Cheese enchiladas
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FoodA quick weekday meal

Cheese enchiladas

Tex-Mex crowd-pleaser

Cheese enchiladas (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Cheese enchiladas (Photo by Jessica Grann)

As much as I love experimenting in the kitchen, I often find myself in a rut when it comes to weekday dinners, and I have to go into my notebooks to remind myself of what’s easy to make and pleases everyone at the table.

I like to introduce different flavors to get my kids acquainted with various kinds of cuisine, and it’s hard to go wrong with Tex-Mex. This cheese enchilada recipe only takes about 15 minutes to prepare, which is perfect if you are short on time. The ingredients are all store-bought and simply combined at home, but these enchiladas taste like they were made with a lot of effort and love.


Ingredients:

2 packages canned enchilada sauce, red or green
2 packages cream cheese
1 ½ cups Mexican blend cheese, divided
1 small can green chiles, drained
1 package flour tortillas
¼ teaspoon salt

Enchilada sauce comes in two versions, red and green. I made this recipe with the green version because I love tomatillos and salsa verde. The red sauce also tastes great and has more of a smoked chili flavor. Experiment with both on different days to see what works best for you. If you’ve never had salsa verde, I suggest starting with the red version.

A word about tortillas: Tortillas come in many different sizes and kinds. I like the fajita-size for this dish, but you can use any size. I avoid the large burrito-sized shells because they have a lot more surface and get a bit doughy. Corn tortillas also work with this dish, but instead of 6 to 8 large pieces, you will have many small ones. Be careful if using soft corn tortillas because they can easily crack. If you use corn tortillas, quickly run them under water for a second so that they are a little easier to roll up.

Set the oven to 400 F and place the wire rack in the center of the oven.

Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Put a medium-sized saucepan over low heat and add the cream cheese. Cream cheese can burn very quickly even on the lowest heat setting. If you set the cream cheese on the counter an hour before preparation, it will melt faster. Either way, don’t leave the kitchen when you’re melting the cream cheese, and have a spatula handy to stir it frequently.

Once melted, add 1 cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese and stir for a few minutes until combined.
Take the pan off of the heat and fold in 1 can of drained green chiles.

Pour about ¾ of 1 can of enchilada sauce across the bottom of the baking dish.

Bring a cutting board next to the stovetop so you can prepare the enchiladas next to the pot.

Lay a tortilla flat and add the filling. The amount of filling will differ depending on the size of the tortilla, but for fajita-size shells, spoon about ¼ cup filling onto the flat tortilla — just heap it toward the end closest to you as you’re working, and spread it to each side across the bottom, leaving about 2 inches of space on the sides.

Fold up the edge that is closest to you, turning it away from you, then fold in each side to secure the cheese from leaking out during baking.

Roll up the tortilla completely and place it seam down into the sauce-lined baking dish.
Use your baking dish as a guide as to how wide to make the enchiladas.

Fill the dish completely and pour the remaining 1 ¼ cans of sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Use a spoon to be sure that the edges are covered in sauce.

Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of Mexican blend cheese and bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is fully melted across the top.

Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving to allow the cheese filling to firm up a bit.

These enchiladas go well with Mexican red or yellow rice, which you can make easily while the enchiladas are cooking.

Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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