Enchiladas Two Ways and the Power of Improvisation

Monday, October 11, 2010

 First of all, let me say that I have not really followed up with this blog thing, but after getting numerous attempts to get blogging, and after the fact that I myself view many, I’m gonna share my first post with you. Well second, but this is the first recipe related one. I must first explain that I’m sorry that there are no pictures as we sort of finished all of the enchiladas before I could even think of grabbing the camera, but oh well here we go.
The fact that I actually cooked this meal surprised me because I had recently vowed to go on a cooking hiatus for a about a month in order to get some college apps done before the looming Nov 1/Early Action deadline (argh, how college apps are ruling my life right now). However, before I could put a spoon down, I had to pick it up again as my mother insited that I cook dinner for our guest. Ha, now do not get the idea that my mother is lazy or anything. She knows that I love to cook, but I did not know that when she said, “Let’s make Mexican tonight”, I did not necessarirly know that it meant, “You, make Mexican tonight”. Anyways, I decided to make enchiladas two ways, one would be my signature black-bean enchiladas that I have been making for a while now, and the other would be an improv based off some delicious spinach and goat cheese enchiladas that I had over the summer at Las Cazuelas over in Madison, Wisconsin.Well, so I made a list of ingredients for my Mom to by at the store and for the most part she got everything, except fot the goat cheese (it appartently was not available), but what was worse was that she thought that FETA of all cheeses would be a good substitute. Come on, goat cheese is a creamy cream cheese like texture, not crumbly like feta. Oh well, I guess I would have to do with what I had. So I began my black bean enchilads. The sauce is made with a mix of pasilla and guajillo chilies which you can buy dried at you local supermaket (in the mexican/international aisle). The chilies are not spicy, rather they body to the sauce and give it fruity undertones. The filling is an easy-put-together ensemble of black beans, cumin, oregano, garlic, onion, and spalsh of cilantro for a fresh kick at the end. Fold in some freshly grated queso quesadilla/chihuahua or monterrey jack if you cannot find the former varietes will make a delicious enchilada that will make your tastebuds tingle.

Now for enchilada #2, the spinach and feta with chipotle cream sauce. This one was little more difficult, but it taught me to use my improvisational skills and create something fabulous on the spot. The filling was a wonderful spinach and feta mixed together with some dried chipotle powder for a smoky taste. The sauce was the true look into the fridge sort of deal. I knew I wanted to use chipotle but I did not want to pair with tomato cause that blend would not work well with the spinach. So, I looked into my fridge and found some sour cream and buttermilk. Hmmm perhaps I will make a nontraditional cream sauce. And it worked. After sweating some onions and garlic in a pot I added the canned chipotle, a tablespoon or so of the adobo puree and then a generous half cup of fat-free sour cream and a splash of low-fat buttermilk. It’s much like what they would say on some Jenny Craig commercial “all indulgence without any of the calories” (Not that I’m trying to be like Jenny Craig, pheesh!) Anyways the sauce actually came out pretty good, I added about a teaspoon of corn starch at the end to thicken it slightly, instead of making a roux. Baked for about 20 minutes in 375 oven, these enchiladas will having you lining up at the dinner table fast!


Black Bean Enchiladas with Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce


  • 2 pasilla chilies, dried
  • 2 guajillo chilies, dried
  • 2 small white onions, roughtly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • About 1 Tbsp or so of Olive Oil for the Pan


  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican Oregano
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced and seeds removed
  • Salt to taste
  • Some Olive Oil for the pan
  • A handful of freshly chopped cilantro
  • 10-12 small flour tortillas (depends on how much you fill them)
  • 1/2 cup-1 cup grated Queso Quesadilla, Chihuaua, or Monterrey Jack (use 1/2 cup if you dont like cheese, a cup if you like a lot, or if your in the middle, well pick and choose 🙂 )


Sauce:In a bowl reconsitute the chillies by having them sit in some boiling water for about 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, in a heat some oil in a pot, and add the onions, cook for about five minutes or until translucent. Then add the garlic, cumin, and oregano. Note: It’s okay if the garlic cloves are whole, as we will be blending the sauce later). Cook for about five minutes. Then go ahead and remove the chilies from water, remove the seeds and veins, and tear into shreds. Add teh chile pieces to the sauce and then add the can of tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer on low for 15 minutes. Then take an immersion blender and blend the sauce still smooth making sure that there are no more whole chille or garlic pieces. Add salt to taste and simmer the sauce for another 15 minutes.

Filling: Heat some oil in a pot. Then add the onions and sweat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the drained beans and cook for about 10 minutes. Season to taste and spinkle in the chopped cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Then a handful of the grated cheese and fold into the mixture. Then grease a baking dish and spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom. Then, take the tortillas and place a spoon of filling (enough to be sufficient, but so much that you cannot roll it). Then roll up the enchiladas, place them into the dish, and cover with sauce and cheese (be generous, otherwise you’ll have dry enchladas and nobody wants that). Bake covered in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes and then uncovered for about 5 or until the cheese is nice and melted. Serve immediately with all your favorite acommpaniments, or just plain. ENJOY!
Enchilada #2: Spinach and Feta Cheese Enchiladas with Imprompto Chipotle Cream Sauce


  • a bag or so of frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • a couple throws of dried chipotle seasoning (adjust based on your spice tolerance)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 10-12 small tortillas (based on how much you can fill)
  • 1/2 cup or so of shreded Queso Quesadilla, Chihuahua, or Monterrey Jack Cheese (just no cheddar or any other yellow cheese)


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1-2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste


For the filing: Heat some oil in a pan. Add the garlic and the spinach and cook over medium high heat till the spinach has wilted. Then go ahead and throw in the chipotle chili powder, and nutmeg. Cook for another 5 minutes. Then add in the crumbled feta cheese and your good to go!

For the sauce: Heat some oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook until the onions are translucent. The add the garlic, chipotle chiles and adobo puree and cook for another five mintues. Then add the sour cream and buttermilk and stir to incorporate. After another 5 minutes add the cornstarch and cook until the sauce has thickened. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Assembling: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Grease a baking dish and cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Then take a tortilla add a spoon or so of the filling (enough to make a substantial enchilada, but not so much that you cannot roll it). Roll it up and place it in the dish. Once you have finished folling all the enchiladas, pour the remainder of the sauce on top and throw some of the grated cheese on top. Bake for about 20 minutes covered, and then for about 5 minutes uncovered, to melt the cheese. Serve with all your favorite accompaninments and enjoy!

So there ya’ll have it. Two great enchilada recipes to make any Mexican night five times more enjoyable. Buen Provecho!


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