Recipe: The Open Enchilada

The challenge, dinner. What could we make with what we have on hand? First JJ and I thought of lasagna and possibly substituting noodles for thinly slizced zucchini, but decided against it. Maybe with some more knife practice we’ll do that another day. While going through the cupboards with JJ, looking for lasagna noodles I spotted a can of enchilada sauce. The dish I had in mind took several different shapes before we came up with The Open Enchilada. JJ came up with the name and I came up with what to put in the dish. 

In this installment of Cooking with Auntie, JJ learned the trick to dice an onion. I didn’t get pictures, but it is basically slicing horizontal a few times, then across vertically, then turning your knife 90 degrees to chop vertically again. 

I was expecting JJ to at least knick a finger like I probably did when I first tried this trick years ago. No blood was shed, thankfully, but there were still a few onion tears despite our best efforts to avoid them. 


The Open Enchilada 

A twist on the classic enchilada using pantry essentials. 


  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 medium sized onions, diced
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 large can of enchilada sauce
  • Taco spice mix, or make your own
  • 16oz bag of noodles
  • 1/4 tsp cayanne pepper
  • Shredded cheese
  • Cilantro, to garnish
  • Sour cream, to garnish

Let’s get cooking!

  1. Dice your onions and peppers into 1/4 inch pieces. Wear your Onion Goggles™ to prevent too much tearing up. Putting the onions in the fridge for 10 minutes will help, too. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, add your spices to the ground beef and mix to ensure it’s seasoned thoroughly. We didn’t have a taco seasoning packet so we improvised with a blend of parsley flakes, chili lime seasoning (from Trader Joe’s, it’s amazing,) cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. 
  3. Cook the onions first on medium heat, have your designated onion stirer on hand to help with this very important task. Forming into the shape of a pizza slice helps the cooking process. 
  4. Add the peppers and cook until they start to soften. 
  5. Add the groung beef mixture and cook until browned. Reseason if needed, I added cayanne pepper here and to quote JJ, “that’s how I know we’re related!” We love spice!​
  6. While the beef is cooking, boil the noodles until al dente. 
  7. When the noodles are done and the beef is cooked through, transfer them into a baking dish, stir, add the enchilada sauce and top with shredded cheese. 
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F until the cheese is melted and bubbly. 
  9. Serve topped with cilantro, sour cream and a dash of your favorite hot sauce. 

You can swap out many elements of this meal, like the sauce, the meat or the type of noodles to make it your own. 


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