Super Tot Casserole

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Super Tot Casserole

I heard about this recipe on the radio this week, but my hands were busy and I couldn’t write it down. So, I looked on line and decided to doctor the recipes I found on the internet. If you’re a meat and potato kinda person, this casserole is for you.

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground meat

Seasoning- salt, pepper, Cajun if you would like

2 tablespoons Worcester shire sauce

Couple tablespoons of minced onion

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 cup light sour cream

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Enough tator tots to arrange on top

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375°

Brown the ground meat, drain fat and mix in Worcester shire sauce, onion and seasoning. Placed cooked meat into the bottom of a medium sized casserole dish.

In a small bowl mix together the cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Spread this mixture over the top of the meat. On top of this, evenly sprinkle with the shredded cheese.

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The last layer is the tator tots. You could dump them all over the top haphazardly, but why not make it pretty? Lay them side by side in concentric circles.

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Now, isn’t that pretty? Bake at 375° for thirty minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown.

Are you wondering how I tweaked the recipe? Well, I added the sour cream to the soup layer. Try it. It adds a great tangy kick to this classic casserole.

Enjoy. Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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Super Tot Casserole: perfect on a cold winter night.
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Bread Pudding: the Best Way To Recycle

In our little community, in our little part of the southwest corner of Mississippi, there is voluntary recycling. Which really means sorting the trash is a pain. There is a collection spot in town and you’re expected to catorgorize your refuse and then take it for deposit. I must admit that I am a bit passive aggressive and conviently do not remember to peel off the lable from the orange juice container, rinse it and dry it, blah, blahblah, blah, blah.

My mother heard a lady in local government give a talk to her church group about the importance of recycling and saving the planet, and the salamanders on the Natchez Trace, and the baby seals in Alaska, and keeping tar balls out of the Gulf of Mexico and on and on and on. Mom has become an advocate of recycling. Somehow, if Mom seperates her trash while living in a tiny little town with a population of less than 4000, trees in the Amazon will be saved.

“Oh, did I throw that cereal box away? Nope, I can’t fish it out of the abyss of the trash can. There it will stay until the guys with the big truck circle the neighborhood on Wednesday morning.”

I told you- I am a bit passive aggressive.  I refuse to gift wrap the refuse. Sorry, Mom. Sorry to any tree huggers reading this, too. Take your peecan to the woods and count the pecan trees. Come on, smile. You take things too seriously.

It really hasn’t been that long ago out in the country (where I lived for 29 years) that weekly trash pickup became the norm. You seperated your tin cans from all other garbage and dumped them into a big hole dug on the back of your property.(I do believe I heard all you environmentalists gasping with your appalled sensibilities.) Read on about rural life. Paper, plastic and cardboard all went into a 50 gallon drum to be burned. Dirty disposable diapers were burned too. Eweee! (Now, you know if I won’t rinse a used orange juice container I was not going to rinse out a used cloth diaper!) If the weather was wet or windy, the trash stacked up in a storage room till it became more trash burning friendly. Ah, life in the country.

More than once trash fires caused raging forest fires. Our neighbors burned up acres of pine trees on my ex-husband’s parents’ land, and they didn’t learn their lesson till my now dearly departed father-in-law went and had a set to with them. I believe he gifted them with a trash barrell of their very own. A few years after that incident, I was called for jury duty and one of the lawyers asked if anyone had ever had property damage due to another’s  negligence. I raised my hand and explained what had happened with The Trash Fire That Had Gotten Away and  potential juror #12  (I) was excused.

Segway-

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The only way or thing I don’t mind recycling is stale bread into a family fave: Bread pudding. My grandmother made this with her week old bread and the smell of butter, egg, sugar and cinnamon filled the whole house. For this mornings breakfast, I used stale hamburger buns to make my grandmother’s recipe. It is the best kind of recycling.

Ingredients:

8 hamburger buns, but any week old bread ( free of mold) can be used

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 stick butter

Cinnamon

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Tear the buns into bite sized pieces and scatter evenly into a casserole  dish. Melt butter and pour evenly over the torn pieces of buns. Sprinkle with cinnamon, little or a lot, it’s your choice. In a one quart pot, pour in milk and bring to just about boiling, turn fire off, add sugar, vanilla and stir till sugar disolves.

