Enchiladas are one of those things that require a little bit of work in the kitchen, but produce a dish that is cheap and tasty enough to be worth the effort. It’s something I have to plan out enough time for because it takes about an hour from start to finish. Half of that is cooking time.
Start the rice as soon as the enchiladas go into the oven and they should be done at the same time. The refried beans can be heated while the rice cooks, and then the salad, oranges and bananas can be prepared while the beans heat. Most children can operate can openers and use a butter knife to slice the bananas, so you could put a child on fruit duty. They might even be able to manage the lemonade too. If you need a homemade salad dressing for the salad, then prepare it earlier in the day, or the day before. This will give the seasonings time to mellow.
For the Meat
- 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
For the Sauce
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups warm tap water OR homemade chicken broth or some of each
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper OR red pepper flakes (optional)
For The Tortillas
- 12 soft corn tortillas
For Toppings (all are optional)
- Togurt or Dairy free Sour Cream
- Homemade Dairy Free Parmesan
- Shredded dairy-free cheese such as Daiya
- Chopped fresh onions or green onions
- Shredded Carrot
- Chopped or Sliced Black Olives
Start with the ground beef. Plop it into a skillet and fry it over medium heat. Break it up into small bits as it cooks. Drain off the fat. Rinse the beef if desired. Add the onion. Continue frying until the onion is somewhat tender, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl or large measuring cup combine all of the ingredients for the sauce. Use a whisk or fork to stir the tomato paste until it dissolves in the water. Essentially, this is homemade Enchilada sauce, the equivalent of 2 (10-ounce) cans.
Pour half of the enchilada sauce into the ground beef. Set the rest aside.
Next you need to soften your tortillas. Traditionally you would put about 1/4-cup of vegetable oil into a small skillet and heat it over medium heat. When it’s hot use tongs to dip each tortilla briefly into the hot oil, flipping to coat each side evenly. Allow the excess to drip off. Lay the tortilla on a plate and continue with the next, stacking the tortillas so they can keep each other warm.
If you were watching your fat and calories you could do it a different way. Set the stack of tortillas in the microwave. Place a damp paper towel over them and nuke for a minute or so, until all of the tortillas are soft. Or wrap your tortillas in aluminum foil and bake at 400° for about 15 minutes, or until they are all hot. Do this before you start frying the meat to have them ready when you need them. Or you can heat a clean dry skillet over medium high heat. Lay in a tortilla. Let it heat for 20 seconds, flip and heat for 15 more seconds and then continue on until all of the tortillas are heated. Stack them on a plate to keep them warm. Choose the method that works best for you and your circumstances.
Coat an 8 by 12-inch or 9 by 13-inch backing pan with no-stick spray or oil it lightly with solid shortening. Set it aside.
Scoop a large spoonful of the meat mixture into the center of each warm tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling. Place the tortilla into your prepared pan, seam side down. Continue until all of the tortillas are filled. Line up the filled tortilla, side by side, like sardines in a can. If you have a little bit of meat left over that fine. Add it to the remaining sauce.
Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas in the baking pan. Bake the enchiladas at 375° for about 30 minutes, or until they are bubbly and hot. Remove from the oven. Add any toppings you desire, or serve them at the table.
I normally drizzle a little Togurt artfully over the enchiladas and then scatter on a few chopped onions, and a good handful of shredded carrot. Carrot doesn’t taste like cheese, but it looks similar, so it looks pretty scattered over top. Plus it’s cheap, which is always a plus.
In theory this serves 6, but in practice it makes a hearty meal for 4.