Tamale Casserole

March 12, 2012
Being someone who loves to cook, I didn’t anticipate the stress that would come from having to prepare a meal for our little family every night. Before Joey and I got married, dinner used to be the meal I used to round out my day. If I had eaten a lot of fruit for breakfast and lunch, I would choose whole grains and veggies for dinner. And if I was low on protein earlier in the day, dinner would be based around something like beans or a veggie burger. 
But now that I live with a guy who likes a good square meal on the table each night, it’s not quite so simple. Meal planning must not be in my DNA because I find the task of finding new weeknight recipes that are quick, simple and healthy a bit of a chore. Anyone with me?
Most weekends when I’m looking for recipes for the week ahead I go to Cooking Light magazine. Their recipes are health conscious, easy to prepare and don’t require a host of expensive ingredients. And for someone who is watching their grocery budget that’s a major bonus.
I made this Tamale Casserole from Cooking Light for dinner a couple weeks ago and it received rave reviews from Joe. Since he loves casseroles, I searched out a healthier casserole recipe that I could easily make vegetarian. Although the recipe calls for putting chicken atop the entire dish, I left off the chicken on about a third of the pan so I could enjoy it, too.
This dish is dense, flavorful and reheats well the next day as leftovers. And if you make the chicken breasts ahead of time, it comes together in no time at all. While the original recipe called for an entire can of enchilada sauce, I cut it back to a half cup since it seemed like an entire can would make the dish soggy. But if enchilada sauce is your thing, feel free to add more than the half cup I call for. 
Do any of you feel the stress when planning meals for your family during the week? What’s your solution?
Tamale Casserole
Adapted slightly from Cooking Light 2010
*1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
*1/3 cup fat free milk
*1/4 cup egg substitute
*1 teaspoon ground cumin
*1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
*1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
*1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy brand)
*1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained 
*1/2 cup enchilada sauce
*2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
*1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (optional, we didn’t use it)
*Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. 
*In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the cheese, the milk, egg substitute, cumin, red pepper, cream-style corn and corn muffin mix. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. 
*Remove dish from oven. Pierce the surface liberally with a fork. Pour enchilada sauce on top. Top with the shredded chicken breast and the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Cut into squares. Makes 8 servings
Happy Cooking!


  • Reply Cindy @ The Flipping Couple March 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Meal planning absolutely stresses me out! Thankfully, Nick also does a lot of cooking, so it doesn’t all fall on me. I honestly haven’t found much of solution yet, other than to keep our staples on hand at all times (chicken breast, piles of veggies and some sweet potatoes). If we have those basics I know we can get something on the table!

  • Reply Rachel March 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Yes, planning meals is a chore for me, specially after living by myself for so long! But – my husband is so appreciative of anything I make – which is very nice. He also does not mind leftovers one bit so I can make extra for another night. The only problem – he can eat alot of food and stay so slender! It’s amazing!! Often, there aren’t any leftovers when I think I’ve made enough for 2 meals! haha!!

  • Reply DessertForTwo March 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I love a good healthy casserole.
    I’m with ya on the pre & post-married cooking thing. I used dinner to round out my diet too, and ate ‘girl’ food: salads, beans & tofu. Now that there’s a boy in the house, I have to make real dinners. It’s a tough transition. I use magazines for ideas, and anytime I cook meat, I cook double because the leftovers help with the next meal.

  • Reply UrbanWife March 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Meal planning isn’t my favorite thing but it’s key to sticking to our budget and eating well. I usually make myself tackle the weekly menu on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings, before getting groceries done.

  • Reply Lauren at Keep it Sweet March 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I would love this! Meal planning is definitely more challenging when you have to think about what someone else would want. For me, I usually am focused on how many veggies I can make but for Matt he needs a decent protein. Lately we have been making a couple of pounds of chicken breasts on Sunday so that he can add them into anything I make.

  • Reply Kate K. March 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Do you have a substitution suggestion for the corn muffin mix (wondering what its function is in the dish I guess)? We don’t eat it because of the animal shortening.

  • Reply Chelsy Ethridge March 13, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Madison! In the past i have seriously stressed myself out over meal planning, and I don’t know if its because I am a food blogger or not, but no more! I have learned to take the stress out of planning meals…cooking and baking is what I LOVE to do and LIVE for, so why get stressed over what to cook and when? Looks ah-mazing btw! I absolutely love Cooking Light!

  • Reply Baking Serendipity March 13, 2012 at 5:05 am

    Yes! I agree with everything here. Cooking for my husband is so much more difficult than single lady dinners. I love your Cooking Light trick…and this casserole! We do a lot of grilling…a meat and a veggie are rockstars on the grill. I also love sandwiches, and almost always have a giant Costco bag of sweet potato fries in the freezer for a side dish 🙂

  • Reply Clara March 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Oh, can I relate! Before my boyfriend and I lived together, I would just have a biiig salad every night. I love to cook, but I liked the simplicity and ton of vegetables I was getting. Once we moved in together, I faced the same thing- he needed more than just a salad. Cooking more rounded meals most nights is definitely a little challenging at times, but I actually found I became a better cook in the last two years because I was somewhat forced to cook more complex dishes. This dish looks great!

  • Reply Megan Mitchell March 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    this looks SO good! making it next week, thank you 🙂

  • Reply Jules March 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I’m with you on the stress and wanting to stay within budget. I wasn’t much of a cook before I got married (6 months ago) so it was quite overwhelming at first. I’ve learned to plan ahead when I can and find myself going back to wonderful blogs like yours and my trusty Cooking with Trader Joe’s book. That being said I must thank you for your ongoing inspiration that has helped me face this new challenge!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry March 19, 2012 at 12:55 am

      Jules, nice to know I’m not alone! I’ve heard great things about the Trader Joe’s cookbook! Might need to pick one up.

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