Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Vegetarian BACON Lasagna!

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For those of you who know me – you know I LOVE bacon. I’ve been in this relationship since I was a child. It wasn’t one I had to constantly work on.  No, no, no… It seems to always just be there. In my drawer, at the store, on a plate on my desk….So it just made sense one day, bacon would be the perfect 5th food group – in lasagna! And hence it was born… My special Vegetarian Bacon Lasagna.

I hope I’m not posting this too late for those of you trying to decide what to cook for Super Bowl Sunday. As I sit at my desk it’s early morning on that exact day. I’m sure men and women had sleepless nights, tossing and turning, and dreaming the color of the team they are hoping to win. But as you check your email, Facebook, Linked In pages – wrapped under your covers, I hope this will give you the perfect recipe. Imagine sitting in front of the TV with a huge plate of steaming Bacon Lasagna, ice cold beer in your hand, watching your favorite team play. This recipe is packed with fresh vegetables, multiple cheeses and a few surprises, capers being one.

My Vegetarian Bacon Lasagna Recipe

Your shopping list:

  • Package of bacon – cooked so it’s crispy (pre-cooked, microwave ready, or standard is fine)
  • Lasagna noodles – 1 box – I like the kind you don’t have to boil but if you like to boil then go for it
  • Ricotta cheese – larger sized container
  • 2 eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Jar of capers
  • Vegetables: Whatever you like but here are some ideas: These are ones you’ll want to sauté first: Eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, onion, garlic. I also love spinach but don’t cook it first. You’re just going to layer it raw.
  • Pasta sauce: Either make it yourself or get a jar. I like Newman’s tomato basil
  • Can of chicken broth to sauté things in
  • I think that’s it

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How To:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  • First I prep everything, sauté onions, add sliced zucchini, mushrooms and whatever else you think you’d like
  • I slice the eggplant into thin discs and sauté them with a little chicken broth
  • Cook the bacon (I guess you could cook it first and then use the oil to sauté the veggies but that just doesn’t seem quite right)
  • Prepare the Ricotta cheese by adding 2 eggs and mixing it up
  • Once everything is ready, you just layer. I put the pasta sauce on first, then the noodles, then the ricotta cheese, veggies, bacon, other cheeses, a few capers, spinach, a dollop of sour cream.
  • If you use the no boil noodles you need to make sure they are by something moist (pasta sauce or ricotta cheese)
  • The last layer should have pasta sauce and cheese on top.
  • Save out a few pieces of bacon to put on top

Cook!

  • Cover with a sheet of non-stick foil and place the dish on a cookie sheet. I do that so that if it bubbles over, your oven still stays clean
  • Bake at 375 degrees for around 30-45 minutes. It’s hard to say because it depends on how large your baking dish is. It should be bubbling. I also take the foil off when it’s ready and let it cook just a bit longer to brown the top.
  • Let it sit for about 10 minutes to let everything absorb together
  • Put your bacon garnish on
  • Voila! You’re done!
  • Serve with a fabulous red wine or super cold beer!!!  And of course, GO NINERS!!!

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Try Something Different for Breakfast

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I keep buying fish to grill at night and then end up not cooking it because I’m just too, well I hate to say lazy, but sometimes it just feels like a lot of work at the end of the day. Yesterday I went to Whole Foods and scanned the fresh fish section. I never thought about buying a “whole” fish, but it’s the way to go if you want fresh.

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The first time I did this I took the whole fish home and it was a bit challenging to weed through everything to the meat. The next time I asked the guys at Whole Foods if they would butterfly it and remove the head and tail and they did. It opened a new world to me. Hopefully this will inspire you to try this too! I grill it with olive oil, fresh ground pepper, coarse salt, lemon juice and herbs from my garden.

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Put it on the grill and you’re done! I added shiitake mushrooms on the side with butter and seasonings if you’re wondering what those are 😉 I had this for breakfast and will have it cold on a salad later. Let me know if you try it and especially if you have it for breakfast. Serve it with a poached egg and bacon. PS this was trout but there are many others to try.

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The final breakfast plated: Grilled trout with poached egg, grilled tomatoes, spinach, avocado and Burrata cheese.

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Cheers!!!
Shelley

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Ever “Baked” Bacon & Eggs??

