Doom doom doom doom … really? No fans of Invader Zim? Huh. Anyway.
This casserole is awesome-slash-ridiculous. It was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Nuclear Toast. As soon as I saw it posted, I knew it had to be a poker night dish. The guys that come over for poker night are my guinea pigs for food I’d like to try and cook, but can’t bring myself to make it for just the husband and I.
My casserole has the basic same ingredients as the original, except I used ground beef, and I used homemade macaroni and cheese.
First, I put the tater tots in the oven at 400 degrees, to get them cooked through, and somewhat crispy.
While those are cooking, I cooked 1.25lbs of ground beef with half an onion, diced, and a generous sprinkle or twenty of seasoning salt.
Mmm, meat. As exciting as that is (okay, I know it’s not really, but you get step-by-step instructions regardless of how easy it is!), the best part was making the macaroni and cheese. Now, I’ve never made homemade mac and cheese, as my husband insists he doesn’t like it. He is a liar, because as soon as he saw me making it, he started hovering over the oven every time he got up. I have now decided that I will no longer listen to him when he tells me he doesn’t like things (note to husband: pretend you didn’t read that).
For the macaroni, I cooked a pound of elbows, and then made up a mixture of milk and cheese. If I were making the dish to stand on it’s own, I probably would have started with a bÃ©chamel sauce and gone from there, but for poker night this was good enough. I used two eggs, a cup of milk, and a pound of cheese consisting of mild cheddar, sharp cheddar and monterey jack, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and some garlic powder. None of the seasonings were measured, I just threw some in, and as I was stirring the mac and cheese while it was cooking, I adjusted the seasonings to taste.
About halfway through baking, this is how the macaroni looked. The cheese wasn’t fully melted, but I kept mixing it and eventually it did reach a smooth and creamy consistency. When it was all done, I layered the tots in a 13 x 9 baking dish, with the ground beef layered over that, and the macaroni and cheese topping it. Because everyone loves cheese, I added a layer of shredded cheddar on top for good measure. I threw all of that into the oven at 450 for about 20 minutes. When it was done, it looked and smelled amazing:
Surprisingly, it also came out of the pan pretty easily. I was half expecting it to fall apart, but it stayed in shape pretty well.
This went very quickly and people had bigger portions than I had expected; even though there was over 3lbs of food, there still wasn’t enough for everyone! A few people got stuck just eating brownies for dinner (aww, life is hard). I will definitely be making this again, most likely trying something different for one of the layers just to experiment.