Dinner Dilemma ~ Tamale Pie


If I could give one DINNER DILEMMA tip it would be this:

Learn to improvise on recipes.

I think most people look at a recipe and see the specific ingredients and say oh I don’t have that, er um nope don’t have that either.  Take a closer look at the recipe and see how you can make it yours.  I have readers comment all the time telling me how they changed up one of my recipes, or should I say improvised!  I love that.  I am not offended in the least.  I want you to get around the table with your families!  That’s my passion, that’s my goal…if I can jump start that by giving you an idea of what to make for a meal, well then HOWDY!

If you don’t have a certain ingredient, then what is the next best thing.  Can’t find El Pato sauce then use enchilada sauce.  Only have whole canned tomatoes, not diced then use the whole and mash them up.  Don’t have a certain spice, well use another one of your favorite spices.  For example: no rosemary, use thyme.  No tarragon, use dill or cilantro.  No cumin use some chili powder.  Don’t have any saffron or it’s too expensive use turmeric. You get what I’m sayin’?

I want you to learn to trust your cooking, taste it, fiddle with it, and for God sakes always add salt!!

I understand, not all of you love food and cooking like I do.  It’s not your thing.  Eating is just what you do to stay alive. You eat to live. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? Just kidding. Well not really.  Who. Are. You. People.  I live to eat! I love to eat.  I know…some of you are my very bestest friends.  You know I love you.  I wish I had time to cook for you.  But I don’t.  So I’m hoping you read this and learn…..

 

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I’m going to give you a super duper, easy peasy recipe to start with.  You can build on it, or leave it as is.  I hope you love Mexican food like I do.  Tamale Pie makes regular appearance at our dinner table. The original recipe is from Pam Anderson‘s (not that Pam Anderson!) cookbook Perfect One-Dish Dinners.  I’ve made it so many times that I don’t even look at the book anymore I just sort of toss it together.  It’s always good, and filling, and my family loves it.  Score!

Here’s what you need:
Filling
1 pound of ground meat (This can be beef, chicken, turkey, pork, emu, camel…get what I’m saying any meat. If you like the meat you’ll like the end product. Use what you have on hand.)
1 16 ounce can of beans (Any beans. Black, Northern, Pinto. Or if you make your own beans 1 pound of cooked beans. You could even use a can of refried beans.)
1 16 ounce jar of salsa (Any salsa will do use what you have. 16 ounces = 2 cups)
1 cup shredded cheese (What ever you have. I have used sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, Colby Jack, plain old cheddar, white cheddar….)
Tamale topping
1 cup yellow corn meal
3 cups of water
salt
1 tablespoon chili powder, if you have it

 

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That’s it!  Five ingredients.

Now of course you can get fancy by adding garlic, onions, and peppers while browning the meat. Seasoning the meat with some cumin, and some more chili powder, or oregano.  Sprinkling the finished dish with chopped fresh cilantro, and serving with a side of guacamole, sour cream, and pica de gallo.

Just so you know we have eaten this dish simple with no bells and whistles and on nights when I have more time and the extra ingredients we have made it a Mexican feast.  Do what works for you.  This right here is easily a 30 minute meal or less start to table time.

I hesitate to give you a printable because I don’t want it to be a crutch for you, but I realize it may take you a few times of making this before it becomes second nature for you.  So here are a few step-by-step photos and a printable to get you started.

IMG_7012Brown one pound of ground meat, add in a can of beans (I usually drain and rinse mine, but you don’t have to for this recipe.), add 16 ounce jar of salsa.  Use your favorite, I have used salsa verde for this too! Let these ingredients simmer for about 5 minutes.

 

IMG_2577While your meat is simmering, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil whisk in 1 cup of yellow corn meal.  Cook until thick, if you like add in 1-3 teaspoons of chili powder to corn meal mixture.

 

IMG_2580Spoon cornmeal over meat mixture. As you can see I put cheese underneath my cornmeal topping, this is how I made it my own.  We love cheese so I add it under the corn meal as well as at the end ;)

 

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Smooth cornmeal over top of meat.

