Recipe: Easy Cheesy Enchiladas

IMG_2712.jpgI love enchiladas. I seldom get them when we get Mexican take-away because they aren’t baked, so the cheese isn’t melty. And really, life is primarily about melty, gooey cheese.

The other night, I had a hankering for melty cheese, so I rifled through the cupboard and discovered that we had all the fixins’ for cheese enchiladas. I added caramelized onions, because… why not?

This recipe is easy to make, vegetarian, gluten-free,  and can be made vegan if you use dairy-free cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1T. butter or olive oil
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 can enchilada sauce, approx 24 -26 oz (I prefer green) Las Palmas is my favorite brand
  • 12 pepper jack cheese sticks
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used cheddar, but Mexican cheese blend works great)

Directions:

  1. In a pan, cook onion in butter/oil on medium low for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.once onions are golden brown, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Once onions are cool, add to enchilada sauce. Pour 1/2 of sauce into the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 of shredded cheese.
  3. Place 1 cheese stick at the edge of a corn tortilla and roll the tortilla around the cheese. Place in the baking dish, flap side down.
  4. Continue until the baking dish is full.   I do one layer, but depending on how many people you need to fee, you might do two layers.
  5. Pour remaining sauce on top of enchiladas, top with remaining shredded cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and edges of tortillas are crisp.

 

I serve with beans, rice, and Mexican Cesar salad. They make great leftovers too- not that it will last.

 

Buying in Bulk: Real Savings (without food waste)

I’m sure by now that you know one of my major pet peeves is food waste. That’s why buying in bulk can be such a dangerous proposition. If you can’t use up all of something before it goes bad and you have to throw it away, that’s the same as throwing away money.

One of the ways we save money is by purchasing cheese in bulk. I buy the pre-shredded cheese. There are a few reasons.

  1. I love cheese. I will eat an entire pound block of cheese in a few days. However, I have never sat down and ate pre-shredded cheese straight from the bag.
  2. I don’t own a cheese grater. I don’t want to own a cheese grater. I don’t own a food processor. I don’t want one. I’m not a huge kitchen gadget fan.
  3. For me, it’s a trade off. I would rather pay a few more cents per ounce for the convenience of shredded cheese. My time is worth a few cents per ounce.

IMG_3214Once I’m home from the store, I set up my cheese packaging station. All you need is a stack of ziploc bags, a glass, a salad plate, and a measuring cup. (stack of bags not shown in this photo)

I measure my cheese out into 2 cup packages. That’s the size of most grocery store sized bags of shredded cheese.  I keep 1-2 bags of each kind of cheese in the fridge, and the rest of the bags go into the freezer. Yes, you can freeze cheese.

IMG_3215Put the bag into the cup and wrap the top of the bag (the part with the zip top) over the mouth of the cup. Using the measuring cup, measure however much cheese you plan to store per bag.

After my last trip to Smart & Final, I came home with a 4 lb bag of Mozzarella, and a 5 lb bag of cheddar.

I ended up up with 6 2 cup bags of Mozzarella, and a little left over, and 9 2 cup bags of Cheddar with a little leftover. I used the leftover cheeses to top a pizza. It was a little under 2 cups with both leftover cheeses combined.

IMG_3213Trying to figure out if this is a good deal? Let’s do some math…

The same brand of cheddar cheese in a 2 cup bag at Smart & Final is $2.59.

The 5 lb bag of cheddar cheese was $12.49, and it contained roughly 19 cups of cheese. That makes each cup of cheese .66, making each zip loc bag of cheese containing 2 cups of cheese $1.32. That’s a savings of $1.27 per bag over the pre-measured zip-top bag. When I’m not sure which is a better deal while I’m in the store, I check the price per ounce on the shelf label. Here are two examples of a shelf tag that shows the price per ounce for two separate products (Uncle Ben’s Rice and Carnation Instant Breakfast).

priceperounce

 

Different stores have different shelf tags, so it may take you a few minutes to decipher each stores tags.

Now you have to factor in the cost of the ziploc bags. We re-use our cheese bags, so after they are empty, I wipe them out, put them inside another bag (marked “for cheese”) and stash them in a drawer. I buy ziploc bags en masse when they are on sale. I don’t always re-use bags, but I try to as often as I can.

There you have it. Shopping smartly, taking advantage of a good deal, and how to store your food with little to no waste. That’s what being a savvy shopper is all about.