Cheesy Potato Casserole

This recipe right here is a potluck classic. Easy to make, perfect to transport, and a certain crowd pleaser. It is a basic concoction of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, chopped onions, and a cheesy sauce. Sometimes with a topping, other times without.

Personally, I had never made it before but I had the opportunity to try it on occasion at different gatherings. My neighbor back in Alabama used to make something similar to this, but even simpler- thrown together in the crockpot. It’s been on my “to-do” list for awhile now. I wanted to make a casserole that was baked with a crunchy topping though, and preferably one without canned condensed soups.

Well, once again Mel’s Kitchen came to my rescue! I’ve been using her blog for a lot of things lately and she has proved herself pretty dependable. I’m a fan. Anyways, she wanted the same thing from this casserole. Her Mother used to prepare the canned soup version often during her youth and she wanted to create the same great taste but without all the processed products. Success!

I wanted to take this to one of my church group luncheons (where I take most of my blogging goods). I had never transported a hot dish before though so I was a little nervous. How would it stay warm for an hour and a half before it’s served?? There is no way it could. And although this dish might be okay, just barely warm, I wanted it to still be so warm that it was still gooey and hadn’t solidified from cooling yet. Ya know? Well, I found the coolest product to solve that problem! It’s a 13-by-9-inch transportable pyrex set with a hot/cold pack. I just LOVE it! And it worked fantastic. My dish was still right-out-of-the-oven-hot by the time it was finally served. And it was a complete hit. The whole casserole disappeared before the luncheon was over. My favorite part of bringing food to gatherings is when I overhear people asking each other, “Who mad this??? It was great!”.

And you don’t even have to wait for a gathering/potluck to make this. You can make cheesy potatoes for a dinner side-dish or at a Holiday meal- why not? I know of lots of people who do : )

  • Potatoes:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
  • 26-ounce bag frozen shredded hash browns
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • Topping:
  • 3 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is softened and translucent,a bout 5-6 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Combine the chicken broth and milk in a liquid measure and slowly whisk in the mixture. Add the salt, pepper and thyme. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cheese until smooth. Mix in the frozen hash browns, lifting and folding the mixture until well combined. Finally, stir in the sour cream.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the lightly crushed cornflakes with the butter until evenly combined. Scoop out the potato mixture into a 9X13-inch baking dish and top with the buttered cornflakes. If baking the potatoes by themselves, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly around the edges.

adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Tagged as:
sour cream

Lemon Risotto with Seared Scallops #SundaySupper

Has is really been over a year since I’ve posted a proper risotto recipe? I’ve clearly been slacking when it comes to my signature dish. (That farro “risotto” a few weeks ago was delicious, but it doesn’t count – it doesn’t even use rice!)

This week, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day at Sunday Supper. I thought about making Chicken Cordon Bleu, the first meal I really remember cooking for my mom, but I didn’t really feel like eating that. So I made a summer-y risotto topped with seared scallops and lemon salt instead. It doesn’t have any significance – I don’t think I’ve ever even seen my mom eat risotto – but it’s a decadent dish that’s the perfect way to pamper someone.

Serve it up with a wedge of Lavender Dark Chocolate Tart and she’ll feel like a queen.

Lemon Risotto with Seared Scallops #SundaySupper

Author: Lauren Keating (

Serves: 4

  • 4 cups chicken stock or water
  • ¼ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup Arborio rice, or other medium-grain risotto rice
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound large sea scallops, pat dry
  • coarse sea salt
  • cracked black pepper
  1. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic; cook until soft – about 5 minutes. Add the rice and half the lemon zest; stir so that each grain of rice is coated with oil and appears glossy. Cook the rice for 3-4 minutes, or until it is mostly translucent. Stir in the wine, scraping up any bits that have hardened in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add 1 cup of the warm stock. Stir constantly until all the stock has absorbed into the rice. Continue this process, adding the stock ¼ cup at a time, until the rice is creamy and soft – the whole process will take about 20 minutes. Stir in the spinach, parmesan, and lemon juice, until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Heat the oil and butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the scallops. Cook 2 to minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Stir together ¼ teaspoon of the remaining lemon zest with ¼ teaspoon sea salt.
  6. Serve the scallops on top of the risotto. Sprinkle with lemon salt and season to taste with black pepper.

Calories: 398 Fat: 12 Carbohydrates: 30.8 Fiber: 1.9 Protein: 39.5


This week, #SundaySupper is celebrating Mother’s Day! Be sure to check out what the other participants brought to the table. There are loads of great recipes for any time of day!

Mother’s Day Brunch:

Mother’s Day Entrees:

Mother’s Day Sides:

Mother’s Day Desserts and Drinks:

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday, May 12th to celebrate Mother’s day! Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST, but we’ll also be tweeting throughout the day and sharing recipes that celebrate mom. 

