Marvelous Make-ahead Loaded Potato Casserole
I think ever since I discovered twice-baked potatoes as a young teen, I was in love with them. For many years I made them, scooped out the potato from the shell, mashed it up, added cheese, bacon, peppers, onions, carefully scooped my precious mixture back into the shells and baked again. It made for a lovely presentation. Back when I was in high school and my job was to make the family dinner, I would make these gorgeous potatoes on occasion for my family. We loved them.
Then I grew up, moved away and got married to an eater of rice. Not that he wouldn’t eat potatoes, he just didn’t have the same appreciation for them that I did. So it was a bit of a wasted effort to make twice baked potatoes for him. My kids are the same. My son loves potatoes, but he likes his mashed potatoes plain, no “extra” stuff. My daughter doesn’t like potatoes at all. Sometimes I still make twice baked potatoes for myself, but usually in (small) casserole style. This year I will be late in joining my first family for Thanksgiving, so I have to do make-ahead recipes if I’m going to bring them. I decided it was time to resurrect my precious twice baked potatoes, in make-ahead casserole form. We can still make “plain” mashed potatoes if we want, for the kids, but I’m excited to welcome back my twice baked potatoes to the table.
Welcome back, my lovely potato friends! How I’ve missed you …
- 2 lb. potatoes (I used red & a couple little purple ones), cooked
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper
- 2 slices lean bacon, cooked till crisp and drained
- 1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 2 teaspoons Red Robin seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 slices lean bacon, cooked & crumbled
- Fresh snipped chives
- Boil or bake the potatoes until they are tender enough to mash. Put the potatoes, skin-on, in a large bowl with the milk and mash them roughly, then stir in the Greek yogurt, bell pepper, bacon, cheese, dill, seasoning, and pepper.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter in the pan, then saute the onion and garlic until soft. Stir the buttery onion mixture into the potato mixture. At this point, you can put the potato mixture into covered container(s) and refrigerate or freeze. If you freeze it, make sure you give it ample time to thaw before the big feast day.
- When it's about an hour till eating time, preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, then spread the potato mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bacon crumbles and bake for 30 - 45 minutes or until the mixture is hot in the middle and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh snipped chives and serve hot.
To speed up the cooking time, you can heat up the potato mixture in the microwave before baking. If your potatoes are hot when you put them in the casserole, all you are waiting for is the cheese to melt, so about 15 minutes in the oven should be enough.
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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