Homemade Applesauce and Vegetable Enchiladas

Homemade applesauce is great for many reasons, a few of them being: 1) It’s easy to make, 2) It’s cheap to make during apple season (which is almost here!), and 3) It’s great to use in baking to save calories and fat (why they aren’t calling apples a super food yet, I’ll never know).

I chose to make my own applesauce because I had 5 perfectly good apples sitting on my counter doing nothing and I wanted to do some baking that would involve applesauce I didn’t already have. You’d think applesauce is labor intensive (at least, I did), but honestly it only took me about 30 minutes with only 10 minutes of actual hands-on time. If you haven’t tried making your own applesauce, and it’s something your family loves, try doing it this apple season! Make an activity of it – go to the orchards, pick out a bunch of beautiful apples, and make them into sauce. (This always makes me think of the movie “Prancer” when the dad is cutting apples in the tree saying, “We’ll have apple pancakes, apple butter, apple sauce, etc.” And why not use apples when there’s a ton of them around?)

Homemade Applesauce

  • Any amount of sweet apples (Yes, you absolutely want sweet apples. If you try making sauce with Granny Smith or any other sour apples, you’ll have to add a lot of sugar to balance out the bitterness. Use sweet apples, and you don’t have to use sugar at all.)
  • 1 cup water
  • Cinnamon to taste (optional)

I started with my 5 apples, 4 Gala and 1 Red Delicious.

Wash your apples really well and slice them like you would for a snack, peels and all.

Throw them into a medium (or large, if you need it) sauce pan with about 1 inch of water.

Put the lid on, turn it on high until the mixture starts to boil. When it boils, take the lid off, give it a stir, and let it keep going on high until the apples are squishy and cooked down (about 20 minutes, and my water was totally evaporated). When they’re cooked through they’ll be brown, and squishy to the touch.

Take the apples off the heat, and allow them to cool. Transfer to food processor or high-powered blender and pulse until it becomes sauce.

You don’t need to add any sugar, but this would be the point to add cinnamon if you’re going to. I like plain, unsweetened applesauce so that was a step I didn’t take. For my 5 apples, I got about 2 cups of sauce out of it (not bad!). Keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Vegetable Enchiladas

For the enchilada sauce:

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the enchiladas:

  • 1 box of chopped frozen spinach, thawed
  • 3 ears fresh corn
  • 1 14-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp of Adobo seasoning
  • 1 pkg of tortillas, any variety (I used taco-sized whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the enchilada sauce. Combine tomato paste, flour, cumin, and onion powder in a small sauce pot.

Whisk the mixture together until it’s combined, and cook for about 1-2 minutes on medium heat. (Take the step to cook it so that you don’t get a raw flour taste in your sauce).

Add the water, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine until it’s as smooth as you can get it (mine had a few lumps even though I was whisking like crazy.).  Let the mixture simmer on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes.

Turn the heat off, and let it sit until you form the enchiladas.

For the filling, I had fresh corn because it’s cheap and in-season. If corn’s not in season at the time you make this, 1 box of frozen is the next best option. If you don’t have it or it’s not on sale, use canned. I wanted a little charred flavor on my sweet corn, so I decided to throw it on my indoor grill. If you don’t want to grill it, boiling it is fine too.

If you decide to grill the corn, keep turning it until all sides are cooked and have turned deep yellow.

Once it’s cooked, take it off the grill and let it cool. Once it’s cooled, take a baking pan (I used the 13×9 I was about to use for the enchiladas) and turn a small bowl upside down inside it.

Place an ear of corn flat side down on top of the bowl.

Scrape down the sides of the corn, and they’ll all fall into your baking dish.

Once your corn is all scraped, add it to a small mixing bowl and prepare the rest of your filling.

For the frozen spinach, whether you thaw or microwave de-frost it, you must be sure to squeeze all the water out of it. You don’t want nasty spinach-water making your enchiladas soggy. I take my thawed spinach out of it’s box and put it onto a clean kitchen towel (a towel really is best, paper towels just won’t cut it for the amount of squeezing you’re about to do. Yes, the green comes out when you wash it.)

Fold the towel up around the spinach, twist and squeeze until there isn’t any water dripping from it. Twist, resqueeze, and squeeze the ball of spinach – this process took me about 6 or 7 minutes. Once the water’s out, you’ll have a spinach ball.

Break the ball up with your fingers and add it to the bowl with the corn, black beans, Adobo seasoning, and S/P. I love Adobo seasoning for all my Mexican fare meals – it adds the right amount of spice without being hot. If you don’t have it, that’s OK! You can also use a combination of cumin and ground oregano to get the same effect. Once you have your filling seasoned the way you like it, then it’s time to wrap-and-roll the enchiladas.

Line the bottom of your baking dish wish about 1 Tsp of oil (or spray) to keep your enchiladas from sticking. I also add a thin layer of enchilada sauce to the bottom of my pan.

Take a stack of your tortillas and put it onto a cutting board for rolling. Scoop about 1/2 cup of filling into the middle of each tortilla. (I use taco-sized tortillas because they are the perfect size for my dish, and there’s not a lot of extra tortilla without any filling.)

Wrap and roll your tortilla tightly around your filling, then place seam side down into your baking dish.

Repeat until your baking dish is filled with your rolled tortillas (6 filled mine up). Then cover your enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce (when it’s cool at this point, it will be a thick almost paste-like mixture. But don’t worry, the oven heats it up and it melts into a smoother sauce.).

Don’t top with cheese yet! Cover your dish with foil and bake it first. Otherwise, the cheese will stick to your foil and nobody likes that. Cover with foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes at 350. After the first bake, take it out, leave the foil off, and add your cheese. Bake it uncovered for about another 10 minutes, or until your cheese is hot and bubbly.

Mmm!

Enjoy the enchilada goodness in your belly! This recipe is great for a family, and it’s a fabulous freezer meal if you don’t want to use it right away. It’s flavorful, but it’s not too spicy for the kids – and trust me, you won’t miss the meat! Plus, you won’t have to feel guilty about eating that second and third enchilada.

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