The Casserole Queens Release Their New Book and Share Their Tater Tot Casserole Recipe

The Casserole Queens have taken over my blog! Best-selling authors and frequent TV guest chefs Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock tell you all about their new cookbook, getting kids to eat casseroles and even give you a super-easy and delicious recipe involving tater tots. Read on:

“Mealtime can become a battle between kids wanting their favorite foods and your desire to keep them healthy. We try to offer up menu items that can create some peace at the dinner table! For example, in our first book, The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin’ in Your Oven, we took a kid favorite (Mac & Cheese) and gave it a unique twist. At first glance, our Lunch Lady Doris’ Spicy Mac and Cheese has all the things kids love, pasta and cheese – yet we sneak in some broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes to help balance out the dish. We Queens are sneaky like that!

We pull the same trick in our new book,The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook, with our Gluten Free Corn Dog Casserole! Just the smell alone will get the kids to the table in time for dinner. Maybe even the neighbor kids. Okay, forget the kids, who are we kidding? We love to eat it too! Casseroles are great for disguising vegetables, as they are layered with in the dish. You kids won’t even know you hit them with some vitamins!

Here are some other suggestions for kid-friendly meals from our Make-A-Meal Cookbook. And keep reading below for our Q&A with resident book reviewer and mom, Kristen Kemp. Then, below that, check out our recipe for Tater Tot Casserole!

  • Macaroni & Beef Casserole
  • Tater Tot Casserole
  • Herbed Chicken Parmesan
  • Rustic Polenta Casserole
  • Monterey Chicken and Rice
  • Mashed Potato Pizza
  • Spinach-Ravioli Lasagna”

KK: My kids, ages 5, 7 and 7, for example, are great eaters. But they’ve never had casserole. How can I start them out?
CQ: Chances are your kids have had a casserole, they just didn’t know it! We have discovered that a lot of folks are confused about what a casserole really is! Especially if they didn’t grow up in the South or in the Midwest where casseroles and hot dishes reign supreme!

They thought that if it didn’t have a can of cream of mushroom soup, then it wasn’t a casserole. For example, when you hear the words lasagna, kugel, and moussaka, do you think of casseroles? Maybe not, but take a second look – there’s no denying it when you recognize its 9 x 13-inch frame.

Great suggestions for beginners include any of the items mentioned above as well as our Chicken Enchiladas and Super Simple Stuffed Shells. Yum!

KK: Why did casseroles go out of favor? Why should they come back?
CQ: Not sure why casseroles went out of fashion for a while, but just like they say: Everything old is new again! And together, we are bringing back the classic American casserole and updating it with a modern twist! It has always been our mission to get families around the table again, and whether it’s a dinner party with friends, an evening meal with the family, or an all-out extravaganza – casseroles help provide you with an economical, easy and fun way to entertain.

KK: What’s so dang great about casseroles?
CQ: Oh, there are just so many reasons to love the one dish wonder! Not only are they great for feeding a crowd and budget-friendly, but they can be made ahead of time and frozen. Perfect for those with hectic lifestyles! And did we mention that clean-up is a cinch? Making casseroles beforehand means no mess in the kitchen that night. But probably the best reason for the casserole is that you can’t be the hostess with the mostess! Casseroles give the cook of the house more time to do the things they want, like enjoy a glass of wine and a good conversation with family, friends or guests.

TATER TOT CASSEROLE
Serves 6 

Cooking spray
2 pounds lean ground beef
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1 (2-pound) package frozen tater tots

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.

2. In a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, combine the ground beef, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, breaking up any lumps with the back of a spoon, until the beef is browned through, about 8 minutes. Drain off the grease and place the beef in the prepared casserole dish.

3. Wipe out the sauté pan and return it to the heat. Melt the butter, then add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release their juices and start to brown, about 6 minutes. Season with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and the remaining ½ teaspoon of pepper. Spread the mushrooms over the beef, and then spread cream of mushroom soup on top of the mushrooms. Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole and top with the tater tots.

4. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the dish and bake for 15 minutes more, or until golden brown on top.

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