everyday food made simple

I don’t know about you, but in our household, Thanksgiving planning started at the end of October (it’s a big deal!). We planned out our menu and everything we may need, and a few days ago I finished up a make-ahead timeline to make things go as smoothly as possible on the big day.

I don’t know about your timeline – if you’re nerdy enough like me to make one – but mine is filled with 2-3 things to prep and make every night leading up to Thanksgiving. And since this week I’ll already be doing lots of chopping, baking, cooking, and prepping after a long day of work, the last thing I need is to worry about the age old question of “what’s for dinner??“.

Enter today’s easy recipe…… *drum roll please*…..

I present to you: Pizza tator tot casserole!

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My taco tator tot casserole is perhaps one of the most popular recipes in our house – we make it at least once very few weeks – it’s just that good. I remember the first few weeks when I started my new job back in February, we actually made a double batch of it in anticipation of being busy and giving me enough time to get settled into my new routine. Now we gave a new spin to our favorite comfort food – combining our favorite casserole dish with tons of pizza flavors! It’s hearty, meaty, and cheesy all at the same time. It’s got pizza sauce, basil, plenty of cheesy goodness, lean ground beef, onions and green peppers, and not to mention to crispy baked tator tots carefully arranged in OCD fashion on top. All the food groups balanced into one delicious meal, it’s guaranteed to be a hit at your dinner table!

Have I mentioned that it’s also super easy and painless to make?

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Just like ordering pizza on a lazy Friday night, you can totally customize what goes into this casserole based on personal preference. We kept it simple by using plain ground beef and pizza sauce, but this dish totally has the potential to be dressed up based on what you like on your pizza..

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Add in bacon bits, crumbled Italian sausage, and pepperoni slices for the meat lovers in your house.

Simply add in more cheese for extra cheesy goodness.

Or if you happen to like your pizza piled high with veggies, just throw in some sliced mushrooms, olives, extra peppers, spinach, or whatever happens to tickle your fancy at the moment.

See? I told you the possibilities are endless.

pizza tator tot casserole
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound lean ground beef
  2. 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  3. 1 medium onion, diced
  4. 15-oz pizza sauce
  5. 1 teaspoon dried basil
  6. 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  7. 1 package frozen tator tots
  8. 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the beef over medium heat with the green peppers and onions until the beef is no longer pink. Add the pizza sauce and basil.
  3. Transfer the beef mixture into a 8x11" casserole dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and tator tots
  4. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are crisp and brown. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese, bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  5. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.
  6. Serves 6
Adapted from Taste of Home - Ground Beef edition
Adapted from Taste of Home - Ground Beef edition
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home – Ground Beef edition

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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One of the things about living in Minnesota (land of the cold and snow), is that you just crave something that would warm your insides for dinner during the cold winter months. That’s also why Crockpot meals and soups are very popular in our household. Loaded/baked potato soup is one of our favorites whenever we go out and eat, so I decided to give it a whirl and make it at home.

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This soup was a hit and Brian loved it – he even ate the leftovers the next day, which is rare for someone who typically doesn’t care much for leftovers. It’s basically how I gauge how good a meal is – if he’s voluntarily eating leftovers, it must be pretty dang good.

If potato soup is also one of your favorites, you need to make this! Creamy potato soup loaded with bacon and cheese – talk about carb overload! But man it sure is delicious and worth every single calorie. I didn’t feel bad one bit about eating half a pot of this creamy soup. It is winter after all, which is a good enough reason… gotta start on that extra fat storage to keep us warm!

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loaded potato soup
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Ingredients
  1. 6 slices of bacon, diced and cooked
  2. 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 3 and 1/2 cups skim milk
  5. 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  6. 2 green onions, thinly sliced, reserving a bit of the greens for topping, if desired
  7. 1 and 1/2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  8. 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until lightly browned, then gradually whisk in the milk. Cook and whisk constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in potatoes and green onions.
  2. Bring soup to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Serve immediately and garnish with bacon, cheese, and additional green onions if desired.
  4. Serves 4
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Soft, velvety potatoes in a creamy soup, contrasted with crisp, smoky bacon bits with ooey gooey shredded sharp cheddar cheese – this soup won’t disappoint and is perfect for a cold winter night!

