Category Archives: Mexican/Spanish Recipes

Variations on Enchiladas

The seasons begin to turn, and I have been craving a little Mexican food this past week. It’s a fundamental part of my diet since I grew  up in a Southwest border town. But I also wanted to use a meatless variety choice, so I went for this adapted recipe for enchiladas. Just cheese in these logs of tortillas is common and can be found in most Mexican restaurants, so a little twist or two on the recipe makes it a more interesting and flavorful combination. This version is destined to become one of my favorites for a Meatless Monday or any time you want a light dinner.

For my ingredients, I used Great Value Fiesta Cheese mix, found at Wal-Mart, which includes four varieties of Mexican cheese and is really low in carbohydrates. You can select other cheese mixes or just Monterrey Jack cheese. I also used Jalapeno Cheese, which adds just a little kick. The butternut squash is a delicious, but mild stand-in for meat and adds a little substance to the dish.

Other add-ins could include chopped olives, chopped green chiles, green onions, chopped and cooked tomatillos, and additional seasonings such as cumin, cayenne pepper, and cilantro to adjust it to your preferences. Also, I made this batch with red enchilada sauce, but you can use green chile enchilada sauce or green chile salsa. Each change will affect the overall Carb count though. Anytime you are making Mexican food, you can expect the net carbs in the dish to push toward the 10 net carb mark, so figure any changes into the meal.

Photo: Enchilada cut open.
Enchilada cut open to reveal the cheesy interior. I served mine with a apple, kohlrabi, and cabbage coleslaw

Butternut and Cheese Enchiladas

4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cups Salsa
1/4 cup Onions, chopped
1/2 cup Jalapeno Jack Cheese, grated or shredded
1 cup Butternut Squash, cubed
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or Mexican Cheese Mix
6 7-inch Low Carb Tortillas
1 cup Red Enchilada Sauce
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F.)

Cook the butternut squash cubes for 1 to 2 minutes in a microwave until they are just tender. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and salsa and beat it to mix together. (I used a wooden spoon to work it together, but you can also use a hand mixer.) Add the onions and 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack or Fiesta Cheese and mix together well, then stir in the butternut squash. This is the filling for your enchiladas.

In a baking pan or a oven-safe skillet, add 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/6th of the filling down the middle of a tortilla and roll it into a log over the filling. Place seam down in the pan. Repeat with the next 5 tortillas, fitting them snugly into the pan or skillet. Spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Cheddar Jack or more Mexican Cheese Mix.

Photo: Enchiladas in a pan.
Six enchiladas just out of the oven in a square copper skillet.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cheese is melted. Let sit for a few minutes, then use a spatula to remove each enchilada to the plate. Serve with a salad or Spanish riced cauliflower.

Makes 6 servings.

You might also like Chicken Enchiladas with ZucchiniCast Iron Skillet Enchiladas, and Apple, Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw.

Photo: Info for Enchiladas

Fantastic Low Carb Veggie Chili

Photo: Low carb veggie chili

Ready for another meatless Monday? As the weather is turning cooler in my part of the world, I’m looking at a tricky beast to manage to make a low carb vegetables-only chili. While most of the root vegetables that give this dish some substance are lower in carbs than potatoes, the amount used to replace the meat option adds in quite a few carbohydrates into the overall dish.  So this offering checks in at a little under 11 net carbs per serving. If you only have 20 or 25 net carbs to spend, this could really push your limit. But if you plan for it, you can have a nearly 0 carb breakfast (omelet with cheese) and lunch (green salad with cucumber) to free up those carbs for the chili.

While this is a meatless option, it doesn’t lose any of the spicy and delicious chili flavor of the meat version. The vegetables are delicious with the butternut giving a hint of sweetness in the dish, and they are firm enough to satisfy.  If you want a short-cut on the seasonings, Mrs. Dash Chipotle Seasoning is very good and includes almost all of the spices listed. The Jalapeno seasoning is also good.

One other thing, this chili would work well as a filling for a meatless omelet and you would only need about 1/2 cup for it. Or make a burrito with a low carb tortilla and 1/2 cup of filling.

