Week 18 Food Challenge - Tater Tot Casserole

After failed timed challenges, wars with Fast Food icons, lactose when I know better, and more blog posts of “so I didn’t win this one” than I can count, I honestly can't believe that I haven't quit on these food challenges yet.  Don’t believe me?  Try to eat 510g of peanut butter and you’ll hate every bite, ounce, and gram of it too.  Then again, these food challenges have become a part of the routine.  If I didn’t do them, I couldn’t impress my wife with countless groans, hiccups, burps, and other unseemly noises that she only thought existed at the local zoo.  Growl, baby. So while I admit to being quite done with these challenges, I had to do something, so I went back into the “good old days” of Mom’s homemade cooking.  I pulled out her famous “Tater Tot Casserole” recipe.  You see, I grew up in a household with 10 other hungry kids and so my Mom had to cook for quantity first, quality second.  That’s not to say her food wasn’t amazing - it was (and I am desperately trying to protect my Christmas present this year).  It was just a matter of needing a lot of food for a lot of people.  We grew accustomed to casseroles, lentils soups, etc. And when you talk about quantity, you have described the Tater Tot Casserole.  The recipe is simple – 1 lb. ground beef, 1 lb. of tater tots, ½ lb. of cheese, and ½ lb. of cream of mushroom soup.  Can you say “thank you for Costco!”?  And between you, me, and the Irish Competitive Eater, that’s about 1,360g.  Boo ya. Maybe it was the fact that this was a food I grew up with.  Maybe I was just overly tired of food challenges.  But I didn’t prepare much for this week’s expedition.  I ate a normal breakfast (well, normal for me, Paul Bunyan, and Gaston (I have a 2 year old daughter…Beauty and the Beast is a mainstay in the house – get over it.  And shame on you for singing “when I was a lad I ate 4 dozen eggs…” in your head).  I ate a normal lunch as well.  And only an hour later, I had to squeeze this challenge in to an already hectic day.  So I threw the 3 lbs. of food together, cooked it up, and sat down to enjoy.  It only took me 13 minutes and 30 seconds.  Maybe the challenge was easy.  Then again, maybe my belly is big enough that I should start looking for a big Blue Ox as my sidekick.  Whatever the reason, a new reality has hit.  Where this used to be a meal for 10 hungry kids, I now find myself squeezing it into my day as a nice appetizer.  A 9x13 pan appetizer, yes.  But an appetizer, nonetheless.