Tamale Pie


We love spicy Mexican food and can’t get enough of it. I cook it at least once a week so I’m always looking for new Mexican recipes.

Tamale Pie
Source: A Couple Cooks

1 (18 oz) tube polenta
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1/2 (14 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup taco seasoning
dash to taste – cumin, cayenne, dry cilantro, garlic powder
1.5 cups shredded cheese
sour cream for serving

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray an 8×11-inch baking dish (or similar size).

Spread the polenta into an even layer on the bottom of the baking dish.

Cook the ground beef with onion an bell pepper, then drain. Stir in the taco seasoning, canned tomatoes, any additional seasonings and mix until heated through and well combined then add the corn and black beans. Layer the beef mixture over the polenta. Top with shredded cheese.

Bake about 20 minutes or until heated through. Remove from the oven and let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Top each serving with sour cream.

Enjoy!

Taco Stuffed Shells

I was planning on making my Beef Taco Bake one night, but at the very last second I decided to use pasta shells instead of hard tacos shells.  It was a good decision!  But, I totally confused Tim.  He had asked earlier in the day what was for dinner and I told him the taco bake and when I served him the stuffed shells, he was very confused.  Anyway, we enjoyed them very much and I stashed 1/2 in the freezer for a night when I’m short on time.

Just a note about freezing meals that is probably common knowledge already but oh well.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and write the date, item name, and baking directions directly on the plastic wrap with a sharpie, then cover with a layer of foil and place in the freezer.  That way, the directions are on the meal and you don’t have to guess about the baking instructions in a few months when you (or your husband 😉 ) pull it out to prepare for the night.

Just one note on something I’ll change next time.  I thought it could have been just a little saucier, so I’ll add some salsa (maybe 1/2 cup) to the mixture before stuffing the shells next time.

Taco Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 can refried beans

1 can whole black beans

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 small onion, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, minced – optional (can sub one green bell pepper)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can Mexi-corn, drained

1/2 can black olives, drained and coarsely chopped

1 pack (1/4 cup) taco seasoning mix & water that it calls for

1 pound lean ground beef

1 package large pasta shells

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

For serving:

lettuce

sour cream

scallions

salsa

Directions:

1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine refried beans, black beans, and hot sauce in a bowl.  Spread evenly in two 8 or 9- inch square baking dishes (0ne for now and one for the freezer).  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese per baking dish.

2. Cook pasta.

3. Meanwhile, cook beef in large skillet until no longer pink with onion, peppers, and garlic.  Pour off fat.  Then stir in taco seasoning and water.  Simmer over low heat until thickened.  Then stir in Mexi-corn and olives and turn off the heat.

4. Spoon the beef mixture into the cooked and drained pasta.  Arrange in the baking dishes.  Cover with with foil, and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Remove foil, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with scallions and/or shredded lettuce and serve with sour cream on the side.

Mexican Rice

We wanted to have some sort of Mexican flavored meal the other night, but didn’t really have a plan in mind.  I tossed around the idea of making burrito bowls but didn’t really follow through with it.  All along I knew I would be making this rice though.  In the past I always relied pretty heavily on prepackaged rice (and some pasta) mixes for some reason.  But now I’m trying to reduce the amount of processed foods that we eat and take control over what ingredients go into our food.

The meal that we ended up with was this – a side of black beans seasoned with cumin and s&p, sliced avocado, this Mexican rice, grilled sausage, and tomatoes.  It was quite good and colorful too!

Next time I’ll definitely add some cayenne pepper to the rice because it was a little too mild for our tastes.

Basic Mexican Rice

Source:  Delish

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium if possible)
salt & pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add chopped onions & rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is golden & onions are softened. Add garlic powder, cumin, tomato sauce, and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Season with salt & pepper as desired. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Beef Taco Bake

This is something I love to make when we’re in the mood for tacos but want something a little different than our usual soft shell tacos.  It also takes a little more time than traditional tacos, so I have to plan accordingly.  But it’s really good and never disappoints!  Leftovers are not ideal (they get a little chewy), but not horrible either.

I realized I was out of cans of refried beans, so I just took a can of seasoned black beans, lightly drained them and then buzzed ’em up in the food processor until mostly smooth.  Worked great!

