Cheesy Potato Casserole

There isn’t much I’m going to gab about in this post.  Other than how deliciously sumptuous and belly filling this Cheesy Potato Casserole is.

Yesterday was one of those days that I decided to play mad scientist in the kitchen.  And oddly enough, I wasn’t craving sweets like I normally do, I was craving a comfort food.  Maybe it’s because we’ve had such cold and blustery weather for days on end.  Or maybe it’s because I was preparing myself for a night of cozying up in front of the television to watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.  Whatever the reason, this mad scientist made the best cheesy potato casserole in her history of cooking.

Since I opted to make this dish later in the day I missed the chance to get nice bright photo’s but I went ahead and took pictures anyways.

Cheesy Potato Casserole

1/2 of a 8 oz. brick of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

1/2 of a 8 oz. brick of Pepper Jack Cheese, grated

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. diced onion

2 tbsp. diced red pepper

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 c. skim milk

1 pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. season salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 can of Cream of Potato Soup

5 mediums sized russet potatoes (with the skins on), sliced thin

1 1/2 cups French fried onions

2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (set aside for topping)

Grease a large casserole dish with butter.  I used a 10” oval dish.

Grate the cheese into a large bowl.

Slice potatoes.  I used my Pampered Chef Mandoline to get the job done quickly.

Melt butter in skillet on low heat and lightly sauté onions, peppers, and garlic.

Add flour to sautéed vegetables and mix thoroughly.  On medium heat, stir in the skim milk making a white sauce.  Stir constantly until thickened.

Add potato soup, salt, pepper, and season salt to the white sauce, completely mix all ingredients.

Remove from heat.

Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom of the prepared dish.  Pour half of the sauce over the potatoes and sprinkle half the cheese over them. Then sprinkle half of the French fried onions on top.

Repeat the process.

Finish the dish by sprinkling the grated parmesan cheese on top.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees until potatoes are tender – about 1 hour.  Remove aluminum foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes more to brown the top of the casserole.

These potatoes are so good.  Cheesy, gooey, and crusty all in one dish!   I regret that I didn’t get a picture of the casserole bubbling and freshly baked.  We dug in before I even gave it a thought.

This would make a great dish to take to any potluck supper.  I can almost guarantee that you won’t have to worry about carting any leftovers home.

What is your favorite comfort food?

Simple & Sweet Shortbread Cookies

Somehow, January has nearly slipped right by me.  It wasn’t until today that I realized we will soon be entering the ever so cold month of February, (as if it hasn’t been ever so cold already) and soon Cupid will arrive with his love potion filled arrows.

Last year, in honor of what is suppose to be one of the most romantic days of the year, I made several delicious treats leading up to the big day.  I kicked off the celebration with Strawberry Kiss Cheesecakes.   Then came the Chocoholic Cupcake, the Marshmallow, Peanut Butter, and Cake Truffles, and let’s not forget the Valentine Cream Wafer (Heart) Cookies.  

I decided to start this years celebration off with one of my most favorite cookies ever.  The Simple & Sweet Shortbread Cookie.  These cookies are melt in your mouth perfect.  Butter, sugar, flour, a pinch of salt and a touch of vanilla.  That’s it – so simple, so sweet!

SIMPLE & SWEET SHORTBREAD COOKIES

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

1/2 c. granulated sugar

a pinch of salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c. all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for rolling

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, add butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Cream ingredients together; add flour.  Continue to mix ingredients until everything is blended.  Form dough into a ball. 

Place a dough on a piece of parchment paper that is coated with a light coating of powdered sugar.  Roll dough out until it is about 1/4” thick. Use more powdered sugar if needed.  Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter.  Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet about 1 1/2” apart.  Bake for about 8 minutes.  Do not over bake.  They will firm up after removing them from the oven.  Allow cookies to cool completely on cookie sheet before moving them.

If you want to spruce your cookies up, roll the edges in a thin butter cream icing and then coat the edges with some colored sugar.   

I couldn’t resist sneaking this cute little (like new) tea cup from Teavana into this picture.  I found it at a local thrift store for 30 cents.  That’s my kind of bargain!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about romance.  It can simply be about kindness.  Make a batch of these delicious cookies, pair them with a pretty tea cup or coffee mug, and give them to someone that’s deserving this Valentine’s Day.

