My final guest post comes from Ann of Sacatomato, another fantastic Sacramento food blog that features everything from recipes to local food events. Ann, a culinary consultant, is also the author of the cookbook, Hands-off Cooking. As mom to an adorable, rambunctious three-year-old, she seemed like the perfect person to tackle yet another dilemma about which many of you have emailed me: how to feed your little ones good, healthy food without breaking the bank. Since my children are of the four-legged, furry variety, my experience with finicky human eaters has been fairly slim. So it was great to get a recipe written from a working mom’s perspective for this post.
What I love about Ann’s approach is that she doesn’t believe in “hiding” vegetables & other healthy foods from kids. As a child who was encouraged to try everything (which I thank my parents for daily), I developed a love for almost all foods, and I think it’s great that more parents are giving their children this same opportunity. And though it’s not always easy because some kids really are just that picky, the way Ann tackles this in the following recipe is just fabulous. Let’s take a look at this kid and adult friendly recipe…
Thanks, Kimberly, for asking me to guest post here! I’m usually over at Sacatomato and Sacramento News & Review, where I write about my adventures in eating. As the overscheduled and budget-conscious mom of a small child, I’m always trying to think of ways to cook quick meals that are also nutritious and affordable. Years as a recipe developer have helped build this skill, and I can usually pull something together from the pantry items I keep on hand, plus whatever is in my garden or comes in my bi-weekly CSA box.
These enchiladas came about one summer because my husband loves Tex-Mex food and we had a garden full of zucchinis threatening to turn into baseball bats. I had some family coming to visit, and there would be five kids of varying ages. I needed to serve something that I could make ahead and have ready quickly. I’m not a big fan of hiding vegetables to fool children, since I think they’ll be much happier if they know the veggies are there and they still like them. So I made up a double batch of these enchiladas and stashed them in the fridge. Before dinner, I slid them into the oven to heat through and dinner was done! (Also a good plan for your moving day, Kimberly.)
While my own child flatly refused to eat this cheesy deliciousness, all the other kids loved them—even knowing they were eating zucchini. I leave the skin on to provide extra fiber, but they cook so briefly that the squash doesn’t have a chance to get even slightly slimy. Instead they’re bathed in melty cheese and chili gravy. Don’t opt out if you’re nervous about spice–you can vary the heat level considerably depending on the chili powder or ground chile that you choose. Remember that the spice will be tempered a bit by the cheese as well. And even if you don’t have a passel of kids on hand, you should make at least one whole batch, because it’s easy to eat five or six at one sitting!
Tex-Mex Enchiladas (makes 4 to 6 servings; total cost per serving: about $2.15)
Make the chili gravy ahead so that it can cool slightly before you need to roll the enchiladas.
½ cup lard, bacon fat, or vegetable oil (I like to use a combo)
½ cup flour
¾ teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon powdered garlic (NOT garlic salt)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
¼ cup chili powder or ground pure chile (such as New Mexico or Ancho/Pasilla)
1 quart chicken broth
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
2 cups (about 8 ounces) shredded zucchini
3 cups (about 12 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
16 (5 ½-inch) corn tortillas
1 cup diced onion (this can be added at the table for onion fearing children)
To make the gravy: Heat the lard or oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and continue stirring until it makes a light brown roux (about the color of a kraft paper bag). Stir in the pepper, salt, garlic, cumin, oregano, and chili powder/ground chile until smooth. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes at a low simmer, until the sauce is thick. Taste it, and add the sugar if it’s a little bitter. (Some chili powders will do that.) Remove it from the heat and let it cool until you can touch it comfortably.
To make the enchiladas: Mix together the zucchini and 2 cups of the cheese in a bowl and set aside. Warm the tortillas either by wrapping them loosely in a damp towel and microwaving for 30 seconds OR by spraying them lightly with oil and heating them on both sides in a pan until pliable. The goal is to keep the tortillas from breaking.
Set up an assembly line with the cooled sauce, warm tortillas, and filling at hand. Line a baking sheet with sides with aluminum foil and spray it with oil. Lay a tortilla in the sauce and then flip it over. Lift it out by the edge and let excess sauce drip off. Lay the tortilla on the foil-covered sheet and put about ¼ cup filling down the middle. Roll up the tortilla and scoot it seam-side down to the end of the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling, until you have them all lined up neatly on the pan. Scrape any remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining 1 cup cheese. You can sprinkle on the onion now or wait until the enchiladas are cooked.
At this point, they can be covered and refrigerated or you can bake them in a 450°F oven for 10 minutes (15 if refrigerated), just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately!
Thank you so much for this recipe, Ann! I’m definitely going to add this to my To Make list, as it looks super tasty yet simple to prepare.
I’d also like to thank Catherine & Andrew, my other fabulous guest bloggers! Without all these awesome bloggers’ help, PGEW would have been a dismal little place as I finished this random, unplanned (but soooo much for the better) move. I hope that you’ve all enjoyed reading their posts as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you.
As for me, once my kitchen is all unpacked and have access to the interwebs again (four. more. grueling. days), I’ll be posting some new recipes! Stay tuned!