Creating New Memories

Creamy Scalloped PotatoesI don’t remember ever really being taught to cook. I can remember eating as a child and having a few favorite recipes. I remember having to wash the dishes (and I still hate doing that!). I can even recall owning a Strawberry Shortcake cookbook. But I don’t remember someone telling me how to measure, mix and create.

My adolescent years were riddled with family crisis and being an only child meant a lot of time spent on my own. This meant being alone during dinner time. I would often break a block of ramen noodles in two while beginning to boil water. In went the noodles, a few times around the pot with a fork and I sprinkled it with the seasoning packet. I enjoyed my “nutritious meal” alone. I admit, now I cannot eat ramen without a lonely pang in my stomach.

During my teenage years, I still found myself preparing meals with no one else around. But I had graduated to higher caliber, boxes instead of plastic bags. Boxes of Velveeta mac & cheese. Boxes of Hamburger Helper. And one of my personal favorites, boxes of Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes. These were all doable meals for me and I only caught things on fire once in my teen years – when trying to make popcorn.

The idea of those scalloped potatoes have stuck with me. I don’t have the same lonely feeling when I think about eating them again. I remember the nights when I would bake up a box and then eat the whole thing.

Never had I thought about making my own scalloped potatoes until now. I make so many other things, why not those. From scratch. (As. If. I could find a box here!) Some friends had told me they had made them and how easy & delicious they were. So when I made my list of Things to Make in 2008, Scalloped Potatoes made it onto the list.

In looking through Nigella’s on-line recipes, I settled on her recipe for Creamy Potato Gratin. Can I share some frustrations about this recipe? She speaks of a peeled onion and never says what to do with it except add it to the pot. Should I have added the onion…whole? She says to slice the potatoes 1/2 inch thick. Way too thick. Those way too thick potato slices ended up in a milk, cream and butter bath. They browned nicely, but I had to lift each potato slice and drain before serving. Anyway, I adapted her recipe slightly to make sense of the onion. I liked the potatoes themselves, but as you can tell I was not excited about the pool of milk.

Maybe I will try Elise’s recipe next time.

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Source: Adapted from Nigella Lawson


  • cooking spray
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 1/2 pounds of potatoes, peeled & sliced .5cm thin
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. In a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, saute onions and garlic until tender. Add potato slices to the saucepan along with the milk, cream, salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are almost tender.
  3. Prepare a large roasting pan (15x12 inches) with cooking spray, then pour the milk and potato mixture into it. Dot with remaining butter and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the potatoes are browned on top.
  4. Remove, let stand for 10 to 20 minutes and then serve. Original recipe states 12 servings.

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes are my submission for Weekend Cookbook Challenge – Nigella Lawson. Weekend Cookbook Challenge was created by Sara of I Like To Cook and this month is being hosted by Ani at Foodie Chickie. Although I do not have a Nigella cookbook, I hope an online recipe will be an acceptable replacement. 🙂

Gretchen Noelle

My love of food was cultivated early on by my family but has come alive while living in Peru. During the 12 years of living in Lima, Peru, I have also enjoyed numerous trips to other areas of the country. Here on Provecho Peru you will find Peruvian recipes in English, American favorites prepared overseas, news about Peruvian Cuisine and interesting tidbits about life in Peru.

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23 Responses

  1. Karen says:

    Heart-wrenching post. A very honest and real glimpse into your life. I’m glad that scalloped potatoes don’t leave you with that lonely feeling…these look great! I’m going to check out more of Nigella’s recipes.

  2. Cakelaw says:

    Sorry to hear about your early loneliness. Hope things are much better now. Although you said your scalloped potatoes didn’t work that well, they look lovely.

  3. Deborah says:

    I am embarrassed because I almost made some of the boxed ones the other night. I was in a coupon clipping phase awhile back, and now I have a pantry full of items I don’t usually use, but were cheap!! I’m working on clearing them out, but now I want to make these instead of using up that box!!

  4. ley says:

    Brilliant! I’ve never made my own, either…I’ll definately have to give that recipe a try! (Well…maybe the second recipe, because I don’t want milk puddles, either.)

  5. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    I love the fact that you are changing your memories by cooking — that is a lovely thing. Keep trying until you find a recipe you love (Ina Garten has a potato-fennel gratin in one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks that’s become one of my favorites). After all, you are living in Potato Heaven now!

