Happy Cinco de Mayo! If you’re looking for something to make for dinner, here’s an idea for a quick, easy, and fun casserole your whole family will love – pull out the ingredients and whip up this Taco Tot Casserole today!
I love casseroles! They are so easy to make, cook in one dish, are usually better the second day, and are the ultimate comfort food. My only problem is they aren’t The Artist’s favorite so I rarely make them. This week he was out of town for a few days on business so I planned a meal that was just for me, Taco Tot Casserole!
I have loved tater tots since I was a child and grab a bag whenever I have room in the freezer to store them for a few days – they rarely last longer than that! I usually just heat them up and eat them for snacks, dipping them in ketchup and never have to worry about sharing with The Artist because they aren’t his favorite. More for me!
I looked around the Web and found a ton of recipes for Tater Tot Casserole but all of them called for some form of Cream of … soup, which is something I don’t keep in the pantry (most contain gluten). When I was looking through the cupboards seeing what I had on had to work with, I discovered a lot of ingredients that work in Mexican or Tex-Mex meals. I was thinking of making a Tamale Pie except substituting the tater tots for the cornmeal topping. Perfect! It was just what I was looking for and something new to try out.
So I gathered up all of my ingredients and set them out on the counter. Then I sat down and wrote out my preliminary recipe. I have made similar dishes many times and had an idea of what I wanted to make. A few tweaks and I was ready to start cooking.
My ideas are usually inspired by a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market, and then figuring out ways to utilize the beautiful produce and proteins I find there. My cooking methods are usually fairly straightforward and simple, though I may use a lot of individual ingredients to get the flavors I am looking for.
If you aren’t used to creating your own recipes, do what I did in the beginning. I would open several cookbooks and take parts of different recipes and combine them. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it was a flop, but I always learned something valuable and eventually became confident in knowing what types of ingredients, herbs, and spices go together really well and complement one another.
A lot of what we do is such a habit that we often forget to include it on the first pass. Sometimes the way I wrote the recipe in the first place isn’t the way I actually made the dish, so I will rewrite the recipe as needed. Keeping a paper copy next to me in the kitchen lets me make notes as I prepare the recipe.
Once I have everything made, have tasted it and made adjustments with the seasonings, I sit down and write out the final version of the recipe immediately. You don’t want to wait until you’ve eaten your meal or you will forget half the steps and little things that will make your readers successful when they are making it for the first time.
I encourage you to start writing down all the ad hoc meals you make. Create your own recipes and build your library. Who knows, one of these days you may want to start your own blog or write a cookbook to hand down to your children and grandchildren!
Have a wonderful weekend my friends! Whip together this Taco Tot Casserole and enjoy every bite! Have a fun Cinco de Mayo!!
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments and leave a star rating, I love hearing from you!
Ingredients needed for Taco Tot Casserole:
- Refried beans, olive oil, ground meat, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano
- Chili powder, mild green chiles, frozen corn, lime, red enchilada sauce
- Masa harina or corn flour, cilantro, cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese
- Mini Tater Tots (preferably Ore-Ida which are gluten-free), green onions
Heat citrus fruits for 10 seconds in the microwave then roll them on the counter under the palm of your hand, pressing down firmly as you roll it back and forth. This helps break down the cell walls and you’ll get more juice. Cut in half and use a reamer to extract all the juice.
How to make Taco Tot Casserole:
- Heat the beans with a little water to thin them enough to be creamy and smooth; spread over the bottom of an oiled 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the ground meat with onions until cooked through and brown. Break up clumps as it is cooking then add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Drain excess grease.
- Add the cumin, oregano, and chili powder, stirring, then add the green chiles, corn, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.
- Whisk together the enchilada sauce with the masa harina until all lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth. Pour into the meat mixture, stirring to combine, then pour over the beans in the rectangular baking pan spreading it into an even layer.
- Sprinkle cilantro over the top of the meat and top with half the cheese. Place the tater tots evenly over the whole pan in rows.
- Bake at 350°F (177°C) until heated through and bubbling and the tater tots are browned and crispy, 30 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the top with remaining cheese, return to the oven and melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to cool slightly. Sprinkle the green onions over the top and serve.
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This dish is naturally gluten-free. All recommended ingredients are gluten-free as of the writing of this article. Always check to be sure the products haven’t changed and are still safe to consume.
- 1 (15 oz; 425g) can refried beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb (6.8kg) ground beef or pork or a combination (gluten free)
- 1 large onion, diced finely
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp gluten-free chili powder
- 1 (4 oz; 113g) can chopped mild green chiles, or to taste, optional
- 2 cups (473ml) frozen whole kernel corn
- Juice of 1 lime
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (15 oz; 425g) can gluten-free red enchilada sauce
- 2 tbsp gluten-free masa harina or corn flour (Bob’s Red Mill is a good option)
- 1 large handful coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley, optional
- 2 to 3 cups (227g to 339g) grated cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 (32 oz; 907g) bag frozen mini Tater Tots (Ore-Ida brand is gluten-free), partially thawed; use as many as needed to fully cover the top of your baking dish; bake any leftovers separately
- Chopped green onions, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9x13-inch (23x33cm) baking pan with vegetable oil spray; set aside. Assemble and pre-measure all the ingredients so this dish comes together quickly and easily.
- In a saucepan, heat the refried beans over medium-low heat with a splash or two of water, stirring until they are smooth and creamy. Spread them over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground meat with the onions until thoroughly cooked through, about 4 minutes, breaking up clumps as it cooks getting the mixture as smooth as possible. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Drain excess grease and discard.
- To the meat, add the cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Stir until evenly distributed. Add the green chiles, corn kernels, and lime juice, tossing to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
- In a large bowl, combine the enchilada sauce and masa harina or corn flour. Whisk until completely incorporated and no lumps remain. Pour the sauce mixture into the skillet with the seasoned meat and stir until evenly combined. Transfer to the prepared baking pan on top of the beans.
- Sprinkle the cilantro over the meat mixture in pan. Sprinkle half of the grated cheese over the cilantro. Place the tater tots evenly over the top of the pan.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake until the filling is heated through and bubbling and the tater tots are crispy and well browned, 30 to 50 minutes (timing will depend on your oven). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Return to the oven to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to cool slightly. Garnish the top with chopped green onions if desired and serve.
Recipe found at www.theheritagecook.com
All recommended ingredients are gluten-free as of the writing of this article. Always check to be sure the products haven’t changed and are still safe to consume.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 402mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 12g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is calculated by online tools and is merely an estimate.
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