Strawberry Cupcakes

I really wanted to post a recipe for Strawberry Cake last year, but time just seemed to have gotten away from me before I had the chance. This year I was bound and determined to tackle the task even before strawberry season came into full bloom. After all, strawberry cake/cupcakes are kind of a big deal. Nothing beckons to it more than summer-time and barbecues! If you’re going to a summer party chances are there is going to be some sort of strawberry cake, berry topped cake, or lemon something or other. It’s just the way things roll in the summer.

There are lots and lots for strawberry cake out there, most of which center around the use of boxed cake mix and strawberry-flavored Jell-O. I wanted to find a recipe for strawberry cake that maintained great strawberry taste and texture without any of the processed, boxed products. Totally from scratch baby! The problem is there are not nearly as many recipes out there for a from scratch strawberry cake… and even less that are rated well. So I decided to take it upon myself to come up with my own. One that I would be proud to share with you and claim to be delicious, moist, and full of beautiful strawberry flavor!  Well, I am happy to say that I did : )

I usually depend on Cooks Illustrated to provide me with a recipe for these type of debacles, but their solution left me only partially satisfied. They had a really great idea to use frozen strawberries, heat them to release their juices, strain them while pressing out excess liquid, and to reduce all the strawberry juice to a concentrated 1/4 cups worth. They use a white cake recipe to let the strawberry flavor shine through which I also agreed with.  However! Their actual cake recipe was not what I had in mind. It called for cake flavor AND used the reverse creaming method. Both of these things I am not a fan of. I feel like they produce too tight of a crumb. It’s not as fluffy and soft as I like my cake. So I turned to my absolutely favorite White Cake recipe and changed it up to work with the concentrated strawberry juice.

The liquid called with in my white cake recipe is 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, so I had to do some maneuvering to get the quantities to work out. If I had used the 1/4 cup strawberry juice in replace of some of the buttermilk, I would have had to call for 1 cup and some ambiguous amounts worth of buttermilk. It didn’t quite add up. So instead I used one cup worth or regular whole milk plus 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, along with the 1/4 cup of strawberry juice. This made almost exactly 1 1/3 cups of liquid. Perfect! I used the vinegar and milk to work as a substitute for the buttermilk, which allowed me to keep the tender effect of the buttermilk without having to ask for an odd quantity of one ingredient. So obviously the substitution works both ways, you can use 1 cup plus 1 Tb buttermilk in place of both the vinegar and milk. In the end the cupcakes were a smash! They came out exactly how I wanted them too. I ended up taking them to a party and they all disappeared with many compliments aimed my way.

And let’s not forget the frosting…. and wow, what a frosting it is! Cream cheese strawberry frosting– yes, please! I did end up taking this recipe right from Cooks Illustrated’s Strawberry Cake. It just sounded so amazing, I had to. Plus, it calls for the remaining bits of strawberry that you extract the liquid from so it also prevents waste! However, as you may notice from my pictures, it is a very loose frosting. Definitely not something you are going to be able to pipe with. It’s because of all the moisture from the strawberry bits, so as great and exciting as they are to use, they are also annoying because they mess with the consistency. The original recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar. I tried everything to thicken it up without having to add more sugar because when you do that you don’t just thicken it, you sweeten it. I can’t stand overly sweet frosting. So, I added flour and cornstarch. A few tablespoons of the cornstarch and when that didn’t work then a few more of flour. Neither really helped much. Not as much as I wanted at least. I relent. In the end the only thing you can really do about it is add more confectioners’ sugar. I put 3 to 4 cups in the recipe so you could use your own judgement based on what you were looking for out of the frosting- taste or texture? Just tune it to your own desire. Trust me, no matter what you won’t be disappointed it it!

*This cake makes a great layer cake too- just divide the batter amongst two prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.*

  • 1 (10 ounce) bag frozen strawberries
  • For the Cupcakes:
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • ¼ cup strawberry reduction (from frozen strawberries)
  • 1 Tb white vinegar
  • For the Frosting:
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces and softened
  • remaining strawberry solids (from frozen strawberries)
  • pinch salt
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F and line a regular 12 cup muffin tin with paper cups.
  2. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes.
  3. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least ¾ cup); reserve strawberry solids in refrigerator.
  4. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to ¼ cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk and vinegar into juice until combined; set aside.
  5. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
  6. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to evenly combine. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk mixture (beginning and ending with the flour), beating well after each addition.
  7. Fill cups ⅔ full and bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the Frosting: Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix butter and 3 cups confectioners’ sugar on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
  9. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  10. Add reserved strawberry solids and salt and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Add additional 1 cup confectioners’ sugar to thicken frosting as desired. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.
This cake makes a great layer cake too- just divide the batter amongst two prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tagged as:
cream cheese,

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