Baked Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin


I love to eat.

Over the past few months I’ve developed a real passion for potatoes – any kind of potatoes – cooked any old way.
When dining out a few months ago I had a scalloped potato and ham dish that was scrumptious, and today, as the feel of Autumn is in the air I had a craving for that yummy dish. Comfort food.

So, I tried to replicate the dish at home. Here’s how I proceeded:

Start by peeling the potatoes and cutting them into slices about 1/4 inch thick. If they were large potatoes I cut them in half and then sliced them so each potato piece was approximately the size of a 50 cent piece.

Next I parboiled the potatoes for a very short time, just until they began to lose their hardness.

While the potatoes were cooking I melted some butter and sautéed chopped garlic and onions. No measurement – just use the amount you like for taste. If I were to guess I would say I had about 3 cups potatoes, 2 garlic pieces chopped, and 1/2 medium onion.

When the potatoes were very lightly cooked I drained them and mixed the garlic/onions with them. I then put them in 4 oven proof bowls I had purchased for Onion Soup au Gratin.

I then made a roux with butter, flour, milk, heavy cream, and a variety of cheeses. For this first attempt I used a combination of Cabot Alpine Cheddar, Dubliner, and Jarlsburg. Again, I didn’t measure anything, but would guess I used 2 tablespoons butter melted in the saucepan, then added 2 tablespoons flour and mixed before slowly adding approximately 2 cups milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream, stirring continuously. When that had thickened I added about 1 cup of diced mixture of the cheeses and stirred until the cheese melted.

Next I poured the roux over the potatoes in the baking dishes and finished it with a mixture of bread crumbs and grated cheeses sprinkled over the top.

Bake them in a 375 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes (until they are bubbly and the crust is browned).

I gotta’ say – it was a scrumptious dinner!

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

Last weekend I posted my recipe for lemonade, without white sugar. You may recall that I mentioned maybe making a frozen strawberry lemonade. . .

I remember many years ago I use to love the frozen strawberry lemonade from McDonald’s. I would stop and get one on the hottest days of summer, and back then I never gave much thought to sugar, calories, carbs. . .

Just for the fun of it I decided to look up the nutritional information for the McDonald’s version:

Calories 250
Sodium 25 mg
Total Fat 0 g
Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 0 g
Total Carbs 65 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Monounsaturated 0 g
Sugars 65 g
Trans 0 g
Protein 1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 160%
Calcium 25%
Vitamin C 154%
Iron 0%

I still had some fresh frozen strawberries in my freezer from last summer, so I dug them out and blended them with my homemade maple lemonade. It was perfection! Exactly what I was hoping for and surely, less sugars and sodium than McDonalds’.

straw lemon

I did a bit of research and 1 cup of strawberries has about 49 calories 2 mg. of sodium and one tablespoon of maple syrup has 52 calories and no sodium (that’s what I estimate was in my frozen lemonade treat). Fresh squeezed lemon juice has about 12 calories for 1/4 cup and no sodium. The McDonalds version was 16 oz. and my version was about the same, so that’s 113 calories vs.250 calories and my version is all natural, so yup ~ no brainer!

Cauliflower Breadsticks

This is one of those recipes you see on facebook occasionally. It sounded tasty to me, as I love cauliflower. and bread.

As usual, I created my own version of this based on what I had handy. You will need:

1 head cauliflower
2-3 eggs
herbs/spices of your choosing in whatever amount looks good to you
(parsley, basil, salt and pepper. . .)
garlic
onions or green onions (optional)
1 cup grated mozzarella (or whatever kind of cheese you like)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

~Preheat oven to 400 degrees
~Start by using a food processor to ‘rice’ the fresh, uncooked cauliflower. Basically you will put pieces of the cauliflower in the food grinder/processor and chop it up until it is kind of like rice. It doesn’t take long.
~Add the spices, finely chopped garlic, 1/2 cup Mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan, onions, and 2 eggs. Mix all ingredients well until it hold together when you squeeze it. You may need to add another egg.
~Spread out on parchment covered baking sheet about 1/4″ thick.
~Bake for about 20-30 minutes, then remove from oven and spread remaining 1/2 cup Mozzarella over the top. Return to oven and bake 5-10 more minutes until it begins to brown.

