Tater Tot Casserole – And Going North

 


Mama used to say “If Christy gets it in her head to do something, she’s gonna do it or die”. Of course, nobody knows me like my Mother does and I have to admit that she is right on that one.

I don’t mean to be that way, it causes me far too much strife on any given day. I’ve lost a great deal of joy over the years simply based on the fact that I get an idea in my head and then turn it around and around until it ends up controlling me instead of me controlling it. That was pretty much what happened this past weekend – which led to an epiphany – which led to this post. Sit down and get comfy, this train is about to leave the station and I’m gonna take you on a little ride.

It is spring time, the sun is shining, the grass is green, and I decided this was the year I was finally going to find those planters I wanted for my front porch.

I decided – that was where this whole thing went south from the get go. People often say if you want to make life laugh, wake up and make plans.

Ricky needed some parts for our lawn mower so we loaded up the family and headed off to Lowes. I just knew they’d have what I wanted. The boys went to look for the parts while Karo and I went towards the garden section, both of us excited to get planters and flowers for them. I was looking for larger-than-small rectangular white planters for the front porch. Katy and I looked and didn’t see anything even close to what we were looking for so we looked again. I had them pictured so vividly in my mind that I just knew they had to have them. Still no luck. So we circled again...nothing. I decided to go pick out flowers and then come back, feeling that once I had the flowers I wanted the planters would somehow be there. Of course, I had decided that I needed periwinkles and that no other flower would do. Wouldn’t you know it, not a periwinkle was to be had.

~sighs~ So we went back to where the planters were and circled again….

This is where Ricky found us about half an hour after we entered the store.

Feeling slightly agitated and very disappointed, we headed out and I had Ricky swing by a nearby garden store only to find that they didn’t have what I wanted either and if they had of there was no way I could have afforded it anyway.

We went home and had lunch. I got a post up and did several online searches for what I was looking for, finding the exact thing on more than one occasion but at prices far above and beyond what I was able to pay. We did some house and yard work before I decided to set off again, this time on my own to make it quicker to search from store to store. Three stores later, I could feel the stress and anxiety welling up inside me. I was frustrated, I was a little mad, and I was very disappointed.

Mostly though, that stubborn streak of determination had me running around in circles and was so steadfast and strong in its hold on me that the chances of me finding anything to make me happy was going downhill pretty fast.

As I stood there with the knot of agitation having full hold over me I mentally went over where else I could go in hopes of finding what I looked for. I had asked on facebook and been given some wonderful suggestions, in various parts all over the county and beyond. I came up with a mental list of five more stores, ten miles in this direction, fifteen in that…and wondered how much larger that anxiety was gonna grow with each store.

Then a quote came into my head that I had read just a few days earlier from my friend, Deb:

“You have circled this mountain long enough. Go North.” (Deut 2:3).

It hit me that, in that moment, I was fighting a battle that simply was not worth fighting.

How often do we do that? How often do we wake up in the middle of a perfectly good life and decide to create a little anxiety and stress for ourselves?  We spend days, months, years, and sometimes lifetimes circling mountains that we built up in the middle of an otherwise green meadow. Negative attitudes, unnecessary drama, things that for whatever reason we decide to circle around and around and around instead of enjoying the good things.  I do it far too often, I know.

So this past weekend my family was at home on this beautiful sunny eighty degree day, out playing in the yard and enjoying each other’s company. My children were laughing and riding their bikes, picking four leaf clovers, and playing with bubbles. And here I was out on my own circling a mountain, stepping away from a joyful day in my life to go on an anxiety filled quest for something as silly and inconsequential as a flower pot.

With the realization that I had circled this mountain for no real reason other than to be circling it, I went north- or in my case, home. I left the goose chase because I really didn’t need the goose anyway, and I went back to my sunny green yard with the kids riding their bikes in the driveway.

There won’t be a perfect rectangular planter filled with flowers on my porch this year. I’m no longer going to look for it, even if you told me it was right down the road. But there also won’t be a day or more wasted of my life seeking it out as if it is going to provide some type of fulfillment that I don’t already have.

Life moves quick. Every second little joy filled moments are floating through the air like bubbles waiting to be plucked and experienced and every second we circle our seemingly important mountains they are drifting right on by.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life circling mountains that I created in the middle of peaceful valleys. I hope to do less of that as I learn and grow older.

Sometimes we gotta stop circling and go north. Go home. Give up the quest for flowers or other silly things that you only think you need and watch your family bloom instead.

~tucks away her soap box and takes a deep breath as she smoothes back her hair and ties on her apron before looking back up at you with a smile~

Alrighty then, how about we make us a casserole now?

This is one of those recipes that I had to beg my mother to try. She said it just didn’t sound good. So I made a big batch and showed up at her house. She took one bite and her eyes got big as dollars. “This really is good, what did you say was in it?”. It has become one of her all time favorite meals. I hope you get to try it soon. If there were such a thing as a recipe being too simple, this just might be it. But it’s oooh so good!

You’ll need: about 2 lbs Ground beef (already browned, with onion in it if you like), Cream of mushroom soup (can use fat free), frozen tater tots, and some milk.

I like to brown my beef ahead of time and keep it in the freezer to make meals like this one a breeze to put together. I have browned as much as thirty pounds of ground beef in one day and then store it in zipper seal baggies. I generally put about a cup in each bag and then get out one or two bags depending on how much I decide I need.

Pour your cream soup in a cup and add about a cup and a half of milk to it.

Stir well.

It will still be lumpy but as long as you put forth the effort to give it a good stir it’ll be fine.

Place your tater tots over the ground beef.

Pour your soup over all of this.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about thirty minutes.

A lot of recipes don’t have you covering it and I used to do mine that way but I’ve found it is even better if you cover it up a bit. If you’d like your tater tots nice and browned, uncover the last ten minutes of cooking.

 

Enjoy.

If you have any leftovers, this taste even better reheated!

Do you make tater tot casserole for your family? I’d love to hear about it!

Tater Tot Casserole

Tater Tot Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped, optional
  • 1 package frozen tater tots (about 1 pound)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (can use fat free)
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Brown beef and onion together until done, drain off any grease (I brown my beef ahead of time and store it in the freezer to make this quicker). Place ground beef mixture in bottom of 8x8 baking dish. Top with frozen tater tots. In small bowl stir together cream soup and milk. Pour over tater tots. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for thirty minutes.
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“Life is just a chance to grow a soul.”

~Powel Davies. Submitted by Carol Prince. Submit your quote by clicking here.

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Comments

  1. Patti Rosendahl says

    My husband doesnt like onions so I added a can of chopped green chilies to mine and also I covered the top of mine with shredded cheddar cheese………..so many different ways to make it to your own tastes. This is a “go to” meal for those days when Im in a hurry :)

  2. Cindy Seiger says

    For my family, anything with mushrooms is no go! Would cream of celery soup work instead? Thank you for all of your efforts to bring back the home cooked meals! Love your recipes! You are a very special lady. Blessings to you and your family. Cindy

  3. Sheri says

    We are cheese lovers, so on top of the meat we put about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar, cream of chicken soup (no milk added in this recipe) on top of that (I try to spread it – not so pretty, but it works) then top with the tater tots. We eat this a lot! Yum! I have also seen it with drained french cut green beans in a layer over the meat, but I choose to keep the greens separate!

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