You Had Me at Potatoes

Valentine’s Day is the one-time Jeremiah and I stay in. We hate the crowds and waiting past your reservation time for a table. We eat out enough so we don’t feel like we need to mess with it on Valentine’s Day. Instead, it’s the one night we prepare an all-out meal and sit down at the dinner table to eat it.

This year, the plan was for spaghetti. In fact, I’ve turned Jeremiah into someone who prefers to eat my Great Grandma Reith’s spaghetti sauce over anything you can get from a jar or at a restaurant. That was the plan.

On our way home, we stopped at Sprouts to grab some bread. Unfortunately, finding bakery bread has turned into a nightmare because everything in that area seems to have barley. Since I’m allergic, it’s getting way harder to make garlic bread ourselves.

While in the store, Jeremiah spotted some lobster tails on sale for $4.90 each. That’s crazy ridiculously cheap! We know from our trip to Maine why they are so expensive. A change of dinner plans occurred. “Why don’t we have lobster tails?” said Jeremiah. I said, “We’ve never made them. Do you know how to cook them?” Jeremiah used his phone to research a recipe. It looked simple and quick enough. Then, the next question was what we would eat with them? That’s when I throughout this recipe from our wedding cookbook for cheesy potatoes. Needless to say, what should have taken less than 20 minutes to make for dinner, turned into a late-night Valentine’s Day dinner. We even grabbed something in the McDonald’s drive-thru, which we never eat, to hold us over.

Jeremiah goes way back with the Fox boys (brothers – Kelly and Travis). Kelly and Travis grew up with the Slater clan. From what I understand, I think their dads met through work and became good friends. I also learned that Jeremiah’s mom used to babysit the boys when she did home daycare. The Fox’s grandma told me at our wedding that she considers Jeremiah almost be like a grandson because he spent so much time with her when they were kids.

According to Erin, these potatoes are the reason her husband Kelly married her. Jeremiah says Kelly was smitten on her from the moment he met Erin.

This recipe is similar to my mom’s cheesy potatoes. I like Erin’s recipe through because it feels a little less rich and just the right amount of cheesy to make this side dish a little more often. My biggest pet peeve is when someone says they made cheesy potatoes and you can barely taste the cheese. Not the case with this cheesy potato dish at all.

And on a side note, we probably ate a lobster dinner complete with cheesy potatoes, garlic bread, and monster cookie cheesecake for less than $8 a serving. If you add in a glass of local vineyard wine, it probably came out to $12 a serving. In fact, that’s cheaper than we spent on a fast-casual dinner at Chipotle of nights ago. And it’s definitely cheaper than if we had gone to one of our favorite steakhouses.

fullsizerender-12Cheesy Potatoes by Erin & Kelly Fox
1 stick of butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 – 1lb. package of shredded hash browns
Garlic salt and black pepper to taste

Melt butter. Add cream of chicken and sour cream. Add garlic salt and pepper. In an extra-large bowl, pour mixture over hash browns. Add cheese and combine. Pour into sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes at 400 degrees.

Stuffing from Scratch

It’s 5AM and I’ve been awake for about an hour now. After 30 minutes of tossing and turning in bed, I had a bit of a panic attack when I remembered that my uniform for work was in the laundry. I jumped out of bed and found myself sorting laundry in the closet as to not wake my fiancé.

I guess that is a bit of news I’d hadn’t shared here. My boyfriend proposed to me at dinner a few weeks ago. It was our 16 month anniversary and we were eating at Houlihan’s in Leawood. It was where we had gone on our very first date. We had planned to go to dinner early because the Kansas City Royals were playing game five of the World Series at 7PM. We were standing outside the restaurant talking about our first date and how we stood outside the restaurant talking after a long dinner. I turned around to walk in and Jeremiah spun me back around before getting down on one knee. I was a little in shock. If I was, you should have heard all the people around us. The people dining on the patio and getting in/out of vehicles were like “Is he prosing?” “Did she say yes?” Of course, without a doubt in my mind, I said yes. We went into the restaurant and the server asked us how it was going. I said, “We just got engaged.” He was like, “Congratulations!” I was like, “It was a minute ago just outside the restaurant. This is where we went on our first date.” The table next to us asked if he could take our photo when he overheard us. He told us how it was he and his wife’s second marriage but when you find the right one, it’s meant to be. The restaurant was so sweet and the manager brought us champagne and dessert to celebrate. Phone calls were made while we waited for our lovely dinner – the George Banks Sea Scallops with risotto and fresh arugula (one of my absolute favorite dishes of all time). As you all know by now, the Royals won it in game five beating the Mets in extra innings. It was also my mother’s birthday so this is certainly a day we will never forget.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been sleeping very long since our engagement. I wake up with ideas about our vows or what food should we make during our engagement photos. The date is set for July 2016 so I need to get cracking on these details. The venue is pretty much set, the guest list has been made, our wedding app/website has been created, half the attendants have been asked (including our adorable 3 ½ month old ring bearer), and the photographer has been selected. However, I have no idea what my dress will look like or what colors I want. I also need to email my hairdresser to see if she’s available. Every hinges on what time my hair can be done. Oh let’s hope she’s available because I have zero skill when it comes to doing my hair. I better email her right now, this is really important.

So since I’m awake and my laundry is in the wash, I decided to write a blog post for all of you. It is Thanksgiving week. Can you believe it? Normally, I would have already scoped all the Black Friday ads and had a plan for our day after Thanksgiving adventure. This year, I’m worried about whether or not I need to schedule a dress outing the Saturday after Thanksgiving with my mother and sister. I’m also not sure what on earth to get my fiancé for Christmas in our $75 spending limit?

In honor of it being Thanksgiving week though, I have decided to share with all of you one of the recipes Jeremiah and I will be making for my family. This is a recipe we learned last year while taking a cooking class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. Not to worry my vegetarian friends, I’m including modifications for you to enjoy this recipe as well. I made both recipes for our Thanksgiving work potluck last week.

stuffingApple, Sage, & Sausage Sourdough Stuffing by Rachel Ciordas
12 oz. turkey breakfast sausage
1 tsp. oil
2 c. chopped onion
2 c. chopped apple
2 c. chopped celery
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried marjoram
½ tsp. black pepper
12 c. cubed sourdough bread
1 can fat-free, less sodium chicken broth

Cook sausage until browned. Add onion, apple, and celery. Sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in seasonings. In a large bowl, combine sausage mixture, bread, and broth. Spoon the stuffing into a sprayed 11 x 7 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Nutrition: Makes nine (1 c.) servings. 208 calories, 5 g. fat, 11.9 g. protein, 28.9 g. carbs, 2.1 g. fiber.

Notes:

  • Rachel said to not use green apples for this recipe. They are not sweet/juicy enough to sauté.
  • Did you know you can eat the leafy part of celery? It’s actually really flavorful.
  • I brought two loaves of fresh French bread at Spouts. I cubed 1 ½ loaves and let it sit out in a bowl overnight. I used the extra bread for a brioche French Toast.
  • I used the local brand of ground sausage. It added some extra flavor. 
  • I’ve found the lowest sodium chicken broth is Rachael Ray’s brand.
  • To make it vegetarian friendly, I substituted veggie broth and removed the sausage. In its place, I put some dried cranberries. After my luncheon, Jeremiah and I mixed the leftovers. It was good so feel free to add cranberries to the original recipe.
  • For a little crisper stuffing, bake covered 15 minutes and uncovered for 35-40 minutes.