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US Cooking Tour Stop 16: Minnesota

 The only thing I know about Minnesota is that farm girl on the Food Network lives there and makes it look so charming. It seems like a nice place to visit, I've just never had any reason to go. Any place with the nickname "Land of 10,000 Lakes" seems like somewhere I need to go at least once. I bet there are gobs of secret spots to explore!  

The Midwest is known for all sorts of comfort food and Minnesota definitely didn't disappoint. Their signature dish is Hotdish, also known as Tater Tot Hotdish. Whatever you do, do not call it casserole when you're up there. Casseroles are for the south; hotdishes for the midwest. You learn something new every day!

Dessert was interesting and something I'd never heard of. But when you throw pudding and cookies into a bowl and call it a salad, I am sold! Cookie Salad is a dessert of Minnesota and apparently it's one of the only states you'll find it. It's super quick and easy to throw together and one of those things that will appease even the pickiest of eaters. It's delicious and even a kid could make it. I actually think this would be a perfect dessert to put your children in charge of this summer - they will love it! (I always like to let my kids cook and bake as much as they want during the summer - Life Skills 101 over here, guys. Boys who cook will become men who cook, and I think that is super important.) 

I've had hotdish - called tater tot casserole here in Oklahoma, one other time from a local Amish store that sells it in their ready-made-meals freezer, but it didn't hold a candle to this recipe. It was so flavorful! I can see why it's such a favorite in Minnesota - it will certainly keep you warm on those bitter cold winter nights.


  •  1 lb. ground beef 
  •  2 T. unsalted butter 
  •  1 c. diced yellow onion 
  •  4 large cloves garlic, minced 
  •  2 cans (10-oz. size) Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
  •  3 T. soy sauce 
  •  1 T. Frank's RedHot Sauce 
  •  1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 
  •  1/4 c. sour cream 
  •  2 tsp. dried parsley
  •  salt
  •  black pepper
  •  16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (I used frozen corn.)
  •  2 lbs. frozen tater tots  
  •  6 to 8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded 
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, season and brown ground beef and remove from the pan. Add 2 Tbsp butter and sauce onion and garlic until soft and translucent. 
  3. Add cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, hot sauce, and Wocestershire sauce and stir to combine. Then add your ground beef back to the pan and stir in sour cream, parsley and S&P.
  4. Level everything out and top with tater tots. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven, top with cheese and parsley and put back into the oven for 10 more minutes. Broil for a few minutes at the very end to get the tots nice and crisp.

Cookie Salad

  • 1 package (3.4 ounce) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained well
  • 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained well
  • 10 fudge stripe cookies, crushed

    1. In a large bowl, mix together the pudding mix and the buttermilk. It will be thick. 

    2. Fold in the whipped topping.
    3. Add in the pineapple and mandarin oranges and stir well. 

    4. Chill until ready to serve.

    5. Crush cookies and mix in just before serving. Reserve a few for garnish.

    I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.


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