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Baked Eggs and Bacon

Baked Eggs and Bacon

This weekend try something new for breakfast. Instead of frying up a few eggs in an ordinary, pan get adventurous. I’ll tell you how to make this scrumptious treat below. And I’ll add the disclaimer – it’s SUPER EASY. Here what you need. Use as much of the following as you’d like:

  • Uncooked bacon
  • Eggs
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cut jalapenos with the seeds removed
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Non-stick foil for easy clean up

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place the strips of bacon on a foil lined sheet pan and place in oven. Mine were thick, large pieces so they took a little longer to cook, about 12 minutes. But keep a real close eye those strips. They go from uncooked to cooked pretty fast. Once the bacon is the way you like it, remove it from the oven. Drain the grease from the pan (leave a coating for flavor). Add the veggies onto the same pan and toss them around to coat them with the oil. If you removed most of the oil you’ll need to add a little olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper and put the veggies in the oven. Keep a close eye on them. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes but essentially you want them not quite cooked.  When they are still a bit crispy remove the pan and crack the eggs over the vegetables and then they go back in the oven.

Here are the eggs about 2 minutes in

Here are the eggs about 3 minutes in

I cooked the eggs for about 4-5 minutes. It depends how you like them.  I like the whites cooked and the yolks runny.  When the eggs are done remove the pan from the oven and add the bacon to the whole lot of it. Plate and serve!

Plated pre my first bite

Plated pre my first bite

Yum!!!

Yum!!!

I have to say, baked eggs have a very different, luscious texture vs when you cook them in an “ordinary” pan.  And the bacon for some odd reason is not greasy. I hope you’ll try it and if you do let me know what you think!

BaconUrkey: You Know You NEED It! (And Can it Make You Smarter???)

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Bacon wrapped turkeyIt’s one week before Thanksgiving and thousands of free range turkeys are blissfully running around barnyards. Donning buffed out legs and chests, they are well oiled, gluten-free machines. High on endorphins, life couldn’t get any better. Even “fresh” sounds good until, well…”their” holiday rolls around.

In fact, many of them must think they’re safe.  I mean seriously, every store is decked out for Christmas and Thanksgiving seems to be forgotten.  I truly believe these fair feathered friends are jogging side by side, planning their New Year’s celebration when they will toast with “grain” alcohol cocktails and drumsticks (ice cream, not…).  With all that said, I’m sure one or two will be able to outrun the Whole Foods and Trader Joes trucks, spinning their legs like egg beaters to help get them over to the bushes.  As for the others? Well, Thanksgiving, here you come.

So you’ve ordered your turkey either fresh, frozen, brined or Butterballed. Either way, you’ve got a week to figure out how to set this Thanksgiving apart from the rest. And that’s where I come in (along with my bacon obsession). Today I am going to help you wow and amaze your friends and family – while keeping them healthy at the same time.  It’s all about “Baconurkey”, and yes, this will change your world.

Last year I shared my bacon-wrapped turkey recipe along with a few factoids.  First, did you know that in a “lighthearted” survey 23% of men ranked bacon as their favorite fragrance? They didn’t qualify this but I’m fairly certain it’s cooked vs. raw so thought it was important to add that disclaimer.  That factoid makes total sense. But in my heart I knew there MUST be something healthy about bacon. I’m sure you’re thinking, how could adding bacon ever be healthy??? Well I’m glad you inquired because I believe it’s my responsibility to find a way to help relieve any guilt you might have, every time you reach for that perfect strip.

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After weeks of research I was finally able to find one healthy fact about bacon. And you know, just as in bad dates, it only takes one 😉  Here’s the one healthy fact I could find about bacon – “Pregnant women should eat bacon because it contains choline which helps fetal brain development.”  What’s confusing is that if it helps fetal brains, why can’t it help ours? I’m sure it’s quite intuitive to take a flying leap, allowing us to assume you’re smarter, if you eat more bacon. (If that’s the case, I swear I must be a genius) So get ready to host a table full of brilliant people. To test them, see if they know what this means before and after dinner: Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum. (translation below)

So how to start…Today, I want to take you into my kitchen where people become smarter. Yes, I am here to introduce you to Baconurkey (“bacon wrapped turkey” – if you were unsure what that word meant, please have 2-3 helpings) I will add a disclaimer – By no means am I licensed to provide cooking instructions, but I’m willing to “chance” it.

So this idea came to me 2 years ago. The thing about turkey is that we really only cook them once a year. Because of this, every November we find ourselves hovered over our computer keyboard typing out the words “how to cook a turkey”. Last time I looked, this search brought over 580 million results! Well, no more. This blog is going to solve any anxiety you may have about next week’s Thanksgiving dinner and make you a superhero at the same time. Out with the plain old browned up turkey. It’s time to put a little sass on your table!  I’ll keep this simple and use photos to describe how you can make a bird like this.

