Cheese Enchiladas

I’ve been making these for 5 years or so. I started with a recipe from Taste of Home and have made enough scribbles on that printout that it seems like a good idea to capture them less I toss the paper and lose all of the work.

We usually serve these with a baked rice and green salad. A little extra sour cream on the the side never hurt anything.

Cheese Enchiladas
Servings: 14-16
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 29 oz. cans Hunts tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 1/3 Tbsp. Mexican oregano, crushed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (divided)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 16-20 corn tortillas (see note)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. You’ll need 2 13″x9″ glass baking dishes.
  2. Combine tomato sauce, water, chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano in a saucepan. Add a generous pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine. Heat to boiling and cook, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened.
  3. Microwave the chopped onion for 2 minutes on high. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl combine sour cream, cilantro, 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 20 grinds of black pepper. Add the onions once they have cooled. Mix well.
  5. Place 1/2 cup of sauce in the 2 baking dishes, spreading to evenly coat the bottom of each pan.
  6. Wrap 4 tortillas in a paper towel and microwave them for 45 seconds on high. Working one tortilla at a time spread 2 tablespoons of sauce on one side like a pizza, add ~1/3 cup of cheese filling in the center and fold into a tube. Place, seam side down, into a baking dish.. Repeat the process, warming more tortillas as needed.
  7. Pour a generous cup or more of the sauce over the completed enchiladas. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 cups over cheese over the 2 dishes and cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Notes:
I usually make the sauce and the filling in advance so that I’m left with an assembly job just before putting these in the oven. If you fill and sauce the tortillas too far in advance the dish will turn into a tasty amorphous blob.

I use packaged shredded cheese to save time. Feel free to use a block of cheese and hand shred it. The cheese inside the enchiladas may melt a bit more by doing that.

Microwave the onions helps to avoid a raw onion taste in the enchilada. If you like the flavor of raw onions then just add the chopped onions to the filling mix.

Leftover sauce can be cooled and frozen for up to 3 months. It’s a nice sauce for a frittata or grilled meat.

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Pesto Mozzarella Cups

Working with premade phyllo shells (sometimes labeled “fillo” in your grocers freezer) you can make some easy and tasty appetizers. I had purchased some locally-made pesto and had a bit of marinara that came with a calzone leftover. I picked up some “pearl” mozzarella balls at the store, along with the phyllo shells, and faster than you can recite Jabberwocky a tasty small bite was created.

Pesto Mozzarella Cups
Servings: 10-15 (figure 2 cups per person)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pkgs phyllo cups
  • 1/2 cup pesto (store bought, locally bought, whatever you like)
  • 30 “pearl” mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce (again, whatever you like)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the phyllo shells from the package to the baking sheet. Fill each shell with a scan 1/4 teaspoon of pesto.
  3. Top the pesto in each cup with a mozzarella ball. Spoon maybe a 1/4 teaspoon of marinara sauce over the mozzarella.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 5 minutes. The shell should pick up a bit of color and the mozzarella should start to melt.

Notes:
I typically make these in 2 batches, starting the second batch when I notice that the plate holding the first batch is almost empty.