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Slice into 1″ x 4″ sticks and serve warm with your favorite sauce.

OMG Quiche!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE quiche.

Whoever said ‘real men don’t eat quiche’ is a fool.

I’m not even a man, but that statement still offends me. If men don’t eat quiche then they’re fools.

Actually none of what I just said is true. For the truth go here. I did and now I have a new idea for the next book I want to read.

But anyway. My point is that quiche is an absolutely delicious food item and, under certain conditions, is a meal in and of itself.

Once in awhile, when I crave an easy meal to cook I go with quiche.

Or when I crave eggs.

Or when I want something that has a unique and yum yum yummy taste.

Or whenever.

The other night I was in the mood for quiche and the things I had to work with were limited. So I decided to caramelize some onions and make an onion and cheese quiche.

In the name of low carbs I often make a crustless quiche, but this time I decided to go with Puff Pastry dough. The frozen kind. From Pepperidge Farm. You can find it in the freezer section.

So here’s the construction:

1. Mush the puff pastry, which comes in a square shaped sheet, into the bottom of the quiche pan. Don’t get fancy, just mush it in there.

2. Sprinkle grated Mozzarella and Gruyere cheese over the crust. About a cup, or more. This combination of cheeses was delish, but I’m thinking any combination of cheese would work. Except maybe that orange ‘American’ cheese that comes in slices. Or Velveeta. I wouldn’t go with those.

3. Over that put your already caramelized onions – about a cup of them.

4. Then beat about 8 eggs together, add a little milk or cream, and about a 1/3 of a cup of sour cream. Beat it until it’s all blended and then pour over the cheese and onions. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is golden and eggs are firm. About 45 – 50 minutes.

Let cool about 15 minutes before serving. Then dig in and enjoy!

I served it with homemade coleslaw because that’s what I had, but it would be good with a garden salad, pickled beets, three bean salad. . .

Yummy Decadent Bread

Okay, even in this day of gluten free everything, there are some of us who still love a great bread!

Some time ago I found this recipe for Bacon Cheddar Bubble Bread and it is INDESCRIBABLY DELICIOUS .

At least I think so.

Now, you can follow the recipe and use that frozen bread dough stuff – if you like – but I like to pretend I’m a ‘purest’ when it comes to bread dough, so I’m going to offer up a bread dough recipe that NEVER fails, and kicks this bubbly bread recipe up a notch!

This Never Fail Bread recipe comes from a little bread cookbook someone gave me once upon a time.

It is called Bountiful Breads – Delicious breads, rolls, and muffins from the oven to the bread machine.
Published by Schoolmate, Kearney, NE copyright 2002.

NEVER FAIL BREAD

1/2 cup sugar
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Crisco
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups hot water

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, salt and Crisco. Add water; mix. Let stand until lukewarm.
Add yeast and eggs; mix. Add flour; beat. Place dough into a floured bowl, cover and let rise; form into 2 loaves.
Let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until brown.

So, now, to make the bubbly cheddar bread you obviously aren’t going to shape the dough into two loaves. Actually, after the dough has risen for the first time it’s ready to be made into the bubbly cheddar bread, so just start following that recipe.

I bake mine in a cast iron stew pot – actually the pot and the cover. The stew pot is about 4″ deep and the cover only about 1″ deep. It looks like this:

It works great because it browns the bottom of the bread so it’s a little crispy and irresistible so you aren’t going to want to stop eating this. It’s not for dieters, trust me. But hey – once in awhile? Yes, sometimes ya’ just gotta’ splurge!

Even if you don’t go all out and try the Bacon Cheddar Bubble Bread you have to try the no fail bread. It’s great and so easy and makes good rolls (for Bodacious BLTs) or burgers, or whatever or even just a regular loaf of bread. I’ve made it dozens of times and it’s never failed me. Ever.