Breakfast in Bed – Stuffed Italian Frying Peppers

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Post by Alison Hein.

I’m always on the lookout for a good, new restaurant, and happily, my husband, Kevin, is always on board. So when a homey new BYOB Italian storefront recently popped up,  we promptly made a reservation after learning that the chef makes only fresh pasta, uses handed-down recipes from the old country, and is a CIA alum.

The interior was clean and welcoming, the wait staff cordial and professional. A daily specials menu featured an exciting appetizer of stuffed Italian frying peppers. When a trio of cubanelles was brought to our table, lightly charred and neatly lined up, I began to salivate. Then, Kevin and I each took our first bite, and our expectations were dashed. They were burning hot on the outside, yet cold in the center (heated in the microwave???). The stuffing was bland and over-bready.

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“These could be so much better,” I said.

So I went home and began to experiment, using a stuffing of sautéed Italian sweet and spicy sausages, just a touch of breadcrumbs and parmesan, and a heavy hand with the seasoning. Cooking the stuffed peppers in a lidded foil pan on the grill seemed the logical next step. The results were delicious – an instant success of an appetizer.

A few modifications – pancetta instead of Italian sausage, no breading at all, and a couple of scrambled eggs – turns these lovely peppers into an instant success of a breakfast in bed that will keep your expectations intact.

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Ingredients

1 Italian frying pepper (Cubanelle)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons diced pancetta
1 small red onion or shallot (2 to 3 tablespoons), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375º. Clean and core Italian frying pepper by cutting a circle around the stem and removing inner seeds. Remove as much of the ribs as possible with your fingers, and give the pepper a good shake to free any remaining seeds. Set pepper aside.

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Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in small pan over medium heat. Add pancetta, and cook for a minute or two, until it begins to render. Stir in onion (or shallot) and garlic. Sautee for another minute until softened. Reduce heat to low and add beaten eggs. Stir and lift, cooking until eggs are fully cooked, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Fill the pepper with the scrambled egg / pancetta mixture, tapping down a little on the work surface to fill completely. Rub the outer skin of the pepper with the remaining olive oil and bake for around 40 minutes, until pepper is cooked and lightly browned in spots. Serve hot.

Makes 1 serving.

NOTE: Peppers can be stuffed one day in advance, then baked when ready.

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Bedroom Design: Unique Cottage Bedrooms

Traditional Landscape by San Jose Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Elemental Design Group

Cottages can be rustic or posh, charming or roomy. They can be decorated in crisp, colorful chintz or draped in sumptuous white linen. Most have hardwood floors, and some come with board and batten walls. Cottages can overlook a sandy coastline or be nestled deep in the woods.

I’ve stayed in several beach cottages over the years, some practically primitive in design and amenities, and others offered every imaginable modern convenience. I adore them all.

Although I live in a small city apartment, if I’m dreaming of a home in my future, it’s a cottage. When I did a search for unique cottage bedrooms, I found too many to count, but these are a handful of the most interesting rooms I’ve found.

This all-white 1940s bayside cottage in Tampa once donned brown carpeting and pink walls. Thank goodness for paint! The bold chandelier makes a design statement.

Shabby Chic Bedroom by Tampa Photographers Mina Brinkey

Cleverly designed, this simple bedroom introduces four colors through the bedding. Clearly, this room is for sleeping only.

Farmhouse Bedroom by Sonoma Architects & Building Designers Marcus & Willers Architects

What’s not to love in this modern Philadelphia cottage? From the color combination to the use of pattern and beautiful, natural light, this room wins all around.

Shabby Chic Bedroom by Philadelphia Architects & Building Designers Moger Mehrhof Architects

Maine might be considered the quintessential cottage state. This quaint Portland bedroom is rustic in every sense, and the open storage alcove adds to the room’s charm.

Rustic Bedroom

Renovated to look and feel old, this cozy cottage uses black throughout –– often an unlikely color choice in smaller spaces, but it works nicely in this home.

Farmhouse Bedroom by South West Interior Designers & Decorators Inspired Design Ltd

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Bedtime Stories: The Golden Pot

goldnetopfPost by Mark T. Locker.

