Gluten is the binding protein found inside many grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. It's the ingredient that works closely with yeast to help dough rise and creates that fluffy, stretchy texture we love in our breads. Because these traits are so hard to replicate with the new gluten-free baking mixes, I tend to stick with foods that are naturally gluten-free. Sometimes, the expectations I have of gluten-free baked goods only lead to disappointment and the urge to eat a real brownie in the ER waiting room.
NO! Bad Heather for thinking this way!
For most of my life, I've had this gluten sensitivity and simply didn't KNOW that it was causing all of my serious health problems. If you'd like to know more about my long health history, check out my recently-created blog, or ANY good blog about gluten allergies or sensitivities. You might be surprised to find out how gluten is affecting your health.
Today, I'm cooking an easy variation on enchiladas! I've loved Mexican and Asian cuisine my whole life, not realizing that my favorite foods were almost always naturally gluten-free or very low in gluten. (Pay attention to your food cravings! They don't just identify your favorite foods! Sometimes they identify the easiest foods for your body to process or metabolize!)
_______ and Cheese Enchilada Casserole
- 20-25 corn tortillas (white or yellow)
- 1 2-cup bag of shredded cheese
- 1 lb ground beef, chicken, steak, drained beans or whatever protein source you'd like. (1/2 cup finely choppped yellow onion to make Cheese and Onion. Really you can put anything you want here, just make sure it's cooked, sauteed, caramelized, etc., before final assembly!)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 16 oz can enchilada sauce (1 32 oz can if you like lots of sauce)
- Any of your favorite meat spices or seasonings (minced onions, garlic, chili powder, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
When selecting your ingredients, to ensure they are gluten-free, the easiest way is to only use products that list whole, natural ingredients. For this recipe, the only part that might be questionable is the enchilada sauce. I use the HyVee brand enchilada sauce because it's cheaper and gluten-free. (Avoid wheat, barley, rye and many of the other derivative ingredients, if possible.)
The first step in making good enchiladas is softening the tortillas in oil. By saturating the tortillas in oil, you can make them sturdier, less flaky and more capable of absorbing lots of flavoring and sauce from the casserole. The key to having a yummy, sturdy corn tortilla is to cook it first. (The heat causes the finely packed corn molecules to react together and create a better bond.)
While doing this, I like to let my 1/2 cup of oil start to get hot in my frying pan. Set your burner on medium-high. You'll know it's ready when you can let a drop of water fall into it, and it immediately sizzles into vapor.
On to the Meat:
After the meat is cooked, assemble the rest of your ingredients.
Use a church key can opener to pop holes in the sauce. It makes less mess and makes pouring a simpler step.
Make sure to pop two holes (one large for pouring and one small to vent).
Assembly and final steps:
Pour the enchilada sauce over your tortillas in the glass baking dish. Stir them until thoroughly coated. I prefer more cheese and less sauce, but if you like more sauce, wait until you've added the rest of he ingredients to add more than half of the 32 oz. can.
Your tortillas should be coated as so.
Then add all of the meat and half of the bag of cheese to the dish. Stir carefully until well-mixed. If you have more sauce to add, now is the time to add it, then stir again lightly to distribute the sauce throughout.
Once all of the ingredients have been mixed in, it will look similar to this. Then top with the remainder of the cheese. If you like lots of sauce, you can also dribble sauce over the top layer of cheese.
Put your assembled casserole into the oven (toaster oven in my case, since it's small enough!) for 25-30 minutes at 375. Because everything in this casserole is already cooked, you're just waiting for the sauce to cook into the tortillas and all of the cheese to melt thoroughly.
Yours will look a bit different when it's done (such as not half eaten!). Sorry! My family tore into it before I could get a good picture of the final product. I hope you've learned something about gluten-free eating, such as it's really NOT that bad!~It's a difficult lifestyle at times, but there are LOTS of great foods I CAN eat.