When I was in grade school, our family used to frequent a now defunct Mexican restaurant called Zaki’s.
For some reason, at that age, I was particularly fond of making bets with my dad, and I can remember two challenges that centered on that restaurant in particular.
The first was a bet I won. The waiter came to the table and asked if we preferred corn or flour chips with our salsa.
“What do we normally get? Flour, right?” my dad said.
“No. It’s corn,” I told him.
And then the bet came into play. Dad ordered the flour, and I bet him a month of him making my bed (these were the things that were important to me back then) that he was wrong about our usual order.
And he was.
It was a glorious month of relaxation as he came through on his end of the bargain each morning.
The second time was more of a challenge than a bet, when I announced that I thought I’d like the cheese enchiladas the restaurant served rather than ones that included meat.
My mom tried to warn me that it might be a bit intense to have an entire plate of just cheese-filled enchiladas, but of course, my dad got me to take up the challenge.
I thought back to that day when I recently made a batch of enchiladas myself—although I included chicken and some other elements in mine.
I didn’t really follow a recipe for this one, although I would give credit to Gina Homolka on her blog “Skinny Taste” for inspiration. If you go to her site at https://www.skinnytaste.com/enchiladas-verdes-green-enchiladas/, you’ll see a lot of similarities to the recipe I present here.
Queso Fresco Enchiladas
- 1 pound cooked shredded chicken
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces diced green chile peppers drained
- 10 ounces queso fresco
- 16 ounces salsa verde
- 10-16 six-inch flour or white corn tortillas
- 2-3 cups shredded Mexican style cheese blend
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare a 9×13-inch baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper, green chiles, and queso fresco. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the salsa, too, and stir to combine.
- Dump about half of the remaining salsa in the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Warm the tortillas based on their package instructions to soften them. Place a large spoonful of the chicken filling in the center of each tortilla and roll it tightly and place them side by side in the pan, seam-side down, packing them closely together.
- Once the dish is full (I ended up having to finish my filling out in a second, smaller baking dish), pour the remaining salsa over the top and then sprinkle liberally with the Mexican style cheese blend.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown on top.
- Let them rest for at least five minutes before serving.
These enchiladas were great and reheated wonderfully as leftovers. I paired them with some Mexican rice, and they were an excellent dinner.
And if you did want to just make vegetarian enchiladas, you could easily leave out the chicken and include some fresh peppers or beans instead.
This recipe definitely turned out better than my cheese enchilada challenge of yesteryear. Being the stubborn kid I was, I finished the plate, but my stomach was unhappy with me for the rest of the evening, and I never ordered that particular dish again.
I guess that leaves my father and I tied when it comes to Mexican food challenges. It’s probably about time I took him out to dinner to see if I can get back in the winner’s circle—although I doubt he’d agree to any bed making this time.
This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 15, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.