this may not be the most sophisticated dish in my novice repertoire, but it is quickly becoming a family classic!  it’s a quick, tasty platform for whatever semi-mexi leftovers you have on hand.  the recipe originally came from Cooking Light, but it’s so versatile that you can use almost anything in your fridge.  tonight, we used leftover salsa verde (from these quesadillas), chorizo (from last weekend’s paella- yum!), and bell peppers sauteed with gorgeous green onions from last weekend’s farmer’s market:

you start with a spicy-cheesy cornbread base.  now, i just need to warn you that this calls for a can of creamed corn…i know, i know!  you’re already having visions of your grandma’s church potluck, row after row of ceramic casserole dishes filled with varying colors of mush.  i swear this is not that hotdish.  the creamed corn just lends the base a rich flavor, and gives it this texture that is somehow creamy and crispy at the same time.  you top this savory golden cake with meat/veggies, sprinkle with cheese and bake until gooey.  add a little salsa and sour cream, then call in the mariachi band because it’s a fiesta!

Tamale Cassarole
inspired by Cooking Light

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4 oz.) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5 oz.) box corn muffin mix
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained
1 (10 oz.) can red or green enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
garnish, if desired (see below)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2.  Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist.  Pour mixture into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

3.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until set.  Pierce surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top.  Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for another 15 minutes or until cheese melts.  Serve with garnishes: salsa, cilantro, avocado, or sour cream.