06 November 2013

Virtual Supper Club's - Under 300 Calories Challenge

The holidays are, indeed, coming and all around the food blog world folks are pulling together the recipes that they want to highlight for holiday dinners, party buffets, and easy meals. This month's Virtual Supper Club members are trying to help busy cooks keep a grip on holiday dinner preparations, while not overextending the caloric load TOO much. The challenge was to form a menu with dishes that are below 300 calories per serving.

I chose to lighten up the typical potatoes gratin side dish that appears on many a holiday table. This entailed using less, but stronger flavoured cheese so the taste was there, but the quantity, fat, and calories were not. I also used less fat and flour. Whole milk was nixed and low-fat milk was subbed in to make the white sauce. This is another Cooking Light recipe. SB and I liked it, but felt that there needed to be more white sauce for the goopy factor that we love in gratin dishes. I'd make the dish again, but I'd add about three quarters of a cup more of the white sauce and up the amount of thyme a bit. We loved the Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese combination and the mixture of sweet potatoes and white Russets was terrific!

Two Potato Gratin

Serves: 8


3 c. white baking potatoes (2 large Russets work well), peeled and sliced into ¼ inch half moons
4 c. sweet potatoes (2 or 3 large ), peeled and sliced as above
2 quarts low-sodium chick broth
2 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. flour
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ c. 2% fat milk
2 thyme sprigs
¾ tsp. Kosher salt, divided
¼ tsp. black pepper
¾ c. grated Gruyere cheese
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 ½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme
¼ c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Making the Dish:

  1. Place the prepped potatoes in a deep sauce pan with the chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil. Cook four minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the parboiled potatoes to a large cookie sheet, pat them dry and let them cool. Reserve the broth.
  3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil. Sprinkle the flour over the oil and cook the flour for about one minute, stirring it to keep it from browning.
  4. Add the prepped garlic and continue to stir the roux for another minute.
  5. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock to the measured milk and then pour this mix into the roux, whisking to thicken to a smooth sauce. Add the thyme sprigs and push them down into the warm sauce. Let the sauce bubble for four minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and strain the sauce into a bowl. Stir in the gruyere cheese, ½ tsp. of the salt, the black pepper.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  8. Spriz a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread ½ c. of the sauce into the bottom of the casserole.
  9. Arrange a layer of potato and sweet potato slices on the sauce layer. Sprinkle on some of the chives, thyme, and ¼ tsp. of the salt measure. Layer the second half of the potato slices, making a pretty pattern with the orange and white slices.
  10. Pour the rest of the sauce over and around the slices. Sprinkle on the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a bit more chopped thyme and chives.
  11. Cover and bake the casserole for about 1 hour or until the potato slices are tender.
  12. Remove the cover and broil for a few moments to brown and bubble the top of the gratin.
  13. Garnish with a fresh thyme sprig and serve piping hot.
As for Cooking Light, I find that I look forward to scoping out the magazine's special issues in the grocery check-out line. These recipe-packed magazines are full of great ideas for using spices, cheeses, and different herbs to add incredible flavour while lowering fat and using lower calorie ingredients. The recipe results are wonderful additions to a cook's repertoire. The Cooking Light website is a good reference for cooks also... just saying.

Now on to our November menu! Jerry chose this month's theme, so he was charged with providing the main dish. The rest of us latched onto the starters, salads, soups, sides and sweets ... and what a menu it is! Check it out by hitting the links ... and please know that you are welcome to join the club, too! Contact Val @ More Than Burnt Toast and she will hook you up with all the particulars! Otherwise, just enjoy the recipes and eat light through the holidays! Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers!

'Under 300 Calories' Menu

Appetizer - Sandi's Chinese Scallops - 70 calories
Soup - Val's version of Theresa's Double Tomato Soup - 76 calories
Main Dish- Jerry's Chiang Mai Pork Patties - 290 calories
Side Vegetable Dish - Susan's Two Potato Gratin - 218 calories
Dessert - Sarah's Pumpkin Pie Pudding - 288 calories


  1. I have been looking forward to this dish Susan. Potatoes are our favourite side dish and this recipe works the room.

  2. It looks pretty and delicious. I am with you, I'd want more white sauce.

  3. The holidays make me nervous when it comes to food. I always manage to pack on an extra 5 lbs from Halloween - New Years:( This one gets my attention.

  4. This looks wonderful - I'd be happy to tuck into this alongside a nice roast. MMMM


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