Instant Pot Egg Bites Feature

Instant Pot Egg Bites

The words “pressure cooker” initiate strong images of my mom standing near our stove, carefully watching a round gauge on a big, metal, enclosed pot. It was not a time to ask her questions or distract her with anything less than a major emergency. Her focus was on that gauge and making sure to adjust the temperature of the burner just enough to keep the pressure from getting too high or too low.

my introduction to instant pot egg bites

When I started hearing people talk about these new, programmable, electric pressure cookers, I was curious, but skeptical. My curiosity started outweighing my skepticism as my Pinterest feed showed more and more uses … stock, dry beans, rice, roast, baked potatoes, cheesecake … in less time and with no gauge-watching. And then my cousin made me egg bites in her Instant Pot. I have never tasted eggs with such an airy texture.

You guessed it … one of those 8-quart Instant Pots was delivered by Santa. I love that guy! I quickly ordered an accessory kit which included a silicone egg mold so I could make those fluffy egg bites. After posting a picture of my first attempt (Parmesan, spinach and prosciutto), recipe requests filled the comments.

start with the basics

It all starts with 3 large eggs and two tablespoons of “liquid”.

I told you it was simple.

The Simple Scrambled version contains 3 large eggs whisked together with 2 tablespoons of milk and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Divide the mixture evenly between the seven molds (not  filling over 75-80%) and cover the mold with aluminum foil.

Instant Pot Egg Bites Tools

NOTE: Not all pressure cookers are the same. I am describing the process I used on
my particular pressure cooker. Make sure you read all directions and safety
precautions for using your pressure cooker and follow those instructions.

Pour 12 ounces of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place egg mold on a compatible, removable trivet and lower into Instant Pot. Lock lid into place, making sure the pressure release valve is set on “SEALING”. Press the “PRESSURE COOK” button and set the time for 10 minutes. It will take a few minutes for the proper pressure level to be reached. At this point, the timer will start counting down from 10. When the ten minutes are over, allow the Instant Pot 12 more minutes to naturally release pressure. Press “CANCEL” and carefully move the pressure release lever from “SEALING” to “VENTING”. Make sure your hand and fingers are not above that lever as hot steam and water will escape as soon as it is moved.

Instant Pot Pressure Valve

The red valve pictured above is the pressure indicator. When it is raised above the lid like this, there is still pressure inside the Instant Pot and it is not yet safe to open. This valve will drop down, indicating that the pressure has dropped and it is safe to open the lid. Open the lid, carefully lift the lid up and away from you so the remaining steam escapes away from your face and hands.

Instant Pot Egg Bites

Using some hot pads (the ones pictured above came with the accessories kit I ordered), remove the  trivet from the Instant Pot and carefully remove the aluminum foil. Allow the egg bites to cool for 2-3 minutes, invert onto a plate, gently apply pressure to the outside of the silicone mold until egg bites drop out.

how do you like your eggs?

Instant Pot Egg Bite Platter

The recipe was just too simple so I just had to experiment a little … like four different versions.

Left to right in the picture above:

  1. Simple Scrambled
  2. Parmesan, Spinach & Prosciutto
  3. Pesto
  4. Salsa and Cheese
  5. Deviled

SIMPLE SCRAMBLED: This is the basic recipe described above.

PARMESAN, SPINACH & PROSCIUTTO: Place a little Parmesan and sautéed spinach in the bottom of each mold. Pour basic Simple Scramble egg mixture into molds and top with a little more Parmesan.

PESTO: Substitute pesto for milk in basic Simple Scramble egg mixture.

SALSA & CHEESE: Substitute salsa for milk in basic Simple Scramble egg mixture. Place a little shredded Mexican blend cheese in each mold and pour egg mixture into molds. Top with a little more cheese. Garnish with thinly sliced jalapeño.

DEVILED: Starting with the 3 large eggs, add 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing, 1 Tablespoon pickle juice, a dash of paprika, a dash (or four) of Tabasco sauce and 1 teaspoon yellow mustard. Garnish with a roasted red pepper strip and/or paprika.

ON THE GO … THE TABLE … Or THE TOAST

It’s a super-convenient breakfast. These can be made ahead, refrigerated and then reheated as needed. (If you are going to reheat them in a microwave, make sure you do so using medium power. Reheating on high power will toughen the eggs and make them rubbery.)

