For the holidays my grandmother would make a dish that was simply called Cheesy Potato Casserole. It’s pretty much exactly what you would find at a Midwestern church potluck. I absolutely adored it and my brother and I would beg for it whenever we had a family holiday meal together.
As my grandmother got older, my mom would make it. As I neared the end of high school, my mom taught me how to make it. It would be served every Thanksgiving and Christmas and I’d always put a huge helping of it on my plate. Living on my own, I’ve always carried on the tradition of making it.
This year I wanted to try something different. Thankfully I had two separate occasions to make this: the first gathering I made the original version and then for the second party I did a “makeover” using local and healthier ingredients.
This was an interesting project and I’m glad I tried it, but to be completely honest, I like it the way my Grandma used to make it. The new way wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t exactly how I expect it to be. Since my grandmother (and recently my grandfather as well) passed away, enjoying her version brings back a lot of great memories.
Plus (and I honestly wince for even having to mention this) the local/healthier version cost over 3 times as much. Granted, I could maybe find a way to reduce that a bit, but for the few times I eat it each year, I’ll stick with the original. I will say the yogurt and organic potatoes were easy substitutions and much healthier than their regular counterparts in this recipe, so I will probably continue to swap those out.
RECIPE: Cheesy Potato Casserole
1 large bag of frozen hash brown potatoes (the shreds, not the cubes)
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
2 cups sour cream
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1 large onion
3 celery stalks
1 can of french fried onions
salt and pepper
1) Dice celery and onion and put into a microwave safe bowl. Put in the stick of butter and some salt and pepper. Microwave for 5 minutes, until the butter is melted and the veg are tender.
2) In a large bowl mix the frozen potatoes, most of the cheese (leave a little for sprinkling on the top at the end), the sour cream, and the cooked butter/veg mixture.
3) When mixed well, spread into a 9×13 glass pan. Sprinkle on the fried onions and remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
RECIPE: “HEALTHIER” VERSION
-Used local/organic potatoes that I shredded in the food processor.
-Used 2 types of cheese from Willow Marsh Farm: Chuck’s Cheddar and Dar’s Garlic and Dill Cheddar
-Used Chobani Greek yogurt (it’s produced in NY) instead of sour cream (if I had time, I would’ve liked to make my own beforehand)
-Used Alexia’s natural beer battered onion rings in place of the canned fried onions
-Used local onion and organic celery
Someday when I hope to have the means to grow/produce all of the ingredients for myself maybe I’ll try again and see how things turn out. Until then, I’m sticking with grandma’s!