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Posts Tagged ‘great mashed potato casserole recipes’

Photos by Susie Nelson

Photos by Susie Nelson

A friend of mine shared vacation pictures with me over the weekend from her trip to Disney World last summer. A series of smiling, tanned faces shaded by large dark glasses and floppy hats lounging on the beach or boarding a ride in the park. According to the trip log attached they swam with the dolphins, saw Cirque du Soleil, met Mickey and Minnie, stuck on a pair of illuminated mouse ears and generally got their kid vibe on.

The Matterhorn - Disneyland - Analheim

The Matterhorn – Disneyland – Anaheim

I’ve always wanted to go. Disneyland is no stranger to me but I’ve never visited its east coast cousin. Spending my teen years in Southern California, date night often found me winding in and out of the Matterhorn, or losing my lunch in a tea cup at the Mad Tea Party. At the time none of the highly sophisticated rides you see now were up and running yet, but we made do with the incredible Disney magic already there. I fell in and out of love many times under the 9:00 firework display, or while exploring the caves on Tom Sawyer’s island.

Another date night haunt was Knott’s Berry Farm. As a little girl I loved to go there on Sundays for their delicious chicken and biscuits with boysenberry jam. Chubby little girls are all about the food no matter what the occasion. Once I took my children for a birthday party with friends. There were about nine little people, myself and two other mothers. You could buy an “all day pass” which entitled you to get on all rides and attractions under the umbrella of one purchase price which.

Kids, at least then, always clamored for the petting zoo. It was certainly nothing like a real zoo, but there were goats, sheep and various other people-worn farm critters roaming about lethargically still willing to be petted for a handful of whatever food you were holding in your hand. Certainly the smell was authentic. Goats, I am here to tell you, will eat almost anything. It was explained by the zoo personnel goats are intensely curious, and not particularly selective, so watch your belongings. Unfortunately, I had nine kids to keep track of so did not notice the goat next to me eating my all day pass tied to my purse. He was nice enough to leave a small remnant still attached to the string so on this evidence they issued me a new one.

Over the years I’ve flown screaming, hands waving in the air, over the precipice of the Cyclone Racer at the Pike in Long Beach, dropped from the perilous Cyclone Racer - The Pike - Long Beachheights of The Edge at Great America (leaving my stomach six floors up), and wet my pants on the log ride at Magic Mountain. Not my finest hour, nor my dates sitting directly behind me. In my defense, there was a lot of water, I was saturated with a 16 oz. soda, and he made me laugh. His bad.

The log ride was not my first mishap while on a date at an amusement park. When I was sixteen I went on a blind date as favor for a friend. POP, or Pacific Ocean Park, in Santa Monica was our choice of venue that night. Long since closed, at the time it was a hot spot for kids. Featuring a nautical theme, there were shows with performing dolphins and sea lions. Many of the rides, such as the Scrambler, whisked you out over the ocean and back again at dizzying speeds. Kids being kids, we consumed our fair share of cotton candy, corn dogs, French fries and chocolate covered bananas. One stomach turning ride after another finally found us loading two by two into the cars on the Scrambler. The design of the ride was basically cars propelled by metal arms moving in and out and in circles, squashing the person on the outside smack against the person stuck on the inside, in this case me. As we rode in and out, between the fetid fish smell coming from the adjacent pier combined with the natural briny smell of the ocean, my date began to as green as the night colored Pacific below us. Oh-oh. Sensing this wasn’t going to go well I tried to put a bit of distance between us. Unable  to move, I was trapped as he lost his lunch and what appeared to be breakfast and dinner from the night before all over us and the car we were sitting in. Sorry, hope you weren’t eating. It wasn’t pretty. Once stopped, the ride operator had to put a temporary out-of-order sign up in order to clean up the mess. Politely we were encouraged not to hurry back, and drove home with all windows in the down position.

I draw the line at hanging upside down, whirling through dark places in a wobbly car on a track, and rides so high your nose bleeds. My daughter, however, has no fear when it comes to thrills. She has ridden Insanity at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, a spinning ride dangling you way over the edge of the building high above ground. Insanity being the optimum word here.

These days I prefer tamer pursuits. Sea World perhaps or the San Diego Zoo. Vicariously I get pleasure out of thrill seekers such as our amazing Olympic ski jumpers and the human torpedoes riding the luge. What a rush it must be to fly in the air like that and have the skill to land without breaking into pieces. Amazing. Such dedication to devote hours to training for this, the final goal. Play national anthem here. Truly, though, I kid, but it is inspirational.

At any rate, no roller coasters on the docket for today. I’m going for a walk in the woods with a friend. These potatoes taste just like loaded baked potatoes. Yum.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole with Proscuitto

4 large russet potatoes, peeled, quartered and cooked
6 slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup Carnation 2% Evaporated Milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) Mexican style cheese, divided
1/4 cup green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Place prosciutto on sheet in single layer. Bake for 10 mins., or until crisp, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Crumble.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to low boil and continue cooking until fork tender, about 20 mins. Drain. Put in large mixing bowl.

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Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Add evaporated milk, sour cream, salt, peppers, and garlic powder to potatoes and whip with hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese and 1/2 of the prosciutto. Pour into casserole dish and bake for 25 mins.

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Remove from oven. Top with remaining cheese and prosciutto and sprinkle with green onions.

Increase heat to boil and cook until cheese is melted. Serves 4.

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