  6. Mansi Desai says:

    The potato gratin still looks inviting girl!:) so don’t fret too much:)

  7. Rebecca says:

    Noelia-:)I’m una hija unica, too!! And taught myself to cook to avoid family crisis, too-but I still sometimes love Ramen(aka sodium bomb)So glad you have found solace in cooking. This recipe looks great-I can’t wait to try it. xo

  8. Francesca says:

    these potatos look delicious 😛Francesca

  9. Aran Goyoaga says:

    No child should ever eat alone.. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’m glad you found real food and cooking in your life. Such a gift!

  10. Emiline says:

    I’m sorry that many of your meals growing up, were alone. That just doesn’t seem fair. It makes me sad…but you got through it.This is how you learned to cook! The boxes and mixes were your training.Too bad about the recipe. Darn Nigella! Looks good though.

  11. Bellini Valli says:

    Potatoes are my favourite food group Gretchen. Through all of life’s struggles your love of food bloomed in a big way!! I have tagged your for a MEME. I realize there are a lot of these going around these days and you can participate only if you care to.Check out my answers when you have a moment 😀

  12. michelle @ Us vs. Food says:

    i’m sorry you had to eat alone – that was a beautiful but sad post.i’m also sorry the gratin didn’t work out the way you’d hoped! one of my next kitchen purchases will be a mandoline, and that is specifically so i can learn to make a killer gratin or dauphinois.i love potatoes.

  13. Toni says:

    Scalloped potatoes are one of those dishes that just speaks to everyone’s childhood, somehow. And the fact that you took the recipe and tweaked it to make it work means you’re creating your own memories now.

  14. Brilynn says:

    Evil Nigella strikes again! She’s a two face I tell you! Sometimes her recipes are wonderful and other times they’re just off… it’s too bad these didn’t work out for you because homemade scalloped potatoes are wonderful. You’ve got me thinking I should make some now too!

  15. Dana says:

    I remember those boxed Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes too!! Sorry this recipe was such a pain :(.

  16. Paz says:

    Looks really good. Very memorable. Yum!Paz

  17. Gabi says:

    I have known what it’s like to be lonely and eat alone. Even though I had 2 sisters my childhood was very tumultuous and I learned to cook for myself too. I’m glad loneliness is more of a memory for you now. I hope new memories of better things outweigh the old sad ones. I think the scalloped potatoes are a good step in that direction. xoxo

  18. Gretchen Noelle says:

    Karen – Thanks…I didn’t mean for it to be! Cakelaw – Thanks. What’s passed is past.Deborah – Well, clear those out and then enjoy some that are homemade!Ley – Thanks! Yeah, check out Simply Recipes. Stay away from this recipe!Lydia – Thanks for the tip on Ina Garten. I will see if I can look that up!Mansi – Thanks!Rebe – Que bueno! Haha! Thanks!Francesca – Thanks!Aran – Thank you. All is well now. Living in a latin country means i don’t often eat alone now!Emiline – You are absolutely right! I did learn some things during that process.BV – Love them too! Thanks for the tag!Michelle – Thanks! I will try another one sometime. They are totoally worth trying again!Toni – Absolutely true!Brilynn – Not sure if and when I will try another nigella…hope to find another good potato recipe!Dana – Isn’t that funny! Yes, it was a pain…but I tried!Paz – Thanks!Gabi – Thanks so much. Sorry that you too experienced loneliness.

  19. Jaime says:

    mmmm, i love potatoes 🙂 you should try the scalloped parmesan potatoes in my blog…they’re like the ones you made, but cheesier!

  20. Sarah says:

    I was just at the store & my bf commented how much he loves betty crocker scalloped potatoes, & at that moment I decided I’d have to make them myself sometime soon. I love that you turned your (maybe not so amazing) experiences with the boxed scalloped potatoes into something delicious (despite milk puddles) for all of us to share in!

  21. Gretchen Noelle says:

    Jaime – Thanks for the tip!Sarah – You shall have to make them sometime. I have a feeling they could be oh so much better than the box!

  22. Sara says:

    Great post. Thank you so much for taking part in WCC this month. I hope you’ll join us again!

  23. Gretchen Noelle says:

    Thanks, I plan to!

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