So lately dinner has been taking a “surprise” meat, I didn’t label anything in the freezer (oops) and we are in the process of cleaning out the freezer and pantry by eating only from them for a few weeks, no new groceries except for fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and milk; then opening it the next day and searching Pinterest and online for something to make with it.
I hit the jackpot this time! I had ground beef and needed something to make in about an hour. I found this recipe for Tater Tot Taco Casserole from Allrecipes.com on Pinterest and I had all of the ingredients on hand. Yeah! The ingredient list looks long but it is mostly things most people always have in their freezer, fridge, pantry and spice rack.
I also took the original recipe one step further and bulked the original recipe up a bit by adding what my family loves on their tacos and making my own taco seasoning with a few extra spices. The whole pan was gone at the end of dinner. So no leftovers for lunch but it is definitely a must do again for my family.
- 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1 diced onion
- 1 TBSP chili powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes (omit if your family does not like spicy seasoning)
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of water
- 2 diced tomatoes
- 16 oz. bag of frozen corn, thawed in fridge
- 8 oz. can of sliced olives, drained
- 2 cups of Mexican Cheese Blend, divided
- 16 oz. package of frozen tater tots, partially thawed in fridge
- 1 1/2 cup of medium taco sauce
- sour cream and salsa for topping
- Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until completely browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
- While the meat is cooking add the partially thawed tater tots to a LARGE bowl.
- In a small bowl mix the chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika and cumin. Set aside.
- Drain the extra grease from the pan if there is too much. I used fairly lean meat so only had about a tablespoon so I didn’t need to drain it.
- Add the onion, minced garlic, corn, water and the spice mix from the small bowl over the ground beef; cook and stir another 5-10 minutes until sauce starts to thicken a bit. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper and any additional spices to suit your families tastes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Combine the ground beef mixture in the large bowl with about 1 1/4 cup of the Mexican cheese blend, olives, tomatoes and the tater tots; stir gently to combine.
- Pour about 1/2 cup of the taco sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add the tater tot mixture to the baking dish; lightly pat the mixture down into a solid, even layer. Pour the remaining taco sauce over the tater tot mixture.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining Mexican cheese over the casserole and return to oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes more.
- Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with salsa, taco sauce and sour cream for toppings.