Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kickin' it Old School

(fyi, we went a little out of order this week. Noodle Bowls are tonight--I promise a recipe for tomorrow!)

There are certain kinds of foods I could eat every day and probably never get tired of. Tex-Mex is one of them. I love tacos, burritos, tamales, tortilla soup…the list goes on. Recently, I saw a recipe for something called tamale pie—basically a Tex-Mex-style chili topped with cornbread and baked. It’s an old-school recipe that dates back to WWI. It doesn’t really remind me of tamales—it’s not actually authentically Mexican at all—but it's total comfort food.

I won’t claim the recipe below for tamale pie as my own since about a million different versions of this quick casserole exist. I just used a few recipes I found as a springboard and added or omitted ingredients according to our tastes. Feel free to do the same.

Since we have the same simple salad, oh, every single night, I thought it was time to switch it up a little. Since reading an article about the health benefits of cabbage (lots of vitamins C and K, a healthy dose of fiber, plus possible cancer-fighting compounds), I thought slaw would be a good, nutritious accompaniment. I threw the cabbage together with some other crunchy veggies and topped it with a spiced lime dressing. It’s tangy and light…a nice compliment to the warm pie. This is a super-easy, super-quick weeknight meal that’s pretty healthy and kid friendly, too.

Tamale Pie
serves 2 with leftovers
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ pound 85% to 90% lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
1 small or ½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
½ chipotle pepper, chopped, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 cup crushed tomatoes in puree
½ (14.5-ounce) can black beans, drained
½ (11-ounce) can Del Monte Summer Crisp corn
1 (8 ½-ounce) box corn muffin mix
1/3 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef or turkey and cook, crumbling, until meat is browned and no pink remains. Drain most of the fat from the pan.

Add onions and salt, and stir to combine. Cook until onions are soft, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Sprinkle in water a teaspoon at a time if skillet seems dry. Add in tomatoes, beans, and corn, and stir to combine.

Combine milk and egg and slowly whisk in the corn muffin mix. Spray an 8- by 6-inch baking dish (or similar small, shallow baking dish) lightly with cooking spray. Pour beef mixture into dish and top with prepared corn muffin mix.

Bake pie in middle of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until top is golden-brown. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Cilantro-Lime Slaw

serves 4
For the slaw:
1 (10-ounce) bag finely shredded cabbage, such as Dole Angel Hair Cole Slaw
1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into thin strips
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly

For the dressing:
2 to 3 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine slaw ingredients in a large bowl and toss together. Put all dressing ingredients in an airtight container or lidded jar and shake vigorously to combine. Pour dressing over slaw and toss well. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes and toss before serving.

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