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    Bringing back the lost art of home cooking.
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    May 6, 2013 4:49AM

    Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms With A Kick

    I always see recipes for stuffed mushrooms around the holidays or Super Bowl. They make great appetizers and finger foods. Plus there are endless varieties of fillings you can make. Spinach and cheese is pretty classic and always awesome. Oddly enough, I rarely make them on special occasions. I prepare them as a side dish to a weeknight meal. Sometimes, they are my whole dinner. There are always leftovers and I love having them for lunch the next day or as a mid-afternoon snack.  They are filling and packed with nutrition. You can even prepare them a day in advance and store the uncooked stuffed mushrooms in the refrigerator. When ready to eat them, pop them in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

    Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms With A Kick.....click here for recipe.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: vegetable ~ Tagged with: spinach, cheese, mushrooms
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    Feb 26, 2013 9:38AM

    Enchilada Casserole

    I make this casserole when I am in the mood for enchiladas, but do not have the time or patience to roll them out.  Or I make it when I have some free time, because it freezes beautifully.  It is delicious, filling and healthy. I usually make it with lean ground beef, but you can substitute almost anything for the protein like leftover chicken or shrimp. My favorite vegetarain substitution is brown rice which makes a wonderful bean and rice enchilada casserole (add in an extra can of beans to up the protein and fiber content).

    It is a foolproof recipe and everyone will love it!

    Enchilada Casserole

    1 large onion, chopped
    1 # lean ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken
    2 1/2 cups salsa
    1 can (15 ounces) black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing
    2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
    1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    6 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches) or corn tortillas
    1 1/4 cups of frozen corn (I like Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Corn)
    3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, plus extra for serving
    2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
    1 cup shredded lettuce
    1 medium tomato, chopped
    1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

    In a large skillet, begin to cook the onion over medium heat . After the onions begin to soften (about 5 minutes) add in the meat. Stir and cook until meat is no longer pink; drain.
    Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, sour cream, corn (optional), taco seasoning and cumin.

    Spoon a generous layer of meat mixture on bottom of 9 X 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
    Place a whole wheat or corn tortilla on top of meat mixture. Layer with half of the meat mixture, and cheese. Repeat as many layers as you like.

    Top the casserole with as little or as much grated cheese as you want.

    Cover with foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake at 400° for 25 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.

    Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce, tomato and cilantro.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
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    Feb 8, 2013 5:22AM

    Smoky Broccoli Stuffed Potato

    I seem to have a renewed interest in broccoli and cauliflower lately.  I am not sure why, but my "go-to" side dishes for the past few months have been either roasted broccoli or roasted cauliflower.  If you are normally a lover of steamed veggies or microwaved veggies, I urge you to try roasting. Here's my recipe: Throw any veggies on a roasting pan with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roast at 400 for 30 minutes.  The only prep work involved is washing the vegetables and cutting into bite size pieces (both steps can be done ahead of time).

    Anyway, last month I had several stalks of broccoli, but wanted somethig a little more substantial than just plain broccoli.  I wanted lots of flavor and wanted it to be filling.  

    Anything stuffed into a potato with cheese is going to be delicious.  Although it requires a little pre-planning (the potatoes have to bake for 50 minutes before stuffing) this whole dish can be made ahead of time.  Everyone loves these potatoes.... men, women, teenagers and kids.  You can make a big batch and the potatoes will save in the refrigerator for 3 - 5 days.

    Smoky Broccoli Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

    6 medium baking potatoes
    1/2 c. sour cream
    3 T. butter, softened
    1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
    1/4 tsp. pepper
    2 green onions, thinly sliced
    1-1/2 cups cooked chopped broccoli
    1 c. shredded cheddar cheese, reserve ¼ c. for topping
    ¾ c. shredded smoked Gouda, reserve ¼ c. for topping
    smoked paprika

    Pierce potatoes and bake at 425° for 45-60 minutes or until soft. Cut potatoes in half. Scoop out pulp and place in bowl. Mash potatoes; add sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, onions, broccoli and ¾  cup  cheddar and ½ c. smoked Gouda cheese.

    Refill potato shells; top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 425° for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.I

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
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    Jan 2, 2013 10:12PM

    Breakfast Burritos

    Most of us do not have the time to make a delicious and nutritious hot breakfast on weekday mornings. Personally, I am very happy with a bowl of cereal, but my 17 year old son Joey likes a hot meal in the morning. It needs to be healthy and hearty, as well as tasty, because he leaves the house by 8am and doesn't eat lunch until almost 1.

