Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie

I swear, I wasn’t going to post any pumpkin recipes this “season.” Mostly because I think it’s really overrated orange mush that people like to mask the flavour of with more complimentary flavours such as cinnamon and cloves.

We’ve talked about how it’s processed and in a can, right? Well, I’ve already contradicted myself once with an impromptu pumpkin cream cheese waffle posting, and today I’ll share with you why I had pumpkin hanging out in my fridge to begin with. Around these parts you can only get pumpkin in 28oz cans. That’s a lot of orange mush to be creative with.

I promise you, the next two recipes contain no cinnamon or cloves. This is pumpkin done savoury and edible!

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie


  • 1-1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 chipotle chiles, minced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce (your favourite kind, I used plain)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn

For cornbread topping:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp molasses


Brown beef in a large pan with onion, garlic, peppers, sweet potato, and spices. Add in sauce, beans, and corn, and let simmer for 30 mins.

While beef mixture is simmering, mix together the cornbread ingredients. You can separate the dry and wet, but I’m not picky. The pumpkin and juices from the filling usually keeps it from getting too dry from over-mixing anyways.

When the beef is done simmering, pour it into a 9×13 casserole dish and pour cornbread batter overtop. Bake in a 400F oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cornbread clean.

I went for a pumpkin whole wheat cornbread to make it healthier, of course. I figured if there was ever a time to healthify cornbread, it would be when there’s ground beef involved. The hint of molasses and whole wheat not only gave it depth in taste, but colour as well! I also snuck sweet potato in there for extra vegetables, which offset the heat of the chipotle wonderfully. I’m currently not allowed to eat hard cheese, but I didn’t miss it all. Overall, a dish that is definitely worth cracking open a can of orange mush for!

Of course, using only one cup of it, I had some leftovers. I was determined to get meals out of them and not just spiced desserts.

Enter Pumpkin Focaccia. Pronounced foe-caw-chuh (for my friends from the ‘view).

I based my version off of this recipe and it was freakin fantastic. I made the following changes:

  • Left out cheese (again, not allowed, but I really want to try this recipe again with it!)
  • Added 1.5 tbsp of finely chopped fresh rosemary to the dough
  • Topped with roasted pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts

I made it into two small rectangular loaves. One of which my family pretty much inhaled straight out of the oven slathered in butter. The rest I enjoyed with my usual fried eggs and cream cheese in the morning.

I can’t be helped.

These are just some of the highlights of many great dishes from the last three chemo-free weeks. I had chemo #9 of 12 on Wednesday and am back in the chair for #10 next Wednesday. Needless to say, I’ll be dragging my heels and taking a lot more naps for the next little bit. I’ve been trying to teach Buster how to fetch things for me, but uh, he’s an easily distracted pup.

As soon as he brings it to me, he comes in for cuddles and completely forgets about the toy.

Thankfully, he’s a pro at lying around too.

If you have any interest in hearing my speak about what it’s been like living with cancer click here to listen to Part 1 of a radio interview I did. Part 2 should be posted on that website after 12pm Atlantic time today. Also, if you’re in my area, be sure to check out the CBC’s Tree of Hope fundraiser on Nov. 24 to help directly benefit cancer patients like me in Moncton.

Have a great weekend!

Posted on November 18, 2011, in Baking, Buster, Pets, Recipes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Your puppy is ridiculously cute and that focaccia looks amazing!

  2. Love that puppy!!! The radio link doesn’t work for me….it goes to the foccacia recipe instead :)

  3. Sure….highlight my ineptitude for pronouncing foreign breads. I’ll forgive you for a piece of that corn bread.

  4. Pumpkin focaccia, I intrigued. It’s beautiful and and toasted pumpkin seeds seem more like the right thing to do than pecans. This would be a great bread for our Thanksgiving. Hello cute puppy!

  5. haha Buster totally looks like he is diving head first into the blankets… haha love it!

  6. Awesome recipe and it will do my home-made pumpkin puree justice since it took 2 hours to do.

  7. You have such creativity when it comes to food… I love it! And Buster is just irresistible. I don’t know how you can get anything done with that kind of cuteness around.