Low Carb Veggie Chile

1 3-1/2 oz. can Jalapeno chiles, chopped
1 15 oz. can Tomatoes with chile
1 cup Butternut Squash, cubed
1 cup Kohlrabi, cubed
1 cup Turnips, cubed
1 can Baby Corn, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup Onions, chopped
3 stalks Celery, chopped
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 tablespoon dried Parsley or Cilantro
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
2 tablespoon chopped Basil
1 teaspoon Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop your butternut squash, kohlrabi, and turnips to about the same-size cubes. The bigger they are, the longer they will take to cook. If you can’t find kohlrabi, you can substitute in zucchini or cauliflower.

In a large pot, add oil and heat, then add garlic and onions and cook until they are fragrant. Add the chopped celery, stir, and cook about two minutes. Then add all the other ingredients except the pumpkin puree. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables.

Stir everything in the pot and bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low cook, just above a simmer. Cover and cook for an hour. Check on the vegetables to see if they are fork-tender, If not, add more water if needed, then cook another 20 minutes. Test again. Check your seasonings. If you need more spice, add it now. If the vegetables are fork-tender, then add the pumpkin puree, stir in, cover, and cook another 10 to twenty minutes. The pumpkin will help thicken the chile.

Serve in bowls with a little cheddar jack cheese and sour cream if you wish.

Makes eight 1-cup servings. If you want a little fewer carbs, a 3/4-cup serving will bring the carb count down to 8.5 nc per serving.

Photo: Nutrition Information

Give this a try and let me know how you like it and/or any other ways to serve it.

Thinking About Going Meatless?

Photo: Baked rellenos with sauce

With many people thinking in terms of doing a “meatless Monday,”  I thought I’d start putting out recipes on Sunday for a meatless option on Monday. While doing a low carbohydrate life style, going without any meat in your meals could be challenging since the dishes often involve other things we don’t normally eat, such as grains, rice, and pasta. So, my goal is to give you alternatives that are satisfying and tasty while avoiding those things we don’t eat.

To kick this off, I’m offering my chile relleno  with zucchini recipe. If you don’t care about going meatless, you can add chicken to it or serve a grilled breast as a side dish.

For my dish, I used Anaheim peppers from my garden along with home grown zucchini. I chose to use Irish cheddar cheese in it since it is sharper than American cheddar, but any sharp variety will work. You can also use Poblano peppers. I used Herzes Taquera Salsa with a few cherry tomatoes from my garden to make the sauce.

Chile Rellenos with Zucchini

4 Anaheim or Poblano Peppers, charred and peeled
Or you can use canned whole chiles
4 to 6 thick strips of Kerrygold Irish Cheddar or other cheddar       cheese
1 cup sliced Zucchini, slightly cooked
3 tablespoons of Heavy Cream plus 3 tablespoons of Water
1/3 cup low carb Flour (I used Bakesquick)
1/3 teaspoon Baking Powder,1/3 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Egg, beaten
1/3 teaspoon Salt
1/3 teaspoon Cumin
!/3 teaspoon Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Seasoning

For the Sauce:
1 Small can Mexican-style Tomatoes with Chiles
Or 1 small can Taquera Salsa or other Salsa of your choice

To char and peel the peppers, put the peppers under the broiler on a sheet of aluminum foil for about three to four minutes until they are blackened on that side, then turn them, and cook on the other side. If they are large, it may take three turns to blacken the whole pepper.

Transfer the peppers to a plastic bag and let them sit for fifteen to thirty minutes. Run them under cold water and the charred part should peel off easily. Cut them open and remove the seeds and cut the top off.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F.)

Photo: Baked relleanos
Cooked and ready for a topping sauce to serve.

Put the peppers in a baking pan or a oven-friendly skillet (cast iron or copper). Place cheese strips within the middle of each of the peppers.

Cook the zucchini slices for a two or three minutes in the microwave or in a pan of boiling water to partially cook. Spread the zucchini over the top of the peppers.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cumin, pepper, and herb seasoning. Stir in the beaten egg and stir together the well. The batter should be easily spreadable, so add a little extra water if needed. Spread over the top of the zucchini.

Bake for 25 minutes.