It’s not even necessary to reheat. Think of deviled eggs. They are enjoyed cold.

Speaking of deviled eggs … make these egg bites your go-to appetizer for tailgates, picnics, potlucks and parties.

My favorite way to munch of these cute little bites?

Instant Pot Egg Bite Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast.

Drop the mic.

Instant Pot Egg Bites Pin

Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies)

Grandma Glienke’s German Honey Cookies

Baking cookies at Christmastime is more than a sugar-loaded, flour explosion in my kitchen. As is the case for so many foods, it is the creation and recollection of memories. It is a hands-on recitation of “remember when”. Story after story surfaces about successes and failures, who made which delicacy best and the tricks and tips of those people who taught us the recipes. There is always the regret of not asking more questions regarding the history of those family favorites.

bitte, danke and lebkuchen

The first German word I ever learned was either Bitte (please), Danke (thank you) or Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies). I spent a lot of time with my Grandma Glienke throughout the year but especially during Weinachten (Christmas). I would help her wrap presents, clean house, put gumdrops on her gumdrop tree, and make cookies. As she aged, it became more of a challenge for her to make all the different types of cookies each year. Luckily, just as I was getting to the age of actually helping and not just “helping”, my mom invited her to come to our house to bake. Not long after, my Grandma Hinkeldey joined us and the four of us joined forces to produce a ridiculous amount of cookies. Sugar cookies, almond cookies (with egg white brushed on top for a shine), peppernuts (German and Danish), peanut butter blossoms, thumbprints (birds nests), snowballs (pecan crescents) and, of course, Lebkuchen.

Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies)

 

At that age, I was mostly interested in those with chocolate or frosting. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, nutmeg, and clove had little appeal to me. I helped with those simply to get to the ones I wanted. It was unclear to me why anyone would choose a “plain” honey cookie when they could get a stomach ache over a properly adorned sugar cookie … or three.

Brown is a christmas color

With age comes wisdom. I will still grab a well-frosted sugar cookie when I get the chance … and probably ask you for the frosting off of your cookie too … but brown has become my favorite color for Christmas. Give me molasses, honey, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts. There is a warmth to these ingredients that is so appropriate during this season.

baking lessons with a side of history

Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies)

In an effort to learn more about this cookie that made an annual appearance on our Christmas scene, I found this article, A Brief History of Lebkuchen: German’s Heart-Shaped Gingerbread Cookie. Dating back to the 13th century, these “honey cakes” continue to be very popular at the German Christmas markets, are typically heart-shaped and often the size of a dinner plate. Gee … sure sad to know that tradition didn’t trickle down.

The recipe has many variations, some sweeter and some with more spice. Some are decorated with frosting and others with nuts. Some are glazed and some have chocolate (NOTE: chocolate is also brown). As with so many recipes, the adaptations are often regional and subject to ingredients that are readily available and/or affordable.

I wish I had asked Grandma more about her memories of making Lebkuchen. When and why did they change from the traditional round or heart-shape cookies to the Christmas shapes like bells and trees? Did she make these with her mom? Her grandma? Were they her favorite cookie?

the ever-important slice of bread

As mentioned above, the tips and tricks of any recipe passed down from generation to generation are priceless. The trick I learned for this recipe from my Grandma Glienke has nothing to do with measuring, mixing, baking or decorating. It is a way to extend the life of these cookies. If you happen to bake the cookies a little too long or if they lose their chewiness and turn hard and crunchy, simply put a few of the cookies in a plastic bag with a slice of bread for an hour. The moisture from the bread will soften the cookies and restore their chewiness. Now that is a valuable lesson.

adding to my notes

Next year I think I will make two changes to this recipe. First, I will use my heart-shaped cookie cutter (the big one). Second, I will incorporate my other favorite brown ingredient into the recipe by dipping some of the cookies in chocolate.

Don’t worry. There will be plenty of bells and trees and stars.

