Okay, okay. I know several of you are freaking out right now that I am writing something as domestic as a recipe! Believe me, I thought long and hard before I did it, lol.
But, I absofrickinlutely LOVE tator tot casserole, and since I made it for lunch today, I just had to share my recipe for it. I had never eaten it until I was around 21 and working at a mental health institution. I didn't even ask how it was made, I just kind of fiddled with it until I was happy with the result. And I know for you fine diners out there, this probably does not sound great, but embrace your white trash self and give it a try!
Must have ingredients:
cream of mushroom soup
Now, the amount of these would vary with family size. For my family of four which includes two smaller kid portions, I use one pound of beef, 1 can of cream of mushroom and like half a pound of tator tots.
Optional ingredients that I use:
onion (i just use the dried ones in the shaker)
shredded cheddar cheese
With these, I pretty much just add enough that it's noticeable, but not overpowering. The cheese can be as much or as little as you want. I do the frozen peas to trick my family into eating vegetables.
Okay, now comes the variation. If you want the whole thing creamier, you mix the tator tots in at the end. If you want it more dry, you bake a layer of tots on the bottom of a baking dish and then spoon the meat over top, then add another layer of tots and continue baking.
For creamier, I start the tots in the oven while I'm cooking the meat and then add them all together at the end.
To cook meat: brown your hamburger and while it's cooking, add the dried onions. I also use a bit of seasoning salt on my meat. After you've drained the grease and the meat is brown, add the can of cream of mushroom, frozen peas and cheese and keep your meat on low until the tator tots are ready. Then, just spoon them in and mix it all up. Voila! Done!
You could jazz it up by adding fried onions to the top if you want as well, or even more cheese if you're baking it all.
As I mentioned, if you choose the variation where there's two layers of tots and you bake it, start the tots in the baking dish at the same time as the meat. Cook meat the same, then when it's done, spoon it over the bottom layer of tots. Then add another layer of tots to the top and bake it until the top tots are browned.
Any questions? It's a super easy recipe and is pretty quick and painless, so it can be made by anyone from beginners to Martha Stewart!