Friday, February 26, 2010

A Long Day and A Long Recipe - Cassoulet

We live in a very progressive school district.

When there are delays due to inclement weather, parents receive both an email and an automated phone message from the school district. It's all very high tech and efficient.

So as not to clog the system, the phone calls go out in alphabetical order, beginning around 7:00 pm the night before (when the weather can be predicted that far out).

Since our name is located somewhat far back in the alphabet, our automated phone message came at 4:30 am. Just after the plows finished their 8th. sweep of our street - which they began at 3:30 am.

The phone is on my side of the bed.

"Hey Mom, they woke me up too!"

Since I was up I thought I may as well put together a cassoulet.

If you've only heard about, but never eaten, cassoulet you may be expecting everything french like butter and cream and wonderful herbs and bread and cheese all rolled into an exotic fare fit for a king. In reality, cassoulet is a french country dish. It was traditionally prepared using leftover meats and vegetables and would be cooked over the course of 2 or 3 days. Cassoulet is good country comfort food.

There are as many versions of cassoulet as there are frenchmen in France. Here is my humble version, an American who adores french food.

Cassoulet starring sausage, lamb and duck* (serves a crowd or 4 very hungry people with leftovers - and the leftovers are fantastic)

1 pound andouille sausage
4 lamb shanks
1/2 pound bacon, diced and divided into half
2 duck leg confit (or 3 chicken thighs*)
32 ounces beef broth
red wine
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound large white beans (lima or great northern white)
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in thirds on the diagonal
sprig of fresh thyme
sprig of fresh rosemary
2 medium bay leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Large crock pot or large dutch oven.

If you are using a crock pot, set to low. If you are using a dutch oven, follow all the instructions and you will then cook everything on a very low flame.

Soak the beans overnight OR place in bottom of heavy pan, cover with hot water and boil for 2 minutes. Let cool in cooking water for 1 hour.

Cook 1/2 the bacon in a large dutch oven.

When the bacon is crisp remove with a slotted spoon and place in the crock pot. Add to the pot with the bacon fat, the onions, carrots and celery (the mire-poix) and cook gently until onions and celery are softened. Place in crock pot with the bacon.

Pour the beef broth into the crock pot.
Add the tomato paste and stir around to combine.
Make an herb garni using cheese cloth and the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Tie and add to the crock pot.

Add the soaked beans (strain) to the crock pot.

Slice the andouille sausage and add to crock pot. This is what your cassoulet looks like so far:

Place the remaining bacon into the dutch oven and cook until crisp. Remove the crisp bacon with a slotted spoon and place in crock pot.

Sprinkle pan searing (or wondra) flour over lamb shanks. Add the shanks to the dutch oven with the hot bacon fat and brown all over, about 10 minutes.

Add the browned lamb shanks to the crock pot.

Deglaze the dutch oven with a cup of red wine.

Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add to the crock pot. Place a lid on the crock pot and walk away. Cook on low for 6 hours. You can do all this the night before. Just cook it the next day, on low, all day long.

Final presentation:

One and a half hours before dinner, preheat oven to 400 F.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon Cassoulet into an oven proof casserole, arranging the beans and vegetables on the bottom. Add sliced duck confit*. Add any cooking juices to cover the beans and vegetables. Top with lamb shanks. Sprinkle with 2 cups dry white bread crumbs mixed with 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake, uncovered for one hour.

Serve with crusty french bread and a young red wine. Prepare to be wowed.

A Cook's Notes: *if you are not using Duck Leg Confit, use 3 chicken thighs. Brown them in bacon fat or olive oil and add to crock pot. After 5 hours, remove chicken thighs, remove skin and bone and shred, adding chicken back to the crock pot with beans and vegetables.

This recipe seems long and complicated, but it really isn't. Just follow the steps, adding the ingredients to the crock pot or second dutch oven. Then just walk away and let the slow cooker do the work.

If you are using a dutch oven, place on back burner of stove over very low flame and let cook for 5 hours; stirring occasionally.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Dreams and Pistachio Crusted Chicken

Here we go again.

We got out early this morning for our walk, Holly Bear and I. The snow had already begun to fall and the weatherman is predicting a massive storm with snow, sleet, rain, ice and wind. When it is all said and done on Friday night we should have 16 to 18 inches of snow on the ground with a middle layer of ice and 50 mile an hour wind gusts.

"My" swan was still in the pond. Where did he come from? How long will he stay?

This morning he had some company. A gaggle of geese with snow on their backs. Bet they are wishing they had flown just a bit more south....

We closed on our land last week so we are now official owners of 12.5 acres of a dream.

