If you're like me, there are certain "staples", or must-haves, that will always be on the menu fairly often. Whether they are family recipes, or just simple fare, they are the turn-to item when you just don't really know what you are in the mood to eat. For us, that would be potatoes, in some form or another.
One of my favorite things to make is hashbrown casserole. It's simple, it's filling, and it's another of those comfort foods...just makes you feel happy. I still remember where I first got hooked on it, too...my local Cracker Barrel. It was years ago, and what they served then has changed with time, but that's probably the first recipe I actually learned to copy at home, and mine is like their's USED to be. Filling, balanced...it's just a great meal.
So that's what I'm offering today...a satisfying casserole main dish. Of course, the beauty of it is this...it's also incredibly simple to make this as a side dish. I'll give the main version, and then list what the changes would be for the other. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have over the years!!
1 package shredded potatoes (alternately, peel and shred 4 medium russet potatoes)
1 cup cubed ham
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, then crumbled
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or colby work best), divided
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large casserole dish, and set aside.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon, allow to cool, then crumble. Using a little of the remaining grease, saute the onion and bell pepper until softened, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the shredded potatoes, ham, crumbled bacon, and veggies, stirring to mix. In a small bowl, mix the soup and milk until blended, then stir that into the potato mixture, coating well. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese, and fold in. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and bubbly. Makes 5-6 servings. Great served with a simple salad!!
To alter this into a simple side, eliminate the meat. I don't really recommend taking the veggies out, as they lend so much flavor, but you can if you wish. Other than that, make it the same (may take a tiny bit longer to bake, cause there's more liquid to less food). ENJOY!!!