“The Golden Pot” by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Nothing makes me happier than the arrival of fall. I love the change of the leaves, the milder temperatures, darkening evenings and the slow creep of Halloween onto the scene. Many years ago, I spent the most influential autumn of my life studying 19th-century German literature, art, philosophy, and music. I spent the days sipping chai amongst the swirling autumn leaves, listening to Robert Schumann and Brahms, reading the tales of the brothers Grimm as well as the modern fairy tales of the 19th century; notably, Ludwig Tieck and E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Although the name Hoffmann may seem unfamiliar to you, gentle reader, his best-known book is known to us all. A little story he wrote called “The Nutcracker” has become the seminal Holiday ballet. I must admit, I haven’t actually read that story. Maybe this year I finally will. But his novella “The Golden Pot” is hands-down one of my favorite stories of all time. It’s weird, it’s eerie, and wonderfully magical.

The story revolves around a young scholar named Anselmus who is trying his best to be an upright, well-mannered gentleman of Dresden but his flights of fancy and awkward manner get in his way. But when a colleague recommends him to an eccentric old man seeking someone to transcribe a document, his live changes forever. The strange man, the Archivarius Lindhorst, is looking for a man just like Anselmus: his head-in-the-clouds approach to life and his daydreaming are key tools in performing the tasks Archivarius Lindhorst demands. With his guidance, Anselmus finds all his suspicions to be proven true. As Hoffmann tells us, this fairy region of wonder and horror is right before our eyes, if we are willing to look. In this fairy region Anselmus finds love and danger. It’s a beautifully odd story, a depiction of the battle between rationalism and Romantacism. He’s team Romanticism all the way. So am I. A great read for a blustery autumn evening.

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Bedroom Design: The Best of Traditional Bedrooms

Post by Tracy Kaler.

The traditional style includes myriad looks. From French Country to Chippendale, to Neoclassic and an eclectic mix of periods, traditional bedrooms can be soothing and comfortable, or fancy and posh. Wing chairs, silk draperies, canopy beds, and dust ruffles all come to mind when we think about the traditional interior. But in today’s design world, the term ‘traditional’ can mean so much more.

Since decorating styles within the traditional genre run the gamut, today we’ll take a look at some lovely yet very different traditional sleep spaces, each well designed with its own unique character.

Clean and simple, this casual guest room leans toward the traditional but boasts an up-to-date look. The linear elements in the walls, windows, and bedding are essential in the design theme.

This Charleston Bedroom is brimming with bold color, yet has a relaxed feel. The designer successfully mixed pattern, but I have a feeling that she intentionally chose solid walls and bedding.

One can’t help but feel romantic in this chic Atlanta master bedroom with its serene color scheme, generous space, and perfect scale. Its classic layout, tall windows, and dark hardwoods add to the ambiance.

Charming and sweet, this shabby-chic farmhouse bedroom invites and calms. This space would make a wonderful guest room.

A San Francisco-area retreat, this bedroom remains neutral for the most part but adds interest with birds-eye maple bedside lamps and tone-on-tone patterns. Fresh flowers breathe life and add a pop of color to the space.

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Breakfast in Bed –Serendipity Cake

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Post by Alison Hein.

Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for; or: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought.

Many agreeable and favorite food products came to be (allegedly) by fortunate accident:

Potato Chips: George Crum, a chef at the Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs, was making a plate of fried potatoes for a customer. The customer sent the plate back to the kitchen several times, asking that they be cut thinner and fried longer.

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Toll House Cookies: Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn, was in the middle of making a batch of chocolate cookies. Well into the process, she realized she was short on chocolate, so she broke up what she had into small bits and added them to the batter.

Ice Cream Cones: A vendor selling ice cream at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair ran out of serving dishes. Ernest Hamwi was a fellow vendor selling waffle-like pastries called zalabis. He rolled some zalabis up so the ice cream could be put inside.

Serendipity Cake: While I was attempting to make a traditional crumb cake, my sweet topping fell down inside the cake, creating unexpected, serendipitous bites of buttery brown sugar hidden deep within.

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Serendipity Cake may not become a household favorite like these chips, cookies, and cones. But with a good cup of strong coffee, I’m quite certain it will make a very agreeable breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

1 cup flour
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into small cubes
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt

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Cake

1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
Powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

To make crumb topping, add flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt to a small bowl. Mix together, allowing topping to form into large clumps. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until thick and creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Alternately add sour cream and dry ingredients to cake batter, mixing thoroughly each time until batter is thick and creamy. Spread batter out into greased 9×9-inch pan. Top with crumb topping. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting and serving.

Makes 1 9×9-inch cake.

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