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Tamale Bites

Time, my ultimate love-language.

Some women want gifts or sweet talk. Those things are nice, but all I really crave is ample time with the people I love.

Time is what I consider my greatest asset. I give it freely to loved ones, and become stingy when it’s under attack. If someone isn’t valuing my time, WASTING my time even…it makes me crabby! Just being honest.

To only spend time on VALUABLE efforts is the goal. “Just Say NO” is a real challenge, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like the bad guy saying no, but you have to protect your assets.

Faith, Family, Friends, Volunteering, Workouts, Cooking/Blogging, these things envelop my time. If something doesn’t fit under these parameters, I shove it with brute force it usually falls to the wayside. If something fits under these parameters and is “busy work” (meaning I think it’s a waste of time) it STILL usually falls to the wayside. *smile* What do you think, difficult or charmingly efficient?

This recipe is a time saver on TWO levels, do you know how excited that makes a person like me???

One, if you were going to make traditional tamales, this recipe cuts the time in half! The prep work is much quicker and so is the cooking time.

Two, this recipe starts with cooked shredded meat. That means, LEFTOVERS from another meal–such as a beef roast, pulled pork, grilled chicken, even take-out! So when you prepare one meal during the week, you are actually getting a head-start on the appetizers for your weekend gathering! Isn’t that EXCITING!?!

Truly, I’m bouncing in my seat over this!

For further appeal, these cute little tamale bites are slightly spicy, hearty, and perfect for cool weather. I recently took them to an event and they disappeared in no time!

This is another recipe that may very well end up at our Halloween Party this year–allowing me more time to decorate monster cookies with my babies. Yay!

Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely. ~Kay Lyons

To make Tamale Bites:

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Heat a skillet over medium–high heat. Add the shredded meat, and following seven ingredients. Stir well and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Simmer until all the liquid in rendered out–approximately 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, Mix 2 cups of masa with the baking powder, salt and cumin. Add the beef stock and mix to a crumbly consistency. Pour in the melted shortening and mix by hand until smooth.



Spray your mini-muffin tins with non-stick spray. Roll the masa mixture into small balls—about 2 tsp. each. Place one ball in each muffin cup and press with your fingers—or the back of a rounded measuring spoon—to make little shells.

Once the beef mixture has rendered out the liquid, stir in the sour cream and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill each masa shell with beef mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Allow the tamale bites to cool 3-5 minutes before extracting them from the muffin tins. Use a small sharp knife to lift one side, then gently lift them out with your fingers.

Garnish with crumbled queso fresco and thyme leaves. Serve warm!

Makes 40-48—depending on you mini muffin tins!

Tamale Bites

Yield: 40-48 bites

Ingredients:

2 cups masa (corn flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/3 cups beef stock
2/3 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1 lb. cooked shredded beef (or pork or chicken)
2 tsp. masa
1 Tb. tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 Tb. fresh thyme leaves, + extra for garnish
1-2 canned chipotle pepper, chopped
¼ cup sour cream (optional)
1 Tb. fresh lime juice
Water
Salt and pepper
Crumbled Queso Fresco to garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a skillet over medium–high heat. Add the shredded meat, and following seven ingredients. Stir well and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Simmer until all the liquid in rendered out--approximately 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, Mix 2 cups of masa with the baking powder, salt and cumin. Add the beef stock and mix to a crumbly consistency. Pour in the melted shortening and mix by hand until smooth.

Spray your mini-muffin tins with non-stick spray. Roll the masa mixture into small balls—about 2 tsp. each. Place one

Once the beef mixture has rendered out the liquid, stir in the sour cream and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill each masa shell with beef mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Allow the tamale bites to cool 3-5 minutes before extracting them from the muffin tins. Use a small sharp knife to lift one side, then gently lift them out with your fingers.

Garnish with crumbled queso fresco and thyme leaves. Serve warm!

Makes 40-48—depending on you mini muffin tins!

Making this recipe? Why not take a quick shot and share it on Instagram! Make sure to tag it #ASpicyPerspective so we can see what you're cooking!

