Aunt B will be visiting with her two boys for Easter. I have my parents in town too. That means I need to prepare food for a group, which is actually something I like to do. I am not sure why cooking for a large group is so much more appealing to me than the daily cooking for my own small(er) family, but it is (see previous post). One idea I have for Easter brunch is Hash Brown Casserole. It is easy to assemble ahead, and it includes melted cheese, which automatically gives the recipe bonus points.
There are many variations of this casserole available, but I am sharing the recipe I use. I like to serve this casserole with ham or scrambled eggs. I also think it works well with steak or hamburgers later in the day.
1 2-lb package frozen, diced hash brown potatoes– thawed (the cubes)
1/2 c. melted butter
1 10-oz. can Campbell’s cream of celery soup (could replace with cream of chicken)
8-oz. sour cream
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (+ a little extra to sprinkle on the top before baking)
1 t. salt (or to taste)
1/4 t. pepper (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
Spread in a 9×11 casserole dish.
Sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese on top.
Cover in foil and bake for ~35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or so until the top is slightly golden and edges are bubbly.
I love twice baked potatoes all ways, but I am posting recipes for two of my favorite versions. The casserole is great for pot lucks, tailgating, and casual parties. The mini twice-baked potatoes are a great appetizer, look fancy, but have that comfort food factor, and… are mini. As some of my readers know, I live for mini. Unfortunately, there is no way around baking the potatoes twice, so both recipes require time. It is worth the wait, though!
Twice-Baked Potato Casserole
8 medium-size baking potatoes (~4 lbs), baked and cooled
2 c. (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 (16-oz.) container sour cream
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
½ c. milk
½ c. butter, melted
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. chopped fresh chives
1 ½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Scoop pulp out of potatoes into a large bowl and coarsely mash with a potato masher (discard the empty skins). Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, sour cream, and the next 7 ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 13×9-in. baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and bacon. Can garnish with additional chives too if desired.
Twice-Baked New Potatoes
12 new potatoes, scrubbed clean
2 T. olive oil
4 oz. sour cream, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese or white cheddar
1 T. minced chives
1 garlic clove, finely minced
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil and toss to coat. Roast the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes until tender, and the skin is slightly crisp. If your new potatoes are on the large size, you will need longer roasting time.
Remove potatoes from the oven and let cool slightly. Halve the potatoes. Use a small scoop (I like my little gelato scooper) and remove the insides leaving a little margin of potato. Put the scooped out part of the potato in a mixing bowl.
Add cream cheese, sour cream, grated cheese, chives, garlic, salt, and pepper to the potato pulp. Mash until the potato mixture is smooth. Taste and add salt as needed.
Scoop potato mixture back into the shell (gelato scooper works well for this too). Sprinkle bacon bits on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
SPOILER ALERT family blog followers– this post may contain information about your gifts this year.
After this post, I will have tapped out all of my gift suggestions, but I am only one post away from wrapping up the 12 Days of Christmas Gift Series. There is usually one gift idea I have each year that really nails it. I have not found that one perfect gift idea yet, but the list below is the starter list of gifts that I am considering for my extended family this year. Readers, I am open to suggestions!
Bacon Olive Oil: Umm, does life get any better? Why have I not thought of this before? The interesting part about finding the Queen Creek Olive Oil website where you can order the bacon olive oil is that my web browser tab reads “Vegan Bacon Olive Oil”. After reading the description, I located the words bacon flavored. I still want to try it.
Preppy Dog Collar: Our puppy, Birdie, will be sporting one of these Christmas morning and perhaps other extended family member’s pets. These collars have the contact information engraved on the buckle. The ShopMimiGreen website has a variety of pet accessories.
Wrap Bracelets: These brightly colored bracelets are available on an Etsy site. Sunkissed Sisters makes a variety of neon colored cord bracelets and necklaces. I think they would work well for teens through mom-aged gift receivers. I know I want a set with a variety of colors and charms to wear stacked together.
Casserole Carrier: Almost all members of my family like to cook and love party food. We all seem to have occasions where we need to transport a hot casserole dish. I love the style of these casserole carriers. According to the AllAboutBlanks website, you must add the monogram on your own. It can not be done via the website. I am a little bummed because I thought the monogram was the best feature. It adds an extra step to take the carrier to a local monogrammer.
Return Address Stamp: There are a variety of places to order a custom return address stamp. I liked this one that looks like calligraphy. I also liked an Etsy site called ChattyPress that had unique designs and better prices. If you read previous gift posts, you may be aware I shop for a large family. I like these stamps because I could give them to a whole family unit, which would reduce the shopping list.