Veggie Packed Enchiladas

Just the other day I was counting how long I’ve been vegetarian, and it’s been 10 months! Sometimes it seems like it’s been much longer than that, and other times I’m so impressed with myself for still going strong. When I first made the switch to being a full-on vegetarian (I hadn’t been eating meat often for a year or two prior, but still had it once in awhile), people would often ask “why” and I never really had a good reason. While I still don’t enjoy people asking me “why,” as though I need to validate my choices, I’ve come to realize that it is definitely more of an ethical thing for me than not – I just hate the idea of seeing animals suffer or be hurt. I realize it’s the “circle of life” and how things go, but I’m not going to participate in something if I’m not comfortable with it! And don’t get me wrong, hamburgers are delicious so I understand and have no problem with you eating one, I just won’t eat one myself.

So why the blabbering about my vegetarian lifestyle choices? Well, I’ve found that there are so many dishes that seem to have meat in them “just because.” There are plenty of dishes where meat is the centerpiece and main focus, but there are also a lot of dishes that seem to include meat more as an accessory. I love the versatility of Southwestern food, because even though it can be very meat-centric, there is also plenty of wiggle room for vegetables (and beans)! I love Southwestern food for the flavors, too, but it’s great that it is something I can continue to enjoy as a vegetarian.

So with a hankering for enchiladas, I took a look at the CSA box ingredients I had for the week, and put together a pretty tasty, meat (and fake meat) free enchilada! I suppose you could say I cut corners by not using homemade tortillas or enchilada sauce, but the time and effort required for those two things in addition to the rest of the cooking just isn’t realistic for your average working, marathon training, zonked from the heat wave person. If you have the time, by all means, go for it… but if you don’t, I promise your dish will be just as tasty!

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Enchiladas |

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Enchiladas
– Serves 4 –

2 Tbsp oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 scallions, diced
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup corn
1/2 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp Adobo
1/4 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
6 fajita size flour tortillas
1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the begin to become translucent. 
3. Add the cubed sweet potatoes, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften. 
4. Add the black beans and corn, followed by all of the spices (chili powder, cumin, adobo, and paprika). 
5. Begin to add the kale, a little bit at a time to allow it to wilt a bit and make room in the pan. As it’s wilting, add the 2 tablespoons of water to help deglaze the pan of the spices and aid in the wilting. Sauté until everything is combined and kale is slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat. 
6. Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 11 dish. 
7. Take a tortilla and add three spoonfuls of the mixture to the center of the tortilla, and roll. You don’t need to roll it like a burrito (but you can); just roll it more like a taquito – it’s okay if some of the “guts” are coming out of the sides. Place it in the dish. Repeat for the remaining 5 tortillas, layering them next to each other, slightly overlapping. 
8. Top with the remaining sauce, the shredded cheese, and the scallions. 
9. Bake for 18 minutes. Serve with avocado or guacamole, and sour cream or Greek yogurt. 

Veggieful Enchiladas

Since I didn’t use all of the Philadelphia Creme when I made the Baked Southwestern Pasta Skillet, I needed to figure out what to do with it. I decided to make enchiladas, since we hadn’t had them in awhile. I’ve made them with eggplant, poblano peppers, and some with your typical veggies (onions and peppers). So, this time I decided to combine it all! Since the creme takes the place of enchilada sauce, it’s super quick and easy.

After reading up on tons of wedding blogs, I’ve realized that I should try and tone my arms so they look fab in my wedding dress. Since I used to swim, I have pretty defined arm muscles as it is, without doing any extra work; it’s leftover residual muscle definition. But, I realized I want to make sure I don’t look bulky (something easily accomplished through swimming), and I’ve been noticing that my arms are looking nice and toned simply from yoga. So, in addition to some yoga, I decided to add in some free-weight exercises also. Conveniently, FitSugar recently posted “How to Tone Your Arms Picture-Perfect For the Big Day,” which offered up tons of exercise suggestions I can add to my repertoire. So, that was on my to-do list before getting to work on dinner.

After getting my arms nice and tired, I threw together these veggie packed enchiladas. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of the eggplant and green pepper I have from this recipe!

Veggieful Enchiladas
– Serves 4 –

2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Adobo
1/2 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 large green pepper, sliced
1 hot pepper, diced (optional – I used a habanero)
1/4 cup Santa Fe styled Philadelphia Creme + 1/4 cup
1/4 cup shredded cheese + 1/4 cup
6 burrito-sized tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat oil in skillet, and add onions and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, and spices, and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until onions, peppers, and eggplant are soft.
3. Stir in 1/4 cup of cooking creme, cooking until headed through, about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of cheese, and remove from heat.
4. Evenly fill tortillas with filling, and place in a greased 8 x 11 baking dish.
5. Top with remaining cooking creme and cheese, and bake for 15 minutes.

Another set back plus poblano chile & cheese enchiladas

After writing up a blog post about my injury and taking it easy, I went for a 3 mile run in the rain Monday night. By the end, though, my heel hurt in a way it hadn’t before. Enter a few days later, and I’m hobbling around. Now that my ankle pain is pretty much gone, it’s moved on to my heel (awesome!). Everything I read says plantar facitis, but my lack of arch pain says otherwise. While trying to self diagnose, my fiancé made a good point; a doctor would be able to tell you exactly what it is. So I made a doctor’s appointment and was told to get an x-ray. I decided to try and make an appointment with an orthopedist, but unfortunately they’re booked until the end of the month, so I’m hoping to be better by then but we’ll see.