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82 Responses to “Tamale Bites”

  1. lauraposted October 18, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Definitely charmingly efficient! I love it when I can make something out of leftovers, and these look perfect and delicious, Sommer. I completely agree about time – I absolutely love finding time saving tricks that still give amazing results. ( : XO

    Reply

  2. imwaytoobusyposted October 18, 2010 at 2:51 am

    "To only spend time on VALUABLE efforts is the goal. "Just Say NO" is a real challenge, isn't it? Sometimes I feel like the bad guy saying no, but you have to protect your assets."

    Fantastic quote! Time is our greatest commodity and is not to be wasted. I completely agree! I get a lot crammed into one day by being efficient. :)

    Thank you for your logo feedback! :)
    Andrea

    Reply

  3. Belinda @zomppaposted October 18, 2010 at 3:11 am

    These are precious. Time is well spent eating these!

    Reply

  4. Chow and Chatterposted October 18, 2010 at 3:18 am

    they look like perfect party food and your right time is so precious

    Reply

  5. penny aka jeroxieposted October 18, 2010 at 4:40 am

    Great quote! Love the party idea as well :)

    Reply

  6. Monetposted October 18, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Could these look any more appetizing? I think not! You are so skilled with your camera…and of course in the kitchen! I'm consistently impressed. I want one of these little guys right now. Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog…they are so appreciated during this difficult time.

    Reply

  7. Angie's Recipesposted October 18, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Oh yep…these would make a great party food! The queso fresco atop has brightened up these beauties.
    Angie

    Reply

  8. My Kitchen in the Rockiesposted October 18, 2010 at 5:22 am

    What a time saver. Fantastic. I have thought about making my own tamales. We could buy them at the farmers market until two weeks ago, but now we are almost out. Thanks, Summer.

    Reply

  9. Gourmandeposted October 18, 2010 at 7:53 am

    That really looks great ! Invite me to your party !
    Like you, I will take the time if that's worth it, I don't mind doing a bread over 4 days (not full time, it's more about planning), but if I can do something quicker, I don't hesitate.

    Reply

  10. Wheels and Lollipopsposted October 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

    These look delicious, I love tamales but when done like this its definitely more accessible. I just found corn flour here in France this weekend so will definitely give this a try.

    Reply

  11. Gitteposted October 18, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I love these! They look delicious and so adorable. I totally agree about how precious time is. There never seem to be enough hours in the day. This post was time well spent. Thank you for that.

    Reply

  12. Cake Duchessposted October 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Hi Sommer- these look son darn good I want one now for breakfast! Time does fly by so quickly. This is fantastic b/c it is all homemade and quick.:)

    Reply

  13. Cake Duchessposted October 18, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Meant to type so darn good;)

    Reply

  14. Dimahposted October 18, 2010 at 11:01 am

    These sound and look awesome!

    Reply

  15. cutekittypunkposted October 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    i'VE got a bag of masa and have been wanting to make tamales for some time – but i'm afraid they won't turnout – thank you so much for suggesting this idea – tamale cups – wow- genius… i like it! you rock!!

    Reply

  16. Suchitraposted October 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    really innovative and great dish- love it!

    Reply

  17. Rubyposted October 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Cute little bites – I'd help them disappear quickly! I also love the quote about time – so true!

    Reply

  18. JillyAnposted October 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Oh wow Sommer…that is so clever. We absolutely adore tamales but I never seem to find the time to make them the traditional way. This is awesome! Thanks for posting the recipe.

    Reply

  19. apiciusapprenticeposted October 18, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Que LINDO, Sommer! These are so beautiful and sound absolutely delicious!

    Reply

  20. claireposted October 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I agree with you… There aren't enough hours in the day!
    wow! i LOVE tamales, but have never made them myself… These look so delicious!

