Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My First Hot Dish

I have been living in the Far North for the last 8 years.  I have never (1) had a true hot dish or (2) made a true hot dish.  Now, to me a casserole is something like jambalaya or baked ziti or something along those lines.  A hot dish (for those not from the Northern part of the US) is a combination of a starch (potatoes - typically of the fried form or macaroni), a vegetable (or another starch like corn that people call a vegetable), a protein (99% of the time it is ground meat), cheese and the all important can of condensed Campbell's soup. 

How did I come to make a hot dish tonight?  Well, TS had an event to go to tonight and would not be home until late - as in 2 hours after I got home from work.  I asked him what he would like for dinner knowing that I had 2 hours to prepare a good meal when he gets home. (Which is another discussion for another day - the whole men getting home and having a hot meal prepared, while the women never get that - or at least I don't).  I suggested another of my Mexican cooking challenges, a lasagna (which is NOT a hot dish), or something else that would be more on the "gourmet" side of things.  He said, since it has been so cold, and one of his friends posted a hot dish recipe online, he would like that hot dish for dinner.  Since I told him he could have anything, I could not really go back on my work, could I?

So, after work today I braved the dropping temperatures (it was a windchill of -9 when I got out of my car) to buy the ingredients for a Southwestern Tatertot Hot Dish.  Here is what you need:


1 bag of tatertots
1 can Fiesta Cheese Soup (of the Campbell's condensed variety)
1 can of corn (that "vegetable")
1 can Rotel
1 small can chopped jalepenos
8oz sour cream
1 lb ground meat (I used 93/7)
1 c. shredding colby jack cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin - split
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika

Now I had some of that at home (mainly the spices), but the rest was bought today.  I must admit when it is that cold and windy outside, something hearty like this sounds really good.

While TS was enjoying himself, networking with other lawyers, and braving the weather to get back home, I prepared the meal.  (TS takes the bus so he really did "brave the weather")


Preheat oven to 400 and spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray

1. In a skillet brown the ground meat with 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin, pinch of salt.
2. Once the meat is browned, take it off the heat to cool a bit.
3. In a large bowl, combine the corn, Rotel, chopped jalepenos, Fiesta Cheese Soup, and sour cream - stirring after each addition.
4. Add 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper and mix well.
5. Fold in the frozen Tatertots.
6. Fold in the ground meat.
7. Spread the mixture into prepared 9x13 dish.
8. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
9. Bake for 30 mins.
10. Let rest for 5-10 mins and Enjoy!

And I must say, this recipe was the perfect amount of spicy and hearty and warmth to fill us up on a cold, cold night.  TS even had 2 helpings!  We cannot wait for leftovers tomorrow night.  I must say, I now understand why a Southwestern Tatertot Hot Dish is a comfort food for those of us living in the land of below 0 weather. 

Note: If you need a vegetable, like I do (thank you dad for always requiring a vegetable with every meal), carrots were a good option.

Note 2: I did a Mexican cooking challenge a few weeks ago that I did not post about.  I will update that this weekend.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hello 2013 - Back to the Mexican Cooking Challenge

Now the holidays are over, I can get back to trying new recipes and posting them for you to read.  I have even gone back to attempting this Mexican cooking challenge.

It was NYE - You have to have Wine, veggies and hummus, right?

I started back on New Years Eve with a guacamole recipe that got the seal of approval from TS's brother Greg-with-two-g's.  The guacamole recipe was from my Saveur magazine Mexican cooking challenge. So, part 5 of the challenge was guacamole.  I intended to follow the recipe exactly, but part of it got left out in all the rush of New Years Eve.  See, I made the guac after a long and hard game of broomball (boot hockey).  I had pre-chopped all of the necessary ingredients, put them in Tupperware containers and then brought them to the party.  Guac, to me, isn't as good if you make in a few hours in advance.  It is one of those foods which must be made when you are ready to eat it.  I did not bring the recipe with me, but it was so easy I thought I had it memorized.  And - I forgot an ingredient.

My chopped garlic was in a tiny tupperware container (it was only 2 cloves of chopped garlic), and that got left in the bottom of the bag that I brought the rest of the ingredients. Oh well. Now  you know, if you leave out the garlic, no one is going to miss it and it will still be an amazing guacamole.

Oh and a I also added an extra avocado since I knew there were going to be a bunch of people eating it.

The real recipe can be found here.

My version of this guacamole:

¼ cup finely chopped white onion
2 tbsp. minced cilantro  (I have freeze dried cilantro - so I used that)
4 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
4 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1" chunks
1 plum tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Tortilla chips, for serving

1. Chop the onion, cilantro, serrano chiles.
         NOTE: it is VERY important to take out the seeds from the chiles.  
         NOTE 2: even after washing your hands a million times, DO NOT attempt to put contacts in.  Stupid me tried (I have done it before with jalapenos, but I forgot that serranos have even more spicy oil than jalapenos).
2. In a large bowl mash together with a fork the onion, cilantro and chiles.
3. Add avocados and tomato to onion mixture and mash, trying to keep several large chunks of avocado.
4. Add lime juice and stir a few times just to blend in.

Enjoy!  Like my neighbor Jenny did: