The Bristal at Holtsville Blog

Resident Outing to Yankee Stadium

We had such a great time at the Yankee game this week! Residents from a few of our communities spent the afternoon at Yankee Stadium and enjoyed the beautiful weather, an exciting game, and of course, no baseball game is complete without a hot dog or chicken fingers with a nice cold beer. What made it even better was the Yankees winning with a walk-off home run. Thank you to the New York Yankees for showing us a great time and giving us a shout out on the message board!

St. Patrick’s Day in Holtsville

This weekend in Holtsville, we had a great time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Every year we enter The Bristal bus into the Patchogue St. Patrick’s Day Parade! After decorating the bus, and dressing up in our best green outfits, we piled on, drove into town and enjoyed the parade. We then came back and enjoyed an impressive performance by a group of bag pipers. From the Irish music to leprechaun outfits, everyone was feeling the luck of the Irish!

Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Holtsville’s Josef Mujanovic Shares His Recipe for Cheese Tortellini Francese

cheese tortellini francese

Sometimes, a love of cooking is in our blood. And for Josef Mujanovic, that’s exactly what got him into the kitchen at a young age.

“Growing up, I remember sitting on bags of flour watching my dad cook,” said Mujanovic, food service director at The Bristal at Holtsville. “A lot of my passion for cooking comes from my mom and dad, and their culinary backgrounds have played a significant impact on my success and growth as a chef.”

Mujanovic’s parents owned several restaurants while he was growing up, which spurred him to make his own career move into cooking. He attended SUNY Delhi for hospitality and restaurant management, moving on to work in catering, hotels, and more restaurants. Along the way, he said, he found his passion.

Get The Bristal’s chef Amanda Ciniglio’s blueberry carrot cake recipe >>

The Dining Experience at The Bristal at Holtsville

Mujanovic didn’t intend to end up working in the senior living industry, but while at another job, he learned of an opening at The Bristal from another employee and applied.

“It’s rewarding to be able to help these residents,” he said. “We see them every day, three meals a day. It’s not always easy to make everyone happy, but when you do, it’s rewarding.”

Cooking itself is just one part of the job he enjoys. Mentoring other chefs at The Bristal is another, as well as keeping up with new developments in the industry.

Even though he’s not cooking for a traditional restaurant, Mujanovic works as if he does.

“I feel and I treat my kitchen as if it was my own restaurant. And I look at the food I put out as restaurant quality — the style, the garnish… I put my own twist on it every day,” he said.

Finding a Passion for Cooking

Outside of work, Mujanovic enjoys — what else? — cooking for loved ones. Besides the influence of his family, Mujanovic credits his wife, coworkers, and friends with the support they’ve given him along the way.

Through the years, I have always taken knowledge from every experience during this ride to be where I am now in my career with The Bristal,” he said.

Get The Bristal’s chef Mick Gehnrich’s butternut squash soup recipe >>

Handmade Cheese Tortellini Francese with Amaretto-glazed Mushrooms

Mujanovic’s experiences – from his Yugoslavian heritage to his Italian culinary background – mean some of his favorite foods to make are homemade pizza dough, stromboli, and fresh pasta. Here, he shares his recipe for a rich, from-scratch cheese tortellini in Francese sauce.

josef mujanovic cheese tortellini francese

For the pasta dough

  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt



Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.

Cut and roll as desired.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; wrap tightly and chill.

For the tortellini filling

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons food-processed candied pecans
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Fresh pasta (recipe above)
  • 1 egg mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water for egg wash



Using the fresh pasta recipe, roll out your dough either by hand or machine. Cut into 3- or 4- inch rounds with a round cookie cutter. Place 1/4 teaspoon into the center of each round. Brush egg wash on the bottom half of the round and fold over to seal. Fold back around your finger and turn down the edge to form the tortellini.

In half a gallon of rapidly boiling salted water, add the tortellini in batches. Cook for three to five minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove to a strainer to drain.

While tortellini is cooking, begin Francese sauce and glazed mushrooms.


Francese sauce and amaretto-glazed mushrooms

  • 1  stick of butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups white wine
  • Juice of 2 lemons (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch OR 1 packet dry chicken gravy mix, to thicken
  • 4 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto honey
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste, lemon pepper, granulated onion, and garlic to taste



In a pan over low heat, combine melted butter and wine. Add in lemon juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Thicken sauce with chicken gravy mix; or, blend together cornstarch and a few tablespoons water, whisking into the sauce slowly until desired thickness is achieved. An immersion blender may also be used to combine.

Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, lemon pepper, granulated onion, and garlic. If desired, add ½ cup heavy cream for a richer sauce.

