Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole is a hit at my breakfasts, and with good reason.  It’s cheesy, full of potatoes and tasty sausage, just enough egg, and buttery, peppery goodness.  It would be ideal for a great beach vacation breakfast, when you are looking for something easy yet filling to make for a house full of hungry vacationers, or just as perfect for a sunny weekend “breakfast for dinner.”

As it stands, it’s an amazing meal, but you can change it up to suit your tastes.  Not a fan of sausage?  Try beef or turkey burger.  Want more kick?  Add hot sauce or some pepper jack cheese.   Cut up a few ripe tomatoes and toss them on top?  Oh my heavens.

You’ll never look at breakfast the same way again.

For this great recipe and more, pick up our latest issue, on stands now!

 

Rock’n Women

We’ve all had some sort of meaningful connection to the outdoors-it’s part of our intrinsic makeup.  We are pulled to discover, explore, find and create relationships with the natural world.  Maybe it was making mud pies with the boys on the playground, searching the lawn for four-leafed clovers, attending camp in the summer. Through outdoor play, young girls begin to form a sense of wonder and the confdence they need to continue their personal and physical growth.

Written by Dustin Eshelman

To find out more about outdoor recreation in the Roanoke Valley and The River Rock Climbing Gym, pick up our latest issue, on stands now!

Protect Your Hair

The month of July is filled with a lot of summer occasions- barbecues, Fourth of July festivities, and many choose to take their vacations during this month.

For fun in the sun we all know that sunscreen is a must. But what about for your hair color? The suns rays are also harmful to your color & will cause fading.

If you’re swimming in a pool, the harsh chemicals can strip your hair color & even cause a greenish tone to develop if exposed to the chemicals for long. And even though the salt from the ocean can give us a nice texture, it can also be drying & may cause fading as well.

Written by Tanya Ritz

For tips on how to keep your hair safe this summer, pick up our latest issue, on stands now!

Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is one of my favorite desserts and I’m always trying out new flavor combinations, like these blueberry lemon cuties.  Crème brûlée is a dish some people are intimidated to make, but this recipe is really simple and impressive to entertain with.  You can make these a day ahead and flame the sugar on top in front of your family and friends for some extra “ooohs” and “aaahs”!

 

Makes 3 crème brûlées

 

Ingredients
½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup fat free sour cream
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons brandy
Sugar topping (fine granulated sugar or raw/turbinado sugar) – about 1/3 cup total

 

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Place 3 standard size ramekins in a baking dish.  Add a small handful of blueberries to the bottom of each ramekin, reserving some for topping if desired.

 

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow in color.  Add the granulated sugar and whisk to dissolve.  Add the sour cream, heavy cream, lemon zest and brandy and whisk to combine.  Pour equal portions of the cream mixture into each ramekin.

 

Pour warm water into the baking dish until it covers the bottom half of the ramekins, making certain not to get any water into the ramekins.

 

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the centers are just set and jiggle slightly.

 

Remove the ramekins from the water bath, and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 6 – 7 hours until completely cooled.

 

To serve, top each ramekin with some of the refined or raw sugar, and brown with a kitchen torch or broil just until the sugar is browned and caramelized on top (brûlée = burnt).

 

 
Check out more on my food blog, Leave a Happy Plate.

Clean Plate Club

Eating “clean” is pretty popular right now, with celebs like Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and Katy Perry touting its benefits. Clean eaters report feeling less bloated, more energized and having that healthy glow.

There are many variations of a clean diet. Paleo enthusiasts eat clean by avoiding grains, starchy vegetables and sugar. Vegetarians avoid meat; a clean vegan eschews all types of animal products. Others search out raw dairy and fermented foods to add to their diet.

In my opinion, eating clean requires you to tune into your body and eat in a way that fully nourishes and honors your unique dietary needs. While there isn’t one definition of clean eating, there are some basic tenants:

1. Eat whole, minimally processed foods. No Velveeta, here. Real food, simply prepared, tastes amazing. You decide if meat and dairy help you feel well. Standard white or brown sugar is avoided in favor of less processed options like honey, maple syrup, and coconut or date sugar.

2. Focus on meals or snacks that add value. Clean meals have added nutrients– whether you add pureed squash to macaroni and cheese or greens to a smoothie, or use sweet potatoes instead of white, it’s all about elevating nutritional value.

3. Use healthy, monounsaturated fats + coconut oil. Think nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oils. Coconut oil has been shown to resist candida albicans (yeast) and is thought to be heart healthy, though more research is needed.

4. Experiment with gluten-free grains. Many people have gluten sensitivities. Even if you don’t, incorporating gluten free grains into your diet adds nutrient variety (millet, quinoa and amaranth need some love, too!)

5. Buy local & organic, when possible. Food has the most nutrients when it’s fresh. You’ll find the freshest (and often the least expensive) fruits and vegetables at your farm stand or farmer’s market. Buying organic protects water quality, protects the health of the farmer and field workers, and promotes biodiversity.

