67. Tamale Pie

I’ve been very dilligent on the cooking-end of Dinner is Served! but I must admit that I’ve gotten a little behind on the posting. So it’s not until now that I give you #67, Tamale Pie. Please keep in mind I don’t remember how long ago I made it and I apparently did not take any notes on it. At least I have photos.

My only modification with this recipe was that I added a lot more chili powder, black pepper, and garlic salt. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might over-season everything. Well, it’s not over seasoned to me or Cleve because he’s a smoker and I am only 4 months smoke-free (self-congratulations to me. Although damn, it’s warm out and it’s the first time I’ve even thought about them in at least three. It’s spring and I miss you Parliaments, I truly do. But like any other destructive relationship, I must exercise self-control and not get drunk and end up at the end of the night with my lips all over you). Anyway, I like big flavors. I sometimes think that if anyone else were to eat my, let’s use Caesar Salad as an example–they would think, “Wow, that’s a lot of hot sauce, Dijon, salt, and garlic. A lot.” Whereas I’m all, “this could be hotter.” Or maybe not. The only taste buds I have are my own.

The only problem we encountered (and I say ‘we’ because there was math involved) was the big decision of what size casserole dish to use. Dinner is Served! calls for a 12″x 8″ x 2″ baking dish (which doesn’t exist in present day bakeware), but look at the photo on #67. That ain’t a baking dish, that is a big-ass ceramic casserole! So this became a very important decision–big casserole dish or little? 

I am such a pop-culture whore that I call it the Rebecca Black conundrum:

Kickin’ with the 3-quart

Sittin’ in the 5-quart

Gotta make my mind up

Which size do I baaaaake?

I was worried that the insides of the casserole and the Jiffy would somehow expand enough that the small casserole dish would not have the volume to contain all that Tamale Pie. Yet, Cleve made the call and said to go with the 3-quart. To his credit, this was the right choice (see final #67 photo at the end). Aside from that, it was smooth sailing. It baked, it set, it looked okay, and tasted much better. And, it tasted even better in my lunches all last week. I’m glad that I added all of the extra spice because otherwise I think that the corn bread + the corn in the mixture would have made the casserole too sweet. But with the little bit of extra heat, it was all kinds of yum.

For the salad I just topped a bag of pre-washed American salad mix with homemade guacamole, which is one of my favorite things on the planet. Here’s a secret: there is no need for you to ever buy pre-made guacamole or buy one of those ‘guacamole’ seasoning packets that they sell next to the avocados. Nor is it necessary to purchase expensive cilantro or sear your tear ducts by mincing jalepenos. This is my fail-proof, super easy way to make some of the best guacamole you’ll ever taste.

Emily’s Star Market Guacamole

Combine with a fork:

  • 1 sliced avocado
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 plum tomato seeded and diced
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp salsa verde
  • 1 tbsp red salsa
  • ground pepper
  • copious amounts of garlic salt

You can adjust all of the ingredients to your liking.

Mash with a fork. I prefer mine chunky, but if you like a smoother consistency feel free to blend. Cover with plastic wrap (put the plastic wrap directly on the guacamole so the avocado doesn’t brown), and chill.

*Note: If you are really in a pinch, just combine mashed avocado with jarred salsa. But you need both kinds–the red salsa for the tomato and onion and the green for the cilantro and jalepeno. It won’t have as fresh or as full a taste, but if you’re ever caught in a guacamole-related emergency, your ass is covered.

Now, for the dessert. I really shit the bed on the Chocolate Parfaits. If I were to make a dish based solely on its name, I would’ve just layered some cool whip with chocolate pudding in some nice glasses. But no! #67 states clearly: “Early in the day or the day before, make Chocolate Parfait. Freeze.” So I did what I was going to anyway and then just chucked them in the freezer. Cool Whip is sold frozen, so it didn’t seem like a radical idea. But yeah, freezing pudding and Cool Whip isn’t a fantastic idea. It doesn’t taste bad, it’s just initially inedible because they’re so hard. Once they sat out for a bit and starting melting, the Chocolate Parfaits were just fine, it’s just that they took a looooooong time to thaw. And they were ugly. So ugly that I didn’t even bother to take a picture.

Here are my side by sides:

This wasn’t my best photographic effort, but you get the idea. I give myself bonus points for the olive/green pepper ring detail, even if I couldn’t quite get the angle right.

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