Another Tater Tot Casserole

It seems like everywhere you look for recipes online, you will find one for a tater tot casserole.  I always wanted to try making one.  I’m not a huge fan of potatoes, but I like things like French fries, hash browns  etc.  When I went grocery shopping this weekend, I bought a bag of the tater tots to keep in the freezer for whenever inspiration struck.

It struck yesterday.  I was sitting at work, trying to figure out what the heck to cook for supper on a Monday night when I really didn’t feel like cooking. I remembered the tots in my freezer.  So while I ate my lunch, I took to the internet to search for a recipe.  I was kind of overwhelmed by the number of them, but I read enough of them to get the general idea, and take what I liked from each of them to make my own version.  What I did is in the recipe that follows.

Ingredients

Frozen Tater Tots – about 2/3 of a bag

1-1 1/2 lbs ground beef

onion

fresh mushrooms, sliced

3 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup

1-2 cloves garlic minced or the minced garlic in the jar is fine

cheese – a bunch, maybe 2 cups shredded.  I used mozzarella because it was what I had on hand, but cheddar would be better.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Start by browning the ground beef in a skillet.  Dice and add the onion and garlic.  Cook until meat is browned and veggies are tender. Drain if there is excess fat.

In a large bowl, combine soups and cheese.  Add tater tots and stir until they are all evenly coated.

Spread ground beef in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.  Add tater tot mixture on top and spread to cover beef.

Bake uncovered for at least an hour, until bubbly and hot and browned a bit on top.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

It was great with a bit of ketchup.  All the measurements (as you can see) are approximate and can be adjusted to your taste, as I just kind of threw it together.

This recipe has the possibility of being personalized any way you like it.  You could add other vegetables – a layer of corn between the beef and tots would be good.  Extra cheese on top while baking would also be very good, but I ran out.  This would also be good with a bit of sausage meat mixed in with the beef, or if you’re feeling particularly sassy (and breakfasty) to replace it altogether. Cooking is all about making things your own.  Try, and enjoy! 🙂

 

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Chicken Mushroom Alfredo Bake

I was in the mood for some creamy comfort food yesterday, so I wandered around the grocery store throwing things in my basket with a general idea in mind. I came home and made this. It's a keeper for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 bag Penne – cooked
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 – 2 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 jars Classico roasted garlic Alfredo sauce or similar
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 – 2 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Clean chicken, and pound out slightly between plastic wrap to make thinner. Season with salt and pepper and brown each side in hot olive oil over medium high heat. Remove to a small plate and set aside. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté until slightly tender. Cube chicken and add it and whatever juices have rendered back to the pan.

Add sauce, cheese, and cooked pasta. Stir until all pasta is evenly coated. Pour into 9×13 baking dish.

Combine margarine, garlic and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over pasta mixture.

Bake in a preheated 400° oven for about 20 minutes, until breadcrumbs have browned nicely.

This is quick, easy, and great warmed up as leftovers too.

 

Easy – But Yummy – Pasta Salad

When I start making this pasta salad, I know that summer has arrived.  Everyone has their own variation, this is mine.

Summer in a bowl

Ingredients

1 bag – pasta of choice. Hardier pastas work best.  I’ve used Rotini, Fusilli, Farfale (bowtie), and Scoobi-Do is a favourite.  It’s a nice change from  the traditional elbow.

1 jar – Miracle Whip

2 cans – flakes of ham – some people like tuna, I prefer the taste and saltiness of ham

4 eggs – hard boiled

mustard – a healthy squirt

dried dill – a healthy shake

curry powder – to taste

salt and pepper – to taste

Directions

Cook the pasta in salted water to al dente.  Strain and run under cold water until completely cooled.

In a large bowl, break up flakes of ham and cut up hard boiled eggs.  Leave both in fairly large chunks as they will break down more when you stir it all together.

Dump the pasta on top, and add Miracle Whip and combine, to get desired creaminess.  Add mustard, dill and curry, along with salt and pepper, all to taste, testing along the way of course! 😉

That’s it.  It’s best served chilled, though if you plan on storing it in the fridge for a while, the pasta will absorb the dressing, so before serving add a bit more and give it a stir.

I prefer mine very simple, but there are literally hundreds of things you could add to this salad – bell peppers, green onions, spanish onion.  You could add fresh peas if you had some from the garden or market.  That’s what’s nice about it, add what you like to make it your own and suit your tastes.

Serve with a burger or hot dog or whatever summer treat you’ve got off the grill, and enjoy!