We have been busy pouring over house, barn and out building plans. In March we have a meeting with a builder who specializes in geothermal heating and cooling. We are dreaming. TBHITW is dreaming of a barn and workshop, just for him.

I am dreaming of a small, one room guest house located in the woods, just beyond the main house.

When family and friends aren't visiting I'll use it for sewing and quilting and maybe a summer kitchen.

Of course we are both dreaming of building the "main" house.

We were going to go "up" to the land this weekend but the weather (just 3 hours north) is supposed to be even more intense with 30 inches of snow predicted, high winds and 6 foot drifts. Guess we'll postpone our winter picnic.

What do you dream about on snowed-in days?

This recipe is from my incredibly talented and beautiful sister, J.

Pistachio Crusted Chicken (serves 4)

1/2 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds (you can use light colored seeds too)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
Cooking Spray (or butter if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray (or smear with butter)

Finely chop pistachios in a food processor or by hand. Transfer to a shallow bowl and stir in the sesame seeds, coriander and cumin. In another shallow bowl beat the egg with the water. Add flour to a third bowl and season with salt and pepper- this is your breading station.

Dip a piece of chicken in the flour and shake off excess, dip in egg mixture, then pistachio mix, turn and coat both sides.

Transfer to the greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a knife in the thickest part of the chicken breast.

Glazed carrots will make a not only attractive, but tasty side dish.

Glazed Carrots:

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
1/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add carrots and toss to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add orange juice, cover and cook for 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in honey. Continue to cook, uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates and carrots are tender.

Yum. Stay Warm. Keep Dreaming.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Putting the Greek in Spaghetti

My family loves spaghetti and meatballs and many a Wednesday night, pasta, sauce and meatballs will grace our table.

TBHITW and I practice yoga on Wednesdays so I am always looking for an "on the stove" and "ready for the table" dinner for when we arrive home, starving, at 7:00 pm. The youngest kid-adult will be in charge of making the pasta (aka boiling water) and his sister will set the table.

I put a Greek spin on tonight's dinner and used ground lamb for the meatballs. No one will be able to quite put their finger on why these meatballs are so good, but you'll know. The secret ingredient is mint.

Minted Lamb Meatballs:

1 pound ground lamb (you can also use hamburger)
2 eggs
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
large pinch of salt
few grinds of fresh pepper
1 tablespoon dried mint

Mix everything together quickly and gently. Yes, you can toughen up meat by over handling. Make 12 to 15 meatballs (slightly larger than a golf ball)
Add directly to simmering sauce (preferably homemade) and cook for 1 1/5 hours on very, very low flame.
Serve over your favorite pasta.

Beauty and Weather and Cassoulet

The weatherman is telling us here in the Northeast we are in for a cyclone, blizzard, snow storm, snow hurricane. Whatever.

I saw this beauty on my walk this morning.

Nature is amazing. Even Holly Bear was awed.

Tomorrow I will post a new, easy recipe for cassoulet. I've been working on it for some time. Seems like a good thing to cook during a blizzard, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Bargain - Slow Food

If you've been dying to try some of the much lauded Heritage Meats from Heritage Foods, USA, here is your chance. I've never seen it priced so well. And the taste? You WILL be a convert after just one bite.

Disclaimer: I am not compensated, nor am I affiliated with Heritage Foods USA nor any of its participating farmers. I am a fan. That outta' do it.

Dear Heritage Foods USA Supporter,

Until the recession is over for all of us, it’s over for none of us! We are excited to announce our Annual 2010 RECESSION SPECIAL: the $6 Heritage chop!

Order anytime before April 15th and receive 15 or 30 fourteen-ounce porterhouse pork chops.

Just toss the chop into the pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, and in 10 minutes you have a hearty $6 meal thanks to the farms of Heritage Foods, recession be damned!

Yours In Solidarity,

Fifteen 14oz porterhouse pork chops - five per pack - $90 shipping included ($6/chop)

Thirty 14oz porterhouse pork chops - five per pack - $160 shipping included ($5.33/chop)

Heritage Foods USA
The Source for Authentic American Heritage Foods

Heritage Foods USA has been featured as a Company of the Year in Bon Appetit, House & Garden, Newsweek, Saveur Magazine and The New York Times Magazine.

Contact us with questions or ideas, look out for weekly announcements and read new recipes, by visiting:

If you wish to be removed from our mailing list, please click here.

402 Graham Ave. Box 198
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tel: 718-389-0985
Fax: 718-389-0547

Monday, February 22, 2010

Simple Things and Pesto Toasts

I have been somewhat absent from the blogosphere for a few days.

Last week, within 5 days of one another, I attended two funerals.

