Tuesday, September 27, 2011



But Jill, you may (or may not) ask, isn't it a little soon to have an anything week? I mean, you've posted two entries, you have three followers, and you're using a generic Blogger template. Also, aren't you a little bit concerned that if you post more entries about hotdish than anything else, you won't just have a Hotdish Week, but a Hotdish Blog?

Well, if danger is gasoline then I am the match, baby, and I won't even bother closing the cover before striking. It's September, I'm nostalgic for northwestern Minnesota in the fall, and I just found my stash of vintage cookbooks that I never use yet refuse to part with. For those of you that grew up on Beef-n-Tatertot Casserole and Cheesy Calico Bean Bake, here's a trip down memory lane. For the rest of you poor lost souls, I have created this handy guide. Feel free to print it out and save it for use in the field. The life you save may be your own.

We'll begin at the beginning.

Is it hotdish?
  • Are the recipe instructions simple? Will they fit on one side of an index card?
  • Do the ingredients have a long shelf life? Are most of them processed, canned, boxed, or frozen?
  • Is everything cooked together in a single baking dish or crock pot?
  • Is the seasoning limited to small amounts of salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion salt, parsley, oregano, Soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce?
  • Is there some form—or even multiple forms—of cream soup involved?
  • Is the main body of the dish potato, white rice, canned beans, or “noodles”?
  • Is it topped with one or more of the following: Fritos, saltines, Ritz crackers, tater tots, potato chips, chow mein noodles, a pound of cheese, or Durkee French Fried Onions?
  • Does the name of the recipe sound ethnic, but does the actual food item bear no resemblance to the cuisine of that or any other world culture?
  • Bonus points: Would it make chef Gordon Ramsay cry? Would he then recoil as if from a deadly asp, drop multiple f-bombs, overturn the dining room table, and vanish, wailing, into the frozen and godforsaken night? Well, uff-da, who died and left him in charge of what is delicious?
Did you answer yes to five or more of the following questions? Congratulations! You are in the presence of hotdish. I hope you brought your appetite!

Now that you understand the basics, here are some typical specimens, so you may better identify feral hotdish in the wilds of the buffet table. The following recipes have been copied verbatim from the Family of God Lutheran Church Cookbook, circa 1984. These are the dishes that were often served and eaten at the Sunday potluck dinners of my youth, were likely famed amongst the congregants, and requested time and time again, from people with names like "Alvira Petersen." Let this knowledge haunt you as you peruse them!

Broccoli Casserole
2 packages thawed broccoli, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup butter or margarine
Mix together:
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 16 oz. jar of Cheez Whiz
3 cups Minute Rice

Fold together, place in cake pan or glass baking dish. Cover with crushed saltine or Ritz crackers. Cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees.


African Chow Mein
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can chicken wild rice soup
2 cans water
1 ½ lb. Hamburger
1 onion or more
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup raw rice
1 to 2 tablespoons Soy sauce

Brown meat, onion and celery. Combine with remaining ingredients. Bake in slow oven at least 1 hour at 350. Slower baking is better. Cover top with chow mein noodles the last 15-20 minutes.


Mexican chicken casserole
1 chicken (cooked)
1 dozen tortillas
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 grated onion
1 can green chili salso [sic]
1 lb. Shredded cheese

Cut and cube chicken. Cut tortillas into small pieces. Combine soups, milk, onion, and salso [sic]. Put 2 tablespoons chicken broth—You know what? That's really all you need to know. I mean, cream of mushroom soup, in Mexican food? On what unholy plane does that make sense? OH MY GOD THE HUMANITY.

So there you have it: Hotdish 101. Join us for the next exciting installment, which will appear when you least expect it, and may or may not contain games and activities. I like to keep things unpredictable, to keep you off balance. It's all part of my tendency towards disorganization sinister plan for world domination.


  1. The dish is very important. I recommend using a vintage Pyrex container that matches the color of meat (or meats).

  2. Ew...and yet AWESOME.
    It's the "meat (or meats)" that makes me feel a little dizzy.

  3. This stuff is not food, it is cruel and unusual punishment.

  4. What is it about canned soup and Midwesterners?

  5. Anonymous, I think I speak for many Midwesterners when I say I have no earthly clue. After I posted this I discovered a recipe that called for five kinds of soup! FIVE! I'm pretty sure I heard the ghost of Julia Child shriek as I read it.

  6. Uff-da! I had no idea you were from Norway (please stop killing the whales).

    Love the hotdish! Thanks for those recipes. Brings back memories (the white trash cooking of my youth was Southern, but it's the same). I still make 'Frisco Tuna once in a while. I'm sure the residents of "'Frisco" would not recognize it, but in 1970s Louisville Georgia, it passed for what those fancy folks ate in San Francisco.

    And damn, is it tasty.

    Think I'll make it again soon.

  7. I was doing alright with the broccoli casserole until I hit the Cheez Whiz. God, I thought the Geneva Convention outlawed that shit. I'd rather eat a truck drivers hat.

  8. Lee...I seriously LOL'd. No joke: I actually scared Jeremy a little.

    FRISCO TUNA. Oh, heeeellllll no!