Beef Taco Bake

source:  Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2007

Ingredients:

2 (10 oz.) cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained but reserve 1/2 cup juice

1 (16 oz) can refried beans {or use my trick mentioned above}

1 tablespoon hot sauce {such as Tabasco}

1/4 cup chopped cilantro – I omitted

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 pack (1/4 cup) taco seasoning mix

12 hard shell tacos

1 pound lean ground beef

3 scallions, sliced

additional toppings if you like – lettuce, black olives, sour cream, etc…

Directions:

1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Combine beans, hot sauce, half of the drained tomatoes, and cilantro in a bowl.  Spread evenly in a 13×9 – inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.

2. Cook beef in large skillet until no longer pink.  Pour off fat.  Then stir in taco seasoning, remaining tomatoes and reserved 1/2 cup of tomato juice.  Simmer over low heat until thickened.

3. Spoon one tablespoon of shredded cheese into each hard shell and top with beef.  Arrange tacos upright in bean mixture, cover with foil, and bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes.  Remove foil, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 4 or 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Before baking.

After, topped with sliced green onions.

Beef Empanadas

I served these empanadas as a meal by themselves, but due to their size I think they would be better suited just as appetizers.  Or, they need to be made larger to be served as an entire meal in my opinion.

I had way more filling that I needed, so I’ll cut that in half {or more} next time or I’ll double the amount of pastry and freeze half of them.  I think I’ll also add a few tablespoons of salsa to the filling next time as well.  To cut down on prep time, I made the filling the night before.

Sweet Corn and Beef Empanadas

{heavily adapted from a Cuisine At Home magazine}

Note – Below is exactly how I made them which yielded way too much filling.  We used the leftover filling in soft tacos for the next few day’s lunches and dinners.

Filling Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small can roasted diced green chilies

1 can Mexi-corn, drained

4 scallions, sliced

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp or more ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste {can sub paprika for less heat}

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For the empanadas:

1 pkg refrigerated pie dough (2 sheets)

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp water

paprika

salsa for dipping

Directions:

Brown ground beef with garlic and chopped onion until cooked through.  Drain fat.  Mix meat and onions with chilies, corn, scallions, and seasonings.  Chill thoroughly {or overnight}.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unroll 1 sheet of pie dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll with rolling pin to smooth and thin out (about 1/8″).  Cut circles in dough with a 3.5″ or larger biscuit cutter (I’ll definitely make them larger next time).  Place rounds of dough on prepared baking sheets.  Repeat with second sheet of pie dough and re-roll scraps as needed.

Add shredded cheese (and some salsa?) to the meat filling and then place one tablespoon of filling on each small circle of dough.  Fold in half and crimp with fork to seal.  {You may freeze them at this point if desired.}

Blend egg yolk and water and brush it on the top of each empanadas.  Sprinkle with paprika and bake until golden, 15-18 minutes.

Serve with salsa on the side for dipping.

Layered Fiesta Dip

This is a staple for so many parties that we host or attend.  It is a real crowd-pleaser and can be adapted a dozen different ways.  Some call it 7-layer dip or 8-layer dip or various other names.  But no matter how many layers go into it, the important thing is just to make however you like it.

Below I’ll list the possible layers, but go ahead and add/omit based on what you like and have on hand.  Layer everything in a shallow dish {preferably clear to see layers} starting with the refried beans.

Layered Fiesta Dip

1 can fat free refried beans {leave plain or stir in cumin and garlic powder or other spices to taste}

approximately 1 cup guacamole or 2-3 mashed avocados mixed with juice of 1/2 to 1 lime and a pinch of salt

8 oz sour cream mixed with one packet {1/4 cup} taco seasoning

shredded lettuce

1 cup shredded cheese

cooked and crumbled bacon

1 can black olives, sliced

3-4 green onions, sliced

1 or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Cover and refrigerate at least one hour to allow flavors to meld.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Roll-ups

I love spicy chicken enchiladas so I knew I would love this recipe.   One great thing about it is that it can be served as a chip dip instead of rolls too.  It is great to have that option.  It is also ideal that it can be made ahead of time which I always look for when searching for party recipes.

Chicken Enchilada Roll-ups

{source:  adapted from Sing for you Supper originally from Gooseberry Patch “Come on Over”}

Ingredients

one 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I used 2 cloves)
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
salt to taste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded {about 1 cup}
1 bunch cilantro, chopped – I omitted
3 green onions, chopped  
10-oz. can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained well

approximately 6 tortilla shells

Directions

Cook chicken and allow it to cool, then shred and set aside. {Or buy chicken already cooked from the store 🙂  }

Mix remaining ingredients together until well blended; add the chicken and combine.

