Tamale Pie

One of my favorite dishes that I make probably at least once a month is this tamale pie. Since I gave up meat some time ago, I haven't really been able to find and therefor eat a traditional tamale, and let's be honest, tamale making is no joke. It's definitely not something I'd want to do since I tend to be pretty lazy when it comes to cooking. So, when I saw a recipe that converted the tamale into a skillet bake, I knew I had to give it a shot.

The recipes I was finding online all had meat products in them and even though vegetables aren't normally in tamales, I wanted to incorporate more sustenance. So, I did some tweaking and kind of made my own tamale pie. One thing that I love about this dish is that it's so easy to make and yet it's bursting with flavor. It's also versatile and ingredients can be swapped out. For instance, if you don't want beans and in fact want meat, then use a pound of meat of your choosing. If you don't like bell peppers and instead want to use mushrooms, or omit all vegetables from the dish, you can do that, too. Like I said, I make this dish just about once a month and every month I made it a little different depending on what I have on hand. Sometimes I use plain diced tomatoes (not as flavorful as the tomatoes with chilies in them), sometimes I add a diced jalapeno, sometimes I've even added a mixture of beans because I didn't have enough of one kind on hand. You can also change the ratio of toppings as well, as long as the cornbread base stays the same, the ingredients you put on top can be changed around to your liking.

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt (sour cream also works)
  • 1 cup corn, thawed if frozen and if canned be sure to drain and rinse the corn
  • 1 (10 oz) can Rotel diced tomato with chilies (I use habaneo but they have other varieties)
  • 1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans (or 2 cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Mix the first nine ingredients (from flour to diced tomatoes) and pour into a 14 in round skillet or cast iron pan. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, saute the onion and bell pepper, add the cumin and chili powder, and saute for another minute.
  4. Stir in cooked beans and cook until vegetables start to get tender. Mix in the salsa and removed from the heat.
  5. Poke holes in cornbread with a fork and pour the enchilada sauce over the top.
  6. Pour bean mixture on top of the cornbread and spread it out to evenly cover the cornbread.
  7. Top with cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Cheddar and Chile Egg Casserole

So, you may remember me saying something about us moving recently. Well, on our first day, as we were moving in our stuff from the moving truck, our neighbor came over to introduce herself. She even invited me over for a brunch she was having with some of the other neighbors and thought it would be a great way for me to meet them. I was kind of nervous and excited to meet everyone. I didn't need to be because they were all super nice. One of the dishes my neighbor made for the brunch was this green chile egg casserole. I'm not a huge fan of eggs. I can stomach an egg sandwich, even a hard-boiled egg, but I just can't handle omelets. It's just too eggy for me. So, I cautiously took a small piece of the casserole, so as to not be rude, and wound up trying to not shovel it all in my mouth as quickly as possible. It was so light and airy. It practically melted in my mouth and I found myself clamoring for the recipe. I'm so glad I found it online because this is definitely a must for when we have company spend the night.

When I saw there was cottage cheese in the dish I was in denial. I didn't remember there being white chunks in my egg at the party. The flour also threw me for a loop. However, trust me, it will all work out. The cottage cheese adds that fluffiness to the casserole while keeping it super moist. I used low-fat cottage cheese but whatever you prefer will work. This is essentially something you can make the night before, store it in a airtight container or bag, and then the morning of just give it a good whisking to whip it all up before popping it into the over.

recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

  • 3 TBSP butter/margarine, melted 
  • 5 large eggs, beaten 
  • 1 cup cottage cheese 
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies 
  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, chiles, flour, baking powder, salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Pour into the prepared dish and bake until set, about 35 minutes.

Healthier Spinach Artichoke Dip

Every weekend the Mister and I make a dip to enjoy while we watch movies, catch up on our favorite shows, or play games. I usually make your typical cream cheese salsa dip, but I've found myself wanting to try other dips. I'm one of those people that can't have the same thing too often, otherwise I get bored with it. So, I decided to look around online to see what interesting dips there were out there. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Kristin, spinach artichoke dip isn't anything new." While you would be correct, the dip is sort of new for me. You see, way back when, like eleven and a half years ago, I was a new bride trying to figure out how to cook. I had seen a recipe for spinach artichoke dip, probably on the Food Network channel and decided to make it. BIG mistake. HUGE! I remember that the dip consisted of a lot of mayonnaise, not something I usually ate because I was a Miracle Whip kinda girl. Come to think of it, considering the jar of mayo I put in the dip... it was probably a Paula Dean recipe. Anyway, while I was slightly grossed out by the mayo ratio in the dip, I had high hopes that I was going to impress my husband with the most fabulous, luxurious appetizer I've ever made. Fast forward an hour or two and The Mister came home from work to find all the window open, the oven turned off with the dip still inside, and me locked into our bedroom, nauseated from the smell. Needless to say, the dip went right into the trash and I spent the night curled up in the fetal position chomping on Tums. Ever since then, I've steered clear of anything resembling this dish... until now.

