Posts tagged ‘potatoes’

Scalloped Potatoes With Onions

If you’re cooking dinner for a crowd, or want something classic and delicious that everyone will like to take to a potluck dinner; you can’t go wrong with scalloped potatoes with onions.

I made this for Easter to go with our Easter ham, and they were soooo good.

It’s hard to go wrong with potatoes, onions, cheese, and cream though.

Everyone loves potatoes, and it’s a fact of the universe that cheese and cream make everything better.

Don’t question it. Just accept it.

Feel the balance of the universe aligning as you accept this universal truth…



Scalloped Potatoes with Onions

(serves 8)

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 3 lb. russet potatoes, peeled, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 c. shredded cheese (I used a cheddar jack mix, but use whatever you like)
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9 x 11 in. baking dish.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent, 4 – 5 minutes.
  3. Layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the baking dish, slightly overlapping slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then 1/2 the nutmeg. Add 1/2 the onions followed by 1 c. of the shredded cheese.
  4. Repeat with 1/3 of the potato slices, salt and pepper, the remaining 1/2 of the nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 of the onions, and 1 c. shredded cheese.
  5. Finish with the last 1/3 of the potato slices, this time arranging them in a spiral (if you want to be fancy). Sprinkle the last 1 c. of cheese on top.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the cream and chicken broth. Pour on top of the cheese and potatoes.
  7. Cover baking dish with parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Increase temperature to 425° F. Remove parchment paper and foil, and cook for another 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender.
  9. Let rest for 15 – 20 minutes before serving.



April 19, 2012 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Italian Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

I had realization the other day.

I say certain things that kids today probably would thing are weird.

For example:

“Roll the windows up/down.”

When I was a little kid, it was before automatic windows in cars were available, so we literally had to roll the windows up and down in our car. Even after we got a car with automatic windows when I was in middle school, we would still say, “roll the windows,” and to this day I still say it. My husband loves to makes fun of me for it.

Another example:


If I want to record a show or something on TV, I still say “videotape” or just “tape”, as in, “I want to videotape that show tonight”. When I stopped and thought about it, it doesn’t really make since as we no longer use VHS tapes anymore to record things, so there is no “tape” involved in the process.

I also say “videotape” instead film. Hisa and I got this really nice video camera last year before we left Japan. It’s tiny, incredibly lite, and takes amazingly high quality HD videos. It’s awesome. But I still say “videotape” or “tape” even though there’s no tape involved. Remember those huge video cameras from the 90’s that had VHS tapes in them? Ah, memories!

Which leads me to this:

10 Things 90’s Kids Will Have To Explain To Their Children

If you were a kid in the 90’s, you will understand this, laugh hilariously, and love it.

This recipe is my own copy cat version of the Zuppa Toscana soup from the Olive Garden. Come on, you know the one I mean. Everyone and their dog loves that soup. I think the first time I ever ate kale when I was a kid was when I first had that soup. Back in the 90’s when we rolled our car windows up and down. Respect y’all.

First, wash one bunch of kale, and tear it into small pieces. Set aside. Add a few lugs of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add one chopped red onion and saute for a couple minutes.


Add one pound of turkey sausage, and continue cooking until the onion becomes tender, and the sausage is completely browned. [Note: If you use real Italian sausage, brown the sausage by itself first, drain the fat, and then add the onion to cook.]


Add one diced carrot (the real Zuppa Toscana doesn’t have carrot in it, but I like adding more veggies to things where I can), four medium russet potatoes, sliced thinly, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or cayenne), and 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes.


Add 3 (14 oz.) cans of chicken broth, and raise temperature to high until it starts to boil. Lower the temperature to low and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.


Add one cup of milk, one cup of half and half or cream, and the kale. Continue simmering for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.


Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Italian Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

(serves 5 – 6)

  • 1 bunch kale
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. turkey sausage (or Italian sausage)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. half and half or cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash kale, tear into small pieces. Set aside.
  2. Add a few lugs of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add turkey sausage and cook until browned.
  3. Add carrot, potatoes, red pepper, and oregano, and continue to saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, raise heat to high until boiling, then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  5. Add milk, half and half (or cream), and kale, and continue simmering for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh bread.


