No Fail Potato Gratin

How the hell did it get to be Monday already??  I had a bizzy weekend, and a relaxing one too – best of both worlds!

Tony and I went out to eat Friday night at Wool Street.  Except they didn’t have Rolling Rock on tap – boo. Sad smile  They have awesome burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, but I felt like tacos.  I ordered the shrimp tacos, but sadly forgot to ask if they were breaded, and they were.

I also said “make sure that no onions even come within five feet of my plate – thanks!”  The mango salsa that was slathered over the top?  Chock full of the nasty red onions.  Note to self, don’t order tacos in a place known for burgers and pork!

tacos

The weather was perfect Friday night – around 70 degrees, a light breeze.  Tony and I sat outside and talked and listened to music for a couple hours – nice. Open-mouthed smile

Then Saturday it was unpack my Mom day!  The movers were delivering all her stuff and when I got there around 10:45, the movers were just finishing up – perfect timing.  I love her house – my pictures didn’t turn out so I’ll have to take more the next time I visit her.  It’s a ranch, with a huge basement.

Everything is new, the appliances, paint, floors, etc. – move in condition.  While unpacking some stuff I came across a box that said “hall closet.”  Inside were dolls that my sister and I used to play with . . . 40 years ago!  My Mom made all our doll clothes, these outfits had matching hats.

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They are actually in pretty good shape considering how old they are – I think my sisters daughter Claire is the last one to play with them. 

I got to see Hannah on Saturday so I got to give her lots of hugs and kisses! Red heart  I miss her!

I stayed about 4 hours, then had to high tale it back home – my SIL, her grandson, my nephew and his girl friend came over for dinner.  My nephew and his girl friend are moving to Tennessee in a week and a half, and Saturday night was the last night that we would see them for a while.

Tony, being the wonderful husband that he is, did the grocery shopping for me.  Okay, now I write a grocery list by recipe – so if I am making burgers I’ll have:

  • hamburger meat
  • hamburger buns
  • American cheese

Then if the next recipe is gnocchi gratin, I’d add:

  • gnocchi
  • bacon
  • milk

Tony literally shopped right down my list, so he would go to the meat section to get the burger meat, then to the bread section, then got American cheese, only to back track back to the meat department to get the bacon and then back to dairy to get the milk.  He said he went back and forth across the store 11 times!  Sorry sweets, but you were a big help!

Not only did I have just 2 hours to prepare dinner, which was marinated pork loin with two side dishes, I also put together five dishes for my SIL for the week.  It was like I was on Dinner Impossible!   And speaking of that show, have you seen Chef Robert Irvine’s body – how the hell does a chef have a body like that?  Oh, I guess you have to actually walk into a gym to get a body like that! Open-mouthed smile

robert irvine

But I got it all done.  I think my favorite dish of the night was a gnocchi & bacon gratin.  I’ve talked about it before, but scalloped potatoes are like my worst enemy. No matter how long I cook them, the potatoes are still crunchy.  The only way I can make a good one is to microwave the casserole, but it always spills over and it is such a pain to clean up.

No more – say hello to my little friend – gnocchi!  Gnocchi is made of potatoes, so there was no way I could screw this up!  I adapted it from this blog, but left off the buttered crumb topping – Tony said he didn’t think it needed it – I think next time I’ll add it for a bit more texture, but this was delicious.

Gnocchi and Bacon Gratin

  • 3 slices of bacon (I used smoked applewood)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 16 ounce package of gnocchi
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook gnocchi for 2 minutes, then drain with cold water to stop the cooking process.  While water is coming to a boil, cook the bacon until crisp and cool and chop.

Melt the butter in the pot.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add flour and stir to make a paste.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to make a thick sauce.  Remove from the heat and add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and cheese.

Then in a big bowl I added the cooked gnocchi, the broccoli and then dumped the cheese sauce over top and mixed really well.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

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No crunchy potatoes this time!  I’ve never really thought of using gnocchi any other way then just cooking it and putting red sauce on top with some Parmesan cheese.  Do you use gnocchi in a different way?

I somehow over cooked the pork, even though I took it off the grill at 150 and let it rest – oh well, it was tasty, but just a tad on the dry side.

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So yesterday?  Totally relaxing.  I didn’t wake up until 9:00.  I made an unphotographed breakfast panini for breakfast while drinking iced coffee and read the newspaper.  I kinda dozed off here and there for about 30 minutes.  Then finally took a shower around 1:00. 

Tony asked what I wanted to do for lunch and I said “I don’t care!”  So we went to a buffet in Hoffman Estates. 

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For $22 dollars for lunch, I was a bit nervous because the reviews on Yelp were either “Loved it!” or “the food tastes like ass.”  Nothing really in between.

Wow – so much food, so little time.  I started with the build your own stir fry, which was really, really good.

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Lots of veggies!  You just hand the cook your plate with the sauce on the side and he grills it on this flat top grill – super hot.

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They also had tons and tons of seafood – I think next we go – I’ll concentrate on the build your own stir fry and the seafood.

crab

They also served raw sushi, so Tony well got his $$ worth!  And I tried red bean ice cream for the first time – tasted like vanilla ice cream to me!

I did a clean sweep of my closet and laundry – not only is all of our laundry done, but folded and put away.  I have all my outfits laid out and my gym clothes for the week.  I am so excited to go to the gym – my exercise mojo is back with a vengeance!  I remembered to pack sun screen, so I will try to swim outside today if it isn’t too hot.

What was the highlight of your weekend?  Make it a great day!