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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Flight Etiquette…Time to Change Your Ways? ;)

It’s a few days before New Year’s Eve and I’m heading to Scottsdale Arizona where I’ll bring in the New Year with my younger sisterk and her family.  Being Papa Stan’s daughter, I am here 2 hours early. I can see eyes rolling. That’s right, I’m an Early…

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Lazy Sunday

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One of my favorite places to relax on a Sunday is Cocola which is located at the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto. The pastries are like works of art, and their lattes are rich and creamy.

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The aroma of fresh brewed coffee and pastries reminds me of sitting in a cafe in Tuscany, or Paris. You pick from an assortment of exotic salads, or throw caution to the wind and treat yourself to a pastry.

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It’s located in a piazza of sorts. As you relax outside you’ll find yourself next to a gourmet market called Sigona’s.

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This is a must see market where you’ll find exotic foods including local eggs which have shells that are green, red and blue.

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Time seems to move slower here…if you’re in the area I hope you’ll take a moment to relax, and sip your own latte.

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Jekyll Island Romance

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Jekyll Island Hotel as seen from under my umbrella

Jekyll Island Hotel as seen from under my umbrella

Recently I attended a conference in Atlanta, GA and decided I’d explore a bit before I went home. I’m actually not sure how I originally heard about Jekyll Island Club which is located off the Georgia coast, midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, FL), but either way I found myself there. In the photo above, you have a view of the resort from under my umbrella. It was overcast when I arrived and although the sun never really came out, it was gorgeous. Pure romance… from the architecture to the moss dripping from the trees…to the food and wine. Even if you’re alone it will be a magical experience.

The club thrived through the early 20th century with an exclusive limited membership consisting of many of the world’s wealthiest families at the time, most notably the Morgans, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts. When the club first opened, hunting was a major recreational activity for both men and women. A gamekeeper was hired to keep the island well stocked with pheasants, turkeys, quail and deer. If you actually “got” something, you had to turn it over to the resort where I guess they would cook it, or send it over to the taxidermist.  As the club grew golf became an the Club’s dominant sport.

As for me? I fell in love with this place! They filmed the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance – directed by Robert Redford and starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. I stayed in the same room Matt Damon which was room 222, I believe. If you go, double check. Or request Robert’s, Will’s of Charlize’s room.

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Here are some photos from the grounds. The willow trees are dripping with moss and it’s spectacular.

Grounds at Jekyll Island Club

Grounds at Jekyll Island Club

Photo by Shelley D Spray

And some more over by the marina…

Marina at the Jekyll Island Club

Marina at the Jekyll Island Club

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

There’s a great walk from the hotel over to the water. To take this photo I had to remove my shoes off and wade through some huge grass puddles. I can still remember that morning. My feet smelled of marsh and I had to take another shower when I got back!

Photo by Shelley D Spray

The hotel had fabulous food. I had room service, I was sleeping in the same bed Matt Damon slept in so I did not stray too far from that room. Here are some photos of my dinner:

Photo by Shelley D Spray

A  little wine to start – as you can see they have their own label which was very nice. My salad…

Photo by Shelley D Spray

 

And entrée…crab cakes which were excellent. Sorry, this photo is a bit blurry but you get the jest.

Photo by Shelley D Spray

And what would my blog be without a “foot” shot – my friends tease me shamelessly about this – but if you’re alone, then sometimes that’s all you can get if no one is around. And selfies are difficult to get right. Here I am sitting outside at the Café Solterra, the most casual restaurant at the Club.  It was pouring down rain and I flipped the wet cushions over and sipped a glass of wine.

I hope you’ll put this beautiful hotel on your bucket list!  For more information – here is the website: http://www.jekyllclub.com/

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Photo by Shelley D Spray

Decorating Early

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Ahhhh…yes…..I love the holidays! It’s early…and I’m owning it. Its time to crack out the decorations! 😉 Hope you decorate early too!

Biltmore Estate Decked Out

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People who know me know I LOVE the holidays. It starts with Halloween and my giddiness extends through Christmas. Yes, my house is the one decorated for Halloween in September and Christmas in November. Unlike many if you I gasp in delight when the Christmas decorations are decked out in the stores in September. So when I was looking into a trip location in November I was thrilled to find out one of my favorite places would be decorated for the holidays: The Biltmore Estate. The photos below are ones from my visit. The first one is of the tree in the dining room. Here’s a close up.

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The tree is a 40 foot fresh cut tree a and the smell is incredible. They said that they decorate so early that on December 3rd they will take this one down and put a fresh on up overnight. They would decorate the tree hanging the presents on the branches so the estate keeps the same tradition which you see in the above photo. It you’re lucky they will be playing Silent Night on the organ and the music will float throughout the house. Here are some more photos.

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Above are the trees across the room from the 40 foot tree by a massive fireplace. You have to stop and imagine what the room was like with the fires a blaze and the lighted and decorated trees glowing on Christmas Eve….

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The library.

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Many of the rooms have period dress which is very interesting to see. The women must have been no taller than 5 feet tall. The dresses are tiny!

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After your tour, head over to the area with the shops and order a hot chocolate and stroll through the gardens and shops. Me, by my favorite lion.

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The first day photo with my lion.

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Actually during the first photo I got photo bombed by the cutest kid 😉

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Second day… Yes I am obsessed with this handsome guy.

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And the last day the put a bow on him!❤️❤️❤️

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If you are able to tour the Biltmore Estate over the next two months I hope you do!!! You will not regret it. Also, now they are doing evening candle light tours who’s must be incredible. We will your the grounds in my next blog and also take a walk out to bass pond throughout the wooded forest. Sending everyone early holiday cheer!

Some links for more information:  http://www.biltmore.com/ and http://www.biltmore.com/visit

 

#BACON Anyone? My Breakfast at the #Biltmore

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While staying at the Biltmore Inn, I am on what they call the bed and breakfast package. I have to confess I usually don’t eat breakfast and consider the large amounts of cream that I pour into my coffee to be enough. But the Biltmore Inn has one of the best so I splurge and load up for the day. The photos below are a combination taken over the last two days.

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I personally LoVe the buffet which offers a lox area with everything you could ever want to load onto a slice if salmon.

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Fresh fruit.

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You can also have them make a custom omelet (I always order everything with extra spinach). And the bacon is some of the best I have ever had.

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And my lox plate.

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Finally, the topper is that the have cheese grits which melt in you mouth!

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Here’s the omelette bar where they will cook it to order. And some photos of the restaurant where can either sit by the window and watch the sunrise, or maybe you’d prefer to sit by a crackling fire, perfect for a fall morning.

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This is where I’m sitting right now, I’ll finish and then one last walk to the Estate. So sad this is my last day.

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Sorry, the omelette bar didn’t upload and I’m attempting all of this on my phone and can’t figure out how to insert an image above 😉

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And finally a photo of the most amazing bacon ever! (Not including Vermont bacon.) off to the Estate!

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