Monday, May 30, 2011

English Muffin & Ham Breakfast Strata

Pin It A few years ago, my BFF Sarah had us over for brunch and she made this awesome strata. I was surprised to find out that it had English muffins in it.
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Fast forward to this past Christmas, when my family came to stay from out of town.  I was looking for an easy breakfast dish and remembered Sarah’s dish.  I found Martha’s version, tweaked it a bit and the result was wonderful!
Stratas are basically breakfast casseroles that have some sort of bread in them…kind of like a savory bread pudding.   They are super convenient for the hostess since you can let them sit overnight and bake them off in the morning.  The result is fluffy and delicious.  A simple, yet satisfying dish that can be made with any variety of add-ins.
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Last Sunday, I hosted a little WOWN shower at my house. My WOWN buds are so great! They each brought a dish to the party and I provided mimosas and a main dish.  To keep my stress level low (or at a least a little lower than my usual spastic self), I decided to make this wonderful strata again.  Ham, eggs & cheese…my favorite breakfast combo!
English Muffin & Ham Breakfast Strata (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe)
  • Cooking Spray
  • English Muffins
  • 1/2 lb. sliced ham, or Canadian bacon, cut into halves
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Prepare 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In dish, alternately arrange muffin halves and meat, overlapping slightly.
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Sprinkle with cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, sour cream and pepper until combined. Pour over muffin, ham and cheese layers.  Cover entire dish tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake strata, uncovered, until puffed and set in the center, approximately 60-80 minutes.  If strata begins to brown before puffing up, cover loosely with foil to prevent burning.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
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The ladies seemed to love the strata and I even enjoyed some leftovers the next day.  Definitely on my “make again” list.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

WOWN: The Baby Scrappy Shower

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It’s been a while since I’ve update you all on my WOWN adventures.  Well, we’ve all been busy, but we’ve found time to enjoy a few fun gatherings since our Valentine’s Day chocolate fountain love fest.

We had a face painting party…I mean a Mary Kay party.  Same diff.  We ended the night with a few rounds of Wii Just Dance.  Out of kindness (to myself) before and after pictures not included.

Nina (the N in WOWN!), hosted a pedicure party that was just what the doctor ordered.

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Didn’t have a tripod, but thanks to Tammy, I was able to hop in for a quick pic too…

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Nina (our cutie pa-tootie hair gal left of me) is prego with her second child (due this summer) and we decided to throw her a little shower (or sprinkle?).

Brunch theme.  I made a strata.

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Mimosas with raspberries included.

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Did I mention that I LOVE THESE GIRLS??  They were so helpful!  Everyone brought a dish AND they showed up to decorate my house to boot.

We ended the day with a mini photo session.

First the gals.

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And some silliness…

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Then some F-U-N while taking down the decorations…yes, I made the Martha poms poms again (see here).

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Wonderful day.  Wonderful way to start a week.  The rain held off and Nina seemed like she was delighted with our little surprise.

Best Wishes to Nina, Scrappy (her hubs) & Big Sis “G”

…as the countdown to Baby Scrappy continues!

I’ll be sure to post the breakfast strata recipe ASAP!  That is, after I go with the WOWN group to see Bridesmaids today!

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Talk To The Walls Mommy!

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No this isn’t Braden’s version of the ever popular “Talk to the hand!”.  Nope.  Just another strange Braden ritual that can be again blamed on his daddy for his indulgence of B’s craziness.

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Braden, like many a youngster, comes up with all sorts of inventive ways to avoid laying his blond locks on a pillow at night.  Now it’s become a  ritual.  Rituals take time.  The longer they take, the later he’s up and therefore, in his 4 year old brain, HE WINS.

The ever popular “I’m scared!” technique comes into play.  What of?  The walls daddy.  The monkeys on the walls!

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Yes, what I thought would be a fun playful addition to a toddlers bedroom is now the source of supposed fear…likely story, but he’s sticking to it.  How to calm those fears?  Why TALK to them of course!  Duh.

So, each and every night, my dear husband tucks the youngsters into bed and proceeds to “talk” to Braden’s walls, specifically the ones with mean monkeys.

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This ritual grew into more talking…”talk to the dresser daddy.”  Now the closet.  ON and on and on.

Well, I stupidly thought that I could handle putting my own children to bed the other night.  Tucked B in, kissed him on the forehead and turned off the light.  WRONG! 

“Talk to my walls MOMMY!”

First attempt…big fail.  And he didn’t mind telling me how oh-so wrong I was in my delivery of wall monkey telling off. 

He explains the procedure.  I attempt again.  FAIL.  I told him I had enough.  “Good night B!”  I walk away. 

“Awwwww…Coconuts!”  His new latest fun phrase from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Then screams, “DADDY!  She doesn’t know how to do it right!”

I’m a complete failure and shall never talk to another wall OR piece of furniture again.  Fail fail fail.

Couldn’t find a clip of Cubby saying “Aw, Coconuts”, but there’s even a song.

Awwwwww, Coconuts is right!

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Local Bloggers Unite & Show Some Support For a New Friend

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FYI:  I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but didn’t post it.  One of the bloggers mentioned was/is dealing with a serious medical issue and I didn’t know how to approach this post.  Please read on and visit her blog. 

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So, there is this lovely lady named Rita (from Look It’s Megryansmom) that I bumped into online a while back.  After commenting here and there on each other's blogs, we realized that we were practically neighbors.  Small world.  Always amazes me.

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Isn’t she cute??

Rita was kind enough to invite me to lunch with other Chicagoland bloggers.  I was a little leery of the idea at first.  This would be my first time meeting other bloggers in real life.  Aw, what the heck. 

The first lunch was great and went on for about 3 hours at a local Panera.  My husband wondered what a bunch of strangers could possible have to say to each other for that long.  HA! 

Bloggers.  Bloggers like to talk.  Just a wee bit.  Anywho, I forgot my camera on at that first meeting.  Didn’t make that mistake at our next gathering.  Hee hee.

Now, at this second lunch date we met up at a place… that served alcohol.  Add alcohol to already chatty bloggers and you end up with a 4+hour luncheon.  Poor Rita was our DD.  Thank you Rita.

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What did we talk about?  Well, the subjects ranged from brassieres not fitting so well, nursing our babes and all that comes with that, as well as piercing of naughty bits.  Poor Lou. 

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Lou was our only male attendee and such a good sport.  He rolled with our not-so-testosterone laden topics all afternoon….AND he’s a shutterbug after my heart as well.

Unfortunately this kid…

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…may be scarred for life after what he may or may not have overheard that day. 

And something made Amy do this…

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I know it had nothing to do with the food…which was btw, FAN-Tab-ulous. (Said with Oprah’s “Australia” type enthusiasm".)

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Big beefy burger…come to mama.

Speaking of mama’s…also attending our little lunchy lunch:  Weasel Mama (from World of Weasels). 

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What can I say?  She has pretty nails, can hold her beer rather well and even her blog title makes me laugh.  She is a mom to 6 little “weasels” and a TON-o-Fun.  I only wish I could have gone fountain hopping with her and this other funny mama, Tracey

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Turns out Tracey (from Just Another Mommy Blog) lives in my backyard.  Well, not really in my backyard, but close enough.  Even closer than Rita!  Again small world. 

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Tracey is also a busy mom AND she home schools.  God bless her.  Seriously though, she brings the funny on her blog and when I read about her day to days, it makes me feel more normal.  Or at least less alone in my craziness. 

And now for a little be of seriousness…

And last, but certainly NOT least, is Brandie (from A Journey of 1000 Stitches…).  Brandie is a sweetheart and does things I can only dream of doing in the world of knitting and sewing. 

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Over our lighthearted boob talk, Brandie was noticeably upset and finally told us that she was facing some tough medical issues.  You can read about her story on her blog where she has bee VERY open about her current journey.  The short version is that Brandie went from a diagnostic mammogram, to a biopsy, to being diagnosed with breast cancer in a little over one weeks time.  Unbelievable.

