Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mindful Gratitude (plus Baked Caprese Crostini)

About a year ago I decided I needed to be more mindfully grateful.  I have a whole lot to be grateful for, but it's easy to lose sight of that fact when shlogging through the daily grind.  So I started taking the time, just before I fell asleep, to review the things I was grateful for on that particular day.  Some nights it was easy, others a lot more difficult.  But no matter how tough a day it had seemed at the time, there was always - and I mean always - something I would discover I was grateful for: making it to an appointment on time, finding that perfectly ripe avocado, the delicious moment when the bra comes off and the sweats go on, the first sip of wine at the end of a long day.  After reminding myself of the little things I was grateful for, I'd list the Big Stuff: a husband who has faced a terminal illness and is healthy, two happy, gainfully employed and self-supporting sons, my own good health, friends.

This little ritual has become a habit and I often drift off in the middle of my Big Stuff list.  I sleep better, dream happier and wake with a much more positive attitude.  And in times of crisis, this can be a life-saver.

One thing on my grateful list tonight will be the table of gorgeous, red, locally grown tomatoes  outside our little, country grocery store.  Protected from the chilly downpour that was making it feel more like late October than late August, these beauties screamed "Summer!" and I knew I had to grab a few.  Inside the store, I added a still-warm, whole wheat baguette to my basket, and then a bunch of fresh, green basil and a round of fresh mozzarella.  I checked out, dashed back to the car through the cold rain and headed home to make Baked Caprese Crostini for lunch - an ode to summer dish inspired by Giada DeLaurentis' Baked Caprese Salad.

Baked Caprese Crostini
Serves 4 to 6

1 baguette (I prefer whole wheat), sliced on an angle into 1/2-inch slices
Extra virgin olive oil
2 medium, fresh tomatoes, seeded and roughly diced
Good balsamic vinegar
1 8-ounce round of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 bunch fresh basil, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the baguette slices on an ungreased cookie sheet and lightly brush the sliced bread with olive oil.  Place in the oven and bake until lightly browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. With a spoon, cover the top of each crostini with the chopped tomatoes.  Season each with salt and freshly ground pepper, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.
  4. Top with a slice of mozzarella, then bake until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.  The idea is to melt the cheese, not cook the tomatoes. 
  5. Place on a serving dish, sprinkle with the minced basil, salt and good grinding of pepper.


  1. What a great blog! I've said many times: you are a wonderful writer. And it looks beautifully designed. It's funny because I, too, made a dish yesterday with the same ingredients. Mine came from my tiny kitchen garden and it was a simple Caprese salad with a balsamic glaze. The tomatoes are so delicious and they're coming in big time. This is what I wait for every year. I have no problem using my tomatoes and basil, but please help me with the zucchini. I've got everything from babys to baseball bats and no room left in the fridge. HELP! PLEASE! Anybody.

  2. Yep you are a wonderful writer and a wonderful cook. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures!

  3. Umm.....TAXI! How much to New Hampshire?