Email from readers is the best. Here’s one I loved:
Yes, I have most of your books. What fun… now about that casserole…happen to have that recipe? Could you please share?
The thing is, I get that one a lot. I mention that stupid casserole in Going for Kona and in Hot Flashes and Half Ironmans. So here’s my answer to her:
Dear awesome reader:
Ah, the decadent tater tot casserole. Every time I give out this recipe I “make it up.” Someday I’ll be smart and put it in a cute file and send it. Or on my website. Hey, I should copy and paste this into a file. Wow, it’s Monday.
I use a deep pyrex dish with a liberal dousing of non-stick spray and pre-heat to 350. You could use a shallow dish. It matters not.
Brown 1/2 pound hamburger meat, and add spices of choice. When I’m doing this for grownups, that means I first brown onions and garlic, then decide if I’m feeling New Mexico green chile-ish (small can, pre-chopped) or Mexican-cumin-ish (2 T) or just Southern-salt-and-pepper to taste-ish (see why there’s no recipe????). Drain.
Put a generous layer of frozen tater tots in your dish. Layer meat. Pour a can of cream of chicken soup over the meat. Cut back to 1/2 if you’re not into the Southern rich-and-creamy thing. Use cream of mushroom if you’re feeling savory. The goal is that the soup and juices from meat seep down into the tater tots as they cook, don’t worry, you don’t end up with a nasty canned soup layer. However, if this wigs you out, stir it up in the meat before you add it. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for half an hour. Remove foil, add grated cheese. I use 2 cups. I like a blend of cheddar and Colby jack. You do what rocks your socks. Put back in oven until the cheese melts and is bubbly or browned, your choice. I put it in for 10 minutes personally, or whenever the smoke alarm reminds me that I forgot to set the timer.
Keep reading. It’s good for the soul.