There are so many versions of potato casseroles out there. You can’t go wrong choosing any of them! I remember the first time I had potato casserole was just after I joined the Mormon church with my mom around the time I was 10 years old. We went to a potluck activity and someone had brought this side dish they all called “funeral potatoes.” I didn’t like the name but I liked the potatoes! I’ve always been a potato lover… there is almost no way you can do a potato wrong in my book.
I remember once I got married and had to cook for my family I was lost. I didn’t know how to cook anything besides scrambled eggs and boxed pasta. Poor 19 year old Ariana thrown into that situation without the luxury of the internet for recipes like we have now!
Anyway, I don’t remember why I decided to make “funeral potatoes” the very first time I did but it was when Brooklyn was a baby. I couldn’t find a recipe for it at the library and this was still before the days of online recipes taking off so I just made my own version up from what I remembered liking about the casserole almost a decade before, and also changing the things I didn’t like.
I do NOT like corn flakes on my casserole. I’m not a corn flakes girl. Potatoes, hell yes! Corn flakes, um, no. I also ended up adding ham to ours to add a protein so that this could become the main dish and not a side dish! And I am obsessed with onions and bell peppers so of course those went in. And then I wondered… what to put on top?? These potatoes beg for some kind of crunch, but what would be the most tasty? Well, Lay’s sour cream and onion chips of course!
Another thing you should know about me is that most of the time I eat really healthy… I eat a LOT of intense salads for lunch and lots of produce for snacks. But my fall and winter dinners are loaded with calories. And I don’t worry about it. If you worry about it, probably don’t make this. Or eat a tiny portion or something, I don’t know.
So the ingredients!
4 huge potatoes or 6 small ones
2 bell peppers
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream
one can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Lay’s sour cream and onion chips
Seasonings you like on potatoes, mine are:
salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
To start fill a large pot with water and put it on the stove to start boiling. Meanwhile wash, peel, and cube your potatoes
Add the cubed potatoes to the boiling water and wash and chop the bell peppers and onion.
Put those in a pan with a tablespoon of butter. Your potatoes are probably already done, you want a fork to be able to slide into them without force but you don’t want them really soft or they mash up when you mix everything together later on, so remove the potatoes from the heat and drain them!
With the potatoes cooling in a strainer in the sink and your onion and bell pepper cooking on the stove you can start cubing your precooked ham. I use a quarter pound to a half pound of ham, just depends on how much I feel like. I’m not a huge ham lover but my kids love it.
Since the ham is precooked wait until your onion and bell peppers have cooked a good five minutes on their own before adding the ham. After adding the ham cook for another minute or two or five until the ham is just browned on the edges. You don’t have to do that but we liked the slight chewier texture of the ham cooked in a pan before being added to the casserole.
Take the strainer of potatoes and dump the potatoes back into the large pot you boiled them in, now without water of course. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup and a 1/2 cup of sour cream (or more if you like more!) and a giant handful of shredded cheese (1/2-1 cup) and your seasonings… I’d suggest eyeballing it but what I do is use homemade cream of mushroom soup with no added salt and then add these seasonings: 1 teaspoon of each: garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. I think a lot of people would add less pepper but I am obsessed with pepper and put extra on everything!!
After you do a quick stir of the potatoes, sour cream, cheese, mushroom soup, and seasonings, go ahead and dump the pan of onion, bell peppers, and ham to the pot of potato mixture. And mix well.
And if you’re like me you’ll want to taste it to check the seasonings so you take a bite or five hundred before dumping the entire thing into a 13×9 baking dish.
Now put a half stick or entire stick of butter (I just use a half, or maybe 6 tablespoons) in the microwave to melt. 30 seconds to a minute.
While the butter is in the microwave crush up the entire bag of chips. I crush them up in the bag they come in because then I’m not using up a perfectly good gallon sized ziploc.
Take the butter out of the microwave and pour into the crushed chips. Shake the bag well. Dump the chips over the top of the potato mix filled baking dish. Most of the time I use just a little more than half the bag and save the rest in the fridge for the next time I cook this dish. But sometimes I am pregnant and not caring about calories and use the entire bag and it’s so good.
Spread the chips out evenly over the top and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 375. Remove the foil and cook another 10 minutes.
And then, eat!