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Potato Leek Gratin

December 23, 2020

If you were to pose that famous question to me, what would you choose for your last dinner, this would be on the menu for sure. The tender potatoes infused with the garlic and thyme and cream, the perfume of leeks that is the best compliment to potatoes there can be, and the crunchy, cheesy, butter topping give that oh so satisfying combination of gooey-cheesy-tender-crunchy that is the stuff of dreams.

This dish is just perfect.

We are having it with Bobby Flay’s Prime Rib and my mother-in-law’s famous Christmas sides which are delicious and easy – her Horseradish Carrots (so good it is the leftover you reach for first, and her Spinach Souffle. 

I think with this gratin we will have the trifecta of sides and I am not sure what I am more excited for, the presents or the dinner.

Like so much good food, this dish starts with the simplest of ingredients. I once had to host Christmas last minute and had all of these on hand.

If you have a mandolin it makes the job of slicing the potatoes so easy. I like the skins on to provide a bit of body to the dish and because I don’t have to peel them. I used the 1/8 inch setting and love it, it ensures that it bakes through and gets soft and tender and you aren’t left with hard potatoes.

Once you have these sliced, you cut up the leeks taking care to remove any dirt between the layers. Then you arrange a layer of the potatoes, sprinkle with about a 1/3 of the cut leeks, then repeat making 3 layers depending on your pan. It’s pretty unfussy and rustic (read: easy) so don’t worry too much.

When you have done this, you heat two cups of cream in a sauce pan over medium heat, and add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. This heats quickly so watch it so it doesn’t scorch or boil over. Once the salt has dissolved, pour it evenly over the whole dish.

 At this point, it smells AH-mazing.

Then you wrap it in foil, cook it for 30 min. at 350. Then you add the toppings:

Sprinkle the grated cheese all over it. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and mix it with the panko and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle that over the top, and bake it uncovered for an additional 45 min.

The ingredients are so simple, but this dish couldn’t be more special, which is why it’s perfect for Christmas dinner.

I hope you all get to try it, you will be thanking me! And I hope you have a blessed, healthy, and joyfilled Christmas!

xoxo Katie

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 pounds Russet or yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, thinly sliced ( I used 1/8 inch on mandoline)
  • 1 thick or 2 slimmer leeks, halved, washed, cut into 1-inch segments
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (panko or homemade are great here)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated gruyère, comte, or baby swiss cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8×12-inch or 3-quart baking dish. Cut garlic clove in have and rub all over the dish.Working in layers, arrange a layer of sliced potatoes on an angle, slightly fanned, in different directions filling the pan loosely. Sprinkle 1/3 of the leeks on top, then add another layer of sliced potatoes, repeating until you have 3 layers.  In a medium saucepan, bring cream, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper, garlic, and thyme to a simmer, stirring to ensure the salt dissolves. Pour hot cream mixture evenly over the pan, trying to evenly coat the potatoes and leeks. Cover pan tightly with foil, place on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 remaining tablespoons butter. Add breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper to taste and mix to evenly coat.

At 30 minutes, briefly remove pan from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle top evenly with cheese, then scatter with buttered breadcrumbs. Return to the oven without foil for 45 minutes, until potatoes are totally tender, the top is browned, and the edges are bubbly. [Insert a knife or skewer into potatoes to feel for crunch or resistance. Return to the oven if needed.]

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving hot.

Do ahead: Gratin can be assembled the day before and baked before a big meal. It can also be baked for 30 minutes (the foil-on portion) and cooled, finishing the baking time the next day. Gratin reheats well in a 350-degree oven. Leftovers keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.


Cheeseburger Soup

February 7, 2019

What good is having a food blog if you can’t share the strangest – and yummy and easy – dinner your kids started to love?

I mean, the soup itself has been circulating through the interwebs but the toppings are very strange and VERY satisfying.

Chopped pickles? Shredded lettuce? And YELLOW MUSTARD? And yet, it has all the comfort and flavors of a McDonald’s cheeseburger. I have no idea why I decided to use these toppings, since none of the pics of this soup anywhere do, but the textures and the familiar flavors all combine to make something so fun and delicious.

My oldest son and husband are meat lovers, so I used a whole pound of ground beef in this soup (I actually used two since I doubled the recipe – leftovers are always a good idea.)  And my 9-year old loves potatoes so she loved it. And everyone loves Velveta – it’s actually why I used this recipe since it was the only one that called for it. It is amazing but if you’re a hater you can swap other kinds of cheese.

So if you feel like fast food one night but you know you need to make a home cooked meal – try this one! And definitely make some leftovers because it gets better the second day.

Happy Eating!

xoxo Katie


Cheeseburger Soup (printer version here):


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1-3/4 pounds (about 4 cups) cubed peeled potatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 4 cups shredded Velveeta processed cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Toppings: shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, or mustard


  • 1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook and crumble beef until no longer pink; drain and set aside. In same saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes, ground beef and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 10-12 minutes.
  • 2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt remaining butter. Add flour; cook and stir until bubbly, 3-5 minutes. Add to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese, milk, salt and pepper; cook until cheese melts. Remove from heat; blend in sour cream.
  • Serve with desired toppings

Adapted from Taste of Home


The Best Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Potatoes (+ 6 flavor combos that I’m loving)

May 3, 2016


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Let’s talk about mashed potatoes, can we? I just love them so much. Sitting next to braised meats, or roasted poultry, filled with flavor combos that make us swoon. (And you have to see the new flavor combos listed at the end of this post that I have tried recently.)

