Food and taste are cyclical in a person’s life. A dish that is a hands-down favorite in your childhood may not seem so desirable as an adult. Take scrambled eggs. These were my favorite childhood breakfast, but once I was a teenager I detested their wobbly texture and thought their odor was slightly sulfuric. Then, when I was pregnant, I couldn’t seem to eat enough scrambled eggs.
So what does this have to do with tamale pie? Everything. You see tamale pie is one of those dishes many of us loved in our youth, but then either forgot about or hated once we were in our 20s. The whole casserole thing belonged to a time of culinary naiveté from the 70s and 80s, and so we tucked the thought of tamale pie away with deviled eggs and Jell-O.
But now that I’m a mom trying to find new meals for my kids to eat, I have finally come full circle. What seemed unsophisticated a few years ago now seems like a completely legitimate dinner for a family with two kids. There is nothing urbane or refined about a weekday meal crammed in between homework and Girl Scouts and a quick casserole that is full of nutritious ingredients your kids will eat without complaint is the only appeal you need. From Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole to Cheesy Enchilada Casserole, my weekday meals are relying more and more on one-dish recipes that fall into the category of comfort food and are easy on a kid’s tongue. Bring on the casseroles and pass the sour cream!
Here’s my Half-the-Meat Tamale Pie recipe. Unlike other similar casseroles, this one uses only a half-pound of meat (either beef or turkey is fine) plus two cups of whole beans. This makes it not only more heart healthy, but also incredibly inexpensive. The entire dinner for four to six people costs about $10 to make and includes fresh vegetables like Anaheim peppers and whole kernels of corn. It’s also a dish my children love, and I have to say that although I wouldn’t have made this dish in my 20s, I am rather fond of it now.
I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise's Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.
If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to receive more just like it.
Bay Area Bites (BAB), KQED's public media food blog, feeds you visually compelling food-related stories, news, recipes and reviews from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Enter your email address to receive updates each time we publish new posts.
People are notorious for under-reporting what they consume — they lie, forget or just guess wrong. For researchers who want to know how much soda we’re drinking, a high-tech analysis technique could help.
People diagnosed with ADHD as children may be more apt to be obese in adulthood, scientists say. Differences in brain biology or the impulsiveness typical of ADHD may contribute to lasting, bad eating habits.
After years of research, an animal scientist looking for ways to keep inflammation down in cattle came up with a novel approach: feed them flax. The flax in their food helps keep animals healthy and has an added benefit for those who later eat their meat: omega-3 enriched beef.
See how a dripping blob of bacteria and yeast makes fizzy, homemade kombucha and bonds a mother and daughter. Liberally illustrated with drawings of Kombucha Killers, Vessel Guide, Friendly Add-Ins, Dangers Signs and Brewing Steps.
Rather than waiting for someone to give you a treat, why not make one of your favorites for yourself? Something you can snack on all week when no one’s around. Or, better yet, something you don’t have to share. Food writer T. Susan Chang recommends slow-roasted pecans, salty-sweet matzo candy and more.
Emerald green and tender, yet with a gentle crunch, garden peas can be so delightful when fresh — and so disappointing when not. Try them now in their seasonal prime in these recipes for chilled soup, a citrusy spread and a traditional rice dish.
The Canadian astronaut didn’t just tweet and sing his heart out during his five months as commander of the International Space Station. He also took time out to show the world what it’s like to eat up there.
In honor of its 20th anniversary, Bay Area Bites looks back on how the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market has become a San Francisco institution for chefs, home cooks, and curious eaters from around the world.
The fourth episode of Season 8 features these restaurants: Pompei’s Grotto (San Francisco), Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food (Santa Clara) and SPQR (San Francisco). Leslie Sbrocco shares wine tips about Napa Valley wines.
Every aspiring curd nerd yearns to embiggen their knowledge base about the dairy darlings they adore. Garrett McCord shares two books that help you gain a broader understanding of cheese and supply you with tasteful cheese-centric recipes.
As in his previous books, Michael Pollan argues in “Cooked” that relying on processed food disrupts our link to the natural world and weakens our interpersonal relationships. But this time he takes a more hands-on approach, doing apprenticeships with a variety of culinary masters who teach him the fine points of fermentation, the benefits of bacteria, and other secrets of honest cuisine. He joins KQED’s Forum in the studio.
Are the benefits of genetically engineered foods worth the risks? Check out this half-hour special from QUEST Northern California that explores the pros and cons of genetically engineered crops and what the future holds for research and regulations.
A precociously independent toddler packs a healthy homemade lunch and heads off to snack in Bernal Height’s Holly Park in San Francisco. This video is a promo for Kim Laidlaw’s new book: Baby & Toddler On The Go: fresh, homemade foods for a busy life.
A dozen Deaf Foodies relish the tastes and history of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto in a 3 hour tasting tour presented completely in American Sign Language (ASL) by food writer (and ASL interpreter) Anna Mindess through Edible Excursions.