January 12, 2012 at 2:16 am Leave a comment

Today’s Lunch

Today’s lunch: Potato and ham tortilla roll, curry soup, and an apple

Tortilla rolls are an easy and fast lunch-box item to throw together.

Simply fill a tortilla with just about anything, roll it up, and toast it until browned.

For mine, the night before, I mixed some cooked potato, butter, a dash of salt and pepper, diced ham, and a little shredded cheese. Then I rolled it up in a flour tortilla, covered it, and put it in the fridge. The next morning, I simply toasted it until it was browned, and popped it in the lunch box. Easy! Any very tasty too I might add. 🙂

You could even make a bunch of these at once, and then freeze them. Then, you can get one out of the freezer and bake or toast it for a few minutes, whenever you need a quick lunch item.

Some more good combinations for these would be potato, broccoli (or spinach, asparagus, etc.), and cheese; scrambled egg, sausage, and cheese (breakfast burrito for lunch? Why yes, please); hash brown and egg; ham/turkey and cheese; even peanut butter and jelly (or peanut butter and banana)! The possibilities are endless. Use your imagination and have fun!

October 20, 2011 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Baked Japanese Croquettes (korokke)

I had this dream last night that the Joker was after me, trying to kill me.

This wasn’t the crazy kooky, but kinda funny Joker from the Batman cartoons either. This was the psychotic evil turn your blood cold Joker ala The Dark Knight.

That’s bad enough, but this dream continued..




I tired everything to get away, and went everywhere. A hotel, a shopping mall, a movie theater, etc. I don’t recall how I ended up at those places, but I think my subconscious mind thought crowded places would be safer. Unfortunately, they were not. No matter where I escaped to, the Joker kept finding me…

Needless to say, I’m feeling a little tired this morning.

The thing about coming from a family of really creative people, and being a creative person, is that you have a tendency to have, how shall I put it, vivid dreams. Sometimes this means really awesome dreams, but other times it means really terrifying/creepy/disturbing nightmares. At least in my experience. Who knows though, maybe it’s just my family, ha!

You know, I’d never had croquettes until I came to Japan. Of course, croquettes aren’t really a Japanese food, but they’ve been assimilated into Japanese cuisine so thoroughly that it almost seems like they are. They’re usually made with potatoes and ground beef or pork, but kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) croquettes, or korokke as they’re called here, are also common.

I decided to make the more common potato and meat korokke recently, but wanted to bake them rather than the usual deep frying, because deep frying things freaks me out (all that hot oil! Ah!) I wanted to make a healthier version.

I’m happy to say they turned out very well, and didn’t taste that different from their fried counterparts (in my opinion at least).

Korokke are often served with shredded cabbage and covered with Japanese korokke sauce. I have no idea what this sauce is made of, and in Japan, it’s simply called “sauce” (which I find very mysterious). You can probably find it in a Japanese/Asian grocery store if you look for. Korokke are also often eaten with ponzu (a sauce that’s a combination of soy sauce and citrus juice), which I think normal grocery stores in the U.S. carry nowadays. Honestly though, these are just fine without any sauce to accompany them.

Baked Japanese Croquettes (Korokke)

(makes about 8 korokke)

  • 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 lb. ground beef or pork or a mixture
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. cream or milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. flour (approximately)
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs (approximately)


  1. Boil potatoes in a large pot until tender. Drain and mash. Add butter and milk, and mix well.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef until completely cooked. Drain off any fat, and add meat to potato mixture and mix well.
  3. Add nutmeg to potato meat mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool.
  4. Shape mixture into 8 slightly flat oval-shaped patties, and place them on a baking paper lined cooking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour (this step is optional, but I find that refrigerating the patties helps them keep their shape and not fall apart).
  5. In a skillet over medium heat, toast panko bread crumbs, stirring often, until they turn brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 400° F (200° C).
  7. Add bread crumbs to one bowl. Add egg to another bowl and beat well. Add flour to another bowl. Remove korokke from refrigerator. One at a time, coat korokke in flour, egg, and then bread crumbs, and place back on the lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake korokke for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

I served my korokke with miso soup, steamed rice, shredded cabbage, and kinpira gobo (stir-fried burdock root and carrot) for dinner.


