Too Easy Hotdish

 

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Thoughts Prior to Cooking:

This recipe comes from the Hannah Swenson Mystery Apple Turnover Murder.

Hannah makes this dish for her boyfriend and sheriff deputy, Mike. Now before reading this book I had never heard of a hotdish, other than a hot dish, as in a dish that is hot. Apparently they are big in the Midwest and Northwest, but me being from California we don’t eat “hotdishes”, we eat casseroles. But I was willing to give it a try as to how they described it in the book made it sound extremely tasty.

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Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Cooking Spray or Butter
  • 1 and 1/2 lbs of Lean Ground Meat (such as hamburger, pork, chicken, turkey, sausage, etc. Make sure it is lean as the fat does not drain out of this dish)
  • 2 -12oz Cans of Cream of anything
  • 1 lb Package of Tater Tots
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Cheese (Be sure to use only one cup as too much can become an insulator and keep the bottom layers from cooking.)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° fahrenheit.
  2. Use the cooking spray or butter to coat a 9 by 13-inch pan.
  3. Put the ground meat in the bottom of the pan, spreading it as evenly as you can. Press it down with your hands or the back of a spatula.
  4. Spoon the two cans of cream-of-something on top of the meat. Make sure to spread it out as evenly as possible.
  5. Put the tater tots on top of the soup in a single layer. Spread them out as evenly as possible.
  6. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese.
  7. Do not cover your hotdish with anything. Slip the pan into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the tater tots are browned and crispy.

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Thoughts After Cooking:

In a way this particular hotdish is like the poor man’s Shepherd’s pie. Instead of mashed potatoes, tater tots, and instead of gravy, cream of something. I am not a fan of Shepherd pie at all, I can hardly eat it, but I did enjoy this Hotdish.

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The only thing that I thought was wrong with this dish was that it was rather plain in seasoning. I recommend using the Cream of Chicken and Herb, as the herbs really helped along with adding a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

It was very easy to prepare and I recommend it for those of you who’s hours are crunched (working moms and college students) and need a fast dish to make and make quickly.

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I didn’t include a picture as it doesn’t photograph well, but do not let it’s looks deter you. It does taste great.

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For more Hannah Swenson recipes, go to Christmas Cheese Rounds

For more cassaroles, go to Ratatouille

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Carrot Cake Murder

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Carrot Cake Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #10) by Joanne Fluke

I did not like this book.

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I thought the story wasn’t that good and very under developed. And that the author went for an easy ending, instead of creating something that made sense and was actually mysterious.

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This was extremely lackluster and boring.

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But review I must.

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Plot Synopsis:

So it is summertime and Lisa and Herb are having a big family reunion, inviting every single relation. It is a huge affair and Hannah, her family, and two boyfriends are also joining the crew.

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One person that Herb’s mom Marge’s long-lost brother Gus who took off years ago never to be found, ends up showing up to the party.

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He  said he was just in the area and happened among some flyers and thought he would join the group. He has a a lot of money and fancy suits.

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However, at the reunion a lot of old hurts come up. Gus was a master manipulator, a borrower and not returner, and a blackmailer. He has a lot of people that he has upset over the years.

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He asks Hannah for her special carrot cake as he just loves it, and Hannah gives him a whole one.

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The next day no one can find Gus for the group picture, so they of course send Hannah and she finds the dead body.

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So let’s start with what was wrong in this book.

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A) If It Is Such a Big Party With So Many to Feed, Why Are Hannah & Family & Boyfriends Included?

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I know that Hannah and such are great friends of Lisa and Herb, but it seems weird to invite so many non-family members to a family event. I mean it is not just a few people but Hannah, her sister Andrea, her husband Bill, their two children, Bill’s mother, Hannah’s mother Dolores, Hannah’s sister Michelle, Michelle’s boyfriend Lonnie, Hannah’s boyfriend Mike, Hannah’s boyfriend Norman, and Norman’s mom.

What?

