Folded Enchiladas

October 7, 2014

Most Enchiladas are an elaborate affair and stuffed with some type of slow cooked meat, for example these 3-hour Beef Enchiladas that I made a few years ago.  Today’s folded enchiladas are intended as a simple side-dish. In this case, I made them as part of my big-Mexican meal. They come together in about 1/2 hour with very little effort, and are cooked mostly in the microwave. Given the minimal effort, I was surprised that they were so popular at my dinner table; even my picky-eating-son was happy with them. Overall, I would rate them 3-1/2 stars; an excellent side-dish that will compliment most Mexican meals.

Folded enchiladas

Folded enchiladas


  1. My supermarket doesn’t reliably sell Queso Fresco, so I substituted Monterrey Jack. Obviously a much different flavor, but not a big deal given that this was just a side-dish.
  2. Step 4 of the recipe calls for an 8″ square, Pyrex baking dish. Because my rectangular Pyrex casserole dish won’t fit in my microwave oven, I used a round Pyrex pie plate. Nobody noticed anything unusual.
  3. The guajillos stained the soft-rubber lid of my blender. Even after soaking in soapy water for a week, I am still unable to get it clean.
  4. In addition to the sauce for this recipe, I made a very similar (but slightly different) Red Chili Sauce. There was so much leftover sauce (both kinds) that there is no need to make two recipes. If you are making Enchiladas, then just make the Enchilada sauce. Otherwise, just make the Red Chili Sauce.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $2.50.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:30 PM. Dinner time 5:00 PM.

The Cook’s Illustrated original recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

2/3 ounce dried guajillo chiles
8-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
12 (6″) soft corn tortillas
Vegetable oil spray
1 small onion
2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (1/2 cup)

  1. Put a 10″ non-stick skillet over a medium-high burner. Wipe guajillos clean and toast them for 1 to 2 minutes per side until soft and fragrant. Move to a plate and allow to cool until you are able to handle. Remove the stems and seeds, and rip into pieces. Put in blender and process for 60 to 90 seconds until finely ground, scraping down the sides as required.
  2. Add tomato sauce, 1 cup broth, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 1 teaspoon cumin to blender and process for 60 to 90 seconds until very smooth. Scrape down the sides of blender a few times. Taste and adjust salt.
  3. Spray both sides of tortillas with oil spray and stack on plate. Microwave, covered, until softened and warm, 60 to 90 seconds.
  4. Put 1 cup enchilada sauce in large bowl, then working with 1 tortilla at a time, dip into sauce and coat both sides, fold into quarters, and arrange in 8″ square baking dish (enchiladas will overlap slightly in dish). I had to use a round pie plate
  5. Finely chop your onion and crumble the queso fresco.
  6. When ready to serve, pour the remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas. Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes until hot throughout. Sprinkle evenly with onion and queso fresco. Serve.

Simple Refried Beans

October 4, 2014

I have made refried beans from scratch before, and it’s only about 25 minutes of work (but spread over 24 hours). When compared to a canned refried beans, the difference is like night-and-day. This time I followed Chris Kimball advise, and abandoned my dried pinto beans in favor of canned whole beans. Overall, the dried beans require overnight soaking, but are only a few minutes more work. The ingredient list in today’s beans is shorter, and the bacon (in lieu of salt pork) is a more convenient ingredient; not requiring an extra trip to the supermarket. Still, I would recommend adding a few of spices to improve the simple flavor; it doesn’t add any extra effort. The simple recipe as written is 3-stars.

Easy refried beans

Easy refried beans


  1. When compared to this other recipe, I would recommend adding any of the following ingredients that you happened to have available:
    -Substitute 1/4-cup chicken stock for the 1/4 cup water.
    -1 minced jalapeno chile, seeded. (added with the onions)
    -1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (added with the garlic)
    -1/2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves (added at the end)
    -1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (added at the end)
    -A little crumbled queso fresco or grated jack or mozzarella cheese.
  2. I was a little worried about using a metal potato mashed in my non-stick skillet, but the beans are thick enough to the potato masher never touches the pan.
  3. I made these refried beans as part of my Mexican Feast.

Rating: 3 star.
Cost: $2.50.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:30 PM. Dinner time 5:00 PM.

Cook’s Illustrated original recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

2 slices bacon
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
15-oz can pinto beans (do not rinse)
1/4 cup water
Kosher salt

  1. Cook two slices of bacon in a 10″ non-stick skillet over medium-low burner for about 8 to 9 minutes; flipping bacon and rearranging as necessary so that it cooks evenly.
  2. Meanwhile finely chop your onion, and peel your garlic cloves.
  3. After the bacon has rendered it’s fat and has crisped, remove it to a paper towel to soak up any extra fat. Chris Kimball says to “reserve for another use”, but I crumbled it on top of the finished beans.
  4.  Turn up burner to medium, and saute the chopped onion in the bacon fat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until it lightly browns. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Empty the canned beans (including their liquid) and 1/4 cup of water into the skillet with the onions. Bring up to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, while mashing the beans with a potato masher until it becomes mostly smooth
  6. Season with salt to taste, and serve.

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