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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

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Bad idea: swallowing a jawbreaker.
Bad idea: swallowing a jawbreaker.
My family's Day of the Dead altar.
My family's Day of the Dead altar.
I wasn't joking about the nuzzling gnome.
I wasn't joking about the nuzzling gnome.

Halloween reflections

Indeed, I have some fine memories from this weekend. I won the costume contest. I made an altar honoring my grandparents for Day of the Dead. A gnome nuzzled my bosom at a Halloween party at The Mad Planet.

But the story that I will tell for years to come from this weekend revolves around my 6-year-old son. While trick-or-treating in our neighborhood on Friday night, he received a massive jawbreaker wrapped in plastic.

"Look, Mom!" he squealed with delight. "I got a choking hazard!"

Classic Slice's Milwaukee pizza. Mmmm ...
Classic Slice's Milwaukee pizza. Mmmm ...

What would you put on a Milwaukee pizza?

Today, announced Balistreri’s as the winner of the "Slice of Milwaukee" pizza contest. Four pizzerias created a "Milwaukee" pizza, and although many of the recipes were very creative, one Talkbacker was amazed that not one of the competitors included Secret Stadium Sauce or brown mustard.

This got me thinking about other ingredients that could be put on a Milwaukee pizza. What about a fish fry pizza? What about a Harley pizza with gasoline in the crust?

Seriously, in your opinion, what is a must-have ingredient for a Milwaukee pizza?

Napoleon would love a "tot" casserole.
Napoleon would love a "tot" casserole.

Daily dish: Tater Tot casserole

October is Dining Month on All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

There are certain recipes that still sound delicious no matter how sophisticated your sense of taste becomes. Take taco dip, for example. The spicy, creamy potluck favorite is on the "guilty pleasures" list of some of the finest chefs I know.

This recipe for Tater Tot casserole is another one of those classic, Americana dishes that isn't healthy or gourmet, but if I whipped up a batch of it right now, you'd probably grab a fork and start eating it straight from the pan.

Because the Tater Tot is one of my most-craved foods, I have made many tater tot casseroles, but this simple guy remains my favorite. It's comfort food's finest hour.

1 32-oz. package frozen potato rounds
1 16-oz. container sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 small can French-fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch-baking dish. Arrange tater tots in the prepared baking dish. In a mixing bowl, combine sour cream, cheese and mushroom soup. Pour over the top. Sprinkle with fried onions and bake until onions are crispy and brownish.

Come to think of it, I could use a little fine-tuning myself.
Come to think of it, I could use a little fine-tuning myself.

Fine-tuning the children

Somewhere around 3 years old, my kids had a firm understanding of basic right and wrong. Now that they have the framework to grow into decent people (I hope), part of my job is to dial in the details.

By dialing in the details, I mean helping them to understand life's subtleties when it comes to communicating with others. For example, this morning I corrected my son when he said I have "fat eyes."

"Um, I think you mean 'big eyes'," I said.

"It's the same," he said.

"No, not really," I said, but then remembered a similar conversation a month ago, when I corrected him after he said his grandma had "big legs." I said he should say she had "long legs" instead of "big legs" because it was nicer.

I was sure he was going to ask me why big eyes are OK, but big legs are not, however, luckily, Mr. Rogers was visiting the dentist on TV and that trumped our kitchen chit-chat.

Later that day, more fine-tuning came when I told Kai we couldn't say "thumbs down!" and pump our tiny, stumpy digits towards the sidewalk whenever we saw someone wearing a political button for the guy we're not voting for.

"But we don't like that guy," he said.

"We keep that to ourself," I said.

"I thought we had to share," he said.

No one told me parenting 5-year-olds was like being permanently cast in a "Who's On First?" skit.