Yep, this is going to be a cheesy post, one dedicated to the college students who worked with me in my AVID classroom. Shout outs to all the tutors, now professionals working in law, non-profits, education, business, medicine, accountants, writers and engineers. You were awesome tutors and (almost all) the kids you mentored are on track to follow in your footsteps or they are working right beside you as we speak. Well, we aren't speaking, but you know what I mean.
The AVID staff at Centennial HS celebrated birthdays and other holidays with pot luck luncheons or breakfasts, tutors and teachers bringing whatever they could to make the party delicious. I often brought Cheesy Potatoes, a recipe properly called Holiday Potato Bake that I found in the California Farm Bureau wives' cookbook, circa 1970's. Mike Chun, currently an executive working in South Korea, says he still misses those potatoes.
The recipe is an easy one, and it's simple to change or substitute ingredients to reduce the calories and fat. All I know is I never brought home leftovers if Cheesy Potatoes showed up for lunch.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1/4 c butter or margarine
1/2 c chopped onion
1 (32 oz) bag frozen hash brown potatoes-thawed (shredded is best)
1 (16 oz) container sour cream (substitute half Greek yogurt to save calories and fat)
1 (10 1/2 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese (low fat will work, but avoid nonfat cheese-it won't melt)
salt and pepper to taste
Optional add-ins (Choose one): Small can of chopped Ortega chiles, 1/4 to 1/2 cup diced green or red bell peppers, or a mix of the two for a festive Christmas vibe.
1. Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat. (If you are in a hurry, you may skip this step and just melt the butter. Add the raw onions to the mixture in step 2.)
2. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients, including the sauteed onions and butter. Mix well. If your hands are clean, you might want to use them for this part because it's a lot of stuff in the bowl and hard to stir without making a mess.
3. Spray a 13 by 9 pan with nonstick spray or use some olive oil on a paper towel to cover the interior surfaces. Add the potato mixture and smooth it out. Optional: If you want to make the top crunchy: Crush some cornflakes and sprinkle over the top. Drizzle the top with 1/4 c melted butter.
4. Bake 60 minutes or until potatoes are hot, bubbly, and a little brown around the edges and top.