Tater Tot Casserole

Here is one of those great one dish casseroles that includes both your meat and veggies. You don't have to add any veggies, except of course the tater tots, but I like to add seasoned canned green beans. Corn, peas and carrots are also nice additions. Season the ground beef with your favorite spices. I like to use garlic powder, onion powder, Cajun seasoning, basil, salt and pepper. The seasoned ground beef and veggies are topped with your favorite cream soup mixture with the addition of milk. Then comes the tater tots and cheddar cheese! This is a delicious Southern dish that can easily be doubled, just use a 9 x 13 inch pan instead. Enjoy! 

Tater Tot Casserole
Slightly adapted from http://www.deepsouthdish.com

1 (10-ounce ) can cream of mushroom or chicken soup (I used nacho cheese soup)
1 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper
1 pound of ground beef
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of fresh basil ( I used a sprinkle of dried basil)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 can seasoned french style green beans, drained (optional)
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 pound package of frozen tater tots


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 x 9 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray; set aside. Whisk together the cream soup and milk until well blended; set aside.
Add olive oil to a large skillet and saute the onion and bell pepper until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ground beef and brown; drain if needed and return to the skillet. Add the minced garlic, cook and stir another minute. Stir in the basil and Cajun seasoning; taste and add salt and pepper only as needed. Transfer meat mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Add the green beans over the ground beef mixture and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese. Evenly pour the soup mixture over the top. Arrange the tater tots on top and bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until potatoes are nicely browned and crisp. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top and return to the oven just until cheese is melted.
Serve immediately with a green vegetable or a mixed garden salad.

~Cook's Notes~

Variation: Add a layer of vegetables (about 1 cup) thawed if frozen, drained if canned. Good choices are green beans, peas, corn and mixed vegetables. Top with the 1/4 cup cheese, followed by the cream soup mixture and tater tots; bake. To make a breakfast casserole, substitute a 1 pound roll of cooked, crumbled breakfast sausage (like Jimmy Dean) and 4 to 5 slices of cooked crumbled bacon for the ground beef. Eliminate the meat to make this a side dish.

Double for a 9 x 13 inch casserole.

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