One funeral was for an elderly man who had been retired for 22 years. He had served heroically as a police officer in Jersey City for 25 years. His six children and wife of 50 years were all in attendance. Many police, fire and county officials were at his wake. It was a sad yet joyous affair in celebration of a life well lived and well loved.

The other funeral was for my oldest son's best friend's mother. She was tragically hit by a pickup truck last week while out shoveling snow. A seventeen year old boy was at the wheel of the truck. Police ruled it an accident. A horrible, sad, tragic accident that in an instant took a woman's life far too soon and changed a young man's life forever.

Both of these deaths made me stop and think of all the people, places and things that make up a life. And it made me realize that of all the people, places and things in my life I have always enjoyed the simple things the most. The beach. The mountains. My home. A good meal. A good friend. A day spent with my sisters. My family.

If you think about it there are very few things we really need in life. We need food. We need water. We need shelter. I believe we need love.

And maybe we need when the our time comes, for a few simple words of love and a small gathering of people to remember us.

What do you think? What do you really need in this life?

This is a simple meal. Salad. Fruit. Bread. It is enough, it is all that is really needed for a meal.

Pesto Toasts: (make 6 slices)

1/2 loaf of day old bakery bread, cut into thick slices
Store bought or home made pesto (I had some in the freezer that I had made this summer)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Garlic Cheese Toasts: (make 6 slices)

1/2 loaf day old bakery bread, cut into thick slices
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Mix butter, thyme, garlic and parmesan cheese together.

Preheat the broiler. Arrange bread on a cookie sheet and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to brown tops. Watch closely.

Turn and toast other side for one minutes.

Spread 6 pieces of the toasted bread with pesto, sprinkle with pine nuts and top with parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Spread remaining 6 toasts with butter mixture. Top with more parmesan cheese (sprinkled).

Place all the toasts back under the broiler for 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Serve hot with a salad and some fresh fruit.

Bon Appetite and remember to enjoy the simple things in life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Quilting Room and Pan Seared Scallops with Pea and Ricotta Puree

When all my littles and middles were here in the nest every room in this big old house was occupied.

Now, that one or two of them have flown the coop there is room to spare.

At one time, if I needed to sew or iron, I would set up my machine or board in the kitchen.

When I was done with the task at hand (or more likely, something else commanded my attention) I would disassemble everything, store it away and move on to the next "thing" that needed to be done. And so on and so on...

I now have the luxury of a sewing room. A place where I can set up my machine, the ironing board, my material cutting station, etc and leave it all intact. No tearing down or setting up required. Bliss. I sit down and begin to sew or cut my fabric for the quilt I am making and after an hour or two, I just get up, close the door and move on to whatever else is demanding my attention at the moment. No tear down. No set-up required.

I never would have guessed that something as simple as a sewing / quilting room would bring me so much joy.

I have just finished all the "nine piece" patches for the quilt. On Thursday, my friend Anne will give me a lesson in piecing together the top of the quilt. After the top piece is done she will show me how to add the batting and the back. From there, it will need to be hand quilted.. but I get ahead of myself. Before the next lesson, before the top is stitched and before anything else, I need to make dinner.

Pan Seared Scallops with Pea and Ricotta Puree (serves 4)

1 pound sea scallops
dashes of salt, pepper and paprika
8 ounces frozen peas, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup fat free ricotta cheese
rind of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Season with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and paprika. Set aside.

Yes, I know that's not a scallop on the left. The 16 year old does not like scallops - I cooked him Haddock instead (I spoil, therefore I am a mother)

Cook peas according to package directions using 1/4 cup water. When peas are done cooking, place in bowl of food processor, along with any liquid and process until almost smooth.

Add lemon rind, juice, 1 tablespoon butter and ricotta cheese. Season with a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper.

Process again using short bursts. Taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a microwavable serving bowl.

Heat oil and the last tablespoon of butter in large saute pan over medium high heat. Add scallops (and Haddock if you tend to spoil too) and saute for about 2 minutes. Turn and continue to saute for about 2-3 minutes more. Remember, food will release when it is done. If scallops are sticking, cook for another 30 seconds and try to turn again.

Warm the pea puree if necessary in the microwave for one minute. Stir.
Serve scallops immediately on a smear of pea puree.

A Cook's Notes: Veal, Halibut, Haddock, Chicken and Shrimp are all lovely served on top of this puree. For this meal, I served roasted fennel and tomatoes and a crusty loaf of french bread on the side. A chilled Sauvignon Blanc would round out this food beautifully. Bon Appetite!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fasnacht Day and Glazed Donuts

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. While not in the "heart" of Pennsylvania Dutch country or Amish farms, near enough to know and follow the traditions of the land.