     I have always been a big believer in teaching my kids to prepare their own meals. Once they hit middle school, I had them prepare their own breakfasts. Within a few weeks, Jamie and Joey were making their own morning meals, "tag team" style. One would make the eggs and the other would prepare English muffins and hash browns.  That said, I know they love having a great breakfast prepared for them and I enjoy cooking breakfast. These burritos make me feel like I've cooked them breakfast, yet it encourages a bit of independence, because they heat it up themselves. This is a good way to begin to teach your kids how to prepare themselves a hot meal.

    Breakfast burritos are also a good breakfast to serve after a slumber party. Make the night before, and in the morning, all you have to do is reheat.  Or, serve them at dinner time, or pack one for lunch.

    Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

    Breakfast Burritos

    1 # breakfast sausage
    12 eggs
    ¼ c. half-and-half
    6-8 oz. shredded cheddar
    1 tsp. seasoned salt
    ground pepper
    hot sauce
    12 flour tortillas
    Optional: Add sauteed veggies to your eggs. Some good options include bell peppers, onions, scallions, spinach and mushrooms. Sautee in a separate pan and add to the mixture after the eggs are in the pan.

    Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. When you can no longer see any pink in the sausage, drain the fat and reduce heat to medium..

    Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add half and half, seasoned salt and pepper. Whisk everything until completely mixed.

    Add the egg mixture to the sausage in the skillet. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, gently stir the mixture until the eggs begin to set (and are still runny). Add in the cheese and hot sauce and continue to cook until eggs are done.  Taste the eggs and season to taste with more seasoned salt, pepper and/or hot sauce.

    To assemble, warm the tortillas in a stack in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Place a heaping spoonful of the egg mixture onto the center of a warm tortilla. Tuck in the sides and roll the tortilla until closed. Wrap in foil and keep warm until ready to eat.

    Note: This makes 12 burritos. They will hold in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, wrapped in the foil. To reheat, you can place the wrapped foil in a toaster oven for 10 minutes. To reheat in the microwave, remove the foil and rewrap in a paper towel. Heat on high for 30 seconds.  These can also be frozen for 2 months. Place the foil wrapped burritos in a ziploc bag and freeze in the bag.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: Eggs ~ Tagged with: burritos, hot sauce, breakfast, cheese, Eggs
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    Jan 14, 2012 9:17AM

    Truffle Mac and Cheese

     

    You could go to a restaurant and pay $15 for a bowl of this decadent pasta, or simply make it at home for a fraction of the price.  That's right. You can make this at home for a surprisingly reasonable price.  The secret is Truffle Oil.

    The use of truffle oil has become controversial in culinary circles.  Ask any chef what they think of truffle oil, and they will most likely turn up their noses and declare it to be an unacceptable substitute to the real thing.  One of the biggest reasons for this is that many truffle oils on the market do not contain any actual truffles.  They use a synthetic ingredient to duplicate the aroma of the truffle, but their are a few brands that contain natural truffle to infuse the oil.

    Real truffles sell for several hundred dollars per pound!  The bottle of truffle oil that I keep on hand is by Urbani and costs about $9 for a 1.9 oz. bottle on Amazon.  It contains actual white truffles.  That sounds small, but a little goes a long way.  Use it to drizzle over vegetables; on a white pizza;  in a vinaigrette;  on potatoes, polenta or pasta; on eggs, popcorn, potato chips, fries....  I could go on and on.  My only recommendation is to not use it on more than one course in a meal. It's easy to go overboard, and you don't want to lessen the impact by overwhelming the palette with too much of a good thing.

    Adding truffle oil to mac and cheese is one of my favorite ways to use truffle oil.  I doubled the recipe, which ended up using one 1.8oz. bottle of truffle oil for a 9 X 13 pan of pasta.  I made it this week for a dinner party with 13 people.  Everyone had some (plus a few seconds) and I still had half of the pan leftover.  I guess I didn't have to double the recipe, but the leftovers were amazing.

