Saturday, May 5, 2012

8 Days a Week (Week 1, "Try-Something-New" Challenge: Yummy Cheesy Potatoes)

I know I'm not alone in feeling the "meal" rut. It feels like we're cooking the same dishes 8 days a week. I'm giving myself a challenge to try a new recipe or dish every week - and will be sharing them here.

I like the idea of getting the kids to try new ingredients or at least different preparations. The dishes we all love, I'll work into the rotation for our regular meals.

A secondary goal is to develop a meal plan I can follow with recipes we all enjoy, so there's no guesswork. Having a plan would eliminate a lot of the stress each night.

Finally, I'd like to keep track of the cost, so I can coordinate appropriate meals for the week's/month's budget. I've been attempting to keep our family dinner meals to around $10 total (5 of us). I'll be interested in seeing how close I really am to that with the meals I make most often.

Since one woman's "rut" may be another woman's treasure, I'll share some of my regular meals that happen at least once a week.

But, first, I want to share my new dish from this week: a fantastic Au Gratin potatoes recipe that I saw in an All You (March, 2012) magazine. It tastes completely like a loaded baked potato. In fact, next time, I think I'm going to add a little bacon to the dish and serve with sour cream.

Cost: $8


3-4 lb Russet potatoes (red or yukon work as well)
3/4 cup shredded Sharp cheddar
3/4 cup shredded Swiss
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter a 9x13 baking dish.  Combine three cheeses in a bowl; add flour to the bowl and toss to coat the cheese.  This helps absorb some of the oils when cooking.

Slice potatoes thinly (I left the skin on; the recipe says to peel potatoes). Place half in bottom of dish, overlapping.  Season with 3/4 tsp salt; 1/4 tsp pepper.  Dot with half the butter.  Sprinkle half the cheese on top.  Cover with remaining potatoes, salt/pepper, butter.

Bring milk to boil over medium-high heat. Pour over potatoes. Cover dish with foil and bake about 45 min, until potatoes are tender.

Remove foil (it may look curdled; this is OK), sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake, uncovered until top is golden brown (about 45 min).  Let stand 10 min before serving.

Delicious!  This is a perfect casserole to bring to a family dinner.  And everyone enjoyed it, so it'll become part of my "side-dish keepers."

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