On the Menu: Enchiladas

I am sure this is a bastardization of what real enchiladas are, but they are the enchiladas of my white, middle-class, suburban childhood. They are also incredibly simple and come together in about 30 minutes. 

Menu

Cheese Enchiladas

Rice & Beans

Peppers & Onions

Shopping List

You may have any or all of this in your pantry. Many of the ingredients will keep in your pantry and can be used on multiple occasions. 

  • tortillas
  • jack cheese (feel free to buy pre-grated if that makes your life easier)
  • red enchilada sauce
  • Spanish or yellow rice packet (you could do homemade if you prefer)
  • can of pinto beans 
  • 2-3 bell peppers, any color
  • 1 large onion
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Equipment List

  • 8×8 baking dish (can be an aluminum pan or a glass one; for enchiladas)
  • can opener (for enchiladas and beans)
  • cheese grater (for enchiladas)
  • saucepan large enough for your tortillas to be dipped in (for enchiladas and onions & peppers)
  • rice cooker or small pot (for rice, obviously)

 

Enchiladas
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For the enchiladas
  1. 8 oz. jack cheese, grated
  2. 1/2 large can red enchilada sauce (or 1 14 oz can)
  3. 6-10 corn tortillas (the number will depend on how much cheese you fill them with and their size)
For the rice and beans
  1. 1 package Spanish or yellow rice
  2. 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
For the peppers and onions
  1. 2-3 bell peppers, sliced
  2. 1 large onion, sliced
  3. olive oil
  4. salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Prep all your ingredients. Chop the onions and peppers, open the cans, grate the cheese, put out your fillings around a work surface, drain and rinse beans. Set out your baking dish and put the pan on the stove.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350.
  3. Pour the enchilada sauce into the pan and warm over medium-low heat.
  4. Place the rice packet into the rice cooker or pot and cook according to package directions.
  5. Once sauce is warm, begin to dip tortillas into the sauce. Let them become coated and warm (this will only take a few seconds).
  6. Place saucy tortilla onto work surface and spread a handful of cheese and any other toppings down the middle.
  7. Wrap the ends around the cheese making a tube. Place with the open ends down in the baking dish. To keep the first few tortillas from popping open in the pan I use a can or cup to hold them tightly in place.
  8. Fill as many tortillas as you can, leaving a bit of cheese to sprinkle on top. You may really have to cram the last one or two in.
  9. Once the baking dish is full, pour the remaining warm enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas. (This is why you don't need to use a whole large can.) Sprinkle the cheese over the top and place in the oven.
  10. After dumping the sauce wipe out your skillet and put in the olive oil- enough to coat the bottom. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
  11. Once warm, toss in the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sautee until turning soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the peppers and sautee longer until they are starting to soften and brown, another 5 minutes or so. If you like them crunchy, just give them a few minutes.
  12. When the rice is done, mix in the beans. Close the lid of the rice cooker or replace the lid on the pot to allow them to warm up.
  13. Check the oven. The enchilada sauce should be a bit bubbly and the cheese melty. If not, give it a few more minutes (this should only take 20 minutes tops).
  14. Remove from oven and serve with scoops of rice and onions and peppers.
Notes
  1. The dipping may seem like an unnecessary step, but with corn tortillas it will prevent them from splitting on the top when you roll them up. You can skip it, but it might be kind of annoying. See the hacks section for tips on using flour tortillas.
Atomic Bee Ranch http://atomicbeeranch.com/

Recipe Hacks

Here are a few ways to change up the recipe. You can use them if you don’t like the original recipe or if you want to make it a little differently from the last time.

This is where this recipe shines. There is so much that you can do with it.

  • Change up the cheese. You can do a mix of jack and cheddar, all cheddar. Buy the pre-shredded Mexican blend (what does that even mean?).
  • We prefer corn tortillas, but if you like the flour go for those. I find they can get soggy so I recommend toasting them either over an open flame or on a hot cast iron skillet first and NOT dipping them. But experiment with it and see what works best for your tastes. 
  • If you prefer green enchilada sauce to red, use that instead. I suggest sprinkling in a tiny bit of ranch dressing powder if you are using green enchilada sauce. It gives it a little extra oomph. 
  • My dad always added some softened red potatoes to our enchiladas. Sounds weird, but it’s delicious. Cut them into matchsticks and microwave them with a splash of water for a few minutes until soft. Then roll them into the enchiladas with the cheese. 
  • Add meat. Shredded chicken is great. Shredded beef. Ground beef. Ground turkey. Ground chicken. Just be sure it’s cooked already. 
  • Add olives and/or chopped green chilies. Add sliced pickled jalapenos. The sky is the limit with additions here. Just take into account everyone’s preferences for spicy. 
  • I suspect, although I have never tried this, you could make this more like a layered casserole. Try layering the sauce the tortillas (cut them up first), the cheese, and any other additions in the pan instead or rolling them up. If you try this and it works, leave a comment please!
  • For the rice and beans
  • So, feel free to make any of the elements of this from scratch. I haven’t found a great recipe for red enchilada sauce yet and sometimes it’s just easier, if not cheaper, to use canned beans. I know packaged rice is awfully salty, but we don’t eat it very often so I splurge and make it. If you don’t want to go whole hog and make Spanish rice from scratch make white rice (or brown if you prefer) with broth instead of water. It will be more flavorful, without being more work. 

Include Your Child

I frequently use dinner prep as a time to decompress and enjoy myself and find adding in my daughter makes it stressful and a lot more messy. That being said, I know it’s good for her to help out and she often wants to. So, here are some easy ways to include your child when making this dinner. No guarantee that they won’t be a bit messy, though. 

  • Assuming they wear an apron, kids do a great job spreading cheese and rolling the enchiladas up. Beware of red sauce it does stain hence the apron. They can also get the rice going in the pot or rice cooker.
  • If you are confident in their ability, your child can also grate the cheese. This might make the recipe take closer to an hour, though, so use your judgement. 

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