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FRITTATA: Potato, Leek, Pepper, Mushroom & Cheese

FRITTATA

This version of an Italian omelette makes for a quick breakfast that will fuel you and your family for the day ahead, and it’s also ideal for lunch, or for dinner by adding a green salad, and crusty bread.

Ingredients:

4 medium potatoes (Yukon gold or russet), peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 cups leeks (thinly sliced)
1 pepper (orange, yellow or red), diced
1 zucchini (yellow or green), sliced
8 oz provolone cheese (you may use cheddar, mozzarella, or any cheese you like), diced
2 TBSP chives, minced
8 large eggs
1 cup egg whites
2 TBSP parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

  • Boil the potato slices for 5 minutes, then drain well and pat dry with paper towel
  • Heat an iron skillet (or a non-stick, oven proof pan) over medium-high heat, and add enough oil to cover the bottom (about 2 TBSP). Once oil is heated, add the potato slices, season well with salt and pepper, and cook until potatoes are a golden brown, then remove potatoes from pan and set aside.
  • Return pan to medium-high heat, add a bit more oil then saute mushrooms, peppers, and leeks, seasoning this mixture with salt to taste.
  • Once these vegetables are cooked (al dente), remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add eggs and egg whites in a large bowl, plus 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. of freshly ground pepper, and whisk together well. Once all whisked, add the chives.
  • Turn heat on low, line the bottom of your skillet with potato slices, then slices of zucchini, mushrooms, peppers and leek mixture, then pour the egg mixture evenly to cover the whole surface of skillet.
  • Dot the cheese cubes on top, spreading evenly, and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over.
  • Put the pan in the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the surface has set. You can check with a fork to ensure eggs are cooked all the way through.
  • Remove from oven when cooked, let it cool for 5 minutes, then loosen the frittata with a spatula, and slide it onto a cutting board.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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It’s a Kneady Time of the Year

Few things in life are more comforting during cool, crispy weather than fluffy socks, soft lounge-wear, favorite background music (Beatles, Michael Buble, Rod Stewart, Ed Sheeran for me) and the scent of freshly baked goods.

 

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ITALIAN BUNS

This warm and cozy bread recipe will guarantee that you’ll be
complimented on your hot buns.

 

 

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 3 TBSP water (tepid at 100 – 110 F)
  • 3/4 tsp. honey
  • 2 cups bread flour (if you don’t have bread flour, you can use all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 TBSP. olive oil (plus more for brushing)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add water and honey to a small bowl, and stir so that the honey is incorporated with the water, then sprinkle the yeast on top of water, and let set for 5 minutes (or until yeast has foamed). Stir well.
  2. Add flour and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk together, then make a well in the middle. If you don’t have a stand mixer, do the exact same thing, using a large bowl.
  3. Add the water, honey, yeast mixture to the middle of the flour mixture.
  4. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment and turn on medium, and let it knead until the dough forms a ball. If there is dough on the sides, simply scrape it off and let it continue kneading for 10 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, then knead with your hands on a floured board and knead. About 15 minutes.


    NOTE: Here is how you can check if your dough needs more kneading.
    Indent the dough with your fingertip, if the indentation fills back quickly, you’re dough has been kneaded enough and you’re ready to let it rise.

    If it stays looking like a deep dimple, continue kneading.

  5. Lightly oil (with olive oil) a large bowl, then form the dough into a ball, then roll the dough in the bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm draft-free area for 1.5 – 2 hours, the dough should be doubled in bulk.

    NOTE: I let the dough rise in the oven with the oven light on.

  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then punch down the dough, form the dough into 12 balls, keeping the rest of the dough covered as you form the balls
  7. Place dough balls on the baking sheet, cover, and let rise in a warm draft-free area for 1 hour (or until doubled in size).
  8. Preheat oven to 400F
  9. Brush each dough ball with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. The buns should be golden, and you can tell if they are cooked by tapping the bottom of the bun—it should sound hollow.
  10. Once baked, remove from oven and put on a cooling rack. Can be enjoyed cooled or warm.

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Bake Someone Happy

 

 

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There’s something about rainy, and windy, cool days where you can hear the leaves rustling that brings out the baker in me.

It’s a way of embracing the change of season after the summer months by filling my home with the glorious scent of baked goods, and satisfying my sweet tooth, and my family’s hankering for home-made goodies are added bonuses.

 

Here’s a recipe that ticks all the boxes for everyone’s
sweet, tangy, and fruity taste buds.

 

Sweet Bread filled with Lemon Custard and Blueberries

 

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Lemon Custard Filling:

INGREDIENTS:

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 lemons
1/8 tsp. salt
6 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into cubes and let it get to room temperature so it’s soft

DIRECTIONS:

Note: If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make your own, with a pot and steel bowl on top, or another pot that fits the bottom pot.