The traditions will continue.

recipe

Print Recipe
Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies)
Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies)
Cook Time 10-15 minutes
Passive Time 1 day
Servings
100 4" Cookies
Ingredients
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup dark corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • walnuts or peanuts
  • 1 slice bread see notes
Cook Time 10-15 minutes
Passive Time 1 day
Servings
100 4" Cookies
Ingredients
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup dark corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • walnuts or peanuts
  • 1 slice bread see notes
Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies)
Instructions
  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved and ingredients are well combined. Cool to lukewarm and pour into mixer bowl.
  3. Add eggs and one-third of the flour mixture to the bowl and mix on low speed until well combined. Add another third of the flour mixture and continue to mix, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure flour is mixed into the batter. Add the final portion of the flour mixture and stir it in by hand. If you have dough hooks for your mixer, you may be able to do all of the mixing with your mixer.
  4. Store dough in the refrigerator for at least one day (see storage comments in the post above).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Apply a light coating of cooking spray to cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  7. Remove about 1/6 of the dough from the bowl and return remaining dough to refrigerator. Roll dough out on a well-floured, cool surface until it is 1/4" thick. Cut out shapes with well-floured cookie cutters and transfer to cookie sheets, leaving an inch between cookies.
  8. Add some peanuts or walnuts to the shapes, if desired.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness and size. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack or parchment paper.
Recipe Notes

When shapes have been removed from the rolled-out dough, gather the dough scraps and return to refrigerator. When all the original dough has been rolled out once, gather the scraps together and roll out again.

If cut-outs stick to countertop, try running a well-floured spatula underneath to avoid destroying the desired shape.

Why would I list a slice of bread in the ingredients? It's actually an amazing and useful trick. If the honey cookies lose their chewiness and become hard, place a few cookies in a bag with a piece of bread for an hour or two. The moisture from the bread will transfer to the cookies and soften them. Don't leave the bread and cookies together too long though or sogginess will ensue ... and who needs that.

Lebkuchen (German Honey Cookies) Pin

 

Pomegranate and Rosemary Mule

Pomegranate and Rosemary Moscow Mule

If I wasn’t able to convince you to make the pomegranate simple syrup for the Pomegranate Fruit Salad, maybe this will get your attention.

pomegranate and rosemary moscow mule

Pomegranate Mule

Pretty, huh?

Tastes even better.

My intent was for you to make the fruit salad, double the simple syrup and then try these Mules with the extra syrup. Not a rule-follower? It’s ok. I too am attracted to pretty and fragrant beverages that involve gin.

Just do me a favor? At least try the fruit salad. It’s pretty awesome.

If you have yet to click on either of the “fruit salad” links above, I’m going to force you to do so. Why? You need the recipe for the simple syrup and it’s right there in the Pomegranate Fruit Salad recipe.

make the syrup

Pomegranate, Orange and Black Pepper Syrup

Once you have a jar of syrup like this, you are minutes from …

Pomegranate Rosemary Mule

gather other ingredients

You will also need:

  • gin
  • ginger beer
  • fresh lime
  • pomegranate seeds (optional, but awesome)
  • fresh rosemary sprigs

find a mule mug or a pretty glass

Pour one ounce of gin into your mug or glass. Add one tablespoon of the syrup, a squeeze of lime juice and ice cubes. Pour 4-6 ounces of ginger beer into mug/glass and stir with the rosemary sprig. Sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with a slice of lime.

Don’t have a mule mug? All of your pretty glasses in the dishwasher? No worries. There are worse things than Solo cups.

black pepper? gin?

If you have been following this blog for even a short time, you will have likely picked up on the fact that I am an improviser. Two of my favorite things about this cocktail are the addition of black pepper to the syrup and the substitution of gin for vodka.

Black pepper seems like an odd thing to add to a syrup but, just as the tartness of the pomegranate balances the sweetness of the syrup, the black pepper gives it all a hint of warmth. It’s subtle. So subtle, in fact, that I am likely to add a little cracked black pepper to my next mug along with the sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. I like the contrast.

If you haven’t already called me out on this, Moscow Mules are typically made with vodka. Unless it’s in a Bloody Mary, I’m a gin girl. You can use vodka (might I even recommend the pepper flavored vodkas for this one?). I’m sticking to gin.

We can be friends.

Cheers to that!


