I used to love tamales, but I have not had them for years (since pregan days). I decided that I need to make them and am so glad that I did. The only part that was "labor intensive" like everyone and their mother says about tamales is the wrapping. Kind of obnoxious, but put on some good music and you're golden for the afternoon. Plus, you get better as you go along.
As far as the specifics go, the filling is made with: onions, shallots, garlic, green onions, one pepper, a bunch of tomatoes, Mexican squash, and pinto beans. As for spices: chili powder, cayenne, lemon pepper (was going to use real pepper and lime, but the quality of my lemon pepper is superior to my pepper), fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, and oregano. Yeah, I like spicy stuff. I just chopped everything up (and squished the beans up) and it came out to be an awesome consistency like refried beans but had all this stringy-ness because of the cooked down squash which made it more meaty looking. The dough was a modified version of the recipe on the package of the masa corn flour. I used 2 cups masa, 1 2/3 c vegetable broth, 2/3 c oil, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. It turned out beautifully, considering I just randomly decided to lessen the broth and use oil as the fat (I couldn't find any shortening other than Crisco which has hydrogenated oils in it). My "steamer" is non-existent, so I punched a bunch of holes in the bottom of a pie tin and held that above water in a huge pot with... erm... a bunch of random metal kitchen items. Let's not talk about my odd kitchen habits. I don't know what else to say other than TAMALES ROCK!