Sour cream and chive might be my favorite version of mashed potatoes though. (Told you I had more chive ideas for you!) Given that it is the only seasonal produce I have access too (I am determined to find some fiddlehead ferns though), it makes sense they would be on the brain but seriously, I was craving these since the second I saw those chives sprouting up.



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These are from a recipe posted on Food52, but I have often whipped up similar versions myself and I feel like if you taste them as you go, and just add more butter/salt/dairy you’re going to end up approximating delicious. But since I like you I figured I would pass along this exact recipe which is someone’s mother in law’s time-tested recipe. (When they promised to be the best they had ever tasted, I thought it was worth a try.) The big tip they offer was to make sure you add the cream cheese in first, while the potatoes are still hot, since the flavor gets distributed better. Then add the rest. (For the record, I used light dairy products. And this time I used a potato masher- the recipe calls for a hand blender so I used it last time, and I like it both ways. Hand blender makes it feel restaurant quality and the masher feels more homemade, so proceed to your liking.)

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Ok, my last HUGE discovery about these is that I turned the leftovers into my favorite artichoke, leek and potato soup the next day. Mind blown. Did you know you could add mash potatoes at the end of a soup recipe? You can, and it is fantastic.

If you love mashed potatoes as much as I do, then here are a few other variations I have had recently that were swoon worthy. Just follow the sour cream & chive recipe and instead of the chives, sour cream and cream cheese add these:

1.//Lobster Mashed Potatoes with Truffle Butter or Truffle Olive Oil   –

I just made these using truffle olive oil after we tried it in a restaurant and they were ridiculously good. Something about the combo of truffles and lobster just tastes like…money? Maybe. No seriously they are a match made in…Vegas? Ok I’ll stop.




2. \\ Chorizo and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes 

3. \\ Pancetta and Parmesean

4. \\ Carmelized Onion and Bacon

5. \\ Leek and Gruyere

6. \\Cumin, Tumeric, and Garam Masala Mashed Potatoes (or follow this recipe for a complex & authentic Indian dish)

Ok, if that doesn’t start your mouth watering I don’t know what will. Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes (Printer version here): 

adapted from Emily C. on Food52

Serves 8

  • 5 lb.potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (Monica always used red potatoes)
  • 8 oz.cream cheese, cut into large pieces (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup sour cream (at room temperature)
  • 4 T.butter (at room temperature)
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, and either return to the same pan, or place in a large bowl for combining with other ingredients.
  2. While potatoes are still hot, start mixing in the remaining ingredients using a hand mixer with beater attachments. Add the cream cheese first (a few pieces at a time) and mix until thoroughly combined. It’s important to start with the cream cheese because it’s the ingredient that benefits the most from the hot potatoes when mixing. Next, add the sour cream, then the butter, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Continue mixing until the potatoes are smooth, creamy, and lump-free. You may want to stop a few times and clean the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl with a spatula. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. A few notes: I like to add the cream cheese, sour cream, and butter at room temperature to make the mixing easier, but Monica always used them straight from the fridge. If you want, you can start with lesser (say 3/4) amounts of the cream cheese, sour cream and butter and then tinker with the quantities to taste at the end, but 9 out of 10 times I’ve done this, I’ve ended up adding the full amounts. Trust me, these potatoes are worth the indulgence.
  4. Mix in chives. Serve and savor every bite.

Recipe by Emily C. on Food52

Love, Loyalty, Friendship and Corned Beef

October 2, 2011

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a throw back to the theme of our nuptials.  For our wedding, the Irish & Scottish theme was carried out with a Claddagh on our invitations (it symbolizes love, loyalty and friendship with hands, a heart and crown), church bulletin, etc…and is engraved on my wedding band.  My husband & the groomsmen also wore kilts, bag pipers played, and of course our large Irish families and all our friends drank a lot (you mean that happens at all weddings?).

When we wanted to have a simple and relaxed celebration with little ones running around, we carried some Irish through the weekend.  (We even painted our family room green. Not to be on theme, more because we finally got around to it, but it was a fun way to spend our anniversary).

For food, we started with a night out to one of our favorite restaurants, an Irish Pub that used to be a church (and reminds my husband of the Quays Bar in Galway where he went abroad). I had a Black & Blue, which is Guinness with Dead Guy Rogue mixed together, and fried calamari on steroids to start (it was tossed with banana peppers and topped with spicy mayo, garlic and parmesan shavings). My entree was Blackened Swordfish – very fresh & perfectly seasoned with in season butternut squash & garlic mash.

I continued the theme with Shepard’s Pie for dinner and Rueben’s for lunch today.  Here are my recipe’s for both.  High quality meat really makes a difference.


Shepard’s Pie (my twist on Alton Brown’s recipe):
2 T. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
3 garlic cloves
1 – 1 1/2 ilbs. ground beef or lamb
2 T flour
2 t. tomato paste
1 c. beef or chicken broth
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
2 t. chopped Rosemary
2 t. chopped thyme
1 cup frozen peas (can do 1/2 corn, 1/2 peas)
For Mashed Potatoes: Peel and Boil 5-6 large potatoes  (Russet or Yukon Gold), diced small, for 10-12 min. When soft, mash and add 1/2 c. milk + 2 T. butter, 1 egg yolk, 1 t. salt & 1/2 t. pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Warm olive oil in large sautee pan,  then add the onion and carrots and saute approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and stir, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste,broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

Add the peas to the meat mixture and spread evenly into baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Rubens (a reminder of how good & simple these are):

Rye Bread, buttered
Good Corned Beef
Swiss Cheese (I used Gruyere)
Thousand Island Dressing (I mixed ketchup, mayo, and pickle juice + chopped pickles it was great!)

Assemble and cook like a grilled cheese. Yum!