Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mexitot Casserole

Last week I made a casserole my family absolutely loves. I make it at least once a month, I make a lot, and there's never any left. Cheeseburger and French fry casserole. I'll post that one soon, I promise, but while I was making it, my husband had an idea. Tacofy it.

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Dorito chicken casserole...It's very good and my family loves it, too, but I like to make a lot so we have leftovers. My husband takes them to work for lunch and when our sons are home, it gives them something to eat that doesn't use up all my groceries. The thing is, once the Dorito chicken casserole is cold, it doesn't reheat well. The chips are soggy and it's just kind of gross.

So! The hubs suggested  changing the cheeseburger casserole into a taco casserole. It's very good and reheats great! If you're from the southwest, you know places like Taco Bell sell seasoned tater tots (Mexitots). I'm from the Midwest, and the closest I've found is Taco John's potatoes ole, and I didn't find a Taco John's until we moved from Utah (hub's home state) to Iowa.

I took ground beef and seasoned it with store bought taco seasoning, but you can use homemade if you prefer. I also tossed a bag of frozen tater tots with a packet of taco seasoning. I mixed the meat with refried beans, topped it with canned soup and the seasoned tots, baked it, then added cheese. Really freaking good!! Not healthy, but...
If you prefer chicken, you can use it...Cooked and chopped, shredded, or ground. Just replace the beef with your choice.

Oh! It just popped into my head! Rotel! Mixed in with the meat! Ohhh! Gotta try that next time!

Mexitot Casserole 
Serves 8-10 (may be halved)

2 pounds ground beef
2 packs taco seasoning
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 C water
1 can refried beans (15oz)
2 lbs frozen tater tots, semi-thawed (let them sit out for an hour before using them)
2 C shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
1 can nacho cheese soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 C milk

Heat oven to 350°F

Place tots in a large bowl and sprinkle with about half of a seasoning packet, gently toss to coat.

Brown beef and onions untill meat is cooked through. Drain and rinse with hot water. Put meat back into the skillet. Stir in 2 seasoning packets and water. Heat to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in refried beans.

Spread meat mixture into the bottom of a greased 9x13" baking dish.

Combine soups and milk, whisk until well blended. Spread over meat mixture.

Arrange tots in a single layer over soups.

Bake 20 minutes, until tots start to brown. Top with cheese and bake another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve with sour cream, chopped onions and tomatoes, and shredded lettuce.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dirty Rice and Dragons

*gigglesnort* that title sounds like a really, really bad movie. It pretty much sums up my evening, though. Made a cross between dirty rice and red beans and rice for dinner tonight and have been working steadily on my cross stitch.

Dinner wasn't as pretty, but I'm pretty sure it tasted better than the cross stitch would have. Kidney beans, rice cooked in chicken broth, smoked sausage, onions, garlic, and spices vs. cotton fabric and thread...Hmmm...

Oh! And the new crochet hook I ordered came today! Such excitement! Yep, that's my life, one thrill after another.

Cajun Rice Dinner

3C. Uncooked rice
6C. Chicken broth
1lb smoked sausage, sliced
2 T oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t paprika
3/4 t salt
1/2 t oregano
1/4 t thyme
Sprinkle cayenne (more it you like it hot)
2 T Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed.

Bring broth to a boil, add rice, cover, and cook 20 minutes, until broth is absorbed and rice is tender.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sausage, cook until onion is tender and sausage is browned. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add beans and seasonings and stir together.

Stir sausage mixture into the rice. Add more Cajun seasoning as needed.
You may add 2 stalks sliced celery and/or 1 chopped bell pepper to the skillet when you cook the onion if you like, my family doesn't care for them.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Taking a Break

Except for new orders, I'm taking a break from crochet. And from FaceBook, for that matter. I kind of go in cycles; I'll crochet constantly for a few years, then I'll get a bit burnt out and switch to my other obsession, cross stitch.

That's what I"ve been working on the last 10 weeks or so. I'll post it here because I've mailed it off to its new home, and it should have already arrived (well, maybe tomorrow). I've sent it to a dear friend for Christmas. It's a pattern I bought nearly 20 years ago to make for my mom, but I was starting to burn out on cross stitching by that time, so it never got more than started. I picked it up a few times over the years, but never got much done. In nearly 20 years, I had gotten about 1/4 of it done. By staying away from FaceBook, I finished the other 3/4 in just over 2 months! Unfortunately, I'm almost 17 years too late to give it to my mom.

I've now started on a new pattern...a dragon! I'm ot generally into scifi/fantasy, but when it comes to cross stitch, I tend to gravitate toward it. I think it's because of the bold colors and the variety of colors. It keeps it from getting boring.

Maybe that's why it too so long for me to finish this one. It has a lot of colors, but they're all rather muted.

The new pattern has metallic thread and beads, so...nothing muted about it! The beads go in all those empty squares (not the big empty blotches, those are just areas I haven't stitched in yet).

Monday, October 31, 2016


We have lived in Iowa for seven years now and, until now, I haven't made goulash. I *love* goulash. So why haven't I made it? Because my dear husband said he didn't like it. My dear husband who claims not to be picky. Yeah. I made it while we lived in Utah because he worked 6pm to 6am and rarely had time to eat anything more than a bag of chips. He's been on days since we moved, so I try to accommodate. But, enough was enough!

I never liked goulash as a kid. What my mom called goulash, anyway. Macaroni and hamburger with stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. I loved my mom, don't get me wrong, but cooking wasn't her thing. She hated cooking, but did it because she was wife and mom, and she considered it her job not to let us starve. I learned to cook early in self defense!

My goulash starts a bit differently than most. I found a recipe online about fifteen years ago that had you cook the pasta in tomato juice rather than water. Makes ALL the difference! I lost that recipe long ago, but remember that part. This way, the tomato flavor is IN the macaroni, not just on it. The flavor is much richer. This makes a big pot, so feel free to halve it!

Oh, and Mr I Don't Like Goulash? Ate two helpings.


2 lbs lean ground beef
16 oz uncooked macaroni
1 can corn, drained (frozen may be used, thaw first)
1 large can tomatoes (stewed, diced, whole, whatever you like), undrained
46 oz tomato juice (V8 may be used if you like)
1 large onion, chopped
2 T paprika
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder (NOT garlic salt!)
1/2 t onion powder (NOT onion salt!)

In a large skillet, cook beef and onions. Drain and rinse. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat tomato juice and macaroni over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, corn, and seasonings. Stir often to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The macaroni will absorb most of the juice as it cooks.

When the pasta is tender, add the beef and onions. Turn heat to medium low, stirring often, until beef and onions are hot.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top.