Nathalie's Notes

Raising the Hardy Boys

Cassoulet It's out. I'm writing a kitchen memoir. It might take the rest of my life to finish, but I'm enjoying every second of it and the irony, I assure you, is not lost on me. The working title is Amelia Bedelia in the Kitchen. If you've ever watched, or talked to me, while I'm cooking, you'd understand. I gleaned the title idea from a comment Rosie made once to describe the state of feeling scattered in the kitchen. Hmm. Scattered in the Kitchen has a ring to it, too. Either way, here's the thing. I'm damn near 33 and just getting comfortable in the kitchen. And by comfortable I mean, I know where it is and how to use most of the things in it.

As I go, I'm developing a rather long list of pet peeves, starting with dishes that are rumored to be easy, but are not. For example, the great Lasagna Lie. People insist lasagnas are easy to make. This is not true. All three times I've tried to make a lasagna, I pretty much ended up with a ransacked kitchen and a lot of dirty dishes. And, sure there is a meal at the end of the day but a Five Hour "Easy" Lasagna should taste amazing and not just like, well, lasagna.

So, in response to the great Lasagna Lie – I've decided to develop – and share – my findings and fiascoes when it comes to preparing these so called easy recipes. Bottom line, we all have to eat and what I want to know is this: what's for dinner at your house and how does it get there?

This first one is from a cookbook Mrs. Goodman (Nik's mom) gave me for my wedding shower. I finally cracked it open after four moves last year. Cassoulet is a  French stew that usually takes quite a bit of time to make. Matt happens to be a big fan. I, however, am not a fan of anything that takes too long to prepare. I was surprised to see a recipe for Cassoulet in the Good and Easy cookbook. Thinking it, too, would be a lie, I gave it go. Turns out, it's super tasty and easy to make. Three cans to open, a little bit of meat to cook (you should know I HATE cooking meat), and one veggie to cut. Here's the recipe, with my notes, of course.

Cassoulet Supper from Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cookbook

Serves 4

Allegedly prep is 10 minutes, cook 20

Ingredients:

1/2 pound skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 pound fully cooked Polish sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices (which is, of course, a choking hazard here so I made slivers instead)

1 can (15 to 16 ounce) great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 to 16 ounce) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 ounce) chunky tomatoes with olive oil, garlic and spices, do NOT drain (I couldn't find this so I used Italian diced tomatoes with the spices)

1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar

4 medium green onions, sliced (1/2 cup)

Directions:

1. Spray 12-inch nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook chicken 3-5 minutes, stir occasionally, until brown

2. Stir in remaining ingredients except onions. Cook uncovered over medium-low heat 8 to 10 minutes, stir occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in center

3. Stir in onions. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stir occasionally, until onions are crisp-tender. (Okay, I don't even know what that means. Crisp-tender? Isn't that an oxymoron?)

This didn't seem like quite enough food so I made brown rice and served this on top of it. Matt and I loved it enough that I made it again and froze it for later. It was even easier to make the second time because I doubled the chicken and sausage the first time and saved it for later.

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