    Reply

  21. Island Vittlesposted October 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    these are a great appetizer for the party season that is coming up fast! Great idea that I'll definitely have to use…Theresa

    Reply

  22. Susiposted October 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I love your "time philosophy" and it sounds like a great way to weed out time wasters :o)
    Your recipe is simply awesome, my husband loves tamales but I don't care much for them since a lot of times the ratio of masa to meat is off. These little bites look like the perfect solution to this dilemma! Brilliant :o)

    Reply

  23. Torviewtorontoposted October 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    delicious
    lovely pictures

    Reply

  24. Marisaposted October 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    These little tamale bites are a truly genius idea! I really like this recipe and am so jelous of everyone who gets to go to your Halloween party! I agree with you about time. There is definitely not enough of it in a day!

    Reply

  25. Katerinaposted October 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    This is such a great way to use leftovers. And they are very elegant and impressive.

    Reply

  26. Victoria K.posted October 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    How adorable! I love these!!

    Reply

  27. She's Cookin'posted October 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I love tamales but often there is just too much masa. These are perfect!

    Reply

  28. Magic of Spiceposted October 18, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    These are so creative…love the idea :) Most defiantly charmingly efficient!
    I will try to come with something to enter for you, can it be a former post?

    Reply

  29. BakingWithoutaBoxposted October 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Great advice. Good looking food. Gorgeous photos!

    Reply

  30. Priya Sreeramposted October 18, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    hey lovely thoughts about TIME !very nice pics and recipe!

    Reply

  31. A Little Yumminessposted October 18, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    These look great for a cocktail party. Problen is I would eat them before the party starts.

    Reply

  32. Julie M.posted October 19, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Very creative Sommer! I love the look of these and I already know that they are going to be perfectly delicious!

    Reply

  33. Shirleyposted October 19, 2010 at 4:06 am

    The first time I had tamales, I was at a wedding and forgot exactly what they were and bit into it — leaf wrapper and all. It cracked up my friends the bride and groom. Yours looks delicious, and possibly more my speed. ;)

    Reply

  34. Carrieposted October 19, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Hey came to follow but don't see the box. Hmmm. Check out my blog when you get a sec. I usually write sarcastic stories about my everyday mom life but every so often I also feature people and places that are inspiring, neat, and relevant to life.

    Carrie
    the5thgirl.com

    Reply

  35. Diannaposted October 19, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Having made tamales before, I am curious as to the baking process. It takes a long time to steam tamales. I love this idea but is the masa done enough in baking it for a relatively short time? Does it get tough? Is it similar to a tamale in texture? It really is a ingenious idea if the masa texture is good because we all like more filling than the average tamale provides!

    Reply

  36. Lynneposted October 19, 2010 at 5:01 am

    This is a great way to use up leftover meat and I love anything made with masa. I'll definitly have to use this clever idea. I appreciate your step-by-step photos, too.

    Reply

  37. Cherineposted October 19, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Wonderful!!! Love the idea. Bookmarked!!

    Reply

  38. Katie@Cozydeliciousposted October 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Oh wow! These are awesome! My husband will die for these tamale bites – which kills two birds with one stone – yummy cooking and time with him! And maybe some friends too- I love good party food. I agree… it's always tough to make enough time!

    Reply

  39. Hyosun Roposted October 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Great pictures and lovely little bites! Definitely saving it.

    Reply

  40. briarroseposted October 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    So cute!

    Reply

  41. coolbloggerposted October 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Yummy dish. pretty cute.

    Reply

  42. Claudiaposted October 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    This is a winner Sommer – perfect nibbles for a fall eve.

    Reply

  43. Carolynposted October 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Fantastic! I love tamales, what a creative way to make them!

    Reply

  44. Chantel Beauregardposted October 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous! I love tamales!

    Reply

  45. blackbookkitchendiariesposted October 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    this looks so appetizing:) i love the bite size version of tamales.. yum! thank you for sharing this.

    Reply

  46. Emily Zposted October 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I am the same way with my time. I give mine freely and willingly to family and friends but tend to withdraw it from people who aren't respectful of my efforts. It's nice to feel appreciated!

