friend Teresa lives in Greenwood, Arkansas. She and I worked together when I lived in Arkansas, and even though that was a while back, we still keep in touch. She's one of those friends you keep, no matter how much distance lies between you.
Teresa always seemed like a model in efficiency when it came to her family. She had to be. Four kids, a husband, a job. Factor in her husband, Gary's, responsibilities as pastor of a church, and that added up to a lot of activity every day of the week.
I loved to walk by her desk on Monday and see what she had planned for dinner that week. She'd post a menu for the whole week right at eye level where she could easily see it. With the kids' activities in band and sports, and all the church things, she needed to plan her meals like an army general planning for battle.
They might not get around to eating dinner until nine o'clock at night, but they ate together as a family just about all the time. Gary and Teresa both possess a good sense of humor, and Gary loves a good time, so I imagine their dinner hour involved a lot of laughing. I know it included a lot of love.
That's just the kind of person Teresa is - full of love. She's also a good cook, a good Southern cook, born and raised in Arkansas. Her daddy was Bill Norman, of Norman Lures fame. Any bass fisherman worth his spinner knows Bill Norman's name.
Mr. Norman died a few years ago, and his funeral illustrated the esteem held for Teresa's family. People packed that church to the rafters. He must have been a good man because that quality lives on in his daughter.
I asked Teresa to send me one of her favorite recipes, something for the holidays. She sent Potato-Cheese Casserole, and boy, oh boy, does it sounds good.
"We have it at Christmas and Thanksgiving, no matter what else we have," says Teresa. "We've been having this for years at the holidays. I didn't fix it one year, and you would have thought I had canceled Christmas. We can do without the turkey, maybe fix pork loin instead, but we have to have Potato-Cheese Casserole. And the cheesier, the better."
Doesn't every family have one of those recipes? The kind that everyone expects and wants, and don)t you dare mess with tradition. This one just might become your newest tradition.
Plan ahead. Needs to be refrigerated overnight.
2 16-ounce packages hash brown potatoes, thawed if they're frozen (if you use them frozen, they'll be too watery when they thaw out)
8 ounces sour cream
1 1/2 cups butter, melted
1 bunch chopped green onions
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or more if you like)
Additional 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Mix all of the ingredients except & cup cheese together and spread in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until hash browns are done. (Teresa says she tastes it to make sure the potatoes are good and done. If you double the recipe, you'll need to bake it longer. Keep tasting.)
Remove cover and sprinkle & cup additional cheese on top. Bake a few more minutes, just until the cheese melts.
Since there are six people in Teresa's family, I imagine this makes at least six servings, probably eight.