IMG_2583Sprinkle with one cup of cheese, and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and cornmeal begins to get a crust.  If you do not have an oven safe pan then you can transfer the meat to a casserole dish, cover with cornmeal, and cheese and bake it in the casserole.  Hopefully you have an oven safe pan because this eliminates dirtying another dish.

IMG_7026There you have it.  Dinner Dilemma solved.  We love to use tortilla chips as eating utensils for this casserole!  Who needs a fork, just scoop it right on the chip.  Mmmm so good!

 

 

I hope this helps you get an idea of how you can start to improvise with recipes to get dinner on the table.  If you have any advise or tricks I’d love to hear it!! Leave your 2cents below.  I would also love to have you as a guest blogger, if you have a recipe that is a go-to for busting the dinner dilemma blues, I would love to feature you!

Stay cool! It’s a scorcher out there.

xoxox, Sheila

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Comments

  1. 1

    I love this because it is exactly how I cook. Long before I started blogging I would look at a recipe just to get an idea and go from there. I’d never measure. I’d just taste a long the way. Didn’t have an ingredient and I’d substitute something else. It’s what makes cooking fun! And you mean to tell me there are people out there that don’t live to eat?!?! I cannot comprehend ;-)
    Des @ Life’s Ambrosia recently posted..Pulled Pork RigatoniMy Profile

  2. 2
    Robi Rau :

    Making this for dinner. Love anything with cornmeal! Thankyou!

  3. 3

    I would kill for a husband that would eat Mexican food… this looks out of this world!!
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl recently posted..Ask the Nutritionist: Interview with Lindsay of The Lean Green BeanMy Profile

  4. 4

    Ooh, this looks fabulous! We love Mexican food around here so I will definitely be making this soon! :)
    Sarah @ The Chef Next Door recently posted..Chicken Salad with Pecans and Tart CherriesMy Profile

  5. 5

    I’m with Des, and I’m a winger when it comes to following recipes, always embellishing with a little more of this or that. Until it comes to baking and then I’m like a little puppy dog following mama. Love this recipe, I crave these tastes all season long.
    Heidi @foodiecrush recently posted..Greek Pasta SaladMy Profile

    • 5.1
      Sheila :

      I’m pretty much a winger over all in the kitchen. I do stick closer to baking recipes, but I have to admit I’m a bit of a rebel with baking too! Thanks for stopping by! xox Sheila

  6. 6

    You are speaking my language girlfriend! We eat at least 3 Mexican inspired dishes a week in our household. I seriously can’t wait to make this!

  7. 7

    Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeila… I think this is on the menu for this week! Looks so good! Thanks friend!
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} recently posted..Homemade Blueberry MuffinsMy Profile

  8. 8

    This looks great, darling; such an easy weeknight dinner that the whole family will love! Have a great weekend.

  9. 9

    I think my kitchen is the only one ever not to have a “Grandma’s” cast iron frying pan….I am so regretting that I did not buy one at one of the Cracker Barrels I visited during the last 2 weeks! Woo hoo, summer driving!
    I will definitely remember this the next time I’m on the road… or maybe the web….
    Looks delicious I’m going to try this recipe once Satan takes his weather back!
    Melissa M recently posted..You would not believe the year I have hadMy Profile

    • 9.1
      Sheila :

      OH you really do need a cast iron skillet I use mine everyday! You can find them nearly every where, I recommend the Lodge brand. Safe Travels!

  10. 10
    Aggie :

    I kid you not – I was staring at a canister of cornmeal in my pantry just this morning and wondering what the heck to do with it, I don’t cook with it often! This looks so good!!
    Aggie recently posted..Cheesy Black Bean and Corn EnchiladasMy Profile

    • 10.1
      Sheila :

      I’m pretty sure you better stock up on the cornmeal because your family, if they love Mexican food, is going to love this!! :)

  11. 11
    Carolyn :

    I always loved Mexican food but I have been diagnosed with multiple food sensitivities. I am gluten and corn sensitive in addition to many other things, including dairy. I can substitute the cheese with a cheese alternative but I don’t know what to substitute for the corn meal. Do you have a suggestion?

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