     

    Truffle Mac and Cheese

    1 c. panko breadcrumbs
    1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
    3 tablespoons white truffle oil
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 cups half-and-half
    1/4 pound Swiss cheese, grated
    1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
    1/4 pound Fontina cheese, grated
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    8 ounces elbow macaroni


    To make the truffled mac and cheese recipe, preheat the oven to 375°F.
    In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon of the truffle oil.

    In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is thoroughly combined and forms a paste. Whisk in the half-and-half, bring to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes.

    Stir in the Swiss, cheddar, and Fontina cheeses and then add the mustard. Remove the sauce from the heat when the cheeses have melted. Stir in the remaining truffle oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium heat and cook the macaroni for about 7 minutes, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the saucepan with the cheese sauce. Stir well.

    Turn the macaroni and cheese into a buttered 2-quart baking dish. (At this point you could refrigerate the casserole dish for up to 24 hours.) Top the casserole with the breadcrumb mixture and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: pasta ~ Tagged with: truffle, pasta, cheese
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    May 4, 2011 10:08PM

    Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! Buffalo Style Turkey Chili Bowls

     

    Happy Cinco de Mayo!  This may not be a 100% traditional Mexican dish, but it is definitely inspired by one of my all time favorite Mexican dishes....nachos.

    I have one word to describe this dish..... AMAZING!!!  Chili and nachos in one bowl?!?!?!  How can you go wrong?  Now sit down.  Are you sitting?  You won't believe this!  Wait for it...... these chili bowls are healthy!!!!  We have a lean protein, sauteed with a small amount of healthy fat and lots of veggies.  We then top it with a small handful of tortilla chips and a couple of ounces of cheese.  This is one of those dishes that prove to naysayers that you don't need to pile on the fat to add flavor to food.

    This is a recipe inspired by one of Rachel Ray's recipes.  Say what you will about her, but you cannot say her recipes do not deliver.  Not only is this meal healthy, it is inexpensive, easy to prepare, makes several generous portions and it is fast enough to prepare that you can get it to the dinner table in under an hour.  You all know I am a huge fan of Ina, but her recipes are sometimes complex, expensive, time consuming and I usually end up with a sink full of dirty pots and pans.  Rachel Ray is a little more conscious of saving time and money. In addition, RR has great tips and shortcuts that make getting a meal to the table quicker than ordering take-out.   I swear it is true, it just takes a little planning ahead to make a quick, delicious and healthy dinner.  Her pasta recipes are out of this world (look for her Spaghetti with Clam Sauce, Chicken Meatball Parm. Subs and Pasta Puttanesca recipes on the Food Networks website). Her family is Italian and her Italian recipes are fantastic!

    Everyone in my family raved over this Buffalo Chili dish.  One warning....this recipe is spicy.  Personally, I like it spicy, but if you want to cut back on the heat, there are a few ways to do it.  Obviously, you can leave the jalapenos off of the top.  You could also substitute cheddar cheese for the pepper jack cheese.  You could also cut back on the amount of chipoltes in adobe sauce that you add to the chili.  This final suggestion would be my last choice as a way to cut back on the heat, because the chipolte chiles add a ton of smokey, tangy flavor to the chili, that you won't want to miss.

    I would have definitely gone back for a second or third bowl if "sundress season" wasn't rapidly approaching us here in Atlanta.  Stupid warm weather and the sleeveless shirts that come with it!!!! I certainly enjoyed my one, guilt-free bowl for dinner that night and for lunch the next day.  Next time I will double the recipe, because we were all looking for leftovers two, three days later, but there were none.   I would say you will get four generously sized bowls out of this recipe with leftovers for two lunches.

    PS... Make sure to "Like" my new Cooking in Pajamas Facebook page!

    Buffalo Style Turkey Chili Bowls

    adapted from Everyday With Rachel Ray

     

     

    Ingredients:

    2 tablespoons EVOO

    2 pounds ground turkey (or ground chicken)

    2 carrots, chopped

    3 to 4 stalks celery with leafy tops, finely chopped

    1 onion, chopped

    4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated

    Salt and Pepper

    1 small can chipotle chile's in adobe sauce

    One 15-ounce can tomato sauce

    2 cups chicken stock

    A couple handfuls of thin blue-corn tortilla chips, such as Xochilt brand, lightly crushed

    1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese or shredded sharp cheddar

    3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

    About a palmful pickled jalapeno chili pepper rings

    light sour cream

    6 green onions, sliced thin

    optional: sliced black olives

    Directions:

    Heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook to brown, stirring to crumble. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetable are softened, 10 minutes or so.
    Place the chipotle and adobe sauce in a food processor or blender and puree. Spoon 2 rounded tablespoons into a small bowl and combine with the tomato sauce to make a chipotle-infused tomato sauce.
    When the vegetables are tender, stir in the chili-tomato sauce and chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken and combine the flavors.  THIS CAN BE DONE SEVERAL HOURS IN ADVANCE AND REHEATED BEFORE SERVING.
    When ready to eat, switch on the broiler and position a rack in the center of the oven. Arrange bowls on baking sheet and fill with the buffalo chili. Top with an even layer of tortilla chips, cheese and jalapeno rings. Broil for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese and crisp the chips!
    Sprinkle with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onions over the top.

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chili ~ Tagged with: jalapenos, nachos, turkey, cheese
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    Jan 16, 2011 4:38AM

    Meatless Monday: 10 Minute Cheesy RIce and Broccoli

     

     

    Sorry for posting this on Sunday.  I have been trapped in my Atlanta house all week due to ice and snow.  Somewhere around day 3, I simply lost track of days (I also stopped getting dressed and brushing my hair, but you don't want to imagine what I looked like at the end of the week).  Luckily, I did a ton of cooking and have lots of great recipes from our Snowcation that I will be sharing with you over the next few months.

    This dish is so ridiculously easy, yet it is addictive.  As you can see, it calls for Minute Rice, which is how you can make this dish in 10 minutes.  I don't love to use Minute Rice if I am not in a rush, since it is processed. If you have the time to make regular rice, or even better, brown rice, you would just throw in the broccoli in with the cooking liquid and rice during the last 7 - 10 minutes or cooking.  Then follow the directions.

    I turn this from a side dish to a main dish by steaming lots of carrots, squash (and extra broccoli) and mixing it in with the rice.  You end up with a huge plate of food that is healthy, loaded with nutrients and fiber, filling, delicious and not high in calories.

    10 Minute Cheesy Rice and Broccoli

     

    3 c. fresh broccoli florets

    2 c. chicken broth

    2 c. Minute rice, uncooked

    1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

    sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

     

    DIRECTIONS:

    Place broccoli and broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-heat.

    Stir in rice and cover. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.

    Stir in cheese until melted and season with the salt and pepper.

     

     

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: rice ~ Tagged with: broccoli, easy, quick, cheese, rice
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    Aug 26, 2010 4:06AM

    Copycat Panera Creamy Potato Soup

    I usually don't like restaurant "Copycat" recipes.  With a few exceptions, like Houston's Spinach Artichoke Dip, the recipes are extremely complicated and time consuming to make (like restaurant dishes usually are).  One time I found a recipe for one of my favorite restaurant dishes, Chili's Southwestern Chicken Eggrolls (we had little kids at the time, we went to Chili's a lot).  I printed out the recipe.  It printed out in two pages, which already had me worried.  Then I began to make my grocery list.  Wow...it was long.  Then I read the entire recipe.  There were so many steps involved...cooking the chicken, cooking the filling, rolling the eggrolls, freezing the eggrolls, cooking the eggrolls, making the dipping sauce...  By the time I finished the shopping and preparation, I could have gone to Chili's and just ordered the darn dish.  Plus, if you factor in all of the groceries I had to buy, it wasn't any cheaper to make it at home.  Check out the recipe for yourself here, and see what you think.

    Every once in a while, I would just check out the occasional "Copycat" recipe, more out of curiosity than any actual desire to make it.  Last week, Jamie had her wisdom teeth removed.  Obviously, she is on a soft food diet for the next few days.  I got a grocery list from her and one more simple request.  Could I possibly make the potato soup I made last winter?  "Sure, no problem."  Actually, there was a problem.  I made several different versions of potato soup over the past few years and I had no idea which one she wanted.

    I pulled out my ridiculously large collection of recipes, and began to look through them, only to discover the only potato soup recipe I saved was one that I last made a least five years ago.  No problem, I went to one of my favorite recipe websites, typed into the search bar "Potato Soup" and about 100 recipes came up.  I then had the computer sort the recipes in order of popularity, and the Panera "Copycat" recipe came up near the top.  It had a 5 out of 5 star rating and over 450 reviews.  That was all I needed.  I saw a few changes I wanted to make (like sauteing the onions and adding in a shallot), but the recipe looked simple and delicious.