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The soup, eaten by itself, can be pretty plain and boring – it’s the toppings that make it so delicious! Each person can also top it with whatever toppings they want – more cheese, less cheese, no green onions, more bacon (YESS please!), no bacon (who does that?!)… everything tastes better with more cheese and bacon!

I think next time I’m going to double the amount of bacon and put half of it in with the soup as it simmers, so there’s plenty of bacon in every single bite. If any of you try this recipe and make it that way, let me know how it turns out!

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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I’ve actually been making this for years now, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that my coworker Erika inspired me to make it again and share it with you guys!

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You see, I’ve always had this thing where “old” recipes weren’t worth sharing and that only new things that I make (and that taste good) should be posted on here. But after today, successful recipes that have endured the test of time and multiple taste buds will start to make appearances on this blog, and I’m super excited about it!

This recipe is AWESOME – let me repeat, AWESOME – due to several reasons:

  1. it involves tator tots. Who doesn’t like tator tots?! If you, or someone you know, is/are not a fan of these little things, let me have a little talk with them.
  2. it’s completely customizable, and any dish that’s customizable is a win in my book. You can add different things in this dish any way you want. Exact measurements aren’t necessary either.
  3. it’s super easy to make. Prep time literally only took me 15-20 minutes.
  4. the leftovers taste just as good (if not better). Brian is not a big fan of leftovers, and this is one of the few dishes that we actually have to fight over leftovers the next day.

To start things out, you brown some turkey meat – it’s healthier that way. Using reduced sodium taco seasoning (or making your own) also bumps it up the healthy meter a little bit more. Add corn, cheese sauce/soup, then tator tots. Throw it in the oven for 45 minutes, and dinner’s ready. It’s that easy.

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taco tator tot casserole
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground turkey
  2. 1 package 40% reduced sodium taco seasoning
  3. 3/4 cup water
  4. 2-2.5 cups frozen corn
  5. One 10.75 oz canned cheese soup/sauce
  6. 1 bag frozen tator tots (you won't need the whole bag)
  7. Any other toppings you may like - salsa, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sour cream...
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey until done. Add in the water and taco seasoning and stir until combined.
  3. Transfer the meat into a 8x11" casserole pan. Add in the corn and level it out with a spatula to make sure it covers the meat. If you'd like extra corn, feel free to add a little bit more.
  4. Next, pour/scoop the cheese soup on top, covering the corn. Layer the top with the tator tots.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tator tots are brown and crispy. Transfer to cooling rack and serve with desired toppings.
  6. Serves 3-4
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Me, a little OCD? No way…

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Yeah, who am I kidding, I totally am. Lining up those little tator tots perfectly in rows totally satisfies my inner OCDness. And it’s the only way you can get as many tator tots in the dish!

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And just for the record, I hate making food with canned “soup”. If a recipe requires anything along the lines of “cream of…” I usually either don’t bother with it, or try to substitute it with something healthier. You probably won’t ever see me using any pre-packaged semi-gelantinous “soups” from a can other than this one.

I like my tacos with a little bit of salsa, so after I fill my bowl up with delicious goodness, I like to put a dollop or two of salsa on top of mine. I’ve also shared this recipe with a fellow coworker, and she added some black beans into the layers before throwing it in the oven. If you like sour cream, lettuce, cilantro, or anything else, definitely give it a whirl – I’m sure it’ll taste good!

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After I add my salsa, I like to mix mine up – it doesn’t look the prettiest, but it sure is tasty! Every bite consists of a little bit of spicy salsa, crispy tator tots, taco meat, and corn. Next time I’m totally adding shredded lettuce (and maybe a Mexican blend shredded cheese) to it too.

Enjoy!

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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This is going to be the first part of a two-part blog series – to be perfectly honest with you, I decided to split tonight’s recipes into two posts simply because I’m feeling a little lazy and don’t feel like posting two posts tonight. Check back tomorrow for a grilled tenderloin with garlic herb sauce!

