Chicken and Veggie Tater Tot Hot Dish

October 20, 2016
Chicken and Veggie Tater Tot Hot Dish - A healthier take on a comfort food classic made with chicken, béchame and veggies

“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn”   ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Brookside Park - October, 2016

Brookside Park – October 19, 2016

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It's been a season of stunningly beautiful weather in Iowa.

The time of year when the days feel particularly precious, because we know the rhythm of the seasons all too well.  There won't be many more weeks like this one.  Pretty soon the landscape will be entirely different: white and frozen, dotted with snowmen

As I type, I'm sitting at a picnic table at the park eating my lunch, Sally at my feet chewing her stick.  Recovering after being spayed and a huge bump on her head; we've purposed a few days of quiet.  It feels peaceful to be in this spot, bathed in molten sunlight, with bright yellow leaves drifting down from the maple trees.  Even the ground seems to glow and burn with light.

For as long as I can remember, October has been my favorite month.

How I loved coming to this very park as a young mom, pushing two little ones through the leaves in their stroller.  As they grew older the days of fall were filled with pumpkins to carve, Halloween costumes to make, and trick-or-treating until the last porch light had gone dark

Back then we lived beneath the shade of a maple tree, and there were so many leaves to play in

"Dear Mom - Can I help?" ~ Love, Sally

“Dear Mom, can I help?” ~ Love, Sally

Admittedly, I've felt weary this week; and just like my old neighborhood, this park always been a place of refuge for me: a place to be still, and re-find my center.

I've been thinking a lot about parenting as of late.  Autumn was always a good time to be a mother, and it's during this time of year that I find myself missing my now-grown children as they once were.

How I would love to relive our old apple-picking and pumpkin choosing traditions.  Truth be told, those years gave me permission to be a kid again myself; to spend hours stirring pots of applesauce on the stovetop, gathering walnuts, and pressing perfect red leaves between sheets of wax paper tucked into our fattest books.

Those days are but a memory now.  Instead, I remind myself that the task at hand is to lean as deeply as I'm able into the place I am today.  A chapter where it seems the past and present are layered together; the sum of so many yesterdays making the present

that much better

Chicken and Veggie Tater Tot Hot Dish - A healthier take on a comfort food classic made with chicken, béchame and veggies

In the evenings, smoke from our neighbor's fire pit brings back memories of gathering around our own backyard blazes.  Just as seeing tractors and combines in the fields brings me even further back in time, to Octobers as a child on our family farm.

I wonder, perhaps, if all autumn memories tend to be bittersweet?  Reminders that change is our only constant, and nothing lasts. That even the promises of unconditional love are subject to withdrawal, at a moment's notice.  In today's world, with a simple click of a mouse

“To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time to every purpose, under heaven”   ~ The Byrds 

Here, in the middle of my forties, these words have taken on a deeper kind of truth.  There's no holding onto the things of the past, no grasping for that which has already slipped away, along with summer's long warm days.

“There's only here

There's only now”     ~ Van Morrison 

Chicken and Veggie Tater Tot Hot Dish - A healthier take on a comfort food classic made with chicken, béchame and veggies

I'm always a bit greedy when it comes to fall.

Just one more trip to the farmer's market, a final bag of tomatoes, picking the last of the produce from the garden.  Visits with my grandchildren. A full harvest moon hanging in the sky.  A house filled with summer's final flowers

Most of all, long golden walks with my husband and the puppies at the park.

I'm so thankful to have gotten my wish

Chicken and Veggie Tater Tot Hot Dish - A healthier take on a comfort food classic made with chicken, béchame and veggies

Tater Tot Hot Dishes

They were one of my favorite things to eat as a kid.  Over the years they've maintained a soft spot in my heart.

To page through an Iowa country church cookbook, and you'll find a few different versions of this quintessential comfort food.  It's a staple at church basement potlucks.  Many would argue that one isn't a Midwesterner until you're able to properly apply a layer of tater tots to a 9×13 casserole dish of creamed soup.

A typical tater tot hot dish is made of ground beef and cream of something soup, along with peas or green beans under a bed of store-bought tater tots.

This version adds a healthier twist.  Inspired by Cook's Illustrated's recipe for chicken pot pie; it's made with from chicken, béchamel, and veggies.

