The Individual........servings that is!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I have a newer obsession. Individual serving-sized dishes. Look at this new Paula Deen's Best Dishes....she has caught on to my obsession, lol!

Call them ramakins, au gratins, bakers, souffle dishes or mini casseroles, I just LOVE them. Not only do I love them but they are always recieved very well when I serve them, whether to company or my family. Besides the wide array of these fun dishes available, there are some very practical reason for making individual servings. One is portion control. As someone who is always looking to lose another few pounds, it is nice having your serving already portioned temptation to have just 1 more scoop. Another reason is we're nearly empty nesters with active, working teens. Some nights I am not sure how many of us there will be for supper. If I have everything portioned up, I can freeze what we do not need for a particular meal (and have a stock of stuff in the freezer when I need something in a pinch).

The dishes can be everything from simple corningware to upscale Le Cruset. All the ones I have go from freezer to oven and are gorgeous for going right onto the table.

So what kinds of dishes lend themselves to individual servings? The obvious is casseroles type meals. I recently shared my Chicken Florentine Casserole which I serve in my orange individual chicken casseroles. Some others are quiches, pot pies, stews & stoops, sides like macaroni & cheese, scalloped potatoes and some of my low carb favorites, cauliflower gratin & creamed spinach. Anything you can divide between mutiple serving dishes and bake or freeze independantly is perfect. Mostly, comfort-style dishes and with fall right around the corner, I'll be working these sweet dishes a LOT!! Oh, and don't even get me started on individual desserts...that is another obsession, lol!

Cauliflower Gratin
(Printable Version)

To make this dish low carb, I simply omit the butter, flour and milk step and just add heavy cream instead. I also omit the bread crumb top and top with additional cheese. Very yummy!

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan. Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Posting to the lovely Lisa's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday event! Thanks for hosting each week Lisa.


  1. jAne said...:

    This is an excellent idea, on so many levels. Thank you!!!

  1. jAne said...:

    oh! and thank you for the recipe(s) too. :o)

  1. Thanks for all of the ideas, Gail! The recipe sounds delicious!


  1. I have had my eye on Paula Deans dishes. She makes such lovely things! The recipe sounds wonderful too! Thanks for sharing!

  1. Barbara said...:

    That really sounds good, very tempting to try that and start the one serving my self, with just two we waste much food, my dh eats all he can of the left overs, thanks for the thought.

  1. Petie said...:

    Perfect timing! My husband brought home a head of fresh cauliflower yesterday from the farmers mkt. Can't wait to try your recipe. Tks for sharing.

  1. Mimi said...:

    Gail, I have quite a few single serving baking dishes but always forget to use them...maybe I should store them where they are more visible. Thanks for the reminder!

  1. Well you can call me a copy-cat if you want to but I'm fixing to copy you girl! I have seen these cute individual bakers in the stores, even looked at them but they didn't seem practical. Thank you for clearing this up for me. I am going to be on the lookout for some real cute ones. Yours are beautiful. The recipes sounds oh so yummy too.

  1. You know I am a huge fan of single serve! Those preacious dishes are ones I would love to have!
    Your photos of the fresh from the oven yummies are making me so hungry... and the cauliflower au gratin... oh my goodness! I love this recipe!!!!!

    The chicken florentine was delicious. And very very easy. Thanks for this keeper recipe.
    Gail, you are the best home cook I know! Not to mention, a sweetheart too!
    xo Yvonne

  1. Darlene said...:

    I came over from another blog to visit. I LOVE those individual serving dishes and now I definitely am going to get some. I have been watching portions (and losing weight) and that would be a great way to keep the portions under control. Your recipe sounds delicious too. Thanks for sharing!♥

  1. Julie Harward said...:

    These little dishes are great for making mini desserts individual pies! This recipe look so good too...thanks for sharing it! :D

  1. I like them too. I like being able to freeze them for this empty nest. I only have small ones and I really need to get some that are slightly larger like yours.

  1. What a great idea...I plan to use it and the Paula Deen dishes look like a winner. Thanks for the insprition.

  1. Kathleen said...:

    I love them, but mostly cause they are just so darn cute! I guess I am superficial, LOL! I love those green ones you have shown!

  1. Debbie said...:

    I started collecting individual bakeware because my family was so diverse in tastes.
    It became so easy to alter recipes per person if I did it individually. For example, I used to omit cheese melted on top for my younger daughter because it was "yukky" to her.

    That cauliflower dish sounds delicious!

  1. Nancy's Notes said...:

    Oh Gail, those look great! I love little individual dishes, so fun to use! Thanks for the recipe, sounds scrumptious!

    Have a great day!


  1. Karen said...:

    Thanks for your visit today and your comment about my grandmother's chair.
    I love your idea of the ramekins. And the food you are serving in them looks scrumptious! Great idea and one I can use since it's just my husband and me and once in a while our son pops in. I can just pull out another little casserole. Yep! I'll be buying some of those cute little dishes real soon.
    Ladybug Creek

  1. Every thing looks so wonderful! I love to make fruit cobbler in different baking bowls instead of one large dish. The reason is that I love peach and blackberry cobbler, but my husband only likes peach. I have found this to be the same in friend or family gatherings. One cobbler fits wonderfully into 6 containers. I can make any kind of fruit combination this way to please everyone. Enjoyed reading! blessings,Kathleen

  1. Love that idea! Actually, I would love to go on a shopping spree for all kinds of fun dishes. The question would be where to put them?

  1. Gail... this is a great idea. I like the "cuteness" factor very much...but you are so right about the portion control etc!!! Taste of Home magazine used to publish a magazine called "Cooking for 2"..all these really yummy recipes for just a single person or two people. I'm sorry they're not printing it anymore...but they still include small-portion recipes in their main magazine :) :) Fantastic. I love Paula Dean, too. She's so animated/passionate about what she does. It's contagious :) :) Oh, dessert...I love that too!!! Post a photo if you create a ny in those lovely single-serving dishes. Have a great day, Gail. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  1. Kim said...:

    Hi sweet friend, sorry I'm leaving so many comments at once. This is a great idea. I keep seeing these and think "how would I use them?" We still have a lot of kids to feed here, but these would be great for weekends, when it seems like everyone is looking for something to eat.

  1. Diann said...:

    Oh Gail, I love your new dishes! these sets are just great and wonderful individual meals!

  1. Abi's Blog said...:

    I'm guessing that sometimes those teenagers want more than ONE bowl. :)

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