Homemade Enchiladas

If only my crap camera and skills did this meal justice!

Everyone loves enchiladas, or they should. My mom makes hers from scratch using a recipe from my dad’s side of the family. My dad comes from the Gila Valley in Arizona; they’ve been there for generations. I’ve asked my Grandma as well as Great Aunts and Uncles where this recipe comes from but no one seems to know. It’s always been around; in pretty much the same form though various branches of the family have tweaked it here or there. These enchiladas are my favorite meal of all time. Growing up we had them about once a month and whenever I visit home mom will usually make them as she knows I love them.

I know how to make these enchiladas. I have the recipe and have done so before. The problem is one of storage. The recipe for the sauce that has come down to us is not small, it makes over a quart of the stuff! If I had a family of four or five that wouldn’t be an issue but, there are only the two of us here. Freezing the sauce does something to it that changes its texture and I don’t have a canner (yet). So, most of the time we go without.

My mom is now canning the sauce!

I went home over last weekend for a good friend’s wedding and while there my mom handed me the can above and asked, “how many pints of this can you carry back with you?” My first response was, “As much as I can fit into this suitcase! I will mail my personal effects home!” She wasn’t buying that line, though… So we settled on four pints of the canned enchilada sauce. I had to check my bags (damned TSA) but eating enchiladas tonight was completely worth it.

The sauce with cooked ground beef added. You can't can it with the meat
Don't forget to accessorize!
rolling your enchiladas is for the feeble minded. You've got to layer them

I don’t know if this is breaking some family tradition or not… But, I can’t share with you how great this meal tastes and then not give you the opportunity to experience it yourself! So I’m including the recipe below! I warn you it makes a lot and is skimpy on the details, but then aren’t all things that are passed down from generation to generation?

Howard Family Enchilada Sauce

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 46 oz can of tomato juice
  • 46 oz of water
  • 1 can El Pato sauce
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 soup spoonful of sugar
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • chili powder
  • salt and pepper

You make a thick roux from the flour and shortening and then brown it (it is easier to thin the sauce than it is to thicken it so you want to error on the thick side here) once the rue has browned you add in the other ingredients, stirring constantly. Once all the ingredients are incorporated you may season the sauce. After seasoning throw in the already cooked beef. Raise the sauce to a boil and then let simmer for at least an hour.

To prepare enchiladas: soften corn tortillas in hot oil, a quick dip in and then out will be sufficient. Blot them if you want to cut down on oil. Layer the tortillas, sauce, cheese, and diced onions (three or four layers is sufficient). Top with lettuce. Be as generous or as stingy as you want with the sauce during layering. I’ve had it both ways and both are good. I usually run generous, though.


I Made Zucchini Bread or Cake

Not delicious yet...

I can only eat grilled, boiled, or fried zucchini so much before I just want to rip the plants out of the garden and throw them on the compost heap. Thankfully, those aren’t the only ways to prepare zucchini; you can also put the vegetable into baked goods such as cakes and breads. In fact, I’d say you can put zucchini in to just about anything the vegetable is mostly water and has little to no flavor of its own so it makes excellent filler. This morning while I was poking around in the fridge for breakfast I noticed one of our zucchinis was getting soft and failing to find anything to eat I decided I could use said limp zucchini to make bread. I dug out my mom’s recipe for the stuff and went to work! This is a really simple recipe so I’m just going to include it here at the top of the post instead of the bottom. (Unlike other cooking blogs that make you scroll through dozens of pictures of the dogs and kids and endless text that gets you no closer to the recipe you’re actually looking for.) Continue reading “I Made Zucchini Bread or Cake”

My First Pickling

I'm going to call them gourmet pickled cucumbers

I don’t know what it is about hot weather that makes me think about pickles. Maybe it’s all the barbequing or the desire for food that doesn’t have to be cooked over the food or the need for a chilled snack? Maybe all of these. Whatever it is when the temperature starts climbing into the high 80s, low 90s my mind turns to pickles. The local food co-op sells these locally made New York deli pickles that are wonderful and I’ve been hitting them all summer to satisfy my craving… Until a few weeks back when I decided that I should make my own pickles. The internet is full of recipes, easy ones, an pickling by itself is not difficult at all. Also, pickling cucumbers had just started showing up on grocery shelves. I mentioned this to D and last weekend she came back from the store with two pounds of pickling cucumbers and a bag full of spices. She even found a recipe that looked promising…

So, I made some pickles!

First, you need to find some pickles these are kirbys
half or quarter them...
Cram them vertically into a sanitized jar of some sort
Add your spice/pickling mix
Get your brine boiling
Pour the boiling brine into the jar with the cucumbers

Seal the jar, let it cool until it’s room temperature and then throw into the fridge for 24 hours.

This is the part where you eat them!
It's generally at this point I wish I had a better camera and some photography skills...

Thanks to Punk Domestics for providing the recipe it worked perfectly! I did change it by omitting the garlic, onions, and dill (in the future I’ll put those back in.) Though, in the future I think I will use white vinegar instead of apple cider which is a little too strong for my tastes…


Berry Picking Patch 2011


D and I went to the local u-pick berry picking patch this weekend, Impossible Acres (I love that name if I had a farm I’d name it that too). Turns out it was a great time to go too! Both the raspberry and boysenberry bushes were heavy with delicious berries and they hadn’t been picked over dozens of times (we normally go later in the year and have to really work through the bushes and thorns to get a decent amount).  Berries aren’t  the only thing available at the picking patch. They also have multiple varieties of cherries, peaches, apricots, tomatoes, apples and pumpkins (those last two are not currently in season. You knew that, right?)

Rows of berry bushes, to the left are stone fruit trees

Most of what we got has already been used up in the making of smoothies, cakes, and for snacks. D and I are definitely heading back to Impossible Acres before the end of the season, I don’t know how many times. It’s just enjoyable to spend an early afternoon walking through a garden with D picking fruit as we go along. The amazing things we do with them once we get home aren’t bad either. Below are some more pictures from the excursion.

We made smoothies with all the boysenberries. Oh! and cake too


D picking some boysenberries (stop staring at my wife's ass!)


Bing cherries? What do I know? I'm no fruitologist


Who's that dashing, good-looking fellow picking cherries?


This cherry tree was literally being pulled down by the amount of fruit on its branches


Fresh peaches


All of this for less than $11?!