Now one thing that sets this one apart from that disastrous dip many moons ago is that this one doesn't have any mayo. None. Zero. Zilch. In fact, the creamy white base is yogurt and cream cheese... two things that I love. Two things that when they are heated up, do not make me nauseous. Now, as you see in the pictures, this recipe make a LOT of dip. It's insanely delicious and you will have no problem eating it all. However, if you made a New Years resolution that doesn't jive with eating a whole thing of dip, maybe invite some friends over. I served my dip with sliced bread but you could make this even healthier by slicing one of those huge carrots you see at the grocery into thick strips, and also eating it with celery.

  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 16 oz (2 cups) plain, non-fat yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp margarine (or butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese*
  • 14 oz artichoke hearts (not the marinated ones) , drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 japapeno, diced (remove the insides and seeds of jalapeno if you don't like spice)
  • 10 oz frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt together cream cheese, yogurt, margarine and parmesan cheese, uncovered, stirring frequently until melted and an even consistency. It should start to bubble lightly.
  2. Stir in coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, jalapeƱos, and drained spinach. Finally, stir garlic cloves. Let it bubble for a few minutes and it's done.

*if you are a vegetarian, look for a vegetarian parmesan cheese. 

Cannoli Cheese Ball

:GASP: I know. I know. This is the first cannoli related recipe on my site. While I like cannoli, I don't necessarily want to make them. It's just a lot of work and I'd honestly just rather buy one from a bakery. However, when I came across this super easy cannoli cheese ball I knew I had to give it a shot.

When I say super easy, I mean it. You pretty much just mix everything together, create a ball using plastic wrap, let it chill in the refrigerator while you clean up your mess, and then roll the ball in chocolate chips. That's it! Easy peasy, and it's so good. It's obviously on the sweet side but would be oh so perfect for a party. ;)

recipe adapted from Taste & Tell

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1¾ cups mini chocolate chips, divided
  • Vanilla Wafers or graham crackers, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the ricotta, powdered sugar and cinnamon and beat until combined. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips.
  2. Dump the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Gather the plastic wrap around the top, squishing the mixture into a ball shape. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Place the remaining ¾ cup of chocolate chips on a plate or in a shallow dish. Open the plastic wrap and turn the cheeseball filling onto the chocolate chips. Use your hands to roll the ball to coat in the chocolate chips.
  4. Serve with vanilla wafers and graham crackers.

Sweet Potato Caribbean Curry

Usually when I make curry, it's an Indian curry. However, when I came across this recipe I had to know what a Caribbean curry was. I liked that all the ingredient were items that I either had on hand, or would find a use for down the road. I hate it when a recipe calls for some fancy ingredient that you only use one. Like the saffron that's been sitting in my cabinet for 4 years now. >.<

One thing I loved about this curry is that you serve it over polenta. I usually serve my curry over rice and had thought to do so with this but changed my mind and decided to make polenta instead. I'm so glad I did because the polenta definitely adds an extra layer to this curry that you wouldn't have gotten with rice. Plus, depending on your tastes, you can doctor the polenta up with curry spices, hot sauce, or mix in some herbs to give it more flavor. Definitely make your own polenta versus buying that pre-made stuff in the grocery store. It's really easy to make and like I said, you can modify it and add spices and seasonings to bring a whole new level to this curry dish.

recipe adapted from Connoisseurus Veg

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), diced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. gound turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • salt to taste
  • creamy polenta or cooked rice (recipe below)
  • lime wedges (garnish)
  • fresh cilantro (garnish)
  • chopped scallions (garnish)

  1. Coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Cook 1 minute more, until very fragrant.
  2. Add coconut milk, sweet potato, cumin, coriander, turmeric, thyme, allspice, pepper, cinnamon, jalapeno, and cayenne. Stir a few times, raise heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and peas. Allow to cook just until heated throughout, 1-2 minutes more. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Divide rice or polenta onto plates and top with curry. Sprinkle with cilantro and scallions, then season with a squeeze of lime juice, to taste.

Polenta recipe
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (not cornbread mix) 
  • 1-3 tablespoons butter/margarine

  1. Bring the water to a boil. Bring the water to a brisk boil over medium-high heat. Add the salt.
  2. Pour the polenta into the boiling water. While whisking gently, pour the polenta into the boiling water in a steady stream.
  3. Continue whisking until polenta is thickened. Turn down the heat to low and continue whisking until the polenta has thickened enough that it doesn't settle back on the bottom of the pan when you stop stirring.
  4. Cook the polenta 30-40 minutes. Cover the polenta and continue cooking. Stir vigorously every 10 minutes or so, making sure to scrape the sides, bottom, and corners of the pan. Cook 30 minutes for softer porridge-like polenta or 40 minutes for thicker polenta.
  5. Stir in butter. Stir the cheese and butter into the polenta, if using. Serve immediately.