On top of my nagging injury, I also managed to develop a cold. So, even though I stayed home from work both Wednesday and Thursday, it didn’t keep me out of the kitchen completely. I decided to make Poblano Chile & Cheese Enchiladas, and to for once have dinner ready for my fiancé when he got home. Of course, peeling myself away from wedding shows was difficult, but I managed.

This is another wonderful recipe from Vegetarian Times. I cheated by not creating my own enchilada sauce. Sometimes you just need to cut corners. Thankfully, the sauce was pretty decent, so it didn’t come back and bite me in the bee-hind. The poblano chiles added a nice heat, and I added a habanero for extra. I know, I know, I add habaneros to everything. My fiancé grabs 2-4 without fail every week at Wegmans. So, I just make sure to put them to good use.

There was enough left over for lunch the next day, and they were just as good re-heated. I’ve decided I need to incorporate poblano chiles more into my cooking. After discovering them when ordering a chile relleno, I fell in love. So yes, I may have had a burrito for breakfast, left-over enchiladas, and quesadillas for dinner in one day. I think it’s safe to say I should probably move to the South-West.

Poblano Chile & Cheese Enchiladas

Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
2½ oz. dried New Mexican chiles, halved, stemmed, and seeded
4 medium tomatoes, chopped

Enchilada Ingredients:
6 Poblano or Anaheim chiles
1 Tbs. olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1½ cups queso fresco
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
12 6-inch corn tortillas

1. To make Sauce: Heat olive oil in saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic in oil 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft. Add dried chilies, and sauté 3 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes and 2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until chiles are soft. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes, then purée in blender or food processor until smooth.
2. To make Enchiladas: Preheat oven to broil. Place poblano chiles on baking sheet, and broil 15 to 20 minutes, or until blackened on all sides, turning often. Cool in covered bowl, then peel off skins and remove seeds. Chop chiles into 1/4-inch pieces.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic in oil 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Transfer to mixing bowl, and add queso fresco, 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, and chopped chiles.
4. Spread tortillas on baking sheet. Warm 3 minutes in oven to soften.
5. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Divide cheese mixture among tortillas, and roll loosely. Place filled, rolled tortillas in baking dish. Top with remaining Sauce, and sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until Sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Eggplant Enchiladas – A Labor of Love

Why is it that almost all types of delicious food are labor intensive? Specifically, all the types of food I like to eat? Furthermore, it seems that anything remotely healthy is somewhat cumbersome to make as well. To be fair, I would have enjoyed my enchilada making experience if it were on say a Sunday afternoon. However, on a Monday night after a long day of work, spending two hours was less than fun. But I stuck with it, and was rewarded with some seriously delicious enchiladas!

When making the recipe, prepare yourself for A LOT of veggie cutting. I had no problem with that until of course the onion, which makes me cry uncontrollably to the point where I can’t open my eyes. Writing about it now is making me tear up. Aside from that, the rest of the recipe doesn’t call for too much work. It’s a lot of sautéing and waiting.

I found the recipe on Serious Eats, who always impresses with their daily recipes. I’ve found they often post Spanish and Mexican dishes, which I absolutely love – like the Chilaquiles Frittata I made (also a lot of little steps).

Once I got past all the slicing and dicing, and waiting for the veggies to cook, I was able to fly through the rest of the recipe. I added a 1/4 of a teaspoon more cayenne pepper to give it a kick, and boy did it have a kick! It was just the right amount of spice for me, before it reached the unpleasant threshold. For a lot of people, though, I think it would have been too spicy.

I also left out the almonds. So, instead of eggplant and almond enchiladas, they were just eggplant. I didn’t miss them, though. There were so many other flavors (green pepper, onion, cumin, garlic, tomato, etc.) that I’m not sure what the almonds would have added.

The recipe says it’ll make 12 enchiladas, but I only got 10 out of it, and they weren’t even fully stuffed! I went with the fajita size tortillas, but I’m not sure if there are smaller, and if so, if I should have used them (the recipe didn’t specify).

This is a great alternative to a meat-filled enchilada. Eggplant is a pretty meaty and filling vegetable, and definitely adds some serious flavor to the meal. I can only surmise it’s pretty healthy too; a whole bunch of veggies and spices, just a bit of cheese, and some tortillas. A great way to get your Mexican fix in lighter and less fattening way, at home!

I’d definitely make this dish again, just not on a week-night. It’s better served on a Saturday or Sunday. Maybe even a Friday night. But not sitting down to dinner until 9pm on a Monday night was a little stressful.

So next time you’re looking to make a meat-free Mexican meal and you have some time, why not give this a try? You’ll be glad you did!

Eggplant Enchiladas
-Serves 4-

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onion, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups tomatoes, chopped
6 cups eggplant, diced (about 1 large one)
salt and black pepper
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup jack cheese, grated
12 corn tortillas
Canola oil for frying

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour half of the olive oil into a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add half of the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. Stir well, and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Dump in the tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Halfway through cooking add half the garlic, and black pepper to taste. Puree the sauce when done in a blender when it has cooled slightly. Be careful.
3. While the sauce is cooking, pour the rest of the olive oil into a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the rest of the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the eggplant and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The eggplant should be soft.
4. Add the garlic and green bell pepper. Stir well, remove the cover, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat, and then add the cheese and almonds. Stir well.
5. Pour enough canola oil into a skillet to cover the bottom. Turn heat to medium high. Fry each tortilla for just a few seconds on each side. You want to cook them until they become leathery, not until they crisp up. honestly no more than 3 seconds a side. Transfer each to a paper towels, and remove as much oil as possible. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
6. Place about 1/4 cup of the filling into each tortilla, and then roll up. Place them seam-side down in a baking sheet. Pour the sauce over. Place in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warm. Serve.