Being from Southern California (a Valley Girl through and through), Mexican food is near and dear to my heart. Delicious, flavourful, and full of spices and soul – I’ve made Mexican food plenty of times in the past, but I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a true blue, traditional Mexican Fiesta… And here it is!
Yesterday I spent five hours (authentic cuisine done right – especially when first trying it out – is always bound to take a little time) slaving over a labor of love: Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice, and Refried Pinto Beans (all 3 of these recipes were adapted and slightly modified from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen). And not to toot my own horn here, but it was a huge success (and the family agrees!)
Without further ado, though, you can find the recipes to these amazing Mexican dishes below. Should you try your hand at them, I recommend accompanying it with a fresh, homemade batch of guacamole and pico de gallo.
Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas
- 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 TB cumin seeds
- 1 TB garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 5 TBS vegetable oil
- 3 TBS flour
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
- 12 6-inch corn tortillas
- 1 onion, chopped
Toast chiles and cumin in a dry skillet over med-low heat for about two minutes, stirring often (until fragrant).
Transfer the chiles and cumin to a spice grinder and let cool for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic powder and oregano to the spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Heat 3 TBS of oil in a dry skillet (Hint: Use the same one from earlier. It’s fragrant, and better yet, it cuts back on dishes!), stir together the ground chile mixture, flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, cooking over medium-high heat for about one minute (until fragrant and color deepens).
Slowly whisk in the broth and bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to a medium- low and cook, whisking often for about five minutes (until sauce thickens).
Whisk in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the sauce from the heat.
Heat oven to 450* F
Spread 1/2 cup of your sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Combine cheeses in a bowl, setting aside a 1/2 cup for topping.
Brush both sides of your tortillas with remaining 2 TBS of oil.
Stack tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 1 minute until they are pliable.
Working with 1 tortilla at a time, top with some of the cheese and chopped onion, roll tightly and place seam side down in prepared baking dish.
Once all enchiladas are placed in your dish, top it off with the remaining sauce, cheese, and onion.
Cover dish tightly with foil, bake for about 15 minutes (until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted).
Any dry mild chiles will do if you can’t find ancho chiles.
Olive oil can be used in place of vegetable oil.
Apple cider vinegar can replace white vinegar.
6-inch flour tortillas can replace corn tortillas.
- 2 ripe tomatoes, quartered
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups white rice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 TB tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Lime, cut in half
Heat oven to 350*F
Place your tomatoes and onion in a food processor and process them until you’ve got a smooth, liquid consistency. Measure out two cups of the liquid, disposing of the rest.
Remove the stems and seeds from the 3 jalapeños – mince the flesh and set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring often (until rice is golden and translucent, being careful not to burn).
Reduce the heat to medium and stir in garlic and minced jalapeños, stirring constantly for about 1 1/2 minutes (until fragrant).
Stir in the puréed tomato-onion mixture, broth, tomato paste, and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
Cover the pot and transfer it to an oven. Cook the rice for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
Once your rice is done cooking, fold in the cilantro, squeeze lime over it, and stir it up.
Refried Pinto Beans
- 2 (15-oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup of water
- 1 TBS of vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chile powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 TB chopped cilantro
- 2 tsp lime juice
Place the beans and water in a food processor, processing until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 tsp salt and cook for about 5 minutes (until softened).
Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Stir for 1 minute (until fragrant).
Stir in your processed bean mixture, stirring constantly for about three minutes (until well-combined and thickened).
Remove your beans from the heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring out your margaritas and palomas! Cheers! And enjoy!