Baked Potato Casserole

Everyone should have certain go-to recipes that they can make quickly and feed a crowd. I feel it is important to always have a great potato recipe in your bag of tricks, especially for potlucks.

I found mine when I was thirteen.

My uncle’s best friend married a woman named Tara. Tara would bring this recipe to every Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house. I was one of Tara’s bridesmaids when I was thirteen.

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I made this recipe for my husband when we first started dating. And continued to do so for the next few months. In fact, this recipe was the basis for our very first fight. Do you want to hear about it or should I get right to the recipe? Oh, you want to see the recipe. Well, just skip this part then. I’m going to tell you anyway:

Sixteen years ago my husband and I were at the grocery store buying the ingredients for this dish. I started to grab eight potatoes. My husband (fiancé at the time) made a grievous error. He decided to question my reasoning.

I know.

He understands now that there is no reasoning with me. Because I have no reason.

Or rhyme, as it were.

“It’s just the two of us. Why do we need eight potatoes?”

“Because that is what the recipe calls for.”

“But why can’t we cut the recipe in half?”

“BECAUSE IT DOESN’T SAY TO!” Then I burst into tears and ran from the store. In my defense we learned I was pregnant later that day and so I like to think it was simply the hormones and not a weird irrational need to bake eight potatoes.

After that fight, I stubbornly never made this dish again until this month.

Sixteen years really isn’t so long.

At least in potato years.

Every marriage should be measured in potato years.

Let’s just get to the recipe. If you are making this you are going to want to prepare the baked potatoes well in advance of using them. So, time accordingly.

This recipe is so easy. I changed the original recipe just a little. I like it, because you do not have to cut potatoes into small pieces or boil them. And, guess what? In the pictures I halved this recipe. If you are making this for a small family, I recommend doing that. For a crowd, I use the full recipe. Okay. So, he was right. Darn.

Ingredients:

8 large baking potatoes
4 Tbsp. Cold Butter
1 16 oz. container of sour cream (2 cups)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 – 2 tsp. salt (I use 1 1/2 tsp. first and then add an extra 1/2 tsp. if it needs it)
1/2 – 1 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives
2 Tbsp. Finely chopped green onions

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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Wash potato. Dry potato. Pierce the potato with a fork two times and then wrap it up in foil. Repeat eight times.

Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for seventy five minutes. Once the potatoes are baked (give a slight squeeze, if it gives then it is ready, if not bake the potato a little longer), place the potatoes still in their foil in your refrigerator to cool. Turn off oven. They need to cool for at least three hours, but I often cool them overnight so they are ready the next day.

Take potatoes out of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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Remove foil and simply peel or cut the skin off of the potato. I just cut off each end and then cut the skin off. This is easy and quick.

Place in your mixing bowl for your stand mixer or in a bowl to beat with your hand mixer.

Beat potatoes on low setting (if you do it higher, potatoes will go everywhere). Add sour cream and beat on low for thirty seconds and then turn to medium speed. Add salt, pepper, chives, cheese and green onions. Beat for a few minutes until potatoes are broken down and all of the ingredients are incorporated. There will still be small chunks of potatoes, but not large ones.

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Pour potato mixture into a baking dish and smooth so it is even. Cut butter into small pieces.

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Dot the top of the potatoes with the butter.

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Place uncovered in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are bubbling.

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Serve the potatoes.

And store marriage in a cool, dark place until ready to handle again.

“What’s in the box?”

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My husband is used to boxes arriving at the door. His face kind of screws itself up into a question mark as he sees another package arrive and I try to stop it before it turns into a full scowl.

The exchange usually goes like this:

“There’s another package for you.”

And then me:

“I only bought three things for ten dollars each! They shipped them all in separate boxes. I swear!”

But by this time, I am usually holding an armful of plastic or cardboard and my audience has left to pursue something more interesting.

Kinda like what is probably happening with this blog post.

The other day a large box came. Large enough to pique his curiosity.

Big.

Big enough to hold anything.

Big enough to hold something fun.

Maybe something masculine.

So, he brings the box in from outside and he asks me, “What’s in the box?”

And I tried to think of something funny to say. But my brain was blank because I could honestly not recall ordering anything. No clothes. No books. Nothin’. Those same answers could be used if you swapped out the word “box” and inserted “your head” instead. Just so ya know.

“I don’t know,” I replied honestly.

“It’s not mine. Did you order anything?” I like to pass those big cardboard surprises off as soon as they are dropped upon my doorstep.

My husband examined it further. “It’s from Walmart,” he said without enthusiasm.

I knew the box was definitely not for me.

“Well, it’s not mine,” I proudly snorted.

