Ok ok ok… I’m sorry I’ve been a little M.I.A. lately. I’ve been a little preoccupied with the usual stuff… Basically with life in general. I can’t really remember what has happened in the last 10 days, but I’m sure there have been things… I hope there have been things anyway. How lame would that be if I didn’t accomplish anything in the last 10 days??
Meh… it’s January so therefore it’s ok to not really accomplish much. I’ve been working a lot, we’ve been trying to maintain a consistent workout schedule, we’ve been busy with friends and family, I have found a new obsession with Pinterest (I am so behind on what’s cool these days) and I’ve been very consumed by this whole “try to continue to eat ‘cleanly’ and not go out to eat hardly ever” thing. There have been days that it’s been a challenge, but we have majorly cut back our eating out and it definitely shows in our bank account. It’s amazing how much money you can save just from something so simple!
Oh… I know what I’ve been doing for the last few days… (I just remembered this) I’ve been addictively (did I make that word up?) watching Sons of Anarchy and this just in… Breaking Bad. Good god… the things I have been missing in my life! Well, I’ve always been a Sons of Anarchy fan but I started watching it at like the end of the second season so I decided to start from the beginning. Brad and I only just started watching Breaking Bad on like Friday night (it’s now Tuesday) and we’ve watched the whole first season. Which, hold on! The first season is only 7 episodes so don’t get your undies in a bunch! However, I am literally so obsessed and uncontrollably addicted that it’s all I think about. A television show. It’s pathetic. I know. You don’t have to tell me. And I can’t wait to watch more tonight.
Ok… now that you are all fully aware of my television addictions and strange desires to watch shows about cooking meth and cancer and motorcycles and guns and high school science teachers and violence and …
Oh god. I’m doing it again. AH!
Ok. Moving on.
Let’s see. We made these little burrito bowls like the day after we decided to stop doing CLEAN. It definitely fits in the CLEAN program and it’s also SUPER easy so I have a feeling we will be making this many more times. Oh! It’s also pretty cheap too! All you need is rice, 2 cans of beans and two avocados, a lime and cilantro! I mean, I didn’t keep track of how much it cost, but I’m sure it’s under $15 and fed us for two lunches! You do also need some seasoning, but I would hope everyone has garlic powder and cumin on hand. We always have a bag of brown rice in the pantry too, so for us, it was even cheaper!
This would also be a perfect meal to use leftover rice for. I know that whenever we make rice, for maybe stir fry or something like that, we always have a buttload leftover (wait, did I just write “buttload”? Why yes, yes I did) and we usually end up throwing at least some of it away. This is the perfect answer to that never ending problem! Even if you have a little bit leftover, say like a cup’s worth, you can still pop open a can of beans and pour it on top and dollop some guac on there too and you’ll have a great lunch! If you wanted to get really crazy, you could even wrap all of it up in a tortilla, but then it wouldn’t be considered a CLEAN recipe. Whatever you choose, I think you’ll really enjoy this dish!
1 cup uncooked brown rice (this should make 3 cups of cooked rice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinse
Chili Powder (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro, roughly copped
Cook the brown rice according to the package directions. While the rice is cooking, make your guacamole. Mash the two avocados in a bowl. Poor in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Mix together. When the rice is done cooking, poor some in a bowl and top with beans. Sprinkle the garlic powder, cumin and chili powder over top, along with salt if desired. Then plop a couple spoons of guacamole on top and go to town!
Well, I figured that since the world is going to end on Friday, I might as well squeeze in some posts so that everyone has some quality options for what to make for their last meal. I kid, I kid… the world isn’t ACTUALLY going to end… I hope not anyway, I have a lot of stuff that I still want to do!
Now that we have established my stance on the Maya calendar apocalypse the world is ending on Friday stuff… Let’s talk CHILI! Yay!!! I have shared with you an excellent vegan chili recipe, but while this one still doesn’t have meat, it isn’t quite vegan. Only because there is beef broth in it (you could sub vegetable broth or water to make it vegan though!). Yea, I got really creative on this one.
Anywho… this is a spicy chili. That will happen when you add 2 jalapenos, a green pepper and a poblano pepper to it. Oh and two packets of chili seasoning. However, it has incredible flavor. Roasting the vegetables brought out this wonderful smoky charred flavor and it really brought out the spiciness of the peppers, but also some of the sweetness. Mmm it was just really good.