Do they really need a dozen more people, at a family only event? No. And Hannah is helping to cook means she should come, yeah her but why are there 11 extra with her? It is just another plot by the author to have Hannah a part of everything that goes on in her town.

seriously

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B) Gus Just Happened To See the Reunion On A Flyer

Come on, Mack

Why do they have flyers to a family only event that they sent marked mailers to? You are not expecting the whole town to come, why paper the streets?

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C) Hannah Goes On A Huge Derail On the Size And Weight Of Hockey Pucks

What?

Sometimes I feel as if Fluke is paid by the word or something. She is constantly derail on the weirdest subjects, weird as in THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT! I’m tired of it, please STOP!!!!

Stop this stupid love triangle!

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D) Don’t Eat Hannah’s Food, You Will Die

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I’m pretty sure in every, single book the person dies eating Hannah’s food. All I can think is why hasn’t anyone made the correlation and Hannah have gone out of business already. Eat her signature dish and you might be signing your death warrant.

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E) Hannah Finds Another Dead Body

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In almost every book Hannah finds the dead body. It is boring! Come on Fluke, change it up.

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F) Mike & Hannah Drama Continues

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In every book Hannah complains about Mike not being a great boyfriend because he won’t let her investigate with him. What do you think Hannah, that any cop would love to have an amateur bungling things and getting evidence illegally. Listen up Hannah, why don’t you become a real cop or private investigator, and then Mike will leave you alone.

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G) Rocky Road S’Mores?

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Lisa makes a bar cookie she calls Rocky Road Bar Cookies, after the Rocky Road Ice-Cream.  She puts nuts, marshmallows, chocolate, etc.; the same ingredients in the ice-cream. Hannah tries it and says that it tastes like S’mores

What?

What kinda S’mores are you making Hannah? They don’t have nuts. And they have graham crackers in it instead.

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H) I Have Never Had A S’More Before

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Lisa tells Hannah she has never had a S’more before which makes no sense. Every store that sells food sells the fixing for s’mores. Hershey’s advertises it on TV as soon as we hit May, so does Honey Maid, etc. I cannot believe she has never tried a S’more “because she didn’t learn in girl scouts”. Get real.

seriously

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I) Red Velvet Cookies Cure Alzheimer’s

Come on, Mack

As someone who has multiple family members who suffer from the disease, words cannot describe how deeply hurt and offended I am at you even suggesting that, whether it is in jest or not.

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J) Randomness That DOES NOT ADD TO THE STORY!

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We spend too much time on random acronyms to remember Native American tribes, the Great Lakes, colors of the rainbow. Just stop!

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K) Mexican Hotdish Mexican Not Dish

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Your Mexican Hotdish isn’t even Mexican. Jack cheese? White rice? Fritos corn chips? Offensive to the Max! If anything it is Tex-Mex. Get it right.

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L) Don’t These People Have Jobs?

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Man Hannah and Norman spend so much time NOT working I wonder how they can provide for themselves.  I mean Norman just decides to fly to Atlantic City, doesn’t he need to work? Doesn’t Hannah? I mean it is one thing to work investigating around work, but these guys just totally disregard it.

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M) Exposition, Exposition, Exposition to Make the End Work

In the last 42 pages we get this big exposition rush about one of Lisa’s relations who is bad at the stock market and wasted away the money, mean to his wife, mad that Gus won’t give the money he borrowed from his wife back, blah, blah, blah. Listen Fluke, you do this a lot and it is horrible. I don’t know if you can’t decide on a killer or feel you need a “twist” for the reader but it is really bad, really bad.

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N) If He is So Horrible Why Are You Still Married?

What?

So Peggy is the wife of the murderer and the deliverer of the exposition about how Mac is totally the murderer. You go on about how horrible and threatening he is, why are you still married? Why don;t you leave.

And if you love him as much as you say and act, why are you so willing to give him up to the police. It just didn’t make any sense and felt like Fluke was rushed and just did the ending the night before it was due to print.

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O) Ross is Back

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This bland saltine of a man is back? Seriously? Come on, just stop. Isn’t it enough you have two guys fighting over Hannah, do we have to include another guy who is blander than a heart patient’s diet?

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Thoughts After Reading:

Hated it. Two out of Five stars.

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Candy Cane Murder

For more reviews, go to Grave Peril