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How to Cook a BaconUrkey (Bacon Wrapped Turkey), 101

  • Defrost or use fresh – typically it takes 5 hours per pound to defrost
  • Scrub that poor bird inside and out
  • Dry the old bird off
  • Stuff your bird with cut apple, onions, celery, parsley, rosemary, garlic (a great time to clean out your fridge)
  • Open a 1 -2 pound package of good bacon (feel the love wash over you)
  • Carefully lay the bacon on top of the bird – note, you can use 2 pounds if you want to completely suffocate it (legs, wings, oven, et al)

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  • Dump a few cans of chicken broth over everything
  • Add and drink 1-2 cups of white wine
  • Cover with a large piece of foil
  • Follow standard cooking instructions
  • Once your sassy bird hits the correct temp ( ~180⁰, take or give a few), pull the foil off and let that bacon brown up
  • When the bacon is golden brown –  get-ur out of the oven
  • Let your beautiful, amazing bird stand for 30 minutes
  • During this time you’ll need to protect the bacon. I’ve lost a few strips during the waiting period.
  • Secret tip: Remove the bacon (and hide it), pop the turkey back in to brown the skin. Then place the bacon back on top for your family photo.
  • A quick note on the gravy – drain off the fat and make it like you usually do. The bacon will give it a divine flavor.
Baconurkey!

Baconurkey!

Good luck and let me know if you’re going to try it! And if you do, and you love it please post a comment. If it doesn’t work out for you, I’ll just remind you of something my Momma used to say… “If you don’t have something nice to say…don’t say anything at all.”  Happy early Thanksgiving everyone!  PS: Mark your calendars!  Bacon Day is less than a year away – August 31, 2014 (the Saturday before Labor Day)! That’s right, even bacon has its own day.

PS – What does “Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum” mean?  Translation: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” I mean, just because we’re all baconurkey-smart, doesn’t mean we can’t be fun…

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Me – pre-bacon wrapped turkey …. No more boring – Today, I’m living the life of bacon! Are you?????

If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful bird, cooked or not cooked, please click on “Contact”.  My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors / saturation of the bacon and bird are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

Nutribullet V8 Juice

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I’ve juiced quite a bit but what a hassle. You clean, cut and the push your fruits and veggies through a hole that’s just barely big enough. Apples, carrots, spinach and anything else you discover in the back of your refrigerator. Then, out the back of your juicer shoots a huge spray of residual material, piling like wet sawdust. Then you slurp down the juice while starting the the cleaning process. Dismantle, rinse and then where to put everything…where to put it???

Then I discovered the NutriBullet. They’ve not asked me to write this – it’s just that I absolutely LOVE mine! First, you drink the entire fruit / vegetable so it’s healthier than juicing. The setup is easy – you have a cup and a top. And cleanup is easy – rinse the cup and top. It has 600 watts of power so it can pretty much grind up anything. It can bust open seeds, crack through stems, and shred tough skin. It has 8 vs. 4 blades like your classic blender – that helps too.

Here is my special V8 recipe:

  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Whole lemon peeled
  • Red pepper (or yellow/green)
  • Flax seed
  • Plus a splash of tabasco sauce if you like it spicy
  • Ice
  • Also try fresh burdock root which you can find in Asian markets

Just shove the cup until it’s full.

Photo Girl V8 Juice

Add spring water to the “Max” line, and blend.  (I may be a tiny bit over and will pour a bit out 😉

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I swear your skin will glow after you drink it!  If you try it let me know!

For more of my Photo Girl recipes please click here! https://photogirltravels.com/category/travel-into-my-kitchen/

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Are Oysters Male or Female?

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Oysters on the Half Shell

Oysters on the Half Shell

Are oysters male or female? And if an oyster is male, can it change into a female?  Questions which may have caused you toss and turn at night. Well toss and turn no more.  This blog is going to give you a whole new attitude toward these fruits of the sea.

First, if an oyster is fixed with a lot of “stuff” piled up on it, I will eat it. Not a many, but definitely a few. I was at happy hour with my girlfriends and took this photo. Here’s what I like about these particular oysters. First, they are basking on a bed of salt. (Does anyone know if it’s ok to eat a rock or two off the plate? Because I’d almost rather eat the salt.) I also like that there is lemon and the bowl with some mixture (I can’t remember what was in it, but it was pretty good). But here’s what was missing – horseradish and tabasco sauce. If there is anything else I should try on an oyster, please let me know.

So there are a few facts about these slippery little morsels that you can share on a date or, at a party. I must warn you. If you’ve never eaten an oyster, this information may make you NEVER eat one, ever. And if you love them…well maybe you should know a little bit more about what you’re getting yourself into.

1. Is It a Male or Female Oyster? Here’s a fact that surprised me – oysters have both eggs, as well as sperm, so oysters have the ability to change their sexes, which they do, at least once. (Which makes me once again think twice before eating one.) Not something I’d bring up on a hot date as a topic of discussion, but interesting.

