Creamy Potato Gratin Recipe

Creamy Potato Gratin
Creamy Potato Gratin

This very-familiar comfort food is just as well known as Pizza Margherita but the following recipe for Potato Gratin is my take on it and I find it superior to the mainstream version. The name sounds fancy but in reality, gratin just means ” a dish with a light browned crust of breadcrumbs or melted cheese.”

Potato Gratin Ingredient List (use organic when possible)

  • Cooking spray such as Pam
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup mayo (I use the kind made with olive oil because it is more heart-healthy)
  • 1 tsp Himalayan or pink salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (I leave the skins on for the nutrition)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3/4 cup chopped basil

Preparation Steps

Creamy Potato Gratin Preparation
Creamy Potato Gratin Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray the bottom of a 9″ X 9″ glass baking dish with the cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the mayo, pepper, salt, cream, and cheddar cheese.
  • Wash and slice potatoes 1/8″ thick.
  • Arrange potato slices in the baking dish, spread on a layer of the cream sauce, and sprinkle on some parsley and basil.
  • Repeat layers as needed (you might have some potato left over).
  • Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  • Remove foil, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top, and broil until the top is lightly browned, about 2-5 minutes.

That’s all there is to it. Creamy potato gratin is suitable for a side or a main dish by itself. Give it a try; if you have any interesting ingredients to add, let our readers know in the comment section. Feel free to pass this recipe along to your friends and social media.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Classic Beef Stroganoff Recipe

Classic Beef Stroganoff
Classic Beef Stroganoff
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What’s not to like about Beef Stroganoff ? It’s a timeless dish that won’t break the budget and is easy to prepare. When I got a hankerin’ for it yesterday I did an internet search and was surprised by all the variations.

If you are on a low-carb diet but are hankerin’ for something pasta-y and this dish sounds a bit too much, I suggest trying my low-carb spaghetti carbonara recipe.

In case you are curious — the Stroganoff (or Stroganov) family in 18th century Russia is mainly associated with the popular beef dish which bears its name. The dish likely goes back to a much earlier peasant favorite, but is now usually attributed to the household of Count Pavel Stroganoff (1774-1817).

Beef Stoganoff Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of beef sirloin steak, 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Progresso™ beef flavored broth (from 32-ounce carton)
  • 1/4 cup butter (I prefer Kerrygold unsalted Irish butter but suit yourself)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups hot cooked egg noodles

Preparation Steps

  1. Cut the beef across the grain into roughly 1 1/2×1/2-inch strips.
  2. Cook the mushrooms, onions, and garlic in butter using a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the onions are tender. Then, remove from skillet.
  3. Cook the beef strips in the same skillet until they’re brown. Next, stir in 1 cup of the broth, the salt, and the Worcestershire sauce. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover the skillet and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Stir the remaining 1/2 cup of broth into the flour and stir into the beef mixture. Stir in the onion mixture and heat to just boiling, stirring constantly to maintain consistency. Boil and stir for 1 1/2 minutes and reduce heat. Finally, now stir in the sour cream. Heat until hot but do not boil it. Serve over noodles and enjoy.

So that’s all there is to making classic beef Stroganoff. Like most of the recipes that I enjoy, it is very adaptable; throw in any extra ingredients or condiments that you like (I’m fond of homemade habanero hot sauce). If you like this recipe, please share the link with your friends. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Calories: 435Calories from fat: 295
Total Fat 23 g
Saturated Fat10 g
Cholesterol 115 mg
Sodium 620 mg
Potassium 560 mg
Total Carbohydrate 31 g
Dietary Fiber2 g
Protein 28 g
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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Avoid Making These Mistakes With Your Caffeine Fix

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Cup of coffee and coffee beans
Love a hot cup of coffee!
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This article was updated on 03/26/21.

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Coffee; there’s nothing like it, whether when waking up to a breakfast of toast made with homemade bread, taking a social break, of settling a satisfying dinner. It seems so easy but many people make the following mistakes when brewing the perfect cup of coffee. Don’t be that guy or gal.

Using Water from the Faucet

Tap water can be full of impurities and various minerals. This is not to say that it will make you sick, but there is a strong possibility that it will throw the flavor of your java off and deposit scale in your coffee pot. Instead of using tap water, use bottled spring water or filtered water.

Buying Grocery Store Cold Brew Coffee

This is convenient but expensive. Why? I’m guessing because it’s trendy with the hipsters. Instead, invest in a good quality cold brew coffee maker. Then you can spend that big money on high-quality beans. I use the Zulay cold coffee maker (there’s a link to my product review at the bottom of this page). This allows me to amend the grounds with cinnamon and fresh mint from my garden. Complete control.



Purchasing Pre-Ground Beans

OK, in today’s busy world, you might not want to take the time to grind up some beans in the morning. Just grind it before you go to bed the night before. It will still be great in the morning. Why is this important? Many of the aromas contained in coffee are volatiles. This means they are in a gas form and they are imprisoned in the cells of the beans. But when you grind the beans, these gasses are liberated. Ground coffee from the store, whether it is Free Trade or not, has lost aromas 40 times faster than whole beans by the time you see it. This is why a home grinder is a must-have for someone whose java is near and dear to them.

