Originally created 01/26/00

Hot enchiladas!



If winter boredom has set in, take a trip to Mexico. Plane tickets are expensive, so why not stay home and make it a culinary journey with today's recipe for Beefy Enchiladas?

Pat Pandza, a co-worker of my mother's at Sable Point Elementary School in Longwood, Fla., passed along this quick, delicious enchilada recipe that is popular with her family.

The enchiladas are filled with traditional taco beef (browned ground beef with taco seasoning added), but the traditional flour tortillas are spread with softened cream cheese. The beef mixture is placed in the center of each tortilla, then the enchiladas are rolled and placed in a greased baking dish. Cans of diced tomatoes and enchilada sauce are dumped over the top, shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar is sprinkled liberally on top and the ensemble goes into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Even though preparation is simple and canned goods are used, you end up with a wonderful main dish once it's baked. This is perfect family food, but also would make a great meal for entertaining hungry football fans on Super Bowl Sunday. Just double or triple the recipe according to your crowd size. The enchiladas can be assembled ahead, with the sauce and cheese added just before baking.

Canned diced tomatoes have been one of my favorite ingredients recently. They save time and eliminate the messy chore of chopping canned tomatoes.

When selecting enchilada sauce, choose a brand that lists tomatoes or tomato paste in the ingredients. Some canned enchilada sauces are flavorless combinations of water and flour, with a little spice added. I used Old El Paso mild enchilada sauce when testing this recipe.

If your family favors hot and spicy food, feel free to add some chopped jalapenos to the beef mixture in place of the canned green chilies, which don't pack much of a punch.

Serve your enchiladas with the bagged Mexican salad available at most grocery stores, and finish your meal with lemon instant pudding or sorbet.

Beefy Enchiladas

1 pound ground beef

1 package taco seasoning

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

8 fajita-sized flour tortillas

8 ounces cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 10-ounce can mild enchilada sauce

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

Sour cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Brown and drain the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain the fat and add the taco seasoning and green chilies.

Spread 1 tablespoon cream cheese on a tortilla. Place 1/3 cup meat mixture down the center of the tortilla and roll up. Place enchilada, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Pour tomatoes and enchilada sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, Ga. 30913. Or send her an e-mail to karingca@aol.com.