Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin

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Alright, people. Final 2018 Easter recipe begins now!

I’m just going to start by saying the past week has been SO much fun for me to write. I always share a lot of recipes and holiday-oriented posts, but having all of the recent recipes connected by the common theme of building an epic party menu felt so fresh and playful for me. I was so inspired and now I’m getting really excited to apply the same kind of style/organization to future holidays. How do y’all feel? I hope you liked reading these as much as I loved writing them!

Anyway, back to the food.

The final recipe is a favorite side dish of Mark’s and mine. I made it a couple of years ago for our first Easter together, and we instantly decided it had to happen again and again and again. It’s creamy and cheesy, good for serving to crowds, and makes bomb leftovers. It’s potatoes au gratin!

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I know this isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Potatoes au gratin are kind of the go-to for Easter side dishes. But up until two years ago, it wasn’t something I had ever had. Mark hadn’t either, because he didn’t really celebrate Easter growing up. So it’s still new enough for me that I think it’s worth sharing as I experiment a bit.

I can easily understand why it’s a mainstay on Easter brunch menus, though. You can serve these potatoes alongside a bright, citrusy salad or with a honey glazed ham. Or both! They’re pretty versatile. Also…it’s potatoes and cheese. So, instant and guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you’re ever feeling worried about whether or not your guests will really enjoy the menu, add a dish with potatoes and cheese. Real talk.

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Potatoes Au Gratin:

6 small potatoes, cleaned and thinly sliced

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 c heavy cream

1/4 c milk

1 tbsp thyme

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of salt and pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 1/2 c shredded gruyere cheese

1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using a mandolin (or a really good, sharp knife) slice the washed potatoes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring consistently. Add the heavy cream and milk into the saucepan, stirring to combine. Then add the thyme, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Finally, mix in the shredded gruyere cheese. Mix constantly, making sure to scrape everything from the bottom of the saucepan, until mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.

Arrange half of the potato slices in circular pattern around a cast iron skillet. Pour half of the cheese/cream mixture over these slices. Cover the skillet with the remaining slices and then pour the rest of the sauce over the potatoes.

Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake, covered, for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil and sprinkle the parmesan over the top of the potatoes. Then bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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This rendition was so, so good. Much better than my 2016 version. It had a respectable gruyere in it, which made all the difference. Plus, the red pepper flakes added some heat without the dish crossing the line into being “spicy”. I really can’t wait for you to try this.

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As I’ve been mentioning, my Easter will likely be nothing special. The bunny won’t visit me. I’ll be at work starting at 11 am, so no church or brunch for me. I will probably treat myself to a slice of carrot cake. And maybe I’ll make a quiche in the morning? I can probably manage that. Mostly, I plan on just spending the day feeling grateful and looking forward to fresh starts and new beginnings.

 

Thank you so much for reading, everyone! Have very Happy Easters. And don’t let your pets eat any chocolate or you’ll have me to answer to. 😉

 

“The Peter Rabbit” Cocktail

It’s Good Friday…which means we’re ALMOST THERE!

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I don’t really do a lot of cocktails because I’m not a mixologist and a bad cocktail is worse than anything, in my opinion. The biggest letdown. Good cocktails are so tasty and pretty, so why not just leave it up to the professionals, right?

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Except that serving a good cocktail is a pretty big game changer when it comes to hosting. It’s kind of the thing that turns your brunch from blah to blast!

So, I made an Easter themed cocktail for us all and it is NOT BAD, Y’ALL. It even looks semi-professional, garnish and all. We’re calling it The Peter Rabbit, because it looks like one big carrot!

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Since I know you’re wondering: It’s got carrot juice, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, a little ginger syrup, and some gin. So it’s not too carrot-y, which is great. I kind of like to think it tastes like walking through a big garden on a dewy spring day.

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What I would do if I were hosting: Either have a big pitcher of the stuff, or have several bottles of the carrot juice, grapefruit juice, and lemon juice & let people control their own cocktails. Anything to avoid you having to man the bar! Personally, I would just make a big pitcher because I am a control freak. That’s just me.

Oh, also, pro tip: make the ginger syrup the night before. Less of a hassle.

The Peter Rabbit:

making the ginger syrup:

1 c granulated sugar

1 c water

several small pieces of ginger, peeled and cut

Bring water and sugar to boil in a saucepan, stirring constantly so sugar dissolves. Add ginger and bring mixture to simmer. Remove from heat and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into squirt bottle.

making the cocktail:

1/4 oz ginger syrup

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz grapefruit juice

2 oz gin

3 oz carrot juice

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with some ice, shake vigorously until well combined. Pour into a tall, clear glass.

creating the garnish:

Take a vegetable peeler and one long carrot. Peel the carrot in a single, fluid motion. That’s your garnish piece! Take a toothpick and curl the carrot peel loosely around it, sticking the tooth pick through the very middle of the peel so that it stays in place. Rest it and a lemon wedge/round on top of the glass.

Last, but not least, add some green straws so that it looks like carrot stems!

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2 more days! It’s so weird thinking that Easter is the last holiday we’ll be experiencing in this apartment. More on that soon(ish)!

Bright Beet Hummus Platter

This crudités platter is almost as colorful as a basket of Easter eggs, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

I’m all about appetizers for brunches and parties. Everyone loves finger food, I’m convinced of it. And it’s fun to come up with new appetizers, because often that’s typically where people have the most wiggle room in their menus anyway. I don’t know about you, but most people I know have a set, traditional “main course” for whatever they’re eating on Easter (be it a glazed ham, a quiche, or even spaghetti and meatballs). 

I also decided to make this because I’m currently trying to avoid sugar at all costs. I’m going through dental hell right now, so my relationship with sugar just went from “in a domestic partnership” to “it’s complicated”. But that’s a story for a different time. Let’s just say, veggies don’t give you cavities.

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Anyway, when I first started shopping at Trader Joes I got pretty hooked on their beet hummus. I put it on EVERYTHING. So I knew I’d eventually have to make my own version. It couldn’t be easier, as long as you have either a blender or food processor.

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ROASTED BEET HUMMUS

1 can of chickpeas, drained

1 can of whole beets, drained

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp tahini

dash of salt and pepper

1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

scoop of greek yogurt, to top

Combine all ingredients except for yogurt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl, top with some yogurt and fresh herbs.

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For the crudités I picked my favorite and most colorful veggies: radishes, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, and carrots. I also included a few “exotic potato” terra chips, for added color and crunch.

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We’re almost at the weekend, y’all! Time is running out so I hope you all have your grocery lists ready to go. 😉