The Ugly Food Challenge.

Tator-Tot Hot Dish

I (Amy, a guest blogger from Jackson, WY) got yet another exciting opportunity to spend time with my best girlfriend. Liv snuck away from life in Boulder, CO to come play in Jackson Hole, WY. The week was  filled with snow covered mountains, big-horned sheep, moose, and other wildlife, snow-shoeing through the forests, solitude in hot springs, and the ever present sound of ‘click, click, click’.

I adore Liv’s photography. She captured precious moments from my wedding; a shaggy mountain goat suddenly becomes the most majestic creature on earth; seemingly ‘plain’ food (like an onion) becomes a work of art. She has a unique perspective of the world through her lenses and I never tire of looking at it.

Part way through her stay, a thought occurred to me. Now, not being a photographer myself, I cannot speak to the technical aspects of taking a praiseworthy photo. But, I thought, at least you are starting with an interesting or picture worthy subject. It is easy to make an elegant dessert look extra mouth-watering, right?

So, the challenge was issued: make ugly food look good.

It was bad enough that my dishes aren’t ‘pretty enough’ (or so I was told) but when my Minnesota DNA got the better of me, Liv was given the impossible of impossible: the classic Tator-Tot Hot Dish. And I was not settling for anything less that a masterpiece! ‘Fine,’ Liv says with a hu-rumph, ‘Challenge accepted.’ But, she needed the recipe to go with her photos. Recipe? What’s that? Here’s my best go at it:

The Recipe:

Tator-Tot Hot Dish
Serves: 6


1 can of cream-of-something-soup (I prefer cream of celery, but cream of mushroom is fine)
1 dollop of sour cream (1/4 cup? Beats me)
1 handful of cheese (don’t be skimpy here, you can never have too much cheese)
1 dash of Lawry’s seasoning salt
1 lb. or so cooked ground hamburger
3 cups Vegetables (my preferred combination is small cauliflower florets, thinly sliced carrots, 1 small onion chopped, fresh green beans, and frozen corn kernels; could also use mushrooms or peas). Pick the combination and ratios your family would enjoy. 

Step 1: Mix all ingredients together and back at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are almost cooked.

Step 2: Turn up heat to 450 degrees (or whatever temperature is required on the tator-tot package). Line top of hot-dish with tots and bake according to package directions.

Note from Photographer: When serving you can top it with sour cream, ketchup or cheese.