Warning: This post will bother you if either of the following are true…
A. You would never buy the store brand of cream of mushroom soup.
B. You would never buy cream of mushroom soup, period, store brand or otherwise.
Foodies, hide your eyes. This may hurt.
Several years ago, my sister invited me to her house for dinner. Her husband John, my beloved brother-in-law, made a wonderful potato casserole. I asked for the recipe for sometime and he finally sent it to me in rough email form, which I have retyped in recipe format. I think it is the perfect recipe to demonstrate how tasty store brands (a.k.a. off-brands or generics) can be. I have a theory that if you use enough store brands in one recipe, they bind chemically and eliminate any adverse flavors that existed in their original state. I call this masking.
Actually, I just made that up. But it sounds reasonable.
Now I’m not saying that I buy off-brands exclusively, but I have broadened my horizons since my twenties. Or maybe it’s that I’ve lowered my standards. In either case, I have experimented over the years with these frowned upon products, and I pretty much know what works and what doesn’t. Buying store brands is an easy and quick way to save a little money.
If you haven’t used store brands, give them a try. Trial and error is the best way to discover what works and what doesn’t. Some are better than others and sometimes only the name brand will do. I can’t think of an example right now, but I’m sure its true.
I will get to rice and beans soon enough. Here’s the potato casserole:
John’s Spinach Potato Casserole
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
2 (24-ounce) bags frozen, shredded hash brown potatoes
16-ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 to 1-1/2 cups dry bread crumbs (Italian or regular flavored)
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
- Whisk together both soups, sour cream, salt and pepper until combined in a very large mixing bowl.
- Stir in the green onion, garlic, and spinach.
- Stir in the potatoes.
- Spread half this mixture in a large casserole dish (I used a 15 x 11-inch glass baking dish) that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Spread remainder of potato mixture on the cheese.
- Sprinkle the top with dry bread crumbs and drizzle the top with the butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.