I also added a fair share of beans to this chili. Which shouldn’t be that surprising considering I absolutely LOVE beans. You can use as many or as little as you want (but keep in mind, the beans are the main part of this chili, so use at the bare minimum 2 cans). You can use black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, red beans, cannelini beans… the list goes on! I had black, red and pintos in the pantry, so that’s what I used. If you wanted to, you could add a pound of ground beef to this to sub out some of the beans… I actually just thought of that. As always, this is definitely a recipe you can easily adapt to your liking!
Well, you could make this as your last meal for sure! It’d be a good one to end on. Better than what we will have. I forgot the world was ending on Friday when I made my meal plans and grocery list for the week, so we’ll be eating black bean and rice burritos. Obviously, not a bad choice… steak and lobster might have been a better way to out though! Haha!
Ok… I’m done talking about the world ending. I promise.
Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Bean Chili
Adapted straight from my head.
Makes 6-8 servings depending on how big your servings are
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large green pepper
1 large poblano pepper
1-1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1- 8oz can of tomato sauce
1- 14oz can of petite diced tomatoes
2-3 cups of beef broth (depending on how thick or soupy you like your chili)
3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (again, I used black, pinto and red beans)
2 packets of chili seasoning (I use the reduced sodium ones)
Ok… Move one of your racks in your oven to the top and turn your broiler on high. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place your peppers (I cut my green pepper in half so it would be easier to broil) on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler until the peppers get really charred, turning them a couple times to get all sides nice and black. Once the are charred and they are soft, pull them out of the oven and place in a plastic ziploc bag and set aside. Put your corn on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes, tossing the corn so it chars evenly. Once that is done, pull it out and just set the pan aside.
While the peppers are in the ziploc bag (hopefully not melting the bag like mine almost did since I bought the store brand of bags rather than the actual quality ziploc brand), put a large pot on the stove on medium heat. Pour the olive oil in there and once that is hot, add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring frequently until they are tender. Add the corn.
At this point, remove the peppers from the bag and rub off the skins. Chop the peppers (removing the stems and seeds) and add to the pot. Toss in the chili seasoning, the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes and some of the beef broth. Don’t add all of it in case you want your chili on the thicker side. Stir that all together and then add your beans.
Simmer, covered, for a good thirty minutes. Add a pinch of salt, if needed, as well as more beef broth, also if needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Top with mounds of cheese, a lot of saltines and maybe even a dollop of sour cream. And ENJOY it!!!
Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love it because the (supposed) cooler weather, the fact that I get to wear jeans and long sleeves and sweaters instead of shorts and tank tops, the apple orchards, the pumpkin picking, the fact that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are not too far and of course… the food.
**Side Note: Last week, Brad and I packed up the pups and headed to the Upper Peninsula/northernest tip of Wisconsin with my family for our annual vacation. This was our 24th year up there and it was amazing. It was jam packed with sleeping in a small bed, waking up just as the sun was coming out to go fishing, eating big breakfasts, going fishing again, eating a bunch of food at lunchtime, then fishing again, being hot, then eating a big dinner and then more fishing after that. And then there were trips to town for a twist cone… or two and burgers and curly fries. There was a walk or two with the dogs in there, a decent amount of beer, some margaritas, and an attempt to check out a for real haunted house, that failed. We took the dogs on the boat with us where we found out that a boat apparently puts Cash straight to sleep while Etta helped us fish. We caught big fish, we caught small fish, but from the looks of the beginning of the week, we were just happy to catch any fish. Brad got to filet some fish for the first time, which was very exciting and we were able to have a fish fry (eh hem, appetizer) on Friday night!
It was an amazing week away from television, computers and phones that was long overdue. It was a refreshing to escape from the daily grind (although let’s face it, life isn’t that hard here) and it was the perfect change of scenery we were in need for. If only it wasn’t 10 hours away… So if you were wondering why I haven’t posted anything in, let’s see, almost 2 weeks, that would explain why. We arrived back on Saturday night and pretty much laid low and did laundry and ran errands on Sunday and then I started back at work on Monday. So I really haven’t gotten the chance to sit down and write a post in awhile.
