Stacked Enchiladas

This is one of my go-to meals when I don’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. New Mexican-style stacked enchiladas are super easy, inexpensive (less than $5 for the whole meal), fast (20 minutes from start to finish), and delicious. I serve the enchiladas with black beans, which meshes really well with the enchilada sauce.

Stacked Enchiladas

3 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 cups water
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

oil
corn tortillas (3 or 4 per person)
shredded cheese (I used cheddar, Monterrey jack, or a Mexican blend)

To make the enchilada sauce:  Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the ground cumin and garlic powder. Gradually whisk in the 1 1/2 cups of water. Continue to whisk as the sauce thickens. Add the can of tomato sauce and season with salt. Reduce the heat to low and keep the sauce hot, stirring occasionally, as you prepare to make the enchiladas.

To make the enchiladas:  Heat about an inch of oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Briefly fry the corn tortillas until they are soft, but not crispy. Remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.

To assemble the enchiladas:  Put a large spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of the hot enchilada sauce on a plate. Top with a softened corn tortilla. Top with another spoonful of hot enchilada sauce, making sure the whole tortilla is covered, and sprinkle with shredded cheese (about 2 tablespoons). Layer with another softened tortilla. Repeat the process….sauce, cheese, tortilla…..until you have a stack that contains 3 or 4 corn tortillas total. Finish the last tortilla/enchilada stack with more sauce and a little more cheese. Serve immediately.

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Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

I stopped at a Hispanic market Friday night and bought a bag of minature tomatillos (Tomatillo Milpero) and some beautiful serranos. The Tomatillo Milpero were so cute. There was no noticeable taste difference compared to regular tomatillos.

I do like to cook in the crockpot in the summer to avoid heating up the kitchen. I based this recipe on my favorite Salsa Verde recipe. It’s great served with Cilantro Lime Rice and black beans.

I made enchiladas with the leftover chicken and sauce. They were fantastic too. To make the enchiladas: Spread a little of the leftover tomatillos sauce in the both of a baking dish. Shred the chicken and mix it with shredded cheese and a little of the tomatillo sauce. Divide the mixture between 8 warmed corn tortillas and place them in the baking dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining tomatillo sauce and bake in a 350º oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top the last 5 minutes or so of baking, if you would like.

You can complain about getting two different meals out of one.

Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)
2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half (also remove the stem if still attached)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2  cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 4 whole serranos, stems removed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and serranos in the crockpot. Season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken breasts on top of the tomatillo mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken breasts.

Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 – 4 hours until the chicken is tender. Before serving, remove the chicken from the crockpot. Using a hand blender, puree the tomatillo mixture in the crockpot. Serve the tomatillo sauce over the chicken breasts.


Creamy Chile con Queso

Creamy Chile con Queso

A processed cheese product (like Velveta) is often used in making Queso because it melts more smoothly. Using evaporated milk in this recipe helps the “real” cheese melt smoother and makes for a creamier consistency. The results are pretty fantastic. You can use your favorite milder, harder cheese (like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, or a Mexican cheese blend) in this recipe, but don’t use cheeses like Mozzarella, Brie, Swiss, or Goat Cheese (or obviously, Bleu Cheese).

This Queso keeps well for several days in the fridge. It reheats very well too. You can just zap it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until warmed through.

A simple dish of Chile con Queso with tortilla chips is wonderful, but you can take it to greater heights with the addition of toppings. Queso can be serious business. One of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Texas is Magnolia Café. They have the best Queso ever. Their Mag Queso is topped with avocado and Pico de Gallo. It’s amazing! The Kerbey Queso at Kerbey Lane Cafe in Austin is great too. I have also had Queso with shredded BBQ brisket, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and Pico that was delicious. There are no limits.

Chile con Queso

Creamy Chile con Queso

2 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 -2 jalapenos, to taste, seeds removed, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (mild Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mexican cheese blend, etc…)
1/2 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
salt, to taste
dash garlic powder
1 – 4 tablespoons milk, if necessary

tortilla chips

Possible Toppings:
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh onion, chopped
fresh avocado, diced (or guacamole)
fresh tomatoes, diced
pickled jalapeno slices
Pico de Gallo
sour cream
black beans, warmed
refried beans
shredded brisket, chicken, pork
cooked ground beef or sausage

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the evaporated milk a little at a time, whisking well to dissolve flour lumps. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the shredded cheese, a little at a time. Continue to whisk until all of the cheese is added and the Queso is smooth. Add the drained diced tomatoes, salt, and garlic powder. If the Queso is too thick, you can add a little milk, about a tablespoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency. Serve the Queso warm, topped with desired toppings (I like fresh avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and chopped tomatoes) alongside tortilla chips.

 

 

 


Beef Fajitas

Sliced Beef Fajitas

A quick and simple marinade and the use of a cast iron skillet makes beef fajitas an easy weekday meal.

