I don’t often talk about my culture, mostly because I grew up in a home where my parents tried to “normalize” or “assimilate” me and I honestly haven’t fully explored my roots. We spoke English, ate pasta and chicken, shopped at our local mall, and pretty much lived like a typical American family. I understand my parent’s desire to have me “fit in”and I had a wonderful childhood, but I would have loved to grow up in a bilingual family with a bit more exposure to my culture.
We’re currently in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed annually from September 15th through October 15th. It is the “celebration of histories, cultures, and contributions” of American citizens with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
I was curious as to why the month-long celebration begins on the 15th so I did a bit of research. On September 15th, 1821, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua declared their independence followed by Mexico (on the 16th), Chile (on the 18th), and Belize (on the 21st).
Hispanic and Latino Americans contribute significantly to our country and our influence can be seen in the food, architecture, arts, and much more.
Because food is an integral part of any Hispanic celebration, I decided to make a dish I’ve never attempted…enchiladas. The dish, which originated in Mexico, consists of a tortilla filled with any variety of ingredients and covered with a “chili” sauce.
Since I knew that it would take a lot of time and effort to make an enchilada sauce from scratch, I decided to use a prepared sauce from El Pato. There are no artificial ingredients in the sauce (which comes in a can) and the sodium content is low. They make a mild version which was perfect for my children who aren’t fans of spicy foods.
As far as preparing the chicken, I opted to use my Crock-Pot since it allows for a slower cooking process and a richer development of flavors. Here is the recipe I modified so that it doesn’t contain dairy, eggs, or soy:
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks (or just toss them in and shred them later when they are all cooked)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained
2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
1 14.5 ounce can tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 ripe avocado
All ingredients except for cheese can be found at Walmart.
Put all ingredients except the cheese, tortillas, and avocado in the Crock-Pot.
Cook on high for 4 hours. Reduce to low until ready to serve.
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spoon a layer of sauce from the pot on the bottom of a square, glass baking dish.
Proceed to dip each tortilla into the sauce, fill with chicken mixture, top with cheese and roll. You could use a toothpick to hold the tortilla together.
Once each tortilla is filled, rolled and placed on the baking dish, place a layer of sauce and cheese on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Top with fresh avocado.
Given the fact that I made this recipe with vegan cheese, no added salt or oil, and used the Crock-Pot, we were all very impressed with the results (including the hubby who can be picky when it comes to food). They’re a little messy, but incredibly delicious and full of flavor.
How will you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? Through November 1st, Walmart is celebrating by continuing it’s commitment to serve the Hispanic community through initiatives focused on education. You can visit Ahorra mas. Vive mejor. for more information.
Disclosure: I participate in the Walmart Moms program and am compensated for my time and honest opinions.