When we arrived back from vacation, we were welcomed by some rain here in Indy, which felt like a miracle since we’ve barely had any over the past 3 months! It sputtered on Saturday but the real rain came on Sunday and most of Monday where is pretty much rained most of those days. But, as I said, we were totally happy about it because we now have green grass! But a rainy Sunday is no day for grilling or any type of summery food…and so when I woke up that morning, I knew what was in store for us that day… CHILI.
Oh chili… how I love thee.
While the temperature was not exactly in the chili making lows (it was still like 75 out) I just couldn’t keep myself from eating a perfect bowl of chili. And luckily, Brad was in the same mood I was.
Now, I’ve made several types of chili. Ok… maybe not several, I think I’ve made 3 or 4, but who’s counting? I have a go-to easy chili recipe that my mom makes that’s pretty simple. It’s browned meat and onion, packet of chili seasoning and some diced tomatoes. Maybe a can of tomato paste too, I can’t remember. Oh and kidney beans. But it’s a great last minute chili to make that tastes very good. I’ve also made a more time consuming pot of chili that comes from Paula Deen’s son that is more involved but has more veggies in it. It takes awhile to simmer, so it’s more of a chili that you plan on making and set aside a few hours to make.
This pot of chili is a bit of a combination of the two… and it’s vegan (and I didn’t even realize it until Sunday)! It’s got the veggies of the more complex chili, but the seasoning and tomatoes of the easy chili and beans from both, and some extras that I add on my own. It’s relatively simple, just a little time consuming because you have to cut up a decent amount of veggies, but I like it because you can either eat it right away or you can simmer it on the stove for an hour or two while your husband takes a nap on the couch and you watch Masterchef on Hulu in the library. Just sayin.
This chili has a great amount of spice and can easily be great with meat but it’s just as good without. You can add extra veggies like carrots or sweet potatoes or maybe corn, but I was too scared to change it on Sunday so I went with what I knew was good. You can also add or take away spice, make it soupy or thick and you can take away or add beans. All around, it’s a very versatile chili that I think can please most anyone!
Oh and you can make it not vegan by adding cheese on top and crackers! Which, let’s face it, is the way to eat it.
Makes about 6 servings I think
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 packets of chili seasonings (I only had one but definitely had to add more seasonings)
1- 14.5oz can of petite diced tomatoes (I like my tomatoes very small in my chili, you can also use regular diced or whole)
1- 8oz can of tomato sauce
1/2- 1 1/2 cups of water depending on how thick/thin you like your chili
Cheese and crackers for serving, optional
Heat the oil in a large soup pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the celery, green pepper, jalapenos and onion. Saute until veggies start to get soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Pour in all three beans and stir. Sprinkle in the chili seasoning (I’d suggest one packet first and then sprinkle in the other packet once all the ingredients have been added and you have tasted the chili). Stir to combine. Next, pour in the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir and add as much water as you would like to get the right thickness. Let this simmer for at least 10 minutes. Check your seasonings and add the rest of the chili seasoning, salt and pepper. Simmer for at least another 5 minutes. You can serve the chili at this point, or you can simmer on a low heat for another hour or so. Serve with cheese and crackers if you want!
Oh… this is Cash not wanting to go out in the rain.
Oh god. Stop what you are doing, NOW. You need to read this, then go to the grocery store and then immediately go home and make these freaking things because they are THAT good. Yes, just trust me.
I have made enchiladas many times before and I might even go as far as saying that they could be one of my specialties because every time I make them, they are all I want to eat for.ever. I have always made them with chicken, though and since it had been awhile since I had made them and I decided I wanted to do something different this time. Plus, we needed a meatless meal for the week and, let’s face it, Mexican food is the easiest to make meatless. When in doubt, sub beans for meat!
Anyway, so I basically used the same recipe that I have used before for my chicken enchiladas, only instead of the chicken I used black beans and pinto beans. To be honest, you don’t even notice that there is no chicken. They are still equally filling and filled with equally amazing deliciousness.
These are pretty easy to make, but they do take a little bit of time to chop, saute, assemble and bake, sooo… fair warning. It can all be done in about an hour, but you need to be pretty focused and… let’s face it… a seasoned professional like me. No, it’s really not anything complicated, there are just some things you need to do.
