Monday, December 19, 2011

I did not forget

Wow!  I think this has been the longest I've got without blogging in months.  I've been super busy with moving, packing, visiting family and friends, baking, and deep cleaning.  Oh, did I mention I finally got accepted to Pinterest?  Yes, this is my new, all-time-consuming internet activity.  I am obsessed!  I have some really cute ideas that I can't wait to try out, and even some that I can add myself.

While I've been away from the blogging world, I've been able to visit family and get all of my Christmas shopping done.  I've also tried some great recipes.  BEWARE!  Some of these are NOT the healthiest, so eat in moderation.

Taste inspired straight from my "20-something" birthday date at Capital Grille...

Au Gratin Potatoes

4 Large baking potatoes
3 Cups Bechamel sauce (see following recipe)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Colby cheese

Bake potatoes in oven at 400 degrees until completely
cooked. Cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, then slice
into 1/2" thick rounds. Mix together the Bechamel sauce, salt
and white pepper. Add remaining ingredients.
Fold in potatoes. Place mixture in covered baking dish in a
300F oven for 1 hour, or until potatoes are hot all the way
through. Remove the cover and allow potatoes to brown.

Bechamel Sauce
1 quart half & half
2 ounces flour
2 ounces clarified butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, combine the flour and butter. Cook over a
low flame, for about 15 minutes until the mixture begins
to bubble. Stir frequently so the roux does not color.
Gradually add the half & half, stirring out the lumps as
it thickens. After the entire amount of half & half has
been added, cook for 45 minutes over a low flame, stirring
occasionally to keep the mixture from sticking to the saucepan.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

We prepared these with some Roasted Veggies and Balsamic Sauce.  This recipe is so easy.  Just choose the veggies you want, like red peppers, carrots, green peppers, asparagus, onions, etc.  Roast these on a cookie sheet in the oven with a couple sprigs of rosemary until browned and soft to the touch.  Prepare a balsamic reduction by combining 1/4 c balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp brown sugar, and 2 TB olive oil.  Cook until thick syrup forms.  Drizzle and toss with hot vegetables.  Serve immediately. 

We cooked both of these recipes for our neighbors who always do so many nice things for us  To complete the meal, we served fillet mignon and a full-flavored Cabernet. 

Look for more recipes in the next few additions.  I've been a cooking and baking fool!

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