Gluten Free Rainbow Enchiladas

Enchilada fixings

Seriously.  This is why my posts have dropped in quantity.  I truly think all of us cook like this, so it feels awkward to post this but here goes nothing.  Maybe someone hasn’t made an enchilada before?  Maybe you are stuck in a rut (like I usually am…lol) making the same-old-same-old meals day in and day out?  Okay.  Well then, for you, I post this.

Usually our enchiladas are chicken + whatever veggies are in the fridge/freezer (typically some squash/zucchini and some frozen corn).  Seems strange to me to say that we have zucchini on hand (it’s definitely not my fave veg) but for a while, it was the main “green” veggie that the girls would eat in order to “Eat The Rainbow” everyday.  Somehow, they’ve moved away from zucchini as their green and are much more content to eat edamame.  (Whatever works.)  Last night, I had them thinking that the fresh peas from the CSA were “just like edamame only you can eat the pod too”  (insert parental “oohs” and “ahhs” in order to make story more “exciting”).  But they busted me.  However, they did both consume at least two tablespoons of peas sans the pods which I ate (I LOVE the fresh ones from the CSA).

Into these enchiladas, I tossed the veggies that they DO eat and that make up the rainbow:  carrots, corn, roasted red pepper strips, green zucchini (had to slide in something green) and some chicken.  Zoe kept telling me that she want broccoli in hers, but I realized that she was just trying to appease me and would only take a smidgen of food if that is what really ended up on her plate.  Thus the zucchini was stealthy added before they realized the evil plan.

All of the veggies were stir-fried/sautéed (whichever works for you) until crisp-tender and seasoned nicely with salt/pepper and a little chili powder.  The chicken was actually from a grocer rotisserie (yes, I checked, it is gluten free.  Thankfully, knowledgeable staff helped out!).  Hey – short cuts are highly encouraged with little feet and hands “helping” in the kitchen and demonstrating new dance moves when things are busiest. 😀

So here is what I did to throw this inexpensive dinner together.  It served the four of us for dinner and lunch the next day.  I made one 8′ by 12″ pan with the fixings I used.  The measurements below are estimates for some (like seasoning and frozen corn) as I do most of my cooking by taste and appearance when it is something like this.  Baking… well… I usually measure unless I’m making a riff on something like pancakes that I’ve made a million times for the girls this summer.

Horrible pictures - but great enchiladas

PS.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  My kitchen helper added an extra cup of chicken broth to the top when we had finished putting it together.  Thus the extra soft/lack of rolled enchilada.  I hesitated to even share the photo, but you know what?  I’m just a home cook like you!

Rainbow Enchiladas – gluten free


2 cooked chicken breasts, roughly chopped (bite-sized if you have little ones)
2 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ rounds and quartered
3 small carrots, sliced into 1/4″ rounds and quartered
1 cup frozen corn
1 small can (5 ounces?) diced mild green chiles
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper, if desired
salt/pepper to taste
cumin (2+ teaspoons) and red chile powder (2 teaspoons +) to taste
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small sweet onion, minced
2 cups of shredded melting cheese (Monterrey jack or queso quesadilla) for the topping
**optional:  2 cups of shredded melting cheese (Monterrey jack or queso quesadilla) added to the filling
16 corn tortillas (be sure these are gluten free)
2 cups enchilada sauce, gluten free (see note and a recipe below)


  1. Roast the red and green peppers under the broiler in order while you cut/prep your other veggies.  It’s easy to roast your own.  Split the bell peppers in half and seed them.  Lay them open side down on a parchment or tin foiled lined sheet (with a lip, the juices might run while they roast).  Keep your eye on them.  Once the skins blacken, remove from the oven and place into a paper lunch sack (and on plate or something to prevent dripping, etc).  Set aside until cool.  Once cool, you can easily peel the blackened skin off and then slice/chop the roasted peppered into your desired size.
  2. While roasting the peppers, prep other veggies.  Quarter and slice zucchini and carrots. Mince garlic and onion. In a frying pan large enough to hold your veg, add a teaspoon of olive oil.  When hot, add carrots and onions.  Sautee for 2-4 minutes until *just* beginning to become a bit tender.  Add garlic, zucchini and corn.  Sautee an additional 3-4 minutes until everything is crisp-tender.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Mix together veggies, chopped roasted pepper, green chiles (cheese, if using) and chicken.  Season generously with cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings.  If it is bland now, it will be super bland later.
  4. Warm your enchilada sauce.  Working in batches, warm your corn tortillas (half at a time) in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel for 20-25 seconds.  You just want them to be pliable so they won’t break.  Drizzle the bottom of your baking pan with a 1/2 cup of the warm enchilada sauce. Spread it around.  This will help prevent your enchiladas from sticking to the pan.
  5. If baking right away, preheat your oven now to 350F.  If freezing (almost typed freaking… nice), feel free to obviously skip this step.
  6. Dip an individual tortilla into the enchilada sauce, flip it over and then lay it on a cutting board or clean prep surface (yes, it’s messy).  Place 1/3 cup (or so) onto the tortilla.  Roll it up.  Lay it into your prepared pan at one end.  Continue this way, tucking each enchilada next to the previously created fabulous enchilada in your pan.  You will need to pack them tightly.
  7. Once you are done, pour the remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas.  Brush it over to cover them to prevent the tortillas from getting dried out/burned and all around yucky.  Top with shredded melting cheese.    Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese if melted and golden.  (Cheese coloring will changed depending on which cheese you have chosen.  Please cook to your desired doneness as you would watch your pizza cheese.)
  8. Serve with avocado slices, sour cream, diced jalapeño (for the heat lovers in your house), shredded lettuce, pickled carrots/radishes, Mexican rice, beans, etc.