    Reply

  47. Evan @swEEtsposted October 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    What a fabulous recipe! I love that they're just little bite size portions..

    Reply

  48. meltingbutter.composted October 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Great post, thanks for sharing this :0

    Reply

  49. Lori Lynnposted October 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Terrific idea I am about to make tamales. I must try this. I posted quesadillas last week, used the same brand as you I see from the photo.
    LL

    Reply

  50. Rosa's Yummy Yumsposted October 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Those tamale tartlets look so good! What a great idea.

    Time is precious so that is a wonderful and generous gift.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply

  51. Stellaposted October 20, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Hey Sommer, time is a mystical thing (smile). Sometimes it goes so fast and sometimes so slow. Either way, I'm inefficient, so I can't get grumpy about it;-)
    These tamales are beautiful by the way. I have a feeling I would eat a lot of them if they were in front of me!

    Reply

  52. A SPICY PERSPECTIVEposted October 20, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Dianna~

    I've made these a couple times…
    The first time, I placed a large pan of water on the rack below. The masa cups came out very moist and very similar to the texture of real tamales. The only problem was that they were hard to extract from the muffin tins without damaging the cup. The second time I tried it without the pan of water. The texture of the masa was definitely different from traditional tamales, but much easier to handle. I preferred the second batch. The flavor was on, even if the texture was a bit different!

    Reply

    • Connie — December 10th, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

      I’ve tried a similar idea, buying freshly made grocery store tamales and scooping out the filling then using the masa in muffin tins, adding the filling, topping with a bit of chili,minced onion, and shredded cheese…when I tried to removed them from the muffin tins they fell apart…maybe if I use this recipe to make the masa the results will be better…and then I could top each with a dab of chili (I think tamales need that or they are too dry)…anyway thanks for the inspiration!

      Reply

      • Connie — December 10th, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

        btw…my blog is cookingalone.blogspot.com

  53. Eileenposted October 20, 2010 at 1:49 am

    I think those would be perfect for a party. Hearty, but easy to handle. Oh yeah….

    Reply

  54. The Mom Chefposted October 20, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I saw the chipotles in adobo and fell in love. They are SO good. I heap them on forgetting how hot they really are! Looks fantastic.

    FYI, there's an award for you on my site. Hope you'll pick it up. I think you're awesome.

    Reply

  55. Trey Moranposted October 20, 2010 at 3:34 am

    I'm stealing this idea. lol I like the tamale cup idea. I do plantian cups every once in awhile for ceviche. Good job!

    Reply

  56. Kim - Liv Lifeposted October 20, 2010 at 4:01 am

    An excellent post! My neighbor is having a fairly large Halloween party as well and these just night be the perfect treat! Thank you so much!

    Reply

  57. Adelinaposted October 20, 2010 at 4:40 am

    ooh la la… I love these budles… I am saving this for my next fiesta.

    Reply

  58. Lawyer Loves Lunchposted October 20, 2010 at 4:56 am

    These are adorable and look so darn tasty! They'd make fabulous appetizers for a party I plan on throwing soon (as soon as I unpack my mini muffin pans) :) Congrats on Top 9! :)

    Reply

  59. thelonelyradish.composted October 20, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Great idea. They look so good.

    Reply

  60. Devakiposted October 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Perfect for a party Sommer! Excellent for the season and I love the quote and your perfect answer via these tamale bites!

    Ciao, Devaki 2 weavethousandflavors

    Reply

  61. Pacheco Pattyposted October 20, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    These are perfect party fare, very creative, full of good flavors and great looking. I'm planning my Halloween feast as well, thanks for sharing;)

    Reply

  62. Nirmalaposted October 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Sommer, I love this and how easy it is to make! Full of flavors, I'm sure they were a hit. I hear you on the time. It's precious.

    Reply

  63. Black22posted October 20, 2010 at 11:36 am

    great article, just stumbled onto this blog and looks good so far
    the-food-place

    Reply

  64. lacasitainspiradaposted October 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Mmmm… tamales are a family tradition for me. What a great take on the classic! Love that they can be made fast and are good for serving at parties!

