I started by pulling out my lasagna pan. I was going to make a large pan of this delicious mess, so we’d have leftovers for several meals. It was a busy summer and we just hadn’t had time to cook. We dine out way too often. So having leftovers to microwave was a good idea. And we could freeze some portions if it came to that.I sprayed the pan well and started with a layer of tater tots. I used one of the bags and it didn’t quite cover the bottom. If you’re in a place that doesn’t have tater tots, hash browns would be a good substitute or even cooked, diced potatoes. Even cooked rice would be a good substitute for a nice change. I’d asked my P.S. (Purchaser of Spinach/hubby) to bring home a bag of spinach. You don’t usually find spinach in a tater tot casserole but why not? We’ll call it the adult version. I like to add it to a variety of dishes where you wouldn’t normally find it. It’s the “surprise!” vegetable! I chopped it roughly and added half of the spinach to my pan. Next came a layer of half of the chicken I’d roasted and chopped several days previously. I also had chopped up and fried a package of bacon until it was browned and crispy for another meal. That was one of those nights we dined out instead so my tater tot casserole would benefit from that evening’s change of plans. I sprinkled half of the fried, crispy bacon into my pan. I sprinkled a half cup of frozen corn and a half cup of frozen peas over the layers, wanting to somewhat stick with some of the traditional ingredients to a tater tot casserole. My Mom used frozen mixed vegetables but I’ve never liked the green beans in that mix. Love green beans, don’t love them frozen. They squeak and can be rubbery. I spread 2 cups of shredded cheese over the layers, using what I had opened in my cheese drawer. It was a motley mix of Monterey Jack, Colby Jack and Mozzarella. Any cheese would do. I almost threw in some White Cheddar as well but decided I had added enough cheese already. Emptying the soups into a pitcher, I whisked 3 cups of milk into the soups. I’ve mentioned we rarely use canned soups but this time I was going to forgive myself and take the easy way out. Pouring half the mixture over the layers, I sprinkled the top with black pepper and was ready for the second round. I layered the remaining ingredients into my pan and it was nice and full and high. I could already picture the golden goodness when I pulled it out of the oven! But first I had to put it IN to the oven, which I’d preheated to 375°F. I covered my pan with foil and set the timer for an hour. At an hour I uncovered the pan and let it cook for another hour. It was golden brown in places on top and smelled heavenly. Was it good? Of course! Tater tot terrific-ness! I liked the addition of bacon that made it quite different from the usual tater tot casserole. And the spinach of course. We had casserole for several meals, heated in the microwave. So very handy when we come home late and don’t have time to make a whole meal!
Chicken Bacon Spinach Tater Tot Casserole
2 32 ounce bags tater tots
4 cups diced roasted chicken breasts
1 bag baby spinach; roughly chopped; divided
12 ounces bacon; diced and fried until brown and crispy
1 cup frozen peas; divided
1 cup frozen corn; divided
4 cups cheese (I used Colby Jack, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3 cups milk
black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Spray bottom and sides of a lasagna pan (roughly 11×15-in pan).
Layer one bag of tater tots evenly over the bottom. Layer half the chicken, half the spinach, half the corn, and half the peas into the pan.
Sprinkle with 2 cups of cheese of choice.
Whisk soups and milk together and drizzle half of the liquid over the contents of the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Repeat layers.
Bake covered with foil for 2 hours. Uncover and cook another hour or until heated through in the middle.