"Fasnacht Day," (pronounced Fosh-knock) more properly just called "Fasnacht," is also known as Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Literally translated, it means Fast Night.

Fasnacht is the established beginning of the 40 days of fasting during Lent - which officially begins on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday to be exact. It is a folk tradition dating to the Middle Ages, a Catholic custom that has survived in mostly Protestant Pennsylvania.

Traditionally, on Monday, the day before Fasnacht, dough was put out in straw baskets for raising, then cut in squares and deep-fried in fat, not baked. Served with hot coffee at breakfast on Tuesday, the popular way to eat your Fasnacht was to split it in half and spread with honey. (Today they often come coated with confectioners’ sugar.)

In the old days, this was a chance for everyone to gorge on good doughnuts without reprise, for the lean days of Lent and fasting would now follow. The making of fasnachts helped use up fat and sugar prior to the fasting days of Lent.

Would you like to join me in a custom dating back hundreds of years? You probably already have all the ingredients needed in your pantry. So come on, fry up some Fasnachts and enjoy - the lean, fasting days of Lent are about to begin.

Pennsylvania Dutch Fasnachts: (if you don't use potatoes, it's not a Fasnacht) makes one dozen

1 cup milk, warmed to between 110 and 115 degrees

2 packets yeast

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes (microwave a potato, scoop out inside)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sprinkle yeast over warm milk, add a pinch of sugar and set aside for 5 minutes allowing yeast to grow.

Combine flour, potatoes, salt and sugar. Add the milk/yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your mixture for 3 minutes.

Turn the dough out on a floured bowl and knead for a for minutes until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.

Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut the donuts. You can cut a square donut (traditional) or use a glass and cut one donut and use a shot glass to cut the hole.

Place the cut donuts on a floured cookie sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30-40 minutes.

Heat a half inch of oil in a large skillet or electric fry pan. (heat to about 360 degrees). Slide donuts in and fry for about 2 minutes, turn and finish cooking until golden brown.

Remove donuts to rack to drain and cool slightly. Toss with powdered sugar or glaze with the following recipe.

Vanilla Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk (maybe more)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix it all up to thin consistency, drizzle over donuts set on rack over a cookie sheet.

Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon (maybe more) milk

Mix it all up and drizzle over donuts OR dip donuts into glaze. Set on a rack over a cookie sheet for easy clean up!

A Cook's Notes: Do you have a tradition that marks the beginning of Lent or the end Mardi Gras?

Leftovers and Chinese Dumplings

I hate throwing food away. It goes against everything I believe in.

Because of my aversion to tossing away any little bit of food that is leftover I often find my freezer full of little packages of "ingredients"; packages or plastic cups with a bit of ricotta cheese left from the container that I only needed a 1/2 cup from. A cup of gravy left from a roasted turkey. A half a cup of sauteed mushrooms or a half of roasted duck left from my trip to China Town.

A few times a month I find myself foraging in the depths of my freezer, trying to come up with a meal plan that will incorporate all of my saved ingredients.

Did I mention I had a half of a roast duck in there? You may not have a duck, but you might have a chicken breast, a bit of pork roast or maybe just a few too many eggs in your fridge. This recipe will use that bit of leftover without making you or your family feel like you're eating leftovers.

Give it a try - Homemade Chinese Dumplings in under an hour.

Chinese Dumplings: makes 24 dumplings (and they freeze beautifully)


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water

Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the water into the well. Using a wooden spoon stir the center well, gradually adding flour from the sides of the bowl. Keep stirring until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry or stringy, add more cold water a teaspoon at a time until you have a soft, somewhat sticky dough. Turn the dough out on a floured work surfaced and knead for 5 minutes. The dough is ready when you press a finger into it and it springs back.

Cut the dough in half, roll into two 6 inch logs and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 30 minutes or longer.

While dough is resting, prepare the filling(s):

Duck (chicken, shrimp* or pork)

*peel, cook and chop shrimp

About 1 1/2 cups shredded duck, chicken or pork.
2 scallions (some green included) sliced thinly
1/4 cup water chestnuts, minced
1/2 cup steamed spinach, squeezed dry and minced*
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced*
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar

* You an substitute raw cabbage for the spinach. If you don't have fresh ginger, use 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger.

Mix all the above ingredients together and set aside.

Uncover the dough. Cut each 6 inch log in half. Cut each half into 6 1 inch pieces for a total of 24 pieces. Toss lightly with flour and cover with a kitchen towel. Take one piece at a time and roll into a 3 inch disc. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center, fold over and seal, crimping the edges tightly. Lay on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and continue rolling, filling and crimping until all the dough is used. Don't lay dumplings on top of each other - they will stick.