Anyway, so I would make this right away if I were you. It’s cheesy, beany, spicy, corny, Mexicany, vegetabley, and just all around wonderful. It’s even great on a hot day! Which seems crazy to turn the oven on, on a hot day, but this dish is so worth heating up the house a few extra degrees! The best part is that it makes a TON so you’ll have plenty for 2 dinners and at least one lunch, maybe even 2 lunches since they are so filling! I just love these enchiladas. You’ll leave the table feeling so great after eating them!
Now go make them!!
Two Bean and Corn Enchiladas
Makes 10 enchiladas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
2 jalapenos, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2-2 cups frozen corn
1 can Rotel Original
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans enchilada sauce of your choice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
10 whole wheat tortillas
Shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese (we used about 1/2 an 8oz block of each)
Start off with sauteing the peppers in the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the peppers start to soften. Add the red onion and corn and saute for another few minutes. Toss in the garlic and saute for just a minute. Then add the beans and Rotel and stir to combine everything. Add the seasonings and just 1/2 of one can of the enchilada sauce. Don’t use anymore than that because you’ll need it for other stuff! Ok, so mix that all together and cook for a few minutes until everything is hot. I like to add a handful of cheese to the filling just for a little something extra. If you choose to do this as well (which I highly recommend, go ahead and do that at this point. It won’t take long to melt)
Time for assembly!! Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Pour the rest of the 1/2 can of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan and spread out. Heat up your tortillas in the microwave for about 20 seconds until the tortillas are soft and pliable. Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling in the middle of the tortilla. I’m not exactly sure on this measurement, as I just use a large cooking spoon, but I think about 1/2 cup is close. Fold one side of the tortilla over the filling and then fold the other side over. Place folded side down in the pan. Repeat with all remaining 9 tortillas. I have found that sometimes I make less than 10 and sometimes I make more than 10. It just depends on how much filling you use! Once all your enchiladas are in the pan, pour the other whole can of enchilada sauce over all of them. Then top with the shredded cheese.
Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. It doesn’t have to be in there long because you already cooked everything else. You just need it in there long enough for the cheese to get gooey and melty. Remove from the oven and let it sit for a couple minutes, as it’s hard to dish up straight out of the oven. So, let it sit for about 5 minutes and then serve!!
I guess this is another vegan recipe and I didn’t even realize it. So you’re in luck! You get a total of 5 vegan recipes from me!
This was a dish that I pretty much improvised on. Here’s the story- Brad plays double header softballs games every Wednesday night and so for dinner those nights, I like to do really good, healthy meals that will provide him with lots of energy and not weigh him down for his games. It had been awhile since I had made a made a quinoa dish, so we were due. I knew I didn’t want to have any cheese in it, or any meat, so in order for it to be pretty filling, I figured it needed… beans! 2 kinds of beans! Then all I did was add some things that were left in the pantry and I had a great dish!
I’ve been doing our grocery shopping at Whole Foods now and in their bulk section (which is awesome!) I found some Tri-Color Quinoa. They had 3 or 4 different kinds, which I didn’t even know existed! It didn’t taste any different, but it sure was prettier! Maybe it’s healthier… or not, who knows. But it cooked the same and tasted the same so I was happy with it!
This dish is really simple to make. You have to allow time for the quinoa to cook, which is a good 15-20 minutes. But once the quinoa is cooked, you just add some beans, red onion, peppers and a can of Rotel. Yea, that’s seriously it. But it has lots of flavor and with the beans, it’s very filling. The Rotel adds some really good flavor with the peppers in it and the beans give it an extra texture that I really enjoy. I chose to use pinto beans and black beans, just so it wasn’t too simple. I’m glad I did that. I like the combination of the two. You could really add to this dish as well. I had some jalapenos (that turned red I think because of the all the freaking sun and heat) and a banana pepper from our garden that I needed to use up, so I threw them in there. You could add fresh tomatoes, a can of green chiles, some Mexican seasoning like cumin and chili powder, you could add chicken to this… the options are endless. It’s definitely a meal you can get creative with! You can also use it as a side dish to burgers, grilled chicken, grilled steak…. It pretty much goes with whatever you want it to!
… It’s also incredible with guacamole on top, I failed to capture a photo of that though because I was scarfing it all down too quickly. Sometimes I just get too excited. But I would highly recommend topping it with the guacamole. That really adds a whole new dimension!