Gluten free enchilada sauce is easy to find.  I like Frontera and Victoria – the green sauces are my favorites.  Read the ingredients, obviously, but I bet you will find one that you like as well.  If you want, there is a red sauce enchilada recipe from Rick Bayless that is ah-mazingly good.  This recipe for green enchilada sauce looks quite similar to what I make too.  However, that is so just-for-the-weekends-in-the-summer for me now.  (It involves an easy step of rehydrating dried Mexican chiles (red sauce) or roasting the tomatillos (green sauce), etc – easy… but not for me at the moment.

 I regularly use the recipe below to make a red enchilada sauce when I want them in a pinch and don’t have the convenience of a canned sauce on hand.

Whatever-you-got Red Enchilada Sauce


3 teaspoons of minced garlic (yes, we love garlic)
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
2 Tablespoons + chile powder (we like to vary this and use ancho or pasilla or whatever we have on hand)
1 12 (or so) ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (sometimes with green chiles, but never the Ro-tel stuff)
1 cup gluten free chicken broth
2 Tablespoons GF flour mix (OR sweet rice flour)
2 teaspoons cumin
salt and pepper to taste
jalapeño, optional (if you want to add some more heat)


Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan.  Saute onions until translucent (or even slightly browned/caramelized if you like that add flavor/smokiness).  Add the chile powder, cumin, garlic and gluten free flour.  Sautee until fragrant (2-3 minutes).  Add tomatoes and chicken broth.  Simmer over medium for 10 minutes.  Adjust seasoning.  Blend with an immersion blender (what we have from 1988, tyvm) or be brave (AND CAREFUL!) and transfer/blend it in batches in your blender.  It need not be perfectly smooth sauce.  It’s up to you.

Happy GF Eats, everyone

GF: Plantain Empanadas with Queso Fresco

Oh… sometimes you just have to try a new recipe. And… well.. sometimes you make it once, take a picture for your blog, and then spend the next week dreaming about the next time you get to make it. It was that tasty. Next time, I think I’ll try baking these empanadas – but dang… the fried version was wonderful.

Rick Bayless inspired these empanadas. He’s an amazing chef who spent many, many years studying the many different regional cooking styles in Mexico. The flavors he imparts into the food with the methods are amazing. All of his cookbooks do an incredible job of teaching about the food, ingredients, culture and offer adaptations. I think we own every single one of his books. We frequently check the local bookstores to see if he has made another one. Yeap. We’re Rick-Bayless Groupies. (Ok, *I* am. I don’t think my love would make the same claim, but I know he likes the food as well as Rick’s TV Show.)

To make the empanadas, make sure you have some time to do it. While this takes a while, the end-results were worth it for me. I think this is an interesting process. The next time we have a cooking party, I will make these with our friends/family. Actually, the more I think about this, the more I think I need to plan a “Let’s Make Tamales and Empanadas Together” Party. Boy! That would be fun! We could sit and chat while making these and then everyone could go home with part of the bounty for their families! OH OH OH – Hmmm… I wonder….. do you think this sounds like a good idea?

