Sunday, September 30, 2012

Potato, Sausage, Broccoli and Gruyere Casserole

I am going to apologize in advance that this recipe has no picture, but I do promise a picture next week when I make it again for my parents' visit.  It was THAT good, I would be glad to eat it pretty much everyday.  Also, don't ask me about the calorie content, I don't know and I'm not going to try to find it out because I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.

This recipe was inspired by two things.  First, this good old fashioned comfort food recipe found here:  Looks fabulous and yummy doesn't it?  Well, except for the fact that I kind of hate Velveeta and I don't keep it in the house. Second, about a year ago I was at a "girls' night in" where my friend Lauren made a super delicious cheese fondue.  I have been dreaming about that fondue ever since and I asked her for the recipe just a few weeks ago.  Because she really is amazing she was happy to oblige.  I hadn't made the fondue yet though, mostly because with everything going on I didn't have time to make the fondue and come up with an array of fun dippers for it.  I had been thinking I wanted to make baked potato fries, blanched broccoli, Lil' Smokies, blanched carrots and maybe bread cubes for dipping.  Then I saw that first casserole and the genius that is this casserole was born.

Ingredient Roundup:

6-8 medium russet potatoes (I like mine to come from Idaho usually, but those apparently don't exist out on this coast)
1 package smoked sausage (mine was 14oz I know the weights vary depending on what kind you get, you could definitely use smoked turkey sausage or even ham depending on your personal tastes)
1 T extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 - 3/4 of an onion, chopped (use a little more or a little less according to your taste, but don't leave it out all together then tell me the dish was a little "bland" because OF COURSE IT WILL BE)
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, diced very fine (more or less according to your taste, but again, if you leave it out you are going to loose flavor)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (you could probably use half and half, whole milk, or maybe even two percent, but I would stick with higher fat contents, you are making a rich lovely creamy cheese sauce, if you skimp on the fat content you risk your sauce breaking)
8 oz cream cheese (you could probably use the 1/3 fat kind, but please, don't use the fat free kind, your sauce will not be the same)
4 oz grated Gruyere cheese (use Gruyere, you will thank me)
4 oz grated decent quality Parmesan cheese (not the green can people, it has it's place but not here)
2 cups chopped broccoli (either fresh blanched or frozen, I used frozen)

The "How to":

First clean your potatoes, peel if desired (I did, but you don't have to), cut potatoes into cubes (size is up to you, but I would go with 1/2 - 3/4 inch-ish cubes, mine were closer to 1 inch pieces and they were a little too large), place in a pot cover with cool water, boil over medium high heat until pieces are fork tender but NOT mushy, we aren't making mashed potatoes here!  Remove from heat, drain, salt potatoes to taste and put potatoes into your 9x13 glass casserole to cool a bit.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile cut sausage into half moons, add about 1 T EVOO to a large frying pan, add sausages and brown over medium high heat.  Don't skip this step, browning is where FLAVOR comes from.  Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon (leaving the drippings behind in the pan) and place into casserole dish with potatoes.

Add your chopped broccoli into the casserole dish with potatoes and sausage, make sure that your potatoes, sausage and broccoli are mixed together in the dish.

Add chopped onion to pan with drippings and cook until onions are translucent (just a few minutes).  Lower heat to medium, then add garlic, cook for about 30 seconds to one minute (careful not to burn your garlic).  Add in your heavy cream and your cream cheese, stir until cream cheese is melted.  Then add in Gruyere and Parmesan cheese, cut off the heat, and stir until cheeses are melted.

Pour cheese sauce over potatoes, sausage, and broccoli in casserole dish, stir to coat pieces, taste, add salt and pepper as needed, then place casserole in 375 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Next time I make this I am probably going to add more veggies (I'm thinking cooked chopped carrots at least), and I'm going to make a Panko breadcrumb topping.  Not that I didn't love this casserole the first time (because, trust me, I did), but I'm just not the kind that can leave well enough alone.  I think the carrots will add some good color and a little sweetness, and I think the Panko will add a little texture that may have been missing the first time.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Holy Long Time Batman!

It's been ages since I blogged a single thing...there is good reason!  We have MOVED!  All the way across the country to Hampton, VA!  Bobby finished an eight and a half month deployment in August and the kiddos and I met him here in VA to start our east coast adventure.  We will be here at least 2 years and are happy to be getting settled into our lovely rental home.

We are working very hard to make our new house a home.  We have a lot of stuff and much of it has been in storage for years, so we are weeding through stuff we haven't seen in a while.  The kids are loving getting reacquainted with toys they haven't seen in a while.  I am loving getting rid of stuff we no longer need (I know we should be getting rid of more faster, but it's a step in the right direction).  Our new place has a formal dining room...I know, what the heck am I going to do with that, right?...well, what I'm going to do with it is have a CRAFT ROOM for the first time in my life!  I'm so excited and when I finally get it all put together I'll post pics.  It also means that there will probably be a lot more actual crafting going on which I can just about guarantee will mean some more blogging from me...for the five people that might still care!

My boys are growing like weeds and are more fun AND more challenge every single day.  They have had to deal with a lot of changes.  They are missing their grandparents, great grandparents, cousins, Uncle Duane and Aunt April, but I can tell you it is their Uncle Ryan they have the hardest time not having around.  Ryan was awesome and made the drive out here from Phoenix with us and the kids got pretty used to him being there.  Punk asks pretty often about going to the "yellow house" which is where we lived in Phoenix and he asks about his cousins often, he also still asks regularly about his friends from WA.  It breaks my heart that my little man is finally at the age where he misses his friends when we move, but we are working on making new friends...him and I both.

This is the first move where I've had a hard time as well.  Luckily I do have a couple of friends here (people who moved with the boat from WA), but this move has definitely been the hardest one in a long while in the friend department for me...thank goodness for the internet, Facebook, and Pinterest which keep me feeling closer to my friends that are far away.

Okay, enough for now...but expect that you will be hearing more from me in the near future.