Next, in a separate pan, sautée sliced mushrooms in olive oil and amaretto honey, adding fresh rosemary throughout the process. Mix your finished tortellini with the hot Francese sauce in a sauté pan on medium flame until desired temperature (approx. four minutes).

To plate, set a bed of pea microgreens, add the tortellini Francese, and top with amaretto-glazed mushrooms. Finally, garnish with rainbow microgreens or your preferred herbs and serve with Italian herb-crusted crostini.


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Holiday Celebration in Holtsville

Here in Holtsville, we had such a great time celebrating the holiday season. From shopping trips to The Christmas Tree Shop, to holiday caroling and taking pictures with Santa, you could not avoid the holiday cheer! We even enjoyed a hot cocoa bar and live musical entertainment with friends and family. Happy Holidays from all of us at The Bristal at Holtsville!

Thanksgiving in Holtsville

Happy Thanksgiving from The Bristal at Holtsville! Residents, families, and friends of our Reflections community celebrated Family Day with a taste of Thanksgiving appetizers and desserts. We enjoyed live music by The Sweet Lorraine Band as we sang and danced along. It was the perfect way to kick off the holidays with our loved ones!

Halloween in Holtsville

We had a spooktacular Halloween here in Holtsville this year! Residents and employees dressed up in their best costumes for our annual costume parade and contest. Spooky food and refreshments were served and Banjo Bob played live music as everyone danced along. Happy Halloween from The Bristal at Holtsville!

Fall Brunch in Holtsville

On October 14th, residents and guests gathered in Holtsville for a beautiful Fall Brunch! Guests were greeted in our main lobby with an autumn display, then head to the dining room for a full spread of brunch favorites. Specialty stations included make-to-order pumpkin waffles and omelets, carving stations, and fall-themed sides and pastries.  Cheers to a happy and healthy autumn season!

Grandparents Day in Holtsville

Here in Holtsville, we kicked off National Assisted Living Week with a very special Grandparents Day celebration. It was an afternoon filled with music, games, laughter, and of course a colorful spread of carnival treats, enjoyed by guests of all ages. The Summer Breeze Band performed live as families and friends came together to sing and dance along. We had a great time celebrating all of the amazing grandparents of The Bristal!

Testimonial from Eileen DeCarmine

Testimonial from Eileen DeCarmine

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From: Eileen DeCarmine
Sent: Monday, September 3, 2018
To: Stephanie Collins
Subject: Pauline’s 96th Birthday

Hello Stephanie!

We had the most amazing 96th birthday celebration for Pauline at The Bristal yesterday. My mom’s friends said it was like a wedding and they absolutely loved the way the staff was so attentive to my mom. Vic and I truly appreciate how much the staff helped us throughout the day to make it perfect for Pauline. She was smiling all day long!

Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your help getting Pauline adjusted to her new home. She truly loves it there and we know it is the perfect place for her. Joyce and Margaret are the perfect tablemates for her, and I can see they give as much joy back to her as she gives to them.

I just found out that one of Pauline’s longtime best friends, Nancy Flood, just moved into The Bristal in Woodcliff Lake, NJ. I’m working on getting them to video chat with each other so they can share their feelings about living in a new environment. I think my mom will be a good source of positivity for her Nancy who recently stopped driving and is having a tough time adjusting. I will let you know how that goes!

Thanks again for your support and concern for my mom. The staff is fantastic and my mom can’t stop raving about how kind and caring they are. I agree with her 100%!

Eileen DeCarmine

Testimonial from Residents Ellen and Mike

Testimonial from Ellen and Mike

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Dear George,

We extend our most heartfelt thanks to you and the others who made possible a lovely celebration for our anniversary. Could you please thank them personally for us. It required a great deal of effort and interest and good feeling and we so much appreciate it. Thanks again.

Ellen and Mike

Wedding Anniversary in Holtsville

On August 13th, residents Michael and Ellen Mangino celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary with family and friends! The Bristal at Holtsville hosted a reception in their honor where we enjoyed hor d’oeuvres and wedding cake alongside live musical entertainment. We even made a champagne toast to the happy couple! To Michael and Ellen – Happy Anniversary! We wish you 63 more years of happiness!

90th Birthday Celebration in Holtsville

This month we celebrated resident Betty’s 90th birthday with a Disco Party! Residents and staff dressed up and boogied to their favorite songs from the 1970’s, with music by Donna Lee from That 70’s Band! Betty is 90 years young and was in the center of the dance floor the entire afternoon. Happy Birthday Betty and thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating this groovy woman!