* If you have a drink muddler, this will work great as a mini-rolling pin, it is not as heavy and easier to handle for rolling out little discs.

Place 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a 12 to 14 inch skillet. Heat over medium-high. Add dumplings, being careful not to crowd. You may have to use 2 pans or work in batches.

Cook the dumplings for about 2 minutes or until the underside is just browned. Add 1/2 cup water to skillet and cover, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from pan and place on warmed plate, browned side up. Serve immediately with a variety of dipping sauces, such as plum, duck or the soy dips, below:

Soy Dipping Sauce with scallions (about 1/4 cup)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil or hot chile oil
1 small scallion, thinly sliced

Combine all the ingredients and serve at room temperature.

Soy and Ginger Dipping Sauce

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

Combine all ingredients, stirring to dissolve sugar. Serve at room temperature.

A Cook's Notes: Do you have a favorite recipe utilizing leftovers? Tell me what you do with that last bit of roast chicken or pot roast...

These dumplings have about 40 calories each. A bargain meal!! Six dumplings with a side salad make a hearty meal - for under 300 calories!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Digging Out and Gnocchi

Today the sun is shining and we are in the process of digging out. And digging and digging and digging.

Yesterday, in the time honored tradition of teenagers, the 16 year old kidadult and friends ventured out with shovels in hand in search of gainful employment. Twelve hours later he returned, shovel in hand and pockets stuffed with hard-earned cash.

Today, he toils at home and I will stuff his belly rather than his pockets. :-)

Gnocchi (serves 4)

Use frozen peas instead of the fresh peas mentioned in the recipe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Weather and What's Cooking?

We are in the midst of a major snow storm here in the Northeast. This is what it looked like this morning and the brunt of the storm has not hit yet. We are expecting about 16 more inches of the white stuff.

This afternoon I'm putting together a big pot of Taco Stoup. It will simmer all day and anytime someone wants to warm up with a hearty, healthy bowl they can just dip the ladle in.

Stay warm and stay safe where ever you are today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Interruptions and Mushroom Crostini


My first quilting lesson was yesterday.

I spent 3 hours happily learning how to square the fabric:

and how to measure the fabric using the cutting board and special measuring thing and how to cut the fabric using a rotary cutter:

Anne demonstrating how to use the rotary cutter and special measuring thing..
And finally, how to sew the cut fabrics into strips, cut the strips and then sew the cut strips into the "Nine Patch" design I'll use to piece the quilt top together.

Sewn strips of fabric
Cutting the strips into 2 1/2 inch "patches"

Piecing the patches into a "Nine Patch"

Some of the completed "Nine Patches"

Anne taught me that the design components are endless! I came home and immediately set up my office with cutting board and sewing machine. Anne is a really good teacher and I had no trouble squaring the fabric, making the strips and then the patches. I spent the entire afternoon happily sewing away and before I knew it, I started hearing hungry rumblings from the kitchen area. The natives were getting restless. I couldn't believe so much time had passed!

Grr.. I hate to be interrupted when I'm in the flow - but everyone's gotta eat and cooking is my primary job, so I packed up for the night and headed down to my other "work room"

A quick check of the refrigerator and a gathering of ingredients later and I had dinner on the table in 20 minutes. If you are pressed for time and limiting your meat intake, try this simple dinner for a quick, yet satisfying bite.

Mushroom Crostini: (serves 4)

1 loaf french bread, cut on an angle into 4 to 6 inch 1/2 inch thick pieces (see photo)
4 cups mixed mushrooms (I used 1/2 portabella and 1/2 white button), sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon herbs du provence

Preheat the broiler. Cut the bread and place on a cookie sheet. Broil until golden and toasted, turn and broil other side.

Cut bread on angle about 1/2 inch thick
Mix the goat cheese, a few grinds of black pepper and the herbs du provence together.

When the toasts come out of the oven, spread cheese evenly on the toasts. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium high heat, add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms begin to release their juices. Add balsamic vinegar and continue to saute until almost all liquid has evaporated.

When mushrooms are cooked through, top the cheese toasts and serve.

A Cook's Notes: I serve the crostini with a mixed green salad and a very cold bottle of Chardonnay. This meal cooks up and cleans up quickly, allowing you to get back to what you were doing before the hungry throngs demanded your attention.

It is supposed to start snowing tonight and continue well into Wednesday night with predicted accumulations of 12 inches or more. Woo-hoo, sounds like a slow cooker day with lots of uninterrupted sewing time.

Stay warm everyone.

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