drop in. Add the remaining ingredients and fill rest of the way with ice. If you are adding the vodka ahead of time, add 1 cup quality vodka.

Shake to mix thoroughly .

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