What a Crock: Hash Brown Casserole

I love hash browns, but they never turn out quite the way I like them. When I stumbled upon this crock pot hash brown recipe, I just had to give it a whirl. All slow cooker recipes are easy, but would this one create that perfect crispy crust I so desire in a hash brown? Let's see.

The rundown I'll eliminate the suspense right from the top--it didn't create that crust. But that's not to say this wasn't a great crock pot find. It was, but I wouldn't call these hash browns. This was a potato casserole, and a damn good one at that. It included one of those bags of pre-made hash browns, one can of cream of celery soup, one diced onion, butter, and some cheese sauce. I substituted the suggested sauce with a half-jar of Arriba! chile con queso (mild). Also, I only used a 20-ounce bag of potatoes and I cut the amount of butter in half.

The taste Great. I'll be making this again. It was very creamy, and the cheese sauce added just the right kick to the dish. I know some people are absolutely against eating "cream of" anything, but get over yourselves. These cream-based soups are ideal for crock pot cooking.

The ease Very easy. The hash browns are already done for you. Just dump the bag in the pot, then add the soup, cheese, and onions. Give the mixture a good stir, cover, and let cook on LOW for about five hours. It doesn't get much easier than that.

The kid factor My youngest daughter (almost two) loved the dish. I was afraid of the spice level, but she didn't seem to be adverse to it. And what kid doesn't like cheese and potatoes?

The suggestion As this recipe stands, it's a side dish. If you'd like to make it into a complete meal, try this: steam some broccoli and crisp some bacon. Once the casserole is finished cooking, just add these two ingredients and you're done.

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