October 12, 2011 at 10:03 am 1 comment

Today’s Lunch

I think because I was semi-comatose with sleepiness this morning, my picture of today’s lunch came out a little blurry. I have sleepiness issues in the mornings… As I’ve mentioned before, my husband says I walk around like a zombie (head down, hair in my face, hunched over, arms bent at the elbow and hands dangling) in the mornings, and likes to make fun of me about it on a regular basis.

I have no clue what he’s talking about, of course, and I think he made the whole thing up out of jealously of my natural glamour and elegance from the moment I wake up! *sparkle sparkle*

…um, yeah. *cough* Here’s today’s lunch…

Today’s lunch: Left-over Swedish meatballs (from last night’s dinner), fried potatoes and onions (also from last night’s dinner), kabocha salad, and fresh pineapple



September 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

Niku-dofu – Japanese Simmered Beef and Tofu

I think when a lot of people think of Japanese food they think: sushi, steamed rice, ramen, pot stickers (gyoza), sake!, sushi, sushi…

While these are all popular foods in Japan (although ramen and pot stickers are actually Chinese foods), there’s so much more to Japanese food.

I think people also think of all Japanese food as being super healthy. While traditional Japanese food is very healthy, many of the modern Japanese foods are, well, not so much.

Example: tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is essentially a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet. While very good (is anything that’s been breaded and deep fried not good?) and very popular in Japan (you can find tonkatsu restaurants everywhere), it doesn’t exactly fall into the “healthy foods” category if you know what I mean.

People also tend to think of the Japanese as fish eaters, and, well, this is true. They are! But they also eat beef and pork much more than in decades past. I think the growing meat consumption of the Japanese is one of the big reasons that Japanese people are increasingly getting taller. Pork is generally cheaper than beef (pigs take up less space, and space is a commodity here), but people eat both. Generally when you buy meat, it’s cut into very thin slices. This is useful for a lot of Japanese dishes that include meat. Of course, you can also get things like steak and ground meat, but the thinly sliced meat seems to be the most common.

One Japanese dish that’s super popular (especially amongst men so they say) is niku-jaga, which translates into meat and potatoes. Yes, even the Japanese have a meat and potatoes dish! And it’s delicious! I once heard somewhere that if a woman in Japan wants to get a guy, she just needs to be able to cook niku-jaga for him, and then he’ll be hers. I guess the whole “way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” thing is pretty universal. Guys are guys, no matter the country.

While I love love niku-jaga, I also really like a similar dish, niku-dofu. It’s basically the same as niku-jaga, except instead of potatoes, it has tofu in it. Meat and tofu. It goes great with steamed rice, miso soup, and whatever other side dishes you want.

Here’s my niku-dofu recipe, based on the recipe from Recipes of Japanese Cooking


Niku-dofu (serves 2)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 package firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 150 g (about 5 1/2 oz.) thinly sliced beef loin, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 small package of konyaku threads (you can leave this out if you can’t find it)
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 Tbsp cooking sake
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp mirin (sweet cooking sake)
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  1. Drain and rinse the konyaku threads in cold water. Roughly cut into 1 – 2 inch lengths. Boil for 1 – 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the beef and cook for one to two minutes. Add the onion and konyaku and continue cooking.
  3. When the beef is completely cooked and the onion is translucent, add the tofu, water, sake, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. Mix well.
  4. Continue cooking briefly until dish is heated through, about 3 – 4 minutes. Divide into two bowls and serve.

Niku-dofu and simmered Japanese pumpkin (kabocha)


Niku-dofu, steamed rice, miso soup, and simmered Japanese pumpkin

August 25, 2011 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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