Tonight I cheated a bit and used a few canned/pre-made things to cook dinner with. One was a can of Enchilada Sauce ala Old El Paso, another was a set of low carb wraps, and the last was a packet of Taco Seasoning. (Old El Paso strikes again!) What I made with it all was something that I would call, “not exactly enchiladas”. Where classic enchiladas are extremely delicious, they are also extremely time consuming. Today, I wasn’t into the whole six hour cooking thing, so this funny little Mexican casserole was born.
- 4 Low Carb Wraps
- 2 tbs. Olive Oil
- 1 tsp. chopped Garlic
- 1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey
- 1 packet Taco Seasoning
- 1 can Red Enchilada Sauce
- 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
- crap loads of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Start out by slathering the bottom of your casserole dish with olive oil and chopped garlic. Because I had made roasted garlic that morning, my olive oil was lucky enough to have garlic bathing in it all day. Lucky, but not necessary. Oh! This would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375. Next, toss your ground turkey into a fry pan and let it cook up until it is nice and brown. Add the beans, break up the meat, then add 2/3 cup of water. (Or whatever your taco seasoning calls for.) Pop in the taco seasoning, then stir the meat and beans over the hot burner until all of the water evaporates. If you are addicted to spicy food, like I am, go ahead and sprinkle on some extra Cayenne Pepper. A little mouth fire never hurt anyone. Now remove the mixture from the heat and set it aside.
Next, pour half of the enchilada sauce into a wide, shallow bowl. Dip one wrap into the sauce, coating it completely. Now fill the wrap with as much of the meat and bean mixture as it can hold. Fold it up like a burrito and place it into the casserole dish. Repeat this with each of your wraps. Ideally, you’ll use up all your meat, but if you don’t, don’t worry. It will taste pretty ding dang good when you scoop it up in a spoon, smother it with shredded cheese, and pop it into your mouth. (See? It pays to be the one cooking dinner.) Speaking of shredded cheese, you’ll need it soon. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of your little burritos and then smother the whole thing with shredded cheese.
Place the casserole into the oven and let it bake for about 20 minutes. The whole thing should be bubbling and oozing in a very seductive way. If your casserole is already golden and crispy on top, then take it out. If it needs a little extra push, try broiling it for an additional 2 – 5 minutes. After you’ve removed it from the oven you’ll want to dive right in, but it’s best to let it sit for a few minutes before you get into it. Try serving it along with sour cream, Spanish rice, or guacamole. A salad would be a great addition as well, since this casserole is a bit in the heavy side.
Carne Asada Fajitas
What makes this dish so special is the lime based marinade that it is soaked in. I adapted a recipe that I found on Simply Recipes to make it a little more to my liking. By adding some Chinese Hot Peppers I increased the heat, and by adding a little Maple Syrup to the marinade, the sour flavor of the limes was tempered just enough to reduce the acidity a little bit. If you prefer your spicy dishes on the mild side, just leave out the Chinese Hot Peppers. If you’d prefer a truly mild steak, just half the amount of Jalapeno, or leave them out entirely.
- 1 lb. thinly sliced Steak
- 2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and sliced
- 2 dried Chinese Hot Pepper, crushed and toasted (optional)
- 1 teaspoon crushed, toasted Cumin Seed
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1/4 cup finely minced Cilantro
- The juice of 2 Limes
- 1 tablespoon White Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Real Maple Syrup or Honey
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- Sour Cream
- Cheddar Cheese
- Sliced, Fresh, Avocado
- Chopped, Fresh Cilantro
- Fresh Tomatoes or Pico de Gallo
Start by preparing the marinade. Toast the Hot Pepper and the Cumin Seed in a toaster oven for just a few minutes. Remove them as soon as they become fragrant. Crush them using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle (or a toaster oven) you can always use powdered herbs instead. In a small mixing bowl, combine the Lime Juice, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Sugar and Maple Syrup(or Honey). Whisk them together, then add the Spices and minced Cilantro. Dredge the thinly sliced steak in the marinade, then lay it flat in a casserole dish. Cover the steak with the remaining marinade. Allow the steak to marinade for 1 – 4 hours. Meanwhile, prep the veggies by cutting the Onions paper thin slices, and the Red and Green Peppers into thin strips.
Marinading the Steak
The steak will cook very quickly, so when the steak is almost ready, begin to cook the veggies. Before you get started, prep your toppings and warm the tortillas. Caramelize the onions first, and when they are ready, toss in the pepper strips. You won’t have to cook them for long. Just heat them up a bit. Set the veggies aside, and cook up your steak.
Peppers and Onions
It can either be grilled, or sauteed in a pan, but either way, make sure not to overcook it. Sear it quickly on both sides, the exact timing will depend on how you like your steak, and how thick you’ve got it sliced. If you pan fry your steaks, make sure the drop the sliced jalapenos into the pan. They’ll be a delicious addition to the fajitas.
Grilling the Steak
Serve it up nice and hot! Smother your fajitas with whatever toppings you like. My favorites are all listed above.
Filed under Meat, mexican
<——- Queso Fresco, my new favorite cheese. One of the great things about living in Danbury, CT is that there is a huge variety of hispanic, south american, and latin foods on hand. Since these tend to be my very favorite foods, you could say that a trip to my local C-Town is for me, what outlet shopping is to fashionistas. I love me some mystery ingredients, and C-Town is swimming in them.
I’ve only just recently begun to really dive into my newfound passion for cooking. I have always loved the idea of cooking, but in the past couple of years I have really come to love and appreciate every little bit of it. Perhaps this appreciation is due to my experience formulating bath and body products. Dealing with scents from the construction perspective forces you to pay attention to different layers of scents and aroma, pulling apart a single fragrance into a variety of notes. I suppose it is only natural that the same concept would begin to apply to the food I was cooking at home. Only with food, there is a whole other level to excite me, FLAVOR. Aroma, flavor, texture, the whole package just gets me all riled up.
Anyway, my point was that since I am a relative beginner to the kitchen arts, there are many many ingredients that are completely foreign to me. Visiting a grocery store like C-Town is really thrilling, because it reminds me just how far I have to go when it comes to learning to cook. Queso Fresco is just the first of many ingredients that will thrill me, but it really is something special. Looking for a taste sensation? Make yourself some enchiladas and fill those bad boys with a mixture of Queso Fresco and shredded chicken. Pair it with some Jasmine Rice boiled in chicken broth, turmeric, paprika, and sofrito. So so so good. The Queso won’t really melt inside the enchilada. Instead, it holds a
soft, spongy kind of texture similar to Indian Paneer, but with a much
stronger flavor. Speaking of Paneer, my next intense cooking mission is to make a batch of it at home, then attempt to create a simple Indian dish for it to swim in. Maybe Palak Paneer? Maybe? We’ll see.
Want to learn more about Mexican Cheeses? Check out this page, it covers all the basics!