Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cooking Frenzy: Crock Pot Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole... YUM!

I decided to call this blog Kim's Cooking Frenzy because it described my "weekend cooking sessions" where I madly prepared recipes and ingredients to make lunch packing and meal preparation go a little more smoothly during the work week.  The better I planned and prepped, the more we ate at home. And, for us, eating at home is typically healthier than eating out.

We got a puppy two weeks ago and my meal preparation cooking frenzy got side tracked.  I was a little exhausted from chasing that puppy around to ensure she was not going #1 or going #2 indoors  or chewing on the carpet or electrical cords.  Last week for lunches at work, I was able to grab tubs of frozen soup from the freezer and, for breakfast at work, I had yogurt and granola bars. Ordinarily, I have a leisurely breakfast at home but now I am eating breakfast at work as I am now officially on Puppy Patrol before work... puppy peeing and puppy pooping are a priority! (Is it wrong to talk about these things on a cooking blog?)  If you want to see some cute videos of our puppy, Sandy, click HERE. :)

This week I needed to restock the refrigerator and freezer.  I made Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup and my favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup.  The two soups were great to make side by side since they both call for celery, carrot, and onion.  I used almost the entire package of celery and almost the entire bag carrots in the two soups (I added extra veggies).  I also made some vegan quick bread for grab and go breakfasts.  In the bread I used yellow summer squash in place of the zucchini as called for in the recipe (thanks to my neighbor Louis... he has a nice garden in his yard).  The bread is low fat (only 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in two loaves) and chock full of goodness... squash, bananas, flax seed meal, toasted walnuts, and raisins.  My husband likes this bread, too.

I did have the chance to try one new recipe this weekend and wanted to share that.  My family LOVES this recipe.  I found this recipe on a blog called "Family Fresh Meals".  The recipe is called "Crockpot Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole" and the original recipe can be found HERE.  I have made a recipe very similar to this before with frozen hash brown potatoes.  The recipe was supposed to be a "copy cat" recipe for the Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole served at Cracker Barrel Restaurant.  The Crock Pot version is nice in the summer because because you don't have to heat up the oven and the house!  I also noticed the Crock Pot version called for much less butter. This would be a great dish for Thanksgiving when the oven is occupied with turkey and other side dishes.

I made the recipe pretty much as described on the "Family Fresh Meals" blog. My slight changes are noted in boldface below.  We had the Cheesy Hashbrowns on the 4th of July along with grilled shish kebobs (some steak and some chicken) with onions and peppers.  The boys were fighting over the leftover hash brown casserole for breakfast for the following two mornings. The leftovers were great with ham and eggs.  Sorry, the Cheesy Hashbrowns were all gone before I snapped a photo but here's a good shot of our shish kebobs.

Crockpot Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole

2 (20 oz) bags of refrigerated hash brown potatoes (I used the grated kind, not the cubes)
2 cups sour cream
1 can condensed cream of potato soup (I used Cream of Chicken)
1 Tablespoon All purpose seasoning such as Salt free Mrs. Dash (I used Montreal Seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted)
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar cheese)
1/2 cup diced onions (I used 1/2 of a medium sized yellow onion)
1 Tablespoon of butter

1. Over a medium/high heat, saute onions in 1 tablespoon of butter, until translucent and soft. ( about 3-5 minutes)

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together hash brown potatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, cheese, seasoning, salt and cream of potato soup. Stir until well combined.

3. Place in a crockpot, prepared with cooking spray and cook on LOW for 5-6  hours.

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