We had picked up several different meal kits at Target a few weeks ago, and soon after, I was in a dinner panic. I looked through the pantry, and picked the Spicy Southwestern Tamale Pie by Archer Farms, their more upscale house brand. Priced under $5 with servings for 4, this is definitely a frugal meal, completely vegetarian andfairly healthy (sodium and carbohydrates aside). It's also really easy to put together. I also loved that the box is fairly compact, which means it didn't take up a lot of pantry space.
Inside the kit is three packets: the cornbread topping mix, the beans and the spices.This is seriously simple: you simmer the beans with the spices in some water for about 15-20 minutes, mix up the cornbread topping (with milk and an egg, I believe), and preheat your over. Once everything's ready, pour the bean mixture into a 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish, top with the cornbread topping and bake until topping is puffed and brown, which took us about 25-30 minutes. This was really good! The beans had a really hearty, homey taste, were thick, and the mix also contained tomato bits and corn niblets. The cornbread was perfectly cooked, firm and crisp on top, soft on the bottom, and also contained corn niblets. E and I both had this the next day for lunch, and it was just as good - the best part was that the cornbread didn't get mushy or develop a different texture than it had the night before.
Would I purchase this again? Most definitely. I'd probably add some lemon juice and/or fresh cilantro to the filling the next time to brighten it up a little bit, and while I did sprinkle some cheese between the cornbread and the beans, I would omit that the next time, as you couldn't taste it one bit.
I served this with my mother-in-law's fantastic corn and black bean fresh salsa and Archer Farms' Blue Corn with Flaxseed Tortilla Chips. These are definitely my new favourite tortilla chips! At under $3, they're affordable and I love that the packaging includes a ziptop to really keep the product fresh. They're actually pretty, an almost purpley blue, with whole flaxseeds throughout. I also appreciate that they're not greasy or salty, and that they're thin enough for that perfect crunch, while thick enough to hold up to any dip. They'd be wonderful for parties.