Crack eggs in a small bowl and whisk till light yellow. Temper the eggs by pouring a little the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisking together. Pouring the eggs directly into the milk would cook the eggs. You don’t want that. So temper the eggs first, before pouring them all into the hot milk. Then pour combined mixture over the buttery cinnamon bread pieces.

Place in the middle of your preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes. The pudding will puff up while baking and the top gets crusty, thanks to the butter and sugar. Test to see if the pudding  is through baking by inserting a clean knife in the center. If the knife comes out clean, remove from the oven. If it doesn’t come out clean, bake a few more minutes.

Serve warm right out of the oven with coffee. A sprinkling of powdered sugar is nice. Go ahead; gild that lily.

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The butter and sugar make the top of the bread pudding divinely crusty. Ooh yum!

Can This Really Be Considered Cooking or Dorm Room Fare

Eggs, bacon, toast or an English muffin, salt and pepper make Easy Dorm Fare Omlettes. As most dorms allow microwaves and mini fridges, this recipe is a winner for your college student.

What to do:

Crack an egg into a saucer that’s been spritzed with vegetable spray. Season with salt and pepper and lightly whisk with a fork. Lay one piece of bacon on top of the egg. Place in microwave, cover and nuke for 2 1/2 minutes. Serve either on toast or an English muffin. A little jelly adds a touch of sweetness and is great with the savory flavors of egg and bacon.

Blessings to your college student from the Exile’s Kitchen.

20160103_075559 Vegetable spray will make the microwave omlette slide from saucer to toast so easy.20160103_080508Yum! Easy Dorm Fare Omlettes

Black-eyed Peas and Cabbage

 

Happy New Year! Are you stirring  yet from your late night, or should I say, early moring? I slept to nearly 10 o’clock this morning, something I haven’t done since I was a kid.

I immediately started in the kitchen; New Year’s lunch needed cooking, after all. In our part of the world of Southerness, the first day of the year is greeted with a full plate of black-eyed peas and cabbage. Why? They bring good luck, health and wealth for the new year.

It’s tradition in our family to eat the above mentioned on New Year’s day. And,  considering how many heads of cabbage I saw in grocery buggies yesterday at the store, it’s everyone else’s too. I looked up a few explanations for this cooking phenomenon and came up with these: During the Civil War, invading Northern armies thought black-eyed peas were cattle feed and left them alone, thus also leaving the much needed food source for the Confederate forces.  Which was good fortune for our gray clad boys. Good luck and health. Greens are served, because they are, well, green, the same color of folding money in our country. Why we do not deviate from serving black-eyed peas and cabbage, instead of other greens or other legumes? Because that’s what my mother did and her mother before her and her mother before her and way, way back.

Mama made her stuffed bell peppers. I added a pot of white rice and slightly sweet cornbread to the meal. Our plates were full, and now, so are we.

Here’s the cornbread recipe:

1 egg, beaten

1  1/3 cups milk

1/4 cup cooking oil, plus a little more for the cast iron skillet

2 1/4 cup self rising white cornmeal

1 tablespoon pickled sweet peppers

1/2 teaspoon Tony’s seasoning

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The oil bubbles up, as the batter is poured into the skillet. Be careful, it’s hot!

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400°. Pour a little cooking oil in your iron skillet and swirl it around to coat. Place in the oven to get hot, while you mix the ingredients.

In a bowl mix the beaten egg, milk and oil. Add the cornmeal, pickled peppers and seasoning. Stir till well combined. Pour into hot cast iron skillet ( I just open the door, pull out the rack the skillet is on and pour the batter straight into the skillet, then close the oven and bake it). Be careful, of course. It’s hot!!!

Bake for about twenty minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. The top will be golden brown and the edges will pull away from the sides of the skillet. Let cool for a few minutes, before cutting. Serve with butter.

Enjoy and New Year blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.20160101_122130