  8. That is one photogenic pup, Susan. And as the self-appointed President of the PLFCC (better known as the Pumpkin Lovers Fan Club of Canada) I am delighted to see you getting over your aversion to orange mush! I will waive the membership fee for you if you’d like to join! :) Hope you have a great weekend. It’s darn crispy in Leslieville!
    – Trish

  9. Andrew van Geest

    I have to agree,you are great in the kitchen.You’re always trying a new recipe or being more innovative and creating your own experiments.

    That Buster really looks like a fun little burst of energy to have around, always posing for a photo with those puppy eyes,eh;)

    Anyway best regards, Susan:)

  10. LOVE the pics of Buster! He is the cutest thing!!

  11. Looks tasty! I love the pictures of your baby! So, so cute!!

  12. That picture of Buster is AMAZING. Omg! So cute!

  13. really glad you broke your ‘no pumpkin’ declaration because both of these recipes look great! definitely keeping that tamale pie in mind in the next few weeks–unlike you i can’t get enough pumpkin :)

  14. pumpkin focaccia, damn. That does look good! Dunk that sucker into some chlil!

    Good luck with next weeks chemo! Praying for ya!

  15. Pumpkin focaccia looks amazing! I may see if I can adapt it to gluten free for Thanksgiving! I know it’s orange mush in a can but I just love pumpkin.

    Good luck on your upcoming chemo treatment! You are getting so close to finished and that’s awesome! I’m praying for a cancer free birthday for you! :)

  16. These are both filed in my Recipes folder for ASAP usage. They look incredible. :-)

    Three more to go… Such a journey, Susan. Blessings to you and yours – too-cute-for-his-own-good pup included.

  17. I’m so happy to see a savory pumpkin dish! Both the pie with cornbread topping AND the foccacia sound amazing! Totally wishing I wouldn’t have used my left over pumpkin from the rolls I made on pumpkin oats.

  18. your pup is just too darn cute. how old is the little rascal now?

    that cornmeal topped pumpkin sweet potato pie looks wonderful – i’m thinking about trying a vegetarian option. any thoughts on non-soy substitutes for the beef? perhaps just on increase in the beans. or perhaps some mushrooms or would that make it less “tamale” like?

    have a restful weekend.

    • He’ll be one year on Dec 5! He was already 10 months old when I got him.

      I think the tamale pie would be great vegetarian! With the beef, there is A LOT of filling, so you probably won’t be losing a whole lot without it. An extra can or two of beans should do, with maybe a few extra veggies so it’s not too bean-y. I’m also a huge fan of adding lentils in place of ground beef!

  19. Love the photo of Buster in mid-air! My cat fetches better then my Cav, Riley ever did. He always brings it back a few times then he gets bored.
    Both of those recipes look great, I love savory pumpkin dishes. Have you ever had pumpkin curry? It’s delicious.

    • Haha, glad to know it’s not just my cav ;) I’ve never had pumpkin curry, but it’s on my list to try! I actually think the orange mush would be fabulous warm with Indian spices.

  20. That’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen.

  21. That pup has captured my heart. SO cute. In love? Yes!

  22. Those recipes look amazing!!!!!!!!!! Buster, so friggin cute & can’t put into words! It amazes me how he really knows your needs from him. I saw a show on guide dos they are training to help different types of people & they can train them to know a person will be having an epileptic seizure before it happens – it actually happened while they were filming… amazing! These dogs can be so important for many just like Buster being Buster for you!

    • Cocker spaniels have shown they can sniff out cancer, so I’m always wondering if my cavalier king charles spaniel can do the same! Or maybe he can smell the chemo in me. I definitely fully support therapy dogs now. It’s amazing the positive energy a pet can bring into a room!

  23. Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie? I love each of those foods individually…I can’t even imagine how great they would be in the SAME DISH! ;) Thanks for sharing.

  24. Both of these recipes look unreal. Starred, obviously. I’ve been slacking on my pumpkin consumption this year, so hopefully these will help!

  25. Man I love that puppy :) Also, it was nice to hear your voice on the radio- I know it’s obviously not a good topic, but you sounded really good!

  26. Bahaha Buster. At least he catches! Chester watches whatever you throw, sometimes right until it hits him in the head. If you’re going to have a sleepy day though, there probably isn’t much better company than a sleepy dog.

  27. That very last photo melts my heart. And the in action shot? PERFECTION. I think I might print it for my cork board at work.. is that creepy?

  28. You are a culinary genius and i love Buster. A lot. And I love you a lot too.

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