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There are several things on my list that every summer must consist of:

  1. shorts, tanks, and flip flops.
  2. sunshine and warm temperatures – and by warm, I mean 80 or above.
  3. fun, summery drinks – slushies, smoothies, punch, and convenience store Slurpies. (what’s everyone’s favorite flavor?)
  4. grilling.
  5. grilling.
  6. ….and more grilling.
  7. driving with the windows rolled down.
  8. iced coffee.
  9. potato salad.

To me, nothing screams summer more than potato salad. It seems like someone almost always brings them to every potluck/cookout there is during the summer.

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There are a few ingredients (or lack thereof) that are essential in my kind of a potato salad: it has to have eggs, it can’t have mustard, and it can’t be runny and soupy.

This recipe has everything that a perfect potato salad should (and shouldn’t) have…but wait! There’s one very important addition to this dish:

Bacon.

Mmmmm… bacon. Everything tastes better with bacon.

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bacon & egg potato salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  2. 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped
  3. 2 large hardboiled eggs, chopped
  4. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  5. 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  6. 4 scallions, finely chopped
  7. 1 medium red onion, diced
  8. 1 tablespoon sugar
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Put the potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until fork-tender. Drain and let cool.
  2. In the meantime, combine the vinegar, mayonnaise, scallions, red onion, sugar, salt, and a pinch of black pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Once the potatoes are cooled, transfer them into a large bowl. Add the bacon bits and the mayonnaise mixture. Toss to combine. Then add in the chopped eggs and toss until everything is evenly coated with the dressing.
  4. Serve at room temperature and refrigerate leftovers.
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Once everything is prepped and ready, it’s time to mix everything together!

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I’m pretty sure this is the best potato salad I’ve ever made, and I’m pretty sure these crispy bacon bits can win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for it’s superb performance in making this entire dish taste so much better. The dressing is enough to where it slightly coats everything, but not too much to where the flavor is overwhelming and you’re left with a puddle of dressing on the bottom of your dish.

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All in all, this is the perfect potato salad to bring to your next barbeque cookout! I probably could’ve sat on the couch and ate the entire bowl tonight…. instead I settled for a small portion to go with my pork tenderloin.

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Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Just when us Minnesotans thought winter was finally over and spring was around the corner, mother nature thought it’d be funny to dump us a couple more inches of snow here in the metro area. image

Yep. When I woke up this morning, what was green out in the yard yesterday was covered with snow again. Let’s just say I’m not too thrilled about it. I was ready for grilling season, shorts, tank tops, flip flops, and hot summer days… now all I have to think about is how much earlier I have to get up to brush snow off my car and how to dress as warm as possible when I go out.

But with cold, snowy weather comes an excuse to make warm, hearty soups that warm the insides of your stomachs. The kind that make you want to just find a warm fuzzy blanket and fall asleep by the fireplace…

…Wait. Except I don’t have a fireplace.

Anyway, this was the perfect recipe to make since winter is back in Minnesota for a few more days. Maybe you can enjoy it and then cozy up by a fireplace for me….

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potato sausage & corn chowder
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground spicy turkey sausage
  2. 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  3. 2 celery stalks, diced
  4. 1 medium onion, diced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  7. 1 cup light sour cream
  8. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  9. 2-15 oz cans cream style corn
  10. 1-10 oz bag frozen corn
  11. Sat & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove the sausage onto a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess grease. Reserve remaining grease on the bottom of the pot.
  2. Using the same pot, add the potatoes, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot and saute under medium heat until onions are translucent. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add chicken broth, sour cream, salt and pepper to the pot. Under medium-low heat, use a whisk to combine all the ingredients and to deglaze the bottom of the pot. When the mixture starts to boil, add the sausage, vegetables, cream corn, and frozen corn into the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
Adapted from My Blessed Life
Adapted from My Blessed Life
Simple Everyday Food http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Compared to my other posts, this post is definitely lacking in pictures. I figured the directions seemed pretty straight forward, and only the final product was really necessary to convince you to make this some time :)

Enjoy!

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