Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Helen's Hashbrown Casserole

I recently took this casserole to a Fourth of July party that my friends were throwing. When asked to describe what I was bringing I said, "It is one of those artery clogging side dishes that two people should never eat by themselves, yet Brett and I rarely do. It's got hashbrowns, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, butter, cheddar cheese, and onions, topped with cornflakes and drizzled with... more butter. It's delicious."

My friend's response was priceless, "Delightful! Why do I smell Paula Deen?"

She really wasn't too far off. Right part of the country anyway. This recipe comes from my great-aunt Helen, who (of course) lived in Arkansas.

Helen's Hashbrown Casserole
32 oz package of shredded hashbrowns
1/4 cup butter, melted
12 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 onion chopped
10 oz can cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp salt
(another) 1/4 cup butter, melted

Place thawed potatoes in a greased 13x9 baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 cup melted butter, soup, cheese, sour cream, onion, and salt.

Pour over potatoes. Top with lots of cornflakes. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bountiful Arkansas

Brett and I just returned from a week vacation visiting my extended family in "The Natural State." Arkansas is one of the greenest places I have ever seen. It probably helped that it rained for the entire month of May, but even so, trees far outnumber people, whereas in San Diego it is definitely the other way around. I have spent nearly every summer of my life in Arkansas and it is a wonderful place to recharge your batteries.

Sharing food is commonplace there. Family, friends, and neighbors bring over a sack of whatever they have from their garden, whether it's fresh picked blackberries, hand-shelled black eyed peas, okra, corn, tomatoes, pecans, or squash. I had more fresh produce picked by somebody I know in one week than I had all year in California. It makes you feel closer to your food, and more appreciative of the generosity of others.

(Here I am standing in my grandparents' tomato patch)

Every meal is home-cooked, with one exception: the night we eat out at The Fish Net. I get fried catfish once a year, but it's not the catfish that gets my mouth's the hush puppies! They are little drops of fried dough that are Heaven in your mouth. I could eat an entire meal of them. I practically did! The catfish is an afterthought.

Now it's back to dry, brown San Diego, and whatever the grocery store has to offer. The home-cooked part will stick around though :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Love and Apple Crumble

Brett and I celebrated our 4th anniversary yesterday. We had a really fun evening (much better than last year when we were both sick to our stomachs and I barfed up an entire orange milkshake.) The CRAZY thing was that we actually tried a new restaurant! The motivating factor was a San Diego Restaurant gift card that we've had sitting around for over a year. Jack's Grille in La Jolla couldn't have been a more perfect choice. There was live music, we were seated in an open air atrium, and most importantly, the food was delicious! We even got a complimentary appetizer (or maybe it was an amuse bouche) just for being cute I guess ;)

One thing I love about Brett is that he bakes! One night last week we were seriously bored. There was NOTHING worth watching on T.V. Brett got his trusty Taste of Home Baking Book and started flipping through. He took a page out and went to the kitchen. All of this without saying a word. Of course curiosity got the best of me and I started trying to guess what he was making because our ingredients were limited. I guessed apple crumble but I was pretty positive that we didn't have any oats. Ever resourceful Brett remembered that we had some instant brown sugar maple oatmeal packets, so we used that. Brett got to work peeling and slicing the apples. He is incredibly slow, but he does a great job.

And I got the topping all mixed up and the pan prepared for baking.

Really it only took about 20 minutes to prepare (it could be quicker if you were in a hurry) and then we were back to , "Well, what do you want to do now?" But it was a nice 20 minutes in the kitchen with my husband.

When it came out of the oven it was delicious and the hint of maple was a very nice addition.