Cheesy Au-Gratin Potatoes

Au-Gratin fishedThis is a side dish that everyone loves! It might seem intimidating but I’m here to tell you, You Can Do It!
The hardest part is making a white sauce, and making a white sauce is really easy. Some people make the white sauce into a cheese sauce. I have made it this way before. However, I prefer to make it this way for a number of reasons. A white sauce also known as a Bechamel, a béchamel can be altered in many ways. One of my favs is adding lemon, capers and fresh dill for the topping on a broiled fish. Or the addition of Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard is a wonderful topping for chicken cutlets. So, if I have any leftover, it could be great for another meal this week. A béchamel is the base white sauce that is the starting point for many sauces. Wonderful additions to this sauce create great meals. The other thing to remember, is that there are no rules to this dish. It’s kind of like lasagna made with potatoes. You can add things between the layers that you love. One nice addition is caramelized onions. Another is Bacon or Jalapeños, or sautéed mushrooms. The cheese is also up to you, but I will say that I like to clean up my refrigerator on dishes like this. My go to cheeses are cheddar and american because they melt smoothly and creamy. I know american cheese isn’t really cheese but I love it. You are the boss on this dish, make it however you want to. This one is the traditional version for our Easter dinner.

Recipe:

White Sauce
Make a Roux:
au gratin-roux

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 TB butter melted in a 4 qt sauce pan on med heat
6 Tb. Flour
stir together and cook for a minute until bubbling.
add 4 cups of warmed milk ( almond milk works fine)
whisk until beginning to thicken
add 1 pinch of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg
cook over low heat until it coats the back of a spoon.
turn off heat and set aside.

Prep the rest of the dish….
6 medium sized Organic Potatoes sliced in 1/8th of an inch slices
12 oz or (1 1/2 cups) of shredded Cheddar cheese
9 slices of american cheese
salt and pepper
white sauce

13×9 inch pan
spray the bottom and sides with cooking spray
au-gratin-step 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

place a layer of potato slices
sprinkle with salt and pepper
au-gratin-step2

 

 

 

 

 

 

break 3 slices of american cheese in half and space them evenly over the potatoes
au-gratin-step 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese over the american cheese
drizzle about 1 cup of white sauce over cheeses
au-gratin step 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

repeat 2 more times.

bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Let set for 15 minutes.
Au-Gratin fished

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Lentil and Fennel Soup with Ham

Lentil & fennel SoupSoup is just a perfect meal! And when you add in some life giving Lentils it gets even better. Lentils are high in folate and high in fiber. Another addition to this healthy soup is Fennel Bulb, touted as one of the worlds healthiest foods. The combination of Fennel and Lentils is just plain delicious. We are told that we should be getting about 25-35 grams of fiber per day. That’s hard to do today. If you are not eating fresh vegetables and cooking your own meals daily then you are probably eating some processed foods. Processed food are pretty much devoid of any fiber and don’t get me started on what actually is in processed foods. However, this soup, although not the traditional soup made after a ham dinner, is awesome. Split pea soup is a great soup also, but if you are looking to change it up a bit, here it is.

Recipe:

3 qts water in a 6 qt pot
leftover hambone with excess ham removed.
Dice up any ham removed from bone and set aside until end. Any excess fat can simmer for two hours with hambone
Add
2 carrots diced 1/4 ”
2 stalks celery diced 1/4 ”
1 onion peeled and diced 1/4″
3 c. Dried lentils
1 fennel bulb, diced 1/4″
4 small bay leaves

Simmer for two hours, remove fat and bones.
Add diced ham, as much as you like.
Turn off heat
Season with…
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 stick butter
1 to 2 tsp Chicken base, as needed.
fresh chopped Parsley

Enjoy!

Linguini Bolognese Alfredo

Linguini BologneseI think most Italians make Bolognese without Alfredo! Typically the sauce is made with a generous amount of ground meat, beef, pork, and or sausage! When I served this in the restaurant for whatever reason it always had Alfredo. The alfredo gives it a whole other element of richness. I made this today because I had a very lean day of vegetable soup and fresh fruit. I felt okay about a high fat supper. Especially since now they are saying “Fat doesn’t make you Fat, sugar does”. Works for me. Our household has been avoiding sugar, milk, and wheat among other things. I actually made my alfredo with almond milk instead of cream. I also, used Jovial brand Einkorn flour Linguini. Einkorn isn’t like other whole wheat. It’s the original ancient grain, untouched, unmodified and really good for you. If you get the chance do a little research on it.

Bolognese Sauce

In a medium sauce pot on med heat sauté until tender…
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. olive oil

add:
1 lb. uncooked ground beef, cook through
add:
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon basil or julienne fresh basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 Carton Pomi Chopped Tomatoes
simmer on med, stirring frequently until water has absorbed, 20 min or so.

While the Bolognese is simmering make the Alfredo sauce
Alfredo sauce recipe here

Make your Pasta, any package of pasta you like. It doesn’t have to be a string pasta like linguini or spaghetti, it can be Penne, Pappardelle or Ziti. Cook by the package instructions. When ready drain and top with a good portion of the meat sauce and then add a ladle or two or three of Alfredo. Shave some fresh Parmesan cheese over top. Serve with garlic bread if you like. Now grab a glass of red wine like one of my favorites… Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon and Enjoy!