OMG, do I love Tater Tots....not just the taste, but the memories of sitting in Grade School and smelling the tantalizing smells of Tater Tot day waft through the halls....
Today, my children can log onto the school website, read the school paper, or watch the morning announcements on big screen televisions in each and every room of their 3 story school to know the menu, but I.....I had Olfactory Definition and could tell the other students in the room with about 80 percent certainty what they would be having that day.
I have a certain love affair with food.....and trying new dishes. Pizza may be considered Italian, but the best is on the other coast of the Adriatic Sea in Bosnia and most closely replicated in a place I found in the New Tampa Area. I fully intend to write an entire blog about the pizza they have at this place, but if you have ever traveled to Europe and had REALLY GREAT Pizza, go to the Pizzazzone!
When it comes to beer, it is never in a can, often imported and seldom the same brand twice, but Whiskey is always Makers Mark, and yes I am an Ambassador.
Many believe the best wines are French or from California, but Florida has a great selection and my ultimate favorites all are from the South of Australia in the Yarra Valley. It was in searching for new wines from the Yarra Valley that I discovered a long lost relative is a Vintner
And when it comes to coffee, I am not a Starbucks fan, but will jump at a true cuban coffee and Avier Coffee in Tampa makes great juice, but the best, hands down coffee is Bad ASS Coffee, and if it is not in a city near you, send away and mail order some. The fine Folks at Bad Ass Coffee even have a Cup of Joe program where they send coffee to the troops. If you click on one link today....make it a Bad Ass Link
So on to my Manly MENu recipe.
As I mentioned in last week's MENu, This is the recipe that ended a fight.
The Kids were arguing over dinner, and it was a choice of my Grandmothers Über Phenomenal Broccoli Casserole or Hot Dogs and Tater Tots. Both are great dishes, and I had the stuff to make both, since I am a Grill-Smith, I do dogs and burgers on the grill, and once the micro-wave food ruin-er has been removed from the equation, the difficulty level is about the same for both.
While they rock scissor papered it out, I decided that I wanted to be done in time to catch the game and pre-empted them with, guess what, I am making a surprise...(They didn't hear me) So I dove in and made my family favorite, almost famous, very filling, and easy to make..............................Tater To Casserole. (sometimes many dots or periods in a row replicate a drum-roll)
You will need the following.
Bag of Tater Tots
Mexican mix cheese
Grab a beer and take a sip, set it aside.
Pick up an appropriate sized baking pan. For my family of five, I use a 9 x 12 glass pan.
First you need to start with premium tots....but given there is no such thing as a premium tot, I suggest your favorite. I like the Ore-Ida bran, but have found that the Walmart brand is just about the same for a buck less. Of course if you really want to take it to the next level, you can make your own TOTS, but I am a fan of quick and easy and that my friends is what the Saturday Manly MENu is about.
pick up the pan and apply a thin layer of some form of no-stick. I imagine you should use a non fat, but hey, who are we kidding? Did you see the ingredients?
I go ahead and sprinkle a little paprika on the bottom of the pan for color and consistency, your choice.
Lay the tots out evenly. My 8 year old loves to help with this part which frees my hands up for the next step, which is find that beer and have another sip, and then preheat oven to 350-bake.
Once the tots are laid out evenly, all touching, I spread a thin layer of sour cream across the entire bed of soon to be consumed tots, followed by a smattering of season salt.
Next spread the cheese out evenly across the entire pan so that you will have a cheesy, sour-creamy, totty evenness to the entire meal.
The next part you cannot really measure, so take another sip of the beer and then open the box of cheez-its. Check for taste and freshness by eating a few first. So Far I have never met a cheez-it I didn't like, which makes the next part slightly sad.
Using a sterile instrument, such as your hand, place copious cheez-its squares into a baggie, then using that same hand, fold in one finger at a time until you have made a fist like structure, using your other hand, reach for your beer and imbibe.
Now repeatedly, and with some malice, pound the cheez-its in that bag until they are of a much smaller size. If it helps, I like to think about that agent who never returns calls while I do this..
Open the bad and sprinkle all over the entire dish. If you don't have enough, wash rinse and repeat as necessary.
Finally you are ready for the oven, open your oven and make sure it is approaching the 350 mark, if it is not and you need to wait a bit, might I suggest that beer is getting lonely.
OK, it is in the oven, this is a very important part...you must cook it for as long as it takes and no more. Do what I do, and go dig in the bottom of the trash can for the tater tot bag to read the instructions.....damn....every time!!!!
in about 20 minutes or so, you will have the best quick, fight ending meal that you can imagine. (Well if you would have married Tater tots at the age of 9 if your parents had agreed like me)