Football season is here!! I love watching college games on Saturdays and the NFL on Sundays. Sweater weather, ball games, and the beautiful beginnings of a chill in the air, this is my favorite season of the year. Can you guess which team I love? 😉
With the shortener days, cooler weather, and impending holidays, I start dreaming of filling and decadent comfort foods, baking for family dinners, and planning get togethers with family and friends. What can I throw together quickly and easily, that will make the entire crowd happy and still let me be out in the living room with everyone instead of stuck in the kitchen?
This year is going to be a whirlwind autumn with three business trips stacked up like planes on the tarmac waiting to take off. I just got back from IFBC in Seattle, next up is the PMA conference in Atlanta in a few weeks, and then BlogHer Food the first week in November in Chicago. We will be deep into holiday planning before I catch my breath!
But in the meantime, I have a few weekends to relax and enjoy watching the games with The Artist and creating fun snack foods to entertain us and keep us full while watching multiple games in one day. Today’s recipe is a new creation that I just couldn’t resist.
For today’s recipe I thought that tater tots would make a really fun foundation for a favorite game day snack, nachos. Replacing the traditional tortilla chips with smashed tater tots adds a new dimension and a fun spin. Cook them for about 15 minutes to soften, smash them flat with a drinking glass (see photo above) and then sprinkle with a Mexican-style seasoning blend. Easy peasy. You know I’ve never met a potato that I didn’t love! 😉
I have loved tater tots since childhood when my mom always served them alongside frozen fish sticks. It is still one of my favorite meals when I’ve had a stressful day. Food memories are incredibly powerful. One bite and we are transported back in time to our childhood, summers at the beach, college days, a favorite party, or holiday traditions. The foods we ate when we were young always seem to be the most soothing and the ones I turn to when I’m worn out, feeling down, or just need a pick-me-up.
Using tater tots to make this casserole appetizer was fabulous. So easy to work with and I still love their flavor. I am so grateful that Ore-Ida makes them gluten-free (look for labeling)!
Gourmet Garden herbs add a ton of flavor easily with no hassle or waste. Keeping them in your refrigerator or freezer means no last minute run to the store or trying to figure out what to do with all the rest of the bunch of fresh herbs I just spent money on. I use them all the time, even when I am not making a recipe specifically for them!
You can make these nachos as simple or fully loaded as you like. Add a mix of hot peppers along with the chile flakes if you like spicy foods, increase the amounts of seasonings for stronger flavors, and pile on the toppings if you want. Don’t forget to sprinkle more cilantro over the top before serving. Unlike the traditional tortilla chip version, these are really best when eaten with a fork. To feed a larger crowd, leave them in a single layer and spread out the toppings. The “nachos” will be easier to serve, and may be possible to eat with your fingers. Who doesn’t love messy food?!
Grab a big spoon and scoop out a big serving for each person – believe me, people will be back for seconds! While I created these with snacking in mind, they are substantial enough for an easy and fun dinner too. Just add a tossed green salad and you’re ready to go! If you are reheating leftovers (though I doubt there will be any), warm them in the oven and not the microwave to help them stay as crispy as possible.
Have a wonderful weekend ~ see you back here for Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
This is the kind of recipe where you likely have most if not all of the ingredients on hand, either in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. When you need a quick dinner, look around and see what you have that you can put together – maybe in ways you hadn’t thought of before. Step out of your comfort zone once in a while and you may surprise yourself!
Ore-Ida tater tots are gluten-free (look for labeling on the package) and all Gourmet Garden herbs and seasonings are guaranteed gluten-free. If you use a bottled salsa, be sure it is a gluten-free version.
- Tater Tots
- 32 oz bag large Tater-Tots (Ore-Ida brand is gluten-free)
- 1/2 (1 oz/31g packet) Fajita or Taco seasoning mix (Penzey’s and McCormick have gluten-free versions), or to taste
- Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 lb raw ground pork, Mexican chorizo, Andouille sausage, or ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (or 1/4 of a large onion)
- 1/4 cup drained and rinsed black beans (gluten-free if needed)
- 1/2 cup fresh Pico de Gallo salsa
- 2 tbsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Cilantro
- 1/2 tsp Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
- 1/2 tsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Chile Pepper, or to taste
- 1-1/2 cups (about 6 oz) shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, divided
- 3 to 5 green onions, finely sliced, divided
- Additional salsa
- 2 to 3 tbsp additional drained and rinsed black beans
- Additional chopped green onions
- Additional Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Cilantro
- Optional Garnishes
- More Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Chile Pepper flakes
- Sour cream
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place tater tots in a single layer on the parchment covered baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes or until thawed and softened. Remove pan from the oven and using a spatula or the bottom of a glass, smash the tater tots flat. Sprinkle evenly with the Fajita seasoning blend and some salt and pepper. Continue baking another 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and crispy. I like mine extra crispy, so I leave them in an extra 10 to 15 minutes.
- While the tater tots are baking, cook the pork and onions in a large skillet over medium heat. If the meat you are using is in links, remove it from the casing and break up. As the meat cooks, use a potato masher or spoon to break up any clumps and give you the finest texture possible. This will make it easier to get some of the seasoned meat in every bite. If you are using Andouille that is already cooked, discard the ends and chop the sausage very finely (you can also use a food processor).
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towels. Pat dry with additional paper towels to remove as much grease as possible. Return the meat to the skillet. Sprinkle with about 1 tbsp of the fajita seasoning blend. Stir in the beans, salsa, cilantro, garlic, and chile pepper flakes if using them, and cook, stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- In a 7x11-inch baking dish or large cast iron skillet, place half the smashed tater tots. Top with half the cheese, half the tomatoes and green onions, and using a slotted spoon, all of the meat. Layer on the remaining tater tots, cheese, tomatoes, and green onions. Put back in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Remove from the oven, add a scattering of green onions and Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Cilantro over the top. Scoop servings onto plates and add some chile pepper flakes if desired, and a dollop each of sour cream and guacamole on the side.
- Yield: 6 to 8 appetizer servings
Other Gourmet Garden Recipes on The Heritage Cook!
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Create a New Tradition Today!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received compensation and products for recipe development.
Let’s connect! If you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, need to alter a recipe for gluten-free, or want recipe suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I can also be found at the social media site links on the right. Thanks for joining the Heritage Cook Family!
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