2. What’s that about an R? Probably most people have heard about the relationship oysters and “R’s” have been having over the years. If you’re in a month with an “R”, the oysters you’re going to eat will be tastier. These months include May-August, which are of course the hottest months during the year. It makes a lot of sense – way back when, people were advised against eating oysters during these months because of the lack of proper refrigeration.  I knew someone who got sick on an oyster once and it was quite a while before I ate another one. So start slurping them down now because May is just a month away.

3. How do you know if an oyster is alive? There’s one sure way to tell if an oyster is alive. If its shell is open, just tap on it with your fingers, and it snaps shut, then it’s alive. (Sorry, sorry! Are we eating them alive???)

4. Oysters breathe like fish: Oysters contain both gills and mantle which allows them to breathe.  Here’s something that will make you charge over to the nearest bar and place an order: Oysters also have stomachs, intestines, and they have hearts that pump a clear blood (we’re eating raw blood???), along with the oxygen, through their bodies. And if that’s not enough, their kidneys clean impurities from their blood. (Yummmm….)

5. Let’s get to something I can really relate to – Pearls…..Oysters produce very few pearls naturally. (Probably because they are too busy switching back and forth between being a male and female.) Most pearls begin with human intervention. Pieces of shells or beads are inserted inside an oyster. The oyster then covers the foreign substance with layers of protein and calcium and voilà! A pearl is produced. Too bad I couldn’t place a rock in a canvas bag, place it in my dryer and voila, a Gucci bag is produced.

6. And can oysters enhance your love life? If you click FOLLOW I might answer that question in a follow up blog…and you’ll be the first to hear. 😉

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Super Bowl Cheesecake Plus Other Critical Prep Activities

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PhotoGirlTravels.com Cheese Cake

With the Super Bowl just a few days away, you need to get your things in order. Many of you know I live in Los Gatos – which is spitting distance from San Francisco – so you probably know which team I’ll be cheering for (if I make it back from the mall on time – seriously, I’m just kidding…or am I?) First, you’ll need to memorize a few facts to ensure you are the life of the party. Second, your game attire should be defined days in advance (I am catching you just under the wire). And finally, you need to figure out what you’ll take to the Super Bowl Party. Regardless of your team, I am serious about leading the charge on these three items starting with some quick facts.

#1: Super Bowl Facts you Must Memorize

  1. First venue: Memorial Coliseum, LA
  2. First MVP from the Losing Team (I’m not even sure how that’s possible) Chuck Howley, Dallas
  3. First team that failed to score a TD (Oh, for God’s sake) Miami Dolphins, Super Bowl VI
  4. First time a winning player said “I’m going to Disney World” (now this one will make you sound like a genius) Super Bowl XXI, Disney paid MVP Phil Simms $75,000 for an “impromptu statement” (I also hope they gave him a pass as they are quite expensive)
  5. First person to win the game as a player and a head coach: Mike Ditka

#2: Next, what to don during the big game??? What you wear is super important (And, I DO believe men think about this days in advance)  First, I would recommend wearing something loose to allow for “expansion-room” to help accommodate for the beer, wings, burgers, chips, beer and yes, double layer cheesecake you’ll eat. If anyone is too embarrassed to ask and are wondering what colors to wear – I’m here to help. First, if you don’t care which team wins, then please wear red/gold/black. If you have no idea which colors go with which team then pay special attention: 49ers: Red/gold/black. Ravens: Black/gold/red. 😉 Girls, I’ve just been informed that “loose” isn’t good so you’ll have to starve and wear something sassy.

#3: As for what to bring? (Always a bit stressful) Well stress no more! This year you should bring the double layer cheesecake which I’m going to teach you how to make. This has been passed down from one generation (my Mom) and it is killer. Not only can anyone make this, it will be the most amazing cheesecake you’ll ever eat.

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Here is Mama Spray’s Double Layer Cheesecake Secret Recipe

Crust

You can either use a pre-made graham cracker crust (sorry Stéphane!) or use this receipt:

  • 1 ¼ C graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ C melted butter
  1. Combine crumbs and butter
  2. Press into buttered 8” pie plate, building up the sides

Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ½ t vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 eggs
  1. Beat cream cheese until fluffy
  2. Gradually blend in sugar, lemon juice, and salt
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each
  4. Pour filling into crumb crust
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 24-30 minutes or until set

Top

  • 1 C sour cream
  • 2 T sugar
  • ½ t vanilla
  1. Combine sour cream sugar and vanilla
  2. Spoon over top of pie
  3. Bake 10 minutes longer
  4. Cool
  5. Chill for several hours

Finish – Serve with strawberries or cherries

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Photo of my Mom and me! <;3

PhotoGirlTravels.com with Mom

Please use the following to identify color pallet for dress attire…(red looks good on everyone)

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