|Loaded Potato Bake|
It seems that sides are the order of the day. The holidays bring countless dinner parties and entertaining. Somehow, although we love to spoil our friends and family, it is often nice to simplify the menu so that you can enjoy the company. Now that you have your holiday meal planned and have decided upon a nice tender ham, turkey or leg of lamb now there are important decisions to be made about the menu. You can never go wrong with potatoes. This recipe comes from Anna Olson one of our prominent Canadian Chefs. She served it with Overnight Baked Ham with Riesling Mustard Glaze and Grilled Apple and Fennel Salad .
Yesterday I went and cut down a tree at one of our local tree farms. I have had trouble in the past with having to sweep my tree out of the house after the holidays and seriously considered going to a non-tree. I decided to give it one last try and found a Noble Fir. With a beautiful, almost spruce like appearance, Noble Fir has soft blue-green needles with evenly spaced strong branches perfect for heavy ornaments. It will keep really well I am told and has the ability to stay fresh for a long period of time. The fellow assured me it would keep it's needles and my broom could stay in the closet. I was lucky enough to have it at the same cost as any other fir...usually the noble firs are double the price. It even has an almost herby fragrance that is quite an addition to all the other wonderful fragrances of the season.
Each tree over the years has been different and unique. Although I admire all of the beautiful monocromatic trees our own tree can only be described as eclectic. My cherished ornaments that I have been collecting since 1976 are soon to be taken out of storage, each one holding a special memory in my heart and a glimpse back into family history. We even have a revered place on the tree for all the ornaments L'il Burnt Toast made all through elementary school when all the families gathered on their Family Night. When she was a "wee tyke" we used to thread popcorn and cranberries on strings and make cookie ornaments to hang on our tree and then add the garlands to the pines outside for the birds in the New Year. I remember trudging through the woods in Alberta in search of a "Charlie Brown" tree for $2.00 on land that had been clearcut and standing it in a bucket....sigh. I can still remember her jumping into a snow bank to see a glimpse of Santa when she heard his sleigh bell outside the door at nursery school..sigh....
As with each of us each Christmas past has been a wonderful memory in the making and we look forward to many more to come.
(A Li'l Burnt Toast update, she will be heading back to university on the coast come January. It is always hardest on mom...sigh again...)
**Loaded Potato Bake**
6 slices bacon, diced
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup sour cream (not low-fat)
salt and pepper
3 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup sliced green onions
2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon until crisp and remove to drain. Brush an 11-x-7-inch casserole dish with some of the bacon drippings. Over medium-high heat, sauté onion in the remaining bacon drippings until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add milk and bring up to a simmer. Remove from heat and season lightly.
To assemble, spoon a little of the milk mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish and arrange a single layer of sliced potatoes over. Spoon a layer of milk mixture over potatoes and sprinkle with a bit of reserved bacon, green onion and Cheddar cheese. Dollop small amounts of sour cream on top.
Top with another layer of potatoes and continue layering with milk mixture, bacon, green onions, Cheddar cheese, sour cream and potatoes, finishing with a final sprinkling of Cheddar cheese and a few dollops of sour cream. Place a piece of parchment paper, cut to the size of the dish, over top layer and cover dish with foil (or a lid). Bake, covered, for 45 minutes, then remove foil (or lid) and parchment and cook another 20 to 30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the dish yields easily. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.