Tag Archives: side dish

Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin ala Pioneer Woman

I love potatoes.  I love baked potatoes.  I love boiled new potatoes.  I love garlic mashed potatoes.  Need I go on?  No?  Ok.  I am pretty sure by making this statement, I lose just a little more standing in my family. Growing up we had potatoes every once in a while.  My daddy liked his rice and gravy with his meat.  Period.  Now, when my mom fried chicken she would make “creamed” potatoes as she calls them. And of course the obligatory French fries with the fried fish on
Fridays, especially during Lent. For the most part, potatoes were a stranger at my mama’s dinner table in straight up potato form. I can distinctly remember declaring at some point in high school that I would NEVER, EVER God as my witness make rice and gravy once I left home. (It was all very dramatic and full of southern teen angst at the least). Luckily that is not true and I got some sense as I got older. Rice and gravy has its lovely place on our table because it for dang sure deserves a spot.  I mean…Cajun Mama…duh.  Rice and gravy.  Also, it is good to remember that we ate a lot of potato salad so I guess potatoes would be redundant on the side of your meal.  But when I say l love potatoes, I mean I like potatoes with my cheese.  Lol!!!  Cause me likes my cheese.  Creamy, cheesy, decadent potatoes.  Those are my favorite.  This recipe I am posting today is exactly that.  Oh my.  Just potato perfection my friends.  Equally at home along side a grilled rib eye or a plate of barbecued chicken or ribs.  This au gratin potato recipe requires minimal ingredients and you probably have the majority of them in the pantry or fridge.  It is super simple and quick to whip together.  Versatile, easy to make, and just a few ingredients are all things that make a recipe perfect.  Oh it has to be delicious. This one is it!!  You and your family will absolutely love these.  Trust me on this one.  I found this recipe one day when reading through one of my Pioneer Woman cookbooks…it is her second one I do believe.  When I read through the recipe I felt like I had won the recipe jackpot!!  I made them over and over again for a few weeks. Yes they are carbs and they are worth every bit of the indulgence. I hope you feel the same when you try them. In fact, next to my special potatoes, which you can find here https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2013/11/12/cajun-mama-special-potatoes/ ..this is probably my favorite potato side dish.

 

Potatoes Au Gratin

Serves 8

Stuff you need~

 

4 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons flour
4 cloves of garlic, minced or 2 tsp. of the jarred garlic (I am not above this)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (recipe calls for sharp, but I encourage you to use what you have)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Smear the softened butter all over the bottom of an 9 x 13 baking dish. Next start out by slicing the potatoes, then cutting into strips and then dicing them into cubes.

Now, in a medium size bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
Layer 1/3 at the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Next, pour about 1/3 of the milk mixture over the potatoes. Give that a good stir. Next, layer some more potatoes and then more milk, about 1/3 of each. Do this until the potatoes and milk are all used up. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle shredded cheese over the piping hot potatoes. Return dish to oven, uncovered and bake until cheese is all bubbly and yummy looking. Heaven in a baking dish I tell you right now.

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this is the hardest part and it isn’t hard

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glorious shredded cheddar…get in my potatoes!

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this is what makes this dish the creamy perfection that it is

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I minced my own garlic this time

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getting ready to go into the oven

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Momou’s mac and cheese

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Momou with my precious first born…the woman loves her grands and great grands…

If you have been following Cajun Mama Cooks for a while on facebook or have known me any amount of time, you know about the entity that is Momou’s Mac and Cheese.  My kids knew about this stuff as soon as they could eat solid food.  My babies all love it and ask for it on a monthly if not weekly basis.  This is the epitome of comfort food.  Nothing else comes close.  If you know me at all, you know all about Momou. Momou is my dad’s mom.  Her name is Narcille and I am not sure there is anyone on this Earth whom I adore as much as her.  I share a birth month with her.  Our birthdays are 5 days apart and I love my birthday, but I love that we share that even more.  She is one fine lady and I love her so much.  My husband loves her so much.  My kids love her so much.  Everyone who knows Narcille, or Nar, or Nice as my grandfather called her, loves her.  I again am beyond blessed to be able to call that woman my grandmother.  And can she cook.  Boy can she ever!!  And loved to do it.  She made this macaroni  and cheese for almost every occasion and just regular old Sunday dinner. You knew when she had the pyrex dish out and she had some of those luxury noodles boiling, you were about to be in for a treat.  When I first got married, Momou, my Nana, Aunt Lee and my mom came to my house and they taught me how to cook Momou’s mac and cheese.  That is one of my fondest memories as a grown up.  I cherish that night always and on cold days when I feel uprooted and out of place, that memory gives me comfort like a warm blanket.  This mac and cheese has spanned generations and now has been made famous in my own kids’ minds.  They know the story behind it and that it belongs to Momou.  They have not been a part of many of dinners at Momou’s because since they have been born, she has slowed down some and now lives in a nursing home.  But they know.  I love that when I cook this macaroni and cheese, they talk about their Momou and what they love about her.  It shows me that even if they have not eaten this dish at her house, per say, they associate this wonderful dish with the wonderful woman who has passed it down to us.  That is what matters most to me.  I have been reluctant to share this recipe because it is very special to my family.  But, after soul searching, I know that Momou would be so glad for me to share it.  She is above all things, a giving, loving person who wants to make others happy.  So I will share.  This is truly love in a 9 x 13 dish.  It is a perfect partner for a pork or beef roast and rice and gravy, an excellent side for turkey and dressing, and a delicious accompaniment to chicken fricassee.  I have never made it for anyone who did not love this stuff and ask if I would be serving it the next time they came to dinner.  I have had several people ask for this recipe and if you are one of them…here you go!! Now, the noodles…as far as I am concerned, these are the only noodles to make Momou’s mac and cheese with.  You can of course make it with any noodle, but I refuse.  I don’t care to change this recipe up one bit.  It is perfect as it is.  Just like Momou.  You don’t mess with something this wonderful.  Well, I don’t.  I have the most luck finding these noodles at our local target.  They are Luxury brand long macaroni noodles.  I have found them at some Wal-Marts.  When I do find them, I buy at least 5 packages of them at a time.  Just a suggestion.  Because you should always be ready to whip up some Momou’s mac and cheese.