Bean and Tri-Color Quinoa Salad
Created from my awesome mind
Makes about 4-6 servings
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2/3 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed (I found a whole can of both beans was just a little too much)
2/3 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of Original Rotel
1 tablespoon finely diced red onion (I don’t like a lot of red onion)
1-2 jalapenos, finely diced
1 banana pepper, finely diced
Bring 2 1/2 cups of water and quinoa to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to simmer until the water is gone, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the beans, Rotel, red onion, jalapenos and banana peppers and stir well.
Serve with cilantro on top and if you’re feeling wild… throw some guac on there, you’ll be glad you did it!
Oh! It also keeps really well so eat this for lunch leftover. It’s seriously just as great as it is fresh!
This is the last of the “official vegan week” recipes. Yea… like I said, we didn’t make it very far. Actually, there’s a fourth recipe, but I have no photos so like I said in the previous post, I’ll just tell you it.
This tortilla soup is actually based on Pioneer Woman’s chicken tortilla soup, however, I cut out the chicken and the chicken broth to make it… Vegan!! And if you ask me, it’s still pretty good! I subbed vegetable broth for the chicken broth, that’s pretty much the only difference between the recipes.
The original recipe is fantastic. It’s pretty much the best chicken tortilla soup ever (I have to say McAlister’s is a pretty close second though!) It has lots of beans and veggies and adding a little cornmeal at the end to thicken it is key. Knowing how delicious this soup is, I was nervous about how it would turn out without 2 of the key ingredients… chicken and chicken broth. To my surprise though, it was fantastic! There wasn’t a whole lot of difference really. As Brad put it “it tastes like the same soup only I got a bowl without any chicken in it”! I’ll take that!!
As I was getting started cutting up the veggies, I noticed that I still had a couple of ears of corn leftover from our trip to the farmer’s market that past weekend. So instead of using frozen corn like I usually do, I cut all the kernels off the ears and used them! It gave the soup a whole new, fresh flavor that I really enjoyed! I just cooked the corn in the soup pot, but I’m thinking that I could have Brad grill the corn next time to get a char on it… that would really add some good flavor! Frozen corn does work really well, but if you have any leftover corn from the night before or just want to try fresh corn, I highly recommend it!
Anyway, I think this tortilla soup is a great vegan alternative to chicken tortilla soup. It’s just as tasty and just as filling (even more so because I added some extra beans!) While it’s not exactly the best meal for a 100 degree day, it’s still just as delicious as it would be if we were eating it on a winter day! There’s a good chance I’ll start making this instead of chicken tortilla soup from now on!
Oh- real quick! The other vegan recipe is a burrito that we made to take to the track with us! This was when we were still on our vegan diet on Friday. It was one of the best burritos I have had it was ridiculously easy! They were just black beans, Spanish rice and guacamole wrapped in a tortilla! That’s it! I’ll include a recipe at the bottom of this post, but unfortunately I don’t have any photos. But they are so worth sharing! They are perfect for a picnic, day at the track, or just a really quick, easy dinner! And if you use Wholly Guacamole like I did… they are even quicker and easier!
Adapted from Pioneer Woman’s chicken tortilla soup
Serves… a LOT. Not sure how much… at least 8 servings though
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (or 1/2 – 1 cup of frozen corn)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 – 10 oz can of Rotel (original diced tomatoes with green chiles… there are 2 in the photo above but I only used 1 can)
32 oz vegetable broth
2-3 cups of water, depending on how thin you want the soup
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of cornmeal
5 corn tortillas, cut into strips
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the corn and cook for about one minute. Then add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook for another couple minutes. Then add the cumin, chili powder and garlic powder, stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and mix in. Then pour in the Rotel, vegetable broth, water and beans. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.
Mix the cornmeal with a small amount of water (about 2 tablespoons maybe?) in a small bowl or measuring cup. Pour into the soup and stir everything together. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Add salt according to taste. A couple minutes before serving, add the tortilla strips and stir gently.
Serve in bowls with guacamole or salsa on top. Crispy tortilla chips go really well on top too! Adds a nice crunch!
Bean, Rice and Guacamole Burritos
Makes 3 burritos
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package of cooked Spanish Rice (I used Uncle Ben’s Spanish Rice that cooks in the microwave for 90 seconds. Super easy!)
1 package of Wholly Guacamole of your choice (I used the guac with pico de gallo) or use homemade guacamole if you would like!
