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Tamale Pie

Phew! Spring is here. Winter is gone. Hallelujah! Even though I’ve long for the green grass, blue skies, and warmer weather, I always have a sense of anxiety as Spring arrives, because with this season comes much activity. Four kids, four sports, plus two of my four are training for races they run in in the Spring. My day is relatively calm until school lets out then I begin the cycle of pick up drop, off, and car pools etc.

So when does dinner happen in all this hysteria?
When all activities are done for the night. Last night that meant dinner at 7pm. Another night it might mean we eat as early as 4:30 and then head out the door. It’s all about making mealtime together a priority. That means being flexible.
Since the kids were babies, I have always been very strict about meal times. We attempt to all sit down to dinner together four nights a week. I decided that we had to make this a priority, because of Ken’s whacko schedule. If Dad is home with us bonus, but if he is not then we still eat together, and someone else takes Dads place saying the mealtime prayer.

My kiddos LOVE tamales!! So I thought this would be the perfect alternative, since I have never attempted to make the real thing myself. We have a couple different friends that make them and we always are happy to take them off their hands. I am hoping to learn, how to make tamales, one of these days.

I found this recipe for Tamale Pie in Pam Anderson’s Perfect One-Dish Dinners. This is one of my favorite cookbooks. All the recipes are easy and full of flavor, and this recipe in particular is SUPER quick to make! Perfect for a night full of track, soccer, softball, running club, meetings, and trampolining!
Tamale Pie~ from Pam Andersons
Perfect One-Dish Dinners Cookbook
Being the recipe rebel that I am I modified Pam’s original recipe to the taste of my family. Pam and her daughters have a great website full of amazing recipes, you can find them at Three Many Cooks. But if you want the original recipe for tamale pie you might have to buy her book. I promise you won’t be disappointed!


Tamale Pie
1 1/2 pounds ground Chicken or Chicken breast cut into very small pieces
1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon Chili Powder, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Cumin Powder, divided
1 16 ounce can Pinto Beans drained and partially mashed
1 16 ounce jar store-bought Salsa (2 cups) I used medium spice Pace chunky salsa.
1 can Green Chiles, undrained
1/2 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped and divided
1 cup Cornmeal
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese
Adjust oven wrack to upper middle position and turn broiler on.
1. In a 12 inch ovenproof skillet cook chicken over medium-high heat, salt to taste. Cook until chicken is no longer pink.
2. Stir in 1 tablespoon of chili powder and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Add drained beans partially mashed, chilies, salsa, and 1/4 cup cilantro. Cook to blend flavors for about 5 minutes.
3. In sauce pan, while meat mixture is cooking, bring 3 cups water, 1 cup corn meal, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin to a bowl, stirring constantly with a whisk, so lumps do not form. Cook until thickens to mush.
4. Remove meat mixture from heat, sprinkle with monterey jack cheese, pour cornmeal mush over cheese, spread out with spatula to completely cover meat. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and remaining cilantro. Place pan under broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese melts and mush starts to form a crunch on top.
After removing from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, if you have time to wait! Serve with corn chips, pica de gallo, and sour cream.


My kiddos loved this meal and they let me know Tamale Pie has to be added to the list of regular dinners!
I hope in the business of your day you find time to belly up to the table with your family, and show them how much you love them with a home cooked meal.
Enjoy! XO Sheila

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  1. You inspired me to get my family around the table more often. We ate at 4:30p tonight, my kids thought I was nuts. But it was great to sit down together, must try to make this happen more often between all the crazy sports schedules:)
    Jennifer K.

  2. AMEN Sister! Family time is fun time. Eat together, pray together, laugh together, play together. That's my motto & i'm stickin to it!