Enjoy!

xoxo

~ Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Chicken and Veggie Tater Tot Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into ¼ inch-thick slices (frozen work great as well ~ 1 cup)
  • 2-3 celery ribs, chopped fine (~ ½- 1 cup)
  • fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 oz mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps wiped clean and sliced thin
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 4 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 1 cup milk (2% or whole are best)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ½ Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped (or 1 ½ Tbsp dried parsley)
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas
  • frozen tater tots

Instructions

  • Chicken
  • In a dutch oven over medium heat, add the chicken and stock.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and simmer until the chicken is just done (~ 8-12 minutes). Transferred the cooked chicken to a large bowl
  • Strain the broth, reserving the liquid (Don't wash the Dutch oven, we'll use it again soon)
  • Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400° F

  • Filling
  • In the now-empty Dutch oven, warm 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat
  • Add the onion, celery, a strong pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender (~ 5-7 minutes)
  • While the veggies are cooking, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces
  • Transfer the cooked vegetables to bowl with chicken; set aside.
  • In the now-empty Dutch oven, warm 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat
  • Add the mushrooms, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their juices (~ 5 minutes)
  • Add the soy sauce and tomato paste.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, mushrooms are well browned, and dark fond begins to form on the surface of the pan (~ 5 minutes)
  • Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with chicken and vegetables. Set aside.
  • In the now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the butter.
  • When the foaming subsides, stir in the flour and cook (~ 1 minute)
  • Add the reserved chicken broth and slowly whisk.
  • Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits, then continue to simmer until the sauce has fully thickened (~ 1 minute)
  • Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp parsley.
  • Add to the sauce the chicken/veggie mix, along with the peas

  • Finish and Serve
  • Pour mixture into 13 by 9-inch baking dish or 4-5 mini cocottes and cover with tater tots.
  • Bake on rimmed baking sheet until filling is bubbling and the tots are well browned (~ 15 - 20 minutes)
  • Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon parsley and serve
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Rating:
Calories 325
Total Fat 13.5g
Saturated Fat 3g
Carbohydrates 24.3g
Fiber 3.6g
Sugars 6g
Protein 27.7g
Print This Recipe

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37 Comments

  • Reply heydave October 21, 2016 at 10:17 am


    Wow! These photos are awesome, and the taters were great too.

  • Reply Karly October 31, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    This looks AMAZING!!! It’s like your typical tater tot casserole all glammed up, and I could not be any more excited about it. AND my kids will get their veggies without uttering a peep! Love!

    • Reply sexyveggie October 31, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      Karly .. Thank-you! It’s a fun one to make 🙂

  • Reply Freya January 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

    What a delicious looking recipe that I must try! and I love your intro, I love October autumnal months having said that, bring on 2017 Spring/summer!

  • Reply Debonita January 11, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    This looks so delicious. I have never tried something like this. I am going to make Chicken and Veggie Tater Tot Hot Dish this weekend. Thanks for the recipe. I love your presentation and photos.

  • Reply Amber January 11, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    This looks absolutely amazing, and perfect for cold nights! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Krista Dial January 11, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    This sounds divine. 🙂 Pinning and look forward to giving it a whirl in the coming weeks! I LOVE the name of your blog too, by the way! lol Eating more veggies is in my 2017 plan, for sure!

  • Reply Ali January 11, 2017 at 9:57 pm


    This looks like so much fun to eat! I love how you’ve styled/portioned it out. Also love the photo of Sally – that’s the look I get all the time from our lab mix, Daisy, when she wants to “help” cook. Definitely plan to make this!

  • Reply Annemarie January 11, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    I loved reading through your post. I can totally relate with you. Gone are the days when I had little hands to hold, walking in the park, picking wildflowers. My children are all grown up now and we are in a peri-empty nest stage of life. When I come across days feeling like this, I always prepare myself a meal that reminds me of those days when the kids were still little. Thank you for the recipe you added in the post. My grandchildren would love this. We are going to make many memories of enjoying this tater tot hot dish.

    • Reply sexyveggie January 12, 2017 at 2:02 am

      Oh Annemarie .. thank-you so much for your kind words.

  • Reply neha January 12, 2017 at 2:33 am


    omg this looks sooo tasty, can’t wait to try it!! thanks for sharing

  • Reply CATALINA NINI January 12, 2017 at 6:06 am


    Oh my God ! My heart melted when I saw your dog`s face expression ♥♥♥. Love your pictures and the recipe looks so yum,yum!

  • Reply Rachel January 12, 2017 at 10:55 am

    This looks like magic! I love tator tot casserole and this one is a must try for me! It’s like a tator tot pot pie!! Thanks for sharing! Pinning for later.

