Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Loaded Hashbrown Casserole

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I had a very, very full year. Tim and I moved into our first home, I ended one job and started another...I could go on and on. To be frank, I'm thankful that 2012 is over. It was an exhausting year; albeit, a good one.

I will say, though, our family did get one very, very big bonus at the end of the year. It was upwards of 8 lbs. and has sweet, chubby cheeks.



Her name is Barlow Marie. She is my second niece/princess, and I love her. She's only been around a few weeks, but she is already known for her extravagant hats and sweet, chubby cheeks. I want to squeeze her.

Moving on.



Unfortunately, 2013 got off to a rough start. I won't bore you with the details, but...okay, fine.

First, bronchitis that stole one of my five vacation days for the year. Hooray.

Second, somewhat-devastating results of medical tests. Once again, hooray.

My car is in the hospital for a bent frame. I don't know when I will get it back. Tim has to drive me to and from work like a 3rd grader. This also means I haven't had the mobility to get to the store. I'm hungry for something other than peanut butter.

God is good. I am grateful. But, like I said, 2013 isn't all that impressive.

In lieu of my recent first-world problems (I'll admit, in the grand scheme of life, my problems are nothing), I decided to publish my favorite loaded hashbrown casserole. I've been making this for a long time, but have yet to share it with all of you. The best part of this is the flexibility. I serve this with eggs for breakfast and pulled barbecue sandwiches for dinner. See? Flexibility.

Ingredients:
  • 26 oz. bag of frozen hashbrowns, or 6-7 large red potatoes (which is what I'm using)
  • 16 oz. container sour cream
  • 1 packet Ranch seasoning
  • 9-11 slices of bacon
  • 8 oz. bag shredded cheese

Directions:


If you're not using bagged potatoes, you can easily use real potatoes. Start by peeling the the potatoes.




Shred, making sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible before placing in your baking dish.



Truth moment: I use microwaveable bacon. I love the real stuff, but when I'm going to be crumbling bacon, it doesn't hurt to have thin slices. Plus, it only takes about 2 minutes compared to 20 minutes. Cook whatever bacon you choose according to the package.



Take the sour cream out of the container and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle Ranch seasoning on top.



Combine well; otherwise, if you pour the seasoning directly onto the potatoes, it gets weird. Just do it separately.



Combine the sour cream mixture and potatoes in a deep baking dish.



Let's get started on the cheese.



Slowly combine the cheese in with other ingredients.



Top with bacon and do the same. Mix it up!



To the best of your ability, flatten the mixture using a spoon. It helps it cook more even.

Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour, then lower the temperature to 300 degrees F and let cook for another 45-minutes to an hour. Keep an eye on it, and remove from oven when it is cooked thoroughly and top is browned.



Here's the key, and this is very important. I never eat this the day that I make it. It tastes so much better if you cook it and then let it sit for at least 12 hours, then re-heat it. I don't know why. Maybe it's just a preference thing, but I've made this countless times, and that's always been the case.

Love and hashbrowns,

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