Mini Tamale Pies

11 Mar

I drove home tonight feeling a little stressed and really tired. I had worked two of my three part-time jobs. There are some changes brewing in my life that have me a bit on edge. I didn’t sleep well last night. And when I got home I thought “I really want to cook something.” Now food is usually a go-to comfort for me. I eat my feelings. But this was different – it wasn’t the idea of eating that I associated with stress relief but the act of cooking. I wanted to be in my kitchen with NPR on the radio, chopping some vegetables. This is a new, and welcome, Zen-ness.

After some Pinterest board perusing I settled on this recipe for Mini Tamale Pies – a little bit of chopping, relatively quick, and something I could put sour cream on. I mean, hey, even if I didn’t need to eat my feelings tonight, sour cream is a good accompaniment!

Start with the chopping – a little green onion and garlic.


While the onion and garlic are sautéing, drain and rinse the beans. Have I mentioned yet that I love pinto beans? I always forget about them but they are soooo good!


Mix those beans in with the onion and garlic. Someday I’ll really get on my A-game, stop using canned beans, and cook my own. (Tonight just wasn’t that night.)


Add most of a can of diced tomatoes. When I make this again I’ll probably just use chopped fresh tomatoes. Less sodium and more chopping Zen.


After you bring the mixture to a boil you’re suppose to mash it a bit and let it simmer until thickened.


While the topping is thickening you can play with the polenta! The one time I tried to making polenta myself it was a disaster so I went with the prepared this time. The package said “Some water separation is normal.” What the package didn’t say was that the damn thing would squirt water out when you tried to cut it open!


The squirt gun action aside, I was satisfied with my polenta experience. I cut some slices and laid them down in greased ramekins.


After the topping thickens you spoon it over the polenta.


Then layer on the cheese (more feelings!) and add some green onions.


20 minutes later corn-cheese-bean delish comes out of the oven ready to eat with some chips and sour cream!


I was a little surprised with how much the mixture shrunk down so next time I may just prepare four ramekins instead of six. But now I have plenty of leftovers and some to try and freeze, too!

IMG_7994I paired my meal with Karl Strauss Blackball Belgian IPA. I first tried this beer during Sacramento Beer Week and was considering it for my April beer dinner but I think I’ll look for another beer to go with my empanadas. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the beer, but the Belgian-ness doesn’t really go with the spices. Too bad, I guess I’ll just have to try a few more beers!


Mini Tamale Pies

Everything you’ll need:

  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced, green & white parts separated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, or equivalent amount of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Half a tube of polenta (roughly 8 ounces of a 16 ounce tube), sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco (I skipped and just added other spices)
  • 3/4 cup cheese
  • Toppings according to your feelings!


  1. Saute the onion and garlic in oil over medium heat, with salt and pepper to taste, for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the pinto and black beans, plus about 3/4 can of tomatoes and 1/4 cup water.
  3. Stir the mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Mash some of the mixture, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  5. While the mixture reduces, cut slices of polenta and place in the bottom of greased ramekins.
  6. Remove the bean mixture from the heat and season to heat.
  7. Layer the mixture over the polenta, add some cheese and green onion.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

One Response to “Mini Tamale Pies”


  1. Meal Planning! | Flour & Hops - July 22, 2014

    […] Mini Tamale Pie […]

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