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Tater Tot Casserole (Hotdish)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Several years ago it was my turn to bring dinner to a church function. I was running late (and out of ideas), so I asked a friend. She suggested a classic — good old Minnesota Hotdish. Being a Californian, I’d never heard of it, but I made it. Everyone loved it — especially the kids, who requested that I make it each time it was my turn to cook. My friend wouldn’t approve of this version, since she stressed that there were no acceptable variations to this recipe. Regardless, I’m posting it for the mushroom sauce component alone.


Tater Tot Hotdish
Tater Tot Hotdish

YIELD: Serves 6
ACTIVE TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours

For the Mushroom Sauce:
• 5 cups (570g) button mushrooms, washed, dried, and quartered
• 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
• 12 sprigs thyme, divided
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 1/4 cups (450g) whole milk
• 1/2 onion (125g), peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 cloves (8g) garlic, smashed
• 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons (25g) flour

For the Ground Beef:
• 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil
• 1 pound (454g) 90% lean ground beef
• 1 small (250g) onion, diced
• 2 cloves (8g) garlic, finely minced
• 1 tablespoon (8g) all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup (180ml) chicken stock, either homemade or low-sodium store-bought
• 3/4 cup (100g) frozen or fresh peas
• 3/4 cup (100g) frozen or fresh corn kernels
• 1/4 cup (30g) chopped parsley
• 1/4 cup (30g) chopped chives
• 1 tablespoon (15g) Dijon mustard
• 2 teaspoons (10ml) Worcestershire sauce
• To Finish:
• 1 pound (454g) Tater Tots, frozen or homemade
• Ketchup, for serving

For the Mushroom Sauce

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large bowl, toss mushrooms with olive oil and 6 sprigs thyme, then season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread seasoned mushrooms on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until deeply browned, about 45 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and increase oven temperature to 375°F (190°C).

In a medium saucepot, combine roasted mushrooms with 6 remaining thyme sprigs, milk, onion, and garlic and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and steep, covered, for 1 hour. Strain, pressing gently on the solids.

Wipe out pot and return to stovetop. Melt butter over medium heat until foaming subsides, then add flour and mix into a paste. Continue cooking until raw flour smell is gone, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, add mushroom-infused milk in a thin, steady stream, or in increments of a couple of tablespoons at a time, whisking thoroughly and getting into all corners of the pot to maintain a homogeneous texture. Sauce will initially become very thick, then get very thin once all milk is added.

Heat, stirring, until sauce comes to a simmer and begins to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the Ground Beef

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and break up into crumbles with a whisk or potato masher. Cook until well browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain off any excess fat, leaving only about 1 tablespoon (15ml) in skillet along with meat.

Reduce heat to medium, add onion and garlic to ground meat, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add flour and cook an additional minute, until blond. Add chicken stock and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and finish ground beef mixture with peas, corn, parsley, chives, Dijon, and Worcestershire. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Scrape meat mixture into a 2-quart baking dish.

To Finish

Top meat with mushroom sauce and arrange Tater Tots on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until Tater Tots are crispy and golden brown. Serve with squiggles of ketchup. (Note: I hate ketchup, so I’d add squiggles of sriracha for me, or plain with condiments on the side for people to add themselves.)

(from For a Better Tater Tot Casserole, Start From Scratch)


Sriracha Butter

Sunday, October 29, 2017

If you aren’t going to need this much, make half.

1 cup Sriracha
Juice of 1 large lime
1 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup butter, melted

Blend Sriracha, lime juice, salt, and sugar until combined, then slowly add melted butter in a steady stream. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Olive Tapenade Tart Soliel

Sunday, October 22, 2017

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I love Smitten Kitchen. It is my favorite food blog and is as much a pleasure to visit for the writing as it is for the recipes. When I wanted to make something special to bring to the memorial for my sister-in-law, this is where I looked. […]

via Olive Tapenade Tart Soleil — dianne faw

All-purpose BBQ Rub and Seasoning

Monday, September 18, 2017

This is just an idea, a starting point. Omit, add, change for your own preference and purpose. There’s no limit. But keep track of your ingredients and amounts, because if you hit on the perfect combination, you want to be able to replicate it next time.

For dry-brining, omit salt from mix.

For a sweet rub add 1 part turbinado (raw) sugar.


4 parts kosher salt
4 parts paprika
2 parts garlic powder
2 parts onion powder

1 part dry mustard
1 part ground cayenne
1 part black pepper
1 part ground coriander
1 part ground cumin


Mix thoroughly to combine. Store in airtight container.

​Fajita Seasoning and Dry Rub

Monday, August 21, 2017

Note: Makes 1/2 cup. Store in a tightly sealed container in a dark dry place for up to six months.


1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon jalapeño chile powder


Toast peppercorns, cumin, and coriander in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. Stir to mix. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind until fine. Mix with remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Sprinkle directly on meats, seafood, and vegetables.

Make into a fajita marinade by adding 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/4 cup beer, and 1/4 cup fresh lime juice.

(Based on

Mai Tai

Friday, August 11, 2017

Everyone has a mai tai recipe. This is mine. I’d also be happy to drink one of yours.


1 oz. light rum
1 oz. gold rum
1 oz. Grand Marnier
Juice of a lime
Juice of an orange (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
mint leaves

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and pour over ice in tall glass. Garnish with a wedge of fresh pineapple, mint leaves, or lime wedge.

Red Wine Sauce

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I recently cooked a 2-1/2″, 2 pound bone-in ribeye steak. To guild the lily I made two sauces. The other one was an avocado crema — good, but better used elsewhere. This one was perfect.

5 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, skinned and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped or crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crushed
1 whole bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (750 ml bottle or 3 cups) dry red wine
2 cups or a 14 ounce can beef stock
1 teaspoon grape jelly
1 pinch of salt


  1. In a large frying pan melt 3 of the 5 tablespoons of the butter and add the onion, carrot, celery, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Cook over a high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the onions begin to brown. That’s why we use a non-stick pan, when you reduce liquid this much, it can really make a mess of other pans. By the way, the mix of 2 parts onion, to 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery is called a mirepoix (MEER-a-pwah), and is a foundation of French cooking and is common in soups, stuffings, and, of course, sauces.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 3 minutes until it begins to darken. Add the wine and the beef stock. Boil for 30 minutes. Pour everything through a strainer into a saucepan, and squeeze the juices through the strainer with a ladle or whatever you used to stir the veggies.
  3. Boil over high heat until it is reduced to about 1 cup and keep an eye on things so they don’t burn. Add the grape jelly and stir until it is thoroughly dissolved. Turn off the heat, taste and add salt if necessary. It will not be thick and goopy like ketchup, it will be more like egg nog in thickness. If you are not planning on using the sauce immediately or don’t plan to use it all, you can store it in the fridge or freezer.
  4. When you need the sauce, warm it and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and when it is thoroughly melted, swirl it around with a spoon and serve immediately. Do not whisk in the butter, just swirl it. This is called “mounting it” with butter (yes, that’s the correct technical term). If you feel decadent, add another tablespoon.

Optional. Taste and add a dash of balsamic vinegar and splash hot sauce just for the fun of it.

(from Amazing Ribs