Alright, when did appliances get so polite? After several breakdowns, and maybe some tiny sparks, we’ve had to replace nearly every appliance in our house over the past year.
And we’re still amazed at the lack of claxon horns, buzzes and honks we were used to from our old timers. In fact, with all the chiming, pinging and singing our new stuff does, you’ll often find one of us standing in the middle of the kitchen, with our head cocked like a curious dog, trying to figure out which apparatus is signalling us.
I mean, seriously, our new washer and dryer SING US A SONG when they’re done. I love it. The old dryer sounded like an angry trucker honking at a slow-moving car in the left lane. The oven gently announces when it has reached the proper temperature. I know, right? You are all probably used to this by now, but we tend to squeeze every last bit of life out of our stuff, so we’re just reveling in this kinder, gentler technology. It makes me want to be more polite to the food I’m cooking. I gently massage spice into the chicken breast instead of shoving it around the pan. I didn’t even stuff the turkey at Thanksgiving – seemed too invasive.
But, now, the gloves are coming off, because it’s time for some down and dirty, heavy holiday food. My polite appliances will just have to avert their electronic eyes, while I make hefty party food. And I started with a doozy. At a recent potluck, despite the thousands of dishes loaded on the groaning board, only one dish attracted us back for seconds. It is humble, not too pretty and horrendously unhealthy – everything I love in a casserole. Key ingredient? Tater Tots, sausage and cheese. You’ve probably heard of the famous Crack Pie from the Milk Bar in New York City. But now you can introduce the Crack Casserole to your unwitting friends and family. And believe me, no one will be polite about fighting for the last spoonful.
You could certainly substitute 1 can of cream of mushroom soup for the white sauce and mushrooms, but hey, it’s the holidays – save it for that green bean casserole.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9X13 casserole dish with cooking spray.
1 1/4 cup milk
1 bay leaf
pinch of nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan over low heat, gently simmer the milk, onion, bay leaf and nutmeg for 15 minutes. Remove the onion and bay leaf. Meanwhile, melt the butter over low heat in another saucepan, stir in the flour and cook 2-3 minutes, until it’s smooth, but not browning. Remove from heat. When the milk mixture is ready, whisk it into the flour mixture and return the pan to low heat. Cook and stir for about eight minutes, adding salt and pepper, until you have a smooth, thickened sauce.
12 sausage breakfast links, cut into bite-size pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 16-ounce bag of Tater-tots
Brown the sausage links in a skillet and place in a bowl. Drain off excess grease from the pan and add garlic, onion and mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms start to soften – about 6 minutes. Add to the bowl with the sausage. Gently mix in the white sauce. Pour into the casserole dish, sprinkle with cheese and top evenly with the potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are browned.