Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

My favorite meals are pretty much easy meals that don’t require a lot of fuss and if they cook themselves in the crock, all the more better.  Enter Pinterest.  Many recipes of good, far more of bad and a few of spam (not the canned kind).  I saw this recipe for Baked Potato Soup that looked too stupid easy to be good.  Of course this means that I have to try it and see if it’s decent or gag worthy.  I’ve had a run of fails for recipes lately on Pinterest, so much that I’m about to make a Recipe Fail board to complement my Recipe Successes but this one turned out OK with some modifications I did after reading the comments to see if I should even bother teasing myself with the smell all day before the epic disappointment of a bad meal (I’m looking at you Angel Chicken).

Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

(Pardon the hipster Instagram shot, I didn’t think it’d be that good so only took a quick shot with the iPhone)

This is what I did:

1 bag of hash browns, frozen (I got Ore Ida shredded)
45 oz of chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken
8 oz Velveeta
dash garlic powder
dash kicked up salt concoction
couple dashes of pepper

1.  Toss the hash browns, chicken stock, cream of chicken and seasonings into a crock pot.  Turn crock on low and stir when the mood strikes you.
2.  Put in Velveeta supposedly an hour before serving.  I think I was around two hours or so because hubs was late from work. Best laid plans…
3.  Before eating, puree with immersion blender.
4.  Garnish and eat.

What I changed from original recipe and why:

•  After reading the reviews a lot of people said it was bland so I opted for the stock instead of the broth because I think that would bring a bit more flavor in.  I think it did.  I would keep this as is in the future.
•  I used the Velveeta because cheddar cream fakery beats bland creamy stuff every day.  I like cheese flavor and figured velveeta would do the cream PLUS cheese.  I had a long obsession with this cheesy baked potato soup we had when I worked at Friendly’s and I was hoping for a result close to that.  With only 8 oz it wasn’t but with the added cheddar garnish it was darn close.
•  Added garlic for the bland issues and essentially everything I make needs garlic according to the hubs.
•  I did not care for the looks and lumps of my first small bowl of the soup.  Too much flavor at once so I got out my immersion blender and pureed the soup until there were no lumps left and it made a WORLD of difference with the flavor.  You couldn’t pick out the individual flavors anymore and it was really spot on to the Baked Potato soups I’ve had in restaurants.

What I’d do in the future:

•  More Velveeta to give it more cheese flavor.  Maybe.  I liked where it was but I added cheese to it.  May leave how it is and just add shredded cheese. Hubs liked as is so there is that.  We’ll see how it is tomorrow for lunch for final decision because w all know stuff like this always tastes better the next day.  Unless it’s just bad from the get go.
•  Add bacon in from the beginning instead of a garnish, even just a bit I think would have given a good kick to the flavor.
•  Possibly sub out the cream of chicken for a different cream of soup.  Potato maybe?  Not sure but thankfully after puree-ing you couldn’t taste it anymore but was a bit noticeable without pureed goodness.
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Dad’s Awesome Meatloaf

After my Mom died (the main cook in the house unless it was cooked on the grill) I was somewhat concerned about what dinner would be like.  When Mom was sick generally our meals consisted of take-out or frozen meals.  However I was stunned when it turned out that my Dad was an awesome cook – MUCH better than my Mom.  Mom’s cooking was okay but to be quite frank, there are few meals of hers that I miss (I DO miss her potato soup though, yum).  Dad turned out to be an amazing cook and I’m still kicking my own self for not getting him to write down more of his recipes.  I really miss one of the most simple meals of his – hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes.  I’ve found a few recipes but none have quite hit it.  Anyway, one of my favorite recipes of his is his meatloaf and it’s often the meal I make to wow guests.  Most people – my husband included – turn their nose up when you say “meatloaf” and start grumbling like Randy did in “A Christmas Story” but this meatloaf will change your mind!  I also tend to make this meal when I’m missing my Dad.  It sounds weird but it makes him seem closer whenever I make meals of his.

