My thirteen month old son usually eats everything in sight. But now that we’re introducing him to more and more solid adult food, he’s started to question my motives. If we put something new on his plate, he’ll grab it right up and shovel it in. However, if it’s a questionable bit of new flavor or consistency, he usually scrunches up his face and spits it back out. Then he examines it and decides to put it back in his mouth (EW!) or shun it forever. Carrots are on the shun list; cheese is not. In fact, if we go to a restaurant and he sees shredded cheese on our salad, untold racket (now known as “the cheese scream”) descends upon us all if we weren’t wise enough to ask for a little ramekin of cheese ahead of time. So when his Father and I sat down at the table with him for dinner last week and the cheese scream began, the idea for my Sneaky Veggie Enchiladas was born. Mom hack for the win!
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Truthfully, the actual recipe had been born over a year ago as a cheap, fast and easy way for me to get my post-partum-mexican-food-fix while still getting a little extra nutrition and controlling the ingredients. But the idea that I could trick my kid into eating a vegetable that was already not high on his favorites list was born while my kid was demanding cheese. I was really confused because the only cheese is on top of the enchiladas and my enchiladas were covered in sour cream, so he couldn’t even see the cheese. I looked at his expression as he was straining to tell me he wanted something, without any words. Then I realized the sweet potato bits INSIDE my enchilada were the same size and color as the cheese shreds we give him- EUREKA! I took a bite with my mom-testing tastebuds to make sure it wasn’t too spicy for him and handed over bits of chicken and sweet potato. He gobbled it up immediately; and it stayed in his mouth! Look: no frowns, crying or disgusted faces. I’m obviously nailing this parenting thing. Obviously.
So let’s get this secret veggie mission underway. First thing, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and steam cook some sweet potatoes, about three quarters of a pound, which for me is three petite sweet potatoes. I wash them with Fit Organic Produce wash, then rinse them with water and steam them in the microwave with this handy steam potato bag. I probably never would have gotten that steam bag for myself, but I received it as a gag gift for Christmas one year and it sure does work! Sweet potatoes are always steamed perfectly through and have never exploded because I forgot to fork enough holes in them. That’s happened to you too, right?
Once steamed and completely soft, set them aside to cool before peeling and chopping into tiny bits. While they cool, cook and crumble one pound of ground chicken breast in a large skillet over medium heat (no oil needed). I use this weird x-shaped cooking tool whenever I’m needing to break up ground meat. My in-laws got it for me ages ago and I think Pampered Chef calls them a Mix N Chop (but you can get one much cheaper here). It’s basically a miracle tool and really cuts down on cook time.
Once cooked through, turn the heat down to low and sprinkle about two tablespoons of your taco seasoning of choice over the ground chicken. I like this recipe (ground in a spice grinder) but choose whatever your kid is most likely to eat. For that matter, add a little less or a little more according to kid’s tastebuds. Then, add three times the amount of water (for me that was six tablespoons). Next, add all the sweet potatoes and mash the whole concoction with your fake Mix N Chop. The point is to break up the sweet potatoes even more so the water, taco seasoning and sweet potatoes turn into a very thick, almost creamy sauce with some tiny sweet potato lumps and little chicken bits. Turn off the heat when almost all of the water is either absorbed or evaporated and the mix looks like chicken bits in a cheesy taco sauce.
Spread a tablespoon or two of Enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9” by 11” inch baking pan. Fill small 6-inch flour tortillas with 1/4 to 1/3 a cup of the chicken and potato sauce mixture. Roll and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Continue until pan if completely full, which comes to between 10 and 12 filled tortillas. Spread remaining Enchilada sauce evenly over filled tortillas. I love the Mild Red Chile Enchilada Sauce from Fontera. I get it from my grocery store, but I wanted you to see the package and forgot to take a picture. But again, you use whichever sauce your kid likes most, between six and eight ounces total. Finally, spread orange shredded cheddar cheese evenly over the whole dish, about 1.5 cups total. You want to use orange because once it’s browned, the cheese is the exact same color as the sweet potatoes. 😉 Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden, melted and bubbly. ***Last tip: If you actually want to get your kids to eat this, DO NOT under any circumstances sprinkle chopped parsley on the top. While it does make the dish prettier to adults, we all know unidentifiable green bits are guaranteed to be potential poison to young kids, rendering all dishes instantly inedible, if still pinterest-worthy.