State of the rut update

On Tuesday I picked a recipe out of the Colorado Cache Cookbook, made my grocery list, and went off to the store to pick up what was needed.  Not a lot as it turned out, because I made my decision based on things I had on hand that needed to be eaten.  One of those things was a big package of corn tortillas.  Someday I’d like to start making tortillas at home but for now we use the store-bought variety.  The Colorado Cache Cookbook has a chapter titled Mexican Food which includes all sorts of enchildadas that are made with corn tortillas.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know:

  • M and I are mostly vegetarian.  We don’t eat meat often.  The occasions on which we do eat meat are when our carnivore family and friends are visiting us or we are visiting them, and when we’re traveling (usually the trips back east where we both grew up on Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies and other unhealthy things of that nature).  This “mostly vegetarian” status limits the number of recipes I could pick from in the Colorado Cache Cookbook as many of the recipes involve meat (even many of the recipes in the Vegetable chapter).
  • I have made enchiladas before so I’m not sure this is getting out of a rut.  I have a favorite chicken enchilada recipe (“Suzi’s Enchiladas”) — given to me by a friend, Suzi — that I have made many times, with chicken when I’m making it for carnivore family and friends, and with grilled veggies for those (of us) who prefer just veggies.

I decided on Cheese Enchiladas.  The sauce for the enchiladas was different than the sauce I make for “Suzi’s Enchiladas” so I thought that would qualify it as getting out of the rut I was stuck in.  I’m used to making enchilada sauce with lots of tomatoes and spices, then cooking it down to thicken it.  The recipe in the Colorado Cache Cookbook uses chicken broth, tomatoes, and chiles, with flour to thicken it.  There are no spices to be found in this recipe.

Another admission:  I added spices (cumin and chili powder).  I used tomatoes with hot chiles.  I added vegetarian refried beans to the cheese stuffing.  Less cheese, more beans.  If I’d had some freshly cooked beans available, I’d have put them in there instead of the canned refried beans.  The addition of the refried beans was tied to using what I have in my pantry as well as cutting back on the cheese.

I’ve always thought of recipes as a general outline that I can fill in to fit my tastes.  This one was no exception.  To be honest, I’m not sure we would have liked the enchiladas without the addition of the spices.  The sauce was a little odd, perhaps because it was different than any other enchilada sauce I’ve tasted.  It wasn’t bad odd.  Just different odd.

I did not take photos of the plated food as they were a mess to get out of the baking pan.  They fell to pieces and looked like a big pile of mushy stuff with cheese.  Not attractive or photogenic.  I should have taken pictures right after I rolled the enchiladas and placed them in the baking dish.  They were lined up and ready for their close-up.  In my haste to get them into the oven (it was late and they took longer to make than I had anticipated), I forgot.

They tasted good, especially with the addition of the called-for garnishes of avocado slices, chopped green onions, and sour cream.  I could have spiced them up more as they needed a little more flavor and heat.  Putting jalapeñoes into the cheese and bean mixture would have worked well.  I also think using whole beans rather than the canned refried beans would have made them better, too.

Next week I’m going to pull out a vegetarian cookbook and take OmbudsBen’s suggestion:

I get stuck in ruts, too, so empathize with your dilemma. As far as trying new things: Make it really challenging. Pick out a cookbook with an index, open the index without looking, and point to find the nearest recipe.

That will make it fun and exciting.  Thanks, OmbudsBen!