Ham and Cheese Hash Brown Casserole

Jeremiah and I had some extra ham and a half bag of hash browns. I found this breakfast dish but I think you could very easily use it as a meal you make with Christmas leftovers. Not as cheesy as your traditional cheesy hash browns but still good.

Ham and Cheese Hash Brown Casserole by Plain Chicken

IMG_02161 bag of frozen hash browns
1 lb. diced ham
2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
1 – 16 oz. container of sour cream
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray. In a large mixing bowl, mix everything but Parmesan cheese. Pour into dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cook for one hour at 375 degrees.


  • I halved the recipe and baked in a smaller baking dish for the same time.
  • I added a little salt and pepper.
  • I think you could easily add some onion or garlic salt to this recipe.
  • You could use Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream. I think you could also skip the Parmesan cheese and still enjoy this recipe with less fat.

Breakfast Burrito

I got this recipe from Harvesters’ Nutrition Department. This is a recipe that Jeremiah and I had originally planned to make for the week of the SNAP Challenge. We had to pass because it was too much for our budget. That’s too bad because they are healthy and super filling.

PicoHarvesters’ homemade pico de gallo
3 medium tomatoes, diced
2/3 c. cilantro, minced
½ small onion, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno

Breakfast BurritoBreakfast Burrito
1 T. canola oil
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium russet potatoes, diced
8 eggs, beaten
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
8 (10 inch) whole wheat lower sodium tortillas
1 c. low fat Cheddar cheese, shredded (4 oz.)

Mix all ingredients to make pico de gallo.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add pepper, onion, and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes).

Spread potato mixture to the edge of the skillet and cook eggs in the middle.

Spread egg mixture into tortillas. Top with cheese and pico. Roll up like a burrito.

Nutritional Facts: 288 calories, 11 g. fat, 15 g. protein, 35 g. carbs, 6 g. fiber, and 193 mg. sodium.


  • Nutrition says this recipe serves 8 at a cost of $1.35 per serving. I was able to make 12 burritos by using a smaller tortilla. Plus, we had a little pico de gallo left for homemade tortilla chips.
  • I omitted the jalapeno from the pico.
  • I froze some of the burritos. If you do this, please add more seasoning to your eggs/potato mixture.
  • We used a high fiber tortilla shell.

With a Flare

I once dated someone whose parents were Hondurans. He was born in the U.S. while his father was attending graduate school. P wasn’t much of a cook before we met but I have to say we really enjoyed cooking dinner together. Although, I did eat a lot of marinated chicken breast and black beans and rice back then.

This is a recipe his mother cooked but he didn’t think it was a Honduran dish. They lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years so he thought that might be where this recipe came from. It isn’t an exact recipe so feel free to tweak to your liking.

1# of ground beef
1/2 onion, diced finely
1 or 2 potatoes, diced
1 can of tomato sauce
Louisiana’s Pure Crystal Hot Sauce (just a drop or two)
cooked rice

Cook rice according to package instructions. In deep pan, sauté onion and potatoes til cooked.  In a separate pan, cook ground beef. Add ground beef, tomato sauce, and hot sauce to the sauté pan. Once hot, serve over cooked rice.


  • We used Minute Rice but you could use a whole grain rice if you wanted to be healthier.
  • P was particular about using Louisiana’s Pure Crystal Hot Sauce. At first it seemed a little ridiculous but I realized it is the best hot sauce because it isn’t too hot. They sell it at Price Chopper, Hen House, Hy-Vee, and Wal-Mart in Kansas City.
  • I modified this recipe a little bit. I make a cilantro lime rice (fresh cilantro, half a lime squeezed, a touch of oil, and Minute Rice) for the base. For the top, I used taco seasoned meat and mixed it with salsa. I think my version is a little more flavorful and a great way to use leftovers.

Classic Potato Casserole

I have seen a lot of recipes for cheesy hash brown potatoes – even baked a few. But my mom’s recipe is still the best.

I’ll never forgot the time my Grandma Fletcher tried to modify this recipe. My Grandpa Fletcher doesn’t eat chicken or turkey. He grew up on a farm with chickens…and you get the idea. My grandfather had enjoyed this recipe when mom brought it to a family gathering. My grandma asked for the recipe because she also enjoyed it. Grandma thought my grandpa wouldn’t eat it again if he knew it had cream of chicken soup so she swapped it out for cream of mushroom. She also didn’t have any corn flakes so she decided to top it with Frosted Flakes. (I’m laughing just writing this.) Anyway, she bake the casserole and tried to serve it to my cousins Becky, Dan, and Marilyn when she was babysitting them one-time. Needless to say, no one would eat it after just one bite. The lesson, you can’t always modify recipe with what you want or have in your pantry.

I think this dish makes an excellent side dish for a baked ham. Perhaps you can cook this dish for your Easter dinner.

Mom’s Hash Brown Casserole by Kathy Bourek

 2 lbs. frozen hash browns
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 c. milk
1 c. sour cream (8 oz.)
10 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

 Combine all ingredients in baking dish. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.


