Sunday, March 15, 2009

Out to dinner, the nontraditional way!

A friend of ours just bought a home. Congrats Mary Anne! We sold her some of our furniture we hadn't gotten around to getting rid of. Saturday afternoon, she needed some assistance from Peter setting up the furniture and we brought her dinner kind of as a housewarming gift. Who wants to cook dinner after moving stuff all day. It was nice to get out of the house. It was also nice to eat dinner with someone else. She is a great friend to our family. Food + friends = Fun!
I had made a huge batch of beef stroganoff Wednesday, we brought those leftovers for the adults. (It's actually a pretty plain recipe. I think I'm going to look for a better, more flavorful recipe.) And, for the kids, I brought a Tater Tot Casserole. It isn't highbrow food. My friend Karen Blackmer, also a great cook, gave me the recipe. But it is a treasured recipe at our house. The kids see it and celebrate. They say, "Yes! It's tater tot casserole." It makes a huge 9X13 casserole dish; it's really heavy. And, generally doesn't last. The whole thing was pretty much gone in one sitting. Steven and Bekkah had big seconds. I liked it better than my beef stroganoff. I also brought jello salad. It's called Magic Jello Mousse. It's so easy and tasty. Ethan liked it so much when I made it Wednesday, he ate 3 servings of it, got all messy and wiped his face all over Bella's fur. She makes the best napkin! The jello is magic because it separates into 2 layers. It looks pretty cool, if you're a kid!
Our goal is not to eat out so much. We're ratcheting down the finances, cutting out the extras. I am going to get creative with our eating out. I really enjoyed going to someone else's house to eat. We might have to schedule another date with someone else. Let me know if you are interested! I'm more than happy to bring the food if you will host us.
I thought I would share the recipes with you. I'm sure many of you have a good recipe like that. But, until a few years ago, I had NEVER had tater tot casserole. I really like this one, though. Hope you enjoy!

Tater Tot Casserole
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic
2 cans cream of mushroom soup + 1 soup can of milk
2 cans of drained green beans
1 package potato rounds (they are like mini-sized tater tots shaped in the size of a quarter)

Brown ground beef, onions and garlic. Spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick spray. Cover the bottom of the pan with the potato rounds. Next layer the meat mixture. Then cover with the green beans. Next, combine the soup and milk and mix well. Add the soup mixture on top of the green beans. Then, layer the potato rounds on top. Bake uncovered at 400 for 45-60 min. or until the tater tots are golden brown. Eat with lots of ketchup!

Jello Magic Mouse
3 cups boiling water
1 pkg. (8 serving size) Jello, raspberry or strawberry is great
1 tub (16 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed

Stir boiling water into dry gelatin mix in a bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Add whipped topping to hot jello mixture; stir with a wire whisk until whipped topping is completely melted and mixture is well blended. (Mixture will still be thin.) Pour into a mold sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate 5 hours or overnight until firm. Unmold onto serving plate just before serving. Store leftover dessert in refrigerator. Makes 10 servings, 1/2 c. each. This dessert looks totally fancy but requires little effort and tastes great, if you like jello.

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