Friday, February 17, 2012

Hashbrown Casserole

We started noticing "it" in our cartons of orange juice and ice cream.  "It" being package-shrink.  Our half-gallons of juice and ice cream are, sadly, very rarely half-gallons anymore.  In an effort to keep prices low, manufacturers are slowly but surely knocking off a few ounces here and there from our beloved products in hopes that we don't notice.  (Most of the time we don't.)  On the other hand, restaurant portions are steadily growing to gargantuan proportions, and we don't bat an eye at the higher price tag that comes along with it!  Curious.

Now I haven't bought frozen shredded hashbrowns in quite some time, but last time I checked they were 30 ounces, down from the "original" 32 ounces--which is what many of my older cookbooks call for.  Imagine my surprise recently when I spied my package of hashbrowns has been whittled down 26 ounces! Now that's getting a little ridiculous, don't you think?  Where's my extra 6 ounces of tater goodness?  I'd rather pay a few more cents than be tricked into thinking I'm buying the same amount of product that I've been used to.  In this hashbrown casserole recipe the size difference doesn't really matter, but you can imagine how package shrink could really mess up a more structured recipe! 

There are tons of hashbrown casserole recipes floating around; some of you may know it as "funeral potatoes" or the like.  I made this casserole more of a meal-in-one deal with the addition of some ham I had stashed away in the freezer.  Mr. K doesn't care for the taste of sour cream (crazy, I know), but he sure loves him some homemade ranch dip (made with sour cream!) so I added it just to be sure he wouldn't turn it down because of the sour cream!  This would be an excellent addition to your stash of freezer meals--just divide between two 8" square pans and freeze (don't bake yet).  When you're ready for them, just thaw overnight and bake for a few extra minutes!

Hashbrown Casserole 

2 lb. hash browns, thawed (anywhere from 26-32 oz. would work)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1 oz. pkg ranch dressing mix
2 cups diced cooked ham
8 oz. cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9x13" baking dish or two 8x8" dishes with non-stick spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Transfer to baking dish(es).  If you're planning on freezing this dish, now's the time.  Otherwise, bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes.  Let cool before serving. 


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