I know the empanadas were tasty enough for me to be thinking of them over and over again since I made them! I know I will have to try to make these again sometime soon – that’s for sure! The more the merrier, right? 🙂

Plantain Empanadas
2-3 plantains, semi-ripe
1 cup GF flour mix
1/2 teaspoon salt (don’t add the salt if using broth)
1/4 – 1/2 cup warm water or warm chicken broth (don’t add salt if using broth)
1 cup queso fresco
2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs of your choosing (cilantro, parsley, etc)


  1. Slice open each plantain with one, long slit length-wise. Lay on foil or parchment paper and bake at 400F for 35-45 minutes until slightly seeping. Once cool enough to handle, peel the plantains and leave the plantain “meat” in a bowl to cool a bit longer.
  2. Once the plantains have cooled, process the plantain “meat” in a food processor until finely ground/flour-like. Add the GF flour mix and pulse until well blended.
  3. Add warm water/warm broth by the tablespoon while pulsing until a semi-soft dough forms (the same consistency as making tortillas).
  4. Divide the dough into 16 small pieces.
  5. Using a tortilla press – or a rolling pin, press/roll each small piece into a round disk no thicker than 1/4″. When making the rounds, use a cut open Ziploc bag – or similar style plastic bag. Cut the bag so that three sides are open but one is still attached. Put the dough ball on one side of the ziplock and then lay the other side on top. Then roll/press. The thickness of the Ziploc bag will last much longer than parchment paper or wax paper and make it easier to fill the empanada.
  6. Mix together the fresh herbs/seasonings of your choosing in a small bowl.
  7. Fill each flattened disk with 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of queso fresco (be sure not to overfill!) by placing the cheese on one side. Fold the other side over the top and seal the empanada by pressing the dough together firmly. Be sure to fill or press together any parts of the dough that open accidentally. Lay aside filled/sealed empanadas until you have finished filling them all.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200F and heat a generous amount of oil (I used about 1 1/2″ of vegetable oil in a deep 3 quart pan) until a small amount of leftover dough will begin to fry easily when placed into the oil.
  9. Fry the empanadas in small batches (of 3-4) until golden brown (3-4 minutes) then flip and continue frying for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from oil with slotted spoon/tongs and lay on paper towels in an ovenproof dish. Place the finished empanadas in the heated/warm oven to keep them warm until serving time.

I know this one is a bit of work, but I’m really glad I tried this recipe. I will make these again and again.


Gluten-Free Grilled Pork Loin and Sweet Potatoes

GF – grilled pork loin and grilled sweet potatoes

Today I had a little time. After my PT session mellowed out every muscle, I was able to relax a bit and plan a great relaxing dinner for my love. One quick stop at the market and I was ready to go. Since I knew I had time, I planned on marinating the pork loin for as long as I could. (This turned out to be about 4 hours.)

I made an ever-so-slightly spicy adobo/chili marinade for the pork loin based on one by Rick Bayless (if he’s looking for groupies…. I’ll sign up to be the first. LOL). The sweet potatoes were the best though – I had never grilled sweet potatoes before. After tonight, this may just be my preferred cooking method for them!

Dinner was a hit… at home and at the neighbor’s house. We had enough left over to bring over plates full of pork and the corn-pineapple pico de gallo that I made on the side (sorry no photos…. I forgot!)

Here’s the recipe. I hope it brings a little end-of-July happiness into your life too.

Pork Loin Marinade (for a 2-3 pound pork loin)
1/3 c. ground pasilla chiles (buy this in the spice aisle – or better yet, at your local Mexican grocer!)
3/4 c. water
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Mexican Oregano

1. Heat the olive oil up in a small sauce pan. Add the garlic and ginger and stir until very fragrant (about a minute).
2. Add the remaining marinade ingredients by whisking.
3. Simmer the marinade over low heat for 8 minutes.
4. Cool marinade to room temperature.
5. Pour marinade over pork loin in a large (enough) Ziploc bag.
6. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

Sweet Potatoes:
1. Prepare sweet potatoes by peeling and chopping into large chunks.
2. Drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil over sweet potatoes (depending on number of potatoes).
3. Sprinkle 3/4 Tablespoon of sea salt onto potatoes.
(NOTE: I also added 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar at this point – as we like our potatoes sweet.)

1. Heat one side of the gas grill to medium-high and the other to low (as low as it goes).
2. Grill the pork loin on the medium-high heat side for 4-5 minutes on each side (flipping once).
3. Move the pork to the low-heat side.
4. In a grill pan, put the sweet potatoes over the medium-high heat side. Turning and stirring throughout the remaining of the cooking time.
5. Cook for 12 minutes (turning potatoes throughout) then flip the pork loins. Cook an additional 12 minutes or until an internal temperature of 147F (pork) and the potatoes are tender. (Total potato cooking time: 25 minutes)
6. Remove pork and potatoes from heat. Tent the pork under aluminum foil and allow to rest for 12-15 minutes.
7. Put the sweet potatoes into a serving bowl. Since we like sweeter potatoes, I drizzled them with 2 Tablespoons of butter, 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar. Add all seasonings to taste.

Once the resting time is over, slice the pork loin thinly and serve with the grilled sweet potatoes.


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