While the peppers are baking, prepare your sauce. This can be any kind of sauce you would like to use. Traditionally, I’ve usually seen a hot tomato salsa-type sauce. Put the tomatoes in a pan, add chile powder and cumin to make it spicier and cook until it begins to thicken.

For my dish, I used Herdez Taquera Salsa and added six cherry tomatoes cut in half to cut the spice a little. Heat for about 10 minutes to cook the tomatoes and reduce the sauce.

You could also put a cheese sauce over the top that has been spiced with chopped green chiles and taco seasoning.

Serves 2 large portions or 4 smaller portions.

Nutrition Info for Chile Rellenos with zucchini

Spice it up with a Spanish Omelet Pepper Ring

Image: Spanish Omelet Pepper Ring

The first time I heard of a Spanish omelet was when I was a child watching an episode of “Dragnet,” and Friday’s partner was cooking one when Friday stopped by his home. My grandmother promptly made one for me the next morning based on the one in the show.

I’ve seen eggs cooked in bell pepper rings on a Keto diet as well as Atkins. It’s an excellent low carb option, but I decided to kick it up a level by making a Spanish omelet in the ring. It’s still simple to do and tastes muy fabulous.

Spanish Omelet in Bell Pepper Rings

2 Bell Pepper rings*
2 Eggs
1 tablespoon Ricotta Cheese
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning
1/4 cup Cheddar Cheese
2 tablespoon Salsa
Salt and Pepper to taste

*To cut the rings, use a large bell pepper, slice off the top (or the bottom), remove the seeds, and cut across the pepper at about 1/2 inch to cut a ring. Repeat for the second ring. The pepper makes from 3 to 4 rings. Save the top and bottom for using elsewhere.

Put the pepper rings on a paper towel and microwave for 30 to 40 seconds to just soften it a little.

In a bowl, break the eggs, add the ricotta cheese and seasoning and whisk together until well mixed.

Heat a pan to medium-high heat and add a little butter. When it is melted and sizzling, put in the pepper rings and divide the egg mixture between them. The egg will leak out some, so use a spatula to push the egg back against the peppers. The eggs should begin to set with 15 to 20 seconds.

Once they are set, lower the temperature a little, put a lid over the pan and cook for about five minutes, then flip the eggs over. Put 2 tablespoons cheese on top and add a tablespoon of salsa. Let the cheese melt a little, then remove to a plate.

Makes two servings. (Or one hungry person serving.)

Green Chili Riced Turnips side dish

Image: Green chili riced turnips

Several years ago, I adapted my grandmother’s recipe for Spanish rice to a cauliflower version. It tastes great, and I often use it as a rice replacement. However, turnips can also be riced, and they have wonderful flavor in a risotto, so I decided to try a green chili rice using turnips. This came out very well although the color may not be the prettiest. This came from the ranchero beans I added to it. Next time, I might try black beans that don’t have any sauce with them.

For this version, I added the beans, chopped up baby corn, and onions. I used a small can of Herdez Green Chili Salsa, but you can use any green chile salsa or green enchilada sauce

These also reheat well, work as a filling for a burrito, and go well with eggs. Give them a try; you might love them.  Next up, I think I’ll try them with tomatoes in the regular Spanish rice.

Green Chili Riced Turnips

2 medium Turnips (about 2 cups)
1 4 oz. can of  Green Chili Sauce or Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
1/2 Onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Garlic, minced
1/2 cup of black beans, drained
1/3 cup of Baby Corn, drained & chopped
1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil

Peel turnips, cut into pieces, and process in food processor until they are the size of rice grains.

In a pan, add 1/3 tablespoon olive oil, chopped onions and 1/2 teaspoon garlic. Sauté until onion and garlic are fragrant. Add the riced turnips and stir together.

Add 1/2 cup hot water with bullion mixed in to the turnips mixture. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes. Add the taco seasoning, black beans, and green chiles. Stir in can of green chile sauce.

Cook until thoroughly heated, turnips are tender, and the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce.

Makes six 1/2 cup servings.

Nutrition for Riced Turnips

If you try this recipe, post your thoughts on this page. I’d like to hear from you.