After a little time away from cooking anything worth sharing (sorry, it’s been a busy couple of weeks!) I made an oldie but goodie recipe that my mom passed down to me after feeding it to me throughout my life. She passed on a recipe book filled with tons of dishes from the kitchen of my aunts, grandmothers, etc…and many of them are casseroles. The problem with many of the casseroles that were so popular in the fifties is that most of them call for so much butter and many of them include some form of Cream of Chicken (or mushroom or onion) soup, which aren’t the healthiest for us. So though they are great for special occasions and nights when you are entertaining and don’t want to spend the entire evening in the kitchen, this particular casserole is healthy enough to be a part of your weekly meals.

The other thing I love about this casserole is that is it completely customizable, whether you want to use ground beef or turkey, and can also choose what kind of tamales to use. Here is the recipe as it was given to me with the notes of how I have customized it for our house. Oh and for all you gluten-free fans, this one’s perfect for you! And did I mention it is super EASY to make and can be made ahead and/or frozen for a future meal? Enjoy and thanks for the recipe, Mom!

Tamale Pie Casserole

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Brown together in skillet:

1 lb ground turkey or beef*

1 med. Onion, chopped

1 clove Garlic, minced

Drain Fat. Then add:

2 to 3 Tbls chili powder to taste (I go for the full 3!)

In a large bowl mix:

4 large tamales (8 oz each) and broken into pieces & defrosted **

1 can diced tomatoes (1 lb 12 oz. size)  -Also can be made from scratch

1 large can whole kernel corn, drained –can also use fresh or frozen (defrost)

2 small cans chopped olives

Add ground meat mixture and mix all together. Pour into a buttered (I prefer olive oil) casserole dish or large Pyrex dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (I like the stronger parmesan cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano and usually by the organic raw kind but whatever your preference). Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges (it takes about 45 minutes in my oven so you may need more time)

Great served with a green salad filled with raw veggies such as carrots, turnips, tomatoes, red onions…you get it.

*ground chicken could also work! Please buy organic free range if available to you and for beef, grass-fed is SO much better for you! I will elaborate on why in a future blog but if you are interested, Google grass-fed versus grain fed for all kinds of info!

** there are so many options to choose from so get creative! You can use a variety vegetarian ones (I prefer using one with chilies, cheese, or sweet corn, etc…) but I also grew up with beef tamales, which definitely adds richness and holds the casserole together excellently!