Fill the bottom of a double boiler with 2 inches of water, and allow it to boil on high.
Once boiled, reduce to low heat and keep it at a simmer.

To the top of the double boiler, add: sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and egg yolks.

Whisk this mixture until it’s completely blended, and continue to whisk until the custard cooks. Constant whisking will prevent the egg yolks from curdling, and it will give you a nice, smooth custard.

Once the mixture is thickened (about 10 minutes), remove from heat, If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.

Note: If you find it’s not thick enough, turn up the heat a little, not too high and keep whisking for a few more minutes.

Once thickened, remove the pot from heat and stir in the butter pieces. Allow the butter to melt inside the mixture.

Pour mixture into a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap so it is touching the top of the custard as this will prevent a skin from forming on top, and set aside to let it cool.


Blueberry Topping:

INGREDIENTS:

6 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP cold water

DIRECTIONS:

2 cups fresh blueberries (or your favorite berry)
½ TBSP butter, unsalted
½ TBSP, freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a saucepan, add sugar, cornstarch, salt and water and heat over medium heat, stirring until smooth.

Add the blueberries and bring to a boil.

Cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

Remove from the heat, then add butter and lemon juice, stir until butter is melted.

Set aside and let cool.

 

Egg Wash:

Beat together:
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. water

Sweet Bread:

INGREDIENTS:

3 TBSP white sugar
3/4 cup milk, whole milk works better
2 TBSP butter, unsalted
2 tsp olive oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 TBSP yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:

Add: sugar, milk, butter and oil in a sauce and heat on medium low, stirring.

After all ingredients are warmed through, remove from heat and briskly whisk in the beaten eggs.

Add the yeast to this mixture and mix.

Pour mixture into a bowl and cover the bowl, let it sit for five to 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

Sift the flour and salt together, then add to the mixture, and mix gently, until all the flour is incorporated.

Cover and set aside at room temperature, and let it rise for one hour.

Sift the flour and salt together, then add to the mixture, and mix gently, until all the flour is incorporated.

Cover and set aside at room temperature, and let it rise for one hour.

Sprinkle some flour on your working surface, then gently roll out the risen dough into a rectangle. You can add a bit more flour one your rolling pin, so it doesn’t stick.

Once your dough is rolled out to approximately 16 x 12 in size, spoon the lemon custard in rows.

At this point you can do one of two things; you can braid the bread, gently criss-crossing, and using a spoon pressing the filling in so it doesn’t spill out while baking.

ANOTHER OPTION: Or, you can roll up the dough in the shape of a log, placing the seam underneath, then pinch edges of the log so the filling doesn’t pour out.

If you breaded the bread, add a dollop of the blueberry mixture, dotting the blueberry mixture on the opening, or you can also choose to add a few dollops of blueberry mixture inside the bread. You can use your imagination with the berries.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and transfer your dough to this baking sheet.

Let bread to rise for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F

Make your egg wash by whisking egg and water well, then brush the egg wash over the bread, and put the bread in the oven.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the top of the bread is golden.

Once you remove it from the oven, and it cools to warm, you can dust your bread with icing sugar.

Enjoy with your favourite hot beverage.

 

 

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A New Life After Death

On May 4, 2017, I hung onto my husband’s hand as we listened to a team of specialists explain the ramifications of my husband’s diagnosis of Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer.

In that moment, all the oxygen got sucked out of our lives, and it felt as if someone had turned off the light switch to our world, shrouding us in darkness.

I was filled with fear, angst and an intense sadness and I worried I would never regain any composure or strength.

It was my husband who composed himself quickly, squeezed my hand and said, We’ll get through this.”

 

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I felt the love flow from his fingertips straight to my soul; we took deep breaths and pulled ourselves together, and as we did throughout our marriage when faced with a challenge, we held onto to each other tight, and prepared for the emotional roller coaster we knew we were about to take.

From that moment on, we filled our home with love, laughter, and spending every minute of every day together, celebrating the moments, cherishing our time together,  with family and close friends.

We turned the seven-hour chemo treatments at the Cancer Center into “dates,” complete with all our favourite board games, snacks, and the memory board we put together filled with pictures of our travels, and family adventures through the years.

 

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Cancer is a short drive from optimism and laughter to the cul-de-sac of worry and anxiety about the future, however, we remained adamant about taking it one moment at a time, working hard not to drive down “What-if Avenue” or “Brooding Dead End.”

 

CANCER CANOOT

 

My husband was bombarded with countless blood tests, medication–enough to open our own pharmacy, treatments, clinical trials, emergency trips to the hospital, and endured harsh side effects.

He went through all this, maintaining his incredible sense of humor, wit, selflessness, and kindness; never complaining or asking “why me?”

A true warrior.

 

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On June 5, 2018, we were delivered devastating news; there were no more treatments available, as the cancer had spread and there was nothing else that could be done.

