Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole

Doug's Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole

Doug’s Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole

The Marine Corps, like most military services, has an acronym for everything. Taken from that elite fighting force borne from legendary Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, today’s nom du jour is SMEAC. This is the process Marines use to start planning any and every mission. It gets complicated from there, but this is how everything starts. It works.  And – this process can be used for almost anything that requires planning.  Check out how SMEAC saved the day at today’s church breakfast.

Situation: The monthly United Methodist Men’s Breakfast at church today was going to be short a few cooks. The meeting was in danger of running out of food. (We Methodists can’t seem to do anything without a ton of food!)

Mission:  Produce a breakfast dish that would feed a dozen or so hungry men whose culinary preferences included the likes of frozen, pre-made biscuits and over-fried scrapple.

Execution: Wake up at 5:30 AM and start the recipe, borrowed from the official Ore-Ida website.

Administration: T-24 hours, put the shopping list on the iPhone; go to the grocery store and pick everything up. At 0600 Saturday morning, pre-heat oven and begin prep. Casserole must link up with oven at 0630 in order to ready for transport to the church at 0730. Breakfast commences at 0800.

Command and Control: Set timer for 30 minutes; check casserole at 0700; adjust oven temperature, if needed.

So, how did my extraordinary planning work? Not so well.

First, I forgot to buy one key ingredient from the original recipe (herb seasoned stuffing mix, something we always have in the pantry – except today.)

Second, I woke up late. Only thirty minutes late, but still – late. In Marine Corps parlance, I was UA (unauthorized absence) and in danger of being brought up on Article 15 charges by the CO, who was still upstairs getting ready for the day.

Time was running short. What to do?

In keeping with the theme of using acronyms, the only option was to use the TMDMP, or the “typical man decision making process.”

In other words – just add more cheese. And bacon.

The breakfast was a success, in part to the extra cheesy-ness of this simple to make, hot and bacon-laden casserole. Try it!

Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole


1 pound bacon

1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons of butter

2 pound bag of tater tots

2 cans of condensed Cream of Chicken soup

8 oz of sour cream

16 oz of shredded Cheddar cheese

8 oz of shredded Colby cheese

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

Ground black pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In one pan, start cooking the bacon.

In another pan, saute the chopped onion with the butter

While these are in process, spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray.

Put the tater tots into the glass baking dish; spread them out as evenly as possible. Let them start to warm up to room temperature.

By now, the onions should be starting to brown. Take them off the heat and set them aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.  Watch the bacon; it is probably just about done cooking.

Go ahead and take the cooked bacon out of the pan and set on some paper towels to help drain the excess grease. Try not to sample. Okay, just one. Maybe two. Stop right there – save the rest for the casserole.

Now, crumble the cooked bacon and spread evenly on top of the tater tots.

Mix the sauteed onions into the cheese mixture and spread evenly on top of the tater tots and bacon.

Say a quick prayer and place in the oven. Cooking time is 60 – 70 minutes, more toward 70 than 60. Just don’t let the cheese on top burn too much.

By the time you brew the coffee, feed the dogs and check your Facebook account, the cheesy tater tot casserole will be just about done!

After you pull it from the oven, you should probably let it rest for a few minutes – especially since we are talking about molten cheese. Then again, is there such a thing as too much melted cheese? And hot bacon? I am not responsible for the consequences but go for it if you dare!

I did!

Happy eating!


3 thoughts on “Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole

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