  • Reply Kristen Kavan January 12, 2017 at 11:42 am


    I have never made or heard of a tator tot dish before, but WOAH! This looks insane. I am a sucker for tator tots, now I can make it a whole meal! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Ana Ojha January 12, 2017 at 9:20 pm


    I loved the way how you’ve written this post! The dish looks absolutely delicious and thanks for sharing the recipe with us! Can’t wait to try this weekend!

  • Reply Angie January 23, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Ooooh, that looks so tasty. I love Tater Tots, so a good Tater Tot dish is a good idea to add to my list of “to-make” food! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Reply Lynne Harper May 4, 2017 at 5:23 am


    oh my this looks incredible, great for this time of the year as well 🙂 i do love a goodHot Pot yum 🙂

  • Reply Leighanne M May 4, 2017 at 5:27 am

    The dish looks absolutely delicious, would definitely batch cook it and place some in the freezer. Wil be pinning for later for sure!!

  • Reply Jenny May 4, 2017 at 7:51 am


    This dish looks amazing and would be perfect for today, considering it’s only 54 degrees, here in Missouri. I love tater tots, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve had them and to add them on top of a soup…that’s so different!

  • Reply Jessica Hughes May 4, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I absolutely love your style of telling a bit of a story from your life along with your recipes. Autumn can tend to be a little of a bittersweet time for me as well, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that spring always seems to be a time of new beginnings while fall tends to feel a bit like the start of an end. This tater tot hotdish looks so utterly fantastic! I love how your twist on the classic is a healthier version.

  • Reply Roger D Willis May 4, 2017 at 2:25 pm


    This Chicken & Veggie Tater Tot Casserole looks so delicious! I save recipes when I see something that catches my eye. I’m saving this for down the road, maybe when the leaves start to turn? Your pictures look amazing too!

  • Reply Jenny May 4, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve never heard of Tater Tots before but this dish sounds delicious!

  • Reply colleen wool May 4, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    My family loves potatoes made all kinds of ways. But they especially love tater tots. I will be making this delicious looking recipe. It looks seo easy to make, I cant wait to try it out.

  • Reply Censie Sawyer May 4, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    What a creative dish. I think my whole family would enjoy this and I could totally sneak in lots of veggies with out my kids knowing. Love dishes like that! Thanks for the yummy recipe idea.

  • Reply Jennifer Pilgrim May 4, 2017 at 11:36 pm


    Your days in Iowa sound quite enjoyable and beautiful. I think all of my family members would love waking up to this in the oven. Tater tots are a new fad in casseroles and I am loving it.

  • Reply Lian May 5, 2017 at 8:48 am

    This dish looks amazing! I would love to make this dish on a rainy day like today to warm me up and make my evening brighter. Ièm not sure if there would be any leftover for the rest of my family. 😛 I loved the shot of your dog eyeing the tater tot. It was classic!

  • Reply Amanda Kee May 5, 2017 at 10:42 am


    This looks and just sounds amazing! Comfort food all the way! I can see me curling up on the couch with a big bowl of this! =D Can I also say, those little dishes are just too darn cute! May I ask where you got them?

    I am totally going to try out this recipe! I think the boys will enjoy it! =D

  • Reply Mellissa Williams May 6, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I hadn’t come across tater tots until I visited the US but they are a tasty snack. Like what you have done with them in this recipe

  • Reply Erinn s May 6, 2017 at 11:34 am

    What a clever idea. This would be a great way to use up veggies in the fridge at the end of the week

  • Reply Natalie May 6, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I can’t get over that picture of your dog…that is SO adorable!! I keep looking back at it and I laugh every time!! lol! On a side note, that looks delicious 😉

  • Reply Stephanie Usher May 7, 2017 at 5:25 am

    I’ve never seen anything like this before! Love the idea of having little tater tots on top of a casserole! xxx

  • Reply Tiffany May 7, 2017 at 12:31 pm


    These look like such fun to make and enjoy. I love the presentation too!

  • Reply Stephen May 7, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Oh mercy that looks amazing – it looks like the ultimate in comfort food. One for me to try! Stephen

  • Reply Elizabeth May 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    That looks delicious. Like proper home comfort food.

  • Reply chichi May 11, 2017 at 4:58 am

    your recipes and the presentation always makes my mouth water! miss autumn all the time!

  • Reply Ann Snook February 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Growing up in the Northeast, I’ve never technically had a “hot dish” before. But count me in for anything with tater tots! This sounds so comforting and warming for cooler weather.

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