Tamale Pot Pies

It’s wet out there! And the forecast includes more wild, windy and wet weather each day all week. I’m quite happy to have the time indoors to work on some projects that have been neglected for the last month or two, though, and make some comfort food recipes as well.

This afternoon I made Tamale Potpies. I didn’t have all of the ingredients called for in this recipe from Cooking Light, and so I’ve made due with what I have in my kitchen. There’s no way I’m heading to the grocery store this afternoon!

Tamale Pot Pies


2 teaspoons canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

12 oz. ground chicken (I used ground pork)

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup chopped zucchini (this was an ingredient I didn’t have)

3/4 cup corn

1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained

1 (8 ounce) can unsalted tomato sauce

cooking spray

1/2 cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 cups water, divided

3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded and divided (about 3/4 cup)


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add pork (or chicken); cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Stir in cumin, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook one minute.
  3. Add zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and tomato sauce, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Divide meat mixture evenly among 4 (10 ounce) ramekins (or in my case, 8, 5 ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a jelly roll pan.
  5. Place remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cornmeal, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually add cornmeal mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 oz of cheese.
  6. Divide cornmeal mixture evenly among ramekins. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.Along with a green salad and black beans, this is dinner. Just perfect for a cold, rainy evening at home.

Some Sensory Fun

I’m so grateful for the bountiful rain we’ve been getting here in drought stricken California. What a difference a couple months of normal rainfall make. The sound of water rushing through our seasonal creek is absolute music to my ears! When we have little ones spend a day at our home during these cold, wet months we still have plenty of outside time, wearing rain boots and coats. There are puddles to be splashed in and the creek to wade through, lots of running and exploring still to do, but of course, we spend much more time indoors than out. Here are some simple recipes to make for some indoor sensory fun with children.

My play dough recipe is the same one I used when my own boys were young and the one I made when I taught young children. There are many great recipes for play dough, but I prefer this one, perhaps for sentimental reasons.

Play dough


1 cup flour

1 cup water

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/3 cup salt

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

food coloring


Directions: Measure all ingredients and place in a saucepan on medium heat. I use a wooden spoon that I’ve designated just for play dough (It will get stained from the food color) and stir the ingredients together until a ball forms.IMG_7623This is the play dough straight out of the pan  and cooling on parchment paper. Once cool enough to handle, begin kneading.IMG_7624 I added 4 – 5 drops of essential oil and kneaded it a minute or two longer once the dough was cool to touch.IMG_7625And here it is, so pliable and smooth, silky and soft. Just perfect for little hands.IMG_7626On this occasion I placed it in a Rubbermaid tub, along with pinecones, seed pods, sticks and other bits of nature and just let the magic happen.IMG_7696


Cloud Dough


Four measures of all purpose flour to one measure of oil. Baby oil adds a lovely scent, but vegetable oil works well if your little one might be tempted to taste. Grate in chalk if you’d like to add color.IMG_7299No cooking and so easy, just mix the ingredients together. Add a drop or two of essential oil if desired (I used lavender). The texture is like pastry.IMG_7301IMG_7303Playing with the dough with our hands felt quite therapeutic as we squished and crumbled and raked it with our fingers. Add child sized rolling pins, small kitchen utensils, cookie cutters or small toys. And as soon as you can, get back outside again!

Store each of these doughs in ziplock bags and each will keep for a few weeks.