Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cheesy-potato casserole (from our Easter dinner)

When I brought the Cheesy-Potato casserole to the Easter table, my guest sitting to the left of me exclaimed, "oooh, what's in those?!" Big, big hit for Easter dinner. Even with a table full of other dishes, salads, and trays, we went through 2 quarts of this Cheesy-Potato Casserole.


If you'll remember, several weeks ago I wrote a post about using up some wrinkly potatoes and freezing them. I had made mashed potatoes, adding some of the last of the cream cheese and sour cream, plus plenty of butter, some salt and milk. I froze these mashed potatoes in quart-size containers.

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The day before Easter, I thawed two of those quart-size containers. I put them in my stand mixer and whipped them back together (the liquid separates out from the solids in mashed potatoes when freezing/thawing).

I stirred in 1 & 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar-jack cheese, and a very large handful of freshly cut chives, minced (about a cup of minced chives).

(I took about 1 & 1/2 cups out to test bake that day, adding a handful of cheese as topping. It was a bit soupy going in to the oven, but came out perfectly thick after baking.)

So, with the larger casserole, it too was a bit soupy when first assembled. I buttered a 2-quart, round casserole dish, scooped the potato mixture into this dish, covered and refrigerated overnight, until an hour and a half before Easter dinner. It had substantially thickened overnight.

I topped with another cup of grated cheddar-jack, and baked for about 45 to 50 minutes in a 350 F degree oven, until the cheese was just beginning to brown.

I don't have any photos to share, but it did look (and taste) delicious. Not a speck remained at the end of dinner.
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For your own information, you could easily duplicate my potato dish. Mash about 8 potatoes, with 2-4 ounces of cream cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup butter and milk and salt to taste and texture.

Stir in 1 cup of minced chives and 1 cup or more of shredded cheddar or cheddar-jack cheese.

Spoon into a buttered casserole dish. Top with another 1 cup of shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350 F degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.



A real man-pleaser, that's for sure! I think these will become a "regular" on our Easter dinner table.

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19 comments:

  1. Oh yeah!! Isn't it amazing. One of my daughters "free formed similar" to you. We had a bag of hash browns. I was using up what I had also for Easter. It was lovely and everyone enjoyed and eat well.
    About two weeks ago I was checking out at the grocery store and the lady in the next lane offered me her "free" butter basted turkey ( $30.00). The last of it is going into a chicken stew today. I also had made a pea salad which failed. It shall be incorporated in true "Creative Savv" fashion into the stew:)

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    1. Hi Teresa,
      Oh what a wonderfully kind thing that woman did, giving you her "free" turkey! And I'm sure you've enjoyed every last bite.

      It's fun, isn't it, to take what's lingering in the fridge or freezer and turn it into something the family will enjoy?! Your chicken stew will be yummy and the pea salad will likely add a lot of flavor. Smart thinking on your part!

      I love the term "free formed" applied to cooking!

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  2. Sounds delicious! It seems that almost every time I read your post I shake my head in wonder and amazement at how you take "throw-aways" and turn them into gourmet family pleasers! Your blog is aptly named because you are indeed very creative!

    We had potato casserole for Easter dinner too but all the ingredients were freshly purchased and I followed a "never fail" recipe, but I'm thinking yours was as good or better than what I placed on my table!

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. HI Linda,
      Thank you for your kind words!

      Potato casserole seems to be a regular on Easter tables. I bet yours was very yummy. Sometimes those "never fail" recipes are worth using over and over. It's nice to have some things that simply always turn out and you needn't worry or fuss over that dish, so you can turn your attentions to the rest of a feast.

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  3. What a great alternative to the traditional "funeral potatoes" - that are expensive to make and loaded with fat. I'll definitely give your recipe a try!

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    1. HI Ruthie,
      you cracked me up with "funeral potatoes"! I'm guessing you mean the ones with cornflake topping, freezer hash browns and a cream soup binder.
      Hmmm, I wonder what the cost of the funeral potatoes casserole dish really is. I do know that my own creation was more expensive than just plain old mashed potatoes. The cheese probably added a dollar or two to the cost. T'would be an interesting cost comparison.

      I do tend to shy away from recipes that call for a bunch of other prepared foods for ingredients. Those will drive the cost way up.

      Again, thanks for the morning laugh!

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  4. Sounds delicious and what a smart way to use the frozen potatoes!

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  5. Lili

    I have been doing frozen mashed tater for years, and is a great way to save the wrinkly potatoes, with having a easy side dish. My son loves when I make them... I think he likes those better than regular mashed... they are almost like twice baked in a weird sort a way! I am glad I am not the only stingy person when it comes to saving potatoes! (or other food for that matter!)

    Lisa

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    1. Hi Lisa,
      I wholeheartedly agree on what an easy side dish these make!

      In a different time/place, what we do to salvage food wouldn't be considered stingy or cheap or anything like that, just common sense.
      It's amazing how much food is thrown away every year. I think people like us are just being good stewards of our resources. (And we get the financial savings benefit, to boot!)

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  6. Oh, those sound so good. I make similar potatoes, called Make Ahead mashed potatoes. Mash the potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream and butter. They freeze well that way without any separation of liquids. Then they heat well in the oven later.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      Great minds . . . Your Make Ahead mashed potatoes are basically the same thing. I just added chives and shredded hard cheese.

      I love the way the potatoes get that toasted top crust in the oven. Almost like fried potatoes. Yum!

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  7. I have to say that some people are better at winging a recipe without something in written form in front of them. Others always need that recipe. I don't know why but I think it is watching my mother always make meals without recipes and I can do the very same thing. Many, many of my friends always need a recipe to follow. I would call that a blessing and you Lili, I suspect, can make just about anything without a written recipe (except cakes and cookies). That becomes very helpful in a kitchen while on a shoestring budget. I can put it together in my head and almost taste it in my head. So I should say "thanks Mom" for teaching me how to do this.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      I think you're right. And learning how to cook this way is just something that takes a bit of time and exposure. Like you watching your mom cook, as you grew up. That probably gave you the confidence to give it a try, yourself, when you began cooking.

      I know what you mean by practically tasting it in your head. I get a feel for how it will all turn out, before hand. I also taste and add ingredients, as I go.

      My kids ask me how I know what will go together, flavor-wise. I just tell them "practice". Repeatedly making similar foods gives me practice in combining ingredients that go together well.

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  8. Interesting that you added the cream cheese, sour cream and butter, salt and milk before freezing. Does adding fat help stabilize the mashed potatoes better?

    Ditto what everyone else has said!!

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      It may help with the texture. But in this case, I was just using up ingredients (the cream cheese and sour cream) that were way past sell-by dates, and wanted to make sure they would be used and not tossed. Plus I knew combining everything at once would make reheating much simpler at some point in the future (making my own convenience foods).

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  9. Oh wow, that sounds so good and I am hungry right now, lol. I love potatoes and cheese together. I love a baked potato with just cheese on it. So good. Glad your dish was such a hit on Easter. :)

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    1. Hi Belinda,
      Oh yes, baked potatoes with cheese! Yum! And a nice simple protein/starch combo. Great for lunches or simple suppers. Add a salad and the bases are covered, IMO.

      I just bought more potatoes, so it looks like baked potatoes w/ toppings will be on the menu again, soon.

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