    Reply

  65. almondposted October 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    This looks like lots of fun! I´m mexican and have never seen a "tamal" like this.

    Reply

  66. Gourmet Gadget Galposted October 20, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    I was thinking about these today and thought what a great basic idea this is to work with to update the party quiche thing. You could probably convert the idea easily to vegetarian too with a savory sweet potato filling or even a soft cheese and roasted chili mixture.

    Reply

  67. Kristenposted October 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I agree, time is a precious commodity that I certainly could use more of.

    What delicious little tamale bites…and so much easier than making the old fashioned kind!

    Reply

  68. denise @ quickies on the dinner tableposted October 21, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Charmingly efficient I think ;) These are smart and they have to be yummy! Thanks for a great idea – I will have this in mind, next time I'm staring at roast leftovers…

    Reply

  69. Jason Phelpsposted October 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I learned a good lesson about how long tamales take earlier this year. They are worth it, but you really do HAVE TO HAVE THE TIME!!!

    This twist makes sense and should work well for holiday entertaining.

    Jason

    Reply

  70. M @ Betty Crapperposted October 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    They look beautiful. What a great appetizer for a Mexican themed party. I love those canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I dunk my tortilla chips in that leftover sauce. MMMMMMMMM

    Reply

  71. Karenposted October 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    I LOVE this idea…the time-saving aspect, the presentation, the flavors and spice…perfect! These little tamales are a big winner!

    Reply

  72. sweetlifeposted October 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    oh dear..what a time saver…my mom would adore this as she works her tail off each year making tamales…me, I make small batches…lol great time saver, I agree time…is always my downfall..

    sweetlife

    Reply

  73. Tasty Eats At Homeposted October 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    What a great idea! I love this version!

    Reply

  74. Spicie Foodieposted November 1, 2010 at 2:01 am

    I have to tell you as a Mexican girl who also feels like there is never enough time this tamalitos look perfect! When I make tamales it is usually a 2 or even 3 day process for me alone to make them. But I always say that the effort is so worth it. With your recipe and technique I could still have the same taste presented cuter and prepared in a lot less time. This is such a brilliant idea!
    THanks for posting a YBR badge and for joining us. I do hope to see you on next month's YBR as well. Have a great week.

    Reply

  75. FamilySpiceposted November 5, 2010 at 3:13 am

    These look amazing! I love Mexican food but hate the fatty recipes. I could totally chow down on a few of these. Bookmarking it!

    Reply

  76. Lea Annposted November 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    What a wonderful idea and recipe. Beautiful photos. I hope you have an extra bedroom, because I'm coming to live with you. I'll even do dishes. :-)

    Reply

  77. Pingback: Chicken Tamales with Roasted Salsa Rojo

  78. Tezposted September 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Wow, you have a ton of comments but I couldn’t find any from people who have actually made these!

    I MADE THESE! Yesterday. And they were AMAZING. So easy, so delicious. My only change was to use melted butter instead of shortening, and it was delicious. One batch I made half butter/half olive oil, and it was delicious too (tasted the same, actually). I also used a vegetarian “beef” broth because I made several fillings and some of my guests were vegetarians. The masa was the best part. So delicious I had to stop myself from eating it raw. I made bigger ones (regular cupcake size) and they took about half an hour, I just waited until I could smell them. I did a shredded beef using your recipe and I can’t believe how good it is—I’m not usually a fan of beef unless it’s a t-bone.

    All in all, EXCELLENT recipe. I will be making these well into the future. Also, I had some leftover masa and I fried it up in a skillet this morning and ate it with eggs! Amazing!

    Reply

  79. Laura Nemecposted April 25, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Has anyone made these ahead of time? Can you make the tamale bites 2 days before and then bake them or should you bake them and then reheat?

    Reply

    • Sommer — April 25th, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

      Hi Laura, You can make them ahead and bake them when you need them. Just make sure to wrap them really well before refrigerating so they don’t dry out. :)

      Reply

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