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This a package of those noodles..if you find them…buy several packages.  Trust me.

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Love in a 9 x 13 dish I tell you…

Momou’s Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

1 16 oz. box of Velveeta

1 stick of butter

1 can of Pet Milk or evaporated milk

1 package Luxury long macaroni noodles

1/2 cup of sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Get your 9 x 13 dish out.  No need to grease it.

Bring about 8 cups of  salted water to a boil in a large stock pot or pasta pot.  Add your long macaroni noodles to the boiling water.  I break my noodles in half before adding them to the boiling water because it makes it easier for my kids to handle it, but it does cut down on the slurpability (is that a word?) that you get when the noodle is long.  Ah decisions.  Boil the noodles until they are tender.  These noodles take a little longer to boil because they are so long and thick.  If you prefer your pasta al dente, then by all means, pull them sooner.  Drain your pasta.  Now, just leave it long enough to drain because I have found (because Aunt Lee and Momou taught me) that this is easier if the noodles are still warm.  That helps everything to combine and melts the cheese and butter.  Ok, pour your boiled noodles into your 9 x 13 dish.

Now, you are going to cut your stick of butter into “pats” (that’s how Momou would say it…cut the butter into pats, my Doo :))  Take a stirring spoon and don’t stir, but sort of push the noodles around to let the butter circulate and make friends with the noodles.  Ha ha!  Ok, now, Cher, you are going to add chunks of Velveeta to the noodles and butter.  Do the same thing.  Don’t stir, but push the noodles around gently and let the Velveeta chunks come to the party.  Introduce them to the noodles and butter. Next, you are going to sprinkle some sugar ALLLLL over the noodles.  Gently push that around to let the sugar get up in there.  Now you will open your PET milk by poking a big hole on each side.  I suppose you can open the whole can with a can opener, but we have never done that.  It makes it easier to pour it slowly over the noodles.  I use one of those bottle opener thingies.  It has a point edge on one side and I poke it into the can.  Do ya’ll know what I am talking about?  I don’t know the technical term, so excuse my lack of formality.  Though at this point, I hope most of ya’ll are aware that formalities are not my thang.  🙂  Ok, slowly pour the PET milk over the noodles.  I use the whole can.  Gently push that around and let the noodles and all the other ingredients spend some time together.  Now…take a tasting spoon and get a taste of the milk.  If it tastes sweet, but not too sweet with a hint of butter and cheese, it is perfect.  Just add sugar to your taste.  It is supposed to be sweet.  That’s what makes it special!

Cover the pan with foil  and put it  in your preheated oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes and then check it.  Remove foil and using a spoon, gently stir the noodles.  You want there to be some “juice” left.  Be careful not to let the noodles dry out because they will also dry up some once you take the dish out of the oven.  Usually about 30 minutes does it for me.  All of the cheese should be melted, but if not, giving it a good stir will help with that.  The milk mixture should be thicker than it was and clinging to the noodles.  If it is still runny, put the foil back on and bake it for another 5 or 10 minutes.

