Monthly Archives: March 2014

Potatoes Au Gratin

Since I already discussed a bit about using a roux to make a cream sauce on Friday, I thought I would riff on that theme today with one of my all time favorite things to eat. Like in the history of mankind!

Potatoes Au Gratin (with kielbasa in this case.)

I know I have covered Potatoes Au Gratin in the past, but I am a tinkerer by nature, especially of foods I LOVE, and I have tinkered with this one quite a bit. Anyway, I have worked on getting a creamier consistency through using a cheese sauce. And since it will be super simple given last week’s discussion of Chicken Alfredo thought I would put it in here.

Potatoes Au Gratin

 

So basically the first step to any Potatoes Au Gratin is thinly sliced potatoes. If you don’t have a mandolin to make thin slices, you can usually pick one up at a Ross or HomeGoods or other discount store for under $10. Or just slice as thin and as consistently as you can. To make this size of a dish I would usually use a 3 medium potatoes, they stretch out much more than you would imagine since you basically thinly layer them. I recommend just slicing up how much you want, and then finding a dish to fit it in.

What I used: (no amounts today as I made this a while ago, and can’t remember. Sorry Megan.)

  • Potatoes, thinly sliced
  • Tillamook Cheddar, shredded
  • butter
  • rice flour
  • milk
  • salt and pepper
  • Beef Kielbasa (to make it a main instead of a side)

 

What I did:

  1. Turn oven on to 400F.
  2. Grease the pan you will bake it in, it is far better to go too big than too small, extra room on top will not hurt it. Mine in the pic above was a bit close to the top.
  3. Put a layer of potatoes into the dish, VERY lightly salt and pepper (it adds up!)
  4. Add sliced up kielbasa across the top (not necessarily a full layer)
  5. Sprinkle on a handful of cheese.
  6. Repeat 3, 4, and 5.
  7. Repeat 3.
  8. Now make the cheese sauce:
    1. Make a roux of butter and rice flour (this will make it GF)
    2. Slowly add milk whisking as it thickens.
    3. Make it thinner than a typical sauce, and add a handful or two of cheese, which will further thicken it up. You don’t want it too think as you want it to run in between everything.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes, trying to get it distributed throughout the dish.
  10. Add some more cheese to the top and bake it for about an hour or so. (Check at 40m and 50m)
  11. Should be browned on top and nice and bubbly.
  12. Let it sit for a few minutes to set up, or all the deliciousness will run all over your plate.

Guten Appetit!

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Chicken Alfredo

One of my favorite comfort foods is my variation on a classic: Chicken Alfredo. To make it just a tad healthier, and frankly even better I have added asparagus below. Basically this is composed of several parts: Cooked spaghetti (or any pasta obviously, the leftovers were awesome on fusilli), cooked diced chicken, lightly steamed vegetable (in this case asparagus) and a creamy alfredo-ish sauce. Which is what I will discuss here.

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What I used:

  • butter
  • rice flour (any flour works, I like rice flour’s consistency and GFness)
  • milk (or 1/2 and 1/2, but I used milk cause I needed to use it up)
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese

First thing you do is make a roux, which is at the core of most sauces, and might at first blush sound intimidatingly French. A roux basically is just a paste of a fat (in this case butter, but in a gravy might be meat drippings) and flour (I almost always use rice flour for the above mentioned reasons. And so if Aimee my GF cousin pops by I can still feed her.)  Estimates are serious guestimates. Be warned.

What to do:

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of butter to a pan and melt.
  • Once melted add a similar number of tablespoons of the flour. Mix with a whisk into a paste. (The thicker the paste the more you will thin it out. I like making mine rather thick so that I can make it go further on less butter. Anyways, this will always be trial and error)
  • Once it is a thick slightly bubbling mass you keep whisking.
  • While you continue to whisk at medium heat (pick up edges and corners, and the bottom so nothing burns) slowly add your milk. (Maybe a cup at first)
  • Then whisk it in, it will quickly at first, then in subsequent rounds slowly thicken.
  • Continue to whisk and add liquid until it is the desired thickness. (Dip a spoon in coating the back, run your finger through the sauce, if the line stays clean it is perfect.)
  • Add seasonings to taste.
  • Add shredded parmesan, and melt it in.
  • Add diced chicken and steamed veg.
  • Stir together and serve over cooked pasta with a sprinkling of parma overtop.
  • Enjoy creamy delicious Italian-ish comfort food.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Spanish Rice

