A Tot Casserole Variation
Tator Puffs Taco Salad Casserole is a variation of the potato tot-style casseroles. I know, it is a “child’s meal”. Well… I find it a wonderful casserole and I have had a lot of fun coming up with variations with different flavors or modifying those online. One has a from-scratch version instead of using the canned mushroom soup-like stuff. I will post them as I make them. Or is that “inflict” them? laughing…
I do not remember my Mom making the tot casserole for us when I was young. Though it was not often, I did like when she gave us some with a meal. I never heard of the potato tot casserole until I was an adult. I was not impressed and ignored it. I found some good organic tots for a dinner. I forgot how much I loved them, not buying them for many years. I revisited the tot recipes and starting making them and the variations, and, well… I am hooked on them.
Remember- you can change up the level of seasonings in the Tator Puffs Taco Salad Casserole to suit your preferences. The same goes for the type of cheese and beans used. I happen to prefer jack, mozzarella or queso on Mexican-flavors. I had pintos on hand, already made. Black beans would be delicious. The same goes for kidney beans, though they do cause both of us a lot of “butt-burps”. ahem. I digress… Here is the recipe…
Tator Puffs Taco Salad Casserole
1 lb ground round
1 onion, diced
taco seasoning, as preferred*
2 cups cooked, drained pinto beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 jar (18 oz) salsa
3 cups jack cheese, shredded
2 cups lettuce, minced or shredded fine
1 cup tomato, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1 to 2 cups tortilla chips, crushed
2 (16 oz ea) bags potato puffs**
sour cream, optional topping
*My taco seasoning I add to meats usually is: about a tsp of ground cumin, 1 or 2 tbsp chili powder and 1 tsp of granulated garlic. Add a dash or three of cayenne pepper and the same of dried chile peppers. Then a few dashes of black pepper and salt. Amounts vary to my mood.
**You can use regular potato tots. I use organic ones they call yukon select puffs or potato puffs.
Brown beef and onion until beef is cooked and the onion is translucent. If you use a beef with more than 5% fat, you will need to drain off any fat. Season the mixture like you would for tacos with your preferred seasoning(s).
Add beans, corn and salsa. Blend well and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
Heat oven to 375°F. Grease (I use coconut oil) a 9″x13″ baking dish. Pour beef mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the crushed chips. I prefer the 2 cups crushed, personally. Sprinkle 2 cups of the cheese evenly over the chips. Put the remaining cheese in the refrigerator for when the casserole is done. Sprinkle the green onions, then the lettuce and then the tomatoes over the cheese. Top with the potato puffs.
Bake for 40 minutes are until the tots are browned and crispyish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of the cheese over the tots. Return to the oven and bake 5 minutes more or until the cheese is melted.
Serve, adding a dollop of sour cream on top, if wanted. We found it adds another whole layer to the flavor.
This reheats well in a 300°F oven. I cut one serving size and put it into a well-buttered baking dish. Needless to say, we have our own warming dishes- mine is small and his is large. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to warm, uncovered. I found cutting it into squares speeds it up a few minutes. I have a small freezer and do not know if this freezes well. It should, I never tried it. We love leftovers and do not mind eating this for 4 or 5 days. Yes, it makes 8 to 10 servings. ;D
I think this is my favorite version. Looking at the recipes I have posted, you will notice that most of our meals trend to Mexican foods and flavors. Where I grew up, it was “dinner”, and great ones at that.
Enjoy the Tator Puffs Taco Salad Casserole! I will post the other flavors this fall or winter.