So, you wanna eat clean but don’t know where to start? I recommend choosing one meal and focusing on cleaning it up 3-4 times a week. For example, if you want to upgrade your lunch, you can find a few clean recipes you enjoy and strive to eat clean at lunchtime for 3-4 days that week. Repeat until it feels comfortable, then move on to breakfast or dinner.

Don’t get slowed down by trying to eat perfectly “clean.”  Remember, your diet is a vehicle for living an energized life. Fuel it 80 percent of the time with high-test, healthy foods and leave yourself some room for treats.

 

Written by: Katie Haines, CHHC

Healthy Roots, Happy Life LLC  www.healthyrootshappylife.com

Chocolate Macarons

My college roomy and best lady got me hooked on these delicious French cookies.  For her bachelorette party last summer, the ladies packed into a cute little bakery for a macaron cooking lesson.  I don’t remember everything we were taught (oh, wine) but I do remember how amazing the cookies were.

This is my third attempt at making macarons.  My first batch was a major flop; my egg whites did not get fluffy  (see note 2).  My last batch was good, but not as fluffy as batch #2 (see note 3).  Therefore, the recipe below is a combo of a few recipes, one of which was adapted from Martha Stewart.

A few notes:

  • Macarons taste better the next day (but that certainly doesn’t stop me from eating a handful on day 1).
  • The chef at the cooking class said you can use boxed egg whites, but the kind I tried did not form stiff peaks, so I suggest sticking to egg whites straight from the egg!
  • Sifting may seem tedious, but it’s worth it.

 

Chocolate Macaron ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar pulsed in a food processor for about 1 minute will work)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

 

Peanut Butter Frosting ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Pulse confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.  Reduce speed to low then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and gently fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined or silicon mat-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Prepare the frosting.  Mix the butter and peanut butter together in an electric mixer on high speed, then add the vanilla.  Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just combined.  Add more confectioners’ sugar if desired for a thicker, sweeter frosting.

Match up like-sized cookies and pipe about 1 teaspoon of frosting on one macaron, and gently press another macaron on top to make a sandwich.

 

Check out more on my food blog, Leave a Happy Plate.

Happy Accessories

As seen in our April issue…

The Sol Tote by Optari makes your life easier – and happier. The practical all-weather tote is specially designed for dozens of uses – pool or beach bag, a gym tote, lunch and diaper bag. Made with material similar to crocs, the tote is durable, waterproof and super easy to clean.

Not only is it bright and soft, you can also customize each bag with Fobbz or Mini Fobbz – cool charms (that feature a rivet in the back which plugs into the holes on lots of Optari products) making items unique and more fun!

Optari provides totes, children’s backpacks, wristlets, Spikeletz bracelets and more in many colors and spiky designs. Here’s a chance for you Bella Girls (and Fellas!) to win a small Sol Tote, plus two Fobbz! To win, simply comment on this post. One winner will be chosen at random.

Check out optari.com for more information.

 

Floral Trends

As seen in our March issue…

Spring is coming! The sun will be shining, gardens will be built and flowers will be blooming. It’s time to learn about trends in the world of florals. Debbie Miller, owner of Lynchburg’s Doyle’s Florist & Gifts and bloom by Doyle’s, gave Bella the inside scoop on all things floral for the new year.

Miller says that for weddings, “Brides are still in love with vintage but moving away from the ‘wild, weedy, woodsy’ informal floral design. They are still desiring flowers that feel natural…fresh-picked from the garden.”

Wedding floral décor trends will be influenced by The Great Gatsby and Downton Abbey.

“A blend of the 1920s and 1980s with lace and garden roses,” says Miller. “Peonies will be popular—the downfall is they bloom for only two months out of the year. Succulents, fruits and vegetables will be seen in bouquets and arrangements. Garland will be huge with brides in 2013 with ribbons and paper hung from chandeliers, and garlands of flowers running the full length of tables.”

As for floral arrangements inside your home, Miller predicts that large-scale patterns, big bold hues, and vibrant blooms are the things to watch, and she shares that “floral patterns are back in style with white backgrounds.”

Bringing the outside into your home is a must-do.

“Botanicals and insect prints will be popular,” she shares. “Nests, owls and birds will be enjoyed in floral designs.”

Hot colors for spring, both inside and out, include tangerine and orange hues as well as emerald and greens with some coral or gold touches. If you’re wondering what to put your Doyle’s arrangements in, try wooden materials or vases with brass or gold accents. Place them around the house to bring nature inside as Miller suggests.

Now that spring is coming closer, there are also lots of new ideas and trends to try out in your garden.

“As the economy leads people to smaller homes and spaces, gardeners find pleasure growing fruits and vegetables in containers” says Miller. So try ornamental pots and containers or window boxes and raised beds for small spaces.

With all these tips from Doyle’s, there is surely something for everyone blooming in the new year of floral designs!

Check out Doyle’s Florist & Gifts at 2134 Langhorne Road, as well as bloom by Doyle’s, located at 109A Tradewynd Drive – both in Lynchburg.

The regional magazine for women