Originally created 07/10/02

Cook up cheesy side in a crockpot



Most of us cook in a crockpot during the cool winter months, simmering special soups, stews and hearty entrees. But pulling your crockpot off the shelf instead of heating your kitchen up with a hot oven makes good sense in the summer months.

Since my favorite summer meals start with a grilled entree, I've found a way to make a classic side dish in my crockpot.

My mother is famous for her cheesy scalloped potatoes. She combines peeled and sliced potatoes with a Mornay sauce (a white sauce with shredded cheese added), then bakes the combination in the oven for an hour.

I've toyed with the recipe, trying to come up with a version that's close to Mom's while eliminating several steps. I also wanted a simple side dish to pair with summer's grilled entrees.

I start with some peeled and sliced baking potatoes, then replace Mom's Mornay sauce with a combination of cream of potato and Cheddar cheese canned soups. A bit of onion or garlic powder is a nice flavor boost for the soups.

Then I simply layer the ingredients in a crockpot that's been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. First potatoes, a grinding of black pepper, then some of the soup mixture and some shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese. The layers are repeated, then the dish cooks on low all day, or for three to four hours on high.

You can alter your scalloped potatoes to your family's tastes. My mother likes to add sliced onion to her scalloped potatoes, and since I'm not an onion fan, she serves that version when I'm not visiting. If you're an onion lover, peel and slice a medium yellow onion and layer the slices in with the potato slices.

Serve your scalloped potatoes with steaks, chicken or pork chops hot off the grill. Or, you can turn this side dish into a simple and filling entree by adding some diced smoked ham. You can find already diced ham in packets in the meat department of some supermarkets, or you can buy a ham steak and dice it yourself.

CROCKPOT SCALLOPED POTATOES

1 10.75-ounce can condensed Cheddar cheese soup

1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of potato soup

1 cup skim milk

1 teaspoon garlic or onion powder

4 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced

Ground black pepper

2 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

Spray the inside of the crockpot insert with nonstick spray. Combine the soups, milk and garlic or onion powder in a medium bowl. Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle with ground black pepper, spread with half of the soup mixture and sprinkle with half of the shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Makes 8 servings.

COMING JULY 17: Avocado Lime Soup

See Karin cook the recipe at noon Tuesday on WJBF-TV (Channel 6).

Write to Karin Calloway in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@comcast.net.


 Calories: 205
 Protein: 11.6 g
 Carbohydrates: 25.9 g
 Fiber: 1.5 g
 Fat: 6.2 g
 Saturated Fat: 3.2 g
 Cholesterol: 15 mg
 Sodium: 810 mg
 Nutrient analysis provided by Fran Frye, a licensed and registered dietitian of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.