A Mexican Valentine’s Day Dinner

Hello. Gabe here. Let me tell you what a normal evening at home is like:

Chris: What do feel like eating today, option 1, 2 or 3?

Me: I think option 2.

Chris: Well I really feel like making option 3.

STORY. OF. MY. LIFE! (I know I’m spoiled. Whatever.)

This Valentine’s Day we didn’t feel like joining the mobs for a ‘romantic’ dinner with an overpriced menu, so we simply turned the tide at home. I made dinner for a change. I mean…I make dinner sometimes…but it is rarely, if ever, pescatarian friendly. Dinner consisted of vegetarian beef and cheese enchiladas, Spanish rice, refried beans, empanadas, and homemade margarita-like cocktails.

Before we get to dinner, you have to know that there was something working against me all day. My department at work was sent out to the burbs to conduct a training on Valentine’s Day…I knooow! And well, traffic in DC is not the best during rush hour. After being driven back to the city and dropped off about a mile from our apartment, I rushed down the street crossing couples en route to their dinners and who were clearly blocking the sidewalks to further delay me.

I finally made it home just seconds before 7 p.m. with a feast to make and an ever-so-hungry boyfriend.

As soon as I made it to our apartment I started cooking. Keep in mind – working on a recipe passed down from generation to generation can be extremely tedious – especially when it’s some other family’s recipe…obtained via YouTube! ㋡

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve made enchiladas in the past. During high school our club fundraisers involved us students going into the cafeteria kitchen at 5 a.m. on a Saturday to roll hundreds of enchiladas for plate sales. That’s what happens when you grow up in Texas 15 miles from Mexico. This time was different. I only had to make enough food for two of us.

And now to dinner.

I started by cooking the enchilada filling; one pound of vegetarian ground beef with a blend of chili powder, paprika, black pepper and cumin; onion, garlic and green chilies. The aroma instantly filled the house. Yum.

Ground Faux-Beef Filling

Ground faux-beef just before it sits in a simmer for 15 minutes.

While the faux-beef was simmering and absorbing all of the flavors, I started with the rice. I knew I had to concentrate while doing this, because the last time I attempted to make Spanish rice…I cooked it to a mush. And if that happened again, I knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it.

Rice Sits, Faux-Meat Ready

The rice is ready to sit in a simmer as the faux-beef is completed. Perfectly timed.

Once the rice was ready to sit and simmer the faux-beef was ready to be taken off the stove. Next step, enchilada sauce. This one was tough because it tasted a bit too strong, but then I remembered that the video said the tortillas would absorb most of the flavor. Score!

Rolling an enchilada

Rolling an enchilada.

The most delicate part was next. Rolling the enchiladas. It’s clearly very messy since you have to dip the tortilla in the sauce so it can become more flexible and flavorful. I added a healthy helping of meat and cheese then gently rolled it. I topped them off with cheese at the end and put them in the oven to melt everything into place.

Pre-Oven Enchiladas

Pre-oven enchiladas

The rice was ready. Not mushy. Check +. Chris was nagging me that he’s hungry. I had one more thing to make while the enchiladas were bubbling in the dry sauna. Time check: 9:05 p.m. I had to hurry before Chris picked at all the food.

The beans came last. I had cooked the whole beans the weekend before Valentine’s Day since they do take a couple of hours to cook. They can sit in the fridge for a while in their broth or be frozen for a lifetime. Making refried beans is easy. A little bit of butter for flavoring, beans, salt, pepper, garlic, a potato masher and you’re set.

When it was all set and done, the food was ready to be consumed at 9:15. Given the fact that I was rushed by an anxious Chris, I think the food came out pretty good.


Dinner: faux-beef enchiladas, Spanish rice, and refried beans.

I think I know why Chris likes to blog immediately after he’s made something. I am now craving the food I made that night. I’ll leave you with some photos of the empanadas.

Pumpkin empanada filling

Pumpkin empanada filling

Freshly kneaded dough shaped for empanada

Freshly kneaded dough shaped for empanada.

Empanada ready to be folded

Empanada ready to be folded.

Hand-folded empandas

Hand-folded empandas.

Empandas in the oven with Chris' "snack" baking underneath.

Empandas in the oven with Chris' "snack" baking underneath.

All Empanadas

Top Left: Doggie Empanadas; Top Right: Gluten-Free Empanadas; Bottom Two: Normal Empanadas

Sophia shaking for a doggie empanada

Sophia shaking for a doggie empanada.

¡Hasta luego! @gabegonz


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