Now, I really hope I have done this recipe justice.  If you have questions or need something clarified, please ask questions.  Don’t be afraid.  As I have been typing, my 5 year old aka the bull in a china shop has been asking to make goo repeatedly and I have been distracted.  So, let’s be honest, I make mistakes.  I hope you will give this truly wonderful mac and cheese recipe a try.  Just please call it Momou’s mac and cheese and when someone says “who is Momou?” you can tell them all about her.  She is one special lady!   I have given ya’ll 3 very special recipes for you to make for Thanksgiving or whenever you choose.  Since my kiddos are off for Thanksgiving and I have some cooking and baking to do, I am going to sign off for the next few days.  I want to spend some time with my family and friends.  I really hope you all savor every moment of your Thanksgiving celebrations to the fullest.  See you all next week with a fresh batch of delicious recipes!  Enjoy!! ~AMB 

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Can of PET milk…regular ole evaporated milk…but where I am from, all evaporated

milk is referred to as PET milk.  I love that.

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Getting into the spirit of things at the Polar Express  

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Gobble till you wobble…cutest little turkey I know 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends!!!  

            

Cajun Mama Special Potatoes

Pregnancy can do some crazy things to a woman.  4 pregnancies in 5 years can really do some stuff.  Those 5 years were full of many things.  Joy, tears, worry, excitement, anticipation, love, laughter, tears, snuggles, cravings, chaos and oh yeah…potatoes.  Not just any potatoes my friends…my SPECIAL potatoes.  These special potatoes were an evolution of sorts.  This recipe came about long before Cajun Mama Cooks and back when I didn’t cook as much as I do now.

I have always loved twice baked potatoes and in college I used to buy the…gasp…frozen kind.  I know.  Yikes!!  But I liked them.  And then we got married and I started cooking more.  Money was tight and I figured I would give it a try making them on my own.  So I would bake potatoes and scoop them out and make the filling and then put it back in.  They were pretty good but then I got pregnant and then pregnant again.  And again.  My morning sickness was constant and severe and potatoes seemed to make me feel better.  I wanted to swim in a big ole bowl of stuffed potatoes.  Big Daddy really got into grilling and we loved those potatoes with whatever he grilled, but all that scooping and filling was not my bag.  Plus with a bunch of little precious darlings/minions running around, who had time for that?  Not me.  So one day, I was going to make mashed potatoes so I peeled and cut up a bunch of potatoes and boiled them.  But being an impulsive, hungry, pregnant (again) woman…I decided to make what is now affectionately known as my special potatoes.  Oh ya’ll…they are so good.  The beauty of these potatoes is that they are the perfect side dish.  They are laid back enough for barbecue but pretty enough to go on the side of prime rib roast.  They go so well with either.  Or maybe I say this because I have found a way to cook them all year round, regardless of the season.  Oh well…they are really good and 3/4 of my kiddos love them, making them miraculous potatoes in my book.  And I have picked up a few short cuts and tweaked this recipe a bit to where they are almost perfect.

My old neighbor and dear friend , Stacie,  LOVES these potatoes and when I made them I would  bring her some leftovers to take for her lunch at work the next day whenever I could.  She is still my loyal and wonderful friend  after all these years, even though she has seen me through 2 pregnancies and been there with all 4 kids crying at the same time…so maybe these are magical potatoes.  She still comes around even though we have moved.  They really are that good.  So give them a try and at the very least your kids or husband/wife or both might just go into a carb coma after they eat a bowl of these.  You will get some quiet time.  Magical potatoes indeed.  No really, make them.  You will be so happy you did.

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I want to grab a big ole serving spoon and gobble them up!!!

Cajun Mama’s Special Potatoes

Makes about 8-10 servings, depending on size of serving.

Ingredients

1 package of Ore-Ida steam and mash potatoes (found by frozen french fries) cooked according to package directions

OR

6 medium sized potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until tender then drained. (I use the steam and mash whenever possible.  If you have not bought these before you should try them…takes all prep work out of mashed potatoes but they are real potatoes…not boxed)

8 oz. sour cream

1/2 stick butter

2 green onions, chopped (green parts only)

5 slices of bacon, fried and then crumbled ( I have used real bacon crumbles before when pressed for time…just keeping it real folks. 🙂

kosher salt and black pepper

Tony’s seasoning

2  cups cheddar cheese, evenly divided

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Cook your potatoes, whichever kind you decide to use.  While they are still hot, dump them into the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.  Add sour cream.  You can add more or less depending on your taste.  Add salt and pepper and tony’s, about 1/2 tsp. of each.  You can more later to taste if you wish.  Mix on low speed until well combined.  Add more salt and pepper, tony’s  or sour cream if you want at this point. Add green onions, crumbled bacon  and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and mix until this is all combined.

Taste for seasoning and add to it if you wish.  Add in some Tony’s at this point too.  Again, according to your tastes.

Transfer the potatoes to your greased dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and all bubbly.  Serve on the side of whatever meat dish will ultimately pale in comparison to these special delicious wonderful fantastic potatoes.  I really love these potatoes if I have not made that clear.

Hope ya’ll love them as much as I do.