Counter Action: Taco tater-tot casserole

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There are some recipes that are all fancy and pretty and lovely. Those are the recipes you trot out for birthdays and baby showers and in-laws. Things like cherry–almond muffins, and grapefruit–olive oil tarts, and chocolate–tahini challah buns.

Wait. Why are all of my examples sweet things?

Dang Sugar-Free January. It’s got me all muddled up. Last week I ate a freakin’ banana and it was almost too sweet for me.

A banana. I know. Send help.

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“Ba-na-naaa …”

This taco tater-tot casserole is not pretty, but boy howdy, is it yummy. In fact, those are the two reasons I never got a picture of it: I couldn’t figure out a way to pretty it up, and a whole 9″x13″ pan disappeared in about two days.

I know. I have a problem. But when it’s a cheesy, meaty, spicy, filling, hot-dish problem … that’s a problem I can handle.

So, no picture today. And no written recipe, either, since I wouldn’t add a thing to the original. Instead, please enjoy the very pretty picture above of Castelmezzano, Italy, and then go on over to The Girl Who Ate Everything and check out the original recipe for taco tater-tot casserole.


Image credit: Castelmezzano from 12019 and minion from Alexas_Fotos, both on Pixabay.

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Counter Action: Vegetarian meatloaf with apricot barbecue sauce

“What is that?”

“What’s in it?”

“… uh. Okay.” *backs away slowly*

You may be looking at this recipe through narrowed eyes. You may be tempted to skip it altogether. Perhaps you remember an unfortunate encounter with a veggie loaf that jiggled when you poked it.

This veggie loaf is 100% jiggle-free, I promise. Unlike my middle, which appears to have gained 14 pounds in the last year.

I know. What the heck. And I’m not even pregnant. I would make excuses, but … there just aren’t any excuses to be made. I’m just going to have to cut out whole milk and Chick-fil-A and orange rolls and all the other joys in my life.

This veggie loaf will help. It’s full of eggs and walnuts and breadcrumbs and other good things, and the barbecue sauce is tangy and sweet. Perfect for a cold winter evening.

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Vegetarian meatloaf with apricot barbecue sauce

Ingredients:

Loaf:

  • 1-1/4 c. breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sage
  • 3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 T. dried parsley
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten

Sauce:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 6 T. apricot jam
  • 4 T. ketchup
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Mix breadcrumbs, walnuts, salt, onion, sage, cheese, garlic, parsley, and eggs until combined. Transfer to loaf pan.
  2. Combine oil, lemon juice, apricot jam, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, and oregano. Spread over top of loaf.
  3. Bake at 350°F until knife inserted in middle comes out clean (could be 40+ minutes). Enjoy with potatoes and something green.

Counter Action: Tomato–corn pie

tomato corn pie

For some people, summer means bikinis, which means diets and special workouts.

If you are one of those people, this pie is not for you.

Mayonnaise + cheese + butter = embrace the inevitable curves, my friends.

Don't let the media get you down, sandstone. Real geological phenomena have striations.

Don’t let the media get you down, sandstone. Real geological phenomena have striations.

For the rest of us, summer means tomatoes, corn, basil, zucchini, cherries, and a host of other edibles, which we embrace both in their raw, uncomplicated forms and in forms involving as much dairy as we can get our hands on.

This is our pie.

Tomato–corn pie

(From Smitten Kitchen’s indomitable recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1¾ tsp. salt, divided
  • ¾ stick (6 T.) cold diced butter + 2 tsp. melted butter
  • ¾ c. whole milk
  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1¾ lb. tomatoes
  • 1½ c. corn (equivalent to about 3 ears), divided
  • 2 T. chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 T. chopped fresh chives, divided
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 1¾ c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

Directions:

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Cut in cold butter until well blended. Mix in milk to form a firm dough.
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll out to form two 12-inch circles. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato. Immerse in boiling water bath for 30 seconds. Remove and plunge into ice bath to facilitate peeling.
  5. Remove skins and seeds from tomatoes, and slice into quarter-inch rounds. (This process might seem tedious, but trust me, you want to remove all the moisture from the tomatoes that you can. Removing the skins makes the tomato chunks more tender.)
  6. Remove pie crust from fridge. Place one crust in 9-inch pie pan, trimming edges as necessary.
  7. Arrange half of tomatoes in pie crust. Top with half of corn, basil, chives, pepper, and cheese.
  8. Layer other half of tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, pepper, and cheese in pie crust.
  9. Mix mayonnaise and lemon juice together. Spread evenly over pie filling.
  10. Place other pie crust on top and pinch edges to seal. Cut several steam vents and brush with melted butter.
  11. Bake at 400°F for 30–35 minutes, until golden brown.
  12. Remove, cool, and serve with a green salad.

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Photo credits: Sandstone from tpsdave on Pixabay.