Party (or Funeral) Potatoes

What’s in a name? Well, a lot, but the truth of it is that this hashbrown potato casserole is the same from here to eternity and the only giant difference is what you call it. Personally, I appreciate “party” potatoes. “Funeral” sound too glum, while “casserole” immediately makes me not want to eat it. But when it comes to serving a crowd, I’m all about filling up a big 9×13 dish with a crowd-pleaser like this one. And you know what? This casserole is slightly different from all the rest! Read through the instructions and you’ll see what I mean. It earned a few solid reviews from friends—and husband—last night so I’ll make it again for sure.


1/4 cup butter, melted
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon chicken base
1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 packages (20 ounce) fresh shredded hash brown potatoes
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup crushed potato chips
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a blender, pulse butter, onion, cream of mushroom soup, and chicken base several times to chop onion. Add sour cream, milk, salt and pepper, and pulse just until almost smooth. Stir in dried parsley.

In a very large bowl, combine the hash browns and cheddar cheese. Add the cream sauce and stir until it’s well combined. Pour into 9×13 pan and smooth the top.

Prepare topping: Mix panko crumbs, potato chips and melted butter in a Ziploc bag until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

**I omitted the topping entirely and didn’t miss it.

Taco Tot Casserole

My friend Joan contributed this recipe to our freezer meal group years ago. It’s a very Nebraskan dish; right up there with “salads” made with whipped cream folded in. And seriously, don’t knock it. It’s super yummy.

1lb lean ground beef
1 – 1.25oz pkg taco seasoning mix
1 – 15oz whole kernel corn, drained
1 – 11oz can nacho cheese soup, undiluted
4 cups frozen tater tots
salsa (opt)
sour cream (opt)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a skillet cook beef until brown. Drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix and add water, cook as directed on package of taco seasoning. Spoon meat mixture into an
un-greased 2-quart casserole dish. Spread corn over beef. Spoon undiluted soup over corn and arrange tater tots in a single layer over this.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until bubbly and potatoes are lightly browned. If desired, serve with salsa and sour cream.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Irish Potato Pie

I admit that when I got out of bed this morning, I had no plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at all, but something about the tantrums my kids threw over not having and/or not wanting to wear and/or not having the right color green got me in the spirit.

This meal was at first much lamented by kids who didn’t even want to try a bite and then praised, second-helping-ed, and requested to be our St. Patrick’s Day tradition for all the years to come. I’ll take that as a win.

Now in case you can’t tell by the fact that the recipe starts out with frying bacon in butter and ends with heavy cream, this is comfort food. We ate it tonight with Irish Soda Bread and a Guinness for the adults. In the future I might try to add a vegetable (maybe in the dish, but on the side at least) just to lighten things up a bit.


  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 7 slices thick-sliced bacon, chopped
  • 5 potatoes (4 large), peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill (I left this out, per family preference)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the thawed puff pastry in a 8-9 inch tart pan and crimp the edges. Remove the excess dough and piece it along the rim if needed to make the rim even in some places. Refrigerate the crust until ready to fill. (I don’t have a tart pan; it worked just fine in my 7×9 rectangle pan, and I’m sure it would be delicious in a regular pie plate too.)
  2. Place the butter and bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute until the bacon is crispy then toss in the onions, followed by the potatoes and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir 3-5 minutes,to mix the onions and potatoes and coat in fat. The potatoes don’t need to be cooked through. Then spoon the mixture into the crust and drizzle with heavy cream.
  3. Bake on the low rack for 35-45 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender and the crust is golden. Rest for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with chopped chive and cut.

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin (with Ham)

I had potatoes and I had ham, so that settled it—time to make Potatoes au Gratin. I selected The Pioneer Woman’s recipe, tweaked it a little and doubled it for our small group dinner last night. It was crazy good; as in, two helpings good. Which is saying a lot for me because I usually choose to eat two helpings of dessert, not potatoes. Eat! And enjoy.

8 whole russet potatoes, peeled
2-3 T butter, softened
1 pint heavy cream
2 cup whole milk
4 T flour
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 t salt
pepper, to taste (don’t skimp!)
3 C ham, cubed
2 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.

Slice potatoes, then cut slices into fourths (thicker slices will take longer to cook). In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish, then place approximately 1 C of ham over it. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling. Add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving by the spoonful.

**This modified recipe serves 8 adults easily and allows leftovers for lunch the next day. To make a nice side dish you could omit the ham and reduce quantities of ingredients by half.

Lazy Day Lasagne

This recipe is from the (old) Zion Cookbook. I think Brook has a similar recipe from her mom. It’s on the menu at our house this week.

1 12-ounce carton cottage cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 eggs

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 pound ground beef or sausage, browned

9 lasagna noodles, uncooked

1/4 cup water

Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, onion powder, basil, and pepper; set aside. In medium bowl, mix spaghetti sauce and ground beef; set aside. In a 9 x 13 pan, spread 3/4 cup meat mixture in bottom. Layer with 3 uncooked noodles. Spread half of cottage cheese mixture and 1 1/2 cup meat sauce. Layer with 3 more uncooked noodles. Spread remaining cottage cheese mixture over noodles. Top with remaining noodles and meat sauce. Pour water around edges. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 additional minutes or until golden brown. Just before serving, sprinkle top of lasagna with Parmesan cheese.


This is one of the meals I made for the freezer meal exchange. It comes originally from Jana Ghormley in the NZC. As a bonus, I made my version this time for just under $5, which makes this meal about $0.62/serving. Not bad.


  • 1 (12-ounce) package rotini pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (32-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (4-ounce) can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Brown ground beef in a large skillet; drain.
  3. Season to taste with onion, salt, garlic, Italian seasoning, oregano, and pepper.
  4. Add spaghetti sauce and mushrooms to beef mixture.
  5. Drain cooked pasta and combine with ground beef mixture in skillet.
  6. Pour in a 9×13 pan.
  7. Layer pepperoni on top, then cover with the mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25–30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Note: I use spaghetti sauce that already has garlic and herbs and just skip the spices (step 3).

Sweet Potato Souffle

sweet potato souffle

It’s not Thanksgiving if we don’t eat sweet potato casserole! I’ll be preparing this dish today and baking it tomorrow. It tends to get thrown in with other sides and I now wonder if it’s ever been baked at the right temp for the proper length of time. Clearly, it’s a forgiving dish. And it tastes amazing. Credit to Diane Downing via the old Zion Cookbook (the green one).

Ingredients (Casserole)

  • 3 C sweet potatoes, mashed
  • 1 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 t vanilla

Ingredients (Topping)

  • 1 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C flour
  • 1 C coconut
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 C nuts, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Butter 9×13 casserole dish.
  3. Mix casserole ingredients together.
  4. Spoon ingredients into buttered casserole dish.
  5. Mix topping ingredients together until crumbly.
  6. Spread over sweet potato mixture.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.


  • I reduce the sugar in the potatoes (probably to one cup) and omit coconut from the topping.