Kielbasa, Potato and Cheese Casserole


Food 2013 054

I am trying to use up everything in our freezer, refrigerator and pantry this month so I have instituted a No Buy Month for groceries this month.  I am allowed to buy fresh items like milk, eggs, vegetables and fruit but even those I am trying to limit so that I can use all the bags of frozen fruits and vegetables in my freezer.  This makes me be a bit creative in making lunches and dinner.

So, this dinner was a combination of what was available in my kitchen and what I am trying to use up.  The basic recipe comes from Jolean’s Cheese Potato and Smoked Sausage Casserole on Food.com.  This also combined all I needed into one dish (protein, starch and vegetable) to serve the kids on the way out the door.  I LOVE the portable meals for the van!

When I make baked potatoes or boil potatoes for a recipe I try to double or triple the amount I cook to that I can have extra on hand for recipes such as this one.  I cube them and put them in a tightly covered dish for a few days or throw them in a baggie once they have cooled and put them in the freezer.  I try to take them out the night before to thaw in my refrigerator so I don’t have to think about boiling potatoes for dinner.  Cheaper than buying packaged frozen hash brown potatoes or home fries.

I also try to do the same with chicken or ground beef.  If you notice I usually post two or three dishes that contain the same meats or potatoes over a week to save myself time and not let ingredients go to waste.  Planning ahead has really made a difference in our food bills and the amount of time needed to prepare dinner.
Verdict:
This was a hit with my kids.   They thought the ratio of potatoes to meat to cheese sauce was fine for them.  Personally I thought it was a bit heavy on the vegetables, but I am not a big fan of peas and that is what I had left in my freezer – peas and carrot mixes.  Next time I will add a bit of diced onion to the sausage as I cook it to add a bit more depth of flavor.

Ingredients:

3 cups potatoes, peeled, boiled and cut into cubes – I used 4 LARGE potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups fat-free half and half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 lb kielbasa cut into thin rounds and then cut in half again to make half circles
1 lb bag of frozen mixed vegetables – thawed in refrigerator
salt and black pepper to taste
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray one 2 quart casserole dish.
  2. Cut kielbasa into thin rounds and then cut again making them half circles.  Cook in a frying pan over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, turning frequently to SLIGHTLY brown.
  3. Meanwhile, put cooked & diced potatoes into prepared 2 quart casserole dish.  Add cooked meat to potatoes and stir gently to mix.
  4. Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.   Stir in flour to make a paste once the butter has melted.  Then slowly add the half and half to the pan whisking the entire time to mix well.  Once this is warm and smooth add cheeses.  Continue whisking until all cheese has melted and remove immediately from heat.  Stir in vegetables, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour cheese sauce with vegetables over potatoes and meat. Sprinkle the top with extra shredded sharp cheddar cheese if desired.
  6. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 35-45 minutes.  Top will start to brown.

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