    It may not be the most photogenic bowl of soup, but it is super yummy.  The ingredients are all pantry staples and the entire pot can be ready in under an hour.

     

    Copycat Panera Creamy Potato Soup

    4 cups chicken broth (homemade will really stand out in this soup)

    4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

    1 T. butter

    1 T. EVOO

    1 chopped onion

    1 shallot, minced

    1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

    1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, cut into chunks

     

    DIRECTIONS

    In a large pot, saute onion in the butter and EVOO, until onion is soft.

    Add in shallot and saute one more minute.

    Add in broth, potatoes, and spices.

    Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.

    Smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.

    Reduce to low heat.

    Add cream cheese.

    Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

    Adjust seasonings to taste.

     



    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: Soup ~ Tagged with: Potatoes, cheese
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    Jun 29, 2010 10:07PM

    Roasted Garlic Bread with Cheese (and 4 more days until Betty Crocker Giveaway!)

     

     

    I love, love, love garlic bread, and it is so easy to make a flavorful, decadent version.  IMHO, there is nothing worse than being served bland, dry garlic bread.  You may as well be eating plain toast.  Although garlic bread is typically thought of as an accompaniment to Italian food, I serve it with everything.... as a side with soup, grilled chicken, chili, salad, or a crustless quiche.  I use the leftovers to make croutons and I will even have garlic toast with my eggs in the morning (as long as I know I will be spending the morning by myself).

    I have several different ways to make it.   I have used EVOO, butter, fresh garlic, garlic powder, garlic salt, grilled it, baked it, broiled it...but I always seem to come back to this one.  Sometimes, I make it without cheese, but to really go over the top, melted cheese is the way to go.  This roasted garlic version is a very "hearty" version and it is pure comfort food.  If you are having a bad day, I guarantee a few pieces of this will make you feel a million times better (throw in a plate of pasta with melted butter, pecorino, parmesan and fresh ground pepper, and I am in heaven).

    Roasted garlic, butter, cheese?  Who wouldn't like that?  Forget the calories and the fat...go to spin class tomorrow, eat your garlic bread tonight!  You only live once!

    PS  Don't forget about the Betty Crocker Giveaway...a free box of their latest Mud Bar mix and an 8 X 8 pan.  Just leave a comment by 11:59pm on July 4th on the Betty Crocker post.  C'mon everyone....I'm trying to give you free stuff!  It may not be along the lines of "Oprah's Favorite Things", well..maybe, one day....

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: side dish ~ Tagged with: roasted garlic, bread, garlic, cheese
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    Apr 28, 2010 11:22AM

    Crostata with Mushrooms and Pancetta

     

    I love the "rustic" look of a crostata.  Finally, something where my homemade dough doesn't have to be perfect!  Actually...looking at this photo, it is not an attractive looking piece of food.  Don't let the looks fool you.  I am not a very good food stylist, nor am I the best food photographer.  I almost didn't print this photo at all.  I was just going to post some stock photos of a basket of mushrooms and a few springs of thyme.

    The dough on this crostata is very forgiving.  It is incredibly easy to work with, and if it cracks a little, that's OK.  Your filling can be a combination of your favorite vegetables and cheeses (I think meats are a bit heavy in a crostata,but if you want to throw some in there, go for it!).  I love sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and fresh thyme, so that is what I used as my filling.  Any vegetable combinations  will work...spinach, squash, eggplant, etc.  You can also get creative with your cheese.  I used mozzarella, asiago and fontina, but any Italian blend will be delicious.  I think the best thing to do is to go to your local farmer's market and see what looks good.  Last week, I went to the farmer's market and found some heirloom radishes and a wheel of farmhouse brie.  That is what happened to look good, so I grabbed it.  We ate the radishes with a little softened butter and truffle salt (OMG...AMAZING!) and I am still noshing on the brie.

    This crostata would make a wonderful dish to serve at brunch, lunch, as an appetizer, or even a light dinner.  I served it to my family as an appetizer to enjoy before a late dinner, and everyone LOVED it!  Leftovers will save in the fridge, but make sure to heat them in a conventional oven, or else the crust will become soggy.


    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: appetizer ~ Tagged with: crostata, pancetta, dough, cheese, mushrooms