I held my husband’s hand and said, “We’ll get through this.”

For the first time since I’ve known him, he looked at me, despondent and said, “Not this time, my love.”

On July 10, 2018, I held my beloved husband in my arms as we said our last “I love you’s.”

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Since that day, I have faced the hardest months of my life. In the early months, it felt like I had lost a limb, was dropped off in a dark forest, with no instructions on how to find the light, and having to navigate my way through this forest without the use of a limb.

Every day presents a new challenge, the grieving at times is more intense now than in the early days, and missing him is even hard to put into words.

 

FOR THE BLOG

 

For those of you who have endured the loss of a spouse—that person who is not only your lover, but best friend and the one person that would’ve helped you the most during this grieving period, you know that it changes you as a person.

I did find my way out of that dark forest, although, it still feels like I am missing a limb, and embraced my mission of moving forward and honouring my husband’s life, and his legacy of live, love, laugh and stay passionate about all things that bring positivism into my own life and into my family’s life.

With the support of family, friends and a group beautiful souls who have also lost their life partners, I’m doing okay adjusting to this new life.

I’ve redecorated my surroundings, changed my daily routine, volunteering at my grandson’s school, enjoying the little ones at every chance I get, and remaining committed to living up to the promise I made my husband that I would continue following my passion with creative writing.
I wanted to let you all know why I’ve been absent all these months, and not updating the blog.

My goal is to start uploading new recipes, and updating you on my creative writing journey, and at times talk about grief, and hopefully reach out and help others who may be struggling as well.

Thank you for sticking with me all these months, and I send out my best wishes and love to you all as you too navigate through the challenges in your life.

 

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In Loving Memory of our cherished & beloved Warrior

 

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Cancer may have taken your body,
and now Heaven has your soul,
I have your heart; forever intertwined with mine.

Widowhood Is More Than…

AlishaBozarthBooks

Widowhood is more than missing your spouse’s presence. It is adjusting to an alternate life. It is growing around a permanent amputation.

Widowhood is going to bed for the thousandth time, and still, the loneliness doesn’t feel normal. The empty bed a constant reminder. The night no longer brings intimacy and comfort, but the loudness of silence and the void of connection.

Widowhood is walking around the same house you have lived in for years and it no longer feeling like home. Because “home” incorporated a person. And they’re not there. Homesickness fills your heart and the knowledge that it will never return haunts you.

Widowhood is seeing all your dreams and plans you shared as a couple crumble around you. The painful process of searching for new dreams that include only you amount to climbing Mount Everest. And every small victory of creating new dreams for yourself includes a…

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The Guilt Widows Face In Grief

AlishaBozarthBooks

We expect grief to encompass sadness and depression. Maybe even anxiety. We expect memories to tease our emotions. What we don’t always expect, is for guilt to play such a dramatic role in the process. Guilt tends to weave itself through the very fabric of grief. Intertwined. Unable to be detached.

Guilt sneaks up in various forms and shades. It is sometimes produced by uncontrolled forces in which we have no say, and other times it is our own choices that bring it to a head.  The power of guilt, whether external or internal, illogical or logical, is a force as powerful and unpredictable as grief itself. It makes the grief journey complicated and hard to understand. Sometimes we can bear the weight of sadness, but the guilt has power to twist and manipulate us.

In the raw stages of grief, guilt can be found in simple questions…. Why am…

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It’s tangy, hearty, classic & comforting.

 

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Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

This meatless take on a classic comfort food is not only hearty, but it’s filled with robust flavors and you will not miss the meat.

 

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INGREDIENTS:

For Potatoes

  • 3 lbs (8-9 medium) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP table salt
  • sea-salt to taste
  • dash of fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

 

  • Add potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling add 2 TBSP of salt, and cook until potatoes are tender.
  • Drain well then return potatoes to the pot.
  • Add buttermilk and butter to the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add sea-salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, give it a good stir to mix the seasoning in and set aside.

For Vegetables

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • TBSP butter
  • 2 pounds mushrooms (Portobella are meaty and good ones to use), cut into cubes
  • 1 small Vidalia onion (or any other sweet onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 2 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1 cup broth (vegetable, chicken or beef, your choice)
  • sea-salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat oven to 350F
  • In a saute pan, heat oil and add mushrooms along with 1/2 tsp. salt, and make sure you don’t overcrowd the mushrooms, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • To the mushroom pan, add: onion, carrots, parsley, rosemary and season with 1/4 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. of black pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in: minced garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  • Sprinkle flour over this mixture, stirring to coat all the vegetables and let cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add broth, peas, corn and stir for 5 minutes.
  • Turn heat off and spoon the vegetables in a casserole dish.
  • Top with the mashed potatoes in an even layer. (If you want, you could add a few dollops of butter on top of the mashed potatoes.)
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the broiler on and broil for 5 minutes.