3 burrito size tortillas
Heat the first tortilla in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to get nice and soft. Spoon 1/3 of the beans in the middle. Top with about 1/3 of the rice and 1/3 of the guacamole. Fold one side over the filling and then tuck the sides in and roll over to close. Wrap in foil (if taking it to go, but the foil also helps hold it together). Side note: you can heat up the beans in the microwave before putting in the burritos. I didn’t though because the burritos were going into a cooler for about 6 hours so we just ate them cold. See!? Couldn’t be easier!!
I’ve been getting into Pinterest a little bit lately. I know- I’m about 6 months late. I started using it when there was all the excitement, but I just didn’t really get why everyone thought it was so cool. As of the last few weeks though, I’ve gotten on a few times, mainly to find some new recipe ideas. I’m still not obsessed with it like everyone else seems to be, but it wastes time pretty well.
I decided last week that I was going to make a bunch of Pinterest meals, but then it failed because we had a really busy week and I wasn’t home some nights and it just didn’t work. So we made this meal earlier this week instead. And it pretty much lasted us half the week because it made so much!
The funny part about finding this meal on Pinterest was that it’s originally from a food blog that I follow religiously (and they’re from Indy!). I’ve posted about them quite a few times before, A Couple Cooks, has a lot of great recipes that I like to try. Some are different, they are all pretty healthy and overall, we’ve had excellent luck with their recipes. So when I realized where this tamale pie recipe was from, I was pretty certain that it was going to be awesome.
This recipe calls for polenta, which I have never made before. About a year or so ago I found a recipe from a different blog for something that was very similar to this, only it used store bought polenta that comes in the tube and you slice. Uhhh yuck. I found out real quick that I was not a fan of store bought polenta. When I saw this recipe called for homemade polenta I was a little reluctant, but I figured it was time to give it a try again. I never knew homemade polenta was so simple to make and so good!! It’s water and cornmeal! That’s it! Just add some salt and butter for flavor and you in business. I was really surprised at how tasty it was straight out of the pan. And I am sure that if I added a little grated cheese, it’d be even tastier. It was so creamy and soft and just really good. Far better than our last experience. However, I made the polenta the day before because I messed up the order of our meals for that weekend so I had to throw it in the fridge overnight. The texture definitely changes, but if you cook it in the microwave for a bit, it softens a good amount. I’m sure I could have added milk to it, but I wasn’t too concerned with the texture since it was going on the bottom of this dish.
These tamale pies are super good. And really easy. The filling it really similar to the filling I made for the Mexican Lasagna. It has beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes and Mexican seasoning. You can make it as spicy as you want or as, well, not spicy as you want. And you could definitely add some more of your own ideas. Like more beans, or green peppers, or canned green chiles, or jalapenos, or enchilada sauce… I mean the options are endless. This is a great base recipe that you can always build on whenever you are in the mood for getting creative or just eat it the way it is whenever you don’t feel like getting creative!
Now, like I said, this creates a lot of food. It filled a whole 9 x 13 pan for me. The original recipe said I would need a 9 x 9 pan. The only way I think that would work is if you either didn’t use all of the polenta or all of the filling, or if you had a 9 x 9 pan that was 9 inches tall. Just keep that in mind. It also said to bake them in au gratin dishes, but I don’t have any. Wah! I only have teeny little ramekins that would really just not do the trick. I guess I should put that on my Christmas list! Anyway… like I said, this dish is really really great and it’s super simple and I think anyone would really enjoy eating it!
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups of water
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About 2 cups of shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese
Ok- to make the polenta:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the cormeal, stirring constantly to help reduce clumps. Continue whisking for a couple minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat and allow the polenta to bubble a little. You’ll cook this for about 15 minutes, you basically want to get rid of the raw cornmeal flavor. Once it’s cooked, remove from heat and stir in the butter. Add more salt and pepper if desired. You can use this immediately or store overnight like I did. When it comes time to use it though, just reheat it in the microwave for a couple minutes to soften it again.
To make the pie:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the polenta on the bottom of the baking dish (or dishes).
In a large bowl, add the beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes, and seasonings. Mix together well. Pour over the polenta. Top with the shredded cheese.
Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through. Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes before eating. Top with fresh cilantro, sour cream or in our case, raw jalapenos from our garden!