Today is Brandie’s birthday (Monday).  Her surgery is Wednesday.  I’m following in Tracey’s footsteps today and asking my readers to do something simple, but powerful.  Go to Brandie’s blog (A Journey of 1000 Stitches) and give her some love.  Although she may be a stranger to you, the story is sadly familiar to many of us.  Your well wishes and encouragement as she puts another year under her belt today and faces some serious challenges ahead will be well received.  I truly believe, and I told Brandie this, that a positive attitude as we approach such challenges is SO important.  Give her some good vibes people.

Happy Birthday Brandie! We’re all pulling for you! And tomorrow night, YOU get in the middle of the blogger kiss sandwich…

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday Braden! Pirates, the Easter Bunny & crowns

Pin It Mother’s day is extra special this year because it is also Braden’s birthday!
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Yep, the little man is the Big “4” today!
We’ve already done a little celebrating since his birthday fell on the big “mommy holiday”.  Couldn’t steal his thunder.
We had a lunch and Build-A-Bear date with his buddy Zach.
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B made this adorable White Sox clad teddy bear…
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…which he creatively named “Easter Bunny”.  M’kay.  Yes, I put it on the BABW birth certificate and everything.  It’ll make a great story for his future girlfriend.
Then we had a wonderful visit with the grandparents last weekend as well.
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My awesome mom made his Jake and the Neverland Pirates cake.  We are so lucky to have a talented cake baker on speed dial.
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Oh and he scored this bday crown at preschool.
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Which he promptly shared with Dixie when he got home, exclaiming, “Look!  She’s the birthday girl mommy!”  Hahahahahaa! 
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She was thrilled.
Happy Birthday to our wild child Braden! 
We love you SO much!  Mwah!
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

It’s Strawberry Time: Strawberry Angel Food Trifle

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Spring is here and that means all sorts of strawberry concoctions at our house.  My mom and Aunt Christy have made this Strawberry Angel Food Trifle since I was a little kid.  However, I was the sort of kid that liked those cafeteria style plates with separate little sections.  NOTHING could touch!  So, there “beautiful” looked really awful to me. 

See all of that touching????  IMG_1900

Finally, last year…yes, it took me 30 years to come around to trying this thing out.  For shame.  So I tried. it.  AND LOVED IT!  Boy, was I missing out. 

Not only that, this trifle is a snap to put together for any occasion.  Perfect for holidays and parties…and funerals apparently.  According to my mom, this was/is Aunt Christy’s “funeral dish”.  Hate me for laughing but I about died (no pun) when that was my mom’s response to “What should I call this on the blog?”.  Then she quickly added, “Oh no.  Don’t put that on the blog!”. Of course, I’m putting it on here because that makes the story of this dish even sweeter. 

So…funeral dish.  Everybody has one.  Nuf said.

On to the recipe.  This is yet another one of those wing it kind of recipes.  Use what you like, what you have, etc.  Here’s what my mom and I did for Easter a few weeks ago and this is her basic preparation for the dessert.

Strawberry Angel Food Trifle (printable)

  • (1) store-bought angel food cake
  • 24 oz. container frozen strawberries, sliced with sugar added, thawed
  • 24 oz. or 3 cups vanilla pudding (We used 6+ small individual cups this time)
  • 16 oz. container of whipped cream, slightly less than the whole container
  • Fresh strawberries for garnish

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Tear angel food cake into medium pieces. 

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Begin layering cake, strawberries, pudding and whip cream in a large clear glass bowl. 

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Continue irregular layers, filling the bowl. 

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Top entire dessert with a solid layer of whip cream.  Slice a few fresh strawberries for garnish. 

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Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours before serving. 

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To me it tastes like all the flavors of strawberry shortcake in one big yummy bite!  I think it would be GREAT to add blueberries to this mix too.  Or nanners.  Maybe kiwi?  However, I’ll first need to find a purty bowl like mom’s.  Hint hint.

Happy Mother’s Day!  Love you Mom!

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I hope you all have a WONDERFUL day!
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