Spread a layer of filling over tortilla shells and roll.  Place on cutting board and cut into 1″ pieces.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Serve cold or at room temp.

For the shower, I also made a different kind of roll-up.  I spread the tortilla shells with store-bought veggie cream cheese or chive and onion cream cheese, added a layer of deli meat {I used smoked ham, but turkey or anything else you like would be fine.}  Roll and slice.  The addition of sliced olives between the cream cheese and meat is also good, but I left them out this time.

Chicken Enchiladas

I think I have finally mastered chicken enchiladas!  This recipe is just the way I like them.  Other recipes that I have made in the past have turned out so soggy and drowning in sauce.  These on the other hand, are just right.  A little crispy on the outside and creamy inside.  Delicious!

I was winging it and basically cut the recipe shown below in half.  My notes/changes are in italics.

I served the enchiladas with a side of yellow rice.  Enjoy!

Chicken Enchiladas

{adapted from Annie’s Eats}

Ingredients:

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. reduced fat sour cream
8 oz. Ranch salad dressing
flour tortillas (10-15)
1 jar of salsa
4 cups shredded Mexican cheese

Directions:

Cook chicken breasts by preferred cooking method until cooked through. Set aside to cool a bit.  {I cooked 2 chicken breasts in the crock pot with 1/2 jar of salsa until done.  It was about 4-5 hours on high.}

While chicken is cooling, mix up the sauce. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the sour cream and half of the Ranch dressing. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the sour cream and Ranch dressing. Stir both until well combined. Shred or chop the cooked chicken and add to the large mixing bowl. Mix well with sauce.  {I combined the shredded salsa chicken with 4 oz of sour cream and 4 oz of ranch dressing in a large bowl.}

Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan (and possibly another, smaller pan if needed and if making the full recipe). Take one tortilla and top with a little less than 1 tbsp of the sauce from the small bowl. Spread over the tortilla in an even layer. Add some of the chicken mixture to the center of the tortilla. Top with salsa to taste. {My filling was already combined, so I just added a few tablespoons to each tortilla, added shredded cheese and rolled it up.} Sprinkle with a little shredded cheese, to taste. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Top all the enchiladas with more shredded cheese.   I also added the remaining 1/2 jar of salsa to the topping. Usually makes 10-15 enchiladas {I think I got 8 enchiladas by halving the recipe}.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (30 for a crispier tortilla). Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

Enchilada Casserole

This is a really versatile dish inspired from a Pillsbury recipe booklet from the grocery check out lane.  You could use cooked chicken, beef, or pork.  I thought about adding beans and  I omitted the green onion and tomato topping.  This was a great and fast meal to whip up.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cut-up cooked chicken {I used 2 cups of ground beef that I cooked with onions and peppers}
   
1/2 cup salsa
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips
4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)
1 medium tomato, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 cup shredded Cheddar

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix cooked meat, salsa, enchilada sauce and corn.
2. Place tortilla chips in lightly greased 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish. Top with meat mixture. Sprinkle with onions, tomato and cheese.
3. Bake 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. If desired, arrange additional tortilla chips around edge of dish.
 
   

Cornbread Casserole

I posted this recipe before {called Fiesta Casserole}, but I didn’t include a picture at the time.  Since then, I have adapted it quite a bit, so I’m re-posting the new variation.  Beware, it is spicy! 🙂

I used a 10″ inch cast iron skillet this time, but it really needs to be put into a 12″ because I had some filling run over.

Cornbread Casserole

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 packet taco seasoning + water as directed on package

1 can (10 oz.) Mexi-corn, drained (regular corn works fine)

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (10 oz.) Ro-tel diced tomatoes with chili peppers, drained

1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilies, drained

Topping:

1 Jiffy cornbread/muffin mix (8.5 oz.) and the ingredients to prepare it.

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

1/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 12″ cast iron skillet {or other large oven safe skillet}, brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Drain.  Return to skillet and heat to medium low, add taco seasoning, water, beans, tomatoes, chilies, and corn.  Stir to combine and heat thoroughly.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, prepare cornbread mix as directed on box with egg and milk.  Stir in cheese, chopped green onion, and sour cream.

Turn off the heat under the skillet and evenly press/smooth the meat mixture down in the skillet.  Top with cornbread batter {will be a little thin}.  Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown.

Yields 6 large servings.

This definitely has some kick to it.  If you want to reduce the spiciness just omit the chilies, use regular diced tomatoes, and regular corn.

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