Tonight we are eating Tater Tot Casserole. We rarely eat casseroles; we are more of a meat, starch, and veggie family. My children like easily identifiable food on their plate, and anything coming out of a 9×13 dish will be spread apart on their plate and analyzed. They interrogate me:
What is this little brown thing?
Is this a mushroom?
Is this white thing an onion?
This goes on until they are satisfied that any suspicious food particles have been named and the nasty bits pushed to the side. I told them that one night I am going to fix Mystery Casserole and force them to slog through it on their own, eating food that has not been named. Horrors!
Anyway, to my knowledge, I have never fixed Tater Tot Casserole before, but it was cheap, easy and Christy at Southern Plate recommended it, so we tried it out.
Even though the skepticism about said casserole ran pretty high amongst my family members, I can now confidently pronounce Tater Tot Casserole a success. Delicious! and filling.
However, all of this talk about casseroles reminded me of a time when our kids were all still babies and we had a young couple over. They were engaged, and Justin was doing their pre-marital counseling. They came up to our house once a week, he met with them, and then they stayed for supper.
Well, one evening as I was fixing supper, I realized that I did not have any pineapple for my pineapple casserole. If you’ve never had pineapple casserole, you are missing out. It is canned pineapple tidbits, sugar, flour, and cheddar cheese covered with crushed ritz crackers that have been drizzled with melted butter. It should be dessert, but in our house, it’s a side dish.
Anyway, I panicked. No pineapple! Is there any substitute for pineapple when it is the headliner in a dish called pineapple casserole? I guess the kiddos had fried my brain that particular day, because I decided to go ahead and make the dish using fruit cocktail. Fruit cocktail, people!!
When we all sat down to dinner, you couldn’t really tell, because the fruit cocktail was hidden under its blanket of cracker crumbs. But once Justin started to spoon some onto his plate, the gig was up. He looked at me curiously and asked, “What is this?” And I said, “It’s fruit cocktail casserole. I didn’t have any pineapple.”
It was so gross, y’all! One bite was enough. The sweet little couple ate all of theirs, but Justin stopped eating after he said, “I think I just ate a hot grape.” Clearly, I had pushed the boundaries in old school Southern cuisine, and not in a good way.
So my advice to you tonight is:
1. Try Tater Tot Casserole.
2. Definitely try Pineapple Casserole.
3. Do not attempt Fruit Cocktail Casserole.