My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Enchiladas (Gluten Free!)

Enchiladas! I was a person that wasn't really crazy about Mexican food until we moved to Arizona. (To be fair...most of the Ohio restaurants didn't serve a good Mexican dish!) The fresh flavors & spices of homemade Mexican food here in Arizona won me over. Each region of Mexico has it's own flair so each eating establishment is slightly different depending on what part of Mexico the family is originally from. One of my favorite Mexican dishes is a plate of shredded beef enchiladas made with the red enchilada sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it! Most restaurants and store bought enchilada sauce use flour to thicken which creates a problem for those of us with gluten allergies. There are a few that use corn starch instead which makes me happy. However, if restaurants near you don't have gluten free enchilada sauce or if you prefer to make your enchiladas at home.... here is one of my favorite recipes for red enchilada sauce. My favorite restaurant couldn't give me their actual recipe but they did tell me what the ingredients were so I went home to experiment and the recipe below is very similar. (There are a lot of different versions out there and each region or family makes their recipe just a little different...but here is our recipe. Feel free to tweak it to make it work for your personal tastes). My friends and family always ask me to make this recipe when they come out for a visit (or if I go to their house for a visit!). I have a few local friends that make their sauce without using the tomato sauce. They use only re-hydrated chile peppers, corn starch and water or broth to make their recipe. I have had the best luck making mine with the tomato sauce.

This recipe is also very forgiving if you have to substitute a couple of the ingredients. Living in Arizona, it is very easy for me to find specific chile peppers and spices. However, my boys while in the military and some of my out of state friends frequently have trouble finding some of the specific ingredients so they substitute them. It may not taste EXACTLY the same but it still turns out delicious and better than the stuff in the can! Sometimes you just have to use what you have on hand!

Keep in mind if you are a vegetarian OR prefer using chicken or pork instead of shredded beef...I can help you tweak the recipe to work for you. For my friends and family that prefer can make this recipe with black beans and rice for the filling or shredded cheese & onion or chiles (in place of the meat). For those that prefer chicken or can just use it in place of the shredded beef. Ground beef can also be used in place of shredded beef! I personally prefer my red enchilada sauce with beef, pork or vegetarian beans and rice. I prefer my chicken enchiladas or cheese & spinach enchiladas with the green enchilada sauce (recipe for that will come in the future) and my seafood enchiladas with a white sauce. is all personal preference. Actually...just about anything smothered in red enchilada sauce is delicious! It is very popular in Arizona to find steaks or chicken on the menu smothered in enchilada sauce & cheese.

This is a great recipe because you can make enchiladas in advance and put it in the oven when you need it. They also freeze well! You can also skip over the task of rolling the enchiladas and just layer them casserole style. It all works fine! I like to cook my beef in the crock-pot or pressure cooker along with some dried chiles and onion for extra flavor and tenderness but you can use canned beef if you prefer. This is also a good way to use up the left over beef or pork roast! :)

Enchiladas with Red Sauce Recipe:
  • 16 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped or pureed onion or 3 tbs. dried minced onion (depends on how much flavor you want)
  • 1-2 tbs. finely chopped garlic (or substitute 2 tsp. garlic powder not garlic salt!)
  • dash salt
  • 2 cups water or broth (I like to use the broth from my meat but you can use vegetable stock or water if you are making it vegetarian)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 1/2 - 3 tsp. chile powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/4 - 1 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder (depending on how spicy you like it). If you can't find the chipotle chile powder which has a slightly smokey flavor then just use additional chile powder.
  • 2-3 dried ancho chiles (rehydrated then pureed) or you can substitute 1-2 chipotle chilies canned in adobe sauce - pureed  (save the rest for something else) or in a pinch you can substitute 1 small (5-7oz) can of chopped green chiles. (Not pickled jalapenos!) If for any reason you don't have any actual chiles available...just use extra chile powder to taste. You can add chile powder to get the spiciness you want although you may have to play around with measurements just a little bit. 
  • 2 tbs. gluten free corn starch (or substitute tapioca starch or rice flour). Read your labels if you are gluten free! Many of the corn starch brands contain wheat or are processed on equipment with wheat products!
  • 4 tbs. hot water
Combine the tomato sauce, onion, garlic, salt, broth or water, cumin, oregano, chile powders and the ancho chile puree (or chipotle chile puree or finely chopped green chiles) if you are adding them. Heat in a pot on medium heat. In the meantime, combine 4 tbs. hot water with the corn starch to make a paste. It should be lump free and rather thick like glue. You can either stir it well or put it in a small jar with a lid and shake until lumps are gone. You don't want lumpy enchilada sauce. Pour the corn starch paste into the pot and stir until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until it slightly thickens and flavors blend. I personally like to make my sauce a day or two ahead so the flavors have a chance to enhance but you don't have to do that. The sauce also freezes great so feel free to double or triple the batch and freeze it for future use.

Corn starch & water paste

I like to use corn tortillas for my beef enchiladas which is what most of the Mexican restaurants use. There is a slight trick to getting them flavorful and not slimy. This is an important step to making enchiladas with corn tortillas so I highly suggest you do it or else you will end up with slimy, flavorless tortillas. (Trust me....I am speaking from experience!) You want to slightly warm your corn tortillas in a skillet individually on both sides for just a few seconds until they sizzle and get flexible. Not only does it make them easier to work with but it brings out the corn flavor of the tortillas. (Think you are flipping pancakes. It is just like that. I use a skillet that has been sprayed lightly with a non-stick cooking spray because you don't want to FRY the just want them lightly toasty and soft. I do mine about 15-20 seconds on each side. Although this is slightly tedious, it is well worth the extra effort for the flavor and texture of your enchiladas!)

Once you have all of your tortillas slightly pan toasted. I take my enchilada filling(s) and put the ingredients down the center of the tortilla. My favorite is shredded beef with shredded cheddar cheese. I fold each edge inward and place seam side down in a slightly greased pan or oven proof baking dish. If I am making them for a small group then I just bake them on my cute little Mexican pottery dishes right in the oven. If I am making for a larger crowd then I bake in 9x13 pan or lasagna pan. Pour the enchilada sauce over top of the stuffed tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. I also like to garnish with some chopped green onion or dried oregano for added color. I bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until everything is heated through and cheese on top is melted.
If you find that rolling the enchiladas to be can always just layer the ingredients like you would lasagna. Put corn tortillas on the bottom of a lightly greased casserole dish or 9x13 pan. Layer with the filling, sauce then cheese. Repeat layers until you run out of ingredients. Be sure you end up with sauce and cheese on top! Baking instructions are the same...350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Shredded Beef Enchiladas with red sauce & side of beans

Up close view of the inside of my shredded beef enchiladas!

Vegetarian Black Beans & Rice Enchiladas

Chicken with red enchilada sauce, corn tortillas and montery jack cheese (someone ate all the cheddar cheese!)

I hope you enjoy my recipe for enchiladas. It is a great recipe for casual entertaining on the patio or for a Mexican themed dinner party. I like to make the Mexican Corn Flour Cookies for dessert (see recipe for this on the blog posted April 5, 2014)

Gluten Free Casually

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