It's no secret that we have some dietary restrictions in our house. Out of our 5 kids, 3 have food allergies. One is allergic to dairy and bananas, another to peanuts, tree nuts, bananas, mango, kiwi, avocado, and possibly shellfish, and then Raya is allergic to wheat, rice, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, oats, and shellfish, and there are others that we avoid. In addition, when our youngest was a couple months old, I had to go off of dairy because when I had any, it did terrible things to her. She was on breast milk for about 21 months so I was off dairy almost that long, and when I stopped pumping for her, I just didn't go back to drinking milk because I realized my body felt better when I wasn't drinking it. (I did go back to sour cream and cheese because we eat a lot of Mexican food and Mexican food is LAME without dairy.) Over the last few years, the menu in our house has changed drastically from what it used to look like. There are a lot of meals we used to eat often and love, but there's no way to alter them to accommodate everyone's food allergies so I just stopped making them. There are others that I probably could figure out a way to alter, but didn't see a point since the kids I would have been altering them for weren't interested in eating those things anyway. Now we're to a point where there's enough interest in eating what we're eating that it's worth reworking some of the things I used to make so that all of us can eat the same meal.
Tater tot casserole is one of those things. It has all of Raya's favorite things in it: tater tots, potato, and beef. (her grandpa is a 4th or 5th generation farmer so the meat & potato thing is part of her genes) Most of the recipes for tater tot casserole use canned cream of mushroom soup. When I used to make it, I made a white sauce with butter, flour, and milk, and used that in place of the canned soup because I liked the flavor better and there's not nearly as much sodium. Then when I had to go off of milk, I would still use butter to make the roux but I'd sub beef or vegetable broth for the milk when I made the sauce. That adds SO much more flavor to the sauce and it was great that way. When I made it that way, I would just cook some tater tots separately for Raya since she wasn't really interested in the rest of what was in the pan and loved tater tots. Yesterday I decided to make it for the first time in goodness knows how long, and I knew Raya would be ready to have some too, so I decided to make it wheat/gluten free so she could try it. She loved it, and so did everyone else! It will be part of our rotation from now on.
Here's the recipe:
Allergy-Friendly Tater Tot Casserole (GF/DF)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced or grated
1 lb ground beef
1 medium potato, finely diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup frozen corn
2 cans beef broth (low sodium)
3 Tbsp potato flour (or rice flour)
Tater tot crowns
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sauté diced onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add ground beef and season as desired (I used Mrs. Dash Roasted Garlic and Herb and Mccormick Montreal Chicken seasonings). Cook until beef is browned through. Add diced potato (I diced them into tiny pieces, about 1/8 inch) and sauté until they start looking cooked, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle potato flour over the mixture and stir until beef is coated evenly. (We use potato flour because of a rice allergy but rice flour would probably work too.) Add broth and stir well. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken a little. Add carrots and corn. Stir to mix evenly and then pour into a foil-lined 9x13 pan. Cover with an even layer of tater tot crowns. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.