This was my first experience with the step-by-step recipe thing so I apologize for the suckiness of the photos.  It was dark and storms were rolling through so the light was just not great but I was on a mission to take pictures of this so I persevered.  Then the card got corrupted so half the photos I took are missing.  Fun fun!

meatloaf recipe from my Dad

Assemble the cast of characters.  Here we have the extensive ingredients that I promise you anyone can get a hold of.  Salt, pepper, dry mustard, bread crumbs, tomato juice, hamburger, onions, ketchup, brown sugar and eggs.

Personally I go full bore with it all and screw the fat content.  I have tried to make this “healthier” with turkey burger and it just didn’t taste right.

As far as substitutions, that’s your own perogative, just don’t come slamming me for bad meatloaf when you didn’t use anything listed LOL.  Those reviews always crack me up on food sites, well I did this this and this different and it tasted like crap so I’m giving you one star!  Hilarious.

I use premade breadcrumbs in a can but you can use your own homemade kind if you have that kind of patience or cracker crumbs.  I’d probably nix the salt if you use cracker crumbs with salt on top.

I’ve also used V8 in lieu of tomato juice and it’s been fine.

Preheat your oven to 350.  I always forget this but thankfully the oven doesn’t take too long to preheat.  Oops.

Mix together hamburger, bread crumbs and juice.  If you are pansy about getting your hands dirty/germs you may not want to read further but after trying a few different utensils I discovered that using your hands to mix the meat is the easiest way.  Just wash them please?

Once done smashing this all together, it should look like this.  Again, apologies for sucky pictures.

Next beat the eggs together (if you need pictures on this you’re screwed… and kind of scaring me) and dump them into the mixture along with the salt, pepper and diced onions.  I buy prediced onions because I’m allergic to onions and turn into one big hive if I attempt to handle them and god help me if I try to cut them (my face swells up).  My Dad used to use one small yellow onion and I decided that’s about 1/4 cup or so.  Use your best judgement.  Again, mash with hands or pansy it with some sort of magic stirring stick.

Oh and yes, even though I’m allergic to onions I still put them in this.  Cooked onions don’t bother me as much as raw so I put up with the discomfort for this meal.

Toss the meat mixture into a loaf pan.  You shouldn’t need to grease it.  It will look like this.  Apologies about my back splash, it’s a mess.  Hubs and I can’t agree on what to do for the back splash so for the past 5 years it’s remained plain paint which doesn’t wipe off so easily.  One of these days, he’s going to come home and I’m going to have tiled it all while he was at work.  If you’re curious he wants only slate tile, I want slate + tumbled glass detailed.  I will win.  Someday.

Toss that sucker in the oven for 1 hour.

Next is the good stuff.  I double the recipe because a thin glaze doesn’t cut it for us, if I could I would just eat the glaze.  You’re going to combine ketchup, brown sugar and dry mustard to make this good stuff.  I use a fork to combine because it makes it easier to get the lumps out.  Lumps are OK though and I usually don’t manage to get them all out when I’m using brown sugar that isn’t new.

Pull out the meatloaf which will look disgusting and be bubbling.  No matter what the fat content is on the meat, there’s always excess fat. If you wait a couple minutes it usually will start to congeal and I scrape some of it off.  That’s as close to “diet” as I get with this stuff.

Slap on the glazing.  Keep in mind this is a double batch so if you go with the recipe amount you won’t have this much on top.  Put it back in for another 30 minutes.

Then the house starts to smell REALLY good.

Make your side dishes and hopefully time everything right so that everything is done around the same time.

I rarely do that element well.

Then pull out the loaf and cut into slices.  It will be VERY moist so it may crumble a bit if you don’t let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  I rarely can wait so mine is always a mess.

meatloaf dinner from scratch

There is my plate of food!  See what I mean about the meatloaf falling apart?  I did have a picture of the meatloaf COOKED in the pan but thank you mr Sandisk for failing me so you’ll have to deal with this shot instead, sorry!

Dad’s Meatloaf

Meatloaf:

1 1/2 pounds hamburger
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup tomato juice
2 large eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup onion, diced

Topping:

3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon dry mustard

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Combine meat, breadcrumbs, and juice by hand until well combined.
3.  Add eggs, pepper, salt, and onion and combine until mixed.
4.  Put in loaf pan and cook for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
5.  Combine brown sugar, ketchup, and dry mustard.
6.  Place on top of meatloaf after 1 hour of cooking and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
7.  Double check for doneness and enjoy!!!

 

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