  • I use a Tupperware That-A-Bowl to mix this.
  • I also let my hash browns sit out for about 30 minutes because it is easier to mix them.
  • Don’t use fat free sour cream and cream soup. It won’t set up properly if you do. You can us light sour cream , healthy request soup, and skim milk though.
  • You can top this with corn flakes if you want a crunch.

Copycat Recipe

My sister Stephanie and I have always loved the Olive Garden. Since I refuse to eat salad, I sampled their soups until I found one I liked. One night, Steph decided to try the soup I was having and loved it too. Our favorite soup at the Olive Garden is Zuppa Toscana.

Back when Stephanie was in college at Wayne State, I used to hang out with her in Pile Hall dorm room. I don’t know why but we were watching Phil Donahue (Yes, I said Phil Donahue not Dr. Phil. Look it up if you don’t know who I am talking about.) I am not sure why were watching Donahue but Steph and I always had a thing for talk shows. We watched Jenny Jones, Sally Jessie Raphael, and even Geraldo Rivera. But I digress. My point was the reason we stopped the channel on Stephanie’s turn dial 13 inch television was because Donahue had some lady on making copycat recipes. She made a McDonald’s Big Mac, Hostess Twinkie, and Wendy’s  Frosty (chocolate because they only had one kind back then). We were hooked. At the end of the show, they used to provide you with information on where to send at check or money order for $2.95 to purchase your own copy of the shows transcript. (I know, we sound old but the year was actually 1993 pre-internet boom.) I’m pretty sure it was the only time either one of us ordered a transcript. We hadn’t watched the entire show so we knew we had  missed some of those recipes.

Some years later, this guy Todd Wilbur created “Top Secret Recipes” cookbooks. This guys copycat recipes are pretty on for all your favorite restaurant chains. I’ll be honest, they are one of the few cookbooks I haven’t torn apart. Today’s recipe for this delicious soup comes from one of them.

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

1/2 lb. Italian Sausage (I use ground sausage when I make it.)
3 c. fat-free Chicken Broth
3 c. fat-free Milk
2 T. minced Onion
1 T. Hormel Real Bacon Pieces
1/4 tsp. Salt
Dash of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 medium Potato, chunked
2 c. chopped Kale

Grill sausage. Combine broth, milk, onion, bacon, salt, and red pepper in a medium sauce pan over a medium/high heat. Add  potato. When mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked sausage and simmer for 1 additional hour. Serves three.

Recipe modifications:

  • I’m pretty sure this is the lighter version of the Zuppa Toscana soup. I have another version from one of his cookbooks that has half and half. Skip the calories and cook it this way. It taste the same and is healthier for you.
  • I have substituted regular spinach for kale in the recipe. It worked just as well.
  • I omitted the bacon and it tasted just fine.

More cheese please!

I’m feeling a little under the weather today so I decided to try a new soup recipe. One of my favorite soups is the Overloaded Potato Soup at O’Charley’s. Unfortunately, we no longer have locations in the Kansas City metro area. I looked online for a copy cat recipe. The result was a kitchen disaster that had to be thrown out.

While looking through my “Roostin’ in Wayne” cookbook, I discovered a recipe that might be similar to the soup I was craving. This cookbook was created in my hometown to commemorate the 125th anniversary of our town as well as honor our annual event “The Chicken Show”. If you are old enough to remember Johnny Carson hosting The Tonight Show, then perhaps you have seen some of “The Chicken Show” Cluck-off Champs. Last year, “The Chicken Show” was named one of the top hometown festivals by Parade magazine. This is a little plug because my aunt who works for the Wayne Area Economic Development. Irene was also on the Cookbook Planning Committee which brought this wonderful recipe into my life.

Cheesy Potato Soup by Nancy Braden

10 slices of bacon

¼ c. chopped onion

3 medium potatoes (cubed with skin on) or 3 c. frozen hash browns

¼ c. sour cream

1 ¾ c. milk

Parsley (optional)

Dash of pepper

1 can cream of chicken soup

¼ lb. Velveeta cheese

1 c. water

¼ tsp. salt

¼ c. finely chopped celery

Brown and crumble bacon. Saute onion in bacon grease. Add cubed potatoes, water, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are done. Mix soup, cheese, sour cream, and milk together, and to mixture. Heat thoroughly. Serve with sprinkle of parsley on top (optional). Creator also notes you can use Hormel Real crumbled bacon and onion flakes if you don’t have much time.

Recipe modifications:

  • I reduced the amount of bacon. I put three slices in soup and garnished with a ½ piece. I baked the bacon in the oven so I did not have the extra grease in my dish. (But I think it would also be good even without any bacon.)
  • I used frozen potatoes and saved a bunch of time prepping this dish.
  • I used skim milk.
  • I doubled the amount of cheese (8 oz.).
  • I did not have onions or onion flakes so I used onion salt. It worked just as well. I think you might also consider using green onions.
  • I also omitted the celery because the O’Charley’s recipe did not have that in it.

My recommendation – I would add this to my recipe rotation. It’s a hearty dish on a cold, rainy night.