Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sides, sides, how to choose?

Last night we had kielbasa for dinner. A delicious change of pace, and super easy to make - just heat and eat!

The "hard" part was picking a side dish. Usually we make pirogies and a veggie when we have kielbasa, but I had no pirogies in the freezer and am not brave enough (yet) to make them from scratch... so instead, I figured I would make something with potatoes. I didn't want oven fries or hash browns, nothing fried (or fried-esque...). I started looking up potato casserole recipes, but none were speaking to me... then I thought of scalloped potatoes. Hmm... Intriguing. So I started looking at recipes. Many were written to make way more than I wanted. Others were written to use canned cream-of-fill-in-the-blank soup. Those weren't going to work. So I decided to wing it.

I peeled and sliced five potatoes as thinly as I could. Then I made a sauce similar to what I make for mac & cheese, adding onions to the butter before adding the flour for the roux. Add some milk, grate some cheese... instant cheese sauce. Not to mention a kinda cool picture... Anyway, layer of potatoes, drowned in cheese sauce, another layer of potatoes, more sauce... And 45 minutes later, out of the oven came an ooey, gooey, bubbly, cheesy, potatoey (is that a word) delicious dish.

But I wasn't done. I kind of felt like something was missing, and wanted some way to make the meal feel... well, a little healthier... Kielbasa and cheese-sauce-smothered potatoes just felt a little heavy to me, even knowing that brocolli was being served with it.

So I picked a fruit side, too.

We still have a bunch of apples, so I sliced two of them up, sauteed them lightly in a pat of butter (not too much - I was going for fresh here!), poured some apple juice over them and covered the pan to let them simmer gently. And, well, of course I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on them... because it needed it. When I lifted the lid, it looked and smelled delicious, but something still seemed to be missing... it needed some color. A handful of craisins solved that problem beautifully. A few more minutes simmering in the pan and they were done. Everyone had seconds.

All in all, dinner worked out pretty well. A little more work than the usual kielbasa and pirogies, but everything was tasty, and it all went together really well. And was pretty colorful, too.


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