I’m planning on sharing my cookies at one of my favorite hangouts – BeBetsy.  Make sure you check out their great site because there is something there for everyone.

Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes

 

Watching the snow fall yesterday made me long for tropical.  A bright sunny beach, a cozy hammock nestled under a row of palm trees, a warm tropical breeze, and of course a fruity cocktail in hand.  And once my daydream ended, I realized that a tropical flavored cupcake would be the closest I’d get to anything tropical for quite some time.

Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes

With some leftover pineapple slices in the fridge, and a box of coconut pudding in the cupboard, a new cupcake recipe was born 

These cupcakes are super moist and they don’t need a thick buttery frosting to make them shine.  The combined flavors do that all on their own.

Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 12 cupcake tins with papers.

1 egg

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. olive oil

1 3.4 oz. package of Jell-O Instant Coconut Pudding/Pie Filling

1/2 c. diced pineapple

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. skim milk

In a large bowl, add egg, sugar, oil, pudding and pineapple; beat briefly with electric mixer.  Mix in baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.  Add flour and skim milk and beat until all ingredients are combined.

Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Allow to cool in tins before transferring to a baking rack. 

When ready to serve, sift confectioners sugar on top of each cupcake.

What are you doing to help you get through the long winter?  Are you daydreaming like me? Or are you planning a sunny vacation?

Share Your Vintage Camper Story

Pink Paradise 2014

Since hubby and I remodeled the Pink Paradise I’ve gotten several emails from other vintage camper enthusiasts.  Let me just say how much that I love hearing from people that share my passion for these old beauties like I do.

My camper is about 90% finished and I’m already looking forward to warm spring days when I can get back to working on her. 

In the meantime, it’s going to be quite some time before spring arrives here in the Finger Lakes, so I’m looking for other vintage camper stories to feature here at The Joy of Caking.

If you have a great vintage camper story that you’d like to share then I’d love to hear it! 

Grab & Go Bran Muffins

If I were going to invite (you) some of my closest friends over for a cup of coffee to catch up on things, which I really need to do, I’d make these yummy muffins to share.  This is by far is my most favorite muffin recipe – ever.  I can’t really explain why, but I’ll try.  These muffins are moist, a little sweeter than most, and their flavor is unique.  In other words, not so branny.

This recipe originated from one that my mom had.  Her recipe makes a whopping 50 muffins.  I certainly don’t have room for that many muffins in my freezer – do you?  So,  instead of making enough muffins to feed an army, I did a little adjusting and cut the recipe down considerably.  Now I can make a dozen at a time without having muffins up the wazoo.

These are some of the easiest muffins to make.  I just throw the ingredients in a large bowl and mix them up by hand.  This recipe makes a dozen muffins.

Grease muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grab & Go Bran Muffins

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. sour milk

1 c. bran flakes (If you like raisins, use substitute raisin bran flakes)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into prepared muffin pan.  Bake for approximately 13 minutes.  Check with a toothpick to make sure center is done.  Remove from oven; let cool before removing them from the pan.

What is your favorite muffin?

Peppermint Meltaway Cookies and Merry Christmas!

My daughter just  introduced me to a cookie that I’ve never had before.  I can’t imagine how this one slipped past me in all the years that I’ve been baking!  This little shortbread cookie has now made it’s way to the top of my “favorites” list .

These cookies have probably garnered their name from the fact that they are so tender and will melt in your mouth.  Yep, one right after another!

We got the recipe from Taste of Home’s website.  If you’d like the recipe to these delicious little gems please follow the link I just provided.

mint cookies 013

Happy baking, and Merry Christmas!

Retro Christmas Cards–DIY

I’m not a big Christmas card sender.  Yes, I like receiving them, and chances are, if you send me one you will get one back – but don’t bank on it.  This last weekend I was in one of my retro moods and decided to make a few cards to send out.

When I started this project I knew how I wanted my cards to look but I wasn’t sure if I could find the type of images I had in mind.  After searching on-line for a few minutes I found just what I was looking for.

For this project you will need:  printed images you wish to use, some blank cards, scissors, a glue stick, and a little rick rack.  Easy peasy!

 

So, my cards are made and sent out and I still have a lot to do before I’m ready for Christmas – eek!

Are you ready for the Christmas?  What’s left on your list of things to do?