Everyday’s a Holiday Pomegranate Fruit Salad

My go-to fruit salad for a weeknight meal was always the simple combination of strawberries, grapes, Mandarin oranges and pineapple. There was something about the bright colors and the combination of the tart and sweet that pleased my family. It was my secret weapon for battling the groans that would likely come when the broccoli or peas made an appearance on the table.

fruit salad upset

Oftentimes, in the fall or winter, strawberries would either be of poor quality or much too expensive (or both) and my go-to fruit salad became a no-go. I needed an alternate bribe. Enter the perfectly timed arrival of one of my favorite recipe magazines. I honestly can’t tell you which one it was and I can’t even say the picture was all that inviting but the words “pomegranate syrup” caught my attention.

Apples, pears, oranges, kiwi? All readily available and seasonal fruits in the fall and winter.

Pomegranates? Pomegranate Juice? Pomegranate Seeds? Fresh on the health scene. Beautiful. New to me.

Good enough to act as a bribe for the consumption of peas? Absolutely!

Holiday Pomegranate Fruit Salad

I modified the original recipe to include my favorite combination of fruits but you can absolutely use whatever you like, have on hand or is available in your stores/garden. I also made a bit of an unusual addition to the syrup …

pomegranate syrup

Pomegranate, Orange and Black Pepper Syrup

Pomegranate seeds and juice are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory powerhouses. The seeds add, not only nutritional benefits to this salad, but a nice texture contrast to the fruit. Using 100% pure pomegranate juice may be a bit more expensive than other juice options but the tartness of this juice keeps the syrup from getting too sweet. Adding a bit of orange zest and black pepper provides just the right amount of acid and warmth. Yes, black pepper sounds like a weird thing to add to a fruit salad but you have got to trust me on this one … it’s amazing!

I would even go so far as to recommend that you make a double batch of this syrup.

Pomegranate and Rosemary Mule

Got your attention, didn’t I?

I am also working on a recipe using this syrup to glaze pork loin slices.

Right?

It’s okay. You can take a minute to add 100% Pomegranate Juice to your grocery list. I’ll wait for you.

And, while you’re at it … add peas and broccoli to your list.


Print Recipe
Pomegranate Fruit Salad
Fresh fruit salad gets a holiday makeover with a touch of a tangy pomegranate and orange syrup. This recipe is sure to be a success at any meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
8 cups
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup bottled pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 large navel oranges
  • 2 apples
  • 2 pears
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds optional
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
8 cups
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup bottled pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 large navel oranges
  • 2 apples
  • 2 pears
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds optional
Instructions
  1. Pour pomegranate juice into a small saucepan and stir in sugar. Bring slowly to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add orange zest and black pepper. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Peel and section oranges. Core apple and pears and cut each into 1/2 inch slices or chunks. Combine oranges, apples, pears and grapes in a bowl.
  3. Pour syrup over fruit and stir gently to coat. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top.
Recipe Notes

One 15 oz can of Mandarin oranges (drained) can be substituted for the fresh orange segments.

Other fruit can be substituted or added as desired (e.g. bananas, grapefruit, kiwi, blueberries, pineapple, etc.).


Pomegranate Fruit Salad Pin

Butternut Squash Soup Feature

Squash Soup – What? No Marshmallows?

Until a few years ago, if you asked me, “do you like squash?” I would have told you that I did and in my mind I would see Acorn squash. Not Butternut. Not Spaghetti. Certainly not Delicata or Patty Pan. Just Acorn. If you asked me how to prepare it, I would have described how to bake it, scoop it, smash it and smother it in butter, brown sugar and marshmallows. Delicious! A very concerned look would cross my face if you asked me if I ever made squash soup.

That was then. This is now.

would you like a sample of our squash soup?

If you ever want to get my attention, simply ask me if I would like to try a sample. Seriously, that’s all it takes. When a smiling lady asked me this from her booth at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market last fall, I paid attention. She handed me a small cup filled with a warm and creamy orange purée, drizzled with just a little cream. I expected to taste the sweetness of squash but did not expect the warmth and depth of curry, onions and garlic. Often, free samples are a method to entice you to purchase a larger portion. This time, however, the free sample was sponsored by a local grocery and they were enticing people to eat healthy. To accomplish this, they gave away the recipe.

Jackpot.

Squash Soup Serving

TYPE AND SIZE OF SQUASH

Butternut and/or acorn squash work great for this recipe. Spaghetti squash might not be the best choice due to its stringy texture (this theory has yet to be tested in my kitchen). You do not have to be overly particular in choosing the “right” size of squash. Look for a butternut squash about 8″ long or use two small ones. Use two acorn squash for this recipe as they are typically about 6″ long.

