Foodbuzz 24×24 – Tamales Together

(A non-Traditional Thanksgiving)

On Thursday, November 25th, 2010, my family gathered together in my home to celebrate all the blessings we’ve been given this year.  In the spirit of thanks, I thought it would be fun to have a non-traditional Thanksgiving and share the gift of tamales (specifically, tamale making) with those I love.  Together we mixed, spread, and steamed DOZENS of tamales and shared in a feast of tamales, enchiladas, rice and beans…a feast for both vegans and carnivores alike!

Many thanks to Foodbuzz for the opportunity to host this dinner with my family!  They also provided a $250 stipend to help pull the dinner off!  THANKS, THANKS, THANKS!!!!

Prep Work

 In order to have a successful make-and-take AND still be able to have a sit-down meal there needed to be a decent amount of prep work completed before hand.  Thank the good Lord I have an amazing mother who was willing to prep all the meat tamales and enchiladas on Wednesday while I was having Turkey Day dinner at my in-laws (sis-in-law is a police officer and she couldn’t join us on Thursday so we had pre-Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday afternoon).  So early Wednesday morning I headed over to my mom’s and prepped the vegan enchiladas, cooked up some sweet potatoes for the in-laws, and helped mom get a few things ready for her prep work. 


When it came down to making vegan enchiladas I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do…enchiladas are typically LOADED with cheese…vegans don’t eat cheese…hmmm, a problem (my brother and sister-in-law are vegans, and I do TRY to stay away from lots of dairy products).  What do I do about the cheese?  I remembered seeing a cheese sauce recipe on Oh She Glows and thought I’d give it a try.  The results were decent but NOT at all like cheese.  

Roasted Veggie Layered Enchiladas


  • 2 large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 medium Rutabega
  • 1 medium Parsnip
  • 1 medium Acorn Squash
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2 cups Brown Rice
  • 1 bag Frozen Corn
  • 1 15oz can White Beans
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups Veggie Broth
  • ~2 Tbs. Arrowroot Powder
  • 2-3 Tbs. Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • EVOO
  • Triple Batch Cheeze Sauce

Directions –

1.    Cut the first 4 ingredients into small, bite-sized pieces.  Throw in a roasting pan or cookie sheet, coat with EVOO and salt and pepper.  Throw in the oven at 400* for 40-45 minutes (stir once half way through).

2.    While the veggies are roasting, prepare your rice (I used brown rice, I think this adds a nice nutty flavor that pairs well with the veggies).

3.    When veggies are ~15 minutes from being done, saute the onion and then add the kale and “steam” it.

4.    Once roasted veggies are finished, pull from the oven, stir in the following: beans, kale/onion mixture, rice, and corn.  Add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Sprinkle with cumin.  Stir and set aside.

Veggies Pre-Roasted

Veggies After Roasting

5.    Prep your enchilada sauce (or you can buy canned red enchilada sauce).  Before getting started with the enchilada sauce gather up all the ingredients – EVOO, Garlic Powder, Cumin, Chili Powder, Veggie Stock with 2 Tbs. Arrowroot Powder (mix this ahead).  In a pan, at medium heat, toast your chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder in a dry for ~45 seconds (be careful that it doesn’t burn), you will smell a difference when it is ready.


6.    Add EVOO to your chili powder and mix well.  Pour in your Stock/Arrowroot mixture.  Cook until your stock thickens.  You may have to add more liquid or more arrowroot (mix with a bit of water first) to get a nice consistency.  Whisk away.  Taste, if it needs more seasoning this is the time to add it.

7.    Dip your corn tortillas in the enchilada sauce one at a time, layer 6 tortillas on the bottom of a pan, spread 1/3 of the veggie mixture on top of the tortillas, pour 1/3 of the enchilada sauce over veggies.  Repeat layers 2 more times.  Add cheeze sauce and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

***The enchiladas tasted good, but I think next time I would add less cheeze sauce or add it after cooking.  I think too, that it would be TONS better with the Cashew Ricotta that I’ve used in pastas (or with the real deal – Dairy Cheese, if you are not a vegan or dairy-free).  Experiment and let me know what you think.

Tamale Making

The process of making tamales can be LONG and LABOR intensive…but the outcome is always worth the time and effort put into them.


  • 4 cups Corn Masa (I use Maseca)
  • 3 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 2 1/2 cups sauce (red – enchilada sauce, green – green chili enchilada sauce)

In your Kitchen Aid Mixer (or any large stand mixer) add all the ingredients until all ingredients are well incorporated.  You’ll know it is ready when you can pinch the masa together and it holds a shape.  If it’s dry or crumbly, add more enchilada sauce.

IN THE MIX (fillings, that is)

Meat – shredded Beef and/or pork – 1/2 pound per 1 dozen tamales, cooked and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper), add about 1/3 cup enchilada sauce to the mix (you can buy canned or make your own using the recipe for enchiladas above).   OR substitute turkey for the beef/pork mixture and green chili enchilada sauce for the red…EQUALLY delicious!

After spreading  ~2-3 Tbs. masa on soaked corn husks (spread it on the smooth side, it will make your life easier), starting from the open edge and spreading down (leave 2″ or so at the bottom with no masa), spoon ~2 Tbs. meat into center of the tamale and roll the tamale up and fold the edge over.  Place in a steam pan. 

Once your pan is full, steam your tamales for 30 – 45 minutes.  Testing?  The dough will be firm and will NOT stick to the husk when your tamales are finished.  Check frequently ensure you have enough water, you don’t want to steam tamales in a dry pan, trust me, I know this from experience!

Meet Tamales – Plated and Ready to Eat!

Vegitarian – Directly into the masa add the following: 1/2 bag frozen corn, 1 can black beans, 1 cup green chilis, and shredded cheese (dairy or dairy free).

Once your masa is well mixed, simply spoon 3-4 Tbs. masa into center of a soaked corn husk (smooth side) and roll up.  No need to spread here!   Same cooking directions, except this will probably take longer to cook through.

Mom and family friend, Dave preparing veggie tamales for steaming!  See the consistency of the dough…this is what you want.

My brother Rubin working away!

Here we are, ready to steam!  One pot of vegetarian tamales were devoured ~ 45 minutes after this photo was taken!

Extreme close-up!  Mmmm, so tasty!

Pumpkin Dessert Tamales – These tamales are a work in progress.  They taste best straight from the steamer, drizzled with honey!

In your stand mixer, mix the following:  7 c. masa, 2 1/2 c. puree pumpkin, 2 c. oil, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2-3 Tbs. cinnamon (depends on your taste), 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. clove, 1/2 c. agave nectar, 1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips, 1/2 c. coconut flakes, 3/4 c. chopped walnuts.  

Follow same prep and cooking instructions as vegetarian tamales.

Pumpkin Dessert Tamales Pulled Straight From the Steamer

There you have it!  Each member of my family was able to leave with about 7 dozen tamales…meat, vegetarian, and pumpkin!  Tamales freeze beautifully and heat up WONDERFULLY when they are re-steamed.

Still Time to Recycle!

Hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving and that the rest of the holiday season is full of love, family, and blessings!