Yesterday, JT and I took our boys out to Flea's house to cook, eat, and judge the dishes entered into the Embarrassing Dinner contest. The kids played in the backyard (the threatened rain didn't materialize until later), enjoying the unseaonably warm weather. Flea's husband Steve made himself scarce, and us womenfolks stayed in the kitchen (only Flea was barefoot, and none of us is pregnant), cooking all afternoon. As you can see in Flea's results post, we had a great time. It's always a laff riot when Flea and JT and I get together, but it was a near miracle that we didn't wet our pants from laughing so hard. The blurry photos are those taken when the person holding the camera was snorting, guffawing, or otherwise expressing deepest amusement.
What I learned:
• Nearly everything of a casserolish nature looks utterly disgusting at some point before it goes into the oven, and sometimes afterwards as well.
• Kids go nuts for hot dogs cut to look like octopi, and for green food. The nut has a zillion kid-tested ideas for quick-and-easy kid meals, and I think she ought to post them all at her blog, amid the political posts.
• Cooking is more fun with beer at hand.
• My child is an incredibly undiscerning eater. He was the only kid who was willing to try everything, and he even had extra helpings of the Jackpot Casserole and Cheesy Potatoes. (This amazed Flea and JT. But I take no credit for Ben's adventruous palate. He gets it from Mr. Tangerine, who has eaten Rice Krispies treats with mashed potatoes on top, and mac and cheese with raspberry vinaigrette mixed in.) Ben rubbed his belly and said "Mmm, delicious!" upon his first bite of everything, pronounced everything "super good," and was reluctant to play favorites. I swear this boy is going to end up in politics or sales when he grows up. He's a natural people-pleaser and schmoozer.
Edited to add the recipes (annotated):
Smussyolay's Cheesy Potatoes
1 16 oz container sour cream
1 1/2 bags of frozen, shredded hash browns (approx 2 lbs?)—we used one 30 oz bag of Ore-Ida hash browns)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 stick of butter/margarine
4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (more to taste)
Get greased pan/foil pan. Put hash browns in a large bowl. Melt butter. Add sour cream, mushroom soup, and melted butter to hash browns (mix the butter with the other goop first so it doesn't freeze solid amid the hash browns). Mix. Mix. Mix, until all hash browns have been covered in the ingredients. This is a slightly tedious process and may take awhile. Slowly add cheese once things are somewhat moist.
Put in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. You want them to be solid and slightly browned. You can add crunchy things on top like potato chips or those shoestring onions. (We didn't add crunchies, and there was really no browning. I recommend adding a brownable, crunchable topping; my sister likes this with crumbled corn flakes on top. Whatever you do, don't skip that sour cream. Yum!)
Midwestern Deadbeat's Mama's Chicken Pot Pie
4 c. chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (that's maybe about 5–6 chicken breasts)
1 c. chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Veg-All mixed vegetables
1 stick margarine, melted (we used butter)
1 c. milk
1 c. self-rising flour
1 t. baking powder
Mix first group together and pour in 9 x 13 Pyrex dish. Mix second group together and pour on top. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. (I think this recipe could use more seasoning. Despite all the canned stuff, amazingly, it wasn't too salty. But maybe add some black pepper. Also, we forgot this in the oven and cooked it about 15 extra minutes—didn't burn at all.)
Jen's Jackpot Casserole
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 T oil
1 package (20 oz) of ground turkey
1 can tomato soup
1 c. water
1/2 package egg noodles
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 can creamed corn
In large saucepan, saute onions in oil for 3 mins. until soft. Add turkey, can of soup, water, and noodles. Cook until noodles begin to get tender. Add creamed corn and shredded sharp cheddar cheese until just mixed. Pour into casserole and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. (The menfolk seasoned their servings liberally with hot sauce or pepper flakes.)