Potato Dauphinois

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I had a bad day, so I decided to splurge on something special: A nice, expensive wedge of cheese. Gruyere, in fact, a cheese I've never tried before. I needed it for this recipe for Potato Dauphinois, a classic from Julia Child.

I've made a couple potato gratins previously, but this was by far the best. The gruyere was the perfect choice, though cheddar could do in a pinch. This time I used heavy cream instead of half-and-half from other recipes, which I think was the biggest improvement. I added some onions to the recipe, because why not? Potatoes always go great with a little bit of onion.

Make sure you use enough cream. When you press down on the center of the potatoes, the cream should come up to cover the potatoes. Also make sure you check the doneness: A fork should slide easily through the potatoes.

I served this alongside some basic roasted chicken. Nothing fancy there, just salt and pepper, and the resulting meal was excellent. I had to stop myself from gorging myself to save room for the pistachio gelato I bought for dessert (bad day, remember).

Potato dauphinois with roasted chicken and peas

Pistachio Muffins

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Pistachio is one of my favorite flavors. When I decide to splurge on ice cream, it's always Ben and Jerry's Pistachio Pistachio (so good). When I need a cheap fix, it's instant pistachio pudding. But one thing I miss from the bakery back in Wisconsin is pistachio muffins. So when I stumbled across this recipe for Pistachio Muffins from My Momma Told Me, I was curious. When I found out it used pistachio pudding mix for flavor, I had to try it.

This recipe was so good, it might break me from my recent scone habit. It comes together quickly, same as any muffin recipe. There's almost too much for my muffin pan, but that meant big, mushrooming muffins.

Pistachio pudding mix was 4/$2.00 last week. I think I found what I'll use the rest for.

Pistachio muffins on a cooling rack

Herb Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

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I'm clearing out the chicken from my freezer, which means finding at least a couple new ways to do it. Unlike last week's chicken parmesan, which I've made dozens of times, this week, I found this recipe for Herb Roasted Chicken with Potatoes from SimplyRecipes.

I've seen recipes like this before, simply tossing some chicken on top of some veggies and shoving it in the oven for an hour, but this is the first one I've ever tried. It turned out pretty well, all things considered, and I was pleased at how easy it was.

Herb Roasted Chicken with Potatoes in the oven

I didn't have any red wine vinegar, so I substituted an equal amount of balsamic. The shallots I replaced with small yellow onions, and I ran out of fresh garlic, so I used 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (1/8 tsp powder per clove).

All told this is a great, easy, inexpensive dinner, and you can vary the herbs and sauce for infinite possibilities. Something hot and spicy sounds good, or a heaping helping of your favorite seasoned salt.

Next time, I might try a different cut of meat. Thighs and legs might not be the right cut of meat to use, due to their higher fat content. Roasting the chicken on the potatoes means the fat can't drain away.

Herb Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Corn

Chicken Parmesan

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I've made this recipe a lot. It was one of the first real things I learned to make. It's one of my favorite recipes: Easy, delicious, and filling. It combines my favorite meat with my favorite pasta sauce. Chicken Parmesan is the perfect chicken dish.

But I've always ever made it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. In my effort to also learn how to be cheap, and having some stuff to use up from last week's tortellini, I decided to try making it with the bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh quarters I had in the freezer.

It worked better than I expected. The chicken turned out great in the oven, and the tomato sauce worked well with a little extra cooking time. I added some cauliflower to complete the meal.

Get the recipe for Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan served on spaghetti with tomato sauce and
cauliflower

Tortellini with Tomato Sauce

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For some reason, I prefer tortellini to ravioli. Maybe it's the shape, how it holds onto the sauce, or the ratio of pasta to filling. Whatever it is, I'm always up for tortellini.

Unfortunately, it's a lot of work to make. This endeavour is best done with friends in large batches, frozen until ready to eat. The alternative, ready-made fresh tortellini, is usually outside my budget. So, when there was a sale, I had to jump on it.

So I bought some chicken and mozarella tortellini. Combined with my recipe for tomato sauce, and some roasted cauliflower, I had an excellent dinner!

I've been making this tomato sauce recipe for a few months now, and I have to say I'm not going back to cans or jars. Tomato sauce is easy (though it does take 30 minutes) and delicious, with bright flavors that don't seem to survive the canning process.

And, since my oven was empty while making the pasta and sauce, I roasted some cauliflower with pepper and thyme. The result was perfectly browned and tasty.

Tortellini with tomato sauce and roasted cauliflower