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May 25, 2022

1/21/2022 1:06:00 PM
Hot dishes for cold temperatures

I’ve been focusing on comfort food in the month of January, and it doesn’t get more comfy than hot dish. They are the ultimate midwestern comfort food and have enjoyed a renaissance of late, gaining popularity and going mainstream across the nation instead of just the cozy confines of midwestern houses.

These recipes tend to have a lot of ingredients, but then not many steps, as they are pretty much just mix and top-off! So don’t be intimidated by the lengthy ingredient lists.

So, the time for hot dish recipes is here, including my personal recipe for the classic tator tot hot dish.


3 c. water
1 c. uncooked wild rice
2-1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 c. butter, cubed
1 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
3 c. diced cooked chicken
1 jar (2 oz.) chopped pimiento, drained
1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 c. slivered almonds

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil; stir in rice and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until rice kernels have puffed open, 45-50 minutes. Drain any excess water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a six quart stockpot, heat butter over medium-high heat; sautee mushrooms and onion for five minutes. Stir in rice, chicken, pimiento, parsley, pepper, broth, cream and remaining salt.

Transfer to a three quart or 13x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds. Bake, uncovered, until heated through, 50-60 minutes.


This recipe is very creamy and calls for a lot of ‘cream of’ soups. A while back I talked with someone who doesn’t like cream of ‘yada yada’ soups. This one is for you!  :)

1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of onion soup, undiluted
5 oz. process American cheese  cubed
1/3 c. mayonnaise
3-1/2 to 4 c. shredded cooked turkey
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen broccoli florets or cuts, thawed
1-1/2 c. cooked white rice
1-1/2 c. cooked wild rice
1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 jar (4 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained
1-1/2 to 2 c. salad croutons

Combine the soups, cheese and mayonnaise. Stir in the turkey, broccoli, rice, water chestnuts and mushrooms.
Transfer to a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes; stir. Top with crumbled croutons. Bake until bubbly, 8-12 minutes longer.


1-1/2 c. uncooked multigrain bow tie pasta (about 4 ounces)
1 lb. Italian sausage (I prefer spicy, but any works)
1 c. sliced fresh mushrooms, divided
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 jar of favorite spaghetti sauce (20-24 oz., depending on brand)
1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet coated with cooking spray,  crumble beef with 1/2 cup mushrooms, onion and green pepper cooking over medium-high heat until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes. Stir in seasonings and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

Place pasta in an 8 inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with meat sauce and remaining mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.
Bake, covered, 35 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes.


Of course I love the standard tator tot hot dish, but I’m always looking for ways to make things just a bit healthier without sacrificing some of the goodness that comes with the original version, and I think this strikes a perfect balance. It’s got some healthier elements while still maintaining the creamy, meaty goodness of a tator tot hot dish.

1 lb. lean ground beef (90% lean)
1/2 lb. extra-lean ground turkey
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
3/4 c. french-fried onions
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 c. fat-free milk
4 c. frozen Tater Tots, thawed

In a large skillet, cook beef and turkey over medium heat until no longer pink. In a 13x9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer the meat mixture, vegetables and french-fried onions.

In a small bowl, combine soups and milk; spread over onions. Place Tater Tots on top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until tots are golden brown, 55-60 minutes.

TFD: It's all about your mindset. Believing things can happen usually makes them happen because having that belief will allow the solutions to come up when times are tough.

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