Tomato Salad

This is a quick and easy one.  So simple, and it goes over great during the summer at barbecues and potlucks.  We tease my Mom because once we were having a conversation about what food we’ll be remembered for when we’re gone.  She was concerned that there wouldn’t be a “special dish” that would inspire us all to think about her when we ate it.  My husband said to her, “don’t worry Cathie, you’ll always be remembered for your tomato salad!”

Don’t blink or you’ll miss this one – it’s that quick to throw together.

Ingredients

2-3 tomatoes or more – depending on size

1/2 large or 1-2  small onions (red onions or really sweet onions are best)

1 bottle vinaigrette salad dressing (I most prefer Kraft Sundried Tomato and Oregano for this)

Directions

Slice tomatoes and onions.  Layer in a casserole (like French White) with a lid.

Pour entire bottle of dressing over the tomatoes and onions.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.

 

That’s it!  The longer this stuff sits, the better it is.  It’s even better the next day, so if you can make it the morning of, or even the night before, it’s best.

If you’re having burgers, some of us like to put this salad directly on our burgers for extra zing.

Enjoy!

Quick Oven Ham “Tetrazzini”

This was another one that my mom made a lot growing up, because it was quick and easy.  This recipe calls for ham, but you could also use chicken, leftover turkey, whatever you like and have on hand.  If we had ham on the weekend though, you could pretty much bet that we would have this dish one night through the week.  It’s still a family favourite.

Ingredients:

1 cup leftover ham, cut up – or more.

1 large + one small can (or 3 small) cream of mushroom soup.

1 can sliced mushrooms, drained, or 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced and sauteed until tender.

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

1/2 tbsp granulated garlic.

1 package Extra Broad Egg Noodles (I prefer regular to no-yolk for this recipe)  cooked and drained.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large casserole dish or roasting pan with a lid or a dutch oven, combine all ingredients until well incorporated.  Sprinkle a bit more Parmesan cheese on top.  Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove cover and allow to bake until hot and bubbly, and the cheese on top begins to brown slightly.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

This is great with a salad and a slice of crusty bread or garlic bread.

Being a pasta dish and fairly neutral, it lends itself to many additions.  You could add several kinds of veggies to this – if you saute your mushrooms, you could do onions at the same time and throw them in.  Chopped red peppers would be a nice addition.  Par boiled broccoli florets could be added as well.  You’re only limited to the scope of your imagination.

Enjoy!

My Family’s Version of “Goulash”

Growing up, my parents owned a business, and spent many hours there.  Often times, my Mom would resort to quick, go to meals, because by the time we all got home, not only was everyone tired, and sometimes a little grouchy, we were always hungry.

We always had homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer, so many weeks we would have spaghetti 3 times, just because it was easy.  This recipe we always called “Goulash,” though I don’t think it actually resembles authentic goulash that much at all.  We just called it that because we didn’t have another name for it.

It is a great go-to meal and I still crave it sometimes.  It’s made with staples that most people keep on hand all the time and can literally go from walking through the door to sitting down eating in 20 minutes.  And some nights, quick, easy, tasty and filling is totally where it’s at.

Ingredients:

1 pkg. lean or extra lean ground beef

granulated garlic

1 large can tomato soup

1 can beans in tomato sauce

3 cups 5 minute instant rice

Directions:

Brown ground beef in large skillet with cover.  Season with granulated garlic to taste.  Once browned, add soup and beans.  Stir to combine.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Serve over cooked rice.

 

That’s it, that’s all.  And I’m telling you, it’s soooo good.

Enjoy!

If you’ve got a similar “family favourite” I would love to hear about it in the comments section.

Bowtie Sausage Casserole

I love this dish. It satisfies all kinds of cravings. It’s creamy, and full of flavour. It’s also very quick to prepare, only needing about 15-20 minutes in the oven.

Ingredients:

1 pkg (3-4 links) store made sausage – sweet, Italian or garlic
1 small onion diced finely
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 lg can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 sm can condensed tomato with basil and oregano soup
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 pkg bowtie (Farfalle) pasta, cooked to al dente

Directions:

Preheat a large deep skillet. Crumble sausage meat and brown over medium heat. Add onion and cook until slightly tender. Add mushrooms and garlic and combine. Cover, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender. Add soups and stir. Add about half of the cheese and cooked pasta. Combine completely.
Move to a glass or Corning 17×10 (shallow) or 9×13 (deep) dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly.

Great served with a salad and some fresh bread or garlic toast. Fantastic for leftovers.

You can often find sausage meat not in the casing which is great as it saves a step.