After David and I were married for a while I asked if there was anything I hadn’t made yet that he wanted me to make, and that is how I was introduced to my mother in law Irene’s Spanish Rice. The story on this is that my MIL got it from HER MIL, Ruby.  So a Morris family classic (also known as made from what was available and you could get your hands on in rural Peru in the 1950’s)

This is another super simple one, and you can make all the ingredients ahead, or it is also great as leftovers. Here it is cooking up:

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 What I use:

  • rice
  • ground beef
  • diced tomatoes
  • tomato sauce
  • chili powder
  • oregano

 

What I do:

  1. Start the rice either on the stove top or in a rice maker (about 2 cups dried)
  2. Brown the ground beef (1lb)
  3. Season with salt and pepper
  4. When both are cooked add the rice to the beef, add a can of petite diced tomatoes (I prefer the smaller size, but whatever) and a small can of tomato sauce, mix it up.
  5. Add  dried oregano (about 1T)
  6. Add chili pepper (about 1T, but then adjust for spiciness preference)
  7. Cook together on medium for 10-15 minutes then serve.

 

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Guten Appetit!

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Bangers ‘n Mash

After almost a month away from the blog, I have successfully wrapped up the term and am going to try to get back into the rhythm of several times a week. Also at the request of my good friend Megan, I will do my best to actually include amounts (though those of you who know my cooking style should remain skeptical of course.)

Starting off we have a great simple dinner of Bangers and Mash. We in Oregon are lucky to have the Mt. Angel Sausage Company and their most amazing Oktoberfest sausage. Anyway, since grilling a sausage up isn’t really worthy of a blog post, let me briefly tell you about my mashed potato recipe.

 

Bangers n Mash

 

What I use:

  • potatoes
  • sour cream
  • butter
  • cream cheese
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

 

What I do: (Just for you Megan I will give amounts)

  1. After boiling and draining the diced potatoes (3 medium potatoes)
  2. Add butter (1-2 tablespoons)
  3. Add cream cheese (1 tablespoon)
  4. Add 2 dashes of garlic powder
  5. Add sour cream (1-2 tablespoons)
  6. Mix until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste

Guten Appetit!

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Chicken Quesadilla Packet

Okay, after all of that roux making, we need to move on to something a little easier, more of a grab and go kind of idea: Chicken Quesadilla Packet. I confess, I love making quesadilla packets. (I will have to go look, but if I haven’t featured my provolone, turkey and spinach one, shame on me.)

Anyway this is my version of a super simple chicken quesadilla. I call them quesadilla packets due to how I fold them for easier eating. Here in the Morris household we have this bad habit of eating while doing other things, so hot dripping cheese oils are preferred inside of the lunch rather than on our hands.

Anyways, this one is super simple, basically I just take cooked chicken (to make even easier deli meat is always an option), shredded cheddar and some taco sauce, start getting it melted like this:

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Then fold over and cook the other side (so the seams stay), and then flip it back once  more to brown up the back. Viola, a Chicken Quesadilla Packet. Super popular at our house on Sundays, when we get home from church and want to eat RIGHT AWAY. Relatively healthy (I just use a wee dab of butter for the pan/ coloring), and deliciously inexpensive, as most homemade things are…

Guten Appetit!

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Frugal Friday- Packed Snacks

So I decided to start a new feature called Frugal Friday. But alas I was gone ALL day yesterday so that just didn’t happen, so here is the first Frugal Friday post, just a bit late…

We already know that packing lunch is far cheaper and healthier than eating out, but that during the week it is a major drag to fit that in. Anyway, after a fun dip and nibbles platter at Lindsay’s I came home and experimented in packing up “pre-packaged foods.” So I focused on three types: fruit, meat and cheese and veggie and hummus. Here they are. I packed up a bunch of containers for the week, and then just grabbed them as necessary to complete a lunch. It worked great and I will be doing them again. (Though David and I both decided we really don’t need to include Swiss in the cheeses!)

I am hoping to spend some time perfecting my hummus recipe in the next week, so keep your eyes out for that.

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Bon Appétit!

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