Simple Enchiladas

When I was growing up, my mom would make us enchiladas on special occasions. I remember enjoying them on my birthday, the birthdays of other family members, but never on a random evening.

My parents were very busy. They both had full-time jobs, and they had five very active children. My dad spent most of his evenings either coaching little-league sports or working on rent houses. My mom was responsible for getting multiple kids to multiple practices throughout the week. She called herself a taxi-driver. I still don’t know how she did it. Each of us did multiple activities every season, and somehow, she managed to get us to the right place at the right time without forgetting any of us. If I had five loud children, I may have intentionally forgotten one of us, but my mom was patient with us and so generous with her time. This taxi-driver thing was another full-time job. We seldom took seasons off, and we seldom had just one activity. It’s no wonder that she didn’t have time to randomly make enchiladas for our family. I don’t know how she had time to cook at all.

Now days, I have a lot more time freedom than she did, and I still don’t make enchiladas at random. They only make an appearance on special occasions.

There was a decade where my husband was very busy going on training exercises and deployments. During that time, I would make them for his “Welcome Home” meal. It was the perfect meal because I could do it in advance, and when he got home, he would immediately want a shower. The enchiladas could bake while he was getting his shower. Since we have been on Okinawa, he hasn’t gone on a lengthy deployment and until recently, he hasn’t done a lot of training off the island. During Covid, there were no off-island training events. Now that things are opening back up, the training has gone up 50,000 notches: he’s training off island a lot, and I’m back to making enchiladas again. My guy returned from his most recent training exercise on Monday, so I welcomed him home with his favorite dish.

Now, I make some things from scratch, and sometimes I cheat a little and use pre-made sauces. For these simple enchiladas, I use a mix packet, and I add some extras to make it my own. If you are the kind of cook or baker that does everything from scratch, and you judge people who use packets, then go ahead and close this browser. This is not the blog for you. However, if you’re interested in a quick enchilada recipe, which is the same one that my Mexican mama used when we were growing up, keep reading.

Step 1: Prepare your ground beef. Now, don’t skimp on this step. Don’t just brown the meat. Instead add salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. I don’t measure any of this, and I always feel like I am adding too much, but it always seems to work out. I add the spices as I’m browning the meat. The extra spices on this step will make a difference. For this recent batch, I browned the meat the day before because I knew I’d appreciate having 1 step completed.

Step 2: Bring on the packet. As I bring the tomato sauce, water and packet mix to a boil, I add in pepper, cumin, and a dash of cayenne. The packet is already pretty salty, so I don’t add in more salt on this step. Be generous with the cumin. It’s the key!

Step 3: Light-fry your tortillas. This is the step that most people skip, but it’s an important one. You will want to lightly fry the corn tortillas in hot oil. When I say light fry, I mean in and out. If you let them sit in the oil too long, the tortillas will turn crispy and will end up like chips. You won’t be able to roll them.

Step 4: Coat your tortillas with your sauce. Dip each tortilla into your sauce. Cover each completely.

Step 5: Add your meat; then add the cheese. We don’t like super fat enchiladas, so you won’t feel like you’re adding enough meat, but you’ll be glad that you just added a strip. Remember, these aren’t tacos.

Step 6: Roll them up. You’ll feel like you’re squishing them together, and that’s fine. You don’t want them to unroll.

Step 7: Cover with the remaining sauce. I always seem to have a little sauce left over, so I spoon it on.

Step 8: Add the cheese. Add a lot of cheese. The cheese should cover the enchiladas. No one will ever complain that there’s too much cheese.

Step 9: Bake for 20 minutes. My husband likes crispy ends, so we bake at 375, but try it at 350. Most people are really happy with 20 minutes at 350. Note, you will need to bake longer if they have been prepared in advance and are coming out of the refrigerator. You may need to bake as long as 40 minutes. Check them at 30 minutes if they are coming from the fridge.

Step 10: Let them sit. If you let them sit for 5-10 minutes after you pull them out of the oven, they are much easier to get onto the plate. Seldom do we have this patience. They don’t look good on the plate, and we still love them, so if yours don’t look as beautiful as the restaurant, they’ll still be delish!

Now, find an apron, because these can be messy to make. Follow the easy steps and enjoy your enchiladas.

Published by mondaymorningwithmona

I am a Texan, runner, military spouse, reader, a giver and a good friend.

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