Happen to have an abundance of carrots or sweet potatoes? They will work in addition to, or to replace, the squash.

Creamy, without cream

The key to a creamy soup is not necessarily cream. In this case, the consistency is dependent on the squash being cooked properly, the right amount of stock to determine the thickness and the ability to purée all the ingredients.

When roasting the squash, make sure it is cooked all the way through. The empty seed cavity will cook faster than the stem end of a butternut squash. Make sure you test several places on the squash for even cooking.

The amount of stock to add to the soup is flexible. Some people like a really thick soup and some prefer a thinner consistency. You control the thickness by the amount of stock you add. Do not be afraid to add more stock at the end if you find it too thick for your liking.

There are many ways to purée the ingredients. The immersion blender is your friend. It will allow you to blend the ingredients right in the pan in a few minutes. Be careful as it takes a little practice to avoid splattering. An apron is your friend too.

No immersion blender? A regular blender will work. Typically, allowing the ingredients to cool before adding to a blender is recommended. Often the blending will be done in small batches. A food processor can also be used to purée the squash before adding it to the other soup ingredients.

over the top

Squash Soup

I had no idea making a cashew cream was so easy. The cashews (or almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc) are soaked in water for 30-45 minutes. This softens the nuts so they blend well. Skipping the soak will result in a finished cream that has a grainy texture. Look for nuts that do not have an outer “skin” or have that had the “skin” removed. Almonds are a good example. Blanched almonds will work better than those with a brown exterior. Either will work but the outer brown skin will add more texture and color to the cream.

Coconut milk is amazing in this recipe and what I would recommend. If you do not have it on hand, feel free to substitute regular milk.

Thai, italian, mexican, and german

The original recipe was vegan. It called for vegetable stock. As I mentioned above, the soup was seasoned with curry powder and the “cream” was made with coconut milk and cashews. The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. I have made this soup with vegetable and chicken stock. The curry/cashew version is outstanding. We love an Italian combination of crushed red pepper, thyme and almonds (this is the version in the recipe below and pictured throughout the post).

Coming soon to the PLF table? A Mexican twist featuring chipotle peppers, cilantro and tortilla chips.

Who says squash soup has to be savory? I think my grandmothers would be pretty proud if I stuck to my German heritage and seasoned the soup with cinnamon and brown sugar, put some toasted marshmallows on top and drizzled it with a little maple syrup.

Now that sounds delicious!


Print Recipe
Squash Soup with Cashew Cream
This soup is creamy without the addition of cream, seasoned with herbs and spices and topped with a light and flavorful swirl of cashew cream.
Butternut Squash Soup Feature
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 medium size butternut squash see text above
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Cashew Cream
  • 1/3 cup cashews see text above
  • 1/3 cup Milk see text above
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • toasted pumpkin seeds & cashews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 medium size butternut squash see text above
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Cashew Cream
  • 1/3 cup cashews see text above
  • 1/3 cup Milk see text above
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • toasted pumpkin seeds & cashews
Butternut Squash Soup Feature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Wash and dry the outside of the squash. Cut in half, length wise, and scoop out the seeds.
    Roasting Squash
  3. Drizzle the cut side with one tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Roasting Squash Step 2
  4. Place squash halves, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until is it very soft and the skin bubbles. Make sure to test the thickest part of the squash (i.e. the end without the seed cavity). A fork or knife inserted in the skin should go through the squash easily.
    Roasting Squash Step 3
  5. Remove from oven and cool. Peel away the skin.
    Roasting Squash Step 4
  6. Sauté the onions with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Add squash and return to simmer.
  7. Purée soup with an immersion blender until smooth. (Also, see text above for alternate methods of puréeing.
  8. Serve with cashew cream and toasted pumpkin seeds or cashews.
    Squash Soup Serving
Cashew Cream
  1. Soak the cashews in water for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Drain off all water. Place the soaked cashews in a blender or food processor with the milk, lime or lemon juice and olive oil. Blend or process until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

Squash Soup Pin

Autumn Au Gratin Potatoes

Comfort Food: Autumnal Au Gratin Potatoes

Think of your favorite comfort food. Is it sweet or savory? Is it warm or cold? Do you eat it with a spoon? A fork? Your fingers? Do you prefer a casserole or soup?

