I do not always handle stress very well. In fact, it could be said that–at times–I do not handle stress at all but rather ignore it. This has never worked out for me, of course, because it results in me 1) crying and 2) eating. So I have been on a mission, of sorts, to find healthier ways to deal with the stress in my life. Thanks to my 2013 goal of cooking 40 or more new recipes, I have found one such way – to cook.
Cooking these past few months has become a form of therapy for me. Having to focus my mind on a new recipe takes me away from whatever negative event has occurred that day. Chopping and dicing and mincing help me to work out pent-up frustration and anger. Stirring is soothing. And tasting something delicious that I prepared with my own two hands sends my endorphins flying. It’s magical, really.
You may be wondering to yourself, She’s just now figuring this out? But it’s not as though I have suddenly realized that cooking makes me happy. I have loved food preparation since I was a little girl, after all. It’s just that I’ve finally become conscious of why I like to cook so much, apart from keeping myself fed.
Yesterday, for example, I came home from work and got myself straight into the kitchen. It had been an awful day at work (the kiddos, who are required to wear school uniforms, had a free-dress day and apparently thought that meant a free-for-all day), but in the course of preparing a meal for my husband and me, I was transformed from disgruntled to relaxed and content. Magical.
This weekend, John and I are in the midst of another marathon work session. We have both let grading pile up, and we are both less than two weeks away from state testing days. So what am I doing to keep myself sane? Cooking, of course.
This afternoon, I got The Hungry Girl’s Outside-In Turkey Tamale Pie going in the slow cooker. I still have a batch of The Pioneer Woman’s salsa sitting around, so I’ve been on a Tex-Mex kick of late.
Time-wise, the recipe was fairly quick to pull together, although it does dirty up extra dishes because 1) you cook the ground turkey on the stove prior to placing it in the slow cooker, and 2) you mix together the cornmeal and chicken broth in a separate bowl first.
Taste-wise, the tamale pie was good enough to earn 3 stars on its own. The cornmeal-broth mixture had thickened during cooking, which gave the dish a nice casserole-like consistency. On the table, I set out shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, cilantro, and guacamole as optional toppings, and the overall rating of the recipe went up to at least a 3.5 star with the toppings. I stuck with just cilantro and salsa on my serving since I’m still counting Points, but John found the cheese and guacamole to be extra-tasty.
Outside-In Turkey Tamale Pie
1¼ lbs raw lean ground turkey
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
One 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes with chiles (not drained)
1 small onion, chopped
¾ cup canned sweet corn kernels, drained (I used frozen)
½ cup canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup sliced black olives
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1. Bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook and crumble turkey for about 6 minutes, until browned and fully cooked. Drain excess liquid and transfer turkey to a crock pot.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk cornmeal with broth. Let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Add cornmeal mixture to the crock pot along with all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
4. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. (Three hours on high was plenty for me.)
Yield: 7 servings (serving size: about 1 cup). Per serving, 6 PointsPlus.