This is a recipe I got from an old college roommate, Mandi. She's from Montana and her brother used to hook us up with elk meat after his autumn hunts, and at least once we used that ground elk meat to whip up this casserole. I seem to remember eating leftovers ridiculously early one morning when we were about to head to the airport because when our ride showed up, he was hungry. If it's good at 5am, then it's definitely a good choice for dinner.
All these years later, I've made a few adaptations to the original recipe (which I don't even know if I have written down anywhere). But that's just another great selling point for this; it's a very flexible casserole and can be tweaked to cater to the tastes of even your pickiest eater. For example, before I became lactose-intolerant, I made this with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. Now that milk-based soups are out of the question for me, I use Campbell's Beef Broth instead. Additionally, I used to mix in ricotta cheese, but I now omit that (DARN LACTOSE-INTOLERANCE).
Tator Tot Casserole
3/4 lb ground meat of choice (elk, hamburger, turkey)
1 can Campbell's Beef Broth
3/4 C quinoa (washed and drained)
1 C each assorted frozen vegetables (broccoli, peas, corn, green beans, etc)
1 C canned beans (lima beans, kidney beans, white beans, etc)
Shredded cheddar (which I only use on half since I can no longer eat it)
Tator tots (enough to cover the top of casserole before baking)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a large skillet, brown ground meat. Drain grease and transfer to baking dish (I usually use a square, 9 inch glass dish)
-Stir in beef broth and washed quinoa
-Add vegetables and beans of your choice
-Top with shredded cheese
-Cover entire casserole with tator tots and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until tots are golden brown
This is such a cozy, hearty dish that Kev and I love. Aspen will at least eat the tots, and sometimes a few bites of the meat if we tell her it's "TACO! WEE!" At the very least, she's getting used to seeing all these veggies and legumes, and hopefully someday she'll let us convince her they're not poisonous. Campbell's has a lot of other great family-friendly recipes available in collaboration with their Wisest Kid in the Whole World campaign, and you can find them by clicking HERE. The Campbell's Kitchen also has some fun ideas for helping get families to enjoy other soups too, like using fun toppings with Tomato soup. Check it out and see what ideas you can gather up for your next meal!
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