So, my husband took the ginormous box and placed it on the floor. We stood around it, as though we had never received a delivery before. My hopes were not too high about a box from Walmart.

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My husband opened the box.

Then he looked at me. And he rolled his eyes. From the depths of the box, he began to pull out long blue cylinders. The cylinders had one word on them, “Wondra.”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot. I ordered some Wondra from Walmart.”

“You ordered some Wondra?” He said his voice dripping with sarcasm (Wondra would take care of that) as he was still pulling cylinder after cylinder from the depths of the box.

He stacked them side by side. They formed a long row of floury heaven. A caterpillar formed from discounted baking products.

It was wonderful.

My inner hoarder clapped her hands with delight. She sighed with contentment. She danced a little jig and rebelliously began shaking the flour all over the house.

Real life Jenni stood facing the amusement mixed with the irk of her husband and tried not to smile.

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“It’s only a three month supply,” I smugly proclaimed. Because if I had given into my hoarding temptation, I would have doubled the order and had a healthy six month supply at my ready.

“Why couldn’t she just go and get Wondra at Walmart?” Good question. Yes, I can hear your thoughts.

I can no longer go to Walmart, because I had a very real-seeming dream in which I was shopping at Walmart and I was held hostage by the scariest man.

So, you can see why I can no longer go there.

It is for safety’s sake. I am nothin’ if not careful.

And guess what? Walmart delivered my Wondra for free!

It is astounding the things that I know the lengths I will go to to avoid going to the store.

My husband is so proud.

Late Summer Love Dress

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I know it is not really “late summer” yet. I would say we are smack dab in the middle of summer as far as time plotting goes. However, Late Summer Love is the name of this dress and since I spent hours minutes staring at these outfit pictures trying to come up with a title and nothing came to me. Well, we went with the name of the dress. And when I say “we”, I mean “I”. Just like when I say “late summer” I mean “middle summer”. Unless I actually mean late summer but at that point I would probably call it early fall.

We are a walking contradiction.

For instance, sometimes I will have to layer something underneath a short dress or I feel naked. Other times, I will leave the house in a dress my husband mistook for a shirt.

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I do not know why some pieces of clothing garner different rules than others. It is a conundrum.

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This is off topic (if we were ever really on one), but my son calls this pose my chicken pose. That makes me laugh. Or rather squawk.

We took these pictures the other day at my daddy’s apiary. In the second picture above this one, you can see some old hives. I grew up wandering these paths.

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I love this picture. It is probably my favorite outfit picture my husband has ever taken. I am not sure why. But it is such a candid shot, because I did not know my husband had started shooting. I like that I am fixing my gnome. It reminds me of being a little girl on that very road.

Although my mother never would have let me wear a dress that short.

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My husband agrees with her.

I will pair this dress with leggings, tights and maybe even jeans in the wintertime.

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Back to my son’s earlier observation: What would happen if I made it to the other side of this road?

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Whatever the answer, I hope I could get there without flashing anybody.

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I love the lilac tones in this dress mixed with the yellow. I purchased this dress with my birthday discount and a gift card while it is on sale.

And although it is short, it has really cool sleeves.

That is important.

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‘Cause when you’re marching to your own beat, it’s nice to be able to do it with a little flare, regardless of the name of the season or the stance of your pose.

Do you have odd rules about clothes? Do you ever contradict yourself?

I do not know why I do. Squawk!

Ginette Callaway: Landscapes

I love art. I like my walls to be crammed full of pretty things to look at. It is important to me. I think a home should be filled with the essence of the people who reside there. It should shout or whisper whatever emotion you are trying to convey. I hope our house screams, “FUN!”

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Besides my children’s paintings, I have more paintings by Ginette Callaway than anyone else in my home. I love her impressionistic style and the bright colors that she uses. I have been collecting her art for well over ten years. Last time I shared my bird paintings by her on this blog, including the peacock painting often seen in my outfit posts.

This time I wanted to share some of my landscapes by Ginette.

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First there is this beautiful fishing village painting. I love the size of it. I am currently rearranging the art in my house. This is how the art is arranged above our bookcases in our living room right now. She also painted the butterfly on the left.

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There is my incredibly fun painting by Ginette of an underwater fish scene.

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Miniature paintings are my favorite. This little guy is small and pretty. It depicts a small home in the Bahamas. Man, I would love to go there right now!

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And this painting is even smaller. I told you, I love small paintings. This is a lovely quaint city scene.

You can find Ginette Callaway on her website. And she sells her art on her Etsy store.

Do you have art in your home? What is your favorite item on your walls? What would you want your home to say about you?