Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Cheese-Stuffed Tater Tots

I got this recipe out of my campus newspaper. Obviously I was attracted to absolutely everything about this recipe - bacon and cheese together? How could I not attempt to make this?

Stuff you should obtain:
24 Tater tots
12 strips of bacon
Cheddar cheese

Notes about ingredients: The recipe gives exact numbers, but what happened was I just used up all of the bacon in the pack, which was 15 pieces I think. You will have tater tots left over.

What you should do:
1) Preheat the oven!
Whaddaya know, I actually managed to remember this time! 450 degrees, do it! Also, spray a baking sheet with Pam, although that didn't really help me in the end. And make sure the baking sheet has sides! This became apparent to me after I took the tots out of the oven. But more about that later.

2) Prepare the tater tots!
You're supposed to cut a slit into partially defrosted tater tots and put a "chunk" of cheddar cheese inside. I put the bag of tater tots in the fridge to defrost, but that didn't really help until the tater tots had been left out for a good 10 minutes. So for the first few, I was hacking into the tater tot and ended up slicing them in half. As for the "chunk"s of cheese, I just grabbed some shredded cheese and shoved it in the slit, or between the tater tot halves. Shredded cheese got everywhere, so there was also cheese on top of the tater tot as well.

3) Prepare the bacon!
Take the strip of bacon and slice it in half. Take the half of bacon and wrap it around the stuffed tater tot. Stab a toothpick through it and place on the baking sheet.

4) Cook the deliciousness!
Place the baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes or until the bacon is crispy. For me, this was until the bacon was crispy, which was probably more like 20-25 minutes than 15.

5) Take out the tater tots!
Remember when I told you to make sure the baking sheet had sides to it? Well, if it doesn't, the grease from the bacon will begin to drip off the sides of the sheet onto the bottom of the oven. This will then cause smoke, which will then cause the smoke alarm to go off, which will then cause your apartment to smoke up and smell like bacon grease for the next three days. Then you'll need your friend with ninja skills to get the pan out of the oven without smoking up your apartment more and in the process he'll drip grease all over your kitchen and you'll end up serving the tater tots over your sink. So, yeah, make sure that doesn't happen.

6) Eat!
If you like bacon and cheese, you will like this recipe. If you don't like bacon and cheese, you'll still like this recipe, or at least that's what my bacon-hating friend told me.

Leftover Capability:
There were some tater tots leftover from the party, but I don't think this recipe will reheat very well. So no leftovers for you!

But What About My Money?:
Bag of tater tots$2.59
Shredded cheese$2.50
This recipe made about 30 bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed tater tots, so it comes out to about $0.30 per tot. Maybe not the cheapest thing, but definitely worth it for a cool party food.

Final Grade: A-
This recipe loses points for being really messy to create and for making my apartment smell like bacon grease for days. But it does make a delicious party snack and will earn you lots of points with your bacon loving friends.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Delicious Easy Chili

Last week I had a Super Bowl party for several of my friends. With food being the most important part of a football-related party, I was determined to make a good dish for everyone who showed up. This chili, taken from one of my mom's random cookbooks, was low maintenance and, more importantly, wonderfully tasty!

Stuff you should obtain:
2 lbs ground beef
2 16-oz cans kidney beans, drained
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
shredded cheese
3 cups uncooked rice

Notes about ingredients: The recipe called for an optional 2 teaspoons of salt so I added the mean amount. Also, make sure to remember the can of tomato sauce, as you don't want to have to run out the morning of the party to buy a 37 cent can of tomato sauce. My mother reminded me multiple times to drain the kidney beans thoroughly. I don't know what happens if you don't do that, but I wasn't willing to risk it. This is a very large recipe, as it has about ten servings.

What you should do:

1) Prepare the slow cooker!
What made this recipe so easy was the fact that my roommate owned an old Crock-Pot. A tip from my mother was to make sure to spray Pam on the ceramic bowl before putting all the ingredients in - it makes cleanup a lot easier, as all the food particles just slide right off.

2) Chop the vegetables!
Chop the onions and green pepper into medium sized pieces. The onions will likely make you cry, so be prepared for that. Also, for the uninitiated, "minced" means chopped really small, so this is the time to take two of the garlic cloves (or natural chunks of garlic) and cut them into really fine parts.

3) Brown the ground beef!
Just plop the beef in a large frying pan and stir it until there's no pink left. Make sure to drain off all the fat, especially if you bought a cheaper and fattier kind of ground beef.

4) Put it all in the cooker!
Just place all of the ingredients, besides the cheese and rice, inside the Crock-Pot. The recipe says to cook it on high 4 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Slower cooking will give the chili better flavor. If you happen to get up too late to start the chili 8 hours beforehand, you could do what I did and cook it for 2 hours on high and 4 on low. I did stir the chili occasionally while it was cooking, although that may or may not be necessary.

5) Steam the rice!
About 30-35 minutes before you're serving the chili, you should start to steam the rice. Essentially, just add the amount of water on the box, bring it to a boil, and then let the rice simmer until the water is boiled away. I used 3 cups of rice because I thought I would have a lot of people - it ended up being a little bit too much, so adjust the amount of rice to the people you're cooking for.

6) Eat the chili!
After the chili is done, just put some rice in the bottom of the bowl, then pour some chili over it. Add some cheese on top if you want to be super special. Congratulations, you have easily made delicious chili!

Leftover Capability:
This chili is supposed to serve ten. So if you don't have ten people - expect a lot of leftovers! The good news is that this chili tastes just as good reheated in the microwave.

But What About My Money?:
2 lbs ground beef$8.27
2 cans kidney beans$1.38
2 cans tomatoes$1.98
1 can tomato sauce$0.37
2 onions$2.24
1 bell pepper$0.50
1 bulb garlic$0.50
Box of Rice$3.79
Since this makes ten servings, each serving of chili cost $1.90 to make, plus a little bit more for the spices if you had to buy them. This means that this is an excellent choice for a cheap way to serve many people.

Final Grade: A+
I got a lot of complements on the taste of this chili recipe, and the price and simplicity make this an excellent recipe for a party, or just for making something with a lot of leftovers.