Fajitas are a quintessential Tex-Mex food. Initially, skirt steak was the meat used for fajitas, but now fajitas made with a variety of cuts of beef, as well as, chicken, pork, or shrimp (or a combination of meats) are totally acceptable. The grilled meat is usually accompanied by onions and bell peppers and served with tortillas and a variety of condiments.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Beef Fajitas

Beef Fajitas

1 pound skirt steak (or flank steak)
2 fresh limes (get ones with thin, smooth rind so they are extra juicy)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

1 large onion, ends removed, peeled, halved and cut into slivers
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips (or do a combination of different colored peppers)

flour and/or corn tortillas, warmed

Condiments of your choice:
shredded cheese
sour cream
salsa or pico de gallo
guacamole
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh jalapenos, sliced (or throw whole jalapenos in with the onions and bell peppers and then slice)

Combine the juice from the two limes with the cumin and salt. Add the skirt steak, turning once or twice to coat the meat. Let sit 10 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Once hot, remove the skirt steak from the cumin-lime juice marinade and add to the pan. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Remove from the skillet and let rest on a cutting board.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the hot skillet (no need to clean out the skillet, the veggies will pick up the flavors from the steak). Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are slightly tender and browned in areas. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

Fajita Veggies

Cut the skirt steak against the grain into somewhat thick (about 1/2-inch) slices. At this point, I like to throw the steak back into the pan with the veggies and toss to combine, but you don’t have to.

Assemble the fajitas. Place some steak and veggies into a warmed tortilla of you choice. Top with the condiments of your choice. I like mine with sour cream and fresh pico de gallo.


Mixed Greens Enchiladas

Mixed Greens Enchiladas

I’ve been trying to think of interesting ways to use the variety of greens I’ve been getting in my CSA boxes lately. I woke up this morning with the idea to make enchiladas. Originally, I was just going to use collards, but I had a little bit of rutabaga greens left from last week and decided to use those in the enchilada filling as well. The enchiladas turned out better than expected. So good. I’m thinking any type of greens (collards, turnip, mustard, Swiss chard, rutabaga, spinach, etc…) could work in these. I can’t wait to make them again.

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Mixed Greens Enchiladas

6 cups fresh greens, washed well, stems and ribs removed, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 zucchini, diced small
1 cup frozen corn
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
corn tortillas
shredded cheese (Monterey jack, cheddar, or mozzarella)

3 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 cups water
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the thinly sliced greens and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the greens well in a colander and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender. Add the minced garlic and jalapeno and sauté another minute. Add the zucchini and cook until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add the corn and black bean and cook until heated through. Add the reserved drained greens and stir to combine. If there is liquid in the pan, continue to cook until the liquid is gone, otherwise, reduce heat to low and keep filling warm until ready to use.

To make the enchilada sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and chili powder and whisk to form a paste. Mix in the cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Gradually whisk in the 2 cups of water. Let the mixture come to a boil, whisking often. It will thicken slightly. Add the can of tomato sauce and check for seasonings. Reduce the heat to low and keep the enchilada sauce warm until ready for use.

To assemble enchiladas, start by putting a little of the sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (I  use two smaller casserole dishes, but you can use a large Pyrex baking dish). Working with 3 or 4 corn tortillas at a time, wrap them in damp paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Place a little of the filling (about 3 tablespoons) on the tortilla and top with cheese (about 1 tablespoon). Roll the tortilla around the filling and place in the prepared casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat process until all the filling is used. I got a total of 16 enchiladas, but the amount may vary depending on how much filling there is and how much is used in each enchilada. Once all the enchiladas are filled and placed in their baking dish, pour the warm enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Mixed Greens Enchilada (640x411)


Pollo con Arroz

Pollo con Arroz

Pollo con Arroz (or chicken with rice) is the ultimate comfort food. It’s hard to believe such a simple recipe can have such flavorful results. It’s an added bonus that it’s easy to prepare. This recipe is slightly adapted from the one in Robb Walsh’s The Tex-Mex Cookbook.

Pollo con Arroz

3 pound whole chicken, cut up (or 3 – 4 large chicken breasts or use chicken thighs)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup white rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clover garlic, minced
1 can No Salt Added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Rinse the chicken and then pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, turning with tongs, until browned on both sides. Remove the browned chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the rice, onion, and garlic to the pan. Stir constantly until the onion is soft and the rice is golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, and 2 1/2 cups of water. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring the liquid to a slight boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone and the chicken and rice are done.

Chicken with Rice


Queso

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I’m a Texan so when I think of chile con queso I automatically think of Velvetta and Rotel. I’m perfectly fine with admitting that. That stuff tastes good. Normally, I would look down my nose at a processed “cheese food” product, but it really is essential for the smooth texture of a Texas-style queso.

I would love to create the perfect Texas-style queso without using processed cheese. I have tried. Over the years, I have made many different versions. Some turned out well, some didn’t. This particular version turned out fine, maybe even better than fine. I even reheated leftovers in the microwave the next day and it was still fine. Sometimes when using “real” cheese to make queso it can clump up or become a stringy, greasy mess. I didn’t have that problem with this version.  Make sure to lower the heat and stir a lot to make the queso smooth (although it won’t be smooth like a queso made with processed cheese). You can add more milk if needed.

I love chunks of fresh avocado (and even pico de gallo) in my queso. You can add other ingredients like black beans, chili, chopped fajita meat, or cooked ground beef to make the queso a little more substantial.

Queso

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely minced (you can substitute pickled jalapeno or roasted poblanos)
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeds removed, and finely chopped (or use1 – 2 tablespoons canned diced tomatoes)
4 teaspoons flour
8 ounces of cheddar and monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a bowl, toss the cheeses with the flour and set aside. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and then stir in the cheese and milk. Lower the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately with tortilla chips.