Sunday, August 7, 2016
I'm a brunch fanatic. I love everything about getting up on a Sunday and taking my time with an assortment of breakfast treats. A combination of hot and cold food items, some sweet, some savory, all delicious. This is the way to my heart. Turns out I have a dessert tube and a brunch tube in addition to the normal anatomy. And hey, I always justify pigging out a little extra at brunch because it's a combo meal, taking care of both breakfast and lunch all in one sitting. I won't eat again till dinner, save an afternoon snack, so I deserve to have streusel coffee cake alongside eggs and potatoes.
In my dream brunch scenario, there's an egg dish, a baked good of some sort, hot coffee (greasy spoon quality definitely suffices!), and crispy hash browns. Pancakes or French toast are also always welcome. As are a bowl of fresh fruit, a glass of orange juice, a bagel with lox and cream cheese, and waffles. I think this brunch is quickly turning into a smorgasbord!
To fill the hash brown requirement of my unicorn brunch, my mom makes a yummy casserole of frozen shredded potatoes, cheddar cheese, onion, cream of celery soup, and sour cream, plus a heavenly topping of French's fried onions for the ultimate salty, crispy factor. I love this casserole.
It takes just a few minutes to mix the ingredients together, and then it bakes in the oven for more than an hour while you prep the rest of the meal and set the table. When you bite into the casserole, it's cheesy and crunchy and oniony and perfect. And it makes a lot! One recipe fills a 9x13-inch glass baking dish to the brim and serves a village, or 8 happy campers easily.
Hash Brown Brunch Casserole
Recipe from my mom Joyce in our family cookbook
1 (2-lb.) package frozen hash brown potatoes, unthawed
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of celery soup, undiluted
3 cups (approx. 12 oz.) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 (6-oz.) can French's fried onions (Trader Joe's sells their own version of this during the holiday season)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch glass baking dish.
Combine the hash browns, cream of celery soup, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chopped onion in a large bowl. Stir to combine and break apart any large chunks of frozen potato. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and gently press across the top to spread the mixture to the corners and fill in any gaps.
Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the top is slightly golden. Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle the fried onions evenly over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes more, until the fried onions are golden brown. Serve warm.
Note: I sauteed about a cup of sliced button mushrooms and stirred them into the mixture before baking. I'm sure you could also add bell pepper or another veggie! Or even sausage.
Step-by-Step in Pictures
Stir the first five ingredients together in a large bowl...
Press the filling into a greased baking dish and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes...
Then sprinkle fried onions on top and bake another 5 minutes...