What Kind of Grinder? I’m Confused.

There are basically two kinds of coffee grinders, blade grinders and burr grinders. The blade models have just that–blades, similar to your blender. Of course they are the less expensive of the two.  

Burr grinders utilize two revolving abrasive surfaces (the burrs), in between which the coffee is ground, a few beans at a time. Coffee aficionados will pick burr grinders over blades every time. The reason is that that the beans are ground in a uniform size, the machine is sturdier and will last longer, and you have more control over your grind than you do with a blade. I use the Capresso 560.01 Infinity. It has commercial-grade solid conical steel burrs with advanced cutting design. And the price is reasonable.

Using a Cold Coffee Cup/Mug

This one is a no-brainer, right? There is no sense in having a hot beverage if you are just going to pour it into a container that is going to cool it off. So pre-heat your cup!

You can either pour boiling water into it or pour cold water into it and microzap it for 45 seconds or so. Either way you will be off to a good start. I work out of my home office and use a small heated coaster (a Cosori Automatic Coffee Warmer) on my desk to keep my brew hot so I can drink it sloooowly.

Not Using the Correct Sugar and Milk

OK, if you’ve made it this far in the article, you are serious about your cuppa Joe. There’s no point in not doing it right all the way. Now, I am a stickler about drinking mine black and strong but I realize that many of you like the milk and sugar thing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say.)

As far as the sugar goes, raw sugar (turbinado sugar) simply tastes better than white sugar. As for milk, put away the skim, nonfat, or 2% stuff; it will just water down your brew. Instead opt for whole milk or half-and-half. It won’t add that much cholesterol to your diet. If that’s a concern, ask your doctor about statins. A good cup is worth it.

Storing Coffee Beans in the Wrong Place

A popular misconception is that the freezer is a good place to store your coffee beans and grounds. That might sound logical but it doesn’t work that way, no matter what Grandma said.

Ideally, they should be stored in a cool, dry place. They will remain in tip-top shape for 1-3 weeks in your pantry if you should store them in an airtight opaque container. They degrade quickly in the presence of light, heat, or oxygen. In our home, we enjoy Black Rifle Coffee. A new package arrives in the mail every other week.

So there you have it. Following these tips will ensure that you don’t make the most common mistakes brewing the perfect cup of coffee. And it never hurts to buy organic coffee beans.

Further Reading


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Delicious Pizza Margherita Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

This Classic Pizza Boasts Minimal Ingredients and Classic Taste

A homemade pizza Margherita baked and ready
A homemade pizza Margherita baked and ready
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This article was updated on 01/14/21.

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The pizza Margherita is something of a minimalist pizza pie (in my opinion). That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it by adding anything that floats your boat.  Word has it that in June of 1889 Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created it to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. He garnished it with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent Italy’s national colors as they are on the Italian flag. In case you wanted that bit of trivia.

Despite the simplicity of the recipe, there are a number of variations. For example, some recipes call for the basil to be added after the pie is done. I prefer to put it under the cheese before baking so the herbs flavor cooks into the cheese and sauce. Your option; no judgement here.

Optional Pizza Making Equipment

If you really get into making your own pizzas, I recommend:

My well-used pizza stone
My well-used pizza stone
  • A pizza stone. This is essential if you want top-notch pizza. A good pizza stone does wonders for your crust development because, unlike a baking sheet, it’s completely heated before the pizza is placed upon it. and that, my friend, is how you achieve a crisp and chewy crust that you can’t get out of a box. As you can see above, mine has some serious mileage on it.
  • A pizza peal. This is one of your best friends when using a stone. The one in the image below is typical. You build the pie on it, you transport the pie on it, and you can cut the pie on it. No muss, no fuss.
My pizza peal
My pizza peal

Pizza Crust Considerations

You basically have two choices. If you have the time and inclination, make your own. Check out this pizza crust recipe. If you are pressed for time, simply buy a crust in the grocery store. Don’t go for the really cheap ones. You get what you pay for.

The good thing about making your own crust is that you can add in just about anything—herbs, flax seeds, you name it. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. If you don’t have issues with glutin, toss in a teaspoon. Glutin is a wheat protein that holds breads together.

Pizza Topping Ingredients

  • 7 roma tomatoes. You can use the big slicers but the romas are much more economical. Slice ’em or dice ’em, or blend ’em.
  • Mozzarella cheese. How much you use is up to you. Slice it about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and place it randomly (see the video in the link below under Preparation to see what I like).
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil.

That’s pretty much it for the basic ingredient list. Have fun with it and throw on anything that suits your fancy.

Preparation

This is very easy. Spread the tomatoes out evenly leaving about 1/2 inch around the edge “naked.” Add the basil. Add the cheese randomly. Watch the video. Have patience; it takes a while to load.

Bake that Baby

Preheat your oven (with the pizza stone on an oven rack) to 500 degrees. Bake it until the dough is crisp and browned and the cheese is golden and bubbling in spots. This will usually be from 13 to 16 minutes; just keep an eye on it.  Slide your pie off the peal onto the stone. Let it rest about 5 minutes and then slice and enjoy!

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.