Introduction: 1 Pot Meal: Potato Stuff

Got ten minutes? How about a dollar? Then you can make a tasty, filling, and simple meal, using only one pot!

When I was little, I got some illness that left me blistered everywhere, including in my mouth. It being the late 70's, there weren't a lot of liquid-meal replacements, and while I would eat ice cream for every meal, my mom wouldn't go for it.  She came up with this as something easy to make that I would eat every single day. As a bonus, it has lots of variations, and is darn good reheated.

1 Pot Potato Stuff. It's what's for dinner.

Serves: 4 hungry adults, or about 8 kids (or, if you were me as a kid, me, and then me for lunch, dinner the next day, lunch again… etc.)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: 3.38$ for the whole pot

Step 1: Ingredients:

Ingredients: Note, I don't actually measure things when I make this normally, it's more of an art than a science. But, since I know we all love science, I did the measury thing here.
  • 4 Hot Dogs, Sliced
  • 1 cup frozen corn*
  • 1 cup frozen peas*
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 cups potato flakes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (optional. I used homemade.)
  • 2 cup milk
  • 2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese**
  • Pepper/Garlic to taste

* Don't use canned vegetables. They won't hold up to the amount of stirring, and will become mush. Fresh peas and corn, of course, would be even better, but it's the middle of winter and all I can get is frozen.

** Personally, I splurge and get nice cheese. Imitation 'Cheese Food' won't add a lot of flavor to this dish.  I'm using Tillamook Sharp here, as it's a) local, and b) fantastic. You can grate your own, which I usually do, but the pre-shred is just fine for this.

Step 2: Hot Your Dogs

Use a pan that can hold up to 8 cups of liquid. Put the 1/2 cup of broth in the pan, add the hot dogs. NOTE: if you aren't using broth, just substitute a half cup of water.

Heat on medium-high, until hotdogs are hot through. You can tell when they're hot because they swell up from a disk shape to a ufo shape. :)

Step 3: Water and Veg

Add 2 cups water, the tablespoon of butter, and the frozen veggies. Wait until it comes back to a boil. It'll look kind of odd at this point (because the butter and the hot dog oil will be floating on top of the water,) but stay with me.

Step 4: Now Comes the Seasonings!

Season as you like. I put in black pepper, and a spoonful of freeze dried garlic. Fresh garlic, of course, is better, but the freeze dried stuff is almost as good, and much better than garlic powder. Don't add salt at this point; the hot dogs are pretty salty, as is the broth. You can salt it at the end if you need to.

Step 5: Milk!

Add the milk, turn the heat down to low, let it come back up to simmering. You turn the heat down so you don't scorch the milk. Burnt milk is icky. Note: my burner is still red hot here because I just turned it down. You lucky dogs with gas stoves don't have this problem.

Step 6: Po-tay-toes

Time for potatoes! First: TAKE YOUR POT OFF THE HEAT! No, really, I mean it. If it's boiling while you add the potatoes, it can turn into a little volcano.

Second, add potatoes.

But what's this? Ingredients say  2-3 cups? Which is it? How can you tell what you need? Math! Ok, not really.

According to the back of the box, you should use about 2 2/3 cups of flakes for every 4 cups of liquid (a little over 1/2 cup of flakes for every cup of liquid). We have 4 1/2 cups of liquid (1/2 cup broth, 2 cups water, 2 cups milk), so we should use 3 1/3 cups (or thereabouts) in our Potato Stuff.

But this will make it into cement.

What I do is start with 2 cups. It will be thin, but thicken quickly. Add 2 cups, stir, wait 30 seconds, then decided if you want it thicker. I like mine to be mountable, but still move if I tip the pot. If you want it thicker, add more flakes in 1/3 cup increments.

Step 7: Mmmmmm, Cheesy.

Spoon into bowl, dump on cheese. Stir and eat (or don't stir, and have a cheesy layer, your choice.) I needed to salt it a little bit, but I like salt. Eat while watching cool video games (optional).

Step 8: Variations

Variations: This is really less a recipe, and more of a philosophy of cooking. Almost anything can be added to this, with different outcomes.

Chicken curry Potato Stuff: Add 2 tablespoons of curry powder to the chicken broth, sub finely chopped cauliflower for the corn, sub cooked chicken for the hot dogs. Top with dried cranberries and slivered almonds instead of cheese.

Loaded Potato Stuff: Sub broccoli for veggies, add 1/2 sour cream after the potatoes, mix in cooked bacon instead of hot dogs, top with cheddar and chives.

Steak and Potato Stuff: Leftover steak instead of hot dogs. Sub green beans for vegies. Top with finely crumbled blue cheese.

Strange Potato Stuff:  Sub sliced ham (chunks, not deli meat) for hotdogs, leave out the veg, mix in brie (no rind), top with chopped green apple and diced dried cranberries, and candied pecans if you can get them.  This one is… very weird. It's DELICIOUS.

Step 9: Bonus! Budget Breakdown!

  • 4 Hot Dogs, Sliced - 1/2 of a 2$ package = 1$
  • 1 cup frozen corn -  1/2 of a .89$ package = .45$
  • 1 cup frozen peas - 1/2 of a .89$ package = .45$
  • 1 Tablespoon butter - 1/8th of a stick. 3$/1lb (32 tb) = .10$
  • 2-3 cups potato flakes - 1/2 box at 3$ = 1.50$
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (optional) = (mine was homemade from leftovers, but let's call it canned.) 4 oz of a 1.50$ can, .60$
  • 2 cup milk - 1/8th of a 3.50$ gallon = .43$
  • 2 cup water - Free
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese - 1/4th of a 4$ bag = 1$
  • Pepper/Garlic to taste - Freeish. Let's say .10$

Total, for 4 adult servings = 3.38$, or about .85$ each.

Less than a buck, and under 10 minutes? If only all food were this cheap and easy!