Final question: does it involve a starch, a cheese (or three), and a salty element?

I think that’s why I have always loved Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham. Salty chunks of ham surrounded by cheesy, soft and warm potatoes with just a hint of mustard and that crunchy bread crumb topping are the perfect combination for comfort on a plate. It’s my go-to recipe for delivering a message of love to someone who needs a bit of pampering or a sympathetic gift.

Whenever I make it, I smile in remembrance of a story about my boys that is precious to me. You can read the story of that humorous misunderstanding here.

the flavors of autumn in casserole form

Autumn Au Gratin Potatoes

Winter may be the season that many of us need and crave comfort food most but fall, to me, is the season that embraces the senses in the most comforting way. The warmth of the colors and spices, the last produce from the garden, and the chill in the air are just plain soothing.

As I started tweaking the recipe for traditional Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham, I saw some sweet potatoes on the cupboard. That orange color begged to be included. Veggies. This dish needs more veggies. Kale is a wonderful cool-weather vegetable and mushrooms go so well with kale. Sausage would be a good alternative to the ham. Why, yes, I do have some apple-bourbon chicken sausage links in the freezer (true story). What about herbs? Fall … Thanksgiving … sage is the answer.

This is my version of Autumnal Au Gratin Potatoes.

Autumn Au Gratin Potatoes Feature

If kale is a four-letter word to you, or if it is not at its best in the grocery store, feel free to substitute spinach or Brussels sprouts. The mushrooms are optional but I encourage you to try them in this dish. Since they are sautéed, they blend in really well and they are loaded with essential nutrients. Don’t happen to have apple-bourbon chicken sausage in your freezer? Substitute any pork, chicken or turkey sausage (link or rope) you like. Look for ones that have flavors (like sage, onion, maple, cranberry, etc.) that will compliment the other ingredients.

A salad of fresh spinach, apples, pears, cucumbers and red onion with a honey-mustard dressing and a few pecans or walnuts will be all you need for a nourishing, yet comforting meal. Well, that and your family.


Print Recipe
Autumnal Au Gratin Potatoes
This recipe takes the traditional au gratin potatoes and puts a fall flavor twist on it. Sweet potatoes, chicken sausage, kale, mushrooms and sage combine in this delicious, cool weather casserole.
Autumn Au Gratin Potatoes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound fully-cooked chicken sausage
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter divided
  • 8 oz cremini or white button mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper divided
  • fresh kale wash and cut into bite-sized pieces to make 3 cups
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 medium white russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 tablespoon flour flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese divided, room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese divided, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound fully-cooked chicken sausage
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter divided
  • 8 oz cremini or white button mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper divided
  • fresh kale wash and cut into bite-sized pieces to make 3 cups
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 medium white russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 tablespoon flour flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese divided, room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese divided, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Autumn Au Gratin Potatoes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add sausage pieces, lightly browning. Remove from pan and set aside, reserving one tablespoon of drippings in the pan.
  3. Add one tablespoon of butter and the sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are brown (about 5-7 minutes). Sprinkle mushrooms with salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Add kale to the hot pan and cook, 2-3 minutes, until kale wilts. Remove kale and set aside.
  4. Peel and thinly slice potatoes.
  5. Place 1/3 of potatoes in bottom of a 9”x13” pan. Cover with 1/2 of the chicken sausage, 1/2 of the mushrooms and 1/2 of the kale. Repeat layering, ending with a final layer of potatoes.
  6. Melt remaining butter in the skillet over very low heat. Stir in onions and sauté until tender, 3-4 minutes. Whisk in flour, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, sage, crushed red pepper and nutmeg, stirring constantly until bubbly (1-2 minutes). Slowly stir in milk (1/2 cup at a time) and bring back to a very low boil, whisking constantly. Add 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese (1/2 cup at a time) whisking after each addition until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Pour sauce over potato/meat/vegetable layers. Use a fork to gently distribute the sauce throughout the potatoes.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  8. Combine bread crumbs, remaining cheese and paprika. Sprinkle on top of casserole and return to oven for 20 minutes, or until top is brown and bubbly.

 

Autumnal Au Gratin Potatoes Pin