Tamale Pie is very forgiving and flexible.
1-2 lbs beef (burger, leftover roast, canned beef chunks, or whatever you have--we love half burger half beef chunks)
1 celery stalk, sliced (optional)
1/2 green pepper, diced (optional)
1 can chili OR 1-3 c home made leftover chili OR 1 can other beans (small red, pinto, kidney, pork-and-, or whatever) plus 1 tsp-1 tbsp chili powder OR 1 can tomato sauce PLUS 1 tsp-1 tbsp chili powder
1-2 cans tomato stuff (tomatoes--undrained and cut up small, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato soup, salsa, etc.) OR a couple of fresh or frozen tomatoes, diced
1 can diced green chilis (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
couple of shakes of garlic powder
1 tbsp minced dried onion (opt) OR 1/2 fresh onion, minced (opt)
1-3 c shredded cheese (any kind you can shred)
1 recipe cornbread batter OR this one:
1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
a handful of sugar
4 tsp baking soda
1 can creamed corn OR 1 can regular corn, blended
1 egg (or I used 3 egg yolks tonight...whatever you have on hand)
1/2 c milk or 2 tbsp powdered milk powder stirred into the flour plus 1/2 c water
Mix it all together.
Cook the meat and veggies until they're done (no longer pink, or heated through, or tender, depending on what you used). Drain off the grease. Add everything else except the cheese and cornbread batter. Stir. Heat to boiling and simmer gently for 10 minutes to let the flavors blend. Meanwhile, mix up the cornbread batter if you haven't yet. Add 1/2-1 c cheese to the meat sauce and stir it in. Spread 2/3 cornbread batter in large greased baking dish (9x13 works fine). Sprinkle rest of cheese over the batter. Spoon meat mixture on top. Spoon rest of the cornbread batter around the edge to make a border, or "draw" a lattice, or put dots on wherever to make "islands". Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until cornbread is done (knife inserted in border comes out clean).
The variations do change the flavor some, but all taste good.