Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tater Tot Casserole

A couple weeks ago my little brother was at my house to help out on our remodel. He was around for lunch and asked what we had to eat. I listed off several different leftovers we had in the fridge, every other ending in the word casserole. He proceeded to ask me if I was a Casserole Queen, or something.

Hmmph. Casserole Queen. Just reminds me of nasty tuna noodle casserole. You know. With congealed soggy noodles, overcooked peas, and canned mystery meat called "tuna". Actually, I've never even had tuna noodle casserole, even the nasty kind. This is just what I conjure up from the deep darkness of my brain. I'm sure movies and TV may have also helped this depiction a little bit. Scenes where children everywhere are afraid of some sort of casserole that mom has made. I don't want my children (or anyone else's) to be afraid of what's for dinner at my house. Casserole or not.

So, I had to look up what the word "casserole" really meant. I mean, maybe I was using it improperly. Nope, not a chance. The following definition is from

Cas·se·role [kas-uh-rohl]

1. a baking dish of glass, pottery, etc., usually with a cover
2. any food, usually mixture, cooked in such a dish
3. a small dish with handle, used in chemical laboratories

Soooo, apparently I make a lot of casseroles, a mixture of food cooked in a glass baking dish. Sometimes with a cover, sometimes not. I suppose I should wear the casserole badge proudly. And since I have never had any complaints about nasty casserole (at least none worth listening to), I shall continue to make casseroles. Especially the comfort food kind. With potatoes and cheese.

Tater Tot Casserole

1 large bag frozen potato rounds
2 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1 10 3/4oz can cream of mushroom soup
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Line baking dish with an even layer of potato rounds. I even inched the potatoes up the sides to create an all-encompassing tater crust. Definitely do this first so the taters have some time to thaw while you make the filling.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Add in onion and carrot when beef is still slightly pink. When beef is no longer pink and onion is translucent, add in garlic. If your meat is excessively greasy, feel free to drain of extra grease now. Once drained, add in parsley, corn, and peas. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together soup, 2 cups of the cheddar cheese, sour cream, milk, pepper, and salt. Mix beef to the soup mixture and stir to combine. Pour over the top of the tater crust and spread in an even layer. With more tater rounds, top beef and soup mixture, creating a top tater crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is crispy and golden with gooey cheese.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

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